International

'Crumbling' U.S.-Pakistan Relations Highlighted By Arrests Of Informants

May 6, 2011: A man leans against a wall in Abbottabad, Pakistan, near the compound where al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden was discovered and killed. i i

May 6, 2011: A man leans against a wall in Abbottabad, Pakistan, near the compound where al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden was discovered and killed. Aamir Qureshi /AFP/Getty Images hide caption

itoggle caption Aamir Qureshi /AFP/Getty Images
May 6, 2011: A man leans against a wall in Abbottabad, Pakistan, near the compound where al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden was discovered and killed.

May 6, 2011: A man leans against a wall in Abbottabad, Pakistan, near the compound where al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden was discovered and killed.

Aamir Qureshi /AFP/Getty Images

The hottest story of the morning so far is The New York Times' report that "Pakistan's top military spy agency has arrested some of the Pakistani informants who fed information to the Central Intelligence Agency in the months leading up to the raid that led to the death of Osama bin Laden, according to American officials."

According to the Times, the informants include "a Pakistani Army major who officials said copied the license plates of cars visiting Bin Laden's compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, in the weeks before the [May 2] raid."

On Morning Edition, NPR's Julie McCarthy reported from Islamabad that while Pakistani authorities confirm that five or six alleged informants were detained immediately after the raid by U.S. commandos on the al-Qaida leader's compound, they also say that the report about an army major being among them is "baseless."

As Julie told host Steve Inskeep, the Pakistani army is trying to repair an image that was hurt badly by the fact that bin Laden was living in Pakistan and was brought to justice by a secret U.S. raid that the army wasn't told about in advance. If a Pakistani major had been secretly assisting the U.S., that would be another blow to the army's image, she said.

Officials in Pakistan, Julie added, are portraying the arrests as "normal operating procedures" and part of their overall investigation. Some of those detained may already have been released, she said.

As for what crime any of them supposedly committed, Julie said Pakistani officials are sidestepping that question.

Overall, she said, the arrests are another indication of the "crumbling" U.S.-Pakistani relationship. "This is one more example ... of the ever deepening quagmire that the U.S.-Pakistan relations are in," said Julie.

Steve Inskeep speaks with Julie McCarthy

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