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General restricts war-zone photography

Side NoteThe US Military wants to crack down on PICTURES (aka “Happy Snaps”) of US Soldiers committing war crimes and other acts of degradation from leaving Afghanistan…

Murder, rape and general destruction will carry on as usual by the degenerates we call “US soldiers” however. 
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By:  Dan Lamothe  

CAMP LEATHERNECK, Afghanistan — Marine commanders in Afghanistan have cracked down on war-zone photography in the wake of two international scandals this year in which U.S. troops were depicted posing with dead Taliban fighters.

Rank-and-file personnel assigned to Regional Command Southwest, headquartered here in Helmand province, have been ordered to take photographs only for official purposes while outside the wire, said Maj. Gen. Charles Gurganus, head of I Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward). Recreational souvenir photographs — “happy snaps,” as Gurganus called them — should only be taken on bases in-between missions, he said.

“If it’s not an official purpose, and they’re outside the wire, then they shouldn’t have their camera out,” Gurganus said in an interview this month with Marine Corps Times. “This isn’t rocket science.”

RC-Southwest comprises Helmand and Nimroz provinces. There are about 36,000 coalition forces from 11 countries there, including 15,800 Marines. An additional 9,000 U.S. soldiers, sailors and airmen also serve under Gurganus’ command.

The general’s instructions reinforce that taking ill-advised photographs can undermine the war effort, Marine officials said. Separate scandals erupted earlier this year after a video surfaced online showing Marines appearing to urinate on dead Taliban fighters and photographs were published by the Los Angeles Times showing U.S. soldiers posing with dead insurgents.

The U.S. military has long prohibited the photographing or filming of detainees or human casualties. U.S. Central Command General Order 1B outlines ethical requirements for deployed service members. Commanders in Helmand have taken it a step further to underscore the need to make smart choices, Gurganus said.

“It’s not the camera,” the general said. “It’s the person behind the camera. You know, ‘I have a dead Taliban over here. Man, wouldn’t that be cool to have a picture to show my friends, but I’m going to be smart enough not to take that picture.’ That’s what I’m after.”

WHAT IT MEANS

U.S. troops carry digital point-and-shoot cameras on most patrols, using them to collect evidence and intelligence that can be turned over to their commands later. That is still required, but the crackdown has resulted in Marines taking fewer keepsake photographs and video to share with friends and family members, several infantrymen told embedded Marine Corps Times journalists in April.

Lt. Col. David Bradney, commander of 1st Battalion, 7th Marines, out of Twentynine Palms, Calif., said the primary reason for the new restrictions is to maintain operational security. In particular, there’s no reason rank-and-file troops should be outside the wire with unauthorized helmet-mounted cameras, he said. The practice has become common, leading to dozens of web videos depicting combat footage.

“It is amazing what ends up on YouTube and flying through email and onto the Internet,” said Bradney, whose unit deployed to volatile Sangin district this spring.

CENTCOM’s general order is clear about what should not be photographed or filmed, said Lt. Col. Stewart Upton, a spokesman for Gurganus. However, the general also “has provided his commander’s intent that he expects leaders to hold themselves and their Marines to the highest of standards,” Upton said.

“Undisciplined conduct, especially here, threatens to overshadow all our good work and sacrifice, as well as have an impact on the overall mission,” Upton said.

Army Maj. Paul Haverstick, spokesman for the 1st Infantry Division in RC-East, and Army Lt. Col. Dave Connolly, spokesman for the 82nd Airborne Division in RC-South, said their guidance for troops on photography is outlined in their unit’s General Order No. 1.

Though the orders differ slightly — it’s explicitly forbidden to photograph NATO aircraft at Bagram, for instance — both ban the videotaping and photographing of improvised explosive devices and the damage caused by them, casualties, detainees and anything else deemed to compromise OPSEC.

Like the CENTCOM order, neither Army order explicitly restricts recreational photos taken outside the wire.

There also is no directive from Marine Gen. John Allen, the top commander in Afghanistan, that specifically bans cameras, said Army Lt. Col. Jimmie Cummings, a spokesman for the International Security Assistance Force in Kabul. However, individual commanders are authorized to establish additional policies that are more restrictive, he said.

Filed under News War War crimes cover up Soldiers Afghanistan

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Waking Up to the Drones

By Kelley B. Vlahos

Look at these photographs. See the eager faces among the children at the school — they could be anyone’s kids at any moment in America. And the baby, so precious and new, reflecting the light of his proud parents, the hope of everyone around him.

Now imagine that the school is attacked by Predator drones launching Hellfire missiles directly into the classrooms. The children are ripped to shreds where they sit on the carpet. Imagine that a similar flying machine, directed by an agent thousands of miles away in a windowless room, has targeted militants on the ground, but shrapnel from the blast slices through the walls of a nearby house, cutting into the crib where the sleeping baby lies unknowing, now eternal.

The very thought would tear the American mind asunder — on normal days, we worry almost neurotically whether our children are exposed to too many germs, eat too much junk food, are doing all the right things to get into college. We hand-wring over the clothes they wear, the video games they play, whether they are friendless and bullied, or sufficiently popular with their peers.

Pondering what attire to place on their little mutilated bodies before lowering them into the grave would be too much to bear. If this actually happened, there would be a conflagration of outrage in U.S cities and towns fearsome enough to build a funeral pyre to the sky.

Yet Pakistani and Yemeni adults face this merciless task all of the time from drone attacks they can neither control nor protest. According to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, there have been upwards of 350 U.S. military and CIA drone strikes on Yemen and Pakistan since 2004, with the majority in Yemen (20 to 36) occurring in the last two months. As if their children were less valuable than our own, most Americans either ignore or remain passive-aggressively ignorant of the civilian carnage associated with these so-called “targeted strikes.”

Sadly, this has translated into broad public support of what has become the third post-9/11 American War following Iraq and Afghanistan — the Drone War. As coldly as the remote control technology behind these killing machines, Americans appear perfectly accepting of the most self-centered and weakest justifications: drones are making us safer at home, or, it is their fault for allowing the militants to hide among civilians.

Drones make for a cleaner, more precise war against the enemy.

A sizable group of human rights activists, law scholars and antiwar campaigners came together last weekend in Washington to not only turn that thinking completely on its head, but to formulate a strategy to stop the use of drones in warfare altogether. It is a herculean task, but aided in the fact that these groups already are engaged in a number of simultaneous lawsuits, Freedom of Information (FOIA) requests and field investigations with the goal of first bringing the brutal truth — perhaps their best weapon — to public light.

Syed Wali Shah, killed in an October 2008 airstrike in Waziristan

“The stories are really important to be told here, first of all, we have to see exactly what is going on the ground and what is happening to these people,” said Shahzad Akbar, who was finally able to obtain a travel visa to the U.S after repeatedly running into the brick wall of the “homeland security structure,” ostensibly because he is helping drone victims from Waziristan in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) — the epicenter of the U.S strikes in Pakistan — file lawsuits against the CIA in Islamabad courts.

Akbar was a special guest of the weekend’s Drone Summit: Killing and Spying by Remote Control, which was probably the first event of its kind and hopefully, not the last. It was sponsored by CODEPINK (led by Medea Benjamin, author of the new book, Drone Warfare), the Foundation for Fundamental Rights (represented by Akbar) and U.K.-based Reprieve (led by founder Clive Stafford Smith, an American lawyer who represents Guantanamo Bay detainees)

Akbar and others, like journalist Madiha Tahir, who is working on a documentary about the Waziristan victims, were able to bring disturbing photo images, video and personal testimony to the forum, more than a few times shocking the audience with the brutality of the injuries and the horror of knowing that many of these victims, so many of them children, never knew what hit them, the strikes came so fast.

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Filed under News Commentary Drones Antiwar CIA US Military FBI Killing Afghanistan Iraq

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The killing of U.S. troops by their ostensible allies in the Afghan military now make up 20 percent of all the U.S. combat deaths this year. Somehow, though, we never hear that the Afghan soldier who turns his gun on a U.S. soldier has “snapped” – that maybe he has post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), that maybe he was so enraged because he saw his baby daughter killed in a drone strike the night before and he lost control. No, we only hear that “the Taliban must have infiltrated” the Afghan army or police. PTSD is apparently only for trained soldiers on our side. Except that in a 2009 UN-backed survey, the Afghan government’s own Ministry of Health estimated that 66 percent – a full two-thirds – of the Afghan population, suffers from a variety of mental illnesses, most of them stress-related and including PTSD.

Phyllis Bennis

those 2/3 of Afghans – something like 20 million people – face PTSD or other mental disorders with only FORTY-TWO psychiatrists and psychologists in the entire country.

(via theamericanbear)

Oh, but you’re forgetting, naive people. American lives are a lot more important than any other life on Earth. Afghan, Pakistani, Yemeni, Iraqi lives? Pfft, whatever.

(via mehreenkasana)

(via mehreenkasana)

Filed under News Commentary War War crimes Afghanistan Iraq Pakistan Yemen Libya

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US Military Course Considering “US at War with Islam” Receives Objection

Source 

 The Pentagon stated on Wednesday that the top U.S. military officer has ordered a review of training material after a course for officers was found to consider that the United States is at war with Islam, Reuters reported.

According to the agency, “Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey sent a letter on Tuesday to leaders of the Army and other services, along with regional commanders and officials heading the National Guard, ordering a review of relevant training and education material across the military.”

Dempsy said that “this review will ensure our professional education programs exhibit the cultural sensitivity, respect for religion and intellectual balance that we should expect in our academic institutions.”

The review was prompted by a soldier who sent a complaint after having completed an elective course entitled “Perspectives on Islam and Islamite Radicalism” at the Joint Forces Staff College in Norfolk, Virginia.

The course included an assertion “that the United States is at war with Islam and we ought to just recognize that we are war with Islam,” Pentagon spokesman, Captain John Kirby was quoted as saying.

Kirby added before reporters that “that’s not at all what we believe to be the case. We’re at war against terrorism, specifically Al-Qaeda, who has a warped view of the Islamic faith.”

Reuters quoted him as saying that “US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta also felt deep concern over the discovery, which follows a string of incidents that, more than 10 years after the Afghan war began, have exposed a persisting gap between people in the conservative Muslim nation and the Western soldiers fighting Islamist militants there.”

Filed under News US Military Pentagon Islam War War Crimes Imperialism Afghanistan Pakistan Iraq Iran Muslim

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Was this 16-year-old, killed by a US drone, really a terrorist?

by Pratap Chatterjee

Tariqhighlight - Pratap Chatterjee

Tariq Aziz (ringed) was killed three days after this meeting.

He walked quietly between his two friends as he entered the conference hall in one of the best hotels in an exclusive enclave of Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan. The carpeted room filled with chairs draped in white as if for a wedding, usually hosted business conferences. But this event was different. The smart suited-business men and laptops had been usurped by rough-hewn boys and traditionally-dressed older men from the tribal mountains a few arduous hours from the capital.

A row of elders greeted the attendees, lightly shaking hands as they gently touched their own chests in a traditional gesture. Deep-cut lines in their sun-hardened skin marked their years, full beards and elaborate head gear denoted their social standing. There was little chat as the three teenage boys filed to their seats. The men gathered had come to discuss death and destruction – the destruction of their homes and villages, the deaths of their children and friends.

Like many in the room, Tariq Aziz had travelled for eight hours by public bus to join the group. Despite his black kameez, flat-topped cap and the start of a neat beard, Aziz was clearly much younger than many of the other men gathered.

Seated just two rows directly in front was Jemima Khan, the British heiress, also dressed in a black traditional outfit edged with antique red and yellow embroidery, her thick, flowing hair left uncovered while in the hall. She tried hard not to attract attention, but her presence was so much at odds with those around her that it was difficult not to watch her reactions, not least because her former husband and now politician Imran Khan was also at the meeting.

Events a few hundred miles away, in the mountains of the north had brought this odd group together. Waziristan is an inaccessible, remote region on the border of Afghanistan. Few people other than the locals ever travel into the rugged interior. Frequent checkpoints keep journalists and foreigners out. The ubiquitous mobile phones have stopped working since the mobile network was switched off. There is no major industry and little farm-land. Most supplies are driven in by colourfully painted Bedford or Hino trucks, one of the few jobs available. People live as they have for centuries, following old traditions and tribal codes.

More than fifteen years ago, in 1996, Jemima Khan had travelled to the area, with her then husband Imran, and her father, Sir James Goldsmith, the billionaire financier. The tribesmen had regaled the visitors with stories of their fierceness. ‘One of the tribal elders came up to my father and said welcome to Waziristan. I just want to let you know that the last Englishman that came to these parts was 100 years ago, and our great grandfathers shot him,’ she recalled with a laugh. The men were warriors, violence was common, and Kalashnikov rifles carried openly, as they still are today.

But it was not the tribal fighting that concerned the men who had gathered in the Islamabad hotel. Life in Waziristan was being threatened by a far more fiercesome weapon than the automatic rifle. Unmanned planes, remotely-controlled from the Nevada desert thousands of miles away, have become an almost everyday sight in the skies above the arid lands of the north. It was the frequent attacks by these planes, or drones, operated by America, supposedly an ally, that were the focus of the gathering.

The drones had started flying, infrequently at first, over the northern mountains almost eight years ago. Initially they had hovered in the skies streaming video back to the operators – agents working for the US Central Intelligence Agency. They were gathering information about al Qaeda members allegedly hiding in the cut-off lands.

But now these unmanned planes have become an almost constant, and deadly presence.  Their deep, low dirge a terrifying symphony accompanying the villagers’ daily lives. They fly in packs, sometimes as many as a half dozen, circling the villages for hours, hovering over roads, before firing Hellfire missiles. As many as 3,000 people have been killed, though little more than a few lines ever gets reported in the Western press. This is a war fought largely out of sight of the global media, away from the connected world.

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Filed under News Feature Drones Killing Teenager Pakistan Afghanistan

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Experts Agree: War On Terror Is A Racket, CIA And Wall Street Are Funded By Global Drug Trade

 Photo of American Troops Keeping America Safe From The Poppy Fields of Afghanistan.


The Obama administration has declared that the “War on Terror” is officially over, but this move only signifies a change in public terminology, not official U.S. policy.

Many of the war on terror’s secret objectives will be pursued regardless of the new public language that will be deployed by U.S. officials to sell the idea of perpetual warfare to the American people and the rest of the world.

One of the main objectives of the falsely advertised “War on Terror,” was to allow U.S. government agencies and international banks to reap the profits from the global drug trade while appearing noble and lawful. Despite the brand change, the war on terror will still be waged in order to preserve the global drug economy. The continuation of covert CIA and military operations in the heroin fields of Afghanistan is a certainty. 

As many experts on reality have noted, a sharp rise in heroin cultivation in Afghanistan occurred when America and NATO invaded the country illegally in 2001. U.S. officials, intelligence officers, and soldiers have been trafficking drugs out of Afghanistan under the radar for the last decade. Journalist Patrick Henningsenreported earlier this month that both the Army and the DEA are trafficking drugs into the United States.

The global trafficking of drugs by the U.S. government is not done to keep the government budget afloat and finance the banks. It is pure corruption. As Catherine Austin Fitts wrote in 2001, “New technology blesses us with the potential tools we can use to radically increase productivity in a way that can “jump the curve” on our narco dollar addiction.” 

In the past decade, the National Security State’s crimes such as drug trafficking and arms dealing were committed under the cover of War on Terror, but this label is being dropped in favour of more sophisticated and nuanced language.

The Obama administration is trying to maintain the corrupt status quo by adopting a new vocabulary to cover-up the criminal activities and policies of the U.S. security state and Wall Street/Federal Reserve Banksters.

So, contrary to the claims of the Obama propaganda machine, the evil transnational and secret financial-intelligence-political-security-media Empire has been strengthened and stimulated anew under the Obama administration.

In the run-up to the 2012 presidential election, the Obama administration is trying all kinds of tricks to regain popular credibility which it had lost because of its defense of the Wall Street bandits and Bush-era torturers. Whether provoking a race war, falsely declaring the end of U.S. wars abroad, or exploiting the grievances of the poor, the aim is the same: re-elect the puppet Obama. 

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Filed under News CIA Drugs Afghanistan Heroin NATO War War Crimes NSA United States Commentary Wall Street Israel

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Sitting Duck? USS Enterprise, in the Persian Gulf of Tonkin

Side Note: Watch this video that already postulates what LaForge is saying.
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by 
John LaForge

The aircraft carrier Enterprise has moved into the Persian Gulf, although it’s an antique, slow-moving target and a potential lightening rod for war on Iran. As a retired Navy man told me last month, “A couple of torpedoes would stagger the thing, and then you’ve got the Alamo, the Maine, the Lusitania, Pearl Harbor, the Gulf of Tonkin and 9/11 all over again,” he said, “with Iran in the crosshairs.”

Enterprise needlessly joins the strike group of the 100,000-ton carrier Lincoln with its crew of 3,200 already in the Gulf. TV-Novosti reported April 10 that in March President Obama sent his second amphibious assault group to the Gulf. Those gun boats include a nuclear submarine, a Marine helicopter squadron and more than 2,000 Marines.

At 51, Enterprise is the oldest ship in the Navy, having seen action since the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis. From the bombing of Laos in 1973 and the 1986 bombing of Libya, to the 800,000 pounds of munitions it fired into Afghanistan in 2001, Enterprise has helped maintain a string of atrocity producing situations that has no end in sight.

Set for retirement and decommissioning this fall, Enterprise’s Gulf deployment is its last. But it has no purpose whatsoever as a war machine when 11 newer and more sophisticated carriers are available. Indeed Enterprise is a hugely expensive liability, a deadly heap of hazardous scrap. Its fiercely radioactive reactors and waste fuel require dangerous and costly removal and long-term isolation from the ecosphere as nuclear waste material.

So Enterprise, the first ever nuclear-powered carrier,parades through the Gulf with lots of gunpowder. Its “strike group 12” consists of:  Carrier Air Wing 1; the guided-missile cruiser Vicksburg;and Destroyer Squadron 2, comprising guided-missile destroyers NitzePorter and James E. WilliamsEnterprise is 1,123 feet long, weighs 94,000 tons, has 8 propulsion reactors, four 35-ton rudders, two gyms, a crew of at least 3,100, a television station and—no doubt demonstrating a free press— a daily paper.

The government knows its loss at sea would be cheaper than retirement, and if it can scare the country into yet another shooting war, our munitions makers and weapons merchants continue swimming in billions of tax dollars defending freedom and peace. In January, when Sec. of Defense Leon Panetta first said he would send Enterprise to the Gulf “to send a direct message to Iran,” the price of gas shot up and stayed up. You’d almost think the oil giants like war. The privatized DoD contractor corporations certainly do.

To get public opinion and NATO behind war on Iran, the war party needs to both sideline our Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan Syndromes and to flabbergast Russia, China and India. How better than to make it look as if Iran started it? Deployment of the Enterprise is hair-raising in the context of previous “false flag” provocations in the region. Like the Lavon Affair before it, Israel actually attacked the U.S. spy ship Liberty June 8, 1967 — using unmarked jet fighters and torpedoes — initially blaming Egypt in an attempt to draw Washington into the war. Israel later claimed it attacked what it thought was an Egyptian ship, yet no one was charged or disciplined. Ward Boston, the U.S. Navy Senior Counsel for the Court of Inquiry, says in a 2002 affidavit, “Both [lead investigator] Admiral [Isaac] Kidd and I believed with certainty that this attack, which killed 34 sailors and injured 172, was a deliberate effort to sink an American ship and murder its entire crew.”

Today the Enterprise has nothing to do but act like the greasiest sitting duck in history. No one should believe that Iran is dumb enough to take the bait.

Filed under News Commentary Israel Iran US Military USA False Flag USS Enterprise Persian Gulf NATO Afghanistan

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How Dare Russia

By: David Swanson

“Self-purification through suffering is easier, I tell you: easier — than that destiny which you are paving for many of them by wholesale acquittals in court.  You are merely planting cynicism in their souls.” –Fyodor Dostoyevsky

The United States Congress is outraged.  Russia, it seems, may have wrongly imprisoned, tortured, and murdered a whistleblower.  In the land of the free, our good representatives are outraged, I tell you.  And not just I.  NPR will tell you.  This calls for action.  There’s a bill in the Senate and a bill in theHouse.  The Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act.

Who wouldn’t support the rule of law and accountability?

Well, let me think.

Oh, I know. The United States Congress.

Bush and Cheney are selling books confessing to the crime of war and all that comes with it, including lawless imprisonment and torture.  They have openly confessed in their books and on television, repeatedly, to a form of torture that the current Attorney General of the United States admits is torture.  Bush’s torture program tortured numerous people to death.  And what has Congress wrought?

No impeachments.

No enforcement of subpoenas.

No defunding of operations.

No criminalizing of secrecy.

No protection of whistleblowers.

No mandating of diplomacy, reparations, foreign aid, or commitments to international standards.

In other words, we have no Congress with the right to talk about the Rule of Law or Accountability without being mocked.

But keep hope alive.

Change is on the way.

Look!

Up in the sky!

It’s Captain Peace Prize!

Obama launches wars without bothering to lie to Congress or the United Nations, has formalized the powers of lawless imprisonment, rendition, and murder, and places the protection of Bush and Cheney above almost anything else — certainly above the rule of law or accountability.

Obama has badgered Spain, Italy, Germany, and the U.K. to leave the Bush gang in peace, publicly instructed the U.S. Department of Justice not to prosecute, and expanded claims of “State Secrets” beyond anything previously imagined in order to shut down legal accountability.  Italy has convicted CIA agents in absentia, and Obama has not shipped them over to do their time.  Poland is prosecuting its bit players in U.S. crimes.  Former top British official Jack Straw is being hauled into court for his tangential role.  But Obama has chosen a path to success in Washington, or thinks he has, and that path is immunity for anyone with power.

The trouble is that Obama now wants to apply that same standard to Russia, and Congress won’t stand for it.  Obama is opposed to the Hold Russia Accountable Act because he prefers to kiss up to the government of Russia.  It’s a policy that has worked beautifully for him at home.  Why not apply it abroad?

Of course, the United States has no moral standing to speak against imprisonment, torture, or murder.  The United States imprisons more of its people than any other country, keeps hundreds of thousands of them in supermaxes or long-term isolation, tolerates prison rape and violence, openly treats torture as a policy option, facilitates torture in what may be the two countries torturing the greatest number of people today: Iraq and Afghanistan, and kills with capital punishment, special forces, and drones.

The United States has no moral standing to speak against the punishment of whistleblowers, Obama having prosecuted seven of them under the Espionage Act of 1917, fittingly enough for the offense of having made U.S. war-making look bad by revealing facts about it.

But the answer cannot be to support Russian crimes just because there are U.S. crimes.  Congress, revolting as it is to say, is right: the Russian government should be held to a decent rule of law.  And it should be held to it through the language that speaks louder than words: action.  U.S. immunity for torturers is one of the greatest factors in the current spread of acceptability for torture around the world.

Congress should impeach Bush and Obama, enforce its subpoenas, ship convicted CIA criminals to Italy, strengthen the War Powers Act, criminalize war profiteering, ban private mercenaries, ban unconstitutional detentions, ban secret budgets and laws and agencies, ban rendition, and ratify and enforce the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and other Cruel Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.  Congress should also cease encircling Russia with missiles, and end its wars in Afghanistan, Pakistan, etc.

Or, short of moving in a useful direction, sad to say, the best thing the United States Congress could do for the rule of law in Russia at the moment would be to shut the hell up.

Filed under Commentary Torture US Government Russia CIA US Military hypocrisy Italy Afghanistan Pakistan

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Terrorism in guise of night raids

Taliban [Side Note: Yes, that Taliban; their views are far more important than the lies being spewed by the US empire.]

 The invading forces top commander, John Allen and stooge administration’s Defense Minister, Abdu-ur-Rahim Wardag in Afghanistan signed a deal Sunday, Apr. 08, 2012 supposedly giving the Afghan puppet forces authority over night raids on homes of Afghan civilians.

The head of the puppet administration, Karzai regarded this move as a great step towards the national sovereignty.

A day after this on Monday, Pentagon spokesman Capt. John Kirby told reporters, “In practical terms, not much has changed.” He pointed out that U.S. forces may only obtain an official warrant from an Afghan panel, and that the President Karzai will not hold “a veto” over U.S. night raids carried out in Afghanistan.

“This is not about [giving Afghan officials] a veto at all,” he said.

 Because Afghan law allows warrants to be issued retroactively, that is, the raids could take place before a warrant is obtained, he said

He explicitly said that although the warrants are required for the night raids in accordance with the deal but warrants can be obtained after rather than before the raids.

Lisa Curtis, a South Asia specialist at the Heritage Foundation believes that the US will retain control over night raids conducted by the CIA or associated paramilitary groups.

All the US national security analysts view the agreement as largely symbolic and which will ensure and justify the US permanent military presence after the withdrawal in 2014, however, the night raid operations will continue to happen as they used to do.

The puppet forces will apparently take initiating in the night raids but, in practice,  they will act on the order of the US invading commanders and allow the warrants of what the US invaders want them to be issued.  Afghan judicial officials will not be authorized to prevent the capture of civilians and that the instruction and permission of the US commanders will be sought before every night raid and release of a detainee captured in nigh raids.

In such circumstances, as they put it (quick reaction times) the US will hold the veto-power, that is, the US forces will have authority over the capture or release of the detainees.

Giving that, what may “the Afghans authority over night raids “signify? Will this “pact “not imply throwing dust into the eyes of Afghans and the world?

The “agreement” follows the martyrdom of the renowned sharia scholar, Ustad Qayam-ud-Din and the capture of his family members in Frayab district, Afghanistan suggesting that the existence of such “deal” has not changed the US strategy and attitudes in Afghanistan.

As a matter of fact, “night raid operation” is a form of state terrorism or terrorism, one of the most malicious of its kind the invading forces use for mass harassment, torture and massacre Afghan nation and disrespect of Afghan national culture which contradicts and violates Geneva and United Nations Conventions and all human rights.

According the western media account and statistics, the invading forces conducted 2200 night raids, involving the mass murder of thousands of innocent and defenseless civilians including children, women, and the aged within their compounds before very eyes of their family members, not to mention those held as captives who have disappeared as if vanished in the thin air.

Some western writers have taken the lid off few of  the invading forces shocking war crimes in a series most appalling and malicious ones committed by the invaders across Afghanistan. In one of the articles Jerome Starkey is quoted as saying that there was the heart-breaking incident in an outskirt of Gardez city in Paktia province of Afghanistan in which US forces conducted a night raid and brutally murdered two pregnant woman and a teenage girl and the US forces later claimed that it was done by Taliban, in attempt that the invaders would pin their crime on Mujahideen of Islamic Emirate.                       

 

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Filed under News Afghanistan Terrorism Pentagon Taliban Britain NATO US Military

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The cost and consequences of exposing the drone wars

SOURCE

As secret and unaccountable US and British drone strikes continue in remote corners of the globe, closer to home (but firmly behind closed doors), the drone industry continues to research and develop a drone-filled future.

Over the past couple of weeks, protesters in the UK and the US have gathered to turn the spotlight on the increasingly secret use and development of armed drones. In Bristol, at the beginning of April, the great and good of the drone industry came together at the Annual International UAV Conference to be met with a good-natured, noisy protest.  Meanwhile, across the Atlantic at the Creech Air Force base, members of the faith-based group Nevada Desert Experience delivered an ‘Indictment for the Violation of Human Rights’ to the commander of the base.  At each demonstration protesters were arrested and jailed.

But it’s not just protesting against the drone wars, that can bring serious trouble.  Pakistani human rights lawyer Shahzad Akbar, who represent victims of US drone strikes in Pakistan is being denied a travel visa  to enter the US to speak at a conference organised by Code Pink and others. Speaking from Pakistan by telephone, Akbar told the Guardian:

“Denying a visa to people like me is denying Americans their right to know what the US government and its intelligence community are doing to children, women and other civilians in this part of the world. The CIA, which operated the drones in Pakistan, does not want anyone challenging their killing spree. But the American people should have a right to know.”

However it is Yemeni journalist Abdulelah Haider Shaye who is suffering the most for exposing the drone wars.

In 2010 Shaye revealed that an airstrike that took place in al Majala, Yemen in December 2009 killing 14 women and 21 children was launched by US drones, not the Yemeni air force, thus embarrassing both the Yemeni and US authorities.   Later, Shaye  also interviewed AQAP leaders including Anwar Al-Awlaki challenging them about their methods.

In August 2010, Shaye was kidnapped from his house by Yemeni security forces and disappeared for a month.  He turned up in detention after being beaten and was sentenced to five years imprisonment for associating with terrorists.  Amnesty International and other human rights groups have campaigned for his release, and it looked as though in February 2012 he was about to be freed.  However a few days before Ali Abdullah Saleh, was forced to about to step down as President,  Obama called him to “express concern” at the news that Shaye was about to be pardoned.  Shaye release was immediately halted and he remains in prison. For more on this case see detailed report by Jeremy Scahill  and this excellent film byAl Jazzera.

Exposing the rise of the drone wars is increasingly becoming the task of our times. But it can be a risky business.

Filed under News Commentary US Military Drones Pakistan Yemen Afghanistan CIA

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Obama’s Drones Threaten World Civilization

Glen Ford

President Obama’s vast escalation of drone warfare is “a declaration of war against international law, as it has evolved over the centuries.” He systematically wages war against peace, the highest international crime. More than “justanother ‘war president’ – he is a destroyer of world civilization, the terms by which humans deal with one another as states, social groupings and individuals.

Drone warfare utterly shreds the very concept of the rule of law.”

When Barack Obama was running for president, in 2008, he vowed to increase the use of drones against al Qaida elements in Pakistan and Afghanistan. His surrogates roamed the talk shows, advocating a “smarter” and cheaper kind of robotic war, allowing the U.S. to avoid pouring more troops into the “Af-Pak” theater of conflict. Vastly increased deployment of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), the argument went, would jettison George Bush’s “dumb” approach to warfare in favor of a cheaper and more humane use of U.S. technological resources, saving both American and South Asian lives.

What the “peace” candidate was actually proposing, was a qualitative leap in the U.S. drive for “full spectrum dominance” over the planet. The U.S. would elevate to a strategic principle its self-arrogated entitlement to use whatever technical means at its disposal – mainly drones – to target and kill designated adversaries at will, anyplace on the globe, at any time, accountable only to itself. It was a declaration of war against international law, as it has evolved over the centuries.

This administration has expanded the Air Force inventory of active drones to at least 7,500. Drones have joined Special Operations forces as the “tip of the spear” of U.S. power projection in the developing world, the “front lines” of the current imperial offensive.

Virtually all of the drones’ lethal missions are, in legal terms, assassinations, with or without “collateral damage.” They are also acts of terror, certainly in the broad sense of the word, and intended to be so.

Drone warfare requires that due process be destroyed everywhere, including within the borders of the United States.”

As Canadian political scientist David Model points out in a recent article “Assassination by Drones”: “It is clearly evident that for a State to launch an attack by a UAV is a violation of international law and those responsible for such acts becomes suspects of war crimes.” Drone warfare utterly shreds the very concept of the rule of law. In killing those “suspected” of committing or planning actions against the U.S., Washington “precludes the application of due process,” writes Model.

Therefore, in the quest to make the entire world a free-fire (and law-free) zone, drone warfare requires that due process be destroyed everywhere, including within the borders of the United States.The Obama-shaped preventive detention bill signed into law this past New Years Eve is the logical extension of the international lawlessness called forth by drone warfare, and by the larger aims of full spectrum American dominance. Barack Obama is not just another “war president” – he is a destroyer of world civilization, the terms by which humans deal with one another as states, social groupings and individuals. It is not an exaggeration to describe this leap into depravity as a war against humanity at-large, and against the human historical legacy.

The Obama-shaped preventive detention bill is the logical extension of the international lawlessness called forth by drone warfare.”

Certainly, it is a war against peace, the highest international crime. If a state can kill individuals and designated (or alleged) organizations by fiat, without due process or any shred of accountability to any authority but the president of the superpower, that state can also “execute” other states at will. Under Obama, the U.S. has articulated an alternative notion of global legality that purports to replace the body of international law accrued over centuries and so elegantly codified after World War Two. “Humanitarian” military intervention is the fraudulent doctrine through which the U.S. seeks to justify its current, desperate offensive against all obstacles to its global dominance.

Where George Bush often spoke in unilateralist terms of a U.S. mission to “spread democracy” as justification for his regime-changing aggression in Iraq and elsewhere, Obama invokes the higher calling of “humanitarian intervention” as a universal, pseudo-legal principle of international conduct. It is a doctrine designed for a Final Conflict for American supremacy on the planet, a doomsday construct that conflates perceived U.S. (corporate) geopolitical interests with the destiny of humankind – unbounded imperial criminality posing as the highest bar of justice!

Since the Vietnam War era, the U.S. has traveled from being the “greatest purveyor of violence in the world today,” in Dr. Martin Luther King’s words, to an existential threat to world order, the rule of law, and the security of the Earth’s inhabitants – to civilization itself. The nation’s first Black President has taken us on the final descent into international barbarity with his drone offensive. It is a joy stick to Hell.

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Insurgents attack heart of US-led occupation in Afghanistan

By James Cogan

Small groups of insurgents fighting the US-led occupation of Afghanistan carried out a coordinated series of attacks on Sunday against prominent NATO and Afghan government facilities in the capital Kabul and three other provinces. Among the buildings hit with small arms and rocket propelled grenades were the parliament, the US, British, German, Japanese and Russian embassies, the NATO headquarters and a newly-opened hotel. In the country’s eastern provinces, airfields and police stations were attacked.

Operations by Afghan and foreign troops to regain control of the heavily-guarded governmental and diplomatic zone in Kabul continued for 20 hours into Monday afternoon. Afghan government forces, assisted in some cases by foreign troops, claimed yesterday that they had killed 39 insurgents. Eight Afghan army and police personnel were reportedly killed and up to 40 wounded. At least four civilians were killed in cross-fire and several dozen injured. There were no reported casualties among foreign military forces or diplomatic staff.

The attacks had parallels with last September’s assault on the US embassy and NATO’s main command centre in Kabul. On Sunday, fighters were again able to infiltrate weapons, ammunition and explosives into the city and take up positions undetected in construction sites within a few hundred metres of their intended targets.

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Stunning Alcohol Abuse Revealed at U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan

Inspector General details troubling statistics 

Source  

Each U.S. diplomat in Kabul is limited to no more than one bottle of hard liquor, three bottles of wine and two cases of beer per day.

This stunning information is contained in the report of the State Department’s Inspector General dated February 10, 2010 (report #ISP-I-10-32A). The findings were so controversial that the Inspector General felt compelled to conduct a follow-up inspection last year. In his updated report in June 2011, he vaguely found that some additional restrictions had been added, but he refused to list them, apparently because the alcohol limits per diplomat remain outrageously high. As our inquiry revealed, this is only the tip of the iceberg.

On March 31, 2010 the U.S. Department of Defense issued a document entitled. “SOP for Customs Clearance Requirement Operations - U.S. Embassy, Kabul, Afghanistan.” Under the section “Importation of Alcohol,” it reads as follows:

"Afghanistan is a Muslim country and the import, sale and consumption of alcohol is forbidden. The U.S. Embassy is exempted from this ban."

Despite the fact that all U.S. military bases in Afghanistan are officially “dry,” the State Department has decided that its employees need alcohol on a daily basis, hence the exception. Our inquiry reveals that alcohol is dispensed through at least three mechanisms within the Embassy.

1. The first mechanism is that the State Department uses taxpayer funds to purchase alcohol for diplomatic functions. During the period 2004 - 2009, State Department annual purchases of alcohol officially went from $64,000 to $294,000. It is believed that these numbers are low, but they are the numbers that the Department formally reported. WikiLeaks published an August 1, 2006 cable from Ambassador Richard Hoagland at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul describing an alcohol sodden lunch with Tajikistan Defense Minister Sherali Khairulloyev. While the use of public funds for such alcohol parties has been denounced by members of Congress, including Congressman Vern Buchannan, the practice continues.

2 The second mechanism is that the State Department lends its diplomatic privileges to
select contractors so that they can import banned alcohol into countries such as Afghanistan. That alcohol is then sold (duty-free) within the grounds of the U.S. Embassy. In Kabul, the contractor is deceptively called the “Kabul Embassy Employees Association” or “KEEA.” It informally enforces the one bottle of hard liquor, three bottles of wine and two cases of beer per day limit for embassy employees. It should be noted that this “limit” was apparently introduced years ago because the drinking was even worse at that time.

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Do ‘Laws of War’ Simply Legitimize ‘War Crimes’?

Do the WikiLeaks War Logs Reveal War Crimes — Or the Poverty of International Law?

Anyone who would like to witness a vivid example of modern warfare that adheres to the laws of war — that corpus of regulations developed painstakingly over centuries by jurists, humanitarians, and soldiers, a body of rules that is now an essential, institutionalized part of the U.S. armed forces and indeed all modern militaries — should simply click hereand watch the video.

Wait a minute: that’s the WikiLeaks “Collateral Murder” video!  The gunsight view of an Apache helicopter opening fire from half a mile high on a crowd of Iraqis — a few armed men, but mostly unarmed civilians, including a couple of Reuters employees — as they unsuspectingly walked the streets of a Baghdad suburb one July day in 2007.

Watch, if you can bear it, as the helicopter crew blows people away, killing at least a dozen of them, and taking good care to wipe out the wounded as they try to crawl to safety.  (You can also hear the helicopter crew making wisecracks throughout.) When a van comes on the scene to tend to the survivors, the Apache gunship opens fire on it too, killing a few more and wounding two small children.

The slaughter captured in this short film, the most virally sensational of WikiLeaks’ disclosures, was widely condemned as an atrocity worldwide, and many pundits quickly labeled it a “war crime” for good measure.

But was this massacre really a “war crime” — or just plain-old regular war?  The question is anything but a word-game. It is, in fact, far from clear that this act, though plainly atrocious and horrific, was a violation of the laws of war.  Some have argued that the slaughter, if legal, was therefore justified and, though certainly unfortunate, no big deal. But it is possible to draw a starkly different conclusion: that the “legality” of this act is an indictment of the laws of war as we know them.

The reaction of professional humanitarians to the gun-sight video was muted, to say the least.  The big three human rights organizations — Human Rights Watch (HRW), Amnesty International, and Human Rights First — responded not with position papers and furious press releases but with silence.  HRW omitted any mention of it in its report on human rights and war crimes in Iraq, published nearly a year after the video’s release.  Amnesty also kept mum.  Gabor Rona, legal director of Human Rights First, told me there wasn’t enough evidence to ascertain whether the laws of war had been violated, and that his organization had no Freedom of Information Act requests underway to uncover new evidence on the matter.

This collective non-response, it should be stressed, is not because these humanitarian groups, which do much valuable work, are cowardly or “sell-outs.”  The reason is: all three human rights groups, like human rights doctrine itself, are primarily concerned with questions of legality.  And quite simply, as atrocious as the event was, there was no clear violation of the laws of war to provide a toehold for the professional humanitarians.

The human rights industry is hardly alone in finding the event disturbing but in conformance with the laws of war.  As Professor Gary Solis, a leading expert and author of a standard text on those laws, told Scott Horton of Harper’s Magazine, “I believe it unlikely that a neutral and detached investigator would conclude that the helicopter personnel violated the laws of armed conflict.  Legal guilt does not always accompany innocent death.”  It bears noting that Gary Solis is no neocon ultra.  A scholar who has taught at the London School of Economics and Georgetown, he is the author of a standard textbook on the subject, and was an unflinching critic of the Bush-Cheney administration.

War and International “Humanitarian” Law

“International humanitarian law,” or IHL, is the trying-too-hard euphemism for the laws of war.  And as it happens, IHL turns out to be less concerned with restraining military violence than licensing it.  As applied to America’s recent wars, this body of law turns out to be wonderfully accommodating when it comes to the prerogatives of an occupying army.

Here’s another recent example of a wartime atrocity that is perfectly legal and not a war crime at all. Thanks to WikiLeaks’ Iraq War Logs, we now know about the commonplace torture practices employed by Iraqi jailers and interrogators during our invasion and occupation of that country.  We have clear U.S. military documentation of sexual torture, of amputated fingers and limbs, of beatings so severe they regularly resulted in death.

Surely standing by and taking careful notes while the Iraqi people you have supposedly liberated from tyranny are getting tortured, sometimes to death, is a violation of the laws of war.  After all, in 2005 General Peter Pace, then Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, publicly contradicted his boss Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld by commenting into a live mike that it is “absolutely the responsibility of every American soldier to stop torture whenever and wherever they see it.” (A young private working in Army Intelligence named Bradley Manning, learning that a group of Iraqi civilians handing out pamphlets alleging government corruption had been detained by the Iraqi federal police, raised his concern with his commanding officer about their possible torture.  He was reportedly told him to shut up and get back to work helping the authorities find more detainees.)

As it turned out, General Pace’s exhortation was at odds with both official policy and law: Fragmentary Order 242, issued by Donald Rumsfeld’s Pentagon, made it official policy for occupying U.S. troops not to interfere with ongoing Iraqi torture.  And this, according to some experts, is no violation of the laws of war either. Prolix on the limits imposed on the acts of non-state fighters who are not part of modern armies, the Geneva Conventions are remarkably reticent on the duties of occupying armies.  

As Gary Solis pointed out to me, Common Article 1 of the Fourth Geneva Convention assigns only a vague obligation to “ensure respect” for prisoners handed over to a third party.  On the ground in either Iraq or Afghanistan, this string of words would prove a less-than-meaningful constraint.

Part of the problem is that the laws of war that aspire to restrain deadly force are often weakly enforced and routinely violated. Ethan McCord, the American soldier who saved the two wounded children from that van in the helicopter video, remembers one set of instructions he received from his battalion commander: “Anytime your convoy gets hit by an IED, I want 360 degree rotational fire.  You kill every [expletive] in the street!”  (“That order,” David Glazier, a jurist at the National Institute for Military Justice, told me, “is absolutely a war crime.”)  In other words, the rules of engagement that are supposed to constrain occupying troops in places like Afghanistan and Iraq are, according to many scholars and investigators, often belittled and ignored.

Legalized Atrocity

The real problem with the laws of war, however, is not what they fail to restrain but what they authorize.  The primary function of International Humanitarian Law is to legalize remarkable levels of “good” military violence that regularly kill and injure non-combatants.  IHL highlights a handful of key principles: the distinction between combatant and civilian, the obligation to use force only for military necessity, and the duty to jeopardize civilians only in proportion to the military value of a target.

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Chicago Summit To Consolidate “Global NATO”: Hillary Clinton Promotes 22nd Century NATO Ahead Of Summit

Stop NATO

On April 3, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton addressed the only North Atlantic Treaty Organization command in the United States, Allied Command Transformation, and the World Affairs Council of Greater Hampton Roads, both in Norfolk, Virginia, against the backdrop of the annual Norfolk NATO Festival. On the same day, one day before the 63rd anniversary of the founding of NATO, she also spoke at the Virginia Military Institute in Lexington.

The first venue, known by its acronym ACT, is successor to the Cold War-era Allied Command Atlantic and was established as one of many post-September 11, 2001 initiatives of the George W. Bush administration and its then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. Washington’s NATO allies dutifully ratified the decision for its creation at the military bloc’s summit in Prague, the Czech Republic in 2002.

The three sites chosen for her busy day speak volumes about the unique role of the U.S. in the world, as the country’s top diplomat’s topics were more suited to the nation’s defense secretary, the difference between the secretaries of state and defense, and for that matter the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee triumvirate of John McCain, Joseph Lieberman and Lindsey Graham, becoming an increasingly narrow one – except that the first and third plan wars and the second executes them.

Clinton’s address at ACT headquarters was short and perfunctory, but that at the World Affairs Council 2012 NATO Conference was considerably more in-depth and revealing.

She stressed continuity and development between the last NATO summit in Lisbon in late 2010 and the upcoming one in Chicago in May.

Her first point was the now over ten-year war in Afghanistan (and Pakistan), NATO’s first war in Asia and its first ground war, and the longest war in the history of the U.S.

While obligatorily speaking of an end to the mission two years from now, she also indicated that the Pentagon and its NATO allies don’t intend to ever fully leave the beleaguered country: “In Chicago we will discuss the form that NATO’s enduring relationship with Afghanistan will then take. We also hope that, by the time we meet in Chicago, the United States will have concluded our negotiations with Afghanistan on a long-term strategic partnership between our two nations.”

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