Saturday, December 29, 2007

Pakistan on Bhutto, Huckabee on Pakistan, Kristol at the NYT

It's looking more and more like the Pakistani government is trying to deflect attention from questions about possible involvement in Benazir Bhutto's assassination -- or even taking active steps to cover up such involvement:

As I write this post, India’s leading TV channels are showing video clips of the alleged assailants firing from the revolver at Benazir Bhutto. And the news agency AP reports: “An Islamic militant group said Saturday it had no link to Benazir Bhutto’s killing and the opposition leader’s aides accused the government of a cover-up, disputing the official account of her assassination.

“Bhutto’s aides said they doubted militant commander Baitullah Mehsud was behind the attack on the opposition leader and said the government’s claim that she died when she hit her head on the sunroof of her vehicle was ‘dangerous nonsense’.

“Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton called for an independent, international investigation into Bhutto’s death — perhaps by the United Nations — saying Friday there was ‘no reason to trust the Pakistani government’.

To give a further twist to the entire mystery, Pakistan government did not carry out the post-mortem on Benazir Bhutto’s body. The government now explains that it was not done at the request of Bhutto’s husband. It is unbelievable that in a crime that has international ramifications, and all the potential of turning into a major controversy, the Pakistan government conveniently overlooked basic legal requirements and allowed the burial to take place. Thus fuelling supicion that Musharraf regime is attempting a cover-up.

Every time Mike Huckabee opens his mouth and says anything about foreign policy, he has to pry his foot out:
In discussing the volatile situation in Pakistan, Mike Huckabee has made several erroneous or misleading statements at a time when he has been under increasing scrutiny from fellow presidential candidates for a lack of fluency in foreign policy issues.

Explaining statements he made suggesting that the instability in Pakistan should remind Americans to tighten security on the southern border of the United States, Mr. Huckabee said Friday that “we have more Pakistani illegals coming across our border than all other nationalities, except those immediately south of the border.”

Asked to justify the statement, he later cited a March 2006 article in The Denver Post reporting that from 2002 to 2005, Pakistanis were the most numerous non-Latin Americans caught entering the United States illegally. According to The Post, 660 Pakistanis were detained in that period.

A recent report from the Department of Homeland Security, however, concluded that, over all, illegal immigrants from the Philippines, India, Korea, China and Vietnam were all far more numerous than those from Pakistan.

In a separate interview on Friday on MSNBC, Mr. Huckabee, a Republican, said that the Pakistani government “does not have enough control of those eastern borders near Afghanistan to be able go after the terrorists.” Those borders are on the western side of Pakistan, not the eastern side.

Further, he offered an Orlando crowd his “apologies for what has happened in Pakistan.” His aides said later that he meant to say “sympathies.”

He also said he was worried about martial law “continuing” in Pakistan, although Mr. Musharraf lifted the state of emergency on Dec. 15. Mr. Huckabee later said that he was referring to a renewal of full martial law and said that some elements, including restrictions on judges and the news media, had continued.

Mr. Huckabee’s comments on the situation in Pakistan were not the first time he has been caught unprepared on foreign policy matters. Early this month, after the release of a National Intelligence Estimate concluding that Iran had stopped its nuclear weapons program in 2003, Mr. Huckabee said that he was not familiar with the report, even though it had been widely reported in the news for more than 30 hours.

You're supposed to do better than this if you want to be president of the United States. Then again, two terms of George W. Bush has significantly lowered the bar.

The New York Times is apparently about to give William Kristol (aka The Grinning Deathhead) a coveted weekly columnist slot starting in the new year:

Recently cast off from Time magazine, presumably for writing shallow, predictable tripe, the Weekly Standard’s William Kristol is getting a promotion of sorts.

The Huffington Post has learned that, in a move bound to create controversy, the New York Times is set to announce that Bill Kristol will become a weekly columnist in 2008. Kristol, a prominent neo-conservative who recently departed Time magazine in what was reported as a “mutual” decision, has close ties to the White House and is a well-known proponent of the war in Iraq. Kristol also is a regular contributor to Fox News’ Special Report with Brit Hume.

If the report is accurate, and Kristol is joining the Times’ roster, this is an embarrassment from which the paper of record will not soon recover. If Kristol were merely wrong about matters of national significance, this decision would merely be a mistake. But in recent years Kristol has become far more — gone are the “soothing tones” that made him a mainstay on the DC cocktail circuit, replaced with a bitter, sycophantic belligerence.

Over the summer, when Kristol started blaming American liberals for Khmer Rouge’s crimes, and arguing that the U.S. withdrawal from Vietnam also created the conditions for the Islamist revolution in Iran in 1979, I started wondering if Kristol actually believes his own nonsense. Except, as Jonathan Chait explained, it may not matter: “Kristol’s good standing in the Washington establishment depends on the wink-and-nod awareness that he’s too smart to believe his own agitprop. Perhaps so. But, in the end, a fake thug is not much better than the real thing.”

True, except now, one of the world’s most prestigious news outlets has apparently given this thug space on the most valuable media real estate in existence.

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