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From Code Pink, Reprieve, and Center for Constitutional Rights:
After months of pressure from human rights activists, the U.S. government has granted Pakistani lawyer Shahzad Akbar a visa to attend and speak at an International Drone Summit in Washington DC on April 28, 2012.
The Summit is organized by the peace group CODEPINK and the legal advocacy organizations Reprieve and the Center for Constitutional Rights. Akbar, co-founder of the Pakistani human rights organization Foundation for Fundamental Rights, filed the first case in Pakistan on behalf of family members of civilian victims of CIA drone strikes and has been a critical force in litigating and advocating on victims' behalf. He had been invited to speak in the United States before and first sought a visa nearly a year ago. His request had been pending since then.
By Medea Benjamin
When is the last time you heard from a civilian victim of the CIA’s secret drone strikes? Sure, most of them can’t speak because they’re deceased. But many leave behind bereaved and angry family members ready to proclaim their innocence and denounce the absence of due process, the lack of accountability, the utter impunity with which the U.S. government decides who will live and die.
In the wake of the 9/11 attacks, the U.S. government has increasingly deployed unmanned drones in the Middle East, South Asia and Africa. While drones were initially used for surveillance, these remotely controlled aerial vehicles are now routinely used to launch missiles against human targets in countries where the United States is not at war, including Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen. As many as 3,000 people, including hundreds of civilians and even American citizens, have been killed in such covert missions.
Listen to the endless steady droning
To the buzzing almost moaning
Of the invisible unmanned plane,
The imminent howling pain,
Or is it death?
Or will that omnipotent thing refrain?
Will the humans who make it kill
Change their minds and make it stop?
It buzzes still!
It's the sound of murder unseen,
The sound of the dying of the American dream,
The relentless sound of streets unclean
Full of homeless people and limousines.
It is the sound of the war machine.
It is the sound of an empire drowning.
Mars, oh Mars
how pink you are!
You hang in the east –
a blushing star,
Reprieve and solicitors Leigh Day & Co have announced that they will be issuing formal legal proceedings this week against the UK Foreign Secretary on behalf of Noor Khan, whose father was killed last year in a drone strike on a Jirga – or council of elders – in North West Pakistan.
Noor Khan (27), lives in Miranshah, North Waziristan Agency, in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan. His father, Malik Daud Khan, was a member of the local Jirga, a peaceful council of tribal elders whose functions included the settling of commercial disputes.
By John Grant
The United States is finding the occupation of other nations more and more challenging. Consider the burning of Korans in Bagram Air Force Base in Afghanistan, the bombing deaths of 24 Pakistani soldiers and a host of other recent disasters. Economic challenges at home only add to the difficulty.
In such a frustrating quandary, Washington and Pentagon leaders are falling back on what they feel the US does best: Secret killing.
By Dave Lindorff
The attacks and attempted attacks this week on Israeli embassy personnel in Georgia, India and Thailand should serve as a serious warning to the people of both Israel and the US that there will be an increasingly heavy price to pay for the kind of government-sponsored terror that both countries have long practiced, and that too many Americans and Israelis have mindlessly cheered on.
The technology of terror has become so wide-spread, and the materials needed to construct magnetically-attached car bombs, cell-phone detonators, armor-piercing IEDs, diesel/fertilizer bombs and the like, so accessable at consumer shops, hardware stores and local junkyards, that any government, and even any relatively savvy non-government group, can assemble and employ them.
Maybe Pakistan Should Call for a Free New Mexico: Pakistan Outrage as US Congress Calls for a Free Baluchistan
By Yasmeen Ali
Pakistan parliamentarians should promptly table a resolution calling for efforts to carve the state of New Mexico away from the United States and to either make it independent, or restore it to its status prior to the Mexican-American War (1846-48), when it was a part of Mexico.
US Iran Policy in 'Lockstep' with Israel?: President Obama Risks Becoming a Major-League War Criminal
By Dave Lindorff
It’s a relief to know that President Obama’s “preferred” solution to dealing with disagreements with Iran is diplomacy, as he said yesterday in an interview on NBC TV, but at the same time, it’s profoundly disturbing that he is simultaneously saying that, as an AP report on the interview put it: he would “not take options off the table to stop Iran from getting nuclear weapons.”
In Air America: Under the Imperial Eye, Chris Floyd reports on the recent revelation that Iraq's supposedly "sovereign airspace" is constantly under surveillance by a network of drones operated by the State Department. Apparently the only reason this news came to light is because of a publicly available government appeal for private bids on the project. Neither we nor Iraqis were meant to know:
"Iraqis were outraged this week to find they are being spied upon by a fleet of American drones hovering constantly in their supposedly sovereign skies, long after the supposed withdrawal of American forces."
By Dave Lindorff
The Iraq war may be over, at least for US troops, but the cover-up of the atrocities committed there by American forces goes on, even in retrospectives about the war. A prime example is reporting on the destroyed city of Fallujah, where some of the heaviest fighting of the war took place.
On March 31, 2004, four armed mercenaries working for the firm then known as Blackwater (now Xe), were captured in Fallujah, Iraq’s third largest city and a hotbed of insurgent strength located in Anbar Province about 40 miles west of Baghdad. Reportedly killed in their vehicle, which was then torched, their charred bodies were strung up on a bridge over the Euphrates River.
19 January 2012 - A North Carolina human rights group is calling on state officials to investigate and stop alleged CIA missions originating in Johnston County that involve illegal torture.
North Carolina Stop Torture Now delivered a University of North Carolina School of Law report Wednesday to the governor, attorney general and others that claims the Central Intelligence Agency relies on Smithfield-based Aero Contractors Ltd. to provide planes and pilots to transport prisoners overseas from the Johnston County Airport for secret interrogation using torture techniques.
White House and State Department are in No Position to Issue Credible Denials Regarding Spying Charges
By Dave Lindorff
I wouldn’t want to be Amir Mirzaei Hekmati, the 28-year-old former US Marine just recently sentenced to death by a court in Iran after being convicted of being an American spy.
Hekmati, who was born in Arizona to Iranian exile parents, and who grew up in Michigan, is being defended by President Obama, whose White House spokesman Tommy Vietor, declared, “Allegations that Mr. Hekmati either worked for, or was sent to Iran by the CIA are false.” The White House, not content with that denial, went on to trash the Iranian government and legal system, with Vietor adding, “The Iranian regime has a history of falsely accusing people of being spies, of eliciting forced confessions, and of holding innocent Americans for political reasons.”
By Dave Lindorff
According to news reports, 15-year-old eighth-grader Jaime Gonzalez, who was shot and killed yesterday by police in his middle school in Brownsville, TX, was hit three times: twice in the chest and once “from the back of the head.”
Police say they were called by school authorities because Gonzalez was carrying a gun, which turned out to be a realistic-looking pellet gun, a weapon that uses compressed air to fire a metal pellet which, while perhaps a threat to the eye, does not pose a serious threat to life.
By Tom Hussain | McClatchy Newspapers
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Pakistani Islamist militants on Sunday pledged to cease their four-year insurgency against Pakistani security forces, and join the Taliban's war against NATO troops in Afghanistan.
The agreement reunited four major Pakistan-based militant factions under the flag of Mullah Mohammed Omar, the Taliban chief, an announcement by the militants said.
Security experts in Islamabad said the agreement to end the insurgency with Pakistan was a dual-purpose tactical move by the Taliban.
It has lost hundreds of fighters during a two-year surge of U.S. forces in its southern Afghanistan strongholds.
The Pakistani militants, too, have been pummelled by security forces since 2009, and by late 2011 had splintered into dozens of factions without a unified command. The agreement coincided with discrete negotiations between the Pakistani militants and the government in Islamabad, held since October.
The pact would enable Mullah Omar to reinforce the Taliban ranks, while the pledged cessation of attacks against the Pakistani security forces would allow the militants greater freedom to launch cross-border attacks into Afghanistan.
Selective Sympathy: War’s Mayhem and Murder is Somehow Less Hard to Bear than the Humane Termination of an Injured Animal
By Dave Lindorff
The officer rested his arm holding the stock of the assault rifle on the top of a log pile, and aimed directly between the target’s eyes. She was looking directly at him, unblinking, from 30 feet away, and exhibited no fear. “I hate doing this,” he muttered, before finally pulling the trigger.
A sharp “bang!” rang out, her head jerked up and then her whole body sagged to the ground, followed by some muscle jerks, and it was over.
The officer went over and checked the body, decided no second shot was needed to finish the job, and then walked back to his squad car, took out his phone, and called in the serial number of his rifle, reporting his firing of one round, as required by regulations.
Crazy Pakistanis Target Those Suspected of Helping the United States Murder People; There's No Reasoning With These Nuts!
From the LA Times:
Reporting from Peshawar, Pakistan—
The death squad shows up in uniform: black masks and tunics with the name of the group, Khorasan Mujahedin, scrawled across the back in Urdu.
Pulling up in caravans of Toyota Corolla hatchbacks, dozens of them seal off mud-hut villages near the Afghan border, and then scour markets and homes in search of tribesmen they suspect of helping to identify targets for the armed U.S. drones that routinely buzz overhead.
Once they've snatched their suspect, they don't speed off, villagers say. Instead, the caravan leaves slowly, a trademark gesture meant to convey that they expect no retaliation.
By Dave Lindorff
It’s fascinating to watch the long knives coming out for Texas Republican Rep. Ron Paul, now that according to some mainstream polls he has become the front-running candidate in the Jan. 3 GOP caucus race in Iowa, and perhaps also in the first primary campaign in New Hampshire.
(CNN) -- She has eyelashes but no eyebrows. She has all her fingers but is missing four nails. Her skin is so taut now that she can no longer frown. LOOK AT HER.
By Yasmeen Ali
Lahore -- Ever since 9/11 and the subsequent 2001 invasion of Afghanistan by the US, Pakistan’s world has been in turmoil.
19 December 2011 - Almost two-thirds of countries asked by human rights groups about their involvement in extraordinary rendition flights have failed to comply with freedom of information requests – with European nations in particular accused of withholding evidence of the controversial CIA programme.
Was the Attack on Pakistani Outposts Deliberate?: How Far Will the US Go to Target Pakistan's Military?
By Shaukat Qadir
This past June I posted an article by Anatol Lieven on Facebook. For those who are not familiar with his name, Anatol is from the UK and numbers among the few journalists whom I always enjoy reading. I have met Anatol a few times and he is the kind of person who likes to get acquainted with the psycho-social environment of the people he writes about. Written in the wake of Osama bin Laden’s execution, Anatol’s article was critical of the US approach to the region, particularly Pakistan.
December 14, 2011 - One by one, the Marines sat down, swore to tell the truth and began to give secret interviews discussing one of the most horrific episodes of America’s time in Iraq: the 2005 massacre by Marines of Iraqi civilians in the town of Haditha.
“I mean, whether it’s a result of our action or other action, you know, discovering 20 bodies, throats slit, 20 bodies, you know, beheaded, 20 bodies here, 20 bodies there,” Col. Thomas Cariker, a commander in Anbar Province at the time, told investigators as he described the chaos of Iraq.
By Dave Lindorff
By David Lindorff Sr.
Departure comes after ultimatum from Islamabad prompted by the death of 24 of its soldiers in NATO air raid.
The US has vacated the Shamsi air base in Pakistan's Balochistan province after a 15-day ultimatum given by Islamabad, prompted by the deaths of at least 24 of its soldiers in a NATO air raid last month.
Sunday's withdrawal was completed when the final flight carrying US personnel and equiptment flew out.
Nine planes carrying personnel and 20 carrying equiptment - including drone aircraft and weapons - left for neighbouring Afghanistan, officials said.
Shamsi wahttp://warisacrime.org/node/add/storys believed to be the staging post for US drones operating in northwest Pakistan and neighbouring Afghanistan.
Meanwhile, a senior Pakistani military official told a US television network on Sunday that his country "will shoot down any US drone that enters its territory".
Twenty trucks torched in attack at Nato terminal in Quetta
By John Grant
Following a decade of military invasion and occupation in the Middle East and Southwest Asia, the United States is becoming the Rodney Dangerfield of empires: “We get no respect!”
The undisputed post-World War Two top dog in the world, on virtually every front the United States is more and more playing catch-up with two-faced, Clintonian shuttle diplomacy around the world and a well-entrenched regime of secrecy and sophisticated public relations aimed at keeping the dismal story of decline out of the domestic mind-space.