US intelligence targeting Pakistan, citing nuclear security worries

Rick Moran
Documents provided to the Washington Post by Edward Snowden reveal deep distrust by the US intelligence community of Pakistan and the security of its stockpile of nuclear weapons.

There are other serious concerns as well, including the rising militancy of Islamist groups and an inability to trust assets we've recruited to help us spy on the government.

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 counterĀ­terrorism 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.

The United States has delivered nearly $26 billion in aid to Pakistan over the past 12 years, aimed at stabilizing the country and ensuring its cooperation in counterterrorism efforts. But with Osama bin Laden dead and al-Qaeda degraded, U.S. spy agencies appear to be shifting their attention to dangers that have emerged beyond the patch of Pakistani territory patrolled by CIA drones.

"If the Americans are expanding their surveillance capabilities, it can only mean one thing," said Husain Haqqani, who until 2011 served as Pakistan's ambassador to the United States. "The mistrust now exceeds the trust."

Beyond the budget files, other classified documents provided to The Post expose fresh allegations of systemic human rights abuses in Pakistan. U.S. spy agencies reported that high-ranking Pakistani military and intelligence officials had been aware of -- and possibly ordered -- an extensive campaign of extrajudicial killings targeting militants and other adversaries. 

Pakistan is one of the most anti-American countries in the world, so treating them like an enemy even if their government is nominally an ally isn't surprising.

The top levels of the army are, if not secularists, non-Islamists, while the rank and file conscripts are becoming more radicalized all the time. This presents a headache to both the civilian government and the army as they move into Islamist strongholds to battle al-Qaeda and the Taliban.

I don't think our spooks trust their spooks either.

Just how safe are Pakistani nukes? If we're expending a lot of time and effort to find out, they can't be very secure.

Documents provided to the Washington Post by Edward Snowden reveal deep distrust by the US intelligence community of Pakistan and the security of its stockpile of nuclear weapons.

There are other serious concerns as well, including the rising militancy of Islamist groups and an inability to trust assets we've recruited to help us spy on the government.

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 counterĀ­terrorism 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.

The United States has delivered nearly $26 billion in aid to Pakistan over the past 12 years, aimed at stabilizing the country and ensuring its cooperation in counterterrorism efforts. But with Osama bin Laden dead and al-Qaeda degraded, U.S. spy agencies appear to be shifting their attention to dangers that have emerged beyond the patch of Pakistani territory patrolled by CIA drones.

"If the Americans are expanding their surveillance capabilities, it can only mean one thing," said Husain Haqqani, who until 2011 served as Pakistan's ambassador to the United States. "The mistrust now exceeds the trust."

Beyond the budget files, other classified documents provided to The Post expose fresh allegations of systemic human rights abuses in Pakistan. U.S. spy agencies reported that high-ranking Pakistani military and intelligence officials had been aware of -- and possibly ordered -- an extensive campaign of extrajudicial killings targeting militants and other adversaries. 

Pakistan is one of the most anti-American countries in the world, so treating them like an enemy even if their government is nominally an ally isn't surprising.

The top levels of the army are, if not secularists, non-Islamists, while the rank and file conscripts are becoming more radicalized all the time. This presents a headache to both the civilian government and the army as they move into Islamist strongholds to battle al-Qaeda and the Taliban.

I don't think our spooks trust their spooks either.

Just how safe are Pakistani nukes? If we're expending a lot of time and effort to find out, they can't be very secure.