In The News

Lawmakers Question Pakistani Aid After Bin Laden

CBN News, By John Jessup

One of the many questions surrounding Osama bin Laden's killing is whether the United States should consider Pakistan a friend or foe.

The country is considered a key ally when it comes to fighting terror, but ultimately, Pakistan is where the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks sought safe haven for years.

Now, some lawmakers are calling for foreign aid to be cut off to the nuclear-armed nation.

When former President George W. Bush declared a war on terror in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, Pakistan pledged its support. But there has always been tension in the air for the mostly Muslim nation and little love for the U.S.

The fact that Osama bin Laden was found hiding in a million-dollar fortified compound just north of the capital has strained the relationship even more.

"I think that the Pakistani army and intelligence have a lot of questions to answer," said Sen. Carl Levin, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

In Washington, a growing chorus of lawmakers question if Pakistan knowingly provided safe harbor to al Qaeda's top man.

"We have a lot of reason to believe that elements of their intelligence community continue to be very closely in touch with -- and perhaps supportive with -- terrorist groups that are fighting us and Afghans in Afghanistan," said Sen Joe Lieberman, I-Conn.

"Like President Bush said, you're either with us or you're against us," said Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas.

"And if you're harboring terrorists, then you're our enemy, and I don't think it can be any clearer than that," he continued. "They were harboring enemies who were orchestrating killing Americans. How is that our friend?"

In a letter addressed to a House Subcommittee on Foreign Affairs, Congressman Allen West wrote, "Unless we get a clear explanation of what the government of Pakistan knew about the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden, all foreign aid from American taxpayers to this nation needs to cease."

Texas Rep. Ted Poe also drafted a bill that would change the way Congress votes on foreign aid.

Instead of one bill that funds every nation receiving money, his proposal would let lawmakers vote country by country, keeping money from going to foreign governments that have interests counter to the United States.

"Why do we give money to Lebanon, a country that now is controlled by Hezbollah, a terrorist organization that's firing missiles into Israel? Why do we do that?" Poe asked.

"And why do we give money to China? They own most of our debt, but yet they get some type of aid from the United States," he said. "This is absurd. It's a waste of taxpayer money."

Defending his budget, President Barack Obama said foreign aid only accounts for 1 percent of the entire federal budget.

And some say a country-by-country vote would also hamper the way the administration conducts foreign policy.

But Poe believes if the goal of foreign aid is to get other countries to like the United States -- it's not working.

He added that this is about making tough choices for the future and what's in the best interests of America.

"Maybe some of the motivation of this foreign aid is wholesome. Maybe it's a good idea. But we don't have the money. The United States is broke," Poe said.

Pakistan officials insist the country did not know where bin Laden was and blames the lapse in locating him on worldwide intelligence failures.

Still, that excuse won't cut it for some U.S. lawmakers, especially after the Obama administration requested nearly $3 billion in foreign aid for Pakistan in its 2012 budget.