The Musharraf Commission to announce that a lone nut killed Bhutto

It’s too tempting to point out the irony that Pennsylvania’s Arlen Specter was in Islamabad last night, waiting for a dinner meeting with Benazir Bhutto that tragically never happened. If the Pakistani authorities want to make this mess go away quickly — and clearly they do — who would be better to consult with than the author of the “Magic Bullet” theory. But Specter’s services apparently aren’t even needed — the Musharraf regime is already to announce the case is closed:

Musharraf initially blamed her death on unnamed Islamic militants, but Interior Minister Hamid Nawaz told The Associated Press on Friday that “we have the evidence that al-Qaida and the Taliban were behind the suicide attack on Benazir Bhutto.” He said investigators had resolved the “whole mystery” behind the opposition leader’s killing and would give details at press conference later Friday.

Wow, that was quick. Even “Perry Mason” used to take 57 minutes to crack a case. The truth is, when you peel away the layers of the onion that is the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, al-Qaeda and its friends in the Taliban — the people who were nearly wiped out until we shifted our military focus from Afghanistan to Iraq — are one of the major peels. The person or persons who killed Bhutto was no doubt a terrorist — “barbaric animal” might be more appropriate — but was it an al-Qaeda terrorist, or a different stripe?

Here’s a good wrap-up from Spencer Ackerman at TPM Muckraker:

[T]he first-blush assessment from most experts held that al-Qaeda is responsible. Others, including political adversaries of Pervez Musharraf, then suggested Musharraf’s government was at least culpable, given the porousness of security Bhutto received in the garrison city of Rawalpindi where she was assassinated. Still others caution that Pakistani Islamic terrorist groups with agendas distinct from al-Qaeda’s might be more likely candidates.

Ackerman points to this analysis from the L.A. Times:

Complicating the situation is the fact that many of the extremist groups have ties to Pakistan’s political establishment, including elements of the government loyal to President Pervez Musharraf, as well as close ties to the military and its intelligence agencies. Bhutto had long criticized such links, and in the wake of her killing Thursday, some of her supporters accused the government of playing a role. One senior U.S. counter-terrorism official also said Washington suspected that rogue officials within the military or intelligence agencies could have been involved, noting that though there is no evidence, they have detested Bhutto for more than a decade. U.S. intelligence and counter-terrorism agencies, and groups such as the Sept. 11 commission, have said that Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency in particular has cultivated relationships with radical groups, using them as proxies to wage war against India while protecting Pakistan’s interests in Afghanistan.

Which all gets back to the headline of the post — although there are some clear differences, it’s also a little creepy how some aspects of this remind one (well, me anyway) of the JFK assassination, but especially this: You have a state-security apparatus in Pakistan with unsavory ties with bad guys that they’re supposed to be fighting, the Islamist terrorists and the other “NGOs” of violent unrest. To be even more blunt, just read today’s newspaper and substitute “JFK” for “Bhutto,” “LBJ” for “Musharraf,” the “CIA” for the “ISI” and “the Mafia and disgruntled Bay of Pigs veterans” for “terrorists” and you’ll see why it’s no easier to get to the bottom of what happened in Rawalpindi yesterday than what happened in Dealey Plaza in 1963.

Benazir Bhutto was killed by terrorists, but terrorists are a subset of “the enemies of democracy,” and that it is a long list that starts with a dictator, Pervez Musharraf, and includes his security apparatus, the Pakistani military and their unholy friends in al-Qaeda and the Taliban. It would probably take more than a day just to read down the list of prime suspects, more time than it took the “Musharraf Commission” to announce its “findings.”


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