The Bush Administration “condemned former Pakistan Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto to death” by ignoring warnings from that she would “almost certainly be assassinated” if she returned to her native country, intelligence sources tell Capitol Hill Blue.
An assessment prepared by the Central Intelligence Agency said Bhutto would not be safe if she returned to Pakistan but the Bush White House ignored the warning and dispatched Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to London to persuade Bhutto to go home and seek political office.
“If the former Prime Minister were to return to Pakistan, she would almost certainly be assassinated,” said the CIA assessment, prepared by agency operatives on the ground in that country.
“The Bush Administration murdered Benazir Bhutto by convincing her to return to Pakistan,” a former CIA operative said this week. “She was doomed the second the set foot on Pakastani soil. The White House condemned her to death by talking her into returning.”
Capitol Hill Blue has learned that the Rice promised Bhutto that CIA assets would be dispatched to Pakistan to provide protection to the former Prime Minister but the assets were never sent and were not present when suicide attackers carried out the assassination last week.
“They took a chance with the life of a foreign national,” the CIA operative said. “They gambled and they lost. She never stood a chance of surviving.”
Some in the intelligence community believe the Bush Administration welcomed the assassination because it give the U.S. a chance to point another finger of blame at al-Qaeda at a time when interest in Bush’s “war on terrorism” is fading.
“Bush needs a new face of evil,” says a current CIA operative. “Now he has one.”
As with other assassinations in Pakistan’s bloody political history, the world may never know who killed Benazir Bhutto — but there is no shortage of potential culprits to choose from, analysts say.
There could be almost as many motives as well, in a country with a murky nexus of intelligence agencies, dozens of Islamic militant outfits, hundreds of tribal clans and an army whose reach extends to every corner of Pakistani life.
While the government was quick to point a finger at Al-Qaeda, that name is little more than a convenient catch-all for a staggering array of militant groups, and the reality is vastly more complex, analysts say.
The government’s ties with Islamic militants, whether training them to fight in Kashmir or jockey for power in Afghanistan, leave the state apparatus itself with questions to answer, they say.
“It is common knowledge that some of the intelligence agencies have maintained links with militant and sectarian groups, dating back to the Soviet military intervention in Afghanistan,” said political analyst Hasan Askari.
“Even after Pakistan joined the global war on terrorism, there was always doubt whether these agencies fully severed their connections to militant elements,” said Askari, former head of political science at Punjab University.
The leaders of Pakistan’s three intelligence agencies are all current or retired members of the military, which has run the country for more than half its existence — and has its own chequered history with the Bhutto family.