The Secret War in Yemen

via Glenn Greenwald:

What’s going on here seems fairly obvious.  The absurdity of escalating a war in Afghanistan by pointing to The Scary Al Qaeda Menace — when there is virtually no Al Qaeda presence in that country — is becoming increasingly apparent.  Just yesterday, Washington Post article documented — using the WikiLeaks war documents (which, remember, told us absolutely nothing worth knowing) — that Al Qaeda is virtually non-existent in the war in Afghanistan.  So now, administration officials — hiding behind the anonymity which these media outlets naturally provided — fanned out to announce a new, Growing, Scary Al Qaeda Threat in Yemen, which, they boast, now needs its own escalated bombing attacks and CIA operations.  The goal is that the War never ends; the only variable is where it happens to increase on any given day.

The illogic and propaganda driving this is so familiar because it’s what has been driving the American National Security State for the last decade.  There is anti-Americanism and radicalism in Yemen; therefore, to solve that problem, we’re going to bomb them more with flying killer robots, because nothing helps reduce anti-American sentiments like slaughtering civilians and dropping cluster bombs from the sky.  Who could have watched the last decade and have doubts about that brilliant strategic insight?  As Yemen expert Gregory Johnson told The Christian Science Monitor in June, after reports of the use of American cluster bombs:

It is incredibly dangerous what the US is trying to do in Yemen at the moment because it really fits into AQAP’s broader strategy, in which it says Yemen is not different from Iraq and Afghanistan.  They are able to make the argument that Yemen is a legitimate front for jihad.  They’ve been making that argument since 2007, but incidents like this are all sort of fodder for their argument.

Just imagine how helpful a new, escalated drone campaign in Yemen will be — on top of the U.S.-backed abuses from their own government — for helping extremists in that country make the argument that Yemen is a new front in the American crusade against Muslims, similar to what is happening in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.  Of course none of this is new.  A Rumsfeld-commissioned report from all the way back in 2004 identified the “underlying sources of threats to America’s national security” and emphasized among the leading threats the “negative attitudes” towards the U.S. in the Muslim world and “the conditions that create them.”  That report specifically explained:

American direct intervention in the Muslim world has paradoxically elevated the stature of and support for radical Islamists, while diminishing support for the United States to single-digits in some Arab states.   Muslims “do not hate our freedom,” but rather, they hate our policies.

Personally, I wouldn’t call that a “paradox”:  nothing is easier to understand than why American bombings in the Muslim world increase anti-American hatred and thus fuel anti-American Terrorism and swell the ranks of extremists.  It’d be a “paradox” if that didn’t happen.  And it’s therefore unsurprising that the 2009 Nobel Peace laureate is rapidly becoming as disliked in the Muslim world as the prior U.S. President:  what looks to five Norwegians sitting in Oslo to be a Man of Peace looks much different in the region where his bombs are falling, his hit squads deploying, his war commitments expanding, and his sky robots multiplying.

There’s a particularly bitter irony here.  The campaign against the Park51 community center in Lower Manhattan is being condemned, rightfully so, because it is driven by a desire to stigmatize all Muslims and even institute a generalized war against Islam as American policy.  But far from Ground Zero, having nothing whatsoever to do with the warped right-wing fanatics driving that campaign, we’re increasingly engaging in actions perceived — understandably so — to be exactly the War against Muslims which, with our pretty presidential words, we renounce.  Escalation in Afghanistan, a sustained bombing campaign in Pakistan, all sorts of increased covert actions in multiple Muslim countries, the ongoing imprisonment with no charges of Muslims around the world, bellicose threats to Iran, and now a proposed expansion of our drone campaign into Yemen:  we can insist all we want that we are not waging a War Against Muslims, but it’s going to look to a huge number of people as though we’re doing exactly that.

How long will America run around Muslim nations “playing” protector of the greater good? Forever. And ever. And ever. At this rate I really hope the Aztecs were right about the world ending in 2012.

Hey neoconservative, right-wing lunatics, and no spine democrats do you get it yet? They hate us because we kill innocent civilians, and blow their country up into little pieces–every single day. Would you feel all warm and fuzzy inside about another country if it was blowing up your country into little pieces, all in the name of protecting the greater good? Imagine reliving 9/11 and Pearl Harbor over, and over again–every single day.

Published in: on August 25, 2010 at 11:48 pm  Comments (1)  
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Rep. Dennis Kucinich Seeks to Ban Assassinations of US Citizens

Jeremy Scahill of the Nation Magazine writes;

Targeted killings are not a new Obama administration policy. Beginning three days after his swearing in, President Obama has authorized scores of lethal drone strikes, including against specific individuals, in Pakistan and Afghanistan, surpassing the Bush era numbers. The elite Joint Special Operations Command maintains a list of individuals, including US citizens, which it is authorized to assassinate. In January, Dana Priest reported in the Washington Post that the CIA had US citizens on an assassination list, but the Post later ran a correction stating that only JSOC had “a target list that includes several Americans.” The policy of the CIA targeting al-Awlaki, a US citizen, for assassination, therefore, appeared to be a new development, at least in terms of public awareness of approved government assassinations.

Due process ring a bell? Apparently not.

Published in: on August 9, 2010 at 10:05 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Update II–Kiss this war goodbye?

Amy Davidson, of the New Yorker, writes:

This stash will be compared to the Pentagon Papers, and in some ways that’s right—WikiLeaks, like Daniel Ellsberg, has been accused of ignoring the national interest. (An unfair charge, unless by “national interest” one means the political interests of a particular Administration.) But the Pentagon Papers were a synthetic analysis, a history of the war in Vietnam. WikiLeaks has given us research materials for a history of the war in Afghanistan. To make full use of them, we will, again, have to think hard about what we are trying to learn: Is it what we are doing, day to day, on the ground in Afghanistan, and how we could do it better? Or what we are doing in Afghanistan at all?

We might also use the papers to ask ourselves, more than we have, how the Afghans see the war. Can we expect them to understand that we mean well when we hit the wrong house with a strike from one of our drones—which, according to these documents, are less effective than we’d like to think? How does our talk about democracy sound to them?….

Seems to me that the 90,000 or so documents leaked will be able to answer the ultimate question that Dan Abrahams felt they could not. Seems to me that the 90,000 or so documents leaked will be an asset to the Afghan war debate, not a hindrance. The leaked documents truly give an insider perspective to the fighting taking place on the ground in Afghanistan. If it doesn’t aid in the ending of the Afghan war, it will most certainly make the public more understanding and empathetic towards war, and those who live it every single day.

Published in: on August 2, 2010 at 10:55 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Update I–Kiss this war goodbye?

Glenn Greenwald writes:

It will be most interesting to see how many Democrats — who claim to find Daniel Ellsberg heroic and the Pentagon Papers leak to be unambiguously justified — follow the White House’s lead in that regard.  Ellsberg’s leak — though primarily exposing the amoral duplicity of a Democratic administration — occurred when there was a Republican in the White House.  This latest leak, by contrast, indicts a war which a Democratic President has embraced as his own, and documents similar manipulation of public opinion and suppression of the truth well into 2009.  It’s not difficult to foresee, as Atrios predicted, that media “coverage of [the] latest [leak] will be about whether or not it should have been published,” rather than about what these documents reveal about the war effort and the government and military leaders prosecuting it.  What position Democratic officials and administration supporters take in the inevitable debate over WikiLeaks remains to be seen (by shrewdly leaking these materials to 3 major newspapers, which themselves then published many of the most incriminating documents, WikiLeaks provided itself with some cover).

Note how obviously lame is the White House’s prime tactic thus far for dismissing the importance of the leak:  that the documents only go through December, 2009, the month when Obama ordered his “surge,” as though that timeline leaves these documents without any current relevance.  The Pentagon Papers only went up through 1968 and were not released until 3 years later (in 1971), yet having the public behold the dishonesty about the war had a significant effect on public opinion, as well as the willingness of Americans to trust future government pronouncements.  At the very least, it’s difficult to imagine this leak not having the same effect.  Then again, since — unlike Vietnam — only a tiny portion of war supporters actually bears any direct burden from the war (themselves or close family members fighting it), it’s possible that the public will remain largely apathetic even knowing what they will now know.  It’s relatively easy to support and/or acquiesce to a war when neither you nor your loved ones are risking their lives to fight it.

It’s hardly a shock that the war in Afghanistan is going far worse than political officials have been publicly claiming.  Aside from the fact that lying about war is what war leaders do almost intrinsically — that’s part of what makes war so degrading to democratic values — there have been numerous official documents that have recently emerged or leaked out that explicitly state that the war is going worse than ever and is all but unwinnable…………..

Published in: on August 2, 2010 at 10:38 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Kiss This War Goodbye?

Frank Rich, of the New York Times, writes:

No, the logs won’t change the course of our very long war in Afghanistan, but neither did the Pentagon Papers alter the course of Vietnam. What Ellsberg’s leak did do was ratify the downward trend-line of the war’s narrative. The WikiLeaks legacy may echo that. We may look back at the war logs as a herald of the end of America’s engagement in Afghanistan just as the Pentagon Papers are now a milestone in our slo-mo exit from Vietnam.

The public’s reaction to the Afghanistan war logs has largely been a shrug — and not just because they shared their Times front page with an article about Chelsea Clinton’s wedding. President Obama is, to put it mildly, no Nixon, and his no-drama reaction to the leaks robbed their publication of the constitutional cliffhanger of their historical antecedent. Another factor in the logs’ shortfall as public spectacle is the fractionalization of the news media, to the point where even a stunt packaged as “news” can trump journalistic enterprise. (Witness how the bogus Shirley Sherrod video upstaged The Washington Post’s blockbuster investigation of the American intelligence bureaucracy two weeks ago.) The logs also suffer stylistically: they’re often impenetrable dispatches from the ground, in contrast to the Pentagon Papers’ anonymously and lucidly team-written epic of policy-making on high.

Yet the national yawn that largely greeted the war logs is most of all an indicator of the country’s verdict on the Afghan war itself, now that it’s nine years on and has reached its highest monthly casualty rate for American troops. Many Americans at home have lost faith and checked out. The war places way down the list of pressing issues in every poll. Nearly two-thirds of those asked recently by CBS News think it’s going badly; the latest Post-ABC News survey finds support of Obama’s handling of Afghanistan at a low (45 percent), with only 43 percent deeming the war worth fighting.

Then on the Huffington Post, Dan Abrams attempts to dispute Frank Rich, by writing:

It is a nice narrative and an interesting read, but when Rich leaps on the rhetorical springboard here, the dive becomes somewhat disastrous. About Daniel Ellsberg (who leaked the Pentagon Papers in 1971), Rich writes: “What Ellsberg’s leak did do was ratify the downward trend-line of the war’s narrative. The WikiLeaks legacy may echo that. We may look back at the war logs as a herald of the end of America’s engagement in Afghanistan just as the Pentagon Papers are now a milestone in our slo-mo exit from Vietnam.” This hardly veiled effort by Rich to piggyback on Ellsberg’s widely lauded efforts fall flat after even a cursory examination of the two situations.

Sure, both were about wars, and both revealed information that administrations did not want made public. But its obvious why both sides of the political spectrum have, in Rich’s words, reached a “rare consensus.” Because, unless one is seeking to use this leak as a sword to end all American military involvement in Afghanistan, as Rich clearly is, the comparison fails. Think about comparing a dossier of private emails to a researched essay. While they are ostensibly both written documents, they hold very different reasons for being and play very different roles in the communication of ideas.

The Pentagon Papers were drafted in response to a request from the Secretary of Defense seeking definitive conclusions about the war he was overseeing. The Vietnamese conflict was dragging on and secretary Robert S. McNamara wanted answers to the most fundamental of questions: how did we get here and why are we there at all? The answers, provided in the form of the Pentagon Papers, demonstrated that five administrations had at best shaded the truth, and at worst completely obscured it. The Wikileaks documents, on the other hand, were military documents written by those in the field describing primarily military assessments and sometimes embarrassing setbacks that both the Bush and Obama administrations had not made public. They provide specifics as to certain failures, what can be best characterized as anecdotes. The Pentagon Papers, on the contrary, offered a historically rooted response to the ultimate question: Should we be there at all?

While both authors make valid points, Dan Adrams is misguided in thinking that the 92,000 pages of war logs leaked by Wikileaks will have no bearing on the ultimate question–Should we be there at all?–, as he calls it. Frank Rich’s argument is not that the Afghanistan 92,000 pages leaked by  Wikileaks will have this enormous effect and end the Afghan war. In fact Rich writes:

No, the logs won’t change the course of our very long war in Afghanistan, but neither did the Pentagon Papers alter the course of Vietnam. What Ellsberg’s leak did do was ratify the downward trend-line of the war’s narrative. The WikiLeaks legacy may echo that. We may look back at the war logs as a herald of the end of America’s engagement in Afghanistan just as the Pentagon Papers are now a milestone in our slo-mo exit from Vietnam.

Rich continues by writing:

Americans know that our counterinsurgency partner, Hamid Karzai, is untrustworthy. They know that the terrorists out to attack us are more likely to be found in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia than Afghanistan. And they are starting to focus on the morbid reality, highlighted in the logs, of the de facto money-laundering scheme that siphons American taxpayers’ money through the Pakistan government to the Taliban, who then disperse it to kill Americans.

All Frank Rich was saying was that the leaked pages ratify the peoples disapproval of the Afghan war. Now anti-war advocates have actual facts, from the ground–the trenches–to back up their claim that this is a never-ending war. While Dan Abrams was focused on Frank Rich and how he failed at comparing the two documents, others were debating the ultimate question–Should we be there at all?

Published in: on August 2, 2010 at 9:22 pm  Comments (2)  
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General Petraeus’s Secret Ops

Sorry for my absence. Apparently the government is positioning special (secret) ops in places, both friendly and hostile nations in the Middle East, Central Asia and the Horn of Africa to gather intelligence and build ties with local forces. The following is from The Nation and The New York Times.

Mark Mazzetti of The New York Times, who broke the story, writes:

The top American commander in the Middle East has ordered a broad expansion of clandestine military activity in an effort to disrupt militant groups or counter threats in Iran, Saudi Arabia, Somalia and other countries in the region, according to defense officials and military documents.

The secret directive, signed in September by Gen. David H. Petraeus, authorizes the sending of American Special Operations troops to both friendly and hostile nations in the Middle East, Central Asia and the Horn of Africa to gather intelligence and build ties with local forces. Officials said the order also permits reconnaissance that could pave the way for possible military strikes in Iran if tensions over its nuclear ambitions escalate.

While the Bush administration had approved some clandestine military activities far from designated war zones, the new order is intended to make such efforts more systematic and long term, officials said. Its goals are to build networks that could “penetrate, disrupt, defeat or destroy” Al Qaeda and other militant groups, as well as to “prepare the environment” for future attacks by American or local military forces, the document said. The order, however, does not appear to authorize offensive strikes in any specific countries.

In broadening its secret activities, the United States military has also sought in recent years to break its dependence on the Central Intelligence Agency and other spy agencies for information in countries without a significant American troop presence.

General Petraeus’s order is meant for small teams of American troops to fill intelligence gaps about terror organizations and other threats in the Middle East and beyond, especially emerging groups plotting attacks against the United States.

Robert Dreyfuss writes in his Nation article:

A secret military directive signed last September 30 by General David Petraeus, the Centcom commander, authorizes a vast expansion of secret US military special ops from the Horn of Africa to the Middle East to Central Asia and “appears to authorize specific operations in Iran,” according to the New York Times.

If President Obama knew about this, authorized it and still supports it, then Obama has crossed a red line, and the president will stand revealed as an aggressive, militaristic liberal interventionist who bears a closer resemblance to the president he succeeded than to the ephemeral reformer that he pretended to be in 2008, when he ran for office. If he didn’t know, if he didn’t understand the order, and if he’s unwilling to cancel it now that it’s been publicized, then Obama is a feckless incompetent. Take your pick.

What happened to a presidency of transparency? Not only that but, Why is Obama surrounding himself with a bunch of neo-conservatives? We need to be deescalating the wars not escalating the wars. Add this to Obama’s negative column in terms of the ‘war on terror’.




Published in: on May 25, 2010 at 8:03 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Middle East Challenge and the Accidental Empire

Has anyone ever wondered why Islāmic extremist want to destroy the US? Has anyone ever wondered why mainstream Islamist become radicalized?

First came the Carter doctrine in 1979, which was secret aid to the opponents of the pro-Soviet regime that was in power in Afghanistan. Note that this aid started six months before the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Who received this aid? Well, they called themselves mujahedeen, jihadists, and freedom fighters, and had among their leadership men like Osama bin Laden , Gulbuddin Hekmatyar and Jalaluddin Haqqani all of whom can be found in the news today. The aid was just enough to keep the Soviet bogged down in their version of the Vietnam War. The aid for Afghanistan was not enough to actually win the war, it was just enough to prop-up the war. So what exactly is the Carter doctrine? The Carter doctrine stated that the United States needed to maintain a military presence in the Middle East in some form to protect American national security and oil interests. After the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, Carter said, “An attempt by any outside force to gain control of the Persian Gulf region will be regarded as an assault on the vital interests of the United States of America, and such an assault will be repelled by any means necessary, including military force.” This resulted in the Rapid Deployment Joint Task Force (RDJTF), which Gen. David Petraeus is now commanding. The RDJTF was at first just in place for military preparedness but then moved to an array of weapons, bases, ships and airfields throughout the Middle East. Now, as of 1980, the US is stationed in Afghanistan, permanently.

Four years later Reagan whom the public believed to be an anti-interventionist,came into office. Reagan launched a brief, ill-fated invasion of Lebanon that entailed the first suicide bombings on American forces of the modern era. The pretext for invasion was support of Israel, who had already invaded the country. While the majority of US military forces were operating under a peacekeeping role, the CIA was much more actively involved. (WFYAL)

During the Afghan war (1979-1989) the CIA allied with Saudis, Pakistanis and the most extremist of Islāmic fundamentalists who made up the core opposition to the Soviet. The CIA proved money, weapons, and other support to the extremist fighters. This is when Osama bin Laden joined the US payroll.

During the Iran/Iraq wars (1980-1988) the American political establishment provided battle planning assistance to Hussein even while knowing that Iraqi commanders were using chemical weapons on the field of battle.

What happened when the Soviets left Afghanistan? The Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), with the backing of the US, created the Taliban. Having embarrassed the Soviets, which was the America’s goal, they left Afghanistan, and allowed the Taliban, who were/are extreme fundamentalist,to have complete control. The people, whom America is now fighting, are the same people who received support from America during the Afghan war. Not only that but the Taliban created terrorist training camps, with US taxpayer money.

Did you know that from 1991 to the Iraq invasion in 2003 the US was bombing Iraq military bases? Don’t feel bad, few actually do.

Now for the real reason the US insists on being involved in the middle east. Via Wake Forest Young Americans for Liberty, whom I think sums up the US’s Middle East challenge:

The conflict in Afghanistan is much less about protecting the United States from terrorism, and much more about expanding American empire and projecting European influence, than anyone in the Western establishment is willing to admit. The situation is shifting at an alarming rate from one of misguided presidents and generals making faulty strategic decisions to one of an establishment that has traditionally hungered for empire once again attempting to subjugate any and all opposition.

The biggest lie being propagated in regards to the conflict in Afghanistan is the idea that if we do not fight terrorists there, we will have to fight them here. The mass acceptance of this statement by much of the American public is based in the assumption that the attacks of 9/11 came directly from terrorists based in Afghanistan and supported by the Taliban.

There are multiple flaws with this common conception of the current war. The first is the proposition that the 9/11 attacks came out of Afghanistan, a fallacy used to justify the invasion of Afghanistan as a just war of defense. The fact is that the attacks of 9/11 were planned in apartments in Germany and Spain, not caves and camps in Afghanistan, and were conducted mainly by Saudis based in the United States who were retaliating against the United States both for its military presence and support of the current regime in Saudi Arabia and its ideological and physical backing of Israel’s repression of Palestinians.

In fact, the Taliban, which received U.S. foreign aid until May of 2001, was completely surprised by the events of 9/11. The Taliban is a militantly religious, anti-communist movement that is essentially a large grouping of tribesmen called Pashtun. These tribes had absolutely nothing to do with the attacks of 9/11. However, these are exactly the people with whom the United States is currently engaged in a bitter conflict that top generals have recently warned will end in defeat if more troops are not sent into the theater.

So where does the U.S. government draw the link between Afghanistan and the 9/11 attacks? At the time of the attacks, Osama bin Laden was in fact in Afghanistan, but not to plan attacks against the United States. He was being honored as a national hero for his efforts in the 1980s against the Soviets, efforts that he carried out while receiving an American paycheck, and was also aiding the Taliban in a civil war against the communist-controlled North Alliance.

In fact, as late as 2001 the CIA was planning to use al-Qaida to foster rebellion against the Chinese while using the Taliban in a similar sense against Russia. Meanwhile, the “terrorist training camps” that supposedly were identified as the source of the 9/11 attacks were actually being run by Pakistan, which was using the camps to prepare Mujahidin fighters – yet another group that the United States has used to fight proxy wars — to fight against India in the tumultuous region of Kashmir.

Add to all of this the fact that in 2001 Al-Qaida’s membership was only 300, most of which are now dead, and it becomes obvious the American public should be suspicious of President Obama’s insistence that 68,000 more troops be sent into the Afghani theater. The claim that these troops are needed to keep al-Qaida from reorganizing, like those about WMDs in Iraq and now Iran, is nothing more than an attempt to legitimize war in the eyes of the public. There are dozens of countries all over the world where terrorist groups could plan attacks on the United States. If the attacks of 9/11 should have taught us anything, it is that terrorist groups are not geographically-based, and thus wars based on occupation and subjugation have no place as methods of national defense against such an enemy.

Want to know why there are so many civilian deaths? Well guess who we are fighting. Via Wake Forest Young Americans for Liberty:

The people who today fight against the United States in Afghanistan are the sons and daughters of tribesmen who were on the American imperial payroll under Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan. These people have not been born and bred to be our enemies. These are tribesmen who want to end the occupation of their land by foreigners and who have a vendetta against communists and drug lords within their own borders. They fight us for the same reasons they fought the Soviets in the 1980s. By failing to think before acting, the United States military machine has stumbled into a war with tribes that make up over half of Afghanistan’s population — and the situation is getting worse.

Richard Bissell, a top CIA official during Kennedy administration (architect of the Bay of Pigs), once said:

“we are deeply concerned with the internal affairs of other nations and that, insofar as we make any effort to encourage the evolution of the world community accord with OUR values, we will be endeavoring purposefully to influence these affairs”. “The United States is the world’s natural upholder of an International order”

America has secretly become an accidental empire. We need to stop pushing our values, governmental system, beliefs, and start worrying about our domestic problems. There is no need to have our military presence in 114 countries out of 200. The US is creating its own demise by thinking and acting on the belief that we are the world’s natural upholder of an International order.

Published in: on May 13, 2010 at 4:32 pm  Leave a Comment  
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At Least Someone is Speaking Out Against Presidential Assassination Programs

Can you guess who that someone is? I know you can. Just think back to the Presidential campaign….Did you think? Well, I am tired of waiting. The someone who is speaking out against President Obama’s assassination program is Ohio Representative Dennis Kucinich. If you remember, his Presidential campaign consisted of speaking out against the wars, impeaching Bush/Cheney, and adhering to the Constitution no matter what the circumstances were.

During an interview with Jeremy Scahill, of The Nation, Representative Kucinich said, “I don’t support it–period,” and “I think people in both parties that are concerned about the Constitution should be speaking out on this. I can’t account for what anyone else doesn’t do.” Representative Kucinich added:

“There’s always the possibility of blowback, which could endanger high-ranking US officials. There’s the inevitable licensing of rogue groups that comes about from policies that are not strictly controlled and that get sloppy–so you have zero accountability. And that’s not even to get into an over-arching issue of the morality of assassination policies, which are extra-constitutional, extra-judicial. It’s very dangerous from every possible perspective.”

“The assassination policies vitiate the presumption of innocence and the government then becomes the investigator, policeman, prosecutor, judge, jury, executioner all in one. That raises the greatest questions with respect to our constitution and our democratic way of life.”

Scahill writes:

Targeted killings are not a new Obama administration policy. Beginning three days after his swearing in, President Obama has authorized scores of lethal drone strikes, including against specific individuals, in Pakistan and Afghanistan, surpassing the Bush era numbers. The elite Joint Special Operations Command maintains a list of individuals, including US citizens, which it is authorized to assassinate. In January, Dana Priest reported in the Washington Post that the CIA had US citizens on an assassination list, but thePost later ran a correction stating that only JSOC had “a target list that includes several Americans.” The policy of the CIA targeting al-Awlaki, a US citizen, for assassination, therefore, appeared to be a new development, at least in terms of public awareness of approved government assassinations

I thought Obama was going to follow the rule of law the US was built on. The rule of law that supposedly makes the US ‘better’ than other countries. What happen to that Obama?

Published in: on May 12, 2010 at 8:12 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Obama on Civilian Deaths in Afghanistan: “I Am Accountable”

Jeremy Scahill, of ‘The Nation, asked, how are President Obama or Gen. McChrystal accountable? The fact is that they are responsible by covering them up and blaming the Taliban, but they will not (even though they should) be held accountable. Obama and McChrystal can proclaim how ‘accountable’ they are all they want, but it is just not true.

Why are they not held accountable? Scahill writes:

Afghans have little, if any, recourse for civilian deaths. They cannot press their case in international courts because the US doesn’t recognize an International Criminal Court with jurisdiction over US forces, Afghan courts have not and will not be given jurisdiction and Attorney General Eric Holder has made clear that the Justice Department will not permit cases against US military officials brought by foreign victims to proceed in US courts. So, what does it mean to be accountable for civilian deaths? Public apology? Press conferences? A handful of courts martial?

Today, Obama and Afghan President Karazi held a press conference, during which, Obama said:

“Because of Gen McChrystal’s direction, often times they’re holding fire, they’re hesitating, they’re being cautious about how they operate even though it would be safer for  them to go ahead and take these locations out.”

Scahill asked, how does that square with recent, heinous instances of civilian killings in Afghanistan? Citing examples, such as, Scahill writes:

In February, for example, US special forces shot and killed five people, including three women who collectively had 16 children. The US military tried to cover it up and blame it on the Taliban, saying coalition forces “found the bodies of three women who had been tied up, gagged and killed.” The New York Times reported that military officials had “suggested that the women had all been stabbed to death or had died by other means before the raid, implying that their own relatives may have killed them.”

Later, General McChrystal’s command admitted US-led forces had done the killing, saying it was an accident. This was hard to square with reports that soldiers may have dug bullets out of the dead bodies to try to cover it up. The head of the Joint Special Operations Command, Vice Admiral William McRaven, eventually apologized to the family of the dead Afghans and offered them two sheep as a condolence gift. Was this accountability?

It must be easy to say you are ‘accountable’ when you know there is no possible way to actually hold you accountable.

Published in: on May 12, 2010 at 7:54 pm  Leave a Comment  
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The Cheney sadism endures. To Obama’s Shame

To the many hopeful Obama supporters, who stupidly thought Obama’s ‘war on terror’ policy would change from Bush’s ‘war on terror’ policy should prepare for a rude awaking. For Obama has maintained and/or intensified many of the policies implemented during the Bush presidency.

First, let us begin with indefinite detention. Glenn Greenwald of Salon.com writes,

For those who believe that there are certain types of hypocrisy and double standards too blatant and shameless even for the U.S. Government to invoke, I’d like to point out how wrong you are:

Before we get to the hypocrisy and double standards what exactly is indefinite detention?

“preventive detention” allows indefinite imprisonment not based on proven crimes or past violations of law, but of those deemed generally “dangerous” by the Government for various reasons (such as, as Obama put it yesterday, they “expressed their allegiance to Osama bin Laden” or “otherwise made it clear that they want to kill Americans”).  That’s what “preventive” means:  imprisoning people because the Government claims they are likely to engage in violent acts in the future because they are alleged to be “combatants.”

Yes, Obama is allowing indefinite detention as did Bush during is presidency. New York Times reporting on September 23, 2009:

The Obama administration has decided not to seek new legislation from Congress authorizing the indefinite detention of about 50 terrorism suspects being held without charges at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.

Instead, the administration will continue to hold the detainees without bringing them to trial based on the power it says it has under the Congressional resolution passed after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, authorizing the president to use force against forces of Al Qaeda and the Taliban.

In concluding that it does not need specific permission from Congress to hold detainees without charges, the Obama administration is adopting one of the arguments advanced by the Bush administration in years of debates about detention policies.

Greenwald continues by pointing out, via newspaper articles, the hypocrisy of the Obama administration. Here is an example from the Washington Post:

The Pakistani military is holding thousands of suspected militants in indefinite detention, arguing that the nation’s dysfunctional civilian justice system cannot be trusted to prevent them from walking free, according to U.S. and Pakistani officials. . . .

Top U.S. officials have raised concern about the detentions with Pakistani leaders, fearing that the issue could undermine American domestic and congressional support for the U.S.-backed counterinsurgency campaign in Pakistan and jeopardize billions of dollars in U.S. assistance.

Pakistani officials say that they are aware of the problem but that there is no clear solution: Pakistan has no applicable military justice system, and even civilian officials concede that their courts are not up to the task of handling such a large volume of complex terrorism cases. There is little forensic evidence in most cases, and witnesses are likely to be too scared to testify. . . .

The United States has not pushed for a specific solution but has encouraged Pakistan to begin handling the detainees within the law, U.S. officials said. . . . Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas, an army spokesman, said the military is “extremely concerned” that the detainees will be allowed to go free if they are turned over to the civilian government. . . .

U.S. officials say they worry that the detentions will further inflame the Pakistani public at a time when the government here needs popular support for its offensives.

“They’re treating the local population with a heavy hand, and they’re alienating them,” said an Obama administration official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue. “As a result, it’s sort of a classic case going back to Vietnam; it [risks] actually creating more sympathy for the extremists.”

Next up on the list, Presidential assassinations of U.S citizens. Glenn Greenwald writes in January 2010:

Barack Obama, like George Bush before him, has claimed the authority to order American citizens murdered based solely on the unverified, uncharged, unchecked claim that they are associated with Terrorism and pose “a continuing and imminent threat to U.S. persons and interests.”  They’re entitled to no charges, no trial, no ability to contest the accusations.  Amazingly, the Bush administration’s policy of merely imprisoning foreign nationals (along with a couple of American citizens) without charges — based solely on the President’s claim that they were Terrorists — produced intense controversy for years.  That, one will recall, was a grave assault on the Constitution.  Shouldn’t Obama’s policy of ordering American citizens assassinated without any due process or checks of any kind — not imprisoned, but killed — produce at least as much controversy?

In the LA Times Vicki Divoll (former general counsel of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and a former assistant general counsel for the CIA) writes:

According to media reports, the United States has taken the apparently unprecedented step of authorizing the “targeted killing” of one of its citizens outside a war zone — though the government has not officially acknowledged it.

Unnamed intelligence and counter-terrorism sources told reporters that the Obama administration had added Anwar al Awlaki, a Muslim cleric born in New Mexico, to the CIA list of suspected terrorists who may be captured or killed. Awlaki, believed to be in hiding in Yemen, has been linked to Nidal Malik Hasan, the Ft. Hood, Texas, shooter, and to Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the Nigerian charged with trying to blow up an airliner in December……..

……had the administration wanted merely to listen to Awlaki’s cellphone conversations or read his e-mails, it would have needed to check with another branch of government — the judiciary. But to target him for death, the executive branch appears to have acted alone.

It adds up to this: Awlaki’s right to privacy exceeds his right to life.

Since when has the fate of an American citizen — his privacy, his liberty, his life — rested solely within the hands of the executive branch of government?

And on April 7, 2010 Greenwald writes:

In late January, I wrote about the Obama administration’s “presidential assassination program,” whereby American citizens are targeted for killings far away from any battlefield, based exclusively on unchecked accusations by the Executive Branch that they’re involved in Terrorism.  At the time, The Washington Post‘s Dana Priest had noted deep in a long article that Obama had continued Bush’s policy (which Bush never actually implemented) of having the Joint Chiefs of Staff compile “hit lists” of Americans, and Priest suggested that the American-born Islamic cleric Anwar al-Awlaki was on that list.  The following week, Obama’s Director of National Intelligence, Adm. Dennis Blair, acknowledged in Congressional testimony that the administration reserves the “right” to carry out such assassinations.

Today, both The New York Times and The Washington Post confirm that the Obama White House has now expressly authorized the CIA to kill al-Alwaki no matter where he is found, no matter his distance from a battlefield.  I wrote at length about the extreme dangers and lawlessness of allowing the Executive Branch the power to murder U.S. citizens far away from a battlefield (i.e., while they’re sleeping, at home, with their children, etc.) and with no due process of any kind.  I won’t repeat those arguments — they’re here and here — but I do want to highlight how unbelievably Orwellian and tyrannical this is in light of these new articles today. (more…)

Published in: on May 3, 2010 at 2:56 pm  Leave a Comment  
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