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Obama Demands Money For Pakistan War

Obama administration seeks extraordinary military powers in Pakistan

Bill Van Auken
Uruknet
May 2, 2009

The Obama administration is increasingly treating its growing intervention in Pakistan as a separate counter-insurgency war for which it is demanding the same kind of extraordinary military powers obtained by the Bush administration in Afghanistan and Iraq.

This was the main message delivered by Pentagon officials on Capitol Hill over the last few days, together with increasingly dire warnings that without immediate and unconditional US military funding for Pakistan, the government could collapse.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates warned Congress Thursday that unless it quickly approved some $400 million requested by the Pentagon for a new Pakistan Counterinsurgency Capability Fund the Pakistani military would run out of funding within weeks for its operations against insurgents in the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) and other areas of western Pakistan.

In his testimony, Gates also revealed that, even after the planned closure of the Guantanamo detention center, the US government may still imprison up to 100 of the inmates without charges or trials. The administration asked Congress for $50 million to build prison facilities in the US for detainees it claims are dangerous but cannot be tried, principally because the supposed evidence against them was extracted through torture.

The proposed $400 million in military aid for Pakistan is part of an $83.5 billion supplemental funding bill requested by Obama, the vast majority of which goes to pay for continuing the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Speaking before the Senate Appropriations Committee, Gates said that the Pentagon was requesting that full control of the military aid be vested with Gen. David Petraeus, the chief of the US military�s Central Command. He claimed that the Pentagon needed “this unique authority for the unique and urgent circumstances we face in Pakistan�for dealing with a challenge that simultaneously requires wartime and peacetime capabilities.”

Some members of Congress have balked at the demand, which echoes the heavy-handed tactics of the Bush administration in demanding immediate passage of military funding for Iraq and Afghanistan with no strings attached.

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