U.S. Approach to Mideast Relations

This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," September 27, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


ADM. MIKE MULLEN, JOINT CHIEFS CHAIRMAN: The Haqqani network for one acts as a veritable arm of Pakistan's internal services intelligence agency. With ISI support, Haqqani operatives planned and conducted that truck bomb attack as well as well as the assault on our embassy.

VICTORIA NULAND, STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESWOMAN: We have serious concerns about the Haqqani network. We have to work on it together with the Pakistani government. Obviously, if the Pakistani government chooses not to take action, we would have to carefully consider how to proceed.


BRET BAIER, ANCHOR: Well, the Pakistani officials have pushed back directly on allegations, specifically from the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, that the ISI, their intelligence service, was behind the Haqqani network, this criminal network's attacks on the Intercontinental hotel in June and then three months later on the U.S. Embassy in Kabul. But Fox sources tell us that the Defense officials now say they've found cellphones in which directly tie from those attacks to Pakistani intelligence service.

What about this? We're back with the panel. Bill?

BILL KRISTOL, EDITOR, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: Well, I think it's a big deal what Mike Mullen, the outgoing chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said. He has been a proponent in internal administration arguments of a close relationship with the Pakistani military. We've depended on the Pakistanis to allow us to get an awful lot of goods through to our military in Afghanistan. We've reduced that dependency a little bit over the past year or two. But for Mullen to come out in his valedictory appearance in Congress and point the finger at the Haqqani network and at ISI, the intelligence services of Pakistan's close collaboration with them, that was a big moment. And I do now think the administration is going to have to follow through and do certain things.

BAIER: At what point, Mara, are these acts of war, if we have direct intelligence tying the Pakistani government to attacks on U.S. assets and troops in Afghanistan?

MARA LIASSON, NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO: Well, it certainly looks like Pakistan is acting more like an enemy than an ally, but it's complicated, because this is one part of the Pakistani government supposedly, we're cooperating with. Another part of the Pakistani department, the ISI, is supporting terrorists who attack us. So it's pretty complicated, but it sounds like that's, yet, another reason we have to get Afghanistan stable because we need a place to have bases so we can deal with the real problem in that region, which turns out to be Pakistan.

BAIER: Charles?

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Sort of a complete shift in conceptual thinking here. We went into the war in Afghanistan with Pakistan as our ally against the terrorists, al Qaeda, and the Taliban. And under Musharraf, especially in the early years, when we said to the Pakistanis, you either are gonna be our ally, it was an ultimatum by the Bush administration, or we're going to bomb you back into the Stone Age, they were our allies.

Over the decade, those who were pro-American have been weakened within Pakistan. And now the paradox is, that Afghanistan is our base for keeping an eye on and attacking our enemies in Pakistan, namely Haqqani and the other terrorists who are in the northern, the northwest frontier regions.

So, rather than thinking of Pakistan as an ally against Afghanistan, Afghanistan, for all of its instability and the hostility that America has to face there, is the base of operations from which we keep eyes on the bad guys in the region. It's an interesting and almost a paradoxical reason for continuing our presence in Afghanistan. It's a new one but a serious one.

BAIER: U.S. estimated to give Pakistan roughly $5 billion a year in aid. There are now calls to pull back that aid, based on this intelligence, specifically. Bill, the Pakistanis have invited the Chinese public security minister to Islamabad to show, if you pull out there will be others to fill the void.

KRISTOL: No, they have he been bluffing or threatening that for years, we've continued to roll over for them.

I do not think, the administration having said what it said, Admiral Mullen and Victoria Nuland the State Department Spokesman, if we do not follow through with serious consequences for what has happened, then we're weaker than ever. There needs to be -- there need to be cuts in aid or there need to be military action against the Haqqani network without Pakistani concurrence. In the past some -- almost all the drone strikes we've gotten Pakistani concurrence.

I think incidentally, the bin Laden raid was the thing that really broke the military's sort of back, in terms of being willing to defend the Pakistani military and the fact that they were shielding bin Laden himself right there in Pakistan, what was it 30 miles away from -- the Pakistani, ya know, West Point?

BAIER: Training facility --

KRISTOL: Yeah, I mean, that really sort of, something snapped at that point and I think there have to be -- there has to be action to follow these words.

LIASSON: And don't forget, this is something that Obama said he would do. If Pakistan -- if we have actionable intelligence and Pakistan doesn't cooperate works we're going to go ahead unilaterally and he did that with bin Laden and if he means what he said he'll do it again.

BAIER: So do they pull foreign aid?

KRAUTHAMMER: Well, there is one other step that we can do, and it would be a parallel to the Pakistanis ostentatiously asking the Chinese to make a visit, and I would think that would be demarche from us to the Indians. I think we ought to sending a high level delegation to India to discuss regional issues. That will scare the Pakistanis. That's the one enemy they worry about above all. Showing the beginning of a new kind of alliance between America and India, I think, would probably make the Pakistanis think twice about opposing us, and a tight alliance with China.

BAIER: Quick answer, foreign aid cut or not?

KRAUTHAMMER: I would do it. I'm not sure it will end up being our policy.

LIASSON: I think there will be a lot of support for that in Congress, in this Congress.

KRISTOL: Yeah, some of the aid I think will get cut.

BAIER: That is it for the panel. But stay tuned to see how the White House has really stepped up the pressure on Republican lawmakers.

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