Morning Brief: Bush steps up the hunt for Osama

Top Story SAEED KHAN/AFP/Getty Images With the Taliban and al Qaeda gaining strength in Afghanistan, U.S. President George W. Bush secretly gave permission in July for American Special Operations forces to conduct raids inside Pakistani territory, the New York Times reports. One U.S. official told the paper that Pakistan’s government had “privately assented” to the ...

592667_080911_osama15.jpg
592667_080911_osama15.jpg

Top Story

SAEED KHAN/AFP/Getty Images

With the Taliban and al Qaeda gaining strength in Afghanistan, U.S. President George W. Bush secretly gave permission in July for American Special Operations forces to conduct raids inside Pakistani territory, the New York Times reports. One U.S. official told the paper that Pakistan's government had "privately assented" to the general concept, though it might reject specific missions.

Top Story

SAEED KHAN/AFP/Getty Images

With the Taliban and al Qaeda gaining strength in Afghanistan, U.S. President George W. Bush secretly gave permission in July for American Special Operations forces to conduct raids inside Pakistani territory, the New York Times reports. One U.S. official told the paper that Pakistan’s government had “privately assented” to the general concept, though it might reject specific missions.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai is pleased with the new strategy, but Pakistan’s Army chief of staff sharply criticized one such raid by U.S. troops, who reportedly crossed the Afghan border and entered South Waziristan last week. “No external force is allowed to conduct operations inside Pakistan,” he said Wednesday.

“I’m not convinced we’re winning in Afghanistan,” the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff testified Wednesday before the House Armed Services Committee. “We can hunt down and kill extremists as they cross over the border from Pakistan,” he added, “but until we work more closely with the Pakistani government to eliminate the safe havens from which they operate, the enemy will only keep coming.”

In a special Web feature for FP, five top Pakistani commentators offer advice for catching Osama bin Laden

Decision ’08

As the U.S. national conversation descends into farce, Democrats are increasingly worried that Barack Obama will lose. “I’m so depressed. It’s happening again. It’s a nightmare,” one Democratic fundraiser told Politico.

Joe Biden suggested at a campaign appearance that Hillary Clinton would have made a better running mate.

American voters are less concerned with terrorism than at any point since the attacks, according to a new CNN/Opinion Research poll.

Americas

Hurricane Ike is heading for Texas.

U.S. Department of the Interior officials are in big trouble for allegedly taking gifts from and having sex with oil company representatives.

Two Russian bombers have landed in Venezuela for a training mission. “The Yankee hegemony is finished,” said Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez.

Bolivia’s president moved to expel the U.S. ambassador from La Paz for allegedly “conspiring against democracy” and trying to break up the country.

Middle East and Africa

The United States announced sanctions against an Iranian shipping company, accusing it of providing support for Tehran’s nuclear program.

Iraq canceled six widely criticized contracts with major Western oil companies.

The World Bank has ended its unorthodox cooperation with Chad. 

Asia

Kim Jong Il has recovered from a stroke suffered in August “enough to walk and talk,” South Korean officials say. Yesterday, FP asked analyst Ken E. Gause to explain what is going on in Pyongyang.

He’s back: chef-politician Samak Sundaravej accepted his party’s nomination for prime minister of Thailand.

Parts of Asia were rocked by major earthquakes Wednesday.

Europe

The sinking euro has hit a new one-year low against the dollar.

Russia is trying to show its “softer side” in Moldova.

Moscow may use its sovereign wealth fund to prop up its sagging domestic market.

Global Economy

Saudi Arabia plans to ignore OPEC and pump as much oil as it wants. “At $100 the price of oil remains very high,” said a spokesman for the International Energy Agency, criticizing OPEC for trying to cut production.

The buzzards are circling for Washington Mutual, the troubled regional bank.

Surging exports have fueled a boom in obscure parts of the United States.

Today’s Agenda

The U.S. presidential candidates are taking a timeout today for the Sept. 11 anniversary, appearing jointly in New York.

Obama also lunches with Bill Clinton today. Last night, the Illinois senator dismissed speculation that he would ask the former U.S. president to join his cabinet, telling Late Show host David Letterman, “It’s sort of like Mickey Mantle playing AAA (baseball).”

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov meets with Polish leaders in Warsaw.

Vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin appears on ABC’s World News with Charlie Gibson this evening at 6:30 p.m. ET for a rare interview.

Note: The original version of this Brief referred to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Mike Mullen, as “the Pentagon’s top general.” He is, of course, an admiral. FP regrets the error and any pain this may cause readers in the U.S. Navy.

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