Khalid Sheikh Mohammed Waterboarded 183 times in One Month

TIMES ONLINE– CIA interrogators used the controverisal waterboarding technique 183 times on Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the mastermind behind the September 11, 2001, attacks and 83 times on another al-Qaeda suspect, according to The New York Times.

A 2005 Justice Department memorandum revealed that the simulated drowning technique was used on Mohammed 183 times in March 2003.

Abu Zubaydah, the first prisoner questioned in the CIA’s overseas detention programme in August 2002, was waterboarded 83 times, although a former CIA officer had told news organisations that he had been subjected to only 35 seconds under water before agreeing to tell everything he knew.

President Barack Obama has banned the use of waterboarding, overturning a Bush Administration policy that it did not constitute torture.

The memo is one of four authorising “harsh interrogation” that were declassified by the Obama Administration last week. They show that the CIA based more than 3,000 intelligence reports on the questioning of “high-value” terror suspects from September 11, 2001, to April 2003.

Continue reading about Khalid Sheikh Mohammed being Waterboarded 183 Times.

© TIMES ONLINE, 2009

“War on Terror” Changed to “Overseas Contingency Operations”

WASHINGTON POST– The Obama administration appears to be backing away from the phrase “global war on terror,” a signature rhetorical legacy of its predecessor.

In a memo e-mailed this week to Pentagon staff members, the Defense Department’s office of security review noted that “this administration prefers to avoid using the term ‘Long War’ or ‘Global War on Terror’ [GWOT.] Please use ‘Overseas Contingency Operation.’ ”

The memo said the direction came from the Office of Management and Budget, the executive-branch agency that reviews the public testimony of administration officials before it is delivered.

Not so, said Kenneth Baer, an OMB spokesman. “There was no memo, no guidance,” Baer said yesterday. “This is the opinion of a career civil servant.”

Coincidentally or not, senior administration officials had been publicly using the phrase “overseas contingency operations” in a war context for roughly a month before the e-mail was sent.

Peter Orszag, the OMB director, turned to it Feb. 26 when discussing Obama’s budget proposal at a news conference: “The budget shows the combined cost of operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and any other overseas contingency operations that may be necessary.”

And in congressional testimony last week, Craig W. Duehring, assistant secretary of the Air Force for manpower, said, “Key battlefield monetary incentives has allowed the Air Force to meet the demands of overseas contingency operations even as requirements continue to grow.”

Monday’s Pentagon e-mail was prompted by congressional testimony that Lt. Gen. John W. Bergman, head of the Marine Forces Reserve, intends to give today. The memo advised Pentagon personnel to “please pass this onto your speechwriters and try to catch this change before statements make it to OMB.”

Continue reading about Obama Changing the Name of the War on Terror.

Photo by flickr user LeaderNancyPelosi

 

Vice president Joe Biden explains why this war is no longer a global “War on Terror.”

 

© COPYRIGHT WASHINGTON POST, 2009

Peace for Israeilis and Palestinians? Not Without America’s Tough Love

CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR– More than 20 years ago, many Americans decided they could no longer watch as racial segregation divided South Africa. Compelled by an injustice thousands of miles away, they demanded that their communities, their colleges, their municipalities, and their government take a stand.

As Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

Today, a similar discussion is taking place on campuses across the United States. Increasingly, students are questioning the morality of the ties US institutions have with the unjust practices being carried out in Israel and in the occupied Palestinian territories. Students are seeing that these practices are often more than merely “unjust.” They are racist. Humiliating. Inhumane. Savage.

Sometimes it takes a good friend to tell you when enough is enough. As they did with South Africa two decades ago, concerned citizens across the US can make a difference by encouraging Washington to get the message to Israel that this cannot continue.

A legitimate question is, Why should I care? Americans are heavily involved in the conflict: from funding (the US provides Israel with roughly $3 billion annually in military aid) to corporate investments (Microsoft has one of its major facilities in Israel) to diplomatic support (the US has vetoed 32 United Nations Security Council resolutions unsavory to Israel between 1982 and 2006).

Why do I care? I am an Israeli. Both my parents were born in Israel. Both my grandmothers were born in Palestine (when there was no “Israel” yet). In fact, I am a ninth-generation native of Palestine. My ancestors were among the founders of today’s modern Jerusalem.

Both my grandfathers fled the Nazis and came to Palestine. Both were subsequently injured in the 1948 Arab-Israli War. My mother’s only brother was a paratrooper killed in combat in 1968. All of my relatives served in the Israeli military for extensive periods of time, some of them in units most people don’t even know exist.

In Israel, military service for both men and women is compulsory. When my time to serve came, I refused, because I realized I was obliged to do something about these acts of segregation. I was denied conscientious objector status, like the majority of 18-year-old males who seek this status. Because I refused to serve, I spent a year and a half in military prison.

Some of the acts of segregation that I saw while growing up in Israel include towns for Jews only, immigration laws that allow Jews from around the world to immigrate but deny displaced indigenous Palestinians that same right, and national healthcare and school systems that receive significantly more funding in Jewish towns than in Arab towns.

As former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said in 2008: “We have not yet overcome the barrier of discrimination, which is a deliberate discrimination and the gap is insufferable…. Governments have denied [Arab Israelis] their rights to improve their quality of life.”

The situation in the occupied territories is even worse. Nearly 4 million Palestinians have been living under Israeli occupation for over 40 years without the most basic human and civil rights. One example is segregation on roads in the West Bank, where settlers travel on roads that are for Jews only, while Palestinians are stopped at checkpoints, and a 10-mile commute might take seven hours.

Continue reading about America’s Tough Love.

Jonathan Ben-Artzi was one of the spokespeople for the Hadash party in the Israeli general elections in 2006. His parents are professors in Israel, and his extended family includes uncle Benjamin Netanyahu. Mr. Ben-Artzi is a PhD student at Brown University in Providence, R.I.

Photo by Ray Maclean Flickr User

© CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR, 2010

It’s Obama’s War Now

COUNTERPUNCH– There are now at present some 68,000 U.S. troops and 42,000 allied forces occupying Afghanistan, in league with the Northern Alliance warlords and the corrupt and feeble Karzai regime in Kabul. President Obama clearly wishes to increase the figure and will announce before an audience of West Point cadets Tuesday that he will add over 30,000 more while pushing the Europeans to add 10,000. This will bring the total number of occupation forces to around the level of the Soviet deployment at its peak in the 1980s.

The Soviets were trying to protect the secular government in Afghanistan and to discourage Islamic fundamentalism, a potential threat to the neighboring Soviet Central Asian republics such as Uzbekistan. What is Obama trying to do?

Because make no mistake about it, this is Barack Obama’s war now. With this announcement he will have personally increased the force in Afghanistan by over 50,000 troops in response to appeals from his generals.

Obama’s mantra about the conflict in Afghanistan is that it is a “war of necessity.” But this is really just a version of the neocon “War on Terror” trope, which is to say that it implies that it is the natural, reasonable retaliatory response to the 9-11 attacks. (They started it, after all, so we have to take the war to them.)

But neocon strategy has always required the simplistic conflation of disparate phenomena, and the exploitation of public ignorance and fear, in the execution of policy. Who are they, after all? The invasion of Iraq required the Big Lie that Saddam Hussein had something to do with 9-11. The earlier invasion of Afghanistan required the clever sleight-of-hand by which the mainly Saudi Arab but international al-Qaeda was equated with the purely Afghan Taliban. “We don’t distinguish between terrorists and the governments that support them,” Bush declared.

This was almost a boast that the U.S. would be boldly ignorant as a matter of public policy, and a warning to the empirical rationalists of the world that the White House was in the grip of truly simplistic minds and would indeed shamelessly exploit popular Islamophobia as they pleased even as they made elaborate public gestures in support of religious tolerance. (The calculated message was:  Be scared, world, because we’ve got cowboys in power, and hell, we can get kinda crazy when we’re pissed!)

The fact is, there was and is a difference between al-Qaeda, an international jihadist organization that wants to reestablish a global Caliphate and confront the U.S., and the Taliban, which wanted to stabilize Afghanistan under a harsh interpretation of the Sharia but maintain a working relationship with the U.S.  And now, eight years after being toppled, the Taliban are back with a vengeance, demonstrating that they have a real social base. Moreover a Pakistani Taliban has emerged across the border as a direct consequence of the U.S. invasion.

Any number of intelligence reports have pointed out the obvious: more troops just breed more “insurgency.”

Obama’s national security advisor, Gen. James Jones, has stated clearly, “The Al Qaeda presence [in Afghanistan] is very diminished. The maximum estimate is less than 100 operating in the country, no bases, no ability to launch attacks on either us or our allies.” If there had been a “necessity” to destroy al-Qaeda in Afghanistan that matter has been taken care of. What does Obama think necessary to achieve now?

I imagine he will argue that the Taliban must not be allowed to return to power. But doesn’t that mean implicitly acknowledging that they have genuine roots in Afghan, particularly Pashtun society? The best military estimates put the number of Taliban militants at no more than 25,000, with fully-armed fighters around 3,000. There are about 100,000 soldiers in the Afghan National Army (ANA) in addition to all the foreign occupying troops. ANA forces are often described as of “poor quality,” meaning they are illiterate, and mainly attracted by the money. But the Talibs are also generally illiterate and many of them fight largely for the pay as well. Why is it whole provinces like Nuristan have come under Taliban control despite all the counterinsurgency manpower?

Why in attempting to “secure” Helmand province in an anti-Taliban offensive over the summer did the U.S. forces discover that their ANA allies included almost no Pashtuns but were disproportionately Tajiks? Why were U.S. forces unable to dislodge the Taliban from Marjeh, a city of about 50,000 people and hub of the opium trade?

The problem isn’t too few forces. Were that the case the increasing number of forces over the last several years would have produced a better, not worse, security situation. The problem is the premise that imperialists can re-colonize a country under the pretense of counter-terrorism, counter-insurgency or liberation in the face of mass resistance.

Continue reading about Obama’s War.

Gary Leupp is Professor of History at Tufts University, and Adjunct Professor of Religion. He is the author of Servants, Shophands and Laborers in in the Cities of Tokugawa Japan; Male Colors: The Construction of Homosexuality in Tokugawa Japan; and Interracial Intimacy in Japan: Western Men and Japanese Women, 1543-1900. He is also a contributor to CounterPunch’s merciless chronicle of the wars on Iraq, Afghanistan and Yugoslavia, Imperial Crusades. He can be reached at: [email protected]

© COPYRIGHT COUNTERPUNCH, 2009

Totally Occupied: 700 Military Bases Sprawl Across Afghanistan

ALTERNET– In the nineteenth century, it was a fort used by British forces. In the twentieth century, Soviet troops moved into the crumbling facilities.  In December 2009, at this site in the Shinwar district of Afghanistan’s Nangarhar Province, U.S. troops joined members of the Afghan National Army in preparing the way for the next round of foreign occupation.  On its grounds, a new military base is expected to rise, one of hundreds of camps and outposts scattered across the country.

Nearly a decade after the Bush administration launched its invasion of Afghanistan, TomDispatch offers the first actual count of American, NATO, and other coalition bases there, as well as facilities used by the Afghan security forces.  Such bases range from relatively small sites like Shinwar to mega-bases that resemble small American towns.  Today, according to official sources, approximately 700 bases of every size dot the Afghan countryside, and more, like the one in Shinwar, are under construction or soon will be as part of a base-building boom that began last year.

Existing in the shadows, rarely reported on and little talked about, this base-building program is nonetheless staggering in size and scope, and heavily dependent on supplies imported from abroad, which means that it is also extraordinarily expensive.  It has added significantly to the already long secret list of Pentagon property overseas and raises questions about just how long, after the planned beginning of a drawdown of American forces in 2011, the U.S. will still be garrisoning Afghanistan.

400 Foreign Bases in Afghanistan

Colonel Wayne Shanks, a spokesman for the U.S.-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), tells TomDispatch that there are, at present, nearly 400 U.S. and coalition bases in Afghanistan, including camps, forward operating bases, and combat outposts.  In addition, there are at least 300 Afghan National Army (ANA) and Afghan National Police (ANP) bases, most of them built, maintained, or supported by the U.S.  A small number of the coalition sites are mega-bases like Kandahar Airfield, which boasts one of the busiest runways in the world, and Bagram Air Base, a former Soviet facility that received a makeover, complete with Burger King and Popeyes outlets, and now serves more than 20,000 U.S. troops, in addition to thousands of coalition forces and civilian contractors.

Continue reading about the Sprawl of US Military Bases in Afghanistan.

© ALTERNET, 2010

Photo by flickr user US Army

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Reply
Page 64 of 65<<...6162636465