I think it would be hard to find many Americans who are not appalled by the arrest, let alone the conviction and 33-year sentence of the Pakistani doctor who helped the CIA track Osama bin Laden.
Top level government officials here have condemned the extreme punishment meted out to Dr. Shakil Afridi by his government for “treason” in his helping the U.S. find and rid the planet of the ruthless terrorist kingpin.
Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Connecticut independent Joe Lieberman, reportedly called the verdict “shocking and outrageous” in a statement.
This man, who helped us was not the only one punished for this good deed, according to reports. The local nurses and other health officials in Abbottabad who unwittingly cooperated with him have been fired, and his wife lost her teaching job.
In the United States, treason is the act of aiding an enemy in a time of war.
Hopefully, the definition is very different in Pakistan; otherwise we really need to rethink our relationship with that nation.
In any case, not only is this man paying a heavy price for his friendship with us, we – and by “we” I mean U. S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta who was then CIA director – for some reason “outed” him publically after the raid in which bin Laden was finally killed.
By acknowledging in a TV interview that the man worked for the CIA, we essentially sealed his fate since in Pakistan and elsewhere, including the United States, working for a foreign intelligence agency is a crime.
On every level, this man’s predicament is our fault, and his wife is right to complain that we used and abandoned him. I’m frankly disgusted with us, and would be flabbergasted if anyone in any other country ever helps us again. I mean, with friends like us, who needs malevolent tyrants?
Meanwhile, having created this doctor’s nightmare, we, and by “we” I mean our elected officials, are decrying his fate to the international media.
However, I can’t help sensing a trace of hypocrisy in our righteous indignation over what Pakistan did to a man who helped a friendly country behind its official back, since we would, and, in fact have, and continue to do precisely the same thing; Jonathan Pollard being the most striking case in point.
A former civilian American Naval intelligence analyst, Pollard was convicted of “spying” for Israel in 1987 and has been in prison in the U.S. for nearly 30 years.
Unlike the good Pakistani doctor’s actions, Pollard’s “spying” did not result in a military action by another country on our soil, which sets his “crime” apart from Afridi’s in the scope of its consequences.
Pollard was convicted of passing information vital to the security of our best and most reliable Middle East ally – information that was “being deliberately withheld by certain elements within the U.S. national security establishment,” according to some reports.
To spare the government an embarrassing trial, sources say, Pollard, who was never charged with treason, entered into a plea agreement at the request of both the U.S. and Israeli governments. He fulfilled his end of the agreement, but the government reneged, sentencing him to life with a recommendation for no parole.
Pollard had been indicted on one count of passing classified information to an ally without intent to harm the United States, a crime for which he is the only person in U.S. history ever to receive a life sentence, according to some sources.
The Israeli government has since granted him citizenship, has promised to take full responsibility for him and has tried unsuccessfully for decades to secure his release.
Not that the U.S. hasn’t promised to release him in exchange for concessions from Israel in the past – it has – and though Israel has always kept it’s end of the bargain, Pollard remains behind bars.
If I were Afridi, or anyone else, I wouldn’t trust us as far as I could throw us. And I don’t know if you’ve ever tried throwing a huge country, but they don’t go very far.
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