Archive for the ‘taliban’ Category

LeT as dangerous as Taliban, al-Qaida: US; U.S. struggles to counter Taliban propaganda; US drone strikes kill 15 in North Waziristan; Peter Bergen, Katherine Tiedmann’s Year of the Drone Interactive Map, must see

October 3, 2010

Lashkar-e-Taiba

On March 27, we predicted that since the U.S. CIA director said that there were “…less than 100 al-Qaida in Afghanistan..”, that the LeT would be the new “terrorist targets”, click here to see that Post. The following story comes from The Times of India, click here for the full story. This is another reason to never stop military action in Central Asia. Where to next?

    NEW DELHI: The US on Thursday said Lashkar-e-Taiba terror outfit was as dangerous as Taliban and al-Qaida with which it was working in close coordination and that Pakistan has been asked to deny it a foothold in that country.

U.S. struggles to counter Taliban propaganda, from the New York Times, read the whole story, click here. Ed. Note: The Pentagon has spent over $500 Million on “Public Relations” to show the “good results of the military efforts” and the Taliban are winning this PR war also? What gives? Get out now…

    KABUL – The Taliban in recent months has developed increasingly sophisticated and nimble propaganda tactics that have alarmed U.S. officials struggling to curb the militant group’s growing influence across Afghanistan.

US drone strikes kill 15 in North Waziristan, from Dawn.com, click here for full story.

    MIRANSHAH: Two US drone strikes killed 15 militants Saturday in a lawless tribal belt in Pakistan, where a land route for Nato supplies was blocked for a third consecutive day, officials said.

    Officials in Washington say its drone strikes in the region have killed several high-value targets, including Pakistani Taliban chief Baitullah Mehsud, and help protect troops in Afghanistan from attacks plotted across the border.

    …However, drone attacks are a sensitive issue in Pakistan as the attacks also fuel anti-American sentiment in the conservative Muslim country.

    …Pakistani officials have reported that at least 21 US drone strikes in September have killed around 120 people, the highest monthly toll for the attacks.

See Peter Bergen, Katherine Tiedmann’s work at counterterrorism/New American, click here and see the map from Year of the Drone, click here.

    Our study shows that the 172 reported drone strikes in northwest Pakistan, including 76 in 2010, from 2004 to the present have killed approximately between 1,153 and 1,772 individuals, of whom around 842 to 1,238 were described as militants in reliable press accounts. Thus, the true non-militant fatality rate since 2004 according to our analysis is approximately 30 percent

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(UPDATE, WASH POST REPORTS) Mass Assassinations Lie at the Heart of America’s Military Strategy in the Muslim World

September 17, 2010

UPDATE: U.S. covert paramilitary presence in Afghanistan much larger than thought Written by By Craig Whitlock and Greg Miller,Washington Post Staff Writers,Wednesday, September 22, 2010. Our story below outlines the further extent of the use of paramilitary forces to assassinate “terrorists, insurgents, and others that are against U.S. policies”. This is not new news, but it is new to our Media. Where’s the reporting? It’s time to stop printing government press releases and begin “reporting” again. Read on:

The following interview of Ex-CIA Operative, Duane Clarridge “Defends the Empire”, Oct. 16, 2008. If it is in our National Security Interest, we can eliminate the threat anytime we wish, do you belive that? This video was taken from the article below the video. View this:

Mass Assassinations Lie at the Heart of America’s Military Strategy in the Muslim World
By Fred Branfman, AlterNet
Posted on August 24, 2010, Printed on September 15, 2010
Read the full story here, click this link.
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“[General McChrystal says that] for every innocent person you kill, you create 10 new enemies.” — “The Runaway General,” Rolling Stone, 6/22/10

The truth that many Americans find hard to take is that that mass U.S. assassination on a scale unequaled in world history lies at the heart of America’s military strategy in the Muslim world, a policy both illegal and never seriously debated by Congress or the American people. Conducting assassination operations throughout the 1.3 billon-strong Muslim world will inevitably increase the murder of civilians and thus create exponentially more “enemies,” as Gen. McChrystal suggests — posing a major long-term threat to U.S. national security. This mass assassination program, sold as defending Americans, is actually endangering us all. Those responsible for it, primarily General Petraeus, are recklessly seeking short-term tactical advantage while making an enormous long-term strategic error that could lead to countless American deaths in the years and decades to come. General Petraeus must be replaced, and the U.S. military’s policy of direct and mass assassination of Muslims ended.

The U.S. has conducted assassination programs in the Third World for decades, but the actual killing — though directed and financed by the C.I.A. — has been largely left to local paramilitary and police forces. This has now has changed dramatically.

What is unprecedented today is the vast number of Americans directly assassinating Muslims — through greatly expanded U.S. military Special Operations teams, U.S. drone strikes and private espionage networks run by former CIA assassins and torturers. Most significant is the expanding geographic scope of their killing. While CENTCOM Commander from October 2008 until July 2010, General Petraeus received secret and unprecedented permission to unilaterally engage in operations in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Iran, former Russian Republics, Yemen, Somalia, Saudi Arabia, Kenya, the Horn of Africa, and wherever else he deems necessary.

Never before has a nation unleashed so many assassins in so many foreign nations around the world (9,000 Special Operations soldiers are based in Iraq and Afghanistan alone) as well as implemented a policy that can be best described as unprecedented, remote-control, large-scale “mechanized assassination.” As the N.Y. Times noted in December 2009: “For the first time in history, a civilian intelligence agency is using robots to carry out a military mission, selecting people for killing in a country where the United States is not officially at war.”

This combination of human and technological murder amounts to a worldwide “Assassination Inc.” that is unique in human affairs.

The increasing shift to direct U.S. assassination began on Petraeus’s watch in Iraq,where targeted assassination was considered by many within the military to be more important than the “surge.” The killing of Al Qaeda leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was considered a major triumph that significantly reduced the level of violence. As Bob Woodward reported in The War Within: A Secret White House History 2006-2008:

“Beginning in about May 2006, the U.S. military and the U.S. intelligence agencies launched a series of top secret operations that enabled them to locate, target and kill key individuals in extremist groups. A number of authoritative sources say these covert activities had a far-reaching effect on the violence and were very possibly the biggest factor in reducing it. Lieutenant General Stanley McChrystal, the commander of the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) responsible for hunting al Qaeda in Iraq, (conducted) lightning-quick and sometimes concurrent operations When I later asked the president (Bush) about this, he offered a simple answer: ‘JSOC is awesome.'” [Emphasis added.]

Woodward’s finding that many “authoritative sources” believed assassination more important than the surge is buttressed by Petraeus’ appointment of McChrystal to lead U.S. forces in Afghanistan. McChrystal’s major qualification for the post was clearly his perceived expertise in assassination while heading JSOC from 2003-’08 (where he also conducted extensive torture at “Camp Nama” at Baghdad International Airport, successfully excluding even the Red Cross).

Another key reason for the increased reliance on assassination is that Petraeus’ announced counterinsurgency strategy in Afghanistan obviously cannot work. It is absurd to believe that the corrupt warlords and cronies who make up the “Afghan government” can be transformed into the viable entity upon which his strategy publicly claims to depend — particularly within the next year which President Obama has set as a deadline before beginning to withdraw U.S. troops. Petraeus is instead largely relying on mass assassination to try and eliminate the Taliban, both within Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The centrality of assassination to U.S. war plans is revealed by the fact that it was at the heart of the Obama review of Afghan policy last fall. The dovish Biden position called for relying primarily on assassination, while the hawkish McChrystal stance embraced both assassination and more troops. No other options were seriously considered.

A third factor behind the shift to mass assassination is that Petraeus and the U.S. military are also determined to attack jihadi forces in nations where the U.S. is not at war, and which are not prepared to openly invite in U.S. forces. As the N.Y. Times reported on May 24, “General Petraeus (has argued) that troops need to operate beyond Iraq and Afghanistan to better fight militant groups.”

The most significant aspect of this new and expanded assassination policy is President Obama’s authorizing clandestine U.S. military personnel to conduct it. The N.Y. Times has also reported:

In roughly a dozen countries — from the deserts of North Africa, to the mountains of Pakistan, to former Soviet republics crippled by ethnic and religious strife — the United States has significantly increased military and intelligence operations, pursuing the enemy using robotic drones and commando teams, paying contractors to spy and training local operatives to chase terrorists (Military) Special Operations troops under secret “Execute Orders” have conducted spying missions that were once the preserve of civilian intelligence agencies.

Read the rest of the story here, click this link.

Fred Branfman, the editor of “Voices From the Plain of Jars: Life Under an Air War” (Harper & Row, 1972), exposed the U.S. secret air war while living in Laos from 1967 to 1971.

© 2010 Independent Media Institute. All rights reserved.
View this story online at: http://www.alternet.org/story/147944/

From the Ground: Carnegie Endowment for Peace reports “Afghanistan Strategy has all ready Failed”

September 11, 2010

A special Thank You to Rethinkafghanistan for their review of Giles Dorronsoro’s reporting for the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, read their review here. Please support RethinkAfghanistan, visit their site here.

    The latest report from Carnegie Endowment for International Peace’s Giles Dorronsoro has a stark warning for the U.S.: the counterinsurgency strategy has already failed. The Taliban, he says, are solidifying a shadow state across Afghanistan, and the longer the U.S. waits to begin negotiations in earnest, the less likely the Taliban will be to make concessions. His report confirms what we’ve said for months: the U.S. military strategy in Afghanistan isn’t working, and it’s not worth the costs.

The full Question and Answer session with Mr. Dorronsoro is presented below for your review. But first, watch Rethinkafghaistan video entitled “General Petraeus’ “Progress” Spin on Afghanistan: We’ve Heard It Before”:

Worsening Outlook in Afghanistan
Gilles Dorronsoro
Q&A, September 9, 2010
Even with the surge of U.S. troops in Afghanistan, the coalition’s position continues to erode as the Taliban gain strength. Ahead of the July 2011 date to start pulling troops out of Afghanistan, the Obama administration approaches a strategic review of the war in December and will have to decide whether to maintain course or change direction. Meanwhile, American public support for the war is waning.

Just back from another trip to Afghanistan, Gilles Dorronsoro details in a Q&A the deteriorating security situation on the ground in Afghanistan, analyzes U.S. strategy, and makes the case for negotiations with the insurgency. Dorronsoro argues that Washington’s approach is failing and talking with the Taliban—through the Pakistani military establishment—is the least-bad option available. The best hope for exiting the war is to Afghanize the conflict and establish a coalition government that includes Taliban leaders.

■How is the situation changing on the ground?

■How strong are the Taliban?

■How important are the parliamentary elections in September?

■Is the current U.S. strategy on course? Did the influx of U.S. troops change the war?

■Has the arrival of General Petraeus altered the U.S. war strategy? Will the policies be rethought this year?

■How should the United States shift its current policy?

■What role is Pakistan playing in the war in Afghanistan? Can the United States trust the Pakistani government and military?

How is the situation changing on the ground?
Security in Afghanistan is clearly deteriorating. When I arrived in Afghanistan this summer, I didn’t anticipate a major change in the safety conditions since my last trip in April. Even with the surge of U.S. troops, I expected things to have stayed mainly the same within the short window of time between trips. I was wrong. There was a palpable regression.

The conditions have only gotten worse since the new U.S. counterinsurgency strategy was rolled out. While the coalition is talking about progress in a few districts, the general picture is quite different.

In Helmand, where the coalition has used its best troops, progress will take at least five years to materialize, according to the Commandant of the Marine Corps, James T. Conway. With an aggressive counterinsurgency campaign in Marja, coalition troops have been working to suppress the local insurgency. But months after the offensive started, Marja remains unstable and insecure. The lack of progress in Helmand delayed plans to move onto Kandahar, the second largest city in Afghanistan, and forced the United States to rethink its ambitious agenda.

Operations in Kandahar will be even more difficult because the insurgents enjoy strong popular support west of the city and this is where the most severe fights will take place in the next few months. The fighting is currently strongest in a small district north of Kandahar city where there are a series of military bases. While this is a strategically important location for controlling the city, U.S. forces have been unable to extend control beyond their bases—it takes hours to go just hundreds of meters outside on patrol. And they have failed to build a local militia or strong ties with influential people. The Taliban are too powerful in the south to defeat.

Things are also going badly in the north. The Taliban are in charge in many places and, even where they are not, the Afghan government has no real support. Of course it’s not a situation where areas wholly support the government or the Taliban, it’s more complicated than that as there are locations with local commanders who are not dependent on Kabul.

In the east, the United States is trying to implement a political strategy, but these efforts are unlikely to change the course of the entire struggle. Special forces have been able to build a tribal shura, or leadership council, in the Chamkani district in the east and according to early indications this has been received positively. While it’s too early to tell how these efforts will progress, minor progress in the east won’t have any concrete impact on the overall direction of the war itself.

How strong are the Taliban?
The Taliban are trying to take the fight to every part of Afghanistan and are successfully gaining control as the group becomes more of a national movement. The strategy is working as the conflict spreads across the country. Without many more troops than would ever be feasible for the United States or NATO to supply, the coalition will be unable to face all the threats at once, and it’s becoming increasingly difficult to gain a tactical success in a single location that could have wider tangible implications for the war. The progress of the insurgency is now irreversible as the Afghan government is too weak to roll back the insurgents.

The presence of the Taliban can even be felt in Kabul. They are progressively surrounding the capital and tightening their control in adjacent areas. With the center of the city remaining safe, even to foreigners, there are fewer and fewer places outside the city that are reachable by car. The Taliban have placed checkpoints on the roads out of Kabul in the north and south. It’s dangerous to drive as government employees risk being killed and foreigners are in danger of being captured. The isolation of Kabul is putting further strain on the government and coalition as they cannot easily travel outside the capital.

In the south, the Taliban are successfully holding their ground with low levels of casualties in Kandahar and Helmand, despite concerted American campaigns. And the Taliban have successfully discouraged local partners from working with the coalition.

In essence, the Taliban are building a shadow state. Right now, the Taliban are the only effective force in many areas. The services provided are limited, but efficient. A clear indication is that international nongovernmental organizations are beginning to deal directly with the Taliban as they need their support to operate effectively. The process has become so formalized, for example, that international groups can now expect to receive a paper that is stamped and sealed by the Taliban to work in some Taliban-controlled areas.

How important are the parliamentary elections in September?
The parliamentary elections scheduled for September will in many ways be a rerun of last year’s presidential campaign. The political process will be extremely corrupt and the international community won’t be able to monitor the election on the ground. President Karzai will marginalize progressives and use the elections for his own political gain.

Still, the elections will not be a major development in determining Afghanistan’s fate. Karzai is increasingly going around parliament and through a jirga—a tribal gathering of leaders—to establish new policies. If Karzai wants to do something, he simply marginalizes the parliament.

Is the current U.S. strategy on course? Did the influx of U.S. troops change the war?
The United States has a failing strategy in Afghanistan. Since last year there has not been one serious element of progress and the situation will not improve without a strategic recalculation.

Washington wants to weaken the Taliban by beefing up the counterinsurgency campaign to the point where the Taliban will be forced to ask for amnesty and join the government. But the Taliban are growing stronger and there are no indications that U.S. efforts can defeat the insurgents.

So far, additional troops have not translated into a tactical victory. Despite arguments to the contrary, the higher levels of casualties in the coalition do not equal progress on the ground. The coalition has not been successful in Marjah and is fighting without clear political objectives in Kandahar because it’s not able to reform the local administration. The idea that the coalition can win the hearts and minds of the people is too optimistic without concrete results. And even if the situations in Kandahar and Marjah improve—two big ifs—the Taliban will remain a strong movement across Afghanistan, while the United States would have to use a large portion of its forces just to hold them.

Complementing the additional forces was a civilian surge. The idea behind providing more money for development was that it would improve the lives of the local population and marginalize the Taliban. The concept, however, is not proven as there is no empirical data to support the theory.

It’s quite the opposite in fact. When billions of dollars are dumped into the local economy, it destabilizes the population and society. The provincial reconstruction team poured $80-90 million into Kunar province in east Afghanistan in 2008 and 2009, but the local economy wasn’t able to absorb the cash. It fed corruption and reinforced a war economy where beneficiaries are interested in perpetuating a low level of conflict.

In a year, the Taliban will not disappear as a political force or even be weakened militarily—the longer it takes for negotiations to begin, the harder it will be for the coalition to carry out the best possible exit strategy. Negotiations are the least bad option.

Has the arrival of General Petraeus altered the U.S. war strategy? Will the policies be rethought this year?
General Petraeus has not yet fundamentally changed U.S. strategy, but he wants to change the rules of engagement slightly so U.S. forces will be less restricted and more able to respond to the Taliban attacks.

Petraeus wants time to implement the counterinsurgency tactics and win the war. Debate over the future of the war will liven in the run-up to the December review by the Obama administration. The evaluation of U.S. strategy, however, will be about politics, not about the situation on the ground. All sides will try to manipulate public opinion. At the end of the day, President Obama will essentially have two possibilities—he can either maintain the current course or begin negotiating with the insurgents.

Advocates of a continued push will argue that only now are the resources in place for the counterinsurgency strategy to be effectively carried out and more time is needed to assess results. But this line of reasoning ignores reality that the strategy has already failed on the ground and there is no evidence that the situation can be reversed in strategically decisive ways. This is dangerous because the Taliban are less likely to talk in a year.

Moreover, the growing strength of the insurgency, combined with the withdrawal of Canadian and Dutch forces, means that reinforcements will be needed in the next few years. Not only will the United States not be able to begin a withdrawal next summer, but more troops will be needed just to slow the Taliban’s forward momentum.

Instead, the White House can take the situation into its own hands and admit that the American-led coalition is not going to win the war. Recognizing the deteriorating conditions, the United States can lead the effort to negotiate with the Taliban through the Pakistani military.

How should the United States shift its current policy?
While the interest in a calm, secure, and stable Afghanistan is widespread, the longer the United States waits to begin negotiations the smaller chance they will have to succeed. The United States needs to Afghanize the war. Instead of a global war pitting the United States against jihadis, the future needs to be in the hands of Afghans and only then will they find local solutions to the war.

The way forward is apparent. In the coming months, the American-led coalition needs to declare a ceasefire and begin talking to the Taliban. While negotiations could be an extremely long and fraught process, the sooner they begin the more likely they are to achieve results.

Negotiations must include the United States, Taliban, Pakistani military, and members of the Afghan government and Northern Alliance. It needs to be relatively small at first as bringing in too many regional powers would only complicate negotiations.

The idea of negotiating only through President Karzai is not a good idea. He is both too weak and surrounded by influential advisers who oppose the United States. He is no longer a partner of Washington and it would be irresponsible to leave the talks in his hands. Plus, neither the Taliban nor Pakistan wants to negotiate with Karzai because he can’t deliver results. The United States must play a leading role as it would be dangerous not to.

The talks will need to establish a coalition government in Kabul—that includes Taliban leaders—and security guarantees for the Western alliance that al-Qaeda will not return and use Afghanistan as a base to mount terrorist attacks abroad. As negotiations proceed, there will need to be a political agreement detailing the withdrawal of coalition forces. Ideally, 10,000-20,000 troops will stay in the country to defend against external threats, but this would depend on how the talks are going.

After a broad-based government is set up, a larger international conference will be needed to garner global support for the new body. This certainly must include India, Russia, Iran, and Saudi Arabia. It could perhaps be under the auspice of the UN, which might provide some of the important outside powers more incentive to cooperate than if the United States were driving it alone.

If the United States starts now, it can work. If the international community waits too long, the Taliban will be too strong and will be unwilling to make concessions.

What role is Pakistan playing in the war in Afghanistan? Can the United States trust the Pakistani government and military?
It’s clear that the Pakistanis are still supporting the Taliban. This was known well before WikiLeaks disclosed secret documents detailing supposed links between the Pakistani military and Taliban.

In February, the Taliban’s operational commander, Abdul Ghani Baradar, was arrested in Karachi. As the second-ranking Taliban official after Mullah Muhammad Omar, the arrest was heralded as Islamabad’s new devotion to eradicating the Taliban and fighting terrorism. But the arrest was not a change in strategy, it was designed to cut off secret peace talks between Kabul and Baradar that left out Pakistan. The Taliban’s connections with the Pakistani military persist.

U.S. policy on Pakistan, however, is disconnected from reality. Washington continues to funnel money to the Pakistani government to move against the Afghan Taliban—but this is yesterday’s policy. It’s far too late for the Pakistani army to reverse course. And even if Washington got what it wanted and high-level Taliban leaders were arrested, it would not kill the insurgency. The Taliban are too strong and the remaining players in Afghanistan will refuse to negotiate.

In fact, if Islamabad loses influence over the Afghan Taliban, it will be a loss for Washington. Instead of trying to disconnect the Pakistani government from the Taliban, the United States should use the links to start talking. The United States must start using the situation to its own advantage.

Ed. Note: It is time to stop war funding. Give the same amount of funds for the next two years to a Muslim Based Charity to do the reconstruction in Afghanistan and Iraq (and Pakistan). End the bloodshed, it is only making more “terrorists/insurgents/patriots”, whichever definition of those fighting against us may be.

“Pakistan, Failed State #10,”; now Noah’s Flood washes away a generation’s hope for improvement; and the war goes on

August 18, 2010

Pakistan Flood Victims on the Move

Kunwar Iris writes today in Dawn.com an analysis of why nations that could help flood victims are hesitant to do so, and he blames the corrupt government that rules Pakistan. This story is a Must Read to understand the underlying problems of “partnering” with Pakistan by the U.S. to have the Taliban stop fighting. The story follows:

Saving Pakistan from itself By Kunwar Idris
Sunday, 15 Aug, 2010

    The response of the political leaders, the government and civil society as a whole to the country’s worst-ever natural disaster has been both delayed and mean. It is a kind of save-Pakistan-from-itself situation.

    Even the army that comes to the people’s rescue when the civil administration falters or fails was late this time in coming and its presence was felt much less than in earlier, lesser crises. The world response matches domestic indifference. Only the ‘hated’ American soldiers with their helicopters are there to save lives. Don’t we need to look at our ‘friends’ more closely?

    The pledges made are small and much of the money promised would be available after the suffering has taken its toll. Well into the second week of the calamity, the donations received in the prime minister’s relief fund remain a pittance. Among a few large donors is a rags-to-riches politician who only a week earlier had spent, perhaps, an equal sum on a wedding feast at a plush Dubai hotel. Thus he has come to represent the rich of Pakistan as they are known to the world — charitable and vainglorious at the same time.

    The rains and floods, the prime minister says, had put the country back by a generation. That sounds like an exaggeration only to forestall the criticism of his government’s extravagance and incompetence. The damage to the infrastructure would surely cost a great deal but repaired — sooner or later. It is the nation that seems to have lost its soul.

    Its chosen representatives do not now have a dictator to curse nor can they blame ‘obstructing’ judges. They indulge in harangues but lack the moral strength to inspire a nation in crisis. Helping the people in distress are only the soldiers and some jihadis. The liberal or mainstream parties are nowhere to be seen.

    For the failure of the political leadership and civil administration to deal with the day-to-day problems, much less with a crisis of this magnitude, the blame lies not with this or that individual or party but with the politics of vengeance and retribution that has marked the national scene almost for four decades now. There may have been moments of personal triumph here and there but the moral and institutional decline has been continuous and, barring a revolution, looks irreversible.

    A quick reckoner of this decline is Bangladesh which is now poised to grow at twice the rate of Pakistan. A more tempting comparison, however, would be with Egypt which has been ruled by more strongmen and longer than Pakistan. In human development and social services starting from the same base in the middle of the last century, the literacy level in Egypt has risen to 85 per cent against ours at 54 and an average Egyptian expects to live eight years longer than a Pakistani. But, more amazingly, 99 per cent of Egyptian homes now have electricity and 97 per cent have piped water supply.In South Asian terms Pakistan shows up poorly and Southeast Asia (is altogether a different story. The old-timers can recall a time when the Koreans came to Pakistan to study our development model. Today an average South Korean is 30 times richer than his Pakistani counterpart.

    In Pakistan the failure has been collective but the rot began with the political leadership. It travelled down the line to hit the bureaucracy and then spread across the national spectrum to undermine all other spheres. The causes are numerous and remedies are often recounted but relevant in the current context is the need to curtail government expenditure to save money for the rehabilitation of flood victims and modernisation of the physical infrastructure.

    The size of the government calls for a drastic reduction. A smaller size would increase efficiency. One often wonders that if the province of West Pakistan (one unit) could make do with 13 or so ministers and as many secretaries why must each province now have three to four times that number? West Pakistan’s secretariat had just five cars for everybody to share; the number now defies a count.

    The chief minister then had but one office room and that too in the main secretariat along with all other ministers and officials. The Punjab chief minister now hardly ever goes to the secretariat. A palace-like structure that Chaudhry Parvez Elahi built for himself is now occupied by an assortment of freeloaders who are a burden on a government that runs on bank overdraft.

    Then come cash handouts or subsidies. Rs70bn set aside for payment to the poor selected by parliamentarians under a programme named after Benazir should be diverted to the flood victims. Putting the poor on dole, even if honestly chosen (which appears unlikely considering the political channel of distribution) is a bad idea. The same applies to the sum set aside for Punjab’s two-rupee sasti roti which even the rich can buy.

    Though late, the Punjab chief minister has sensibly decided to stop this waste and divert the saved Rs500bn to flood relief. The Sindh government is now contemplating a similar subsidy in wheat flour through the millers for sale in the open market. Given our proven inability to control the market forces, this subsidy is unlikely to reach the poor just as the subsidy on fertiliser, pesticide or other commodities did not. It too will get lost in the long channel of bribe and profit.

    The savings in these and other subsidies and a heavy cut in spendings by a mélange of political coalitions that have no policy or direction should make up somewhat for the lack of local and foreign donations. The saddest of all thoughts however is that the donors are being cagey or wary not because they do not realise the gravity and scale of the problem. It is Pakistan’s reputation for corruption and mismanagement that holds them back. And there we are stuck. (You can write to Kunwar:kunwaridris@hotmail.com)

45+ Afghans die during air raid, NATO, U.S. deny it happened

August 7, 2010

The NATO command and the U.S. Forces are lying to us, the public. They can not be trusted. These wars must end. What is to be gained by continuing? What is Victory? Our friends at Rethink Afghanistan have produced this video of the deaths of 45+ innocent civilians in a small Afghan Village. This has been denied by NATO and the U.S. Forces. What would you do if this were your village? After viewing the video, go to Rethink Afghanistan and send a letter to your Members of Congress.

Pakistan President Zardari says “Coalition losing Afghan war”; 43% Americans feel US made mistake by sending troops to Afghan; Enough Dying, End the Wars NOW

August 3, 2010

Enough Death on All Sides: End the War NOW

PARIS: Coalition forces “are losing the war against the Taliban” in Afghanistan, Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari said in an interview published in France on Tuesday. “The international community, to which Pakistan belongs, is losing the war against the Taliban. This is above all because we have lost the battle to win hearts and minds,” he said, in comments published in French by Le Monde. Read the whole story here.

* * *

WASHINGTON: After Wikileaks released the leaked classified documents on the Afghan war, 43 per cent of Americans now feel that the US made a mistake by sending troops to the war-torn country, according to a latest poll. This is slightly up from just before the release of the leaked documents last week, which was 38 per cent, Gallup said in its latest poll.

“While Americans are still more likely to support than oppose the war, the percentage who say it was a mistake to get involved is at a new high,” Gallup said in a statement. Read the whole story here.

Enough Dying on all Sides, End the Wars NOW

“We are losing our Nation to Lies about the Necessity of War”, Congress Member Dennis Kucinich; “…A Dysfunctional — and broke–System of Government…”; A CALL TO ACTION: RESPONDING TO PETRAEUS’S CALL FOR AN ENDLESS WAR‏

July 8, 2010

Published: July 6, 2010 at 8:02 AM (Read full story here)

    By ARNAUD DE BORCHGRAVE, UPI Editor at Large, July 6 (UPI) — No better proof of a dysfunctional — and broke — system of government than the U.S. Congress passing additional funding for the Afghan war — $300 billion thus far — while simultaneously denying the unemployed an extension of benefits — and then taking a 10-day Independence Day vacation.

    With the jobless hovering just less than 10 percent of a 158 million-strong U.S. labor force, including 1.3 million who didn’t get their benefits reinstated and an additional 200,000 a week who have been without a job for at least six months and stand to lose their benefits each week until Congress acts, some 15 million Americans are out of work.

    One million Americans dropped out of the job market over the past two months as they gave up a fruitless search for work. They lack the skills needed for a high-tech economy. And companies have slashed payrolls as automation helps them get along with fewer employees. The ranks of the unemployed who no longer receive any compensation are climbing to 10 million.

A follow-up to our story United National Antiwar Conference (UNAC) Join us in Albany, New York!;

CONTACT:Unity United National Peace Conference July 23 – 25, 2010, Albany, NY…Unac2010@aol.com or UNAC at P.O. Box 21675, Cleve.,OH 44121 518-227-6947 http://www.nationalpeaceconference.org

    Casting aside any intention that Washington plans to end its occupation and war against Afghanistan in 2011 or anytime in the foreseeable future, Gen. David Petraeus declared “We are in this to win. That is our clear objective.” Commenting on the General’s statement, New York Tines reporter Dexter Filkins wrote, “Almost every phase of the war [in Afghanistan] is going badly. In June, 102 American and NATO troops lost their lives, more than in any month since the war began. The major offensive in Kandahar , the most important city in the Taliban heartland, has been slowed because of worries over the lack of local support. The Afghan government and army show few signs of being able, or even willing, to take over.. In the United states, public opinion polls show that a majority of Americans have turned against the war.” (7/5/10)

    he most important question facing the antiwar and social justice movements is: What do we do now?

    If ever there was a time for these movements to join together to plan united protest actions, this is it. Hundreds of movement activists have already registered for the National Conference to Bring the Troops Home Now to be held in Albany, New York on July 23-25.and many more have expressed plans to attend. PLEASE JOIN US! Register online at http://www.nationalpeaceconference.org

    In peace and unity,

    Jerry Gordon, Secretary, National Peace Conference

President Obama’s statement not true; Just Foreign Policy sends this Email Alert, please join them.

May 13, 2010

Thanks to Rethink Afghanistan for catching President Obama’s statement that is not true, either he doesn’t get the correct information from his staff before reading a speech, or he knowingly is not telling us the truth. Either way is pretty scary, to run foreign policy this way with many people dying or are maimed for life on all sides, for what? Follow Just Foreign Policy below the video for action YOU CAN TAKE NOW. Thank you all.

Today, we are Posting the email we receive from Just Foreign Policy in total. There’s so much good information here today that this will be our Post of the day. You can voice your opinion by following the links that they provide. You will have to copy and paste the links into your browser window. Go to justforeignpolicy.org and join up to get their emails delivered daily to your emailbox. We thank Robert Naiman and the crew at Just Foreign Policy for their hard work on our behalf.

For more information, go to: http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/node/156

Just Foreign Policy News
May 13, 2010

Just Foreign Policy News on the Web:

http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/node/576

[To receive just the Summary and a link to the web version, you can use this webform:

http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/switchdailynews%5D

Call Congress! Urge Support for Feingold-McGovern, ending the Afghan war
This week, the Friends Committee for National Legislation has provided a toll-free number: 1-888-543-5234. This connects you to the Capitol Switchboard. Ask to be connected to your Representative or Senator, urge your Rep. or Senator to co-sponsor the Feingold-McGovern bill, and to oppose the war supplemental. More info and reportback:

http://noescalation.org/2010/05/05/withdrawal-timetable/

Did Obama Say Yes to Afghan Peace Talks?
Here’s what Obama said in public: “On the related subject of Afghan-led peace and reconciliation efforts, I appreciated the President sharing his plans for the upcoming consultative peace jirga – an important milestone that America supports. In addition, the United States supports the efforts of the Afghan government to open the door to Taliban who cut their ties to al Qaeda, abandon violence, and accept the Afghan constitution, including respect for human rights. And I look forward to a continued dialogue with our Afghan partners on these efforts.”

The final version of the ad we put in the Politico, and the letter that 15 groups sent to President Obama urging him to say yes to peace talks, are here:

http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/node/573

$33 Billion for War, But Not $5.6 Billion to Fight AIDS in Africa and Haiti
When President Obama visited Afghanistan in March, he assured U.S. troops that “the United States of America does not quit once it starts on something.” But apparently that only applies to killing, not to fighting AIDS in in the poorest countries in the world, because according to Sunday’s New York Times, on that fight, America is throwing in the towel; even though the money we supposedly don’t have for fighting AIDS because we bailed out Wall Street is 1/20th of continuing the war in Afghanistan.

http://www.commondreams.org/view/2010/05/12-5

VIDEO: Urge Congress to End the War in Afghanistan
Just Foreign Policy made a short video to help publicize the McGovern bill and the importance of a timetable for military withdrawal from Afghanistan. Spread it all around.

http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/video/feingold-mcgovern

USTR Going Rogue on Canadian Tobacco Laws?
The US Trade Representative is threatening WTO action against Canadian tobacco control, even though USTR is specifically prohibited from undertaking such actions under US law.

http://citizen.typepad.com/eyesontrade/2010/04/ustr-going-rogue-on-canadian-tobacco-laws.html

Summary:
U.S./Top News
1) The monthly cost of the war in Afghanistan has topped Iraq costs for the first time since 2003, USA Today reports. Pentagon spending in February was $6.7 billion in Afghanistan compared with $5.5 billion in Iraq. Afghanistan will cost nearly $105 billion in the 2010 fiscal year that ends Sept. 30, including most of $33 billion in additional spending requested by Obama and pending before Congress.

2) The Red Cross has confirmed that the US airbase at Bagram in Afghanistan contains a facility for detainees that is distinct from its main prison, contradicting US claims that there is no such facility, the BBC reports. Nine former prisoners have told the BBC that they were held in a separate building, and subjected to abuse, including cold and sleep deprivation.

3) Sen. Bond said he has seen no hard evidence a Pakistani group planned or directed the the failed car bombing in Times Square, the Washington Post reports. Sen. Bond said White House statements suggesting a central role by the Pakistani Taliban were based on “suspicions and tenuous connections.” On Sunday, Attorney General Holder told “Meet the Press” the Pakistani Taliban was “intimately involved” in directing the attempt. The Guardian quoted Pakistani investigators saying they had found no evidence to support U.S. claims Faisal Shahzad had acted on Taliban orders [#8 below - JFP.]

4) Gen. McChrystal said Iran is continuing to back Taliban forces, but its supply of training and weapons is insignificant, the Washington Times reports. The general’s comments contrast with a recent Pentagon report to Congress that said Iran is seeking to counter U.S. influence by expanding ties to terrorists and insurgents.

5) The U.S. Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) says Afghanistan’s Control & Audit Office (CAO) remains weak and lacks the independence needed to be an effective watchdog, USA Today reports. CAO reports to President Karzai’s office but is not authorized to release its audits publicly or even send reports to parliament.

6) U.S. commanders are reconsidering the pace of a major troop pullout from Iraq this summer, AP reports. The withdrawal of the first major wave of troops is expected to be delayed by about a month. U.S. officials still plan to reduce the force level from 92,000 to 50,000 troops by Aug. 31.

7) The Greek government has reached an agreement with EU authorities and the IMF that will make current economic problems even worse, writes Mark Weisbrot for the New York Times. Thousands of Greeks in the streets have it right, and the E.U. economists have it wrong. You cannot shrink your way out of recession; you have to grow your way out, as the U.S. is doing. If the EU and the IMF will not offer a growth option to Greece, the country would be better off leaving the Euro and renegotiating its debt. When Argentina broke its currency peg and defaulted, it returned to growth; Lativa and Estonia, taking the EU medicine, remain mired in recession.

Pakistan
8) Pakistani investigators have found no evidence to support US claims the failed Times Square bomber was working under the direction of the Pakistani Taliban, the Guardian reports. Pakistani officials are perplexed and angry at statements from Washington about Shahzad’s links with the Pakistani Taliban, believing the US is exploiting the issue to apply pressure for new military offensives in Pakistan’s tribal border area with Afghanistan. General Petraeus had previously said that Shahzad was a “lone wolf” who was “inspired by militants in Pakistan but didn’t have direct contact with them”. A Pakistani government official said: “There is a disconnect between the Pentagon and the administration. The Pentagon gets it that more open pressure on Pakistan is not helpful.”

Philippines
9) Senator Benigno Aquino, expected to become the Philippines’ next president, has said he wants to review the Visiting Forces Agreement, the pact that allows the US military to hold its service members in its custody during criminal proceedings in the Philippines, the New York Times reports. He also said US Special Forces troops, who have been training the Philippine military to fight against Islamic terrorists on the southern island of Mindanao since 2001, should not become a “semipermanent or permanent” force.

Iran
10) Iran said Brazil and Turkey have offered a promising new proposal for a nuclear fuel deal, AP reports. Brazil’s Foreign Ministry said Brazil has not finalized a proposal but is working on one based on a plan by the IAEA. Turkey’s Foreign Ministry official said Turkey and Brazil are in constant contact to try to find a solution and they are “building on” the U.N. plan.

Iraq
11) Iraqi politicians reached an agreement to halt a campaign to bar candidates from politics for ties to the Baath Party, removing an obstacle in the process of forming a new government, the New York Times reports.

Egypt
12) Egypt’s Parliament approved a government request to extend for two years its right to arrest people without charge, detain prisoners indefinitely, limit freedom of expression and assembly, and maintain a special security court, the New York Times reports. The State Department expressed disappointment.

Contents:
U.S./Top News
1) Afghan war costs now outpace Iraq’s
Richard Wolf, USA Today, May 12, 2010

http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/afghanistan/2010-05-12-afghan_N.htm

Washington – The monthly cost of the war in Afghanistan, driven by troop increases and fighting on difficult terrain, has topped Iraq costs for the first time since 2003 and shows no sign of letting up. Pentagon spending in February, the most recent month available, was $6.7 billion in Afghanistan compared with $5.5 billion in Iraq. As recently as fiscal year 2008, Iraq was three times as expensive; in 2009, it was twice as costly.

The shift is occurring because the Pentagon is adding troops in Afghanistan and withdrawing them from Iraq. And it’s happening as the cumulative cost of the two wars surpasses $1 trillion, including spending for veterans and foreign aid. Those costs could put increased pressure on President Obama and Congress, given the nation’s $12.9 trillion debt.

“The overall costs are a function, in part, of the number of troops,” says Linda Bilmes, an expert on wartime spending at Harvard University. “The costs are also a result of the intensity of operations, and the number of different places that we have our troops deployed.”
[...]
– The number of U.S. servicemembers in Afghanistan has risen to 87,000, on top of 47,000 from 44 other countries. At the same time, the number of U.S. servicemembers in Iraq has dropped to 94,000. By next year, Afghanistan is to have 102,000 U.S. servicemembers, Iraq 43,000.

- Afghanistan will cost nearly $105 billion in the 2010 fiscal year that ends Sept. 30, including most of $33 billion in additional spending requested by Obama and pending before Congress. Iraq will cost about $66 billion. In fiscal 2011, Afghanistan is projected to cost $117 billion, Iraq $46 billion. To date, Pentagon spending in Iraq has reached $620 billion, compared with $190 billion in Afghanistan.

- Costs per servicemember in Afghanistan have been roughly double what they are in Iraq since 2005. That is due to lower troop levels, Afghanistan’s landlocked location, lack of infrastructure, high cost of fuel and less reliable security.
[...]

2) Red Cross confirms ‘second jail’ at Bagram, Afghanistan
Hilary Andersson, BBC News, 11 May 2010

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/8674179.stm

The US airbase at Bagram in Afghanistan contains a facility for detainees that is distinct from its main prison, the Red Cross has confirmed to the BBC. Nine former prisoners have told the BBC that they were held in a separate building, and subjected to abuse.

The US military says the main prison, now called the Detention Facility in Parwan, is the only detention facility on the base. However, it has said it will look into the abuse allegations made to the BBC.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said that since August 2009 US authorities have been notifying it of names of detained people in a separate structure at Bagram. “The ICRC is being notified by the US authorities of detained people within 14 days of their arrest,” a Red Cross spokesman said. “This has been routine practice since August 2009 and is a development welcomed by the ICRC.”

The spokesman was responding to a question from the BBC about the existence of the facility, referred to by many former prisoners as the Tor Jail, which translates as “black jail”.
[...]
In recent weeks the BBC has logged the testimonies of nine prisoners who say they had been held in the so-called “Tor Jail”. They told consistent stories of being held in isolation in cold cells where a light is on all day and night. The men said they had been deprived of sleep by US military personnel there.

In response to these allegations, Vice Adm Robert Harward, in charge of US detentions in Afghanistan, denied the existence of such a facility or abuses. He told the BBC that the Parwan Detention Facility was the only US detention centre in the country.

3) Taliban Link To Car Bomb Questioned
Pakistani insurgents’ connection to Times Square bomb attempt still not found
Joby Warrick, Washington Post, Wednesday, May 12, 2010; A06

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/05/11/AR2010051104362.html

U.S. officials investigating the failed car bombing in Times Square are still far from certain about the role Pakistani insurgent groups may have played in orchestrating the attempt, the Senate intelligence committee’s top Republican said Tuesday.

Sen. Christopher S. Bond (R-Mo.) said he has seen no hard evidence that a Pakistani group – or groups – planned or directed the May 1 attempt, allegedly carried out by Faisal Shahzad. He added that White House statements suggesting a central role by the Pakistani Taliban were based on “suspicions and tenuous connections.”

“We need to find out, as quickly as possible, what his connections were and how he was trained,” Bond said, referring to Shahzad, after a closed-door committee briefing by senior intelligence and law enforcement officials involved in the investigation. Referring to recent comments by Obama administration officials about a strong Taliban link, the senator said: “I am not convinced by the information I’ve seen so far that there was adequate, confirmable intelligence to corroborate the statements that were made on Sunday television shows.”

On Sunday, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. told NBC’s “Meet the Press” that the Pakistani Taliban was “intimately involved” in directing the attempt to blow up a sport-utility vehicle on a crowded Times Square street corner.

Shahzad, a native of Pakistan who spent several months in the country’s lawless tribal region over the past year, has reportedly told FBI investigators that he underwent terrorist training there, although the veracity of some of his statements has been questioned.

The British newspaper the Guardian quoted Pakistani investigators Tuesday as saying they had found no evidence to support U.S. claims that Shahzad had acted on Taliban orders.
[...]

4) Iran’s Meddling In Afghanistan ‘Not Significant’
Bill Gertz, Washington Times, May 11, 2010

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2010/may/11/irans-meddling-in-afghanistan-not-significant/

The commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan said Monday that Iran is continuing to back Taliban forces, but its supply of training and weapons is insignificant. Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, commander of U.S. and allied forces, said Iran’s “reach into Afghanistan, first, is fairly legitimate” and includes money and education support.

“There is evidence, intelligence that indicates some malign activity as well: some training of insurgents, Taliban, and of shipments of some levels of arms,” the four-star general told reporters at the White House. “But they are not significant in numbers, and they have not been enough to change the basic calculus of the fight at this point.”

The general’s comments contrast with a recent Pentagon report to Congress that said Iran is seeking to counter U.S. influence by expanding ties to terrorists and insurgents. “Iran is attempting to secure political, economic and security influence in Iraq and Afghanistan, while undermining U.S. efforts by supporting various political groups, providing developmental and humanitarian assistance, and furnishing lethal aid to Iraqi Shia militants and Afghan insurgents,” the report said.
[...]

5) U.S. Reviews Afghan Watchdog Authority
Aamer Madhani, USA Today, May 11, 2010

http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/2010-05-11-afghan-corruption_N.htm

The Afghan authority charged with rooting out government waste remains weak and lacks the independence needed to be an effective watchdog, according to a recent U.S. government report. Afghanistan’s Control & Audit Office (CAO) reports to President Hamid Karzai’s office but is not authorized to release its audits publicly or even send reports to the parliament, according to the office of the U.S. Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR).

The U.S. Embassy in Kabul and international organizations have called on the Karzai government to make CAO more independent and transparent, the SIGAR report says.

Under current law, the CAO’s mandate is too narrow, said Mohammad Sharif, who heads the agency. “It disregards (the) will and aspiration of the people who have the right to know about the utilization of their money from an independent source,” Sharif wrote to SIGAR.

The World Bank called on the Afghan Justice Ministry last year to require CAO to publicize its work and report to the parliament. But when the Justice Ministry introduced a draft law this year, it didn’t incorporate those suggestions.
[...]

6) U. S. Reviewing Pace Of Troop Withdrawal
Lara Jakes, Associated Press, Tuesday, May 11, 2010; 4:35 PM

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/05/11/AR2010051102738.html

Baghdad – American commanders, worried about increased violence in the wake of Iraq’s inconclusive elections, are now reconsidering the pace of a major troop pullout this summer, U.S. officials said Tuesday.

The withdrawal of the first major wave of troops is expected to be delayed by about a month, the officials said. Waiting much longer could endanger President Barack Obama’s goal of reducing the force level from 92,000 to 50,000 troops by Aug. 31.

More than two months after parliamentary elections, the Iraqis have still not formed a new government, and militants aiming to exploit the void have carried out attacks like Monday’s bombings and shootings that killed at least 119 people – the country’s bloodiest day of 2010.

The threat has prompted military officials to look at keeping as many troops on the ground, for as long as possible, without missing the Aug. 31 deadline. A security agreement between the two nations requires American troops to be out of Iraq by the end of 2011.

In Baghdad and Washington, U.S. officials say they remain committed to the deadline, which Obama has said he would extend only if Iraq’s security deteriorates. Getting out of Iraq quickly and responsibly was among Obama’s top campaign promises in 2008. Extending the deadline could be politically risky back home – but so could anarchy and a bloodbath following a hasty retreat.
[...]

7) The E.U.’s Dangerous Game
Mark Weisbrot, New York Times, May 12, 2010

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/13/opinion/13iht-edweisbrot.html

The agreement by the European Union and the International Monetary Fund to provide up to $960 billion of support to the Continent’s weaker economies, as well as to financial markets, has appeared to calm investors worldwide, for the moment. But this does not resolve the underlying problem, even in the short run.

The problem is one of irrational economic policy. The Greek government has reached an agreement with the E.U. authorities (which include the European Commission and the European Central Bank), and the I.M.F. that will make the current economic problems even worse.

This is known to economists, including the ones at the E.U. and I.M.F. who negotiated the agreement. The projections show that if their program “works,” Greece’s debt will rise from 115 percent of gross domestic product today to 149 percent in 2013. This means that in less than three years, and most likely sooner, Greece will be facing the same crisis that it faces today.

Furthermore, the Greek Finance Ministry now projects a decline of 4 percent in G.D.P. this year, down from less than 1 percent last year. However that projection is likely to prove overly optimistic. In other words, the Greek people will go through a lot of suffering, their economy will shrink and their debt burden will grow, and then they will very likely face the same choice of debt rescheduling, restructuring, or default – and/or leaving the Euro.

There are lessons to be learned from this debacle. First, no government should sign an agreement that guarantees an open-ended recession, and leaves it to the world economy to eventually pull them out of it. This process of “internal devaluation” – whereby unemployment is deliberately driven to high levels in order to drive down wages and prices while keeping the nominal exchange rate fixed – is not only unjust, it is unviable. This is even more true for Greece, given its initial debt burden.

The tens of thousands of Greeks in the streets have it right, and the E.U. economists have it wrong. You cannot shrink your way out of recession; you have to grow your way out, as the United States is doing (albeit too slowly).

If the E.U. and the I.M.F. will not offer a growth option to Greece, the country would be better off leaving the Euro and renegotiating its debt.

Argentina tried the “internal devaluation” strategy from mid-1998 to the end of 2001, suffering through a depression that pushed half the country into poverty. It then dropped its peg to the dollar and defaulted on its debt. The economy shrank for just one more quarter and then had a robust recovery, growing 63 percent over the next six years.

(By contrast, the “internal devaluation” process promises not only indefinite recession, but a long, very slow recovery if it “works” – as we can see from the I.M.F.’s projections for Latvia and Estonia. Both of these countries are projected to take 8 or 9 years to reach their pre-recession levels of output.)
[...]

Pakistan
8) Pakistan denies Taliban link to Times Square bomb suspect
Investigators dismiss US claims that Faisal Shahzad was working under direction of Pakistani Taliban
Saeed Shah, Guardian, Tuesday 11 May 2010 18.57 BST

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/may/11/pakistan-taliban-times-square-bomb

Karachi – Pakistani investigators have found no evidence to support American claims that the failed Times Square bomber was working under the direction of the Pakistani Taliban, the Guardian has learned.

Senior officials in Washington – including the attorney general, Eric Holder, and John Brennan, the White House’s special adviser on counterterrorism – have said that the suspected bomber, Faisal Shahzad, conspired with militants in Pakistan, but a Pakistani security official with knowledge of the investigation said: “No Taliban link has come to the fore.”

The interrogation of Muhammad Rehan, a friend of Shahzad who was arrested last week outside a radical mosque in Karachi, has not yielded a link to the Pakistani Taliban or any other militant group. Rehan, a member of the banned Jaish-e-Mohammad extremist group, remains the only suspected link found between 30-year-old Shahzad and the militant underworld in Pakistan.

Officials in Islamabad are perplexed and angry at statements from Washington about Shahzad’s links with the Pakistani Taliban, believing that the US is exploiting the issue to apply pressure for new military offensives in Pakistan’s tribal border area with Afghanistan, in the north Waziristan region.

“We have not found any involvement of Rehan [in the New York attempted bombing]. He didn’t introduce Faisal Shahzad to the Pakistani Taliban,” said the security official. “There are no roots to this case, so how can we trace something back?”
[...]
Rehan’s arrest as he left prayers at the Karachi mosque was seized on by the international press as evidence of Shahzad’s involvement with Pakistani militant groups. It emerged that Rehan and Shahzad had last year taken a 1,000-mile road trip from Karachi to Peshawar, on the edge of Pakistan’s tribal area, raising further suspicions.

However, Pakistani investigators have found that Rehan was not a very active member of JEM, a violent group primarily against India and with no history of global activities. He knew Shahzad because he is related to Shahzad’s wife.

Shahzad, a naturalised American citizen of Pakistani origin, told US interrogators that he had been trained in Waziristan, part of Pakistan’s tribal area, according to the court charges laid against him.

After the failed attack, the Pakistani Taliban released a video in which its chief trainer of suicide bombers, Qari Hussain, appeared to claim responsibility. But that video said nothing specifically about New York, Shahzad, or a car bomb.

Since then, the Pakistani Taliban’s official spokesman, Azam Tariq, has twice denied that his group was involved with Shahzad. The ineptness of Shahzad’s bomb, which did not go off, also raised doubts over whether the Pakistani Taliban could have trained him.

Holder said at the weekend that the Pakistani Taliban were “intimately involved” in Shahzad’s attempted bombing. Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, also warned Islamabad of “dire consequences” if a plot originating in Pakistan succeeded in the US.

But David Petraeus, the American general in charge of the Middle East and central Asia, had previously said that Shahzad was a “lone wolf” who was “inspired by militants in Pakistan but didn’t have direct contact with them”.

A senior Pakistani government official said: “There is a disconnect between the Pentagon and the [Obama] administration. The Pentagon gets it that more open pressure on Pakistan is not helpful.”
[...]

Philippines
9) Philippine Landslide Seen for Aquino
Norimitsu Onishi, New York Times, May 11, 2010

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/12/world/asia/12phils.html

Manila – Senator Benigno S. Aquino III, who appeared almost certain on Tuesday to become the Philippines’ next president, said he had never imagined running for the nation’s highest office until he was urged on by supporters grieving over the death of his mother last August.

But nearly complete results of Monday’s election showed that Mr. Aquino apparently defeated rivals with far more experience, ambition and charisma, winning by the widest margin in a presidential election since his mother, Corazon C. Aquino, overthrew the longtime dictator Ferdinand E. Marcos in a “people power” movement in 1986.
[...]
In an interview in March, Mr. Aquino, who grew up watching successive American administrations back Mr. Marcos during the cold war, sounded skeptical about United States foreign policy. He said that as president he would want to review the Visiting Forces Agreement, the pact that allows the American military to hold its service members in its custody during criminal proceedings in the Philippines.

He also said that American Special Forces troops, who have been training the Philippine military to fight against Islamic terrorists on the southern island of Mindanao since 2001, should not become a “semipermanent or permanent” force. Mindful of rousing anti-American sentiments, the Arroyo government and American officials have said little about the American forces’ activities.

“The U.S. and Manila should try to assess what exactly is the purpose of the Americans in Mindanao and whether they have achieved their purpose,” said Abhoud Syed Lingga, executive director of the Institute of Bangsamoro Studies, a research organization for Filipino Muslims based in Cotabato City. “Noynoy should reassess, should review the terms of their presence here.”
[...]

Iran
10) Iran: Brazil and Turkey make new nuclear proposal
Nasser Karimi, Associated Press, Tuesday, May 11, 2010; 2:21 PM http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/05/11/AR2010051100880.html

Tehran, Iran – Iran said Tuesday that Brazil and Turkey have offered a promising new proposal for a nuclear fuel deal as Tehran steps up a diplomatic push to stave off new U.N. sanctions over its disputed nuclear program.

Tehran has made a series of counteroffers after rejecting a U.N.-backed plan that offered nuclear fuel rods for a reactor in exchange for Iran’s stock of lower-level enriched uranium. But they appear to fall short of Western demands aimed at ensuring Tehran is unable to produce nuclear weapons.

Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said during a weekly news briefing that the latest talks with Turkey and Brazil have produced “a new formula that could pave the ground for understanding.” He didn’t elaborate but said Iran has not accepted any proposal for sending its low-enriched uranium abroad yet.

The Brazilian and Turkish presidents will travel to Iran next week following recent visits by their foreign ministers, Mehmanparast said.
[...]
A spokeswoman for Brazil’s Foreign Ministry said Tuesday that Brazil has not finalized a proposal but that the nation is working on one based on a plan formed by the U.N.’s International Atomic Energy Agency.
[...]
In Turkey, a Foreign Ministry official would only say that Turkey and Brazil are in constant contact to try to find a solution and that they are “building on” the U.N.-backed nuclear exchange plan.
[...]

Iraq
11) Iraqi Deal To End De-Baathification
Anthony Shadid, New York Times, May 11, 2010

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/12/world/middleeast/12baghdad.html

Baghdad – Iraqi politicians have reached an agreement to halt a four-month campaign to bar candidates from politics for ties to the Baath Party, American and Iraqi officials said, papering over the sectarian tensions it unleashed, at least for now, and removing an obstacle in the long-delayed process of forming a new government.

The disqualification of hundreds of candidates threw politics into turmoil before the March 7 parliamentary elections. In the deadlock that followed the landmark vote, the prospect of barring more candidates deepened the sense of crisis here, reflecting the conflicts that still threaten Iraq’s fragile political system.

But officials said this week that an agreement was reached to end the de-Baathification campaign in much the same way that it began in January, in an opaque fashion that has bewildered the campaign’s supporters and opponents and underlined the extent to which tenuous Iraqi institutions can be manipulated by the power of single personalities. “It’s stopped,” President Jalal Talabani said. “There will be no more.”

Similar predictions have been made in the past, and the issue has proved phoenix-like in its capacity to haunt politics here. But even the campaign’s architect, Ahmad Chalabi, the former ally turned bête noire of the Americans, acknowledged that the dispute had ended for now and that none of the winning candidates would be barred.
[...]
Critics have contended that the disqualifications were a brazen instance of score-settling that reopened sectarian wounds and reinforced how elusive national reconciliation remains. Others called them a travesty of justice that highlighted the ability of one man, Mr. Chalabi, to recast politics through a deft reading of institutions, personalities and the pressures they faced. In the end, he met only token resistance.

“Ahmad Chalabi’s ability to manipulate Iraqi politics through the instrument of de-Baathification is impressive indeed,” said Reidar Visser, an Iraq analyst at the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs. A year ago, he added, “Iraqi politics was looking less sectarian.”

“Through forcing de-Baathification back on the agenda,” Mr. Visser continued, “Chalabi has been able to bring about a sectarian repolarization of Iraqi politics.”
[...]
Mr. Chalabi’s campaign could be seen as a political masterstroke, mobilizing Shiite voters for both Mr. Maliki and the Shiite alliance through which Mr. Chalabi won a seat in Parliament. Mr. Chalabi appears to have swelled his own flagging popularity; he failed to win a seat in the previous election. He said he started the campaign to foil what he called an American plan to reorient the government by bringing in Sunnis sympathetic to the Baath Party. “I blew it up in their faces,” he boasted.
[...]
Whatever the intention, the campaign’s conclusion seemed to bewilder politicians as much as its beginning. In an interview on Monday, one politician grew agitated as he was asked where the matter stood. “It’s a chaotic situation. Nobody gives you facts. We try in fact to get a clue on this subject,” he exclaimed. “Nobody knows.” The words were spoken by Tariq al-Hashemi, the Sunni vice president of Iraq.

Egypt
12) Egyptian Emergency Law Is Extended for 2 Years
Michael Slackman, New York Times, May 11, 2010

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/12/world/middleeast/12egypt.html

Cairo – After years of the government’s promising to end Egypt’s state of emergency, Parliament on Tuesday approved a government request to extend for two years its right to arrest people without charge, detain prisoners indefinitely, limit freedom of expression and assembly, and maintain a special security court.

In an unusual case of public outreach by Egypt’s normally tight-lipped leaders, the government took pains to explain its decision and announced that the emergency law – in place continuously since President Anwar el-Sadat was assassinated in 1981 – would be used only in cases of terrorism and drug trafficking. Officials also said that some provisions of the law would be dropped.

But the concept of terrorism is so broad in Egyptian law and the language in the new measure so malleable, that the government decision was immediately criticized by human rights groups, political activists and independent human rights monitors, who say they expect little to change in a nation that routinely uses the heavy hand of the police and prisons to silence political opposition.

“Even the claim that emergency powers will now be limited to terrorism and drug trafficking cases only is false,” said Hossam Bahgat, executive director of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights. “More dangerously, the culture of exceptionalism stays, and with it the message that security agencies are still above the law.”

The government’s announcement, and its unusually aggressive effort to explain and mitigate the impact of its decision, comes at a time of rising political and social uncertainty in Egypt. Elections for the upper house of Parliament are to be held in a few weeks, the lower house in the fall and the presidency next year.

The government is also facing rampant rumors concerning President Hosni Mubarak’s health; daily protests by workers demanding better wages; and a reinvigorated political opposition energized by the former United Nations chief nuclear monitor, Mohamed ElBaradei, who has said he might run for president.

In Washington, the State Department spokesman, Philip J. Crowley, said: “We are disappointed. We have questions about how this fits with pledges that the government of Egypt has made to its own people to try to find a way to move beyond the emergency law.”
[...]
“Of course it is a blow that they have renewed the emergency law yet again,” said Martin Scheinin, the United Nations special representative on human rights and terrorism, who conducted a fact-finding mission in Egypt in April 2009.

Some critics noted that Egypt had insisted for years that it used its emergency powers only to combat terrorism. “They always claimed that the emergency law is used only against drug traffickers and terrorists,” said Aida Seif El-Dawla, a human rights advocate who works with victims of torture and abuse. “They have been systematically lying.”

In a report presented to the United Nations Human Rights Council in 2009, Mr. Scheinin wrote that Egyptian law defines terrorism to include not only violent acts but also ” ‘any threat or intimidation’ with the aim of ‘disturbing the peace or jeopardizing the safety and security of the society.’ ” In addition, he wrote that Egyptian terrorism-related law “contains a wide range of purposes, such as ‘to prevent or impede the public authorities in the performance of their work.’ “

Sarah Leah Whitson, director of the Middle East and North Africa for Human Rights Watch, added that while the government said it agreed not to use the law to monitor communications, it could do so under amendments to the Constitution that allow for the establishment of a permanent antiterrorism provision, which would allow such monitoring. “This claim that the source and need for the emergency law has to do with terrorism is transparently false,” Ms. Whitson said. “In fact they use this law to prosecute any political activist who criticizes the government.”
[...]
In a report presented in March to the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, Mr. Scheinin, a professor of public international law, said that court decisions to release prisoners from administrative detention were often ignored or that the prisoners were released and immediately rearrested. “Basically there is no legal certainty as long as there is an emergency law in place,” Mr. Scheinin said.

-
Robert Naiman
Just Foreign Policy
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org

Just Foreign Policy is a membership organization devoted to reforming US foreign policy so it reflects the values and interests of the majority of Americans. Go to Just Foreign Policy for more information.

Over 500,000 US Soldiers seek VA Treatment; WikiLeaks Video “U.S. Military slaying two News Staff and other innocents; “It’s the OIL, Stupid (or the pipeline routes); Obama is WRONG, Vote NO on the added 33 BILLION he wants for added fighting in Afghanistan (and Pakistan); Alert your Members of Congress, call them, numbers here.

March 30, 2010

BULLETIN: TAKE ACTION NOW, CLICK HERE. ENOUGH IS ENOUGH …when the House debated a resolution calling for a timetable for U.S. military withdrawal, Rep. Bob Filner, chair of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, pointed out that hundreds of thousands of veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars have gone to the VA for service-related injuries. Veterans for Common Sense places the number at 508,152 in a recent fact sheet based on VA documents obtained under the FOIA (from Just Foreign Policy)

MUST READ: Collateral Murder
WikiLeaks has released a classified US military video (CLICK HERE TO VIEW VIDEO) depicting the indiscriminate slaying of over a dozen people in the Iraqi suburb of New Baghdad — including two Reuters news staff. Reuters has been trying to obtain the video through the Freedom of Information Act, without success since the time of the attack. The video, shot from an Apache helicopter gun-site, clearly shows the unprovoked slaying of a wounded Reuters employee and his rescuers. Two young children involved in the rescue were also seriously wounded. For further information please visit the special project website www.collateralmurder.com.

IraqOilMap.jpeg No more money to fight for OIL. Where it all began: Dick Cheney Energy Task Force. This map is from MARCH 2001, six months before 9/11.

Tell your members of Congress to VOTE NO on the extra 33 BILLION dollar appropriation to go to the war in Afghanistan. Over One Trillion Dollars will be wasted on the Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan wars. FOR OIL.

IraqOilMap.jpeg Thanks to Judicial Watch and their long-term lawsuit against the Cheney Energy Task Force, many discoveries were brought forth, go to their website here for all the maps of 60% of the world’s oil all within the size of the state of Kansas.

Today’s Headlines at antiwar.com:

Karzai Slams West, Threatens to Join Insurgency
NATO Admits Killing Afghan Civilians in Night Raid
US Special Forces ‘Tried to Cover-Up’ Botched Afghan Raid
German DM: ‘Condolences’ for Killing Afghan Troops
UK Army Official: Public Pessimism Undermining Afghan War
75 Killed, 100s Hurt in Bloody Baghdad Weekend
Division Among Shi’ites May Give Allawi Glad Tidings
Victim: Baghdad Shooters Said They Were US Soldiers
Sunday: 55 Iraqis Killed, 320 Wounded
Read the above stories by clicking here.

* * * *

Tell us what we need to hear, Mr. President. Our individual States in the “United States” are bankrupt. Will you pass a bill for 196 BILLION to bail them out, or send more Billions to Afghanistan, that is your choice.

Readers, tell your members of Congress to Vote NO on the added 33 BILLION that Nobel Peace Prize winner President Barack Obama wants to add to the fighting in Afghanistan (and Pakistan). Here’s how to call your Congress Member, click here. And you can click here to tell the House and Senate Appropriations Committee Members to VOTE NO on the 33 BILLION that President Obama is asking for, One Million for ever Soldier sent to Afghanistan for ONE YEAR, thank you Voters for Peace. Also, thanks to ReThink Afghanistan for their great work making the video below and for bringing attention to the mistaken policies at work in Central Asia by the Bush Administration and now followed by the Obama Administration.

FROM MARCH 28 OUT OF CENTRAL ASIA POST

On top of 708 BILLION for the Defense Department for next year, Nobel Peace Winner President Barack Obama is asking for an ADDITIONAL 33 BILLION from Congress to be used to fight in Afghanistan. Here’s a list of House Progressive Caucus members who voted FOR war funding on June 16, 2009. Call them and tell them to VOTE NO on this added 33 BILLION, End the War Now (Click here for names and phone numbers) Read this: We Call for the United States to End Its Wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan! A Statement from the Campaign for Peace and Democracy • October 2009

At the same time: Our individual States in the United States needs an additional 196 BILLION to make up their budget shortfall. Will President Barack Obama ask Congress for these funds, or do we shut schools, lay off teachers, firefighters, and other State employees? Read more, click here.

48 States with Budget Shortfalls totalling 196 Billion Source: cbpp.org

    New gaps in 2010 budgets. An increasing number of states are struggling to keep their 2010 budgets in balance. Because revenues have fallen short of projections, mid-year shortfalls have opened up in 41 states — some of which have already addressed them — totaling $38 billion or 7 percent of these budgets.

    These new shortfalls are in addition to the gaps states closed when adopting their fiscal year 2010 budgets earlier this year. Counting both initial and mid-year shortfalls, 48 states have addressed or still face such shortfalls in their budgets for fiscal year 2010, totaling $196 billion or 29 percent of state budgets — the largest gaps on record.

How Bad Will it Get? End the Wars NOW Source: cbpp.org

Bulletin: Pentagon’s Black Budget Tops $56 Billion
STOP WAR FUNDING DEFUND WAR. ORG

The Members of Congress in this room can Stop the War(s), by voting 'NO' on the $33 Billion that President Obama is asking for to keep the war going in Afghanistan, You can tell your Representative to Vote NO, read the information below

The above link will take you to a website that will allow you to have access to some action items you can do to End the War(s) Funding Now. President Obama is asking for an additional $33 Billion for the War in Afghanistan. Call your member of Congress (phone numbers and info are at the site) and demand them to Stop Funding the War(s).

JUST IN: TROOP DEATHS IN AFGHANISTAN DOUBLE, Read more here.

    On numerous occasions, Congress has exercised its constitutional authority to end military engagements. Here are just a few examples:

    Cambodia – In late December 1970, Congress passes the Supplemental Foreign Assistance Appropriations Act prohibiting the use of funds to finance the introduction of United States ground combat troops into Cambodia or to provide U.S. advisors to or for Cambodian military forces in Cambodia.

    Vietnam – In late June 1973, Congress passes the second Supplemental Appropriations Act for FY1973. This legislation contains language cutting off funds for combat activities in Vietnam after August 15, 1973.

    Somalia – In November 1993, the Department of Defense Appropriations Act includes a provision that prohibits funding after March 31, 1994 for military operations in Somalia, except for a limited number of military personnel to protect American diplomatic personnel and American citizens, unless further authorized by Congress.

    Bosnia – In 1998, Congress passes the Defense Authorization Bill, with a provision that prohibits funding for Bosnia after June 30, 1998, unless the President makes certain assurances.

Go to defundwar.org and scroll down for a list of Congress Members and phone numbers and make a difference.

Read the Flyer: We Call for the United States to End Its Wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan!

Call Congress Today, Vote NO on 33 BILLION more dollars being wasted in Afghanistan; Our States are Bankrupt, fund them instead (call Mon. through Fri.)

March 28, 2010

On top of 708 BILLION for the Defense Department for next year, Nobel Peace Winner President Barack Obama is asking for an ADDITIONAL 33 BILLION from Congress to be used to fight in Afghanistan. Here’s a list of House Progressive Caucus members who voted FOR war funding on June 16, 2009. Call them and tell them to VOTE NO on this added 33 BILLION, End the War Now (Click here for names and phone numbers) Read this: We Call for the United States to End Its Wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan! A Statement from the Campaign for Peace and Democracy • October 2009

At the same time: Our individual States in the United States needs an additional 196 BILLION to make up their budget shortfall. Will President Barack Obama ask Congress for these funds, or do we shut schools, lay off teachers, firefighters, and other State employees? Read more, click here.

48 States with Budget Shortfalls totalling 196 Billion Source: cbpp.org

    New gaps in 2010 budgets. An increasing number of states are struggling to keep their 2010 budgets in balance. Because revenues have fallen short of projections, mid-year shortfalls have opened up in 41 states — some of which have already addressed them — totaling $38 billion or 7 percent of these budgets.

    These new shortfalls are in addition to the gaps states closed when adopting their fiscal year 2010 budgets earlier this year. Counting both initial and mid-year shortfalls, 48 states have addressed or still face such shortfalls in their budgets for fiscal year 2010, totaling $196 billion or 29 percent of state budgets — the largest gaps on record.

How Bad Will it Get? End the Wars NOW Source: cbpp.org

Bulletin: Pentagon’s Black Budget Tops $56 Billion
STOP WAR FUNDING DEFUND WAR. ORG

The Members of Congress in this room can Stop the War(s), by voting 'NO' on the $33 Billion that President Obama is asking for to keep the war going in Afghanistan, You can tell your Representative to Vote NO, read the information below

The above link will take you to a website that will allow you to have access to some action items you can do to End the War(s) Funding Now. President Obama is asking for an additional $33 Billion for the War in Afghanistan. Call your member of Congress (phone numbers and info are at the site) and demand them to Stop Funding the War(s).

JUST IN: TROOP DEATHS IN AFGHANISTAN DOUBLE, Read more here.

    On numerous occasions, Congress has exercised its constitutional authority to end military engagements. Here are just a few examples:

    Cambodia – In late December 1970, Congress passes the Supplemental Foreign Assistance Appropriations Act prohibiting the use of funds to finance the introduction of United States ground combat troops into Cambodia or to provide U.S. advisors to or for Cambodian military forces in Cambodia.

    Vietnam – In late June 1973, Congress passes the second Supplemental Appropriations Act for FY1973. This legislation contains language cutting off funds for combat activities in Vietnam after August 15, 1973.

    Somalia – In November 1993, the Department of Defense Appropriations Act includes a provision that prohibits funding after March 31, 1994 for military operations in Somalia, except for a limited number of military personnel to protect American diplomatic personnel and American citizens, unless further authorized by Congress.

    Bosnia – In 1998, Congress passes the Defense Authorization Bill, with a provision that prohibits funding for Bosnia after June 30, 1998, unless the President makes certain assurances.

Go to defundwar.org and scroll down for a list of Congress Members and phone numbers and make a difference.

Read the Flyer: We Call for the United States to End Its Wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan!


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