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Remember this?


Not only did Reagan deal with terrorists as president, as revealed in
the Iran-Contra scandal, the preponderance of evidence now supports the charge that his campaign negotiated with Iranian hostage-takers while he was running for president in 1980, to delay the release of hostages before the election, which could have helped Carter win reelection — what was known as “The October Surprise.” Given that Reagan wasn’t president then, but was negotiating to thwart a president’s attempt to get hostages released, this is not simply questionable behavior, it is arguably an act of treason. Democrats’ reluctance to vigorously investigate Reagan’s misdeeds — the exact opposite of GOP attitudes toward Clinton and Obama — has left much of the true story still shrouded in mystery, but what we do know is damning enough in itself, and still cries out for a truly thorough investigation.

First of all, there’s no doubt that Reagan himself set the precedent of Iran-TIMEdealing with terrorists — and encouraging more hostage-taking. He and his administration convinced themselves they were dealing with “moderates” in Iran. But they also famously sent Donald Rumsfeld to Iraq to hang out with Saddam Hussein, and collaborated with Osama bin Laden in building up the most extreme mujahideen elements fighting the Soviets in Afghanistan — the very forces that eventually gave birth to the Taliban. When his own hand-picked “Tower Commission” confirmed the basic facts of the Iran-contra scandal, Reagan went on national TV and said, “A few months ago I told the American people I did not trade arms for hostages. My heart and my best intentions still tell me that’s true, but the facts and the evidence tell me it is not.” (emphasis mine)

So goes an article which goes into detail about Ronald Reagan’s romp with terrorism and negotiations and how he failed at it miserably.  The problem for America is Reagan is a right wing ‘god’ who cannot be blamed for anything he did or was done while he was in office no matter how terrible the results were for the American people….and too many of us won’t call him on it.  Oh sure….a few articles like the one sourced above come out but even it claims

….

As we watch the current manufacture of “scandal” surrounding the release of Sgt. Bergdahl, it’s illuminating to contrast this with the way in which multiple very real interconnected scandals under Ronald Reagan were both isolated from one another and then minimized, never receiving the sort of thorough investigation that Republicans are now demanding every time that President Obama so much as coughs.

I’m glad those in opposition to the #DemonicGOP haven’t resorted to the tactics of such a forlorn ex-political party….truth stands out clear from error.  There’s no need to mislead people in order to gain their loyalty but whenever anyone says Obama negotiated with terrorists remind them he did a better job of it than Ronald Reagan who started the practice.

American media, guilty of sedition?


Bowe Bergdahl hasn’t even stepped foot in this country and yet members of the media are saying this?

Is he guilty of being a deserter, is he guilty of being a defector? And after five years of captivity — some people initially said, well, that’s enough — should he face the appropriate punishment if he is found guilty?

chris wallaceChris Wallace of FoxNews infamy (I guess you know why such a provocative question would be posed) was asking the former Attorney General Michael Mukasey from the even guiltier, more deserving of prosecution, GWB administration who replied such a question was premature.  I assert on what basis should such a question like that even be asked?!?!?  It was only mere hours  before Wallace went on the air with the typical FoxNews bluster that this headline appeared

U.S. Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl has told people treating him at an American military medical facility in Germany that he was tortured, beaten and held in a cage by his Taliban captors in Afghanistan after he tried to escape, a senior U.S. official said Sunday.

CIA tortureNow if one were to ask what proof can Bergdahl provide since there is no one to independently verify beside Bergdahl and the Taliban, if you were to pose the question where are the physical scars to indicate such torture it would have to be said perhaps the Taliban is as adept at torturing people without leaving scars as our own government under George Bush was with the countless people tortured at Baghram and other secreted sites where suspected “Islamists”, whatever that means, were held.

What we’re witnessing is the #DemonicGOP nipping at Obama’s heels like the attack dog is has become, rather than a political party, in order to generate scandal.  In fact Lindsey Graham is now saying the President should be impeached because of his decision to exchange Bergdahl for five Taliban prisoners.  Of course impeachment won’t occur….it’s not a political reality, but the mere suggestion of it is enough to taint the Obama administration and the Democratic party in this off year election. Obama and Bergdahl are being “swiftboated” much like John Kerry who had the distinction of being the first politician to be given that dubious distinction and it’s as ugly now as it was was in 2004.  Some say however this time it won’t be as effective

Republicans have been carrying out a swiftboating media operation that is being led by a former Bush administration official that is designed to smear Sgt. Bergdahl in order to create an Obama political scandal. The revelation that Bergdahl was tortured means that Republicans are not only attacking the credibility of a soldier, but they are attacking a soldier who was tortured by the enemy.

Even by the new Obama era standards for conservative hate, this is low. The possibility that Sgt. Bergdahl was tortured confirms the White House’s reasoning for making a deal to bring Bergdahl home. Republicans have painted themselves into a corner with their attacks on Bergdahl……

I don’t think however that the #DemonicGOP will look bad…they’ll simply deflect and move on to the next scandal they hope will have traction with the equally insatiably racist, xenophobic, gun toting segments of American society.

 

The history of the Taliban starts here


Whenever you hear talk about negotiating with terrorists and the Obama administration, remember the Taliban was hatched in the White House of the #DemonicGOP’s idol, Ronald Reagan.

Reagan-Taliban

 

The good news is America can now withdraw from Afghanistan


The reason is the Taliban admit they cannot win the war against the American forces and they are fed up with their alliance with al-Qaida, that is if you believe the word coming from some sources in the Taliban movement. I don’t know why anyone would think that a less than third world country could stand militarily with the largest, strongest military in the world, the Russian war notwithstanding, unless you believed in miracles.  With this admission coming from the Taliban, and I submit they’ve conceded defeat even before the war began back in 2001, the US, if it’s true to its mission of ridding the country of the Taliban and al-Qaida, has a golden opportunity  to end the conflict and withdraw honorably while getting the Taliban and the Karzai government to come to peaceful terms.  Unfortunately, the US’ track record of taking advantage of opportunities offered them by their opponents is less than sterling.

One of the Taliban‘s most senior commanders has admitted the insurgents cannot win the war in Afghanistan and that capturing Kabul is “a very distant prospect”, obliging them to seek a settlement with other political forces in the country.

In a startlingly frank interview in Thursday’s New Statesman, the commander – described as a Taliban veteran, a confidant of the leadership, and a former Guantánamo inmate – also uses the strongest language yet from a senior figure to distance the Afghan rebels from al-Qaida.

“At least 70% of the Taliban are angry at al-Qaida. Our people consider al-Qaida to be a plague that was sent down to us by the heavens,” the commander says. “To tell the truth, I was relieved at the death of Osama [bin Laden]. Through his policies, he destroyed Afghanistan. If he really believed in jihad he should have gone to Saudi Arabia and done jihad there, rather than wrecking our country.”

“The Taliban capturing Kabul is a very distant prospect. Any Taliban leader expecting to be able to capture Kabul is making a grave mistake. Nevertheless, the leadership also knows that it cannot afford to acknowledge this weakness. To do so would undermine the morale of Taliban personnel. The leadership knows the truth – that they cannot prevail over the power they confront,” Mawlvi (the Taliban senior commander) says.

As a result, he says that the Taliban has had to shelve its dream of re-establishing the Islamic emirate it set up when it was in power from 1996 to 2001. “Any side involved in a conflict like this has decided to fight for power. If they fall short of achieving national power, they have to settle for functioning as an organised party within the country,” he admits.

He is scathing about President Hamid Karzai, who the Taliban has consistently derided as a US puppet. “There is little point in talking to Kabul. Real authority rests with the Americans,” he says. “The only other serious political force in Afghanistan is that of the Northern Alliance” – a Tajik-led coalition that led the resistance to Taliban rule and is now a powerful player in Kabul.

That sounds like nothing short of capitulation and America should jump at the chance to embrace it, negotiate and get out.  Campaign rhetoric most likely will make chances of that happening until after the elections, but whoever the winner is in November, his first priority should be getting America out of a quagmire it’s enemy has said it can’t win and with whom it can easily settle.  That the world wide community is fixated on the horrific video taped execution of a woman by a “Taliban” member, who most likely was really a family member of the victim engaged in an honor killing (have we ever maintained forces in a country because of the honor killings of some of that country’s citizens?) would really serve an injustice to the people in the Taliban movement who are clearly signalling their willingness to stand down from hostilities with American forces.  The pessimism in me anticipates seeing  more of that kind of distraction in the international media, away from this peace offering, in order to  prolong the Afghan war.

 

Not many terrorists left in Gitmo Bay


We’ve talked a lot about the non-existent threat of Islamic terrorists on the main land because of the absence of any Muslim terrorists here, except for those dredged up by the federal authorities whenever they need to distract America’s attention away from more pressing issues like the economy or the encroachment on our human and civil rights and focus it instead on the latest boogey man story of the day.  Well it’s looking like there aren’t many terrorists in Guantanamo Bay either, not that there ever were.

We’ve spent an inordinate amount of money housing people we picked up in various places all over the world, and it’s starting to look like a lot of them are completely innocent.  The latest batch from Algeria turned out that way.  El Houari Abar, in his forties, and Ahmed El Abed, aged over 50 were detained at Gitmo Bay for six years and charged with being members of a terrorist organization.  One was captured in Afghanistan and the other in Georgia.  They were released to their country, Algeria in 2008 which only  acquitted them of the charge and are now free.  Six other Algerians held by the US military in Gitmo have also been similarly cleared of charges in Algerian courts, which says something about the importance of a transparent legal system and being brought to trial.  These two have been denied their freedom for the last 10 years ostensibly for something they didn’t do.  For too long America has been dispensing old style western justice where the military arm of the government was the police, the judge, jury and executioner, most likely of a lot of innocent people.  The two mentioned in this story have no legal redress with the government that captured them and took six years from their lives unfortunately and that taints our image all the more within  the international community.

An American casualty to ‘endless war’


This is what happens when you drink the kool-aid, believe the lies that were made to start America down the path of endless warfare that only enriches the coffers of the military complex but sucks the life out of the people who put their lives  on the line to operate it.

Robert Bales enlisted in the US military in response to 911, answering the call of patriotism to fight an enemy that was shadowy  and  elusive.  That’s a good thing………the people who asked for his help, the politicians who made him and us feel good about that service knew it was predicated on a lie, and was designed to make sure that a way of life, not threatened, would be even more enhanced with his and countless others’ sacrifice. The Bush administration didn’t care one iota what the effect would be of countless tours it would ask its service men and women to go through; it never crossed the minds of the planners of one of the biggest bold faced lies America would embark on in some time.  What mattered was the mission be accomplished.

Sgt. Bales served three tours in Iraq and a fourth in Afghanistan, the graveyard of Russia’s military.  It was irrelevant to most in US  policy circles that  after Russia withdrew from Afghanistan it would undergo a radical political transformation…some would say because of its reckless foray into Afghanistan in just a few short months.  America somehow thought its outcomes would be different and so Sgt. Bales was sent there on a 4th tour, injured and almost surely slightly insane.  Now he has been charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder; nothing done in defense of his country or even of his fellow troops on the battlefield but something he initiated on his own in the dead of night at which time he murdered men, women and children in their homes while they slept.

The US military, stretched to its limits in theaters all over the world fighting people who are not a threat to the American way of life, but called that because a politician or special interests says they are, is reassigning soldiers who are crippled (Sgt. Bates supposedly had part of his foot amputated because of injuries he received in Iraq) or suffering from debilitating emotional paralysis due to things they’ve experienced, seen or done in Iraq and Afghanistan.  These men and women simply are not getting the help they need to heal because the military has no time for their recuperation as it goes about the business of chasing ghosts.  So Bales and countless others are recycled endlessly within the military until they crack, die, retire or are replaced by others.  Bates cracked.

The American military is  desperately in need of being treated for this disease of endless war

Since the start of the Iraq War in 2003, the rate of Suicide among U.S. Army soldiers has soared, according to a new study from the U.S. Army Public Health Command.

The study, an analysis of data from the Army Behavioral Health Integrated Data Environment, shows a striking 80 percent increase in suicides among Army personnel between 2004 and 2008. The rise parallels increasing rates of depression, anxiety and other mental health conditions in soldiers, the study said…..

“This study does not show that U.S. military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan cause suicide,” said Dr. Michelle Chervak, one of the study’s authors, a senior epidemiologist at the U.S. Army Public Health Command. “This study does suggest that an Army engaged in prolonged combat operations is a population under stress, and that mental health conditions and suicide can be expected to increase under these circumstances.”

In other words we can expect more Bates in the near future…and if that’s not distressing enough, remember these men and women return to the shores of our country with the war parasite embedded into their being and if we’re lucky enough not to have them  act dishonorably, as Bates did, in Afghanistan or Iraq, that doesn’t spare us the possibility they might unleash their psychosis on us at home.

Sgt. Bales was doing what he was expected to do, not by the US military but by the people who  sent him there.  His job was to fill a slot and make it possible for US money to be funneled into it and into all the other slots occupied by American men and women who are manning military installations around the world.  The people who started this war and used as a rallying cry that it’s a war with no physical or time  boundaries are ultimately responsible for what happened the night Bates cracked and became homicidal. The truly tragic aspect to this all is, they’ve probably already replaced him with someone who is just as battered and bruised as he was.  It’s just a  matter of time before we will read about him or her.

We are NOT ready – the hypocrisy of patriotism


Two hundred, thirty six years after the Declaration of Independence America is still a slave to bigotry and intolerance even while it overthrows other governments that exhibit the same.  It is no surprise to read about the death of Private Danny Chen who was stationed in Afghanistan and who enlisted in the Army in response to what he considered his duty to his country.  A son of Chinese immigrants who believed in the call of the ideals of this country, Chen was either driven to suicide or as his family asserts murdered because he was different ethnically from the others with whom he served.  It is inconceivable that people in times of war against an enemy make enemies that in reality don’t exist, within their own ranks, but that’s what happened with Chen. Teased, hazed, singled out, harassed because of his ethnic background, even the Army says he was driven to the point of suicide.  His family recounted stories he told them

“They (other soldiers) ask me if I’m from China a few times a day. They also called out my name ‘Chen’ in a goat-like voice sometimes for no reason,” the message said in part.

“I’m running out of jokes to respond back to them,” Chen wrote, according to OuYang.

His relatives said that Chen told them of being pelted with rocks and forced to hold liquid in his mouth while being hung upside down.

Hazing has become an increasingly worrisome practice, not only in the military, but within students of all ages.  University campuses have fought back with strict rules against it and it’s getting the attention it deserves on a national level.  Why it’s still acceptable in some quarters means we will continue to lose bright, intelligent, talented people driven to the point of insanity by their peers too immature to realize its dangers.

An update on the “American Taliban”


John Walker Lindh, the American who was taken prisoner by US forces in Afghanistan at the very beginning of the Afghan/Iraq war and his subsequent mistreatment both by the Bush Administration and corporate media, which marked the beginning of America’s decent into lawlessness and criminality has always had a stalwart defender in his father Frank Lindh.  The senior Lindh wrote a lengthy, detailed piece for The Guardian newspaper earlier this summer  asserting his son’s  innocence against the charges of terrorism leveled by Bush’s justice department and proclaiming that the son, John met bin laden at some point BEFORE 911 but wasn’t impressed with him and felt no desire to do whatever it was bin laden wanted done in the way of terror.  He also says John was in Afghanistan to fight the Northern Alliance who at one point was even at odds with the Bush Administration, the implication being Lindh was doing America’s dirty work in fighting the NA until 911 happened.  Below is an excerpt; the entire article is linked above

As they moved among the prisoners, they singled out captives for interrogation. They never identified themselves as American agents, and so they appeared to John and the other prisoners to be mercenaries working directly for General Dostum.

John was spotted and removed from the body of prisoners for questioning. The moment was recorded on video and later seen by millions on television.

In the video, John sits mutely on the ground as he is questioned about his nationality.

“Irish? Ireland?” Spann asks.

John remains silent.

“Who brought you here?… You believe in what you are doing that much, you’re willing to be killed here?”

Still no reply.

Tyson to Spann [for John’s benefit]: “The problem is, he’s got to decide if he wants to live or die, and die here. We’re just going to leave him, and he’s going to [expletive] sit in prison the rest of his [expletive] short life. It’s his decision, man. We can only help the guys who want to talk to us. We can only get the Red Cross to help so many guys.”

I think it was apparent that Spann and Tyson were American agents, but because they were in the company of Dostum’s forces, unaccompanied by American troops, it clearly was not safe for John to talk to them. They meant business when they said John might be killed by Dostum, and that the Red Cross could only “help so many guys”. John was in extreme peril at that moment, and he knew it.

John was then returned to the main body of prisoners, while others were still being brought out of the basement and forced to kneel in the horse pasture. Then, there was an explosion at the entrance to the basement, shouts were heard, and two prisoners grabbed the guards’ weapons. According to Guardian journalist Luke Harding’s account: “It was then… that Spann ‘did a Rambo’. As the remaining guards ran away, Spann flung himself to the ground and began raking the courtyard and its prisoners with automatic fire. Five or six prisoners jumped on him, and he disappeared beneath a heap of bodies.”

Spann’s body was later recovered by US special forces troops. He was the first American to die in combat in the American–Afghan war. He was buried with full military honours at Arlington National Cemetery, near Washington.

There were two groups of Taliban prisoners in the fortress: those who chose to fight and those who hunkered down in the basement of the pink building and tried to survive. John was in the latter group.

By Wednesday, the last of the resisting Taliban fighters had been killed, and Dostum’s soldiers were once again in full control of the fortress. Luke Harding was allowed into the compound along with some other journalists, and he found a horrific scene: “We had expected slaughter, but I was unprepared for its hellish scale… It was hard to take it all in. The dead and various parts of the dead… turned up wherever you looked: in thickets of willows and poplars; in waterlogged ditches; in storage rooms piled with ammunition boxes.” Harding observed that many of the Taliban prisoners had died with their hands tied behind their backs.

On Saturday 1 December, the Red Cross arrived at the fortress and the survivors, who for several days had been trying to surrender, were finally allowed to exit the basement. When they emerged into the bright sunlight, they encountered a confusing horde of journalists, Red Cross workers, Dostum’s soldiers, and British and American troops.

That evening John and the other survivors were taken to a prison hospital in Sheberghan. Although wet and cold from the flooding of the basement, they were transported in open bed trucks in the frigid night air. At Sheberghan, John was carried on a stretcher and set down in a small room with approximately 15 other prisoners. CNN correspondent Robert Pelton came in accompanied by a US special forces soldier and a cameraman. Despite John’s protests, Pelton persisted in filming John and asking questions as an American medical officer administered morphine intravenously. By the time he departed a short time later, Pelton had captured on videotape an interview in which John said that his “heart had become attached” to the Taliban, that every Muslim aspired to become a shahid, or martyr, and that he had attended a training camp funded by Osama bin Laden.

The CNN interview became a sensation in the US. By mid-December, virtually every newspaper in America was running front-page stories about the American Taliban, and the broadcast media were saturated with features and commentary about John. Here was a “traitor” who had “fought against America” and aligned himself with the 11 September terrorists. Newsweek magazine published an issue with John’s photograph on the cover, under the caption “American Taliban”.

Beginning in early December, President Bush, vice-president Dick Cheney, members of the cabinet and other officials then embarked on a series of truly extraordinary public statements about John, referring to him repeatedly as an “al-Qaida fighter”, a terrorist and a traitor. I think it fair to say there has never been a case quite like this in the history of the US, in which officials at the highest levels of the government made such prejudicial statements about an individual citizen who had not yet been charged with any crime.

I will offer only a small sample of these statements. In an interview at the White House on 21 December 2001, President Bush said John was “the first American al-Qaida fighter that we have captured”. Donald Rumsfeld, secretary of defence, told reporters at a press briefing that John had been “captured by US forces with an AK-47 in his hands”. Colin Powell, secretary of state, said John had “brought shame upon his family”. Rudy Giuliani, New York mayor, remarked: “I believe the death penalty is the appropriate remedy to consider.”

John Ashcroft, the US attorney general, staged two televised press conferences in which he accused John of attacking the US. “Americans who love their country do not dedicate themselves to killing Americans,” he declared.

A federal judge took the unusual step of writing to the New York Times criticising the attorney general for violating “Justice Department guidelines on the release of information related to criminal proceedings that are intended to ensure that a defendant is not prejudiced when such an announcement is made”.

Even the ultra-conservative National Review thought Ashcroft had gone too far in making such prejudicial comments about a pending prosecution. It criticised the comments as “inappropriate” and “gratuitous”, stating that in the future “it would be better for the attorney general simply to announce the facts of the indictments, and to avoid extra comments which might unintentionally imperil successful prosecutions”.

Once John was in the custody of the US military, the US government had to decide what to do with him. The FBI has estimated that during the 90s as many as 2,000 American citizens travelled to Muslim lands to take up arms voluntarily, and that as many as 400 American Muslims received training in military camps in Pakistan and Afghanistan. None of these American citizens was indicted, or labelled as traitor and terrorist. They were simply ignored by their government, which made no attempt to interfere with their travel. But the 9/11 attacks changed everything, and it was the timing of John’s capture that contributed to his fate. It soon became apparent to me that, rather than simply repatriate my wounded son, the government was intent on prosecuting him as a “terrorist”.

In the days and weeks that followed, John endured abuse from the US military that exceeded the bounds of what any civilised nation should tolerate, even in time of war. Donald Rumsfeld directly ordered the military to “take the gloves off” in questioning John.

On 7 December, wounded and still suffering from the effects of the trauma at Qala-i-Jangi, John was flown to Camp Rhino, a US marine base approximately 70 miles south of Kandahar. There he was taunted and threatened, stripped of his clothing, and bound naked to a stretcher with duct tape wrapped around his chest, arms, and ankles. Even before he got to Camp Rhino, John’s wrists and ankles were bound with plastic restraints that caused severe pain and left permanent scars – sure proof of torture. Still blindfolded, he was locked in an unheated metal shipping container that sat on the desert floor. He shivered uncontrollably in the bitter cold. Soldiers outside pounded on the sides, threatening to kill him.

In June 2002, Newsweek obtained copies of internal email messages from the justice department’s ethics office commenting on the Lindh case as the events were unfolding in December 2001. The office specifically warned in advance against the interrogation tactics the FBI used at Camp Rhino, and concluded that the interrogation of John without his lawyer present would be unlawful and unethical. This advice was ignored by the FBI agent who conducted the interrogation.

Interestingly, in an 10 December email, one of the justice department ethics lawyers noted: “At present, we have no knowledge that he did anything other than join the Taliban.”

John’s lawyers filed a motion to “suppress” the statements that had been extracted him under duress at Camp Rhino. A hearing was scheduled in July 2001, which would have included testimony by John and others about the brutality he had suffered at the hands of US soldiers. On the eve of the hearing, the government prosecutors approached John’s attorneys and negotiated a plea agreement. It was apparent they did not want evidence of John’s torture to be introduced in court.

In the plea agreement John acknowledged that by serving as a soldier in Afghanistan he had violated the anti-Taliban economic sanctions imposed by President Clinton and extended by President Bush. This was, as John’s lawyer pointed out, a “regulatory infraction”. John also agreed to a “weapons charge”, which was used to enhance his prison sentence. In particular, he acknowledged that he had carried a rifle and two grenades while serving as a soldier in the Taliban army. All of the other counts in the indictment were dropped by the government, including the terrorism charges the attorney general had so strongly emphasised and the charge of conspiracy to commit murder in the death of Mike Spann.

At the insistence of defence secretary Rumsfeld, the plea agreement also included a clause in which John relinquished his claims of torture.

The punishment in the plea agreement was by any measure harsh: 20 years of imprisonment, commencing on 1 December 2001, the day John came into the hands of US forces in Afghanistan. The prosecutors told John’s attorneys that the White House insisted on the lengthy sentence, and that they could not negotiate downward.

On 4 October 2002, the judge approved the plea agreement as “just and reasonable” and sentenced John to prison. Before the sentence was pronounced, John was allowed to read a prepared statement, which provided a moment of intense drama in the crowded courtroom. He spoke with strong emotion. He explained why he had gone to Afghanistan to help the Taliban in their fight with the Northern Alliance, saying it arose from his compassion for the suffering of ordinary people who had been subjected to atrocities committed by the Northern Alliance. He explained that when he went to Afghanistan he “saw the war between the Taliban and the Northern Alliance as a continuation of the war between the mujahideen and the Soviets”.

John strongly condemned terrorism. “I went to Afghanistan with the intention of fighting against terrorism and oppression.” He had acted, he said, out of a sense of religious duty and he condemned terrorism as being “completely against Islam”. He said: “I have never supported terrorism in any form and never would.”

After a brief recess, the judge granted a request by John Spann, the father of Mike Spann, to address the court and express his dissatisfaction with the plea agreement. He began by saying that he, his family, and many other people believed that John had played a role in the killing of Mike Spann. Judge Ellis interrupted and said: “Let me be clear about that. The government has no evidence of that.” Spann responded: “I understand.” The judge politely explained that the “suspicions, the inferences you draw from the facts are not enough to warrant a jury conviction”. He said that Mike Spann had died a hero, and that among the things he died for was the principle that “we don’t convict people in the absence of proof beyond a reasonable doubt”.

Osama bin Laden is dead. John Lindh, now 30 years old, remains in prison. He spends most of his time pursuing his study of the Qur’an and Islamic scholarship. He also reads widely in a variety of nonfiction subjects, especially history and politics. He remains a devout Muslim.

The GOP bitch slapped by Obama



The Obama Administration has just slapped the Republican Party two times in less than a week and relegated that party to the dust bin of  history because Republicans wallow in mud instead of substance in their political postures.  Any true Republican should hide his/her face in shame at the way their party has been manhandled by the Obama machine.  In effect it, the Republican Party, got what it deserved.  It gave into the crazies of the lunatic fringe within the party with its notions of dubious citizenship and questionable loyalties on the part of Obama and went up in flames when the President adroitly handled both to the point that everyone in the Republican Party was reduced to mumbling and looking quite frankly stupid.

First the release of the much ballyhooed long form birth certificate that party loyalists said was necessary to prove citizenship, when they thought that such a certificate could not be produced, was humiliating for them.  Even the buffoon Donald Trump who so vociferously called for “proof” Obama was a citizen had to double back and say that he was proud of himself for getting Obama to release what should have never been and has never been requested from any other president in modern times to display.  It didn’t help Trump’s cause for him to go on and begin to doubt Obama’s college transcripts/records in an attempt to say he got where he is undeservedly so.  You gotta’ wonder whether Obama is sitting on highest honor diplomas from all the colleges and universities he ever attended, waiting to release them at the most propitious time during a presidential campaign season to further humiliate his opponents. It doesn’t look too good for Trump with the main stream media finally getting tired of his dog and pony show to the extent that even some of them are calling his snipping at Obama’s heels racism in the extreme.  Trump is pathetically embarrassing.

The kicker however is the news released just today, Monday 2 May that bin laden was killed by US forces in Pakistan.    You remember Osama bin Laden don’t you?  The ONE everyone said was responsible for the most heinous terrorist attack on US soil ever in the history of America; the ONE who it was said made it necessary for Americans to invade two countries destroying both theirs and ours in unnecessary wars.  It’s significant to point out that the operation carried out by US special forces was done with far less  US firepower than it took to invade Afghanistan and Iraq practically nullifying the stupefying loss of life that occurred on all sides in what has turned out to be BEFORE bin laden’s death morally senseless, bankrupt wars of occupation.  It took Obama two years to do what Bush couldn’t accomplish in two terms, despite the “mission accomplished” claims to the contrary; had this been the course of action of Bush a lot less “blowback” would have ensued for the world community and a lot more good will could have been generated that could have translated into the dollars and cents the invasions were really meant to accomplish.

In real terms, Obama has out Bush(ed) Bush and in the process made irrelevant the Republican Party which has increasingly separated itself from common political consensus andbeen  overtaken instead by fanatical racist zealots who talk in terms of fear and divisiveness, at the expense of the American people.  In response to them, Obama has slapped them silly, humiliated them; that might not have been his intention, and pushed them further into a corner of isolation and disarray.  It’s sad to see.  I hope the GOP for the good of the nation, stops its genuflections at the altar of American fear and xenophobia and returns to the mainstream.  The way Obama has acted lately, it would serve them good to do so, or else, he may have to slap them silly again.

T

Ron Paul mocks ‘fiscal conservatives’ who cut NPR but approve Afghan war 


Vodpod videos no longer available.

 

 

It’s a shame Ron Paul isn’t more popular among conservative voters who claim to be real conservatives.  I know the reason why he isn’t is beccause he’s against wars of aggression and believes in the principle of blowback which states America should expect consequences for infringing on the territorial integrity of states it unilaterally condemns.  That doesn’t make him very well received among those in the war party who claim  America has the right to go wherever it wants.  It’s very likely his pointing out the hypocrisy in the GOPs desire to cut the budget by defunding NPR and not stopping another one of its wars for empire isn’t going to land Paul any friends in his own Party either.  Take a look.

 

I’d like to see the Tea Party crowd get angry about this


I saw Lawrence O’Donnell’s The Last Word where the host asked four tea party group members what they would do to cut government spending and make big government smaller.  They all raged on about socialism and wealth distribution, but not one, NOT ONE talked about this kinda’ of government largesse or government  waste.

Nearly 18 billion dollars earmarked for reconstruction in Afghanistan remain unaccounted for, snagged in a “labyrinth” of contract bureaucracy, a sweeping US government audit has shown.The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) said 17.7 billion dollars was obligated over three years to nearly 7,000 contractors, but the Pentagon, State Department and US Agency for International Development were unable to say how much money has been spent.

The audit addresses fiscal years 2007 through 2009, but the problems go back to 2002 when the United States began funding Afghan reconstruction, because “much of the data available from the agencies prior to 2007 was too poor to be analyzed,” the report said.

Figures doesn’t it that the government waste they should be talking about occurred during a Republican administration which wasted its taxpayers’ money while giving tax breaks to corporations it was also giving taxpayers’ money to.  Can you spell double dip anyone?

The inefficiency of the federal government to efficiently spend your money


Not much has changed since this report was aired a year ago.  Not only has ArmourGroup done a masterful job at being unproffessional they’ve done any even better job of putting the lives of American personnel at risk while spending our money…and you thought the only enemy we had to fight in Afghanistan or Iraq was al-Qaida?

“There is significant evidence that some security contractors even worked against our coalition forces, creating the very threat they are hired to combat….These contractors threaten the security of our troops and risk the success of our mission.”

ArmorGroup North America was hired to provide security and used two competing warlords in the region to provide the men for the guard force.

The report said that over the course of the contract at the base, warlords and guards involved were implicated in murder, revenge attacks, bribery and anti-coalition activities. One of the warlords even hosted an August 2008 Taliban meeting that was raided by U.S. and Afghan forces, it added.

The ArmourGroup has had a federal contract in the millions and it has processes in place that endanger the lives of Americans who are supposedly at war and that’s ok with the federal bureaucracy.  Meanwhile back at home, millions of Americans are out of work, and millions more are at each others  throats while defense contractors and security firms continue to rob the national coffers dry.  Only now during the reign of the Obama Administration is anyone taking note of the perils of federal spending which has gone unabated for the last ten years and we wonder why we have the likes of Sharon Angle, Pam Geller, et.co setting the national agenda?

Terrorism: I am a Muslim; I am a victim of terrorism


By Dr. Bouthaina Shaaban

Those who try to make the word ‘terrorism’ a synonym of the word ‘Islam’ try to brainwash us these days by the phrase “I am a Muslim, I am against terrorism”, which many Arabic-language TV stations have started to use during the month of Ramadan, when TV viewing becomes a dominant pastime in the Arab world. This phrase is coined neither by Muslims nor by the real enemies of terrorism; and the objective of funding the intensive broadcasting of this phrase in Ramadan is not exonerating Islam of an accusation levelled against it by Zionists and their allies among the neo-cons in the wake of 9/11. This is clear from the political connotations of this phrase which suggest that “although I am a Muslim; yet, I am against terrorism”. In this sense, our enemies accuse a billion Muslims of terrorism; while Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus and others are exonerated of any link with terrorism.

One is entitled to ask: how many terrorist crimes the Zionists commit against Muslim and Christian Arabs in and outside Palestine, including murder, assassination, home demolition, setting mosques on fire, etc. Yet, have we ever seen a phrase saying “I am a Jew, I am against terrorism”?

How many war and terrorist crimes have the invading American and Western allied troops have committed in Iraq and Afghanistan, including genocide, torture and assassination which claimed the lives of over a million Iraqis and hundreds of thousands of Afghanis and Pakistanis. The victims are always Muslims: civilians, women and children. Yet, have we ever seen a phrase such as “I am a Christian, I am against terrorism?”

The fact is that the intensive racist campaign since 9/11, 2001 has targeted Islam and Muslims. If measuring events by their outcomes is the right way, it can be said that 9/11 aimed in principle at finding an excuse for waging a war on Muslims and covering up all the crimes committed by the Zionist and racist Israeli troops in Palestine, like Judaization, expulsion, killing, imprisoning, torture and displacement.

One cannot but ask, are not 1.3 billion Muslims capable of facing this racist campaign through well-informed and open-minded research institutes capable of addressing the West in its own language and style and conveying to it the sublime message of Islam? If this message is spread and soundly implemented, it will be a genuine savior to humanity of all sins and tragedies which destroy spiritual peace and social cohesion.

NetworkLet us remember how the word ‘terrorism’ was coined and how it was used by of the Apartheid regime to brand Nelson Mandela as terrorist; and how all resistance movements have been branded as terrorist by Fascists and Nazis until they triumphed and achieved freedom and independence for their nations.

What we read today on Wikileaks shows that the United States exports terrorism to the world: “Wikileakes releases CIA paper on U.S. as ‘exporter of terrorism'” (Washington Post, 25 August 2010). Three papers described as ‘classified’ by the CIA’s red cell name the Pakistani David Headley and others to show that the U.S. government has become an exporter of terrorism. Headley acknowledged his responsibility for the Bombay attack which claimed the lives of 160 people. The paper adds that “Such exports are not new. In 1994, an American Jewish doctor, Baruch Goldstein, emigrated from New York to Israel, joined the extremist group Kach and killed 29 Palestinians praying at a mosque at the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron”.

It should be recalled that last month Wikileakes published 76,000 secret documents, part of American military files and field reports about the war in Afghanistan. The Pentagon asked for the documents to be withdrawn because they make the American troops and their Afghani agents liable to the charge of terrorism. This coincided with the scandal of Mohammed Zia Salehi, the chief of administration for the National Security Council about whom the New York Times published an article entitled “Key Karzai Aide in Corruption Inquiry Is Linked to C.I.A.” (25 August 2010). Reports confirm that Salehi was released upon Karzi’s intervention because he knows everything about corrupt deals inside the Karzi’s administration. An American official stated that it was common practice to deal with corrupt people in Afghanistan. He adds: “If we decide as a country that we’ll never deal with anyone in Afghanistan who might down the road — and certainly not at our behest — put his hand in the till, we can all come home right now,” the American official said. “If you want intelligence in a war zone, you’re not going to get it from Mother Teresa or Mary Poppins.” (New York Times, 25 August 2010).

This is a clear acknowledgment of the absolute separation between morality and what American troops are doing in Afghanistan. In an article entitled “Making Afghanistan More Dangerous,” Jason Thomas asserts that American troops use mercenaries they call ‘security firms’ in protecting “foreigners, civil-society organizations and aid,” but also corruption money sent in cash in protected vehicles”. (The Herald Tribune, 25 August 2010).

What do these people have to talk about Islam as a source of terrorism? And how could they accuse Muslims of terrorism, while thy themselves are major exporters of terrorism? Can those who use torture, assassination, corruption and wars as their declared method of occupying one Muslim country after another and killing millions of innocent Muslims accuse those who defend freedom, dignity and sovereignty of terrorism?

The phrase which should be promoted on Arabic-language TV channels should be “I am a Muslim, I am a victim of terrorism”. As to our enemies, the stigma of terrorism, war, Judaization, settlement building, home demolishing, assassination and other crimes will haunt them throughout history, because they are the makers of terrorism regardless of their religion.

The Adventures of Michael Enright


I wonder what was going through the mind of this young Afghani boy as he was asked, no doubt, to pose with Michael Enright for this photo.  As it turns out he has every reason to be apprehensive after what happened to a New York cab driver at the hands of Enright’s rage. In reality, the photo above is just another trophy picture, like the others we’ve covered here on the pages of Miscellany101 of “conquerors” posing with their conquered, the dispossessed.

It’s also noteworthy that Enright had to go to a land thousands of miles from his own to nurture his racism, accompanied by an invading army from his country, which has been known for inflicting massive casualties on the civilian population of Afghanistan. Along with his assault on an unsuspecting cab driver, Enright no doubt struck terror in the minds of the little boy pictured above. Yet we are led to believe the threat of Islam on God fearing western populations is at hand?  Go figure.

Bush and Blair lied intentionally


So says Tariq Aziz in a moment of candor that we’ve all come to know is correct.  That lie led to the total destruction of Iraq and the United States and allowed for the propaganda against Islam and Muslims all over the world which has further plunged America into an abyss of poverty and weakness.

We’ve heard a lot of claims about recidivism of Guantanamo Bay detainees much of it hyped to keep Gitmo Bay open. One of the questions I’ve never seen asked is if the people placed in Gitmo Bay are the worst of the worst, why isn’t recidivism 100% instead of the more reliable 4% to the exaggerated 20%?  It would appear terrorists dedicated to their cause plucked from their homeland would relish the opportunity to return to battle.  This guy,Izatullah Nasrat Yar imprisoned at Gitmo for 5 years,  however has decided to take the battle to the enemy to a higher level. Let’s hope such attempts at change will go down better than the offense which originally put him in Gitmo Bay, which was another lie…..they just seem to follow the efforts of the US government around wherever it goes.

Systemic, American torture against Muslims


We declared a war on terrorism, and then allowed those in right wing land and the press to state that it was also a war against Muslims, since as the nonsensical logic goes, ‘all terrorists are Muslims’, even though to assuage their guilt the proponents went on to conclude equally ridiculously, ‘not all Muslims are terrorists’.  So this stinging editorial should come as no surprise.

According to Murat Kurnaz, a Turkish citizen raised in Germany and defamed as “the German Taliban,” torture at the several prisons in which he was held was frequent, commonplace, and committed by many guards.

In his book, Five Years of My Life: An Innocent Man in Guantanamo,” he writes that his beatings began in 2001 on the flight from Pakistan (where he was pulled off a public bus and sold by Pakistani police for $3,000) to his first imprisonment in Afghanistan. Kurnaz wrote:

“I couldn’t see how many soldiers there were, but to judge from the confusion of voices it must have been a lot. They went from one prisoner to the next, hitting us with their fists, their billy clubs, and the butts of their rifles.”

This was done to men who were manacled to the floor of the plane, Kurnaz said, adding:

“It was as cold as a refrigerator; I was sitting on bare metal and icy air was coming from a vent or a fan. I tried to go to sleep, but they kept hitting me and waking me. … They never tired of beating us, laughing all the while.”

On another occasion, Kurnaz counted seven guards who were beating a prisoner with the butts of their rifles and kicking him with their boots until he died. At one point, Kurnaz was hung by chains with his arms behind his back for five days.

“Today I know that a lot of inmates died from treatment like this,” he wrote.
When he was finally taken down and needed water, “they’d just pour the water over my head and laugh,” Kurnaz wrote. The guards even tortured a blind man who was older than 90 “the same way the rest of us were,” he wrote.

At Camp X-Ray, Guantanamo, Cuba, Kurnaz said, “During the day, we had to remain seated and at night we had to lie down. If you lay down during the day you were punished. … We weren’t allowed to talk. We weren’t to speak to or look at the guards. We weren’t allowed to draw in the sand or whistle or sing or smile. Every time I unknowingly broke a rule, or because they had just invented a new one … an IRF (Immediate Reaction Force) team would come and beat me.”

Once when he was weak from a hunger strike, Kurnaz wrote, “I was beaten on a stretcher.”

During his earlier imprisonment at Kandahar, Pakistan, Kurnaz writes, “There were weaker, older men in the pen. Men with broken feet, men whose legs and arms were fractured or had turned blue, red, or yellow from pus. There were prisoners with broken jaws, fingers and noses, and with terribly swollen faces like mine.”

Not only were the wounds of such men ignored by guards but complicit doctors would examine him and other prisoners and advise guards as to how much more they could stand before they died. On one occasion, he saw guards beating a prisoner with no legs.

Still worse, Kurnaz said doctors participated in the tortures. A dentist asked to pull out a prisoner’s rotten tooth pulled out all his healthy ones as well, he wrote, adding that another prisoner who went to the doctor to treat one finger with severe frostbite had all his other fingers amputated.

“I saw open wounds that weren’t treated. A lot of people had been beaten so often they had broken legs, arms and feet. The fractures, too, remained untreated,” Kurnaz wrote. “I never saw anyone in a cast.”

Prisoners were deliberately weakened by starvation diets, he said. Meals at Guantanamo consisted of “three spoonfuls of rice, a slice of dry bread, and a plastic spoon. That was it,” he wrote, adding that sometimes a loaf of bread was tossed over a fence into their compound.

Prisoners who should have been in hospital beds instead were confined to cells purposefully designed to increase their pain, Kurnaz wrote. He described his experience this way: “Those cells were like ovens. The sun beat down on the metal roof at noon and directly on the sides of the cage in the mornings and afternoons.

“All told, I think I spent roughly a year alone in absolute darkness, either in a cooler or an oven, with little food, and once I spent three months straight in solitary confinement.”

Prisoners could be put in solitary confinement for the tiniest infractions of the most ridiculous rules, such as not folding a blanket properly, Kurnaz said. “I was always being punished and humiliated, regardless of what I did,” he wrote., noting that once, he was put in solitary for 10 days for feeding breadcrumbs to an iguana that had crawled into his cage.

Besides regular beatings from the Immediate Reaction Force, which commonly entered cells with clubs swinging, Kurnaz received excruciating electroshocks to his feet and was waterboarded in a 20-inch diameter plastic bucket filled with water, he said.

He described the experience as follows:  “Someone grabbed me by the hair. The soldiers seized my arms and pushed my head underwater. … Drowning is a horrible way to die. They pulled my head back up [and asked], ‘Do you like it? You want more?’

“When my head was back underwater, I felt a blow to my stomach…. ‘Where is Osama?’ ‘Who are you?’ I tried to speak but I couldn’t. I swallowed some water. … It became harder and harder to breath, the more they hit me in the stomach and pushed my head underwater. I felt my heart racing.

“They didn’t let up. … I imagined myself screaming underwater. … I would have told them everything. But what was I supposed to tell them?”

It should be noted that U.S. and German authorities had decided as early as 2002 that Kurnaz was innocent, that he really was a student of the Koran in Pakistan when he had been seized by bounty hunters and sold to the Americans as a “terrorist.” Yet they continued his abuse for years.

On yet other occasions, Kurnaz, like so many other prisoners, was hung from chains backwards so that “it felt as though my shoulders were going to break,” he said, adding: “I was hoisted up until my feet no longer touched the ground. … After a while, the cuffs seemed like they were cutting my wrists down to the bone.

“My shoulders felt like someone was trying to pull my arms out of their sockets. … When they hung me up backwards, it felt as though my shoulders were going to break. … I was strung up for five days. … Three times a day soldiers came in and let me down (and) a doctor examined me and took my pulse. ‘Okay,’ he said. The soldiers hoisted me back up.

“I lost all feeling in my arms and hands. I still felt pain in other parts of my body, like in my chest around my heart.”

A short distance away Kurnaz said he could see another man hanging from chains, dead.

When Kurnaz was transferred within the Guantanamo prison system to “Camp 1,” he was put in a maximum security cage inside a giant container with metal walls, he wrote, adding:

“Although the cage was no smaller than the one in Camp X-Ray, the bunk reduced the amount of free space to around three-and-a-half feet by three-and-a-half feet. At the far end of the cage, an aluminum toilet and a sink took up even more room. How was I going to stand this? …

“I hardly saw the sun at all. They had perfected their prison. It felt like being sealed alive in a ship container.”

Although some U.S. politicians and right-wing radio talk show hosts ridiculed the harm of sleep deprivation against prisoners, this techniques was an insidious practice used earlier in Bolshevik Russia to torture enemies, a method known as “the conveyor belt.”

In 2002, Kurnaz wrote, when General Geoffrey Miller took over command of Guantanamo, “The interrogations got more brutal, more frequent, and longer.”

Miller commenced “Operation Sandman,” in which prisoners were moved to new cells every hour or two “to completely deprive us of sleep, and he achieved it,” Kurnaz said. “I had to stand and kneel twenty-four hours a day,” often in chains, and “I had barely arrived in a new cell and lay down on the bunk, before they came again to move me. …

“As soon as the guards saw me close my eyes … they’d kick at the door or punch me in the face.” In between transfers, “I was interrogated … I estimated the sessions lasted up to fifteen hours” during which the interrogator might disappear for hours at a time.

“I sat chained to my chair or kneeling on the floor, and as soon as my eyelids drooped, soldiers would wake me with a couple of blows. … Days and nights without sleep. Blows and new cages. Again, the stabbing sensation of thousands of needles throughout my entire body.

“I would have loved to step outside my body, but I couldn’t. … I went three weeks without sleep. … The soldiers came at night and made us stand for hours on end at gunpoint. At this point, I weighed less than 130 pounds.”

Finally, in August 2006, Kurnaz was released to Germany and testified by video-link in 2008 to the U.S. Congress. During his five years of confinement, he was never charged with a crime.

And so it happened that, during the presidency of George W. Bush, tens of thousands of innocent human beings, Kurnaz among them, were swept up in dragnet arrests by the invading American forces or their allies and imprisoned without legal recourse, the very opposite of what America’s Founders gifted to humanity in the Constitution.

Yet, pretty much the only people implicated in these human rights crimes to face any punishment were a handful of low-ranking guards at Iraq’s Abu Ghraib’s prison whose true crime — in the eyes of Official Washington — apparently was to allow photographs of their actions to reach the public.

After the photographs of sadism at Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison in May 2004, shocked the world, President George W. Bush called the revelations “a stain on our country’s honor and our country’s reputation.”

He told visiting King Abdullah of Jordan in the Oval Office that “I was sorry for the humiliation suffered by the Iraqi prisoners, and the humiliation suffered by their families.” Bush told the Washington Post, “I told him (Abdullah) I was equally sorry that people who have been seeing those pictures didn’t understand the true nature and heart of America.”

A year later, Private Lynddie England and 10 others from the 372nd Military Police Company were convicted of abusing Abu Ghraib prisoners. But the truth was that their actions followed in the footsteps of “war on terror” prison guards across the spectrum of Pentagon and CIA detention camps, often following direct orders from Bush’s White House.

Although President Bush made the Abu Ghraib revelations sound like an aberration that inflicted some un-American acts of “humiliation” on a small groups of detainees, the Abu Ghraib photos actually gave the world a glimpse into far greater crimes of every sordid type.

While a handful of guards like Ms. England — notorious for posing with naked Iraqi prisoners — were convicted and jailed, the many other hundreds or thousands of military guards, interrogators and doctors and dentists involved in widespread tortures have never been prosecuted for their crimes.

Alternate Universes


America is proposing another soldier/warrior to replace General Petraeus as CENTCOM commander.  General James Mattis takes delight in killing Muslims because they ‘slap around women for five years because they didn’t wear a veil’ and are less manly and as a result of his bravado he’s being promoted to lead the fight in two countries, Iraq and Afghanistan, that a) posed no threat to America, b) are essentially nation building clients of America, c) had/have no substantive military and d) are conflicts that degenerated into US forces fighting opponents made up of the very people we claimed to want to liberate.  This is the type of personality America wants to introduce to allies as the leader of America’s effort, one who likes shooting people, who believes it’s better to ‘kill them all and let God sort them out’ (good vs. bad).  Realizing just how obnoxious the general is for this job, check out the rehabilitation effort undertaken by main stream/corporate media on his behalf.  The allies whose help we need should be really comforted knowing the one we picked to help them rather prefers shooting them.

Contrast that to what happened earlier this week when a CNN reporter/producer expressed sorrow over the death of someone the above mentioned general likes to shoot/kill and she gets fired from her job.  Octavia Nasr’s expressions, made privately do not affect policy either of the US government or her employer, nor does she have the baggage of General Mattis of making inflammatory statements and she’s been dismissed quicker than you can see CNN because her sympathies were directed towards the wrong man, a man General Mattis would probably like if he likes people based on their attitude towards women. None of that matters, what matters is it is perfectly acceptable to denigrate Arabs/Muslims to the extent of inciting wholesale murder and slaughter, but it is not acceptable to extend them condolences or sympathy because they deserve none of that.  America used to be like that and it seems we still are; the more things change the more they remain the same.

The NYT’s advocacy for imperialism


The NYT is a regular target on the pages of Miscellany101 and it is an easy one.  Its reporters lie, make articles up, for which some are punished or disciplined and others not, or tow an administration’s line, if it serves the purpose of corporate and ethnic imperialism.

Allison Weir has outed the NYT’s story on the Gaza Flotilla inquiry that will supposedly be handled by the Israeli government.  The writer of the Times’ story is both an Israeli and one with suspected ties to the murderous IDF so you can only imagine the slant of that piece.  You can read Weir’s revelations about that story here. The Times has a habit of using Israelis to write pieces on Israel and they see nothing wrong with that.  I suggest therefore that they hire a Palestinian to write articles on Gaza and the Israeli blockade of that territory, but I’m sure that will never fly.

The second article more brazen than the first is the sophomoric grandstanding of the Times about the story of Afghanistan’s supposed wealth of natural resources.  We are pretty much on record for saying that the two wars fought by America in Iraq and Afghanistan are about regime change and control of the natural resources therein, so the Times’ announcement is not earth shattering as far as we are concerned, but the timing is what we find immensely dubious as do others as well.

The way in which the story was presented — with on-the-record quotations from the Commander in Chief of CENTCOM, no less — and the weird promotion of a Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense to Undersecretary of Defense suggest a broad and deliberate information operation designed to influence public opinion on the course of the war. Indeed, as every reader of Jared Diamond’s popular works of geographic determinism knows well, a country rich in mineral resources will tend toward stability over time, assuming it has a strong, central, and stable government.

Risen’s story notes that the minerals discovery comes at a propitious time. He focuses on lithium, a critical component of electronics. One official tells him that Afghanistan could become the “Saudi Arabia of lithium” — a comparison to oil. (I can see it now: “We must wean ourselves off our dependence on foreign lithium!”)

What better way to remind people about the country’s potential bright future — and by people I mean the Chinese, the Russians, the Pakistanis, and the Americans — than by publicizing or re-publicizing valid (but already public) information about the region’s potential wealth?

The Obama administration and the military know that a page-one, throat-clearing New York Times story will get instant worldwide attention. The story is accurate, but the news is not that new; let’s think a bit harder about the context.

This “news” about the riches of Afghanistan precedes another Times story which talks about the problems the Afghan mission is facing and how it might be somewhat difficult to meet the Obama administration’s deadline of withdrawal from that war ravaged country (What better way to insure circulation levels than to beat the drums for more war?) as if to prepare their readership for the bad news by re-cycling a story about the riches at the US’ disposal if we only stay the course.  Why anyone bothers to read the Times is unfathomable; my suggestion is you don’t!

American Hyperbole and Her Enemies


A lot has been made at Miscellany101 of the lies that were advanced by American government to justify occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan.  It turns out this was not a problem unique to the Bush administration, but rather is a problem of government and especially government that relies on an industrial military complex to sustain itself.  In order to continue to receive money necessary to feed this monstrosity lies are dished out to politicians and the general public alike which exaggerate the prowess of perceived enemies and the necessity of America to fight in lands far away in order to avoid fighting on the shores of America.

The methods employed have been at times very simple and transparent, at times shrouded in enough mystery to cause doubt and at other times  sophisticated enough to convince even the most die hard skeptic of the necessity of government intervention and a military response to a perceived threat to America’s national security.  At different times in recent American history different political groups have hijacked this penchant to latch onto the military desire for supremacy at the expense of the Nation’s soul.  The desire to topple Cuba’s Fidel Castro with the exaggerated threat of his tiny island country to the United States was seized upon by expatriates of that country to settle their scores with the petulant, nascent communist ruler and ruined an American presidency.  In the process it spurred Operations Northwood which called for the US government to engage in acts of terrorism in order to justify an invasion of Cuba.  Sound familiar?

The Vietnam war, a war that wasted the lives of over 58,000 Americans and countless others as well as the “Cold War” was worked over by groups that touted the fear of communism and the need to fight everywhere to stop its spread.  Getting the government to go along with a lie in order to promote one of the largest military buildups in recent history to fight an agrarian based society we had originally promised to support, the proponents of military occupation were able to get America to offer up the lives of her sons and daughters for a war that was based on a lie that was revealed only recently.

With regards to the Soviet Union and the  threat it posed, it now turns out the hype was all a lie, and the latest document released  underscores that point. In it the hypothesis is America and especially the Reagan administration did everything it could to play down Soviet Russia’s attempt at rapprochement instead inflating the Soviet threat and increasing the chances of war with a non-existent threat and a potential non-existent enemy.  At a time when Russians wanted peace and did everything in their power to prove that by inviting scientists and non governmental officials to come and inspect Soviet facilities,  the Reagan American administration was continuing the drum beats for war and rattling the sabers in an attempt to increase American military coffers  as well as possibly  goad the Soviets into war when fighting was the last thing the Russians wanted to do.

It shouldn’t take another 20-30 years for us to see the same methods were used to get America to invade Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria or any other Middle Eastern country, that of deception and intimidation, but unfortunately we’re already seeing the roots of it with regards to Iran, who since 2003 has sent overtures of peace and wanting to work with an American administration to solve diplomatic impasse only to have such efforts rebuffed by ‘the powers that be’.  This has become a common theme between America and her enemies, that whenever they have attempted to or sent signals of peace to an American administration that claims it wants peace, such overtures  are rejectedand or ignored and belligerence, war and destruction become the order of the day between the two sides.   At some point the American public has got to demand more and better from its representatives and stop offering up human sacrifices to a philosophy that promotes death and denigrates peace.