You are hereBlogs / Ralph Lopez's blog
Ralph Lopez's blog
With the political winds shifting and 26 Republicans, about half of them newly elected, now forming a 148 vote "pro-Constitution" block along with over 120 Democrats, the hardcore gaggle of Democrats who keep voting with the likes of Michelle Bachmann (R-MN,) Lamar Smith (R-TX) and Mike Pence (R-IN) on Constitutional issues can be identified.
The principle of no search without a warrant from a judge, citing what you are looking for and probable cause, took a step toward being re-established last night, when extension of the Patriot Act failed, with a "do-over" vote expected as soon as tomorrow. Everything which was predicted about the Patriot Act, that it would be abused and its use expanded beyond non-terrorism-related cases, has come true.
As Mubarak continues to play for time and release statements offering to release protesters who have been, and are being, snatched off the streets and tortured in secret prisons, Professor Robert Springborg, Naval Postgraduate School and an expert on the Egyptian military, tell us that he believes the military’s leadership is orchestrating the events, allowing attacks against the protesters by pro-Mubarak forces.
"Behind the scenes, the military is making possible the various forms of assault on the protesters. It’s trying to secure a transition for itself. There’s lots of evidence that the military is complicit, but for the most part Egyptians don’t even want to admit that to themselves."
This confirms the plan to keep Mubarak and his henchmen in the country long enough to conduct a systemic war of torture and attrition against the protesters, whom every day thugs are dragging to Intelligence chief Suleiman's secret prisons. All Obama is doing is buying time for them to do their dirty work.
It's notable that this NYT article is one of CNN's Ivan Watson's "Must Read" tweets, yesterday:
WE had been detained by Egyptian authorities, handed over to the country’s dreaded Mukhabarat, the secret police, and interrogated. They left us all night in a cold room, on hard orange plastic stools, under fluorescent lights.
As the U.S. stubbornly clings to its defacto support of Mubarak by continuing military aid even while issuing beautiful words of support for democracy, the war of attrition on peaceful protesters continues. NPR reports 5,000 injured last night and today as attacks continue to be portrayed as "clashes" between "pro-Mubarak" demonstrators rather than what they are: attacks by government-paid thugs and out-of-uniform security forces, backed by snipers who are dropping protesters from a distance and thugs pulling organizers out of the crowds.
As morning breaks in Egypt Mubarak-hired thugs are attacking protesters with gunfire, many dead already. Fears are there will be a massacre all morning. The proof is here that the "pro-Mubarak" demonstrators "clashing" with anti-Mubarak freedom fighters are all security forces out of uniform and criminals let of out jail and paid to attack peaceful people.
This was Tweeted from Tahrir Square today, a security forces ID captured from a plainclothes thug who the protesters caught. We can use it to remind the world with one image that the "chaos" is actually a brutal attack by Mubarak. Let's make this goon famous. Post it everywhere.
Buttresses Nicholas Kristoff's vital report.
The New York Times' incredibly courageous Nicholas Kristoff is bearing witness to what the Egyptian protesters already know and are telling the world, that the "pro-Mubarak" crowds attacking peaceful protesters are government-sponsored thugs.
Kristoff just posted at his Facebook:
I was in Tahrir today, and I must say that "clashes" is the wrong word for what happened. This was a violent government-sponsored crackdown using thugs.
Turning to Nick's blog he reports:
Obama's reiteration, pointed out best in Robert Naiman's Just Foreign Policy blog, that Mubarak lead an "orderly transition" is precisely what opposition leader El Baradei has been complaining bitterly about. The Egyptian people do not want Mubarak to lead shit. They want him to leave the country, now.
Our astute Naiman writes:
Tuesday During State of Union is "Free Bradley Manning, President Obama Order Charges Dismissed!" Night.
During Tuesday night's State of the Union speech starting at 9pm EST, flood the White House switchboard for the duration of the speech with calls to "Free Bradley Manning, President Obama Order Charges Dismissed!" Start 1/2 hour before the speech begins!
Please put out this call on your Facebooks and blogs.
Also the main site for Watch the State of the Union Meet-up locations seems to be:
You'll find the meet-ups at bars and homes in your neighborhood. Pass out Free Bradley flyers, ready to print flyer here:
Next go to the MoveOn Facebook. Post a "Free Bradley Manning, President Obama Order Charges Dismissed!" on their wall. http://www.facebook.com/moveon
What they found out through Wikileaks was even too much for the Tunisian Army, the levels of corruption and wealth-plundering as Tunisians.struggled daily with sky-high unemployment and rising food prices. This is amazing. For once the army, accustomed to simply following orders, refused to turn its guns on the people, forcing the dictator to flee.
This is an exciting time for the anti-war movement, but also a time to not drop the ball. Support for the war in Afghanistan has been driven down to 34% thanks to peace activist education and opposition, which could be anyone who cares enough to send an informative email to his or her pro-war relative. But how low must it get before Congress stops passing budgets in support of continued military operations? The problem is that the disapproving yet relatively uninformed public is not making the link between the wars and their own representatives, and Obama, without whom the wars could not continue.
Having twice attempted suicide at Fort Campbell, Ky., then sent to a mental institution near the base, the Army nevertheless declared him fit for duty and ordered him to Afghanistan.
After his arrival at Kandahar early in 2010 he was so troubled that the Army took away his weapon and forced him into counseling on the air base, according to the e-mails from the Army investigator. But he was assigned a roommate who was fully armed. C.I.D. investigators have identified the M-4 with which Sergeant Senft was killed as belonging to his roommate.
He was from Grass Valley, in Northern California, about as ordinary a town as you can imagine.
When we think of Bradley Manning, many of us tend to think of either a Wikileaks document dump or the attack in the video in which two Reuters reporters are killed after a group of Iraqi men are fired upon by an Apache attack helipcopter. Dismissed as justifiable by Army investigators under the rules of engagement due to the presence of a rocket launcher found on the scene, this loses the real reason Manning may have leaked the tape, if he did, and perhaps one of his strongest defenses. Anything but naive about what took place daily in Iraq, Manning was not shocked by the initial attack on the Iraqi men, and wrote to Adrian Lamo:
A congressional subcommittee has reached the conclusion that the Pentagon is knowingly providing major support for the Taliban, ignoring hundreds of complaints from Afghan trucking contractors, who are being forced to pay massive "protection payments" to insurgents in order to avoid attacks on convoys carrying US military supplies to American bases. The Subcommittee on National Security and Foreign Affairs, chaired by Rep. John Tierney, interviewed dozens of witnesses in Dubai, including contracting officers of the 484th Joint Movement Control Battalion, and Afghan truck contractors who “self-reported.” The truck contractors who self-reported had already complained to the US military about the protection payments to insurgents.
Controversial Tillman Commander Promoted, Soldiers Allege Ordered "360 Rotational" Civilian Massacres
A controversial commander who helped recommend Pat Tillman for the Silver Star as part of a campaign to glamorize Tillman's death has been promoted to full colonel.
"Libby native Lt. Col. Ralph Kauzlarich, the deputy chief of staff-effects coordinator for the 1st Infantry Division, was promoted to colonel during a recent ceremony in Basra, Iraq."
And why wouldn't they? The war is making everyone rich (except us, who pay the bill.) Reported practically before the ballots in all the states had been counted:
WASHINGTON: Republican lawmakers who now control the US House of Representatives said on Thursday that they would try to prevent President Barack Obama from withdrawing American troops from Afghanistan as he planned...
Remember Charlotte Dennett Who Aired This Prosecute Bush Ad in Vermont in 2008? She's back, and She's Going to Win on Nov. 2nd!
Brothers and Sisters,
Here we go, another helicopter in Afghanistan down, no enemy fire involved. Why is it that since the Wikileaks document dump revealing that the Taliban has long had SAMs (surface-to-air missiles) I don't believe it? The AP reported "Nine NATO Troops Killed in Afghan Helicopter Crash" including a "large number" of Americans (meaning probably "most"):
The cause was not immediately clear. The Taliban claimed to have shot down the helicopter, but NATO said there were no reports of hostile fire.
There you guys go again. I'm just going to say it: that thing was shot down.
A UK Guardian review of the Wikileaks document dump showed:
Update - The military has taken the highly unusual decision to deploy the 3rd ACR in the middle of the night, tonight, under cover of darkness. The protesters have stated they will confront the deployment with "radical, direct action" whatever the hour. See latest update video below. If you keep your computer on tonight with this page up it will automatically play when broadcast recommences.
Using webcam technology, the anti-war soldier's coffee house outside of Ft. Hood, Texas is providing video updates and webcasting live the protest against redeployment of the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment this month to Iraq. Protesters include active-duty soldiers (off-duty), veterans, soldiers families and supporters. Ft. Hood is the largest military base in the nation. The Under the Hood Cafe website reads:
Falling down the rabbit hole: Media trumpets Obama's spin that the "last combat brigade" has left Iraq even as the Pentagon acknowledges to AFP that "while the remaining 50,000 troops will no longer have a formal combat mission after September 1, they will be well-armed and possibly coming under fire as they join in manhunts for Al-Qaeda figures or other extremists."
"I don't think anybody has declared the end of the war as far as I know," Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell told MSNBC.
"Counter-terrorism will still be part of their mission," said Morrell, referring to the fight against militant networks.
Once again, as many soldiers who have turned against the occupation have stated, these are not isolated nor even unexpected events. This is the nature of a brutal military occupation in which the enemy is the entire populace and the goal is control of resources or to maintain geopolitical fragmentation of a state.
Outspoken Iraq veteran Ethan McCord says of another incident caught on video, of an Apache helicopter attack in 2007 on a wounded man and those trying to help him, words that are applicable to the entire occupation (I refuse to call this a war. A war has two sides with armies facing each other who have roughly the same firepower. This is a slaughter.)
As soldier after soldier steps forward to reclaim his humanity in the midst of the wars in Afghanistan and the Middle East, we are getting a peek at the brutalization process which the Army employs to divorce young men from their natural resistance to doing the kinds of things required to maintain a brutal occupation. In Winter Soldier Jon Michael Turner gave a deeply personal account of his time in Iraq, admitting he had his first kill in April 2006:
"This man was innocent. I don't know his name... He was walking back to his house, and I shot him in front of his friend and father."
From OpEdNews.com, Ross Sherwood adds further details to the story of a battalion commander in Iraq who ordered his soldiers to engage in "360 degree rotational fire" upon being hit by an IED, and to shoot "every motherf*cker on the street," including women and children. Roy Corcoles recounts the training which reinforced the reaction to obey the order. You were asked, if you saw an attacker with many civilians close by and it was certain some would be killed or hurt, would you fire your weapon? The correct answer was "yes." But if you did not answer yes fast enough, you were beaten.
The soldier in a now-famous Wikileaks video who found a rocket launcher at the scene of a controversial 2007 Apache helicopter attack, in Baghdad, said in a radio interview this week that he did not believe an ambush was imminent. The video shows 12 men, including two Reuters newsmen, standing on a street corner before being fired upon with the Apache’s 30mm cannon, resulting in what appears to be an unprovoked massacre. The video caused an international outcry after it was leaked to the media by the government watchdog Wikileaks. The presence of the rocket launcher was seized upon by defenders of the attack as proof that the attack was justified, and that this was evidence of an impending ambush.
In the ongoing disconnect between what the Pentagon reports and what actually is happening in Afghanistan, last week NATO strenuously denied reports that 52 civilians had been killed five miles away from a fight with insurgents, as Afghan President Karzai had alleged. ABC:
NATO forces have rejected Afghan president Hamid Karzai's claim that 52 people were killed in a NATO rocket attack last week. NATO says there is no evidence of civilian casualties at the site of the alleged incident in the Sangin district of Helmand province last Friday.
Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI) has called for the death penalty for Pfc. Bradley Manning for allegedly leaking classified documents to Wikileaks, but himself last week voted for funds which a congressional report shows end up funding weapons and explosives used by the Taliban for attacks on American troops. The amount of U.S. funds going to the Taliban in "protection payments" for truck convoys is estimated between $100 million to $400 million per year. For comparison, the amount the Taliban takes in from opium profits is about $300 million per year.
Not only is your tax money funding the Taliban to an extent which is perhaps even greater than the opium trade; not only is the Pakistani military helping Afghan insurgents attack American troops (again most likely with part of that $1 billion a year we give them); not only is the $50 billion Congress just borrowed to keep the war going making us even poorer; the kicker is it could all be done and won for a teeny tiny fraction of the cost. In a remarkably subversive piece of journalism for the NYT, Nicholas Kristof lets the cat out of the bag: this military spending is all one big, huge waste. We could be borrowing that money from China for other things. Today he writes:
This week the White House condemned the posting of politically embarrassing classified documents which could come to be known as the Afghan Pentagon Papers on the Internet, saying this "could put the lives of Americans and our partners at risk, and threaten our national security," on the same day that Congress approved the administration's requests for further war funding, significant amounts of which, it is now known, will wind up directly in the hands of Taliban insurgents. Seven months ago Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in testimony before Congress:
It is abundantly clear that congressmen who vote for more war funding this week, after the issuance of the Tierney report, will be voting to fund the Taliban in no insubstantial amount. It is estimated that the business previously thought to be the Taliban's biggest source of support, the opium business, brings in around $300 million. Now the Tierney report from Congress's own Subcommittee on National Security and Foreign Affairs, Warlord, Inc., reveals that the Taliban's take from the U.S. Department of Defense, every penny of it U.S. taxpayer dollars, could be as high as $400 million and certainly no less than $100 million.
The Pentagon outdoing the opium business at supporting the Taliban? Shocking, but true.
LIVESTREAM LINK HERE:
National Conference to Bring the Troops Home Now! taking place at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in downtown Albany, NY.
The conference will bring together antiwar and social justice activists from across the country to consider what can be done to end the U.S. wars, occupations, bombing attacks, threats and interventions that are taking place in the Middle East and beyond. See for yourself where the antiwar movement is today and where it is headed.
Friday night, July 23 7:00 — 10 PM
Strategies and Tactics in the Struggle to End the Empire's Wars and Occupations
Medea Benjamin, CODE PINK
Michael Eisenscher, National Coordinator, U.S. Labor Against the War
Glen Ford, Black Agenda Report
Chris Gauvreau, Administrative Body, National Assembly to End U.S. Wars and Occupations
Teresa Gutierrez, International Action Center
Kathy Kelly, Creative Voices for Nonviolence
In the wake of the report from a congressional subcommittee which confirms that massive amounts of Pentagon money (perhaps equaling or exceeding the Taliban's opium profits) finance the Taliban insurgency through a "protection racket" for truck convoys, media reports have been careful to hedge descriptions of the funding as "unintentional." This CBS news report mirrors the AP write-up, which states: