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House passes war-funding bill

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.

Vote No on the War Supplemental!

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 Asks Obama to Stop Waging War

VETERANS FOR PEACE
NATIONAL OFFICE: 216 S. Meramec Avenue, St. Louis, MO 63105
PHONE: (314) 725-6005 FAX: (314) 725-7103 E-MAIL: vfp@veteransforpeace.net

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.
 

Tillman Family is McChrystal-Clear

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.

On Torture and War, Obama Sounds Increasingly, and Disturbingly, Like Bush

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.

95 Dead Children - Ho Hum - Not As Sexy As 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.

Obama, Pakistan and the Rule of Law

Obama, Pakistan and the Rule of Law
By Peter Dyer | Consortium News

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.

Tomgram: Pepe Escobar, Pipelineistan Goes Af-Pak

Tomgram: Pepe Escobar, Pipelineistan Goes Af-Pak | Tom Dispatch.com

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.

Tillman's parents want general's record reviewed

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

LARA JAKES
AP News

May 12, 2009 23:13 EST

COALITION LETTER TO PROGRESSIVE CAUCUS: REGARDING THE 2009 SUPPLEMENTAL APPROPRIATIONS

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.

New Commander in Afghanistan Previously Led Unit That Tortured People to Death

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.

Afghan Parliament Wants Law to Curb Foreign Troops

By Sayed Salahuddin, Reuters

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.

[An Afghan girl injured during an air strike in Garni village in western Farah province, recovers in hospital, on May 9, 2009. The United Nations said Monday that whoever was behind "significant" civilian deaths in heavy fighting and US air strikes in Afghanistan last week must be held accountable.<br />
(AFP/Reza Shirmohammadi)]An Afghan girl injured during an air strike in Garni village in western Farah province, recovers in hospital, on May 9, 2009. The United Nations said Monday that whoever was behind "significant" civilian deaths in heavy fighting and US air strikes in Afghanistan last week must be held accountable. (AFP/Reza Shirmohammadi)

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."

The Bad PR of Dead Civilians: Afghan airstrikes and the corporate media

By FAIR

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).

AfPak: Congress Clears Its Throat

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.

US accused of illegal white phosphorus attack in Afghanistan

By Stephen C. Webster, Raw Story

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.

1, 2, 3 What Are We Fighting For? The War Crimes Song-and-Dance Routine

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.

Desperation In Pakistani Hospitals, Refugee Camps

Desperation in Pakistani hospitals, refugee camps
By AP | Yahoo! News

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 Urging Residents To Flee

Pakistan urging residents to flee | BBC

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.

Understanding the Long War

Understanding the Long War
By Tom Hayden | The Nation

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.

The Obama Administration is Becoming a Stand-Up Comedy Act

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.

A giant US military base emerges in Afghanistan

By AFP

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.

Secretary Doomsday and the Empathy Gap: The Everyday Extremism of Washington

Secretary Doomsday and the Empathy Gap: The Everyday Extremism of Washington | TomDispatch.com
By Tom Engelhardt

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.

THE HOUNDS OF HEAVEN

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.

Kucinich on Bombing in Afghanistan: “Heavy Military Hand Tragic”

Washington D.C. (May 6, 2009) – Speaking on the U.S. bombing that resulted in the death of possibly 100 individuals in the Farah Province of Afghanistan, Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) today made the following statement:

“While the details of the events in the Farah Province remain unclear, what is known is that noncombatants were killed as a result of the continued fighting that occurs daily in Afghanistan. As we learn more about the bombing, we must take steps to ensure that mistakes of this magnitude are never repeated. Further, we must clarify our mission in Afghanistan. While we cannot ignore issues of national security nor the moral imperative to help the Afghani people, our ultimate mission must be withdrawal. The people of Afghanistan have historically taken poorly to imposed nation building, and events such as this bombing prove once again that a misguided military hand is not only counterproductive but tragic.”

Afghan officials say dozens dead in airstrikes

By RAHIM FAIEZ and JASON STRAZIUSO, Associated Press

KABUL – Bombing runs by U.S.-led coalition jets killed dozens of civilians taking shelter from a fierce ground battle between Taliban militants and Afghan and international forces, two Afghan officials said Tuesday. The U.S. confirmed fighting Monday in western Afghanistan and said reports of civilian deaths were under investigation.

One Afghan official said angry and mournful villagers transported an estimated 30 bodies to a provincial capital to show officials. Other officials estimated the civilian toll to be between 70 and 100.

Civilian deaths have caused increasing friction between the Afghan government and the U.S., and President Hamid Karzai has long pleaded with U.S. officials to reduce the number of civilian casualties in their operations. Karzai meets with President Barack Obama in Washington on Wednesday.

US Troops Urged To Share Faith in Afghanistan

US Troops Urged To Share Faith in Afghanistan | Submitted by Michael Munk | www.MichaelMunk.com

US army 'does not promote religion'

The US's highest ranking military officer has said it is not the US military's position to promote any specific religion, after Al Jazeera revealed footage of troops apparently preparing to convert Afghans to their Christian faith.

First Victim on Road to Abu Ghraib: Rumsfeld Was Behind Torture of John Walker Lindh

By Dave Lindorff

Should Congress or the US Department of Justice—or perhaps Spanish Investigating Magistrate Baltasar Garzón—ever decide to seriously prosecute those in the US who are responsible for the Bush/Cheney administration’s policy of torturing captives in the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars and the so-called “War” on Terror, they should go back and examine the case of imprisoned American John Walker Lindh, the young man who was captured with Taliban fighters back in the early days of the US invasion of Afghanistan in 2001.

Fighting A High-Tech War With A Low-Tech Mule

Fighting a high-tech war with a low-tech mule
US Marines and soldiers are training to fight in Afghanistan, where mules and donkeys can haul supplies and weapons to places where Humvees and helicopters can't easily go.
By Gordon Lubold | CSM

Tucked at the base of a small mountain in the eastern Sierras is a makeshift paddock where a handful of US Marine Corps instructors reach deep into the history of warfare to give their charges a critical skill when they deploy to Afghanistan: how to pack a mule.

It is a peculiar course to teach in a military that is widely considered the best-trained, most capable, and highest-tech in the world.

But as the US girds to deploy more than 21,000 additional troops to Afghanistan this spring and summer, the military is having to prepare for a decidedly different kind of fight from the one in Iraq.

'Witness for Jesus' in Afghanistan

US soldiers have been encouraged to spread the message of their Christian faith among Afghanistan's predominantly Muslim population, video footage obtained by Al Jazeera appears to show.

Perhaps the goal is to make the Muslims Christian enough to support torture?

Speaking Events

2016

War Is A Lie: Second Edition
Book Tour

May 28, San Francisco, CA
11 a.m. to 1 p.m., David Swanson interviewed by Daniel Ellsberg, at San Francisco Main Public Library, 100 Larkin Street.
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May 28, Marin County, CA
4 to 6 p.m., David Swanson in conversation with Norman Solomon, at Book Passage, 51 Tamal Vista Blvd., Corte Madera, CA
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May 29, Oakland, CA
3 to 4 p.m., David Swanson interviewed by Cindy Sheehan, at Diesel: A Bookstore, 5433 College Avenue at Kales (near Manila), Oakland, CA
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May 29, Berkeley, CA
7:30 to 9 p.m., David Swanson and Cindy Sheehan at Berkeley Fellowship of Unitarian Universalists, sponsored by the Social Justice Committee and Cynthia Papermaster, 1606 Bonita Ave. (at Cedar), Berkeley, CA
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May 30, Fresno, CA
2 to 4 p.m., David Swanson and Cindy Sheehan at a Peace Fresno event
Community United Church of Christ
5550 N. Fresno Street
Fresno, CA 93710
Contact Dan Yaseen 559-251-3361, danyaseen@comcast.net
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June 11 St. Paul, MN, 6 p.m. at Macalester Plymouth Church Social Hall 1658 Lincoln, St. Paul, MN.
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June 12 Minneapolis, MN, 9 and 11 a.m. at St. Joan's 4533 3rd Ave So, Minneapolis, MN, plus peace pole dedication at 2 p.m.
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June 24 Roanoke, Va.
7:30 pm @ Unitarian Universalist Church of Roanoke (2015 Grandin Rd SW, Roanoke, VA 24015). Contact: plowshare@plowshareva.org
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