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Outraged US Congress says 'enough is enough' about supporting 'lying' ally Pak

June 16, 2011 - Washington

The detention of CIA informants by Pakistan's top spy agency has sparked palpable outrage in US Congress at a putative ally that receives more than two billion dollars a year in American aid.

Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agents have arrested some Pakistanis in recent weeks for allegedly helping the CIA gather intelligence before the May 2 US raid that killed Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

"How long do we support governments that lie to us? When do we say, 'Enough is enough'? They arrested people who helped us get him [bin Laden]," ABC News quoted Senator Patrick Leahy, as asking Defense Secretary Robert Gates at a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing.

Gates prompted laughter with his response: "First of all, I would say, based on 27 years in CIA and four-and-a-half years in this job, most governments lie to each other. That's the way business gets done."

Humour aside, the implications of the arrests could be serious, according to former US counter-terrorism czar Richard Clarke.

"If the US doesn't have local Pakistani informants, then it's going to be very, very difficult for the United States to stage operations inside Pakistan," Clarke said. "And that's exactly what the Pakistani government wants, for it to be very difficult for the Americans to be able to do this again."

Informants are crucial to US counter-terrorism efforts, as it is informants on the ground, usually locals, who provide tips on an enemy target, the report said, adding that while information can come by tapping in to cell phone calls and texts, informants can help track and back up what technical monitoring provides.

Informants can provide eyes on the ground if a drone strike is called in or a secret raid is conducted to make certain the human target is inside and innocents are not.

"With only satellites 200 miles in space, with only intercepts of phone calls, you really don't have the kind of granularity you need if you are going to put American boots on the ground," Clarke said.


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