Monday, November 19, 2007

Exit White House Musharraf Critic

With Pakistan imploding, the only top Bush official who has been criticizing President Pervez Musharraf in public for some time now is leaving her position.

In July, Frances Fragos Townsend, the President's homeland security advisor, who resigned today, said that Musharraf's cease-fire with tribal leaders to drain support for Islamic extremism was a failure, acknowledging frustration that Al Qaeda had rebuilt its infrastructure and links to affiliates, while keeping Osama bin Laden and his top lieutenants alive for nearly six years since 9/11.

“It hasn’t worked for Pakistan,” she said. “It hasn’t worked for the United States.”

At the same time, Townsend was suggesting that, if Musharraf wouldn't take action, the US would.

"Just because we don't speak about things publicly doesn't mean we're not doing things you talk about," Townsend told a TV interviewer who asked why the US does not conduct special operations and other measures to cripple Al Qaeda.

"Job No. 1 is to protect the American people. There are no options off the table,’" she said, " question that we will use any instrument at our disposal" to deal with Al Qaeda and bin Laden.

Townsend's unexplained departure now to "pursue some private-sector opportunities" comes at a time of crisis with Pakistan.

There is no way of knowing why the one-time official in the Clinton Justice Department, who was mentioned as a possible successor to Alberto Gonzales, is leaving now, but Bush fatigue, disappointment and disagreement over what to do in Pakistan are certainly among the possible reasons.

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