Daily Mail: rumours swell that the government staged 7/7

Daily Mail: rumours swell that the government staged 7/7

Video made for the mock training exercise?

On 4 July 2009, the UK’s Daily Mail newspaper has this headline:

Conspiracy fever: As rumours swell that the government staged 7/7, victims’ relatives call for a proper inquiry

The Mail asks: which train did the four Muslims catch from Luton to London on the morning of the bomb blasts?

The three separate Tube explosions at Edgware Road, Aldgate and King’s Cross occurred together at exactly 8.50am.

The official reports said the bombers got on the 7.40am train from Luton.

However, the 7.40am train never ran that morning.

It was cancelled.

Survivors pointed out the error.

The Government then changed its mind and said the bombers caught the 7.25 am from Luton, for the 35-minute journey to King’s Cross.

It was due to arrive in the capital at 8am.

However, this train ran 23 minutes late.

It arrived in London at 8.23am, say station officials.

The three separate Tube explosions at Edgware Road, Aldgate and King’s Cross occurred together at exactly 8.50am.

It looks as if it would be impossible for the ‘bombers’ to get to their different destinations in time.

Reportedly, it takes seven minutes to walk from the Thameslink line station to the tube station at the main King’s Cross station.

Police say the four men were seen on the main King’s Cross concourse at 8.26am, although no CCTV footage has ever been made public.

How had the men got there in three short minutes after getting off the Luton train at 8.23am?

Controversially, no CCTV images have been released of the alleged bombers actually in London.

There is a picture claiming to show the ‘bombers’ in Luton. In this Luton image “the quality is poor and the faces of three of the bombers are unidentifiable.”

This photo is timed at four seconds before 7.22am.

The men would have had just three minutes to walk up the stairs at Luton, buy their £22 day return tickets and get to the platform, which was packed with commuters because of the earlier travel disruptions.

A video called Ripple Effect accuses Tony Blair, and elements of the Government, the police, and the British and Israeli Secret Services of carrying out the London Tube bombings.

It is alleged that the four British Muslims were tricked into taking part in what they were told would be a mock anti-terror training exercise.

The Ripple Effect video claims government agents set off pre-planted explosives under the three Tube trains and on the bus.

It suggests that the four Muslims were not on any of the Tube trains.
Dr Mohammad Naseem, the chairman of Birmingham’s Central Mosque, says: ‘We do not accept the government version of July 7, 2005. The Ripple Effect video is more convincing than the official statements.’

Naseem has said that the identities of the bombers were discovered by the police suspiciously quickly.

‘When a body is blown up, it is destroyed. How is it that the identification papers found at the bomb scenes of these men were still intact? Were they planted?’
The Daily mail asks:
Why did the four bombers get return tickets to London if they were on a one-way suicide mission?
Why are there no CCTV images of the four together in London even though the city has thousands upon thousands of such cameras in public places?
Why did so many survivors of the Tube bombings say that the explosions came upwards through the floor of the trains, not down, as would be the case if a backpack blew up inside?
And why do no passengers on the London-bound Luton train clearly remember the four bombers with their huge rucksacks on that fateful morning?
There was a mock terrorist exercise going on in London that day.
Former Scotland Yard officer Peter Power said on BBC radio: ‘At half-past nine this morning we were running an exercise for a company of over a thousand people in London based on simultaneous bombs going off precisely at the railway stations where it happened this morning, so I still have the hairs on the back of my neck standing up.’

India operating 40 secret ‘Gitmos’: report

India operating 40 secret ‘Gitmos’: report

* Ex-IB joint director blames ‘harsh interrogation techniques’ in illegal detention centres for fanning militancy in Indian Punjab, IHK

By Iftikhar Gilani

NEW DELHI: The United States may have been forced to close the Guantanamo Bay detention centre but India runs 40 such “illegal” secret chambers across the country, one of India’s leading magazine revealed in its forthcoming issue.

An early copy of The Week obtained by Daily Times reveals the horror of the torture chambers, where suspects were subjected to extreme interrogation techniques for years. “I could never again dream of doing the things I did when I was in charge,” said Maloy Krishna Dhar, former joint director of the Intelligence Bureau (IB), while admitting to the existence of such centres. Top police officers also told the journal that these chambers were their “assets”. “They are our own little Guantanamos,” they said.

Quoting KS Subramanian, former director general of police, who has also served in the IB, it said these sites existed and were being used to detain and interrogate suspected terrorists and have been operating for a long time. Dhar admitted that these centres fanned militancy in Indian Punjab and IHK. The magazine’s investigating team has identified 15 such centres – three each in Mumbai, New Delhi, Gujarat and Indian-held Kashmir (IHK), two in Kolkata and one in Assam. But officials claim the number could be around 40.

Torture: An officer who had worked in one of the detention centres admitted extreme physical and mental torture, based loosely on the Guantanamo model, was used to extract information from detainees. It included an assault on the senses and sleep deprivation, keeping the prisoners naked, and forcibly administering drugs through the rectum. “In extreme cases we use pethidine injections. It makes a person crazy.” The Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) questioned Saeed Khan (name changed), one of the accused in the Malegaon blasts of September 2006, held at the Aarey Colony facility in Goregaon, the biggest of the three detention centres in Mumbai. He was served food at irregular intervals (leading to temporary disorientation) and was denied sleep.

Parvez Ahmed Radoo, 30, of Baramulla district in IHK, a student at Pune University, was illegally detained in New Delhi for over a month for allegedly plotting mass murder in the capital on behalf of the Jaish-e-Muhammad. Radoo wrote an open letter from the Tihar jail, where he is currently held, saying he was arrested from the airport on September 12 and kept in custody for a month. Apparently, he was first taken to the Lodhi Colony police station and then to an apartment in the Dwarka locality in southwest New Delhi where electrodes were attached to his genitals. Dhar says such detention and torture centres were an inevitable part of the war on terrorism. Security agencies needed such facilities. Molvi Iqbal from Uttar Pradesh, a suspected member of the Harkatul Jihad-e-Islami, currently lodged in Tihar, was held at a secret detention centre for two months, according to his relatives. They alleged that a chip was implanted in his body to track his movements. “He fears that the chip is still inside his skin,” said one of his relatives. “That has shattered him.”

The most recent victim of torture was Manzoor Ahmed Baig, 40, who was picked up by the Special Operations Group from the Alucha Bagh area in Srinagar on May 18. His family alleged that he was chained, hung upside down and ruthlessly beaten up. He died that night. Following public outrage, the officer in charge of the camp was dismissed from service in June. Subramanian says agencies such as the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) and the IB, and not the Home Ministry, directly handled such operations. He, however, called for increased public awareness about such activities and believed it could help check such illegalities.

Hekmatyar terms Afghan elections ‘comedy drama’

Hekmatyar terms Afghan elections ‘comedy drama’

PESHAWAR: Hezb-i-Islami chief Gulbaddin Hekmatyar has termed the upcoming Afghan elections a “comedy drama” staged by the invaders.

“Elections amid full-fledged war and presence of invaders are nothing but a comedy drama. No mature and sensitive person will believe in such elections and we ask the people and candidates not to waste time in this useless game,” the former Afghan prime minister told the Afghan Islamic Press (AIP) in an interview.

The Hezb-i-Islami chief, however, said they would not disrupt the so-called elections. “We will not waste our time on none issues. The real thing is to oust the invaders from the country,” he said.

Ruling out talks with the Afghan government, Hekmatyar said: “The Kabul administration is powerless and there is no justification to talk to it. Innocent people are being killed in indiscriminate bombing by foreign forces and the Karzai government has failed to check the same.”

To a question, the Hezb-i-Islami chief said his party members were active across Afghanistan. “We are carrying out cultural and motivational activities in many areas. Attacks are being carried out only in areas where occupation forces are based,” he said.

Hekmatyar said his party would continue jihad until the last American soldier left Afghanistan. About deployment of Islamic forces in Afghanistan, he said: “If other groups consider the presence of these forces necessary, then we can agree to a limited number of forces of Islamic countries but they must not be from neighbouring countries. They must not support any group, should be deployed outside the cities and must be under the control of the government.”

About relations with al-Qaeda and Taliban, he said that they had no links or agreement with Taliban and al-Qaeda. The cooperation, coordination and joint struggle, however, existed between the mujahideen of both the groups on local level and in some areas, he added.

Hekmatyar said that he was confident that the resistance movement would succeed and the invading forces would be compelled to leave the country. About the suicide attacks, he said that they considered such attacks on the enemy as useful. Such attacks, however, must not be carried out on militia posts and national army. “Suicide bombers are a great asset to the resistance and they should not be wasted in useless operations.”

The former Afghan prime minister lambasted Iran and Pakistan for supporting the US invasion of Afghanistan. He said that President Obama had been repeating the failed experience of Bush. “US wants to repeat Iraq’s experience in Afghanistan.

“They strengthened a minority group there. They also want to unite Shiites and give them a big role in the government. The imperialists always impose minorities on the people they conquer,” he said.

Is Rehman Malik a Liar, or Just Ignorant?

[We hate your Predators.  May we have some please, kind sir?]

Progress made on UAV tech transfer to Pakistan: Malik

Saturday, July 04, 2009
ISLAMABAD: Interior Minister Rehman Malik has claimed that important progress has been made on American provision of Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) technology to Pakistan.

Talking to the media after his meeting with the US homeland security adviser here on Friday, the interior minister stated the issue of drone attacks inside the Pakistani territory was openly discussed. He also said Pakistan had sought American assistance to rehabilitate the IDPs in their native areas.

The interior minister also voiced his concern regarding the drone attacks inside the Pakistani territory to the visiting dignitary and urged the American leadership to cease the drone attacks immediately.

APP adds: Meanwhile, talking to the media here at a hospital after after visiting the injured of the suicide blast, Rehman Malik said the Waziristan operation was against TTP chief Baitullah Mehsud and his accomplices.

Malik said the operation was against the militants and it would continue till the complete elimination of terrorist elements. To a question, he said the government was neither involved in signing an agreement with any militant group in the past nor it had the intention to do so in the future. [Is Malik a liar, or just ignorant?] He said that both the Federation and the province would share information regarding terrorists.

[Remember this, Rehman Malik?]

Nek Mohammed in front of a microphone during the signing of the peace accord on April 24, 2004. Nek Mohammed in front of a microphone during the signing of the peace accord on April 24, 2004. [Source: Tariq Mahmood / Agence France-Presse / Getty Images]




[How about this?]

On September 5, 2006, the Waziristan Accord

[Or this?]

April 25, 2008




Pak-Afghan border needs a fence like US-Mexico: Gilani

[Pakistan has been trying to fence and mine the Durand Line Since early in the terror war, the US keeps stopping it.

SEE: Army to identify areas for fencing on Afghan border]

Pak-Afghan border needs a fence like US-Mexico: Gilani

Wants Cobra helicopters from US

By our correspondent

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani on Friday sought the support of the United States to work out a permanent solution for uncontrolled, illegal crossings, particularly of militants and terrorists, and drug trafficking across the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.

Gilani was talking to US Secretary for Homeland Security Janet Napilitano, who called on him here at the PM House on Friday. Referring to Janet’s initiative, as governor of Arizona, of erecting a wall between the US and Mexico border, the prime minister said a similar pattern of fencing between Pakistan and Afghanistan could be implemented to stop infiltration and drug trafficking.

He also called for immediate provision of military hardware, including Cobra helicopters, technology transfer as well as financial assistance to build the capacity of Pakistan’s law-enforcement agencies and their personnel to prepare them for controlling the affected areas after the military operation comes to a successful conclusion in the Malakand Division and Waziristan agencies.

The prime minister underlined the fact that international support to Pakistan for the displaced persons of the Malakand Division had so far been inadequate. He urged the US and international donors to deliver on their pledges made in the Friends of Democratic Pakistan meeting in Tokyo.

The prime minister asked the US secretary for homeland security to facilitate PIA’s direct flights operations to the US destinations. Ms Janet said the issue of PIA’s direct flights to the US would be resolved after due consideration in the near future. She also promised that the US would expedite disbursement of the pledged amount for the IDPs and the financial assistance committed in Tokyo to meet Pakistan’s immediate needs.

Bangladesh struggles to tame violent militants

[SEE: UK charity head held over Bangladesh “bomb factory”]

Bangladesh struggles to tame violent militants

By Anis Ahmed

DHAKA (Reuters) – Violent militants in Afghanistan and Pakistan get more attention, but militant groups also challenge South Asia’s other Muslim nation, Bangladesh, worrying neighbours and countries with Bangladeshi workers or immigrants.

Militants in the low-lying nation of some 150 million people threaten its young democratic government’s efforts to achieve stability, and raise fears the groups will connect with and strengthen extremist international networks.

The violent Islamists’ presence also discourages much needed aid and investment.

Nearby India has expressed its concern, and last weekend Britain’s security minister Lord West visited Dhaka to strengthen bilateral efforts on the issue.

“The governments must cooperate with each other against terrorism as the terrorists of different countries are gaining strength through mutual assistance,” he told reporters.

Harkatul Jihad Islami (HUJI) Bangladesh, one of more than a dozen outlawed Islamist groups seeking to turn Bangladesh into a sharia-based Islamic state, was blamed for attempting to kill then British High Commissioner Anwar Choudhury in May 2005.

Police also linked Huji to a 2004 attempt to kill Sheikh Hasina, then the opposition leader. She narrowly escaped but 23 others died when grenades exploded at a rally she was addressing.

Authorities say another group, Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB), was behind deadly bombings in late 2005. Victims included judges, lawyers, police and others.

After what was criticised as initial neglect of the issue, the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) government arrested six JMB leaders in 2006. They were executed in March 2007 by an army-backed interim authority that had taken over power.

During interrogation the six said they were trained outside the country and fought alongside Islamic forces in Afghanistan, Iraq and in the Palestinian territories.

MILITANTS REGROUPING

Attacks declined after the executions but did not stop, and officials and analysts say the militants are regrouping.

“There is no denying that the militants are a big threat to Bangladesh,” said Abul Barakat, economics professor at Dhaka University and a political analyst, who has studied the movement.

He told Reuters that Islamists had expanded under patronage of the country’s biggest religion-based party, Jamaat-e-Islami (Jamaat), which has developed a banking and business network, and through funds received from Islamic countries like Saudi Arabia.

As happened in countries like Pakistan, some in Bangladesh’s establishment thought they could use militant groups to their advantage, only to have them later turn against the government.

For example, the 2001-2006 coalition government of the BNP and Jamaat was accused of using a JMB faction to confront the Sarbahara, a troublemaking group in the northwest.

Jamaat and the BNP deny aiding violent militants. BNP senior leader Nazrul islam Khan says such militancy “is not just a problem of Bangladesh, it exists worldwide”.

Suranjit Sengupta, a top lawyer and Awami League leader, says the Islamists are a growing threat to democracy and development.

“They thrived in Bangladesh during the BNP-Jamaat rule. Now the time has come to track them down and root them out forever,” he told Reuters.

A government led by Hasina and the Awami League took office in January and vowed to get tough with the militants. Security forces have since raided alleged militant hideouts, seizing arms and bombmaking material and arresting dozens.

“We are pledge-bound to the nation to make sure that none of them escape justice,” said state minister for law Oamrul Islam.

CHANGED TACTICS

Intelligence officials say the Islamists lately have changed tactics, as did a JMB operative who talked to a Reuters contact in the northwest on condition of anonymity.

“Now we are recruiting a large number of women and giving them training in use of weapons, carrying explosives, hitting targets and spreading our message that no rule or laws except those of Allah will exist or be tolerated,” the operative said.

He said male and female members were encouraged to marry one another “to integrate them more to our work and prevent information leaks”.

Militants are now better equipped, getting explosives and weapons regularly from outside the country, the operative said without detailing the nations involved.

The group wants to refine its attacks, he added, making less use of grenades and bombs which kill indiscriminately and more of guns aimed at specific targets. “That would save lives of the people who are not our enemies,” he said.

Whether security force efforts will be enough to crush the militants remains to be seen.

Bangladesh has social issues that can make people receptive to anti-government messages and promises of an Islamic utopia. For example, nearly half the population is illiterate and a similar number live in poverty.

Bangladesh politics have meanwhile been characterised by weak civilian governments, with out-of-power parties all too ready to take to the streets, and the military stepping in to bring order at the price of clamping down on civil liberties.

“Both confrontational politics and socio-economic conditions are responsible for the rise and spread of militancy,” said Asif Nazrul, professor of law at Dhaka University.

In a chicken and egg relationship, the other issues distract authorities from effectively tackling militancy, while militant violence is one reason Bangladesh has trouble getting investment and aid to help mitigate poverty and dry up militant support.

(Additional reporting by Hasibur Rahman Bilu in northern Bangladesh and Azad Majumder in Dhaka)

Ingush president regains consciousness after attack

Ingush president regains consciousness after attack

Ingush President Yunus-Bek Yevkurov

MOSCOW, July 3 (RIA Novosti) – Ingush President Yunus-Bek Yevkurov, who was badly injured in a roadside bomb on June 22, has regained consciousness, a spokesman for Ingushetia’s representative in Moscow said on Friday.

“The Ingush president is conscious. He is making progress, and doctors say his health could improve substantially within a month,” Adam Gazdiyev said.

Yevkurov received serious head and internal injuries when his motorcade was hit by a car packed with explosives driven by a suicide bomber. He was airlifted to Moscow after undergoing surgery in Ingushetia.

A bodyguard died in the attack near the city of Nazran, the main city in the tiny republic in Russia’s North Caucasus.

Yevkurov’s cousin Ramzan Yevkurov, who was driving the president’s vehicle and was injured in the explosion, died in a hospital in Ingushetia on Saturday night.

Ingush Prime Minister Rashid Gaisanov, who has been appointed the republic’s acting president by a Russian presidential decree, pledged to proceed with programs and projects launched by Yevkurov.

“All the programs and projects led by President Yevkurov and launched by him, will be continued,” Gaisanov said.

The acting president described the situation in the republic as “stable and under control.”

Nine Chechen police killed in Russian Caucasus

Nine Chechen police killed in Russian Caucasus

1 hour ago

MOSCOW (AFP) — Nine Chechen police were killed when militants fired on their car from a forest in the neighbouring Russian region of Ingushetia, one of the deadliest recent attacks in the volatile Caucasus.

Their vehicle came under grenade and gun fire from unknown individuals hidden in a forest as it travelled on a road in Ingushetia at around 0530 GMT and burst into flames, Russian news agencies said, quoting security officials.

“As a result of the attack, nine police from Chechnya were killed and nine more were badly wounded,” the head of Ingushetia’s security council Alexei Vorobyev told the Interfax news agency.

The Chechen police were in Ingushetia to conduct a joint special operation against militants with their Ingush colleagues, the reports said.

Concerns have grown in the last weeks about the stability of Ingushetia, one of Russia’s most violent regions, after its leader Yunus-Bek Yevkurov was gravely wounded in a car bombing on June 22.

The fact that Chechen police were the victims is especially significant as Chechnya’s controversial leader Ramzan Kadyrov has in recent weeks positioned himself as the strongman of the entire Caucasus region.

The attack is the deadliest single militant strike in the Caucasus since April when Russia abolished a decade-long anti-terror operation in Chechnya which was the scene of two separatist wars since the collapse of communism.

Russia justified that move by saying stability had returned to Chechnya under Kadyrov. But analysts warned at the time that other regions of the Caucasus were still mired in unrest.

Islamist militants are battling pro-Kremlin authorities and Russian security forces in a low-level insurgency in the overwhelmingly Muslim regions of Chechnya, Dagestan and Ingushetia.

Officials said Friday Yevkurov has regained consciousness after almost two weeks in a coma but the Kremlin has appointed the local prime minister Rashid Gaisanov to act as Ingush leader until he recovers.

Taliban Slip Away From Afghanistan Surge Battle

Taliban Slip Away From Afghanistan Surge Battle

By YOCHI J. DREAZEN

WASHINGTON— The U.S. embarked on a large offensive in southern Afghanistan Thursday in which one Marine was killed, while in the east the military mobilized to recover a soldier apparently captured by the Taliban.

U.S. Marine Captain Eric Meador of the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade gives his Marines a pep talk before loading up on helicopters during the start of Operation Khanjari Thursday.

Getty Images

U.S. Marine Captain Eric Meador of the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade gives his Marines a pep talk before loading up on helicopters during the start of Operation Khanjari Thursday.

The offensive was led by 4,000 Marines who were sent to Afghanistan as part of the new U.S. troop surge. The move is seen as an early test of the Obama administration’s efforts to restructure the foundering U.S.-led war effort.

The Marines faced little Taliban resistance as they began moving into villages in the Helmand River valley, a Taliban stronghold that is one of the world’s largest opium-producing regions.

Marine commanders said Taliban fighters seemed to have melted into the surrounding countryside rather than staying to fight the large U.S. force.

“There’s been sporadic fighting, but it’s been

light,” Capt. Bill Pelletier, a Marine spokesman, said in an interview from southern Afghanistan. “Our focus isn’t on going in and killing Taliban; it’s on driving those folks out of the area and keeping them from coming back.”

The dead Marine was killed in combat; about a dozen other troops suffered minor injuries. Marine commanders said they had no confirmed reports of Afghan civilian casualties. U.S. commanders have issued new directives to avoid civilian deaths in Afghanistan, a new priority in the war effort there.

In recent months, the administration has ousted the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, appointed a new team of generals with deep experience in counterinsurgency, and signed off on the deployments of at least 21,000 American reinforcements.

In the offensive in the south, known as Operation Khanjar, or “Strike of the Sword,” Marine commanders say their forces are working to push Taliban fighters out of individual villages, build new bases there, and then begin small-scale reconstruction projects designed to win local support. They said the effort will continue indefinitely.

The kidnapping in eastern Afghanistan, however, was dominating the attention of commanders in Afghanistan and officers at the Pentagon Thursday. For many military personnel, the abduction stirred memories of an incident in Iraq in 2006, when two young soldiers were captured by Islamic militants south of Baghdad and tortured to death. The militants released a videotape showing the mutilated corpses, which were found in a ditch, booby-trapped with explosives.

In an effort to avoid a reprise in Afghanistan, military commanders launched a major push to recover the missing soldier, whose identity hasn’t been released. A defense official said elite Special Operations forces are leading the search.

The incident, which occurred after the soldier left his base Tuesday, appeared to be the first such abduction in Afghanistan. Military officials began an internal investigation into whether the soldier had been forced off the base by Afghan security personnel assigned to the outpost and how he managed to leave without being spotted by soldiers assigned to guard the base’s entrances and exits, according to a defense official familiar with the matter.

A Taliban commander told the Reuters news agency the soldier had been taken as a patrol left its base in the eastern province of Paktika. U.S. officials said they couldn’t verify the Taliban account.

Military officials have released few details about the incident, arguing that doing so would compromise the efforts to recover the soldier. “There’s a significant effort to find him and bring him back safely, but that’s all I can say at this point,” said Col. Gregory Julian, a U.S. military spokesman in Kabul.

Meanwhile, the British defense ministry reported Thursday that Lt. Col. Rupert Thorneloe, one of the most senior British Army officers in Afghanistan, was killed Wednesday in Helmand province when a bomb exploded under his armored vehicle. Another soldier, Trooper Joshua Hammond, was also killed.

Col. Thorneloe was the highest-ranking British soldier to be killed in Afghanistan since Britain joined the U.S.-led invasion in 2001; only about three British officers of his rank are typically deployed in Afghanistan at any one time, a defense ministry spokesman said, Reuters reported.

The British army has been engaged in a parallel offensive to U.S. Operation Khanjar in southern Afghanistan.

Write to Yochi J. Dreazen at yochi.dreazen@wsj.com

U.S. Faces Resentment in Afghan Region

U.S. Faces Resentment in Afghan Region

Joe Raedle/Getty Images

A Marine took up a combat position Thursday in southern Afghanistan during Operation Khanjar, an American-led offensive.

Baris Atayman/Reuters


A village elder greeted American troops on Thursday in Helmand Province, where the Taliban’s influence is pervasive.

Published: July 2, 2009

LASHKAR GAH, Afghanistan — The mood of the Afghan people has tipped into a popular revolt in some parts of southern Afghanistan, presenting incoming American forces with an even harder job than expected in reversing military losses to the Taliban and winning over the population.

Villagers in some districts have taken up arms against foreign troops to protect their homes or in anger after losing relatives in airstrikes, several community representatives  interviewed said. Others have been moved to join the insurgents out of poverty or simply because the Taliban’s influence is so pervasive here.

On Thursday morning, 4,000 American Marines began a major offensive to try to take back the region from the strongest Taliban insurgency in the country. The Marines are part of a larger deployment of additional troops being ordered by the new American commander in Afghanistan, Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, to concentrate not just on killing Taliban fighters but on protecting the population.

Yet Taliban control of the countryside is so extensive in provinces like Kandahar and Helmand that winning districts back will involve tough fighting and may ignite further tensions, residents and local officials warn. The government has no presence in 5 of Helmand’s 13 districts, and in several others, like Nawa, it holds only the district town, where troops and officials live virtually under siege.

The Taliban’s influence is so strong in rural areas that much of the local population has accepted their rule and is  watching the United States troop buildup with trepidation. Villagers interviewed in late June said that they preferred to be left alone under Taliban rule and complained about artillery fire and airstrikes by foreign forces.“We Muslims don’t like them — they are the source of danger,” said a local villager, Hajji Taj Muhammad, of the foreign forces. His house in Marja, a town west of this provincial capital that has been a major opium trading post and Taliban base, was bombed two months ago, he said.

The southern provinces have suffered the worst civilian casualties since NATO’s deployment to the region in 2006. Thousands of people have already been displaced by fighting and taken refuge in the towns.

“Now there are more people siding with the Taliban than with the government,” said Abdul Qadir Noorzai, head of the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission in southern Afghanistan.

In many places, people have never seen or felt the presence of the Afghan government, or foreign forces, except through violence, but the Taliban are a known quantity, community leaders said.

“People are hostages of the Taliban, but they look at the coalition also as the enemy, because they have not seen anything good from them in seven or eight years,” said Hajji Abdul Ahad Helmandwal, a district council leader from Nadali in Helmand Province.

Foreign troops continue to make mistakes that enrage whole sections of this deeply tribal society, like the killing of a tribal elder’s son and his wife as they were driving to their home in Helmand two months ago. Only their baby daughter survived. The tribal elder, Reis-e-Baghran, a former member of the Taliban who reconciled with the government, is one of the most influential figures in Helmand.

The infusion of more American troops into southern Afghanistan is aimed at ending a stalemate between NATO and Taliban forces. The governor of Helmand, Gulab Mangal, said extra forces were needed since the Taliban were now so entrenched in the region that they had permanent bases.

Last year an American Marine Expeditionary Unit of 2,400 men secured a small but critical area in the district of Garmser in southern Helmand, choking off Taliban supply routes from the Pakistani border while reopening the town for commerce. The operation had a crippling effect on Taliban forces operating farther north in neighboring Oruzgan Province, according to Jelani Popal, who oversees local affairs for President Hamid Karzai’s government.

This year military officials hope to replicate that operation in more places, according to Lt. Gen. James Dutton, the British deputy commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan.

The extra forces will be critical to create confidence among the locals and persuade insurgents to give up the fight, said Mr. Mangal, the Helmand governor. Yet he and others warn that there will be more bloodshed and that the large influx of foreign forces could prompt a backlash.

In parts of Helmand and Kandahar, resentment and frustration are rampant. People who traveled to Lashkar Gah from the districts complained of continued civilian suffering and questioned American intentions. “They come here just to fight, not to bring peace,” said Allah Nazad, a farmer.

People from Marja said that foreign troops carrying out counternarcotics operations conducted nighttime raids on houses, sometimes killed people inside their homes, and used dogs that bit the occupants.

“The people are very scared of the night raids,” said Spin Gul, a local farmer. “When they have night raids, the people join the Taliban and fight.”

“Who are the Taliban? They are local people,” interjected another man, who did not give his name. One man, Hamza, said he would fight if foreigners raided his house. “I will not allow them,” he said. “I will fight them to the last drop of blood.”

Many do not side with the Taliban out of choice, however, and could be won over, community leaders said.

Fazel Muhammad, a member of the district council of Panjwai, an area west of Kandahar, said he knew people who were laying mines for the Taliban in order to feed their families. He estimated that 80 percent of insurgents were local people driven to fight out of poverty and despair. Offered another way out, only 2 percent would support the Taliban, he said.

Yet mistrust of the government remains so strong that even if the Taliban were defeated militarily, the government and the American-led coalition would find the population reluctant to cooperate, said Hajji Abdullah Jan, the leader of the provincial council of Helmand. “These people will still not trust the government,” he said. “Even if security is 100 percent, it will take time because the government did not keep its promises in the past.”

Should linking be illegal?

Should linking be illegal?

In a misguided attempt to aid newspapers, one of America’s most influential judges is suggesting a new copyright law

Dan Kennedy

Those who wish to keep the internet free and open had best dust off their legal arguments. One of America’s most influential conservative judges, Richard Posner, has proposed a ban on linking to online content without permission. The idea, he said in a blog post last week, is to prevent aggregators and bloggers from linking to newspaper websites without paying:

Expanding copyright law to bar online access to copyrighted materials without the copyright holder’s consent, or to bar linking to or paraphrasing copyrighted materials without the copyright holder’s consent, might be necessary to keep free riding on content financed by online newspapers from so impairing the incentive to create costly news-gathering operations that news services like Reuters and the Associated Press would become the only professional, nongovernmental sources of news and opinion.

Posner’s notion set off an eruption from the likes of Jeff Jarvis, Matt Welch and Erick Schonfeld, among others. And they are right to be furious. Not only would Posner stop online media dead in their tracks, but he would also overturn long-established rules of fair use, which, among others things, allow for the reproduction of short excerpts of copyrighted material for the purposes of commentary, parody and the like – precisely what bloggers and aggregators do all the time.

And Posner, who sits on the seventh circuit court of appeals in Chicago, has a way of getting his way. A brilliant, provocative thinker and a frighteningly prolific writer, he was described in a 2001 New Yorker profile as “the most mercilessly seditious legal theorist of his generation”. And if, at 70, Posner and his generation are not quite so influential as they once were, he is still a formidable presence on the legal scene.

In something of an irony for journalists who might be inclined to cheer Posner’s latest, it was a 2003 opinion he wrote that helped cement journalists’ modern status as cultural and social pariahs. Posner’s decision in the case of McKevitt v Pallasch did more than any other to vanquish the idea that journalists called into court had some protection under the first amendment from having to reveal their confidential sources.

For a generation, journalists and their lawyers had relied upon the hazy wording of a 1972 supreme court case called Branzburg v Hayes, in which a bare majority ruled there was no reporter’s privilege. One of the majority, Lewis Powell, wrote what his fellow justice Potter Stewart called “an enigmatic concurring opinion” suggesting that maybe, in some cases, there was a privilege. As retired New York Times lawyer James Goodale explained in the Frontline documentary News Wars several years ago, media lawyers used Powell’s opinion to keep the reporter’s privilege on life support for more than 30 years until Posner, finally, pulled the plug.

As an appeals court judge, Posner could not, of course, overrule the supreme court. In McKevitt, though, he didn’t have to: he wrote that he had reread Branzburg and had come to the conclusion that, lo and behold, it meant what it said. No more reporter’s privilege, although the states were free to create their own through shield laws and state court precedents. (All except Wyoming have done so, many of them long before McKevitt. And Congress may create a federal shield law later this year.)

Posner’s opinion on copyright – expressed, thankfully, in a blog post rather than a ruling from the bench – has its roots in a celebrated essay he wrote for the New York Times Book Review in 2005 called Bad News. Although Posner was complimentary toward bloggers, and even asserted that their swarm-like verification system was superior in some ways to that of the traditional media, he nevertheless offered a few withering observations about where they get their material.

“The bloggers are parasitical on the conventional media,” Posner wrote. “They copy the news and opinion generated by the conventional media, often at considerable expense, without picking up any of the tab. The degree of parasitism is striking in the case of those blogs that provide their readers with links to newspaper articles. The links enable the audience to read the articles without buying the newspaper.”

Posner comes across as willfully blind to the ways in which bloggers and aggregators actually drive traffic to news sites, resulting in more readers seeing their content and, thus, their advertising. Yes, there are ways not to do it – the Boston Globe’s wholesale, automated aggregation of a competitor’s local content in a case settled out of court earlier this year comes to mind. But normal linking practices benefit everyone. The news business may be cratering, but it’s not the fault of those who link to newspaper content.

Fortunately, Posner this time can’t transform his desires into a judicial decree – his proposal would have to enacted in the form of an amendment to the copyright law. Unfortunately, such an idea is already making the rounds. Not to go all Kevin Bacon here, but Cleveland Plain Dealer columnist Connie Schultz, who supports it, is married to Democratic senator Sherrod Brown, which led Jeff Jarvis to demand that Schultz register as a federal lobbyist.

The thing is, Congress has been known to act with great alacrity on copyright matters when they affect corporate interests. And newspaper owners have been remarkably successful in calling attention to their plight.

But though tax breaks, special non-profit status and other federal goodies will likely go nowhere, a law aimed squarely at the linking practices of sites such as Google News and the Huffington Post would probably prove popular, the facts be damned.

It’s ominous that those would push for such a law now have an ally as brilliant and influential as Posner. Keep a close eye on this one.

Court to Defendant: Stop Blasting That Man’s Mind!

Court to Defendant: Stop Blasting That Man’s Mind!

size0-armymil-31405-2009-03-02-090317Late last year, James Walbert went to court, to stop his former business associate from blasting him with mind-altering electromagnetic radiation. Walbert told the Sedgwick County, Kansas panel that Jeremiah Redford threatened him with “jolts of radiation” after a disagreement over a business deal. Later, Walbert, said, he began feeling electric shock sensations, hearing electronically generated tones, and getting popping and ringing sounds in his ears. On December 30th, the court decided in Walbert’s favor, and issued a first-of-its-kind order of protection, banning Redford from using “electronic means” to further harass Walbert. No, seriously.

I recently took part in a BBC Radio 4 program, which took a light-hearted look into the “the real Manchurian Candidate” — and examined whether there is any truth in stories of mind control. It gave me a chance to talk about exotic non-lethal weapon concepts like the so-called telepathic raygun, the system which beams sound directly into your skull, and the “voice of god” talking fireball. Most of these projects are just lab experiments, or examples of Powerpoint engineering. But in some legal, policy, and business circles, electromagnetic brain assaults are being taken seriously.

Walbert’s cause is supported by Jim Guest, a Republican member of the Missouri House of Representatives. He’s working on proposed legislation to addresses electronic harassment, including a bill against the forced implantation of RFID chips.
The U.N. is also now taking the possibility of electromagnetic terrorism against people seriously. And for the first time this year’s European Symposium on Non-lethal Weapons included a session on the social implications of non-lethal weapons, with specific reference to “privacy-invasive remote interrogation and behavioral influence applications.” Those who believe they are being targeted are getting a bit of official recognition.

For some, this opens up a new business opportunity. There are already quite a few companies out there offering “Technical Surveillance Counter Measures,” or sweeps to determine if you are the victim of electronic harassment. As well detecting the usual bugging devices, they can check if you are being covertly bombarded by microwaves which may be the cause of “headache, eye irritation, dizziness, nausea, skin rash, facial swelling, weakness, fatigue, pain in joints and/or muscles, buzzing/ringing in ears.”

Much of this trade may come from people with symptoms caused by something less exotic than high-tech military hardware. But companies will no doubt be willing to sell them expensive protection measures, anyway. And as awareness of these developing technology projects increases, we are likely to be hearing a lot more about “electronic harassment,” “gang stalking” and the like over the next few years.

And there is also likely to be what folklorists call “Ostension,” or acting out. Now that there are so many websites explaining how easy it is to harass people by zapping them with a modified microwave oven, sooner or later someone is bound to try it.

[Photo: U.S. Army]

Court Recognizes Electronic Harassment:Protection Order for James Walbert

December 30, 2008

This could be the first official recognition of the need to protect citizens against electronic harassment. The following are comments from Julianne McKinney regarding the posted page scans:This is actually very impressive. Walbert persuaded the Court that the defendant was using electronic weapons against him and his family, in addition to resorting to obvious forms of stalking.He substantiated his claim with DoD documentation and had the support of a security specialist, who proved that electronic frequencies were involved, and, it would appear, the support of a couple of police officers. He also made use of letters from Missouri Representative, Jim Guest.

The outcome: The defendant failed to show up in court. The defendant has to pay all legal fees. The defendant may not employ 3rd-party means of re-establishing contact with Walbert (which would constitute multiple stalking), and may not employ any form of “electronic means” in harassing Walbert.

Walbert filed his complaint on November 25, 2008. The court decided the case on December 30, 2008.

Although this will probably not protect Walbert in the long term, he has obtained the first court-based acknowledgement of the existence of electronic weapons and of electronic harassment, that I know of.

Click each scanned image below for the court papers:

walbert1.jpg

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walbert4.jpg

walbert5.jpg

walbert6.jpg

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Way to go, James!


Court to Defendant: Stop Blasting That Man’s Mind!

size0-armymil-31405-2009-03-02-090317Late last year, James Walbert went to court, to stop his former business associate from blasting him with mind-altering electromagnetic radiation. Walbert told the Sedgwick County, Kansas panel that Jeremiah Redford threatened him with “jolts of radiation” after a disagreement over a business deal. Later, Walbert, said, he began feeling electric shock sensations, hearing electronically generated tones, and getting popping and ringing sounds in his ears. On December 30th, the court decided in Walbert’s favor, and issued a first-of-its-kind order of protection, banning Redford from using “electronic means” to further harass Walbert. No, seriously.

I recently took part in a BBC Radio 4 program, which took a light-hearted look into the “the real Manchurian Candidate” — and examined whether there is any truth in stories of mind control. It gave me a chance to talk about exotic non-lethal weapon concepts like the so-called telepathic raygun, the system which beams sound directly into your skull, and the “voice of god” talking fireball. Most of these projects are just lab experiments, or examples of Powerpoint engineering. But in some legal, policy, and business circles, electromagnetic brain assaults are being taken seriously.

Walbert’s cause is supported by Jim Guest, a Republican member of the Missouri House of Representatives. He’s working on proposed legislation to addresses electronic harassment, including a bill against the forced implantation of RFID chips.
The U.N. is also now taking the possibility of electromagnetic terrorism against people seriously. And for the first time this year’s European Symposium on Non-lethal Weapons included a session on the social implications of non-lethal weapons, with specific reference to “privacy-invasive remote interrogation and behavioral influence applications.” Those who believe they are being targeted are getting a bit of official recognition.

For some, this opens up a new business opportunity. There are already quite a few companies out there offering “Technical Surveillance Counter Measures,” or sweeps to determine if you are the victim of electronic harassment. As well detecting the usual bugging devices, they can check if you are being covertly bombarded by microwaves which may be the cause of “headache, eye irritation, dizziness, nausea, skin rash, facial swelling, weakness, fatigue, pain in joints and/or muscles, buzzing/ringing in ears.”

Much of this trade may come from people with symptoms caused by something less exotic than high-tech military hardware. But companies will no doubt be willing to sell them expensive protection measures, anyway. And as awareness of these developing technology projects increases, we are likely to be hearing a lot more about “electronic harassment,” “gang stalking” and the like over the next few years.

And there is also likely to be what folklorists call “Ostension,” or acting out. Now that there are so many websites explaining how easy it is to harass people by zapping them with a modified microwave oven, sooner or later someone is bound to try it.

[Photo: U.S. Army]

Israel pisses on Britain (again) – and our craven leaders love it

Israel pisses on Britain (again) – and our craven leaders love it


By Stuart Littlewood

4 July 2009

Stuart Littlewood considers Israel’s latest act of piracy on the high seas – the seizure of an aid ship bound for Gaza and the kidnapping of its passengers and crew –  and highlights the complicity of the British government, which is forever fighting a rear-guard action on behalf of Israel.

“Nowadays you have to carefully pick your way through a veritable obstacle-course of pro-Zionists, Chosen Ones and Israeli stooges that inhabit every nook and cranny in the corridors of power and dominate Britain’s key defence bodies. These Israeli flag-wavers seem only too happy for the Israelis to piss on us – and on the rest of the world – while rewarding them with more and more trade and scientific co-operation.”

On Tuesday 30 June the Israeli navy, in a blatant act of piracy on the high seas, assaulted the vessel Spirit of Humanity and abducted six British nationals who were taking part in a voyage of mercy. The tiny unarmed ship was bringing a humanitarian cargo of medicines, children’s toys and reconstruction materials to the devastated people of Gaza.

Israel’s murderous 22-day offensive last December-January left more than 50,000 homes, 800 industrial properties, 200 schools, 39 mosques and two churches damaged or destroyed. The International Committee of the Red Cross says the 1.5 million Palestinians living in Gaza are “trapped in despair”, unable to rebuild their lives because Israel, having wantonly wrecked their civil society and infrastructure, is blocking efforts to bring in the necessary repair materials. Those on board the Spirit of Humanity were acting in accord with donors’ pledges of 4.5 billion US dollars for reconstruction and rehabilitation and US President Obama’s request to Israel to let those supplies pass.

The mercy ship sailed from Larnaca, Cyprus, with a crew of 21 human rights activists, humanitarian workers and journalists from 11 different countries, including Nobel laureate Mairead Maguire and former US Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney. In the early hours of Tuesday morning Israeli warships surrounded it and threatened to open fire if the crew didn’t turn back. When they refused to be intimidated, the Israelis jammed their instrumentation and blocked their GPS, radar and navigation systems, putting all lives at risk.

The ship had been searched and given security clearance by the port authorities in Cyprus before sailing, and posed no threat.

Richard Falk, the United Nations special rapporteur on human rights, says the seizing of the Spirit of Humanity is unlawful and the continuing blockade of Gaza a crime against humanity. Yes, yes, Mr Falk. But the question as always is, what is your paralytic, useless organization doing about it? Or is hand-wringing all it’s good for?

Many here, including myself, immediately wrote to David Miliband, the British foreign secretary, about the outrage. Two days later I called the Palestine desk at the Foreign Office in London. The person I spoke to sounded uncomfortable having to trot out the same old gobbledegook about “working hard to resolve the problem” and “doing all we can”. He said the six Britons were in Israeli custody and nobody was sure where exactly the incident took place. However, the vessel was fitted with a SPOT GPS tracker, so the system should have a record of their position when attacked.

The real problem, as I suggested, is that Israel dares to kidnap Britons on the high seas and doesn’t fear the consequences – no doubt confident there won’t be any. I was reminded that Israel had issued warnings (and so had the Foreign Office) not to travel in that area. What area? Mustn’t one travel in international waters?

The spokesman assured me that progress was being made. There was “movement” on getting humanitarian supplies into Gaza, but I pointed out that nobody had seen any evidence of Israel conforming with international law and Geneva Conventions. He claimed there was also “movement” on halting settlements on occupied territory, although I observed that the Israelis had just endorsed more illegal building.

I also reminded him about the ramming of the MV Dignity on a similar mission by an Israeli gunboat on 30 December, 53 miles from shore, and how people here were still hopping mad that nothing had been done about it. The vessel, with 16 on board, was badly damaged and had to limp to a safe Lebanese port. As far as I know, there was never an offer of compensation and no demand from London. As usual, somebody else had to pick up the tab for Israel’s unbridled destruction.

The Dignity had a cargo of 3.5 tonnes of medical supplies, the majority donated by the Cyprus government, and a British skipper and a Greek mate. It carried 14 passengers, one of whom was Cynthia McKinney. There were also two surgeons and a Palestinian physician. A friend of mine was among them and wrote this chilling account of the attack…..

At 04.55 hrs EMT on 30 December, searchlights appeared astern. There were two Israeli gunboats. They came abreast, circled and stayed with us. These boats can do over 45 knots, carry ten tonnes of fuel and have sophisticated weapon systems including Hellfire missiles. Tracer bullets were fired skywards, forming ellipses, and flares put up. At 05.30 hrs approximately, one gunboat was playing its searchlight on the port side of Dignity. Suddenly there was a tremendous crash at the bow, and then another almost simultaneously, and another on the port beam… The bow dipped and it seemed the boat was breaking up. It was dark, the wind force was 4 to 5 and there was a 10ft sea. The master shouted “we have been rammed”. It was feared the boat would sink. He broadcast a Mayday distress signal; there was no response.

Cynthia McKinney and Caoimhe Butterly could not swim; the life jackets were rapidly deployed to all. The hull was taking water but bilge pumps were working. The first words from a commander of one of the gunboats came over the radio. First there was the accusation that the ship’s company was involved with terrorists and that it was subversive. Then there came the threat to shoot. The master was forbidden from making for Gaza or further south to El-Arish in Egypt. He was ordered to return to Larnaca – about 160 miles, even though the boat was badly damaged and the Israeli did not know whether there was sufficient fuel, which there was not. He set a northerly course and the boat stayed buoyant in a moderating sea. A crew member arranged with the Lebanese authorities for a safe harbour in Sour (Tyre) where jubilant crowds thronged the quays. A UNIFIL ship came out to escort us and the Israeli gunboats, which were following, fell back.

Was there lethal intent? A gunboat came out of the black of night with no lights showing whilst a searchlight from the other gunboat displayed our port hull as its target. It would have approached at about 30 degrees to the Dignity’s port and at speed. The intention to sink the Dignity and thus to drown its company was clear. If the hull had been GRP (Glass Reinforced Plastic) it would have shattered and the boat would have sunk like a stone 53 nautical miles off Haifa. Fortunately, the hull was constructed of marine ply with timber ribs and survived… The ship’s company were repatriated except for a resolute Scot, Theresa McDermott. She was imprisoned in Ramleh gaol. When the British Consulate in Israel was contacted for assistance in finding Teresa, staff refused to help locate her saying they couldn’t provide assistance to a UK citizen unless she personally requested it. Teresa was released after six days, her “crime” probably being a member of the International Solidarity Campaign like Rachel Corrie before her.

My written question to Mr Miliband was simply this:

Why isn’t Her Majesty’s government providing the mercy ship Spirit of Humanity with an escort to protect against the unlawful, piratical interference and threat to life by the Israeli navy? There have been repeated incidents of harassment, damage, theft and armed aggression on the high seas or in Palestinian waters by the Israeli regime against unarmed vessels.

The British government has loudly pledged Royal Navy help to stop the “smuggling” of arms to the Gaza resistance but won’t protect Gaza’s fishermen from being fired on by Israeli marauders while trying to earn their living. And evidently the government can’t be bothered to protect our own people going about their lawful business.

But, sure enough, they kicked up an almighty fuss when Iran nabbed 15 British sailors two years ago for allegedly straying into Iranian waters.

For our sins we are saddled with a foreign secretary who calls for Israeli tank crewman Gilad Shalit’s release but not the release of 11,000 Palestinian civilians – some of them women and children – rotting in Israeli jails. He even allows the British ambassador to become a dogsbody of the Jewish community in this one-sided campaign. On 25 June Miliband said:

Today is the third anniversary of the kidnapping of Gilad Shalit. Both British ministers and the British ambassador in Israel have had repeated contact with Gilad’s family and emphasized our support for Gilad’s immediate release. Last September, the ambassador helped to deliver over 2,000 Jewish New Year cards for Gilad to the ICRC [International Committee of the Red Cross] as part of a campaign organized by the UK Jewish community. I repeat the UK’s call to Hamas for his immediate, unconditional, and safe release. We share the Shalit family’s dismay at Hamas’s refusal to allow the ICRC access to Gilad.

It’s shameful that his dismay doesn’t extend to the 11,000 Palestinian families.

British people are waking up to the truth about Israel’s lawlessness. In the absence of firm action from the British government they are taking reprisals of their own, in the form of boycotts, which has driven Mr Miliband to complain that “the Government is dismayed that motions calling for boycotts of Israel are being discussed at trade union congresses and conferences this summer”. He insists that boycotts “obstruct opportunities for co-operation and dialogue and serve only to polarize debate further. Boycotts would only make it harder to achieve the peace that both Palestinians and Israelis deserve and desire”.

Mr Miliband hasn’t learned the lesson of the last 61 years. And our prime minister-in-waiting, David Cameron (a Zionist and, like Brown and Blair, a patron of the Jewish National Fund), is no different. He says: “I think there’s something else we need to do, which is to say to our academics in this country that boycotts of Israel are completely unacceptable, and I think we also need to say that to the trade unions.”

Nowadays you have to carefully pick your way through a veritable obstacle-course of pro-Zionists, Chosen Ones and Israeli stooges that inhabit every nook and cranny in the corridors of power and dominate Britain’s key defence bodies. These Israeli flag-wavers seem only too happy for the Israelis to piss on us – and on the rest of the world – while rewarding them with more and more trade and scientific co-operation.


Stuart Littlewood is author of the book Radio Free Palestine, which tells the plight of the Palestinians under occupation. For further information please visit www.radiofreepalestine.co.uk.

Russia Pulls Obama’s Chestnuts From the Fire, OKs Weapons Shipments

Afghanistan
AP By NATALIYA VASILYEVA

MOSCOW (AP) – July 3, 2009 — Russia will allow the U.S. to ship weapons across its territory to Afghanistan, a top Kremlin aide said Friday in a gesture aimed at bolstering U.S. military operations and improving strained ties between Washington and Moscow.

The deal is expected to be signed during President Barack Obama’s visit to Moscow next week, Kremlin foreign policy adviser Sergei Prikhodko said.

Russia has been allowing the U.S. to ship non-lethal supplies across its territory for operations in Afghanistan and Kremlin officials had suggested further cooperation was likely.

Prikhodko told reporters that the expected deal would enable the U.S. to ship lethal cargo and would include shipments by air and land.

He said it was unclear if U.S. soldiers or other personnel would be permitted to travel through Russian territory or airspace.

“They haven’t asked us for it,” he said.

The normal supply route to landlocked Afghanistan via Pakistan has come under repeated Taliban attack and the U.S. and NATO have been eager to have an alternate overland supply route through Russia and the Central Asian countries.

Confirmation of such a deal appeared aimed at setting a constructive tone for the meetings between Presidents Barack Obama and Dmitry Medvedev on Monday and Tuesday. After years of increasing strain, both governments have expressed hope the summit will put ties between the former Cold War rivals back on track.

Serious rifts remain over other defense issues. The U.S. and Russia want to forge a nuclear arms reduction agreement to replace the 1991 START treaty, which expires in December.

But talks on a new treaty are complicated by Russia’s push for the U.S. to scrap the previous administration’s plans for missile defense facilities in Eastern Europe.

The U.S. says missile interceptors based in Poland and a related radar in the Czech Republic – if built – would be aimed to counter a potential Iranian threat and would not threaten Russia. Russia rejects those arguments and says the facilities would be aimed to weaken Russia’s nuclear deterrent.

Prikhodko said Medvedev and Obama are expected to sign a declaration of understanding that would set out guidelines for a new arms reduction treaty and would likely include specific target numbers.

He insisted that plans for further nuclear arms cuts and a possible U.S. missile shield in Europe are inextricably linked and that Russia wants the Obama administration to acknowledge that. U.S. officials have rejected Russia’s argument that cuts on offensive weapons must be linked with U.S. plans for missile defense.

“We would like the interconnection between START and missile defense to be described” in the declaration signed at the summit,” he said.

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s spokesman also said that the two issues are interconnected and indicated Russia’s leaders would repeat their arguments in meetings with Obama, who is to hold talks with Putin as well as Medvedev.

Police State – The Militarization of the Police Force in USA

Police State – The Militarization of the Police Force in USA