- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 22, 2011


The U.S. ambassador to Pakistan refused to provide security for Benazir Bhutto two months before the charismatic political leader was assassinated in a bomb attack in December 2007, according to a classified diplomatic cable.

Anne W. Patterson, a career diplomat who served as ambassador in Islamabad from 2007 to 2010, personally decided that providing U.S. protection for Mrs. Bhutto would be inappropriate because she was running for parliament.

Mrs. Bhutto, who served twice as prime minister, was leading her Pakistan People’s Party in parliamentary elections when she was killed in the terrorist attack on her motorcade in Rawalpindi.

In October, Mrs. Patterson had visited Mrs. Bhutto at her home in Karachi to discuss Mrs. Bhutto’s “concerns about her personal security.”

Terrorists had attempted to kill Mrs. Bhutto four days earlier, when she returned to Pakistan after eight years of self-imposed exile. A suicide bomber killed more than 140 in that attack.

Bhutto asked the ambassador if it would be possible for the [United States] to provide her with a security detail,” said a confidential cable released by the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks.

Mrs. Patterson noted that the United States has provided security to foreign leaders in only two cases - for President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan and for Jean-Bertrand Aristide when he was president of Haiti.

Both men “were heads of state,” the ambassador said, noting that “American security would not be consistent with the movements of a political campaign.”

She suggested that Mrs. Bhutto hire private Pakistani security firms and offered to have a U.S. Embassy security expert talk to her own bodyguards.

In the cable, Mrs Bhutto also expressed her doubts about the Pakistani government’s investigation into the Karachi attack, which she blamed on elements of the Pakistani secret service who supported the brutal Taliban movement in Afghanistan.

Bhutto insisted that government officials were responsible for the attack and could not be trusted to conduct an independent investigation,” the cable said.

Mrs. Patterson, however, responded that there was “absolutely no evidence” that the government was involved.

“The ambassador continued that all evidence thus far pointed to an al Qaeda-related - or other extremist group - attack and that blaming the government was not productive,” the cable said.

At the time, the government was run by Gen. Pervez Musharraf, who had taken power in a bloodless coup in 1999.

President Obama last week nominated Mrs. Patterson to serve as ambassador to Egypt, replacing Ambassador Margaret Scobey, who has served in Cairo since March 2008. The nomination requires Senate approval.


Foreign visitors in Washington this week include:


• Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, who addresses a joint session of Congress.


• Pepe Eliaschev, lead investigative journalist for the Perfil newspaper of Buenos Aires and a noted radio reporter and TV anchorman in Argentina; and Samuel Feldberg, senior research scholar of Holocaust and Antisemitism Studies at the University of Sao Paolo. They participate in a panel discussion on why Latin American nations are recognizing the Palestinian territories as an independent nation.


• Egidijus Meilunas, deputy foreign minister of Lithuania, who holds a 3 p.m. news conference at the National Press Club to discuss plans for a high-level meeting in Vilnius next month on pro-democracy movements.

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297 or email jmorrison@washingtontimes.com.

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