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US not satisfied with quality of information about tribal areas

January 23, 2008

WASHINGTON, Jan 22: The Bush administration is not satisfied with the quality of information it is getting about terrorist groups operating in Pakistan’s volatile tribal area, a senior US official said on Tuesday.

Despite the shortcomings, the United States will not carry out military strikes on its own inside Pakistan unless President Pervez Musharraf’s government requests direct support, said Dell Dailey, the State Department’s counter-terror chief.

“There are gaps in intelligence,” Dailey said during a breakfast meeting with journalists. “We don’t have enough information about what’s going on there. Not on Al Qaeda. Not on foreign fighters. Not on the Taliban.”

Dailey, a retired army lieutenant general with an extensive background in special operations, said the lack of information makes him “uncomfortable.” Yet the solution to the problem rests mainly with the Pakistanis, he said, who probably would consider too much US involvement as an unwelcome intrusion.

“We have to be careful conducting operations in a sovereign country, particularly one that’s a friend of ours and one that has given us a lot of support,” Dailey said. “The blowback would be pretty serious.”—AP