Loose Lips Sink Ships
Just a day after President Obama offered his strongest statement on the Israeli-Palestinian peace process yet—calling for the creation of two states along the borders agreed upon in 1967—he will be sitting down with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House. Things already haven’t started off on a very good foot. Netanyahu reportedly called Secretary of State Hillary Clinton yesterday before the president gave his speech to express his extreme dissatisfaction with Obama’s plans.
Yesterday, the U.S. special representative to AfPak Marc Grossman, along with the CIA’s deputy station chief in Pakistan, sat down with the head of Pakistan’s army, General Ashfaq Kayani, and intelligence service chief. Ever since the raid on bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad that killed the al-Qaeda leader, relations between Pakistan and the U.S. have been rough. Washington is trying to make friends again with Islamabad. Pakistan wants the United States to forswear similar one-sided raids in the future, but the U.S. administration refuses to do so. Islamabad has also repeatedly called for Washington to reduce its presence, especially it’s CIA presence, in the country. The meetings came as the Taliban launched its first attack on an American target since the operation that killed OBL. One person was killed and twelve wounded in an attack on armored U.S. jeeps heading to a consulate in Peshawar where a large CIA contingent is reportedly stationed.
The attempts to smooth things over are proceeding as Islamabad and Beijing are seemingly getting closer. Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani is in Beijing today meeting with Chinese President Hu Jintao. Gilani took the time to praise the “all-weather friendship and strategic cooperative partnership” between the two countries.
CIA Director Leon Panetta is meanwhile trying to clean things up at home. He is worried about the amount of leaked information on the bin Laden raid that has made its way into the press and warned his employees about the dangers of loose lips. Incidentally, the news of this warning comes from a memo by Panetta to his staff that was “obtained” by the Washington Post.
As the NATO efforts against Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi press onward, Secretary Clinton told Katie Couric that the colonel’s wife and daughter fled to Tunisia. “The pressure on the Qaddafi regime has increased to the point that Qaddafi’s wife and daughter fled across the border into Tunisia in the last two days,” Clinton commented. The government in Tunis said those claims are false.
Congressional leaders have come to an agreement on extending the Patriot Act, which is set to expire on May 27. Some have lobbied for the inclusion of more civil-liberties safeguards, but the surveillance and search powers afforded under the act are set to be extended without such additions. Attorney General Eric Holder and DNI James Clapper had requested back in January that Congress take action on extending wiretapping, lone-wolf-terrorist tracking and broad search and seizure powers.