Quite a scoop here for Blitzer and CNN, although the more you think about it the less convincing it is. Doubtless she was concerned about her security; given the political tensions between her and Musharraf, anyone would be. But how deep was that concern? Here’s the last photo taken of her. See anything there that’s inconsistent with the idea of a woman in mortal fear of being sabotaged by her detail? It was the gunshots, not the bomb blast, that apparently killed her, too, leaving it an open question of whether she would have survived if she’d been a bit more careful. Blitzer, to his credit, offers that photo to Mark Siegel, who relayed her e-mail to him. Siegel’s feeble reply: Don’t blame the victim.
The latest on whodunnit comes from the New York Sun, which notes that AQ’s Internet forums went dark earlier today “suggesting a major announcement was forthcoming.” The problem is that Al Qaeda has every incentive to claim responsibility even if it’s innocent and Pakistani intel has every incentive to deny responsibility even if it’s guilty. How do you tell a bona fide jihadist operation from a willing patsy? Your guess is as good as mine. But in case the picture’s not complicated enough, TPM reminds us that there are plenty of homegrown mujahid groups in Pakistan that aren’t terribly closely affiliated with AQ or the Taliban that might also want a moderate democratic force like Bhutto eliminated. At the top of the list: Lashkar e-Taiba, culprit in various terrorist attacks in Pakistan and India. Was it them, or AQ, or Musharraf, or someone else? Forget it, Jake, it’s Chinatown.
I leave you with Gen. Zinni’s comments at the end of Time’s piece, which are interesting insofar as they (a) exculpate Bush (of whom Zinni is no fan) while not exactly exculpating America and (b) reason that AQ probably is responsible — precisely because, contra leftist wisdom, they’re doing so badly on other fronts of the war on terror.
Update: Newsweek asks the question of the hour. Contra Mark Siegel, the only guy I’m willing to rule out as a suspect with near-certainty is Musharraf himself, precisely because he’ll reap the whirlwind from this and he’d have known that beforehand. So would disloyal figures within the government, though, which makes this sort of a twofer for them: get rid of Bhutto and, by doing so, get rid of Musharraf too.
Update: Intel official Bruce Riedel, who worked for Bush I and Clinton, thinks it’s “almost certainly” Al Qaeda. Some commenters are wondering if this will give Musharraf a freer hand to wage war in the tribal areas. Why would it? They’ve tried to kill him many times; killing Bhutto isn’t going to concentrate his mind any more than it already is. Bhutto’s supporters were anti-jihadist before today too so it’s not like he’s gained any allies from this.