Pakistan torturing Balochistan activists, report says

Pakistan torturing Balochistan activists, report says

Cover of HRW report
HRW accuses the security forces of brazenly killing people

Hundreds of political activists are being held and tortured by security forces in the Pakistani province of Balochistan, Human Rights Watch says.

The region is currently the centre of an insurgency by local tribesmen fighting for greater political rights.

A new report by the rights group focuses on political activists detained without charge. Many of them were later killed, the report says.

The Supreme Court is investigating the killings and disappearances.

Entitled “We can torture, kill and keep you for years”, the report completes a three-part series of investigations on Balochistan by Human Rights Watch (HRW).

The BBC’s Syed Shoaib Hasan says that taken together they present a disturbing and violent picture of what many are calling Pakistan’s secret dirty war.

“Pakistan’s security forces are engaging in an abusive free-for-all in Balochistan as Baloch nationalists and suspected militants ‘disappear’ and in many cases are executed,” HRW Asia Director Brad Adams said.

“The national government has done little to end the carnage in Balochistan, calling into question its willingness or ability to control the military and intelligence agencies.”

Pakistani authorities routinely deny claims of abuses in Balochistan.


The latest 132-page report says state security remains responsible for most of the abuses.

This includes holding detainees as young as 12 years old without charge – as well as the increasing torture and killing of those held, it says.

File photo of paramilitary soldiers on guard near the site of a shooting on the outskirts of Quetta June 22, 2011.
Balochistan is the scene of frequent attacks

The report details 45 alleged cases of enforced disappearances, the majority in 2009 and 2010. It says that while hundreds of people have been “forcibly disappeared” in Balochistan since 2005, dozens of new enforced disappearances have occurred since Pakistan returned to civilian rule in 2008.

The report is based on over 100 interviews by HRW in Balochistan in 2010 and 2011 with family members of “disappeared” people, former detainees, local human rights activists, lawyers and witnesses to government abductions.

It says that those targeted are primarily Baloch nationalist activists or suspected Baloch militants.

“Pakistani security services are brazenly disappearing, torturing, and often killing people because of suspected ties to the Baloch nationalist movement,” Mr Adams said. “This is not counterinsurgency – it is barbarism and it needs to end now.”

Security officials in Balochistan routinely dismiss such claims as part of propaganda by separatists.

They say all those arrested have been produced in courts.

In a recent interview, the top security official in Balochistan told the BBC the killings were the result of infighting amongst the nationalists.

But other security officials have also told the BBC that they have detained the activists.

They say the insurgents are being supported by India and it is the duty of Pakistan’s security forces to do their utmost to suppress them.

The report also highlights how difficult conditions are getting for ordinary citizens in Balochistan. The province has strategic importance as it borders Iran and Afghanistan.

US officials say the Afghan Taliban leadership have their headquarters in the province, a claim Pakistan denies.

Balochistan, Pakistan’s largest and most sparsely populated province, is also rich in minerals – with vast untapped deposits of oil, gas, copper and gold.

But locals say most of this remains under the control of the federal government – its policies have left them little choice, many say, but to side with the insurgents.

Musharraf Wakes-Up

Musharraf’s APML in tatters

Azim M Mian
NEW YORK: Despite the fact that Pervez Musharraf had very cordial and encouraging meetings with some US Congressmen and senators and was assured of some support in his mission to return to Pakistan next March, he had to face strong criticism from his own friends and political supporters of his party, the APML.

His close confidant for the last nine years and former chairman of Pakistan Cricket Control Board, Dr Nasim Ashraf, has resigned from all positions and basic membership of the party. He was the top boss of his party in North America with the title of Chief Coordinator of APML in North America. Dr Ashraf had established 11 chapters of APML – eight in USA and three in Canada.

The reasons for his resignation are not known and all efforts to reach Dr Nasim Ashraf failed. He did not respond to phone calls. However, Pervez Musharraf did attend the wedding of Dr Nasim Ashraf’s daughter in Virginia on July 22 before he left USA.

Another staunch supporter of Pervez Musharraf since his days in power has also announced his complete dissociation with Musharraf and his party. Arshad Khan, a New Yorker, who held rallies to support Pervez Musharraf till recently, has publicly blamed Musharraf for making wrong decisions, promoting his relatives and those who can organise colourful evenings for him. “We cannot support his objectionable activities and wrong decisions any more. I have been supporting him for too long, even after he had resigned; but now I cannot take his nepotism, faulty decisions and struggle to capture power again,” said Arshad Khan of New York’s Pak-America Rabita Council. He also pointed out that Pervez Musharaf’s public meeting in New York was a total failure as hardly 250 people came to listen to him.

Nasim Ashraf’s resignation has caused gloom among APML supporters in New Jersey, Houston and other parts of USA. Imran Siiddiqi, who was made APML coordinator for Canada by Pervez Musharaf last week, however, claims that there is no rift or unrest in his party in Canada and he will do his best to resolve issues through dialogue among members. But sources say that other party chapters in Canada have not accepted Pervez Musharaf’s decision to promote Imran Siddiqui from Ontario to the top party post.

Insiders have disclosed to The News that Dr Nasim Ashraf has informed Pervez Musharaf about his plan to quit politics completely. He plans to return to his medical profession after long absence. According to his family sources, Dr Ashraf plans to spend some time with a hospital in Abu Dhabi.

Hindu militant linked with Hizbul Mujahideen killed in encounter

Hindu militant linked with Hizbul Mujahideen killed in encounter

Express news service

He was a Hindu by birth who got buried in the martyrs graveyard at Marwah with all Muslim rites this evening after his parents refused to take his body from the police. Identified as Subash Kumar Shan alias Wasif alias Qamran, the first Hindu divisional commander of Hizbul Mujahideen for Kishtwar division, he was killed in a fierce gun battle with police and security forces on Tuesday.

Subash along with his three accomplices had got trapped in Gokund area of Renie Nallah, some 20 kms from Nawapachi in Marwah tehsil after police and security forces launched a joint combing operation following specific information on Tuesday morning. However, when the combing operation was in progress, militants opened fire on the police and security forces who retaliated.

Inspector General of Police for Jammu zone, Dilbagh Singh, said that apart from Subash, the other three militants engaged in the encounter included Jahangir, Riyaz and Sajjad. However, while Subash was killed, Sajjad got injured. The later along with two others, however, managed to escape.

Initially the slain militant was identified by police and security forces as Sajjad Ahmed Mir alias Rizwan of Tachna Dachhan. An AK 47 rifle along with ammunition, one wireless set and two Chinese greades were seized from him.

However, as the body of the slain militant was shown to his relatives, they denied him being Sajjad. Following a controversy over his identity, the slain militant was brought to Marwah where people identified him as Subash, son of Jeevan Lal Shan, an ex-serviceman, of Palmar, Marwah.

Though he happened to be the second Hindu militant having been killed in the hilly district during the last two years, police said that Subash was a hardcore militant involved in a number of killings. He had joined militancy in 2001 and he was made divisional commander of Hizbul Mujahideen for Kishtwar division after the surrender of Furdaus Ahmed Matoo alias Prince in 2009. The first Hindu militant killed in the district was Kuldeep Kumar of Puneja.

As Subash had joined militant ranks against the wishes of his family members, his parents after the postmortem refused to take his body from the hospital. The body was later handed over to some local Muslims for his burial at martyrs graveyard at Marwah.

With his killing, the Hizbul Mujahideen has received a major set back as Subash being a Hindu was a source of inspiration for other militants operating in the area. The slain militant commander was a great motivator and he was, at present, busy recruiting new youth to his ranks.

Pakistan and India Determined To Keep Talking

Peace talks pick up pace as India, Pak skirt blocks

Sachin Parashar, TNN

NEW DELHI: India and Pakistan on Wednesday pressed ahead with their peace engagement, steering around contentious issues — particularly Jammu and Kashmir and terrorism — that bedevil their ties.

Erasing the scars of last July, when their foreign ministers clashed in full public view in Islamabad, India and Pakistan on Wednesday managed the rare feat of speaking in one voice. They agreed to invest in a relationship of “trust and mutually beneficial cooperation”.

It wasn`t easy given differences over the usual stumbling blocks that cropped up during the meeting between foreign minister S M Krishna (78), and his young counterpart Hina Rabbani Khar (34), but the two sides worked around them successfully enough for foreign secretary Nirupama Rao to later declare that the “fog has now lifted” over the relationship.

Khar too raised hopes when she described the relationship as entering a new era and stated that the mindset of people in both the countries had changed, allowing ties to move in the right direction. In terms of deliverables, a number of CBMs to enhance cross-LoC trade and travel were announced.

“It is our desire to make the dialogue process uninterrupted and uninterruptible,” Khar said after the meeting, summing up the determination to stay engaged. The restraint was evident at the press conference of the two foreign secretaries where neither rose to the bait of provocative questions.

Talks did not start on a very promising note though. The meeting started with Krishna strongly expressing displeasure to the Pakistani delegation over Khar`s meeting with separatist Hurriyatleaders on Tuesday evening ahead of the official talks.

Krishna wanted to know what was the locus standi of the Hurriyat as they were not representative of the people of India. He also took exception to the press statement Pakistan High Commission issued after the meeting with separatists.

Khar promptly assured Krishna that she did not intend to give offence to India.

The two sides did not let the issue overshadow talks even in public. Rao confirmed that India had expressed concern over the meeting and that it reflected divergences. “We have a different point of view from Pakistan on the meeting and we have expressed our concern frankly and candidly,” she said. But she also emphasized that the neighbours had the political will to work together.

Rao`s counterpart Salman Bashir also spoke in a conciliatory vein. He said the meeting with Hurriyat should not be construed as an attempt to cast shadow over the talks, adding that Pakistan`s intention was to reach out in the interest of democratic polity.

Sources said the Pakistanis chose not to be prickly also when Krishna forcefully raised the lack of credible effort to punish the 26/11 masterminds, and continuing hate propaganda against India by the sorts of Lashkar chief Hafiz Saeed.

“We have made attempts to infuse the dialogue with the Thimphu spirit,” Rao said referring to the meeting between PM Manmohan Singh and Yousuf Raza Gilani in Bhutan last year when they paved the way for re-engagement.

Krishna also raised the confessions made by Pakistani-American Lashkar operative David Headleyduring the trial of another accused Tahawwur Rana in Chicago about the role of ISI but the Pakistanis quickly assured that they would investigate the matter.

Terror and J&K were discussed at length and this manifested itself in the joint statement which called for eliminating terror in all its forms and, on J&K, spoke of finding a “peaceful solution by narrowing divergences and building convergences”. They also agreed for a continued discussion on J&K in a purposeful and forward-looking manner.

Rao said there was “cautious optimism” in India-Pak relations. Krishna stated that things were “on the right track”. The two foreign ministers decided to meet again in the first half of 2012. “This is indeed a new era of bilateral cooperation between the two countries, and it is our desire… to make it an uninterrupted and an uninterruptible process,” Khar said.

“There has been a mindset change in the people of the two countries that we must acknowledge,” she added. Khar showed remarkable maturity for her age when during the joint press briefing after the talks, she resisted all temptations to play to the gallery by mentioning the K-word even though it figured prominently in the joint statement.

Bashir too said after the talks that the two countries needed to make a conscious effort to be respectful to each other to maintain the momentum and ensure deeper level of engagement. “Either of us should not seek advantage over the other as we go for a deeper level of engagement. It is also not appropriate to read into what is said and what is not. We have to understand that this is a work in progress,” said Bashir.

After the talks, when asked if the Hurriyat meeting was an attempt to establish “parallel” structures in the bilateral relationship, Rao said as far as India was concerned, there was only a “bilateral structure” between the two governments to address all issues. Hurriyat leaders had insisted before Khar in the meeting on Tuesday that Kashmiris too be made a part of the dialogue between India and Pakistan.

Shifting the National Conversation On Terrorism from Islamaphobia to Mass-Murderers

Norway Killings Shift Debate on Islam in Europe


BERLIN — Less than a week after the mass killings in Norway, evidence of a shift in the debate over Islam and the radical right in Europe already appeared to be taking hold on a traumatized Continent.

Members of far-right parties in Sweden and Italy were condemned from within their own ranks for blaming the attack on multiculturalism, as expressions of outrage over the deaths crossed the political spectrum. A member of France’s far-right National Front was suspended for praising the attacker.

Lurking in the background is the calculation on all sides that such tragedies can drive shifts in public opinion. The violent actions of a terrorist or homicidal individual can hardly be blamed on nonviolent political parties. But politicians have begun to question inflammatory rhetoric in the debate over immigrants, which has helped fuel the rise of right-leaning politicians across Europe in recent years.

The head of the Social Democratic Party in Germany, Sigmar Gabriel, told the German news service dpa on Wednesday that a trend toward xenophobia and nationalism in the region had fostered the attacks in Norway. In a society where anti-Islamic sentiment and isolation were tolerated “naturally on the margins of society there will be crazy people who feel legitimized in taking harder measures,” he said.

“The center of society has to make clear that there is no room for this with us, even for sanitized versions,” Mr. Gabriel said. “There is a deep feeling in society that the pendulum has swung too far toward individualism.”

It is too soon to tell what the political fallout from the attacks will be. The left in Europe is out of power in major countries including Britain, France, Germany and Italy — and has struggled to find a cause to revitalize it, or at least to reframe the passionate debate overimmigration. The mainstream right, on the other hand, could find it more difficult to accept support from the far-right parties after the deadly events in Oslo and on Utoya Island.

“The biggest challenge is the opportunism of the center and I think this will change now,” said Joschka Fischer, Germany’s former foreign minister and a leading European voice on the left, pointing to the Danish government’s cooperation with the far-right Danish People’s Party, which has pushed through a partial reinstitution of border controls.

The political fallout will be unpredictable in part because Europe is still so varied in its political landscape, with each country’s different history and culture. Norway, for instance, is not a member of the European Union.

That may make it more difficult for a left-leaning politician to seize the initiative against conservatives the way that President Bill Clinton did in the wake of the Oklahoma City bombing, which was carried out by a right-wing extremist. Trying to link mainstream politicians to the beliefs of Anders Behring Breivik, who authorities in Norway say has taken responsibility for the killings and his lawyer says is insane, is also risky.

Pascal Perrineau, professor at the Institut d’é(aigu)tudes politiques de Paris, where he directs the Center for Political Research, said that French parties were being “extremely cautious” in their approach to the tragedy out of fear of looking like they were exploiting it. According to Mr. Perrineau, it was unlikely to shift the larger balance of power between right and left in France, but would make it more difficult for the far-right Front National and its leader Marine Le Pen in elections.

Mr. Breivik 1500-page manifesto, while full of calls for violence, also contains some passages that echo the concerns of mainstream political leaders about preserving national identity and values.

“So much of what he wrote could have been said by any right-wing politician,” said Daniel Cohn-Bendit, co-chairman of the Green bloc in the European Parliament. “A lot of arguments about immigrants and Islamic fundamentalism will now be much easier to question and to push back.”

The clearest evidence of a change in tone at this early stage may be the way anti-immigrant parties try to rein in their members. A member of the National Front, Jacques Coutela, was suspended for calling Mr. Breivik “an icon” on his blog. He replaced it with a note saying he denounced Mr. Breivik’s actions.

Murder of Afghan mayor deals new setback to Karzai

Murder of Afghan mayor deals new setback to Karzai

Associated Press

In this undated image made available by the provincial media center Kandahar Mayor Ghulam Haider Hamidi addresses a press conference in Kandahar south of Kabul, Afghanistan. The mayor of Kandahar was assassinated on Wednesday July 27, 2011 by a suicide bomber who hid explosives in his turban Afghan officials said. The Taliban say they sent the suicide bomber who killed the mayor of Kandahar in southern Afghanistan. Hamidi was the third major powerbroker from the south to be slain this month. (AP Photo/Provincial Media Center )

An assassin struck at the heart of President Hamid Karzai’s political machine in southern Afghanistan Wednesday, killing the mayor of Kandahar with an exploding turban and deepening a power vacuum in the Taliban’s main stronghold.

The slaying of Mayor Ghulam Haider Hamidi was the third killing of a Karzai associate in a little more than two weeks. The attacks have jeopardized the Afghan government’s tenuous grip on the strategic south after recent success in routing the Taliban.

On July 12, a close associate gunned down Karzai’s powerful half brother at his home in Kandahar. Five days later, Karzai’s inner circle suffered another hit when gunmen in Kabul killed Jan Mohammad Khan, a presidential adviser on tribal issues and a former governor of Uruzgan province, which is also in the south.

The 65-year-old, gray-haired mayor was slain inside a heavily fortified government compound just before he was to meet with local residents caught up in a land dispute, according to Mohammad Nabi, an employee of the mayor’s office. The attacker was holding a piece of paper and trying to talk to the mayor when he detonated a bomb hidden inside his turban, said Nabi, who witnessed the killing.

“After that, there was some shooting,” he said. “I hid behind a wall. The windows were shattered. There was dark smoke.”

In the aftermath, part of the attacker’s black and gray-striped turban was strewn on the ground next to a blood-spattered tree.

One civilian was also killed and another civilian and a security guard were wounded, the governor’s office said.

Hamidi was buried Wednesday evening in a family plot near Kandahar University. Karzai’s elder brother, Qayyum Karzai, was overcome with grief at the funeral.

“It is a bad day for Kandahar and it is a bad day for Afghanistan. The Kandahar mayor was an honest Muslim who was serving the country,” Qayyum Karzai said, then wiped tears from his eyes with both hands and walked away.

The Taliban has claimed responsibility for the trio of killings. But the south is rife with tribal rivalries and criminals and it is not yet certain the group orchestrated the assassinations.

Taliban spokesman Qari Yousef Ahmadi called the killing a “big blow” to the Karzai administration. He told The Associated Press that the Taliban killed the mayor because he ordered the destruction of homes that city officials claimed had been illegally constructed. He said the mayor was killed to avenge the deaths of two children during the demolition work.

Kandahar Gov. Tooryalai Wesa said the two children were accidentally killed by a bulldozer knocking down the homes.

During his four years as mayor, Hamidi had campaigned against warlords and criminals and was particularly harsh on people who took illegal control of property, according to his son-in-law, Abdullah Khan. Just before the killing, the mayor had ordered more than a dozen large homes torn down in the north end of the city, saying they had been built illegally.

“From day one, I was afraid,” Khan told the AP in a telephone interview. “I wanted to put pressure on him to leave.”

He expressed doubt the authorities were up to the task of investigating the killing.

The president denounced the attack, blaming “terrorists who don’t want this country to be rebuilt.”

Gen. John Allen, the new commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, and Ryan Crocker, the new U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan, also condemned the assassination.

“Clearly a string of assassinations is not a good sign … but at the same time, this could be a sign of significant weakness on the part of an enemy who has had a pretty darn hard year,” Crocker told reporters at his first briefing at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul.

“I don’t think you can chart a straight line that says that three assassinations guarantees a total unraveling either of international support or Afghan confidence. It could very well go the other way.”

Kate Clark, senior analyst with the Afghanistan Analysts Network, said the loss of another presidential ally in the south _ Karzai’s main base of political support _ could weaken the president there. Insurgents are “doing very well if they’re managing to pick off these major figures,” she said. “These people are not easy to target.”

Hamidi, an accountant who also had U.S. citizenship and spent years living in northern Virginia, was considered an ally of Wali Karzai in Kandahar but he operated behind the scenes. His name was mentioned as someone who might take over Wali Karzai’s unofficial position _ a master operator who played hard-line tribal and political factions against one another to retain ultimate control over the restive province. However, some said his tribal contacts were not strong enough to assume that role.

Kandahar provincial police chief Gen. Abdul Razaq defended recent steps to improve security in the city.

“You can’t judge security through this single incident,” Razaq said.

Provincial intelligence chief Gen. Mohammad Naeem Momin said Kandahar would recover from the setback.

“Kandahar is like a base for the insurgents so they will try to show their presence, but it doesn’t mean that we have lost control here,” he said.

Agha Haji Lalai, acting head of the Kandahar provincial council since Wali Karzai’s death, said the province needs special attention from the government in the wake of the killings.

“It’s time for the government and the president to think about it and take some serious steps,” he said. “I don’t think people will feel secure now and the government structure in Kandahar is not strong.”

There have been a string of government officials assassinated in Kandahar. Two deputy mayors were murdered last year, the provincial police chief was killed in April and the top cleric in the province was killed earlier this month when another attacker who stuffed explosives in his turban blew himself up in a mosque during a memorial service for the president’s half brother.

Shekaba Hashimi, a lawmaker from Kandahar expressed little hope that anything would be done to stop the assassinations.

“We have raised this issue many times in the parliament,” she said. “Nobody pays any attention.”

Hashimi, who has been critical of the president, said that while insurgents are attacking government officials, Karzai is telling them: “Come, my brothers and let’s have peace.’”

Fawzia Kofi, a lawmaker from Badakhshan, said she didn’t think Hamidi’s death would be a serious political blow to Karzai, but said it highlighted the lack of security for government officials.

“We are not safe in our offices. We are not safe in our houses,” she said. “It is a matter of concern. But in his case, I think this was about the land dispute.”


Associated Press writers Amir Shah, Patrick Quinn, Heidi Vogt and Rahim Faiez in Kabul and Kathy Gannon in Islamabad contributed to this report.

Republicans Slamming the Brakes on Hillary’s State Dept. Spending

A key House panel is to vote Wednesday on a measure that would slash many areas of State Department and foreign aid funding, and place new restrictions on assistance to Pakistan, Egypt and Yemen.

The Republican-sponsored bill is expected to pass, since the party holds seven of the 11 seats on the House Appropriations State and Foreign Operations subcommittee. But the vote is just the first step in what is likely to be a drawn-out battle over funding for diplomacy and foreign aid in 2012.

The bill would roughly double aid to the so-called “front-line states” — Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq — providing them with about $7.6 billion, in line with the Obama administration’s request. But it would reduce spending for the rest of State Department and foreign programs by around $5 billion, or 11 percent. If it were to become law — a big if — the cuts could be severe enough to necessitate furloughs at the U.S. Agency for International Development, according to some budget analysts.

The legislation reflects the determination of the Republican-dominated House to rein in spending at a time of record deficits, but to preserve military assistance and programs aimed at fighting drug-trafficking and terrorism.

“We have established tough oversight and accountability measures that will make sure my constituents’ tax dollars are not wasted overseas while making sure we support our national security priorities and key allies,” said Rep. Kay Granger (R-Tex.), head of the subcommittee, in a statement.

The bill will doubtless be a disappointment to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, who has made it a priority to staff up the State Department and the depleted ranks of USAID. The legislation would reduce the State Department’s operating budget by around 14 percent. It also would significantly cut development assistance and contributions to multilateral institutions such as the World Bank.

“At a time when the demands we place on our diplomatic and development workforce are increasing, it is short-sighted to downsize the Department of State and USAID,” said Rep. Nita Lowey (N.Y.), the panel’s top Democrat. “Funding levels are also inadequate to maintain global leadership on global health, development, and disaster relief.”

The spending bill adopted by the House will have to be reconciled with one from the Democratic-majority Senate that will almost certainly look much different. If that doesn’t happen by Oct. 1, the start of the fiscal year, Congress may vote to continue spending at current levels.

The House bill slaps tough new conditions on aid to several countries. It would block aid to Pakistan unless the country shows progress on fighting terrorist groups and helps the U.S. government investigate Osama bin Laden’s network.

The measure would also cease funding for the Palestinian Authority if it continued to seek recognition of a Palestinian state at the United Nations this fall. And it would hold up aid to Egypt, Lebanon, Libya and Yemen until Clinton certified that their governments didn’t include terrorist groups or their sympathizers.

The bill also includes a Republican priority — reinstatement of the “Mexico City policy,” which bars U.S. assistance to non-governmental organizations abroad that promote abortion. That policy, in place under President George W. Bush, was reversed by the Obama administration.

Wana Taliban Waging War Against Immodesty with Bonfire of Sexy Fabric

Mulvi Nazir group bans phone cameras, transparent fabric


Mulvi Nazir 

WANA: The Taliban’s Mulvi Nazir group banned the use of mobile phone cameras and the sale of transparent fabrics for women’s clothes in South Waziristan Agency, Dunya News reported July 26.

Nazir’s men seized and burned 10,000 sq m of fabric from merchants in Wana’s market.

The Taliban threatened punishment for any shopkeeper caught selling see-through fabric to women, media reported.

They also threatened severe punishment and fines of up to Rs. 50,000 (US $578) for anyone found with a cell-phone camera, media added.

Russia threatens to sink a reboot

Russia threatens to sink a reboot

(” Foreign Policy “
Josh Rogin (Josh Rogin)
Russia USA america button reset
© Reuters

Russia has threatened Obama administration that will stop cooperation on Iran and prevent further deliveries of supplies to Afghanistan if Congress passes a law which has been criticized in the Russian practice of human rights. The White House argues that the Russian-American relations have restarted three positive result: START-3 of nuclear arms reductions, cooperation with Russia in sanctions against Iran and Russia’s agreement (for money) for the transfer of American military supplies through Russian territory to Afghanistan. But now Russia is using two of these three results as leverage, trying to get from an administration that she did not give Congress the adoption of a law prohibiting the issuance of visas to the Russian representatives involved in crimes in the area of human rights. The bill is named for the lawyer Magnitsky , who was tortured and died in a Russian prison in 2009. It is aimed against those who arrested Magnitsky, as well as against other Russians, “guilty of murder without trial, torture and other serious violations of human rights.” The administration acknowledged that sounded Russian threats in its official statement on the bill text which managed to get Cable. “High-level representatives of the Russian government warned us that the answer is asymmetric in the case of adoption of this law, – the document says. - Their argument is that they should not be waiting for support for sanctions against countries such as Iran, North Korea and Libya, at the same time when sanctions are applied against them. Russian officials have stated that the adoption of the law will be threatened, and other areas of bilateral cooperation, including transit cargo to Afghanistan. ” “The Russian Duma has already proposed a bill to impose similar visa restrictions and the freezing of financial assets of those U.S. officials who are deemed guilty Russia in violation of the rights of Russian citizens arrested abroad and brought to trial in the U.S. – said the administration. - We can not judge the scale of such shares, but note that due to the adoption of the Law S. 1039 hit, and other U.S. national security interests “.Washington Post first reported today on a statement of administration and published the news that the State Department quietly switched involved in the murder Magnitsky Russian officials in black visa list. It seems that this blacklist was an attempt to forestall the adoption of the Administration law. “Clinton Secretary of State has taken steps to prohibit entry into the U.S. of those involved in the death of Magnitsky, which set in due to illegal actions. Therefore, the administration sees no need for further legislation, “- said in a statement. But in fact, the proposed bill included not only those who are involved in the case Magnitsky. The Senate version of the bill also included those involved in a variety of Russian affairs on human rights violations, including that of the jailed Russian dissident, Mikhail Khodorkovsky.The main proponent of the bill the Senate Democratic Senator Ben Cardin of Maryland (Ben Cardin) said today in an interview with Cable, that he is working to respond to the expressed fears of the administration. He does not know when the bill is considered in committee and at a meeting of the Senate. “I work with the administration, working with the committee, working with my colleagues Senators to decide how to proceed – he said. - The strategy may change due to two reasons: first – what happens in Russia, the second – what happens at the State Department. At the moment, all is changeable. ” Meanwhile, the administration has another problem with a reboot – it should get out of Congress repeal the Jackson-Vanik amendment of 1974, which was adopted as a punishment for the Soviet Union, his treatment of Jewish immigrants. This amendment prevents the granting Russia the status of permanent normal trade relations, which is one of the conditions of its accession to the WTO.Director of Russian National Security Council, Mike McFaul (Mike McFaul), appointed by the administration as ambassador to Moscow said last month New Republic, that it is not against the idea of making some new law to replace the Jackson-Vanik amendment, which could exert pressure on Russia in matters of human rights. “Jackson-Vanik amendment is outdated, – he said. - Let’s create a mechanism for newer, which is more appropriate for 2011. ” It is doubtful that the House of Representatives, with its Republican majority will give Russia the status of permanent normal trade relations. This means that the importance of law as a trump card Magnitsky in the negotiations may be minimal. Either way, it is now clear that the Obama administration attaches great importance to preserving the achievements of restarting and does not want that something in the way. “When we came to power, reboot, and Russia has become one of the key foreign policy goals – said in May reporters deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes (Ben Rhodes). - These relations are for the United States among the most fruitful. “

China protests against U.S. spy flights near its coast: report

(Reuters) - China warned that recent U.S. surveillance flights near the Chinese coast have severely harmed strategic mutual trust and were a major obstacle hindering military ties between the two countries, state media reported Wednesday.

Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, vowed Monday to press ahead with surveillance flights near China despite opposition from Beijing, following reports that Chinese jets crossed a boundary with Taiwan to pursue a U.S. spy plane.

Two Chinese Sukhoi-27 fighters last month briefly crossed a line in the center of the Taiwan Strait that is considered an unofficial air boundary between both sides. Asian media reported the Chinese jets were attempting to intercept a U.S. U-2 reconnaissance plane.

“We demand that the U.S. respect China’s sovereignty and security interests and take concrete measures to boost a healthy and stable development of military relations,” the Global Times newspaper quoted the Ministry of National Defense as saying.

Xinhua news agency later quoted ministry spokesman Geng Yansheng as saying the reconnaissance missions “have severely undermined mutual trust and remained a major obstacle to the development of military ties.”

The comments followed Mullen’s visit to China two weeks ago, part of efforts to improve ties with the People’s Liberation Army. Their ties have been rocky, with China unhappy with U.S. reconnaissance patrols near its coast and is suspicious of its bases in South Korea and Japan.

China’s rapid military buildup and territorial disputes in the South China Sea have also sparked concerns in the region.

The United States for its part wants greater military transparency from China over its military modernization, and has warned about China’s growing missile and cyber capabilities.

Self-ruled Taiwan, claimed by China as part of its sovereign territory, has been another major irritant in Sino-U.S. military relations. China has been furious about a 2010 package of U.S. arms sales to Taiwan worth up to $6.4 billion.

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Ron Popeski)

Are rightwing bloggers to blame for the Norway massacre?

Are rightwing bloggers to blame for the Norway massacre?

In an article titled Killings in Norway Spotlight Anti-Muslim Thought in U.S., the New York Times highlights the connection between Anders Behring Breivik and American bloggers:

The man accused of the killing spree in Norway was deeply influenced by a small group of American bloggers and writers who have warned for years about the threat from Islam, lacing his 1,500-page manifesto with quotations from them…

His manifesto, which denounced Norwegian politicians as failing to defend the country from Islamic influence, quoted Robert Spencer, who operates the Jihad Watch Web site, 64 times, and cited other Western writers who shared his view that Muslim immigrants pose a grave danger to Western culture.

Mr. Breivik frequently cited another blog, Atlas Shrugs, and recommended the Gates of Vienna among Web sites. Pamela Geller, an outspoken critic of Islam who runs Atlas Shrugs, wrote on her blog Sunday that any assertion that she or other antijihad writers bore any responsibility for Mr. Breivik’s actions was “ridiculous.”

Much as I find Geller’s writing execrable, the primary responsibility for the slaughter in Norway rests with the cowardly killer and not the hate-mongers he quotes in his pathetic manifesto.

That’s not to say that there are no consequences for spewing a constant stream of hatred and intolerance.

After the Giffords shooting, I wrote about eliminationism on the right. My focus was on the invective directed by rightwingers at the left, but it also applies to anti-Muslim bigotry rampant on a number of conservative sites…

Hate breeds violence (Originally posted 1/8/11)

Anyone who listens to the relentless liberal-bashing on rightwing radio and other conservative outlets will quickly realize that the level of vitriol and derision directed at the left will inevitably provoke a few individuals to act out. And they do. Often with deadly consequences.

Digby explains:

It is clear to me that most people in journalism and (non-right wing) blogging do not listen to right wing talk radio very often and simply cannot believe it when critics report what they are saying. … I realize that it’s hard to believe that Americans are this obnoxious. It’s probably even harder to believe they are paid hundreds of millions of dollars to promote this bigotry on the radio to millions of other Americans, but they are — they are speaking the language of eliminationism and hate day after day after day. If it soothes you to believe that those who are alarmed by that are the intemperate ones so be it, but it doesn’t change what they are doing or the effect it’s had on our politics.

For context, read The Terrorist Threat: Right-Wing Radicals and the Eliminationist Mindset:

An abortion provider who had been a frequent target of Fox News’ bloviator Bill O’Reilly was gunned down during a church service in Kansas; a mentally disturbed man who believed the “tea-bagging” movement’s contention that the Obama administration is destroying the American economy — and who reportedly owned a number of firearms — withdrew $85,000 from his bank account, said he was part of a plot to assassinate the president and disappeared (he was later captured in Las Vegas); and this week, a white supremacist who was deeply steeped in far-right conspiracism entered the U.S. Holocaust Museum and opened fire, killing a guard before being shot and wounded by security personnel.

The three incidents share a common feature: All of these men thought they were serving a higher moral purpose, that is, defending their country from an insidious “enemy within” as defined by the far right — a “baby-killer,” the Jews who secretly control the world and a president who’s been accused of being aManchurian Candidate-style foreign agent bent on nothing less than the destruction of the American Way.

David Neiwert, a veteran journalist who has covered violent right-wing groups for years, calls the worldview that informs this twisted sense of moral purpose “eliminationism.” It’s the belief that one’s political opponents are not just wrongheaded, misinformed or even acting in bad faith. Eliminationism holds that they are a cancer on the body politic that must be excised — either by separation from the public at large, through censorship or by outright extermination — in order to protect the purity of the nation.

As eliminationist rhetoric becomes increasingly mainstream within the American right — fueled in large part by the wildly overheated discourse found on conservative blogs and talk radio — Neiwert’s new book,The Eliminationists: How Hate Talk Radicalized the American Right, could not have come at a more important time. In it, Neiwert painstakingly details how the rise in eliminationism is a very real threat and points to the dangers of dismissing extreme rhetoric as merely a form of “entertainment.”

Here’s an exceptionally detailed post from Media Matters on another example of rightwing hate breeding violence:

I would have never started watching Fox News if it wasn’t for the fact that Beck was on there. And it was the things that he did, it was the things he exposed that blew my mind.” – Byron Williams

Byron Williams, a 45-year-old ex-felon, exploded onto the national stage in the early morning hours of July 18.

According to a police investigation, Williams opened fire on California Highway Patrol officers who had stopped him on an Oakland freeway for driving erratically. For 12 frantic minutes, Williams traded shots with the police, employing three firearms and a small arsenal of ammunition, including armor-piercing rounds fired from a .308-caliber rifle.

When the smoke cleared, Williams surrendered; the ballistic body armor he was wearing had saved his life. Miraculously, only two of the 10 CHP officers involved in the shootout were injured.

In an affidavit, an Oakland police investigator reported that during an interview at the hospital, Williams “stated that his intention was to start a revolution by traveling to San Francisco and killing people of importance at the Tides Foundation and the ACLU.”

One myth promulgated by the right and the media is that there is equivalence between provocative language on the far left and far right, but that is far from the case:

Even the most cursory perusal of rightwing radio, television, blogs and assorted punditry illustrates a profound distinction: in large measure, the right’s overarching purpose is to stoke hatred of the left, of liberalism. The right’s messaging infrastructure, meticulously constructed and refined over decades, promotes an image of liberals as traitors and America-haters, unworthy of their country and bent on destroying it. There is simply no comparable propaganda effort on the left.

The imbalance is stark: Democrats and liberals rail against the right’s ideas; the right rails against the left’s very existence.

The result is an atmosphere where bigotry thrives, where science and reason are under assault, where progress (associated with progressivism) is frowned upon. And it’s an atmosphere where violence becomes more likely. Pretending this is not the case is to enable it.

The deeply-etched themes that run through American politics reflect the right’s successful framing: Democrats and liberals are wimps, Republicans and conservatives are gun-toting patriots; Democrats and liberals despise their country, Republicans and conservatives are the only ones willing to protect it; Democrats and liberals want to intrude on your freedom, tax you and bankrupt the nation, Republicans and conservatives want to give you freedom, liberty and wealth. The current of eliminationism infusing the right’s worldview is an inevitable outcome of such contorted impressions – it’s a natural impulse to want to destroy that which is (supposedly) destroying you.

Those who foist the false right/left equivalency ignore this reality. Their definition of extremism is necessarily warped, since they have to stretch logic to fabricate a sense of balance. If you want single-payer health care, you’re a liberal extremist, but if you deny global warming, you’re simply a conservative skeptic. As the national discourse moves further and further right, only the most unhinged rightwingers are tagged as extreme, while all it takes for a liberal to be labeled an extremist is to espouse a policy position that is out of the mainstream. That is not to say there are not violent individuals and extremists on the left, but that it is absurd to argue that left and right are comparable in the language of violence and incitement.

When center becomes right and right becomes far right, conservatives can get away with wilder and weirder behavior. Exhortations from radio blatherers to bash liberals are dismissed as “entertainment.” Glenn Beck’s bizarre rantings barely get a yawn.

This has been a long time coming and culpability lies not just with the haters but with those in the media and Democratic establishment who refuse to confront the hate-mongering when they see it. Here’s something I wrote about Ann Coulter in 2006.  It sums up everything I want to say about the ongoing demonization of the left and the resulting potential for violence [The title of Coulter's most recent book is "Demonic"]:

NBC, a major U.S. media outlet, has given Coulter extended play in recent days. They have knowingly given a public forum to a woman who slandered 9/11 widows and who is now on the record identifying John Murtha, a U.S. Congressman, a Marine, as an ideal target for murder. Anybody who watched Ann Coulter’s June 14th appearance on the Tonight Show had to realize that it was a watershed moment in the war between the establishment media and the progressive netroots. It was also a signal to Democrats that liberal ideology can be denigrated with impunity. Had the words “Jew” or “Christian” or “Conservative” been substituted for “Liberal” we’d be waking up to a national scandal.

Never mind that Jay Leno and George Carlin sat like trembling lambs while Coulter spewed gutter-level invective at millions of Americans – we’ve already seen the same obsequiousness from Larry King, Matt Lauer (who ended his faux-debate with Coulter by saying “always fun to have you”) and others. The larger issue here is that despite an uproar from the progressive netroots, NBC saw fit to give Coulter a platform to continue her liberal-scapegoating and to slander women who lost their husbands on 9/11.

It’s hard to deny that Coulter’s words border on incitement. What she says is neither amusing nor smart nor humorous nor factual nor worthy of airing on a major media outlet. It treats a substantial segment of the population as sub-human, as creatures deserving of public scorn and worse (She said Jesus would say that “we are called upon to do battle” on liberalism). Careful not to violate Godwin’s Law, I’ll refrain from the obvious comparisons, but what we’re dealing with here is a dangerous inflection point in American politics. When this kind of opprobrium is peddled by major media outlets, it’s high time that the Democratic establishment and the larger progressive community understand that this is a make-or-break showdown with the media.

Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and their ilk have made an industry out of liberal-bashing. Coulter fits in perfectly with those hate-traffickers. And contrary to the false Michael Moore comparisons made by Leno and others, there is no progressive counterpart to these people on the national stage. The basic thrust of the left’s critique is that George W. Bush and his administration are bad for America. It is in our tradition for citizens to defend the Constitution and to question the actions of their elected leaders. Rightwingers may characterize it as Bush Derangement Syndrome, but the progressive community, for the most part, is going after government corruption and lies, not vilifying an entire group of Americans as Bin Laden-loving traitors.

Nearly five years after I wrote that, only one thing has changed: the problem has gotten worse.

Melissa McEwan nails it:

This is not an argument there is no hatred, no inappropriate and even violent rhetoric, among US leftists. There is. This is evidence that, although violent rhetoric exists among US leftists, it is not remotely on the same scale, and, more importantly, not an institutionally endorsed tactic, as it is among US rightwingers.

This is a fact. It is not debatable.

And there is observably precious little integrity among conservatives in addressing this fact, in the wake of the attempted assassination of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.

And as long as we continue to play this foolish game of “both sides are just as bad,” and rely on trusty old ablism to dismiss Jared Lee Loughner as a crackpot—dutifully ignoring that people with mental illness are more likely to be victims of violence than perpetrators; carefully pretending that the existence of people with mental illness who are potentially dangerous somehow absolves us of responsibility for violent rhetoric, as opposed to serving to underline precisely why it’s irresponsible—it will be inevitable again.

The Norway tragedy is the work of an evil individual, and he should burn in hell for his barbaric actions. He is culpable for the carnage he wrought, not the bloggers from whom he drew inspiration. The blood of children is on his hands. Nevertheless, we would be foolish to discount the climate created by the torrent of invective and incitement emanating from America’s right.

Breivik and the Anti-Muslim Right

Breivik and the Anti-Muslim Right 

Posted by Michael Cohen

I, for one, am shocked, shocked to read that anti-Muslim bigots are defending themselvesagainst charges of culpability in the heinous terrorist acts of Anders Behring Breivik, by hiding behind the narrow reed that they never specifically advocated violence against children.

I was even more surprised that my good friend and colleague, Josh Foust, is making a similar argument, claiming that “In reality, no one really understands why they or anyone else behaves the way they do” and that “it does not follow that [anti-Muslim] writers should be linked to and blamed for his attacks. All of them, to a person, have distanced themselves from and condemned Breivik’s actions.” This strikes me as a far too generous read on the damage being wrought, both directly and indirectly, by the propagation of anti-Muslim narratives not just in Europe, but certainly also in the United States.

Certainly these writers don’t deserve direct blame for Breivik’s horrific actions (and it doesn’t mean one should put restrictions on their right to free speech). However the notion that hate-filled words and paranoid assertions about Islamic “takeover” somehow operate in a vacuum and don’t inform, inspire or, above all, validate the views of sociopaths likeBrievik runs counter to well-understood links between extreme and paranoid narratives and activism and violence. Individuals who are prone to paranoia, fetishize violence, demonstrate anti-social or sociopathic behavior or externalize blame can certainly be susceptible to conspiratorial and eliminationist narratives.

Honestly, is anyone really shocked that as anti-Muslim attitudes have increased in recent years (on both sides of the Atlantic) that something like this has happened? It’s like being shocked that as anti-government attitudes took on greater prominence in the early 1990s, Oklahoma City happened. (The only thing most surprising is that Breivik’s actual violence was perpetrated against non-Muslims).

Indeed, Breivik’s own manifesto, apes the hate-filled fear mongering of Pamela Geller, Robert Spencer and other anti-Muslim bigots. He cites both writers and other anti-Islamistfearmongers in his 1,500 page manifesto that was released at approximately the same moment that he was engaging in one of the worst acts of mass violence in Europe since WWII. He is, as Toby Archer in Foreign Policy said a clear product of “predominantly web-based community of anti-Muslim, anti-government, and anti-immigration bloggers, writers, and activists.” Again, Breivik and his views didn’t just emerge from the ether.

Similarly as Brian Fishman nicely points out, Breivik’s actions coincide with the rise of radical right extremists and incipient revanchist nationalism across Europe. It stretches credulity to argue that this is all just a coincidence or that Breivik’s actions were in no way influenced or his beliefs validated by extremist narratives about Islam andmulti-culturalism that present these as some sort of existential threat to European civilization. Indeed, at his court hearing today Breivik plead not guilty, because he “believes that he needed to carry out these acts to save Norway” and western Europe from “cultural Marxism and Muslim domination.”

Of course, such rhetoric is clearly not restricted to Islam – and especially in the UnitedStates. We see it when pro-life advocates describe abortion doctors as “murderers”; we see it when political leaders warn that their opponents are seeking to ‘destroy America’; we see it when some of those same leaders talk about their political opponents with the use of eliminationist rhetoric. Stoking hatred and presenting opponents as not simply wrong, but immoral is the sort of speech that is and should be protected – but also should be recognized for what it is, deeply dangerous. (Peter Daou has a great post on this here). After the Gabrielle Giffords a lot of commentators jumped to false conclusions about what drove Jared Loughner to violence – but in a sense trying to find that connection was almost secondary in importance. Loughner may not have been influenced by Sarah Palin puttingcrosshairs over the names of vulnerable Democratic officeholders; it doesn’t mean such speech isn’t reckless and irresponsible.

Again, none of this means that those who might have inspired or influenced Breivik are responsible for his actions. And we certainly can’t know for sure if Breivik would have acted the way he did even if not for the anti-Muslims rantings of others (though it does appear on the surface that these words served as validation for his own toxic views).

But it also doesn’t mean that we should be blind to the consequences of hate-filled language.

If anything it should lead to greater scrutiny of how such words are being interpreted and even harsher condemnation for them.  And that goes for both hate-mongers and political leaders, like the majority of Republicans running for President who have warned of creeping sharia – a stance that casually plays on anti-Muslim attitudes for electoral gain. Arguing that bigoted and prejudice speech is a value neutral exercise because it is not accompanied by calls for violence is, for a lack of a better term, a bit of cop-out.

Speech matters and those who would traffic in eliminationist, extremist narratives don’t get a pass when violent psychopaths take such rhetoric to a not illogical, violent end.

Suicide bomber kills Kandahar city mayor, Ally of Wali Karzai

Suicide bomber kills Kandahar city mayor

Taliban claims responsibility for fatal attack on Ghulam Haidar Hameedi by man who hid explosives in his turban.
Ucciso da un kamikaze il sindaco di Kandahar source
The mayor of Kandahar Hamidi  

The mayor of Afghanistan’s southern Kandahar city has been killed in a suicide bombing, provincial officials say.

Ghulam Haidar Hameedi was killed when a suicide bomber detonated his explosives in a corridor near Hamidi’s office, Zalmay Ayoubi, the spokesperson for the Kandahar governor, said on Wednesday.

“It appears the bomber was carrying the bomb in his turban,” Ayoubi said.

Abdul Razaq, the Kandahar police chief, said Hameedi was meeting some elders from a district of Kandahar when one of them got close to the target and detonated a bomb hidden in his turban.

Bismullah Afghan Mal, a member of the upper house of parliament from Kandahar, also confirmed Hameedi’s death.

Taliban’s claim

Claiming responsibility for the attack, Qari Yousef Ahmadi, the Taliban spokesperson, told the Associated Press news agency that Hameedi had ordered the destruction of homes that city officials claimed had been illegally constructed.

Ahmadi said the Taliban killed him to avenge the deaths of two children who they allege were killed during the demolition work.

Afghanistan’s Taliban has been involved in the many prominent assassinations in the recent past, and Hameedi’s killing is the third assassination of a major political figure in the last one month.

Ryan Crocker, the new US ambassador to Afghanistan, and General John Allen, the new commander of US and NATO forces in Afghanistan, both condemned the killing.

“It is an indication of the challenges ahead,” Crocker said during his first briefing at the US embassy in Kabul.

He said the recent string of assassinations could be an indication that the Taliban “have been damaged to the point that they are resorting to terrorist attacks.

“Clearly these are horrific attacks but they can also be interpreted as a sign of organisational weakness on the part of the adversary”.

Hameedi’s death comes two weeks after President Hamid Karzai’s half-brother, Ahmad Wali Karzai- one of the most powerful men in southern Afghanistan – was assassinated at his home.

Hameedi, who lived in the US for nearly two decades before returning to Afghanistan after the collapse of the Taliban in 2001, was considered to be Wali Karzai’s ally in Kandahar.

Power vacuum

Last week, Karzai’s inner circle suffered another blow when assailants strapped with explosives killed Jan Mohammad Khan, an adviser on tribal issues and a former governor of Uruzgan province in the south.

A member of parliament also was killed in the July 17 attack at Khan’s home in Kabul.

Hameedi’s killing came amid a dangerous power vacuum after Ahmad Wali’s death.

At a funeral service for Ahmad Wali, a suicide attacker killed a senior religious leader and at least four other people.

Barack Obama’s announcement in June of phased pullout of US troops seems to have further emboldened the Taliban, who have stepped up violence against senior officials.

Kandahar was the site of over half of all targeted killings in Afghanistan between April and June, a UN report said.


The Truth Is Out–Republicans Are Terrible At Basic Math

Debt crisis: Republicans scramble to rewrite plan following figures bungle

Embarrassment for Congress speaker John Boehner after budget office finds $350bn hole in his original proposal

US House Speaker John Boehner

John Boehner’s miscalculation has given the US debt crisis another twist. Photograph: Jason Reed/Reuters

The US debt crisis has escalated after Republicans were forced to rewrite their proposal to lift the debt ceiling, because they miscalculated how much the original plan would cut spending.

In an embarrassing development for John Boehner, the Republican Congress speaker, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) ruled on Tuesday night that his bill would have only cut spending by $850bn (£517bn)over the next decade, not the $1.2tn he had aimed for. Republicans are now racing to rewrite the legislation, and have pushed back a congressional vote on the plan from Wednesday to Thursday at the earliest.

Although Boehner was already struggling to find support for his package, the delay increases the risk that Washington will fail to agree a deal toraise the debt ceiling before 2 August, when the federal government is expected to run out of money.

The dollar dropped against other currencies on Wednesday morning as investors faced the possibility that America could default. Several economists believe the country will lose its AAA credit rating within months, which would push up its borrowing costs, even if the $14.3tn debt ceiling is increased in time.

The White House said on Tuesday it was working with Congress to devise a “Plan B” that might attract enough support. The two sides have been deeply divided for weeks, with Republicans demanding deep spending cuts and Democrats anxious to include tax rises as a major part of the deal.

The US people may be losing patience with their political leaders. The congressional telephone system was swamped with calls from the public on Tuesday, coming close to collapse. The websites of several members of Congress have crashed this week, after president Obama urged Americans to make their voices heard.

Across the globe, there is growing astonishment that the world’s biggest economy is on the brink of a technical default because its elected leaders cannot hammer out a deal. Nouriel Roubini, the leading economics professor, said there was disbelief in China. “Biggest concern in meetings in Hong Kong: will the US default on its debt? Folks here are shocked by the dysfunctional US political system,” he tweeted from Shanghai.

In London, the FTSE 100 fell 39 points at the start of trading to 5890, following widespread losses in Asia overnight. Traders are braced for the debt ceiling negotiations to go right to the wire.

“Equity markets remain on the back foot as the US debt impasse continues to dominate the agenda. The political spat continues and as a result the expectation is that negotiations will be ongoing into next week, right up to that August 2nd deadline,” said Chris Weston, Institutional trader at IG Markets.

Five French UNIFIL Troops Hurt in Sidon Blast

Five French UNIFIL Troops Hurt in Sidon Blast

by Naharnet Newsdesk

Five French soldiers serving with the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) were wounded on Tuesday, one seriously, in a roadside bomb attack in the southern city of Sidon, a UNIFIL spokesman told Agence France Presse.

“According to preliminary reports, at around 6:00 pm today (1500 GMT) an explosion targeted a UNIFIL convoy along the highway at Sidon,” said UNIFIL spokesman Neeraj Singh.

“Five UNIFIL peacekeepers were injured in the explosion. Three of the injured were transported to hospital for treatment.”

For its part, state-run National News Agency said the explosion occurred near the Siniq Bridge at Sidon’s southern entrance.

One of the soldiers taken to hospital was in serious condition with burns to his face and shrapnel in one eye, an official at Hammoud Hospital in Sidon told AFP.

The second soldier was slightly wounded in his left eye, the official added, asking not to be named. The third soldier was released and sent back to base, he said.

An army spokesman told AFP the bomb was placed on the side of the road and was triggered as the vehicle — a troop carrier — drove by.

The front of the vehicle was badly damaged and several parts were blown 20 to 30 meters by the force of the blast.

Several French peacekeepers could be seen covered in dust near the site of the explosion.

UNIFIL forensic experts rushed to the scene along with Lebanese troops, who cordoned off the area and began gathering evidence.

“We are working in coordination with the Lebanese army to determine the circumstances of the incident,” Singh said.

Prime Minister Najib Miqati, who is vacationing in France, telephoned Interior Minister Marwan Charbel and Justice Minister Shakib Qortbawi, asking them to open an immediate probe into the bombing, his office said.

Miqati also called French Ambassador to Lebanon Denis Pietton to condemn the attack.

On May 27 six Italian peacekeepers were wounded — two of them seriously — along with two civilians in a similar roadside bomb explosion near Sidon.

The UNIFIL, a multinational force which currently has 12,000 troops stationed in south Lebanon, was initially set up to monitor Lebanon’s border with Israel.

It was expanded after a devastating 2006 war between the Jewish state and Hizbullah.

The force has been the target of three other unclaimed attacks, the latest in January 2008 when two Irish officers were wounded by a roadside bomb.

In the deadliest incident, three Spanish and three Colombian peacekeepers were killed in June of 2007 when a booby-trapped car exploded as their patrol vehicle drove by.

Claims of major US airstrikes on Mullah Nazir and Gul Bahadar forces, in Afghanistan

35 Pakistani Taliban killed in US air strikes in Afghanistan


ISLAMABAD: At least 35 Pakistani Taliban fighters have been killed in US air strikes in Afghanistan after they attacked a convoy of foreign troops, reports from the Waziristan tribal region of Pakistan said on Tuesday.

The reports said that a group of 100 Pakistani Taliban militants fired missiles and rockets at a convoy of foreign forces in Paktiya on Friday.

US ground forces sought air cover and NATO fighter jets targeted the Pakistani militants, killing 35 of them.

Over a dozen rebels were injured. They were brought to hospitals in North Waziristan Agency, the reports said.

Those who were killed included militants from Pakistani Taliban groups led by Hafiz Gul Bahadur and Mullah Nazir.

Punjabi Taliban militants too were among the dead and injured, residents of Waziristan said.

The Taliban factions led by Hafiz Gul Bahadur and Mullah Nazir have struck peace deals with thePakistan government but they are accused by the US of sending fighters across the border into Afghanistan.

US drones routinely target militants of both groups in Waziristan.

Pakistani militants are now trying to transfer the bodies to Waziristan, sources said.

But local residents said most of those killed were local tribesmen and people were visiting their relatives to offer condolences.

Clinton Pushing Double-Cross On the Sub-Continent

Is this the Obama doctrine?

The writer was Pakistan’s ambassador to the EU from 2002-2004 and to the US in 1999

Nothing seems to be going right in Pakistan-US relations. Just when we were wondering what Pakistan needed to do to restore some semblance of normalcy to its ties with the US, the latter decided to arrest Ghulam Nabi Fai, long a voice against violence and an advocate for peaceful resolution of the Kashmir issue. Are the two agencies playing games with each other?

Next, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton decided to serve another ‘demand note’ on Pakistan and that too while in India, which made it needlessly provocative. Her other remarks at the end of the US-India strategic dialogue were not helpful either, particularly her support for India’s quest for transit rights across South and Central Asia. It was, however, in the southern port city of Chennai that Clinton became India’s unabashed cheerleader, stressing that India-US ties would be the defining partnership of the 21st century, while nudging India to play a more assertive role across the Asia-Pacific region, arguing that it “is an ambitious agenda, but we can afford to be ambitious.” Her assertions must have fallen on receptive ears, as Indian Foreign Minister Krishna confirmed that “we discussed our shared interest in peaceful and stable Asia-Pacific and the Indian Ocean region architecture in the region”. As if to demonstrate how much the two are in sync, it was announced that the Indian president would be undertaking official visits to South Korea and Mongolia, two countries of special interest to China, while the joint statement revealed that “India, the US and Japan plan to commence a trilateral dialogue at the senior official level.”

Increasingly, Clinton has been sounding as if she has joined those in the US who are convinced of the need to galvanise South East Asian nations to confront China now, rather than in the future, when it may no longer be feasible. A year ago, at the annual Asean Regional Forum (ARF) meeting in Hanoi, Clinton had waded into the choppy waters of the South China Sea, where China and its South Asian neighbours are embroiled in a contentious dispute, declaring America’s support for the right to freedom of navigation. Suspecting it as America’s effort to fish in troubled waters, China was constrained to warn the US and other major powers to stay out of disputes in the region. At last week’s ARF annual meeting, Clinton renewed her efforts to encourage South East Asian nations to be more assertive in their claims to the strategically located and potentially lucrative waters of the South China Sea.

Clinton’s remarks in Chennai appear to flesh out the bare bones of the US-India strategic partnership envisaged by Bush and the neocons. Its scale is huge and ambition unlimited, as Clinton herself admitted. Though an Indian Ocean power, the US is committing itself to making India a Pacific Ocean power as well, and for this purpose encouraging her to work with Japan on security issues relating to the region. The East Asia Summit would be turned into the premier regional forum for dealing with security issues and India invited as an observer, for the first time, in the annual Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit. Nothing could be more provocative to China.

Do Clinton’s exhortations in Chennai represent the Obama doctrine for ‘containment’ of China? Getting India into this arrangement may sound like a stroke of genius, but could turn out to be a huge folly as well. Coming as it does at a time when the American economy shows no sign of recovery and its debt to China exceeds $1 trillion, Clinton and company are engaging in an audacious gamble and one that is likely to add greatly to regional tension and turmoil.

Given Pakistan’s strategic relations to China and continuing tensions with India, the Obama administration’s encouragement of India to become more assertive and ambitious in both South and South East Asia demonstrate the limitations of US-Pakistan relations, while creating huge challenges for Pakistan.

Published in The Express Tribune

Pak. Army Claims Pak. Taliban Turned Qurans Into I.E.D.s

Army concludes ‘successful’ South Waziristan operation


Army claims to have cleared the Janata Valley in South Waziristan of terrorists. PHOTO: REUTERS/ FILE

PESHAWAR: Pakistan Army has successfully completed its Tri Star operation in Janata Valley of South Waziristan Agency to flush out terrorists.

An ISPR press release on Tuesday said that the operation was successfully completed and security forces gained full control of Janata Valley inflicting heavy causalities on terrorists and capturing large caches of arms and ammunition.

The operation was launched on July 13, 2011 in Janata Valley where terrorists had occupied surrounding heights ranging from 4000 to 8000 feet, made sanctuaries, training centers from which they used to operate deep South for terrorist activities, planting improvised explosive devises, fire raids, ambushes.

To eradicate the terrorists, a two pronged operation was launched in 28 square kilometre area.  A search operation found IEDs planted in Holy Qurans by the terrorists, pointing to the fact that the terrorists were oblivious to Islamic values and would indulge in all sorts of practices to achieve their heinous objectives since they did not hesitate to degrade the Holy Book.

During the operation a number of terrorists were killed, whereas three key terrorists were captured alive.

Besides destroying terrorists sanctuaries huge cache of arms, ammunition were recovered including two 75mm recoilless rifles, five 12.7 mm guns, one 82 mm Mortar, one missile launcher with two Missiles, fourteen 127mm Rockets and 50,000 rounds of various calibers.

Security forces also defused 16 IEDs and destroyed propaganda material being used by miscreants.

Anders Breivik wasn’t a “lone wolf”, he was part of a movement

Anders Breivik wasn’t a “lone wolf”, he was part of a movement

by Adam Bienkov

Right-wing pundits are now very keen to tell us that the Norwegian terror attacks were not caused by right-wing anti-multicultural ideology.

The fact that Anders Breivik quoted Daily Mail articles in his manifesto and forged links with the same anti-immigration groups lauded by our tabloid press is apparently neither here nor there.

He was just a lone nutter okay? And besides, if it wasn’t for multiculturalism, then there wouldn’t have been a problem there in the first place.

Boris Johnson takes a similar tack today, telling his Telegraph readers that:

“It wasn’t about immigration, or Eurabia, or the hadith, or the Eurocrats’ plot against the people. It wasn’t really about ideology or religion. It was all about him… There is an important lesson in the case of Anders Breivik. He killed in the name of Christianity – and yet of course we don’t blame Christians or “Christendom”. Nor, by the same token, should we blame “Islam” for all acts of terror committed by young Muslim males.

We shouldn’t blame right-wing politics for right-wing terrorism, says Boris, just as we shouldn’t blame Islam for Islamic terrorism. Right-wing politics isn’t the problem. Islam isn’t the problem.

Except that Boris used to say that Islam very much *was* the problem.

Here he is in The Spectator shortly after the 7/7 bombings:

That means disposing of the first taboo, and accepting that the problem is Islam. Islam is the problem. To any non-Muslim reader of the Koran, Islamophobia — fear of Islam — seems a natural reaction, and, indeed, exactly what that text is intended to provoke. Judged purely on its scripture — to say nothing of what is preached in the mosques — it is the most viciously sectarian of all religions in its heartlessness towards unbelievers… What is going on in these mosques and madrasas? When is someone going to get 18th century on Islam’s mediaeval ass?

Back then Islam definitely was the problem for Boris, just as he thinks that the right-wing fear-mongering pushed by the likes of his colleagues and friends definitely isn’t the problem now.

The difference between the two cases is not one of principle but of politics.
Boris did not feel implicated by those who blamed Islam for the 7/7 attacks but he does feel implicated by those blaming right-wing politics for the Breivik attacks.

When Islam was in the dock, Boris wanted it detained without charge, but now that right-wing ideology is in the dock, he wants it released, no questions asked.
It’s a sly trick, but it’s one that he shouldn’t be allowed to get away with.

Islamic ideology had questions to answer after 7/7 and the hard-right ideology pushed by certain pundits in the press has questions to answer now.

The Anders Breivik of this world do not emerge from nowhere, just as the English Defence Leagues of this world do not emerge from nowhere. They are fostered by an ideology legitimised by screaming tabloid headlines and the fear-mongering of politicians who really should know better.

And unfortunately whilst Breivik’s actions were the actions of a nutter, he is not the only nutter out there.

Three years ago 54 explosive devices and 12 firearms were found at the home of BNP member Terence Gavan.

Like Breivik, Gavan saw himself as defending his country from Muslim immigration, and like Breivik he was dismissed as a “lone wolf” whose ideology we didn’t need to worry about.

And yet from lone wolves, larger packs are formed.

So whilst we shouldn’t entirely blame right-wing ideologues for helping form those packs, we shouldn’t entirely absolve them from their responsibilities either.

Intellectuals Sought To Transform Human Nature With a Tablet or a Blotter Paper–Span. Trans.

[Anyone who has ever had the acid experience understands the transformational aspects of the drug--once you swallow it, you are never the same.  The expansion of consciousness into multiple paths at once could be seen as psych training for today's "multitasking."  Those who have tread this path are equally divided into those who are glad to have had the experience and those who are sorry that they ever put the damned thing into their mouth, or the "windowpane"  into their eye (ask someone who understands).  We may learn one day, if we survive, that these people did indeed alter the collective human mind by altering a few consciousnesses.]

WORLD A sting operation broke up one of the most extraordinary drug trafficking networks that the world has ever seen and the British police changed forever.What was Operation Julie?

It was not the typical drug bust. When 800 police officers throughout the United Kingdom conducted the raid just before dawn one morning in 1977, dozens of officials working on the case had their faces unshaven, long haired hippy style. They seemed rather taken from a concert by Pink Floyd. And the great cooperative development of LSD (lysergic acid) that were intended was, if anything, even more unusual. Among its leading members, doctors, scientists and academics, motivated, insisting by an evangelical urgency to transform human consciousness. But despite its ideals of peace and love, his plot was, at that time, the largest drug network that Britain had ever seen and one of the largest in the world. After the agents seized a stash enough for six million “trips”, the price of one dose of LSD on the streets of the kingdom jumped from one pound to five in one night. The investigation, named Operation Julie, only destroyed the band.
You could say it represents the final throes of the counterculture of the 1960, since destroyed the idealism with which many viewed the world of drugs and ushered in an era more harsh and brutal in the underworld of narcotics . In addition, its unprecedented scale and cooperation between the forces forever changed the way the UK was monitored and set the mark that would have the so-called war on drugs in the 1980s. The investigation led to raids in 87 homes, which resulted in over 100 arrests and 15 ringleaders sentenced to a combined 120 years in prison. psychedelia in Cambridge had all started in a unusual scenario: in academia at the University of Cambridge, inspired by the philosophy of American Timothy Leary, LSD pioneer, who postulated that the drug might open the mind and transform society for the better. The catalyst was David Solomon, a California bohemian intellectual and a contributor to Leary, who came to Cambridge in 1967. Two years later he met Richard Kemp, a chemist at the University of Liverpool. Soon, Kemp began to frequent the circle of Solomon, and his first production of LSD began in the American house, a former vicarage. One of the radical scholars who came to play a key role within the organization was Leaf Fielding, an anarchist who had left college after his introduction to the acid, at the age of 18. started making tablets, converting raw chemicals into individual doses and later took over the distribution network. As recounted in his recently published memoir, “Living outside the law,” the most complete account yet of the story of Operation Julie by a member of the conspiracy, the band’s motivation was not money but the promise of building a new society and the search for a solution to the nuclear confrontation of the Cold War.”We were all very idealistic,” he recalls. “I was convinced that this was the answer to world problems.””We saw a new awakening terrible to break the impasse in which the world had gone.” In 1973, fearful of police attention, one of the wings of a cooperative run by Kemp and Solomon moved to west Wales, while another branch was in London. The arrival of these figures countercultural towns and cities like Llanddewi Brefi Tregaron or was less suspicious than could imagine. The natural beauty of Welsh county of Ceredigion and low cost of living had attracted a large population of hippies, according to Lyn Ebenezer, author of “Operation Julie: the biggest LSD bust in the world” freelance journalist who worked as a local at the time. Figures from the likes of the Rolling Stones, John Lennon and Jimi Hendrix made ​​pilgrimages to the area. “Color” The leaders of LSD were parallel work, mingled with their neighbors and visiting bars local. As a result, says Ebenezer, quickly became popular neighbors. “They were great characters,” he says. “I gave color to the picture.” “Yes, they dressed differently to the locals. But most of the locals knew they were not the archetype of the hippies who do not work and lived off state benefits. were part of the community. ” In fact, like many on the net, Fielding did not need to take the risks he ran. By the time the raids had already established a legitimate business and prosperous: a health food store. Shortly before the crash, told colleagues he wanted to go outside the network. “We started out as idealists, but then became a paranoia,” he recalls. And they had good reason to be paranoid. The police had discovered a piece of paper with the name of one of the ingredients of LSD in Kemp’s car after an accident. That was the kickoff of a police investigation multinational drug unprecedented. It was given the name Operation Julie, as he called one of the officers, Sgt Julie Taylor, who would later immortalized in song by The Clash, “Julie’s Been Working For The Drug Squad “(” Julie has been working for the drug squad. “) In the homes of the heads were installed listening devices and dozens of undercover agents were sent to West Wales to impersonate hippies and monitored for 13 months . Dai Rees, a drug inspector of the brigade, was among those who “converted” to the operation. “We left the long hair, we used jeans, we were pretty sloppy,” he recalls. “Wear a shirt and tie would have been impossible.” On March 26, 1977, detectives finally broke. They found evidence of large-scale operation that exported drugs to 100 countries and according to some reports, supplying 90% of LSD in the United Kingdom.Share certificates and details of bank accounts in Switzerland were evidence that the band had come a long way from its early roots idealistic and had become a multinational corporation that handled millions of pounds. For the police, the gang’s arrest and imprisonment of its leaders were seen as a huge achievement and further research would follow the example of lateral force Operation Julie. Dai Rees is proud to have played an important role in this collective operation. Talents “We were totally convinced we were doing the right thing,” he says. “I think all police forces in the country at that time had some experience with people who had ended up in psychiatric hospitals or who were involved in serious crimes because of LSD.” But, however, the police inspector can not avoid seeing the imprisonment of people as intelligent and well educated as a tragic loss. “When you see that talent leaving the dock to start a prison sentence, does not jump for joy,” says Rees. Kemp was sentenced to 13 years in prison and his girlfriend Christine Bott, a physician qualified to nine years. His punishment meant the end of the manufacture of LSD by the band. Fielding, who was sentenced to eight years in prison, said that drug gangs filled the void they left were far more dangerous than his.After release, set up another food store and founded an orphanage in Malawi. And he says he does not regret anything. However, no longer believes in the ability of LSD to transform the planet. “Now I realize how unrealistic it was: one can not solve world problems with a pill,” he admits. “Obviously, some people suffered and it makes me feel bad, but some drugs work for some people and not for others. I like a drink with the meal, but I’m not an alcoholic. ” Views on the war on drugs, in which Julie’s Operation seen as a starting point, remain divided. But the legacy of a group of hippies in rural areas of Wales is still alive.

Colombian colonel sentenced for faking civilian murders

Colombian colonel sentenced for faking civilian murders

Colombia's former President Alvaro Uribe addresses businessmen and politicians in Cancun on 9 June
The false positives scandal arose during President Alvaro Uribe’s campaign to crush left-wing rebels

A Colombian army colonel has admitted his unit murdered 57 civilians, then dressed them in uniforms and claimed they were rebels killed in combat.

Colonel Luis Fernando Borja was sentenced to 21 years, reduced from 42 years for accepting responsibility.

In a typical case in 2007, Borja admitted two men were lured to their deaths with supposed promises of work.

He is the most senior officer convicted so far in what has become known as the “false positives” scandal.

The scandal arose from a body bag culture in the army, in which soldiers were rewarded with prestige and promotions according to the number of rebels they killed.

The attorney general’s office is investigating more than 1,400 cases involving thousands of victims.

Borja’s unit was operating in the northern province of Sucre when the murders, for which he has been convicted, were perpetrated.

Most of the “false positives” occurred under the two administrations of President Alvaro Uribe. He is credited with beating back left-wing rebels who threatened to overthrow the state.

Now questions are being asked about the cost of this success in human rights abuses, says the BBC correspondent in Bogota, Jeremy McDermott.

Earlier this month, eight soldiers were sentenced to 60 years each for killing four farmers and then pretending they were guerrillas in 2006 in the province of Antioquia.

Knights Templar Drug Mafia In Mexico

Knights Templar: In Mexico, like Norway, criminals look to past for legitimacy

The attacker in Norway and a Mexican drug ring both invoke the ancient Knights Templar to describe themselves. Why do violent ideologues and criminals search the past for inspiration?

In this photo taken July 14, white robes with Maltese crosses, guns, munitions and Knights Templar paraphernalia are shown to the press after being seized by the Mexican army near the town of Santa Gertrudis, Mexico. The Templar Knights, a new drug cartel that was created after it splintered from the La Familia cartel last March, has issued a code-of-conduct booklet for members saying it is fighting a war against tyranny and injustice.


By James Bosworth, Guest blogger / July 25, 2011

Mexico‘s newest criminal organizations, the Knights Templarissued a “code of conduct” that included moral standards while also justifying the use of lethal force. The KT appears to be an offshoot of La Familia, another group that followed a cult-like ideology as it simultaneously profited from criminal activity and engaged in significant violence in Michoacan (also see Global Post andAl Jazeera).

Over the weekend, it has come out that the killer inNorway‘s shocking massacre last week also consideredhimself a member of the Knights Templar. He claims that a group of nine individuals met a decade ago to refound the organization. His manifesto calls for the organization to “seize political and military control of Western European countries and implement a cultural conservative political agenda.”

Did an 800-year-old organization inspire violence on two continents this week? I doubt anyone thinks these two groups are linked. It’s just a coincidence that they use the same name. Yet, it raises the question of what makes violent ideologues and criminals search the past for inspiration? And what makes two groups so far apart find that inspiration in the Knights Templar?

I’ve touched on the political ideology of Mexico’s criminal organizations previously. They do try to impact politics, but the main political goals are usually to have freedom of movement and action, avoiding arrest by the authorities. Still, La Familia and Knights Templar do claim an ideology beyond the freedom to be criminals, claiming to impose a moral authority and set of rules on the regions they control. The Zetas, on the other side, have engaged in violent acts that don’t appear to match their criminal goals and hint at a dark view of their role in Mexico and the world. Analysts question whether these groups legitimately follow their “ideologies” or if they are a false cover to grant some form of political legitimacy to criminal operations.

The Mexican Knights Templar code of conduct appears to be a false appeal to Mexico’s citizens. By promising to stand up for poor and the oppressed, they take a page from the FARC‘s book in claiming to fight for economic justice while really cashing in on criminal actions. Their rule to use violence in only certain cases doesn’t stand up to the brutal and seemingly senseless killings that they have committed in the past month.

As for the guy in Norway, his nationalistic and anti-Muslim views are part of a very disturbed and violent mind. The Knights Templar label is a failed attempt to grant historical legitimacy to a violent act that truly has no justification.

— James Bosworth is a freelance writer and consultant based in ManaguaNicaragua, who runsBloggings by Boz.

IN PICTURES: Mexico’s drug war

The Secret Killers

AC 130H Spectre gunship

The Secret Killers

  • The US military is fast becoming Manhunting, Inc, expanding its use of highly secretive “capture/kill” teams. Task Force 373 in Afghanistan is one such special operations forces assassination unit.

Find, fix, finish, and follow-up” is the way the Pentagon describes the mission of secret military teams in Afghanistan which have been given a mandate to pursue alleged members of the Taliban or al-Qaeda wherever they may be found. Some call these “manhunting” operations and the units assigned to them “capture/kill” teams.

Whatever terminology you choose, the details of dozens of their specific operations — and how they regularly went badly wrong — have been revealed for the first time in the mass of secret US military and intelligence documents published by the website Wikileaks in July to a storm of news coverage and official protest.  Representing a form of US covert warfare now on the rise, these teams regularly make more enemies than friends and undermine any goodwill created by US reconstruction projects.

When Danny Hall and Gordon Phillips, the civilian and military directors of the US provincial reconstruction team in Nangarhar province, Afghanistan, arrived for a meeting with Gul Agha Sherzai, the local governor, in mid-June 2007, they knew that they had a lot of apologizing to do. Philips had to explain why a covert US military “capture/kill” team named Task Force 373, hunting for Qari Ur-Rahman, an alleged Taliban commander given the code-name “Carbon,” had called in an AC-130 Spectre gunship and inadvertently killed seven Afghan police officers in the middle of the night.

The incident vividly demonstrated the inherent clash between two doctrines in the US war in Afghanistan — counterinsurgency (“protecting the people”) and counterterrorism (killing terrorists). Although the Obama administration has given lip service to the former, the latter has been, and continues to be, the driving force in its war in Afghanistan.

For Hall, a Foreign Service officer who was less than two months away from a plush assignment in London, working with the military had already proven more difficult than he expected. In an article for Foreign Service Journal published a couple of months before the meeting, he wrote, “I felt like I never really knew what was going on, where I was supposed to be, what my role was, or if I even had one. In particular, I didn’t speak either language that I needed: Pashtu or military.”

It had been no less awkward for Phillips. Just a month earlier, he had personally handed over “solatia” payments — condolence payments for civilian deaths wrongfully caused by US forces — in Governor Sherzai’s presence, while condemning the act of a Taliban suicide bomber who had killed 19 civilians, setting off the incident in question. “We come here as your guests,” he told the relatives of those killed, “invited to aid in the reconstruction and improved security and governance of Nangarhar, to bring you a better life and a brighter future for you and your children.  Today, as I look upon the victims and their families, I join you in mourning for your loved ones.”

Hall and Phillips were in charge of a portfolio of 33 active US reconstruction projects worth $11 million in Nangarhar, focused on road-building, school supplies, and an agricultural program aimed at exporting fruits and vegetables from the province.

Yet the mission of their military-led “provincial reconstruction team” (made up of civilian experts, State department officials, and soldiers) appeared to be in direct conflict with those of the “capture/kill” team of special operations forces (Navy Seals, Army Rangers, and Green Berets, together with operatives from the Central Intelligence Agency’s Special Activities Division) whose mandate was to pursue Afghans alleged to be terrorists as well as insurgent leaders.  That team was leaving a trail of dead civilian bodies and recrimination in its wake.

Details of some of the missions of Task Force 373 first became public as a result of more than 76,000 incident reports leaked to the public by Wikileaks, a whistleblower website, together with analyses of those documents in Der Spiegel, the Guardian, and the New York Times. A full accounting of the depredations of the task force may be some time in coming, however, as the Obama administration refuses to comment on its ongoing assassination spree in Afghanistan and Pakistan. A short history of the unit can nonetheless be gleaned from a careful reading of the Wikileaks documents as well as related reports from Afghanistan and unclassified Special Forces reports.

The Wikileaks data suggests that as many as 2,058 people on a secret hit list called the “Joint Prioritized Effects List” (JPEL) were considered “capture/kill” targets in Afghanistan. A total of 757 prisoners — most likely from this list — were being held at the Bagram Theater Internment Facility (BTIF), a US-run prison on Bagram Air Base as of the end of December 2009.

The idea of “joint” teams from different branches of the military working collaboratively with the CIA was first conceived in 1980 after the disastrous Operation Eagle Claw, when personnel from the Air Force, Army, and Navy engaged in a disastrously botched, seat-of-the-pants attempt to rescue US hostages in Iran with help from the Agency. Eight soldiers were killed when a helicopter crashed into a C-130 aircraft in the Iranian desert.  Afterwards, a high-level, six-member commission led by Admiral James L. Holloway, III recommended the creation of a Joint Special Forces command to ensure that different branches of the military and the CIA should do far more advance coordination planning in the future.

This process accelerated greatly after September 11, 2001.  That month, a CIA team called Jawbreaker headed for Afghanistan to plan a US-led invasion of the country. Shortly thereafter, an Army Green Beret team set up Task Force Dagger to pursue the same mission. Despite an initial rivalry between the commanders of the two groups, they eventually teamed up.

The first covert “joint” team involving the CIA and various military special operations forces to work together in Afghanistan was Task Force 5, charged with the mission of capturing or killing “high value targets” like Osama bin Laden, senior leaders of al-Qaeda, and Mullah Mohammed Omar, the head of the Taliban. A sister organization set up in Iraq was called Task Force 20. The two were eventually combined into Task Force 121 by General John Abizaid, the head of the US Central Command.

In a new book to be released this month, Operation Darkheart, Lieutenant Colonel Anthony Shaffer describes the work of Task Force 121 in 2003, when he was serving as part of a team dubbed the Jedi Knights.  Working under the alias of Major Christopher Stryker, he ran operations for the Defense Intelligence Agency (the military equivalent of the CIA) out of Bagram Air Base.

One October night, Shaffer was dropped into a village near Asadabad in Kunar province by an MH-47 Chinook helicopter to lead a “joint” team, including Army Rangers (a Special Forces division) and 10th Mountain Division troops.  They were on a mission to capture a lieutenant of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, a notorious warlord allied with the Taliban, based on information provided by the CIA.

It wasn’t easy. “They succeeded in striking at the core of the Taliban and their safe havens across the border in Pakistan. For a moment Shaffer saw us winning the war,” reads the promotional material for the book. “Then the military brass got involved. The policies that top officials relied on were hopelessly flawed. Shaffer and his team were forced to sit and watch as the insurgency grew — just across the border in Pakistan.”

Almost a quarter century after Operation Eagle Claw, Shaffer, who was part of the Able Danger team that had pursued Al Qaeda in the 1990s, describes the bitter turf wars between the CIA and Special Forces teams over how the shadowy world of secret assassinations in Afghanistan and Pakistan should be run.

Fast forward to 2007, the first time Task Force 373 is mentioned in the Wikileaks documents. We don’t know whether its number means anything, but coincidentally or not, chapter 373 of the US Code 10, the act of Congress that sets out what the US military is legally allowed to do, permits the Secretary of Defense to empower any “civilian employee” of the military “to execute warrants and make arrests without a warrant” in criminal matters. Whether or not this is indeed the basis for that “373″ remains a classified matter — as indeed, until the Wikileaks document dump occurred, was the very existence of the group.

Analysts say that Task Force 373 complements Task Force 121 by using “white forces” like the Rangers and the Green Berets, as opposed to the more secretive Delta Force. Task Force 373 is supposedly run out of three military bases — in Kabul, the Afghan capital; Kandahar, the country’s second largest city; and Khost City near the Pakistani tribal lands.  It’s possible that some of its operations also come out of Camp Marmal, a German base in the northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif. Sources familiar with the program say that the task force has its own helicopters and aircraft, notably AC-130 Spectre gunships, dedicated only to its use.

Its commander appears to have been Brigadier General Raymond Palumbo, based out of the Special Operations Command at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Palumbo, however,left Fort Bragg in mid-July, shortly after General Stanley McChrystal was relieved as Afghan war commander by President Obama. The name of the new commander of the task force is not known.

In more than 100 incident reports in the Wikileaks files, Task Force 373 is described as leading numerous “capture/kill” efforts, notably in Khost, Paktika, and Nangarhar provinces, all bordering the Federally Administered Tribal Areas of northern Pakistan. Some reportedly resulted in successful captures, while others led to the death of local police officers or even small children, causing angry villagers to protest and attack US-led military forces.

In April 2007, David Adams, commander of the Khost provincial reconstruction team, was called to meet with elders from the village of Gurbuz in Khost province, who were angry about Task Force 373′s operations in their community. The incident report on Wikileaks does not indicate just what Task Force 373 did to upset Gurbuz’s elders, but the governor of Khost, Arsala Jamal, had been publicly complaining about Special Forces operations and civilian deaths in his province since December 2006, when five civilians were killed in a raid on Darnami village.

“This is our land,” he said then. “I’ve been asking with greater force: Let us sit together, we know our Afghan brothers, we know our culture better. With these operations we should not create more enemies. We are in a position to reduce mistakes.”

As Adams would later recall in an op-ed he co-authored for the Wall Street Journal, “The increasing number of raids on Afghan homes alienated many of Khost’s tribal elders.”

On June 12, 2007, Danny Hall and Gordon Philips, working in Nangarhar province just northeast of Khost, were called into that meeting with Governor Sherzai to explain how Task Force 373 had killed those seven local Afghan police officers.  Like Jamal, Sherzai made the point to Hall and Philips that “he strongly encourages better coordination… and he further emphasized that he does not want to see this happen again.”

Less than a week later, a Task Force 373 team fired five rockets at a compound in Nangar Khel in Paktika province to the south of Khost, in an attempt to kill Abu Laith al-Libi, an alleged al-Qaeda member from Libya. When the US forces made it to the village, they found that Task Force 373 had destroyed a madrassa (or Islamic school), killing six children and grievously wounding a seventh who, despite the efforts of a US medical team, would soon die. (In late January 2008, al-Libi was reported killed by a Hellfire missile from a Predator drone strike in a village near Mir Ali in North Waziristan in Pakistan.)

Paktika Governor Akram Khapalwak met with the US military the day after the raid. Unlike his counterparts in Khost and Nangarhar, Khapalwak agreed to support the “talking points” developed for Task Force 373 to explain the incident to the media. According to the Wikileaks incident report, the governor then “echoed the tragedy of children being killed, but stressed this could’ve been prevented had the people exposed the presence of insurgents in the area.”

However, no military talking points, no matter in whose mouth, could stop the civilian deaths as long as Task Force 373’s raids continued.

On October 4, 2007, its members called in an air strike — 500 pound Paveway bombs — on a house in the village of Laswanday, just six miles from Nangar Khel in Paktika province (where those seven children had already died). This time, four men, one woman, and a girl — all civilians — as well as a donkey, a dog, and several chickens would be slaughtered. A dozen US soldiers were injured, but the soldiers reported that not one “enemy” was detained or killed.

Not all raids resulted in civilian deaths.  The US military incident reports released by Wikileaks suggest that Task Force 373 had better luck in capturing “targets” alive and avoiding civilian deaths on December 14, 2007. The 503rd Infantry Regiment (Airborne) was asked that day to support Task Force 373 in a search in Paktika province for Bitonai and Nadr, two alleged al-Qaeda leaders listed on the JPEL. The operation took place just outside the town of Orgun, close to US Forward Operating Base (FOB) Harriman. Located 7,000 feet above sea level and surrounded by mountains, it hosts about 300 soldiers as well as a small CIA compound, and is often visited by chattering military helicopters as well as sleepy camel herds belonging to local Pashtuns.

An airborne assault team code-named “Operation Spartan” descended on the compounds where Bitonai and Nadr were supposed to be living, but failed to find them. When a local Afghan informant told the Special Forces soldiers that the suspects were at a location about two miles away, Task Force 373 seized both men as well as 33 others who were detained at FOB Harriman for questioning and possible transfer to the prison at Bagram.

But when Task Force 373 was on the prowl, civilians were, it seems, always at risk, and while the Wikileaks documents reveal what the U.S soldiers were willing to report, the Afghan side of the story was often left in a ditch.  For example, on a Monday night in mid-November 2009, Task Force 373 conducted an operation to capture or kill an alleged militant code-named “Ballentine” in Ghazni province. A terse incident report announced that one Afghan woman and four “insurgents” had been killed. The next morning, Task Force White Eagle, a Polish unit under the command of the US 82nd Airborne Division, reported that some 80 people gathered to protest the killings. The window of an armored vehicle was damaged by the angry villagers, but the documents don’t offer us their version of the incident.

In an ironic twist, one of the last Task Force 373 incidents recorded in the Wikileaks documents was almost a reprise of the original Operation Eagle Claw disaster that led to the creation of the “joint” capture/kill teams. Just before sunrise on October 26, 2009, two US helicopters, a UH-1 Huey and an AH-1 Cobra, collided near the town of Garmsir in the southern province of Helmand, killing four Marines.

Closely allied with Task Force 373 is a British unit, Task Force 42, composed of Special Air Service, Special Boat Service, and Special Reconnaissance Regiment commandos who operate in Helmand province and are mentioned in several Wikileaks incident reports.

Capture/kill” is a key part of a new military “doctrine” developed by the Special Forces Command established after the failure of Operation Eagle Claw. Under the leadership of General Bryan D. Brown, who took over the Special Forces Command in September 2003, the doctrine came to be known as F4, which stood for“find, fix, finish, and follow-up” — a slightly euphemistic but not hard to understand message about how alleged terrorists and insurgents were to be dealt with.

Under Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld in the Bush years, Brown began setting up “joint Special Forces” teams to conduct F4 missions outside war zones.  These were given the anodyne name “Military Liaison Elements.” At least one killing by such a team in Paraguay (of an armed robber not on any targeting list) was written up by New York Times reporters Scott Shane and Thom Shanker. The team, whose presence had not been made known to the US ambassador there, was ordered to leave the country.

“The number-one requirement is to defend the homeland. And so sometimes that requires that you find and capture or kill terrorist targets around the world that are trying to do harm to this nation,” Brown told the House Committee on Armed Services in March 2006. “Our foreign partners… are willing but incapable nations that want help in building their own capability to defend their borders and eliminate terrorism in their countries or in their regions.” In April 2007, President Bush rewarded Brown’s planning by creating a special high-level office at the Pentagon for an assistant secretary of defense for special operations/low-intensity conflict and interdependent capabilities.

Michael G. Vickers, made famous in the book and film Charlie Wilson’s War as the architect of the covert arms-and-money supply chain to the mujaheedin in the CIA’s anti-Soviet Afghan campaign of the 1980s, was nominated to fill the position. Under his leadership, a new directive was issued in December 2008 to “develop capabilities for extending US reach into denied areas and uncertain environments by operating with and through indigenous foreign forces or by conducting low visibility operations.”  In this way, the “capture/kill” program was institutionalized in Washington.

“The war on terror is fundamentally an indirect war… It’s a war of partners… but it also is a bit of the war in the shadows, either because of political sensitivity or the problem of finding terrorists,” Vickers told the Washington Post as 2007 ended. “That’s why the Central Intelligence Agency is so important… and our Special Operations forces play a large role.”

George W. Bush’s departure from the White House did not dampen the enthusiasm for F4.  Quite the contrary: even though the F4 formula has recently been tinkered with, in typical military fashion, and has now become “find, fix, finish, exploit, and analyze,” or F3EA, President Obama has, by all accounts, expanded military intelligence gathering and “capture/kill” programs globally in tandem with an escalation of drone-strike operations by the CIA.

There are quite a few outspoken supporters of the “capture/kill” doctrine. Columbia University Professor Austin Long is one academic who has jumped on the F3EA bandwagon. Noting its similarity to the Phoenix assassination program, responsible for tens of thousands of deaths during the US war in Vietnam (which he defends), he has called for a shrinking of the US military “footprint” in Afghanistan to 13,000 Special Forces troops who would focus exclusively on counter-terrorism, particularly assassination operations. “Phoenix suggests that intelligence coordination and the integration of intelligence with an action arm can have a powerful effect on even extremely large and capable armed groups,” he and his co-author William Rosenauwrote in a July 2009 Rand Institute monograph entitled” “The Phoenix Program and Contemporary Counterinsurgency.”

Others are even more aggressively inclined. Lieutenant Colonel George Crawford, who retired from the position of “lead strategist” for the Special Forces Command to go work for Archimedes Global, Inc., a Washington consulting firm, has suggested that F3EA be replaced by one term: “Manhunting.” In a monograph published by the Joint Special Operations University in September 2009, Manhunting: Counter-Network Organization for Irregular Warfare,” Crawford spells out “how to best address the responsibility to develop manhunting as a capability for American national security.”

The strange evolution of these concepts, the creation of ever more global hunter-killer teams whose purpose in life is assassination 24/7, and the civilians these “joint Special Forces” teams regularly kill in their raids on supposed “targets” have unsettled even military experts.

For example, Christopher Lamb, the acting director of the Institute for National Strategic Studies at the National Defense University, and Martin Cinnamond, a former U.N. official in Afghanistan, penned an article for the Spring 2010 issue of the Joint Forces Quarterly in which they wrote: “There is broad agreement… that the indirect approach to counterinsurgency should take precedence over kill/capture operations. However, the opposite has occurred.”

Other military types claim that the hunter-killer approach is short-sighted and counterproductive. “My take on Task Force 373 and other task forces, it has a purpose because it keeps the enemy off balance. But it does not understand the fundamental root cause of the conflict, of why people are supporting the Taliban,” says Matthew Hoh, a former Marine and State Department contractor who resigned from the government last September. Hoh, who often worked with Task Force 373 as well as other Special Forces “capture/kill” programs in Afghanistan and Iraq, adds: “We are killing the wrong people, the mid-level Taliban who are only fighting us because we are in their valleys. If we were not there, they would not be fighting the US”

Task Force 373 may be a nightmare for Afghans.  For the rest of us — now that Wikileaks has flushed it into the open — it should be seen as a symptom of deeper policy disasters.  After all, it raises a basic question: Is this country really going to become known as a global Manhunters, Inc.?

Police probing U.K. links of Norway killer

[I was torn between the journalist's compulsion to find and rebroadcast the truth about life or death issues like terrorism and my moral hesitation to anything which would further the goals of the terrorist, but in the end, I felt that researchers needed to have access to this material, considering the links to British racism.  For that reason, here is a link to the  “Breivik manifesto.”  2083 A European Declaration of Independence, by andrew Berwick, London  2011.  All roads lead back to British terrorism.]

Police probing U.K. links of Norway killer


Anders Behring Breivik, left, responsible for Norway's twin terror attacks, sits in an armored police vehicle after leaving the courthouse following a hearing in Oslo on Monday, July 25, 2011 where he pleaded not guilty to one of the deadliest modern mass killings in peacetime.
APAnders Behring Breivik, left, responsible for Norway’s twin terror attacks, sits in an armored police vehicle after leaving the courthouse following a hearing in Oslo on Monday, July 25, 2011 where he pleaded not guilty to one of the deadliest modern mass killings in peacetime.

Scotland was on Monday reported to be investigating potential British links to Norway’s mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik after he said that he had been in touch with right-wing extremist groups in the United Kingdom, especially the English Defence League (EDL) which is engaged in a virulent anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant and anti-multiculturalism campaign.

A 1,500–page “manifesto” that Breivik posted on the internet before embarking on last week’s massacre is datelined “London, 2011” and signed “Andrew Berwick”, an Anglicised version of his name. He described an Englishman Richard as his “mentor”.

Describing himself as a successor to the medieval Knights Templar, associated with the Crusades, Breivik claimed he was “recruited” at a meeting in London, April 2002, called by two English extremists thought to be EDL members. He also claimed that he had more than 600 EDL members as his “Facebook” friends and had spoken to many of them.

“In fact, I was one of the individuals who supplied them with processed ideological material (including rhetorical strategies) in the very beginning,” he wrote.

The so-called “Breivik manifesto” names former Prime Minister Tony Blair and Gordon Brown and Prince Charles as “traitors” for promoting multiculturalism and allowing too many immigrants to come into Britain.

Mr. Blair and former Foreign Secretary Jack Straw are accused of “dishonestly concealing a plan to allow in more immigrants and make Britain more multicultural”.

Mr. Brown’s picture appears in a gallery of “war criminals” for “colluding” with Muslim extremists. Prince Charles is criticised for his links with the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies.

The EDL denied any links with Breivik.

British Government’s National Security Council, chaired by Prime Minister David Cameron, asked the police to reassess the threat from far right groups in the light of Breivik’s action and his claims about his links with them.

Mr. Cameron has been criticised for ignoring warning about the threat from white supremacists and focusing solely on Muslim extremists.

Speaking after the NSC meeting, Mr Cameron said: “We are going to take stock of what happened in Norway and see if there are lessons to be learned.”





Evidence outlined in a Pentagon contractor report suggests that financial subversion carried out by unknown parties, such as terrorists or hostile nations, contributed to the 2008 economic crash by covertly using vulnerabilities in the U.S. financial system.

The unclassified 2009 report “Economic Warfare: Risks and Responses” by financial analystKevin D. Freeman, a copy of which was obtained by The Washington Times, states that “a three-phased attack was planned and is in the process against the United States economy.”

While economic analysts and a final report from the federal government’s Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission blame the crash on such economic factors as high-risk mortgage lending practices and poor federal regulation and supervision, the Pentagon contractor adds a new element: “outside forces,” a factor the commission did not examine.

“There is sufficient justification to question whether outside forces triggered, capitalized upon or magnified the economic difficulties of 2008,” the report says, explaining that those domestic economic factors would have caused a “normal downturn” but not the “near collapse” of the global economic system that took place.

Suspects include financial enemies in Middle Eastern states, Islamic terrorists, hostile members of the Chinese military, or government and organized crime groups in RussiaVenezuela orIranChinese military officials publicly have suggested using economic warfare against the U.S.

Michael G. Vickers, assistant secretary of defense for special operations, said the Pentagon was not the appropriate agency to assess economic warfare and financial terrorism risks. (Associated Press)Michael G. Vickers, assistant secretary of defense for special operations, said the Pentagon was not the appropriate agency to assess economic warfare and financial terrorism risks. (Associated Press)

In an interview with The TimesMr. Freeman said his report provided enough theoretical evidence for an economic warfare attack that further forensic study was warranted.

“The new battle space is the economy,” he said. “We spend hundreds of billions of dollars on weapons systems each year. But a relatively small amount of money focused against our financial markets through leveraged derivatives or cyber efforts can result in trillions of dollars in losses. And, the perpetrators can remain undiscovered.

“This is the equivalent of box cutters on an airplane,” Mr. Freeman said.

Paul Bracken, a Yale University professor who has studied economic warfare, said he saw “no convincing evidence that ‘outside forces’ colluded to bring about the 2008 crisis.”

“There were outside players in the market” for unregulated credit default swaps, Mr. Brackensaid in an e-mail. “Foreign banks and hedge funds play the shorts all the time too. But suggestions of an organized targeted attack for strategic reasons don’t seem to me to be plausible.”

Regardless of the report’s findings, U.S. officials and outside analysts said the Pentagon, theTreasury Department and U.S. intelligence agencies are not aggressively studying the threats to the United States posed by economic warfare and financial terrorism.

“Nobody wants to go there,” one official said.

A copy of the report also was provided to the recently concluded Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, but the commission also declined to address the possibility of economic warfare in its final report.

Officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said senior Pentagon policymakers, including Michael Vickers, an assistant defense secretary in charge of special operations, blocked further study, saying the Pentagon was not the appropriate agency to assess economic warfare and financial terrorism risks.

Mr. Vickers declined to be interviewed but, through a spokesman, said he did not say economic warfare was not an area for the Pentagon to study, and that he did not block further study.

Mr. Vickers is awaiting Senate confirmation on his promotion to be undersecretary of defense for intelligence.

Despite his skepticism of the report, Mr. Bracken agreed that financial warfare needs to be studied, and he noted that the U.S. government is only starting to address the issue.

“We are in an era like the 1950s where technological innovation is transforming the tools of coercion and war,” he said. “We tend not to see this, and look at information warfare, financial warfare, precision strike, [weapons of mass destruction], etc. as separate silos. It’s their parallel co-evolution that leads to interesting options, like counter-elite targeting. And no one is really looking at this in an overall ‘systems’ way. Diplomacy is way behind here.”

Mr. Freeman wrote the report for the Pentagon’s Irregular Warfare Support Program, part of the Combating Terrorism Technical Support Office, which examines unconventional warfare scenarios.

“The preponderance of evidence that cannot be easily dismissed demands a thorough and immediate study be commenced,” the report says. “Ignoring the likelihood of this very real threat ensures a catastrophic event.”

The report concluded that the evidence of an attack is strong enough that “financial terrorism may have cost the global economy as much as $50 trillion.”

Because of secrecy surrounding global banking and finance, finding the exact identities of the attackers will be difficult.

But U.S. opponents in Russia who could wage economic warfare include elements of the former KGB intelligence and political police who regard the economy as a “logical extension of the Cold War,” the report says.

Asked by The Times who he thought to be the most likely behind the financial attacks, Mr. Freeman said: “Unfortunately, the two major strategic threats, radical jihadists and the Chinese, are among the best positioned in the economic battle space.”

Also, the report lists as suspects advocates of Islamic law, who have publicly called for opposition to capitalism as a way to promote what they regard as the superiority of Islam.

Further Pentagon Low Intensity Conflict office research into possible economic warfare or financial terrorism being behind the economic collapse by the Pentagon’s Special Operations and was blocked, Mr. Freeman said.

The Pentagon report states that the evidence of financial subversion revealed that the first two phases of an attack on the U.S. economy took place from 2007 to 2009 and “based on recent global market activity, it appears that the predicted Phase III may be underway right now.”

The report states that federal authorities must further investigate two significant events in the months leading up to the financial crisis.

The first phase of the economic attack, the report said, was the escalation of oil prices by speculators from 2007 to mid-2008 that coincided with the housing finance crisis.

In the second phase, the stock market collapsed by what the report called a “bear raid” from unidentified sources on Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers and other Wall Street firms.

“This produced a complete collapse in credit availability and almost started a global depression,” Mr. Freeman said.

The third phase is what Mr. Freeman states in the report was the main source of the economic system’s vulnerability. “We have taken on massive public debt as the government was the only party who could access capital markets in late 2008 and early 2009,” he said, placing the U.S. dollar’s global reserve currency status at grave risk.

“This is the ‘end game’ if the goal is to destroy America,” Mr. Freeman said, noting that in his view China’s military “has been advocating the potential for an economic attack on the U.S. for 12 years or longer as evidenced by the publication of the book Unrestricted Warfare in 1999.”

Additional evidence provided by Mr. Freeman includes the statement in 2008 by Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr. that the Russians had approached the Chinese with a plan to dump its holdings of bonds by the federally backed mortgage companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Among the financial instruments that may have been used in the economic warfare scenario are credit default swaps, unregulated and untraceable contracts by which a buyer pays the seller a fee and in exchange is paid off in a bond or a loan. The report said credit default swaps are “ideal bear-raid tools” and “have the power to determine the financial viability of companies.”

Another economic warfare tool that was linked in the report to the 2008 crash is what is called “naked short-selling” of stock, defined as short-selling financial shares without borrowing them.

The report said that 30 percent to 70 percent of the decline in stock share values for two companies that were attacked, Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers, were results of failed trades from naked short-selling.

The collapse in September 2008 of Lehman Brothers, the fourth-largest U.S. investment bank, was the most significant event in the crash, causing an immediate credit freeze and stock market crash, the report says.

In a section of who was behind the collapse, the report says determining the actors is difficult because of banking and financial trading secrecy.

“The reality of the situation today is that foreign-based hedge funds perpetrating bear raid strategies could do so virtually unmonitored and unregulated on behalf of enemies of the United States,” the report says.

“Only recently have defense and intelligence agencies begun to consider this very real possibility of what amounts to financial terrorism and-or economic warfare.”

As for Chinese involvement in economic sabotage, the decline in the world economy may have hurt Beijing through a decline in purchases of Chinese goods.

Treasury spokeswoman Marti Adams had no immediate comment on the report but said her department’s views on the causes of the economic crash were well known.

Analysts say U.S. is shifting Pakistan policy amid new situation

Analysts say U.S. is shifting Pakistan policy amid new situation

By Jamil Bhatti

ISLAMABAD, July 25 (Xinhua) — After the recent U.S. steps against Pakistan, including a bill in U.S. congress to cut the aid for Pakistan, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s harsh statement about Pakistan in New Delhi, and the arrest of its citizen Dr. Fai for his alleged links with Pakistani intelligence agency, majority of Pakistanis now believe that America has started revenging

Political leader and analyst of Pakistan Dr. Shireen Mazari on Monday condemned the U.S. government in strong words for its recent actions and statements targeting Pakistan on multiple fronts.

She identified three major developments by the U.S. government involving Pakistan within a couple of days.

“First is the introduction of the bill in the congress seeking to restrain U.S. aid to Pakistan, and imposition of unacceptable conditions from the granting of unquestioning quick visas to U.S. personnel to interfere Pakistan’s domestic affairs,” Mazari told Xinhua.

The United States has already, according to Mazari, put forward irrational and irritating demands on Pakistan, especially regarding to the military with which U.S. wants to attach its own military personnel.

The second intentional negative move by the U.S. authorities was the joint U.S-India statement at the conclusion of Hillary Clinton’s recent visit to India in which the United States almost announced India as the future monitor of Asian countries especially of Pakistan.

Many Pakistanis and analysts view this U.S. development negatively as they said U.S. brought India directly into Pakistan’ s internal matters by jointly demanding Pakistan to eliminate all terrorist “safe havens” in the country.

Clinton said while concluding her visit on July 18-20 that New Delhi must play a more assertive role in Asia.

Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, who had already showed his concerns over the bill in congress, said Saturday that Pakistan would not accept any country’s domination in the region.

“We don’t want any Chaudhry (a title used locally for powerful individuals) in the region,” Gilani said.

Pakistan’s newly appointed Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar, who plans to travel to India on Tuesday for bilateral dialogue, made clear Pakistani policy about the U.S. announcement on India’s assertive role in the region.

“Pakistan would not accept the supremacy of any country in the region as Pakistan is by no means inferior to India,” said Khar after she returned from meeting with Clinton on the sidelines of ASEAN regional forum in Bali, Indonesia.

The third U.S. development under extreme criticism by Pakistan is the arrest of American national Dr. Ghulam Nabi Fai of Kashmiri American Council by U.S. security department for his alleged role for Pakistan’s top intelligence agency Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).

Mazari termed this act as the most bizarre and most damaging for bilateral relations in the long run.

Aslam Khan, another senior analyst who keeps a close eye on Indo-U.S.relations, doubted about the American allegations on Dr. Fai for his relations with ISI because he was arrested just few days ahead of Clinton’s visit to India.

“This action had two open purposes, first to impress the Indians before Clinton’s tour and second to malign and pressurize Pakistan who has tightened its policy on the American diplomats’ freedom of movement within Pakistan,” Khan told Xinhua.

Senior Pakistani analyst and former diplomat Asif Ezdi sees the U.S. support for India’s rise in a broader context.

In an article printed in a local daily on Monday, he said the United States has been launching such efforts over one decade against the background of the growing political, economic and military power of China, seen by Washington as a challenge to its position as the sole superpower.

“India’s assigned role in the U.S. strategy was to serve as a counterweight to China and to stem its assertiveness,” Ezdi said.

Khan believed the Pak-U.S. relations that got tense after U.S. unilateral operation in Pakistani city of Abbottabad which led to the killing of Osama Bin Laden, have now dropped to their lowest.

According to some well-informed sources of Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry, the main reason for icy relations is the unending American demands of “do more” for Pakistan to which the latter has presented many excuses due to unsuitable ground realities as the U. S.-led forces started to leave Afghanistan.

Most interviees asked by Xinhua were not surprised over the U.S. shift of its pakistan policy from soft to harsh, saying that they knew as the United States gradually exits Afghanistan, it would change its behavior towards Pakistan.

Editor: Yang Lina

Hillary Wants India to Come out and play

[Let us hope and pray that Indian leaders have been burned by the empire enough times to see through the smoke and mirrors, not to mention the river of bullshit which flows continually from Washington.]

Come out and play

Seema Sirohi

US secretary of state Hillary Clinton is said to be one of the drivers of the India policy in Washington, pushing and pulling when the going gets dull. Her visit to New Delhi for the second round of the India-US strategic dialogue was important to manage the differences that have arisen over time – from the nuclear liability law to defence contracts, from alleged misconduct of diplomats to blocking India from opening a new consulate in Seattle.

But more important was the American eagerness to see India loom larger on the world stage. Clinton’s basic message was “We Want More India” in the world – in Southeast Asia, in the Indian Ocean, in Afghanistan, in the Middle East, in Central Asia, inLatin America.

The joint statement was a veritable spreadsheet of initiatives covering every area of “human endeavour”. From space to clean energy, from student internships to creating an open source data platform on e-governance, from disease detection to aviation safety, every box was checked. While this large mesh is a celebration of the depth and breadth of the relationship, the key is the new American willingness to discuss the world with India with an aim to push it to assume greater responsibility in world affairs. It is up to New Delhi to seize the opportunity, or not.

America is beginning to treat India as an equal partner. The trilateral dialogue of India, the US and Japan, announced during Clinton’s visit, is significant and a perfect venue to discuss China’s rise and the attendant ripples. But the neighbourhood must come first where India faces tough prospects.

The regional situation is grim with assassinations of key Afghan leaders even before the real drawdown of US troops begins, and the clenched-teeth posture of the Pakistan army. India is rightly worried about the endgame in Afghanistan and the talks the US is holding with the Taliban. But it can take comfort: Washington will not plead Pakistan’s case in Afghanistan. If India wants to train Afghan security forces and play a role in shaping Afghanistan’s future besides investing in infrastructure projects, the Americans are on board.

If India wants an Afghanistan with an independent government, which makes its own security decisions, does not allow the country to become a terrorist playground and provides access to Central Asia, it has to do more than just hope for the best. So far the emphatic enunciations from New Delhi have been in the form of what it won’t do – Pranab Mukherjee told Clinton last month India does not want to get involved in the “security affairs of Afghanistan”. So what then?

Success will depend on how well India and Pakistan talk to each other about their region’s future. The Pakistani establishment may recognise that it can’t manipulate the Taliban this time around as it did in the 1990s. Making fine distinctions between Afghan Taliban and Pakistani Taliban is futile; the two are seamless and represent Pashtun interests on both sides of the border. They are a new morphed entity, more a part of the global Salafi movement and less prone to tribal loyalties of the old days. If there is civil war in Afghanistan after US troops leave by 2014, it will be far more vicious. But if Afghanistan were gradually drawn into regional trade – Pakistan could allow transit to India, for starters – the whole region would benefit.

Both India and the US have the same difficult task – bringing Pakistan on board. The overall US policy on Pakistan remains a series of confusing moves, alternately cajoling and berating. While Clinton was meeting top Indian officials, the FBI arrested an ISI front man in Washington. Ghulam Nabi Fai, a Kashmiri separatist prone to sweet-talking his way through the corridors of the US Congress to denounce India, was exposed. Also exposed was the hypocrisy that often goes withIslamabad pleading Kashmir’s cause in major capitals. That the Obama administration is chipping away at the ISI and seriously encircling it, at least within US jurisdiction, is good news.

Also welcome is growing India-US cooperation on counterterrorism – note the heavy hitters who came with Clinton: James Clapper, director of national intelligence, and Michael G Vickers, under-secretary of defence for intelligence.

But the US also bends over backwards and stretches the limits of imagination on Pakistan. Clinton recently certified to the US Congress that Pakistan had shown a “sustained commitment” to “combating terrorist groups” to allow a part of $1.5 billion in new US military aid to flow through. Two days later, on March 20, Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the ISI was involved with the Haqqani network. More recently, the US suspended $800 million in aid to Pakistan in retaliation for Pakistan throwing out US military advisers.

Unfortunately, Clinton’s clean chit is a reminder of the 1980s when the US government annually certified Pakistan was “not” building a nuclear bomb when it clearly was, to allow US aid to Pakistan for the mujahideen. State department lawyers would argue that while all the bomb ingredients were present, they were in different places and unassembled. Ergo, no bomb. But terrorist networks of today are very assembled.

The snakes-and-ladders US policy on Pakistan will continue for the foreseeable future with its own impact on the Afghanistan pullout. But the big takeaway from Clinton’s visit has to be the full-throated American call for India to come out to play before the game gets fixed. And not be afraid of the umpiring.

( The writer is a senior journalist)

Norway suspect says his extremist group has ‘two more cells’

People pay tribute to victims of the twin attacks in central Oslo, Norway, today.
By Emilio Morenatti, AP

In a closed hearing today, the suspect in the Oslo killings pleaded not guilty to charges of committing acts of terrorism and will be held for at least 8 weeks.

Update at 9:54 a.m. ET: The suspect was ordered held for eight weeks, the first four in complete isolation, without access to visitors or the right to write letters.

After 8 weeks, the prosecution can return to the court and request that he be held longer, according to a court official.

Update at 9:49 a.m. ET: The suspect in the Oslo killings told the court today about “two further cells in our organization,” the court says. adding that the remarks will reqauire additonal investigation in the case.

A statement by the court said that he also spoke of such cells to police.  (read HERE)

Huge poppy seed cache confiscated in Afghanistan

Huge poppy seed cache confiscated in Afghanistan

David Ariosto

Kabul, Afghanistan: Nearly half a million of pounds of opium poppy seeds have been confiscated in southwestern Afghanistan during a joint raid by NATO and Afghan National Security forces, officials said.

The operation took place Wednesday in the Delaram district of Nimroz province, which borders Iran.

The find represents the largest uncovered by Afghan and coalition forces this year, according to Ministry of Interior spokesman Sediq Seddiqi.

The opium poppy can be used to make heroin and other drugs, and is considered a staple of insurgent funding.

Afghanistan is considered the world’s leading cultivator of opium poppy, ahead of Myanmar, according to a 2011 United Nations report.

The country accounts for 63% of the world’s total areas under opium poppy cultivation, despite a smaller harvest last year due to an unspecified disease in opium plants.

Locally, one gram of heroin costs around $4, the U.N. reported. After the product is transported to illicit markets in the United States or northern Europe, the same amount is worth between $170 to $200 per gram.

In a separate operation in Kandahar province, security forces also uncovered 4,400 pounds (nearly 2,000 kilograms) of hashish and 33 pounds (15 kilograms) of ammonium nitrate, which can be used in fertilizers and as an explosive component.

Afghan Hunter/Killer Squads

Covert forces of Afghans have been trained by CIA to keep the war against the Taliban on the track as US troops are leaving the country.

But a senior official in Karzai’s Office expressed unawareness about the forces.

Members of one shadowy group of some 400 men in southern Kandahar province have given The Independent insight into their training and secret operations against militants.

A senior member of the 400-man shadowy force has said that they were taught hand-to-hand combat by foreign military advisors, were delivered to targets by US Black Hawk helicopters and have received a thank-you note from President Hamid Karzai for their work.

“These forces are the most shadowy and the most unaccountable in the country and it’s a serious problem that nobody’s taking responsibility for,” Rachel Reid, a senior policy advisor to the Open Society Foundation, said.

Deputy Spokesperson for President Karzai, Seyamak Herawi, said: ”President Hamid Karzai has sought clearance about the units for several times.”

The paramilitary groups are stationed in eastern and southern Afghanistan where they gather intelligence, secure the border with Pakistan, and launch raids on militants of al-Qaeda, the Taliban and the host of other militant groups.