Shooting Themselves in the Foot

December 17, 2007 at 6:41 am | Posted in Afghanistan, American politics, Bush Administration, Iraq | 7 Comments

Remember, we didn’t actually NEED to go into Iraq. There really wasn’t any urgency. We knew there was no actual urgency in 2002, but the Bush administration pushed for the war anyways, diverting attention from Afghanistan into an unneeded war. Well, guess what? The administration now sees Afghanistan as the bigger threat. Heh. The irony.

Administration officials say the White House has become more concerned in recent months about the situation in Afghanistan, where grinding poverty, rampant corruption, poor infrastructure and the growing challenge from the Taliban are hindering U.S. stabilization efforts. Senior administration officials now believe Afghanistan may pose a greater longer-term challenge than Iraq.

Duh. We could have told you that (and we did) back in 2002 when you were shifting attention to Iraq. Our REAL enemy has always been in Afghanistan, you dope.

Pat Tillman May Have Been Murdered

July 26, 2007 at 10:45 pm | Posted in Afghanistan, America, American politics, Bush Administration, corruption, Military, Pat Tillman, secret combinations | 2 Comments

Woah…say it ain’t so! No wonder Bush is doing all he can to keep this under “Executive Privilege.”

Army medical examiners were suspicious about the close proximity of the three bullet holes in Pat Tillman’s forehead and tried without success to get authorities to investigate whether the former NFL player’s death amounted to a crime, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press.

“The medical evidence did not match up with the, with the scenario as described,” a doctor who examined Tillman’s body after he was killed on the battlefield in Afghanistan in 2004 told investigators.

The doctors – whose names were blacked out – said that the bullet holes were so close together that it appeared the Army Ranger was cut down by an M-16 fired from a mere 10 yards or so away.


Fighting Them In Iraq, So We Don’t Have To Fight Them Here

July 19, 2007 at 4:11 pm | Posted in Afghanistan, American politics, Iraq, Osama Bin Laden, Pakistan, secret combinations | 1 Comment

This says it all:

The United States Military Purposefully Killed Seven Children in Afghanistan, Meanwhile, Bad Guy Got Away

June 19, 2007 at 10:13 pm | Posted in Afghanistan, American politics, corruption, Military, secret combinations, violence, War, War on Terror | 3 Comments

And you wonder why Afghanistan is such a mess, why after SIX LONG YEARS we still have not defeated the rabble Taliban (some of them are the same rabble group, I might add, that defeated the Soviet Union in the 80s). Well, earlier this week the United States military killed seven children in an air strike. The target was some bad dude named Abu Laith al Libi. Supposedly he’s a leader among the Taliban. That’s fine and dandy, but apparently he got away in time, so he was not killed. The latest word, according to NBC is that the military knew there would be children at this facility and decided to take the risk anyways:

U.S. special operations forces were targeting the leader of al-Qaida in Afghanistan — one of the organization’s top commanders — when they launched an attack against a compound that killed seven children Sunday in Paktika province of eastern Afghanistan, U.S. officials tell NBC News.

According to several officials, and contrary to previous statements, the U.S. military knew there were children at the compound but considered the target of such high value it was worth the risk of potential collateral damage.

Those same officials tell NBC News the target of Sunday’s attack was Abu Laith al Libi, the al-Qaida commander in Afghanistan and a top lieutenant of Osama bin Laden. The sources report that although six sets of remains besides those of the seven children were recovered, it’s not clear whether Abu Laith is among those killed.

It’s funny how the United States military chooses to sacrifice the lives of innocents without giving them any kind of choice in the matter. Just what are we fighting in Afghanistan for anyways?

By their fruits, ye shall know them.

“Verschärfte Vernehmung”, Torture, or “Enhanced Interrogation Techniques”

May 30, 2007 at 10:14 am | Posted in Afghanistan, American politics, Bush Administration, Christianity, corruption, Foreign Policy, George W Bush, Iraq, McCain, Middle East, Military, Mit Romney, Mitt Romney, Republicans, secret combinations, Torture, violence, War | 3 Comments

There are two new points to make about torture, enhanced interrogation techniques, or whatever the hell people want to call them.

I. Vershärfte Vernehmung

The first comes from Andrew Sullivan who came accross a document from the Gestapo (yes, the Nazi’s Gestapo) detailing what they called “Verschärfte Vernehmung,” or when translated effectively comes out to be “sharpened interrogation.” Take a look at the image:

Click on it to see it in full detail. The image is on Andrew Sullivan’s blog. Read how the Gestapo detailed who was to get these techniques, for what purpose and what the techniques were. Note what they are:

1. Simplest rations.
2. Hard bed.
3. Dark Cell.
4. Deprivation of sleep.
5. Exhaustion exercises.
6. Blows with a stick (heh, if more than 20 blows, then a doctor must be present)

The Hippocratic Oath went out the window long ago for many doctors. Take a look for example at the detailed logs kept at Guantanamo Bay Camp X-ray as detailed in the American Journal of Bioethics. Doctors, complicit in the torture of human beings. Note the techniques used, at least the ones logged—there are techniques that are not logged, because, hey if they were logged, someone might actually be charged with violating the law.

Two government documents detail medical and psychological participation with the interrogation of Prisoner 063, Mohammed al-Qahtani, at Guantanamo Bay between November 23, 2002 and January 11, 2003 (Zagorin and Duffy 2005). The first is an 83-page interrogation log (ORCON 2003). The second is an Army investigation of complaints of mistreatment of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, including Prisoner 063 (United States Army 2005, 13–21). The third and fourth are notes taken in relation to that Army investigation (CTD Fly Team 2006; GITMO Investigation 2004). The second set of these notes extensively describes medical collaboration with one or more interrogations but the record is so heavily redacted that it is not possible to determine which, if any, of this material described the interrogation of Prisoner 063 (GITMO Investigation 2004).

According to the Army investigation, the log covers a period in the middle of al-Qahtani’s interrogation that began in the summer of 2002 and continued into 2003. For eleven days, beginning November 23, al-Qahtani was interrogated for twenty hours each day by interrogators working in shifts. He was kept awake with music, yelling, loud white noise or brief opportunities to stand. He then was subjected to eighty hours of nearly continuous interrogation until what was intended to be a 24-hour “recuperation.” This recuperation was entirely occupied by a hospitalization for hypothermia that had resulted from deliberately abusive use of an air conditioner. Army investigators reported that al-Qahtani’s body temperature had been cooled to 95 to 97 degrees Fahrenheit (35 to 36.1 degrees Celsius) and that his heart rate had slowed to thirty-five beats per minute. While hospitalized, his electrolytes were corrected and an ultrasound did not find venous thrombosis as a cause for the swelling of his leg. The prisoner slept through most of the 42-hour hospitalization after which he was hooded, shackled, put on a litter and taken by ambulance to an interrogation room for twelve more days of interrogation, punctuated by a few brief naps. He was then allowed to sleep for four hours before being interrogated for ten more days, except for naps of up to an hour. He was allowed 12 hours of sleep on January 1, but for the next eleven days, the exhausted and increasingly non-communicative prisoner was only allowed naps of one to four hours as he was interrogated. The log ends with a discharge for another “sleep period.”

If that is not torture, then we’ve gone past the point of no return on dehumanizing, we are past feeling. This is evil stuff.

The report continues:

The next day, interrogators told the prisoner that he would not be allowed to pray if he would not drink water. Neither a medic nor a physician could insert a standard intravenous catheter, so a physician inserted a “temporary shunt” to allow an intravenous infusion. The restrained prisoner asked to go the bathroom and was given a urinal instead. Thirty minutes later, he was given “three and one-half bags of IV [sic]” and he urinated twice in his pants. The next day, the physician came to the interrogation room and checked the restrained prisoner’s swollen extremities and the shunt. The shunt was removed and a soldier told al-Qahtani that he could pray on the floor where he had urinated.

Is this really a professional interrogation? What’s the point of this kind of crap? The next section highlights the psychological treatment this prisoner received:

In October 2002, before the time covered by the log, Army investigators found that dogs were brought to the interrogation room to growl, bark and bare their teeth at al-Qahtani. The investigators noted that a BSCT psychologist witnessed the use of the dog, Zeus, during at least one such instance, an incident deemed properly authorized to “exploit individual phobias.” FBI agents, however, objected to the use of dogs and withdrew from at least one session in which dogs were used.

Major L., a psychologist who chaired the BSCT at Guantanamo, was noted to be present at the start of the interrogation log. On November 27, he suggested putting the prisoner in a swivel chair to prevent him from fixing his eyes on one spot and thereby avoiding the guards. On December 11, al-Qahtani asked to be allowed to sleep in a room other than the one in which he was being fed and interrogated. The log notes that “BSCT” advised the interrogators that the prisoner was simply trying to gain control and sympathy. (my note: because of course, your intent in this interrogation is to dehumanize the man)

Many psychological “approaches” or “themes” were repetitively used. These included: “Failure/Worthless,” “Al Qaeda Falling Apart,” “Pride Down,” “Ego Down,” “Futility,” “Guilt/Sin Theme (with Evidence/Circumstantial Evidence,” etc. Al-Qahtani was shown videotapes entitled “Taliban Bodies” and “Die Terrorist Die.” Some scripts aimed at his Islamic identity bore names such as “Good Muslim,” “Bad Muslim,” “Judgment Day,” “God’s Mission” and “Muslim in America.” Al-Qahtani was called “unclean” and “Mo” [for Mohammed]. He was lectured on the true meaning of the Koran, instruction that especially enraged him when done by female soldiers. He was not told, despite asking, that some of the interrogation took place during Ramadan, a time when Moslems have special obligations. He was not allowed to honor prayer times. The Koran was intentionally and disrespectfully placed on a television (an authorized control measure) and a guard “unintentionally” squatted over it while harshly addressing the prisoner.

Transgressions against Islamic and Arab mores for sexual modesty were employed. The prisoner was forced to wear photographs of “sexy females” and to study sets of such photographs to identify whether various pictures of bikini-clad women were of the same or a different person. He was told that his mother and sister were whores. He was forced to wear a bra, and a woman’s thong was put on his head. He was dressed as a woman and compelled to dance with a male interrogator. He was told that he had homosexual tendencies and that other prisoners knew this. Although continuously monitored, interrogators repeatedly strip-searched him as a “control measure.”(my note: again, the dehumanization aspect) On at least one occasion, he was forced to stand naked with women soldiers present. Female interrogators seductively touched the prisoner under the authorized use of approaches called “Invasion of Personal Space” and “Futility.” On one occasion, a female interrogator straddled the prisoner as he was held down on the floor.

Other degrading techniques were logged. His head and beard were shaved to show the dominance of the interrogators. He was made to stand for the United States national anthem. His situation was compared unfavorably to that of banana rats in the camp. He was leashed (a detail omitted in the log but recorded by investigators) (my note: I wonder why this detail was omitted from the log…hmmmm) and made to “stay, come, and bark to elevate his social status up to a dog.” He was told to bark like a happy dog at photographs of 9/11 victims and growl at pictures of terrorists. Some psychological routines referred to the 9/11 attacks. He was shown pictures of the attacks, and photographs of victims were affixed to his body. The interrogators held one exorcism (and threatened another) to purge evil Jinns that the disoriented, sleep deprived prisoner claimed were controlling his emotions. The interrogators quizzed him on passages from a book entitled, “What makes a Terrorist and Why?,” that asserted that people joined terrorist groups for a sense of belonging and that terrorists must dehumanize their victims as a way to avoid feelings of guilt at their crimes.

I’ve quoted extensively from that article before, and basically did just the same once again. It is highly important that this gets as much play as possible. This is evil. This is wrong. This is un-American. This is unethical. This is immoral. This is un-Christian. This is ungodly. As Andrew Sullivan noted, Nazis who employed these techniques received the punishment of death for them. Americans who use these techniques are revered by the Christian right. Mitt Romney states that we should double Guantanamo. The only Republican smart enough to see past the bullshit is the only one who himself was tortured, Mr. John McCain, but yet even he fell to the wiles of the Republicans in power, as he caved in to the Military Commissions Act last fall that effectively legalized these techniques once punishable by death. How far the mighty have fallen.

II. Advisers Fault Harsh Methods in Interrogation

The second comes from a New York Times article wherein advisers and experts weigh in on the absurdity and foolishness of employing these techniques.

As the Bush administration completes secret new rules governing interrogations, a group of experts advising the intelligence agencies are arguing that the harsh techniques used since the 2001 terrorist attacks are outmoded, amateurish and unreliable.

Amateurish and unreliable. Indeed. Not to mention unethical, and, as Philip Zelikow stated, “immoral.” The article continues with the following:

The psychologists and other specialists, commissioned by the Intelligence Science Board, make the case that more than five years after the Sept. 11 attacks, the Bush administration has yet to create an elite corps of interrogators trained to glean secrets from terrorism suspects.

While billions are spent each year to upgrade satellites and other high-tech spy machinery, the experts say, interrogation methods — possibly the most important source of information on groups like Al Qaeda — are a hodgepodge that date from the 1950s, or are modeled on old Soviet practices.

Indeed. These techniques come from the masters who honed them, the Soviets and the Nazis.

In a blistering lecture delivered last month, a former adviser to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice called “immoral” some interrogation tactics used by the Central Intelligence Agency and the Pentagon.

But in meetings with intelligence officials and in a 325-page initial report completed in December, the researchers have pressed a more practical critique: there is little evidence, they say, that harsh methods produce the best intelligence.

“There’s an assumption that often passes for common sense that the more pain imposed on someone, the more likely they are to comply,” said Randy Borum, a psychologist at the University of South Florida who, like several of the study’s contributors, is a consultant for the Defense Department.

There is indeed little evidence that it works. Anybody who has been pressed for evidence cites the “secrecy” concern, that somehow by revealing how they got that information, it would give terrorists the game. How silly.

The article then discusses the techniques used by the Americans during World War II. Note the important points:

But some of the experts involved in the interrogation review, called “Educing Information,” say that during World War II, German and Japanese prisoners were effectively questioned without coercion.

“It far outclassed what we’ve done,” said Steven M. Kleinman, a former Air Force interrogator and trainer, who has studied the World War II program of interrogating Germans. The questioners at Fort Hunt, Va., “had graduate degrees in law and philosophy, spoke the language flawlessly,” and prepared for four to six hours for each hour of questioning, said Mr. Kleinman, who wrote two chapters for the December report.

Mr. Kleinman, who worked as an interrogator in Iraq in 2003, called the post-Sept. 11 efforts “amateurish” by comparison to the World War II program, with inexperienced interrogators who worked through interpreters and had little familiarity with the prisoners’ culture.

The inexperience has led to many deaths of prisoners at the hands of Americans, who would have lived under pre-9/11 rules. Major Milavic writes shares the following sad story from Afghanistan:

The following is a partial extract from the 11 July 2004, New York Times Magazine article entitled, “Memoir: Interrogation Unbound,” By Hyder Akbar, as told to Susan Burton. This narrative demonstrates what can happen when someone untrained in interrogation—especially this interrogation precept–attempts to interrogate a detainee:

It was a Wednesday afternoon in June 2003, and Abdul Wali was being interrogated by three Americans at their base near Asadabad, Afghanistan. I was interpreting. At the time, Wali’s family guessed his age to be 28; he was 10 years older than I was. I’m 19 now. I grew up mostly in the Bay Area suburbs, but since the fall of the Taliban, I’ve been spending summers in Afghanistan, working alongside my father, Said Fazel Akbar, the governor of Kunar, a rural province in the eastern part of the country. It’s a strange double life. I sometimes stumble into situations in which I’m called upon to act as a kind of cultural translator. It’s a role that can leave me tense and frustrated, or far worse: I came away from Wali’s interrogation feeling something close to despair.

On June 18, 2003, Abdul Wali visited my father’s office. He knew that the Americans wanted to question him about some recent rocket attacks. He told us he was innocent, and he said he was terrified of going to the U.S. base, because there were pervasive rumors that prisoners were tortured there. My father told him that he needed to go, and he sent me along to reassure him.

A half-hour later, Wali and I were sitting across from three men I then knew only by their first names: Steve, Brian and Dave, who proved to be David A. Passaro. It was more than 100 degrees in the small room, and above us, a fan whirred wildly.

The interrogation started casually enough. In his friendly Southern accent, Brian dispensed with the nuts and bolts: have you been in contact with Taliban? Were you Taliban? Then the subject turned to Wali’s recent visit to Pakistan.

“How long ago were you in Pakistan?” Brian asked.

Wali looked confused, and I doubted he’d be able to answer. People in Kunar don’t have calendars; most of them don’t even know how old they are.

“You don’t have to give a specific date,” Brian said. “Was it two, three days ago? Two, three weeks ago? Two, three months ago?”

“I don’t know,” Wali responded. “It’s really hard for me to say.”

The Americans exchanged glances. I prodded him: “Can you at least say a week or two weeks or a month or two months, or something?” But he couldn’t. For him, as for many of his countrymen, time unfolded forward—there was no way to go back later and try to fix it in a structure.

“I just, I go to sleep, I wake up and there’s a next day,” he explained.

“I feed myself, I go to sleep and there’s a next day.”

The Americans weren’t buying it. Dave took over the questioning.

He asked Wali where he had been 14 days earlier, on a night when three rockets were fired at the American base. “How could you not know where you were on the night three rockets were fired?” he said. Wali explained that his nights were often punctuated by explosions.

Even seated, Dave seemed enlarged by anger. His demeanor felt put on, as if he were acting the role of a fearsome interrogator (especially in comparison to Brian, whose Southern hospitality softened even his grilling of this suspected terrorist). Dave fixed Wali with an unrelenting stare. Wali returned a nervous smile.

“Translate this to him!” Dave exploded: “This is not a joking matter! Don’t smile!”

“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to offend him,” Wali replied anxiously. “It’s very hard for me. I can’t understand anything he’s saying. He was staring at me, and I didn’t know what to do. What should I do?” he asked me.

I wasn’t sure how to react. Dave’s behavior was unpredictable. Only days earlier, he and I had a friendly conversation about his little son, who could say his ABC’s and count from 1 to 20 and back down again. But now he was acting as if he was full of rage. “If you’re lying, your whole family, your kids, they’ll all get hurt from this,” he threatened.

As I translated, I started to feel as if Dave’s words to Wali were my own, and all I wanted to do was stop saying these things to him.

“Your situation’s getting worse,” Dave warned. How was I supposed to tell that to Wali, when my father had assured him that coming to the base would make everything better?

Nobody was behaving the way they would with a regular translator; both sides added comments meant only for me. In one ear, I had Wali pleading: “I’m innocent, I’m innocent.” In the other, I had Brian dismissing his account: “That is impossible.” What was I supposed to do, argue or agree?

At some point, I announced that Wali was making personal, emotional appeals to me, and that the other translator in the room—a local Afghan employed at the base—should take over. Then I quietly tried to share my largest concern with Brian. “I’m not going to translate for this guy,” I whispered. “Look how he’s acting.”

“What do you mean?” Brian replied, perhaps misunderstanding. “I’m totally calm.”

“You’re calm, but look at Dave,” I said.

Brian shrugged his shoulders.

As the interrogation continued, I was relieved to be on the sidelines, but still, it wasn’t easy to watch Dave browbeat Wali. Finally the questions stopped, and Wali stood facing the wall as the Americans patted him down in preparation for detention. “Is there anything you want to give to your family?” Dave asked him.

The question terrified Wali. “No, no,” he stuttered.

I approached Wali and, to calm him, put my hand on his shoulder.

“Just say the truth,” I told him, trying to sound normal. “Nothing is going to happen if you just say the truth.” Then I walked out of the room, promising myself that I’d come back and check up on him.

He died before I got the chance.

On June 17 of [2004], a federal grand jury indicted C.I.A. contractor, David A. Passaro, in connection with his assault. Passaro, the first civilian to be charged in the investigation of prisoner abuse in Iraq and Afghanistan, is accused of beating Wali using his hands, his feet and a large flashlight. [Also, according to the 29 July 2004 Fayetteville (NC) Observer, Passaro is a former Special Forces medic and “was working at the U.S. Army Special Operations Command as a ‘medical intelligence research analyst’ when he was arrested.”]

How many more examples, how much more evidence do you need, America, that what Bush has ordered and employed is wrong, un-American, unethical, immoral, and against the very principles we usually fight for? How much more before we do something about this? This is evil stuff. We’re supposed to FIGHT evil stuff, not embrace it!

But as we see from the Republican debate a couple of weeks ago, the Republican candidates all jumped to see who can say “yes” the loudest when asked if they would approve of these techniques:

Given the discussion of torture policy, the question seemed relevant, though a little fantastical. So, would the candidates permit torture? As Slate’s John Dickerson put it, “There seemed to be a competition to see who could say yes the fastest. Some candidates appeared ready to do the torturing themselves.”

It was a dejecting display.

During tonight’s presidential debates, candidates were asked whether they would support the use of waterboarding — a technique, defined as torture by the Justice Department, that simulates drowning and makes the subject “believe his death is imminent while ideally not causing permanent physical damage.”

Both former mayor Rudy Giuliani and Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-CO) suggested they would support using the technique. Specifically asked about waterboarding, Giuliani said he would allow “every method [interrogators] could think of and I would support them in doing it.” Tancredo later added, “I’m looking for Jack Bauer,” referencing the television character who has used torture techniques such as suffocation and electrocution on prisoners.

The audience applauded loudly after both statements.

That last point shouldn’t go by unnoticed. These candidates not only endorsed torture in a high-profile, nationally-televised forum, but the crowd loved it. Romney not only endorsed the human-rights abuses at Guantanamo Bay, he said “[W]e ought to double Guantanamo,” in part so that detainees “don’t get access to lawyers they get when they’re on our soil.” This, too, garnered considerable applause.

As Digby explained, it was a reminder that as far as the Republican Party is concerned, this is still “all about the codpiece.”

These guys have just spent the last fifteen minutes of the debate trying to top each other on just how much torture they are willing to inflict. They sound like a bunch of psychotic 12 year olds, although considering the puerile nature of the “24″ question it’s not entirely their fault.

This debate is a window into what really drives the GOP id. The biggest applause lines were for faux tough guy Giuliani demanding Ron Paul take back his assertion that the terrorists don’t hate us for our freedom, macho man Huckabee talking about Edwards in a beauty parlor and the manly hunk Romney saying that he wants to double the number of prisoners in Guantanamo “where they can’t get lawyers.” There’s very little energy for that girly talk about Jesus or “the culture of life” or any of that BS that the pansy Bush ran on.

As for the one question on everyone’s mind — there were eight references to Reagan last night, down from 20 in the first debate. There was just one reference to George W. Bush (from Ron Paul, who mocked him for running on a “humble” foreign policy platform in 2000).

The most disturbing aspect is that the audience cheered when they said yes. Weep for the future.

Terrorism On The Rise

April 30, 2007 at 2:28 pm | Posted in Afghanistan, American politics, Bush Administration, Iraq, violence, War | 13 Comments

Let me get this straight, Franklin Roosevelt’s America was attacked ruthlessly by the Japanese on December 7,1941. The very next day, Roosevelt declared war on Japan. (Germany soon declared war on the United States and the United States followed suit). Less than four years later, on August 15, 1945, Japan surrendered (Germany surrendered earlier), and we won that conflict.

Now, we’re doing battle against cave dwellers, and we’re in our SIXTH YEAR, and terrorism is on the rise? What the hell?

Terrorist attacks worldwide shot up by 25 percent between 2005 and last year, killing 40 percent more people as extremists used increasingly lethal means to carry out high-casualty hits, the State Department says.

In its annual global survey of terrorism to be released later Monday, the department says about 14,000 attacks took place in 2006, mainly in Iraq and Afghanistan, claiming more than 20,000 lives. That is 3,000 more attacks than in 2005 and 5,800 more deaths, it says.

In addition, the number of injuries from terrorist attacks rose by 54 percent between 2005 and 2006 with a doubling in the number wounded in Iraq over the period, according to the department’s Country Reports on Terrorism 2006.

Now, I gotta say, that should be one CLEAR example that our current strategies are complete and utter failures. We’re the most powerful nation on the planet and we’re letting a bunch of cave dwellers beat the crap out of us like this? I’m still befuddled why ANYONE thinks Bush has done a good job. Just look at the numbers. They tell you everything you need to know. He has no plan that brings about peace and an end to bloodshed. He is a failure, utter and complete.

Active Lieutenant Colonel Writes About Failure in Iraq

April 27, 2007 at 9:57 am | Posted in Afghanistan, American politics, Bush Administration, Iraq, Military, Rumsfeld, Vietnam, violence, War | 3 Comments

Lieutenant Colonel Paul Yingling writes in the Armed Forces Journal about the failures of the generals in Iraq. He steers clear of attacking civilian political leaders (because well, it’s not his field or expertise). But he holds nothing back in stating quite accurately how terribly wrong the generals have been about the war in Iraq. He writes: Continue Reading Active Lieutenant Colonel Writes About Failure in Iraq…

Taliban Takes Over Afghan District

April 27, 2007 at 8:43 am | Posted in Afghanistan, violence, War | Leave a comment

Taliban forces killed the mayor and the police chief in one district and took it over. Meanwhile we’re babysitting a civil war in Iraq. More on that in my next post…….

“I Was Ordered Not To Tell Them”

April 24, 2007 at 2:40 pm | Posted in Afghanistan, American politics, Bush Administration, Military, War | Leave a comment

U.S. Army Specialist Bryan O’Neal testified today in Congress that he was ordered “not to tell them” meaning Pat Tillman’s brother or family that Pat Tillman was killed by friendly fire in Afghanistan in 2004.

He said he was given the order by then-Lt. Col. Jeff Bailey, the battalion commander who oversaw Tillman’s platoon.

Pat Tillman’s brother Kevin was in a convoy behind his brother when the incident happened, but didn’t see it. O’Neal said Bailey told him specifically not to tell Kevin Tillman that the death was friendly fire rather than heroic engagement with the enemy.

“He basically just said, ‘Do not let Kevin know, he’s probably in a bad place knowing that his brother’s dead,'” O’Neal said. He added that Bailey made clear he would “get in trouble” if he told.

Kevin Tillman was not in the hearing room when O’Neal spoke.

In earlier testimony, Kevin Tillman accused the military of “intentional falsehoods” and “deliberate and careful misrepresentations” in portraying Pat Tillman’s death in
Afghanistan as the result of heroic engagement with the enemy instead of friendly fire.

“We believe this narrative was intended to deceive the family but more importantly the American public,” Kevin Tillman told a House Government Reform and Oversight Committee hearing. “Pat’s death was clearly the result of fratricide,” he said, contending that the military’s misstatements amounted to “fraud.”

“Revealing that Pat’s death was a fratricide would have been yet another political disaster in a month of political disasters … so the truth needed to be suppressed,” Tillman said.

It’s a good thing Democrats won in November 2006. Republicans certainly would not have held this kind of hearing. I wonder, the more we peel back this administration, just how many cockroaches will we find?

Sending A Clear Message

February 27, 2007 at 8:42 am | Posted in Afghanistan, American politics, Bush Administration, Cheney, Democrats, Foreign Policy, George W Bush, Iran, Iraq, Middle East, Military, neo-conservatives, Osama Bin Laden, Pakistan, Republicans, War, War on Terror | Leave a comment

The Taliban are claiming responsibility for a suicide attack on the base where Cheney was staying. Fourteen innocent people died, and the attack was aimed at the vice president.

What a clear message was just sent by our enemies. While we go traipsing around in Iraq with no apparent coherent plan, and divert our attentions and resources from the real fight on our real enemies, the ones who have been attacking us since 1993, this enemy came within a few hundred yards of striking our vice president. This is the same vice president who claims “enormous successes” in the war on terror. This is the vice president who just warned Musharraf in Pakistan that if he doesn’t crack down on Al-Qaida, the Democrats will defund Pakistan. Right, the Democrats, not the Bush administration. The Bush administration doesn’t care if Musharraf doesn’t crack down on Al-Qaida. They’re not threatening Musharraf with any consequences. Only now that Democrats are in power, is this vice president concerned.

What’s worse, this same vice president will now redouble his claim that Nancy Pelosi is working for Al-Qaida’s best interest. Even though he told Musharraf that if Musharraf doesn’t crack down on Al-Qaida, that same Nancy Pelosi will hold him accountable. So, in Dick Cheney’s mind, Nancy Pelosi is working in Al-Qaida’s best interest while also being the most serious threat to those who don’t crack down on Al-Qaida.

Can the United States have a more ridiculously insane vice president?

Furthermore, this attack is a clear message not just to America, but to the Afghans and Pakistani who either are friends of the Taliban or the enemies. The message is, “We’ve got the resources to get close to the second most powerful man on earth. Fear us!”

What does this say about the progress of Bush’s “war on terror?” What does it say about our efforts in Iraq? What does Iraq have to do with Afghanistan and the fight against our real enemy?

Finally, what does Iran have to do with the Taliban?

Last question, are Republicans not realizing how badly their credibility is being shot? Do Republicans realize that the more they continue backing Bush and Cheney, the bigger their loss will be in 2008 and beyond?

Oh, one more thing, will the general who said that it’s not all that important to find Osama Bin Laden recant his words? This attack was probably orchestrated by him…..

And why can’t America find a John Walker Lindh to infiltrate Al-Qaida?

Pakistan Aides and Abets The Taliban

January 21, 2007 at 2:02 pm | Posted in Afghanistan, America, American politics, George W Bush, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan | Leave a comment

So Pakistan, led by a military dictatorship, that kills numerous of its own people, that has nuclear weapons, and has threatened a neighbor with nuclear destruction, now apparently is aiding and abetting our enemy in Afghanistan, the Taliban.

Why are we here in America not more concerned about this? Imagine what Bush would do if the Iranians were doing what the Pakistanis are doing…..

Bush Wants War With Iran

January 11, 2007 at 4:40 pm | Posted in Afghanistan, Democrats, George W Bush, Iran, Iraq, King George, Military, neo-conservatives, Republicans, War on Terror | 34 Comments

That seems to be the consensus from some observers.

Seek and Destroy.

Bush said that in his speech yesterday.

President Bush implicitly accused the two of providing sanctuary and material support for violent elements in Iraq. There is an ominous element here: When the President pledged to “seek out and destroy the networks supporting our enemies in Iraq,” to me, that means the threat of strikes on targets in those two countries.

So Afghanistan is worsening. Iraq is in Civil War. So, the right action is to escalate conflict with two more nations? Is this real?

Democrats in Congress must find a way to stop this. Seriously!

Why The Surge Will Fail and Worsen the Situation

January 9, 2007 at 1:54 pm | Posted in Afghanistan, American politics, Bush Administration, George W Bush, Iraq, King George, Military, neo-conservatives, Osama Bin Laden, Republicans, War, War on Terror | 64 Comments

There are two indications why Bush’s surge will fail and worsen the already horrible situation.

Bush needs 20,000 additional troops (according to Fred Kagan’s plan), but he really does not have extra troops sitting around. So what is he going to do? Withdraw them from Afghanistan of course!

“As a last-ditch effort, President Bush is expected to announce this week the dispatch of thousands of additional troops to Iraq as a stopgap measure, an order that Pentagon officials say would strain the Army and Marine Corps as they struggle to man both wars.

“Already, a U.S. Army infantry battalion fighting in a critical area of eastern Afghanistan is due to be withdrawn within weeks in order to deploy to Iraq.

“According to Army Brig. Gen. Anthony J. Tata and other senior U.S. commanders here, that will happen just as the Taliban is expected to unleash a major campaign to cut the vital road between Kabul and Kandahar. The official said the Taliban intend to seize Kandahar, Afghanistan’s second-largest city and the place where the group was organized in the 1990s…

“Conway said U.S. commanders understand that the Afghan war is an “economy of force” operation, a military term for a mission that is given minimal resources because it is a secondary priority, in this case behind Iraq…

In other words, the bad guys who attacked us on 9/11 are second priority to the Bush administration to a nation that did not attack us…..

As Brian Ulrich of American Footprints says:

If Vali Nasr is right that the Iraq surge is aimed at destroying Muqtada Sadr’s Mahdi Army – and I haven’t seen much supporting that beyond his post – then the United States policy will be to retreat further from the battle against the forces which attacked us on September 11 to as to stamp out the main military support of the government we helped install in Baghdad, and which also happens to be a sworn enemy of al-Qaeda.

So we let Afghanistan burn to put troops in Iraq that actually won’t be able to fix the problem because, well, here’s the second indication why this surge is going to fail. General David Patraeus, the new general overseeing Iraq, previously wrote the counterinsurgency field manual for the Army. In it he recommends at least 20 soldiers for every 1000 people. In a city the size of Baghdad, well, that’s a lot more soldiers than we have in the whole country. Read the following:

Petraeus and his co-authors discussed this strategy at great length in the Army’s counterinsurgency field manual. One point they made is that it requires a lot of manpower—at minimum, 20 combat troops for every 1,000 people in the area’s population. Baghdad has about 6 million people; so clearing, holding, and building it will require about 120,000 combat troops.

Right now, the United States has about 70,000 combat troops in all of Iraq (another 60,000 or so are support troops or headquarters personnel). Even an extra 20,000 would leave the force well short of the minimum required—and that’s with every soldier and Marine in Iraq moved to Baghdad. Iraqi security forces would have to make up the deficit.

Fred Kaplan continues:

But security is the prerequisite, and to achieve enduring security, the hard arithmetic indicates that Bush needs to send in a lot more troops than 20,000. The problem is, he doesn’t have them, and he won’t be able to get them for many years, under the best of circumstances. (Even if he reimposed the draft—a sure way to convert popular disenchantment with the war to rioting-in-the-streets opposition—it would take a few years to get the Selective Service System running and to mobilize, train, and equip the draftees.)

So because he doesn’t have them, Bush is forced to make a choice. Does he take soldiers away from the fight against the Taliban and Al-Qaida (and Bin Laden) or does he allow Baghdad to dive further into its civil war? What happens when you still don’t have enough troops to accomplish victory? Does that not lead not just to failure, but a worsening of the situation? We know, from Porter Goss’s testimony in Congress that insurgents are using our military presence in Iraq to recruit more jihadists. Just what do we expect to accomplish by sending in an insufficiently sized force? Further, what are we telling Afghans? Most importantly, what are we telling Al-Qaida? This president of ours, George W. Bush, finds every way possible to worsen the situation. It is time for him to go. Fire. George. W. Bush. Now!

Iran’s Influence in Afghanistan Grows

December 27, 2006 at 3:47 pm | Posted in Afghanistan, American politics, Bush Administration, George W Bush, Iran, Iraq, King George, Middle East | 2 Comments

Chalk one up to the incompetence of the Bush Administration. By diverting our attention from Afghanistan and taking on a second project in Iraq, we’ve left Afghanistan weak these past five years, to the point now that Iran’s influence is felt very strongly in Afghanistan now, as much as in Iraq.

So…..just how was the mission in Iraq supposed to fundamentally alter the Middle East in our favor?

Pakistan Helps The Taliban

December 24, 2006 at 6:57 pm | Posted in Afghanistan, American politics, Iran, King George, Osama Bin Laden, Pakistan, War on Terror, wmd | 2 Comments

Great article in today’s LA Times on how Pakistan is aiding and abetting the Taliban in Afghanistan. I wonder why we are not angry at Pakistan, like we are at Iran. After all, Pakistan is ruled by a dictator with nuclear weapons, and Osama Bin Laden is hiding in Pakistan. Why do we give them a free ride?

Failing Afghanistan

November 13, 2006 at 3:09 pm | Posted in Afghanistan, America, American politics, Iran, Iraq, War on Terror | Leave a comment

A new report released paints a very grim picture of Afghanistan. Insurgents there are hitting back on average of 600 times per month. (For comparison, in Iraq, insurgent attacks on U.S. soldiers, according to Bob Woodward’s book averages 900 attacks per month). Afghan insurgents have learned from Iraq how to destabilize the country, and take it away from pro-Western rule. Such a shame.

How do we fix this?

We got into this mess without a real sense of the cost. Now, not only have we put these two wars (Iraq and Afghanistan) on credit cards, to get out with a “victory,” will require an even greater financial sacrifice. Are Americans ready for something like this? Do they realize just how expensive a victory will truly be?

What is even sadder is that many Americans actually want to start yet another war, with Iran. What the hell is wrong with America?!?!?!

Bush Needs Bin Laden Free and Alive

November 1, 2006 at 2:18 pm | Posted in Afghanistan, America, American politics, Democracy, Democrats, Iran, Iraq, King George, Muslim, Republicans, Santorum, Straw Man, War on Terror | 2 Comments

I don’t think I’ve made this point strongly enough. Bush needs Osama Bin Laden and his terrorist organization to be free and alive and active in order to make his political points for Republicans. Continue Reading Bush Needs Bin Laden Free and Alive…

The Unreliability of Information Garnered From Torture

October 15, 2006 at 11:52 pm | Posted in Afghanistan, American politics, Iraq, King George, Military, Torture, War on Terror | 3 Comments

Even with all the evidence against it, so many Americans still feel justified in interrogating suspects with torture or “alternative set of procedures” as Bush likes to call them. It is time to show even more evidence of the unreliability of information garnered from torture. Continue Reading The Unreliability of Information Garnered From Torture…

October Surprise! North Korea Tested a Nuke!

October 9, 2006 at 10:08 am | Posted in Afghanistan, Iraq, King George, North Korea, Republicans, World Events | 12 Comments

well, good morning to y’all. Sheesh, you wake up and check the news to find North Korea has gone nuclear on George W. Bush’s watch, even when he and his supporters pouted that that was “unacceptable.” Perhaps Karl Rove (and most within the inner circle) knew about this from secret reports, that North Korea was going to test a nuke in October, and will now use this to “rally around the flag” and the prez. Only problem, of course, is that Bush has done near-criminally little about North Korea, focusing so passionately on a country that didn’t have nukes, Iraq, and on one that doesn’t have them yet, Iran, that he let the one who does, North Korea, move so far on his watch.

Are there really more examples that America needs that this administration is criminally inept to rule? Afghanistan might be lost “within six months” according to NATO’s commander. Iraq might be lost “within 90 days” according to Senator Warner. Katrina was a great failure. North Korea tested six missiles on our birthday without any consequence. And now, they’ve tested a nuke. Welcome to the nuclear club North Korea.

Frist: Taliban Should Be In Afghan Government

October 2, 2006 at 11:08 pm | Posted in Afghanistan, American politics, War on Terror | Leave a comment

Bill Frist actually believes that the US should work with the Taliban in getting them involved with the Afghan government. Continue Reading Frist: Taliban Should Be In Afghan Government…

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