By Barry Lando
After allegations that top-level Pakistani officials have secretly aided al-Qaida and the Taliban, sheltering Osama bin Laden himself, now comes a startling new charge: “FBI Says Pakistan’s Military Plotted to Tilt U.S. Policy.”
Now we wait for the predictable stream of American outrage. But lighten up, folks, the Pakistanis have done nothing more than take a page from the CIA playbook.
According to The New York Times, the FBI investigation, which involved at least eight FBI field offices, concluded that Pakistan’s military and the ISI, its powerful spy agency, have used front groups to funnel campaign donations over the past two decades to members of the U.S. Congress and presidential candidates. This in blatant disregard of the law prohibiting foreign governments from making donations to American political candidates.
The dastardly aim of that operation? To counter the Indian lobby in Washington and persuade the United States government to push India to allow a vote in Kashmir that would let Kashmiris decide on their own future. I mean—can you imagine?
The total amount involved: $4 million over two decades, which works out to $200,000 per year. That included $250 donations to the 2000 and 2008 presidential campaigns of Al Gore and Barack Obama. The congressmen involved claimed they had no knowledge that the money actually originated with the Pakistani government.
Of course, the Pakistani effort is pocket money compared with what the United States has been up to clandestinely for more than half a century, spending billions not just to “tilt” policy of other countries, but to literally buy elections, legislators, intelligence chiefs, generals, cabinet ministers, and entire governments around the globe—starting with Italy and Greece and Iran post World War II and then continuing across every continent since.
Take for instance last year’s revelations that several of Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s top officials—including some of the most corrupt—are on the U.S. intelligence payroll.
As for Pakistan itself, its military has been on the receiving end of billions of dollars in “military aid,” both parties realizing that that horde is little more than a bribe to keep the military at least officially on our side.
Such payoffs are just for starters. Why bother “tilting” a government when you can work to overthrow it or knock off its leader i.e., Mossadegh in Iran (1953); Arbenz in Guatemala (1954); the Congo (1960); Iraq (1963); Cuba (1959 to this day); Chile (1964 to 1973); Brazil (1962-64); Indonesia (1965); Angola (1975); Nicaragua (1981 to 1990); Grenada (1983); Saddam Hussein (2003)? There have been more than 50 instances over the past 50 years.
Who are the headline writers kidding? You don’t need to be an investigative reporter or a congressman privy to secret intelligence briefings. It’s all out there on Google.
The Pakistanis have been tightly linked to (if not allied with) the CIA for decades. It would have been amazing if they had not been up to such games.
God help us if they, the Russians, Chinese or anyone else, ever decide to really follow the American lead—liquidating anyone they consider a mortal enemy with their own global-roaming Predators.
Barry M. Lando spent 25 years as an award-winning investigative producer with “60 Minutes.” He has produced numerous articles, a documentary and a book, “Web of Deceit,” about Iraq. Lando is finishing a novel, “The Watchman’s File.”
U.S. Department of Defense / Master Sgt. Jerry Morrison
Then Secretary of Defense Robert Gates participates in a wreath-laying ceremony with Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, chief of staff of the Pakistani army.