Lasting Legacy 2008 Part II

Another of those that passed away this year reminded me to question all things and all people.

Tim Russert made me think and for that I am very grateful.

Russert, the long time host of “Meet the Press” on NBC each Sunday, died this last June 13.

He probably died from working too hard to make us all think and not taking enough care of himself.

We are all diminished by his loss.

Tim Russert

Alex Wong / Getty Images file

Russert caused me to rething, delve into and research hundreds of issues and topics.  But one interview with Vice President Dick Cheney stands out for me.

I was heavily involved with couter-terror activities in the tribal areas of Pakistan.  The Taliban and al-Qaeda, had, in my opinion, taken the upper hand and President Musharraf and his army had allowed terrorists to retain their valuable refuge.

On Sunday, September 10, 2006, Tim hosted Vice President Cheny who made an extremely long supporting speech on the importance of General Musharraf to the United States.

I heard about this while in Pakistan working near my friend Muhammad.

Muhammad is now dead, killed by the Taliban, and Musharraf is no longer the kingpin in Pakistan.

But it was Tim Russert’s careful, probing inquiry with Cheney that opened my eyes to the growing troubles between the U.S. and Pakistan.

******

Part of Vice President Cheney’s Remarks on “Meet the Press” with Tim Russert on Sunday, September 10, 2006:

“President Musharraf has been a great ally. There was, prior to 9/11, a close relationship between the Pakistan intelligence services and the Taliban. Pakistan was one of only three nations that recognized, diplomatically recognized the government of Afghanistan at that particular time. But the fact is Musharraf has put his neck on the line in order to be effective in going after the extremist elements including al-Qaeda and including the Taliban in Pakistan. There have been three attempts on his life, two of those by al-Qaeda over the course of the last three years. This is a man who has demonstrated great courage under very difficult political circumstances and has been a great ally for the United States”.

“So there’s no question in that area along the Afghan/Pakistan border is something of a no man’s land, it has been for centuries. It’s extraordinarily rough territory. People there who move back and forth across the border, they were smuggling goods before there was concern about, about terrorism. But we need to continue to work the problem. Musharraf just visited Karzai in, in Kabul this past week, they’re both going to be here during the course of the U.N. General Assembly meetings over the course of the next few weeks. We worked that area very hard, and the Paks have been great allies in that effort.”

“Pakistan, we’ve gone in and worked closely with Musharraf to take down al-Qaeda. Saudi Arabia, same thing. In all of those cases, it’s been a matter of getting the locals into the fight to prevail over al-Qaeda and al-Qaeda-related tyrants.”

“Think of Musharraf who puts his neck on the line every day he goes to work, when there’ve been attempts on his life because of his support for our position. And they look over here and they see the United States that’s made a commitment to the Iraqis, that’s gone in and taken down the old regime, worked to set up a democracy, worked to set up security forces, and all of a sudden we say it’s too tough, we’re going home. What’s Karzai going to think up in Kabul? Is he going to have any confidence at all that he can trust the United States, that in fact we’re there to get the job done? What about Musharraf? Or is Musharraf and those people you’re talking about who are on the fence in Afghanistan and elsewhere going to say, ‘My gosh, the United States hasn’t got the stomach for the fight. Bin Laden’s right, al-Qaeda’s right, the United States has lost its will and will not complete the mission,’ and it will damage our capabilities and all of those other war fronts, if you will, in the global war on terror.”

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