It's not every day that the Weekly Standard says Bush is a liar. It's not every day that WS aligns itself with dKos and Maureen Dowd, on a point like this. But that's exactly what's happening, and it's worth noticing.
Most dKos readers are well-aware that Pakistan has surrendered to the Taliban, and released a large number of jihadist prisoners. This critically important developing story has been well-covered at dKos (links provided below). The main purpose of this diary is to note an important milestone: the Weekly Standard (9/23/06, print date 10/02/06) is starting to catch on:
these events may constitute the most significant development in the global war on terror in the past year--yet the media have taken little notice
The Dubai ports deal was public knowledge for months, but was virtually unnoticed during that time. Then somehow a spark was lit and the story exploded with enormous political impact. Awareness of events in Pakistan might be proceeding in a similar trajectory.
Aside from highlighting the WS article, this diary evaluates the overall progress of the story by providing an overview of how it's been covered by different branches of the media.
Some highlights of the WS article
The ramifications of the loss of Waziristan are tremendous. The region that Pakistan has ceded to the Taliban and al Qaeda is about the size of New Jersey, with a population of around 800,000. ...
The Taliban and al Qaeda now have a new safe haven, and with it the freedom to train, arm, and infiltrate foot soldiers and suicide cells into Afghanistan with little fear of reprisal from the Pakistani government. ...
Musharraf has admitted that the Taliban "are crossing from the Pakistan side and causing bomb blasts in Afghanistan," yet his solution is to cede government authority over the tribal areas.
Internationally, Waziristan will serve as a training base for al Qaeda operatives of all stripes, as well as jihadists who want to attack their home countries. The 9/11 Commission Report notes that catastrophic terror attacks require sanctuaries that provide "time, space, and ability to perform competent planning and staff work." Al Qaeda has gained a new sanctuary in Waziristan. The Taliban and al Qaeda will operate with impunity. ...
Musharraf has reiterated that the U.S.-led coalition forces in Afghanistan won't be allowed into the tribal areas covered by the peace deal. "On our side of the border there will be a total uprising if a foreigner enters that area," he said. "It's not possible at all, we will never allow any foreigners into that area. It's against the culture of the people there." ...
Taliban and al Qaeda forces have consolidated great geographic gains over the past few weeks. On September 15, they also experienced a major gain in personnel when Pakistan released 2,500 foreign fighters linked to the Taliban and al Qaeda. ...
Intelligence sources indicate that the released prisoners represent a broad cross-section of the jihadist movement ... [including] several of the murderers of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl. These individuals are said to be gathering in al Qaeda's new safe haven in Waziristan and reconstituting the terror group there.
It seems that at this point nobody in the U.S. government knows how to deal with the situation in Pakistan. ... Some in the State Department have even publicly defended the Waziristan Accord, while at a Friday press conference with President Bush, Musharraf stated, "The deal is not at all with the Taliban. This deal is against the Taliban. The deal is with the tribal elders." To this, President Bush replied, "I believe him."
But neither President Bush nor the State Department officials are to be believed on this point. They aren't ignorant of the problems with the accord. Rather, it seems that their concern is Musharraf's retreat from Waziristan and release of prisoners suggest he may be losing his grip on power. And as bad as Musharraf has been of late, things would be far worse if, in a critical Muslim nation with nuclear weapons, a relatively pro-Western leader were replaced by al Qaeda-linked fundamentalists.
One intelligence source has opined that the gains of the past five years were reversed in mere weeks with the loss of Waziristan and the release of 2,500 fighters.
So yes, WS has called Bush a liar, by saying he is not "to be believed on this point." And they indicate he lied knowingly. They just sort of give him a weak alibi by claiming he had no choice; if Musharraf goes down, we're out of the frying pan into the fire. Bush ostensibly has to mislead us, because Musharraf has us over a barrel, and we can't afford to get tough with him. A predicament we're in because Bush has so badly bungled both wars he started.
Dowd and WS are saying virtually the same thing, at virtually the exact same moment
How often does that happen? Dowd's column today is behind the TimesSelect subscription fence, but it can be found in full here. She makes virtually the same points as WS, but unsurprisingly her knife is a bit sharper. Some highlights:
Axis of Sketchy Allies; Pakistan is at the heart of the Faustian deal the Bush administration has made. ...
[Musharraf] tried to persuade Mr. Bush that the shabby truce he recently made with tribal leaders ... was really "against" the militants.
The Pakistan government has, in effect, simply turned over the North Waziristan area to the militants. ...
American officials are dubious about Mr. Musharraf's commitment to destroying Al Qaeda and the Taliban. But at the press conference, W. ... acted as though he were willing to believe the Pakistani president when he says he is "on the hunt" for Osama and the Taliban at the same time he's setting up a safe haven for them -- and getting huffy at the idea that American forces have the right to go into Pakistan to track Osama.
"Americans who are concerned about a recurrence of 9/11 are worried about the Axis of Evil when the real problem is the Axis of Allies -- Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Britain,'' the British historian Niall Ferguson says. "The terrorists are funded in Saudi Arabia, they're trained in Pakistan, and they organize their plots quite easily in London.''
Mr. Ferguson ... observes that Mr. Musharraf could not survive if he truly tried to break up the cozy relationship between militants, tribal leaders and some in his Army and intelligence service. ...
The justification for invading Iraq was that [Bush et al] couldn't allow a dictator who might be harboring terrorists to stay in power. But their great ally in the war on terror is General Musharraf, a dictator who appears to be harboring terrorists, including the one we want most.
F-16s. F-16s. F-16s. F-16s. F-16s.
That's one thing WS and Dowd don't mention. We're planning to send Pakistan F-16s. Putting F-16s a heartbeat away from OBL is more insane than letting Dubai run our ports.
Wednesday. The White House. Dinner. Bush. Musharraf. Karzai.
There will be lots of news coverage about that crucial dinner. Hopefully we'll see this story get more and more attention this week.
Big righty blogs have been almost dead-silent on this issue
Power Line is perhaps the #1 righty blog. Amount of coverage they've given this story: zilch. LGF is big. Also no coverage.
Michelle Malkin is another leading righty blogger. She ran one item (9/6, "Welcome to Talibanistan"). Since then, silence.
Captain's Quarters has a fairly large audience. What's interesting is that his first item (9/6) sounded like a GOP press release (very typical for CQ): "Will Pakistani-Afghan Pact Spell The Taliban's End?" In a later item (9/15), he is coming to his senses: "Now This Is Surrender."
Summary of coverage to-date by righty blogs: very minimal. This makes the strong statement by WS quite remarkable. The righty Wurlitzer usually plays in unison. When they don't, something interesting is happening.
Excellent coverage at dKos
9/20, A Disastrous Disconnect
9/19, Won't Get Duped Again?
9/11, We Deserve Better
9/5, Pakistan and Taliban sign pact
Selected diaries (apologies to various diarists I've omitted):
9/19, Bush to Daniel Pearl's killers: "here's your reward -- F-16s!"
9/18, The REAL Reason for Secret Tribunals? Pakistan Terrorism Timeline
9/16, Pakistan empties jails of Taliban, frees Daniel Pearl's killers
9/10, U.S. approved of Pakistan's deal with the Taliban
9/9, Bush's unbelievable dodge on the Pakistan-Osama peace treaty
9/7, Bush: creating the world's first radical Islamic nuclear power
9/5, [Update: Taped call disclaimed] Breaking: Pakistan announces Bin Laden safe haven
I also recommend this: 9/22, The Left Coaster, Steve Soto, Media Falls For Another Smokescreen On Al Qaeda Pursuit
Excellent coverage at Counterterrorism Blog and at Bill Roggio's blog
The WS story was written by Daveed Gartenstein-Ross & Bill Roggio. They're both highly respected analysts. No one would dare call them moonbats. Their prior and continuing work on this subject is highly recommended, and can be found on their own blogs.
9/23, Weekly Standard: Pakistan Surrenders
9/21, Is Musharraf Buying His Survival and Is Bush Giving Up on Him?
9/16, State Department Endorses Pakistan's Retreat
9/16, Pakistan Releases 2,500 Prisoners Linked to the Taliban and al-Qaeda
9/13, Pakistan Expert Discusses Powerful Al Qaeda-Taliban Network in Waziristan
9/7, Pakistan's Peace Deal with Terrorist Factions a Major Blow to U.S.
8/12, Matiur Rehman, the London Airline Plot and the Road from Pakistan and Talibanistan
Bill Roggio's blog:
9/23, al-Qaeda, Taliban behind the Waziristan Accord
9/22, The Sham Waziristan Accord
9/20, Pakistan's Safe Haven
9/18, Endorsing the Waziristan Accord
9/15, Pakistan Releases over 2,500 Taliban, al-Qaeda
9/13, The Fall of Waziristan: An Online History
9/12, The Black Guard
9/11, The Taliban breaks the "Waziristan Accord"
9/7, The Islamic Emirate of Waziristan and Greater Talibanistan
9/5, Talibanistan: The Establishment of the Islamic Emirate of Waziristan
9/4, Pakistan Negotiates Truce in Waziristan
8/31, The Lost Territories
8/28, A Hard August for the Taliban in Afghanistan
8/17, Rehman, Rauf, suspected London Airline Plotters Captured, and the Pakistani Connection
Selected MSM coverage
MSM has been drowsy, but there are signs they might be waking up.
WaPo, 9/23, Bush Seeks Increased Pakistani Cooperation
NYT, 9/23, Musharraf Defends Deal With Tribal Leaders
KRT, 9/22, Musharraf tells Bush that Pakistan is cracking down on extremists
UPI, 9/21, Analysis: An al-Qaida sanctuary? Part Two
CSM, 9/8, In border zone, Pakistan backs off from Taliban
ChiTrib, 9/8, The founding of Terroristan
Newsday, 7/10, Taliban grabs hold in Pakistan
Newsday, 2/9, Where the Taliban still rule
A righty cartoonist speaks up
Michael Ramizez is a conservative cartoonist. He understands what's happening (I found the cartoon here; I can't figure out if it's new or old):