khan, musharraf and the pre-election hunt for bin laden

The New Yorker has another great piece by Seymour Hersh. Actually, Im not quite done with it yet, but its good so far. This one is about the deal between Bush and Musharraf which allowed Musharraf to place the blame for nuclear proliferation to terrorist nations squarely on the shoulders of Pakistani nuclear scientist Abdul Khan in exchange for letting the US step up the hunt for bin Laden within Pakistan. Its amazing stuff. Heres a clip:

Musharraf, who seized power in a coup d�at in 1999, has been a major ally of the Bush Administration in the war on terrorism. According to past and present military and intelligence officials, however, Washingtons support for the pardon of Khan was predicated on what Musharraf has agreed to do next: look the other way as the U.S. hunts for Osama bin Laden in a tribal area of northwest Pakistan dominated by the forbidding Hindu Kush mountain range, where he is believed to be operating. American commanders have been eager for permission to conduct major sweeps in the Hindu Kush for some time, and Musharraf has repeatedly refused them. Now, with Musharrafs agreement, the Administration has authorized a major spring offensive that will involve the movement of thousands of American troops.

Musharraf has proffered other help as well. A former senior intelligence official said to me, Musharraf told us, Weve got guys inside. The people who provide fresh fruits and vegetables and herd the goats for bin Laden and his Al Qaeda followers. Its a quid pro quo: were going to get our troops inside Pakistan in return for not forcing Musharraf to deal with Khan.

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