In another chapter of Intelligence Surprises We Thought Everyone Already Knew, the Washington Post presents the latest analysis from the stolen summary of American intelligence purloined by Edward Snowden, which shows … we really don’t trust Pakistan. In fact, American intelligence spends a lot of money keeping up with Pakistan, which seems to surprise the Post enough to make it their big feature this morning:
The $52.6 billion U.S. intelligence arsenal is aimed mainly at unambiguous adversaries, including al-Qaeda, North Korea and Iran. But top-secret budget documents reveal an equally intense focus on one purported ally: Pakistan.
No other nation draws as much scrutiny across so many categories of national security concern.
A 178-page summary of the U.S. intelligence community’s “black budget” shows that the United States has ramped up its surveillance of Pakistan’s nuclear arms, cites previously undisclosed concerns about biological and chemical sites there, and details efforts to assess the loyalties of counterterrorism sources recruited by the CIA.
Pakistan appears at the top of charts listing critical U.S. intelligence gaps. It is named as a target of newly formed analytic cells. And fears about the security of its nuclear program are so pervasive that a budget section on containing the spread of illicit weapons divides the world into two categories: Pakistan and everybody else.
The disclosures — based on documents provided to The Washington Post by former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden — expose broad new levels of U.S. distrust in an already unsteady security partnership with Pakistan, a politically unstable country that faces rising Islamist militancy. They also reveal a more expansive effort to gather intelligence on Pakistan than U.S. officials have disclosed.
So now we’re supposed to be surprised that the CIA hasn’t disclosed how much they don’t trust Pakistan? Perhaps they figure it just went without saying. Even in the more cooperative post-9/11 period, everyone knew that Pakistan’s ISI had partnered with the Taliban and likely are still partnering with them. In the disputed Kashmir region, ISI is also working with Lashkar-e-Taiba, which conducted the Mumbai massacre and works with other Islamist terrorist groups, including al-Qaeda, and has training camps in Afghanistan. They have nuclear weapons and the US has a pretty strong interest in making sure that those ties to radical Islamists don’t include nuclear proliferation.
Oh, and don’t forget that two years ago we found out that Osama bin Laden lived within a mile of their premiere military academy, too. We think that AQ’s new leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, may still be there. And we are supposed to be surprised by the intelligence focus and spending on Pakistan?
NBC dedicated 88 seconds over the weekend to the previous Snowden release. Today, they cut a full minute off of that expenditure:
As I wrote yesterday, this release isn’t whistleblowing. It’s just intended to damage American intelligence operations in legitimate areas, a definition for which Pakistan most certainly qualifies.