Saturday, March 25, 2006

So what's wrong with taking a bribe to fix the 9/11 report?

I wrote to a friend in the US about this allegation that Pakistanis bribed the 9/11 commissioners and I asked him why he felt Americans would not be outraged by such a fact. His reply is listed below:

It is one thing to modify the wording of the 9/11 report to meet the recommendations of a State Department or White House staffer. These people are paid to determine the most efficient strategy to meet US aims in the world and if they say that overt criticism of Pakistan is not good for ensuring US success in the War on Terror, then that is a fact that has to be accepted as is.

It is treason however to make changes to the 9/11 report because a lobbyist, asks you to do it for exactly the same reasons that the White House or State Department people did. This is because the lobbyist is a paid agent of the Pakistani government looking out for Pakistan's national interests. When you allow a foreign government to change the wording of a document critical to Homeland Security, you are literally selling out your country. If you agree to wipe off the blood of the 9/11 victims from Pakistani hands for a few thousand dollars, then there is no telling what you will do for just a few dollars more.

However most Americans will not be able to make out this subtle difference. The culture of lobbying is so strong on Capitol Hill that people think it is okay to lobby for absolutely anything under the sun. Barring a few enlightened souls in DC, no one will notice this. The American media will ignore it because it will only jeopardize the already perilous state of US-Pakistan ties. The Americans are so obsessed with the image of having a democracy that they are ignoring the reality that the values on which the democracy is founded are being systematically eroded.

If this is true, then India must take note of the fact that Pakistan's money can talk big on Capitol Hill. Recall for a moment that despite being a tenth of the size of India, Pakistan can manage a Pakistan Caucus that is half the size of the India Caucus. A number of people are on both the Pakistan Caucus and the India Caucus even though the India Caucus was formed first. If the members of Congress are so easily seduced by Pakistan's offerings, that they do not think twice about modifying the 9/11 report. There is very little chance that they will allow the Indo-US nuclear deal to go through.

I suspect that corrupt people can only see this as an opportunity to extort money from both parties. I can easily imagine unscrupulous congressional staffers walking around the offices of Indian and Pakistani lobbyists alternatively offering their congressman's or senator's support for and against the India-US nuclear deal in exchange for campaign contributions or other goodies.


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