WASHINGTON, July 29, 2010 — Vice President Joe Biden today acknowledged that some people in Pakistan’s intelligence community had supported the Taliban, but he said that situation is changing.
“That’s been a problem in the past, it’s a problem we’re dealing with, and [it] is changing,” Biden said in an interview that aired on NBC’s “Today” television show this morning. The interview with Ann Curry was taped yesterday while Biden and his wife, Dr. Jill Biden, were at Fort Drum, N.Y., to welcome home the Army’s 10th Mountain Division’s 2nd Brigade Combat Team from Iraq.
Biden’s comments referenced WikiLeaks’ July 25 Web posting of at least 75,000 secret documents on the war in Afghanistan spanning from January 2004 to December 2009. One issue highlighted in the documents involves allegations that members of the Pakistani intelligence agency, ISI, supported the Taliban while accepting U.S. funding to fight against them. President Barack Obama announced the current U.S. policy in Afghanistan, to include Pakistan, in December 2009.
“All those leaks predate our policy,” Biden said. “Not one leak is consistent with our policy announced in December.” He added that no U.S. money was diverted from its stated purposes in Pakistan.
Asked to justify U.S. spending in Afghanistan, Biden said the U.S. mission there is not “nation-building,” but to stamp out al-Qaida so the terrorist group cannot continue to threaten the United States.
“We are in Afghanistan for one express purpose: al-Qaida, and its threat to the United States,” he said. “We’re not there to nation build. We’re not there to turn this into a Jeffersonian democracy. We’re not there for ten years. We’re there to defeat al-Qaida, which operates there, and [the situation] is a clear and present danger to the U.S.”
When asked how the United States and NATO coalition can defeat al-Qaida when it operates in Pakistan, Biden responded, “I assure you, we are doing significant damage to al-Qaida in Pakistan, as well as in Afghanistan. We’re making progress, but the truth of the matter is there’s more to go.”
On Iraq, Biden said there should be no concerns that reducing troop strength to 50,000 by September 1 will cause an explosion in insurgent violence there.
“I can’t guarantee anything, but I’m willing to bet everything there won’t be any such explosion,” he said. “Neither I, nor General [Raymond T.] Odierno, or the Pentagon, or the people who have been on the ground so many times think that is likely to happen.
“We’ll still have 50,000, battle-tested, combat troops in Iraq who are going from leading combat to supporting Iraqi combat capability,” he added.
U.S. Department of Defense
Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)