Senators protest conviction of doctor who helped find bin Laden
WASHINGTON -- In response to the conviction in a Pakistani court of the doctor who helped the United States track down Osama bin Laden, the Senate Appropriations Committee voted Thursday to cut aid to Pakistanby by $1 million for every year of the doctor’s sentence.
Shakeel Afridi, the doctor who sought to collect DNA to help verify for the CIA that bin Laden was at a compound in Abbottabad, was convicted of high treason and sentenced to 33 years in prison.
The committee agreed by a vote of 30-0 to cut $33 million in aid to Pakistan, according to the Associated Press. It was a symbolic gesture that reflects growing frustration with the country, which is technically considered an ally to the United States.
The cut was pushed by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who called Pakistan a “schizophrenic ally” and said the U.S. “[doesn’t] need Pakistan double-dealing and not seeing the justice in bringing Osama bin Laden to an end.”
The committee had already slashed Obama’s request for aid to Pakistan by 58% and threatened deeper cuts if the country failed to open supply routes to U.S.-led NATO forces in Afghanistan. Pakistan closed those routes after a U.S. attack killed 24 Pakistani soldiers in November.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) insisted that Afridi was not a spy and said Pakistan appeared to have misconstrued the meaning of treason.
“This conviction says to me that al Qaeda is viewed by the court to be Pakistan,” Feinstein said.