Monday, May 9, 2011

Pakistan bent on interfering with CIA ops after bin Laden raid

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — For the second time in five months, the Pakistani authorities have angered the Central Intelligence Agency by leaking the name of the C.I.A. station chief in Islamabad to Pakistani news media, a deliberate effort to complicate the work of the American spy agency in the aftermath of the raid that killed Osama Bin Laden, American officials said.

"After our raid, some defiance was to be expected regarding our not informing them. But the lengths to which the Prime Minister went to avoid taking any blame but rather shifting it all to the US, is unbelievable."

The publication of the name demonstrated the tilt toward a near adversarial relationship between the C.I.A. and the Pakistani spy agency, the Inter Services Intelligence Directorate, or ISI, since the Bin Laden raid. It appeared to be intended to show the leverage the Pakistanis retain over American interests in the country, both sides said.

In an address before Parliament on Monday, Prime Minister Yousaf Gilani made clear that Pakistani officials at the highest levels accepted little responsibility for the fact that Bin Laden was able to hide in their country for years.

Instead, he obliquely criticized the United States as having driven Bin Laden into Pakistan, condemned its violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty and called the Qaeda leader’s presence in Pakistan an intelligence failure of the “whole world.”

He said it was “disingenuous” for anyone to imply that the ISI or the army was “in cahoots” with Bin Laden, something American officials suspect but say they have no proof of.

The prime minister’s statements, along with the publication of the name of the C.I.A. station chief, signaled the depths of the recriminations and potential for retaliation on both sides as American officials demand greater transparency and cooperation from Pakistan, which has not been forthcoming.

The Pakistani spy agency gave the name of the station chief to The Nation, a conservative daily newspaper, American and Pakistani officials said.

The name appeared spelled incorrectly but in a close approximation to a phonetic spelling in Saturday’s editions of The Nation, a paper with a small circulation that is supportive of the ISI. The ISI commonly plants stories in the Pakistani media and is known to keep some journalists on its payroll.

Last December, American officials said the cover of the station chief at the time was deliberately revealed by the ISI. As a result, he was forced to leave the country.

In that case, the name of the station chief appeared in at least one Pakistani newspaper, including The News, a widely circulated English language paper. Subsequently, a Pakistani lawyer representing a family of victims of an American drone strike against militants in the tribal region included the name in a legal complaint sent to the Pakistani police.

From that exposure, the station chief received death threats and quickly left the country, Obama administration officials said.

The new station chief had no intention of leaving Pakistan, American officials said. The New York Times generally does not identify American intelligence operatives working undercover.

Described as one of the agency’s toughest and most experienced officers, the current station chief supervised aspects of the successful raid against Bin Laden, including the C.I.A. safe house used to spy on the compound where Bin Laden lived for five years.

The safe house was located close enough to the compound at Abbottabad for C.I.A. agents to gather details of the daily life of the Qaeda leader that helped the planning for the operation, Obama administration officials said.

The relationship between the new station chief and the head of the ISI, Lt. Gen. Ahmed Shuja Pasha, has been described as particularly acrimonious by officials familiar with their meetings.

The two men first clashed over the case of Raymond A. Davis, a C.I.A. contractor who killed two Pakistanis in January during an attempted robbery. He was detained by Pakistan for more than a month, despite arguments from the Obama administration that he was protected by diplomatic immunity.

The killing of Bin Laden, and suggestions by the Obama administration that officials in the ISI may have known his whereabouts and provided him support, have infuriated General Pasha, Pakistani officials said.

General Pasha, and the chief of the Pakistani Army, Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, were humiliated that the United States had deliberately not warned Pakistan of the raid, they said.


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