Starved of Truth: The Assonance of Atrocity in the Afghan War “Review”

Starved of Truth: The Assonance of Atrocity in the Afghan War “Review”

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History never repeats itself, of course. But human nature being what it is — and the tropes of power and dominance being what they are — there is a great deal of assonance in history: near-rhymes, recurring echoes in the present which do not chime exactly with the past but fall closely enough to resonate with meaning.

Reading Timothy Synder’s account of the genocidal famine in Soviet Ukraine in the early 1930s (in his new book, Bloodlands), I ran across the following passage. In it, Snyder describes how Stalin sought to explain away the manifest, catastrophic failure of his policy of forced collectivization, which had led to millions of deaths by starvation:

Stalin had developed an interesting new theory: that resistance to socialism increases as its successes mount, because its foes resist with greater desperation as they contemplate their final defeat. Thus any problem in the Soviet Union could be defined as an example of enemy action, and enemy action could be defined as evidence of progress.

This passage leapt immediately to mind while reading accounts of Barack Obama’s vaunted “review” of his ever-intensifying, ever more catastrophic war in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The results of this “review” were a foregone conclusion, of course: the President would decide that his policy was the right one and should continue. The only “change” would be a surge in “kinetic activity” along the Pakistan border, with increased drone bombings of Pakistan villages (which have already killed many hundreds of innocent civilians) and more Special Forces operations “along the border” (i.e., inside Pakistani territory). There will also be greatly increased pressure on the Pakistani government to “invade” its own territory and slaughter thousands of its own people in the border regions to relieve the pressure on their American masters in Afghanistan.

In other words, American policy in Afghanistan is failing so badly that Obama is about to engulf a volatile, unstable, nuclear-armed nation in a vast, divisive, violent upheaval led by an utterly corrupt and unpopular government. The result will be the deaths of thousands upon thousands of innocent people, the displacement of millions more — in a land still reeling from one of the worst natural disasters the world has seen in modern times — and, of course, the spread of extremism, hatred, instability and chaos.

But for Obama, this highway to hell is actually an indication of “considerable gains toward our military objectives.”  The ever-spreading insurgency in Afghanistan, which now controls or has strong footholds even in northern regions which the Taliban never controlled before the war, is not, as you might think, a glaring indication of the catastrophic failure of the militarist agenda; on the contrary, it is, Obama says, a sign of “significant progress.” This has been the argument of our bipartisan militarists since the very beginning, in Afghanistan and Iraq: any problems in our violent occupations of these foreign lands is caused by enemy action — and all enemy actions, including the control of more and more territory, can be defined as evidence of progress. The very success of the enemy, the fierceness of their resistance, is evidence of their desperation, their ultimate and imminent collapse.

Thus Stalin on the deaths of millions of innocent people at the hands of his policies. And thus Obama, and the entire bipartisan political establishment, on the bloodbath in the bloodlands of Afghanistan and Pakistan.

We are speaking of echoes and assonance, of course, not exact parallels. The death tolls in the Af-Pak catastrophe has not reached Stalinist proportions — yet. But the prospects for the widening war in Pakistan are almost unbearable to contemplate. What might a nuclear-armed state, controlled largely by its military, do in the event an imminent collapse brought on by the launching of a civil war at the behest of a foreign power? What if it decided the only way to bring the nation back together was a war against the hated common enemy in India? We have already been to the brink of a nuclear war between Pakistan and India within the last decade. And even a non-nuclear war between the two would result in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people, if not millions.

And that is only one entirely plausible scenario if the Pakistanis knuckle under to the wishes of their imperial patrons — the “progressive” Peace Laureate and the Bush Family apparatchik he has retained as his warlord — and launch the all-out assault on their own people that Washington demands. As Hamlet said: It cannot, and it will not, come to good.

Meanwhile, the present reality of the situation is bad enough, and worsening. Even as the Obama Administration was trumpeting its “progress” and “success” in the nine-year war on one the most blasted, broken-down, defenseless places on earth, Patrick Cockburn, on the ground in Afghanistan,was recording the evidence of growing hunger among the “liberated” people, due largely to the utter corruption at the heart of American policy:

But the most extraordinary failure of the US-led coalition in Afghanistan is that the expenditure of tens of billions of dollars has had so little impact on the misery in which 30 million Afghans live.  Since 2001 the US alone has provided $52 billion in aid, two thirds for security and one third for economic, social and political development.

Despite this some nine million Afghans live in absolute poverty while a further five million, considered ‘not poor’, try to survive on $43 a month.“Things look alright to foreigners but in fact people are dying of starvation in Kabul,” says Abdul Qudus, a man with a deeply lined face in his forties, who sells second-hand clothes and shoes on a street corner in the capital. They are little more than rags, lying on display on the half frozen mud.

“I buy and sell clothes for between 10 and 30 Afghanis (two to six cents) and even then there are people who are too poor to buy them, “ says Mr Qudus. “I myself am very poor and sometimes I don’t eat so I can feed my children.” He says he started selling second hand clothes two years ago when he lost his job washing carpets.

US officials admit privately that the torrent of aid money that has poured into Afghanistan has stoked corruption and done ordinary Afghans little good. Aimed at improving economic and social conditions in order to reduce support for the Taliban it is having the reverse effect of destabilizing the country. Afghanistan was identified as the third most corrupt country out of 178 in the world in a report released yesterday by Transparency International.

…The US government policy of providing aid through large American private companies, whose interest lies in making a profit rather than improving the life of Afghans, is proving a failure in Afghanistan as it did previously in Iraq. As winter approaches half of Afghans face the prospect of ‘food insecurity’, or not getting enough to eat in the next three months, according to the US Famine Early Warning System.

This is the reality behind the “considerable progress” proclaimed by Barack Obama  this week — as willfully blind to the truth in his cozy Oval Office as Stalin in the halls of the Kremlin.

Colombia insists request to extradite Yair Klein

Colombia news - Yair Klein

The Israeli ex-colonel was convicted in 2001 of the Colombian Justice to 10 years and eight months in prison, to be held responsible for crimes of “instruction, training in tactics, techniques and procedures terrorist military and criminal conspiracy.”

Colombia insists request to extradite Yair Klein

Colprensa | Bogotá

Colombia next week asked the Government of Israel, the extradition to the country of mercenary Yair Klein, convicted of training in war tactics of paramilitary groups in the eighties.

This was revealed ael Minister of Interior and Justice, Germain Vargas Lleras , who said that is just waiting for official documentation of the Court of Execution of Sentences that had this process.

“The Government will request the extradition of Yair Klein. This Ministry is preparing to do it next week. If the judge of Execution of Sentences which was under the charge of the matter, we certify the data we need, we will next week formally asking this offender to the State of Israel, “said the Minister.

The Government is aware that the mercenary Klein arrived in Israel on Dec. 15, where he is enjoying his freedom . He said the process will be even though Colombia and that country does not have an extradition agreement, but hoped that the legal basis for the request and good relations between both governments help facilitate shipment to Colombia.

Vargas Lleras said that if extradition is not successful, the government of President Juan Manuel Santos seek the mercenary to pay his sentence in a prison in Israel . On 9 November the Minister launched a strong criticism by the “lack of international cooperation,” the announcement that the Strasbourg Court refused the extradition of mercenary Yair Klein to Colombia, voice that also joined the President Santos, who condemned that decision.


In Colombia, has a sentence of 10 years in prison

Klein is a exmilitar , arms dealer and expert in war tactics in the 80s visited Colombia to train a group of paramilitaries and other illegal armed groups. This Nov. 19, Klein was freed after Russian justice said he had no legal grounds to keep him behind bars.

The Israeli excoronel was convicted in 2001 of the Colombian Justice to 10 years and eight months in prison, to be held responsible for crimes of “instruction, training in tactics, techniques and procedures terrorist military and criminal conspiracy.”

US Army Set to Privatize Even More Of Its Afghan Duties

[When your private armies equal half of your real Army, then it is clear that your Imperial ambitions exceed your capabilities by at least 50%.  Everyone knows that our military has sub-contracted so much of its contractual obligations out to un-Constitutional mercenary forces simply because  govt. leaders are unwilling to endure the social upheaval which would be generated by a renewed draft, by the families of  hundreds of thousands of unwilling “recruits,”who would have been forcibly inducted against their will.

The last draft ended when the American people took to the streets by the millions to demonstrate the sentiments we all shared.  Apparently, we convinced them of our reluctance to die for future Imperial interventions, so they came-up with the idea of the “All Volunteer Army.”  The AVA was a flag of surrender, meaning that the top brass were willing to retreat from the draft,  to switch from inducting angry recruits as their primary source of manpower, in lieu of the far smaller number of actual “enlistees,” the volunteers.  The AVA solution flopped, which is the reason for the next switch of strategy to private contractors, who were less than perfect, reluctant former soldiers, who had become soft and rusty since their separation from the Army, but could possibly now be lured back to a new private “Army-lite,” with far less rules, offering wages three-times higher than normal soldier’s pay, either then or now.


Americans who become part of the un-Constitutional private contractor armies are no different than “strike breakers,”  people with no standards or morals, willing to do anything for the chance to earn black money.  “Black Money” is money that moves outside the law, or beyond the constraints of morality.  Strike-breakers and other private armies, only come into existence when the walls of morality or legality are breached.  They do the tasks that violate standing contracts and safety standards, and long-established traditions, or, for a soldier, tasks which violate a soldier’s, or a patriot’s personal code of ethics.  These “SCABS” are those who break through the barriers and the social taboos, to do the dirty work, the illegal, unethical, or unhealthy tasks that honest workers refuse to perform.  The SCAB soldiers agree to work beyond the law and beyond the military’s code of ethics, by participating in military actions which they know would legally be punished as war crimes by other people, in other places.  Every soldier, every worker has the inalienable right to refuse to participate in the unethical or the illegal.

DOING THE RIGHT THING–for family, for country, or for Our Creator, often requires that we open ourselves to ridicule and abuse as the cost of our actions.  The great benefit of truly taking a stand for the cause of “good” (God’s cause), is the stark testimony that our stand provides to others, who witness the illegal methods employed against some of us as our actions defy the State and demand an end to all of the illegal wars.  What greater testimony could the lost sheep receive  of the ultimate value of truth and justice than the sight of so many people who value those ideals even more than their own lives?


Army Set to Award Mega-Contract to Train Afghan Cops

NATO allies still haven’t provided all of the troops they promised to train Afghanistan’s nascent police force. When in doubt, contract it out.

Before the New Year, the Army will finally award a much-delayed $1.6 billion-with-a-b contract for a private security firm to supplement that NATO training command’s efforts to professionalize Afghan cops. That bid touched off a bureaucratic tempest between Blackwater/Xe Services and DynCorp, which held an old contract for the same job, as well as the State Department and the Army.

But not for much longer. The Army’s Contracting Command is in “the very final stages” of selecting the firm for the bid, Col. John Ferrari of the NATO training command tells Danger Room. “We’re expecting an announcement before the end of December, sometime in the next week or two.”

The contract is for “mentoring, training, and logistics services” to backstop Ferrari’s efforts, placing security contractors in embedded positions with the Afghan interior ministry and police units themselves, according to the terms of the bid. More than 80 firms have registered as “interested vendors” on the federal website announcing the contract. NATO is trying to build a 134,000-strong Afghan police force by October, and it’s short 900 trainers promised by U.S. allies.

The deal has been a bureaucratic and corporate tangle. In 2009, hoping to expedite the training of Afghan cops, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, then the commander of the Afghan war effort, managed to move the contracting deal from its home at the State Department’s Bureau of Narcotics and Law Enforcement — an agency criticized for weak oversight — into the Army. Only the Army element in control was the obscure Counter-Narcoterrorism Technology Program Office, an organization with unclear competency in police training, and it announced that only five corporations could bid on the contract, including Blackwater.

Enter DynCorp — which wasn’t one of the firms invited to bid. In December, DynCorp filed an objection to the bureaucratic switchover with the Government Accountability Office, a move that had the added benefit for the company of stopping the re-award and boxing out the competition. It also allowed Senator Carl Levin, a Blackwater critic, to register his incredulity that the Army would consider Blackwater for a contract to train Afghan cops shortly after Levin’s staff found Blackwater guards on a different contractillicitly taking weapons from the U.S. military intended for Afghan police.

Long story short: GAO sided with DynCorp, but kept the contract within Army control; DynCorp received an extension of its State contract through August. In May, the Army Contracting Command put it out for an open bid. Officials from the command did not respond to attempts for comment.

DynCorp isn’t shy about what it wants here. “We are bidding on this work and are uniquely qualified to assist the U.S. and Afghan governments in their efforts to stand up a law enforcement capability because of our extensive civilian police training experience in Afghanistan and elsewhere,” says company spokeswoman Ashley Burke.

Don’t go looking for Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s scaled-back ban on private security firms to stop the award. But it might be awkward if DynCorp wins. A WikiLeaked report from Afghanistan said that its guards had brought a “dancing boy” — usually slang for a young boy prostitute — to a party in Afghanistan in April 2009, though the company vigorously denies any such wrongdoing and says the whole thing is a misunderstanding.

And there may not be a Blackwater/DynCorp rematch over the award, but there might be something close. Although none of Blackwater’s known aliases appears to be on the bid, Kaseman — which has ajoint venture with Blackwater called International Development Solutions — is one of the interested vendors. Apparently, we finally don’t have long to wait to learn who gets the giant bid.

Photo: DoD

CIA Protected Waterboarders Against Legal Action for Torture With $5 Legal fund

Officials: CIA gave waterboarders $5M legal shield

(AP) – 3 hours ago

WASHINGTON (AP) — The CIA agreed to cover at least $5 million in legal fees for two contractors who were the architects of the agency’s interrogation program and personally conducted dozens of waterboarding sessions on terror detainees, former U.S. officials said.

The secret agreement means taxpayers are paying to defend the men in a federal investigation over an interrogation tactic the U.S. now says is torture. The deal is even more generous than the protections the agency typically provides its own officers, giving the two men access to more money to finance their defense.

It has long been known that psychologists Jim Mitchell and Bruce Jessen created the CIA’s interrogation program. But former U.S. intelligence officials said Mitchell and Jessen also repeatedly subjected terror suspects inside CIA-run secret prisons to waterboarding, a simulated drowning tactic.

The revelation of the contractors’ involvement is the first known confirmation of any individuals who conducted waterboarding at the so-called black sites, underscoring just how much the agency relied on outside help in its most sensitive interrogations.

Normally, CIA officers buy insurance to cover possible legal bills. It costs about $300 a year for $1 million in coverage. Today, the CIA pays the premiums for most officers, but at the height of the war on terrorism, officers had to pay half.

The Mitchell and Jessen arrangement, known as an “indemnity promise,” was structured differently. Unlike CIA officers, whose identities are classified, Mitchell and Jessen were public citizens who received some of the earliest scrutiny by reporters and lawmakers. The two wanted more protection.

The agency agreed to pay the legal bills for the psychologists’ firm, Mitchell, Jessen & Associates, directly from CIA accounts, according to several interviews with the former officials, who insisted on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter.

The company has been embroiled in at least two high-profile Justice Department investigations, tapping the CIA to pay its legal bills. Neither Jamie Gorelick, who originally represented the company, nor Henry Schuelke, the current lawyer, returned messages seeking comment. Mitchell and Jessen also didn’t return calls for comment.

The CIA would not comment on any indemnity agreement.

“It’s been nearly eight years since waterboarding — an interrogation method used on three detainees — was last used as part of a terrorist detention program that no longer exists,” CIA spokesman George Little said.

After the terrorism attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Mitchell and Jessen sold the government on an interrogation program for high-value al-Qaida members. The two psychologists had spent years training military officials to resist interrogations and, in doing so, had subjected U.S. troops to techniques such as forced nudity, painful stress positions, sleep deprivation and waterboarding.

But those interrogations had always been training sessions at the military’s school known as SERE — Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Escape. They had never conducted any actual interrogations.

That changed in 2002 with the capture of suspected al-Qaida facilitator Abu Zubaydah (ah-BOO’ zoo-BY’-dah). The agency believed tougher-than-usual tactics were necessary to squeeze information from him, so Mitchell and Jessen flew to a secret CIA prison in Thailand to oversee Zubaydah’s interrogation.

The pair waterboarded Zubaydah 83 times, according to previously released records and former intelligence officials. Mitchell and Jessen did the bulk of the work, claiming they were the only ones who knew how to apply the techniques properly, the former officials said.

The waterboarding technique involved “binding the detainee to a bench with his feet elevated above his head,” formerly top-secret documents explain. “The detainee’s head is immobilized and an interrogator places a cloth over the detainee’s mouth and nose while pouring water onto the cloth in a controlled manner.”

The documents add that “airflow is restricted for 20 to 40 seconds and the technique produces the sensation of drowning and suffocation.” The session was not supposed to last more than 20 minutes.

The psychologists also waterboarded USS Cole bombing plotter Abd al-Nashiri (ahbd al-nuh-SHEE’-ree) twice in Thailand, according to former intelligence officials.

The role of Mitchell and Jessen in the interrogation of confessed Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is a bit murkier.

At least one other interrogator was involved in those sessions, with the company providing support, a former official said. Mohammed was waterboarded 183 times in Poland in 2003, according to documents and former intelligence officials.

The CIA inspector general concluded in a top secret report in 2004 that the waterboarding technique used by the CIA deviated from the rules outlined by the Justice Department and the common practice at SERE school. CIA interrogations involved far more water poured constantly over the prisoner, investigators said.

“One of the psychologists/interrogators acknowledged that the agency’s use of the technique differed from that used in SERE training and explained that the agency’s technique is different because it is ‘for real’ and is more poignant and convincing,” the inspector general’s report said.

It was not clear whether Mitchell or Jessen made that remark.

Justice Department prosecutor John Durham is investigating whether any CIA officers or contractors, including Mitchell and Jessen, should face criminal charges.

In at least two instances, Mitchell and Jessen pushed back. During Zubaydah’s interrogation, the psychologists argued he had endured enough waterboarding, believing they had reached the point of “diminishing returns.” But CIA superiors told them to press forward, two former officials said.

In another case, Mitchell and Jessen successfully argued against waterboarding admitted terrorist Ramzi Binalshibh (RAM’-zee bin-al-SHEEB’) in Poland, the official said.

On top of the waterboarding case, Mitchell and Jessen also needed lawyers to help navigate the Justice Department’s investigation into the destruction of CIA interrogation videos.

Mitchell and Jessen were recorded interrogating Zubaydah and al-Nashiri and were eager to see those tapes destroyed, fearing their release would jeopardize their safety, former officials and others close to the matter said.

They often contacted senior CIA officials, urging them to destroy the tapes and asking what was taking so long, said a person familiar with the Durham investigation who insisted on anonymity because the case’s details remain sensitive. Finally the CIA’s top clandestine officer, Jose Rodriguez, made the decision to destroy the tapes in November 2005.

Durham investigated whether that was a crime. He subpoenaed Mitchell, Jessen & Associates last year, looking for calendars, e-mails and phone records showing contact between the contractors and Rodriguez or his chief of staff, according to a federal subpoena. They were ordered to appear before a grand jury in northern Virginia in August 2009.

Last month, Durham closed the tapes destruction investigation without filing charges.