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When doctors started reporting that some of the victims of the US bombing of several villages in Farah Province last week—an attack that left between 117 and 147 civilians dead, most of them women and children—were turning up with deep, sharp burns on their body that “looked like” they’d been caused by white phosphorus, the US military was quick to deny responsibility.
US officials—who initially denied that the US had even bombed any civilians in Farah despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, including massive craters where houses had once stood—insisted that “no white phosphorus” was used in the attacks on several villages in Farah.
Official military policy on the use of white phosphorus is to only use the high-intensity, self-igniting material as a smoke screen during battles or to illuminate targets, not as a weapon against human beings—even enemy troops.
Now that policy, and the military’s blanket denial that phosphorus was used in Farah, have to be challenged
D.C. Area Residents Opposed to Af-Pak War Hold Sunday Rally | Press Release
On the heels of a Congressional vote for more war funds, passed at the behest of the White House, local peace and justice activists will hold a Sunday afternoon rally calling for an end to continual war and occupation of Afghanistan, and drone bombings of Pakistan.
Following a House of Representatives vote Thursday approving $96.7 billion in additional war funding, local activists organized an anti-war rally to be held Sunday, 1:30 PM in Lafayette Park. Among the speakers are Ray McGovern, a former senior CIA analyst; Medea Benjamin, co-founder of Code Pink Women for Peace and Global Exchange; and Erik Leaver a senior policy analyst with the Institute for Policy studies.
Stephanie Westbrook sent this in from her new congressman from Colorado:
Polis Statement on Vote Against 2009 Defense Supplemental
Washington, May 14 - Congressman Jared Polis (D-CO) issued the
following statement today on voting against H.R. 2346, the Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2009:
Congressman Jared Polis (D-CO) Statement on H.R. 2346, the
Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2009 Thursday, May 5, 2009
The Defense Supplemental funds a number of worthy and important
projects, including international humanitarian assistance for refugees and medical assistance for people suffering from HIV and AIDS. I applaud my colleagues, Chairman Obey in particular, for addressing these priorities.
Unfortunately, the positive aspects of this bill cannot hide its underlying
premise-funding a misguided war in Iraq and Afghanistan-a policy that I
believe must be changed.
By David Swanson
Imagine if Spain indicts Gonzales, Bybee, Haynes, Yoo, Addington, and Feith, but the United States fails to extradite them and in fact appears guilty of having harbored and possibly even employed them at good salaries. Then suppose -- use your imagination! -- that Spain invades and occupies the United States. Now, imagine that seven years later we still aren't happy with being occupied by Spain, and the people of Spain oppose their own government's crimes and follies. Wouldn't it be decent and appreciated if some crusading Spanish legislators were to propose a piece of legislation requiring that within the next seven months their nation produce a plan to eventually someday withdraw all of its troops from our country?
By Abdul Malik Mujahid
During the last thirty years of wars in Afghanistan, Afghan civilians have had one safe place to escape to: Pakistan.
They fled the Soviet invasion. They fled civil wars. They fled US bombing. Pakistan took care of millions of these Afghan refugees.
Now that safe haven with its lush green valleys is burning with bombs.
And the hosts, the people who themselves welcomed Afghan refugees, at times literally into their homes or into campsites on their farms, are on the run. They are streaming out of Swat, Dir, and Buner, and registering as refugees in Mardan and the fertile valleys of Pakistan. The UN says about two million Pakistanis have been displaced during the last year of drone attacks, bombing and fighting.
Pakistan is bombing its own land and its own people who are caught between the Taliban and the Americans.
Note That Pelosi did not even permit Congressman Jim McGovern to offer an amendment supported by 50 Congress members that would have required the president to eventually produce a plan to someday leave Afghanistan.
Roll call of vote is here. 51 Dems and 9 Repubs voted No.
ANDREW TAYLOR of the Associated Press writes:
WASHINGTON - The House has approved $97 billion for military and diplomatic efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan. The measure also would pay for anti-flu programs and for additional cargo planes the Pentagon doesn't want.
The 368-60 vote on Thursday reflects bipartisan support for troops in harm's way overseas. But there's growing skepticism among President Barack Obama's liberal allies in the Democratic Party over his decision to escalate Pentagon operations in Afghanistan amid worsening conditions there.
From Dennis Kucinich:
'Get Out of Iraq. Get Out Afghanistan. Come Home America.'
WASHINGTON - May 14 - Speaking on a Supplemental Appropriations bill that would continue to fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) today made the following statement:
VETERANS FOR PEACE
NATIONAL OFFICE: 216 S. Meramec Avenue, St. Louis, MO 63105
PHONE: (314) 725-6005 FAX: (314) 725-7103 E-MAIL: email@example.com
President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, D.C. 20500
May 12, 2009
Dear President Obama,
We write to you again, this time to say we are saddened to see that you now clearly believe in the tired, inhumane and unworkable assumption that violence will somehow work; that might makes right. But that is not the only thing we need to tell you.
We are not just saddened. We are angry. We are outraged by these actions, this practice of “death from above” you are ordering, causing the killing and wounding of hundreds of innocent people, as exemplified by the recent horrific attacks in Afghanistan.
By Dave Zirin, The Nation
When NFL player-turned-Army Ranger Pat Tillman died at the hands of US troops in a case of "friendly fire," the spin machine at the Pentagon went into overdrive. Rumsfeld and company couldn't have their most high-profile soldier dying in such an inelegant fashion, especially with the release of those pesky photos from Abu Ghraib hitting the airwaves. So an obscene lie was told to Tillman's family, his friends and the American public. The chicken-hawks in charge, whose only exposure to war was watching John Wayne movies, claimed that he died charging a hill and was cut down by the radical Islamic enemies of freedom. In the weeks preceding his death, Tillman was beginning to question what exactly he was fighting for, telling friends that he believed the war in Iraq was " [expletive] illegal." He may not have known what he was fighting for, but it's now clear what he died for: public relations. Today, after five years, six investigations and two Congressional hearings, questions still linger about how Tillman died and why it was covered up.
by Dave Lindorff
In reversing himself and declaring that the US government will not release further photos in its possession of torture being practiced on captives held by the US military and the CIA, President Obama is sounding increasingly like the Bush/Cheney administration before him.
It may well be that, as Obama says, release of those photos could lead to anger in the Islamic world and perhaps to recruitment gains among groups like Al Qaeda that are attacking American troops in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere, but this is only true because at the same time, the Obama administration is opposing taking any legal action against the people who authorized and promoted that torture.
Afghan official: 95 kids died in US-Taliban clash
By RAHIM FAIEZ, AP
KABUL (AP) — Ninety-five Afghan children are among the 140 people said to have died in a recent U.S.-Taliban battle in western Afghanistan, a lawmaker involved in the investigation into the deaths said Wednesday. The U.S. military disputed the claim saying the graves they saw looked too small to contain so many victims.
Afghans blame U.S. airstrikes for the deaths and destruction in two villages in Farah province. American officials say the Taliban kept villagers hostage during the fight, and a spokesman said payments to the bereaved offered incentive to exaggerate the death toll.
In the first hour of his administration President Barack Obama affirmed his dedication to the rule of law:
Our Founding Fathers, faced with perils that we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man -- a charter expanded by the blood of generations. Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience sake.”
In his first full day in office President Obama said: “Transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this administration."
The remarkable campaign and inspiring oratory of the first African-American to be elected to the planet’s most powerful public office sparked worldwide optimism and hope for new and creative approaches to serious national and international challenges.
Back in March, Pepe Escobar, that itchy, edgy global reporter for one of my favorite on-line publications, Asia Times, began laying out the great, ongoing energy struggle across Eurasia, or what he likes to call Pipelinestan for its web of oil and natural gas pipelines. In his first report, he dealt with the embattled energy corridor (and a key pipeline) that runs from the Caspian Sea to Europe through Georgia and Turkey -- and the Great Game of business, diplomacy, and proxy war between Russia and the U.S. that has gone with it.
By Raw Story
WASHINGTON – The parents of slain Army Ranger and NFL star Pat Tillman voiced concerns Tuesday that the general who played a role in mischaracterizing his death could be put in charge of military operations in Afghanistan.
In a brief interview with The Associated Press, Pat Tillman Sr. accused Lt. Gen. Stanley McChrystal of covering up the circumstances of the 2004 slaying.
"I do believe that guy participated in a falsified homicide investigation," Pat Tillman Sr. said.
Separately, Mary Tillman called it "imperative" that McChrystal's record be carefully considered before he is confirmed. The full story follows, and is also available here.
Tillman's parents want general's record reviewed
Parents of slain NFL star call for review of general named to lead war in Afghanistan
May 12, 2009 23:13 EST
Dear Progressive Caucus Member:
The undersigned organizations and concerned individuals have worked closely with the Progressive Caucus to prevent and to end the Iraq War. We appreciate your leadership on this issue and your continued efforts to ensure the removal of all U.S. troops from the country. We are also grateful for all that the Caucus, collectively and individually, has already done to speak out against the widening war in Afghanistan, which contradicts both our national security and our national values.
At this critical moment, your continued leadership to help reverse the downward spiral of the security situation in Afghanistan is urgently required. We urge you to oppose the expansion of the war in Afghanistan; require the Obama administration to present and implement an exit strategy; and to press for a greater investment in Afghan-led development efforts and regional diplomacy to stabilize the country.
Here's that pleasant news.
HT Kevin Zeese
And STILL people fantasize that Obama is secretly planning to prosecute all the torturers even if we sit back and fail to demand it.
KABUL - Afghan lawmakers on Monday demanded legal restrictions on foreign forces fighting in their country, to prevent further civilian deaths, then closed for half a day to protest the latest casualties from U.S. air strikes.
The attacks on homes packed with civilians, during a protracted battle last week, have damaged ties with Washington and stoked popular anger about the presence of western troops, over rising non-combatant deaths.
Debate about innocent casualties dominated the morning's session and the delegates said they had given the government one week to come up with a way of regulating foreign fighters.
"To prevent the bombardment and killing of our people, the Wolesi Jirga (lower house) has decided the government must come up with a plan, within one week, to regulate the foreign forces," said Wolesi Jirga secretary Abdul Sattar Khawaasi.
President Hamid Karzai has already called for an end to all air strikes. His request was rebuffed by the U.S. which said commanders could not fight "with one hand tied behind our back."
Early reports of a massive U.S. attack on civilians in western Afghanistan last week (5/5/09) hewed to a familiar corporate media formula, stressing official U.S. denials and framing the scores of dead civilians as a PR setback for the White House's war effort.
Scanning the headlines gave a sense of the media's view of the tragedy: "Civilian Deaths Imperil Support for Afghan War" (New York Times, 5/7/09), "Claim of Afghan Civilian Deaths Clouds U.S. Talks" (Wall Street Journal, 5/7/09), "Afghan Civilian Deaths Present U.S. With Strategic Problem" (Washington Post, 5/8/09).
This week Congress continues its formal consideration of the Administration's request for "supplemental" money for the wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan, with a decision expected Wednesday by the Rules Committee on what amendments will be allowed. Regardless of the outcome on the actual money - it's widely expected that the money will eventually go though - this is a key window for Congressional action. There's never a bad time for Members of Congress to try to exert more influence over foreign policy, but a particularly good time is when there is a request for funding pending - the Administration must perform concern about what Members of Congress think, there are opportunities for limiting amendments, and the media and public will be paying more attention to any debate. Likewise, there's never a bad time to call or write your Member of Congress expressing concern about U.S.
United States forces in Afghanistan are accused of illegally deploying white phosphorus against civilians following a firefight with Taliban militants, according to published reports.
White phosphorus is legal to use on a battlefield but illegal to deploy for any reason other than illumination. The chemical ignites on contact with the air. Human rights groups said using the substance in populated, civilian areas is a war crime, but the United States is not a signatory to any treaty which entirely bans its use.
By Dave Lindorff
We’re been here before, many times.
The US causes massive civilian deaths through its indiscriminate use of heavy air power, and then tries to claim it’s the enemy’s fault for “hiding” among the civilians and “using them as shields.”
In Vietnam, where the US was fighting against a local revolutionary movement that was seeking to overthrow the puppet regime backed by America, American planes routinely bombed and napalmed villages, claiming that the Viet Cong were hiding amongst the peasants. Women, old men and children would die in droves—several million of them by the time that war was over--and we’d be told it was all the fault of the Communists, who, we were told, had no regard for innocent life.
Civilians cowered in hospital beds and trapped residents struggled to feed their children Saturday, as Pakistani warplanes pounded a Taliban-held valley in what the prime minister called a "war of the country's survival."
Warplanes and troops killed dozens of entrenched militants Saturday in the assault on northwestern Swat Valley, the army said.
The offensive has prompted the flight of hundreds of thousands of terrified residents, adding a humanitarian emergency to the nuclear-armed nation's security, economic and political problems.
Pakistan's government is lifting a curfew in the Swat valley to allow residents to escape an intense battle between the army and Taleban militants.
The concept of the "Long War" is attributed to former CENTCOM Commander Gen. John Abizaid, speaking in 2004. Leading counterinsurgency theorist John Nagl, an Iraq combat veteran and now the head of the Center for a New American Security, writes that "there is a growing realization that the most likely conflicts of the next fifty years will be irregular warfare in an 'Arc of Instability' that encompasses much of the greater Middle East and parts of Africa and Central and South Asia." The Pentagon's official Quadrennial Defense Review (2005) commits the United States to a greater emphasis on fighting terrorism and insurgencies in this "arc of instability." The Center for American Progress repeats the formulation in arguing for a troop escalation and ten-year commitment in Afghanistan, saying that the "infrastructure of jihad" must be destroyed in "the center of an 'arc of instability' through South and Central Asia and the greater Middle East."
The implications of this doctrine are staggering. The very notion of a fifty-year war assumes the consent of the American people, who have yet to hear of the plan, for the next six national elections. The weight of a fifty-year burden will surprise and dismay many in the antiwar movement.
By Dave Lindorff
What a joke the Obama administration is becoming, as it keeps trying to prop up failing industry after failing industry.
First we had the president becoming First Car Salesman, offering federal guarantees for GM and Chrysler car warrantees so that potential car customers wouldn’t turn away from those two companies’ showrooms fearing that the manufacturers would go bust and leave them holding the bag. Then he started touting the cars themselves, saying they were “great products” and that people should go out and buy them.
CAMP LEATHERNECK, Afghanistan (AFP) — In the forbidding Afghan desert, US engineers are carving out a sprawling military camp as part of a dramatic American troop build-up designed to confront Taliban insurgents.
The desolate plain in southern Helmand province that Afghans call the "desert of death" has turned into a hive of frenetic activity, underscoring President Barack Obama's decision to expand the US military commitment to the war.
Defence Secretary Robert Gates flew into Camp Leatherneck on Thursday to get a first-hand look as dozens of bulldozers kicked up clouds of dust and soldiers swung hammers in searing heat.
Some of the newly arrived soldiers at the camp told Gates they were still waiting for radios and other equipment to arrive.
A front-page New York Times headline last week put the matter politely indeed: "In Pakistan, U.S. Courts Leader of Opposition." And nobody thought it was strange at all.
In fact, it's the sort of thing you can read just about any time when it comes to American policy in Pakistan or, for that matter, Afghanistan. It's just the norm on a planet on which it's assumed that American civilian and military leaders can issue pronunciamentos about what other countries must do; publicly demand various actions of ruling groups; opt for specific leaders, and then, when they disappoint, attempt to replace them; and use what was once called "foreign aid," now taxpayer dollars largely funneled through the Pentagon, to bribe those who are hard to convince.
Last week as well, in a prime-time news conference, President Obama said of Pakistan: "We want to respect their sovereignty, but we also recognize that we have huge strategic interests, huge national security interests in making sure that Pakistan is stable and that you don't end up having a nuclear-armed militant state."
To the extent that this statement was commented on, it was praised here for its restraint and good sense. Yet, thought about a moment, what the president actually said went something like this: When it comes to U.S. respect for Pakistan's sovereignty, this country has more important fish to fry. A look at the historical record indicates that Washington has, in fact, been frying those "fish" for at least the last four decades without particular regard for Pakistani sensibilities.
By Robert C. Koehler, Tribune Media Services
“The special forces guys — they hunt men, basically. We do the same things as Christians, we hunt people for Jesus. We do, we hunt them down. Get the hound of heaven after them, so we get them into the kingdom.”
It’s worse than you think.
Torture, religion, democracy, God. They’re all part of the mixed-up, horrific business that George Bush unleashed in the Middle East and Central Asia, and that Barack Obama is struggling to control and rationalize. As the words above demonstrate, the 12th century is striving mightily to join hands with the 20th in the U.S. military: Unbridled religious arrogance is forging a link with high-tech weaponry and an unlimited defense budget.