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Category Archives: Pakistan

So this is Christmas.

This is what we traditionally think of as Christmas here in the US – a lovely video set to Josh Groban’s compelling rendition of “O, Holy Night”:

After two days of self-imposed news exile, I returned to the land of the interwebs to find that the US government officially celebrated Christmas in a distinctly different fashion than I had.

Obama took a break from the heavy lifting of doing Christmas in Hawai’i to sign into law the budget bill and the 2014 NDAA.  Signing the following year’s National Defense Authorization Act during the Christmas holiday is becoming an Obama tradition.  The NDAA is the vehicle in which Obama was given the power to assassinate anyone anywhere upon his whimsy.  (“Happy holidays from the White House – to you, your family and your spouse.  In signing this law it has come to pass that I now have the power to kill your ass.  Season’s Greetings, Barack Obama.”)

We are going to continue spending vast sums of money on the war efforts.  What war? Why, any war, all war, those past, those current and those yet to come wars.

“[…] The [NDAA] bill assures $552.1 billion in military spending, as well as $80.7 billion for overseas contingency operations, namely the war in Afghanistan. […]”

http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/12/26/obama-signs-bipartisan-budget-deal-and-guantanamo-transfer-bills-into-law/

By the way, I really enjoy how the media feels compelled to place the word “bipartisan” in front of the words “budget deal” every goddamned time they mention it.  And note is taken of their reluctance to put “NDAA” or “Defense Authorization Act” in any headline.  It is always called “a defense bill” or, as Rawstory does above, the headline totally obscures the nature of the bill altogether.  The 2014 NDAA does not transfer Guantanamo detainees anywhere.

Pentagon spending, the gift that keeps on giving.

“[…] Because of its persistent inability to tally its accounts, the Pentagon is the only federal agency that has not complied with a law that requires annual audits of all government departments. That means that the $8.5 trillion in taxpayer money doled out by Congress to the Pentagon since 1996, the first year it was supposed to be audited, has never been accounted for. That sum exceeds the value of China’s economic output last year. […]”

http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/11/18/us-usa-pentagon-waste-specialreport-idUSBRE9AH0LQ20131118

To promote festive feelings globally on this special day, the US took action to spread the Christmas message abroad.

For instance, we killed four people via drone-strike in Pakistan.  On Christmas Day.

http://dissenter.firedoglake.com/2013/12/26/while-americans-were-celebrating-christmas-obama-administration-launched-drone-strike-in-pakistan/

We sent troops into South Sudan.  Sudan/South Sudan has oil.  It also has civil strife, partly because we arranged it for them a couple of years ago.  Anywhere in the world where there is the even the potential for civil unrest, the US exploits the situation to the best of its abilities.  If the world were a comic book, the US would be Exacerbation Man, swooping in to make all bad situations worse.

[…] RT: A small contingency of US troops are already in Sudan and marines are on stand-by, is a larger American military involvement possible?

Abayomi Azikiwe: It could very well lead to a larger US and UN presence in the Republic of South Sudan. It’s a very volatile situation, we are right now analyzing reports about the possibility of the discovery of two mass graves, one in the capital Juba and the other in Bor, in the capital of Jonglei state, there also has been fighting in Unity state which are all the producing area. The US has a lot invested politically in the Republic of South Sudan and they were the main forces behind encouraging the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement to break away from the Republic of Sudan in the north of the country. Therefore, they have a lot to say about developments that are going on right now in this troubled nation.

RT: Washington was one of the main champions of South Sudan’s secession. Could it have foreseen these problems that it faced just a couple of years around?

AA: I think they were more interested in weakening the Republic of Sudan. Prior to the partition Sudan was the largest geographic nation-state in Africa, it was also an emerging oil-producing state, it was producing over 500,000 oil barrels per day. 80 per cent of the oil concessions with the Republic of Sudan in Khartoum were held by the People’s Republic of China, who state-owned oil farms there. So it was a concerted move on the part of US to weaken the government in Khartoum and also to lessen the influence of the People’s Republic of China in Sudan.

RT: When it was one country Sudan was under American sanctions, so US oil giants couldn’t do business there. Has this changed?

AA: Yes, in the south the US is trying to develop mechanisms for exploring the oil. The problem is the US doesn’t have a lot of resources to invest in the oil industry inside the country. President Salva Kiir of the Republic of South Sudan went to China several months ago to try to get them to assist in a building of a pipeline where they could circumvent the flow of oil from the south into the north. However, the Chinese refused to finance such a project, although they did pledge to provide some aid. It’s a very difficult situation as far as the US is concerned because the country deteriorates into a civil war between the followers of Riek Machar, the ousted Vice President, and President Salva Kiir. This of course will damage US interest in region, and it can also spread to other countries throughout Central and East Africa. […]

http://rt.com/op-edge/foreign-involvement-in-south-sudan-782/

We are back in Iraq, baby.  Once we glom onto a country, we hang around like a fucking germ.

Two years after President Barack Obama declared that his administration had ended the catastrophic US war in Iraq “responsibly… leaving behind a sovereign, stable and self-reliant” government, the US has rushed emergency shipments of Hellfire missiles to Baghdad and appears to be preparing for a possible renewal of direct military intervention in the form of drone missile attacks. […]

http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2013/12/27/iraq-d27.html

And we are going under the sea – no, not to study ocean acidification or to find out why there are peculiar events occurring with the sea life all over the planet, but to weaponize the waters with drones.

http://rt.com/usa/navy’s-ocean-powered-drone-843/

We need to stop this shit.  We need to.  Our government won’t stop it until we, the people, demand an end to the killing.  The montage that accompanies this song is what the US actually does at Christmas instead of quietly celebrating the birth of the pacifist Jesus, depicted in the video with which I opened this post.  Dismally, more than four decades after they wrote this song, we still have yet to realize the hopeful and pointed message Lennon and Ono expressed in the lyrics.

John Lennon and Yoko Ono, “Happy Xmas (War is Over)”, 1971:

“Happy Xmas (War Is Over)” lyrics:

(Happy Xmas Kyoko

Happy Xmas Julian)

So this is Xmas

And what have you done

Another year over

And a new one just begun

And so this is Xmas

I hope you have fun

The near and the dear one

The old and the young

A very Merry Xmas

And a happy New Year

Let’s hope it’s a good one

Without any fear

And so this is Xmas (war is over)

For weak and for strong (if you want it)

For rich and the poor ones (war is over)

The world is so wrong (if you want it)

And so happy Xmas (war is over)

For black and for white (if you want it)

For yellow and red ones (war is over)

Let’s stop all the fight (now)

A very Merry Xmas

And a happy New Year

Let’s hope it’s a good one

Without any fear

And so this is Xmas (war is over)

And what have we done (if you want it)

Another year over (war is over)

A new one just begun (if you want it)

And so happy Xmas (war is over)

We hope you have fun (if you want it)

The near and the dear one (war is over)

The old and the young (now)

A very Merry Xmas

And a happy New Year

Let’s hope it’s a good one

Without any fear

War is over, if you want it

War is over now

Happy Xmas

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Posted by on December 27, 2013 in drones, Iraq, Pakistan

 

Iraq then, Iran now.

Remember how we got into Iraq?  All those lies about weapons of mass destruction, which some of us at the time knew were lies, to ruin a country that had nothing to do with 9/11…

We illegally invaded and destroyed a country which had not threatened us, much less mounted an attack against us.  Now that the ten-year anniversary of the Iraq invasion has arrived, there are plenty of articles and op-eds pointing out what was obvious then and is irrefutable to us all now – the war was based on pure fabrication.  Too late for Iraq, however, whose people live in a ruined country with millions displaced and somewhere over 100,000 dead (some estimates are much higher and run up to half a million or more) due to the “war”.  Although I don’t think you can call it a “war” if there is only one side – this was an invasion, pure and simple.

Back in ’02, we read this sort of opinion piece in the papers; this was fairly typical of the war-mongering of the time.

Sept. 11 alerted most Americans to the grave dangers that are now facing our world. Most Americans understand that had al Qaeda possessed an atomic device last September, the city of New York would not exist today. They realize that last week we could have grieved not for thousands of dead, but for millions.

But for others around the world, the power of imagination is apparently not so acute. It appears that these people will have to once again see the unimaginable materialize in front of their eyes before they are willing to do what must be done. For how else can one explain opposition to President Bush’s plan to dismantle Saddam Hussein’s regime?

I do not mean to suggest that there are not legitimate questions about a potential operation against Iraq. Indeed, there are. But the question of whether removing Saddam’s regime is itself legitimate is not one of them. Equally immaterial is the argument that America cannot oust Saddam without prior approval of the international community.

This is a dictator who is rapidly expanding his arsenal of biological and chemical weapons, who has used these weapons of mass destruction against his subjects and his neighbors, and who is feverishly trying to acquire nuclear weapons.

The dangers posed by a nuclear-armed Saddam were understood […] two decades ago[…]

Two decades ago it was possible to thwart Saddam’s nuclear ambitions by bombing a single installation. Today nothing less than dismantling his regime will do. For Saddam’s nuclear program has changed. He no longer needs one large reactor to produce the deadly material necessary for atomic bombs. He can produce it in centrifuges the size of washing machines that can be hidden throughout the country — and Iraq is a very big country. Even free and unfettered inspections will not uncover these portable manufacturing sites of mass death.

[…] For in the last gasps of his dying regime, Saddam may well attempt to launch his remaining missiles, with their biological and chemical warheads, at the Jewish state.

[…] For if action is not taken now, we will all be threatened by a much greater peril.[…]

But no gas mask and no vaccine can protect against nuclear weapons. That is why regimes that have no compunction about using weapons of mass destruction, and that will not hesitate to give them to their terror proxies, must never be allowed to acquire nuclear weapons. These regimes must be brought down before they possess the power to bring us all down.

If a pre-emptive action will be supported by a broad coalition of free countries and the U.N., all the better. But if such support is not forthcoming, then the U.S. must be prepared to act without it. This will require courage, and I see it abundantly present in President Bush’s bold leadership and in the millions of Americans who have rallied behind him.

[…] Today the terrorists have the will to destroy us but not the power. Today we have the power to destroy them. Now we must summon the will to do so.

Pretty breathless and excited rhetoric, isn’t it?  All of it a tissue of lies, of course, as history has proven.  Who wrote this piece, which was published by the Wall Street Journal in September, 2002?  The fellow sounds like a whackaloon at this late juncture.

It was titled “The Case for Toppling Saddam”, and the author was Benjamin Netanyahu. http://www.potomac-airfield.com/netanyahu.htm

Now he is the main cheerleader behind the calls to invade Iran.  (And here you thought Ahmadinejad was a tad touched.)

Israeli Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu, addressing his minions at AIPAC via video chat on March 4, spent a bunch of his time saying supposedly scary things about “Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons” and dismissing negotiations.

“I have to tell you the truth,” he told the fawning crowd. “Diplomacy has not worked. Iran ignores all these offers. It is running out the clock.” He continued:  “Iran enriches more and more uranium. It installs faster and faster centrifuges. It’s still not crossed the red line I drew at the United Nations last September. But Iran is getting closer to that line, and it’s putting itself in a position to cross that line very quickly once it decides to do so.”

Netanyahu deliberately ignored the fact that Iran’s stockpile of enriched uranium remains far from weapons-grade and that Iran has, for over a year now, been systematically converting much of its 19.75% enriched stock to fuel plates that precludes the possibility of being diverted to military purposes.[…]

Netanyahu once again demonstrated his complete disregard for the tenets of the United Nations Charter by calling for Iran to be explicitly threatened with a military attack if it doesn’t comply with absurd Israeli demands. He insisted “with the clarity of my brain” (whatever that means) that “words alone will not stop Iran. Sanctions alone will not stop Iran. Sanctions must be coupled with a clear and credible military threat if diplomacy and sanctions fail.”

Addressing the same audience, Vice President Joe Biden also spoke at length about “Iran’s dangerous nuclear weapons program,” which the U.S. intelligence community and its allies, including Israel, have long assessed doesn’t exist. The consensus view of all 16 American intelligence agencies has maintained since 2007 that Iran ceased whatever research into nuclear weaponization it may have conducted by 2003, and has never resumed that work. The NIE has been consistently reaffirmed ever since (in 2009, 2010, and again in 2011). […]

Moreover, the IAEA itself continually confirms that Iran has no active nuclear weapons program and has stated it has “no concrete proof that Iran has or has ever had a nuclear weapons program.”

http://www.wideasleepinamerica.com/2013/03/biden-time-on-iran-at-aipac.html

The Israeli military and the US military do not believe that Iran is seeking nuclear weapons.  The IAEA finds no such program.  Hans Blix, the UN inspector who told us repeatedly ten years ago that Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction is warning us today that the same is true of Iran. See: http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2013/03/06-9

The invasion of Iraq was about oil, for the most part.  Not only getting Iraq’s oil, but keeping it off the market to drive up prices.

[…] And that’s how George Bush won the war in Iraq. The invasion was not about “blood for oil”, but something far more sinister: blood for no oil. War to keep supply tight and send prices skyward.

Oil men, whether James Baker or George Bush or Dick Cheney, are not in the business of producing oil. They are in the business of producing profits.

And they’ve succeeded. Iraq, capable of producing six to 12 million barrels of oil a day, still exports well under its old OPEC quota of three million barrels.

The result: As we mark the tenth anniversary of the invasion this month, we also mark the fifth year of crude at $100 a barrel.

As George Bush could proudly say to James Baker: Mission Accomplished!

http://www.gregpalast.com/how-george-bush-won-the-war-in-iraq-really/#more-7963

The same can be said of our destruction of Libya and the same is true of Iran now.  It’s always about the control of the oil.  The US has imposed numerous life-threatening sanctions on Iran, each new set increasing in severity.  One might think that we could have figured out by now that the increase in gas prices here and abroad can partly be blamed on the restrictions of Iranian oil exports these sanctions demand, but we are not very good at adding two and two.  (To be sure, the bulk of the price increases in the US is due to speculation on the market, as we do not purchase that much Iranian oil.  However, the speculators work on the global market, so the decrease in availability of Iran’s oil is partly driving the speculators as well.)  The situation sits well with the US Congress, which would like to see every inch of US soil dug up to get at the oil and natural gas underneath it, rather than investing in renewable energies or doing the hard work – and it will be hard work – of getting the US to understand that we cannot count on fossil fuels and ever-increasing GDP forever.  Even renewables will not fully sustain the way we live, but they would certainly be a better investment than our current game, which will otherwise come to an abrupt halt one day, and sooner rather than later.  We are furthermore at the end of always expanding economic growth; that truth is too hard to face and so we let our country be torn to shreds in a farcical attempt to continue the prosperity (of the few) for a couple of more years.  It’ll only work for a short time and then nature will play its winning hand.  We will have polluted all our water and land beyond repair by then, but I guess the assumption is that we will be dead and unaccountable by that time – it’ll be the next generation’s problem.

At this point, however, we would like to have Iran’s oil and this involves some very strange and twisted imaginings from the brains of various Important People in Charge.  This, for example, is simply one of the weirdest decisions ever handed down by a federal judge: we are now trying to blame Iran for 9/11.

“A federal judge has signed a default judgment finding Iran, the Taliban and al-Qaida liable in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.” – from news article on the decision. (See: http://teri.nicedriving.org/2011/12/how-many-countries-attacked-us-on-911/ )

9/11 brought us the invasion of Iraq, the Authorized Use of Military Force, Homeland Security, the Patriot Act, the TSA, the continuous State of Emergency, the Continuity of Government Plans, the continued war in Afghanistan (we seem to have forgotten that the Taliban had absolutely nothing to do with 9/11, although Congress blames the Taliban for it with greater frequency all the time), the expenditure of between $4 and 6 tt for two unnecessary wars (consider what invading Iran will do to the US financially), Guantanamo Bay, torture, the drone-bombing of more than a dozen countries that we are not at war with, and the police state we live under here at home.  Etc., etc.  Now we are not only talking about starting a war in Iran and “intervention” in Syria, Obama is threatening to sanction Pakistan over their commitment to the IP pipeline. [See: http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2013/03/15/paki-m15.html ]  I have written about the TAPI and IPI pipelines before; it used to be termed the Iran/Pakistan/India (or IPI) pipeline, but we managed to convince India to drop out.

If Netanyahu, AIPAC, and the current crop of feeble-minded members of Congress have their way and we invade Iran or help Israel do so, imagine the joys that await us.  Change we can believe in, my ass.

Further reading:

Pentagon requests additional $49 mm to “improve” Guantanamo:
http://www.infowars.com/pentagon-requests-49-million-to-build-new-gitmo-prison/

Hunger strike at Guantanamo (” A Yemeni prisoner filed complaints that they are being denied access to clean drinking water and are being kept in freezing temperatures.”):
http://warisacrime.org/content/guantanamo-hunger-strike-gets-attentionand-more-dangerous

On the cost of the Iraq/Afghanistan wars:
http://rt.com/usa/us-wars-most-expensive-109/

On Bagram prison being handed over to Afghanistan control – well, except for 50 of the prisoners and hundreds arrested and held since the agreement was signed in March ’12.  If you hand over the prison, but not the prisoners, does it still count as the same deal? (“[…] But about 50 foreign inmates, which the US considers too dangerous to hand over, will remain under US control, as well as hundreds of Afghans who were arrested since the initial transfer deal was signed in March 2012. […]Although US officials have proudly announced the ‘full transfer’ of the Bagram prison, 50 foreigners not covered by the agreement will continue to remain in US hands — which would again be a violation of last year’s deal.[…]”):
http://rt.com/usa/us-afghanistan-bagram-prison-808/

Obama talks about “peace” in Israel, while threatening war on two countries:
http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2013/03/22/isra-m22.html

‘Falluja Babies’ and Depleted Uranium — America’s Toxic Legacy in Iraq:
http://www.alternet.org/world/falluja-babies-and-depleted-uranium-americas-toxic-legacy-iraq

Plans for military surveillance of Americans’ financial records:
http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2013/03/19/surv-m19.html

Pakistan begins construction of Pakistan-Iran gas pipeline:
http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2013/03/15/paki-m15.html

US threatens Pakistan with sanctions over the IP pipeline:
http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/03/11/u-s-officials-warn-pakistan-risks-sanctions-over-iran-pipeline/

 
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Posted by on April 2, 2013 in Afghanistan, fossil fuels, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Pakistan

 

So many countries to invade, so little time.

What??  We are Officially Engaged in a War with Pakistan?  At war with an ally?  Without going to Congress?  Or declaring war?  Or having been invaded or attacked by the other country?  Without having the military of that other country engage against us?  Wait, can you call it a “war” if there is only one side doing the fighting and killing?

My stars.  I never.

Panetta admits that US is at war in Pakistan

[…]­Only one day after American officials announced that US troops executed an alleged al-Qaeda higher-up with a drone strike in Pakistan, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta told reporters on Wednesday that America’s fair-weather ally is indeed serving as a battlefront in the War on Terror.

“We are fighting a war in the FATA, we are fighting a war against terrorism,” Secretary Panetta said this week. Panetta was referring to the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, a region in northwest Pakistan that is currently the scene of American airstrikes.

Since well before the top-secret raid and execution of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden brought US troops into Pakistan, the American military has tried time and time again to sugarcoat its activities overseas. Despite being an at-one-time top ally of the United States, Pakistani officials have continuously condemned the US over Uncle Sam’s continuing air strikes with unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones. Now after years of trying to re-develop those deteriorating ties with Pakistan, the United States’ top military man flatly called his country’s operations in FATA an actual war.

To put it simply, this might not be good news for anyone.

While Panetta’s comment came only a day after the Pentagon confirmed that al-Qaeda’s “number-two in command,” Abu Yahya al-Libi, was executed with a drone strike in the FATA region, it also coincides — coincidently — with a statement made by another former CIA official. Robert Greiner, the one-time head of the CIA’s counterterrorism center, tells reporters this week that America’s mishandling of drone attacks is creating a safe haven for terrorists.

In a report published this week by the UK’s Guardian, Greiner says that ongoing attacks that target a broad and often unspecific range of targets is causing anti-American sentiments to increase faster than the US can actually combat terror. After the US has increased its air strikes in locales such as Pakistan and Yemen, says Greiner, insurgency has only become more rampant.

Because the Obama administration has gone on the record to say that all military-age men in strike zone are considered combatants, Greiner believes that unrest with the US is adding up at a rate that repeated strikes won’t help.

“We have gone a long way down the road of creating a situation where we are creating more enemies than we are removing from the battlefield. We are already there with regards to Pakistan and Afghanistan,” says Greiner.

“That brings you to a place where young men, who are typically armed, are in the same area and may hold these militants in a certain form of high regard. If you strike them indiscriminately you are running the risk of creating a terrific amount of popular anger. They have tribes and clans and large families. Now all of a sudden you have a big problem … I am very concerned about the creation of a larger terrorist safe haven in Yemen.”

http://on.rt.com/mnpac1

 

Panetta also said that the drone strikes in Pakistan will continue and made the bizarre statement that this was “about our sovereignty”, while the bombings apparently do not (all evidence to the contrary) violate Pakistan’s sovereignty.  Our sovereign territory now being the entire globe, or some such thinking to that effect.  Oh, and we should increase arms sales to India, because these piddly little one-at-a-time deals are not getting the weapons out fast enough.

[…]Speaking in India — on Pakistan’s doorstep — Panetta unapologetically dismissed suggestions that the strikes could violate Pakistan’s sovereignty.

“This is about our sovereignty as well,” he said when answering questions from the audience after a speech at an Indian think tank.[…]

http://www.usnews.com/news/us/articles/2012/06/06/panetta-us-india-must-improve-ties-with-pakistan

Ironically, this belligerent refusal to end the drone strikes comes within a day of the UN Commission on Human Rights questioning the legality of the use of drones altogether.  Not that the US war machine seems to care much about international law, US law, the UN, or human rights in general for that matter.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, has questioned the legality of U.S. drone strikes at a news conference in Islamabad today, Agence France-Presse reports.

Pillay stated, “Drone attacks do raise serious questions about compliance with international law.”

Pillay also highlighted the drones’ killing of civilians. “I see the indiscriminate killings and injuries of civilians in any circumstances as human rights violations.”

http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2012/06/07-1

 

 
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Posted by on June 8, 2012 in drones, MIC, Pakistan

 

Because you can never kill too many.

Afraid that support for the [illegal] [stupefyingly costly] war [for resources and a pipeline] in Afghanistan might be waning, our top “diplomat” to Kabul took time to warn us that al Qaeda might be – tell me if you have heard this one already – secretly building up forces in Afghanistan and could launch an attack on the US Homeland.

Ryan Crocker [the US ambassador to Kabul, Afghanistan] told The Daily Telegraph that if the West was to leave Afghanistan too early, al-Qaeda would be able to increase its presence.

With the US preparing to withdraw the majority of its combat forces from Afghanistan next year, Mr Crocker warned: “If we decide we’re tired, they’ll be back.

“Al-Qaeda is still present in Afghanistan. If the West decides that 10 years in Afghanistan is too long then they will be back, and the next time it will not be New York or Washington, it will be another big Western city.”

Mr Crocker, 62, who previously served as ambassador to Iraq, said that while progress had been made, Afghanistan would need Western support for years to come.

Nato officials believe that up to 100 al-Qaeda fighters have returned to the country, based mainly in the Kunar and Nuristan provinces near the border with Pakistan. Hundreds more are based in Pakistan and could return if circumstances were to change…

Mr Crocker, who took up his post in Kabul last year, said al-Qaeda remained a potent threat despite suffering setbacks. “We have killed all the slow and stupid ones. But that means the ones that are left are totally dedicated,” he said.

“We think we’ve won a campaign before our adversaries have even started to fight. They have patience, and they know that we are short on that.”

http://soc.li/ivBOxHF

 

Ten years is not long enough; after all, it took us these ten years to find just the one guy, Osama bin Laden.  Okay, never mind that he was already dead, by all reliable reports, and forget about the continuing suggestions that “al Qaeda” is actually a CIA group formatted to give us an “enemy” to fight so that the Pentagon can have an excuse to suck up all the taxpayer money and the favored war profiteers can get no-bid contracts to destroy and then rebuild country after country.  Mr. Crocker wants more time to kill more people.  At the rate of one every ten years, one might begin to get a picture of just how long getting all the top al Qaeda leaders will take and some idea of how many civilians will be accidentally killed in the meantime.  By the way, his statement makes our military look really inept – 100,000 troops, ten years, a trillion or so bucks, and yet our adversaries haven’t even started to fight – but he didn’t mean it that way, I’m sure.

The “slow and stupid ones”…would that be the the ones like the little boys we killed while they were out gathering firewood?  The wedding parties?  The funeral processions?  Maybe he means the slow and stupid women and infants that were killed in the massacre just a few weeks ago – they must have been terribly stupid to try and sleep in their own homes while anywhere near a US base.  No, Mr. Crocker clearly only means al Qaeda members; he is not referring to the civilians killed as slow and/or stupid.  He doesn’t mention the accidental killing of civilians at all.  Not important enough to bring up.  Yet his statement seems so poorly worded and repugnant somehow, coming less than a month after the rampage that left 17 innocent Afghans dead.  This is our idea of “diplomacy” now.  All our diplomats sound like gung-ho military jingoists out to threaten the world.

And Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, various other African nations, Pakistan, Yemen, etc., are not enough to sate the blood-lust of our diplomats and military.  They want to be able to invade any country in search of anyone they deem worthy of death, whether they be terrorists or simply criminals.  It is simply not acceptable that other countries are sovereign and want to handle their own problems internally; we need to be unleashed to deal with their scofflaws ourselves.  And, it goes without saying, we want to kill them all, borders and sovereignty be damned.

As the Pentagon begins to wind down the war in Afghanistan, the smaller conflicts elite U.S. forces are fighting around the world are heating up.

But DoD needs more than just men and materiel to meet these challenges. It needs additional authority from Congress to do so.

“Most of the authorities that we have right now are narrowly construed to counterterrorism …  [but] I think for some countries we may need a little bit more flexibility to go in there,” Michael Sheehan, assistant secretary of defense for special operations and low-intensity conflict, told lawmakers on Tuesday.

The majority of counterterrorism missions by U.S. special forces have been focused on al Qaeda and Taliban cells in Afghanistan and the Middle East region.

But growing numbers and types of threats, particularly in Africa and South America, require a new approach to U.S. counterterrorism operations, Sheehan told members of the Senate Armed Services’ subcommittee on emerging threats and capabilities.

If we have a broader range of authorities, we can respond with more agility to each country with a different set of programs,” Sheehan said. “I think that’s the direction we’re thinking.”   Subcommittee chairwoman Sen. Kay Hagan (D-N.C.) and subpanel member Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) pressed Sheehan on what exactly DoD was looking for, in terms of legislative authorities.

While not going into too much detail, Sheehan said the lines between terrorism and crime have become increasingly blurry and current U.S. statutes to address either have not kept up.

Under current federal authorities, counterterrorism is strictly a military operation conducted by DoD. Pursuing transnational criminal groups falls to law enforcement and is done by the Department of Justice.

“Some of these threats are not pure terrorism,” Sheehan explained. DoD needs to be able to go after groups that straddle the line between terrorism and organized crime

“We are looking for some legislative authority … that might be able to give us some broader authorities, legislative authorities and multiyear funding for some of the types of activities that I’d like to do in terms of building coalitions to take on these complex threats,” Sheehan said.  DoD will hand over a slate of potential legislative options being drafted by Sheehan’s office to lawmakers “in the weeks and months ahead,” he added.

However, the Pentagon is already beginning to move ahead with its plans for both continents

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta announced in February that U.S. special forces and counterinsurgency specialists returning from Iraq and Afghanistan will be redeployed to a number of global hot spots, specifically those in Africa and South America. The move was included in the White House’s new national security strategy unveiled that month.

These small bands of special forces and COIN experts will lean upon “innovative methods” learned in Southwest Asia to support local militaries and expand American influence in those two continents, Panetta said at the time.

The U.S. military is pushing more troops into Colombia to assist in that country’s war with insurgent groups and narco-traffickers, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey said Friday.

U.S. forces plan to set up a number of joint task forces inside the country to train and assist the Colombian military. The Pentagon has similar task forces in the Horn of Africa, the Trans-Sahara, Southern Philippines and elsewhere around the world…

http://thehill.com/blogs/defcon-hill/operations/219343-defense-dept-seeks-new-authorities-for-counterterrorism-fight

 

Here at home, our Dept. of Homeland Security and the Immigration Enforcement people are stocking up on bullets.  Not just any bullets – bullets that will do the maximum damage and lead to the highest “kill ratio”.  These are presumably for use here in the US, since both these departments are internal.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and its Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) office is getting an “indefinite delivery” of an “indefinite quantity” of .40 caliber ammunition from defense contractor ATK.

U.S. agents will receive a maximum of 450 million rounds over five years, according to a press release on the deal.

The high performance HST bullets are designed for law enforcement and ATK says they offer “optimum penetration for terminal performance.”

This refers to the the bullet’s hollow-point tip that passes through barriers and expands for a bigger impact without the rest of the bullet getting warped out of shape: “this bullet holds its jacket in the toughest conditions.”

We’ve also learned that the Department has an open bid for a stockpile of rifle ammo. Listed on the federal business opportunities network, they’re looking for up to 175 million rounds of .223 caliber ammo to be exact. The .223 is almost exactly the same round used by NATO forces, the 5.56 x 45mm.

The deadline for earlier this month was extended because the right contractor just hadn’t come along.

http://www.businessinsider.com/us-immigration-agents-are-loading-up-on-as-many-as-450-million-new-rounds-of-ammo-2012-3#ixzz1qbWir69B

This is what we have to offer the world.  Police actions, death from bullets, bombs, and drones, all delivered via our very special military forces.  Of course, when we have a president who declares he can, and will, kill or indefinitely detain even Americans as he wishes and a Congress which finds no issue with this circumstance, it should come as no surprise that our military finds people in other lands eminently disposable.  We choose not to spend our money on human life or the sustainability of the planet or searching for paths to peace in a world of increasingly dwindling resources – we choose to spend it on human death.  This is who we have allowed ourselves to become.

 

two articles: on the defense bill and on the budget bill

House and Senate agree on the defense bill.  Bracketed notes mine, the rest is all from the AP article.  Bolding/italics mine.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Congress is pressing ahead with a massive $662 billion defense bill that requires military custody for terrorism suspects linked to al-Qaida, including those captured within the U.S. Lawmakers hope their last-minute revisions will satisfy President Barack Obama and erase a veto threat.

Leaders of the House and Senate Armed Services Committees announced late Monday that they had reached agreement on the policy-setting legislation that had gotten caught up in an escalating fight on whether to treat suspected terrorists as prisoners of war or criminals.

Responding to personal appeals from Obama and his national security team, the lawmakers added language on national security waivers and other changes that they hoped would ensure administration support for the overall bill….

Overall, the bill would authorize $662 billion for military personnel, weapons systems, national security programs in the Energy Department, and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan in the fiscal year that began Oct. 1. Reflecting a period of austerity and a winding down of decade-old conflicts, the bill is $27 billion less than Obama requested and $43 billion less than Congress gave the Pentagon for the year before.

[This is still more than the rest of the world combined spends on military operations.]

The legislation would impose tough new sanctions on Iran, targeting foreign financial institutions that do business with the Central Bank in Tehran. Levin said the negotiators made some changes to address concerns of the Treasury Department, but he said the legislation is “96 percent” of what the Senate had unanimously backed.

One of the measure’s chief sponsors welcomed the results. “Moving forward, the Congress will need to be more vigilant than ever before in holding the administration’s feet to the fire to collapse the Central Bank of Iran and force international financial institutions to choose between doing business in the U.S. and doing business in Iran,” said Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill.

[Collapse the Central Bank of Iran?  This is blatant financial terrorism of a sovereign nation.  And I hate to tell you, but China and Russia will choose Iran over the US.]

…The lawmakers said they hoped the House and Senate could vote on the final bill by Thursday and send it to the president.

The issue of how to handle captured terrorist suspects has divided Obama’s senior national security officials and Congress, as well as Democrats and Republicans.

The administration insists that military, law enforcement and intelligence officials need flexibility in prosecuting the war on terror. Obama points to his administration’s successes in eliminating Osama bin Laden and radical Islamic cleric Anwar al-Awlaki. Republicans counter that their efforts are necessary to respond to an evolving, post-Sept. 11 threat, and that Obama has failed to produce a consistent policy on handling terror suspects.

[I am sickened by how frequently the apparently soulless Obama brags about his assassination program.  He invaded Pakistan to “get” bin Laden and had him murdered rather than bring any charges against him, and he had the American citizen al Awlaki (and his teen-aged son and several other relatives) assassinated by drone-bomb rather than bring him to trial with legal charges as required by the Constitution.  This is not something to brag about, unless you have completely eliminated the idea of the rule of law from your thinking and no longer affiliate yourself with the human race.]

The bill would require that the military take custody of a suspect deemed to be a member of al-Qaida or its affiliates who is involved in plotting or committing attacks on the United States, with an exemption for U.S. citizens.

Responding to appeals from Obama, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and FBI Director Robert Mueller, the lawmakers added a provision that says nothing in the bill will affect “existing criminal enforcement and national security authorities of the FBI or any other domestic law enforcement agency” with regard to a captured suspect, “regardless of whether such … person is held in military custody.”

[I assume this means that a US citizen can be held indefinitely, just not necessarily by the military.  Which is in opposition to the opening paragraph of this article.  This discrepancy is not explained.]

The bill also says the president can waive the provision based on national security. Originally that authority rested with the defense secretary.

House and Senate negotiators dropped several of the provisions in the House bill that also had drawn a veto threat, including the requirement of military tribunals for all cases…

The legislation would deny suspected terrorists, even U.S. citizens seized within the nation’s borders, the right to trial and subject them to indefinite detention. The lawmakers made no changes to that language.

[Yes.  It does mean American citizens may be held indefinitely, without the right to trial.  Better wake the fuck up, America.]

The revisions weren’t sufficient for at least one civil rights group. “The so-called ‘changes’ to the detainee provisions that came out to conference are cosmetic at best,” said Raha Wala of Human Rights First. “They do little to fix the underlying problems with the bill. The president has no choice now but to veto, both for the sake of our national security and the rule of law.”

The bill would go after foreign financial institutions that do business with Iran’s central bank by barring them from opening or maintaining correspondent operations in the United States. It would apply to foreign central banks only for transactions that involve the sale or purchase of petroleum or petroleum products.

[I.e., China and Russia, with whom Iran trades oil on the Tehran bourse, off the dollar.  We are pushing them into choosing sides, when the truth is, they don’t need us for oil, so who do ya think they’d choose?  We, however, need Iran for oil.  I should think it would occur to us that we are looking at either a sudden extreme jump in the price of gas, or WW111, depending on how far we push this.  But maybe that’s the plan.  I see we took out the language about “all transactions” – we don’t want to impede importation of Chinese i-shits to Walmart and such.  Plus, we kind of owe China a lot of money.]

The petroleum penalties would only apply if the president, in six months, determines there is a sufficient alternative supply and if the country with jurisdiction over the financial institution has not significantly reduced its purchases of Iranian oil. It also allows the president to waive the penalties based on national security.

[I think I see where we are going here.  We need the Transcanada pipeline.  It’s a “national security issue”.  We need more drilling here.  We need to tear the Rocky Mountains out by the roots to get at whatever is under them.  Damn the Gulf of Mexico, full speed ahead.]

In a reflection of the uneasy relationship between the United States and Pakistan, the bill would freeze some $700 million in assistance until Pakistan comes up with a strategy to deal with improvised explosive devices.

[Ah, we decided to include Pakistan in this.  Good move, aces.  Let’s piss off our allies while we’re annoying everyone on the planet, just for the hell of it.  And Pakistan is already trying to deal with IED’s – they are trying to get us to remove the fucking CIA from their country.  It’s a good start on any number of issues.  We have some nerve doing this a few days after killing two dozen of their military, “by accident”, in a bombing of one of their military bases that lasted for over two hours.]

http://tinyurl.com/d8ndarz

And now let’s do the same thing with another AP article from this morning.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Facing a weekend deadline to avoid a government shutdown, a combative Congress appears on track to advance a massive $1 trillion-plus year-end spending package that curbs agency budgets but drops many policy provisions sought by GOP conservatives.

Lawmakers reached a tentative agreement Monday on the measure. It chips away at the Pentagon budget, foreign aid and environmental spending but boosts funding for veterans programs and modernizing the U.S. nuclear arsenal.

[By all means, chip away at environmental spending.  Who needs the environment?  Not like it surrounds us or sustains us or anything.  And we sure need to modernize that nuclear arsenal, by golly.  Never know when you might want to use the largest nuclear arsenal in the world on someone.  So much for the intent of the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty.]

The measure generally pleases environmentalists, who succeeded in stopping industry forces from blocking new clean air rules and a new clean water regulation opposed by mountaintop removal mining interests. House Republicans appeared likely to win concessions that would roll back administration efforts to ease restrictions on Cuban immigrants on traveling to the island and sending cash back to family members there.

[Environmentalists, clearly, are way too easily placated.  Republicans still hate Cuba.]

On spending, the measure implements this summer’s hard-fought budget pact between President Barack Obama and Republican leaders. That deal essentially freezes agency budgets, on average, at levels for the recently completed budget year that were approved back in April.

[These budgets have been frozen or repeatedly lowered for the past three years.  But let’s take pains to avoid mentioning that.]

Drafted behind closed doors, the proposed bill would provide $115 billion for overseas security operations in Afghanistan and Iraq but give the Pentagon just a 1 percent boost in annual spending not directly related to the wars. The Environmental Protection Agency’s budget would be cut by 3.5 percent. Foreign aid spending would drop and House lawmakers would absorb a 6 percent cut to their office budgets…

[Oh, so the “chipping away at the Pentagon budget” really means they only get a 1% increase, but the EPA actually did get a cut.  Funny wording there.  I see how you did that.  Clever monkeys.]

A House vote is expected Thursday and the Senate is likely to follow in time to meet a midnight Friday deadline before a stopgap funding measure expires…

On spending, the measure generally consists of relatively small adjustments to thousands of individual programs. Agencies like the Border Patrol and Immigration and Customs Enforcement will get a boost within the Homeland Security Department, while GOP defense hawks won additional funding to modernize the U.S. nuclear weapons arsenal. The troubled, over-budget, next-generation F-35 fighter plane program would be largely protected.

Democrats won a modest increase in funding for schools with large numbers of disadvantaged students.

[Democrats are easily placated, too.]

http://tinyurl.com/7tw7onm

 

 
 

America in hyper-drive.

A fracturing of the time/space continuum.

Once upon a time, long ago, in a newly formed republic, men of good intentions would argue over what policies and laws should be put into place in the land; or having decided on a law, how to improve it once it was discovered the law wasn’t working out quite as they intended.  They would write long letters to each other, full of what they hoped was sound reasoning and moral imperative.  Some issues were trivial, but most were deemed important enough that public news bills would be distributed around the towns, and literate white men (let’s be honest; women were discouraged from “unseemly” political talk and non-whites were not allowed to engage in policy opinion) would gather in taverns or dining rooms to have discourse about the matter.  During election cycles, political opponents would have debates where each side was granted at least an hour to orate on his position and the debate would be rehashed for weeks by the listeners.

Now we simply install new policies with the only debate coming after the fact.  Part of this phenomenon is due to our sped up culture (there’s an app for that) and the pressures of having to work more hours to stay afloat, but part of it is deliberate manipulation from our politicians.  Torture?  We can debate the policy, but only after it comes to light our politicians have been allowing it for some time.  The “debate” is preempted by the fact that it’s already being done.  And, in any case, the decision to consider any niceties about legality are taken away from the people: Congress (under Pelosi) and the current administration (Obama) have long since declared that, illegal or not, no-one will be held to account for secretly installing these new policies.  It just doesn’t matter what conclusion “the people” come to about torture or invading foreign countries or assassinating anyone or giving all the money in the US to a few bankers.  And now the new policies are coming at lightening speed.  Even if we wanted to talk about the wisdom of a certain action, it’s too late.  It’s done.

Quite a number of issues are handled by business interests acting through the bought votes of Congress (see health care reform, invasion of Iraq, deregulation of financial industries, BP oil spill) and some are not even brought to Congress at all before the policy goes into effect (see Libya, extra-judicial assassinations, waivers for insurance companies who don’t like certain parts of the health care reform, the Fed handing out 14.2 trillion bucks to a few bankers, everything else the Fed does, everything the CIA does).

The average American, assuming he learns about a certain thing, couldn’t keep up with the myriad other things that are going on at warp speed.  One barely has time to form an opinion before something else warrants attention – and that is how America runs now.  Fast. And immune to the potential input of American citizens.   Sure, Americans are fairly well dumbed down and vicious, but now there is no chance that we will have time to caution each other about new policies or hope to influence the viewpoints of those who haven’t thought things through.  The rewriting of who we are is happening right now and we can’t keep up with it.  This is deliberate.

“…You have been on the frontlines of this fight for nearly 10 years. You were there in those early days, driving the Taliban from power, pushing al Qaeda out of its safe havens. Over time, as the insurgency grew, you went back for, in some cases, a second time, a third time, a fourth time.

“When the decision was made to go into Iraq, you were there, too, making the longest air assault in history, defeating a vicious insurgency, ultimately giving Iraqis the chance to secure their democracy. And you’ve been at the forefront of our new strategy in Afghanistan….

“And most of all, we’re making progress in our major goal, our central goal in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and that is disrupting and dismantling — and we are going to ultimately defeat al Qaeda. We have cut off their head and we will ultimately defeat them…. But the essence of America — the values that have defined us for more than 200 years — they don’t just endure; they are stronger than ever.” – Obama’s speech at Fort Campbell, Ky.  May 6,’11

The Taliban was one of our original “foes”?  The ” vicious insurgency” in Iraq – that would be the one that arose because we invaded?   The Iraqis have “secured their democracy”?  Our central goal in Pakistan –  we are at war with Pakistan?  Assassinating bin Laden “defines our values”?

Rewriting.  It’s enough to make your eyes pop.  And new policies:

“Salman Bashir, the country’s foreign secretary, said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal that a repeat of Monday’s raid could lead to ‘terrible consequences.’ Pakistani and U.S. officials have said Pakistan was not told about the attack that killed bin Laden until after the fact, which has led to Pakistani protests that their sovereignty was violated…

” ‘No self-respecting nation would compromise or allow others to compromise its sovereignty,’ Mr. Bashir said. ‘We want to make it absolutely clear to everyone—do not underestimate Pakistan’s capabilities and capacity to do what is necessary for national security.’

“In response to the suggestion that terrible consequence would greet any future raid, a U.S. official said: ‘They need to spend less time lashing out at the U.S. and more time rooting out militants on Pakistani territory.’

“For now, Pakistan is refusing to allow U.S. officials to interrogate women and children left behind in the compound where bin Laden was killed, depriving American officials of potentially valuable intelligence. Pakistan is instead conducting its own questioning of the detainees, which include bin Laden’s 12-year-olddaughter….”   tinyurl.com/3vpuc3z


Actually, the day after Pakistan complained about the US compromising its sovereignty, we launched a drone attack there, killing 15 people.  That’s what we think about their fucking sovereignty and the idea that Pakistan should deprive US officials of the “right” to hold and interrogate a couple of (non-American) women and little girls.  And assassinations: less than 5 days after dumping bin Laden’s corpse in the ocean, we used drones to attack and kill a few people in Yemen, in the hopes of getting al Awlaki, an American citizen living there.  He was named by the media as the new “head of the snake” less than 24 hours after the announcement of bin Laden’s death; this is one badass snake, with such magical powers of cranial recuperation that we will now have to monitor every train station and bus depot (not to mention shopping mall) in the US for new heads constantly.

“For the record, we think targeting Mr. Gaddafi and his sons — if that is what is really going on — is as legitimate as striking al-Qaeda.” – from Washington Post editorial, Wed., May 4, ’11

US domestic policy: profits of the Fortune 500 are up 81%, while corporate tax revenue as a percentage of GDP is at its lowest in years, but Timmeh Geithner suggests we need to lower corporate tax rates.  The House Committee responsible for instigating any financial reform outlined in the Dodd-Frank financial reform bill just decided to delay writing any regulations on financial speculation (including in food and oil markets) for 18 months.  Obama has decided the federal government needs to sell off 14,000 pieces of “outdated” federal property in an effort to save 15 billion over the next 3 years.  We have just witnessed the biggest drop in property values in history, there is a glut on the real estate market, and the only entities with disposable cash to buy are the big banks.  Buy high, sell low: it’s a plan.  So the taxpayers pay for something for years and when it goes low enough in value, we sell it in a sweetheart deal to some guy with connections to Congress.  Any questions?   Too late.  We are not taking questions.  Goldman, Sachs just made a 34 billion dollar profit.  More than 20 B of that came from the positive arbitrage created by borrowing a trillion dollars from the Fed window at 0% and investing it in newly created US Treasuries at 2.3%.   20 billion dollars in profit will be realized every year that this window is open.  I.e., 100% and then some of the 16 B in bonuses that Goldman, Sachs paid out last year to its management came from the US taxpayers.  (Al Capone must be petitioning the heavenly court about now.  “Look, God, Padrone Most High.  You can’t keep me down here any more.  All this stuff is legal now!”)  The House just passed a bill which would require that women who have abortions and claim the expense under medical deductions be audited by the IRS regarding details of that abortion.  Any business which covers employees under insurance plans that offer abortion coverage will no longer be able to claim the plan as a business expense.  The bill now goes to the Senate.   Your input is not welcome on these items either.