State Department refuses to admit that Mullah Mansour was killed inside Pakistan

In a State Department press briefing that took place yesterday, spokesman Mark Toner refused to admit that the drone strike that killed Taliban emir Mullah Mansour actually took place in Pakistan. Toner originally suggested that he had no idea where the strike took place. Instead, he said that he doesn’t “have any more clarity of where the actual strike took place,” and maintained that it was “in that border region. I just can’t say on which side of the border it was.”

The full text of the exchange between Toner and the reporter is reproduced below. Kudos to the reporter who doggedly followed up the answers and exposed just how silly Toner’s statement was by asking if State Department knew where the strike occurred.

“So you don’t know where you targeted him? You just guessed? I mean, how could you fire something out of the sky and blow something up and kill people and not know what country it’s in? Come on,” the reporter asked.

“You check these things before you fire, usually, right?,” the reporter responded to Toner’s obvious attempt to deflect the question.

Of course the US military and State Department know the exact geographical location of the strike. Toner also knows this as well (it is why he changes his tune and later states “what we’re willing to share is that it was in — the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region”).

Fifteen years after 9/11, the US government refuses to tackle the Pakistan problem head on, and insists on dancing around the issue of Taliban sanctuaries, training camps, and madrassa inside Pakistan (with Pakistani military and Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate support), despite the fact that thousands of US and NATO soldiers have been killed by the very same Taliban in Afghanistan. So what we get is absurd attempts by State Department to obfuscate the Pakistan problem.

The exchange from Mark Toner’s press briefing:

QUESTION: One more. You said that – when he mentioned Pakistan’s complaints about violation of sovereignty, you said it happened in the Af-Pak border region.


QUESTION: Are you denying that it happened on Pakistani territory?

MR TONER: I don’t have any more clarity of where the actual strike took place. What I can say was in that border region. I just can’t say on which side of the border it was.

QUESTION: So you don’t know if – so are you doubting the claim from Pakistan that it was in their territory?

MR TONER: I’m not going to speak – I mean, the Pakistani Government is able to speak on behalf of itself. I’m not going to doubt its claim. I’m just saying the information that we have right – are able to share.

QUESTION: But this was a – this is a —

QUESTION: So you don’t know where you targeted him? You just guessed? I mean, how could you fire something out of the sky and blow something up and kill people and not know what country it’s in? Come on.

MR TONER: I understand what – your question, Brad. All I’m saying is what we’re able – I said what we’re willing to share is that it was in —

QUESTION: You check these things before you fire, usually, right?

MR TONER: — the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region. We certainly do.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.

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  • Zafar Iqbal says:

    Follow up events suggest that the Mullah Akhtar was kiled in a US drone strike a recklessly proudly claimed by the US secretary of State and the President himself.
    Mullah Akhtar was targeted while he was travelling at Main Highway Connecting Provincial Capital of Balochistan with Iran and then to Turkey and not at Af-Pak border region.
    Mullah Akhtrar was travelling on a privately owned Taxi – all alone unarmed and there was no requirement to kill an ANT with a TANK, causing death to a civilian who had four kids old parents and a handicapped brother, he was the sole earning hand of his family.
    It was a sheer violation of Human Rights by the Decision makers in US government that has led the Taxi Drivers family helpless. We understand -while President himself has confessed inside Pakistan – state department’s representatives’ confession or denial carries no value.
    There were numerous options to capture an unarmed person travelling all alone – the reckless demonstration of fire power – was absolutely uncalled for.
    We hear HUMAN RIGHT CHAMPIONS raising their voices on petty issues….. would there be some one to RAISE THE VOICE FOR THE HEIRS Of the poor taxi driver – render helpless due to no fault of them or their late loved one….

  • Arjuna says:

    The plot thickens… from JustSecurity
    [UPDATE: The New York Times now reports that “[t]he United States told Pakistani authorities several weeks ago that Mullah Mansour was a target,” and “the Pakistanis provided general information on his location and activities, [although] they did not provide specific details on his movements.”]

    The lies we tell ourselves about the lies the Pakistanis tell us could fill volumes! But a Pakistani would sell his mother for a suitcase of dollars. Divorce them.

  • Mike Smith says:

    There are two separate problems at work here. The first is, there are still many Pakistan sympathizers and paid Pakistani agents like Robin Raphael inside the State Department. State has been deeply infiltrated by Pakistani lobbyists, and has drunk even more of the Pakistani ISI Kool-Aid than the CIA has. The second problem which compounds the first problem is that bureaucratic equities and bureaucratic careers at State are advanced by “building positive relationships through dialog,” not by confrontation. No State Department officer ever got promoted by playing hard ball. The second problem is institutional mindset and institutional dogma, which for the State Department is “talk, talk, talk.”

  • Stavy says:

    Pakistan’s sovereignty went out the window when OBL was found hiding miles away from the Pakistan military. If we want to win a war, we should not care where we kill our enemies. Man up and boldly admit where we killed him. Then tell them more to come if they don’t/won’t deal with the Taliban safe havens in their country. But that takes leadership at the top and a will to win… we have had neither of those in years.

  • by mac says:

    Why poke the bear at the mouth of a cave full of snakes? When one can get by with a little honey?

  • Fred says:

    We can neither confirm nor deny that Pakistan is the worst friend ever.

  • RanaSahib says:

    Well, Arjuna, that last sentence was pure spite, unnecessary and derogatory without furthering this discussion.

    So in that spirit, I will return the favor and hope the moderator allows my riposte in kind:

    At least the Pakistani is smart and knows the value of dollars.

    Unfortunately, their neighbours, the Indians settle for selling their mothers, daughters, wives and everyone else for a suitcase of worthless Rupees.


  • Zafar Iqbal says:

    There had never been a strategic alliance between US & Pak; historically its had been a temporary relation / marriage of convenience,,,,
    Both parties are aware of the fact and treat each other at merit….

  • Zafar Iqbal says:

    Yes indeed, US must divorce Pakistan….
    we know US is in illicit relations with India these days……..

  • Zafar Iqbal says:

    Arjuna,, I think who else knows it better than you as to whose mother or sister is for sale……
    Do I need to trace back to JODHA – who was sold to Emperor Akbar by a proud Hindu Rajput…. to save his rule? An dhow proud you guys feel as you have telecasted the same at your TV and even at Films – recurrently…
    Does it satisfy you or you need more…


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