President Obama has chosen to operate his drone war in such unprecedented, absurd and arguably illegal secrecy that even in a rare burst of compelled transparency yesterday, neither he nor his press secretary could actually bring themselves to say the word “drone.”
In 2013, President Obama promised that before any U.S. drone strike, “there must be near-certainty that no civilians will be killed or injured.” Death by Drone, a new report by the Open Society Justice Initiative, questions whether he has kept that promise.
Learn More: Death by Drone | Open Society Foundations (OSF).
Download the Executive Summary.
Download the full report.
Afghan government troops and civilian paramilitary units, trained and sanctioned by the United States, are routinely terrorizing the Afghan people, according to a Human Rights Watch report. The report indicated that the government in Kabul rules over a network of criminals on a spree of plunder, not subject to legal accountability.
…forces under the command of Hakim Shujoyi have killed dozens of civilians in Uruzgan province, yet despite a warrant for his arrest he remains at large and evidence suggests he has enjoyed the support of US forces. In Paktika province, Afghan Local Police forces under the command of Azizullah,an ethnic Tajik who, as of June 2014, was a commander of the local ALP in Urgun district, have committed multiple kidnappings and killings. Azizullah has worked closely with US Special Forces despite their awareness of his reputation for unlawful brutality.
Read the press release: Afghanistan: Abusive Strongmen Escape Justice | Human Rights Watch.
Rory Fanning, author of Worth Fighting For: An Army Ranger’s Journey Out of the Military and Across America, writes a letter to a young Army Ranger.
Charles Pierson reports.
“2014 was a good year for US killer drones. In October, the US celebrated (if that is the word) its 400th drone strike on Pakistan. Unable to attend the festivities were the 2,379 Pakistanis killed by US drones since 2004. Of these, only 12% of the victims who have been identified have been linked to militant organizations, this according to a report from the British-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism.”
Read the full article: The Year in Drones » CounterPunch: Tells the Facts, Names the Names.
Rory Fanning, a former U.S. Army Ranger and author of the new book Worth Fighting For: An Army Ranger’s Journey Out of the Military and Across America, tells the remarkable story of hope amid the horror of the First World War: the Christmas Truce of 1914.
Read it here: When soldiers declared peace on earth | SocialistWorker.org.
Israel claims that it is merely exercising its right to self-defense and that Gaza is no longer occupied. Here’s what you need to know about these talking points and more, from The Nation’s Noura Erakat.
Read the article: Five Israeli Talking Points on Gaza—Debunked | The Nation.
Bill Ayers considers the Bergdahl controversy.
A few years ago a group of German radicals and peace activists created a huge depiction of a soldier in profile, running hard as his helmet and rifle are flying away from him, and called it The Monument to the Unknown Deserter. They displayed their monument from town to town and city to city all over the country. We need that kind of sentiment—that monument—here, now more than ever.
Read More: Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl | Bill Ayers.
In a report that has been largely ignored or repressed by our corporate media, Pulitzer Prize winner Sy Hersch unravels the truth of those sarin gas attacks against innocent children that almost took us into war in Syria.
A series of chemical weapon attacks in March and April 2013 was investigated over the next few months by a special UN mission to Syria. A person with close knowledge of the UN’s activity in Syria told me that there was evidence linking the Syrian opposition to the first gas attack, on 19 March in Khan Al-Assal, a village near Aleppo. In its final report in December, the mission said that at least 19 civilians and one Syrian soldier were among the fatalities, along with scores of injured. It had no mandate to assign responsibility for the attack, but the person with knowledge of the UN’s activities said: ‘Investigators interviewed the people who were there, including the doctors who treated the victims. It was clear that the rebels used the gas. It did not come out in public because no one wanted to know.’
Read the full article at London Review of Books: Seymour M. Hersh · The Red Line and the Rat Line · LRB 6 April 2014.
Five years ago, on January 23 2009, a CIA drone flattened a house in Pakistan’s tribal regions. It was the third day of Barack Obama’s presidency, and this was the new commander-in-chief’s first covert drone strike.
Across Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia, the Obama administration has launched more than 390 drone strikes in the five years since the first attack – eight times as many as were launched in the entire Bush presidency. These strikes have killed more than 2,400 people, at least 273 of them reportedly civilians.
If you saw incredible things – awful things – what would you do?
Is truth the enemy?
Learn more at IAM.BRADLEYMANNING.ORG.
As always as we observe Memorial Day I especially remember Wallace Malcom Hirstein, who served with great valor and courage in World War II.
Last week, I posted an update on Facebook noting that Congressional critics and the news media are fundamentally asking the wrong questions about Benghazi. Though it is obvious that the GOP’s focus on the “scandal” represents the worst sort of partisan opportunism – there is, I believe, another story here. It’s not a story about security at the compound, or the military response to the attacks, or what may have been said on television afterward. It’s a story about our government’s complicity to (and culpability for) the attacks themselves.
There is an excellent essay out today from Bill Van Auken that unpacks the situation in great detail.
In its intervention in Libya, Washington utilized Al Qaeda-linked fighters as a proxy ground force in the war to topple the secular regime of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, arming and advising them and using them to follow up the massive US-NATO bombing campaign. Christopher Stevens was very much the point man in this relationship, having carefully studied the Islamist opponents of Gaddafi before the launching of the war for regime-change. He was deployed in April 2011 to Benghazi, where he coordinated the arming, funding and training of the so-called rebels, elements previously denounced by the US as terrorists and, in some cases, abducted, imprisoned and tortured by the CIA.
So all of the reported “confusion” within the State Department and the Intelligence Community in the wake of the attacks is complete and utter nonsense, as is the portrayal of their interactions as simple bureaucratic interagency bickering. They knew from the very beginning what had happened – that their own assets were involved. The purpose of all the frantic scrambling and deception after the fact was to conceal our government’s relationships with their supposed Al-Qaeda terrorist enemies. There is simply no other way it all makes sense.
The circus sideshow being orchestrated by the GOP is not merely cynical political maneuvering. It misses the point. It helps to conceal from public view the true nature of the events at Benghazi, and ensures that there will be no discussion of the more serious and important issues involved.
“Wars throughout history have been waged for conquest and plunder. In the Middle Ages when the feudal lords who inhabited the castles whose towers may still be seen along the Rhine concluded to enlarge their domains, to increase their power, their prestige and their wealth they declared war upon one another. But they themselves did not go to war any more than the modern feudal lords, the barons of Wall Street go to war. The feudal barons of the Middle Ages, the economic predecessors of the capitalists of our day, declared all wars. And their miserable serfs fought all the battles. The poor, ignorant serfs had been taught to revere their masters; to believe that when their masters declared war upon one another, it was their patriotic duty to fall upon one another and to cut one another’s throats for the profit and glory of the lords and barons who held them in contempt. And that is war in a nutshell. The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and all to lose—especially their lives.”
The Words That Sent Debs To Prison (Full Text) – 16 June 1918, Canton Ohio