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Lets's talk about democracy
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Tuesday, 26 June 2007
Afgahn lives are cheap:
Topic: U.S. Military issues.

AP reports:

"Taliban fighters attack U.S. or NATO forces in populated areas, then retreat to civilian homes. Western forces respond with massive firepower or an airstrike. That increasingly common pattern of clashes has led to a climbing number of civilian deaths and rising anger among Afghan officials and citizens.

While militants killed 178 civilians this year in attacks through Saturday, Western forces killed 203, according to an Associated Press count based on figures from Afghan and international officials."

And ANN reports:

 "Just two days after 25 civilians, including women and children, were killed in a NATO airstrike in Gerishk district of southern Helmand province and during which 20 insurgents were also killed . . .

Afghan President Hamid Karzai lashed out strongly Saturday at the NATO forces over mounting civilian casualties caused in 'careless operations' by international forces in his country, saying 'Afghan lives are not cheap.'"

He went on:

"We want coordination, cooperation but unfortunately the coordination and cooperation that we wanted could not be gained and the consequence of that are civilian casualties. The civilian casualty is intolerable, it is absolutely intolerable, either this cooperation and coordination is created and applied or Afghanistan will take its decision in this regard.'"


"'Innocent people are becoming victims of reckless operations' because the troops had ignored Afghan advice for years." [BBC]

And not only is NATO killing Afghans . . . the BBC also reports:

"Rockets fired by coalition forces in Afghanistan killed at least nine Pakistani civilians, the Pakistan military said on Saturday. Coalition forces were fighting militants in Afghanistan close to the Pakistan border when a few rockets came across the frontier, hitting a house. Pakistan is demanding an explanation, a spokesman said."

Wow, that's a major screw up. Lucky for us the Pakisatnis are so worked up about Salon Rushdie. Maybe they won't notice.

NATO spokesman Major John Thomas is a busy, busy man of late:

From Earthtimes.org

"Major John Thomas, an International Security Assistance Force spokesman, confirmed that during the fight in Bermal district of south-eastern Afghan province Paktika 'up to 10 civilians were killed' due to artillery fire and rockets fired from helicopters inside Pakistan.

'It appears that one of our weapons hit a building which may have had a number of civilians in it and that building may have been a home or some hotel facility,' Thomas admitted.

'We regret two things: one that we mistakenly operated inside the Pakistani border, and secondly we regret the loss of civilians in our operation,' Thomas said in Kabul."

And then there is the drug problem:

Meanwhile, AFP reports: (as if this were a big surprise anyway)

"[The] UN released overnight its 2007 World Drug Report, which revealed a 49 percent leap last year in Afghanistan's production of opium, the raw ingredient of heroin. It also reiterated that the country supplied 92 percent of the world's opium."

The World Bank says:

"The opium economy is a massive source of corruption and gravely undermines the credibility of the government and its local representatives.

The opium economy is equivalent to more than one-third of Afghanistan’s licit economy. Iit is the country's largest source of export earnings, and it comprises a major source of income and employment in rural areas.

The harmful macroeconomic effects of successful measures against drugs may be somewhat limited and manageable, although monitoring is needed. The critical adverse development impact of counter-narcotics actions is on poor farmers and rural wage laborers."

So when we're not bombing them into the stone age, the lowly Afghans are being crushed between corrupt Afghan officials making bank on opium and the Taliban.  

Afghan drug minister Habibullah Qaderi claims:

"As development takes place, as police reform grows (and) the judicial system improves, I can guarantee that there will be certainly in the future a reduction in the drugs problem."

At the same UN meeting on drug was US ambassador William Wood who said that "about 10 percent of the heroin in his country was from Afghanistan and if this increased, Washington would consider a more 'forceful response.'"

Whatever that means, what are going to do bomb the poppy fields? our anti-natcotics methods in South America have been such a rousing success, I say we get right to it in Afghanistan. 

Posted by bushmeister0 at 2:25 PM EDT
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Thursday, 21 June 2007
More accidental discharges in Afghanistan:
Topic: U.S. Military issues.

This item I meant to add to previous post. 

June 17:

"In violence yesterday, a suicide bomber driving a taxi set off his explosives near of convoy of American civilian contractors and accompanying soldiers, killing himself and four bystanders. Within hours, U.S. soldiers fired into a crowd of Afghans near the scene of the blast, accidentally killing one man and wounding another, according to U.S. military spokesman, Lt. Col. David A Accetta. 'It was an unfortunate incident, and we are investigating the cause of the accidental discharge of the weapon,' he said."  [Inquirer]  

Good old Lt. Col. David A Accetta. Is he the military spokesperson in charge of 'unfortunate incidents?' It seems that whenever there's one of these "accidents" he's always the point man.  

In another possible "unfortunate incident:"

ANI reports:

"At least 30 people were killed and many more injured when a blast occurred at a madrassa in the Dattakhel area of North Waziristan near the Afghanistan border, intelligence officials said. Military spokesman Major-General Waheed Arshad said that casualties occurred when bombs being made by militants accidentally exploded at the place used as a training facility. The remote village was attacked with missiles and 50 students and their teachers were present in the religious school when it was hit, killing or injuring all of them, a local said." 

Appearently, the standard cover story when US drones target militants on Pakistani soil is to say militants blew themselves up:

"The News quoted an intelligence official speaking on conditions of anonymity that three missiles were fired from Afghanistan, which hit the training facility and killed 17 people."

With the way things are going for our good friend Pervez these days, he doesn't need this now. Better to say they blew themselves up or the Pakistanis did it themselves.

Like when the US killed Mohammed Nek with a Hellfire missile in 2004. Or when they went after Ayman al Zawahiri but missed him but hit another religious school in October of last year. In that case, according to Pakistani intelligence sources "Between two and five senior al Qaeda militants were killed in the attack, including the mastermind of the airliners plot in the U.K." [ABC]

You can take that to the bank, because the Pakistanis never screw up. And get this:

"Pakistani intelligence sources tell ABC News they believe they have 'boxed' Zawahiri in a 40-square-mile area between the Khalozai Valley in Bajaur and the village of Pashat in Kunar, Afghanistan. They hope to capture or kill him in the next few months."

Well, it's almost been a year, how's that boxing business going? 

Posted by bushmeister0 at 10:11 AM EDT
Updated: Thursday, 21 June 2007 10:43 AM EDT
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Saturday, 18 February 2006
The disgrace that is Gitmo:
Topic: U.S. Military issues.

As expected, the Bush administration has rejected the UN human rights commission report on Gitmo that calls for the government to close down the camp "without further delay." [NYT]Truthiness secretary Scott McClellan said, "I think what we are seeing is a rehash of allegations that have been made by lawyers representing some of the detainees." (Isn't this the same guy who said no one in the administration was involved in the Plame leak?) And McClellan went on to repeat this tired old sawhorse, "We know that al-Qaeda detainees are trained in trying to disseminate false allegations....These are dangerous terrorists that we are talking about who are there." Right, except that the pentagon has admitted that only 45% of the Gitmo detainees have committed hostile acts against the US and only 8% have been classified as al-Qaeda fighters. [AP] And, oh yeah, by the way, none of them have been formally accused of doing anything.

Even the ones who have been found to be "no longer enemy combatants" are apparently too dangerous to release. Adel Abu Hakim and Abu Bakker Qassim, two ethnic Uighurs, have been at Gitmo for four years and even though they were cleared nine months ago, they're still stuck. The WaPo reports that U.S. District Judge James Robertson, who heard their case, says the court has "no relief to offer" because the government can't find a place for these poor suckers to go and, though, he suggested they be given restricted asylum in the US, only the executive could do that and they're not going to. Seemingly, no country in the world will give them political asylum because they're afraid to offend China. Robertson wrote "The detention of the petitioners has now become indefinite. This indefinite imprisonment at Guantanamo Bay is unlawful."

Luckily, that type of judicial activism is now a thing of the past since W. signed the Defense Authorization Bill back in December. Lindsay Graham and Carl Levin added legislation to the bill denying Gitmo detainees the right to petition the courts for Habeas Corpus. "We're not going to turn the war over to the judges," Graham says. "If you're an enemy combatant, they will look at your case every year. If there's someone who is there untold years, Congress will get involved."

Boy, I bet everyone suffering under what Judge Robertson calls the "Kafka-esque term 'no longer enemy combatants'" will feel a lot better about their indefinite imprisonment knowing that Congress is looking out for them. Baher Azmy, a lawyer for one of the detainees says this new law, "Frees the government to bring anyone it wants to Guantanamo, which is why they chose it in the first place. It could end up as a place beyond the law where the executive branch can do whatever it wants to. " "Could end up?" I think it already has, with the help of Senators Graham and Levin.

Not that being held at Gitmo is so terrible, right? Rummy said it was like a trip to the tropics and they're getting three-squares a day---what else do they want? Even if they don't want to eat they still have to eat. Camp spokesman Lt. Col. Jeremy Martin says they force feed people in "a humane and compassionate way," so back off all you bleeding hearts out there. And they've got this great new comfy chair (like the Spanish Inquisition skit in Monty Python) that they strap detainees into and then put a tube up their nose. Like the manufacturer's ad says, "It's like a padded cell on wheels!" What could be finer you ask, maybe a little diarrhea? The NYT says lawyers for some of the hunger strikers claim "the liquid formula they were given was mixed with other ingredients to cause diarrhea" and another lawyer said his client told him this formula sometimes "caused detainees to defecate on themselves."

How pleasant! The U.S. has no intention of closing down Gitmo anytime soon and in fact they're adding to it. A new barracks is being build for more staff and there's a new psychiatric facility going up as well. Now, why would they need a psychiatric hospital, I wonder? [APA statement] Could it be that people who know they're going to be locked up in that hell hole for the rest of their lives are going a little crazy, so crazy, in fact, that they're trying to kill themselves by starving to death?

What a disgrace! Gitmo is a total betrayal of all we supposedly stand for and our soldiers are fighting and dying for. In what koo koo world does holding people indefinably without charge and without legal recourse become lawful? This is example A of what an unchecked executive's power can do. Instead of enabling this sort of outrageous violation of everything we hold dear, Congress should be closing the purse strings on this monstrosity. But they're too cowardly and one day they're going to wake up and find out their nothing more than rubber stamp puppets doing the bidding of an out of control dictator.

Posted by bushmeister0 at 2:07 PM EST
Updated: Saturday, 18 February 2006 2:08 PM EST
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Monday, 28 November 2005
DU is no Willy Pete.
Topic: U.S. Military issues.

Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is at it again, this time suggesting that members of the Bush administration should be tried for war-crimes. He said this week, "You who have used nuclear weapons against innocent people, who have used uranium ordinance in Iraq should be tried as war criminals in courts."

This guy is a total whack job and as I've said before he's not doing the Iranian government any favors in its fight with the IAEA over what it sees as its right to have nuclear power. With every moronic utterance he's speeding up his inevitable untimely departure. Case in point: for a third time the parliament has rejected his nominee for oil minister and the NYT writes that a member of parliament said his,"inability to form a cabinet was laying the groundwork for his impeachment."

He's finding the most serious opposition to his policies is coming from conservatives who are now saying the matter of the appointment of an oil minister will have to be resolved by the Guardian Council or the Expediency Council. It difficult to see Ahmadinejad hanging around much longer if he keeps this up.

What most interested me about this AP story by Nasser Karimi was how Depleted Uranium (DU) was described as "far less radioactive than natural uranium" and how after DU artillery shells are fired, "the shells melt, vaporize and turn to dust." The idea that DU is somehow this harmless substance that disappears after use is just a total misstatement of the facts. The dust left over has this nasty habit finding its way into drinking water and into people's lungs.

For example, the very liberal New York Daily News did a story a while back on four soldiers from a New York Army National Guard company serving in Iraq, who the paper found were, "contaminated with radiation likely caused by dust from depleted uranium shells fired by U.S. troops, a Daily News investigation has found.

They are among several members of the same company, the 442nd Military Police, who say they have been battling persistent physical ailments that began last summer in the Iraqi town of Samawah."

If we're not concerned about Iraqi children we should at least care that our guys over there are being made ill by this and the pentagon acts like nothing is wrong. Hopefully, we'll find out what's what before these poor bastards have to spend the rest of their lives trying to get the military to come clean on DU like Vietnam vets poisoned by Agent Orange.

The debate about DU has been a long one and the pentagon has gone out of its way to make it sound like its no biggie but there is a lot out there to cause concern. Dan Fahey's, "Science or Science Fiction? Facts, Myths and Propaganda in the Debate Over Depleted Uranium Weapons", March 12, 2003 is a good place to start to get some idea of what we're dealing with.

He writes that, "According to a recent article in the Journal of Environmental Radioactivity, children playing with soil may be identified as the critical population group [for DU exposure], with inhalation and/or ingestion of contaminated soil as the critical pathway.35

Once inside the body, DU may cause harm due to its chemical toxicity and/or alpha radiation. Laboratory studies on rats indicate short-term effects of internal exposure to DU may include kidney damage, while long-term effects may include cancer, central nervous system problems, immune system disorders and reproductive effects.36 Given that a ten to 30 year lag may exist after a persons exposure to DU dust and the development of cancer,37 it is possible that effects may manifest over time.

Few humans exposed to DU have been studied, therefore little is known about the effects DU has had or may have in the future on exposed populations.

Also, "Article Collection: Depleted Uranium (2002-2004)" is an excellent resource.

Posted by bushmeister0 at 5:15 PM EST
Updated: Monday, 28 November 2005 5:18 PM EST
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Wednesday, 9 November 2005
Meet Willy Pete all over again.
Topic: U.S. Military issues.

I worte back in April about Marines using Willy Pete, or White Phosphorus, on Fallujah at my other blog---Non Sum Dignus---but the news is so much worse than I could have thought.

The Italian newspaper La Repubblica is reporting Willy Pete, "was used as a chemical weapon in the rebel stronghold of Fallujah. And it was used not only against enemy combatants and guerrillas, but again innocent civilians."

RAI News 24 has broadcast, "video and photographs taken in the Iraqi city during and after the November 2004 bombardment which prove that the US military, contrary to statements in a December 9 communiqu? from the US Department of State, did not use phosphorus to illuminate enemy positions (which would have been legitimate) but instend dropped white phosphorus indiscriminately and in massive quantities on the city's neighborhoods."

See indymedia.ie for links to Video and pix. See also Phillybits for instant pix which are extremely graphic.

This is just breaking so I'll be back later. See Non Sum Dignus for lots of links and background on this story.

Posted by bushmeister0 at 3:45 PM EST
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Tuesday, 21 June 2005
Victory right around the coner.
Topic: U.S. Military issues.

Bush has a plan for victory in Iraq. At a meeting with leaders from the EU yesterday he said:

"The report from the field is that while it's tough, more and more Iraqis are becoming battle-hardened and trained to defend themselves and that's exactly the strategy that's going to work."

Which Iraqis is the question. Is he talking about the insurgents? If the article by Anthony Shadid and Steve Fainaru in the Post last week is any indication, he's talking about the insurgents, he just doesn't know it.

"We don't want to take responsibility; we don't want it," said Amar Mana, 27, an Iraqi private whose forehead was grazed by a bullet during an insurgent attack in November. 'Here, no way. The way the situation is, we wouldn't be ready to take responsibility for a thousand years.'"

Never fear, hot off his big success in getting that pipeline built for Unical in Afghanistan, (And almost getting killed last week) Zalmay Khalizad is going to take on the Iraqi insurgency and crush it! "I will work with Iraqis to break the back of the insurgency." Good luck.

Condi said on Sunday "This Week" that the insurgent's MO of blowing up civilians wasn't's a good political move. Maybe, she should take her own advice. No doubt "Operation Spear" was a rousing success but leaving towns with no houses standing kind of undermines the winning heats and minds part of it.

The war against Christians.

Rep. John N. Hostettler (R-Ind.) feels Christians are taking it on the chin from Godless dems and he's not going to take it anymore. (Is there an election coming up?)

The WaPo says:

In the middle of the House debating..."a Democratic amendment to the annual defense appropriations bill that would have required the Air Force Academy to develop a plan for preventing "coercive and abusive religious proselytizing..." Hostettler [Isn't that the evil SS guy on Hogan's Heros?]let loose:

"the long war on Christianity in America continues today on the floor of the House of Representatives" and "continues unabated with aid and comfort to those who would eradicate any vestige of our Christian heritage being supplied by the usual suspects, the Democrats."

"Like a moth to a flame, Democrats can't help themselves when it comes to denigrating and demonizing Christians," he said."

Bonehead! Christians are really on the run at the Air Force Academy. (When they're not raping they're prayin'.)

An Air Force Chaplin, Capt. MeLinda Morton, who was cashiered for trying to promote religious tolerance, alleges Academy endorsed zealotry. The New York Times reports the group "Americans United for the Separation of Church and State said:

"...that academy officers and staff members opened mandatory events at the academy with prayer, sent e-mail academy-wide with religious taglines, and published advertisements in the academy newspaper asking cadets to contact them to "discuss Jesus." The report is based on interviews with current and former academy staff and faculty members and cadets.

Fliers advertising a showing of the movie "The Passion of the Christ" were placed at every seat in the dining hall, with the tagline, "This is an officially sponsored USAFA event," according to the report."

There is currently an investigation going on looking into accusations "that officers, staff members and senior cadets inappropriately used their positions to push their evangelical Christian beliefs on Air Force cadets."

An NY Times editorial from last week says:

"In an overdue burst of candor, the superintendent of the Air Force Academy has acknowledged that his campus is so permeated with evangelical proselytizing that it will take years to rid the institution of religious intolerance. Lt. Gen. John Rosa Jr. said he finds the problem of cadets unfairly pressured to adopt Christian beliefs and practices occurring throughout "my whole organization," with offenders among faculty, staff and students.

"Perception is reality," the general apologetically declared of numerous complaints that cadets' constitutional rights have been violated by militant evangelists wielding peer pressure with the blessing of authority figures in the chain of command."

Nothing wrong with that, right? After all these anit-God liberal judges are more dangerous than a few guys with beards, flying planes in the World Trade Center, right?

Posted by bushmeister0 at 11:53 AM EDT
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Tuesday, 26 April 2005
We never make mistakes. Only the little countries do.
Topic: U.S. Military issues.

The BBC:

"An Italian journalist who was held hostage in Iraq has criticised a US military report into the killing of the agent who helped secure her release.
Italian Nicola Calipari was shot by US forces at a checkpoint as he escorted Giuliana Sgrena to Baghdad's airport.

US investigators are said to have found that the troops were "not culpable", in a report which Italy has not endorsed. [The Italians beg to differ.]

"The greatest disappointment would be if our authorities were to accept this insult without reacting," Ms Sgrena wrote in a front page editorial in her newspaper, Il Manifesto.

"All the words said about Calipari would turn into hypocrisy... and Nicola would have been our government's hero, just for one day."

Imagine if this was an American and he had just saved an American woman hostage! Strange, though, the timing of the story on the report. A few days earlier and Silvio Berlusconi would have been right in the middle of forming a new government. I'm sure it's just coincidental.

Everybody get's off scott-free in the U.S. military it seems. Especially fighter pilots. That must be the preception around the world.

Remember the "cablecar" incident in 1999? It's deja vu all over again

The Guardian:

"A tidal wave of anti-American fury was building up in Italy last night (Thursday) after it was learnt that a court martial in the USA had acquitted the pilot whose plane cut through a cable car line last year sending 20 passengers to their death.

A US military jury in North Carolina yesterday acquitted Richard Ashby, a marine captain who was piloting the Navy ?Prowler? jet that sliced through cables at a ski-resort in a valley near Cavalese in the Italian Alps on February 3 last year."

Or who could forget the straffing incident in Afghanistan that killed Canadian soldiers


"A military hearing officer Thursday recommended against court-martialing two U.S. pilots who killed four Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan last year in a friendly-fire bombing one of the men blamed on the "fog of war."

Although Col. Patrick Rosenow said there was enough evidence to court-martial both pilots, he said "non-judicial or administrative punishment would maintain the interests of good order and discipline." Rosenow presided over the nine-day investigative hearing in January."

And then of course there's the big whitewash in the Abu Ghraib scannal.


"An Army inspector general's report has cleared senior Army officers of wrongdoing in the abuse of military prisoners in Iraq and elsewhere, government officials familiar with the findings said yesterday.

The only Army general officer recommended for punishment for the failures that led to abuses at the Abu Ghraib prison and other facilities in Iraq and Afghanistan is Brig. Gen. Janis L. Karpinski [Scapegoat/woman.], who was in charge of U.S. prison facilities in Iraq as commander of the 800th Military Police Brigade in late 2003 and early 2004. Several sources said Karpinski is expected to receive an administrative reprimand for dereliction of duty.

...the inspector general's was designed to be the Army's final word on the responsibility of senior leadership in relation to the abuses. It was the only investigation designed to assign blame, if any, within the Army's senior leadership."

So that's that. A few NCOs and PFCs get the hammer and the big shots get a pass.

Posted by bushmeister0 at 1:00 PM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, 26 April 2005 1:03 PM EDT
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