Pakistan arrests CIA informants who fingered bin Laden
Even when we get limited cooperation from Pakistan intelligence, another faction sees such help as treasonous, or at least illegal. The government has arrested several informants who helped the CIA track and eventually kill Osama bin Laden.
Pakistan's detention of five C.I.A. informants, including a Pakistani Army major who officials said copied the license plates of cars visiting Bin Laden's compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, in the weeks before the raid, is the latest evidence of the fractured relationship between the United States and Pakistan. It comes at a time when the Obama administration is seeking Pakistan's support in brokering an endgame in the war in neighboring Afghanistan.
At a closed briefing last week, members of the Senate Intelligence Committee asked Michael J. Morell, the deputy C.I.A. director, to rate Pakistan's cooperation with the United States on counterterrorism operations, on a scale of 1 to 10.
"Three," Mr. Morell replied, according to officials familiar with the exchange.
The fate of the C.I.A. informants arrested in Pakistan is unclear, but American officials said that the C.I.A. director, Leon E. Panetta, raised the issue when he travelled to Islamabad last week to meet with Pakistani military and intelligence officers.
The relationship - as bad as it was - has cooled even more. The reason is that the bin Laden raid, as well as attacks by terrorists in recent weeks, have hit the Pakistani army hard:
The Bin Laden raid and more recent attacks by militants in Pakistan have been blows to the country's military, a revered institution in the country. Some officials and outside experts said the military is mired in its worst crisis of confidence in decades.
American officials cautioned that Mr. Morell's comments about Pakistani support was a snapshot of the current relationship, and did not represent the administration's overall assessment.
"We have a strong relationship with our Pakistani counterparts and work through issues when they arise," said Marie E. Harf, a C.I.A. spokeswoman. "Director Panetta had productive meetings last week in Islamabad. It's a crucial partnership, and we will continue to work together in the fight against Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups who threaten our country and theirs."
There is little argument that some Pakistani officers give us excellent intelligence and work with the US to kill terrorists. But the arrest of the informants is a warning to those who are helping us that the government does not look favorably on such cooperation when it makes the nation's military look bad.