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Afghanistan War Weekly: October 17, 2010


Official war information now needs to be evaluated in light of the US political timetable and the crises of legitimacy beginning to threaten NATO governments. The most important milestones for the United States are, of course, the congressional elections, the December “review” of the progress of the war, and the July 2011 marker for the beginning of a limited “draw down” of US forces. Additionally, in November NATO’s military leaders will give a progress report for the NATO assembly in Lisbon, and European leaders will be pressured to up their commitment to the war.

The heightened politicization of war news is particularly important in the United States. The military “surge” in the Kandahar region and the alleged attention being paid by military commanders to “negotiations” with the armed opposition are enmeshed in these milestones. Below, for example, I suggest that the publicity given to NATO’s assistance to the Taliban in furthering negotiations is simply a PR ploy for home consumption. In Europe, conservative governments pursuing pre-Keynesian economic policies are beginning to reap the whirlwind, and have to defend their budget cuts against US demands for more military spending, and as well as against their own citizens who oppose the war and military spending. They too would welcome the appearance of negotiations leading to light at the end of the tunnel.

There will be a high-level meeting in Washington next Thursday and Friday between the US and Pakistan war managers. There is obviously a lot for them to talk about, and I have linked some useful articles about the Pakistan puzzle below.

In addition to the Featured Essays linked below, I especially encourage a look at three in-depth articles. The first, linked just below, is about the complex local/tribal background in the area where the British aid worker Linda Norgrove was kidnapped and eventually killed, and the nearly successful local efforts that were made to rescue her. The second article, by the Washington Post’s Craig Whitlock, takes a long look at the background of the brigade in which the soldiers who are now charged with being an assassination squad were located. Finally, I have been puzzled by the relative scarcity of actually fighting news from Afghanistan recently. Now from an article by the (Canadian) Global Post’s Ben Gilbert, we learn that reporters were barred from accompanying the US military during the sweep through the Arghandab Valley just north of Kandahar. Nevertheless, he has written an interesting investigative article about what happened during these two weeks of war.

Once again, if you find this newsletter useful, I would appreciate your help in expanding circulation. I would also appreciate suggestions about good articles to link here, and also comments (pro & con) that would help to make this newsweekly better. My email is fbrodhead@aol.com. This “issue” and some previous editions of the Afghanistan War Weekly are posted on the websites of United for Peace and Justice (http://www.unitedforpeace.org/article.php?id=4111) and War is a Crime (www.afterdowningstreet.org/aww).

----Frank Brodhead, Concerned Families of Westchester (NY)

FEATURED ESSAYS
Aid worker Linda Norgrove was close to freedom, Afghan tribal elders claim

By Ben Farmer, The Telegraph [UK] [October 16, 2010]

---- Afghan tribal leaders spent 12 days negotiating for the release of Linda Norgrove, covering 150 miles on foot as they criss-crossed the mountains of Kunar seeking to intercede with her captors. Abduction of a woman is strictly taboo in the conservative Pashtun culture of Kunar Province where Miss Norgrove was kidnapped, and the elders had threatened to exile the family of the kidnappers and burn down their homes unless Miss Norgrove was released. They believe the threat was effective and are convinced that they were close to gaining her release when the botched raid was ordered. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/afghanistan/8068421/Aid-w...

See also: Praveen Swami, “Linda Norgrove: US forces hunting down kidnap group,” The Telegraph [October 13, 2010] http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/afghanistan/8061282/Linda...

For Midterm Voters, War Is Off the Radar

By Dalia Sussman and Megan Thee-Brenan, New York Times [October 16, 2010]

---- It has been going on there for nine years and counting. Nearly 100,000 American troops are currently deployed there. More than 1,300 American service members have lost their lives there. The United States has spent over $300 billion on the effort so far. Yet polling suggests that the war in Afghanistan is barely a blip on voters’ radars as the midterm elections approach. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/16/us/politics/16poll.html?_r=1&hp

'Obama's Wars' Reveals the US Is Living 'On Borrowed Time'

Tom Hayden, The Nation [October 11, 2010]

---- Bob Woodward’s book Obama’s Wars should scare the hell out of you. It is essential reading—between the lines—for anyone seeking a map out of Afghanistan and Pakistan. … The reader is left with the impression that another massive and traumatic assault is to be expected in the US in the near future. We are living “on borrowed time,” according to one adviser. …The good news in Woodward’s book is that Obama—along with Biden and his domestic advisers—insists repeatedly on an exit strategy from Afghanistan despite the opposition of his military advisors and Hillary Clinton. He fears that his presidency and domestic program will be capsized by the forever wars. The president is quoted as recognizing that he “can’t lose the whole Democratic Party” and that opposition to Afghanistan will keep increasing on Capitol Hill as the next presidential election nears. http://www.thenation.com/article/155314/obamas-wars-reveals-us-living-bo...

Also recommended: Nick Turse, “Publish or Perish: Getting a Read on American War,” TomDispatch [October 14, 2010] http://original.antiwar.com/engelhardt/2010/10/14/publish-or-perish/; and Giles Dorronsoro, “Think Again: The Afghan Surge,” Foreign Policy [October 7, 2010] http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2010/10/07/think_again_the_afghan_...

THE WAR IN WASHINGTON

UN extends Afghan force amid terrorist concerns

By Edith M. Lederer, Associated Press [October 13, 2010]

---- The Security Council voted unanimously Wednesday to extend U.N. authorization for the NATO-led force in Afghanistan for a year, expressing "strong concern" at the increase in terrorist activities by the Taliban, al-Qaida and other armed groups. But saying the situation in Afghanistan "still constitutes a threat to international peace and security," the council extended authorization of ISAF — made up of 95,000 U.S. troops and 48,000 allied forces — until Oct. 13, 2011.

http://license.icopyright.net/user/viewFreeUse.act?fuid=MTAzMjc1MDE

In Afghanistan, the Handwriting Is on the Wall

By John Prados, National Security Archive [October 11, 2010]

Every indication is that the generals are already laying the groundwork to demand that deteriorating security necessitates that the Afghan withdrawal set for 2011 be cancelled or postponed. The Bush administration was happy to start the Afghan war, then sat complacently as the commitment soured. President Obama trapped himself on this dangerous path. To the recklessness of starting the Afghan war, we are in danger of adding the stupidity of not ending it. This conflict has reached the point where the failure modes are many and obvious, and the path to success obscure, under conditions where Americans are at risk. The handwriting is on the wall. To proceed further under these circumstances is to march into folly. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/john-prados/afghanistan-handwriting-o_b_75...

US-Pakistan Meeting in Washington, October 21

Introduction

Pakistan’s top foreign policy and military leaders will be in Washington on October 21-22 to talk abouto the war. Among the issues on the table will presumably be Pakistan’s problem with drones and cross-border attacks, more money for flood relief, and a request for assistance with their nuclear program. The United States will be asking for greater Pakistan effort re: the Taliban and Al Qaeda people in the Frontier Areas, assurances about the safety of the NATO supply routes through Pakistan, and coordinating strategies on “negotiating with the Taliban.” As the article below indicates, all this comes as the US is considering expanding the war into Baluchistan.

Some officials urge military action on Pakistani soil

By David S. Cloud, Los Angeles Times [October 11, 2010]

---- U.S. military officials racing to make progress in Afghanistan are pressing new tactics to choke off the flow of Taliban fighters and bomb-making materials from Pakistan into key battlefields of the south, with some even advocating cross-border attacks, according to several U.S. civilian and military officials. … U.S. military officials say that lasting stability in southern Afghanistan is impossible as long as the Taliban can operate with relative freedom in Baluchistan. Some U.S. officials say Islamabad has long refused to take decisive action against the Taliban leadership. For that reason, they argue, unilateral U.S. operations in Baluchistan should be considered, including airstrikes or secret raids by special operations forces. http://articles.latimes.com/2010/oct/11/world/la-fg-afghan-assess-20101012

See also: Tom Wright, “Pakistan to Push for Nuclear Deal With U.S,” Wall Street Journal [October 15, 2010] http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000142405274870416400457554810370174383...

USEFUL FACTS ABOUT THE WAR
Fact Sheet

---- For a useful two-page fact sheet on the human and economic cost of both wars, go to: http://tomhayden.com/downloads/The%20Costs%20of%20Iraq%20and%20Afghanist...

US Casualties

---- 32 U.S. soldiers have been killed in Afghanistan this month, bringing the number of US soldiers killed in 2010 to 395. Additionally, 15 soldiers from other Coalition countries have been killed so far in October. This brings the total number of US deaths in Afghanistan to 1,342, and the total number of Coalition deaths is 2,163. The number of US soldiers wounded in July 2010 (the latest figures available) was 576, the highest monthly total so far. This brings the total US wounded since the war began to 7,266. To learn more go to www.icasualties.org.

Afghanistan Casualties

---- Between January 1 and June 30, 2010, 1,271 civilians were killed and 1,997 injured. This brings the total number of civilians killed since January 1, 2007 to 7,324. Between January 1 and June 30, 2010, 214 members of the Afghan National Army were killed, bringing the total killed since January 1, 2007 to 1,043. Between January 1 and June 30, 2010, 289 members of the Afghan National Police were killed, bringing the total killed since January 1, 2007 to 2,340. From Susan G. Chesser, “Afghanistan Casualties: Military Forces and Civilians,” Congressional Research Service [August 11, 2010] http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/natsec/R41084.pdf, where the sources for the figures can be found.

According to the Afghanistan Ministry of the Interior, during the past six months 1,119 civilians were killed and 2,473 were wounded, while 959 police were killed and 2,473 were wounded. The Ministry claimed 4,012 insurgent attacks during the six-month period. Also, 3,098 insurgents were killed, 2,800 were arrested, and 632 were wounded. [FB - The “killed” to “wounded” insurgent ratio raises some questions.] http://www.juancole.com/2010/09/afghan-villagers-demonstrate-against-us-...

Pakistan Casualties

---- According to an on-going study by the New America Foundation, the United States has launched 78 drone strikes in northwest Pakistan this year, bringing the total number of such strikes since 2004 to 174. The study states that between 1,166 and 1,790 people have been killed, according to “reliable press accounts.” Of these, the study estimates that two-thirds of the deaths have been “militants” and about one-third were “civilians.” NB the “estimating” and labeling is usually done by local government and/or military personnel; local civilians often give much higher numbers for civilian deaths. The study can be read at http://counterterrorism.newamerica.net/drones For a different view on the extent of civilian casualties by drone attacks, see Daniel L. Byman, “Do Targeted Killings Work?” Foreign Policy [July 4, 2009] http://www.brookings.edu/opinions/2009/0714_targeted_killings_byman.aspx...

The Cost of the War

---- According to the website www.costofwar.com, expenditures on the Afghanistan war have reached $356 billion, and the total for both wars is $1.094 trillion. For a useful resource on the costs of war, go to “Bring Our War $$ Home” at www.bringourwardollarshome.org/index.html

Public opinion about the war in Afghanistan

---- Nearly six in 10 Americans continue to oppose the war in Afghanistan amid a growing pessimism about the situation the United States faces in that country, according to a new national poll. A CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Wednesday indicates that 44 percent of the public believes things are going well for the United States in Afghanistan, down from 55 percent in March.

According to the poll, 58 percent of Americans oppose the war in Afghanistan. [September 29, 2010] http://www.cnn.com/2010/POLITICS/09/29/afghanistan.poll/

---- American support for the war in Afghanistan has never been lower, according to the latest CNN polling. Only 37% of all Americans favor the war, 52% say the war in Afghanistan has turned into a Vietnam. In a September poll by CNN and Opinion Research, only 9% of respondents thought the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq were the most important problem facing the country, 49% thought the economy mattered most. http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2010/10/15/what-the-numbers-say-abo...

DAMAGED SOLDIERS, BROKEN ARMY

Despite Army Efforts, Soldier Suicides Continue

By James C. McKinley, Jr., New York Times [October 10, 2010]

---- Specialist Aguilar was one of 20 soldiers connected to Fort Hood who are believed to have committed suicide this year. The Army has confirmed 14 of those, and is completing the official investigations of six other soldiers who appear to have taken their own lives — four of them in one week in September. The deaths have made this the worst year at the sprawling fort since the military began keeping track in 2003.

The spate of suicides in Texas reflects a chilling reality: nearly 20 months after the Army began strengthening its suicide prevention program and working to remove the stigma attached to seeking psychological counseling, the suicide rate among active service members remains high and shows little sign of improvement. Through August, at least 125 active members of the Army had ended their own lives, exceeding the morbid pace of last year, when there were a record 162 suicides. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/11/us/11suicides.html?_r=1&ref=us

See also: Howard Altman, “Military suicide rates surge,” Tampa Tribune [October 10, 2010] http://www2.tbo.com/content/2010/oct/10/na-military-suicide-rates-surge/

Brigade linked to Afghan civilian deaths had aggressive, divergent war strategy

By Craig Whitlock, Washington Post [October 14, 2010]

---- When the 5th Stryker Combat Brigade arrived in Afghanistan, its leader, Col. Harry D. Tunnell IV, openly sneered at the U.S. military's counterinsurgency strategy. Instead, he said, his soldiers would simply hunt and kill as many Taliban fighters as possible, as dictated by the brigade's motto, "Strike and Destroy." What resulted was a year of tough fighting in territory fiercely defended by the Taliban and a casualty rate so high that it triggered alarms at the Pentagon. By the time the 3,800-member brigade returned in July to Joint Base Lewis-McChord, near Tacoma, Wash., it had paid a steep price: 35 soldiers were killed in combat, six were dead from accidents and other causes, and 239 were wounded. The brigade also carried home a dark legacy that threatens to overshadow its hard-won victories and sacrifices on the battlefield. In some of the gravest war-crime charges to arise from the Afghan conflict, five soldiers have been accused of killing unarmed Afghan men, apparently for sport, and desecrating their corpses. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/10/13/AR201010...

See also: Spencer Ackerman, “Did Disdain for Counterinsurgency Breed the ‘Kill Team’?” Wired [October 14, 2010] http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2010/10/did-disdain-for-counterinsurgenc... and Drew Griffin and Kathleen Johnston, “Soldier silenced for testimony in Afghan killings probe,” CNN [October 14, 2010] http://www.cnn.com/2010/CRIME/10/14/griffin.afghan.murder.soldiers.inves.... For a very interesting, pre-murder-scandal article on the same combat brigade: Sean D. Naylor, “Stryker soldiers say commanders failed them,” Army Times [Saturday January 2, 2010] http://www.armytimes.com/news/2009/12/army_afghanistan_mixed_signals_122...

THE WAR IN KABUL
Report alleges abuse of Afghan detainees at secret US detention center

By Heidi Vogt, Associated Press [October 14, 2010]

---- A new report from a U.S. foundation details allegations of detainee abuse as recently as this year from Afghans who say they were held at a secret jail inside the main American military base in Afghanistan. The U.S. military has long operated a facility to detain those captured in Afghan operations, first inside Bagram Air Field and now right next-door. But some former detainees have alleged for years they were held at a smaller, more isolated location at the base, dubbed the "Black Jail." http://wire.antiwar.com/2010/10/14/report-afghans-allege-abuse-at-secret...

NATO allies ask Karzai to allow private security for aid programs

By Joshua Partlow, Washington Post [October 13, 2010]

---- The United States and its NATO allies, worried about how the Afghan government's ban on private security companies might affect their operations, have asked President Hamid Karzai to sign a letter allowing such companies to continue protecting the foreign aid community, according to Western officials in Kabul. Karzai was given the letter by Gen. David H. Petraeus, the top U.S. commander here, while they flew to Kandahar on Saturday, and he had been expected to sign it Monday, according to minutes of a U.S. Embassy meeting on the topic obtained by The Washington Post. But he has not yet done so, and U.S. officials have warned that the issue could escalate quickly. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/10/13/AR201010...

Varieties of Corruption

Karzai's brother might be indicted for evading U.S. taxes

By Andrew Higgins and Jerry Markon, Washington Post [October 14, 2010]

---- In a move that could further strain Washington's already fraught relations with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, federal prosecutors are considering an indictment against his brother for tax evasion.

The Obama administration, worried that such public spats undermine the war effort, has stepped back from outspoken criticism of alleged wrongdoing by members of Karzai's government and family. U.S. officials in Kabul said they were planning for a potential backlash from the Afghan president if his brother is indicted. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/10/14/AR201010...

Afghan Election Disaster: Evidence of Fraud Rises, Leaving Results in Doubt

By Jason Ditz, Antiwar.com [October 10, 2010]

---- Afghanistan’s Electoral Complaints Commission today issued a series of alarming statistics regarding the level of fraud in last month’s parliamentary election, pointing to a number of credible, high profile complaints that leave even last year’s presidential election seeming responsible by comparison.

Officials say 4,169 complaints were issued, centered around 175 candidates. Of these, 25 of the candidates are current members of parliament. Of the complaints, more than half were serious enough to have individually altered the outcome of a vote. Though Western officials praised the election as a “success” the data has shown a far lower than expected turnout, higher than expected violence and absurd levels of fraud. http://news.antiwar.com/2010/10/10/afghan-election-disaster-evidence-of-...

For an update, see: “Afghan ECC adjudicates over 4,500 electoral complaints for preliminary results,” Xinhua [China] [October 16, 2010] http://news.xinhuanet.com/english2010/world/2010-10/16/c_13560731.htm

Afghan firms said to pay off Taliban with foreign cash

By Hamid Shalizi, Reuters [October 13, 2010]

KABUL---- Cash from the U.S. military and international donors destined for construction and welfare projects in restive parts of Afghanistan is ending up in the hands of insurgents, a contractor and village elders said. http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE69C1GZ20101013

NEGOTIATIONS WITH THE ARMED OPPOSITION

Introduction

Has the United States reversed course and moved vigorously to aid negotiations with the Taliban leadership? Or are we witnessing the war-enhancing media ploy, the “search for peace,” that was used ad nauseam during Vietnam to prepare the way for military escalation? The big story seems to be that the US military has assisted the Taliban (giving them a ride?) to meet with Karzai and his assistants. Yet a close examination shows that there seems to be only one source for this, an anonymous US military spokesperson in Afghanistan, and that subsequent reporting is just an “echo chamber,” where the original source is “confirmed” by statements from Petraeus, Karzai, etc. The Taliban has denied that high-level negotiations are taking place, claiming that this is a US/NATO disinformation effort to weaken the armed resistance. A perspective taking into account US and European domestic politics would include the usefulness of claims that negotiations are going on to the forthcoming NATO conference in Lisbon in November, where European nations will need to be reassured about the state of the war. Similarly, the prospect of negotiations would assist the Obama team in its relations with Congress (and to a lesser extent, the voters in November) in suggesting light at the end of the Afghanistan tunnel. The news articles linked below, very contrary to the views above, are a sample of last week’s reporting and opinion. Also interesting is the Asia Times “scoop” on Pakistan’s release of the Taliban commander regarded before his capture as the leader of the Taliban’s negotiations faction. Pakistan immediately denied that this had happened. More mystery.

The foreplay of an Afghan settlement
By M K Bhadrakumar, Asia Times [October 14, 2010]
---- Highly tendentious themes have appeared in rapid succession over the past week: Afghan President Hamid Karzai is in talks with the Taliban's Quette shura (council) about a "comprehensive" Afghan settlement, with the latter participating in government; Karzai is also talking with the Haqqani network thanks to Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). This follows the ISI setting up a meeting "on the Afghan-Pakistan border in the spring" between Karzai and Sirajuddin Haqqani, and the ISI escorting Sirajuddin's brother and uncle to Kabul. The Haqqanis realize that the time has come to "make the transition from the IRA to Sinn Fein" and that "This is the end of the road for al-Qaeda in Waziristan", as diplomatic sources have been reported as saying. … We are witnessing the foreplay of an Afghan peace settlement. No doubt about it. As a perceptive Guardian commentator put it, the issue is no longer about peace talks but as to when the fighting will stop. And Pakistan is reiterating its claim to be the key arbiter of any peace talks and has asserted its seamless capacity to be a "spoiler" if it is spurned.
http://www.atimes.com/atimes/South_Asia/LJ09Df02.htm

For articles about the US involvement in peace negotiations, see: Adam Entous and Julian E. Barnes, “Military Facilitates Meetings of Rebels, Kabul, in Sign of Support for Peace Deal,” Wall Street Journal [October 14, 2010] http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000142405274870367360457555028219641122... Robert Dreyfuss, “NATO Backs Taliban Peace Talks,” The Nation [October 14, 2010] http://www.thenation.com/print/blog/155399/nato-backs-taliban-peace-talks; and Deb Riechmann, “Petraeus: NATO has facilitated movement of Taliban to meet for preliminary talks,” Associated Press [October 15, 2010] http://news.antiwar.com/2010/10/15/petraeus-terms-afghan-reconciliation-.... Also informative is an Aljazeera program, “Meeting the Taliban,” [October 16, 2010] – 23 minutes. http://www.youtube.com/aljazeeraenglish#p/u/6/Xui4r_kyFqk

Pakistan frees Taliban commander
By Syed Saleem Shahzad Asia Times [October 15, 2010]
---- Pakistan has freed the supreme commander of the Taliban in Afghanistan, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, so that he can play a pivotal role in back channel talks through the Pakistani army with Washington, Asia Times Online has learned. The release of Baradar, who was arrested in the southern Pakistani port city of Karachi in February, was confirmed by a senior Pakistani counter-terrorism official. He added that the United States was fully aware of the development although he gave no indication of the Americans' reaction. A senior Taliban leader, speaking to Asia Times Online on Thursday from the southern AfPak region, also confirmed that Baradar "had reached the safely of his people". http://www.atimes.com/atimes/South_Asia/LJ16Df02.html

For Pakistan’s denial of this story, go to http://wire.antiwar.com/2010/10/15/petraeus-nato-has-facilitated-taliban...

THE WAR ON THE GROUND
Military Escalation
Gen Petraeus turns up the heat on Pakistan, Afghanistan

By Sanjeev Miglani, Reuters [October 16, 2010]

---- It’s not just Pakistan where the United States has stepped up air raids against members of al Qaeda and the Taliban. Last month, U.S-led NATO planes in Afghanistan conducted 700 missions, more than twice the number for the same month the previous year. It was also one of the highest single-month totals of the nine-year Afghan War. September was also the month when missile strikes by unmanned U.S. drone planes in northwest Pakistan hit the highest level of 20 since America launched its secret war inside Pakistan, widely seen as the main battleground of the Afghan war because of the sanctuary provided to top al Qaeda and Taliban. And as if that was not enough, NATO helicopters from Afghanistan crossed the border on at least three occasions, triggering a firestorm of criticism in Pakistan that closed off the supply lines to the foreign troops in Afghanistan. Is there a pattern to this? Has America under new commander General David Petraeus turned up the heat on Pakistan and Afghanistan ahead of a strategy review in December and before next July’s planned beginning of a troop drawdown? http://blogs.reuters.com/afghanistan/2010/10/16/gen-petraeus-turns-up-th...

See also: Noah Shachtman, “Petraeus Launches Afghan Air Assault; Strikes Up 172 Percent,” Wired [October 12, 2010] http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2010/10/gloves-come-off-afghan-air-war-s...

The Offensive in the Kandahar Region
Latest Afghanistan Operation Called "Success," but No Press Witnessed It

By Ben Gilbert, GlobalPost [October 17, 2010]

---- A major military operation involving hundreds of American troops, U.S. Special Forces and heavy bombers dropping 2,000-pound bombs on Taliban command and control centers wrapped up last week, concluding a critical phase in the campaign to oust the Taliban from Afghanistan’s southern Kandahar province. But no journalists were there to witness the operation. …The coalition official said the operation was “big army” in the classic sense. Artillery and other heavy weapons were employed, including bombers to drop thousands of pounds of explosives on bomb-making factories and other Taliban infrastructure. Long strings of explosives attached to rockets, called MICLICs, were used to clear mine-laden fields so troops could advance. Booby-trapped houses and compounds were also destroyed. http://www.truth-out.org/latest-afghanistan-operation-called-success-no-...

See also: Carlotta Gall, “Critical Assault by Allies Begins Near Kandahar,” New York Times [October 17, 2010]; http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/17/world/asia/17kandahar.html?ref=world and Carlotta Gall, “In Afghan South, U.S. Faces Frustrated Residents,” New York Times [October 17, 2010] http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/17/world/asia/17afghan.html?ref=world&pag...

Fighting along the Afghan-Pakistan Border
Taliban border haven in U.S. sights

By David S. Cloud, Los Angeles Times [October 11, 2010]

---- U.S. military officials racing to make progress in Afghanistan are pressing new tactics to choke off the flow of Taliban fighters and bomb-making materials from Pakistan into key battlefields of the south, with some even advocating cross-border attacks, according to several U.S. civilian and military officials.
The focus on southern Afghanistan is a response to the difficulties the U.S. has encountered this year in Kandahar and neighboring Helmand province, to which the U.S. has sent tens of thousands of additional troops. Offensives in the region, the heartland of the Taliban movement, have struggled to clear guerrilla fighters who melt into the local population. U.S. and Afghan officials have in many areas not been able to establish stable government and improve services, priorities in the effort to win the support of Afghan civilians. … Pakistani sensitivities about Baluchistan are more acute than those about the tribal belt, and officials played down the possibility that Petraeus would approve cross-border attacks in the south — even as they acknowledged that some military officers are promoting the idea. http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-afghan-assess-201010...

For a good map of US/NATO force disposition along the Afghanistan/Pakistan border, go to: http://www.understandingwar.org/files/EvalAfgh_EventMap.pdf

CIVILIAN CASUALTIES
Civilian casualties doubled in north: UN

By Zabihullah Ehsas, Pajhwok [Afghanistan] [October 13, 2010]

---- Casualties inflicted on ordinary people in northern Afghanistan over the past six months this year has doubled compared to the same period last year, a United Nations official said on Wednesday. The casualties increased by 55 percent among children and a six percent among women, Georgette Gagnon, Director of Human Rights for United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), told a news conference in Mazar-i-Sharif, capital of northern Balkh province. He said civilians had been inflicted casualties in attacks and bomb explosions by anti-government elements and operations by NATO-led and Afghan troops. "ISAF and Afghan soldiers are also involved in civilian deaths as a result wrong intelligence," she said, adding the number of civilians suffered casualties across the country increased 31 percent. http://www.pajhwok.com/en/2010/10/13/civilian-casualties-doubled-north-un

Afghanistan: war casualties soar in Kandahar hospital
From The International Committee of the Red Cross [October 12, ,2010]

---- The number of war casualties taken to Mirwais Regional Hospital in Kandahar for treatment is hitting record highs. The hospital, which is supported by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), registered almost twice as many new patients with weapon-related injuries in August and September 2010 as during the same months last year – close to 1,000 compared with just over 500 during the same period in 2009. http://www.icrc.org/Web/Eng/siteeng0.nsf/htmlall/afghanistan-news-121010

See also: Jason Ditz, “NATO Lies About Civilian Death Toll, Claims ‘Sharp Decline,” Antiwar.com [October 12, 2010] http://news.antiwar.com/2010/10/12/nato-lies-about-civilian-death-toll-c... and Stephanie Nebehay, “War casualties soar in south Afghanistan-Red Cross,” Reuters [October 12, 2010] http://in.reuters.com/article/idINLDE69B0WZ20101012?rpc=401&feedType=RSS.... For film of a protest, “Afghans angry over civilian deaths,” AlJazeeraEnglish [October 12, 2010] - 3 minutes – go to. http://www.youtube.com/aljazeeraenglish#p/u/55/3Ekyp3l5hqk

PAKISTAN/INDIA AND THE AFGHANISTAN WAR
India's High Stakes Foreign Policy

By Deepak Tripathi, Counterpunch [October 12, 2010]

---- President Barack Obama’s forthcoming visit to India in November comes amid a noticeable increase in tensions in US-Pakistan relations and a favorable climate for Washington’s ties with India. As Obama approaches his preferred deadline of July 2011 for starting a “drawdown” of troops from Afghanistan, India is emerging as a willing ally for America’s strategy in the region, and an enthusiastic agent to counter China, indisputably the superior military and economic power. As Obama ponders ways of reducing direct military involvement in Afghanistan after Iraq, the administration needs to contract out its role to proxies, with India the principal contender. As India and Pakistan remain locked in a decades-long cold war, each country maneuvers to have the United States punish the other. And each of the two rivals seeks to demonstrate that it, not the other, is the true ally of America in the war on terrorism. http://counterpunch.org/tripathi10122010.html

Blunt US warnings to Pakistan prompted by terrorism fear

By David Alexander and Caren Bohan, Reuters [October 10, 2010]

---- Washington's push on Pakistan to get tough on militants on its territory is prompted by worries about an attack on U.S. soil, a concern the United States will press in talks with Islamabad later this month.

The latest tensions come just ahead of the U.S.-Pakistani Strategic Dialogue later this month. When the US drone attacks started several years ago, their priority was to get the al-Qaeda leadership, But a lot has changed since then, and it appears the Americans have expanded their targets to include foreign fighters, the Pakistani Taliban, and al-Qaeda and its affiliates. According to one senior Pakistanii military official, the accuracy of the drone raids has increased but that it still causing civilian casualties because of the nature of the way local houses are built. The large adobe-type mud structures are wall to wall and so, often adjoining structures collapse under the pressure of heavy explosions.

http://blogs.aljazeera.net/asia/2010/10/10/crosshairs-us-drones

The Floods

Clinton: Withhold Flood Aid Unless Pakistan Raises Taxes

By Jason Ditz, Antiwra.com [October 14, 2010]

---- Following up on last month’s demands that Pakistan agree to yet another massive tax increase on “wealthy landowners,” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has stepped the issue up even more, threatening to withdraw all humanitarian aid from the nation unless they comply. Today it was even worse, as Clinton pressured the European Union to do the same. Between them, the US and EU have contributed more than half of the $1.5 billion in humanitarian aid for this year’s disastrous floods. http://news.antiwar.com/2010/10/14/clinton-withhold-flood-aid-unless-pak...

See also: Nahal Toosi, ”Pakistan flood damage estimated at $9.5 billion,” MSNBC [October 2010]

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/39657931/ns/world_news-south_and_central_asia/#

Supply Routes
Pakistan Reopens NATO Supply Route

From The Associated Press [October 9, 2010]

---- Pakistan said Saturday it will reopen a key border crossing and allow convoys to resume delivering supplies to NATO troops in Afghanistan, ending a 10-day blockade during which trucks were stranded on their way to the border and almost 150 were destroyed by attackers. The U.S. and NATO at one point sent some 80 percent of their non-lethal supplies through Pakistan into Afghanistan, but have been steadily reducing that amount, instead using Central Asian routes to the north and other means. About 40 percent of supplies now come through Pakistan, 40 percent through the Central Asian routes, and 20 percent by air, according to the U.S. Embassy. Some 2,500 to 3,000 trucks bringing supplies to U.S. or other NATO troops are on Pakistan's roads at any given time.

http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2010/10/09/world/asia/AP-AS-Pakistan.htm...

The real question about Pakistan's border closure

By C. Christine Fair, Foreign Policy [October 8, 2010]

---- So, why haven't attacks on the supply line to Afghanistan been more common? The answer is simple: trucking mafias and organized criminal and insurgent networks are all making money off of this system. The system of payoffs is elaborate yet elegant. Pashtuns dominate the trucking mafia in Pakistan. The drivers and their companies must pay off Pakistani police and any other relevant government officials to secure "safe" passage. Insurgents and criminal organizations also get their courtesy payment in exchange for safe passage to Afghanistan. Ordinary smugglers and blackmarketeers get their pieces of the pie too. Overall, pilferage is low. This seems deliberately calibrated to ensure that such loss is an irritant to be tolerated rather than a problem to be fixed. http://afpak.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2010/10/08/the_real_question_about_...

See also: Saeed Shah, “Risky Pakistan route imperils Afghanistan bound U.S. supplies

McClatchy Newspapers [October 15, 2010] http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2010/10/15/102129/risky-pakistan-route-imperi... and Sikander Shaheen, “Russia refuses route for NATO supplies,”

The Nation [Pakistan] [October 13, 2010] http://www.nation.com.pk/pakistan-news-newspaper-daily-english-online//P...
.
For some satellite photos of the traffic jam in the Kyhber Pass, go to http://www.flickr.com/photos/digitalglobe-imagery/5062421979/

Militancy and Conflict in North Waziristan

By Anand Gopal, Mansur Khan Mahsud, and Brian Fishman, New America Foundation [April 19, 2010]

http://www.newamerica.net/publications/policy/the_battle_for_pakistan_no...

DRONES
Taking Out the Terrorists by Remote Control

By Klaus Brinkbäumer and John Goetz, Der Spiegel [Germany] [October 12, 2010]

---- Obama has made drones the centerpiece of his strategy in the fight against the Taliban and al-Qaida. These terrifying weapons circle over Afghanistan and Pakistan, changing the war and making it colder and more anonymous than before. They pose a constant threat, can be operated with the push of a button and, according to the CIA, are precise -- at least most of the time. The drone war is being waged by the US Army, by the US Air Force and, most of all, by the CIA. It is taking place in a shadowy realm beyond the reach of war tribunals, public debate and the media. The only time it made headlines recently, and then only for a day, was when it resulted in the deaths of a number of German citizens. The men, who were killed in a drone attack on Oct. 4, were presumed terrorists who were passing through the town of Mir Ali in the Pakistani region of North Waziristan. According to sources in Islamabad, CIA drones killed some 700 civilians in 2009. http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/0,1518,722583,00.html

Confronting civilian casualties in Pakistan

By Chris Rogers, Foreign Policy [October 14, 2010]

---- For the past year, I've interviewed over 160 civilian victims of the conflict in Pakistan-civilians who were injured, or like Jan, lost family members as a result of the fighting. These interviews are the basis for the new report released yesterday from my organization, the Campaign for Innocent Victims in Conflict (CIVIC), Civilian Harm and Conflict in Northwest Pakistan. Having spoken to victims from South Waziristan to Swat, it is clear that Pakistani civilians suffer not only from the terrorist attacks that dominate the headlines but also from many types of conflict-related violence, from Pakistani military operations to U.S. drone strikes. We also found that the number of civilians killed in Pakistan in 2009 almost certainly exceeds those killed in Afghanistan. http://afpak.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2010/10/14/confronting_civilian_cas...

See also: To read the report, “Civilian Harm and Conflict in Northwest Pakistan” [75 pages], go to http://www.civicworldwide.org/storage/civicdev/documents/civic%20pakista.... CIVIC [The Campaign for innocent Victims in Conflict] was founded by the American activist Marla Ruzicka, who was killed in Iraq by a suicide bomb in 2005.

NATO AND THE AFGHANISTAN WAR
Afghan war commander briefs NATO ahead of key ministerial meeting

Sloban Lekic, Associated Press [October 13, 2010]

---- Thursday's meeting of defense and foreign ministers in Brussels will consider changes in the alliance's mission statement, attempting to bridge a rift between the U.S., which favors a greater international role for the alliance, and European nations that want it to retain its traditional defensive focus. . Their recommendations will pave the way for a summit of the alliance's heads of state and government in Lisbon, Portugal, on Nov. 19-20, when Rasmussen will officially unveil NATO's new strategic concept. Washington now wants NATO to be prepared to contribute forces to missions outside its traditional theater of operations in Europe, such as in Afghanistan or the anti-piracy naval patrols in the Indian Ocean. But many European governments remain wary, arguing that the alliance should not be transformed into a global policeman. http://wire.antiwar.com/2010/10/13/afghan-war-commander-briefs-nato-2/

Italy to withdraw troops from Afghanistan

By Ben Farmer, The Telegraph [UK] [October 12, 2010]

---- Italy's foreign minister said its 3,400 troops will have left the country by 2014. The Italian decision follows the withdrawal of Dutch troops earlier this year and the Canadian decision to leave next year, as commanders struggle to sure up an alliance which is still short of troops. The Nato mission is still short of several hundred soldiers to train the Afghan forces supposed to replace them and Nato officials have been trying to persuade alliance members to stop announcing withdrawal dates. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/italy/8059786/Italy-to-...

Australia: Troops 'overwhelmed and cannot defeat Taliban'

Tom Hyland, The Age [Australia] [October 17, 2010]

---- The Taliban have ''overwhelmed'' foreign troops and cannot be defeated by military means, one of Australia's top combat soldiers has warned. Brigadier Mark Smethurst says securing Afghanistan could take decades, but success is uncertain without a fundamental change in strategy. His critical assessment comes in a report that contrasts sharply with federal government claims of progress in Afghanistan. While successive governments have stated we are in Afghanistan to deny al-Qaeda terrorists a base, the brigadier says the key reason is to maintain the US alliance. http://www.theage.com.au/national/troops-overwhelmed-and-cannot-defeat-t...

See also: The report, “Creating Conditions for the Defeat of the Afghan Taliban: A Strategic Assessment,” [35 pages] can be read at http://www.defence.gov.au/jetwc/publications/shedden_10.html

Dutch open to Afghan return

By Stanley Pignal, Financial Times [October 14 2010]

---- The new prime minister of the Netherlands has opened the door to a return of Dutch military personnel to Afghanistan, saying his government would consider a Nato request to provide police training forces “as soon as possible”. Mark Rutte, of the Liberal VVD party, stressed on his first day in office that “the Netherlands has always shouldered its international responsibilities in the past and will continue to do so in the years ahead”. The last government collapsed in February when the Labour party, now in opposition, walked out of a coalition after insisting that a Nato request to keep Dutch combat troops in the restive province of Uruzgan be turned down. … Mr Rutte distanced himself from the rhetoric of Geert Wilders, the anti-Islamic politician whose Freedom party, the PVV, is providing parliamentary support to the ruling party’s minority coalition with the Christian Democrats.

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/3f67a77c-d7c7-11df-b478-00144feabdc0.html?ftca...

CENTRAL ASIA AND THE AFGHANISTAN WAR

Nationalist Party Scores Surprise Win in Kyrgyz Vote

By Jason Ditz, Antiwar.com [October 11, 2010]

---- In a surprise result that underscores what remains an extremely divided electorate in Kyrgyzstan, the parliamentary vote has led to the victory of the nationalist Fatherland Party (Ata-Jurt) and a very unclear road to a coalition government. The vote was praised as the “fairest election ever” for a region where the norm is vote rigging and intimidation, but has given the largest plurality to a bloc whose leader openly calls for his return. A Fatherland dominated government might bode ill for the Obama Administration’s designs on keeping a military base in Kyrgyzstan, as the party has spoken out against extending the US lease on the base past 2011. http://news.antiwar.com/2010/10/11/nationalist-party-scores-surprise-win...

(Video) Kyrgyzstan's election

From AlJazeeraEnglish [October 11, 2010] - 24 minutes

---- Can democracy unite the country only four months after the worst bloodshed in its modern history? Will a new parliament be able to bridge political and ethnic rifts? http://www.youtube.com/aljazeeraenglish#p/u/77/nBWDOpvC6s4

Anteing up, betting, and bluffing in the new Great Game
By Pepe Escobar, TomDispatch [October 12, 2010]

---- Future historians may well agree that the 21st century Silk Road first opened for business on Dec. 14, 2009. That was the day a crucial stretch of pipeline officially went into operation linking the fabulously energy-rich state of Turkmenistan (via Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan) to Xinjiang province in China’s far west. The bottom line is that, by 2013, Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Hong Kong will be cruising to ever more dizzying economic heights courtesy of natural gas supplied by the 1,833-kilometer-long Central Asia Pipeline, then projected to be operating at full capacity. When the Bush administration’s armchair generals launched their Global War on Terror, this was not exactly what they had in mind. http://original.antiwar.com/engelhardt/2010/10/12/pipelineistans-new-sil...

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This is unrelated to the war on and in Afghanistan, or AfPak, but both are part of the phony wars on terrorism and there isn't an article about the war on Iraq here today, so I'll post the news links in this page.

"Missing weapons, ethnic cleansing details may be part of Wikileaks' 400,000 Iraq War files"

by NEWS.com.au, Oct 17th, 2010

* New release likely tonight
* Five times bigger than Afghan leak
* Founder Assange under siege

THE Pentagon is scouring an Iraq war database to prepare for potential fallout from an expected release by WikiLeaks of some 400,000 secret military reports.

(snip)

The data was culled from an Iraq-based database that contained "significant acts, unit-level reporting, tactical reports, things of that nature," Col Lapan said.

He noted that Pentagon officials did not know how many and which documents would be released.

The massive release is set to dwarf the whistleblower website's publication of 77,000 classified US military documents on the war in Afghanistan (linked) in July, ....

Another 15,000 are due out soon. (linked)

(snip)

However, aside from the further unrest it could ignite in Iraq and added discomfort for the 50,000 US troops and diplomats still stationed there, the Iraq files have much more explosive potential than the Afghanistan release.

Wired has pinpointed several areas of interest, (linked) such as the possibility of Iran's involvement in developing Improvised Explosive Devices, the loss of 200,000 US rifles and pistols in 2007 and evidence of ethnic cleansing.

(snip)

For the Iraq leak, Wikileaks is believed to be teaming up with the same news outlets as it did for the Afghanistan document dump - The New York Times, Britain's Guardian and Der Spiegel of Germany.

Newsweek magazine has reported that all partners would release the material simultaneously.

(snip)

WikiLeaks has not identified the source of the documents it has released so far but suspicion has fallen on Bradley Manning, a US Army intelligence analyst who is currently in military custody.

(snip)

Launched in 2006, WikiLeaks is facing internal troubles amid criticism its releases harm US national security and an ongoing investigation into its founder, Julian Assange, over an alleged sex crime in Sweden. (linked)

It also has some money problems.

Assange told The Guardian that British firm Moneybookers, (linked) an online payment company it uses to collect donations, closed his website's account in August after the US and Australian governments blacklisted WikiLeaks in the days following the initial release of Afghan documents.

The website has been undergoing "scheduled maintenance" since September 29, but promises to "be back online as soon as possible."

Re. Iran arming Iraqi Shi'ite resistance:

This is with respect to what Wired said is an area of interest, btw.

The U.S. military and possibly White House said a number of times that Iran was helping to arm Iraqi Resistance, for the Shi'ite part anyway, but no proof of this was ever provided; it was just propaganda words, if I recall correctly. And if some arms were obtained from sources in Iran, then the sources didn't need to be of the Iranian government. It strategically would not have benefited the Iranian government to do this, for if it did, then this would surely be eventually learned, and the Iranian government has had enough trouble with all of the hegemon politics of the U.S., its European allies in this politics, and Israel. Plus the Iranian leadership would've surely realized that the Iraqi Resistance Iran would've hypothetically helped, the Shi'ite Iraqi resistance, couldn't win against the U.S., U.K., and coerced U.S. allies in the war on Iraq; plus the many private "security" forces from the U.S. and other countries.

Or maybe the Iranian leadership miscalculated, or had nothing better to do than to make strategic mistakes.

Re. Wikileaks' internal problems and sex "crime":

The allegation that Julian Assange committed some sexual offence has been proven to be false; a lie used to try to discredit him and Wikileaks. So since News.com.au is surely aware of this, I question why that "news" media Web site did this.

Assuming the Wikileaks team is confident that he is not guilty of this evidently bogus allegation, what's left for internal problems, besides needing to find another Web site or to establish one for hosting Wikileaks? The Wikileaks team surely doesn't have internal problems due to external criticisms from governments about Wikileaks. The team knew what they were doing. So unless there are very immature members on the team, there should be no problems between them about this idea of endangering U.S. national security. Wikileaks benefits U.S. NS, instead of doing the opposite, and the whole Wikileaks team surely knows this.

People who wilfully want to be deceived suffer from psychological problems that make these people unqualified for criticizing Wikileaks.

So what really remains for possible internal problems on the Wikileaks team?

News.com.au was very poor in saying there are internal problems without giving any credible examples. My, my, my; more "news" media that's not worth a dime.

"Pentagon bracing for release of 400,000 secret Iraq reports"

by Olivia Hampton (AFP), Oct. 15, 2010

http://www.uruknet.info/?p=m70818

(snip)

In order to prepare for Monday's anticipated release of sensitive intelligence on the US-led Iraq war, officials set up a 120-person taskforce several weeks ago to comb through the database and "determine what the possible impacts might be," said Colonel David Lapan, a Pentagon spokesman.

(snip)

That's about the only difference between the two articles and they're so much alike, they very nearly are entirely identical, so it looks like News.com.au copied AFP's article without giving it the credit. Actually, checking the original copy of the News.com.au article, at that Web site, it is an AFP article dated Oct. 18th (Australia time).

www.news.com.au/technology/missing-weapons-ethnic-cleansing-details-may-...

"New War Rumors: U.S. Plans To Seize Pakistan’s Nuclear Arsenal"

by Rick Rozoff, Stop NATO, RickRozoff.wordpress.com, Oct. 16th, 2010

http://www.uruknet.info/?p=m70824

Two recent news items emanating from the United States have begun to reverberate in Pakistan and give rise to speculation that growing American drone strikes and NATO helicopter attacks in that country may be the harbingers of far broader actions: Nothing less than the expansion of the West’s war in Afghanistan into Pakistan with the ultimate goal of seizing the nation’s nuclear weapons.

The News International, Pakistan’s largest English-language newspaper, published a report on October 13 based on excerpts from American journalist Bob Woodward’s recently released volume "Obama’s Wars" which stated that during a trilateral summit between the presidents of the U.S., Afghanistan and Pakistan on May 6 of 2009 Pakistani head of state Asif Ali Zardari accused Washington of being behind Taliban attacks inside his country with the intent to use them so "the US could invade and seize its nuclear weapons." [1]

Woodward recounted comments exchanged at a dinner with Zardari and Afghan-born Zalmay Khalilzad, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations (2007-2009), to Iraq (2005-2007) and Afghanistan (2003-2005). Khalilzad was also a close associate of Jimmy Carter administration National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski, architect of the U.S. strategy to support attacks by armed extremists based in Pakistan against Afghanistan starting in 1978, when he joined the Polish expatriate at Columbia University from 1979-1989.

The baton for what is now Washington’s over 30-year involvement in Afghanistan was passed from Brzezinski to Khalilzad in the 1980s when the latter was appointed one of the Ronald Reagan administration’s senior State Department officials in charge of supporting Mujahedin fighters operating out of Peshawar in Pakistan. He joined the State Department in 1984 on a Council on Foreign Relations fellowship and worked for Paul Wolfowitz, then-Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, at Foggy Bottom. His efforts were augmented by the Central Intelligence Agency’s deputy director at the time, Robert Gates, now U.S. defense secretary. Two of their three chief clients, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar and Jalaluddin Haqqani, are founders and leaders of Hezb-e Islami Gulbuddin and the Haqqani network, against whom Gates’ Pentagon is currently waging war on both sides of the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.

According to Woodward’s account of the Pakistani president’s accusations to Khalilzad in May of last year, "Zardari dropped his diplomatic guard. He suggested that one of…two countries was arranging the attacks by the Pakistani Taliban inside his country: India or the US. Zardari didn’t think India could be that clever, but the US could. [Afghan President Hamid] Karzai had told him the US was behind the attacks, confirming the claims made by the Pakistani ISI [Inter-Services Intelligence]." [2]

Khalilzad, whose résumé also includes stints at the Defense Department, the National Security Council, the Center for Strategic and International Studies, the National Endowment for Democracy, the RAND Corporation (where he assisted in establishing the Middle East Studies Center) and the Project for the New American Century, reportedly took issue with Zardari’s contention, which led to the latter responding that what he had described "was a plot to destabilize Pakistan," hatched in order that, according to Woodward’s version of his words, "the US could invade and seize [Pakistan's] nuclear weapons."

The account stated Zardari "could not explain the rapid expansion in violence otherwise. And the CIA had not pursued the leaders of the Pakistani Taliban, a group known as Tehrik-e-Taliban-e-Pakistan or TTP that had attacked the government. TTP was also blamed for the assassination of Zardari’s wife, Benazir Bhutto."

In the Pakistani president’s words: "We give you targets of Taliban people you don’t go after. You go after other areas. We’re puzzled."

When Khalilzad mentioned that U.S. drone attacks inside Pakistan "were primarily meant to hunt down members of al Qaeda and Afghan insurgents, not the Pakistan Taliban," Zardari responded by insisting "But the Taliban movement is tied to al Qaeda…so by not attacking the targets recommended by Pakistan the US had revealed its support of the TTP. The CIA at one time had even worked with the group’s leader, Baitullah Mehsud," Zardari asserted. [3] (Three months later a CIA-directed drone strike killed Mehsud, his wife and several in-laws and bodyguards.)

In August of 2009, while still commander of all U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, then-General Stanley McChrystal issued his classified COMISAF (Commander of International Security Assistance Force) Initial Assessment which asserted the "major insurgent groups in order of their threat to the mission are: the Quetta Shura Taliban (05T), the Haqqani Network (HQN), and the Hezb-e Islami Gulbuddin (HiG)." [4] The first is an Afghan Taliban group which as its name indicates is based in the capital of Pakistan’s Balochistan province.

Steve Coll, Alfred McCoy and other authorities on the subject have documented the CIA’s involvement with Gulbuddin Hekmatyar and Jalaluddin Haqqani: That they were shared with if not transferred by Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence to the CIA as private assets. Coll has additionally claimed that Haqqani sheltered and supported Osama bin Laden starting in the 1980s.

At the meeting between Obama, Zardari and Karzai in May of 2009, the American president slighted his two counterparts for alleged lack of resolve in prosecuting the war on both sides of the Durand Line, although even as he spoke Pakistan was engaged in a major military assault in the Swat Valley which led to the displacement of 3 million civilians.

Four days after the dinner exchange between Zardari and Khalilzad, the Pakistani president appeared on the May 10 edition of NBC’s Meet the Press on a program which also included Afghan President Karzai and Steve Coll, now president and CEO of the New America Foundation and author of Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and Bin Laden, from the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001 (2004) and The Bin Ladens: An Arabian Family in the American Century (2008).

Zardari’s comments to his American audience included the claim that the Taliban "was part of your past and our past, and the ISI and the CIA created them together. And I can find you 10 books and 10 philosophers and 10 write-ups on that…." [5]

That the leaders of the other two armed groups identified by McChrystal – Haqqani and Hekmatyar – were among the three Mujahedin leaders financed, armed and trained by the CIA (the late Ahmed Shah Massoud being the third), makes the pattern complete: Robert Gates the defense secretary is leading a war against forces that Robert Gates the deputy director of the CIA earlier supported through one of the Agency’s longest and most expensive covert programs, Operation Cyclone.

After retiring from public life, George Kennan, the main architect of U.S. Cold War policy, cited a line he ascribed to Goethe to warn that in the end we are all destroyed by monsters of our own creation. To emend Voltaire, the White House rather than God is a comedian playing to an audience too afraid to laugh.

Woodward’s account of last year’s comments by Pakistan’s president and Zalmay Khalilzad could be dismissed as merely anecdotal if not for an article that appeared in the New York Post on October 3 and developments in Pakistan itself over the past six weeks.

Arthur Herman, a visiting scholar at the conservative American Enterprise Institute think tank, stated in an article entitled "Our Pakistan problem: Obama’s approach is failing" that "The bitter irony is that even as Obama is trying to get out of the war in Afghanistan, he may be heading us into one in Pakistan."

(snip)

Also mentioning the NATO helicopter attack in the Kurram Agency of Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas on September 30 ..., Herman warned:

"All this adds up to a US effort in Pakistan highly reminiscent of the one we undertook in Laos in the 1960s – one of the springboards into the Vietnam quagmire."

"If Obama’s growing pressure on Pakistan destabilizes that government, the only thing keeping that country’s nukes out of the hands of al Qaeda may have to be US troops. That’s a shooting-war scenario that will make Obama wish his name was Lyndon Baines Johnson." [6]

(snip)

Since the revelations from Bob Woodward’s new book and the publication of Arthur Herman’s article, commentaries in Pakistani newspapers have appeared which indicate the seriousness with which recent developments and even more ominous portents are being viewed.

An October 13 feature in The Nation stated that "the ongoing war on terror in Afghanistan is aimed to take the operations into Pakistani territory….The real target is Pakistan’s nuclear potential; they [the U.S. and NATO] have no plausible security threat from the ill-equipped Taliban or ragtag extremists."

Commenting on the New York Post feature cited earlier, Pakistani commentator A R Jerral further claimed that what "Herman suggests in his write-up is in fact a policy direction to the US administration. He implies that the policy of sending drones and attacking militant hideouts in the Pakistan territory has not worked….[T]he thrust is Pakistan’s nukes. It is a tacit way to tell the policymakers in Washington to keep the pressure on our country, which will weaken the Pakistani government’s standing, causing instability. That will provide the reason for the US troops to move in."

(snip)

"In this way, things are getting hot as far as the war on terror is concerned. Pakistan is moving to become centre stage in this war. Bruce Riedel, a former CIA and NSC [National Security Council] official, has advised Mr Obama to shift the focus of war 'from Afghanistan to Pakistan’; this is what we are witnessing in the shape of heightened war effort into the Pakistan territory." [9]

(snip)

As the war in Afghanistan, the largest and longest in the world, proceeds with record casualties among civilians and combatants alike on both sides of the Afghan-Pakistani border, plans are afoot to further expand the war into Pakistan and to threaten Iran as well.

Comparisons to Washington’s war in Indochina have been mentioned. [11] But Pakistan with its 180 million people and nuclear weapons is not Cambodia and Iran with its population of over 70 million is not Laos.

Rick Rozoff cites other sources and while it appears that the U.S. is seeming to very possibly be operating to eventually go after Pakistan's nukes and to therefore gain greater control of Pakistan, the U.S. apparently may be trying to go after or destabilize Iran through covert use of "the terrorist group Jundullah" in Balochistan. The U.S. is evidently conducting [many] operations with ground forces into Pakistan; apparently not a few, but, instead, many.

"Woodward’s ominous narrative"

by Mohammad Jamil, a Lahore-based senior journalist, Pakistan Observer, PakObserver.net, Oct. 17th, 2010

http://www.uruknet.info/?p=m70856

Hold on to your hats, for he has some highly interesting points. Some of the same sort of points appear in Rick Rozoff's article, above, but This article still provides additional and complementary information and analysis.

Bob Woodward’s book "Obama Wars" in general offers an account of President Barack Obama’s national security team’s flawed decision-making practices, yet there is malicious intent behind raising the points of Quetta Shura, Haqqani network in North Waziristan, and ISI’s support to the Taliban. Even if one presumes that there is some truth in these allegations, it is not understandable as to why hundreds of CIA agents and Blackwater mercenaries who are running around in FATA and Balochistan have not been able to either arrest or kill the top Taliban and Al Qaeda leaders despite the fact they are equipped with sophisticated equipment and gadgetry. Osama bin Laden may be dead or may have been killed a long time ago, but the US wants to keep him 'alive’ so that it can use it as justification for its presence in the region and advancing its global interests. In Bob Woodward’s book 'The Obama Wars’, the author wrote: "Once Zalmay Khalilzad brushed off Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari’s claim that the US was arranging the (suicide) attacks by Pakistani Taliban inside his country, as madness, and was of the view that both Zardari and Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who believed in this US conspiracy theory, were dysfunctional leaders".

He also quoted President Zardari having said that this was a plot to destabilize Pakistan so that the US could invade and seize its nuclear weapons. But it is not President Zardari or Karzai’s perception, as there have been statements from the US think tanks, analysts and members of Obama administration about Pakistan’s 'double game’ and they suggesting attack on Haqqani network in North Waziristan. Before the drone attack in South Waziristan on Baitullah Mehsud, Pakistan had many a time provided information to the US about TTP leaders holed in South Waziristan. It was in this backdrop that President Zardari had said: "We give you targets of Taliban leaders you don’t go after. You go after other areas". Khalilzad is reported to have responded that the drones were primarily meant to hunt down members of al Qaeda and Afghan insurgents, not the Pakistan Taliban. This showed the liaison between the CIA and Baitullah Mehsud, as 'Frankenstein monster’ was killed in a drone attack along with other militants in March 2009. It has to be mentioned that Baitullah Mehsud had arsenal and night-vision equipment which Pakistan army did not have at that time. (my emphasis)

The book also revealed that CIA chief Leon Panetta and National Security Adviser Jim Jones were sent by Obama to Pakistan to talk to President Asif Ali Zardari and COAS Ashfaq Pervez Kayani after the failed Faisal Shahzad bombing at Times Square in New York. Woodward wrote that CIA chief Leon Panetta told President Zardari: "If, God forbid, Shahzad’s SUV had blown up in Times Square, we wouldn’t be having this conversation. The president would be forced to do things that Pakistan would not like. The president wants everyone in Pakistan to understand if such an attack connected to a Pakistani group is successful there are some things even he would not be able to stop. Just as there are political realities in Pakistan, there are political realities in the US. No one will be able to stop the response and consequences. This is not a threat, just a statement of political fact."

See:

"Barack Obama accused of exaggerating terror threat for political gain"

by Simon Tisdall and Richard Norton-Taylor, Guardian, UK, Oct. 7th, 2010

http://www.uruknet.info/?p=m70533

• Pakistani diplomat launches scathing attack on White House
• European intelligence claims raised terror alerts 'nonsensical'

(snip)

Mohammad Jamil continued:

(snip)

A few months ago, through WikiLeaks an effort was to put Pakistan on the defensive, though out of more than 92000 reports only 180 related to Pakistan. Though it was admitted in the report that there was "low-level assessments about Pakistan’s ISI secretly supporting Taliban insurgents, which was based on Afghan intelligence", yet they insisted that the evidence was credible. Americans doublespeak was obvious from the fact that whatever was mentioned in the reports regarding Pakistan they said the evidence was conclusive, whereas about American and NATO forces’ brutalities and war crimes they said that evidence was not conclusive. Anyhow, major focus of reports was on brutal military actions involving the United States and the NATO forces, intelligence information, reports of meetings with political figures. It was also admitted that the report regarding Pakistan was mainly based on the information of Afghanistan’s National Directorate of Security, which was under Tajik Amarullah Saleh – a pro-Indian, a CIA asset and diehard anti-Pakistan.

Indian media as usual availed this opportunity as well to malign Pakistan and the ISI. Whereas documents related to Pakistan were insignificant in volume and substance, yet they were blown out of proportion by anti-Pakistan lobbies. Some even described the ISI of directing attacks against US forces in Afghanistan. And America’s pro-India legislators tried to get the financial assistance to Pakistan suspended or stopped. India has been constantly trying to convince the US that Pakistan should not have any role either in brokering peace or availing opportunities in reconstruction process in Afghanistan. (snip)

All this disinformation was being spread to pressurize Pakistan into launching military operation in North Waziristan, where they say Haqqani group is holed in. But it is a flawed perception that Haqqani group is based in Pakistan, because American and NATO forces know full well that Haqqani network is in Afghanistan and giving them a very tough time.

Without being sure about everything he says, I'm confident that he's very right and that he presents very important information.

"Latest Afghanistan Operation Called "Success," but No Press Witnessed It"

by Ben Gilbert, GlobalPost.com, Oct. 17th, 2010

Afghanistan War: Success in Kandahar?
Recent operation called success, but no international press witnessed it.

KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan – A major military operation involving hundreds of American troops, U.S. Special Forces and heavy bombers dropping 2,000-pound bombs on Taliban command and control centers wrapped up last week, concluding a critical phase in the campaign to oust the Taliban from Afghanistan’s southern Kandahar province.

But no journalists were there to witness the operation.

U.S. military officials told journalists who had arrived to Kandahar Airfield for embeds in the Arghandab district between Oct. 1 and Oct. 15 that logistical problems had caused their embeds to be cancelled.

Maj. Randy Taylor, head of the Media Support Center at Kandahar Airfield, said the cancelled embeds were not an attempt by the military to limit media coverage of the war in the Arghandab district, long advertised by the U.S. military as one of three key objectives of this summer and fall's campaign in Kandahar province.

"[Task Force] Raider has had a capacity issue related to being able to house all the journalists who wanted to embed within their AO (Area of Operations)," Taylor said in an email. Task Force Raider is the name of the group of combat units responsible for the Arghandab district.

(snip)

The Arghandab River splits the farms and dense pomegranate groves of Arghandab district into two halves: east and west. U.S. forces based on the violent western side of the district during the last year have been hammered by near constant attacks on American bases. Improvised explosive devices have killed or maimed dozens of U.S. troops since they arrived last summer to help bolster the small Canadian force that had been responsible for Kandahar Province over the last four years.

This summer, one newly-arrived platoon of American soldiers to Arghandab district was declared combat ineffective in less than a month after losing eight men out of 17.

Last week’s operation focused on destroying the areas in western Arghandab district from which the Taliban mounted those attacks, regrouped, slept and built bombs.

(snip)

The official said U.S. and Afghan troops killed and detained dozens of Taliban fighters.

"The Taliban took a scrubbing," he said.

(snip)

Officials are calling the operation a success – a claim difficult to confirm since no journalists were there to witness it.

The day after the operation ended, Afghan President Hamid Karzai, U.S.-led coalition commander Gen. David Petraeus and U.S. Ambassador Karl Eikenberry visited the Arghandab District Center, where the district government is located, alongside U.S. and Afghan military bases. They met with district officials and elders from the area.

Were there any witnesses to what the last-excerpted paragraph says? I wonder. The paragraph doesn't say there were any witnesses of the meetings.

And I don't believe the claim that there was not enough room to be able to include at least a few embedded media people. While embeds often, if not regularly, report the Washington and U.S. military lines, not having any on an operation is a surer way of preventing leaks about the U.S. military lying [again]. Some soldiers might still leak the information, but there have been far fewer of these soldiers than there have been U.S. military, war operations.

"US understates civilian casualties in Pakistan, makes no amends"

by Mustafa Edib Yilmaz, Today's Zaman, todaysZaman.com, Oct. 17th, 2010

http://www.uruknet.info/?p=m70857

An American NGO working to raise awareness of the civilian victims of conflict has argued, in an extensive report, that the number of civilians killed or injured because of US airstrikes using unmanned aerial vehicles, or "drones," is larger than the US government admits.

The Washington-based Campaign for Innocent Victims in Conflict (CIVIC) authored the nearly 70-page report, titled "Civilian Harm and Conflict in Northwest Pakistan," which presents the NGO’s findings following a year of research into how civilians have been affected by the US-Pakistan war against militant elements in Pakistan’s troubled northwest. While researching the report, CIVIC gathered the verbal testimony of more than 160 Pakistani civilians who had suffered under the effects of violence, interviewed humanitarian workers and, crucially, met with Pakistani and US policymakers.

The report said that the US did not have a policy of compensation for the innocent victims of its drone strikes and had not made amends to these victims. The report argued that the US maintaining that civilian casualties caused by its drone attacks were "minimal" was divorced from the facts on the ground:

(snip)

Since 2004, a small number of US troops have been involved in the Pakistani government’s war against a number of militant groups, including Al-Qaeda, in the northwest regions of Pakistan that border Afghanistan. The report also said that civilian casualties were "significant" because of the Pakistani military operations, but that the country’s government was trying to compensate civilians affected by military action.

(snip)

The NGO’s research also contained specific recommendations to the international community and the parties engaged in the hostilities: the US, Pakistan and the militant groups. While calling on the UN to form a body to investigate the conflict’s civilian casualties and to pressure all sides to recognize and develop measures to compensate them, the report urged the all parties to comply with the relevant laws of war to sustain proportionality in their attacks, while distinguishing combatants from non-combatants. The report urged the US to work in cooperation with the Pakistani government to compensate all civilian victims of the devastating conflict.

CIVIC’s Executive Director Sarah Holewinski is also critical of the media for ignoring the humanitarian aspects of the war in Pakistan.

"We, meaning the public wherever you go, have such a short attention span. I don’t expect a front page news story every day, but I do expect that the public and policymakers will pay more attention to war victims than they do -- whether those victims are in Iraq, Afghanistan or Pakistan, or Somalia and Sri Lanka, for that matter. When you consider the suffering they’re going through, the way their lives have been devastated in the blink of an eye, more compassion and outrage, both, are appropriate. And when you consider that in many of these places the suffering of war victims’ creates mass, and long lasting, instability, the media is missing a big story that is the root of later problems and conflict," she said in a written statement to Sunday’s Zaman.

Currently, the clashes between the Pakistani military forces and the militant groups are continuing at a concerning level in four provinces in the country’s northwestern region, while the US continues to bomb two more provinces in the area with its drones. In addition to civilian deaths and according to the latest available data of the Geneva-based Internal Displacement Monitoring Center (IDMC), an estimated 2 million people have been displaced in the country because of the violence.

Regarding the U.S. sending few ground forces into Pakistan, see the article by Rick Rozoff that I posted a link for and excerpt from in my post prior to this one. The U.S. has apparently been conducting many ground-force incursions into Pakistan, very secretly, or very underreportedly anyway.

According to the following article, she was killed by U.S. troops.

"Was aid worker Linda Norgrove’s killing really “accidental?"
Use of fragmentation grenades in rescue operations may violate U.S. Army rules"

by Matthew Nasuti, KabulPress.org, Oct 17th, 2010

http://www.uruknet.info/?p=m70858

The author is "a former U.S. Air Force Captain with the First Special Operations Wing". And the young British woman killed by U.S. troops is pictured in this article, btw.

I don't know CIVIC, but some readers will surely know of it.

It is premature for the international media to conclude that Ms. Norgrove’s death was "accidental." It appears increasingly likely that UK citizen Linda Norgrove was killed on October 8, 2010, by an American fragmentation grenade. If true, its use may violate U.S. Army rules and could be grounds for a criminal prosecution. Pursuant to American and British law, conduct that is sufficiently "reckless" can support a charge of intentional killing.

What is also disturbing is that at least some American military personnel concocted a false cover story and tried to blame her death on the Taliban. Instead of telling the truth, these Americans were willing to have her family believe that she died in the horrible explosion of a suicide vest detonated by her captors. The BBC’s October 10, 2010, headline was:

"UK Hostage Linda Norgrove Killed by Vest Bomb"

The Daily Mail, on the same day, reported that she had been "blown up by a suicide vest." These are dreadful headlines for any parent to read. The motive for falsely accusing the Taliban of murder may be to distract the public from asking important questions.

Within the U.S. military’s inventory are lethal grenades, such as fragmentation grenades, and non-lethal grenades such as the M84 stun grenade. The use of the M84, first released to the field in 2002, is supposed to be standard operating procedure for any rescue. This is enshrined in U.S. Army rules. U.S. Army Field Manual 3-23-30, Section 1-17 (under "Stun Grenade, M84") reads in part:

"Stun grenades are used as diversionary or distraction devices during building and room clearing operations when the presence of noncombatants is likely or expected and the assault element is attempting to achieve surprise."

U.S. Army Field Manual 3-06.11, Sections 3-14 "Use of Hand Grenades" reads in part as follows:

(snip)

Despite these rules, it appears that at least one special operations member threw a deadly fragmentation grenade into the room where Ms. Norgrove was being held. That may have been a reckless and therefore a criminal act. The American and British publics are currently awaiting the results of an internal investigation by the military organization involved. It is crucial that the final report release all the "Rules of Engagement" for this mission. (snip)

The one thing we do know is that this is yet another botched American special operations raid. This author has been trying to keep track of how many botched raids there have been and how many times U.S. Special Operations Command personnel have filed false reports with the International Security Assistance Force in Kabul (ISAF) in an effort to blame the Taliban for civilian casualties or to refer to innocent civilians they have killed as "militants." The list is long.

(snip)

Note: An important fact being unreported is why Ms. Norgrove was on the road to Jalalabad when she was kidnapped on September 26th. One report stated that she was going to a press conference for the opening of a water project. It is not clear that she needed to be at this publicity event. Her employer, Development Alternatives, Inc. (DAI), is a Maryland based company whose senior management is largely composed of former officials of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).

These people are part of the "revolving door." They leave the agency, set up a company and then are hired back under contract by their friends within the agency. DAI is one of a handful of politically connected companies that are favored for USAID contracts around the world. There is little transparency in these contracts. The reader should attempt to search the USAID or USAID-Afghanistan websites for information on how many contracts DAI has and what they are for. Very limited public information is available. This questionable arrangement and the lack of scrutiny and public oversight of DAI contracts means that DAI employees may be sent on assignments and given tasks which they should not be given. It may be that they are being sent into areas that USAID officials will not go. All of this needs to be investigated. For further information on the unseemly relationship between USAID and DAI, and on DAI’s poor performance record, see the July 4, 2010, investigative report by USATODAY correspondent Ken Dilanian entitled: "Faulted Firm Gets Afghan Aid Work."

It is extremely unlikely that the real Taliban resistance would have harmed Linda Norgrove or any other aid worker, unless these persons are with U.S. or other criminal foreign forces when the Taliban attack the foreign troops.

And this is not the only thing they wouldn't do. Another piece of propaganda in the article for this page, "Afghanistan War Weekly: October 17, 2010", is the purported Taliban talking with the puppet government in Afghanistan and/or the U.S. They have firmly stated, and repeatedly so for years, that they will not conduct any such talks until the criminal foreign forces are withdrawn. The U.S. might arrange for some so-called Taliban people to talk with Hamid Karzai, but the real and fighting Taliban will not.

We'd be fools to believe that they'd do otherwise. And we'd be fools to believe western news media reporting the contrary, for they'd only be reporting what the governments of the foreign forces of aggression say and not what the fighting Taliban resistance says. The U.S. leadership has [repeatedly] lied about very many things in relation to these wars. It's long past due time for people to wake up to this [reality].

"The murder of Linda Norgrove"
by Xymphora, Oct. 12th, 2010

http://xymphora.blogspot.com/2010/10/murder-of-linda-norgrove.html

I haven't read any of Xymphora's articles for quite a while now, but what I do recall of those I have read in the past is that she or he is a very good writer, and thinker. And this article has all of the links for supporting references or sources that are referenced.

There's no bold typefacing in the article, but I might add a little for some emphasis.

"British aid worker murdered by Taliban during rescue operation" I knew this story was bullshit when I first read it. Initial debriefings of the 'crack US troops' involved somehow missed the little incident of throwing a grenade into the area where they thought Norgrove was being held. The story of how the evil Taliban killed her with a suicide vest started to sprout more and more details with the retelling. Suddenly, somebody looked at a tape of the incident (the fact it is a NATO operation probably meant the Americans couldn't hide the tape from the British), saw the grenade being thrown, and the world turned upside down.

This was supposedly a rescue mission. Who throws a grenade into a place where a hostage is being held? This is simply too moronic to blame on the baseline stupidity of the American soldier. They wanted her dead. Why? Probably the usual reason: she knew too much, or at least might have known too much. The most likely explanation by far was that she was in the hands of the drug warlords who operate with the CIA, and thus might have had stories to tell which the CIA didn't want told.

Note the peculiar - and I must say I detect some of the fraying of the 'special relationship' of Britain and the U. S. in this incident - Telegraph story which starts with the official lie and then contains all the details needed to construct what really happened, including the fact that the 'rescue' was rushed to avoid the fact that negotiations quite likely - '100% sure' according to local officials - would have freed her (note that Hague told a barefaced lie about this), the fact that the Taliban denied being involved (and in fact the Taliban was being paid protection money by her office!), and the fact that the local power is the infamous warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar (whose special friend in the American government is Zionist asset Richard Holbrooke). His story is now supposed to be that he is a 'terrorist' allied with the Taliban, but his drug-smuggling activities mean that it is much more likely that he is working with the CIA (the CIA's innocence is 'proved' by the fact they allegedly fired a missile in 2002 in his general direction!). Of course, the Americans couldn't take the risk that Norgrove heard things from her captors that no American should ever hear. So she's dead, another victim of the 'war on drugs'.

I'm sure many may say this is just a 'conspiracy theory', and at best we can never know what happened. I seriously beg to differ. Consider:

1. local negotiators were certain they could gain her release through negotiations and the payment of ransom (as they had done in other situations), but the Americans rushed the 'rescue' on the bogus excuse, with no evidence whatsoever and in the face of established local practice, that she was about to be smuggled to Pakistan where she would be killed by 'al Qaeda';

2. the grenade thrown in a hostage 'rescue' by 'crack' American special forces;

3. the elaborate lies piled on to describe the evil Taliban and how they slaughtered this poor defenseless aid worker;

4. the fact that the Taliban denied being involved, and were even being paid protection money to lay off the aid workers;

5. the control of the area by warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, associated with drug smuggling and the CIA, whose people would be by far the most likely to be in a position to grab anyone in the area.

I know (Xymphora's emphasis) this was murder. By Americans. Probably to protect CIA drug smuggling operations.

I don't [know], like knowing with absolute certainty, that Xymphora is right, but am very confident that he or she is most probably right and that there's a far great chance of him or her definitely being right than there is of or for the U.S. "leadership" and CIA being innocent of what Xymphora says they're guilty of. Definitely. No doubt about it.

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