What's Holding Up U.S. Interrogation of Osama bin Laden's Wives?
Pakistan and the U.S. say they are still in dialogues over the U.S. "interviews" of Osama bin Laden's three wives. What's holding it up and why does Pakistan say it has not yet received a formal request for access?
My guess: The U.S. is not just asking for permission to interview the women in Pakistan. It wants to extradite them to the U.S. for interrogation. The State Department is now making statements about the women and the interview requests. Why would they be involved if extradition was not on the horizon? State Department Spokesman Mark Toner said yesterday: [More....]
The United States is interested in making "sure we have access to any information that could contribute to our common goal here, which is continuing our counterterrorism cooperation and making progress against extremists in Pakistan and elsewhere."
Pakistani officials have also hinted at extradition to the U.S. and noted that neither Saudi Arabia nor Yemen have requested the women be extradited back to their home countries.
Is the U.S. going to indict them for providing material support to a terrorist organization? Is cooking and cleaning for Osama bin Laden or their sons providing material support? That would be taking the already vague and overbroad law to an absurd new level.
Why would the U.S. want to obtain custody of the women (and maybe also some of the children?) Perhaps to keep their accounts of Hamza bin Laden being killed or captured from getting further exposure?
Where would we take them? Guantanamo? What then, if neither Saudi Arabia or Yemen wanted them back? I can't imagine the U.S. would indict them, unless it's the only way to get grounds to extradite them. If it did indict them, where would they bring charges? A military commission at Guantanamo or New York? New York would be some payback at Congress and New York officials who protested having the 9/11 trials there. Can you imagine the security nightmare and threats if the U.S. brought the wives to New York to face criminal charges?
Also, what concessions might Pakistan be seeking in exchange for allowing extradition of the wives to the U.S.? My guess: It wants the U.S. to resolve the Tahawwur Hussain Rana case before trial starts next week, to avoid Rana and David Headley's accusations that its intelligence agency, ISI, was involved in the Mumbai bombings and in bed with LeT. If Rana pleads to something, the U.S. can promise him he won't be extradited to India to face charges there. If he goes to trial and is either acquitted or convicted, India is going to seek his extradition. If Rana talks in India, India will have a much greater chance of identifying Headley's ISI handlers. That's not in Pakistan's interest.
If a plea deal is announced this week in the Rana case, I'd bet pressure from Pakistan had something to do with it.
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