By Hope Yen WASHINGTON, AP
Pakistan must do more to stem al-Qaida in its ungoverned territories amid growing signs operatives plan a spring offensive against allied forces in Afghanistan, lawmakers on the intelligence committees said Sunday.
Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Republican Congressman Peter Hoekstra also said the U.S. must work to ensure that North Korea sticks to its promise to limit its nuclear program. They complained that Congress still lacks meaningful intelligence about the world’s hot spots.
“We still don’t have the intelligence community overall to give us, as policymakers, the information that we need to make good decisions in North Korea, Iran and other places,” said Hoekstra, the top Republican on the House intelligence committee. “We’ve been disappointed with the stand-up from the leadership in the intelligence community.”
Feinstein, the No. 2 Democrat on the Senate intelligence committee, criticized what she called half-measures by Pakistan’s president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, at a critical moment for the United States and its allies. She said “pinpoint attacks” are needed against al-Qaida before a possible spring offensive.
“The Pakistanis either have to let us go in or go in themselves when they have intelligence,” she said. “There’s no question that there’s going to be a spring offensive in Afghanistan, that they’re trying to reach out, that training is going on, recruitment is going on.”
Last week, National Intelligence Director Michael McConnell told Congress that the U.S. is concerned that al-Qaida’s top two leaders — Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahri — may be hiding in the rugged frontiers of northwestern Pakistan and are attempting to establish an operational base.
McConnell’s push for action along the Afghan-Pakistani border came after Vice President Dick Cheney met earlier in the week with Musharraf.
Hoekstra agreed that the Pakistan region was a growing threat but cautioned that a balancing act was required to ensure that Musharraf’s government stays in power. Musharraf faces elections in September.
“We need stability in the regime. We need this regime to survive,” he said. “The Pakistanis have been doing a number of things to help us go after al-Qaida.”