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The nation's top military officer warned Monday that the deaths of Afghan civilians caught up in U.S. combat operations could cripple President Barack Obama's revamped strategy for the seven-year-old war. "I believe that each time we do that, we put our strategy in jeopardy," Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said. "We cannot succeed ... in Afghanistan by killing Afghan civilians."
Mullen said additional forces and new tactics can help the United States turn a discouraging tide in Afghanistan. He said he was hopeful that "in the next 12- to 24 months, that we can stem the trends which have been going very badly in Afghanistan the last three years."
But speaking at the Brookings Institution, Mullen sounded frustrated that as the first of 21,000 U.S. reinforcements arrive, Taliban insurgents are having a seemingly easy time using America's military prowess against it.
The same unit keeps killing scores of civilians in Afghanistan. Do you smell some (heck of a job) promotions coming?
And here's Barack Obama, in Sderot, Israel in July, 2008
"If somebody was sending rockets into my house where my two daughters sleep at night, I'm going to do everything in my power to stop that."
How many people have the rockets from Gaza killed? Let's say ten. How many people were killed as Israel did everything in its power to stop that? At least 100 times as many. Thus, according to the rules as articulated by the current president, Afghans may now kill 14,000 Americans.
That may seem like a lot, but fair's fair.
Then read Sympathy Barf to discover that the real danger is not that we might be killing people, but that news of our killing people might "endanger the Obama Presidency."
Also, who the heck cares if the NY Times plagiarizes as long as it plagiarizes a good blogger pointing out that the torture was aimed at producing war lies?
The NY Times also published an op-ed calling for an end to drone strikes in Pakistan.
And in case you know anyone taking corporate media torture defenders seriously, they're all debunked at EmptyWheel. And most of them are happy to look like fools defending torture, or at least happier than they would be if the topic ever shifted to what the torture was for: aggressive war.
Some are following the direction serious justice is coming from: Spain.
“The Deltas are psychos…You have to be a certified psychopath to join the Delta Force…”, a US Army colonel from Fort Bragg once told me back in the 1980s. Now President Obama has elevated the most notorious of the psychopaths, General Stanley McChrystal, to head the US and NATO military command in Afghanistan.
McChrystal’s rise to leadership is marked by his central role in directing special operations teams engaged in extrajudicial assassinations, systematic torture, bombing of civilian communities and search and destroy missions. He is the very embodiment of the brutality and gore that accompanies military-driven empire building. Between September 2003 and August 2008, McChrystal directed the Pentagon’s Joint Special Operations (JSO) Command which operates special teams in overseas assassinations.
Under the pretext of responding to the September 11, 2001, attacks in America, the United States and Great Britain invaded Afghanistan on October 7, 2001. They dubbed this invasion Operation Enduring Freedom. President Bush 41 told the American people that the US strikes were,
"... designed to disrupt the use of Afghanistan as a terrorist base of operations, and to attack the military capability of the Taliban regime ... we will make it more difficult for the terror network to train new recruits and coordinate their evil plans. Initially, the terrorists may burrow deeper into caves and other entrenched hiding places ... At the same time, the oppressed people of Afghanistan will know the generosity of America and our allies. As we strike military targets, we will also drop food, medicine and supplies to the starving and suffering men and women and children of Afghanistan ..."
The US military's latest massacre of civilians in Afghanistan is reportedly the most recent of the repercussions of decisions made by former defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld.
On Saturday, Rumsfeld was exposed as the determined founder of the crack brigade which mowed down around 147 Afghan villagers last week reportedly straying far from the battlefield long after the insurgents they had engaged retreated.
The attacks in the Farah province, which killed more than 90 women and children, were launched by the US Marines' Special Operations Command (MarSOC) infamous for its trigger-happy military ways.
Engineering "Trust of the Indigenous Population": How Some Anthropologists Have Learned to Stop Worrying & Start Loving the Army
Engineering "Trust of the Indigenous Population": How Some Anthropologists Have Learned to Stop Worrying and Start Loving the Army
By Dahr Jamail | Truthout | Submitted by Michael Munk | www.MichaelMunk.com
Anthropologist Audrey Roberts works for Human Terrain System (HTS), a Pentagon program. Referring to the information produced by HTS scholars, she says, "If it's going to inform how targeting is done - whether that targeting is bad guys, development or governance - how our information is used is how it's going to be used. All I'm concerned about is pushing our information to as many soldiers as possible. The reality is there are people out there who are looking for bad guys to kill. I'd rather they did not operate in a vacuum."
In a recent article on this site I have described HTS as comprising American scholars, primarily in the field of anthropology, along with sociologists and social psychologists, embedding themselves with the US military in the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan. Their brief is to enable the military to make better decisions by helping it to understand the social mores and customs of the cultures it is occupying.
US House backs $96.7 bln bill for Iraq, Afghan wars | Reuters.com | Submitted by Michael Munk | www.MichaelMunk.com
The U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday approved a $96.7 billion measure to fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan through Sept. 30 as well as rush critical economic and security aid to Pakistan.
The biggest chunk is $47.7 billion to support military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan through Sept. 30. Obama had originally requested in total $84.3 billion.
It also includes $1 billion for Pakistan as it tries to fight militant Taliban insurgents spilling over the border from Pakistan. It also has $3.1 billion for eight Boeing Co (BA.N) C-17s and 11 Lockheed Martin (LMT.N) C-130 transport planes.
The Senate is working on its own version of the bill and differences, which will have to be resolved, including money for the International Monetary Fund and how to close the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, that houses terrorism suspects.
It was 368-60 -5 to pay almost $100B for the wars. Look up where your Rep stood (or sat) here.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org
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.