Obama Campaign Addresses NY Times Report on Al-Qaida Growth in Pakistan
Obama foreign policy adviser Susan Rice and former CIA officer Bruce Reidel launched a conference call today to address the failure of the Bush administration’s approach toward Pakistan and the recently reported safe haven that exists in the country for Al Qaida.
The article on the existing Pakistan bases appeared today in the New York Times and tells of the rising number of Al Qaida operatives being trained in the region:
“Just as it had on the day before 9/11, Al Qaeda now has a band of
terrorist camps from which to plan and train for attacks against
Western targets, including the United States. Officials say the new
camps are smaller than the ones the group used prior to 2001. However,
despite dozens of American missile strikes in Pakistan since 2002, one
officer estimated that the makeshift training compounds now have as
many as 2,000 local and foreign militants, up from several hundred
three years ago,” the article states.
During the call, Rice and Reidel said Sen. Obama, as president would focus on a multi-layered economic approach that could possibly draw in help from NATO to defeat the Al Qaida presence in Pakistan.
Rice was clear to pinpoint John McCain’s support of the Bush policies toward the region and called McCain’s support “poor judgement.”
“We have 5 times the troop levels we have in Afghanistan in Iraq, yet John McCain wants to keep our troops in Iraq indefinitely,” said Rice.
She added that by demonstrating economic assistance to Pakistan and Afghanistan, the U.S. would be “in a better position to leverage comparable contributions from NATO.”
“The heart of the terrorist threat has always been in Afganistan and Pakistan border,” Reidel said.
However, there appeared some defense from Rice and Reidel on comments Obama made last summer on “actionable intelligence” and when and if he, as president would act to make a strike on Al Qaida targets in Pakistan with or without the permission of Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf.
Rice called Obama’s words “a new approach” and highlighted that he was
the only candidate at the time to make such a statement on U.S. policy.
Rice added that Obama plan includes a commitment to an additional 2
combat brigades in Pakistan.
Rice and Reidel responded to a reporter’s question on whether or not the NY Times article itself in their opinion constituted “actionable intelligence”. Both disagreed.
“It’s not the kind of intelligence that tells you where you can drop a bomb,” responded Reidel. Rice responded to the question saying, “actionable intelligence is widely understood to mean time and place specific.”
-crossposted on MOMocrats