Saturday, August 23, 2008

Pentagon Considers Independent Operations in Pakistan: Report

This would make more enemies in Pakistan and do little to stop al Qaeda and the Taliban. It would undermine the burgeoning democracy in Pakistan. It is an act of desperation.

Senior Pentagon officials are debating whether the US military should undertake independent operations against Islamic militants operating in Pakistan's northwestern tribal areas, The Los Angeles Times reported Saturday.

The newspaper said these internal equipment debates followed US intelligence warnings that Al-Qaeda and other militant groups are consolidating their hold on northwestern Pakistan.

The report came as Pakistani soldiers killed up to 35 militants in a massive offensive in northwest Pakistan, and at least six people were killed in separate bomb attacks, according to Pakistani military and police officials.

Troops are battling Taliban militants in the Swat valley in North West Frontier Province where the violence has left dozens of dead and wounded.

But there is a growing belief within the US government that the new leadership in Islamabad has proved to be ineffectual in the fight against the militants.

"Radical terrorist groups in the border regions have undermined and fought against the central government of Pakistan and carved out sanctuaries and training bases," an unnamed senior US officer in Afghanistan is quoted by The Times as saying. "They have come back, and they are presenting a significant challenge."

A team of as many as 30 trainers was supposed be sent to Pakistan this summer to operate out of a base near the northwestern city of Peshawar.

But Pentagon officials said the training has been blocked by the Pakistani government for months, in part because of anger over the June killing of 11 Frontier Corps members in a US airstrike near the Afghan border.

But then again this administration could care less about undermining a democracy.
The husband of assassinated leader Benazir Bhutto has agreed to run for the Pakistani presidency.

The announcement was made Saturday at Asif Ali Zardari's home.

An election by lawmakers to replace Pervez Musharraf will be held on Sept. 6. The former strongman resigned less than a week ago rather than face the humiliation of impeachment.

Mian Raza Rabbani of the Pakistan People's Party said he was "happy to announce that Zardari had accepted his party's nomination" to run for president.

But his election is far from certain.

Former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, the junior partner in the ruling coalition, has demanded that the People's Party slash the powers of the president before he'll support their candidate.

Clinton Praises Biden Pick

Even Hillary has to admit that Obama made a good choice in selecting Biden. Hillary during the primaries kept arguing that she was more experienced than Obama. Biden is much more experienced (and respected) than Ms.Clinton. He is also more knowledgeable on foreign affairs than even McCain.

Shortly after Hillary Clinton conceded her hard-fought race to Barack Obama in June, she — and her husband, former President Clinton — seemed to covet the vice presidency for her as a consolation prize. Many of her supporters publicly campaigned for it.

But when overnight news reports made clear she didn’t get it, she issued a gracious statement Saturday morning praising the choice.

“In naming my colleague and friend Senator Joe Biden to be the Vice Presidential nominee, Senator Obama has continued in the best traditions for the Vice Presidency by selecting an exceptionally strong, experienced leader and devoted public servant,” the statement said. “Senator Biden will be a purposeful and dynamic Vice President who will help Senator Obama both win the Presidency and govern this great country.”

What remains to be seen is how her supporters will respond, at the Democratic convention in Denver opening Monday, and beyond.

Sen. Biden is slated to speak Wednesday night. He’ll follow Bill Clinton

Biden has also not used his office to lined his pockets like hillary has.
Barack Obama named Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware as his vice presidential running mate early Saturday, balancing his ticket with a seasoned congressional veteran well-versed in foreign policy and defense issues.

Obama announced the pick on his Web site with a photo of the two men and an appeal for donations. A text message went out shortly afterward that said, "Barack has chosen Senator Joe Biden to be our VP nominee."

Biden, 65, has twice sought the White House, and is a Catholic with blue-collar roots, a generally liberal voting record and a reputation as a long-winded orator.

Across more than 30 years in the Senate, he has served at various times not only as chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee but also as head of the Judiciary Committee, with its jurisdiction over anti-crime legislation, Supreme Court nominees and Constitutional issues.

In selecting Biden, Obama passed over several other potential running mates, none more prominent than former first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, his tenacious rival in dozens of primaries and caucuses. Clinton issued a statement Saturday praising Obama's decision and calling Biden "an exceptionally strong, experienced leader and devoted public servant."

Obama's campaign arranged a debut for the newly minted ticket on Saturday outside the Old State Capitol in Springfield, Ill.

Obama's decision leaked to the media several hours before his aides planned to send a text message announcing the running mate, negating a promise that people who turned over their phone numbers would be the first to know who Obama had chosen. The campaign scrambled to send the text message after the leak, sending phones buzzing at the inconvenient time of just after 3 a.m. on the East Coast.

Hundreds of miles to the west, carpenters, electricians, sound stage gurus and others transformed the Pepsi Center in Denver into a made-for-television convention venue.

Tucked away in one corner were thousands of lightweight rolled cardboard tubes, ready-made handles for signs bearing the names of the Democratic ticket -- once the identity of Obama's running mate was known.

While Obama decided against adding Clinton to his ticket, he has gone to great lengths to gain the confidence of her primary voters, agreeing to allow her name to be placed in nomination at the convention and permitting a roll call vote that threatens to expose lingering divisions within the party.

Biden slowly emerged as Obama's choice across a long day and night of political suspense as other contenders gradually fell away.

First Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine let it be known that he had been ruled out. Then came word that Sen. Evan Bayh of Indiana had also been passed over.

Several aides to Clinton said the Obama campaign had never requested financial or other records from her.

Other finalists in the veep sweepstakes were Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius and Texas Rep. Chet Edwards.

Among those on the short list, Biden brought the most experience in defense or foreign policy -- areas in which Obama fares relatively poorly in the polls compared with Republican Sen. John McCain.

While the war in Iraq has been supplanted as the campaign's top issues by the economy in recent months, the recent Russian invasion of Georgia has returned foreign policy to the forefront.

In addition to foreign policy experience, Biden, a native of Scranton, Pa., has working-class roots that could benefit Obama, who lost the blue-collar vote to Clinton during their competition for the presidential nomination.

Biden was elected to the Senate at the age of 29 in 1972, but personal tragedy struck before he could take office. His wife and their 13-month-old daughter, Naomi, were killed when a tractor-trailer broad-sided her station wagon.

Biden took his oath of office for his first term at the hospital bedside of one of his sons.