Sunday, February 27, 2011
Libya, once one of the poorest countries in the world, now has the highest Human Development Index score in Africa. (Wikipedia.)
It is well ahead of certain countries in Europe, thanks to Gaddafi.
On 26 February 2011, at the UK’s Independent, Peter Popham had an article entitled “Tribalism is key to the Libya’s future”. (Thanks to Blackwatch for the link)
Popham makes the following points:
1. Gaddafi came to power as a force for modernisation.
2. He “turned the desert green … and raised the literacy rate from 17% to 80%.
3. He called for an end to tribalism.
Tribalisms influence has weakened, “as more modern ties of schooling and urban neighbourhoods gained in importance.”
According to former British ambassador Sir Richard Dalton: “Tribal origins have no existence in Libyan institutions or in public affairs.”
Tripoli by gordontour
BUT, Gaddafi opposed the New World Order, and so his country has to be wrecked.
On 27th February 2011 we read that the UK’s notorious SAS are in Libya.
“The Special Forces soldiers landed in two C130 Hercules military transport aircraft on a landing strip … south of the eastern port of Benghazi…
“A senior source confirmed that an advance party of SAS men had been in Libya for several days…
“The SAS party had sneaked into Libya in plain clothes on commercial flights…
The UK’s HMS Cumberland “is due to return to Benghazi”.
Another Royal Navy ship, the destroyer HMS York, “has also been deployed on standby”.
Tunisians by patduncan10
On 26 February 2011, three people were killed in clashes in Tunisia’s capital: (ministry)
Now that Tunisia has been wrecked, thousands are fleeing. (Chaos, militant Islam and thousands fleeing Tunisia.)
According to the Mail on Sunday:
On 20 February 2011 demonstrations continued in Tunisia.
“I see one father with his son, aged five.
“As the police fire warning bullets into the blue sky, I ask him if he is afraid for his child.
“He unzips the boy’s jacket to expose his chest.
“‘My son is ready to take a bullet to the heart for freedom,’ he says.
“The child’s face crumples…”
Booming Tripoli by TAR3K
“I meet 36-year-old Muhammed.
“He also dreams of getting rich, but not in Tunisia.
“He is unemployed and does not care about the revolution…
“‘A few days ago, I heard from a friend of a boat going from Zarzis to Italy.
“I paid $1,800…
“What about the revolution? I ask him.
“‘I don’t care about revolution. My dream is Italy,’ he says”
The Italian government says 300,000 may try to reach Europe…
Tunisia … was renowned for being the most liberal of Muslim countries.
“There are troubling signs … A Polish priest had his throat slit in a suburb of Tunis…
“The Vatican news agency said he was beheaded.”
“The gangsters, both foreign and Afghan, are the ones now in control of Afghanistan,” says General Ali Shah Paktiawol, the former head of Kabul’s Criminal Investigation Department. (How to make a killing in Kabul.)
IN Lansing: Supporters of workers’ rights hold signs outside the state Capitol at a protest in opposition to Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s recent legislation on public workers’ rights. About 2,000 attended the rally. / AL GOLDIS/Associated Press
WASHINGTON — The battle over unions — public and private — has been brewing for years. With the heat turned up by the recession, all it needed was a flashpoint to boil over.
It came with the 2010 elections, in which Republicans, many antagonistic to labor unions, won control of state legislatures and governor’s mansions — many in the Midwest.
The question then became whether battles would be focused on benefits that critics say were pricey giveaways during Democratic control, or whether emboldened Republicans would declare all-out war on labor.
Last week, protests reached a crescendo in Wisconsin and Ohio over efforts to end state workers’ collective-bargaining rights that some argue brought some states to the brink.
Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder has said repeatedly he has no interest in tampering with collective-bargaining rights. Even so, Michigan unionists rallied in Lansing last week and Saturday against bills they say amount to union-busting.
In Madison, Wis., Katrina Ladopoulous, an area teacher, skipped school to take her 4-year-old son to daily rallies at the Capitol.
“If we don’t stand strong here, bargaining rights will fall,” she said.
Union battle goes national
WASHINGTON — Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder is willing to make enemies: His budget plan picks more than its share of political fights. But his decision to stay out of a growing national fight over whether public employeesshould be able to negotiate hours and benefits, go on strike and otherwise collectively bargain may be wiser than he knows.
Michigan has a bigger percentage of workers who are union members — 16.5% — than all but California, Connecticut, New Jersey and Washington state in the continental U.S., according to the AFL-CIO.
Snyder is asking for concessions, and he’s supportive of legislation that would give emergency fiscal managers appointed to oversee municipal finances the power to break contracts. But, as draconian as those measures might be seen among labor’s friends, they are a far cry from what has been proposed in Wisconsin, Indiana and Ohio, where more fundamental questions about the right to collectively bargain are being asked.
He reported from the Israeli disinformation center SITE, which also promotes videos from suspected Mossad agent, Adam Gadahn , better known by another alias, Azzam Al-Amrika. Usually, fake “al-Qaeda” is much more on the ball than this, instead of so obviously playing catch-up.
If running psyops seem to be out of sync, then one of them must have either sped-up or changed directions. If the two CIA psyops, “Islamists” and Arab democratic revolutions, seem to be at cross purposes to each other, it is because they really are. The luxury of having secret operations is the element of deniability they bring with them. If the time comes when a secret psyop, such as American backed “Islamists,” outlives its usefulness, then there is no reason not to pursue a more peaceful operation, like the Middle East revolutions. We have seen it before, when the US went from supporting bin Laden and the Taliban to opposing them (before 911). Leaders like Pakistan’s Gen. Musharraf had to accept a new paradigm–fight the men that you have been training, arming and supporting for so many years.–WHAT THE HECK?
We are experiencing another WHAT THE HECK moment.]
The speaker on the audio tape is identified as Ibrahim al-Rubeish, a former detainee at the U.S.-run Guantanamo Bay lockup. The tape was produced by al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, a Yemen-based offshoot of the terror network, according to the SITE Intel group, a U.S.-based group that monitors extremist websites.
In the 10-minute recording, Al-Rubeish criticized Saudi Arabia for providing a haven for deposed Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.
He also said toppling longtime rulers is not enough and that new governments must be established based on Islamic religious law, or Shariah.
“One tyrant goes, only to be replaced another who may fix for the people some of their worldly issues by offering job opportunities and increasing their income, but the greater problem remains,” al-Rubeish said, according to a translation provided by SITE.
|[Do the ongoing Arab revolutions raise the price tag of our crimes against Iraq? If it turns-out that the wave of popular revolutions would have also swept Saddam Hussein from power, then does that make our criminal aggression twice as bad?]
Playing God in the Middle East
|WRITTEN BY MICHAEL BRENNER|
|POSTED: 27 FEBRUARY 2011 00:00|
|Accounting for the Human Toll in Iraq
We are now in the 10th year of the first decade of the ‘war on terror.’ So the inevitable anniversary assessments are beginning to appear. Iraq reappraisals specifically are back in vogue. They favor the drawing of balance sheets. Most will be skewed in an alchemic attempt to put the face of success on an unmitigated disaster. Even a more tempered approach at calculating cost/benefits, though, leaves something missing – something of paramount importance. It is the effects on Iraqis themselves. Not Iraqis in the abstract, not as figures in a statistical tabulation of sects. Rather, as flesh and blood and feeling persons. Frankly, most of the discourse about Iraq from day one has had a disengaged quality to it. That is the norm for dominant powers on the world stage, and for the seminar strategist. That was not always the norm by which Americans referenced war and violence abroad in the 20th century when we truly believed in our proclaimed ideals.
To illuminate the point, here are some too readily slighted facts. 100,000 – 150,000 Iraqis are dead as the consequence of our invasion and occupation. That is the conservative estimate. Untold thousands are maimed and orphaned. 2 million are uprooted refugees in neighboring lands. Another 2 million are displaced persons internally. The availability of potable water and electricity is somewhat less than it was in February 2003. The comparable numbers for the United States would be 1.1 – 1.6 million dead; an equal number infirmed; 22 million refugees eking out a precarious existence in Mexico and Canada; 22 million displaced persons within the country. We did not do all the killing and maiming; we did most of the destruction of infrastructure. To all these tragedies we are accessories before and during the fact.
Digits make less of an impact on us than observed reality. That is always the case. And very few have been in a position to see the human effects of our actions first hand – or even second-hand given censorship on filming casualties. So let me suggest a couple of ways to approximate that experience. Step one. Go to RFK stadium, imagine it full. Do that 3 times and then imagine them all – men, women and children – in their graves. Repeat the exercise – this time imagine them hobbling on one leg, lying crippled or blind on a cot in a cinderblock house. Imagine them as Americans – men, women and children – who placed USA stickers on their cars, chanted USA! USA! watching the Olympics, eating hot dogs and drinking Coke. Imagine them now six feet under. Imagine them all as the victims of an invasion and occupation by Iraqi Muslims who were deceived by their lying leaders who hid their own dark purposes. An occupation that featured the likes of L. Ahmed Chelabi IV and run amok Bashi Bazouks. Imagine that these altruistic Iraqis keep a Vice-Regal Embassy on the banks of the Potomac, giant airbases scattered around the country, and 550,000 troops (proportional) – all out of concern for our health and safety. Parting is such sweet sorrow.
Imagine your counterparts in Baghdad now drawing up balance sheets.
Step two: go back to the study and reconstruct your own Iraq balance sheet.
Does this imply that pacifism is the only ethically acceptable conduct? No – but it does give us a better fix on the true meaning of our shameful adventure in Iraq. Moreover, keep in mind that the Iraqis never gave us permission to do those things to them. We willfully imposed ourselves on them, did so based on the accusation of a fabricated threat that never existed.
Who assigns value in the equation to the dead, the maimed, the orphaned, the distressed, the uprooted? Who assigns value to being free of Saddam’s police? Who distributes the values among Shia, Sunnis, Kurds, Christians and Turcomen? Who decides on the relevant time frame? Who determines what constitutes sufficient evidence to support any of these judgments?
Who has the right, the authority, the legitimacy to do this? To do so before the event? To do so after the event in a post hoc justification of the acts that produced these effects?
Who is prepared to reach a definitive judgment? Is it God? Or is it those who instigated and supported those actions in the self-righteous conceit that they were acting as His surrogate? Personally, I place myself in neither category.
“Let humanity be the ultimate measure of all that you do” is a Confucian admonition meant to guide the behavior of officials. America today pays it scant regard.
Michael Brenner is a Professor of International Affairs at the University of Pittsburgh.
25 February, 2011
Misguided targeting will do little to make U.S. more secure.
Star Tribune Editorial
Next month, the chair of the U.S. HouseCommittee on Homeland Security plans to launch hearings on so-called domestic Islamic terrorism.
To justify the hearings, Rep. Peter King, R-New York, has made grossly irresponsible statements to right-wing broadcasters — claiming that 80 percent of U.S. mosques are extremist hotbeds and that Muslims aren’t cooperating with law enforcement.
He’s even found right-wing Muslims to testify to those claims. In turn, a broad swath of political, religious and human-rights organizations, rightly alarmed by King’s tone, are calling the hearings modern-day McCarthyism.
“These hearings will almost certainly increase widespread suspicion and mistrust of the American Muslim community and stoke anti-Muslim sentiment,” leaders of 51 organizations, from Baptists to Unitarians, said in a protest letter.
Key law enforcement officials, from California to Minnesota, also say King’s claims are off-base. In Minneapolis, FBI Special Agent Ralph Boelter, who investigated the Somalis who fled Minnesota to join the al-Shabab terror group, said Muslim-Americans couldn’t have been more helpful.
Indeed, a new University of North Carolina study says 48 of 120 Muslims suspected of plotting domestic terrorist attacks since 2001 were caught because other Muslims reported them.
It’s easy to imagine the chilling effect King’s hearing could have on that kind of cooperation.
Americans should also be concerned about how the world will view the hearings. Rather than creating a more-secure America, King runs the risk of fanning anti-American sentiment in the Middle East and elsewhere if he doesn’t change his tone.
Only a few months ago, Florida Pastor Terry Jones stirred an international uproar by calling for the burning of Qur’ans. Anti-Muslim bigotry also fueled outcry over a proposed Islamic Center near Ground Zero and other U.S. mosque projects.
Sadly, as the 10th anniversary of 9/11 approaches, American Muslims continue to be scapegoated for the actions of Al-Qaida, an overseas terrorist network that U.S. Islamic organizations have repeatedly denounced.
Nearly 3,000 Americans were killed in their attacks, including American Muslims.Muslims were also among the 9/11 first responders, the firefighters and emergency medical crews at the scene.
“Many American policymakers seem to have accepted Al-Qaida’s claim that it acts on behalf of Muslims in general, but the numbers indicate that the group is at war with Muslims as much as it is with the United States,” a Los Angeles Times editorial said.
It cited a West Point study that said 85 percent of Al-Qaida’s victims around the world between 2004 and 2008 were Muslim.
After 9/11, from Sept. 12 to Dec. 31, 2001, crimes against U.S. Muslims spiked from 28 to 481, including several murders.
Rather than promoting violence, American Muslims today are more likely to bevictims of hate crimes or harassment — sometimes at the hands of police who are supposed to protect them. If some fear the police, it’s understandable.
Last year, a New York cabbie’s throat was slashed by a passenger, reportedly because he was a Muslim. A Florida mosque was firebombed while 60 Muslims prayed inside. Arson fires ravaged mosques in Tennessee and Oregon.
Oklahoma voters passed a “Save Our State” referendum prohibiting judges from considering sharia law in rulings. In Tennessee, some lawmakers are trying not only to outlaw sharia, moral and religious rules that guide Muslim living, but also to make following them a felony.
In short, anti-Muslim rhetoric is fueling anti-Muslim violence and alienating American Muslims.
President Obama and former President Bush understood this, which is why they made numerous public statements to help diffuse the bigotry. “The war against terrorism is not a war against Muslims,” Bush said.
If Congress cares about violent domestic extremists, perhaps it should broaden its investigative scope to the larger threat: right-wing militias, neo-Nazis and “Patriot” groups that spew racist, antigovernment ideology — often in the name of Christianity. Their ideology led to the 1995 Oklahoma City federal building bombing.
A new report by the Southern Poverty Law Center shows that these radical hate groups are growing at an alarming rate. The paramilitary arm of the Patriot movement grew from 130 to 330 groups over the past year.
Although he disagrees with the hearings’ premise, Ellison hopes to testify, if only to counter negative stereotyping and misstatements about Muslims.
“Peter thinks he’s doing something good,” Ellison said. “He doesn’t realize that what he’s doing is isolating and implicitly blaming a community. If he lets me participate and forward names of people to testify, as he said he would, this could be a moment of education for a lot of people.”
Readers, what do you think? To be considered for publication as a letter to the editor, write a thoughful response no more than 250 words firstname.lastname@example.org. Include your name and the city where you live.
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CentralAsiaOnline.com is a website sponsored by USCENTCOM; that is, U.S. Central Command
The following article from Centcom’s website challenges the idea that Pakistani Taliban leader Hakeemullah Mehsud ordered the execution of Col. Imam, legendary trainer and friend of the Afghan Taliban, even though the leaked video clearly shows both men, Mehsud giving the terrorist an order and the ISI general being shot dead. There is no room for doubt here, unless it was a Hollywood-type of production.
The big question remains: Why would the US military care if the bloodthirsty TTP made a severe mistake that would alienate them from both the Pakistani people and their alleged partners, the Afghan Taliban?
The answer is: If the Afghan and Pakistani Taliban were really allies, then the Pakistani leader would never murder one of Mullah Omar’s oldest and most trusted friends.
The fact that the US military’s “hasbara” website doesn’t want viewers to believe their own eyes, reveals a greater hidden truth, that the Imperial warlords want harmony to prevail between the two “Taliban” groups. Obviously the Pentagon wishes the video of Col. Imam’s execution had never been made public.
By Javed Aziz Khan
PESHAWAR – The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) is saying that Col. Imam is dead, but many observers question the credibility of the video the TTP released February 19.
About 11 months after the kidnapping of Brig. (ret.) Sultan Ameer Tarar, known as Col. Imam, the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) released a video that it claims shows the former ISI official’s slaying in the presence of TTP chief Hakeemullah Mehsud.
That was followed by reports February 21 that Imam’s body had turned up on a street near Mir Ali. But his family had not received his body or any belongings as of February 24.
The TTP claimed responsibility for the murder of Col. Imam. In the video, filmed in an unknown, mountainous area, a militant shoots him five times as Hakeemullah watches. Some media had reported in 2010 that Hakeemullah had been killed.
Before the release of the video February 19, TTP spokesman Ihsanullah Ihsan called journalists to notify them of Col. Imam’s slaying.
“The main purpose of airing the video of the murder of Col. Imam was to produce Hakeemullah Mehsud before the public and end controversy regarding his killing,” Deputy Bureau Chief of Mashaal Radio Khalid Khan told Central Asia Online.
Khalid, who covers events in tribal areas, expressed some doubts over the video’s authenticity as nobody has found the body of Col. Imam, nor has anything else has been heard about him after the video. If the video proves authentic, it will increase public anger with the TTP, he predicted.
By: Ashraf Javed
LAHORE – The United States-led NATO and Afghan forces in Kabul are gravely worried of the heightened activities of the Taliban in the war-torn region. To save themselves, they are engaged in unsoldierly businesses.
‘Now, the US, NATO and Afghan forces are in deals with warlords and Taliban to keep them dormant, thus indirectly funding the Taliban fighting potential’, well-informed diplomatic sources confided to The Nation on Friday.
A well-placed Afghan official, based in Kabul, had startling disclosures about the underhand deals and concessions offered to Taliban in various provinces of Afghanistan in the recent past as public pressure is mounting in the West to withdraw troops from Afghanistan, said to be the ‘graveyard of great empires.’
According to him, the US and NATO are fighting Taliban freedom fighters on one hand but at the same time they are paying huge amount of cash and weapons to Taliban to buy local safety and safe passages.
‘Afghan officials like Governor Balkh Ustad Atta Muhammad and others pay millions of Afghanis and provide large number of weapons to representatives of Taliban in their areas. In return, this ‘Attaya’ force of the Taliban guarantee safety to the officials and their families’, the source disclosed to this reporter, seeking anonymity.
Another Kabul based official also revealed that certain government officials were in league with the Taliban and other Opposition groups to defame government of President Hamid Karzai on one pretext or the other.
The combat alliance of 46 countries deployed in different provinces of Afghanistan, have evolved their respective mechanism to ensure safety to their troops and supply convoys.
This is like an open secret in Kabul that ‘Germany, France, Holland and the UK, all have brokered local peace deals with the Taliban to avoid casualties. Does it portray a reluctance of the military to face the adversary?’ questioned the Afghan official.
Often, the front remains the security companies who deal on behalf of US and NATO with Taliban and broker a safe passage or occasional calm in the local areas, he maintained. Sources further said that this outcome was then portrayed at international level as an operational success of US and NATO.
In December 2009, the US Congress in a wide-ranging probe confirmed that private security companies, hired to protect defence convoys in Afghanistan, were paying off Taliban and warlords for safe passage.
This remains a testimony about the US and NATO double standards; paying for local securities being unable to cover their operational vulnerabilities with all their air power and military might.
Out of operational compulsions, US and NATO are infact, feeding the Taliban and warlords to use the same money to perpetuate their activities, or in other words ‘keep the ball rolling’.
Saturday, February 26, 2011
[If Americans aren’t really dead from the neck up they will see that this is our Middle East moment, the opportunity to recall the independent spirit that made this country great and stand together against a tyrannical govt. move to destroy the labor union movement. People forget that labor unions won the right to such things as minimum wage, 8-hour days, child labor laws. The wave of Reaganism threatened in Wisconsin is just what this country needs if we have all become suicidal.]
CNN) — A coalition spearheaded by liberal advocacy group Moveon.org held rallies across the country Saturday in support of public employees and others outraged at the Wisconsin budget-cutting bill they consider an attack on unions.
MoveOn.org and other liberal and labor groups held noon events at all 50 state capitals.
“Save the dream, we are reunited,” a group shouted in Washington, D.C.
The focal point of the protests was the Wisconsin Capitol, where a light snow and cold temperatures failed Saturday to deter about 70,000 who drummed, chanted and marched.
“Hey, hey, ho, ho, Governor Walker has got to go,” chanted the group rallying in Madison.
There were no incidents during the protest, said Joel DeSpain, spokesman for the Madison Police Department
The Wisconsin Assembly has passed a Republican bill that would strip most state workers of the bulk of their collective-bargaining rights.
Among other things, the measure would require workers — with the exception of police and firefighters — to cover more of their health care premiums and pension contributions. Collective bargaining would be limited to wages, though any pay increases beyond the inflation rate would be subject to voter approval.
In Olympia, Washington, two raucous competing rallies over the union fight in Wisconsin drew more than 2,000 people, according to CNN Seattle affiliate KIRO.
More than a half dozen union members decried the bill, while a smaller protest of Tea Party members and conservative groups was held on the Washington Capitol steps. Many of those demonstrators filled petitions to “Stand with Walker.”
Saturday’s marchers in Wisconsin got a boost from Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, who said Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and Ohio Governor John Kasich, who also wants to cut collective bargaining rights, “aren’t just asking workers to tighten their belts, they’re demanding they give up their uniquely American rights as workers.”
Solis, attending a meeting of the Democratic National Committee in Washington, D.C., said public employees should be “treated with respect and dignity.” They have made concessions in several states, she said.
The fight over the Wisconsin bill appears far from over. It still must clear the Wisconsin Senate, a step that is likely to prove far more contentious.
Fourteen Democratic senators have fled to neighboring Illinois to prevent a quorum from voting on the issue.
Walker on Friday reiterated his call for Democrats to return to the Legislature, defending the bill.
“Collective bargaining is a fiscal matter,” said Walker, who toured multiple state districts Friday in an effort to pressure the absentee lawmakers. Democrats said the governor’s proposal is tantamount to union-busting.
Saturday’s protesters in Wisconsin continued their refrain against the governor.
“What they’re doing here is trying to kill unions, period,” said Jean Ross, a Minnesota nurse who came to show solidarity. “They’ve created a fiscal crisis and blamed the victims. Well, we are all victims here.”
At a Thursday night news conference, Walker said if the Legislature does not pass his budget bill, state aid to local governments could be cut, brushing off critics who said the legislation will destroy public employee unions in the state.
“Wisconsin state employees have the strongest civil protections in the country. That’s not going to change in this bill,” Walker said. “It’s not about the union boss coming in from other parts of the country. It’s about whether we protect the taxpayers and the workers.”
The state had faced a suggested deadline Friday to balance the budget. The crucial date is March 16, state officials said. Wisconsin is confronted with a $137 million budget shortfall by June 30 and a $3.6 billion gap by 2013.
CNN’s David Ariosto, Ted Rowlands and Eric Fiegel contributed to this report
By Michael Hastings
The U.S. Army illegally ordered a team of soldiers specializing in “psychological operations” to manipulate visiting American senators into providing more troops and funding for the war, Rolling Stone has learned – and when an officer tried to stop the operation, he was railroaded by military investigators.
The orders came from the command of Lt. Gen. William Caldwell, a three-star general in charge of training Afghan troops – the linchpin of U.S. strategy in the war. Over a four-month period last year, a military cell devoted to what is known as “information operations” at Camp Eggers in Kabul was repeatedly pressured to target visiting senators and other VIPs who met with Caldwell. When the unit resisted the order, arguing that it violated U.S. laws prohibiting the use of propaganda against American citizens, it was subjected to a campaign of retaliation.
“My job in psy-ops is to play with people’s heads, to get the enemy to behave the way we want them to behave,” says Lt. Colonel Michael Holmes, the leader of the IO unit, who received an official reprimand after bucking orders. “I’m prohibited from doing that to our own people. When you ask me to try to use these skills on senators and congressman, you’re crossing a line.”
The list of targeted visitors was long, according to interviews with members of the IO team and internal documents obtained by Rolling Stone. Those singled out in the campaign included senators John McCain, Joe Lieberman, Jack Reed, Al Franken and Carl Levin; Rep. Steve Israel of the House Appropriations Committee; Adm. Mike Mullen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; the Czech ambassador to Afghanistan; the German interior minister, and a host of influential think-tank analysts.
The incident offers an indication of just how desperate the U.S. command in Afghanistan is to spin American civilian leaders into supporting an increasingly unpopular war. According to the Defense Department’s own definition, psy-ops – the use of propaganda and psychological tactics to influence emotions and behaviors – are supposed to be used exclusively on “hostile foreign groups.” Federal law forbids the military from practicing psy-ops on Americans, and each defense authorization bill comes with a “propaganda rider” that also prohibits such manipulation. “Everyone in the psy-ops, intel, and IO community knows you’re not supposed to target Americans,” says a veteran member of another psy-ops team who has run operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. “It’s what you learn on day one.”
When Holmes and his four-man team arrived in Afghanistan in November 2009, their mission was to assess the effects of U.S. propaganda on the Taliban and the local Afghan population. But the following month, Holmes began receiving orders from Caldwell’s staff to direct his expertise on a new target: visiting Americans. At first, the orders were administered verbally. According to Holmes, who attended at least a dozen meetings with Caldwell to discuss the operation, the general wanted the IO unit to do the kind of seemingly innocuous work usually delegated to the two dozen members of his public affairs staff: compiling detailed profiles of the VIPs, including their voting records, their likes and dislikes, and their “hot-button issues.” In one email to Holmes, Caldwell’s staff also wanted to know how to shape the general’s presentations to the visiting dignitaries, and how best to “refine our messaging.”
Congressional delegations – known in military jargon as CODELs – are no strangers to spin. U.S. lawmakers routinely take trips to the frontlines in Iraq and Afghanistan, where they receive carefully orchestrated briefings and visit local markets before posing for souvenir photos in helmets and flak jackets. Informally, the trips are a way for generals to lobby congressmen and provide first-hand updates on the war. But what Caldwell was looking for was more than the usual background briefings on senators. According to Holmes, the general wanted the IO team to provide a “deeper analysis of pressure points we could use to leverage the delegation for more funds.” The general’s chief of staff also asked Holmes how Caldwell could secretly manipulate the U.S. lawmakers without their knowledge. “How do we get these guys to give us more people?” he demanded. “What do I have to plant inside their heads?”
A daring rescue operation by Special Forces flew scores of British citizens out of Libya last night as the net closed in on Col Muammar Gaddafi.
In a daylight mission, the RAF, Special Air Service and Special Boat Service used two specially equipped Hercules aircraft to snatch Britons from the country. However, 300 oil workers from Britain remained stranded in desert camps last night.
The rescue teams, who flew out of bases in Malta, searched an area four times the size of Britain to locate workers before evacuating them back to Valletta in Malta last night.
They were given food and water and medical assistance before being taken to hotels to rest. They will begin arriving home today.
Within hours of them arriving back to safety, the international community ratcheted up the pressure on the Libyan dictator as the security situation in the country deteriorated. The British embassy in Tripoli was closed and its staff hurriedly evacuated.
William Hague, the Foreign Secretary, disclosed that a major international diplomatic offensive against the dictator was starting.
In a series of developments:
• Witnesses in Tripoli told of deaths at mosques and of armed men around the city. Elsewhere in the country, pro-Gaddafi forces were said to have fired on civilians from helicopters.
• The Sunday Telegraph met captured African mercenaries who Col Gaddafi had paid to prop up his regime, including a 16-year-old boy handed a gun and then told to go out and massacre protesters.
• Billions of pounds of Libyan assets are set to be frozen in Britain, including shareholdings in a major publishing company and large amounts of property.
• The Government is pushing for an arms embargo, a travel ban and a war crimes investigation into the crackdown on demonstrators, which appears to be reaching new heights of brutality.
Ban Ki-moon, the UN Secretary General, suggested yesterday that 1,000 or more had died since the rebellion against Col Gaddafi’s 42-year rule began last week.
David Cameron, the Prime Minister, and Mr Hague held talks over the phone with a series of world leaders yesterday including those of France and Russia, after which officials made clear that the brutality of the Gaddafi regime “would not be tolerated”. President Barack Obama said Gaddafi had “lost the legitimacy to rule” and should step down immediately.
In a separate move, The Sunday Telegraph understands that British diplomats have privately urged Nato and the UN to start thinking about the possibility of imposing a no-fly zone.
Humanitarian specialists were also on the ground in Egypt and making their way to the Libyan border, officials said.
The team were assessing how Britain and the international community could best assist the region as the situation worsens. “We are monitoring the movement of refugees from Libya to Tunisia and Egypt,” a spokesman said.
The stance reflects a significant toughening of the British Government’s position after an initially slow response to the crisis. Ministers faced criticism for a sluggish response to the need for evacuation but rescue efforts have sped up in recent days.
As diplomatic efforts to remove Col Gaddafi intensify, Mr Hague will meet Hillary Clinton, the US Secretary of State, to discuss the crisis tomorrow.
The rescues took place south of Benghazi, which has fallen to the rebels, and involved members of the SAS and SBS and support troops.
The Hercules aircraft, believed to be from RAF 47 Squadron (Special Forces Flight), flew from a base on Malta where they had assembled on Friday as concern grew about the safety of the British workers.
SAS and SBS units are on standby to evacuate more Britons.
A final evacuation by the frigate HMS Cumberland is expected early this morning when it docks at Benghazi for any remaining Britons.
Liam Fox, the Defence Secretary, revealed the mission after the two planes landed in Malta shortly after 6pm last night.
“I can confirm that two RAF C130 Hercules aircraft have evacuated around 150 civilians from desert locations south of Benghazi,” he said. “HMS York has arrived in Valletta to take on board stores so it can assist the evacuation effort if required.
“And a number of other military assets remain available to support the FCO [Foreign and Commonwealth Office] led efforts to return civilians from Libya.”
The majority of the 150 civilians rescued were British but other nationalities were also plucked to safety.
During the mission, two RAF Hercules, which can carry up to four heavily armed SAS Land Rovers, landed on improvised desert airstrips.
There were reports that Special Forces personnel were landed in Libya by HMS Cumberland when it docked in Benghazi on Thursday and fanned south into the country’s desert. They picked Britons, almost all of whom had barricaded themselves in compounds around the Libyan desert as law and order collapsed.
Many had said they were living in fear of their lives and had been faced with armed looters, while some had been robbed at gunpoint.
The wives of some of the stranded men had complained about a lack of action by the Foreign Office – although they could not be warned of plans for the rescue in order to keep it secret.
In New York, the noose tightened on the Libyan dictator as world powers finalised plans at the United Nations for financial and weapons sanctions against his clan and key regime officials.
The US pressed ahead with its own sanctions in tandem with the international effort, aiming to peel away remaining members of Col Gaddafi’s inner circle after several high-profile defections last week.
If the embattled Libyan leader is not brought down by a coup, then his fate seems set to be determined by a bloody showdown for his base in the capital. Much of the rest of the country is either occupied by rebels or under no control.
Helicopter-borne pro-Gaddafi mercenaries fired on protesters attending a funeral in the western city of Misurata, a witness said. With the sound of heavy weapons fire audible in the background, he said the fighters opened fire on mourners outside a mosque in the city, 90 miles east of the capital.
Residents of Tripoli said they had seen Gaddafi followers leaving the regime’s Revolutionary Committee headquarters armed with newly-issued weapons.
Others reported pro-Gaddafi militiamen wearing green headbands being driven through the city by trucks and manning roadblocks to control movement.
The capital remained quiet for much of the day after the bloodshed on Friday when pro-Gaddafi security forces opened fire on the largest anti-government marches in the city since the revolt broke out.
In Tripoli’s Tajoura district, a hub of anti-regime protests, residents barricaded streets with concrete blocks and chopped-down palm trees to keep out vehicles filled with young pro-Gaddafi fighters wielding automatic weapons.
Saif al-Islam, Col Gaddafi’s son, told foreign journalists invited on a government propaganda tour that the capital was “calm” and there were no casualties there.
“Everything is peaceful,” he said. “Peace is coming back to our country.” He insisted that the regime wanted negotiations with the opposition and said there were nothing more than “minor problems” in the cities of Misurata and Zawiya, where “we are dealing with terrorist people”.
The spectre of a bloodbath in Tripoli was hanging over world diplomats as they met for an unusual Saturday session to discuss a British-French plan for an immediate arms embargo, freezing of assets and travel ban on the Gaddafi family and senior government figures.
The US moved quickly to impose its own sanctions on Libya, with President Obama issuing an executive order to freeze assets and ban weapons sales.
In a symbol of Col Gaddafi’s loosening grip on power, the “busty” Ukrainian nurse revealed to have been the dictator’s constant companion was said to be returning to her family in Europe.