The Cable

Exclusive: Ijaz told Jones three people prepared the “Memogate” document

Mansoor Ijaz, the main figure in the "Memogate" scandal that is rocking the highest levels of the Pakistani political establishment, told his U.S. go-between Gen. Jim Jones in a private e-mail that there were three people who "prepared" the now-infamous memo, not just former Pakistani Ambassador to Washington Husain Haqqani.

Ijaz is set to travel to Islamabad next week to testify before the Supreme Court of Pakistan's inquiry commission on the memo, which he delivered through Jones to then Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen last May. Ijaz has repeatedly claimed the memo was authored solely by Haqqani on behalf of Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari. The memo offered to replace Pakistan's military and intelligence leadership and reorient Pakistani foreign policy in exchange for U.S. government help to prevent a purported impending military coup in the wake of the killing of Osama bin Laden.

Haqqani resigned over the scandal and is now living under virtual house arrest on Gilani's compound, but he has always denied being the author of the memo. Now, in the previously unreported May 9 e-mail from Ijaz to Jones that accompanied the memo, obtained by The Cable, Ijaz told Jones the document was prepared by three people, not just Haqqani.

"In further reference to our telephone discussions on Pakistan and its relations with the United States, I am attaching herewith a document that has been prepared by senior active and former Pakistan government officials, some of whom served at the highest levels of the military-intelligence directorates in recent years, and as senior political officers of the civilian government," Ijaz wrote to Jones only 8 days after bin Laden was found hiding in the military town of Abbotabad.

Last month, Ijaz handed over the e-mail to the Supreme Court's Registrar Faqir Hussain in advance of Ijaz's testimony next week. Ijaz told Jones in the e-mail that the memo "has the support of the President of Pakistan," but Ijaz didn't mention in the e-mail that Haqqani was involved in the memo or the scheme in any way.

"I personally know two of the three men," Ijaz wrote to Jones, referring to the three men who allegedly prepared the document. "I believe they are men of honor and integrity, although they have been away from the games played in Islamabad for some time."

"Thanks for standing up with me on this," wrote Ijaz. "I don't know if it will work, but we have to try."

Jones replied May 11 "Message delivered," referring to the fact he had passed the memo on to Mullen.

In an Oct. 10 Financial Times op-ed where he revealed the existence of the memo, Ijaz wrote that the scheme was devised by "a senior Pakistani diplomat" whom Ijaz later alleged was Haqqani, but Ijaz didn't mention the existence of the other two other officials in that article.

In an interview on Thursday with The Cable, Ijaz confirmed the authenticity of the e-mail he sent to Jones but said its contents did not contradict his various other statements. Ijaz said that the Jones e-mail was meant as a general overview but didn't reflect the details of the involvement of the other two men, whom he identified as Jehangir Karamat, who served as Army chief of staff and U.S. ambassador under former military dictator Gen. Pervez Musharraf, and Mahmud Ali Durrani, a former National Security Advisor for Gilani, who was fired in 2009 over an unrelated dispute.

"There was only one author of the memo and that was Haqqani, but the way Haqqani presented it to me was that there was a team of people back in Pakistan involved and the two names he gave me were Karamat and Durrani," Ijaz told The Cable.

Ijaz said his current understanding is that Karamat and Durrani were involved in some unclear way in the scheme to overhaul Pakistan's military and intelligence leadership but were not involved in the actual drafting or delivery of the memo, as far as he knows.

"My impression at the time I wrote the email to Jones was that they had been probably a part of the thinking process about the ideas in the memorandum. They were probably involved at least in thinking through how you execute these things," Ijaz told The Cable. "They certainly did not have anything to do with the actual drafting of the memorandum or the delivery of the message. Then again, maybe they did, I don't know. Who the hell knows? What I put down in the e-mail was what Haqqani told me."

In his written statement to the Supreme Court, Ijaz claims that Karamat and Durrani were names given to him by Haqqani "as people that would be involved in forming the new national security team," but he did not identify them as being involved in the preparation of the document.

"[Haqqani] said there was a like-minded group of people  in  Islamabad  that would be brought on board by ‘the boss'; -- a reference I understood to mean President Asif Ali Zardari -- as the new national security team once tensions had dissipated. He mentioned two names I recognized (Jehangir Karamat and Mahmud Durrani) but added that they would be approached once this was all over -- a point I took to mean they were unaware of this operation in advance," Ijaz wrote in his statement.

The military-civilian rift over the memo reached even higher levels of confrontation this week as Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani on Wednesday sacked Defense Secretary Khalid Naeem Lodhi for "gross misconduct and illegal action." Lodhi gave the Supreme Court statements pertaining to Memogate from Pakistan's military and intelligence leadership without going through the civilian government first.

The firing of Lodhi followed a warning by Army chief Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani that Gilani's earlier statements, calling the actions of Kayani and Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate spy agency Ahmed Shuja Pasha related to Memogate "unconstitutional," could have "grievous consequences." Gilani had criticized the two for submitting statements to the court without going through the civilian leadership first. The stakes could not be higher in Pakistan, where the civilian government is fighting for survival and the military is seeking to assert its dominance over politics.

The newly revealed e-mail also seems to corroborate Jones's secret affidavit to the court in which Jones swore that Ijaz "gave me no reason to believe that he was acting at the direction of Ambassador Haqqani, with his participation, or that Ambassador Haqqani had knowledge of the call or the contents of the message."

Later in the affidavit, Jones hedged by writing, "I do not recall whether Mr. Ijaz claimed that Ambassador Haqqani had anything to do with the creation of the memo. I have no reason to believe that Ambassador Haqqani had any role in the creation of the memo, nor that he had any prior knowledge of the memo."

In his own affidavit to the court, Ijaz directly disputed Jones' account of events. Jones says that Ijaz called him on the phone a few days before the delivery of the memo. Ijaz refutes that call ever took place. Ijaz also swears that he did tell Jones about Haqqani's involvement during their May 9 phone call, only because Jones was extremely skeptical of the authenticity of the memo.

"I made clear to him near the end of the call that Pakistan's ambassador to the US was the originator of the message," Ijaz wrote in his affidavit. "Gen. Jones continued to express reservations but when I told him this was not for him or I to decide, that if what the ambassador was saying about the potential for a military takeover was true, that we simply had a responsibility to make sure the private message Haqqani  wanted conveyed got through to its destined recipient.  He responded by saying he would do it if the message was in writing."

In his affidavit, Ijaz again claims that Haqqani was the sole author of the memo. "The content of the Memorandum originated entirely from Haqqani, was conceived by Haqqani and was edited by Haqqani," Ijaz wrote.

Ijaz has always said that his back-channel dealings were in furtherance of his desire to expose the inappropriate influence of Pakistan's military and intelligence sectors on domestic politics. That said, since the scandal broke he has been harshly critical of the civilian government led by Zardari. The entire scandal rests largely on Ijaz's credibility and his account of events as compared to Haqqani's.

Ijaz met with Pasha Oct. 22 in London and handed over evidence he says implicates Haqqani, including Blackberry Messenger communications that Ijaz says prove Haqqani's involvement in the conspiracy. In a twist of irony, when Ijaz gets to Pakistan next week, his security will be reportedly be provided by Kayani, the military leader he originally conspired to overthrow.

In his e-mail to Jones, Ijaz also claimed that he was working with Sen. Tom Daschle and Navy Secretary Ray Mabus to deliver the document. Ijaz told The Cable today that he reached out to Daschle in an effort to reach Mabus as a conduit to Mullen -- but it never panned out.

"Daschle's condition [before becoming involved] was that the memo had to have Zardari's signature and be written on his letterhead. That sort of defeats the purpose [of the back channel], so that option was out," said Ijaz. "They were never involved directly in this. I never had any direct contact with Daschle or Mabus."

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The Cable

Moran: The administration never really fought to close Guantanamo

Today marks the 10th anniversary of the transformation of the U.S. Naval Base in Guantanamo Bay into a prison for holding presumed terrorists from the war on terror -- but there's almost nobody left in Washington officialdom still trying to close Gitmo, and one leading proponent of closing the prison says President Barack Obama's team never really tried.

Rep. Jim Moran (D-VA) was one of the congressional leaders of the movement to fulfill Obama's Jan. 22, 2009, signed order to close the Guantanamo prison. In an interview today with The Cable, Moran said the administration never supported its allies in Congress when the attempt to close the prison came to a head -- and then the administration abandoned the effort altogether. As the election season progresses, Moran said, Congress keeps passing laws that will keep the prison open and the administration seems to have no intention of fighting back.

"There were a few of us who were willing to fight the issue.... We were trying to get help from the administration in terms of factual talking points and in terms of the administration saying this is important to us. But we just didn't get that support," Moran said of the Democratic efforts, which were led by him, then Appropriations Committee chairman David Obey (D-WI), Senate Majority Whip Richard Durbin (D-IL), and others.

Moran said that three years of GOP-driven congressional action successfully tied the administration's hands on closing the prison. These measures included provisions that barred funding for moving prisoners to U.S. soil, barred funding for building an alternative facility, and required extensive certifications of prisoners' innocence before moving them.

But the administration never really fought those provisions in a serious way, leaving congressional Democrats who wanted to fight to close Gitmo twisting in the wind. When laws containing such provisions got to the House floor, the administration wouldn't even provide Moran and his allies talking points, one of the steps they regularly take to help lawmakers defend administration priorities, Moran said.

"I can only speculate that the problem was a more political one than a policy one," Moran said, adding that these types of decisions are typically made by the political team at the White House. "My sense is, they've given up on this. I guess I don't blame him. This is one of those issues where the Republicans are just waiting for [Obama] to stand on principle so they can pounce all over him."

The 2012 National Defense Authorization Act, which Congress recently passed, established that U.S. citizens can be held indefinitely on terrorism charges. Obama reluctantly signed that bill into law, but issued a signing statement expressing his intention to implement that provision as he saw fit.

"I'm confident that the House will never provide the legislation he needs to close [the Guantanamo prison] and if he tries to, it will be an excuse to come up with even more severe legislation to make sure that he doesn't," said Moran.

Proponents of keeping the prison open claim that 25 percent of prisoners have returned to terrorism. But Moran said that number is actually closer to 6 percent -- and besides, he noted, there's no way to prove they are returning to the fight, because most have never been confirmed to have been fighting against the United States in the first place.

"Of the 171 inmates remaining in Guantanamo, most have been cleared for release but they are still being held there," he said. "And that's because of the Congress; the administration is afraid to [release them]. Their concern that even one of them goes back and turns against the U.S., it's going to reflect badly on them. The feeling is CYA [cover your ass] and avoid any embarrassment."

Moran said the issue could very well be a political loser for the White House, especially in an election year, but it's a failure to engage in public education about the prisoners' identities and the options for establishing a process to deal with them.

"The vast majority of the American people would just as soon leave them there, lock them up, out of sight out of mind," said Moran. "The job is to push out more knowledge into a sea of ignorance."

The most recent transfer of a detainee from the Guantanamo prison was that of Saiid Farhi, who was released to Algeria on Jan.  6, 2011. Farhi was ordered released by the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia in November 2009.

The State Department maintains it is still committed to closing the prison.

"The administration has made clear that closing Guantanamo is in the interest of our national security and is continuing its efforts to close the facility," State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said in a Jan. 9 statement. "Progress has been made under this and the previous administration. However, given legislation in place, it is clear that it will take some time to fully close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay."

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