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Afghanistan

Torture crimes officially, permanently shielded

By Glenn Greenwald
Salon.com

In August, 2009, Attorney General Eric Holder — under continuous , aggressive prodding by the Obama White House — announced that three categories of individuals responsible for Bush-era torture crimes would be fully immunized from any form of criminal investigation and prosecution: (1) Bush officials who ordered the torture (Bush, Cheney, Rice, Powell, Ashcroft, Rumsfeld); (2) Bush lawyers who legally approved it (Yoo, Bybee, Levin), and (3) those in the CIA and the military who tortured within the confines of the permission slips they were given by those officials and lawyers (i.e., “good-faith” torturers). The one exception to this sweeping immunity was that low-level CIA agents and servicemembers who went so far beyond the torture permission slips as to basically commit brutal, unauthorized murder would be subject to a “preliminary review” to determine if a full investigation was warranted — in other words, the Abu Ghraib model of justice was being applied, where only low-ranking scapegoats would be subject to possible punishment while high-level officials would be protected.

Yesterday, it was announced that this “preliminary review” by the prosecutor assigned to conduct it, U.S. Attorney John Durham, is now complete, and — exactly as one would expect — even this category of criminals has been almost entirely protected, meaning a total legal whitewash for the Bush torture regime:

The Justice Department has opened full criminal investigations of the deaths in CIA custody of two detainees , including one who perished at Iraq’s notorious Abu Ghraib prison,… Continue reading

How much will our wars cost? Report says $4 trillion

June 29, 2011
By Liz Goodwin
The Lookout blog at Yahoo.com

A new report out of Brown University estimates that the U.S. wars in Afghanistan and Iraq–together with the counterinsurgency efforts in Pakistan–will, all told, cost $4 trillion and leave 225,000 dead, both civilians and soldiers.

The group of economists, anthropologists, lawyers, humanitarian personnel, and political scientists involved in the project estimated that the cost of caring for the veterans injured in the wars will reach $1 trillion in 30 or 40 years. In estimating the $4 trillion total, they did not take into account the $5.3 billion in reconstruction spending the government has promised Afghanistan, state and local contributions to veteran care, interest payments on war debt, or the costs of Medicare for veterans when they reach 65.

The Congressional Budget Office, meanwhile, has assessed the federal price tag for the wars at $1.8 trillion through 2021. The report says that is a gross underestimate, predicting that the government has already paid $2.3 trillion to $2.7 trillion.

More than 6,000 U.S. troops and 2,300 contractors have died since the wars began after Sept. 11. A staggering 550,000 disability claims have been filed with the VA as of 2010. Meanwhile, 137,000 civilians in Afghanistan and Iraq have died in the conflict. (Injuries among U.S. contractors have also not yet been made public, further complicating the calculations of cost.) Nearly 8 million people have been displaced. Check out Reuters’ factbox breaking down the costs and casualties here.

Perhaps the most sobering… Continue reading

US appeals court overturns release of detainee

By NEDRA PICKLER
June 11, 2011
Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — A Yemeni detainee ordered to be freed from Guantánamo Bay has to stay now that a U.S. appeals court has overturned his release.

The U.S Court of Appeals in Washington says circumstantial evidence of terrorist ties can be enough to keep a prisoner like Hussain Salem Mohammad Almerfedi at the U.S. naval prison in Cuba.

Almerfedi was captured in Iran after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks and eventually transferred to U.S. authorities through Afghanistan. Government attorneys argue he was staying at an al-Qaida-affiliated guesthouse, based on the testimony of another Guantánamo detainee. Almerfedi denied it, and a lower court judge found the testimony against him unreliable and ordered him released.

But the appeals court said the judge erred in finding the testimony unreliable and found it was likely Almerfedi was part of al-Qaida.

House Passes Authority for Worldwide War

by Sam Milgrom, Washington Legislative Office of ACLU.org

The House just passed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), including a provision to authorize worldwide war, which has no expiration date and will allow this president — and any future president — to go to war anywhere in the world, at any time, without further congressional authorization. The new authorization wouldn’t even require the president to show any threat to the national security of the United States. The American military could become the world’s cop, and could be sent into harm’s way almost anywhere and everywhere around the globe.

 

Show Editor’s Note: »

Read details of this extremely important bill, H.R. 1540, at Thomas.gov with final vote results here. Bravo to Rep. Justin Amash (D, Mich) for introducing Amendment 327 to strike section 1034 of the bill, relating to the authorization for use of military force. Sadly, the amendment failed 187-234 (see roll call vote results). Rep. Jason Chaffetz (D., Utah) introduced an amendment requiring US ground troops to withdraw from Afghanistan and require the Secretary of Defense to submit a withdrawal plan to Congress within 60 days. It, too, failed, 123-294. List of all amendments and results here.

 
Before the vote, the House debated an amendment that would have struck the worldwide war provision. That amendment was introduced by a bipartisan group of representatives: Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.), Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.), Rep. Walter Jones (R-N.C.), Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.),… Continue reading

Report: Intelligence Unit Told Before 9/11 to Stop Tracking Bin Laden

23 May 2011
by Jeffrey Kaye
Truthout

Defense Intelligence Agency shieldA great deal of controversy has arisen about what was known about the movements and location of Osama bin Laden in the wake of his killing by US Special Forces on May 2 in Abbottabad, Pakistan. Questions about what intelligence agencies knew or didn’t know about al-Qaeda activities go back some years, most prominently in the controversy over the existence of a joint US Special Forces Command and Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) data mining effort known as “Able Danger.”

What hasn’t been discussed is a September 2008 Department of Defense (DoD) inspector general (IG) report, summarizing an investigation made in response to an accusation by a Joint Forces Intelligence Command (JFIC) whistleblower, which indicated that a senior JFIC commander had halted actions tracking Osama bin Laden prior to 9/11. JFIC is tasked with an intelligence mission in support of United States Joint Force Command (USJFCOM).

The report, titled “Review of Joint Forces Intelligence Command Response to 9/11 Commission,” was declassified last year, in response to a Freedom of Information Act request from Steven Aftergood at the Federation of American Scientists.

The whistleblower, who the IG report identified as a former JFIC employee represented only by his codename “IRON MAN,” claimed in letters written to both the DoD inspector general in May 2006 and, lacking any apparent action by the IG, to the Office of the National Director of Intelligence (ODNI) in October 2007, that JFIC had withheld operational information about al-Qaeda when queried in March 2002 about its activities by the DIA and higher command officials on behalf of the 9/11 Commission.…

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Boiling Frogs Exclusive: Intelligence and Law Enforcement Experts on Ever-Changing Bin Laden Death Script

Boilingfrogspost.com

Not All Sources and Experts Are Equal–Here Are some Real Ones!

directorThere are ‘experts’ views,’ and then there are experts’ views. There are ‘government sources,’ and then there are government sources. Not all experts are equal. And, not all sources are reliable. Am I talking in riddles? Of course not; give me a chance and I’ll explain.

We have members of the popular media (mainstream and quasi-alternatives alike) ever anxious to market and disseminate government conspiracy and propaganda. They, members of the popular media, have their own rolodex of ‘experts’ and analysts, some on their payroll, to help them propagate the delivery and execution of government-given propaganda-conspiracy. The same principle applies to ‘sources.’ The popular media relies on their government sources who act as middle-men-government messengers who’ve been given a government written and approved script to be delivered; almost always anonymously. Well, this is exactly what we have been getting from our media, around the clock, since the announcement of the Bin Laden Death Operation: ever-changing government scripts, delivered mainly by anonymous government sources to the US media, and further embellished and expanded upon by government-connected experts and analysts on the payroll.

On the other hand, there are many independent real experts whose analyses and views you won’t, or rarely, get to hear or read about; at least not in the mainstream media or at quasi-alternative sites. And there are current and former government sources not tasked with messenger duties; many of whom… Continue reading

How Many SEALs Died?

by Paul Craig Roberts
May 17, 2011
VDARE.com

In a sensational and explosive TV report, the Pakistani News Agency has provided a live interview with an eye witness to the US attack on the alleged compound of Osama bin Laden. The eye witness, Mohammad Bashir, describes the event as it unfolded. Of the three helicopters, “there was only one that landed the men and came back to pick them up, but as he [the helicopter] was picking them up, it blew away and caught fire.” The witness says that there were no survivors, just dead bodies and pieces of bodies everywhere. “We saw the helicopter burning, we saw the dead bodies, then everything was removed and now there is nothing.”

I always wondered how a helicopter could crash, as the White House reported, without at least producing injuries. Yet, in the original White House story, the SEALs not only survived a 40-minute firefight with al Qaeda, “the most highly trained, most dangerous, most vicious killers on the planet,” without a scratch, but also survived a helicopter crash without a scratch.

The Pakistani news report is available on you tube. The Internet site, Veterans Today, posted a translation along with a video of the interview. Information Clearing House made
it available on May 17
.

If the interview is not a hoax and the translation is correct, we now know the answer to the unasked question: Why was there no White House ceremony with President Obama pinning medals all over the… Continue reading

From 2002: George W. Bush on bin Laden–’I truly am not that concerned about him’

BUSH : “We haven’t heard from him in a long time. … Terror is bigger than one person. And he’s just — he’s a person who’s now been marginalized. … I just don’t spend that much time on him… we haven’t heard much from him. And I wouldn’t necessarily say he’s at the center of any command structure. And, again, I don’t know where he is. I — I’ll repeat what I said. I truly am not that concerned about him. I know he is on the run.

March 13, 2002
Comments by then-President George W. Bush
Georgewbush-whitehouse.archives.gov

For Immediate Release Office of the Press Secretary March 13, 2002

President Bush Holds Press Conference Press Conference by the President The James S. Brady Briefing Room View Listen 4:00 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT: Good afternoon.

. . .

Q Mr. President, in your speeches now you rarely talk or mention Osama bin Laden. Why is that? Also, can you tell the American people if you have any more information, if you know if he is dead or alive? Final part — deep in your heart, don’t you truly believe that until you find out if he is dead or alive, you won’t really eliminate the threat of –

THE PRESIDENT: Deep in my heart I know the man is on the run, if he’s alive at all. Who knows if he’s hiding in some cave or not; we haven’t heard from him in a long time. And the idea of focusing… Continue reading

From 1998: ‘Bin Laden comes home to roost’

His CIA ties are only the beginning of a woeful story

Photo of Osama bin Laden By Michael Moran
August 24, 1998 MSNBC

BRAVE NEW WORLD

Image: Usama bin Laden, Credit: AP Exiled Saudi dissident Osama bin Laden is seen in this April, 1998 photo in Afghanistan.

NEW YORK, Aug. 24, 1998 — At the CIA, it happens often enough to have a code name: Blowback. Simply defined, this is the term describing an agent, an operative or an operation that has turned on its creators. Osama bin Laden, our new public enemy Number 1, is the personification of blowback. And the fact that he is viewed as a hero by millions in the Islamic world proves again the old adage: Reap what you sow.

Befpre up [sic] click on my face and call me naive, let me concede some points. Yes, the West needed Josef Stalin to defeat Hitler. Yes, there were times during the Cold War when supporting one villain (Cambodia’s Lon Nol, for instance) would have been better than the alternative (Pol Pot). So yes, there are times when any nation must hold its nose and shake hands with the devil for the long-term good of the planet.

But just as surely, there are times when the United States, faced with such moral dilemmas, should have resisted the temptation to act. Arming a multi-national coalition of Islamic extremists in Afghanistan during the 1980s – well after the destruction of the Marine barracks in Beirut or the hijacking of TWA Flight 847 – was one of those times.…

Continue reading

The many deaths of Osama bin Laden

A look back at the years of false reports that preceded Sunday night’s announcement of the real thing
By Justin Elliott
Salon.com

Photo of Osama bin Laden

FILE – In this 1998 file photo, Ayman al-Zawahri, left, holds a press conference with Osama bin Laden in Khost, Afghanistan and made available Friday March 19, 2004. A person familiar with developments said Sunday, May 1, 2011 that bin Laden is dead and the U.S. has the body.
(AP Photo/Mazhar Ali Khan)

 

The false reports of Osama bin Laden’s death began almost immediately after Sept. 11, 2001, and persisted at a rate of at least once or twice a year, every year. The reports — generated by (usually anonymous) statements by American officials and a dizzying array of foreign sources — often generated international headlines.

Here’s a sampling:

July 2002 FBI counterterrorism chief Dale Watson tells a law enforcement conference of bin Laden: “I personally think he is probably not with us anymore, but I have no evidence to support that.”

August 2002 Popular conspiracy-mongering radio host Alex Jones announces, citing high-level Bush administration sources, “that bin Laden died of natural causes and that his family has given the body to the CIA.” Jones added, “they’re gonna roll him out right before the election, he’s on ice right now.”

May 2003 French military analyst announces that bin Laden was killed in an American air raid in Tora Bora shortly after the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001.

February 2004 Iranian Radio reports that bin Laden was captured… Continue reading

News: Bin Laden Dead, Buried at Sea

Obama: Osama bin Laden is dead

By Kase Wickman
RawStory.com

Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, the number one most-wanted fugitive for nearly a decade, was killed in Pakistan Sunday, the White House announced.

President Barack Obama made a live statement shortly after 11:30 p.m. from the East Room of the White House.

“Tonight, I can report to the American people and to the world that the United States has conducted an operation that killed Osama bin Laden, the leader of al-Qaeda, and a terrorist who’s responsible for the murder of thousands of innocent men, women, and children,” he began.

The U.S. received an intelligence lead last August about bin Laden’s whereabouts, Obama said, and that he had enough information by Sunday to launch a targeted military operation on the compound pinpointed as bin Laden’s location, in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

“A small team of Americans carried out the operation with extraordinary courage and capability,” Obama said. “No Americans were harmed. They took care to avoid civilian casualties. After a firefight, they killed Osama bin Laden and took custody of his body.”

White House officials said that the operation was in cooperation with Pakistani authorities, and was carried out by Navy SEALs in helicopters who rehearsed the operation to avoid civilian casualties. Reportedly, one woman who was used as a human shield was killed.

Crowds gathered outside the White House and around the country after the speech, waving flags and singing the National Anthem. U.S. diplomatic centers are reportedly on high alert in… Continue reading

The Costs of War, and More from Congressional Research Service

April 29, 2011
Email from Federation of American Scientists’ “Secrecy news Blog”

As of March 2011, Congress had approved a total of more than $1.2 trillion
dollars for costs associated with the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and other post-9/11
"war on terror" operations, the Congressional Research Service said
in its most recent update on the subject. See "The Cost of Iraq, Afghanistan,
and Other Global War on Terror Operations Since 9/11,"
March 29, 2011.

Other new or newly updated CRS reports include the following (all pdf).

"Afghanistan Casualties: Military Forces and Civilians," April 6,
2011.

"The Federal Bureau of Investigation and Terrorism Investigations,"
April 27, 2011.

"U.S. Special Operations Forces (SOF): Background and Issues for Congress,"
March 28, 2011.

"Sensitive Covert Action Notifications: Oversight Options for Congress,"
April 6, 2011.

"Covert Action: Legislative Background and Possible Policy Questions,"
April 6, 2011.

WikiLeaks: The Guantánamo Files

by Andy Worthington
Published April 24, 2011
WikiLeaks.ch

On Sunday April 24, 2011 WikiLeaks began publishing 779 secret files from the
notorious Guantánamo Bay prison camp. The details for every detainee will be
released daily over the coming month.

WikiLeaks Reveals Secret Files on All Guantánamo Prisoners

PLEASE NOTE: This article has been published in languages other than English
at WikiLeaks, linked here.

In its latest release of classified US documents, WikiLeaks is shining the
light of truth on a notorious icon of the Bush administration’s “War on
Terror” — the prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, which opened on January
11, 2002, and remains open under President Obama, despite his promise to close
the much-criticized facility within a year of taking office.

In thousands of pages of documents dating from 2002 to 2008 and never seen
before by members of the public or the media, the cases of the majority of the
prisoners held at Guantánamo — 758 out of 779 in total — are described
in detail in memoranda from JTF-GTMO, the Joint Task Force at Guantánamo
Bay, to US Southern Command in Miami, Florida.

These memoranda, which contain JTF-GTMO’s recommendations about whether the
prisoners in question should continue to be held, or should be released (transferred
to their home governments, or to other governments) contain a wealth of important
and previously undisclosed information, including health assessments, for example,
and, in the cases of the majority of the 171 prisoners who are still held, photos
(mostly for the… Continue reading

Join a Labor Union – Save America

Lessons the 9/11 Truth Movement Needs to Consider With New Urgency

by John Parulis
TruthPhalanx.com

Photo of Utah Phillips The talk, linked to here, given by the late Utah Phillips in the summer of 2004 in Berkeley, California, sets a pathway for a new direction for activism centered on creating world wide worker unions established in non-violence and wide scale organizing.

Utah Phillips is right. The progressive left needs to change tactics. The 9/11 Truth Movement can learn from the left’s failures. Street marches achieve little or nothing. Look at the global anti-war marches of 2003 to stop the Iraq Invasion. Millions flooded the streets around the world in days of historic popular uprisings and demonstrations, yet the war proceeded and ever expanding wars metastasized in Afghanistan, Pakistan and now Libya. Nearly a million people have died. People continue to die from the so called 9/11 wars and billions continue to be misspent on these failings.

At home, bankers engineered the worst financial collapse since the Great Depression. For this they were rewarded with bailouts and no regulatory reform to speak of. They, along with their giant corporate cousins are making record profits while states and cities are chipping away and hacking to death vital services, jobs and job protections for workers, the poor and students and record numbers of people are losing their homes. Legislative efforts to strengthen our democratic institutions, like expanded whistleblower protections and corporate oversight, die on the table or in committee under the nasty anti-environmental and anti-worker agendas of… Continue reading

Evidence against 9/11 plotters revealed

By Agence France-Presse
Sunday, April 10th, 2011
Rawstory.com

WASHINGTON — US prosecutors compiled lots of evidence against the five men accused of having organized the September 11 attacks on the United States, but not until this week have details been fully revealed.

The indictment charging self-professed mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four others was unsealed when US Attorney General Eric Holder referred the case to the Defense Department for military trials instead of trials at a US federal court in New York.

Holder said Sheikh Mohammed, Walid bin Attash, Ramzi Binalshibh, Ali Abd al-Aziz Ali and Mustapha Ahmed al-Hawsawi could have been prosecuted in federal court and blamed Congress for imposing measures blocking civilian trials of Guantánamo Bay inmates.

They will be tried in military courts in the US naval base in southeastern Cuba.

The now-public details show that the United States, nearly 10 years after hijackers flew planes into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, reconstructed step by step the logistics of the five accused men.

They compiled bank transactions, flight records, visa applications, and dozens of telephone conversations to create the most comprehensive account of the chain of events before the attacks.

Implementation of the plan began in 1999, when Sheikh Mohammed (referred to as “KSM” by US officials) proposed to Osama bin Laden to use commercial airliners as missiles against US targets.

Until the last minute, according to the indictment, Sheikh Mohammed controlled the entire operation.

“From in or about December 1999, through in or about… Continue reading

Back to the Streets! Rally Against the Wars at Home and Abroad

bg tqmyBack to the Streets!
Rally Against the Wars at Home and Abroad

on April 9th (New York City) and April 10th (San Francisco)

Call to Action

And Request for Endorsement

April 9, 2011

New York & San Francisco

from the

United National Antiwar Committee

WHO ARE THE WARMAKERS?

THEY are the government, corporate, and financial powers that wage war, ravage
the environment and the economy and trample on our democratic rights and liberties.

WHO ARE THE PEACEMAKERS?

WE are the vast majority of humanity who want peace, a healthy planet and a
society that prioritizes human needs, democracy and civil liberties for all.

The Warmakers spend trillions of dollars yearly on endless wars in pursuit
of global domination and profit while murdering millions of innocent people,
installing corrupt and hated governments and funding occupations that displace
millions from their homelands — trampling on the right of oppressed people
to self-determination.

THEY send our youth — victims of the economic draft — to fight over the very
fossil fuels whose unrestrained use threatens the future of the planet while
corrupt and virtually unregulated oil giants dump billions of gallons of death
into our rivers and oceans.

THEY wage a fake “war on terrorism” at home — the new McCarthyism — that
promotes racism and Islamophobia aimed at destroying civil liberties and democratic
rights.

THEY grant repeated and untold trillions in bailouts to banks, corporations
and financial institutions while breaking unions, robbing pensions, destroying
jobs, foreclosing homes, de-funding education and vital social services and
are once again threatening Social Security and Medicare.…

Continue reading

Peter King’s Terror Hearings Take Over

Friday, March 11, 2011
by Staff Report
The Daily Bell

 

Peter King Commission ChairmanA controversial congressional hearing Thursday on the radicalization of
Muslim Americans touched on sensitive questions involving terrorism and tolerance
a decade after the 9/11 attacks. At times emotional and theatrical, the four-hour
session of the House Homeland Security Committee included calls from moderate
Muslims for support in overcoming extremists seeking to indoctrinate their children,
as well as protests from Democratic legislators who complained the hearing unfairly
implicated all Muslims for the criminal acts of a small minority. In the end,
committee Chairman Peter King (left), R-New York, said the hearing that generated
widespread media coverage “actually went a lot easier than it could have.” He
… promised additional hearings in coming months, with the next perhaps focusing
on the radicalization of Muslims in U.S. prisons. — CNN

Dominant Social Theme: Don’t trust the Muslims.

Free-Market Analysis: Yesterday’s hearing on radicalization
of Muslim Americans brings up a larger perspective regarding what is going on
in America and a close look into Western-style democracy. The incessant harping
on “terrorist Islam” as presented in these US congressional hearings (see above
article excerpt) does seem to indicate a trend regarding America’s — in fact
the entire West’s — descent into authoritarianism, driven by hysteria over
a religion that many of its worshipers (ironically) conflate with “peace.”

Peter King is promising more hearings on Islamic terror and one has no reason
to doubt they will occur. King has come under attack for these hearings, which
some believe are deliberately whipping up hysteria against Muslims, but he has
branded such accusations as false and baseless.…

Continue reading

Pentagon Papers Whistleblowers, Congressman Who Saved Headwaters Forest, and 9/11 Commissioners Themselves Call for a New 9/11 Investigation

Washingtonsblog.com

The two main players in releasing the Pentagon Papers were Daniel Ellsberg and United States Senator Mike Gravel.

Senator Gravel is the person who read the Pentagon Papers into the Congressional Record. This act made the papers public record, so that they could not be censored by the government. He was the only member of Congress courageous enough to do so.

Both Ellsberg and Gravel – like many other high-level former officials in the government and intelligence services (including many well-known whistleblowers) – support a new 9/11 investigation. Ellsberg says that the case of a certain 9/11 whistleblower is “far more explosive than the Pentagon Papers“. (Here’s some of what that whistleblower says.) He also said that the government is ordering the media to cover up her allegations about 9/11.

And he said that some of the claims concerning government involvement in 9/11 are credible, that “very serious questions have been raised about what they [U.S. government officials] knew beforehand and how much involvement there might have been”, that engineering 9/11 would not be humanly or psychologically beyond the scope of those in office, and that there’s enough evidence to justify a new, “hard-hitting” investigation into 9/11 with subpoenas and testimony taken under oath (see this and this).

Gravel is now backing a California ballot initiative for a new 9/11 investigation. The text of the initiative is below.

The initiative would actually help support the 9/11 Commission and fulfill the desire of the 9/11… Continue reading