Foreign Policy

Pakistan's "Deep State"—And a Big U.S. Problem

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Writing in The New Republic, Washington Times National Security Correspondent (and Reason contributor) Eli Lake explores Pakistan's "deep state," a national security bureaucracy "that has more power than the political leaders it ostensibly serves."

Pakistan's deep state, argues Lake, is the reason why Bin Laden

periodically recorded his amusement that U.S. drones were searching for him in the mountainous border region between Afghanistan and Pakistan while he was living comfortably less than a quarter of a mile from a Pakistani military academy. "Bin Laden was yukking it up about how clueless we were," [an anlayst privy to the material being taken off Bin Laden's computers] says….

All modern democratic societies have powerful national-security bureaucracies, but a deep state is a bureaucracy that has more power than the political leaders it ostensibly serves. One former senior U.S. counterterrorism official described Pakistan's problem this way: "Imagine if the CIA was supporting the drug cartels of Mexico over the wishes of the Congress and the White House," he said. "That's what we have in Pakistan." We know what it means to be at war with a sovereign nation—but how should a country fight a deep state?…

The raid [on Bin Laden's compound] was successful, but it has exposed the acute difficulty of pursuing an alliance with one part of the Pakistani government while working against another. The United States was able to prevent the deep state from thwarting its attack on bin Laden, but in doing so, it may have alienated the cooperative elements of the military. A week after the raid, a Pakistani newspaper printed the name of the CIA station chief—a leak that almost surely came from the ISI—and the army accused the United States of violating its national sovereignty. Meanwhile, the debate in Washington has mostly centered on whether or not to cut off the flow of aid money to Pakistan, which misses the point that the real problem runs much deeper.

Read the whole thing here.

And read Lake's powerful Reason story, "The 9/14 Presidency," about the expanded powers rushed into being after the September 11 attacks and still being used and abused by Barack Obama.

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  1. Wait- you mean our “allies” in Pakistan have an agenda of their own?

  2. Writing in The New Republic, Washington Times National Security Correspondent (and Reason contributor) Eli Lake explores Pakistan’s “deep state,” a national security bureaucracy “that has more power than the political leaders it ostensibly serves.”

    So what you’re saying is that they have the American system?

  3. “Bin Laden was yukking it up about how clueless we were,” [an anlayst privy to the material being taken off Bin Laden’s computers] says….”
    _
    course binLadens lieutenants in the frontier regions cant “yuke” off the continued lethal drone strikes.
    http://www.longwarjournal.org/…..ike_25.php

    1. The 3d-person plural present is yuk. If we agreed to change the spelling to yuck it would be easier to conjugate.

  4. “Imagine if the CIA was supporting the drug cartels of Mexico over the wishes of the Congress and the White House,”

    Wait, what?

    1. Is there anyone who doesn’t think this is happening? It’s not hard to guess that Nuevo Leon is crawling with CIA agents trying to pick the right cartel to back.

    2. This IS happening. It has been for decades. Ask Freeway Rick Ross. You could have asked Gary Webb, but he “committed suicide” by shooting himself twice in the back of his own head, after exposing all this stuff in the pages of the San Jose Mercury News.

  5. We know what it means to be at war with a sovereign nation?but how should a country fight a deep state?

    Are we at war with Pakistan?

    Bin Laden’s dead. The only smart move now is to leave South Asia and let India, Russia and Iran handle the dissolutions of Afghanistan and Pakistan.

    In know, I know: pipeline, natural gas, Carlyle Group, systemic externalities.

    Nevertheless, leaving South Asia is the smart move. All other moves are dumb moves.

  6. Imagine if the CIA was supporting the drug cartels of Mexico

    Errmmmm….I don’t think this scenario is imaginary.

    1. So far in this thread, I count four of us thinking the same thing.

      1. Five, came here to say that.

      2. You’re all crazy.

        They support the Colombians.

        1. Well, they did, when the Columbians were the go-to guys, but Mexico has long since taken over,and the evidence is clear. Why, just a few years ago, a private jet registered to a known CIA front company that had been documented as having ferried “detainees” around the world for “extraordinary rendition” crashed with over 4 tons of cocaine on board (well, it was probably more, but the seizure kept getting smaller and smaller the further away from the crash site it got).

          1. It actually all started with the Contras in Nicaragua. But I’m sure it goes on to this day. As Hillary said, “there’s just too much money in it” to stop.

  7. Are we at war with Pakistan?

    Have been. Always.

    Try to keep up.

  8. It’s time to end USA aid to Pakistan, along with the rest of the USA aid program.

    1. Hmmm. Where’s the usual crowd of “Anti-Zionists” to denounce USA aid to other countries?

  9. Sir Humphrey is Pakistani???

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