Rep. Peter King: Obama Failed Pakistan Doctor Who Led US to bin Laden

Thursday, 24 May 2012 11:18 AM

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The Obama administration did not do enough to protect the Pakistani doctor who led the CIA to Osama bin Laden's hideout, allowing Pakistan to send him to prison for 33 years for treason, says GOP Rep. Peter King.

King said that the administration gave away the doctor's name and discussed the DNA samples he collected to verify it was bin Laden living in the compound in Abbottabad.

"This has been handled very poorly right from the time of the raid," King told

King, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, is the latest voice to express outrage that Pakistan convicted Dr. Shakil Afridi to 33 years in prison for treason. Afridi ran a fake vaccination program for the CIA and was able to collect the DNA required to determine it was bin Laden living in the compound the CIA raided in May of last year, killing the al-Qaida leader.

Pakistan has since expressed outrage over the secret raid, and has repeatedly said the doctor committed a treacherous act by helping the American government locate the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks.

King, a Republican from New York, said that Obama's team should not have spoken about the doctor and his program, effectively giving away his identity.

"They put him out there," said King adding that he is unaware of any efforts the administration made to get the physician out of Pakistan. "I'm focused on that they disclosed his identity."

Afridi was sentenced to 33 years in prison on Wednesday for conspiring against the state — in a trial that was conducted  under a draconian tribal justice system in Pakistan's storied tribal belt, although his alleged crimes against the state did not happen in that region of Pakistan.

The handling of the case has infuriated U.S. officials —whose relationship with Pakistan has been strained for months over the raid and other matters — because it was conducted under the aracane Frontier Crimes Regulation, which was imposed when Pakistan was under British rule. He was tried without a judge, and an employee of the local government oversaw the case. The law allows that employee to declare guilt or innocence and even impose sanctions on members of the defendant's tribe.

Afridi did not get a lawyer but was given a chance to defend himself. He can appeal the verdict.

Had Afridi been tried in Abbottabad or Islamabad, he would have received a trial by jury.

"Anyone who supported the United States in finding Osama bin Laden was not working against Pakistan, they were working against al-Qaida," Pentagon press secretary George Little said.

On Wednesday, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. and Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn.,  issued statements calling the conviction an outrage.

"What Dr. Afridi did is the furthest thing from treason. It was a courageous, heroic and patriotic act, which helped to locate the most wanted terrorist in the world — a mass murderer who had the blood of many innocent Pakistanis on his hands," a statement from McCain said.

Sens. Carl Levin and McCain, both of whom serve on the Senate Armed Services Committee, want Afridi pardoned and freed "immediately." They both issued warnings to Islamabad that U.S. financial aid to Pakistan, which has surpassed $18 billion since Sept. 11, 2001, is at risk.

So far, Pakistan has snubbed any criticisms of its handling of the Afridi case, including claims by U.S. officials that the doctor has been tortured in custody.

"I think as far as the case of Mr. Afridi is concerned, it was in accordance with Pakistani laws and by the Pakistani courts, and we need to respect each other's legal processes," Moazzam Ali Khan, a foreign ministry spokesman told reporters.

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