Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Why Has Algeria Acted As A Refuge For The Gaddafi Clan?

My own view is that they fear the domino effect. The Algerian government is also a secular dictatorship who don't want a Western-driven Arab Spring. If (when) Gaddafi falls, they may be next. What a perversion exists in Algeria compared to that which was envisioned by the heroic FLN in the 50s and 60s. Boumedienne, Ben Bella and Krim are spinning in their graves. So much for my thoughts - here are the views of a professional, Robert Fisk: ''Algeria itself possesses the eighth-largest natural gas reserves in the world and is the fourth-largest gas exporter. Beneath its deserts lie 12.5 billion barrels of oil reserves and 27 per cent of current oil exports are bought by the United States. Algerians are well aware that if Libya's national export was potatoes, the West would no more have intervened than it would have invaded Iraq if Saddam Hussein's principal resource was asparagus.'' More.

Leah Bolger On The Heroes of The War On Terror

Why You Won’t See Veterans For Peace on the Cover of TIME Magazine

The cover of the August 29, 2011 issue of TIME magazine features five members of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), with the caption “The New Greatest Generation.” The point of author Joe Klein’s article is that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have created a new kind of veteran who is “bringing skills that seem to be on the wane in American society, qualities we really need now:  crisp decision making, rigor, optimism, entrepreneurial creativity, a larger sense of purpose and real patriotism.” Klein profiles a small number of veterans (including a Harvard valedictorian, a Rhodes scholar, and a Dartmouth grad) who have done well since returning to civilian life and credits their military service as the reason, then goes on to make a sweeping generalization that the Iraq and Afghanistan wars have created a whole new generation of hard-working, disciplined young citizens who have something “more” to offer than their civilian counterparts.
It is articles like this that perpetuate the meme that anyone who ever wore a military uniform is a “hero.”  TIME magazine is part of the biggest media conglomerate in the world, and corporate media is the lubricant that keeps the well-oiled military machine humming along so smoothly.  By glorifying this “new generation”  of veterans, they are adding to the layers of positive messaging about war and militarism, which the American public seems eager to absorb.  We don’t want to ask ourselves the hard questions because we might not like the answers.  The media conflates the military members with the wars themselves and produces layers upon layers of nothing but superficial “feel good” messages which eventually form a fairly unimpugnable depiction of our military, wars and militarism, and anyone who questions the wars risks being decried as unpatriotic.  Congressmen fund wars they don’t agree with because they can’t afford the political cost of not “supporting the troops.”
Klein briefly mentions the high rates of suicide, domestic violence, joblessness and homelessness amongst Iraq and Afghanistan vets, but then dismisses it all by saying that that’s all we ever hear about—he wants to tell us the untold story of a handful of vets who came out of their military experience and moved forward in a positive way.  But the real untold story is the truth of war, and we will never read about that in the likes of magazines like TIME. 

The mission of IAVA is “to improve the lives of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans and their families,” and they are very good at that.  They have a multi-million dollar budget, have ready access to the top Congressional leaders and have even met with the President on more than one occasion.  The Executive Director of IAVA, Paul Rieckoff, has appeared hundreds of times on all the major media outlets.  Why is it that IAVA is given so much media exposure, so much access, and so much money?  The answer is that they do not question the legality or morality of war.  They are not critical of the complicity of the corporate media in fostering and supporting militarism.  They want only to support our troops, and who doesn’t want that?
The mission of Veterans For Peace is to end war as an instrument of national policy by educating the public about its true costs and consequences.  Veterans For Peace has been around since 1985 telling the ugly truth of war.  Our members understand the devastating effects of war on both sides of the conflict.  We seek justice for the victims of war—not just ensuring care and benefits for our soldiers, but also reparations for innocent civilian victims.  We know that wars of aggression are the most egregious crime there is, and we point an accusing finger at our government, the military-industrial complex, and the corporate media who collude to keep the United States in a perpetual state of war.  We try to use the power of our first-hand experiences and stories to prevent wars from happening and to end them once begun.  We don’t sugarcoat the experiences of war and the militarism.  We believe that if the American people saw the real truth of war, they would end it.  Think we’ll be on the cover of TIME magazine anytime soon?  Don’t hold your breath.

Libya 'Success' - Can Obama Cash In?

Spike In Afghan Police Casualties

The 135,000 Afghan police generally receive less training, more rudimentary equipment and lower pay than their colleagues in the army. Although soldiers drive around in armored Humvees, most police travel in pickup trucks, even though they are often called upon to operate in areas rife with insurgents. But U.S. military officials are hoping the police can become the primary long-term solution to Afghanistan’s woes. For now, they remain the weakest, and most regularly hammered, link in the war they envision as growing even as the more expensive army shrinks in the future. From here.

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Blunder Reveals 'Good Riddance, Karzai' Memo

Karzai has already said he would stand down. Discussing his decision to relinquish power, the document said: 'This is very important. It improves Afghanistan's political prospects very significantly. We should welcome Karzai's announcement in public and in private.'

It adds: 'Afghan perceptions of violence are very important for their confidence in their future, and for their readiness to work for the Afghan government.
'Have we got the strategic communications on levels of violence right?' Two thoughts:
- In the interim period this humiliation makes Karzai even more of a lame duck than he already was
- 'strategic communications on the levels of violence' ? For this read 'spinning down the violence and the levels of failure.'More here.

August US Deadliest Month Ever In Afghanistan

But hey, everything is on track after 10 years of failure, eh?
A record 66 U.S. troops have died so far this month, eclipsing the 65 killed in July 2010, according to a tally by The Associated Press.
This month's death toll soared when 30 Americans – most of them elite Navy SEALs – were killed in a helicopter crash Aug. 6. They were aboard a Chinook shot down as it was flying in to help Army Rangers who had come under fire in Wardak province. It was the single deadliest incident of war being waged by Afghan and U.S.-led coalition forces and insurgents.
On Tuesday, Afghan President Hamid Karzai used the start of a three-day Muslim holiday to plead with insurgents to lay down their arms and help rebuild the nation. Karzai wants Afghan security forces to take the lead in defending and protecting the nation by the end of 2014.

Mullah Omar Statement

A lengthy statement released Monday, signed by Mullah Mohammed Omar, the Taliban leader, follows Obama's announcement in June that 10,000 American troops will leave this year. The U.S. 'drawdown' is part of an accelerated withdrawal by foreign troops ahead of a 2014 deadline for ostensibly transferring security to the Afghans.
"All these give us good news of an imminent victory and a bright future," Omar says. The statement was released on the eve of one of Islam's most important holidays, Eid al-Fitr, marking the end of Ramadan. Despite an often triumphal tone, the statement attempts to discredit a conference on the nation's future planned for December in Bonn, Germany, that could bring together representatives from about 90 countries and international organizations, the Afghan government and members of the insurgency. The event, like past conferences, is "superficial and hype-oriented," the statement says, calling it part of a U.S. effort to distract the public and prevent Afghans from solving their own problems. The statement's authenticity could not be verified, but it was sent to journalists from an email address used previously to disseminate Omar's statements. It also was posted on a website used by the Taliban. Monday's statement, if written by Omar, would be among his most comprehensive messages to date, analysts said, with less rhetoric in order to better appeal to Afghan moderates. "Its central aim was to characterize the struggle as a defense against outside invasion and to suggest that the Taliban could be a just and moderate political force," said Daniel Markey, a Washington-based senior fellow with the Council on Foreign Relations. "Otherwise, the message was a rousing, nationalistic call to arms." Of particular note was the softer line toward the  Kabul government and suggestion that the Taliban doesn't seek to monopolize power, said Thomas Ruttig, co-director of the Kabul-based Afghanistan Analysis Network

Monday, 29 August 2011

UK Troops Banned From Wearing 'Taliban Hunting Club' Badges

British troops in Afghanistan have been banned from wearing skull-and-crossbones badges on their uniforms that declare 'Death To The Taliban'.
The unofficial stick-on badges proclaim membership of a 'Taliban Hunting Club'.
The senior Army officers visiting Afghanistan's Helmand province, however, ordered them to be removed because they are deemed 'politically insensitive' the Daily Mail reports.
Commanders were said to be particularly worried about the repercussions if any of the estimated 600 soldiers wearing one the badges accidentally shot a civilian in the heat of battle.
Ministry of Defense lawyers are understood to have expressed concern that any soldier wearing one of the badges who might later become embroiled in a legal case after killing an innocent Afghan would be viewed as 'maverick'.
One of the banned emblems features a crude pirate-style skull and crossbones and a Death To The Taliban slogan, while another has a more intricate design of a skull with crossed rifles behind it and the motto Taliban Hunting Club.
According to the paper, the badges have become collectors' items and are now being sold by British troops to other NATO soldiers, despite the ban.

Karzai Scuttled Secret US-Taliban Talks

Infuriated that Washington met secretly at least three times with a personal emissary of Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar, the Afghan government intentionally leaked details of the clandestine meetings, scuttling the talks and sending the Taliban intermediary into hiding, The Associated Press has learned. More.

US Wasted $30B Dollars in Iraq and Afghanistan

More than $30 billion - one in every six dollars of U.S. spending in Iraq and Afghanistan - has been wasted, according to a bipartisan commission on wartime contracting.
“Tens of billions of taxpayer dollars have been wasted through poor planning, vague and shifting requirements, inadequate competition, substandard contract management and oversight, lax accountability, weak interagency coordination, and subpar performance or outright misconduct by some contractors and federal employees,” write the report’s co-authors in a Washington Post editorial on Sunday.
Read more:

CIA 'Mosque Crawlers' in NYC

That the boundaries have been overstepped sadly comes as no surprise to many Muslim, Arab and South Asian Americans. Those communities have been decrying blanket surveillance and infiltration for years. The outrageous revelations should come as no surprise to attentive observers, either.
Recall the disturbing statements by Larry Sanchez, the senior CIA officer seconded to the NYPD as part of this programme. Testifying before the Senate in 2007, Sanchez explained that the secret to the NYPD's approach was viewing constitutionally-protected activity, including the practise of religion, as a potential precursor to terrorism. Setting the stage for the NYPD's massive fishing expedition was a 2002 federal court order paring down restrictions on the police's ability to infiltrate communities and monitor protected activity without any concrete suspicion of actual criminal conduct. Full story.

Saturday, 27 August 2011

Twitter Rate For Hurricane Irene 36X War In Libya

US self-obsession in manifested in the Twitter metrics and stats. If the hurricane was in Florida it wouldn't be so bad since the East Coast US is as indifferent to the rest of the US as it is to the rest of the world. War crimes in Libya? Don't hold your breath.

1200 Dead In US Drone Strikes This Year

There has been another increase in the US drone strikes in North Waziristan after a meaningful silence of some time. Four people were killed on Monday 22nd August in the latest missile attack by the CIA-operated unmanned air vehicle (UAV) on a house in Sheenpond village of Mir Ali subdivision situated on the border with Afghanistan's Khost province.
Residents said the four slain men were local tribesmen. Their bodies were damaged beyond recognition. It was the 43rd attack by the US drones this year in North Waziristan. More than 1200 people had reportedly been killed and many other were injured. Most of the injured have become disabled.
On Tuesday, around eight US spy planes were seen flying over various villages in Miramshah, Mir Ali and Dattakhel subdivisions of North Waziristan tribal region.
In some of the villages, the tribesmen complained they were performing their Isha prayers and Taraveeh in fear and tension due to the constant flying of drones over their villages and towns.

Friday, 26 August 2011

Killing The Cranes

Journalist, author and producer, Edward Girardet joins us to talk about his 2011 book published by Chelsea Green Press, Killing the Cranes, a Reporter’s Journey Through Three Decades of War in Afghanistan. The book spans his reporting to the Christian Science Monitor and other major media outlets. Based in Paris, he began covering Afghanistan several months before the Soviets invaded in 1979. Just before we spoke with him about his book, the British counsel in Kabul was the target of twin suicide attacks, which took place on the anniversary of Afghanistan’s Independence Day from Britain in 1919. It was a grim reminder that the people of Afghanistan have been struggling against various forces over many generations. We look at the complexities of the ongoing war and occupation, and hear an insiders view of the personalities involved.
Edward Girardet is often described by the US media as, ‘The man who met Osama Bin Ladin.” He discusses the encounter in Killing the Cranes, but the much larger discussion is about the complexities of Afghan society and the seemingly endless US and NATO presence there. In his report in Foreign Policy Magazine July 18th Edward Girardet asks, after more than three decades of targeted killings, is there anyone left alive who can actually run Afghanistan?

Ten Years Without A Strategy

It's disappointing, to say the least, that after ten years in Afghanistan there seems not to be a strategy, or at least a strategy people can easily discern, one that's related to known security issues. Whatever U.S. policy is, if it can't be put into a single, simple, declarative sentence then its pursuit must be reassessed. To try to get at the truth of Afghanistan War Is A turned to a recent U.S. Ambassador to Kabul, Ronald E. Neumann (2005-2007), who very graciously explained a few of the complexities. Total runtime fifty four minutes. Bellum nec timendum nec prĊvocandum.

Their Casualties And Our Casualties

Telling The Whole Story By Naheed Mustafa.
The first tweet I saw was late at night on Thursday, already early morning in Kabul. It was a short, to-the-point burst of information from Sarah-Jane Cunningham, a British-Egyptian woman working in Kabul: "British Council being attacked in #Kabul. Fight ongoing. No reports of casualties yet."
From there it was almost embarrassingly easy to cobble together a real-time update, almost minute-by-minute of a Taliban gun-and-bomb attack in Karteh Parwan district of Kabul against the British Council - a cultural institution where, among other things, many Afghans have learned English. Bilal Sarwary; Jerome Starkey; Erin Cunningham; Massoud Hossaini; and Mustafa Kazemi were just some of the English-speaking reporters posting information via Twitter.

Their minute-to-minute updates -- shots fired; three explosions; smoke coming from building; burning debris; the Americans have arrived! The British are here! -- made it easy to follow along and the re-tweeting of their tweets was soon filling the timelines of people around the world.
And then there were blog posts and pictures and videos thrown up on Youtube. Media outlets had slide shows up before the dust had even settled. Next came the inevitable parsing out of whether Afghan security forces were ready to take on these kinds of attacks on their own without assistance from internationals. We heard from a tailor, we heard from a butcher, we saw the grimacing faces of Afghan police officers as they carted away the body of one of the attackers.

The frenzied pace led one tweeter, @polgrim, to observe "From the looks of it some journos are getting an orgasm live-tweeting the insurgency in Kabul this morning. *tone down the theatrics*." The last thing I tweeted was some five hours after the attack began when a reporter said the area was quiet and cordoned off. Twelve people had been killed.
A few hours later in Jamrud district in Pakistan's Khyber Agency, a suicide bomber standing in the fifth row of the Friday prayer congregation detonated himself killing forty people and injuring scores more. As of Sunday, the death toll stood at 52 and was expected to rise. The Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility.

The majority of the casualties were brought to Peshawar. There was no on-the-scene live-tweeting, no accessible English-speaking journalists who could update the world in real time. There was no worldwide re-tweeting. It was mentioned by the international press, of course, but with a dearth of immediate pictures or video or English interviews it didn't really make a splash of any kind except in Pakistan. I shared exactly two news items via Twitter -- one in English and one in Urdu.
Oh, and Hillary Clinton read a statement of condolence.

There was a near-identical suicide bombing of a mosque during Friday prayers in Jamrud district two years ago as well, where again some fifty people were killed. Then as now the coverage was limited to news media within Pakistan. And there have been scores of other attacks since, both big and small. The only ones that really seem to draw much attention are either at military installations or at places where expatriates could be involved. In other words, places that might mean something to "us," the international community.
It's a natural outcome, I suppose, of the difference between cities saturated with foreigners - like Kabul - and one where it's "just locals" - like Peshawar. Obviously, the greater number of reporters in a place writing and reporting in different languages, the more likely we are to get information, both important and trivial. It's like the difference between Libya and Bahrain.

But these two very different reactions by international media, to me, speak to a bigger problem with how we perceive the stories of ordinary Afghans and Pakistanis.
I'm not keeping some kind of macabre scorecard 00 twelve dead Afghans versus 50 dead Pakistanis or one sustained attack versus two blitzes. And it's not even about how well events are covered in either country. There are definitely good foreign reporters doing good work but mostly the coverage in both countries is shallow and almost exclusively focused on conflict -- it's the only thing about these places that seemingly matters.

The part about this imbalance in international reporting that is most problematic for me is the perception of how conflict is playing out in the two countries. In Pakistan, it's seen primarily as a war between the military and the Pakistani Taliban confined to a population-free area known as The FATA -- a place without stories, history or individuals, meaning that violence is inconsequential at a human level. In Afghanistan, the large number of internationals and English-speaking journalists can, and do, provide ongoing eyewitness testimony to the effects of violence on ordinary people. Consider it a secondary outcome of the international presence.
There's also an underlying moral judgment about the violence in Pakistan, that when people die, well, it's a result of Pakistan's own bad policies and you reap what you sow. We see this moralizing in an extreme form with the debate about the use of drones. Estimates of civilian deaths from drone attacks range from zero to hundreds. But we rarely see those casualties and know almost nothing about the people who live there, so it's easy to add the qualifier that while civilian deaths are sad, drones are, nevertheless, important tools in the fight against militancy.

I'm certainly not saying the lack of attention on the stories of regular people is coming only from a lack of will to tell them. There are very real challenges to reporting from volatile areas for both local and foreigner reporters. But the absence of average Pakistanis has allowed a narrative to take hold that Pakistanis, unlike Afghans, are complicit in their own misery.
Time and again, in doing my job, people caught up in extraordinary hardship have said to me, "tell the world." An international media "frenzy" would help, one that aggressively focused on the multiple ways ordinary Pakistanis -- like many ordinary Afghans -- are paying for others' ambitions. Then maybe they could tell the world.

Naheed Mustafa is an award-winning writer and broadcaster based in Toronto.

NATO Airstrike Kills 6 Civilians

A US-led airstrike has killed six members of a family in Afghanistan's eastern province of Logar.
Mohammed Rahim, the governor of Barki Bark said the attack took place in Pakhtab district of the town at 11 p.m. local time on Thursday, a Press TV correspondent reported on Friday.
The father of the family, his wife, and their four children, aged between eight and 16, died after their house was hit in the incident, the Afghan official said. At least 1,462 civilians were killed in the first half of the current year, indicating a 15-percent increase compared with the same period in 2010, the UN said.

More than 2,777 civilians lost their lives in 2010, with roadside bombs the biggest source of casualties.

Wikileaks - 5 'Honeytrap' Cables

The use of women for 'honeytrap' operations by the US and their warmongering acolytes is outlined in these cables here.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Wikileaks Cables - Link To Search Engine

SEARCHABLE SITE (51,000 cables) 

More Wikileaks Cable Releases

US - France Diplomatic Cables

US - Russia Diplomatic Cables

US - German Diplomatic Cables

US - Iran Diplomatic Cables

US - Turkey Diplomatic Cables

Wikileaks - 2,965 US/Afghan Diplomatic Cables

Says a lot about his estimation of their intelligence. LINK.

American Dogs Count Before Afghan People

'An initial Associated Press wire service report noted that the dead included "22 SEALs, three Air Force air controllers, seven Afghan Army troops, a dog and his handler, and a civilian interpreter, plus the helicopter crew."The dog. They mentioned the dog. And the dog's handler.After 9/11 American pundits debated the question: Why do they [radical Muslims] hate us [Americans] so much? This is why. It is official Pentagon policy not to count Afghan or Iraqi or Pakistani or Libyan or Yemeni or Somali dead, civilian or "enemy." But "our" guys are sacred. We even count our dogs.'  Full article

Afghanistan War Daily

AWD is out now.

Monday, 22 August 2011

Twitter Map of Arab Spring Protests


Fall Of Gaddafi - Worldwide Reactions

"The future of Libya is now in the hands of the Libyan people.
"The surest way for the bloodshed to end is simple: Moammar Gadhafi and his regime need to recognize that their rule has come to an end. Gadhafi needs to acknowledge the reality that he no longer controls Libya. He needs to relinquish power once and for all."

"The only route that Gadhafi should follow is that of giving himself up.
"The regime should name two authoritative figures that are not stained with blood crimes" to help guide a transition. Asked if one of them could be former Gadhafi number two Abdel Salam Jalloud, now in Italy, Frattini said: "He certainly has all the characteristics to be it. Don't wait for us to suggest him. He will clarify his position when he believes it opportune. I am convinced that many people will recognize him for an important role in the construction of a new Libya."

"The most important thing that happened in Libya on the night of August 22 is not the fall of Gadhafi's regime but the joining of 5 million people to the procession of freedom.
"I think the most miserable person on earth after Moammar Gadhafi is Syria's Bashar Assad. Gadhafi's fall will not only make the Libyan people happy, but will also inspire the Syrian people."

"We are witnessing the last moments of the Gadhafi regime. I call on Gadhafi to step down without further delay and avoid further bloodshed.
"Today Libya is entering a new era. I salute the courage of those who have fought to make this possible. It is now time to launch a process of transition towards a new Libya, in which democratic principles, justice and human rights are fully respected."

"China respects the choice of the Libyan people and hopes that the situation there will quickly return to stability and that people's lives can return to normal.

"China is willing to work with the international community to play a positive role in rebuilding Libya."

"The situation for Gadhafi has reached the point of no return, he no longer has any chance of controlling what is going on, even in Tripoli. He must acknowledge his defeat and bow to the will of the people.

"There are signs that today's nighttime events, when opposition forces stormed Tripoli, were supported by NATO forces. This provokes regret because it casts doubt on the legitimacy of what is happening now as well as the country's future."

"Obviously it's good news that the bloodletting will now hopefully be over and that a horrible dictator has been toppled. The hope is that there will be a stable democracy now (in Libya). But it's all very uncertain at this point. In any case all efforts have to go towards that aim ... And now we want to do what we can to contribute to help them."

"Gadhafi must stop fighting, without conditions — and clearly show that he has given up any claim to control Libya. As for his future, that should be a decision for (Libyan rebel chief) Jalil and the new Libyan authorities.
"Our task now is to do all we can to support the will of the Libyan people, which is for an effective transition to a free, democratic and inclusive Libya.
"This will be a Libyan-led and Libyan-owned process with broad international support co-ordinated by the U.N. — and I am in close contact with partners from NATO, the Arab League and with Chairman Jalil himself.
"No transition is ever smooth or easy. But today the Arab spring is a step further away from oppression and dictatorship and a step closer to freedom and democracy."

"Hamas welcomes the entry by Libyan revolution fighters into the capital Tripoli and congratulates them on this great victory.
"We hope this will represent a turning point in the history of Libya toward progress and prosperity in implementing the will of the Libyan people."

"Arabs needed this, they needed another victory, this changes the whole tone in the region after several months of disappointment. You can see this on Twitter and Facebook that the whole region is watching this very closely."
Asked if the NTC will be able to control the situation, "The NTC is an impressive body. They've done an impressively good job governing Benghazi and I think you have very smart people and a leadership that thought post-Gadhafi Libya. They've been preparing for several months.
"It's probably going to be messy, there's always a risk after the fall of a leader ... But the international community is united in supporting the NTC.
"The question is will the international community be able to provide the funding the NTC is in need of. "It has been slow and disappointing but I think now that the NTC is the unquestioned representative of Libya, there'll be international pressure to release funds. It's not going to happen overnight, but there's a realization that the NTC needs funding."

"I salute the triumph of the Libyan people after a long struggle against Gadhafi's rule.
"It is certain that the Arab revolution will continue and will triumph against all tyrants and oppressors. Arab revolutions are completed today by the victory of the Libyan people. Congratulations on your freedom."

"Gadhafi now controls a lot less than 20 percent of Tripoli. He now controls nothing more than his bunker.
"These French arms (delivered to the rebels) powerfully contributed to the victory, as did the French pilots. But it was the Libyans themselves, young Libyans who were mocked and insulted for their so-called indiscipline, it was they who took Tripoli last night ...
"The National Transitional Council is capable of managing what it has promised to do, that is to say the transition. These men have always said they had no personal ambition and did not wish to run the country in the long term. They are there to organize the transition ... to help install a new government in a few months, which they want to be a democratic government.
"Libya will go down in history as the anti-Iraq. Iraq was democracy parachuted into a country by a foreign power in a country which hadn't asked for it. Libya was a rebellion which demanded help from an international coalition led by France, and which will continue now in the reconstruction of the country."

"Mubarak's departure is a victory for the youth and a loss for Israel, Gadhafi's departure is a victory for the people and a loss for comedy and Bashar (Assad)'s departure will be a victory for Syria and a loss for Iran."

Sunday, 21 August 2011

John Pilger Talks To Julian Assange - Film Clip

John Pilger in conversation with Julian Assange from John Pilger on Vimeo.

Suicide Of An American Soldier

More US soldiers and veterans have died by suicide in the last two years than have died in combat. 

19 Friendly Fire Incidents Involving UK In Afghanistan

The most serious incident, in the Lashkar Gah district of Helmand in October 2008, saw three Afghan National Police officers killed and one seriously injured when British troops opened fire on them.None of the extracts from official files, released by the Ministry of Defence, record any UK personnel being killed or seriously injured during the friendly-fire incidents.These details were released by the military's Permanent Joint Headquarters (PJHQ) based at Northwood in Middlesex, after the FoI request by the Press Association.

Saturday, 20 August 2011

81 US Congressmen For Sale

Eighty-one U.S. House of Congress members, one fifth of the chamber, will visit Israel during the traditional summer recess, to pay homage to their masters, instead of addressing festering local issues at home during the nation's gravest economic crisis too serious to ignore.
More sleaze here.

Nato Members Scrounge To Keep Their Bombing Alive

By Paul Richter
The French and Italians have sent their aircraft carriers home. The British have withdrawn their spy plane. Canada is pulling out air crews. The Danes are running out of bombs. And the Norwegians have dropped out entirely.
As their Libyan rebel allies claim finally to be showing progress on the battlefield, members of the NATO alliance are scraping and scrounging these days to keep the five-month air campaign against Moammar Kadafi's government aloft long enough to make it to their finish line. The strains are adding pressure for NATO to negotiate an end to the war, even if Kadafi doesn't leave the country as the Obama administration has long been demanding.
And the effects of cost fatigue are mounting despite the fact that the rebels have advanced far enough to engage in fierce battles in two coastal cities on either side of the capital, Tripoli, on Friday.
With all the governments struggling to cut budgets, member countries are scrambling for savings, and in some cases begging or borrowing aircraft and munitions. Some are considering taking a "pause" in their participation.
"These pressures are real; they're building. You can be sure we don't want this to go on a day longer than it has to," said a senior NATO official who declined to be identified because of the sensitivity of the issue.
British, French and American officials now say Kadafi could stay in Libya after giving up power if the rebels advancing on Tripoli agree. But this formulation poses a risk, U.S. officials acknowledge, because of the possibility he will continue to exert a strong influence on a future government.
"They changed the definition of winning — they moved the goal posts," said Jorge Benitez, who studies NATO at the Atlantic Council, a nonprofit public policy group in Washington.
The shift shows that "they feel they've got to end this as soon as possible."
For now, NATO officials say they will stay the course, noting that the number of airstrikes against Kadafi's military forces and command facilities has not diminished — in part because the British, French and Americans are picking up the slack.
When Norway withdrew its four F-16 fighter planes this month, for example, the British added four Tornado fighters to cover the gap.
But Britain, which plans to slice 7.5% from its defense budget, was forced to withdraw one of its aging Nimrod spy planes from the flight line in May and send it to the scrap heap.
Critics called it a humiliation for Britain, especially when it was disclosed that the Defense Ministry was borrowing a U.S. P-3 Orion surveillance plane to help protect its warships off Libya.
France has flown about one-third of the 7,397 strike sorties so far, more than any other country. But this month it sidelined the largest ship in the war, the aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle, for maintenance and to save money.
French officials said the carrier will be out of action for "several months," meaning it probably is gone for good.
The Italians, facing a financial crisis, last month swapped their carrier, the 1,000-sailor Garibaldi, for a smaller ship to cut costs.
With Italy determined to cut spending on the Libya war by half in the coming months, some NATO officials fear that it might close or limit use of its air bases, which carry a crucial share of the Libyan air war traffic. That would force NATO to fly more war planes from bases in Greece, which is in even worse financial condition.
Canada's government disclosed in June that it would trim costs by withdrawing crews assigned to the NATO Airborne Warning and Control System plane, now in heavy use over Libya.
Danish officials last week agreed to keep its four F-16s in the war until at least October 1. But the Danes, who have flown more than 10% of the sorties, have reached out to other countries for help with aircraft, munitions and financing, NATO officials say.
The Pentagon has chiefly provided surveillance, intelligence-gathering, air refueling and other logistical support rather than conducting manned combat missions since the air war began in March.But the Pentagon has added Predator drones, refueling planes and attack aircraft designed to suppress fire from antiaircraft batteries and other air defenses.
The U.S. also has helped replenish other countries' inventories of "smart" bombs and other munitions, say NATO officials.
Benitez, from the Atlantic Council, said the Pentagon's growing use of drones and strikes against air defense units means that the Pentagon is now the second-largest player in the air war, racking up 16% of strike sorties.
NATO officials have requested more help from several member countries now playing little or no role, a group that includes Spain, Germany and Poland.
The alliance has been "forgiving when the smaller countries decide there are limits to what they contribute," said Kurt Volker, who was U.S. ambassador to NATO during the George W. Bush administration.
NATO members will decide next month whether to extend the Libya mission for three more months. With the U.S., France and Britain all publicly committed to continuing the campaign indefinitely, an extension appears likely.
But the senior NATO official said that the growing pressures leave open the possibility that one of the countries will try to block the extension, which can only be adopted by unanimous vote.
"In this environment, there's reason to fear someone might just put up their hand and say, 'No more,'" the official said.

Afghanistan War Daily

AWD out here.

Obama And The Drone Surge - Film Clip

This clip is quite telling especially about some of the statistics and the cynical indifference to 'collateral' victims.

Friday, 19 August 2011

More Israeli Attacks On Gaza

Incredibly biased report on the incidents on the Egyptian border. These were a direct retaliation for Israeli attacks in Gaza on 17th August. These were reported by CNN who are now reporting the attacks on Israelis, like this clip, as if they were out of the blue. The reason for carrying this clip is to further illustrate what the Palestinian people are up against.

Watch the full episode. See more PBS NewsHour.

Afghanistan War Daily

Daily Edition Is Out.

Thursday, 18 August 2011

17.000 Plus Air Raids By Nato In Libya

NATO Mission Creep Now Out Of Control In Libya:

Captain America Fallen On Hard Times

Republican Candidates - View from Janeane Gorofalo

Afghanistan War Daily

Daily is out HERE.

Taliban Bombs Kill 20 Civilians

Noor Khan Nikzad, a spokesman for the Herat police chief, put the toll at 20 dead and 12 wounded. Another blast in the same area wounded four civilians, Noori, the governor's spokesman, said. In Gardez in eastern Paktia province, a suicide bomber blew himself up at the entrance to a NATO-run base, killing two Afghan guards, a spokesman for the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said.
It seems there is no hiding place for civilians in Afghanistan from incompetent and reckless bombers from Nato and the Taliban.

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

A screaming scandal for Australian armed forces. A black stain on their history for ever. Not just because of the massacre. The ensuing whitewash as well.
The commandos had already approached one compound in the mountainous southern province on the night of February 12, 2009, when they were directed to a second compound nearby. After being fired at by a man from the second compound, they returned fire and threw grenades into the room the gunfire was coming from, killing five children and an adult. They were charged over the deaths last September.
It was the first time Australian soldiers had been charged over civilian casualties resulting from troops fighting under orders.
Read more:

Phone Hacking - Pressure Mounts

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Afghanistan War Daily Is Out

Daily Edition HERE.

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Kuwaiti Man Detained In Gitmo For Ten Years

He said he'd been accused of fighting with the Taliban and al Qaeda and that he'd spent most of his time in Afghanistan alongside Osama bin Laden."All this happened in a period of three months ... I ask, 'Are these accusations against Faiz or against Superman?' It seems to me that whoever wrote these accusations he must (have) been drinking and he must have been drunk when he wrote it."Moazzam Begg, a British Muslim who was also held at Guantanamo, says Al Kandari was taken to an American detention center in Kandahar. Begg told CNN he remembered Al Kandari from Kandahar because the Americans would bring him from cell to cell to collect trash.Begg says others in the detention center told him Al Kandari was knowledgeable about Islamic issues. Begg was transferred to Bagram Air Force Base and then to Guantanamo and says he never saw Al Kandari again. But he says he never heard another detainee say anything about Al Kandari being associated with known terrorists or terrorists activities.Full story. 

There Are Many Ways To Be Toxic In Afghanistan

In Afghanistan and Iraq the expediency of burning trash trumps environmental and health concerns. In a memo dated December 20, 2006, Bioenvironmental Engineering Flight Commander and Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Darrin L. Curtis warned of acute and chronic health risks posed by the Balad Airbase burn pit in Iraq.
Whether through a lack of forethought, a desire for expediency, or the logistical demands of the battlefield, the military chose burn pits as its means to destroy trash. And there is a lot of it. There are more than 100,000 troops currently deployed in Afghanistan—and thousands more private contractors—and the Department of Defense (DoD) estimates that each soldier and contractor generates about ten pounds of solid waste per day.
Veterans Administration and private physicians have seen a significant increase in respiratory problems in soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. Other physical problems among war veterans include shortness of breath, headaches and coughing up blood. Almost all of these soldiers had exposure to burn pits as well as battlefield smoke and dust storms. It seems unlikely that the thousands of Iraqis and Afghans working on U.S. military bases or living nearby have escaped such debilitating ailments themselves.