TOP TALIBAN MILITARY COMMANDER CAPTURED…. Even the most rabid Republican partisans should find it difficult to disparage a success story of this magnitude.
The Taliban’s top military commander was captured several days ago in Karachi, Pakistan, in a secret joint operation by Pakistani and American intelligence forces, according to American government officials.
The commander, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, is an Afghan described by American officials as the most significant Taliban figure to be detained since the American-led war in Afghanistan started more than eight years ago. He ranks second in influence only to Mullah Muhammad Omar, the Taliban’s founder and a close associate of Osama bin Laden before the Sept. 11 attacks.
Mullah Baradar has been in Pakistani custody for several days, with American and Pakistani intelligence officials both taking part in interrogations, according to the officials.
It was unclear whether he was talking, but the officials said his capture had provided a window into the Taliban and could lead to other senior officials. Most immediately, they hope he will provide the whereabouts of Mullah Omar, the one-eyed cleric who is the group’s spiritual leader.
A former CIA official who led the Obama administration’s Afghanistan and Pakistan policy review last year told the NYT that Baradar’s capture has the capacity to cripple the Taliban’s military operations.
Nearly as important is the shift in Pakistan’s approach to the American efforts to combat the Taliban. Not only did Pakistan’s intelligence service play a key role in Baradar’s capture, but U.S. officials believe senior military leaders in Pakistan “have begun to distance themselves from the Taliban,” and have “gradually come around to the view that they can no longer support the Taliban in Afghanistan.”
The former CIA official said the successful raid constituted a “sea change in Pakistani behavior.”
Spencer Ackerman, who explained the strategic importance of not torturing Baradar, added, “Boy, that Barack Obama sure doesn’t know how to deal with terrorism, huh?”
That isn’t partisan chest-thumping; it’s just reality. Baradar’s capture comes just two weeks after U.S. forces took out Hakimullah Mehsud, the leader of the Pakistani Taliban and extremist with close ties to al Qaeda. In August, Baitullah Mehsud was killed. In September, U.S. forces took out Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan, the ringleader of a Qaeda cell in Kenya and one of the most wanted Islamic militants in Africa.
And Republican whining notwithstanding, these successes have come without torture, with civilian trials on U.S. soil for suspected terrorists, and while attempting to close the detention facility at Gitmo.
When it comes to the domestic political divide, only one side inspires confidence on national security and foreign policy, and I’ll give you a hint: it’s not the Republican Party.