WOT – War on Terror (Afghanistan, Iraq, etc)

Various assorted news related directly of remotely to the WOT, and its widespread consequences.

Some information, news, analysis and commentary on this subject for further investigation.

To be convinced of any truth one must investigate and reflect for himself or herself …

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Fighting Terror with Terror

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Guest article by Dr. Dennis Loo, Professor of Sociology at Cal Poly Pomona

Bush and Cheney have not yet disappeared. A good thing, the White House tells us, for six years have elapsed since 9/11 without another terrorist attack on the U.S. But the absence of an attack doesn’t necessarily prove their case. Eight years passed between 1993 when the World Trade Center was first bombed and September 11, 2001. How do we know then whether they’re winning or losing? How do we know whether, like Kurtz in Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, we will once again confront “the horror, the horror?”

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Fighting Terror with Terror
by Dennis Loo
“I looked at him, lost in astonishment…His very existence was
improbable, inexplicable, and altogether bewildering. He was an insoluble
problem. It was inconceivable how he had existed, how he had succeeded
in getting so far, how he had managed to remain — why he did not
instantly disappear.” Joseph Conrad, The Heart of Darkness
Bush and Cheney have not yet disappeared. A good thing, the White House tells
us, for six years have elapsed since 9/11 without another terrorist attack on the U.S. But
the absence of an attack doesn’t necessarily prove their case. Eight years passed between
1993 when the World Trade Center was first bombed and September 11, 2001. How do
we know then whether they’re winning or losing? How do we know whether, like Kurtz
in Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, we will once again confront “the horror, the horror?”
For some time now, prominent anti-terrorism experts who served under Bush
have been sounding the alarm that the White House is losing its “war on terror” and that
both its offense and defense are fatally flawed. Michael Scheuer, a senior CIA analyst in
charge of tracking down Osama bin Laden, the man who, of all people, ought to know,
was so provoked and distressed that he left the CIA and went public – with the CIA’s
blessings – writing Imperial Hubris: Why the U.S. is Losing the War on Terror. He
concludes his book with these words: “the United States of America remains bin Laden’s
only indispensable ally.” That is not a typo. He said ally.1
1 “One of the great intellectual failures of the American intelligence community… is to
assume if someone hasn’t attacked us, it’s …because we’ve defeated him,” says Scheuer.
“Bin Laden has consistently shown himself to be immune to outside pressure. When he
wants to do something, he does it on his own schedule.” (60 Minutes interview November
14, 2004, available at
Clark Kent Ervin, former Inspector General of the Department of Homeland
Security, who also left his post in frustration, wrote in his blog: “The full extent of our
Iraq misadventure may only be known one day when an attack at home that might
otherwise have been prevented is not.”2 Ervin points out in his book, Open Target, that
the easiest way for terrorists to get a nuclear device into the U.S. is by sea and warns that
only 6% of shipments at our docks are inspected. “Every year approximately nine million
cargo containers arrive at American’s 361 seaports from all over the world – about
26,000 a day.”3 He goes on to recount that a year after 9/11, ABC News tested how
vulnerable we were to importation of a nuclear device. They transported a container of
depleted uranium to the U.S. from Istanbul. Customs failed to detect the device. A year
later ABC repeated the experiment, this time sending a DU (depleted uranium) device via
Jakarta. Customs again failed to detect the device.4
Richard Clarke, former counterterrorism czar under Clinton and Bush states: “[Al
Qaeda] is in many ways a tougher opponent than the original threat we faced before
September 11, and we are not doing what is necessary to make America safe from that
The Bush White House has treated these fervent warnings the way the Greeks in
mythology reacted to Cassandra’s warnings of impending disasters – Cassandra was
always right, but never listened to. As Scheuer, Ervin and Clarke point out, and as nearly
any Iraqi or Muslim can tell us, we are creating new recruits for anti-state terrorist groups
2 http://opentarget.blogspot.com/, “Declare Victory and Go Home,” February 13, 2007.
3 Clark Kent Ervin, Open Target, NY: Palgrave Macmillan, p. 118.
4 Ibid, pp. 118-120.
5 Against All Enemies: Inside America’s War on Terror, NY: The Free Press.
everyday by our policies. Scheuer reiterates this again and again in his book: it is not who
we are that provokes Bin Laden, it’s what we are doing.
This isn’t hard to understand. Kurtz’s horror is daily being visited upon Iraqis.
More than a million Iraqis have died because of our 2003 invasion, a country, need it be
said, that had nothing to do with 9/11, and at latest count, close to 4,000 American
service personnel have been killed. As the National Intelligence Council – the CIA
director’s think tank – concluded in its January 12, 2005 report, our ongoing occupations
in Iraq and Afghanistan have turned Iraq into a breeding ground for terrorists6 the way
dropping bloody fish heads into the ocean produces sharks roiling the waters. Scheuer,
among others, further notes the disjuncture between Bush’s talk of liberty and democracy
and the U.S. government’s unwavering support for brutal, parasitic regimes in Middle
Eastern countries (e.g., Saudi Arabia) and elsewhere (e.g., Pakistan) that fuels anger in
these countries and provides an ongoing, open offense and rallying cry against the U.S.
What would the average American think if Germany invaded us, using cluster
bombs on dense urban areas, treating any American as an enemy and our cities as free
fire zones, picked Americans up at random in the streets and tortured them, killed an
equivalent number of Americans as we have in Iraq (i.e., taking out the entire population
of New York City), set up permanent bases, built the largest embassy in the world on our
soil, and declared that it intended to stay indefinitely? How many Americans would be
waging a determined, militant resistance against our invaders and occupiers? (When H.G.
Wells wrote The War of the Worlds it was prompted by his desire to convey to the people
of imperialist countries how it must feel to be a Third World country invaded by a foreign
6 http://www.truthout.org/docs_05/011505Z.shtml
power. Some of the people still deluded into thinking that it’s alright to invade innocent
countries and okay to torture people would do well to re-read H.G. Wells’ classic.)
What is Terror Anyway?
Since 9/11 Bush and Cheney have been waging a “global war on terror,” but
what, really, is terror? The term has been used so indiscriminately in public discourse that
it needs to be given a shower, a haircut and a fresh set of clothes so that it can appear in
decent company and be of some use again. The stakes involved and the need for
intellectual and emotional clarity could hardly be greater.
Let’s first consider how our government defines terrorism. Inherent in these
definitions are clues to part of the problem we face as a people with this “war on terror.”
The FBI defines terrorism as “the unlawful use of force or violence against
persons or property to intimidate or coerce a government, the civilian population, or any
segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives.”
The key word in the FBI definition is “unlawful,” not “coerce” or “intimidate”
since governments, as well as terrorists, use force. It isn’t violence, intimidation, or
coercion per se that makes something terroristic. It is whether or not that force can be
rationalized as lawful or legitimate. If it’s seen as legitimate, then violence is not
terroristic, no matter how unjust, excessive or random. The question here then is: what
makes something “unlawful?” The rules of engagement for soldiers in war and the
procedures promulgated by law enforcement (police, FBI, ATF and so on) are essential to
legitimizing state use of force – otherwise, the public could see the actions of soldiers and
law enforcement as arbitrary and capricious. The intentional irony here is that in the fog
of chaos the very existence of these rules legitimates their violation in the breach.
Police use of force can be rationalized as being in the public interest since it’s
carried out under the color of law. Likewise, when military forces bomb and kill civilians
in times of war we are told that war is a messy business and “mistakes” are inevitable. In
the huge gray areas of real conflicts, the existence of tidy procedures provides a
convenient fiction that justifies varying degrees of random savagery. Legitimacy or
illegitimacy is not an inherent property of the act or acts; legitimacy or illegitimacy are
subject to interpretation.
The U.S. State Department defines terrorism as “premeditated, politically
motivated violence perpetrated against noncombatant targets by subnational groups or
clandestine agents, usually intended to influence an audience” (Title 22 of the United
States Code, Section 2656f(d)).
The State Department’s definition is better than the FBI’s, but it implicitly
excludes state-sponsored terror since the agents of such terror are state actors.
Britannica Dictionary defines terrorism this way:
“Terrorism, n. the systematic use of violence to create a general climate of
fear in a population and thereby to bring about a particular political
objective. Terrorism has been practiced by political organizations with
both rightist and leftist objectives, by nationalistic and religious groups, by
revolutionaries, and even by state institutions such as armies,
This is better still, but neither it nor the State Department’s definition specifies that a key
characteristic of terrorism is its indifference to the injury or death of innocent victims or
even terrorism’s deliberate targeting of innocents.
Finally, here is the USA PATRIOT Act’s definition for a new crime dubbed
“domestic terrorism:” “acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal
laws … [if such acts] … appear to be intended …to influence the policy of a government
by intimidation or coercion.”
Obviously, by this definition, any act of civil disobedience and any political
protest could be readily categorized as “domestic terrorism” since they are all designed to
influence the government’s policy. Someone, after all, can always trip and get hurt.
Lobbyists, obviously, intend to influence government policy. The PATRIOT Act’s
definition for “domestic terrorism” is so broad that it robs the term terrorism of all real
meaning and makes it instead a catch-all label that can be used against almost any
dissenters or advocates of policy that those in power do not appreciate. Environmental or
animal rights activists, for example, do not target people. What they engage in might
more properly be described as sabotage. Yet because a spray can might blow up while a
saboteur is using it to deface a Humvee, for example, they could be (and have been)
classified as “ecoterrorists” or “domestic terrorists.” If truckers, to use a different
example, were to engage in a strike action or demonstration in which they used their
trucks to block traffic in D.C. for an hour or more, this could arguably be seen as
dangerous to human life and be treated as terrorism. Indeed, a group of demonstrators in
Salt Lake City a few years ago were prosecuted as “domestic terrorists” for interfering
with commercial businesses retail sales on the street where they were demonstrating.
Simply put, the PATRIOT Act’s definition of terrorism renders the term meaningless
except as an amorphous bogeyman.
Terrorism properly defined is
The systematic use of force against persons or property with the intent to
induce a general climate of fear in a population in order to produce a
particular political objective. Such actions are carried out with either
deliberate indifference to the fates of, or involve the conscious targeting
of, noncombatant individuals.
I include the explicit mention of innocent civilians in my definition because terrorism
differs from political violence in that it is designed to induce fear by the injury or death
of innocents.
This definition has the virtue of bypassing the question of legitimacy since, as
everyone knows, “one man’s freedom fighter is another man’s terrorist.” By bypassing
the question of legitimacy, it allows us to more impartially define whether something is
terrorist or not. Of course, it isn’t really possible to offer a definition that everyone will
accept. Some people will never accept a definition that includes the actions of their own
War and State/Anti-State Terror
Wars are commonly depicted in bravado terms that overlook or drastically
minimize any casualties, especially among civilians. Witness, for example, then Fox
News’ Tony Snow’s cheerleading the initial quick toppling of Saddham Hussein on April
13, 2003:
“Tommy Franks and the coalition forces have demonstrated the old axiom
that boldness on the battlefield produces swift and relatively bloodless
victory. The three-week swing through Iraq has utterly shattered skeptics’
The toppling of Hussein and the invasion were not relatively bloodless.
If innocents are hurt or killed or their property damaged and states are called to
account for it happening, their explanations are likely to be that these acts were the
product of rogue individuals, “collateral damage,” or the innocents hurt or killed were
being used as “human shields” by the individual(s) the state was really targeting. States
invariably respond that they had no intent to hurt, kill or damage innocents. It was
accidental or unavoidable through no fault of theirs.
Of course in the course of war, even states that are being as careful as they can be
and are not trying to deceive will sometimes inadvertently hurt innocents. The issue here
is not individual acts then, it is one of state policy. Is the policy one that intends to do
harm, or reflects utter indifference and criminal recklessness with respect, to civilians? If
so, then it’s terrorism.
Anti-state terrorism and state terrorism share, at a minimum, an indifference to
civilians’ fates and in most instances they both deliberately target civilians. The object in
both cases is to strike fear in the population in order to provoke a particular political
response. Anti-state terrorists intend for the fear and disruption they cause within the
population to provoke the state into granting certain political concessions. In most
instances, anti-state terrorists want to cause a state to be toppled. States that use terrorism
intend for it to cause their opponents and their supporters to give up their fight. State use
of terror is deliberately indiscriminate: you are supposed to be terrified that you or your
love ones could be the next target, merely for being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Two Sides of the Same Coin
Both anti-state terrorism and state terrorism share therefore a fundamentally
identical attitude towards the people – people are political objects to be acted upon, rather
than subjects to whom we can appeal. They are best moved through the generous
application of fear. Anti-state and state terrorism both evidence contempt and cynicism
towards people. In that sense anti-state and state terrorism are both profoundly, deeply,
anti-democratic and anti-humane.
Bush and Cheney’s war on terror is the obverse side of the coin from Bin Laden’s
jihad. Osama Bin Laden has on a number of occasions subtly signaled his pleasure with
Bush and Cheney’s policies. Recruiting soldiers to his jihad is far easier with Bush and
Cheney in charge. Both sides of this global war on terror – Bush/Cheney and al-Qaeda –
present a unity of opposites: each needs the other and profits from the existence of the
other. The CIA, in fact, concluded that Bin Laden’s October 2004 videotaped message
just prior to the November 2004 presidential elections was actually intended to help
Bush.7 “Atiyah,” a top Osama Bin Laden lieutenant, states in an intercepted Dec. 11,
2005 letter that “prolonging the war is in our interest.”8 And in May 2007 Ayman al-
Zawahiri, an al-Qaeda leader, released a message stating that they hoped that American
troops would remain in Iraq longer so that they can kill enough Americans to make our
invasion produce changes to our policies.9
Bush and Cheney’s approach has been to use the fear of attacks to consolidate
their power and control – witness the PATRIOT Act and illegal spying – rather than to
take obvious steps that would truly help make America safer, such as safeguarding port
cargo security. Their priorities in response to 9/11 make it clear they are not even
7Robert Parry, “Al-Qaeda’s Fragile Foothold,” October 4, 2006,
8 Ibid.
9 “Zawahiri expressed some mock anguish over what he sees as a too-early US
withdrawal from Iraq.
“Such an action, he said, ‘Will deprive us of the opportunity to destroy the American
forces which we have caught in a historic trap. We ask Allah that they only get out of it
after losing two or three hundred thousand killed.’” Michael Scheuer, “Al-Qaeda message
aimed at US living rooms,” Asia Times, May 10, 2007,
particularly interested in preventing another attack. Indeed, in recent weeks, several
people who support or represent the White House have made it astonishingly clear that
another 9/11 would be good and necessary because it would justify the White House’s
Dennis Milligan, new Arkansas GOP Chairman: “[A]ll we need is some attacks
on American soil like we had on [9/11], and the naysayers will come around very quickly
to appreciate not only the commitment for President Bush, but the sacrifice that has been
made by men and women to protect this country.” (June 3, 2007).
Rick Santorum, ex-Senator from Pennsylvania: “Between now and November, a
lot of things are going to happen, and I believe that by this time next year, the American
public’s going to have a very different view of this war, and it will be because, I think, of
some unfortunate events, that like we’re seeing unfold in the UK. But I think the
American public’s going to have a very different view.” (July 7, 2007, speaking on the
Hugh Hewitt Show).
Lt.-Col. Doug Delaney, War Studies Program Chair, Royal Military College in
Kingston, Ontario: “The key to bolstering Western resolve is another terrorist attack like
9/11 or the London transit bombings of two years ago.” (Delaney paraphrased by Toronto
Star reporter, Andrew Chung.) “If nothing happens, it will be harder still to say this is
necessary,” adds Delaney. (July 8, 2007). (Boldfacing added)
A Sacramento Democratic strategist, paraphrased by one of the pro-impeachment
Democrats at a recent Democratic gathering, offering the following as one of the reasons
why he thinks impeachment is foolhardy for the Democratic Party: “there will be another
terrorist attack between now and next November…the public will run into the arms of the
Republicans as a cause of that, and … Democrats are essentially helpless to do anything
about that.” (July 17, 2007).
Jack Goldsmith, former head of the Office of Legal Counsel in 2003 and 2004, in
his book The Terror Presidency quotes David Addington, Cheney’s current Chief of
Staff, as saying in a February 2004 meeting: “We’re one bomb away from getting rid of
that obnoxious [FISA] court.”10
Or, as Nazi Leader Hermann Goring put it in 1946:
“The people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders . . . tell them they
are being attacked, and denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism and exposing the
country to danger.”11
The corollary to the Bush administration’s rights violations and illegal
surveillance at home are violations of the rules of war that amount to state terror. The
U.S. military in Abu Ghraib and at GITMO and in their assault on Fallujah and Hilla,
where they specifically suspended international rules of war by aiming phosphorous
missiles at people and shooting at anyone who moved, rule through terror. In the case of
Hilla, where they used cluster bombs on civilian areas, the object was to quickly crush
any resistance to their drive to Baghdad because they did not think that American public
opinion would tolerate a protracted war campaign. In the case of the siege of Fallujah, the
point was to punish the people of Fallujah for their support of the insurgents.
10 http://www.washingtonpost.com/wpdyn/
11 A conversation Gustave Gilbert held with Goering in his cell on the evening of April 18, 1946, recorded
in Gilbert’s book, Nuremberg Diary (New York: Farrar, Straus, 1947), pp. 255–256.
A state that uses terror reveals itself to be in a particularly precarious state. It’s
precarious because it must resort to means exceeding those that states normally employ in
order to carry out their policies and/or in order to retain their power. This so-called war
on terror cannot be won the way it is being waged. Indeed, it only guarantees the spread
of anti-state terror and its growing virulence indefinitely. It’s like fighting a fire by
thinking that you can drown the fire with barrels and barrels of gasoline. As the
conflagration grows ever higher, Bush and Cheney call out: “We need more gasoline
The Bigger the Failure, the Greater Their Success
A vicious paradox characterizes this White House: the more they fail, the more
they succeed in getting what they wanted all along and the more grounds they marshal
and spin to justify their continued leadership. After Katrina ravaged an unprotected New
Orleans, Bush stated that he wanted to see the Posse Comitatus Act overturned – the Civil
War law that prohibits the use of military forces in domestic affairs. Soldiers are ill-suited
by training and mission to handle domestic matters. The “grave and deteriorating”
situation in Iraq where American and other forces are charged with handling domestic
affairs to a large extent are further living evidence of this.
Bush got his wish in the John Warner Defense Authorization Act of 2007 that he
signed into law in a private ceremony the same day he signed the Military Commissions
Act of 2006 in October 2006.12 The Warner Act, unbeknownst to nearly the entire U.S.
population, gives the president the power to declare a “public emergency” and take
control of National Guard Units – the National Guard is ordinarily under the control of
12 http://www.bordc.org/threats/hr5122.php
state governors – to conduct mass roundups, arrests and detentions. The Warner Act, in
other words, is a martial law enabling act.13 The Act calls for the president to inform a
handful of members of Congress if he does declare a “public emergency” to reveal what
he’s doing and why he’s doing it. In his signing statement, 14 however, Bush declared that
he reserves the right not to tell anyone in Congress why he’s declared martial law and
what he’s doing.
A tragically all too plausible and all too possible scenario whereby the president
invokes the Warner Act would be a nuclear device being set off in a U.S. city, killing tens
or hundreds of thousands immediately and endangering millions more. Bin Laden, as
Scheuer has pointed out, has already received permission to use nukes.
“You’ve written no one should be surprised when Osama bin Laden and al
Qaeda detonate a weapon of mass destruction in the United States,” says
Kroft. “You believe that’s going to happen?”

“I think it’s pretty close to being inevitable,” says Scheuer.

“[Bin Laden] secured from a Saudi sheik named Hamid bin Fahd a rather
long treatise [a fatwa issued in May 2003]… that [bin Laden] was
perfectly within his rights to use [nukes]. Muslims argue that the United
States is responsible for millions of dead Muslims around the world, so
reciprocity would mean you could kill millions of Americans.”15
What would Bush do in case of another 9/11? Imagine the chaos that would ensue
after a nuclear (or chemical or biological) attack. Bush would most likely declare martial
law, suspend civil rights, civil liberties, muzzle the press and, if it occurs close enough to
13 http://www.towardfreedom.com/home/content/view/911/
14 http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2006/10/20061017-9.html
15 60 Minutes interview November 14, 2004, available at
November 2008, quite possibly also suspend elections. The Democratic Party would
undoubtedly join the chorus demanding the most draconian anti-terrorism measures
possible in order to “prove” their patriotism. The country would stand “united in outrage”
and at one with the martial law president who promises us, against the (video) backdrop
of a major American city in ruins, to find and punish the perpetrators of this terrible act
and to wage an unremitting, indefinite war against terror. All bets would be off and all
prior “normality,” all pretences of “checks and balances” and due process would be a
quaint and increasingly distant memory.
If Bush and Cheney, in other words, fail once again to prevent a terrorist attack on
the U.S., they would be rewarded with their fondest wish: unbridled dictatorial powers.
The fact that their approval ratings are today at historic lows would be wiped away in one
day. In George Orwell’s classic, 1984, Big Brother declares, “War is peace.” In Bush’s
America, “failure is success.”
Should this scenario come to pass, no one can say that we weren’t warned.
Warnings of the 9/11 attacks were numerous, dire and ignored. The most blatant of these
was the August 6, 2001 Presidential Daily Bulletin that warned Bush that Bin Laden
might be planning to hijack commercial airliners. The PDB was entitled “Bin Laden
Determined to Strike in the United States.”16 It specifically mentioned the World Trade
Despite what they knew before 9/11, the Bush White House did nothing to alert
NORAD of potential hijacking, nor did they step up security at the airports. Suspects
were not followed up with, despite repeated and urgent requests to do so from FBI field-
16 http://news.findlaw.com/hdocs/docs/terrorism/80601pdb.html
agents who were shocked to find Arabs taking flight lessons with no interest in learning
how to land.
Condi Rice, in spite of the foregoing, declared on May 16, 2002 to the 9/11
Commission: “I don’t think anybody could have predicted that they would try to use an
airplane as a missile, a hijacked airplane as a missile.” Rice insisted that nobody knew
who, when and where and therefore their inaction was appropriate – they didn’t have
Mohammed Atta’s exact itinerary after all.
As Thomas Kean, former Republican Governor of New Jersey and 9/11
Commission Chairman, concluded, 9/11 “was not something that had to happen…. There
are people that, if I was doing the job, would certainly not be in the position they were in
at that time because they failed. They simply failed,” Kean said.
The Losing War on Terror: Is It Cultural Myopia?
Scheuer attributes the counter-productiveness of Bush and Cheney’s war on terror
to cultural myopia. Cultural myopia certainly helps to explain the disastrous wars on
Afghanistan and Iraq: an arrogance and laziness of mind that treats everything and
everyone in the world through the lens of American values, practices and behaviors.
“With regret,” the Russian official said, “I have to say that you are going to get the hell
kicked out of you [in Afghanistan].” One of the Americans responded… “We’re going to
kill them,” the U.S. official asserted. “We’re going to put their heads on sticks. We’re
going to rock their world.”17 This kind of grotesque arrogance can explain much about
why we’re losing these wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, but it does not explain why the neocons
wanted to invade Afghanistan and Iraq in the first place prior to 9/11. It does not
17Scheuer, op cit, p. 29, quoting from Bob Woodward’s Bush at War, p. 103.
explain their outsourcing their pursuit of Bin Laden and their willful substitution of Bin
Laden as Public Enemy No. 1 with Saddham Hussein. Cultural myopia and arrogance can
account for tactical blunders but they do not explain the overall strategy.
Bush and Cheney knew when they launched their campaign to parlay the anger
and fear of Americans as a result of 9/11 into an invasion of Iraq that Saddham Hussein
and Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11. They elected to go after Iraq under the signboard of
the “war on terror” knowing that al-Qaeda was elsewhere. Bush and Cheney’s so-called
preventive war doctrine that rationalizes their unprovoked aggression on countries that
pose no threat to the U.S. therefore bears no relationship in actual fact to the dangers
posed by al-Qaeda and by anti-state terrorism in general. Incompetence and cultural
arrogance do not comprise the central reason for their bungling this “war on terror.” As
Scheuer points out, Bush and Cheney need their putative enemy Osama Bin Laden just as
much as Bin Laden needs his foil in Bush and Cheney.
The anti-terrorism measures employed by the White House are not just
dramatically counter-productive; their anti-terror measures appear to be designed
primarily to repress and control the U.S. population and other countries. The White
House ordered the NSA to carry out massive warrantless surveillance of Americans’
phone calls before 9/11. 18 Bush has openly mused that a dictatorship would be fine, as
18 USA Today first reported on this on May 11, 2006, “NSA has Massive Database of
Americans’ Phone Calls,” http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2006-05-10-
nsa_x.htm. Subsequently, it came to light in lawsuits and briefs that the NSA sought to
initiate this illegal spying seven months before 9/11. Qwest Communications’ CEO
Joseph Nacchio states that he met with the NSA on February 27, 2001 and was asked to
participate in this. He refused. AT&T and Verizon, however, complied. See “Documents:
Qwest was Targeted,” by Sarah Burnett and Jeff Smith, Rocky Mountain News, October
11, 2007:
long as he was the dictator.19 Moreover, since taking office he and Cheney have
aggressively and consistently asserted unrestricted executive powers, claiming under the
Federalist Society’s doctrine of the “unitary executive” that Bush’s role as commander
and chief grants him the right to make law and override the law at his sole discretion. On
May 9, 2007, with little fanfare, and no protests from the Democratic Party, Bush issued
two new presidential directives, the National Security Presidential Directive/NSPD 5120
and Homeland Security Presidential Directive/HSPD–20. These allow Bush to decide on
his own say so when and if a national emergency has occurred and give him the power to
carry on governance without any role for Congress or any other branch of the government
whatsoever. Dictatorship is the term most apropos here. The Bush administration’s
shocking actions and policies are not, however, an aberration. They are actually a
continuation and acceleration at a higher level of policies begun in earnest under Reagan
and carried forward with somewhat different attributes by Clinton.
Whether Bush and Cheney are failing to prevent disasters out of sheer
incompetence, reckless arrogance, or because they know that their war on terror is a fraud
and they wage it merely as a cover for their real objectives does not, in one sense, matter.
Did they fail to prevent 9/11 because they could not connect the dots that would have
00.html, “Did the NSA Retaliate Against Qwest?” by Steve Benen, The Carpetbagger
Report, October 11, 2007: http://www.thecarpetbaggerreport.com/archives/13201.html
and “Former Phone Chief Says Spy Agency Sought Surveillance Help Before 9/11,” by
Scott Shane, New York Times, October 14, 2007:
19 Bush has said this out loud at least three times. See
20 http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2007/05/20070509-12.html.
been glaringly obvious to even a high school student of ordinary intelligence? Were they
too distracted by their other plans? In any case, the net result for the rest of us is the
same: a dangerous and unprecedented policy of repression and coercion, with no end in
Consider the following highly abbreviated list: the legalization and ongoing
practice of torture, the doctrine and practice of pre-emptive attacks, targeting of civilians
during war, the open and ongoing violation of the 1978 FISA law through the warrantless
surveillance of hundreds of millions of Americans, the stripping of habeas corpus rights
and the consequent indefinite detentions, the Warner Act, NSPD-51, the USA PATRIOT
Act, the Protect America Act of 2007, and hundreds of signing statements that override
the laws passed by Congress. Breaching long-standing civil liberties and fundamental
beliefs in American governance risks generating severe fissures in the social compact.
Clearly, we face an extraordinary situation, one unlike any this country has ever
seen. Civil liberties and rights that were won through the American Revolution and were
secured through the battle for the Bill of Rights are now gone. But what exactly is this
extraordinary situation? Is it the presence and actions of anti-state terrorists such as al-
Qaeda? Or is it the actions undertaken by our government in alleged response to anti-state
Can we afford to wait out Bush and Cheney’s term in the White House? Every
single day that they remain in office is another day that innocent people are being
tortured, global warming goes unheeded, and the problems they are exacerbating
intensely fester and threaten to explode into a disaster that will make Katrina and 9/11,
horrific as they were, appear surprisingly small by comparison.


The “Long War”: Who’s winning

It ain’t us…

by Justin Raimondo, January 06, 2010

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It has been eight years since al-Qaeda attacked the Twin Towers and the Pentagon: eight long years in which the “war on terrorism” – begun by George W. Bush in a blaze of righteousness, and since carried on by his successor, in Afghanistan and Pakistan – has been waged on several fronts. So, how are we doing?

No one can honestly say we are winning, or anywhere close to it. Osama bin Laden and the top leadership of al-Qaeda are still at large, still issuing messages mocking their pursuers and vowing fresh terrorist attacks to come. One of those messages, communicated by bin Laden himself in the days before the 2004 presidential election, effectively demonstrates not only our ongoing defeat but also the reason for it:

“All that we have to do is to send two mujahidin to the furthest point east to raise a piece of cloth on which is written al-Qaeda, in order to make the generals race there to cause America to suffer human, economic, and political losses without their achieving for it anything of note other than some benefits for their private companies.

“This is in addition to our having experience in using guerrilla warfare and the war of attrition to fight tyrannical superpowers, as we, alongside the mujahidin, bled Russia for 10 years, until it went bankrupt and was forced to withdraw in defeat.”

As we race from Afghanistan to Iraq, back to Afghanistan, into Pakistan and now into Yemen, bin Laden must be chortling in his cave, somewhere, contemplating the undoubted success of his strategy. As what the war aficionados and amateur grand strategists call the “Long War” approaches the end of its first decade, the fact that we are losing – and losing badly – cannot have escaped the attention of Western leaders. This is underscored by the most recent attacks – the post-9/11 wave of seemingly minor incidents (or, at least, minor in comparison to what happened on 9/11) – and the Western response.

It started out light. First there was Richard Reid (December, 2001), then a gunman, Hesham Mohamed Hadayet, opened fire at an El Al ticket counter at LAX (July, 2002); in 2004, the Madrid train bombings; in 2006, the first suicide bombings in Europe occurred in Britain, but, again, nothing on the scale of 9/11. The one major plot, the transatlantic liquid bomb plot, was scotched by British security services: another bomb plot, in 2008, failed. In 2009, there was this incident, which, in retrospect – in view of the Yemen connection – may be significant, the Ft. Hood massacre, which also has a Yemen connection, and the most recent attack: the abortive bomb attempt carried out by Umar Farouk Abdel Muttalib, yet another Yemen-connected incident.

If we step back, and take an overview, we can see two patterns emerging: first, the utter ineffectiveness of the idea that invading and occupying Muslim countries (Afghanistan, Iraq) could have any appreciable effect on al-Qaeda’s operations aimed at the US and Western Europe. Indeed, it seems US military action in Afghanistan and Iraq only aided bin Laden’s recruitment efforts, particularly in Europe.

The “flypaper” strategy, once hailed by Andrew Sullivan and other “war-bloggers” boomeranged badly: instead, we are the ones stuck to the flypaper, and stuck with costly and counterproductive military campaigns that show no signs of ever coming to an end.

Treating this as a problem for the military to solve, rather than more traditional law enforcement methods, has proved a failure. In that 2004 video message, bin Laden gloated that he would bankrupt the United States – and can anyone deny that he has succeeded?

The second pattern to emerge from the past eight or so years is the relative amateurism and ineffectuality that has characterized attempts by al-Qaeda to hit the continental US. Losers like Reid, Hassan, and now Muttalib were essentially drones acting largely on their own. Muttalib reportedly went to Yemen, where he was supposedly “trained” and equipped by al-Qaeda, but, as we can see, this training was about as effective as the bomb itself, i.e. pathetic. It seems clear that al-Qaeda planners didn’t much care if their agents succeeded or failed. The point of these attacks seems to have been to keep our attention focused on airliners, and our efforts focused on weeding out potential terrorists from the millions of daily travelers. I might add that the pace of these drone attacks has picked up: three in the last year.

So what is al-Qaeda up to? A number of analysts have stated that the “drone” attacks mean al-Qaeda is exhausted, and unable to launch a major attack on US soil: they are flailing about, sending these losers on suicide missions that have little chance of success, and, even if successful, would have little impact on the American colossus. This view is utterly mistaken.

In order to see what is really going on, I believe we have to go back to the seminal event, the 9/11 attacks, and get a clear picture of what was happening in the months and weeks prior to that fateful day in September.

Al-Qaeda was already entrenched in the US, having placed its foot soldiers on our soil years before, patiently training and waiting for The Day. In addition, in the months prior to September 11, 2001, a massive effort to penetrate sensitive US government and military facilities was underway. The National Counter-Intelligence Center (NCIC) published an “alert” averring that groups of individuals who described themselves as “Israeli art students” were showing up at government offices and military installations, trying to gain entry:

“In the past six weeks, employees in federal office buildings located throughout the United States have reported suspicious activities connected with individuals representing themselves as foreign students selling or delivering artwork. Employees have observed both males and females attempting to bypass facility security and enter federal buildings.”

They were also showing up “at the homes of senior officials,” according to the NCIC, a development that must have set off alarm bells throughout the counter-intelligence apparatus. An inter-agency report was compiled and leaked to the public, which named names and gave a very specific account of who these Israeli “visitors” were, and what they were up to: many had backgrounds in intelligence and the military, with a specialty in electronic eavesdropping.

The activities of these “art students” were reported by Christopher Ketcham in a piece for Salon.com, but it was Carl Cameron, at Fox News, who really blew the lid off of the “Israeli art student” story in the aftermath of 9/11, in mid-December, 2001, with a four-part series on Israeli spying in the US. His first report started off with a bang. Noting that “more than 60” (later, around 200) Israelis had been picked up in the wake of 9/11 under the same anti-terrorist rubric as the “sweep” of Arabs living in the US, Cameron averred:

“There is no indication that the Israelis were involved in the 9-11 attacks, but investigators suspect that they Israelis may have gathered intelligence about the attacks in advance, and not shared it. A highly placed investigator said there are ‘tie-ins.’ But when asked for details, he flatly refused to describe them, saying, “evidence linking these Israelis to 9-11 is classified. I cannot tell you about evidence that has been gathered. It’s classified information.

As Oliver Schrom wrote in Die Zeit, the respected German weekly, there is convincing evidence that the 9/11 hijackers were being trailed by Israeli agents:

“Not until after the attacks of September 11 did the consequences of the spy ring become clear. Apparently the agents were not interested in military or industrial facilities, but were shadowing a number of suspects, who were later involved in the terrorist attacks against the US. According to a report of the French intelligence agency that Die Zeit examined, ‘according to the FBI, Arab terrorists and suspected terror cells lived in Phoenix, Arizona, as well as in Miami and Hollywood, Florida from December 2000 to April 2001 in direct proximity to the Israeli spy cells.’”

Like the recent wave of al-Qaeda bombers, the “art students” were pretty ineffective – drones, easily detected and/or prevented from carrying out their missions. Ketcham theorized that the Israelis were a planned diversion, designed to draw attention and resources away from the 9/11 hijackers and focus it on the platoons of “art students” who were suddenly showing up at government offices – some of which weren’t on any map or in any telephone directory. Citing an anonymous intelligence official, Ketcham wrote:

“The art student ring was a smoke screen intended to create confusion and allow actual spies – who were also posing as art students – to be lumped together with the rest and escape detection. In other words, the operation is an elaborate double fake-out, a hiding-in-plain-sight scam. Whoever dreamed it up thought ahead to the endgame and knew that the DEA-stakeout aspect was so bizarre that it would throw off American intelligence. According to this theory … Israeli agents wanted, let’s say, to monitor al-Qaida members in Florida and other states. But they feared detection. So to provide cover, and also to create a dizzyingly Byzantine story that would confuse the situation, Israeli intel flooded areas of real operations with these bumbling ‘art student’” – who were told to deliberately stake out DEA agents.”

Confused, preoccupied, and stretching their personnel and resources to the max, the US intelligence-gathering agencies were blinded to the warning signs that indicated the 9/11 plot. The Israeli “art student” smokescreen worked like a charm.

The same sort of smokescreen effect has blinded us to al-Qaeda’s future plans, focusing our attention on airliners and anticipating a repeat of the methods employed by them on 9/11, i.e. using an airliner as a weapon of mass destruction. Indeed, the parallels with the pre-9/11 landscape are ominous, including the strong suspicion that the al-Qaeda bombers and would-be bombers, such as Mr. Muttalib, had some sort of outside assistance: see the account of the “well-dressed Indian man” described by Michigan attorney Kurt Haskell. Haskell was a passenger on the plane, and, as he was waiting to board, overheard the Indian trying to get Muttalib on the plane without the proper papers. And then there is the suggestion that the investigation into Muttalib – the apparent indifference of the CIA and/or the US State Department to the warnings of the would-be bomber’s father that his son posed a danger – was deliberately scuttled. This isn’t just some fringe crank making this suggestion, but MSNBC reporter Richard Wolfe:

“The question is why didn’t the centralized system of intelligence that was set up after 9/11, why didn’t it work?  Is it conspiracy or cock up? Is it a case of the agencies having so much rivalry between them that they were more determined to stymie each other or the centralized system rather than the terrorist threat or was it just that there were so many dots no one could connect them because it was just all too random to figure out.  It seems that the president is leaning very much towards thinking this was a systemic failure by individuals who maybe had an alternative agenda.”

“An alternative agenda”? In the context of al-Qaeda’s ongoing campaign to inflict a mortal blow on the US, what can this “alternative agenda” consist of?

Keith Olbermann, naturally, is hysterically implying that this is all a Republican plot to discredit Obama and oust the Democrats, but once we get past such juvenile rantings, and take Wolfe’s reporting at face value – that the President of the United States is “leaning very much toward” the idea that the vetting of Muttalib was deliberately botched – the possibility that al-Qaeda has allies in high places is taken out of the realm of the fantastic and given real legs.

Let’s step back, once again, and see where we are: a series of post-9/11 incidents involving individual terrorists on the periphery of al-Qaeda, suicidal “drones” sent to inflict damage without much care taken to ensure their success. And, recently, the pace of these attacks is picking up…

This, I fear, is an effective smokescreen for what al-Qaeda is really planning: a large-scale terrorist assault, perhaps involving nuclear materials, that rivals 9/11 in scope and destructive power. While we’re fighting off these little pinpricks in the form of the Shoe-Bomber and the Panty-Bomber, the real deal is looming right around the next corner – and, perhaps like last time, with those “art students,” they have some sort of outside assistance (how else did Muttalib get on that plane?).

Our ports are unguarded: every day millions of tons of cargo pass through, without being inspected. Our nuclear facilities are far from secured (remember those nukes that went missing?) Our borders are notoriously porous, especially our southern border, across which pour tens of thousands of illegal immigrants on a daily basis: why not al-Qaeda?

In the name of a “war on terrorism,” we have gone abroad, seeking monsters to destroy – when the monsters, in seems, are in our very midst. Or, if they aren’t, then al-Qaeda is more incompetent than I’m willing to believe.

To answer the question posed at the beginning of this column: we are losing the “war on terrorism,” big-time. By concentrating our attention abroad, rather than on the home front, we have made bin Laden into an Islamic folk hero, swelled the ranks of al-Qaeda – and wasted our resources, opening ourselves up to a debilitating attack that could make 9/11 pale in comparison. In short, we have never been more vulnerable, or clueless, when it comes to facing the very real threat posed by al-Qaeda and its allies and enablers.

God help us all.

Read more by Justin Raimondo

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2010: Welcome to  Orwell’s world

2010: Welcome to Orwell’s World

by John Pilger, December 31, 2009

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In Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell described a superstate called Oceania, whose language of war inverted lies that “passed into history and became truth. ‘Who controls the past,’ ran the Party slogan, ‘controls the future; who controls the present controls the past.’”

Barack Obama is the leader of a contemporary Oceania. In two speeches at the close of the decade, the Nobel Peace Prize winner affirmed that peace was no longer peace, but rather a permanent war that “extends well beyond Afghanistan and Pakistan” to “disorderly regions and diffuse enemies.” He called this “global security” and invited our gratitude. To the people of Afghanistan, which America has invaded and occupied, he said wittily: “We have no interest in occupying your country.”

In Oceania, truth and lies are indivisible. According to Obama, the American attack on Afghanistan in 2001 was authorized by the United Nations Security Council. There was no UN authority. He said the “the world” supported the invasion in the wake of 9/11 when, in truth, all but three of 37 countries surveyed by Gallup expressed overwhelming opposition. He said that America invaded Afghanistan “only after the Taliban refused to turn over [Osama] bin Laden.” In 2001, the Taliban tried three times to hand over bin Laden for trial, reported Pakistan’s military regime, and were ignored.  Even Obama’s mystification of 9/11 as justification for his war is false. More than two months before the Twin Towers were attacked, the Pakistani foreign minister, Niaz Naik, was told by the Bush administration that an American military assault would take place by mid-October. The Taliban regime in Kabul, which the Clinton administration had secretly supported, was no longer regarded as “stable” enough to ensure America’s control over oil and gas pipelines to the Caspian Sea. It had to go.

Obama’s most audacious lie is that Afghanistan today is a “safe haven” for al-Qaeda’s attacks on the West. His own national security adviser, General James Jones, said in October that there were “fewer than 100” al-Qaeda in Afghanistan. According to US intelligence, 90 percent of the Taliban are hardly Taliban at all, but “a tribal localized insurgency [who] see themselves as opposing the US because it is an occupying power.”  The war is a fraud. Only the terminally gormless remain true to the Obama brand of “world peace.”

Beneath the surface, however, there is serious purpose. Under the disturbing General Stanley McChrystal, who gained distinction for his assassination squads in Iraq, the occupation of one of the most impoverished countries is a model for those “disorderly regions” of the world still beyond Oceania’s reach.  This is known as COIN, or counter-insurgency network, which draws together the military, aid organizations, psychologists, anthropologists, the media, and public relations hirelings.  Covered in jargon about winning hearts and minds, its aim is to pit one ethnic group against another and incite civil war: Tajiks and Uzbeks against Pashtuns.

The Americans did this in Iraq and destroyed a multi-ethnic society. They bribed and built walls between communities who had once inter-married, ethnically cleansing the Sunni and driving millions out of the country. The embedded media reported this as “peace,” and American academics bought by Washington and “security experts” briefed by the Pentagon appeared on the BBC to spread the good news. As in Nineteen Eighty-Four, the opposite was true.

Something similar is planned for Afghanistan. People are to be forced into “target areas” controlled by warlords bankrolled by the Americans and the opium trade. That these warlords are infamous for their barbarism is irrelevant. “We can live with that,” a Clinton-era diplomat said of the persecution of women in a “stable” Taliban-run Afghanistan. Favored western relief agencies, engineers, and agricultural specialists will attend to the “humanitarian crisis” and so “secure” the subjugated tribal lands.

That is the theory. It worked after a fashion in Yugoslavia where the ethnic-sectarian partition wiped out a once peaceful society, but it failed in Vietnam where the CIA’s “strategic hamlet program” was designed to corral and divide the southern population and so defeat the Viet Cong — the Americans’ catch-all term for the resistance, similar to “Taliban.”

Behind much of this are the Israelis, who have long advised the Americans in both the Iraq and Afghanistan adventures. Ethnic cleansing, wall-building, checkpoints, collective punishment, and constant surveillance – these are claimed as Israeli innovations that have succeeded in stealing most of Palestine from its native people. And yet for all their suffering, the Palestinians have not been divided irrevocably and they endure as a nation against all odds.

The most telling forerunners of the Obama Plan, which the Nobel Peace Prize winner and his strange general and his PR men prefer we forget, are those that failed in Afghanistan itself. The British in the 19th century and the Soviets in the 20th century attempted to conquer that wild country by ethnic cleansing and were seen off, though after terrible bloodshed. Imperial cemeteries are their memorials. People power, sometimes baffling, often heroic, remains the seed beneath the snow, and invaders fear it.

“It was curious,” wrote Orwell in Nineteen Eighty-Four, “to think that the sky was the same for everybody, in Eurasia or Eastasia as well as here. And the people under the sky were also very much the same, everywhere, all over the world … people ignorant of one another’s existence, held apart by walls of hatred and lies, and yet almost exactly the same people who … were storing up in their hearts and bellies and muscles the power that would one day overturn the world.”

Read more by John Pilger





!!! Shooting Handcuffed Children in Afghanistan !!!

Afghanistan Shooting Handcuffed Children by David Swanson

Global Research, January 3, 2010
After Downing Street – 2010-01-02

The occupied government of Afghanistan and the United Nations have both concluded that U.S.-led troops recently dragged eight sleeping children out of their beds, handcuffed some of them, and shot them all dead. While this apparently constitutes an everyday act of kindness, far less intriguing than the vicious singeing of his pubic hairs by Captain Underpants, it is at least a variation on the ordinary American technique of murdering men, women, and children by the dozens with unmanned drones.

Also this week in Afghanistan, eight CIA assassins (see if you can find a more appropriate name for them) were murdered by a suicide bombing that one of them apparently executed against the other seven. The Taliban in Pakistan claims credit and describes the mass-murder as revenge for the CIA’s drone killings. And we thought unmanned drones were War Perfected because none of the right people would have to risk their lives. Oops. Perhaps Detroit-bound passengers risked theirs unwittingly.

The CIA has declared its intention to seek revenge for the suicide strike. Who knows what the assassination of sleeping students was revenge for. Perhaps the next lunatic to try blowing up something in the United States will be seeking revenge for whatever Obama does to avenge the victims (television viewers?) of the Crotch Crusader. Certainly there will be numerous more acts of violence driven by longings for revenge against the drone pilots and the shooters of students.

In a civilized world, the alternative to vengeance is justice. Often we can even set aside feelings of revenge as long as we are able to act so as to deter more crime. But at the same time that the puppet president of Afghanistan is demanding the arrest of the troops who shot the handcuffed children, the puppet government of Iraq is facing up to the refusal of the United States to seriously prosecute the Blackwater assassins of innocent Iraqis. Justice will not be permitted as an alternative to vengeance — the mere idea is anti-American.

No one so much as blinks at the CIA’s avowal of vengeance for the recent suicide attack, never mind the illegality, because the entire illegal war on Afghanistan/Pakistan was launched and is still maintained as a pretended act of revenge for the crimes of 9-11. Of course, we’re not bombing the flight schools or the German and Spanish hotels. Of course , we admit that there are fewer than 100 members of Al Qaeda in Afghanistan. Of course we openly seek massive permanent bases and an oil pipeline. Of course, Obama’s decisions are all electoral calculations computed by the calculus of cowardice. Of course, we’re prosecuting the Butt Bomber as a criminal, just as we always used to prosecute criminals as criminals. Of course, revenge would not be a legal justification for war even if we could persuade ourselves it was a sane one. But the war is publicly understood as revenge, the resistance by its victims is understood as revenge, the escalation is understood as revenge for the resistance, and an eye for an eye slowly makes the whole world blind.

But here’s what we’ve forgotten: nothing is ever remotely as horrible as war. So, nothing can ever constitute a justification for launching or escalating or continuing a war. Dragging children out of bed and killing them is not a freak blip in the course of a war. It is war reduced to a comprehensible scale. It’s less war, not worse war. Everything we are spending our grandchildren’s unearned pay on, borrowed from China at great expense, all of it is for the murdering of human beings. And it will remain so for eternity, no matter how many times you chant “Support Duh Troops.”

I know many soldiers and mercenaries had few other options, given our failure to invest in any other industries. I know they’ve been lied to. I know they’re scared and tired. But they wouldn’t be there if we brought them home. And I support a full investment in their physical and mental and economic recovery. What I don’t support is anyone participating in these wars, and that includes every single American who is not putting every spare moment into demanding that Congress stop forking over the money.

It’s blood money. It’s payment for murder. It cannot be defended. It cannot be permitted. We must stop it now. We must shut down the place it comes from.

Not another dime. Not another dollar. Not another death. Not another thought of revenge.

David Swanson is the author of the new book “Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union” by Seven Stories Press.


The victims were located in three buildings, seven children were asleep in one, a guest and one student asleep in another and a farmer and his wife in the third building.
The headmaster of the school the attack took place at told The Times,“First the foreign troops entered the guest room and shot two of them. Then they entered another room and handcuffed the seven students. Then they killed them. Abdul Khaliq [the farmer] heard shooting and came outside. When they saw him they shot him as well. He was outside. That’s why his wife wasn’t killed.”
It is believed the attack was carried out by US Special Forces, who recently have been conducting operations in the border regions of Afghanistan. A NATO official said there exists “no direct evidence to substantiate” the claims coming out of Afghanistan.


U.N.: Afghans slain in troop raid were students

Agency says it warned against nighttime actions because of the risks

Afghanistan in pictures
AP Inside Afghanistan
Scenes of everyday life in Afghanistan against a backdrop of war.
Human toll of addiction
A look at how narcotics have ravaged Afghanistan and a detox center helping users.
AP On the front lines
Soldiers are fighting to suppress the Taliban and win over the Afghan people.
South and Central Asia video MORE VIDEO
Source: Tape exists of CIA bomb attack
Jan. 6: Joe Scarborough, Andrea Mitchell and Michael Crowley of the New Republic discuss the suicide bomb attack that claimed the lives of seven CIA employees in Afghanistan.

CIA officers double-crossedBumiller talks with Afghan vets
pool via AP Timeline of Afghan war
The origins of the war, the battles, and struggle for stability.
AP Best, worst of life in battle
Three Marines talk about the adrenaline rush and the anguish of fighting in Helmand province.
Getty Images A Marine’s diary
Video-based look at the start of Operation Strike of the Sword on July 2, 2009.
msnbc.com Torn by conflict
A look at Afghanistan’s people, geography and tumultuous history.
World Blog: Kabul, Afghanistan

Chaos and confusion – another day in Kabul

Afghanistan’s dogs of war sniff out mines

So what is the actual surge strategy?

updated 3:09 p.m. ET, Thurs., Dec . 31, 2009

KABUL – The United Nations said Thursday that a weekend raid by foreign troops in a tense eastern Afghan province killed eight local students and that it warned against nighttime actions by coalition forces because they often cause civilian deaths.

The Afghan government said its investigation has established that all 10 people killed Sunday in a remote village in Kunar province were civilians. Its officials said that eight of those killed were schoolchildren aged 12-14.

NATO officials initially said all the dead were insurgents, but later backed off by saying there was no evidence to substantiate the claims that they were civilians. They requested a joint Afghan-NATO investigation to reach an “impartial and accurate determination” of what happened.

UN special representative in Afghanistan Kai Eide said in a statement that the preliminary UN investigation showed “strong indication” that there were insurgents in the area at the time of the attack.

But, he added, “based on our initial investigation, eight of those killed were students enrolled in local schools.”

Sensitive issue
Civilian deaths are one of the most sensitive issues for international troops fighting the more than 8-year-old war. Although insurgents are responsible for the deaths of far more civilians, those blamed on coalition forces spark the most resentment and undermine the fight against the militants.

The coalition attack in Kunar has sparked protests by Afghans who have demanded that foreign troops leave the country.

Eide said the UN remained concerned about nighttime raids by coalition troops “given that they often result in lethal outcomes for civilians, the dangerous confusion that frequently arises when a family compound is invaded.”

“I appeal for calm while these investigations continue,” he said in the statement.

He said the U.N. “continues to investigate this incident to help bring clarity to the situation.” He welcomed efforts by the Afghan government and the international military to do the same.

Click for related content

CIA says 7 employees killed in Afghan attack
Afghan soldier kills U.S. service member
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Afghans shout ‘death to Obama’ over killings
Interactive map: Conflict in Afghanistan

A statement issued Thursday by the Afghan National Security Directorate said the government investigation showed no Afghan forces were involved and “international forces from an unknown address came to the area and without facing any armed resistance, put 10 youth in two rooms and killed them.

“They conducted this operation on their own without informing any security or local authorities of Afghanistan,” the statement said.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Afghans shout ‘death to Obama’ over killings

Investigator says most of dead were teen students, but NATO disputes that

Protesters chant anti-American slogans and burn an effigy of President Barack Obama in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, on Wednesday.View related photos
Rahmat Gul / AP

msnbc.com news services

updated 1:22 p.m. ET, Wed., Dec . 30, 2009

ASADABAD, Afghanistan – The head of a presidential delegation investigating the deaths of 10 people in eastern Afghanistan concluded Wednesday that civilians — including schoolchildren — were killed in an attack involving foreign troops, but NATO officials disputed that.

NATO spokesman Col. Wayne Shanks said in a statement NATO has no direct evidence to substantiate the Afghan probe’s findings, and the international force has requested an immediate joint investigation to find out what happened.

Asadullah Wafa, a senior adviser to President Hamid Karzai, gave conflicting numbers on the schoolchildren. He told The Associated Press by telephone that eight schoolchildren between the ages of 12 and 14 were among the dead discovered in a village house in the Narang district of Kunar province. But Reuters quoted him as saying that eight boys, ages 13 to 18, and two men in their 20s were killed.

A NATO official had said that initial reports from troops involved in the fighting on Sunday indicated that those killed were insurgents — all young males.

Civilian deaths are one of the most sensitive issues for foreign troops in Afghanistan, especially now when some additional 37,000 U.S. and NATO troops are being deployed to the war-ravaged country. Although far more civilians are killed by the Taliban, those blamed on international forces spark widespread resentment and undermine the fight against militants.

Afghans protested the deaths Wednesday in the eastern Afghan city of Jalalabad and in the capital of Kabul.

In the capital of Nangahar province, which borders Kunar, around 200 university students took to the streets to protest against the raid, demanding those responsible be brought to justice.

“Death to Obama. Down with Karzai,” they shouted.

Wafa said he was convinced all those killed in the Kunar incident were innocent civilians.

“I have talked to the principal of the school in the village and he gave us details about the killed children,” Wafa said in Asadabad, the provincial capital of Kunar.

Afghanistan army flunks Pentagon report card
Dec. 29: A sobering assessment of Afghanistan’s security forces has raised new questions about whether America’s partners in the fight against terrorism are fit for the task.Nightly News

The bodies had already been buried by the time Wafa’s team arrived. A joint Afghan-NATO probe will continue to investigate what happened.

Wafa said the villagers demanded from the 10-member delegation of government officials and lawmakers that informants “who gave the wrong target to the Americans must be found and punished by a court.”

Karzai said in a statement Wednesday that he talked to the relatives of the Kunar victims to express his condolences and pledge to bring to justice those responsible for the attack.

Col. Wayne Shanks, spokesman for NATO’s International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, said at a news conference Wednesday the allegations were being investigated together with Afghan authorities.

He said the force takes all such allegations seriously and goes to great lengths to avoid civilian casualties.

Click for related content

Afghan soldier kills U.S. service member
U.S. lawmakers push for election delay
Interactive map: Conflict in Afghanistan

“In fact, you can see that our enemy, the insurgents, have very little regard for the Afghan people,” he said. “We have noticed a very dramatic increase in civilian casualties caused by roadside bombs, by attacks that insurgents have on the Afghan people.”

The latest figures released by the United Nations show that 2,021 civilians died during clashes in the first 10 months of this year, up from 1,838 for the same period last year. Taliban insurgents were blamed for 68 percent of the deaths this year — three times more than NATO forces, according to the U.N.

The weekend attack came in Kunar province, one of the most remote and unstable corners of eastern Afghanistan.


Shooting Handcuffed Children: Afghans Take to Streets.

For OpEdNews: Ralph Lopez – Writer

Note, the first order of the day: Did McChrystal authorize? Haul him back to Washington to answer some questions. Who gave the order? Further note: NOT investigating this puts US soldiers at risk, and may already be responsible for the attack killing 8 at CIA station Base Chapman. Chapman attack was days after massacre.

Burning an effigy of Obama and the American flag, Afghans have taken to the streets over the execution of children, ranging in age from 12 to 18, who were pulled from their beds by Special Operations forces in the middle of the night, handcuffed, and shot. The US confirms that there were no other forces in the region at the time. AFP:

“Hundreds of university students blocked main roads in Jalalabad, capital of eastern Nangahar province, to protest the alleged deaths of 10 civilians, mostly school children, in a Western military operation on Saturday.”

The UN through MSNBC said,

“The United Nations said Thursday that a weekend raid by foreign troops in a tense eastern Afghan province killed eight local students…”


shooting Handcuffed Children in Afghanistan
Sunday, 03 January 2010 21:07
Share Link:By David SwansonBy David Swanson

Silly me. I thought I could comment on something that was in the news without proving that it was in the news. Maybe this will help:

UN says Afghans slain in troop raid were students By DUSAN STOJANOVIC, Associated Press Writer, Thu Dec 31, 1:26 pm ET http://news. yahoo.com/ s/ap/20091231/ ap_on_re_ as/as_afghanista n_un

KABUL – The United Nations said Thursday that a weekend raid by foreign troops in a tense eastern Afghan province killed eight local students and warned against nighttime actions by coalition forces because they often cause civilian deaths.

The Afghan government said its investigation has established that all 10 people killed Sunday in a remote village in Kunar province were civilians. Its officials said that eight of those killed were schoolchildren aged 12-14. . . .

UN special representative in Afghanistan Kai Eide said in a statement that the preliminary UN investigation showed “strong indication” that there were insurgents in the area at the time of the attack.

But, he added, “based on our initial investigation, eight of those killed were students enrolled in local schools.” . . .

Eide said the UN remained concerned about nighttime raids by coalition troops “given that they often result in lethal outcomes for civilians, the dangerous confusion that frequently arises when a family compound is invaded.” . . .

A statement issued Thursday by the Afghan National Security Directorate said the government investigation showed no Afghan forces were involved and “international forces from an unknown address came to the area and without facing any armed resistance, put 10 youth in two rooms and killed them.

“They conducted this operation on their own without informing any security or local authorities of Afghanistan, ” the statement said.


Associated Press writer Rahim Faiez in Kabul contributed to this report.

I’ve excerpted much of the above article, but not the military denials. Go read them at the link above. Here’s the Los Angeles Times: “Western troops killed civilians, Afghan investigators say The government investigators say eight of those killed over the weekend in a remote eastern province were boys under 18. Western military officials say there is no evidence to back the claim. By Laura King, Los Angeles Times, December 31, 2009

Reporting from Kabul, Afghanistan – Afghan government investigators asserted Wednesday that foreign troops had killed 10 civilians in a raid this week, including eight students younger than 18. Western military officials called the charge unsubstantiated and urged a joint investigation. . . .

A statement from the presidential palace said Karzai had offered condolences to the families of the dead, and endorsed the initial findings of an investigative panel that had traveled to Kunar at his behest.

The head of the Afghan delegation, Asadullah Wafa, said 10 males, all civilians, were taken from their homes in Ghazikhan village, in the Narang district, and then shot dead by foreign troops. The report cited the village schoolmaster as identifying eight of them as pupils between the ages of 12 and 17. . . .

Wafa, a close aide to Karzai, suggested that an informant had provided misleading information to Western forces, triggering the strike. Afghan villagers have sometimes tried to settle scores with rival clans or tribes by falsely reporting insurgent activity to the authorities. . . . “

laura.king@latimes. com This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it Copyright © 2010, The Los Angeles Times

The above article has been dismissed by commenters on progressive websites because it was posted by the progressive website Common Dreams. Never mind that Common Dreams has been right far more often than the Los Angeles Times. Below is a collection of sources put together (and presumably thereby tarnished) by Talking Points Memo:

Afghan Children Handcuffed, Then Killed By American Soldiers January 1, 2010, 7:38AM Talking Points Memo http://tpmcafe. talkingpointsmem o.com/talk/ blogs/r/u/ rutabaga_ ridgepole/ 2010/01/afghan- children- handcuffed- the.php

TPM starts with the Times:

>From the London Times, December 31, 2009… http://www.timesonl ine.co.uk/ tol/news/ world/Afghanista n/article6971638 .ece

President Karzai sent a team of investigators to Narang district, in eastern Kunar province, after reports of a massacre first surfaced on Monday.

“The delegation concluded that a unit of international forces descended from a plane Sunday night into Ghazi Khan village in Narang district of the eastern province of Kunar and took ten people from three homes, eight of them school students in grades six, nine and ten, one of them a guest, the rest from the same family, and shot them dead,” a statement on President Karzai’s website said.

Assadullah Wafa, who led the investigation, said that US soldiers flew to Kunar from Kabul, suggesting that they were part of a special forces unit.

Mr Wafa, a former governor of Helmand province, met President Karzai to discuss his findings yesterday. “I spoke to the local headmaster,” he said. “It’s impossible they were al-Qaeda. They were children, they were civilians, they were innocent. I condemn this attack.”

In a telephone interview last night, the headmaster said that the victims were asleep in three rooms when the troops arrived. “Seven students were in one room,” said Rahman Jan Ehsas. “A student and one guest were in another room, a guest room, and a farmer was asleep with his wife in a third building.

“First the foreign troops entered the guest room and shot two of them. Then they entered another room and handcuffed the seven students. Then they killed them.”

Directly from Karzai’s website… http://president. gov.af/Contents/ 91/Documents/ 1124/phone_ talks_kunar_ eng.html

President Karzai in a telephone contact expressed condolences and shared grief with the families of the victims of the recent attack in Kunar province.

Following the attack, President Karzai tasked a delegation on Monday led by the Chief of Complaints Commission and composed of representatives from the ministries of Defense, Interior, National Directorate of Security and the Office of Administrative Affairs for an immediate investigation of the incident.

The findings by the delegation concluded that a unit of international forces descended from a plane Sunday night into Ghazi Khan Village in Narang district of the eastern province of Kunar and took 10 people from three homes, eight of them school students in grades six, nine and 10, one of them a guest, the rest from the same family, and shot them dead.

Eight of those shot dead were confirmed as school students by the village school principle.

>From the New York Times… http://www.nytimes. com/2009/ 12/29/world/ asia/29afghan. html

The governor of Kunar, Fazullah Wahidi, said that “the coalition claimed they were enemy fighters,” but that elders in the district and a delegation sent to the remote area had found that “10 people were killed and all of them were civilians.”

>From the United Nations… http://www.msnbc. msn.com/id/ 34644227/ ns/world_ news-south_ and_central_ asia/

The United Nations said Thursday that a weekend raid by foreign troops in a tense eastern Afghan province killed eight local students and that it warned against nighttime actions by coalition forces because they often cause civilian deaths.

That last quote is simply from the same AP story I quoted above, but posted on the MSNBC website. The UN special representative, you’ll recall, is named and quoted above.

David Swanson is the author of the new book “Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union” by Seven Stories Press. You can order it and find out when tour will be in your town: http://davidswanson .org/book.
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