Sen. Kerry Discusses Relations With Pakistan

Melissa Block talks with Sen. John Kerry about Osama bin Laden. He discusses what this means for U.S. relations with Pakistan and Afghanistan going forward.

MELISSA BLOCK, host:

There are a lot of questions going forward about what the killing of bin Laden means for the U.S. relationship with Pakistan. Senator John Kerry joins us to talk about that, Democrat of Massachusetts. He's chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Senator Kerry, welcome to the program.

Senator JOHN KERRY (Democrat, Massachusetts; Chairman, Senate Foreign Relations Committee): Thank you for having me.

BLOCK: And as we now know, Senator Kerry, bin Laden was not hunkered down in a cave in remote Waziristan, as was thought. This was a large compound where he was found, in a big city not far from the Pakistani capital. Doesn't it defy belief that Pakistan's military or spy agencies did not know that bin Laden was there?

Sen. KERRY: Well, it raises very, very serious questions about a number of things, not least of which is how much effort from their own intelligence was putting in to try and find him, if indeed they were trying to do that at all.

It is possible if they weren't doing that, that someone could have located a particular house, and at some point he could have moved in. And indeed, you can stretch to find some sort of argument. But it's very, very hard if given the things they said they were doing and they were trying to do and all the misdirects that we've had along the way, it raises some very serious questions.

BLOCK: What misdirects are you talking about?

Sen. KERRY: Well, you know, that the notion that he's out in the western part of the country, and they can't control that and so forth. The countryside is too difficult to get to. I mean, all this notion that he was really out in the territories, as they're called, and not necessarily potentially right under their nose.

BLOCK: Pakistan has, of course, long said that it didn't know where bin Laden was. Does this, do you think, indicate not only that they knew but that they were protecting him, that they were essentially playing a double game, taking billions in dollars from the United States for counterterrorism and turning a blind eye?

Sen. KERRY: Well, those are part of the legitimate questions. I mean, these are not questions that are entirely new. Believe me, there have been a lot of backroom conversations with folks in which we've raised these kinds of issues with them.

But getting at the truth has been very, very difficult, and I think, hopefully now, they will feel compelled by the - just facts here to step up and try to help provide a better sense of the answers.

I was encouraged by their statement today which indicated a welcoming of the event and a sense of, you know, commitment to the process going forward, but there's a big gap between public statements and some of the actions. And we're going to have to really hone in on that pretty carefully.

BLOCK: And knowing what you know now, can you say that the billions in dollars that the United States has spent in Pakistan has been money well spent?

Sen. KERRY: Well, some of it certainly has been, yes. I mean, look, I think we have to be honest with ourselves as we evaluate this. We have big questions that have come out of the facts that as we know them, but we also have developed this situation partly by virtue of the fact we've been able to operate on the ground, that we had people in their country on the ground who are doing some of this sleuth intelligence work.

They have permitted us to engage in a pretty robust campaign in the western part of their country with drones. A lot of civilians have been killed in their country by virtue of that. That makes their own politics very complicated.

So it's not been without a price paid on their part, too, and I think we have to be careful as we look at this going forward so that we don't just go off on a knee-jerk, quick reaction that belies some of our own interests here.

Some of - part of the theory of the change in the aid program that we created, where we put the Kerry-Lugar money on the table for aid, was to try to work more of a relationship directly with the people of Pakistan and not necessarily with a Musharraf or with a military entity or even a government.

And so we've been only just getting going at that. So we really have to be careful not to cut off our nose to spite our face here and recognize sort of how complicated and insanely Byzantine the politics of the area are and the choices that face us.

BLOCK: Senator Kerry, thanks so much.

Sen. KERRY: Thank you.

BLOCK: That's Senator John Kerry, Democrat of Massachusetts. He's the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

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