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US probe hardens Pakistani suspicions

By       Message Gareth Porter     Permalink
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The Pakistani military
leadership's response to the United States report
on its helicopter attack on two Pakistani border
posts on November 26 has assailed the credibility
of the investigation by Air Force Brigadier
General Steven Clark and expressed doubt that the
attack could have been "accidental."

The
long-expected rejoinder, made public on Monday,
charged that 28 of its soldiers at two border
bases were killed one by one long after the US
military had been told about the attack on a
Pakistani base.

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The Pakistani critique
questions the claims that the US did not know
about the Pakistani border posts, that the
combined US-Afghan Special Forces unit believed it
was under attack from insurgents when it
called in air strikes against the two border
posts, and that a series of miscommunications
prevented higher echelons from stopping the
attacks on the border posts.

Revelations
in the Clark report -- as well as what it omits --
support the Pakistani contention that the US
investigation covered up what actually occurred
before and during the attack. Information in the
report suggests that the planners of the Special
Forces operation the night of November 25-26 may
have known about the two Pakistani border posts
that were attacked while feigning ignorance to the
commander who had to approve the operation.


It also portrays a military organization
that was not really interested in stopping the
attack on the border posts even after it had been
told that Pakistani military positions were under
fire.

The Pakistani analysis does not
repeat the assertion made by General Ashfaq
Nadeem, the director general for operations, in
the aftermath of the attack that the coordinates
of the two Pakistani border posts had been given
to the US military well before the incident of
November 25-26.

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The analysis leaves no
doubt, however, that the Pakistani military
believed the United States was well aware of the
two posts. It said each of the posts had five or
six bunkers built above ground on the top of a
ridge and clearly visible from Maya village about
1.5 kilometers away.

The Pakistani
critique asserts that two or three US aircraft had
been operating in the area daily, and that US
intelligence had questioned Pakistani officials in
the past even about changes in weaponry in its
border posts.

The Pakistani military
document highlights the revelation in the Clark
report that Major General James Laster, the
commander of the "battlespace" in which Operation
SAYAQA was to take place, had demanded that the
planners of the operation "confirm the location of
Pakistan's border checkpoints."

The most
recent map of Pakistani border positions available
at the time, according to the Clark report, was
dated February 2011. The obvious intent of the
demand by Laster was that the planners find out if
there were any new border checkpoints that needed
to be added to update the map.

The Clark
report reveals that "pre-mission intelligence
analysis" had indicated "possible border posts
North and South of the Operation SAYAQA target
areas."

That intelligence was obviously
relevant to Laster's order, but those border posts
did not show up on the map produced on November
23. The planners had decided not to check on those
"possible border posts" by asking a Pakistani
border liaison officer or investigating
unilaterally.

The Clark report tiptoes
carefully around the implications of that fact,
saying the operation's planners "did not identify
any known border posts in the area of Operational
SAYAQA."

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The point of requiring
confirmation of a new map would presumably have
been to go beyond border posts that were on the
available map.

Air crews planning for the
operation also knew about the "possible border
posts," according to the report, but didn't
include them in their "pre-mission planning
packages," because "they were data points outside
the Operation SAYAQA area."

United States
investigators showed no apparent curiosity about
what appears to have been the deliberate exclusion
of the two new border posts from the map given to
Laster.

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Gareth Porter (born 18 June 1942, Independence, Kansas) is an American historian, investigative journalist and policy analyst on U.S. foreign and military policy. A strong opponent of U.S. wars in Southeast Asia, and the Middle East, he has also (more...)
 

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