Wounded Warriors Project is a Fraud- Making Millions Off Disabled Veterans

WWPscoundrels

My first experience with the Wounded Warriors Project came in 2006, when I made several donations from between $200 and $500 to the organization. I was a stock broker at the time and my income allowed for such idiocy. I guess you could say that I had more money than I had sense, but more importantly, I gave the money because I felt that I needed to do something to take part in the war effort, and what better way than to provide financial assistance to those who were coming back from the wars in the Middle East maimed and wounded. At least that is where I thought the money that I was donating was going.  Continue reading

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Drug Lord El Chapo Tells ISIS His Men Will Destroy Them

el chapo ISIS

The world’s most wanted drug lord has declared war on the Islamic State, promising the terror group’s leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, that his narcotics cartel will wipe them off the planet.

“My men will destroy you,”’ El Chapo huffs to the ISIS leader in an encrypted email that was leaked to a cartel-linked blogger in Mexico. Continue reading

Rand Paul Asked About Funding Israel

Rand Paul Rally 3

Rand Paul addresses the funding of ISIS while Authentic Enlightenment’s Chris Perkins asks him about the funding of Israel. Shortly after Rand’s speech, Chris meets him and tries to get him to answer another question. Watch to see and hear the results!

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Leaked report: Nearly half of US drone strikes in Pakistan not against al-Qaeda

AFP Photo / John Moore

 

A trove of leaked classified reports has confirmed what many had suspected – US drone kills in Pakistan are not the precision strikes against top-level al-Qaeda terrorists they are portrayed as by the Obama administration.

Instead, many of the attacks are aimed at suspected low-level tribal militants, who may pose no direct danger to the United States – and for many there appears to be little evidence to justify the assassinations.

Top secret documents obtained by McClatchy newspapers in the US show the locations, identities and numbers of those attacked and killed in Pakistan in 2006-8 and 2010-11, as well as explanations for why the targets were picked.

The statistics illustrate the breadth of the US ‘drone doctrine’ – which has never been defined by consecutive US administrations. Between 1,990 and 3,308 people are reported to have been killed in the drone strikes in Pakistan since 2004, the vast majority of them during the Obama terms.

In the 12-month period up to 2011, 43 out of 95 drone strikes in the reports (which give an account of the vast majority of US operations in the country) were not aimed at al-Qaeda at all. And 265 out of 482 people killed in those assassinations, were defined internally as “extremists”.

Indeed, only six of the men killed – less than two percent – were senior al-Qaeda leaders.

Some of the groups include the Haqqani network and the Taliban Movement of Pakistan, both militant organizations, but ones the US did not designate as terrorists until 2012 and 2010 respectively. Neither one has ever conducted an attack on US soil.

It also confirms that attacks during the George W. Bush era, were conducted on targets picked by ISI, Pakistan’s security agency, which has no obligations to comply with US legal criteria.

Furthermore, in some cases it is difficult to confirm that the targets were militants at all.

In the strikes above, the internal reports showed that only one civilian had been killed. But the modus operandi revealed behind the strikes, shows that some of the attacks seem to have been based on the certain people or visitors being present as certain locations, or merely associating with those the US believes were terrorists. This chimes with the accusation that the US is carrying out a policy of“signature strikes” – attacks based on behavior, or “signature” that would be expected of a terrorist, rather than any specific illegal activity.

These “signatures” apparently include such suspicious behavior as taking part in a funeral procession orfirst responding to an initial drone strike. Last year, the United Nation’s special rapporteur on human rights and counter-terrorism, Ben Emmerson, said it’s believed that, “since President Obama took office, at least 50 civilians were killed in follow-up strikes when they had gone to help victims and more than 20 civilians have also been attacked in deliberate strikes on funerals and mourners.”

The US has previously refused to admit that it operates such a policy.

Pakistani tribesmen carry the coffin of a person allegedly killed in a US drone attack, claiming that innocent civilians were killed during a June 15 strike in the North Waziristan village of Tapi, 10 kilometers away from Miranshah.(AFP Photo / Thir Khan)

Pakistani tribesmen carry the coffin of a person allegedly killed in a US drone attack, claiming that innocent civilians were killed during a June 15 strike in the North Waziristan village of Tapi, 10 kilometers away from Miranshah.(AFP Photo / Thir Khan)

Some of the assassinations, such as that of, Mohammad, the younger brother of the leader of the Haqqani network, Badruddin, appear to have been simply errors, with the victims branded as terrorists only after the fact.

All this seems to go against the assurance of John Brennan, the former White House counterterrorism chief, and new CIA head, who is the mastermind behind the drone policy

“We only authorize a particular operation against a specific individual if we have a high degree of confidence that the individual being targeted is indeed the terrorist we are pursuing,” Brennan explained a year ago.

Obama’s administration has also said all targets are on a “list of active terrorists,” compiled with “extraordinary care and thoughtfulness”. Obama has also explicitly stated that drones should not carry out “speculative” killings.

But other than when ordering assassinations of US citizens, the President does not have to give full information to the Senate about the basis for any drone attack, much less give it a legal justification.

The latest revelations have unleashed a torrent of protest from experts who believe that the program is extra-judicial, violates Pakistan’s sovereignty, and is counter-productive in the long term.

“I have never seen nor am I aware of any rules of engagement that have been made public that govern the conduct of drone operations in Pakistan, or the identification of individuals and groups other than al Qaida and the Afghan Taliban,” Christopher Swift, a national security law expert from Georgetown University told McClatchy.

“We are doing this on a case-by-case, ad hoc basis, rather than a systematic or strategic basis.”

Micah Zenko, from the Council on Foreign Relations, a foreign policy think tank, went further, and accused the government of“misleading the public about the scope of who can legitimately be targeted.”

He added: “When there is such a disconnect between who the administration says it kills and who it actually kills, that hypocrisy itself is a very dangerous precedent that other countries will emulate.”

Last month Ben Emmerson, after a secret research trip to the country announced that drone strikesviolate Pakistan’s sovereignty.

Emmerson added that the Pakistani government conveyed to him that it does not consent to the attacks, something that is often challenged in Washington and fuels mass protests in Pakistan.

 

AFP Photo / Aamir Qureshi

AFP Photo / Aamir Qureshi

 

Drone strikes were first used after the 9/11 attacks from bases in Pakistan and Uzbekistan, in combat missions inside Afghanistan. More than a decade later, Washington has expanded the use of the remotely controlled aircraft into Yemen, Somalia and most of all Pakistan.

The US has carried out countless attacks on targets in northwest Pakistan since 2004 through the CIA’s Special Activities Division.  Begun by President George W. Bush, the intensity of the missions has increased under the presidency of Barack Obama.

Islamabad publicly condemns these attacks but is known to have shared intelligence with the US and allowed drones to operate from its territory until April 2011, when NATO forces killed 24 Pakistani soldiers in the Salala incident. WikiLeaks cables also revealed that Pakistan’s Army Chief Ashfaq Parvez Kayani sanctioned the flights and in 2008 even asked the CIA for more “Predator coverage.” 

Ordinary Pakistanis have also repeatedly protested against these attacks as a violation of its sovereignty and because of immense civilian collateral damage, including the death dozens of women and children.

 

 

http://rt.com/news/drones-us-al-qaeda-militants-649/

Iraqi Birth Defects Are Much Worse Than Hiroshima

iraqi birth defects
(warning: graphic images)
The United States may be finished dropping bombs on Iraq, but Iraqi bodies will be dealing with the consequences for generations to come in the form of birth defects, mysterious illnesses and skyrocketing cancer rates.

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U.S. Commandos in 75 Countries Are Teaching Militaries to Torture, Kill, and Abuse Civilians

u.s., commandos, in, 75, countries, are, teaching, militaries, to, torture,, kill,, and, abuse, civilians, US Commandos in 75 Countries Are Teaching Militaries to Torture Kill and Abuse Civilians

(PolicyMIC) -While aggressive war, drone strikes, and a global network of military bases are the most visible aspects of American hegemonic power, what is often overlooked is the U.S. policy of training, assisting, and subsidizing foreign militaries. Although these actions are largely covert and discreet, they serve the same purpose of hegemonic control, diminish peace and national security, and help contribute to the subjugation of foreign citizens.

The training of foreign militaries to serve the interests of the American state goes all the way back to at least the Cold War. The U.S. used taxpayer money and weapons to subsidize foreign governments and militaries that were “anti-communist” even if the regimes were incredibly brutal and ruthless. All an authoritarian had to do was refer to his political opponents as “communists” and the Americans came rushing in.

In nearly every continent, the U.S. taught extremely fascistic, right-wing governments the art of cracking down on domestic dissent, jailing and torturing political opponents, centralizing power, making deals beneficial to American corporations, and employing death squads. Cheaper and less visible than directly invading and overthrowing governments the U.S. didn’t like, sock puppet dictators were the preferred means of implementing policy.

The fall of the Soviet Union in 1991 left very little justification for an American imperial position throughout the globe, yet those same Cold War policies were not only not discarded, but expanded upon. Back in 2010, President Obama and the Pentagon began implementing a strategy with a larger emphasis on “combat operations” and military-to-military coordination. U.S. Special Forces are now operating in (at least) 75 countries, teaching their governments more efficient means of subjugating their populations, creating chaos, and serving the interests of the American empire.

Syria is the most recent example of this policy. While publicly claiming that the U.S. is helping build schools and hospitals in Syria, the Associated Press and New York Times reports document that the U.S. is training and arming Syrian “rebels” opposing the Syrian dictator Bashar Al-Assad. With the help of Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar, most of the weapons are going to hard-line Islamic jihadists, many of whom belonging to groups that just a few years ago were killing U.S. Marines in Iraq.

President Obama, secretly and without the consent of Congress, sent more than 150 Special Forces to Jordan to train the anti-Assad fighters on the use of sophisticated anti-aircraft weapons.

What is even more disturbing is that the Syrian “rebels” have most likely already used chemical weapons, have a reputation for beheading prisoners, and that U.S. support is prolonging the conflict in the region. The reasons for U.S. intervention are of course complicated and multifaceted, but it most likely has to do with attempts to destabilize Iran’s strongest ally and what the Romans called divide et impera.

Syria may be the most dangerous example of the Obama administration’s enhanced policy of covert military training and assistance, but unfortunately it is nowhere near the only one. In Mali, along with building a brand new drone base, U.S. AFRICOM chief General Carter Ham admitted that while training Mali’s military, they “skipped ethics.” Targeting dissidents based on ethnicity and executing them is a staple of the U.S.-trained Mali government.

In Indonesia, the Obama administration resumed training and assisting an elite Indonesian military unit whose members have been convicted of massive human rights abuses in East Timor. U.S.-trained forces in Guatemala have incredibly close ties to some of the region’s most violent drug cartels and are notorious for their brutal treatment of civilians during the Guatemalan civil war.

A report from the Washington Office on Latin America details a U.S. policy called “the Merida Initiative” designed to “help the region’s militaries take on internal security roles” and use American police to train local police. Although President Obama publicly denounced the 2009 military coup in Honduras, Wikileaks cables later revealed that the Obama administration had members of the State Department meet with the illegitimate new Honduran “president” to help coordinate the implementation of the Merida Initiative.

The policy of militarizing, arming, and subsidizing foreign governments, especially those with well-known and documented human rights abuses and commissions of war crimes, appears to be a staple of the Obama administration’s foreign policy. But these policies help contribute to the spread of dictatorships, humanitarian crises, and instability while making the possibility of resentment and blowback much more likely.

It is becoming more and more clear that the bipartisan consensus policy of military interventionism is a threat to peace and security. Neutrality and non-intervention, as the Founders recommended, is a far more practical alternative and is still the best way to spread the American values our politicians are so fond of endorsing.

The NYT and Obama officials collaborate to prosecute Awlaki after he’s executed

New York Times building China hack

(Guardian) -The New York Times and the Obama administration have created a disturbing collaborative pattern that asserted itself again on Sunday with the paper’s long article purporting to describe the events leading up to the execution by the CIA of US citizen Anwar Awlaki. Time and again, the Obama administration shrouds what it does with complete secrecy, and then uses that secrecy to avoid judicial review of its actions and/or compelled statutory disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act. “Oh, we’re so sorry”, says the Obama DOJ, “but we cannot have courts deciding if what we did is legal, nor ordering us to disclose information under FOIA, because these programs are so very secret that any disclosure would seriously jeopardize national security”.

But then, senior Obama officials run to the New York Times by the dozens, demand (and receive) anonymity, and then spout all sorts of claims about these very same programs that are designed to justify what the US government has done and to glorify President Obama. The New York Times helpfully shields these officials – who are not blowing any whistles, but acting as government spokespeople – from being identified, and then mindlessly regurgitates their assertions as fact. It’s standard government stenography, administration press releases masquerading as in-depth news articles.

Sunday’s lengthy NYT article on the Awlaki killing by Mark Mazzetti, Charlie Savage and Scott Shane is a classic case of this arrangement. It purports to provide “an account of what led to the Awlaki strike” that is “based on interviews with three dozen current and former legal and counterterrorism officials and outside experts”. But what it really does is simply summarize the unverified justifications of the very officials involved in the killing, most of whom are permitted to justify themselves while hiding behind anonymity. It devotes itself with particular fervor to defending the actions of former Obama OLC lawyers David Barron and Marty Lederman, who concocted the theories to authorize due-process-free assassinations of American citizens (those same Democratic lawyers were, needless to say, among the most vocal critics of the Bush administration’s War on Terror policies that denied due process and relied on rampant secrecy).

There are many points to make about all of this. To begin with, will the Obama administration – which has persecuted whistleblowers with an unprecedented fervor and frequency – launch a criminal investigation to determine the identity of the “three dozen current and former legal and counterterrorism officials” who spoke to the NYT about the classified Awlaki hit, or, as usual, are such punishments reserved for those who embarrass rather than glorify the president?

Moreover, why can Obama officials run to the NYT after the fact and make all sorts of claims about the mountains of evidence supposedly proving Awlaki’s guilt, but not have done the same thing in a court of law prior to killing him? As the NYT notes, when the ACLU sued on behalf of Awlaki’s father seeking to enjoin Obama from killing his son, the Obama DOJ invoked the “state secrets” privilege, insisting that the evidence against Awlaki was so secret that national security would be jeopardized if disclosed to the court: the very same alleged evidence that Obama officials are now spilling to the NYT. They also deliberately refused to indict him, which would have at least required showing some evidence to a court to justify the accusations against him and would have enabled him to turn himself in and defend himself if inclined to do so.

All of this highlights why it’s so odious to prosecute and convict people in a newspaper after you execute them, rather than in a court of law before you end their life. As but one example, the statements about Awlaki from attempted underwear bomber Umar Abdulmutallab on which the NYT heavily relies to assert Awlaki’s guilt would have been subjected to intense cross-examination to see if they were simply the results of Abdulmutallab giving the government what they wanted – namely, statements that incriminated someone they wanted to kill – in exchange for favors as part of his plea agreement. It’s so basic, though the NYT seems not to have heard, that statements made by accused criminals in exchange for favors as part of a plea bargain are among the most unreliable.

But that kind of critical scrutiny only happens in courtrooms, with due process. By contrast, asserted government evidence is simply mindlessly assumed to be true when it’s fed to journalists after the fact without anyone to contradict it or any process available to disprove it. As the ACLU and the Center for Constitutional Rights jointly said yesterday about this NYT story:

“This is the latest in a series of one-sided, selective disclosures that prevent meaningful public debate and legal or even political accountability for the government’s killing program, including its use against citizens.

“Government officials have made serious allegations against Anwar al-Aulaqi, but allegations are not evidence, and the whole point of the Constitution’s due process clause is that a court must distinguish between the two. If the government has evidence that Al-Aulaqi posed an imminent threat at the time it killed him, it should present that evidence to a court.”

Indeed, while the NYT asserts as though it’s incontrovertible that he was “a senior operative in Al Qaeda’s branch in Yemen“, Yemen experts such as Gregory Johnsen have long said the opposite: “We suspect a great deal about Anwar al-Awlaki, but we know very little, precious little when it comes to his operational role” and “Mendelsohn [said]: ‘(Awlaki) played an important role in a string of attacks in the West’. We just don’t know this, we suspect it but don’t know it.”

Beyond that, the DOJ officials whose conduct is defended by this story have long been important sources to the very NYT reporters writing this article (not just during the Obama years but also the Bush years), so it’s a typical case of journalists using anonymity to serve the agendas of their government sources. And it’s yet another case where journalistic anonymity is granted not to protect whistleblowers from recriminations by the powerful, but to protect government officials from accountability so they can justify government conduct. And, finally, Marcy Wheeler details several extremely dubious claims that were passed off as fact by this NYT article: here and here.

But I want to focus on one key point. What prompted my opposition from the start to the attempted killing of Awlaki was that it was very clear he was being targeted because of his anti-American sermons that were resonating among English-speaking Muslim youth (sermons which, whatever you think of them, are protected by the First Amendment), and not because he was a Terrorist operative. In other words, the US government was trying to murder one of its own citizens as punishment for his political and religious views that were critical of the government’s policies, and not because of any actual crimes or warfare.

The NYT addresses this concern directly with a long, convoluted explanation that the Obama administration refrained from targeting Awlaki when they thought he was only a “dangerous propagandist”, and decided to kill him only once they obtained proof that he was an actual Terrorist operative. The NYT says that this proof was obtained in “late January 2010” when Abdulmutallab cooperated with authorities and claimed Awlaki participated in his plot. In order to validate this explanation, the NYT claims that a December, 2009 drone strike in Yemen that was widely reported at the time to have targeted Awlaki – and which media outlets falsely reported killed him – was actually targeting others, and that Awlaki would merely have been oh-so-coincidental (and perfectly legal) “collateral damage”. Here is the NYT’s effort to insist that the Obama administration targeted Awlaki for death only once it obtained evidence in late January, 2010 that he was more than a mere propagandist:

“[Awlaki’s] eloquent, English-language exhortations to jihad turned up repeatedly on the computers of young plotters of violence arrested in Britain, Canada and the United States.

“By 2008, said Philip Mudd, then a top F.B.I. counterterrorism official, Mr. Awlaki ‘was cropping up as a radicalizer – not in just a few investigations, but in what seemed to be every investigation.’

“In November 2009, when Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, an Army psychiatrist, was charged with opening fire at Fort Hood in Texas and killing 13 people, Mr. Awlaki finally found the global fame he had long appeared to court. Investigators quickly discovered that the major had exchanged e-mails with Mr. Awlaki, though the cleric’s replies had been cautious and noncommittal. But four days after the shootings, the cleric removed any doubt about where he stood.

“‘Nidal Hassan is a hero’, he wrote on his widely read blog. ‘He is a man of conscience who could not bear living the contradiction of being a Muslim and serving in an army that is fighting against his own people.’

“As chilling as the message was, it was still speech protected by the First Amendment. American intelligence agencies intensified their focus on Mr. Awlaki, intercepting communications that showed the cleric’s growing clout in Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, a Yemen-based affiliate of Osama bin Laden’s terrorist network.

“On Dec. 24, 2009, in the second American strike in Yemen in eight days, missiles hit a meeting of leaders of the affiliate group. News accounts said one target was Mr. Awlaki, who was falsely reported to have been killed.

“In fact, other top officials of the group were the strike’s specific targets, and Mr. Awlaki’s death would have been collateral damage – legally defensible as a death incidental to the military aim. As dangerous as Mr. Awlaki seemed, he was proved to be only an inciter; counterterrorism analysts did not yet have incontrovertible evidence that he was, in their language, “operational.”

“That would soon change. The next day, a 23-year-old Nigerian named Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab tried and failed to blow up an airliner as it approached Detroit. The would-be underwear bomber told FBI agents that after he went to Yemen and tracked down Mr. Awlaki, his online hero, the cleric had discussed ‘martyrdom and jihad’ with him, approved him for a suicide mission, helped him prepare a martyrdom video and directed him to detonate his bomb over United States territory, according to court documents.

“In his initial 50-minute interrogation on Dec. 25, 2009, before he stopped speaking for a month, Mr. Abdulmutallab said he had been sent by a terrorist named Abu Tarek, although intelligence agencies quickly found indications that Mr. Awlaki was probably involved. When Mr. Abdulmutallab resumed cooperating with interrogators in late January, an official said, he admitted that ‘Abu Tarek’ was Mr. Awlaki. With the Nigerian’s statements, American officials had witness confirmation that Mr. Awlaki was clearly a direct plotter, no longer just a dangerous propagandist.

“‘He had been on the radar all along, but it was Abdulmutallab’s testimony that really sealed it in my mind that this guy was dangerous and that we needed to go after him,’ said Dennis C. Blair, then director of national intelligence.”

So that tortured justification for what the Obama administration did, laundered through the NYT, is clear in its claims: (1) we were legally and constitutionally barred from trying to kill Awlaki when we thought he was just a propagandist; (2) the December, 2009 strike wasn’t really targeting him, despite what media outlets reported at the time, because we did not yet have evidence that he was a Terrorist plotter; and (3) we acquired that evidence only in late January, 2010, and only then did we start to target Awlaki for execution. Obviously, those claims are necessary to defend themselves from what would clearly be criminal behavior: trying to kill a US citizen because of the government’s dislike for his political and religious speech.

But the first journalist to report on the existence of Obama’s kill list and the inclusion of US citizens was the Washington Post’s Dana Priest. On January 26, 2010, this is what she wrote:

“As part of the operations [in Yemen], Obama approved a Dec. 24 strike against a compound where a US citizen, Anwar al-Aulaqi, was thought to be meeting with other regional al-Qaeda leaders. Although he was not the focus of the strike and was not killed, he has since been added to a shortlist of US citizens specifically targeted for killing or capture by the JSOC, military officials said . . .

“The Obama administration has adopted the same stance. If a US citizen joins al-Qaeda, ‘it doesn’t really change anything from the standpoint of whether we can target them’, a senior administration official said. ‘They are then part of the enemy.’

“Both the CIA and the JSOC maintain lists of individuals, called ‘High Value Targets’ and ‘High Value Individuals’, whom they seek to kill or capture. The JSOC list includes three Americans, including Aulaqi, whose name was added late last year. As of several months ago, the CIA list included three US citizens, and an intelligence official said that Aulaqi’s name has now been added.”

According to Priest’s reporting back then, the Obama administration was trying to execute Awlaki as early as late 2009 – exactly when the Obama officials who spoke to the NYT admit that they had no evidence that he was anything other than a “propagandist” and this his targeted killing would therefore be unconstitutional and illegal. (That’s also a reminder that not only Awlaki, but at least two other still-unknown Americans, have been placed on Obama’s kill list). Priest then added that the cause of Awlaki’s being placed on the kill list were his “academic” discussions with Nidal Hasan: exactly what the NYT’s Obama-official-sources now say are protected free speech that could not be used to legally justify his killing:

“Intelligence officials say the New Mexico-born imam also has been linked to the Army psychiatrist who is accused of killing 12 soldiers and a civilian at Fort Hood, Tex., although his communications with Maj. Nidal M. Hasan were largely academic in nature. Authorities say that Aulaqi is the most important native, English-speaking al-Qaeda figure and that he was in contact with the Nigerian accused of attempting to bomb a US airlner on Christmas Day.”

Whatever else is true, there is a serious potential contradiction between the self-justifying claims of the NYT’s sources (we waited until late January, 2010 when we acquired evidence of Awlaki’s involvement in plots before trying to kill him) and Priest’s reporting (the Obama administration began trying to kill Awlaki in 2009, before it had evidence that he had done anything beyond “inspiring” plots with his sermons). The reason this matters so much regardless of your views of Awlaki is obvious, and is certainly on the mind of the NYT’s government sources: it would be purely tyrannical, not to mention unconstitutional and criminal (murder), for the US government to try to kill one of its own citizens in order to stop his critical speech.

It’s possible that there is a distinction in this reporting between being targeted for killing by JSOC versus the CIA, although the NYT’s government sources are clear that any government targeted killing of Awlaki without proof of involvement in terrorist plots – based solely on his sermons – would be legally dubious, at best (indeed, on Democracy Now this morning, the NYT’s Scott Shane said: “they had in fact decided they could not target [US citizen] Samir Khan, because he was a propagandist, and not an actual plotter, but he was killed anyway”); when I asked Savage about this, he told me this morning via email that “the exact date that Awlaki went on ‘the list’ is one of several issues that we dug into at length, and while we were able to mosaic together some answers to some previously outstanding questions this one remains murky”). It’s also possible that Priest’s reporting was wrong and efforts to kill Awlaki only began in 2010 once the government acquired what it claims is evidence of his involvement in Terrorist plots. It’s also possible that the NYT’s sources are simply wrong, or worse, when claiming that abundant evidence exists to prove Awlaki’s involvement in such plots.

But all of this only underscores why governments of civilized nations don’t first execute people without charges or due process and seek after the fact to prosecute and convict them in a one-sided, non-adversarial process of newspaper leaks; these are exactly the kinds of questions that are resolved by adversarial judicial procedures, precisely the procedures the Obama administration made sure could never take place. It also underscores why responsible media outlets should do more than print these unverified government accusations as truth, especially about a matter as consequential as the government’s assassination of its own citizens. That the Obama administration and the New York Times did neither of those things in this case is quite revealing about the function they perform.

How Does the U.S. Mark Unidentified Men in Pakistan and Yemen as Drone Targets?

 

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(ProPublica) -Earlier this week, we wrote about [1] a significant but often overlooked aspect of the drone wars in Pakistan and Yemen: so-called signature strikes, in which the U.S. kills people whose identities aren’t confirmed. While President Obama and administration officials have framed [2] the drone program as targeting particular members of Al Qaeda, attacks against unknown militants reportedly may account [3] for the majority of strikes.

The government apparently calls such attacks signature strikes because the targets are identified based on intelligence “signatures” that suggest involvement in terror plots or militant activity.

 

 

So what signatures does the U.S. look for and how much evidence is needed to justify a strike?

The Obama administration has never spoken publicly about signature strikes. Instead, generally anonymous officials have offered often vague examples of signatures. The resulting fragmentary picture leaves many questions unanswered.

In Pakistan, a signature might include:

Training camps…

  • Convoys of vehicles that bear the characteristics of Qaeda or Taliban leaders on the run. – Senior American and Pakistani officials, New York Times [4], February 2008.
  • “Terrorist training camps.” – U.S. Diplomatic Cable [5] released by Wikileaks, October 2009.
  • Gatherings of militant groups or training complexes. – Current and former officials, Los Angeles Times [6], January 2010.
  • Bomb-making or fighters training for possible operations in Afghanistan…. a compound where unknown individuals were seen assembling a car bomb. – Officials, Los Angeles Times [7], May 2010.
  • Travel in or out of a known al-Qaeda compound or possession of explosives. – U.S. officials, Washington Post [8], February 2011.
  • Operating a training camp… consorting with known militants. – High-level American official, The New Yorker [9], September 2011.

A group of guys…

  • Large groups of armed men. – Senior U.S. intelligence official, Associated Press [10], March 2012.
  • Groups of armed militants traveling by truck toward the war in Afghanistan. – Administration officials, Washington Post [11], April 2012.
  • The joke was that when the C.I.A. sees “three guys doing jumping jacks,” the agency thinks it is a terrorist training camp. – Senior official, May 2012.
  • “The definition is a male between the ages of 20 and 40.” – Former Ambassador to Pakistan Cameron Munter, Daily Beast [12], November 2012.
  • “Armed men who we see getting into pickup trucks and heading towards the Afghanistan border or who are in a training exercise.” – Former Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair, Council on Foreign Relations [13], January 2013.

Officials have characterized the intelligence that goes into these strikes as thorough, based on “days [14]” of drone surveillance and other sources — and said that [15] apparently low-level people may still be key to an organization’s functioning. In 2010, an official told the Los Angeles Times [7] that the CIA makes sure “these are people whose actions over time have made it obvious that they are a threat.”

In Yemen, signature strikes are reportedly bound by stricter rules [11]. Officials have often cited the necessity of a plot against Americans:

  • Clear indication of the presence of an al-Qaeda leader or of plotting against targets in the United States or Americans overseas. — Administration officials, Washington Post [11], April 2012.
  • “Individuals who are personally involved in trying to kill Americans… or intelligence that…[for example] a truck has been configured in order to go after our embassy in Sanaa.” — Senior administration official, Washington Post [16], January 2013

These strikes are not supposed to target “lower-level foot soldiers battling the Yemeni government,” U.S. officials told [17] the Wall Street Journal. A White House spokesman said last summer [18] that the U.S. “[has] not and will not get involved in a broader counterinsurgency effort” in Yemen.

But experts say some strikes [19] in Yemen do appear to have been aimed at local militants [20]. In Pakistan, in addition to low-level militants who might be involved in the war in Afghanistan, the U.S. has sometimes hit [21] those who posed a threat to the Pakistani government.

As we detailed [1], signature strikes have also been criticized by human rights groups and some legal observers because of the lack of transparency surrounding them, including on the number of civilians killed.

Dianne Feinstein’s shocking lies about the number of civilians killed by U.S. drone program

 

Vice Adm. Richard W. Hunt, commander of U.S. 3rd Fleet speaks with U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein and San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom at the St. Francis Yacht Club during the San Francisco Fleet Week 2010 Parade of Ships. (Image credit: U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jeremy M. Starr/Released)

Vice Adm. Richard W. Hunt, commander of U.S. 3rd  Fleet speaks with U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein and San Francisco Mayor Gavin  Newsom at the St. Francis Yacht Club during the San Francisco Fleet Week 2010  Parade of Ships. (Image credit: U.S. Navy  photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jeremy M.  Starr/Released)

(EndTheLie) – Dianne Feinstein, California Democrat and chair of the Senate Select  Committee on Intelligence, brazenly lied about the number of civilians killed by  the U.S.’s so-called “targeted killing” (or “targeted force” as she put  it) program during her remarks at the beginning of the confirmation  hearings of John Brennan.

This assassination program, mostly – but not entirely – comprised of strikes  carried out by drones, was recently shown to be even more disturbing than  previously thought with the leak of a Justice Department white paper, although a federal  court ruling determined that the Obama administration never has to explain  the legal basis for the strikes in court.

The program also has some calling for increased oversight through another secret court  even though Attorney General Eric Holder claims the secret reviews of classified evidence carried out by the  Obama administration count as due process.

“But for the past several years, this committee has done significant  oversight of the government’s conduct of targeted strikes, and the figures we  have obtained from the executive branch,  which we have done our utmost to verify, confirm that the number of civilian  casualties that have resulted from such strikes each year has typically been in  the single digits,” Feinstein said.

The claim that civilian deaths resulting from “the use of targeted force,” as  she put it, have “typically been in the single digits” is simply ludicrous.

Conor Friedersdorf massive underestimates the magnitude of this lie when he  calls the claim “imprecise.” It is nothing short of an egregious lie.

Even if Feinstein was using some of more “conservative” statistics like those  compiled by the New American Foundation – shown to be woefully inaccurate by Friedersdorf in July of 2012 – her  claim wouldn’t be truthful.

Researchers at the Bureau of Investigative Journalism in the UK estimates the number of civilians killed in drone strikes in  Pakistan – not including those killed by drones in Yemen, Somalia and elsewhere – to be at a minimum 2 in 2004, 6 in 2005, 96 in 2006, 4 in 2007, 74 in  2008, 119 in 2009, 97 in 2010, 68 in 2011 and 7 in 2012.

Maybe Feinstein chose to only look at the figures for 2004, 2005, 2007 and  2012? Even then, the claim would be dubious at best since those figures only  include Pakistan.

Keep in mind, as the Bureau of Investigative Journalism points out, that from  2004-2013 the CIA has conducted 364 drone strikes in Pakistan. 312 of those have been during the Obama  administration.

Somewhere from 473-893 civilians have been reported killed as a result of  those 364 strikes and 176 children were reported killed in Pakistan alone.  Anywhere from 1,270 to 1,433 civilians were reportedly injured. Remember, this  is all just in Pakistan where the CIA targets rescuers and funerals with drone strikes.

In Yemen, 42-52 U.S. drone strikes have been confirmed from  2002 to 2013 while 54-64 total U.S. operations have been confirmed, according to  the Bureau. Possible extra U.S. operations range from 135 to 157 and possible  extra U.S. drone strikes range from 77 to 93.

The total number of people killed ranges from 374 to 1,112 with 72 to 178  civilians killed by all operations. The number of children killed by all U.S.  operations in Yemen during the period ranges from 27 to 37.

Thankfully, the numbers in Somalia are significantly lower, but those numbers are from  2007 to 2013. The total number of U.S. strikes is 10-23, while the total number  of U.S. drone strikes range from three to nine.

Total number of people reported killed ranges from 58 to 170 while civilians  killed range from 11 to 57 with one to three children reported killed.

Friedersdorf also points out that there have been instances where a single  strike caused more civilian casualties than she claims occur in an entire  year.

One example is a 2009 strike in Yemen which resulted in far more civilian  deaths than Feinstein’s numbers would allow.

“Some months after the attack in Al Majalah, Amnesty International  released photos showing an American cluster bomb and a propulsion unit from a  Tomahawk cruise missile,” according to an article published on the New Yorker’s Daily Comment blog. “A subsequent inquiry by the Yemeni parliament found that fourteen Al Qaeda  fighters had been killed—along with forty-one civilians, including twenty-three  children.”

As the article points out, when American officials were spoken to, “they  seemed genuinely perplexed. They didn’t deny that a large number of civilians  had been killed. They felt bad about it. But the aerial surveillance, they said,  had clearly showed that a training camp for militants was operating there.”

“It was a terrible outcome,” an unnamed official told Dexter Filkins, the  author of the piece. “Nobody wanted that.”

If Feinstein’s claim was accurate, the casualties from that single “targeted” strike would have to be spread out over some five years.

That’s not the only single incident that proves Feinstein’s claim to be  completely and totally false.

An incredibly detailed and lengthy report published in September 2012, “Living Under Drones,” by the International Human Rights and  Conflict Resolution Clinic at Stanford Law School and the Global Justice Clinic  at New York University School of Law focused on one such incident in  Pakistan.

The report focused on a single drone strike on March 17, 2011 in Pakistan  which killed around 40 or more people according to “nearly all available  sources.”

While individuals with Pakistani intelligence said that 12 or 13 of those  killed were Taliban militants, the report stated that, “the Associated Press  investigation found that it was likely only four. Of those four, only one,  Sherabat Khan, has ever been identified by name.”

Separate investigations carried out by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism “so far obtained the names of 24 civilians killed who died in the strike,” according to the report.

The most noteworthy of all points, however, is that according to a New York  Times report from last year, “Obama embraced a disputed method for  counting civilian casualties that did little to box him in. It in effect counts  all military-age males in a strike zone as combatants, according to several  administration officials, unless there is explicit intelligence posthumously  proving them innocent.”

This method of counting civilian deaths is, on its face, completely  absurd.

Feinstein’s justification for trusting the Obama administration’s numbers are  perhaps even more absurd.

Spencer Ackerman of Danger Room asked Feinstein why the Intelligence  Committee would be confident in believing that the CIA was not misleading  Congress about civilian deaths from drones when they previously misled Congress  about their torture and detention program.

“That’s a good question, actually,” Feinstein said, according to Danger Room. “That’s a good question.”

“She said she felt the CIA wasn’t ‘defensive’ of the drones in the way it was  defensive of the torture program, however,” wrote Ackerman.

Feinstein refuses to even recognize the fact that the Obama administration’s  estimates are not only based on a patently absurd methodology but also that the  administration “has clear incentives to lie,” as Friedersdorf rightly points  out.

This issue is only going to become more important as outgoing Secretary of  Defense Leon Panetta stated that the U.S. needs an open-ended drone war in order to prevent a  future attack on America and the problem of domestic drone use is becoming increasingly  contentious.

Did I forget anything or miss any errors? Would you like to make me aware of  a story or subject to cover? Or perhaps you want to bring your writing to a  wider audience? Feel free to contact me at admin@EndtheLie.com with your concerns, tips, questions, original writings, insults or just  about anything that may strike your fancy.

 

Ex-CIA officer John Kiriakou sentenced for leaking name on agency’s use of torture

ALEXANDRIA, Va. A former CIA officer was sentenced Friday to more than two years in prison by a federal judge who rejected arguments that he was acting as a whistleblower on the agency’s use of torture when he leaked a covert officer’s name to a reporter.

A plea deal required the judge to impose a sentence of 2 1/2 years. U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema said she would have given John Kiriakou much more time if she could.

 

Kiriakou’s supporters describe him as a whistleblower who exposed aspects of the CIA’s use of torture against detained terrorists. Prosecutors said he was merely seeking to increase his fame by trading on his insider knowledge.

Kiriakou’s 2007 interviews about the interrogations of al-Qaida terrorist Abu Zubaydah were among the first by a CIA insider confirming reports that several detainees had been waterboarded.

The 48-year-old pleaded guilty last year to violating the Intelligence Identities Protection Act. No one had been convicted under the law in 27 years.

 

 

In 2002, he played a key role in the agency’s capture of Abu Zubaydah in Pakistan. Abu Zubaydah, who was waterboarded by government interrogators, revealed information that exposed Khalid Sheikh Mohamed as the mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.

Accounts conflict, though, over whether the waterboarding was helpful in gleaning intelligence from Abu Zubaydah, who was also interrogated conventionally.

 

 

 

Kiriakou, who did not participate in the waterboarding, expressed ambivalence in interviews about waterboarding, but he ultimately declared it was torture.

In court papers, prosecutors said the investigation of Kiriakou began in 2009 when authorities became alarmed after discovering that detainees at Guantanamo Bay possessed photographs of CIA and FBI personnel who had interrogated them. The investigation eventually led back to Kiriakou, according to a government affidavit.

Prosecutors said Kiriakou leaked the name of a covert operative to a journalist, who disclosed it to an investigator working for the lawyer of a Guantanamo detainee.

Kiriakou was initially charged under the World War I-era Espionage Act, but those charges were dropped as part of a plea bargain.

The Drone Commander:20,000 Airstrikes in the President’s First Term Cause Death and Destruction From Iraq to Somalia

 of 9/11: “Why do they hate us?”

(AlterNet) -Many people around the world are disturbed by U.S. drone attacks in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and elsewhere. The illusion that American drones can strike without warning anywhere in the world without placing Americans in harm’s way makes drones dangerously attractive to U.S. officials, even as they fuel the cycle of violence that the “war on terror” falsely promised to end but has instead escalated and sought to normalize. But drone strikes are only the tip of an iceberg, making up less than 10 percent of at least 20,130 air strikes the U.S. has conducted in other countries since President Obama’s inauguration in 2009.

The U.S. dropped 17,500 bombs during its invasion of Afghanistan in 2001. It conducted 29,200 air strikes during the invasion of Iraq in 2003. U.S. air forces conducted at least another 3,900 air strikes in Iraq over the next eight years, before the Iraqi government finally negotiated the withdrawal of U.S. occupation forces. But that pales next to at least 38,100 U.S. air strikes in Afghanistan since 2002, a country already occupied by U.S. and NATO forces, with a government pledged by its U.S. overlords to bring peace and justice to its people.
 
The Obama administration is responsible for at least 18,274 air strikes in Afghanistan since 2009, including at least 1,160 by pilotless drones. The U.S. conducted at least 116 air strikes in Iraq in 2009 and about 1,460 of NATO’s 7,700 strikes in Libya in 2011. While the U.S. military does not publish figures on “secret” air and drone strikes in other countries, press reports detail a five-fold increase over Bush’s second term, with at least 303 strikes in Pakistan, 125 in Yemen and 16 in Somalia.
 
Aside from the initial bombing of Afghanistan in 2001 and the “shock and awe” bombing of Iraq in March and April 2003, the Obama administration has conducted more air strikes day-in day-out than the Bush administration. Bush’s roughly 24,000 air strikes in seven years from 2002 to 2008 amounted to an air strike about every 3 hours, while Obama’s 20,130 in four years add up to one every 1-3/4 hours.
 
The U.S. government does not advertise these figures, and journalists have largely ignored them. But the bombs and missiles used in these air strikes are powerful weapons designed to inflict damage, death and injury over a wide radius, up to hundreds of feet from their points of impact. The effect of such bombs and shells on actual battlefields, where the victims are military personnel, has always been deadly and gruesome. Many soldiers who lived through shelling and bombing in the First and Second World Wars never recovered from “shell-shock” or what we now call PTSD.
 
The use of such weapons in America’s current wars, where “the battlefield” is often a euphemism for houses, villages or even urban areas densely populated by civilians, frequently violates otherwise binding rules of international humanitarian law. These include the Fourth Geneva Convention, signed in 1949 to protect civilians from the worst effects of war and military occupation.
 
Beginning in 2005, the U.N. Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) issued quarterly reports on human rights in Iraq. They included details of U.S. air strikes that killed civilians, and UNAMI called on U.S. authorities to fully investigate these incidents. A UNAMI human rights report published in October 2007 demanded, “that all credible allegations of unlawful killings by MNF (multi-national force) forces be thoroughly, promptly and impartially investigated, and appropriate action taken against military personnel found to have used excessive or indiscriminate force.”
 
The UN human rights report included a reminder to U.S. military commanders that, “Customary international humanitarian law demands that, as much as possible, military objectives must not be located within areas densely populated by civilians. The presence of individual combatants among a great number of civilians does not alter the civilian nature of an area.”
 
But no Americans have been held criminally accountable for civilian casualties in air strikes, either in Iraq or in the more widespread bombing of occupied Afghanistan. U.S. officials dispute findings of fact and law in investigations by the UN and the Afghan government, but they accept no independent mechanism for resolving these disputes, effectively shielding themselves from accountability.
 
Besides simply not being informed of the extent of the U.S. bombing campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan, the U.S. public has been subject to military propaganda about the accuracy and effectiveness of “precision” weapons. When military forces detonate tens of thousands of powerful bombs and missiles in a country, even highly accurate weapons are bound to kill many innocent people. When we are talking about 33,000 bombs and missiles exploding in Iraq, 55,000 in Afghanistan and 7,700 in Libya, it is critical to understand just how accurate or inaccurate these weapons really are. If only 10 percent missed their targets, that would mean nearly 10,000 bombs and missiles blowing up something or somewhere else, killing and maiming thousands of unintended victims.
 
But even the latest generation of “precision” weapons is not 90 percent accurate. One of the world’s leading experts on this subject, Rob Hewson, the editor of the military journal Jane’s Air Launched Weapons, estimated that 20 to 25 percent of the 19,948 precision weapons used in the “shock and awe” attack on Iraq in 2003 completely missed their targets. The other 9,251 bombs and missiles were not classified as “precision” weapons in the first place, so that only about 56 percent of the total 29,199 “shock and awe” weapons actually performed with “precision” by the military’s own standards. And those standards define precision for most of these weapons only as striking within a 29 foot radius of the target.
 
To an expert like Rob Hewson who understood the real-world effects of these weapons, “shock and awe” presented an ethical and legal problem to which American military spokespeople and journalists seemed oblivious. As he told the Associated Press, “In a war that’s being fought for the benefit of the Iraqi people, you can’t afford to kill any of them. But you can’t drop bombs and not kill people. There’s a real dichotomy in all of this.” 

The actual results of U.S. air strikes were better documented in Iraq than in Afghanistan. Epidemiological studies in Iraq bore out Hewson’s assessment, finding that tens of thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands, of Iraqi civilians were killed by U.S. air strikes. The first major epidemiological study conducted in Iraq after 18 months of war and occupation concluded:

Violent deaths were widespread … and were mainly attributed to coalition forces. Most individuals reportedly killed by coalition forces were women and children … Violence accounted for most of the excess deaths and air strikes from coalition forces accounted for most violent deaths.

When the same team from Johns Hopkins and Baghdad’s Al Mustansariya University did a more extensive study in Iraq in 2006 after three years of war and occupation, it found that, amidst the proliferation of all kinds of violence, U.S. air strikes by then accounted for a smaller share of total deaths, except in one crucial respect: they still accounted for half of all violent deaths of children in Iraq.
 
No such studies have been conducted in Afghanistan, but hundreds of thousands of Afghans now living in refugee camps tell of homes and villages destroyed by U.S. air strikes and of family members killed in the bombing. There is no evidence that the pattern of bombing casualties in Afghanistan has been any kinder to children and other innocents than in Iraq. Impossibly low figures on civilian casualties published by the U.N. mission in Afghanistan are the result of small numbers of completed investigations, not comprehensive surveys. They therefore give a misleading impression, which is then amplified by wishful and uncritical Western news reports.
 
When the UN identified only 80 civilians killed in U.S. Special Forces night raids in 2010, Nader Nadery of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission, who worked on the UN report, explained that this was based on completed investigations of only 13 of the 73 incidents reported to the UN for the year. He estimated the number of civilians killed in all 73 incidents at 420. But most U.S. air strikes and special forces raids occur in resistance-held areas where people have no contact with the UN or the Human Rights Commission. So even thorough and complete UN investigations in the areas it has access to would only document a fraction of total Afghan civilian casualties. Western journalists who report UN civilian casualty figures from Afghanistan as if they were estimates of total casualties unwittingly contribute to a propaganda narrative that dramatically understates the scale of violence raining down from the skies on the people of Afghanistan.
 
President Obama and the politicians and media who keep the scale, destructiveness and indiscriminate nature of U.S. air strikes shrouded in silence understand only too well that the American public has in no way approved this shameful and endless tsunami of violence against people in other countries. Day after day for 11 years, U.S. air strikes have conclusively answered the familiar question of 9/11: “Why do they hate us?” As Congressmember Barbara Lee warned in 2001, we have “become the evil we deplore.” It is time to change course. Ending the daily routine of deadly U.S. air strikes, including but by no means limited to drone strikes, should be President Obama’s most urgent national security priority as he begins his second term in office.

Despite curbs on target killings, CIA to get free hand in Pakistan

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WASHINGTON: The Obama administration is finalising a rule book for target killings but these restrictions will not apply to Pakistan where the CIA will be free to direct drone strikes in Fata.

The classified manual, called a counter-terrorism “playbook”, sets out stringent rules for targeted killings and details the process of adding names to the so-called “kill list”.

But it “leaves open a major exemption for the CIA’s campaign of drone strikes in Pakistan”, The Washington Post reported on Sunday.

The CIA would have this freedom for “less than two years but more than one” because its drone strategy had been very effective in weakening pro-Taliban militants, the Post reported.

The CIA is expected to give the US ambassador to Pakistan advance notice on strikes. But in practice, the agency exercises near complete control over the names on its target list and decisions on strikes.

But once the CIA achieved its targets in Fata, the rule book would also be applied to Pakistan, the Post reported.

The document will be submitted to President Barack Obama within weeks for final approval once some minor issues are resolved.

The rule book marks the culmination of a year-long effort by the administration to codify its counter-terrorism policies and create a guide for lethal operations through President Obama’s second term.

The Post noted that the ‘institutionalisation’ of such a practice “would have seemed anathema to many before the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.”

The book covers the process for adding names to the kill list, legal principles for targeting US citizens and the sequence of approvals required when the CIA or US military conduct drone strikes outside war zones.

The Post reported that disagreements among the State Department, the CIA and the Pentagon on the criteria for lethal strikes nearly derailed the new strategy late last year.

“Granting the CIA a temporary exemption for its Pakistan operations was described as a compromise that allowed officials to move forward with other parts of the playbook,” the Post noted.

The decision to allow the CIA strikes to continue was driven by concern that the window for weakening Al Qaeda and the Taliban in Pakistan was beginning to close, as the US prepares to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan.

President Obama’s national security team agreed to the CIA compromise in late December during a meeting of top national security officials that was led by White House counter-terrorism adviser John Brennan, who has since been nominated to serve
as CIA director.

“Critics see the manual as a symbol of the extent to which the targeted killing programme has become institutionalised, part of
an apparatus being assembled by the Obama administration to sustain a seemingly permanent war,” the Post noted.

Hina Shamsi, director of the American Civil Liberty Union’s national security project, told the Post that the ‘playbook’ was “a step in exactly the wrong direction, a further bureaucratisation of the CIA’s paramilitary killing programme.”

Some administration officials have also voiced concern about the duration of the drone campaign, which has spread from Pakistan to Yemen and Somalia where it involves both CIA and military strikes.

In a recent speech before he stepped down as Pentagon general counsel, Jeh Johnson warned that “we must not accept the current conflict … and all that it entails, as the ‘new normal.”

US supports governments in 4 of 7 least free nations

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(Digital Journal)  –  The United States provides economic, military  and diplomatic support to four of the seven least free nations on earth,  according to a Digital Journal analysis of this year’s Freedom House freedom  rankings.

Freedom House, a Washington, DC-based think tank that conducts  research on democracy, freedom and human rights, has released its annual report  on the state of freedom around the world. The report, “Freedom  in the World 2013,” gave seven nations the lowest possible rankings for both  political rights and civil liberties. Of these seven– North Korea,  Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Sudan, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea and Saudi Arabia,  the United States provides significant economic, military and/or diplomatic  support to the governments of four of them. Here’s a breakdown of how the Obama  administration aids and enables brutal repression in each country:

Saudi Arabia:  Arbitrary arrest and torture  of reform advocates, religious minorities and totally innocent people are  commonplace. The Saudi legal system is a cruel farce, with defendants often denied  legal counsel and tortured into making false confessions. This has led to  wrongful executions, usually by public  beheading. Among the crimes for which one can be beheaded in Saudi Arabia:  apostasy (renouncing Islam), blasphemy, prostitution, witchcraft,  sorcery, adultery and homosexuality. Lesser criminals often have their hands and  legs amputated without anesthesia.

Being born female in Saudi Arabia is to  be condemned to a hellish life of virtual slavery. Not only are women not  allowed to vote, they cannot drive cars. They cannot be treated in a hospital or  travel without written permission from their husbands or male relatives. One  woman who was kidnapped and gang-raped was sentenced  to 90 whip lashes for being with unrelated males. When she went to the media to  complain, her sentence was increased to 200 lashes. In 2002, 15 schoolgirls  needlessly died when  members of the dreaded morality police locked them inside their burning school  and stopped firefighters from saving them simply because the girls were not  properly dressed in robes and headscarves.

The Saudi education system reinforces  this medieval barbarism. School textbooks disparage women, call for gays to be  put to death, teach how to cut off thieves’ hands and stress the importance of  the destruction of the Jewish people. “The hour of God’s judgment will not come  until the Muslims fight the Jews and kill them,” reads  one textbook.

Such is life in the absolute monarchy  of Saudi Arabia, a kingdom without an elected parliament where the courts are  run by religious extremists, adherents of a super-strict brand of Islamic  fundamentalism called Wahhabism.  It was Wahhabism that spawned al-Qaeda; Osama bin Laden and 15 of the 19 9/11  hijackers were Saudis. In a bid to consolidate and protect its power and curry  favor with powerful extremist clerics, members of the Saudi royal family  routinely make large donations  to Islamic ‘charities’ that in turn fund terrorist groups. The Saudi government  also supported the Taliban right up until 9/11 and then refused to help US  intelligence officials with background checks on the Saudi hijackers.

These truths have been ignored by  successive US administrations, including Barack Obama’s. Rather than rebuke  Saudi repression, Obama rewarded it by allowing the sale of $60  billion worth of advanced military aircraft to the kingdom and by warmly  welcoming Saudi King Abdullah to the White House.

Equatorial Guinea:  This tiny but oil-rich West African nation is ruled by the fantastically corrupt Teodoro  Obiang, Africa’s longest ruling leader and a close US ally. Obiang, who was  trained in Franco’s Spain, rose to power in 1979 after executing his even more  brutal uncle. The US State Department report on Equatorial Guinea cites “torture  of detainees by security forces, life-threatening conditions in prisons, and  arbitrary arrests.” Locals joke– behind closed doors, of course– about North  Korea’s Kim Jong-un being Obiang’s role model.

Oil exports and corruption have made  the Obiang family among the richest in Africa, with the dictator’s personal  fortune worth an estimated $600 million. His family lives in ostentatious  opulence while one out of every three Equatorial Guineans dies before the  age of 40.

Somehow, despite the misery of most of  his people, Obiang still managed to “win”  reelection with 95 percent of the vote in 2009.

Obiang has endeared himself to the Bush  and Obama administrations (Condoleezza Rice called him a “good  friend”) by opening his country’s oil wealth up for exploitation by US  corporations, which have invested billions of dollars there. Secret diplomatic  cables published by Wikileaks in 2009 reveal that Washington advised  “abandoning a moral narrative” regarding the brutal Obiang regime and the Obama  administration was more than happy to oblige. Just two months before he “won”  his impossible landslide reelection victory, Barack and Michelle Obama met the  friendly dictator and posed for photos with him and his wife at a lavish  Manhattan reception.

Uzbekistan: This  Central Asian country is a police state that has been ruled continuously by the  wicked Islam  Karimov since it was part of the Soviet Union. There is zero freedom of  expression or of the press in Uzbekistan, and although Karimov holds periodic  elections, they are farcical affairs in which he always receives around 90  percent of the vote.

But Uzbekistan sits smack in the middle  of the region’s massive oil and natural gas resources and is also a valuable  ally in the War on Terror. The Northern Distribution Network, a supply line to  Afghanistan, passes right through it.

Unfortunately, tens of thousands of  Uzbek political prisoners are locked up in horrific conditions and subjected to  medieval tortures. Prisoners are forced to stand in freezing water for hours,  have their skin torn off with pliers or are occasionally boiled  to death. Uzbek authorities have also imprisoned, tortured or killed  thousands of Muslims just for practicing their faith.

The Bush administration cozied up to  the vile Karimov regime, inviting the dictator to the White House and lavishing  him with half a billion dollars in aid, much of it directly funding the police  and intelligence services that torture and murder. When Uzbek forces committed a  vodka-fueled massacre of  hundreds of peaceful protesters in Andijan in 2005, Pentagon officials helped block  an international investigation of the incident.

President Obama has continued to extend  the hand of friendship to Karimov, sending Hillary Clinton, Gen. David Petraeus  and the late Richard Holbrooke to Tashkent to shore up relations. Last February,  Obama announced that the US would resume  military aid to the despotic regime despite its continued grave human rights  abuses.

Turkmenistan: Home to  the world’s fifth-largest natural gas reserves, Uzbekistan’s southern neighbor  was for decades run by President for Life Saparmurat Niyazov, whose bizarre  cult of personality knew no limits. Niyazov renamed a town, a meteor and the  month of January  after himself. He also scrapped the Hippocratic Oath for  doctors and replaced it with an oath to– guess who– Niyazov. The eccentric  dictator outlawed gold teeth, opera, ballet and lip-syncing. He even published a  ‘Book of the Soul’ that was elevated to the level of the Bible and Koran. When  one Islamic cleric objected, he was sentenced to 23 years behind bars.  Stalinesque show trials, torture and murder were everyday facts of life.

Niyazov died  in 2006. But the nation remains one of the most repressive and corrupt  in the world. Successive US administrations, however, have  ignored the brutality as they pursue lucrative pipeline deals and access to  routes to supply the war in Afghanistan. The dictator Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow  “won” reelection last year with 97 percent of the vote, a troubling development  that was met with silence and continued friendship from the Obama  administration. The US has also provided millions of dollars in aid to the  brutal tyrant.

 

American Hypocrisy and Idiocracy in violence- Sold by the media bought up by the general public

 

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(CAV News) – When the big bad Federal government and the darlings of corporate media want something discussed, then we discuss it. I’ve come to this conclusion years ago in my teenager days. Why it’s taking some so long to figure that out is beyond me.

This couldn’t be any more true than what happened after the horrific incident at Sandy Hook.

On our Facebook page we posted a few items about the hypocrisy surrounding the government and corporate media in regards to policy. Of course, this was met with quite a few comments such as, ” stop pushing your agenda during a tragedy,” “not now, too soon,” and the ever so popular comment, when someone disagrees, “I’m unliking your page.”

So what was ticking off these people who actually came to like things we touch upon everyday? Idiocracy and hypocrisy and more specifically, UAV strikes a.k.a drone strikes that kill children… just not our children.

That’s right killing children and innocent others in Yemen or Pakistan, is ok.  But I don’t think people really feel that way. I think the government and the media feel that way. I think people are a product of what they see and hear. Do you see FOX, MSNBC, CBS, NBC, or ABC showing you the horrific acts of violence to the children of Yemen? Do you see national stage pundits from both elite parties discussing whether or not this is a good foreign policy to carry on?  Hardly if ever.

That’s because Americans (of course, not all) or the general public only talk about what the media and politicians wish you to know about.

If the corporate media and political elites think you should take your flu shots, well most of you do. Even if the CDC says its effective rate isn’t all that impressive. If the corporate media tells you to spend, spend, spend, and look it here at all of these deals we are getting reports on, you probably go out and spend. If the media tells you Iran is even closer than ever at launching their nuclear program, you just bought yourself a new fear and perceived enemy. Finally, if the media tells you that gun control is crucial, needs to be done, needs support, well you get behind that and support it, don’t you?

The passion the general public shares on gun control was thoughtfully executed  out by the mainstream and political elites. 

The latest survey from PEW Research Center shows that 55% of Americans favor a ban on assault – style weapons.

                                 HYPOCRISY:

We all agree shooting up schools is terrible. You won’t read or hear anybody on this page contesting that. So why does the general public think we should surrender our 2nd amendment rights because of the violence a few nut jobs created, but when it comes to drones and torture… well that’s okay?

In 2009, the American public didn’t find it necessary for Congress to investigate torture tactics carried on by the Bush administration. According to CBS,  the poll said 62% of people could give two turds about the treatment of not convicted detainees but suspected detainees. Is this the same public that went balls to the wall with their demands on gun control to Congress? Are we starting to think that certain violence is okay? Doesn’t sound civilized to me.

Again in 2009, an Associated-Press survey found that just over half of Americans felt that torture was okay and at times necessary. Could this be because they are told so? Do you really think people (sane, rational) think it’s okay to torture? “Well Derek, that was three or four years ago, surely things have changed.”

“No ,you idiot they haven’t .”  Take two more pieces of evidence to show you I’m not wrong. The liberal paper, Huffington Post, conducted a poll that showed 47% Americans think torture is always justified to 41% who thought it is rarely justifiable. Even if the government hasn’t publicly justified to us who we are torturing and why. That’s because they sold you on terrorism. Which is also a huge money-making and global strategical scheme.  Lastly on torture, consider the recent success of the pro-torture film, Zero Dark Thirty. According to box office reports, the movie is a top spotter and has made an estimated $24 million dollars.

                                        DRONES:

Some people will argue that UAV’s or as we simple folks call them, drones, are better for our military. I don’t disagree. Nobody gets hurt, on our side. Yet, we never consider other grey areas when it comes to the use of U.S drones against countries such as Yemen and Pakistan. Who are they targeting and why? What is the end result of these strikes? How much they cost?  How long do we need to use them?

Now if people on network pages like Facebook, asked photos to go viral of Pakistani children covered in blood because of a suspected terrorist was in the region they would probably be disturbed. However, and unfortunately, that doesn’t quite catch the eye to the general American public.  More importantly, an intelligence report based on suspicion killed a child. Yet where’s the media or public uproar? Obama keeps surrounding himself with kids and making cute statements, ‘that not another kid will be killed because of senseless violence,’  and that’s because the media gives him that venue.

Politico, another cute lefty page, released a poll that showed Americans support the use of drones. I don’t think that’s true. I think Americans support what the news anchor tells them when they report fabricated news. “Today a drone strike wiped out six terrorist suspects.” Of course, they didn’t mention the civilians and even worse they are only suspects.

Getting back to that Politico poll released last year, over 80% of Americans agree with Obama’s use of unmanned aerial vehicles against suspected terrorists and two-thirds agree that it is okay to use them on American citizens abroad.

That’s an astounding number if you believe in polls. However, the media only shows you the suspects, with a patriotic American flag in the backdrop, and pretty much makes up your mind for you that this was ok. It took out suspected terrorists. No big deal. Yeah who cares about the people who had nothing to do with any of this?

I think it looks sexier and better for the Obama administration when CNN issues a headline that reads “Civilian causalities plummet in drone strikes,” as opposed to ” over 160 children dead due to drone strikes.” You know because a child is so precious that we should just not report about it but only when it comes down to pushing forward an agenda. 

This is absurd. And what’s more absurd is if these polls are correct (I think they are), then we have become an idiocracy and hypocrisy. Not only have we become barbaric but we have fallen under the same spell that most do when an empire takes control of their people. 

Hypocrisy and Idiocracy, how much longer will it rule our country into the ground?

               Written By: Derek Wood

 

U.S. Drone Pilot: ‘Did We Just Kill A Kid?’

(PekinTimes)

After Barack Obama joined the rest of us in mourning the slaughter of innocent children in Newtown, Conn., Sanford Berman, a Minnesota civil liberties activist, wrote me: “Obama’s tears for the dead Connecticut kids made me sick. What about weeping over the 400 or more children he killed with drone strikes?”

Indeed, our president has shown no palpable concern over those deaths, but a number of U.S. personnel — not only the CIA agents engaged in drone killings — are deeply troubled.

Peggy Noonan reports that David E. Sanger, in his book “Confront and Conceal: Obama’s Secret Wars and Surprising Use of American Power,” discovered that “some of those who operate the unmanned bombers are getting upset. They track victims for days. They watch them play with their children.” Then what happens: “‘It freaks you out’” (“Who Benefits From the ‘Avalanche of Leaks’?” Wall Street Journal, June 15).

For another example, I introduce you to Conor Friedersdorf and his account of “The Guilty Conscience of a Drone Pilot Who Killed a Child” (theatlantic.com, Dec. 19).

The subtitle: “May his story remind us that U.S. strikes have reportedly killed many times more kids than died in Newtown — and that we can do better.”

The story Friedersdorf highlights in the Atlantic first appeared in Germany’s Der Spiegel about an Air Force officer (not CIA) who “lamented the fact that he sometimes had to kill ‘good daddies’” … (and) “even attended their funerals” from far away.

And dig this, President Obama: “as a consequence of the job, he collapsed with stress-induced exhaustion and developed PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder).” Yet these drones, “Hellfire missiles,” are President Obama’s favorite extra-judicial weapons against suspected terrorists.

Getting back to the Air Force officer, Brandon Bryant, with the guilty conscience. Friedersdorf’s story quotes extensively from Der Spiegel’s article, which recalls that, when Bryant got the order to fire, “he pressed a button with his left hand and marked the roof (of a shed) with a laser. The pilot sitting next to him pressed the trigger on a joystick, causing the drone to launch a Hellfire missile. There were 16 seconds left until impact …

“With seven seconds left to go, there was no one to be seen on the ground. Bryant could still have diverted the missile at that point. Then it was down to three seconds …

“Suddenly a child walked around the corner, he says. Second zero was the moment in which Bryant’s digital world collided with the real one in a village between Baghlan and Mazar-e-Sharif. Bryant saw a flash on the screen: the explosion. Parts of the building collapsed. The child had disappeared.

“Bryant had a sick feeling in his stomach.

“‘Did we just kill a kid?’ he asked the man sitting next to him.

“‘Yeah. I guess that was a kid,’ the pilot replied.

“‘Was that a kid?’ they wrote into a chat window on the monitor.

“Then someone they didn’t know answered, someone sitting in a military command center somewhere in the world who had observed their attack. ‘No. That was a dog,’ the person wrote.

“They reviewed the scene on video. A dog on two legs?”

Friedersdorf adds: “The United States kills a lot of ‘dogs on two legs.’ The Bureau of Investigative Journalism reported last August that in Pakistan’s tribal areas alone, there are at least 168 credible reports of children being killed in drone strikes.” As for those in other countries, he adds, that’s “officially secret.”

He writes: “Presidents Bush and Obama have actively prevented human-rights observers from accessing full casualty data from programs that remain officially secret, so there is no way to know the total number of children American strikes have killed in the numerous countries in which they’ve been conducted, but if we arbitrarily presume that ‘just’ 84 children have died — half the bureau’s estimate from one country — the death toll would still be more than quadruple the number of children killed in Newtown, Conn.”

Are you proud, as an American, to know this?

After reading about Obama’s silence in “The Guilty Conscience of a Drone Pilot Who Killed a Child,” does the conscience of those of us who re-elected Obama ache?

As Friedersdorf writes, Obama has never spoken of these deaths as he did about the ones in Newtown, when he said: “If there’s even one step we can take to save another child or another parent … then surely we have an obligation to try. … Are we really prepared to say that dead children are the price of our freedom?”

Do you mean, Mr. President, only the dead children of Newtown?

These targeted killings continue in our name, under the ultimate authority of our president — as the huge majority of We The People stays mute.

Nat Hentoff is a nationally renowned authority on the First Amendment and the Bill of Rights. He is a member of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, and the Cato Institute, where he is a senior fellow.

Ron Paul: New Year’s Resolutions for Congress

 

Ron-Paul

(Ron Paul) -As I prepare to retire from Congress, I’d like to suggest a few New Year’s resolutions for my colleagues to consider.  For the sake of liberty, peace, and prosperity I certainly hope more members of Congress consider the strict libertarian constitutional approach to government in 2013.

In just a few days, Congress will solemnly swear to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against ALL enemies, foreign and domestic.  They should reread Article 1 Section 8 and the Bill of Rights before taking such a serious oath.  Most legislation violates key provisions of the Constitution in very basic ways, and if members can’t bring themselves to say no in the face of pressure from special interests, they have broken trust with their constituents and violated their oaths. Congress does not exist to serve special interests, it exists to protect the rule of law.

I also urge my colleagues to end unconstitutional wars overseas.  Stop the drone strikes; stop the covert activities and meddling in the internal affairs of other nations. Strive to observe “good faith and justice towards all Nations” as George Washington admonished.  We are only making more enemies, wasting lives, and bankrupting ourselves with the neoconservative, interventionist mindset that endorses pre-emptive war that now dominates both parties.

All foreign aid should end because it is blatantly unconstitutional. While it may be a relatively small part of our federal budget, for many countries it is a large part of theirs–and it creates perverse incentives for both our friends and enemies. There is no way members of Congress can know or understand the political, economic, legal, and social realities in the many nations to which they send taxpayer dollars.

Congress needs to stop accumulating more debt. US debt, monetized by the Federal Reserve, is the true threat to our national security. Revisiting the parameters of Article 1 Section 8 would be a good start.

Congress should resolve to respect personal liberty and free markets. Learn more about the free market and how it regulates commerce and produces greater prosperity better than any legislation or regulation. Understand that economic freedom IS freedom.  Resolve not to get in the way of voluntary contracts between consenting adults.  Stop bailing out failed yet politically connected companies and industries. Stop forcing people to engage in commerce when they don’t want to, and stop prohibiting them from buying and selling when they do want to.  Stop trying to legislate your ideas of fairness.  Protect property rights.  Protect the individual.  That is enough.

There are many more resolutions I would like to see my colleagues in Congress adopt, but respect for the Constitution and the oath of office should be at the core of everything members of Congress do in 2013.

US using spy agencies of other countries against Pakistan: Asif

a1obdrone

(PakiTribune) – Defence Secretary Lt General (r) Asif Yaseen Malik on Friday said that the US is using the spy agencies of other countries against Pakistan.

Speaking to a select group of journalists at the Defence Ministry, the defence secretary said Pakistan had complete information about the CIA agents working in the country. He said Pakistan has been informed by the US regarding presence of the CIA agents.

He added that no country was allowed to work undercover in the country. “The CIA also uses the agencies of other countries.” He said the US and Britain are against the nuclear assets of Pakistan, adding that America is using agencies of other countries against the country.

General Asif said there is no formal agreement between CIA and the ISI for secret operation. He said 95 percent of the defence policy is made by the three defence services on the basis of mutual consultation. He added that negotiations were going on for the replacement of spy aircraft that were damaged in attacks on Mehran and Kamra bases.

Malik noted that after the case of Raymond Davis, the question of US agents was talk of the town in Pakistan and public wanted to know about it. The defence secretary said that compared to the past, the US tone with Pakistan has changed due to some dynamics. Pakistan developed ties with US on mutual interest basis, he said, adding that the country renewed its ties with the US after it restored NATO supplies suspended in November last year when NATO airstrike in Salala caused deaths of Pakistani soldiers.

Malik noted that the Pakistani and US officials have on several occasions said that irritants in the ties between the two countries have been minimised and they are developing on a positive trajectory. In response to a question, he said that the Defence Ministry had not received any order from the Law Ministry on former army chief Gen (r) Aslam Baig and former ISI DG Lt Gen (r) Asad Durrani in the Asghar Khan case.

Nevertheless, he said no objection could be raised if the civilian government takes action against them. The secretary clarified that there is no political cell in the ISI. To a question on operation in the North Waziristan, Malik said that Pakistan has the capacity to launch an operation in the area but doing so without sealing the Afghan border is not fruitful.

On the condition of the Pakistan International Airlines, he said that new airplanes were provided to the PIA and the government released 4-8 million dollars to it. Since September PIA has been earning profit and losses have been controlled, he further said. The debt against PIA was Rs 42 billion in 2008 but has now risen to Rs 152 billion, he said. “Government is working on a policy to get the PIA out of loss,” he said.

Pentagon quietly reimburses $688 million to Pakistan

 

a1obdrone

(GEOTV) -The Pentagon quietly notified Congress this month that it would reimburse Pakistan nearly $700 million for the cost of stationing 140,000 troops on the border with Afghanistan, an effort to normalise support for the Pakistani military after nearly two years of crises and mutual retaliation, The New York Times reported.

According to the report, the United States also provides about $2 billion in annual security assistance, roughly half of which goes to reimburse Pakistan for conducting military operations to fight terrorism.

Until now, many of these reimbursements, called coalition support funds, have been held up, in part because of disputes with Pakistan over the Bin Laden raid, the operations of the CIA, and its decision to block supply lines into Afghanistan last year

. The $688 million payment – the first since this summer, covering food, ammunition and other expenses from June through November 2011 – has caused barely a ripple of protest since it was sent to Capitol Hill on Dec 7.

The absence of a reaction, American and Pakistani officials say, underscores how relations between the two countries have been gradually thawing since Pakistan reopened the NATO supply routes in July after an apology from the Obama administration for an errant American airstrike that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers in November 2011.

U.S. Gov’t Asks Federal Judge to Dismiss Cases of Americans Killed by Drones

 

a1obdrone

(Activist Post) – As Americans mourn the deaths of 20 children and 6 adults in the Newtown, CT tragedy – and the gun control debate has reached a fever pitch – autonomous killing systems are being funded by American taxpayers, and drone strikes continue to kill an increasing number of civilians abroad.

Barack Obama and the U.S. government policy makers have shown an incredible level of hypocrisy before; on the one hand lamenting such senseless deaths as have occurred in “mass shootings” while conducting their own mass killing, torture, and terror campaigns in foreign lands.

A culture of violence can’t have it both ways, though, and the welcoming of drones into American skies by Congress is sure to unleash physical havoc shortly after concerns over surveillance and privacy are dismissed.

As a clear sign of what can be expected, the U.S. government has asked a federal judge to throw out a lawsuit brought by the families of three Americans killed by drone strikes in Yemen. If federal courts rule that these cases are without merit, it will set a dangerous precedent that only the executive branch of government can decide which Americans have a constitutional right to due process, while further enhancing a framework where the government will decide who is fit to be mourned and who should be forgotten

Tweeters ‘could be military targets’

(The Age) -Social media users who use tweets and online posts to comment on a military operation could be regarded as legitimate military targets.

Australian army Land Warfare Studies Centre analyst Chloe Diggins on Thursday said a recent social media war between Israel and Hamas raised complex ethical questions about who was a combatant and therefore a legitimate military target.

A key question was whether such comments constituted an act of war.

“If that’s the case, this might mean that those using social media in support of military operations are now legitimate targets,” she wrote in a blog for the Australian Strategic Policy Institute.

 

The Geneva Convention defines legitimate military targets as objects “which by their nature, location, purpose or use make an effective contribution to military action and whose total or partial destruction, capture or neutralisation, in the circumstances ruling at the time, offers a definite military advantage”.

The convention protects civilians unless they are taking a direct part in hostilities.

“So if social media operators or users engage in the conflict by uploading, downloading, sharing, or otherwise adding to content in any way, they then become actors contributing to hostilities,” Ms Diggins said.

“In doing so, civilian social media users lose their protected status and can become legitimate targets.”

Ms Diggins said if a country could declare war over Twitter – as Israel did when it announced the start of recent hostilities – who’s to say Twitter users could not “fight” in the information space of that war?

“Moreover, who’s to say they shouldn’t reasonably expect to become legitimate targets themselves?” she said.Ms Diggins stressed her views did not reflect those of the Australian Defence Force.

Obama Plans African Wars

AfricanWars

(BFP) -Obama’s war-making appetite exceeds all his predecessors and then some. He’s already waging multiple direct and proxy wars.

His rhetoric about winding them down rings hollow. He wants to make the most of the next four years.

No targeted country left behind reflects his agenda. He’s ravaging the world multiple countries at a time. He’s out-of-control. He governs like a serial killer.

He plans more war on Iran, perhaps Lebanon, and full-scale intervention against Syria. He has other targets in mind. He’s insatiable. Africa dreaming explains what’s on his mind.

On December 15, 2006, the United States Africa Command (AFRICOM) was authorized. On February 6, 2007, it was announced. On October 1, 2007, it was established, and on October 1, 2008, it became operational.

It’s based in Stuttgart, Germany, not Africa. It’s responsible for warmaking and military relations throughout the continent. It’s comprised of 53 countries. Many potential targets are represented.

Washington wants the entire continent colonized and controlled. It’s resource rich. It has large amounts of oil, gas, water, gold, silver, diamonds, iron, cobalt, uranium, copper, bauxite, manganese, other valued minerals, and rich agricultural land.

In early July 2009, Obama visited sub-Saharan Africa. He signaled his intentions. In Accra, Ghana, he said:

“We have a responsibility to support those who act responsibly and to isolate those who don’t, and that is exactly what America will do.” He said Ghana and other African governments must achieve “good governance.”

His message was clear. Open the continent to Western investment and development. Privatize, privatize, privatize. Forget about providing healthcare, education, and other vital services.

Give US and other Western corporate predators free reign. Play the game the way Washington demands or suffer the consequences. Ghana got the message. Why else would Obama show up.

Libya didn’t. Gaddafi paid with his life. The country became another NATO trophy. Africa’s most developed country became a charnel house.

Egypt’s on the boil. Morsi is Washington’s man in Cairo. Street protests strongly contest his dictatorial governance. As long as he maintains US support, he can rule any way he wishes.

On December 7, the Wall Street Journal headlined “Terror Fight Shifts to Africa,” saying:

Obama may ask Congress to wage America’s war on terror against Mali, Nigeria, Libya, “and possibly other countries where militants have loose or nonexistent ties to al Qaeda’s Pakistan headquarters.”

Washington’s war on Libya created out-of-control violence and instability. Tribes, rebel gangs, and green resistance fighters battle for dominance. Puppet leaders America installed have little or no authority. No end of conflict looms.

Mali’s late March military coup appears fallout from Libya. It may be replicated elsewhere in North Africa and other areas. Niger’s endangered.

There’s more involved than meets the eye, including controlling regional resources. Besides oil, Libya, Mali, and Niger have valuable uranium deposits. Washington seeks control.

In October, EU Foreign Affairs and Security Policy head, Catherine Ashton, was involved in developing a Mali mission within 30 days. According to EU diplomats, it involves deploying 150 European military experts to train Malian and other African forces over a four to six month period.

On October 12, the Security Council approved an international military mission to Mali. Ban Ki-moon was enlisted to help develop military intervention plans. Finalizing them was planned for end of November.

France drafted the UN resolution. It was Washington’s lead attack dog on Libya. It may have the same role on Mali. In late March, monsoon season starts. Expect something early next year in advance. African troops will be involved.

Germany agreed to participate. Britain likely also. Washington remains in charge. Whatever is coming will be another Obama war. Officially it’s because Islamists seized power in northern Mali. The area replicates France in size.

Before his ouster, Gaddafi was a stabilizing force. Investments and mediation efforts prevented conflict between governing authorities and Tuareg rebels.

Things change a year ago. Heavy armed rebels mobilized. In March 2012, Long-time Malian President Amadou Toumani Toure was deposed.

Local Islamists controlled northern areas with Tauregs. Islamists with Al Qaeda ties drove them out. According to the Wall Street Journal, Obama wants congressional approval to intervene. With or without it, he’ll do what he wants.

US special forces and drone attacks may be planned. Operations may be similar to Washington’s proxy wars on Somalia and Yemen.

Administration officials call Mali a “powder keg” able to destabilize surrounding countries. They have to invent some reason to intervene. AFRICOM head General Carter Ham said:

“The conditions today are vastly different than they were previously. There are now non-Al Qaeda associated groups that present significant threats to the United States.” He urges intervention.

An unnamed official added:

“Everyone is committed to taking on violent extremism in Africa. There is a healthy debate in the administration about how best to counter the threat in the region.”

Ham said Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) raises most concern. It’s also called “the Salafist Group for Call and Combat.” Other regional groups include “the Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa.”

“It is clear to me they aspire to conduct events more broadly across the region, and eventually to the United States,” claimed Ham.

“That is the ideology. That is the campaign plan. Establish the caliphate and spread the ideology. Attack Western interests. Attack democrat forms of government. We are certainly seeing it.”

It’s hard imagining anyone with command or lower authority saying these things with a straight face. America’s only enemies are ones it invents.

Real ones haven’t existed since Japan formally surrendered in August 1945. America waged permanent direct and/or proxy wars from then to now.

Multiple ones followed September 14, 2001 congressional Authorization for Use of Military Force. Some analysts believe it permits attacking any nation or group administration officials say have terrorist links.

Al Qaeda and groups with close ties are mentioned most often. Claiming it, of course, doesn’t mean it’s so. ACLU senior legislative council, Christopher Anders, expressed grave concerns. He calls another authorization for force alarming.

“This is the kind of thing that Americans could end up regretting,” he said. “We could end up in another decade long war if this crazy idea isn’t stopped.”

Obama and administration hardliners want complete freedom to invent whatever pretexts they wish to keep waging permanent wars.

Some congressional members feel the same way. An unnamed aide to one said:

“You can make a plausible case that (new threats are) in gestation and therefore we need to act now decisively to deal with (them).”

Nigeria is also mentioned. America and the IMF stoke internal violence. Western oil giants largely control its energy resources.

China made inroads with exploration and infrastructure deals. It wants more. It puts Beijing at odds with Washington and other Western interests.

Currency wars are in play. Nigeria’s foreign reserves are 80% in dollars. The rest are in euros and sterling. Russia, China, India, Iran, and other countries increasingly want less dollar dependence.

Moving away enough threatens it as the dominant world reserve currency. Washington is determined to prevent it. What’s ahead bears watching.

The more China becomes a major Nigeria player, the less dominant dollars in the country become. The same holds elsewhere in the region and other parts of the world. Destabilizing violence may be initiated to prevent it.

Washington wants unchallenged control over Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia. They’re stepping stones to global dominance. Resource rich areas are most valued.

War is America’s option of choice to secure them. With or without congressional authorization, expect continued conflicts ahead.

Expect force-fed austerity at home to pay for them. Both sides of the isle agree. So does Obama.

Reining in Obama and His Drones

(Ralph Nader) -Barack Obama, former president of the Harvard Law Review and a constitutional law lecturer, should go back and review his coursework. He seems to have declined to comport his presidency to the rule of law.

Let’s focus here on his major expansion of drone warfare in defiance of international law, statutory law and the Constitution. Obama’s drones roam over multiple nations of Asia and Africa and target suspects, both known and unknown, whom the president, in his unbridled discretion, wants to evaporate for the cause of national security.

More than 2,500 people have been killed by Obama’s drones, many of them civilians and bystanders, including American citizens, irrespective of the absence of any “imminent threat” to the United States.

As Justin Elliott of ProPublica wrote: “Under Obama…only 13 percent (of those killed) could be considered militant leaders – either of the Pakistani Taliban, the Afghan Taliban, or Al Qaeda.” The remaining fatalities, apart from many innocent civilians, including children, were people oppressed by their own harsh regimes or dominated by U.S. occupation of their country. Aside from human rights and the laws of war, this distinction between civilian and combatant matters because it shows that Obama’s drones are becoming what Elliott calls “a counterinsurgency air force” for our collaborative regimes.

The “kill lists”  are the work of Obama and his advisors, led by John O. Brennan, and come straight from the White House, according to The New York Times.  Apparently, the president spends a good deal of time being prosecutor, judge, jury, executioner and concealer. But he does so quietly; this is no dramatic “thumbs-down” emperor.

Mr. Brennan spoke at Harvard Law School about a year ago and told a remarkably blasé audience that what he and the president were doing was perfectly legal under the law of self-defense. Self-defense that is defined, of course, by the president.

It appears from recent statements on The Daily Show that President Obama does not share the certitude boldly displayed by Mr. Brennan. On October 18, President Obama told John Stewart, and his audience, that “one of the things we’ve got to do is put a legal architecture in place, and we need Congressional help in order to do that, to make sure that not only am I reined in but any president is reined in terms of some of the decisions that we’re making.”

So in the absence of “a legal architecture” of accountability, do presidents knock off whomever they want to target (along with bystanders or family members), whether or not the targeted person is actually plotting an attack against the United States? It seems that way, in spite of what is already in place legally, called the Constitution, separation of powers and due process of law. What more legal architecture does Mr. Obama need?

Obviously what he wants is a self-contained, permanent “Office of Presidential Predator Drone Assassinations” in the White House, to use, author, scholar and litigator Bruce Fein’s nomenclature. According to The New York Times, President Obama wants “ explicit rules for targeted killing…. So that a new president would inherit clear standards and procedures.” Mr. Fein notes that “clear standards and procedures without accountability to the judiciary, Congress, or the American people” undermine the rule of law and our democracy.

Indeed, the whole deliberation process inside the Obama administration has been kept secret, a continuing process of morbid over-classification that even today contains secret internal legal opinions on targeted killings. The government refuses even to acknowledge that a drone air force operates over Pakistan – a fact that everybody knows including the hundreds of injured and displaced Pakistanis. This drone air force uses, what The New York Times called, “signature strikes against groups of suspected, unknown militants.”

Predictably, these strikes are constantly terrorizing thousands of families who fear a strike anytime day or night, and are causing a blowback that is expanding the number of Al Qaeda sympathizers and affiliates from Pakistan to Yemen. “Signature strikes,” according to the Times, “have prompted the greatest conflict inside the Obama administration.” Former CIA director under George W. Bush, Michael V. Hayden has publically questioned whether the expansion in the use of drones is counterproductive and creating more enemies and the desire for more revenge against the U.S.

Critics point out how many times in the past that departments and agencies have put forth misleading or false intelligence, from the Vietnam War to the arguments for invading Iraq, or have missed what they should have predicted such as the fall of the Soviet Union. This legacy of errors and duplicity should restrain presidents who execute, by ordering drone operators to push buttons that target people thousands of miles away, based on secret, so-called intelligence.

Mr. Obama wants, in Mr. Fein’s view, to have “his secret and unaccountable predator drone assassinations become permanent fixtures of the nation’s national security complex.” Were Obama to remember his constitutional law, such actions would have to be constitutionally authorized by Congress and subject to judicial review.

With his Attorney General Eric Holder maintaining that there is sufficient due process entirely inside the Executive Branch and without Congressional oversight or judicial review, don’t bet on anything more than a more secret, violent, imperial presidency that shreds the Constitution’s separation of powers and checks and balances.

And don’t bet that other countries of similar invasive bent won’t remember this green-light on illegal unilateralism when they catch up with our drone capabilities.

Obama ‘drone-warfare rulebook’ condemned by human rights groups

(Guardian) -President Barack Obama’s administration is in the process of drawing up a formal rulebook that will set out the circumstances in which targeted assassination by unmanned drones is justified, according to reports.

The New York Times, citing two unnamed sources, said explicit guidelines were being drawn up amid disagreement between the CIA and the departments of defense, justice and state over when lethal action is acceptable.

Human-rights groups and peace groups opposed to the CIA-operated targeted-killing programme, which remains officially classified, said the administration had already rejected international law in pursuing its drone operations.

“To say they are rewriting the rulebook implies that there is already a rulebook” said Jameel Jaffer, the director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Center for Democracy. “But what they are already doing is rejecting a rulebook – of international law – that has been in place since [the second world war].”

He said the news was “frustrating”, because it relied on “self-serving sources”. The New York Times piece was written by one of the journalists who first exposed the existence of a White House “kill list”, in May.

ACLU is currently involved in a legal battle with the US government over the legal memo underlying the controversial targeted killing programme, the basis for drone strikes that have killed American citizens and the process by which individuals are placed on the kill list.

Jaffer said it was impossible to make a judgement about whether the “rulebook” being discussed, according to the Times, was legal or illegal.

“It is frustrating how we are reliant on self-serving leaks” said Jaffir. “We are left with interpreting shadows cast on the wall. The terms that are being used by these officials are undefined, malleable and without definition. It is impossible to know whether they are talking about something lawful or unlawful.

“We are litigating for the release of legal memos. We don’t think the public should have to reply on self-serving leaking by unnamed administrative officials.”

The New York Times said that, facing the possibility that the president might not be re-elected, work began in the weeks running up to the 6 November election to “develop explicit rules for the targeted killing of terrorists by unmanned drones, so that a new president would inherit clear standards and procedures, according to two administration officials”.

It went on to say that Obama and his advisers were still debating whether remote-controlled killing should be a measure of last resort against imminent threats to the US, or whether it should be more widely used, in order to “help allied governments attack their enemies or to prevent militants from controlling territories”.

Jaffer said he was sceptical about the significance of the debate outlined in the piece. He said: “The suggestion is that there is a significant debate going on within the administration about the scope of the government’s authority to carry out targeted killings. I would question the significance of the debate. If imminent is defined as broadly as some say it is within the administration then the gap between the sides is narrow.

“It matters how you define ‘imminent’. The Bush administration was able to say it didn’t condone torture because of the definition of torture. You might think that if someone says, ‘I believe we should only use targeted killings only when there’s an imminent threat,’ you might think that sounds OK. But without terms like ‘imminent’ being defined it is impossible to evaluate the arguments.”

Medea Benjamin, the co-founder of Code Pink, an anti-war group, said the news that formal rules were being written for targeted killing was “disgusting”.

“That they are trying to write the rules for something that is illegal is disgusting” said Benjamin. “They are saying, ‘The levers might be in the wrong hands.’ What about the way they are using them right now? There is nothing about taking drones out of the hands of the CIA – which is not a military organisation – or getting rid of signature strikes, where there is no evidence that people are involved in terrorist activities.”

In Pakistan and Yemen, the CIA and the military have carried out “signature strikes” against groups of suspected and unnamed militants, as well as strikes against named terrorists.

Benjamin said she had just come back from Pakistan, where the “intensity of the backlash will take generations to overcome”.

The New York Times quotes an official who, speaking on condition of anonymity, said there was “concern that the levers might no longer be in our hands” after the election.

In October, Obama referred to efforts to codify the controversial drone programme. In an interview with Jon Stewart on The Daily Show on 18 October, the president said: “One of the things we’ve got to do is put legal architecture in place and we need congressional help in order to do that, to make sure that not only am I reined in but any president is reined in, in terms of some of the decisions we’re making”.

While Obama and administration officials have commented publicly on the legal basis for targeted killings, the program is officially secret. In court, government lawyers fighting lawsuits by ACLU continue to claim that no official has ever formally acknowledged the drones, and that there might not even be a drone programme.

Two lawsuits – one by the ACLU and the other by the ACLU and the NYT – seeking information on the legal basis on targeted killing, are still pending.

No US sailor saw Bin Laden’s alleged burial

(PressTV) More than a year after Navy SEALs supposedly killed former CIA asset Osama bin Laden, a FOIA by the Associated Press has produced emails revealing that no American sailors aboard the USS Carl Vinton witnessed the terrorist’s burial at sea.

 

The heavily redacted emails are said to be the first public disclosure of government information about the undocumented assassination.

 

An email supposedly sent by a Navy officer claims Osama bin Laden was washed, wrapped in a white sheet, and then placed in a weighted bag, according to the Daily Mail. Another email allegedly sent by Vinson’s public affairs officer claims only a small group of the ship’s leadership was informed of the burial.

 

“A military officer read prepared religious remarks, which were translated into Arabic by a native speaker. After the words were complete, the body was placed on a prepared flat board, tipped up, whereupon the deceased’s body slid into the sea,” Adm. Charles Gaouette said in the email.

 

Recipients of the email included Adm. Mike Mullen, then chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Gen. James Mattis, top officer at U.S. Central Command.

 

The Defense Department previously said it did not have any photographs or video to support its claim the SEALs killed the al-Qaeda leader. It also admitted there were no images taken of Bin Laden’s body on the Vinton.

 

The Pentagon does not have a death certificate, autopsy report or results of DNA identification tests for bin Laden, or any pre-raid materials discussing how the government planned to dispose of bin Laden’s body if he were killed, the Daily Mail reports.

 

In May, 2011, the Obama administration mulled releasing photographs purportedly showing the body of Bin Laden with “a massive head wound above his left eye where he took bullet (sic), with brains and blood visible.” No such photos were ever produced.

 

“We are going to do everything we can to make sure that nobody has any basis to try to deny that we got Osama bin Laden,” John Brennan, Obama’s counterterrorism adviser, said following the alleged assassination. Brennan said the government will “share what we can because we want to make sure that not only the American people but the world understand exactly what happened.”

 

Despite a complete lack of evidence, the government and the corporate media now routinely insist Obama ordered the military to kill Osama bin Laden at a compound in Pakistan.

 

Former State Department official Steve Pieczenik told Alex Jones last May that the staged assassination was nothing more than “American theater of the absurd” and a photo supposedly showing members of the Obama administration watching a live video feed of the assassination was fabricated.

 

Pieczenik and others, including members of the FBI and Israeli intelligence, believe Osama died in late 2001, soon after the United States military invaded Afghanistan. On December 26, 2001, a leading Pakistani newspaper published a story reporting that bin Laden had died in mid-December and Taliban officials had attended the funeral. President Musharraf of Pakistan and president Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan also publicly stated in 2002 they believe Osama bin Laden died in 2001. infowars.com