US military files about the controversial raid that killed terrorist leader Osama bin Laden have been cleared from Defense Department computers and moved to the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) for further protection, according to the Associated Press.
The overnight raid led by US NAVY seals in Pakistan killed bin Laden and four other people over May 1-2, 2011. The covert operation outraged Pakistani authorities, who said they were not given prior notice and denounced the move as a violation of the nation's sovereignty.
On that note, Al Jazeera on Monday published a reportedly previously classified report from Pakistan's investigating Abbottabad Commission, the organization tasked with scrutinizing the bin Laden affair. The resulting 366-page evaluation is critical of both Pakistani and US authorities. It details their strained relations on matters ranging from bin Laden's whereabouts, to US drone strikes in Pakistan, to alleged CIA use of NGOs there (particularly Save the Children), all while accusing various Pakistani government agencies of "gross incompetence" that led the US to commit what it called an "act of war," according to Al Jazeera.
"The Commission observed that the political leadership and media talked incessantly about Pakistan's sovereignty having been violated, but the question was whether the message had been effectively conveyed to the Americans," according to the analysis (this from page 203, read it all on Al Jazeera here), going on to state:
"The people needed to be properly informed of such matters. The D[irector] G[eneral] said the Americans were perfectly aware of their 'zero rating' in Pakistan and had been asked to 'clarify whether they wanted Pakistan as a respected ally or as a subservient too.' But the problem was the Americans were getting different signals from different quarters. Many from these quarters did not have the courage to tell them enough was enough. As a result, American arrogance know no limits in its dealings with Pakistan. Pakistan should be aware that the US could not afford to lose its support and, accordingly, the Americans should be made to realize their limits."
Meanwhile, back in the United States, the AP said the decision to clear the bin Laden files from the Pentagon "set off no alarms within the Obama administration even though it appears to have sidestepped federal rules and perhaps also the Freedom of Information Act [FOIA]."
CIA agency spokesman Preston Golson denied to the AP that the move represented a way for the CIA to avoid responding to FOIA requests — the AP filed several two years ago — describing the charge as "absolutely false."
The decision came to light in a draft report from the inspector general that explained the move as an effort to further protect those involved in the high-profile incident, said the AP.
The move has baffled some observers. Writing in the conservative political blog Hot Air, Ed Morrissey was skeptical about the government's reason for the move. "Why, then, pull this stunt, especially without seeking the necessary approval of the National Archives and Records Administration?" he asked, later adding: "The most obvious conclusion is that there’s something in the file that doesn’t make the operation, the Pentagon, the CIA, and/or the administration look good, but, er … the mission was a success, and a rather spectacular one at that. How bad could it be? Or is this just a bad habit from the most untransparent administration evah? I’m genuinely puzzled."