By James Cogan
6 January 2010
Socialist Web Site
American military personnel are continuing to take their own lives in unprecedented
numbers, as the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq wars drag on. By late November,
at least 334 members of the armed forces had committed suicide in 2009, more
than the 319 who were killed in Afghanistan or the 150 who died in Iraq. While
a final figure is not available, the toll of military suicides last year was
the worst since records began to be kept in 1980.
The Army, National Guard and Army Reserve lost at least 211 personnel to suicide.
More than half of those who took their lives had served in either Iraq or Afghanistan.
The Army suicide rate of 20.2 per 100,000 personnel is higher than that registered
among males aged 19 to 29, the gender age bracket with the highest rate among
the general population. Before 2001, the Army rarely suffered 10 suicides per
The Navy lost at least 47 active duty personnel in 2009, the Air Force 34 and
the Marine Corp, which has been flung into some of the bloodiest fighting in
Iraq and Afghanistan, 42. The Marine suicide rate has soared since 2001 from
12 to at least 19.5 per 100,000.
For every death, at least five members of the armed forces were hospitalised
for attempting to take their life. According to the Navy Times, 2 percent of
Army; 2.3 percent of Marines and 3 percent of Navy… Continue reading
Times of India
LOS ANGELES: The CIA has paid millions of dollars to Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) since 9/11, accounting for as much as one-third of the foreign spy agency’s annual budget, says a media report.
The ISI also collected “tens of millions of dollars through a classified CIA programme”, which pays for the capture or killing of wanted militants, the Los Angeles Times reported on Monday citing current and former US officials.
An intense debate has been triggered within the US government due to “long-standing suspicions that the ISI continues to help Taliban extremists who undermine US efforts in Afghanistan and provide sanctuary to al-Qaida members in Pakistan”.
But US officials have continued to make the payments as ISI’s assistance is considered critical: “Almost every major terrorist plot this decade has originated in Pakistan’s tribal belt, where ISI informant networks are a primary source of intelligence.”
The report went on to say that the payments to Pakistan are authorised under a covert programme initially approved by then president Bush and continued under President Obama.
The LA Times article mentioned is available here: CIA says it gets its money’s worth from Pakistani spy agency: It has given hundreds of millions to the ISI, for operations as well as rewards for the capture or death of terrorist suspects. Despite fears of corruption, it is money well-spent, ex-officials say.
And for more reading on the ISI connection to 9/11 (and utter failure by the 9/11… Continue reading
By Philip Giraldi
November 4, 2009
Campaign for Liberty
Most Americans believe that we are in a terrible dilemma. An increasing number are uncomfortable with the continuing carnage in Iraq and Afghanistan and fearful of the consequences of yet another Middle East war, this time against Iran, but most also believe that our country is threatened by dark forces that seek to destroy us and that extreme measures are justified. Few realize that fear alone is bringing about our transformation into a country driven by constant warfare to the detriment of our constitutional liberties.
Those who believe that a change of course is essential if we are to survive as a nation quite rightly demand the disengagement of the United States from two wars and the avoidance of further conflicts. They understand that the United States has acted unwisely and illegally in its interference in the affairs of others and also that the presence of American military forces all over the world has not made us safer and has in fact served as a catalyst for escalating violence. But those who see the state of the world with such clarity must first convince a majority of their fellow citizens that disengagement is not another word for national suicide. In short, the American people must come to understand that their safety is best assured when our government does not go around the world looking for dragons to slay. A key element in being able to reassure the American people could be… Continue reading
September 29th, 2009
by Brad Jacobson
A key senior figure in a Bush administration covert Pentagon program, which used retired military analysts to produce positive wartime news coverage, remains in his same position today as a chief Obama Defense Department spokesman and the agency’s head of all media operations.
In an examination of Pentagon documents the New York Times obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request — which reporter David Barstow leveraged for his April 2008 Pulitzer Prize-winning expose on the program — Raw Story has found that Bryan Whitman surfaces in over 500 emails and transcripts, revealing the deputy assistant secretary of defense for media operations was both one of the program’s senior participants and an active member.
Whitman’s conspicuous presence in these records is notwithstanding thousands of documented communications the Bush Pentagon released but for which names were redacted and an untold number the prior administration successfully withheld after its two-year legal battle with the Times.
Barstow’s Times expose revealed a comprehensive, covert Pentagon campaign — beginning during the lead-up to the Iraq War and continuing through 2008 — that shaped network military analysts into what internal documents referred to as “message force multipliers” and “surrogates” who could be trusted to parrot Bush administration talking points “in the form of their own opinions.” Barstow’s reporting also detailed how most of the military analysts, traditionally viewed as authoritative and independent, had ties to defense contractors with a stake in the same war policies they were interpreting… Continue reading
By Ray McGovern
August 30, 2009
EXTRA! Read all about it in the Washington Post: Torture
Cheney and torture practitioners vindicated.
It seems coverage of the Bush administration’s “war on terror” has been put back on track by the editors of the Washington Post and their “sources” who are determined to highlight the supposed successes of waterboarding and other forms of torture.
Frankly, I was wondering when this return to form would happen at the Post. I was surprised to see Post journalists recently lose their grip, so to speak, and fall into the practice of reporting real facts — like the sickening revelations in the long-suppressed CIA Inspector General’s report on torture.
Apparently they have now been reminded of the biases of the newspaper’s top brass, forever justifying the hardnosed “realism” of the Bush administration as it approved brutal and perverse methods for stripping the “bad guys” of their clothes, their dignity, their sense of self — all to protect America.
Hooded, threatened with cocked guns and electric drills, deprived of sleep for long periods, beaten, dressed in diapers, forced into painful stress positions, locked in tiny boxes and subjected to the near-drowning of waterboarding, the terrorism suspects were supposed to be terrorized into what the CIA psychologists called “learned helplessness.”
And to read the Washington Post’s account, it all worked, transforming alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed from a “truculent enemy” into what the CIA considered its “preeminent source” on al-Qaeda.
The Post… Continue reading
‘Preliminary review’ looks at whether interrogations followed guidance of the Bush ‘torture memos.’
By Warren Richey
Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor from the August 24, 2009 edition
In a highly contentious move, Attorney General Eric Holder on Monday appointed a special prosecutor to take a fresh look at whether US officials violated the law through harsh treatment of detainees during the Bush administration’s war on terror.
Mr. Holder said he was authorizing John Durham, a career Justice Department prosecutor, to conduct a “preliminary review into whether federal laws were violated in connection with the interrogation of specific detainees at overseas locations.” He did not identify those detainees by name or where they were allegedly mistreated.
“I fully realize my decision to commence this preliminary review will be controversial,” Holder said. “In this case, given all the information currently available, it is clear to me that this review is the only responsible course of action for me to take.”
The announcement came shortly after the administration released a redacted version of a 2004 CIA Inspector General’s report on harsh interrogation tactics.
The report said CIA interrogators threatened to kill the children of alleged 9/11 mastermind Khaled Shaikh Mohammed, and threatened another detainee with a power drill and suggestions that if he didn’t talk his mother would be brought into the room and raped in front of him.
The report was sent to the Justice Department for possible prosecution during the Bush administration. Prosecutors declined. The issue was resurrected by… Continue reading
By Debra Sweet
August 24, 2009
CIA Torture Report to be Released
The release of the long-anticipated CIA report, quashed since 2006 by the Bush regime, and then postponed several times by the Obama administration, is set for Monday August 24. It’s been leaked. Newsweek and the Guardian UK, “Bombshell report on CIA interrogations is leaked” report the CIA used mock executions to terrorize detainees through threatening the use of pistols and electric drills.
It’s reported that the Attorney General will make a decision in the next few days on whether to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate allegations of torture. The New York Times analyzed the problem Eric Holder is up against, having been instructed by Barack Obama not to look “backward” while saying “we do not torture”:
“Mr. Holder has told associates he is weighing a narrow investigation, focusing only on C.I.A. interrogators and contract employees who clearly crossed the line and violated the Bush administration’s guidelines and engaged in flagrantly abusive acts. But in taking that route, Mr. Holder would run two risks. One is the political fallout if only a handful of low-level agents are prosecuted for what many critics see as a pattern of excess condoned at the top of the government. The other is that an aggressive prosecutor would not stop at the bottom, but would work up the chain of command, and end up with a full-blown criminal inquiry into the intelligence agencies – just the kind of broad, open-ended criminal… Continue reading
By Brad Knickerbocker
August 20, 2009
The Christian Science Monitor
For those who had their doubts about the politics behind the Bush administration’s “war on terrorism,” Tom Ridge’s new book will fuel long-held suspicions.
The former Republican governor of Pennsylvania, who was the first head of the Department of Homeland Security, says two top Bush officials — Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Attorney General John Ashcroft — pressured him to up the terror alert level before the 2004 election, according to promotional materials by publisher Macmillan.
“Ridge also charges that he was often ‘blindsided’ during daily morning briefings with Bush because the FBI withheld information from him, and says he was never invited to sit in on National Security Council meetings,” reports AFP.
Former Bush officials have been quick to push back on Ridge’s revelation.
Frances Frago Townsend, who coordinated homeland security matters at the National Security Council under President Bush, said Ridge is “absolutely wrong” in his allegation. “Politics played no part in any discussion” of the Homeland Security Council, Ms. Townsend insists in The Atlantic.
Not surprisingly, Ridge’s news has ricocheted around cable TV, radio talk shows, and the blogosphere.
Kansas City Star columnist Yael Abouhalkah says Ridge’s “serious charges” are “scathing.”
“An abuse so gross — if Ridge is right — shows, among other things, what a powerful influence on the all-important tracking polls terror alerts must have had,” writes Ben Smith on Politico.com. “And it suggests that Obama’s efforts to keep terror arrests out of… Continue reading
August 19, 2009
by Jason Leopold
The Public Record
Nine Republican lawmakers sent a letter to Eric Holder Wednesday saying the U.S. could face a terrorist attack if the attorney general appoints a special prosecutor to investigate the CIA’s use of torture against “war on terror” suspects.
Holder is under pressure to resist launching a criminal probe, even one limited to rogue CIA interrogators. At the same time, he is facing mounting pressure from some prominent Democrats and civil liberties and human rights groups to not only sign off on a criminal investigation but to expand it to include top Bush administration officials.
The latest correspondence came on Wednesday, in a letter to the attorney general that said an investigation into the CIA’s interrogation practices, no matter how limited in scope, would jeopardize the “security for all Americans, “chill future intelligence activities,” and could “leave us more vulnerable to attack.”
The senators resorted to fear-mongering, invoking the terrorist attacks on 9/11 to try and dissuade Holder
“We are deeply concerned by recent news reports that you are ‘poised to appoint a special prosecutor’ to investigate CIA officials who interrogated al Qaeda terrorists. Such an investigation could have a number of serious consequences, not just for the honorable members of the intelligence community, but also for the security of all Americans,” the letter says.
The letter was sent to Holder by Senate Republican Whip Jon Kyl of Arizona, Sen. Kit Bond, R-Mo., vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Sen. Jeff… Continue reading
August 12, 2009
by Jeremy R. Hammond
Shahid R. Siddiqi contributed to this report
In an exclusive interview with Foreign Policy Journal, retired Lt. Gen. Hamid Gul responds to charges that he supports terrorism, discusses 9/11 and ulterior motives for the war on Afghanistan, claims that the U.S., Israel, and India are behind efforts to destabilize Pakistan, and charges the U.S. and its allies with responsibility for the lucrative Afghan drug trade.
Retired Lieutenant General Hamid Gul was the Director General of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) from 1987 to 1989, during which time he worked closely with the CIA to provide support for the mujahedeen fighting the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. Though once deemed a close ally of the United States, in more recent years his name has been the subject of considerable controversy. He has been outspoken with the claim that the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 were an “inside job”. He has been called “the most dangerous man in Pakistan”, and the U.S. government has accused him of supporting the Taliban, even recommending him to the United Nations Security Council for inclusion on the list of international terrorists.
In an exclusive interview with Foreign Policy Journal, I asked the… Continue reading
July 16, 2009
Posted at YouTube.com: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u_aTbznZDT0
A brand new, powerful music video from David Ippolito. (That Guitar Man from Central Park) Watch this video. Please leave your own comments. Be heard. Download this song for free at www.thatguitarman.com. But… PASS THIS VIDEO ON TO EVERYONE YOU KNOW! (You and me… let’s make it “cool to care” again.)
The CIA assassination programme that was recently in the media was actually first partially revealed by the Washington Post in 2005, when details enabling his originator to be identified were published. The programme made news in the last few days as CIA Director Leon Panetta admitted that the agency withheld information about it from Congress, although the CIA never actually used it to assassinate anybody. Nevertheless, the programme’s “duties” seem to have been taken over by something journalist Seymour Hersh called an “executive assassination wing” that was run out of the Office of Vice President Dick Cheney, and this grouping did go on missions and kill people.
The programme was first mentioned in Dana Priest’s groundbreaking article that highlighted the existence of the CIA’s network of black sites, CIA Holds Terror Subjects in Secret Prisons, which was published in November 2005. Priest wrote of the programme:
The CTC’s chief of operations argued for creating hit teams of case officers and CIA paramilitaries that would covertly infiltrate countries in the Middle East, Africa and even Europe to assassinate people on the list, one by one.
But many CIA officers believed that the al-Qaeda leaders would be worth keeping alive to interrogate about their network and other plots. Some officers worried that the CIA would not be very adept at assassination.
“We’d probably shoot ourselves,” another former senior CIA official said.
This section of the article was ignored… Continue reading
July 12, 2009
by Christina Lamb in Karachi
Osama bin Laden and the top Al-Qaeda leadership are not in Pakistan, making US missile attacks against them futile, according to the country’s interior minister.
“If Osama was in Pakistan we would know, with all the thousands of troops we have sent into the tribal areas in recent months,” Rehman Malik told The Sunday Times. “If he and all these four or five top people were in our area they would have been caught, the way we are searching.”
He added: “According to our information Osama is in Afghanistan, probably Kunar, as most of the activities against Pakistan are being directed from Kunar.”
Washington does not directly acknowledge its missile attacks on Pakistani territory by unmanned drone aircraft but Pakistani officials say the US has carried out more than 40 attacks inside its borders in the past 10 months, killing hundreds of people.
CIA officials claim these attacks have been highly effective in disrupting Al-Qaeda’s ability to operate. However, Malik insists they are a waste of time because the Al-Qaeda leadership is on the other side of the border in eastern Afghanistan.
“They’re getting mid-level people not big fish,” he said. “And they are counterproductive because they are killing civilians and turning locals against our government. We try to win people’s hearts, then one drone attack drives them away. One attack alone last week killed 50 people.”
US officials in Islamabad say Pakistan’s government is being disingenuous, claiming to oppose the… Continue reading
by Prof. Peter Dale Scott
June 10, 2009
In his remarkable speech at Cairo University on June 4, President Obama promised “a new beginning.” In the words of the Israeli commentator Uri Avnery, the speech offered “the map of a new world, a different world, whose values and laws he spelled out in simple and clear language — a mixture of idealism and practical politics, vision and pragmatism.”1
Much of what Obama had to say was new, and warmed the hearts of observers like myself, who had become increasingly concerned about the new president’s fidelity to the financial and military policies of the previous Bush-Cheney administration. But while Obama broke new ground on Israel-Palestine issues, he glossed over troubling issues pertaining to the US presence in Iraq and Afghanistan. He also glossed over one of the fundamental issues alienating the Muslim world: America’s relentless efforts to preserve its threatened financial status by moves to dominate the region’s oil resources. Here his careful ambiguity was ominously reminiscent of the Bush era.
The speech reaffirmed a complete withdrawal of US forces from Iraq by 2012, as the U.S. committed itself to do in a signed agreement last December. In addition Obama asserted that “we do not want to keep our troops in Afghanistan… We would gladly bring every single one of our troops home if we could be confident that there were not violent extremists in Afghanistan and now Pakistan.”
But Obama’s remarks did not address the statement on May… Continue reading
June 25, 2009
The highest officials in our government have trampled on our traditional ideals of making America a nation of laws, not of men, by illegally narrowing the scope of torture and authorizing waterboarding, walling and other inhumane interrogation
techniques. In doing so, they violated the Anti-Torture Act, the War Crimes Act, the Geneva Conventions, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the Convention Against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment.
In order to enforce our laws and restore the free society that our forefathers envisioned, citizens must demand accountability for abuses of the laws pertaining to torture. In the tradition of the Civil Rights movement, change will not occur unless citizens stand up for their rights under the law.
On June 25th join us for an international day of demonstration demanding accountability for torture
in and across the country, to prosecute those responsible for torture. In Washington D.C. we have tabling starting at 9, speakers and a rally from 11 to 12 in , then a march to the Department of Justice. (Find other events across the US here. (Washington, D.C., San Francisco, Pasadena, CA, Boston, MA, Salt Lake City, UT, Tampa Bay, FL, Portland, OR, Bryn Mawr, PA, Seattle, WA, Las Vegas, NV, Honolulu, HI, Anchorage, AK)
Torture Accountability Action Day, sponsored by:
By James Risen and Eric Lichtblau
June 16, 2009
New York Times
WASHINGTON — The National Security Agency is facing renewed scrutiny over the extent of its domestic surveillance program, with critics in Congress saying its recent intercepts of the private telephone calls and e-mail messages of Americans are broader than previously acknowledged, current and former officials said.
The agency’s monitoring of domestic e-mail messages, in particular, has posed longstanding legal and logistical difficulties, the officials said.
Since April, when it was disclosed that the intercepts of some private communications of Americans went beyond legal limits in late 2008 and early 2009, several Congressional committees have been investigating. Those inquiries have led to concerns in Congress about the agency’s ability to collect and read domestic e-mail messages of Americans on a widespread basis, officials said. Supporting that conclusion is the account of a former N.S.A. analyst who, in a series of interviews, described being trained in 2005 for a program in which the agency routinely examined large volumes of Americans’ e-mail messages without court warrants. Two intelligence officials confirmed that the program was still in operation.
Both the former analyst’s account and the rising concern among some members of Congress about the N.S.A.’s recent operation are raising fresh questions about the spy agency.
Representative Rush Holt, Democrat of New Jersey and chairman of the House Select Intelligence Oversight Panel, has been investigating the incidents and said he had become increasingly troubled by the agency’s handling of domestic communications.
In an… Continue reading
By Stephanie Gaskell
Wednesday, June 17th 2009
A New Jersey hospital that treats sick 9/11 first responders got a last-minute
reprieve Tuesday when the feds vowed to send cash to keep it open through September.
The Environmental & Occupational Health Sciences Institute at the Robert
Wood Johnson Medical School in New Brunswick had told its 1,800 patients it
wasn’t sure it could stay open past next month.
Federal funding had been held up over an accounting dispute, but late Tuesday
the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health said it was sending
$575,000 to cover summer expenses.
John Feal, founder of the Fealgood Foundation, which pushes for health care
for 9/11 workers, said the money isn’t enough.
Feal said, “$575,000 is like putting a Band-Aid on a machine-gun wound.
“Funding for three months is a joke when 9/11 first responders will need
treatment for the rest of their lives.”