Pakistan — Biden: Pakistani Support for Taliban ‘In the Past’

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)

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