Leak of C.I.A. Officer Name Is Sign of Rift With Pakistan
Pakistanis in Karachi watched Prime Minister Yousaf Gilani's televised address to the parliament on Monday.
By JANE PERLEZ
Published: May 9, 2011
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — For the second time in five months, the Pakistani authorities have angered the Central Intelligence Agency by tipping the Pakistani news media to the identity of the C.I.A. station chief in Islamabad, a deliberate effort to complicate the work of the American spy agency in the aftermath of the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, American officials said.
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A man in Islamabad watched Prime Minister Yousaf Gilani of Pakistan during a televised address to the parliament on Monday.
"After our raid, some defiance was to be expected regarding our not informing them. But the lengths to which the Prime Minister went to avoid taking any blame but rather shifting it all to the US, is unbelievable."
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The leak demonstrated the tilt toward a near adversarial relationship between the C.I.A. and the Pakistani spy agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate, or ISI, since the Bin Laden raid. It appeared to be intended to show the leverage the Pakistanis retain over American interests in the country, both sides said.
In an address before Parliament on Monday, Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani furthered Pakistan’s bristling response to the raid, making clear that Pakistani officials at the highest levels accepted little responsibility for the fact that Bin Laden was able to hide in their country for years.
Instead, Mr. Gilani condemned the United States for a violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty and called the Qaeda leader’s presence in Pakistan an intelligence failure of the “whole world.”
He said it was “disingenuous” for anyone to imply that the ISI or the army was “in cahoots” with Bin Laden, something American officials suspect but say they have no proof of.
The prime minister’s statements, along with the leak related to the C.I.A. station chief, signaled the depths of the recriminations and potential for retaliation on both sides as American officials demand greater transparency and cooperation from Pakistan, which has not been forthcoming.
The Pakistani spy agency gave the name of the station chief to The Nation, a conservative daily newspaper with a small circulation that is supportive of the ISI, American and Pakistani officials said. The ISI commonly plants stories in the Pakistani news media and is known to keep some journalists on its payroll.
The name that appeared in print was misspelled but close enough to send a clear signal, the officials said. Similarly, last December, the cover of the station chief at the time was deliberately revealed by the ISI, again by a close approximation of the name, American officials said. As a result, he was forced to leave the country.
In that case, the leak appeared in at least one Pakistani newspaper, including The News, a widely circulated English-language paper. A Pakistani lawyer representing a family of victims of an American drone strike against militants in the tribal region later included the name in a legal complaint sent to the Pakistani police.
From that exposure, the station chief received death threats and quickly left the country, Obama administration officials said.
The new station chief had no intention of leaving Pakistan, American officials said. The New York Times generally does not identify American intelligence operatives working undercover.
Described as one of the agency’s toughest and most experienced officers, the current station chief supervised aspects of the successful raid against Bin Laden, including the C.I.A. safe house used to spy on the compound in Abbottabad where Bin Laden is believed to have lived for five years.
The safe house was close enough to the compound for C.I.A. agents to gather details of the daily life of the Qaeda leader that helped the planning for the operation, Obama administration officials said.
In Washington, Obama administration officials sought to tamp down tensions over the Navy Seal raid, deflecting questions about Mr. Gilani’s speech and refusing to comment publicly on the leak.
“Counterterrorism cooperation with Pakistan is in our national security interests,” said Mark Toner, a State Department spokesman. “It has yielded results, tangible results, over the last decade, and so we believe it’s worthwhile and in our national interests to continue that cooperation. We also believe it’s in Pakistan’s long-term interests.”
But Mr. Toner also underscored that the United States expects Mr. Gilani’s government to investigate any Pakistani complicity in sheltering Bin Laden in Abbottabad, about 75 miles by road from Islamabad.
“We’ve asked some serious questions of the Pakistan government about what kind of possible support network may have existed,” Mr. Toner said. “And we expect, at some point, answers.”
Whether Pakistan will reveal more is far from clear. Washington has asked Pakistan to give American officials access to the women who were at the compound with Bin Laden and who have been questioned by the ISI since the raid a week ago. So far, such access has not been granted, an American official said Monday.
The relationship between the new station chief and the head of the ISI, Lt. Gen. Ahmed Shuja Pasha, has been described as particularly acrimonious by officials familiar with their meetings.
The two men first clashed over the case of Raymond A. Davis, a C.I.A. contractor who killed two Pakistanis in January as they tried to rob him. He was detained by Pakistan for more than a month, despite arguments from the Obama administration that he was protected by diplomatic immunity.
The killing of Bin Laden, and suggestions by the Obama administration that officials in the ISI may have known his whereabouts and provided him with support, have infuriated General Pasha, Pakistani officials said. He and the chief of the Pakistani Army, Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, were humiliated that the United States had deliberately not alerted Pakistan to the raid, they said.
Since the raid, General Kayani and General Pasha have remained behind the scenes, limiting their remarks to a select group of Pakistani journalists last week.
According to accounts from two journalists who attended the closed-door session, General Kayani bitterly reproached the Americans for the raid, saying that now they would have “Hollywood movies for the next decade.”
Many expected the prime minister to use his speech to give an accounting of what Pakistan knew about Bin Laden’s presence in Pakistan, but instead he focused on the how the raid was a breach of Pakistani sovereignty. He defended the ISI, saying it had done more than any other intelligence agency to take on Al Qaeda. “No other country in the world and no other security agency has done so much to interdict Al Qaeda than the ISI and our armed forces,” he said.
Mr. Gilani said that Lt. Gen. Javed Iqbal, a senior army general and close aide to General Kayani, would conduct an inquiry into how Bin Laden managed to hide in Pakistan so long, but provided no time frame. A joint session of Parliament on Friday, to be closed to outsiders, will be given a briefing by the military, he said.
Eric Schmitt contributed reporting from Washington.