UPDATED – Jordan emerges as key CIA counterterrorism ally

UPDATED with NBC report on the identity of the man who attacked the CIA last week:

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Jordan emerges as key CIA counterterrorism ally

Hours after last week’s deadly attack on a CIA base in Afghanistan, a revision was made in official accounts of the number of intelligence operatives killed in the suicide bombing. Instead of eight deaths, as initially reported, the CIA acknowledged only seven.

The eighth victim resurfaced over the weekend when his flag-draped coffin arrived in his native country, Jordan. The man, a captain in the Jordanian intelligence service, was given full military honors at a ceremony that referred only to his “humanitarian work” in war-torn Afghanistan.

In fact, the man’s death offered a rare window into a partnership that U.S. officials describe as crucial to their counterterrorism strategy. Although its participation is rarely acknowledged publicly, Jordan is playing an increasingly vital role in the fight against al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups, sometimes in countries far beyond the Middle East, according to current and former government officials from both countries.

Traditionally close ties between the CIA and the Jordanian spy agency — known as the General Intelligence Department — strengthened after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, occasionally prompting allegations by human rights groups that Jordan was serving as a surrogate jailer and interrogator for the U.S. intelligence agency. In the past two years, in the face of new threats in Afghanistan and Yemen, the United States has again called on its ally for help, current and former officials from both countries said. [continued…]

Editor’s Comment — When the war on terrorism began, George Bush spoke in a language that ten-year olds would understand: America had been attacked by some bad guys and we would now hunt them down.

Those ten-year olds are now entering adulthood yet government officials and journalists still insist in talking like children.

In describing the reason a Jordanian intelligence officer was working alongside CIA officers in Afghanistan as all fell victim to a suicide attack last week, Jamie Smith, a former CIA officer who worked in the border region in the years immediately after the US-led invasion, told The Washington Post: “They know the bad guy’s . . . culture, his associates, and more [than anyone] about the network to which he belongs.”

In this narrative, there’s reason to be unsure about the status of the Jordanians. Are they “good guys” like us? They’ve shown themselves as being indispensable to the United States — as sources of intelligence (who sometimes were not listened to when they should have been, such as when they forewarned the US about 9/11) and as interrogators, which is to say, torturers.

Of course, good guys don’t torture — they have someone else do it for them. And good guys don’t suppress democracy, but the Jordanians are loyal friends to America so I guess in this instance we shouldn’t be too particular about how we assign moral status.

Meanwhile, in the real world, the most striking thing about the attack on Forward Operating Base Chapman was not that it was a devastating event for the CIA — it was the inescapable degree of equivalence in the conflict.

Two groups of combatants, neither of whom wear uniforms are slugging it out on the Afghan-Pakistan border. Each group has identified what it regards as high-value targets and each are using their own available means to hit these targets. The Taliban/Qaeda are using suicide bombers while the CIA is using Hellfire missiles.

When the Taliban struck last week, as far as the reports indicate, there doesn’t appear to have been a single civilian casualty. According to Pakistani reports, on the other hand, Predator strikes have so far resulted in 140 innocent civilians killed for each al Qaeda or Taliban target hit.

So, on the basis of considering who’s killing who, there seems to be sufficient reason to set aside the term “bad guys” and the implied “good guys”. The crucial difference between the two sides does not hinge on who can make the more credible claim of virtue. It comes from the contest between the indigenous and the foreign — a contest in which the advantage of the indigenous is inherent and insurmountable.

However long Americans reside in Afghanistan, it will never become home; their departure is inevitable. All that remains unknown is when we will leave.

Suspected U.S. drone kills 2 in Pakistan

A teacher and his 9-year-old son were killed Sunday night by a suspected U.S. drone, a Pakistani administration official and an intelligence official told CNN.

The incident occurred in the village of Musaki in the North Waziristan district. The suspected U.S. drone fired two guided missiles at the compound of local resident Sadiq Noor, the officials said. There were reports Noor’s home was used by local and foreign militants. [continued…]

US drone attack kills five in Pakistan: officials

U.S. missiles flattened an extremist hideout in Pakistan’s lawless tribal belt Sunday, killing five militants in the latest strike in a recent spike in drone attacks, Pakistani officials said.

The attack targeted a house in Mosakki village, about 25 kilometres (16 miles) east of Miranshah, the main town in North Waziristan, and was the third suspected US missile attack in the tribal district in less than a week. [continued…]

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