Plan A is shot to hell, Musharraf is all but finished, Pakistan is at a cross roads and the US and UK planners are looking like bungling incompetents.
The problem is that we no longer know what to believe. Take the initial reports of the attack - A gunman/suicide bomber attacked Ms. Bhutto shooting her in the head and neck before detonating his bomb. Initial reaction; that's unusual, a trained, professional suicide bomber. Cool and calm even in the face of death. A real assassin. It makes more sense that the shooter and the bomber would be two different people. Considering how "doped-up" some of these bombers have been you wouldn't expect them to be marksmen and even if they were, you could understand that they might have a case of the nerves which precluded hitting the side of a barn.
The point is, the initial reports coming out a chaotic scene are merely initial reports coming out a chaotic scene. A bomb goes off, people are lying dead or dying and after a momentary stunned silence, the screaming begins and out of the smoke comes the initial signals. The problem is these reports are heard and filed away in the back of the mind. Everything heard after that is weighed and filtered against the "initial reports" and this sets a high hurdle for the truth.
The medical finding about the cause of Bhutto's death may well be true but too easily dismissed as too coincidental. When you first heard the news, didn't you think to yourself something like the following: "She was attacked by a gunman and a suicide bomber but you're telling me that the cause of death was a "freak accident? Give me a break!"
One day after Benazir Bhutto's death, the Pakistanis tried to pin the blame on al-Qaeda. From the Telegraph UK:
Here is a translation of the transcript of the alleged telephone conversation from senior al-Qa'eda leader Baitullah Mehsud to another militant said to have been intercepted after the assassination.
Maulvi Sahib (MS): Asalaam Aleikum (Peace be with you)
Baitullah Mehsud (BM): Waleikum Asalam (And also with you)
MS: Chief, how are you?
BM: I am fine.
MS: Congratulations, I just got back during the night.
BM: Congratulations to you, were they our men?
MS: Yes they were ours.
BM: Who were they?
MS: There was Saeed, there was Bilal from Badar and Ikramullah.
BM: The three of them did it?
MS: Ikramullah and Bilal did it.
BM: Then congratulations.
MS: Where are you? I want to meet you.
BM: I am at Makeen (town in South Waziristan tribal region), come over, I am at Anwar Shah's house.
MS: OK, I'll come.
BM: Don't inform their house for the time being.
BM: It was a tremendous effort. They were really brave boys who killed her.
MS: Mashallah (Thank God). When I come I will give you all the details.
BM: I will wait for you. Congratulations, once again congratulations.
MS: Congratulations to you.
BM: Anything I can do for you?
MS: Thank you very much.
BM: Asalaam Aleikum.
MS: Waaleikum Asalaam.
My first reaction after "walleikum Aleikum" was "Sounds fishy to me." I thought it was a little too timely. Too "johnny on the spot". Suddenly the ISI was the FBI and the bad guys were just dumb asses blabbering all on the telephones. How convenient. I don't totally discount it but I think that if the Pakistanis could produce the translated intercept so quickly, there's a lot more that they could have done and didn't do. A lot more that they knew and weren't telling us. The Musharraf Government has no credibility against Mr. BM's denials:
Bhutto Aides Reject Government Claim
By RAVI NESSMAN, AP
Sat Dec 29, 4:22 AM EST
An Islamic militant group said Saturday it had no link to Benazir Bhutto's killing, dismissing government claims that its leader orchestrated the assassination.
Bhutto's aides also said they doubted militant commander Baitullah Mehsud was behind the attack on the opposition leader and accused the government of a cover-up.
The dispute and conflicting reports about Bhutto's exact cause of death were expected to further enflame the violence wracking this nuclear-armed nation two days after the popular former prime minister was killed in a suicide attack.
Musharraf is done. His goose is cooked. He has no credibility anymore. He should have stepped down when his book was just released and he was being feted at Davos. He would have been lauded as a courageous and honorable man. He should have quit when he was ahead but he didn't do that, he clung to power and now, no one believes him.
Once again, we've shot ourselves in the foot and Osama is frenetically playing bongo drums in a Waziristan motel room. Considering the disaster that was Plan A, one has to wonder about the competency of its planners who seem to be the products of outcome based education. Its time for new planners.