Responding to reports that Pakistan’s intelligence agency arrested five informants who assisted the Osama bin Laden raid, Republican presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich said the U.S. needs to drastically rethink its relationship with Islamabad.
“We've given Pakistan $20 billion [in assistance] since 9/11,” Gingrich said Wednesday on Fox & Friends. “It's very clear large parts of the Pakistani establishment are deeply anti-American. We should be angry that they were, in fact, hiding bin Laden. And instead of saying, ‘Boy, this is really great,’ they're now saying, ‘How can you embarrass us by killing him on our territory’ when apparently they were protecting him? When the Pakistani reaction is to punish the people who are helping America, I think we better rethink our entire relationship.”
The New York Times reported Wednesday that the five arrested informants include a major in the Pakistani army who kept track of license-plate numbers on cars visiting bin Laden's compound in Abbottabad.
While the al-Qaida leader was killed last month in a garrison town not far from Islamababad, top military officials have maintained there still is no proof Pakistan's senior leadership was apprised of his location. Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen said as recently as Tuesday he hasn’t seen any evidence that senior Pakistani officials or the intelligence and military communities knew about bin Laden's compound. Mullen has maintained that Pakistan views the embarrassment of the covert, cross-border raid that killed such a high-profile al-Qaida militant as a punishment for their inaction to find him in the first place, and urged lawmakers to proceed cautiously as they weigh the decision to cut aid.
Gingrich said the U.S. must rethink all the “ground rules” under which its intelligence operates. “We've been relying on intelligence units like the Pakistanis who now turn out to have a very large element which is pro-Taliban and pro-Qaida,” he said. “I think the Congress had better revisit all the ground rules for effective American intelligence.”
“Second, I think you've got to go nose to nose and hold them accountable. I don't think you can allow people to arrest your friends and to arrest people who tried to help you and do nothing about it. Why would anybody else in the world help us if we're going to be that helpless?
Last week, Newt Gingrich's campaign staff resigned en masse, raising questions about the future of the former House speaker's presidential campaign less than a month after it was formally launched. Gingrich has vowed to stay in the race.