Pakistan retaliates by outing CIA station chief in Islamabad; Update: CIA won’t pull station chief

posted at 9:30 am on May 10, 2011 by Ed Morrissey

The Washington Post reports that the Pakistani intelligence service has outed a CIA station chief in response to the US raid in Abbottabad that killed Osama bin Laden.  Their report avoids naming the CIA’s man, who will presumably be heading home quickly after leading the effort in the last six months on the OBL operation — which he had to do after Pakistan outed the previous station chief:

The public outing of the CIA station chief here threatened on Monday to deepen the rift between the United States and Pakistan, with U.S. officials saying they believed the disclosure had been made deliberately by Pakistan’s main spy agency.

If true, the leak would be a sign that Pakistan’s powerful security establishment, far fromfeeling chastened by the killing of terrorist leader Osama bin Laden in a Pakistani garrison city last week, is seeking to demonstrate its leverage over Washington and retaliate for the unilateral U.S. operation.

Less than six months ago, the identity of the previous CIA station chief in Islamabad was also disclosed in an act that U.S. officials blamed on their counterparts in Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency, or ISI.

The new station chief, who runs one of the largest U.S. intelligence-gathering operations in the world, played an instrumental role in overseeing efforts to confirm bin Laden’s location before last week’s raid.

This reminds me of the Cold War, when the US and USSR would retaliate for espionage by expelling well-known operatives after an arrest.  In this case, that’s a disturbing comparison, because Pakistan is a putative ally, not antagonist.  The next man to draw this assignment better not sign any long-term leases in Islamabad.

Still, this is the kind of petty retaliation that speaks more to Pakistani impotence than rage.  They can’t afford to go full rogue on the US, not with Islamists looking for any good opening to seize control.  The best they can do is to tweak the US to express their humiliation and try to be seen as only incompletely impotent.

I’d guess that the CIA figured that they would have to change station chiefs after the end of this operation, and that it would be an excellent trade.  They would be correct.

Update: The CIA so far refuses to play along:

The US has said it will not withdraw the CIA station chief in Pakistan, despite his name being leaked to local media last week.

But officials quoted by US media said the name published in Pakistani news outlets was spelt incorrectly. …

Asad Munir, a former intelligence chief with responsibility for Pakistan’s tribal areas, where a number of militants find sanctuary, said the release of the name would not necessarily put the official at risk.

“Normally people in intelligence have cover names. Only if there is a photograph to identify him could it put his life in danger,” Mr Munir told AP.

Interesting.  Will the Pakistanis settle for that, or will they attempt to up the ante with a photograph?


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who will presumably be heading home quickly

Okay, I cringed a little at this…

Fallon on May 10, 2011 at 9:32 AM

Time to target some drones on another Pakistani wedding party.

Roy Rogers on May 10, 2011 at 9:35 AM

That’s a pretty childish response if you think about it…

jake-the-goose on May 10, 2011 at 9:36 AM

Time to defund Pakistan…..now.

tencole on May 10, 2011 at 9:36 AM

Anyone still think the Pockeestawnees can be trusted?

darwin-t on May 10, 2011 at 9:37 AM

I know that this is a childish, knee-jerk reaction…but sometimes I just wish we would pull our money and support from countries like this. Tell them, “See how long you last without our help.” If we could just get rid of their nukes, or at least secure them……..

search4truth on May 10, 2011 at 9:38 AM

The important thing here is… can Sean Penn play his husband in the movie?

myrenovations on May 10, 2011 at 9:38 AM

In this case, that’s a disturbing comparison, because Pakistan is a putative ally, not antagonist.

I think it quite apparent that this piece of conventional wisdom has proven time and time again to be utterly incorrect.

I was flipping through the channels the other night, right after OBL was dispatched to the nether regions, and stopped on Rachel Maddow’s program for a minute.

She detailed instance after instance of AQ operatives and other Muslim ne’er-do-wells (redundant, I know) that have been captured in Pakistan.

She had a very valid point – they are not our friends.

turfmann on May 10, 2011 at 9:39 AM

2nd that tencole….China will get their stuff under our noses anyway

cmsinaz on May 10, 2011 at 9:40 AM

Stop paying these radical muslims off! We have to get out of bed with these ant-USA liars. Obama gives Pakistan billions and let’s Texas burn down. Guess whose side he’s on.

frizzbee on May 10, 2011 at 9:41 AM

Pakistan is caught between Islamists and India and India happens to be a friend of ours. Don’t overplay your hand, Pakistan.

cartooner on May 10, 2011 at 9:42 AM

I propose a new policy:
Out a station chief, we off your security chief.

strictnein on May 10, 2011 at 9:43 AM

Why are we sending them money?
Seem to me that they are using it to kill our fellow Americans, directly or indirectly it doesn’t matter.
We are basically funding a war against ourselves. My gosh, we are stupid.

ORconservative on May 10, 2011 at 9:44 AM

They can’t afford to go full rogue on the US, not with Islamists looking for any good opening to seize control.

Do you mean more militant Islamists? The Pakistanis are helping the Taliban and AQ.

They hid OBL all this time as well. There is no way he could have hid out there all this time otherwise.

Time to cut them off.

dogsoldier on May 10, 2011 at 9:53 AM

Oh Obama will suck up to them. Anyone who outs US is someone to be courted by this administration. This whole bunch in D.C. is a joke. No concept of who is an ally and who isn’t, who should be trusted and who shouldn’t be and has absolutely no problem lying to the people about it.

I mean, look, we know presidents use staged photos quite often, but how many times has this president been caught in lies, faked situations, etc.? It’s really very pathetic. And it makes this country look VERY bad.

Then again, the GOP seems NOT to have gotten the message on what the people want either. Who the hell knows WHAT willhappen next year. God help us.

Mad Mad Monica on May 10, 2011 at 9:54 AM

Time to have another CIA contractor “accidentally” mistake some ISI officers for robbers.

teke184 on May 10, 2011 at 9:55 AM

Time to have another CIA contractor “accidentally” mistake some ISI officers for robbers.

teke184 on May 10, 2011 at 9:55 AM

I’m with you.

blatantblue on May 10, 2011 at 9:58 AM

Not only should we cut off funding, but we should strengthen our ties with India! The Indians are our natural allies. They’re peaceful, industrious and we have massive trade and labor connections with them. They are a huge part of our future as well as a check on Pockeystan.

MJBrutus on May 10, 2011 at 10:05 AM

It’s just a show to let their people know that they were not complicit, and to calm the masses…I would bet our state dept. knew about this.

right2bright on May 10, 2011 at 10:09 AM

I propose a new policy:
Out a station chief, we off your security chief.

strictnein on May 10, 2011 at 9:43 AM

Go with a more cruel twist. Put out word that a couple of ISI higher-ups that we know are in bed with Al Qaeda/Taliban are actually working for us. Let the SOBs sweat, and let the thugs take care of them for us.

Patrick S on May 10, 2011 at 10:16 AM

Pakistan,
Chile, and
Nevada.

I cringe with every Europeanized pronunciation.

tomg51 on May 10, 2011 at 10:18 AM

Pakistan Delenda Est.

We need to stop coddling this jihadi loving failure of a state. Its time to force Pakistan to choose, Jihadism or the West. Including the stopping of Christian persecution.

Iblis on May 10, 2011 at 10:19 AM

Hey America, that south Asian chick you been going out with is a faithless slut. She takes your money (that you think supports her kids) and spends it on crack and her jihadi backdoor man.

BL@KBIRD on May 10, 2011 at 10:23 AM

Patrick S on May 10, 2011 at 10:16 AM

Oh, very nice. And so much easier.

strictnein on May 10, 2011 at 10:26 AM

Hey media: If Obama’s responsible for the gutsy decisions that made the OBL mission a success, he’ll also be responsible when this fellow dies, right?

rogerb on May 10, 2011 at 10:28 AM

You know thoses preditors we send to North Waziristan to attack the Pakistani Talliban, wouldn’t it be tragic if one had a guidance failure and hit ISI headquarters by mistake?

burt on May 10, 2011 at 10:33 AM

I know that this is a childish, knee-jerk reaction…but sometimes I just wish we would pull our money and support from countries like this. Tell them, “See how long you last without our help.” If we could just get rid of their nukes, or at least secure them……..

search4truth on May 10, 2011 at 9:38 AM

It isn’t our money anyway. We borrow money from China to pay Pakistan.

fossten on May 10, 2011 at 10:34 AM

rogerb, you should live so long.

burt on May 10, 2011 at 10:34 AM

Time to have another CIA contractor “accidentally” mistake some ISI officers for robbers.

teke184 on May 10, 2011 at 9:55 AM

More like time for a RAW deal, if ISI can’t or won’t purge the jihadis.

Christien on May 10, 2011 at 10:44 AM

I know that this is a childish, knee-jerk reaction…
search4truth on May 10, 2011 at 9:38 AM

Hehe: “You don’t trust me with your secrets? Fine, then I’ll reveal every secret you ever told me before!”

Childish? Definitely. But I like the idea that any possible argument for trusting Pakistan has now been irretrievably disabused. Should make things simpler from now on.

logis on May 10, 2011 at 12:07 PM

With advances in science in the last 30 years, I suggest we do something.

Break out the work file on the attempt to cause Castro’s beard to fall out.

Weaponize it and use it all over the Middle East.

And while we are at it, leave some for Kenny Rodgers.

TiminPhx on May 10, 2011 at 12:12 PM

Ed:

In this case, that’s a disturbing comparison, because Pakistan is a putative ally, not antagonist.

It’s also a hugely counterproductive oversimplification, as is any analysis which conflates Pakistan’s ISI, military and government. It might be more accurate to say that the ISI can’t afford to go full rogue on the Pakistani government than on the U.S. Such internal conflicts are part of a starkly different picture than the one you’re painting, with enormous implications for the U.S./Pakistani relationship and our strategic interests in the region — something that the folks now demanding that we just cut Pakistan loose ignore to our peril.

JM Hanes on May 10, 2011 at 12:24 PM

Predator drone coordinates for the “house arrest” locale of nuke thief/ Paki ‘hero’ A.Q. Khan loaded yet?

profitsbeard on May 10, 2011 at 12:27 PM

Hey, can’t we know the real names of all the heads of departments in the ISI? Information wants to be free, and all that…

mojo on May 10, 2011 at 1:20 PM

Look at Ed’s editorial photo. The Pakistani is waving the ar-raya — what Westerners have been calling the “black flag of jihad” which features the shahada in white on a black flag.

It’s being waved more now as the “battle flag of the caliphate.” It was seen in Tunisia during the protests in January, along with the “national ensign of the caliphate,” the al-liwaa, or the white flag with the shahada in black. Both flags have been seen in demonstrations in Egypt, Yemen, and Lebanon, as well as in sympathetic demonstrations in London and parts of France.

J.E. Dyer on May 10, 2011 at 1:44 PM

Pakistan is getting a little too close to the edge…

Khun Joe on May 10, 2011 at 1:46 PM

“…Pakistan is a putative ally, not antagonist.”

Yeah right. If Pakistan is our ally, then I am a little green man from Mars.

woodNfish on May 10, 2011 at 4:05 PM