Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Osama Could Be Hangin' At A Restaurant...

[Posted by reader_iam] Islamabad a table or two away from a Musharraf himself, but he'd be in no danger as long as he was "living a peaceful life." Well, that's sort of what I'm getting from the first wave of reporting and commentary about events coming out of Pakistan and how Osama Bin Laden is supposedly safe to roam free.

Surely there are others, out here in little-people land, questioning the story put out by ABC as it has been presented so far.

Certainly, an agreement was struck over North Waziristan between pro-Taliban militants and the Pakistania government, as reported a few days ago. Yes, this has disturbing implications, which need to be explored and addressed.

And do I think, forever and always, that when you're dealing with a for-now-at-least-ally as torn as Pakistan is between this world and that loyalty, containing deep knots and conflicted layers of connection, and essentially run as a military dictatorship--do I think that most anything is possible, most anything possibly true, as the precarious struggle-on-a-tight rope continues?

Emphatically, yes.

However. HOWEVER. Something is mighty hinky about this here story. There's a whole lot of missing, a whole dearth of waiting, and a generous tablespoon of gleeful pounce about how this is being reported--and then commented upon in the blogosphere, at least in the early stages. Certainly, it could be true. Certainly, if true in its particulars--Osama, go in peace!--the story is huge. (And we should cut Pakistan off, if so, immediately, and using almost all means necessary. India, for example, should start cheering from the rooftops.)

But could be true--much less accurate or precise--is not the same thing as is true. I think we need more before we go off half-cocked, whether in redrawing the map of U.S. allies, however unsatisfactory, to put Pakistan into the blatant-traitor-and-therefore-enemy category, or trumpeting, once again, what complete fools [insert favorite mix of targets] are.

When I first saw this mentioned on a particular blog a couple of hours back, of course I was intrigued (and appalled, and etc.). So, of course, I scanned news channels, and googled. I found it notable the number of major news outlets that weren't reporting this. And which ones weren't. Not just here, but also around the world. Certainly there were links. But they were decidedly long on conjecture and/or outrage, and remarkably short on facts and specifics.

But, OK, I get the idea of scoop. So I waited. I googled and I skimmed and I danced around the 'net again. And still.

And still.

Well, I did come up with this brief from the International Herald Tribune, owned by the New York Times company, containing the firm denial by Pakistan's top military spokesman that he'd said what was attributed to him.

Do sources spin or even lie sometimes? Of course. Do they cover up on occasion? Yep.

But the point is that we don't know yet. ABC may have reported the story, but so far it's a shallow one. And, well, as I said, hinky. Even if it's true--because we're given no explanation to explain the events, why Pakistan thinks it's a good idea to adopt a policy (Osama, go in peace!) that is so inflammatory to the U.S., and why the source or sources who spoke to ABC news chose to break the news, so to speak, in such an inflammatory manner. How does this benefit Pakistan? Who does it benefit?

Now, again, an accord has been reached between Pakistan and pro-Taliban forces. As I said, this is disturbing and carries potentially very dangerous implications. But it is not the same thing as what's being reported and speculated about, particularly in the way it's being reported and speculated about, generally speaking, so far.

Stop, people: Wait. Learn. And consider the sources all the way around. This game is more than a political one.

Added: Questions to ponder: How much "less" free has the region in question been for the roamings of Al Qaeda, under the status quo? What opportunities may be presented under the new situation? I don't know those answers. But they'd be worth having, to fill out the picture.