You thought BSA stood for Boy Scouts of America or a brand of British motorcycle, but you were wrong. It stands for Bilateral Security Agreement and it will authorize the United States to ply the government of Afghanistan with $1.4 billion a month in aid. That's on top of the hundreds of billions we've spent there already.
And it will allow us to leave 10,000 troops behind to continue America's longest running war, now at 12 years, past its scheduled expiration date of Dec. 31, 2014.
But, wait, there's more.
Our erratic ally, Afghan President Hamid Karzai, wants a personal letter of apology from President Obama expressing contrition for the "mistakes" the U.S. made in conducting military operations.
Congressional Republicans would have a field day with that one since they frequently criticize Obama as being to quick and willing to apologize for the United States.
Susan Rice, the president's national security adviser, said the president has no intention of apologizing, telling PBS, "There's no discussion of an apology. So let's take that off the table. That's not in the cards."
Strong words and reassuring domestically, but let's not forget that Rice has been sent out in front of the curtain with bum information before.
Secretary of State John Kerry offered to write a letter expressing U.S. "regret" for civilian casualties but the language isn't strong enough and, anyway, Kerry is only a Cabinet officer.
As proof of his stature and clout, Karzai would like to present a presidential apology to a "loya jirga," a traditional assembly of prominent Afghanis he has convened. The council is only advisory but its disapproval of the terms of the U.S. staying on would carry great weight.
Karzai's government also wants the U.S. to discontinue nighttime raids on Afghan houses, a tactic that has proved effective in tracking down al Qaida and Taliban suspects but unsurprisingly has proved terribly unpopular with the local homeowners.
Some of Karzai's advisers have proposed that the U.S. military simply hand over its intelligence on the houses that might be harboring al-Qaida fighters and let the Afghans handle the raids. But the U.S. military believes that leaks would be inevitable, compromising both the operations and the sources of the intelligence.
Some of Karzai's advisers are insisting, somewhat half-heartedly, that U.S. personnel accused of crimes against Afghans be tried in Afghan courts. However, the government is acutely aware that the U.S. refused to accede to a similar demand in Iraq and when the time came simply packed up and left.
The U.S. insists that Americans accused of wrongdoing be tried by U.S. military courts. One Afghan lawmaker candidly told the Associated Press, "Our justice system is still under construction . . . Even Afghans don't trust it yet."
The idea of U.S. troops staying on, even under tight restrictions, is not universally popular in Afghanistan even though their presence has brought a slackening in their interminable tribal wars.
Indeed, university students in eastern Afghanistan accorded Obama a high honor in that part of the world - they burned him in effigy. Usually, they settle for the simpler and cheaper protest of simply burning an American flag.
(Distributed by Scripps Howard News Service, http://shns.com)