Sunday, May 31, 2009
Thursday, May 28, 2009
"Fort Campbell, home of the Army's 101st Airborne Division, is holding a three-day 'suicide stand-down training event' starting Wednesday -- the second one it has held this year, a post spokeswoman told CNN."
"At least 11 deaths of Fort Campbell soldiers this year are confirmed or suspected suicides, spokeswoman Kelly Tyler said. That's out of 64 confirmed or suspected suicides in the entire Army, according to official statistics. At that rate, the Army is on pace for a record number of suicides this year."
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
Saturday, May 23, 2009
Going for BrokeSix Ways the Af-Pak War Is Expanding
By Tom Engelhardt
"Behind McChrystal lies a string of targeted executions that may run into the hundreds, as well as accusations of torture and abuse by troops under his command (and a role in the cover-up of the circumstances surrounding the death of Army Ranger and former National Football League player Pat Tillman). The general has reportedly long thought of Afghanistan and Pakistan as a single battlefield, which means that he was a premature adherent to the idea of an Af-Pak -- that is, expanded -- war. While in Afghanistan in 2008, the New York Times reported, he was a "key advocate... of a plan, ultimately approved by President George W. Bush, to use American commandos to strike at Taliban sanctuaries in Pakistan." This end-of-term Bush program provoked such anger and blowback in Pakistan that it was reportedly halted after two cross-border raids, one of which killed civilians."
Friday, May 15, 2009
"While much of the 'torture debate' has emphasized the so-called 'enhanced interrogation techniques' defined by the twisted legal framework of the Office of Legal Council memos, IRF teams in effect operate at Guantánamo as an extrajudicial terror squad that has regularly brutalized prisoners outside of the interrogation room, gang beating them, forcing their heads into toilets, breaking bones, gouging their eyes, squeezing their testicles, urinating on a prisoner's head, banging their heads on concrete floors and hog-tying them -- sometimes leaving prisoners tied in excruciating positions for hours on end."
Monday, May 11, 2009
More evidence of how the Bush Administration used torture not to get real intelligence, but to produce propaganda.
Ennahar Online, which reported that the Libyan newspaper Oea stated that al-Libi (aka Ali Abdul Hamid al-Fakheri) “was found dead of suicide in his cell,” and noted that the newspaper had reported the story “without specifying the date or method of suicide.”
"Al-Libi recanted his story in February 2004, when he was returned to the CIA’s custody, and explained, as Newsweek described it, that he told his debriefers that “he initially told his interrogators that he ‘knew nothing’ about ties between Baghdad and Osama bin Laden and he ‘had difficulty even coming up with a story’ about a relationship between the two.” The Newsweek report explained that “his answers displeased his interrogators — who then apparently subjected him to the mock burial. As al-Libi recounted, he was stuffed into a box less than 20 inches high. When the box was opened 17 hours later, al-Libi said he was given one final opportunity to ‘tell the truth.’ He was knocked to the floor and ‘punched for 15 minutes.’ It was only then that, al-Libi said, he made up the story about Iraqi weapons training.”
he first, endorsed by a row of respectable NGOs, calls for a ‘Independent Commission’ along the lines of the 9-11 Commission, has this legal hook: ‘recommend measures that would prevent any future abuses’:
It does not propose immunity for those who testify, the essence of a ‘truth commission.’ Were it to be chaired by respectable figures who are not tarnished by contradictory statements on briefings given to Congress or a demonstrable role during the Clinton Administration in illegal renditions, it does not appear to me to be incompatible with a call for a special prosecutor.
The second, by progressive Democrats, calls for a Special Prosecutor to ‘investigate and prosecute any and all government officials who have participated in torture and other war crimes’ It written largely in parallel with the indictment being formulated in Spain and focusing on the US Department of Justice and Gitmo. It admittedly is complicated with the extraordinarily broad expression ‘participated in’:
Sunday, May 10, 2009
First Mothers Day Proclamation by Julia Ward Howe, 1870
Arise then...women of this day!
Arise, all women who have hearts!
Whether your baptism be of water or of tears!
"We will not have questions answered by irrelevant agencies,
Our husbands will not come to us, reeking with carnage,
For caresses and applause.
Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn
All that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience.
We, the women of one country,
Will be too tender of those of another country
To allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs."
From the bosom of a devastated Earth a voice goes up with
Our own. It says: "Disarm! Disarm!
The sword of murder is not the balance of justice."
Blood does not wipe out dishonor,
Nor violence indicate possession.
As men have often forsaken the plough and the anvil
At the summons of war,
Let women now leave all that may be left of home
For a great and earnest day of counsel.
Let them meet first, as women, to bewail and commemorate the dead.
Let them solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means
Whereby the great human family can live in peace...
Each bearing after his own time the sacred impress, not of Caesar,
But of God -
In the name of womanhood and humanity, I earnestly ask
That a general congress of women without limit of nationality,
May be appointed and held at someplace deemed most convenient
And the earliest period consistent with its objects,
To promote the alliance of the different nationalities,
The amicable settlement of international questions,
The great and general interests of peace.
Thursday, May 7, 2009
With that mordant spareness that marks his prose, TRB explains:
First, there's no such thing as a government policy of "torturing terrorists. " There's only a policy of torturing people the government thinks are terrorists. Many of the suspected terrorists at Guantanamo Bay, subjected to agonizing stress positions, turned out not to be terrorists--not because the soldiers who captured them were venal, but because they were human.
Second, torture is designed to force prisoners to provide an answer the interrogator already knows. The torturer relents when his subject provides the "correct" answer. Intelligence gathering, by contrast, is designed to garner answers the interrogator does not already know.
All of this is obvious. The reason this debate is occurring at all - and in such bizarrely convoluted ways - is because defending the indefensible is always hard, even for smooth liars like Rove. And the English language is usually the first victim. Clear prose - as Orwell understood - is always the strongest weapon against lies. And Orwell would love the current TRB.
(Bonus non-Orwell, Sully fandom points for best use yet of "Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!").
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
"...Kilcullen has unimpeachable Pentagon credentials. He served as a top advisor in Iraq to General Petraeus on counterinsurgency, and is credited as having helped design the Iraq "surge." Now, anyone in Washington who wants to challenge the drone strikes has all the political cover they could reasonably expect.
And what Kilcullen said leaves very little room for creative misinterpretation:
"Since 2006, we've killed 14 senior Al Qaeda leaders using drone strikes; in the same time period, we've killed 700 Pakistani civilians in the same area. The drone strikes are highly unpopular. They are deeply aggravating to the population. And they've given rise to a feeling of anger that coalesces the population around the extremists and leads to spikes of extremism. ... The current path that we are on is leading us to loss of Pakistani government control over its own population."
Presumably, causing the Pakistani government to lose "control of its own population" is not an objective of United States foreign policy."