Cat’s Out of the Bag

The Times/UK launches a brilliant piece of investigative journalism that confirms what we’ve already known – that US forces have been pursuing the Global War on Terror from inside Pakistani territory as early as October 2001. What they judiciously add to the global knowledgebase is an exact location within Pakistan and composition of those forces -

Attention Brave Taliban! The Infidel Are Here!

The CIA is secretly using an airbase in southern Pakistan to launch the Predator drones that observe and attack al-Qaeda and Taleban militants on the Pakistani side of the border with Afghanistan, a Times investigation has found.

The Pakistani and US governments have repeatedly denied that Washington is running military operations, covert or otherwise, on Pakistani territory — a hugely sensitive issue in the predominantly Muslim country.

…Shamsi lies in a sparsely populated area about 190 miles southwest of the city of Quetta, which US intelligence officials believe is used as a staging post by senior Taleban leaders, including Mullah Omar. It is also 100 miles south of the border with Afghanistan’s southern province of Helmand and about 100 miles east of the border with Iran.

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p>Aiding theTimes/UK’s hunt was the array of investigative tools more generally available to an ambitious first world reporter than a trapped-in-a-cave Jihadi –

Key to the Times investigation is the unexplained delivery of 730,000 gallons of F34 aviation fuel to Shamsi. Details were found on the website of the Pentagon’s fuel procurement agency.

The Defence Energy Support Centre site shows that a civilian company, Nordic Camp Supply (NCS), was contracted to deliver the fuel, worth $3.2 million, from Pakistan Refineries near Karachi.

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p>In addition to naming contractors & supply routes, the piece goes on to assert that the site is manned exclusively by CIA personnel with more formal military assistance likely provided by Pakistani rather than US forces. If the CIA + supporting force composition is still there at the time of this writing, perhaps they’d provide a softer target for the enemy than the 10th Mountain Division in Afghanistan. Perhaps a well placed female suicide bomber at an NCS office in Pakistan might be able to disrupt Predator fuel supplies and thereby ground them in a way Jihadis on the battlefield have never been able to?

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p>At the minimum, even if brave Taliban/AQ or their brothers in arms aren’t up for a military attack, the piece does identify a couple new places for a photo-op protest or 2.

I for one eagerly await similar investigative effort put into helping Allied forces track Jihadis. Of course, that might be more dangerous for our ambitious journalists – ultimately, the CIA is far less likely to behead nosy reporters.

26 thoughts on “Cat’s Out of the Bag

  1. While the increased use of drones is a welcome development, there is still one thing that is left unmentioned. If the CIA has been operating in Pakistan for a number of years now, why have they not been able to make any headway to crack the Taliban/Al Qaeda operation that is run out of Quetta? Launching drone attacks in a crowded city may not be feasible, but why not deploy agents to the area? Unless they worry that ISI is so riddled with Taliban sympathizers.

  2. There’s not much news here. Civilian CIA personnel operating in Pakistan with assistance from Pak army? So what. Civilian CIA have been operating in Pakistan since at least ’79 (see Mir Aimal Kansi) and probably earlier.

    And then there’s this: A spokesman for the US embassy in Pakistan told The Times: “Shamsi is not the final destination

    British Journalism again. The broadsheet equivalent of a page 3 girl.

  3. If there is a base in Shamsi, I am pretty sure the Taliban knows about it. You can’t have an airstrip and drones taking off in that part of the world without people noticing. And that kind of news spreads rather fast in the countryside. Also, since the drone attack is hurting, the first thing the Taliban would’ve done is to look for where the drones are coming from. The name of the fuel supplier may be useful for them, though.

  4. I agree that this article is somewhat sexed-up in what it tries to imply, but the issues related to supply routes are a big deal that is not getting a lot of attention. The main supply route for the entire US operation in Afghanistan goes through Pakistan, and so is susceptible to disruption (either by Taliban or by the Pakistani government itself, should it become destabilized or be taken over by hardline elements). The US has previously used an airbase in Kyrgyzstan to hedge against problems on the Pakistani supply chain, but those of you who have been following the news recently know that that option has been closed off by Russian influence, pushing the US to reconsider basing in Uzbekistan (which was done earlier in the campaign, but abandoned over distaste for the regime there).

  5. investigative journalism confirms what we’ve already known….

    Absolutely. For the general public who follow the news beyond the headlines all the public show of disapproval by Pak and some antics of secrecy by US & Pak seems ridiculous. Senator Diana Fienstein has already expressed similar feelings. This long-standing controversy regarding drone attacks since the death of Taliban warlord Nek Mohammed and Pak journalist Hayatullah Khan who took photographs of the missile to expose the drone attacks, is intriguing.

  6. Well to add to this – Tuesday Map: Osama bin Laden’s current location

    Geography Professor Thomas Gillespie of UCLA has employed a technique typically used for tracking endangered species in order to pinpoint the most likely location of the world’s most wanted terrorist. In a paper (pdf) published in the MIT International Review Gillespie describes how he used biogeographic data including bin Laden’s last known location, cultural background, security needs, declining health, limited mobility and height to create a mathematical model that he claims will show where the terror mastermind is hiding.
  7. I for one eagerly await similar investigative effort put into helping Allied forces

    I’m pretty sure V-E day will still come about the same time as every other year. I wish you people were more creative in the wars they clumsily invoke in attempts to justify this farce/debacle. Surely the Civil War would be useful for propaganda purposes? Or just throw something in when people are least expecting it – everyone likes a good Gadsden Purchase or 44 40 or bust reference.

    Tippecanoe and Syria too! From the Halls of Ahmedinejad!

  8. 1 · KXB said

    While the increased use of drones is a welcome development, there is still one thing that is left unmentioned. If the CIA has been operating in Pakistan for a number of years now, why have they not been able to make any headway to crack the Taliban/Al Qaeda operation that is run out of Quetta? Launching drone attacks in a crowded city may not be feasible, but why not deploy agents to the area? Unless they worry that ISI is so riddled with Taliban sympathizers.

    Reason for an increase in South /Central Asian language training in the U.S. as well as recruitment of immigrants from these countries to get better insight into the locale and its people.

    Before the U.S. government though it could just shock and aww everything.

  9. vinod,

    how dare you compound the treachery of this british rag by spreading sensitive details all over the internet–that which required said british rag’s reporter to procure security clearances and jump on one leg for a count of fifteen. It’s not like any old cheeto-muncher couldn’t have used the great Gazoogle to find such highly classified info. Faugh! and…For shame!

  10. And don’t forget that craven traitor Brandon Neely! He had the gall to spill the beans about top-secret CBT, BDSM and SERE-CBT-BDSM. Faugh, I say!

  11. 5 · Marie said

    > investigative journalism confirms what we’ve already known…. Absolutely. For the general public who follow the news beyond the headlines all the public show of disapproval by Pak and some antics of secrecy by US & Pak seems ridiculous. Senator Diana Fienstein has already expressed similar feelings. This long-standing controversy regarding drone attacks since the death of Taliban warlord Nek Mohammed and Pak journalist Hayatullah Khan who took photographs of the missile to expose the drone attacks, is intriguing.

    There was a very interesting frontline documentary on the death of nek mohammed. Google it and watch it.

  12. 13 · nm

    There was a very interesting frontline documentary on the death of nek mohammed. Google it and watch it.

    Yup…watched that already.

  13. by your logic, vinod, i can only assume that you are aiding the terrorists by further disseminating this information on this blog. would you have done this to the allies?

  14. Details were found on the website of the Pentagon’s fuel procurement agency.
    A source at NCS, which is based in Denmark, confirmed that the company had been awarded the contract and had supplied the fuel to Shamsi
    We can see the planes flying from the base,” said Safar Khan, a local journalist. “The area around the base is a high-security zone and no one is allowed there.” He said that the outer perimeter of Shamsi was guarded by Pakistani military, but the airfield itself was under the control of American forces.

    Yup. Sure does seem like that Shamsi CIA airbase is the best kept secret since the Roswell UFO crash.

  15. Disagree w/ the content of the post = fine. Randomly insulting the blogger instead = lame. Deletions follow.

  16. 9 · Manju said

    Also, if the Taliban are cowardly, what does that make you? Have you enlisted in this war that you love?

    What’s your point? Both Vinod and Obama are both guilty of warmongering against Afghanistan and Pakistan and that’s f@#ked up…and?

    I would note though that Obama has actually demonstrated a willingness to put his own life at risk for something he believes in while doing so (see assassination attempts on every president- stir in race, xenophobia, economic turmoil, fracturing of Republican Party and profoundly f@#ked up geopolitical situation).

  17. 16 · SM Intern said

    Disagree w/ the content of the post = fine. Randomly insulting the blogger instead = lame. Deletions follow.

    Where does “undermining basic tenets of democracy by accusing the press of ‘aiding and abetting the enemy’ in demagogic language” fit in?

  18. 18 · Dr Amonymous said

    Where does “undermining basic tenets of democracy by accusing the press of ‘aiding and abetting the enemy’ in demagogic language” fit in?

    IMHO, Somewhere between hysterical polemics and over the top hyperbole.

  19. What’s your point?

    That Vinod is lean and handsome and has great teeth like Dear Leader.

    Both Vinod and Obama are both guilty of warmongering against Afghanistan and Pakistan and that’s f@#ked up…and?

    Yeah that too, but you say it like its such a bad thing. After all, warmongering has liberated us from slavery, fascism, and communism…so cowards like us really should be more grateful.

    But in all seriousness, I have great respect for your “chicken hawk” argument. I know its a form of ad hominem but that’s not necessarily a bad thing in my book. Its such a cutting argument, emasculating even. The problem is, and this was the point of linking to a Obama pic, is your net is cast too wide. You sunk Obama and (unless you are a pure pacifist) arguably yourself among many others, in your quest to insult Vinod.

    So your ad hominem attack ran up against another classic ad hominem attack that i don’t necessarily minimize either: the tu quoque. But in your case the 2 ad hominems cancel each other out, don’t they? so we’re even.

  20. 17 · Dr Amonymous said

    would note though that Obama has actually demonstrated a willingness to put his own life at risk for something he believes in while doing so (see assassination attempts on every president- stir in race, xenophobia, economic turmoil, fracturing of Republican Party and profoundly f@#ked up geopolitical situation).

    Clever argument. Think of all the people you just liberated from the chicken hawk attack.

  21. LOL–kudo’s, Manju, though at some point too much dancing on the grave can seem a tad defensive! ;-)

  22. But in all seriousness, I have great respect for your “chicken hawk” argument. I know its a form of ad hominem but that’s not necessarily a bad thing in my book. Its such a cutting argument, emasculating even. The problem is, and this was the point of linking to a Obama pic, is your net is cast too wide. You sunk Obama and (unless you are a pure pacifist) arguably yourself among many others, in your quest to insult Vinod.

    How very clever you are. Surely a noted logician and postmodernist such as yourself would have noted that the jingoism of Vinod’s argument is belied by his actions. Taken together in conjunction with the argument, it serves not to mock the poster but to illustrate the role of social position in the formation of the range of views, and the judgement is rendered within that spectrum (of which I am a part).

    It is there for your consideration, though I’ll grant you the charge of being too aggro was a fair one.

    After all, warmongering has liberated us from slavery, fascism, and communism…so cowards like us really should be more grateful.

    You need to read up on your history or check your definition of “warmongering.” Also, when were you subjected to slavery, fascism, or communism (see point above about position of subject).

  23. 19 · Vinod

    IMHO, Somewhere between hysterical polemics and over the top hyperbole.

    Oh you mean like a post implying that the Times is somehow amiss in providing solid evidence of the presence of a U.S. base in Pakistan (guess what – actually newsworthy) because it somehow provides intel to combatants against the U.S. that they couldn’t otherwise acquire because without UK newspapers, they are lost for local intelligence. While you refer to the U.S. army and its supporters in language that evokes the WWII struggle against Naziism.

  24. The problem is, and this was the point of linking to a Obama pic, is your net is cast too wide. You sunk Obama and (unless you are a pure pacifist) arguably yourself among many others, in your quest to insult Vinod.

    It’s not a quest – it’s a bad habit that’s increasingly difficult to avoid. (see?) In any case, your argument overreaches – my argument was not against the use of force but against the disconnect between the risk at which you place yourself and the actions you advocate in the world (presumably with all risk to go to others). attempting to remove that disconnect to the extent you’re able to given the limits any individual faces would ensure greater accountability in policy measures, which an astute student of neoclassical ecoomics would surely understand through the basic concepts of incentives and externalities. ;)

    Moreover, this, like most of my arguments that you misinterpret, was not meant to be understood in black and white terms – there are greater and lesser miscreants in the world and greater and lesser examples of irresponsibility (for example, the post we’re discussing vs. your commentary about it). It’s not that hard, assuming (usually erroneously) that you try.

  25. 21 · Manju said

    Clever argument. Think of all the people you just liberated from the chicken hawk attack.

    No I considered that. You would have to be aware that you were at risk ;) However, if George Bush knowingly and in seriousness was willing to put his own life at risk for Iraq, then more props to him, in this particular situation. But he really was very clueless.