COMMENTS: Unnamed Pentagon Sources

Pentagon correspondents at ABC and CBS selected different hotspots. CBS' David Martin zeroed in on the tribal areas of Pakistan's North West Frontier. Quoting his unnamed "US official" sources, Martin reported that a recent attack on strongholds held by Taliban guerrillas and al-Qaeda leaders around the Khyber Pass had been "ineffective" because militants were "actually tipped off to the coming offensive by sympathizers within the Pakistani military." CBS' Lara Logan suggested it also failed because United States troops on the Afghanistan side of the border were forbidden from crossing into Pakistan to join in. The policy of respecting Pakistani sovereignty was established in order to support President Pervez Musharraf, Logan explained. Now "there is a power vacuum in Pakistan. The government is weak. It is divided. There is no real consensus. They do not have a proper US policy, or even a policy yet, to deal with al-Qaeda and the Taliban."

ABC's Pentagon man Jonathan Karl (embargoed link) reported from his unnamed "senior defense official" source that the Israel Defense Force is likely to launch an airstrike against Iran "before year's end." Karl reported that Israel has two "red lines" that could trigger its raid and one political factor. War will start if Jerusalem believes Teheran's Natanz uranium processing facility is able to produce enough fuel for a bomb or if Iran acquires a Russian SA-20 anti-aircraft defense system. The third factor is the calendar: Israel may want to attack while George Bush is still President because it suspects his successor would be "less supportive."


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