The Watering Hole: Thursday, March 7, 2013, Report Shows Billions Wasted in Iraq & Afghanistan

Military Spending Waste: Up To $60 Billion In Iraq, Afghanistan War Funds Lost To Poor Planning, Oversight, Fraud

As much as $60 billion in U.S. funds has been lost to waste and fraud in Iraq and Afghanistan over the past decade through lax oversight of contractors, poor planning and payoffs to warlords and insurgents, an independent panel investigating U.S. wartime spending estimates.

U.S. Wasted Billions Rebuilding Iraq

As the 10th anniversary of President George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq approaches, the body charged with overseeing Iraq’s reconstruction has issued its final report, capping a tale of spending far too much money for very little results.

There is much more at the two links above.  The question is how will this all turn out to be President Obama’s fault?  George W. Bush stopped being responsible for anything the day President Obama was inaugurated in 2009 according to the GOP.

THIS IS TODAY’S OPEN THREAD.  GO AHEAD AND VENT.

Sunday Roast: The Death of a Butterfly

by Chris Streich

The New York Times

There was a suicide bombing in Afghanistan the other day.  So far away…the other side of the world.  It means so little in our daily lives.  What does it have to do with us anyway…?

At 8 years old, with freckles and a penchant for frilly dresses and soccer cleats, Parwana was just as I was at that age: equal parts tomboy and little princess. In the last few weeks, she had begun to wear a head scarf, but she clearly was not willing to grow up completely just yet. She was the undisputed ringleader of the little girls, and enough of a spitfire to give the bigger boys as good as she got.

She could belong to any one of us, really.  But she doesn’t.  She doesn’t belong to anyone now…except maybe our consciences.  We hear of another suicide bombing on the other side of the world, and think “Not again,” for about 10 seconds, and then it’s gone.

But this time, we see a face.  We can’t un-see her.  Because sometimes in this world, heroes come in the form of an eight year old child and her friends, who, beside skateboarding, loved nothing more than standing up to a big “bad boy.”

Her name was Parwana, which means “Butterfly” in Dari.  She gave all she had to give, and it has everything to do with us.

This is our daily open thread.

The Watering Hole, Thursday, March 1st, 2012: And Your Advice is Worth???

I like to check out Foreign Policy Magazine online now and again for different stories and viewpoints. You can imagine my surprise today when I saw an article titled “How to Beat Obama”, written by…wait for it…Karl Rove and Ed Gillespie. Yes, Karl Rove, despite being wrong nearly as often as William Kristol, still thinks that his advice would be helpful to the 2012 Republican Presidential nominee. Check out some of the pearls of wisdom Karl and Ed are offering:

“In an American election focused on a lousy economy and high unemployment, conventional wisdom holds that foreign policy is one of Barack Obama’s few strong suits. But the president is strikingly vulnerable in this area. The Republican who leads the GOP ticket can attack him on what Obama mistakenly thinks is his major strength by translating the center-right critique of his foreign policy into campaign themes and action. Here’s how to beat him.

First, the Republican nominee should adopt a confident, nationalist tone emphasizing American exceptionalism, expressing pride in the United States as a force for good in the world, and advocating for an America that is once again respected (and, in some quarters, feared) as the preeminent global power. Obama acts as if he sees the United States as a flawed giant, a mistake that voters already perceive. After all, this is the president who said, “I believe in American exceptionalism, just as I suspect that the Brits believe in British exceptionalism and the Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism.” Voters also sense he is content to manage America’s decline to a status where the United States is just one country among many.”

Ah, yes, the “American Exceptionalism” cliche – Americans are somehow inherently better than the rest of the world, and we damn well don’t need to pay attention to any of those lesser people in all of those other crappy countries. America is a flawless giant, dammit, and just look at how perceptive American voters are, too!

“The Republican nominee should use the president’s own words and actions to portray him as naive and weak on foreign affairs. Obama’s failed promises, missed opportunities, and erratic shifts suggest he is out of touch and in over his head.”

Karl, do you remember anything of the presidency of George W. Bush, or have you simply blocked it all out?

“The Republican candidate must address at least four vital areas. The most important is the struggle that will define this century’s arc: radical Islamic terrorism. He should make the case that victory must be America’s national goal, not merely seeking to “delegitimize the use of terrorism and to isolate those who carry it out,” as Obama’s May 2010 National Security Strategy put it. As in the Cold War, victory will require sustained U.S. involvement and a willingness to deploy all tools of influence — from diplomacy to economic ties, from intelligence efforts to military action.”

I thought that this 2012 election was all about JOBS, JOBS, JOBS – oh, wait, that was the 2010 mid-terms, or…well some election was/is supposed to be about JOBS…I think.

“Second, the Republican candidate must condemn the president’s precipitous drawdown in Afghanistan and his deep, dangerous defense-budget cuts. Both are viewed skeptically by the military: The former emboldens America’s adversaries and discourages its allies; the latter is of deep concern to veterans and other Americans who doubt Obama’s commitment to the military.”

Jeebus knows that we don’t want to “precipitously” leave Afghanistan after, what, only eleven years or so? And didn’t I hear that President Obama has actually increased the defense budget?

“During the 2008 campaign, he also argued that Iran was a “tiny” country that didn’t “pose a serious threat.” How foolish that now seems.”

“In part because of how he has mishandled the Iranian threat, Obama has lost much political and financial support in the American Jewish community. His approach to Israel must be presented as similarly weak and untrustworthy. The Republican candidate must make clear the existential threat to Israel from a nuclear-armed Iran…”

We certainly wouldn’t want Israel to defend itself all alone, with only a few hundred nuclear weapons, against a possible/future/maybe-nuclear-armed Iran, now would we?

Obama recognizes that he’s seen as “cold and aloof,” and the Republican nominee should hammer this point home. The president has few real friends abroad (excepting, of course, Islamist Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, as he told Time magazine’s Fareed Zakaria). The Republican nominee should criticize Obama for not understanding that the U.S. president’s personal engagement is essential for effective global leadership. Obama’s lack of regular close contact with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and Afghan President Hamid Karzai, which has destroyed relationships with America’s erstwhile allies, is simply the most jarring, inexplicable example of this president’s hands-off approach.

If the Republican candidate turns out to be Mitt Romney, our allies (and enemies, too!) will be SO overwhelmed by the “warm and fuzzies.” So, President Obama hasn’t been calling al-Maliki and Karzai as much as Rove and Gillespie think he should? What are they, Obama’s mother?

“Because the fall campaign must be devoted to promoting the Republican message on jobs and the economy, the GOP nominee must share his big foreign-policy vision no later than early summer.”

“The fourth line of attack must be about America’s fragile economy and how to restore it. Many voters think Obama’s stewardship of the economy has been inconsistent and even counterproductive.”

Of course, talking about jobs and the economy can wait until the fall – it gives the Republican nominee that much more time to think of something other than “cut taxes and regulations for corporations” and “make the Bush tax cuts permanent.”

“Undoubtedly, Obama will attempt to preempt criticism of his foreign policy by repeating endlessly that Osama bin Laden was killed on his watch. By campaign’s end, some voters will wonder whether the president personally delivered the kill shot.”

Yes, undoubtedly, ’cause that’s what Rove and Gillespie would do – it would definitely convince “some voters”, i.e., FuxNews-watchers.

“Absent a major international crisis, this election will be largely about jobs, spending, health care, and energy. Voters do, however, want a president who leads on the world stage and a commander in chief who projects strength, not weakness.”

What the…”absent a major international crisis”? Such as, Karl?

“A November 2011 survey conducted by Resurgent Republic showed that 50 percent of voters (as well as 54 percent of self-identified independents) think America’s standing in the world is worse under Obama, while only 21 percent believe it is better. This represents a sharp drop from April 2010, when 50 percent of voters (and 49 percent of independents) believed Obama had improved America’s standing.

That’s because Obama has failed to become a strong international leader, and the Republican nominee must reinforce this message — one most Americans already believe. Foreign policy is a weakness for this president, not a strength.”

Hey, guess who’s a Board Member at Resurgent Republic? Why, good old Ed Gillespie!

Hmmm, I don’t think that your advice is so hot, Karl (and Ed.) Maybe they should read another article at Foreign Policy magazine that refutes their arguments.

Regardless of whether or not Rove and Gillespie’s advice is useful, I don’t think that either of the current ‘leaders’ for the Republican nomination would be capable of following it.

This is our daily open thread – feel free to opine on this or any other topic.

Shifting the goal post..

From Wikipedia Commons

The withdrawal date from Afghanistan has been ‘officially’ pushed back. There is now a new timetable..

From The Raw Story:

President Barack Obama pledged Friday that US forces would stand by Afghanistan even after NATO-led troops hand control of the fight against Taliban insurgents to Afghan forces in 2014.

Echoing the president’s commitments, on MSNBC’sMorning Joe, Vice President Joe Biden described 2014 as the “drop-dead date” for turning over security responsibilities to the Afghan government.

“And 2014 is now a date that everyone has agreed upon, NATO as well as the Afghanis, that’s kind of the drop-dead date,” said Biden. “But that doesn’t mean we’re going to have anywhere near 100,000 troops in 2013.” (Read on…)

More from Huffington Post (with video).

What does “drop dead date” even mean? (What a terrible choice of words..)

Would that still apply if the Republicans take control the Senate or the presidency in 2012 (worst case scenario)?

Afghanistan is Lost!

source:www.defense.gov

This is one major scoop of investigative journalism, just right next to The Pentagon Papers.

Wikileaks has produced over 90’000 partly classified documents covering a six year stretch of the Afghan mission. The Guardian in the UK, Der Spiegel in Germany and The New York Times have each received the documents a while ago for review and released their findings today. As I am writing this I cannot reach the wikileaks webpage, which must be overwhelmed with traffic, I suspect, so I give you a gist of what the three news outlets are making of the documents.

Der Spiegel:

The documents offer a window into the war in the Hindu Kush — one which promises to change the way we think about the ongoing violence in Afghanistan. They will also be indispensible for anyone seeking to inform themselves about the war in the future. (read article)

The newspaper then highlights five issues, one of them the situation in the North where German forces are stationed:

The Germans thought that the northern provinces where their soldiers are stationed would be more peaceful compared to other provinces and that the situation would remain that way.

They were wrong. (read more)

In an interview with the weekly Julian Assange, founder of Wikipedia, says:

Assange: These files are the most comprehensive description of a war to be published during the course of a war — in other words, at a time when they still have a chance of doing some good. They cover more than 90,000 different incidents, together with precise geographical locations. They cover the small and the large. A single body of information, they eclipse all that has been previously said about Afghanistan. They will change our perspective on not only the war in Afghanistan, but on all modern wars. (read full interview)

The Guardian obviously eyes the British side of the conflict:

Questionable shootings of civilians by UK troops also figure. The US compilers detail an unusual cluster of four British shootings in Kabul in the space of barely a month, in October/November 2007, culminating in the death of the son of an Afghan general. Of one shooting, they wrote: “Investigation controlled by the British. We are not able to get [sic] complete story.” (read all)

and more here

The US army’s archives contain descriptions of at least 21 separate occasions in which British troops are said to have shot or bombed Afghan civilians, including women and children.

The logs identify at least 26 people killed and another 20 wounded as a result. Some casualties were accidentally caused by air strikes, but many also are said to involve British troops firing on unarmed drivers or motorcyclists who come “too close” to convoys or patrols. Their injuries result from what are described as “warning shots” or “disabling shots” fired into the engine block, as required by the military’s “escalation of force” regulations.

They explain how they came by the data:

The Afghanistan war logs series of reports on the war in Afghanistan published by the Guardian is based on the US military’s internal logs of the conflict between January 2004 and December 2009. The material, largely classified by the US as secret, was obtained by the whistleblower website Wikileaks, which has published the full archive. The Guardian, along with the New York Times and the German weekly Der Spiegel, was given access to the logs before publication to verify their authenticity and assess their significance. (read all and watch video)

The New York Times explains to its readers:

Deciding whether to publish secret information is always difficult, and after weighing the risks and public interest, we sometimes chose not to publish. But there are times when the information is of significant public interest, and this is one of those times. The documents illuminate the extraordinary difficulty of what the United States and its allies have undertaken in a way that other accounts have not. (read more)

The role of Pakistan in the Afghan war is of special interest to the NYT:

Some of the reports describe Pakistani intelligence working alongside Al Qaeda to plan attacks. Experts cautioned that although Pakistan’s militant groups and Al Qaeda work together, directly linking the Pakistani spy agency, the Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence, or ISI, with Al Qaeda is difficult.

[...]

Such accusations are usually met with angry denials, particularly by the Pakistani military, which insists that the ISI severed its remaining ties to the groups years ago. An ISI spokesman in Islamabad said Sunday that the agency would have no comment until it saw the documents. Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States, Husain Haqqani, said, “The documents circulated by WikiLeaks do not reflect the current on-ground realities.”

[...]

On June 19, 2006, ISI operatives allegedly met with the Taliban leaders in Quetta, the city in southern Pakistan where American and other Western officials have long believed top Taliban leaders have been given refuge by the Pakistani authorities. At the meeting, according to the report, they pressed the Taliban to mount attacks on Maruf, a district of Kandahar that lies along the Pakistani border. (read more)

There is heaps more in all three newspapers and this story is going to be hot for weeks to come, due to the vast expanse of the information made available. This may well be the final nail into the coffin of the Afghanistan war. There already is growing opposition against the mission and seeing the stark truth will further convince people, that the fight is not worth it. The documents cover the time from January 2004 to December 2009 after Iraq has been attacked on March 20th 2003 and the focus shifted away from the Afghan mission. The leaked documents don’t say anything about the time between October 2001 and 2004. I do hold on to the belief, however, that the Afghanistan mission wasn’t doomed from the beginning. But absolutely after the decision was made to attack Iraq. And again, as it is with most conflicts, the people of Afghanistan have suffered before the war, during the war and will continue to suffer after the international troops have long left.

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We’ve got a war to lose!

The Wall Street Journal

KABUL—More than $3 billion in cash has been openly flown out of Kabul International Airport in the past three years, a sum so large that U.S. investigators believe top Afghan officials and their associates are sending billions of diverted U.S. aid and logistics dollars and drug money to financial safe havens abroad.

The cash—packed into suitcases, piled onto pallets and loaded into airplanes—is declared and legal to move. But U.S. and Afghan officials say they are targeting the flows in major anticorruption and drug trafficking investigations because of their size relative to Afghanistan’s small economy and the murkiness of their origins.(read more)

This war is getting ever more absurd.

President Obama accepts General Stanley McChrystal’s Resignation

This is President Obama’s statement this morning in the Rose Garden where he addressed reporters, the nation, and the soldiers in the field following a twenty minute meeting with General Stanley McChrystal (now ex-commander of all U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan) on the statements made that came out yesterday in the article in the Rolling Stone Magazine article “The Runaway General” by Michael Hastings.

In this video, the President announces that he has accepted the resignation of General Stanley McChrystal, that he will nominate General David Petraeus to take over command of troops in Afghanistan, and that the Administration remains unified in its commitment to victory in Afghanistan.

Transcript of President Obama’s remarks this morning.

The Watering Hole: June 19 – Vultures

As we’ve learned recently, Afghanistan possesses a wealth of up to now undiscovered, or rather undisclosed, mineral deposits. In a world hungry for gold, lithium, copper, iron  this was bringing out the buzzards double quick. The New York Times reports:

WASHINGTON — Mining companies around the world are eager to exploit Afghanistan’s newly discovered mineral wealth, but executives of Western firms caution that war, corruption and lack of roads and other infrastructure are likely to delay exploration for years.

A few high-risk investors are sufficiently intrigued by the country’s potential to take an early look. JP Morgan, for instance, has just sent a team of mining experts to Afghanistan to examine possible projects to develop.

[...]

Afghan officials have interpreted their mining regulations in such a way that if a company is awarded a concession to explore and then discovers valuable minerals, the government can tender the concession back and rebid it, undermining any incentive for a foreign firm to actually find large deposits, he said.

“They can take it back after you discover something,” Mr. Yeager said. “That needs to be corrected.”

(read more)

It is not as if the minerals are theirs, heh! Understandably the Afghans themselves are suspicious:

Many Afghans I have spoken with believe firmly that America wants to permanently occupy the country in order to take Afghan land and resources. Even educated Afghan friends who generally support a temporary US presence have told me the same. I had to laugh when one suggested that Americans would want to move to Afghanistan to snatch up Afghan land for homes. (read more)

The mining corporations will be falling over themselves to get a foot in, never mind what they say now. They are used to securing their interests with their own security forces or mercenaries. Right now, they have the benefit of the US Army, but Obama plans to withdraw the troops beginning 2011. However, help can be found in the usual places:

Several lawmakers, including former presidential candidate and war hero Senator John McCain, have criticized Obama for setting deadlines, saying they empower the enemy who would wait it out for U.S. forces to leave.

“It’s time for the president to state unequivocally that we will stay in Afghanistan until we succeed,” said McCain, who said all the key trends were moving in the wrong direction. (read more)

Same old. Same old.

This is our open thread. Go ahead and tell us what’s on your mind today.

Messages to Obama: Escalation in the Afghanistan War

From BraveNewFoundation:

President Obama has decided to send more than 30,000 extra troops to Afghanistan, at a cost of more than $100 billion/year. But America cannot afford a war that does not make us safer, and Congress has the power to stop the escalation. Vote NO on any spending bill that would send more troops to Afghanistan.”

http://rethinkafghanistan.com Please SIGN the petition!

Olbermann Special Comment: Get out of Afghanistan now

Raw Story:

In a Special Comment, Countdown’s Keith Olbermann argues that in the face political and financial opportunism, not to mention outright lies about the war in Afghanistan, and the stark historical warning represented by Vietnam, President Obama should make the change he promised during his campaign and pull U.S. troops out of Afghanistan.

Here’s the segment on The Rachel Maddow Show (MSNBC) discussing the impact of this ‘escalation’ in Afghanistan on our military readiness:

US Military suicides set to hit new high in 2009

H/T: Juan Cole

From Reuters:

Suicides in the U.S. Army will hit a new high this year, a top general said on Tuesday in a disclosure likely to increase concerns about stress on U.S. forces ahead of an expected buildup in Afghanistan.

The findings, released as President Barack Obama inches toward a decision to send up to 40,000 additional troops to Afghanistan, show the number of active-duty suicides so far in 2009 has already matched last year’s record of 140 deaths.

“We are almost certainly going to end the year higher than last year,” General Peter Chiarelli, the Army’s vice chief of staff, told a Pentagon briefing.

“This is horrible, and I do not want to downplay the significance of these numbers in any way.”

Another 71 soldiers committed suicide after being taken off active duty in 2009 — nearly 25 percent more than the end-year total for 2008. Some had returned home only weeks before taking their own lives.

Watch this interview with Iraq war vet Adam Kokesh on Russia Today:

Kokesh articulates the reasons very clearly and coherently.

Karzai declared elected President of Afghanistan

Breaking News from CNN

Hamid Karzai has been declared the old and new President of Afghanistan, after Abdullah has redrawn his candidacy for the run-off elections.

So now the corruption and voter fraud can go on. IMHO it’s time to leave, they’re beyond help.

 

Flag Draped Coffins

Standing in the pre-dawn darkness, President Barack Obama saw the real cost of the war in Afghanistan: The Americans who return in flag-covered cases while much of the nation sleeps in peace.

With that small gesture, President Obama has honored our troops far more than former President Bush ever did. The Bush Administration did its best to keep this all-too-human cost of war out of the public eye. Photos of flag-draped coffins were banned under his watch. One of the first acts of President Obama was to lift that ban.

The president saluted as six soldiers in camouflage and black berets carried Griffin’s remains into a waiting white van. … He immediately spoke privately in a chapel with all the family members. The solemn process of transferring remains of 15 soldiers and three Drug Enforcement Agency agents unfolded in four separate movements. Obama took part in all of them. A chaplain offered prayers for the fallen, the crews that brought them home, the families who lost a loved one, and a nation embroiled in war. By 4:45 a.m., the president had touched back down on the South Lawn, where even an active White House was sleepy.

He walked inside, alone.

This author has been to a funeral of one of our fallen. He has seen the mother’s grief as she was handed the flag from her son’s coffin. It was, and remains, a powerful image.

And now, President Obama has been touched, first hand, by that same powerful emotion. And he, alone, must make the decision about how many more mother’s children will he send off to die for Bush’s mistakes.

In this author’s opinion, one is too many.

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Diving headlong into the ‘graveyard of empires’..

As we fill more graveyards at home..

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Support Troops Swelling U.S. Force in Afghanistan
Additional Deployments Not Announced and Rarely Noted

The additional troops are primarily support forces, including engineers, medical personnel, intelligence experts and military police. Their deployment has received little mention by officials at the Pentagon and the White House, who have spoken more publicly about the combat troops who have been sent to Afghanistan.

The deployment of the support troops to Afghanistan brings the total increase approved by Obama to 34,000. The buildup has raised the number of U.S. troops deployed to the war zones of Iraq and Afghanistan above the peak during the Iraq “surge” that President George W. Bush ordered, officials said… (Continue reading)

There is a reason Afghanistan is known as the “Graveyard of Empires”..

You might want to read this as well..

Democrats and Afghanistan: What’s at Stake by Glenn Greenwald

All cartoons are posted with the artists’ express permission to TPZoo.
Paul Jamiol
Jamiol’s World

Senator Sanders Unfiltered: How Many Years in Afghanistan?

From Senator Bernie Sanders’ page:

President Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to reduce nuclear arms, ease tensions with the non-Western world and stress diplomacy. Americans should be proud that we have a president who is restoring respect for our country around the globe. This well-deserved prize is an inspiration for the president and for rest of us to do some really hard thinking about how we create a more peaceful and just world – including our role in Afghanistan. We are now in our ninth year in Afghanistan – twice as long as were engaged in World War II. We have lost more than 800 troops. We have spent more than $200 billion. What do we hope to accomplish in Afghanistan? What is our exit strategy?

What is the best way of protecting the American people from al-Qaeda and from terrorist threats? What is the most effective way of opposing the Taliban, an extremely reactionary group? How do we relate to the government in Afghanistan which is widely believed to be corrupt? How does the situation in Afghanistan relate to Pakistan – a nation with nuclear weapons? These are a few of the questions that have to be dealt with before we continue pouring more troops and money into Afghanistan. The time is now for a real national discussion about Afghanistan – including real debate in Congress. It is long overdue.

Video by BraveNewFilms.

Ralph Peters continues to slime Pfc Bergdahl — with the help of Bill O’Reilly (updated)

ThinkProgress

Ralph Peters is very certain about what he “knows,” and completely oblivious that he knows nothing.

All Peters “knows” is that some mythical “very senior military leader” answered “yes,” when asked if Bergdahl was a deserter.  This was Ralph Peters looking in the mirror and hearing voices again.  I “know” this because I asked a really smart neighbor about it, and he said “yes.”

So here we have Bill O’Reilly, who proudly proclaims that he has been to Afghanistan, but who has never served in the military, and Ralph Peters, who admits on this video that he has no combat experience, trashing the mental state a young man actually serving in the military, in a war zone.  Naturally, they have no facts to back up their assertions that Bergdahl is “crazy” or “out of his mind,” but they don’t mind making it up as they go.

Here’s what the military has to say about Bergdahl being a deserter:

Appalled at Peters’ original comment, CNN’s Rick Sanchez reported yesterday that Bergdahl is not a deserter. “Is the military saying that he’s a deserter in any way? We have checked. No, not at all,” Sanchez said.

NBC Pentagon correspondent Jim Miklaszewski also reported yesterday that “senior Pentagon and military officials have ruled that out entirely, they say there is no evidence that he is a deserter.” Miklaszewski added that “they also point out that remarks like that are not the least bit helpful and in fact could endanger Pfc Bergdahl.”  (Emphasis added)

The important thing to remember is that Ralph Peters is getting his exposure on Fox “News,” which has no relationship with truth or integrity.

Whatever happened to “Support the Troops?”  Or even “innocent until proven guilty?”

The previous post on Ralph Peters’ insanity is here.

UPDATERep Eric Mass (D-NY), who is a retired Navy Commander, is demanding that Fox News fire Bill O’Reilly and Ralph Peters for their comments about Pfc Bergdahl.

“Words cannot express how furious I am at Fox News, Lt. Col Ralph Peters and Bill O’Reilly for suggesting that we should leave a prisoner of war behind and allow him to be executed by the Taliban to save us the trouble of trying to intervene” said Congressman Eric Massa. “Last night I joined with a bipartisan group of 22 other Congressional veterans in demanding an immediate apology to the family of PFC Bergdahl from Fox News, but I don’t think that goes far enough. I want to see Mr. Peters and Mr. O’Reilly fired immediately for their inexcusable attacks on a prisoner of war. Their comments aid and abet our enemies during a time of war and the burden is on Fox News to prove that they reject this by taking the tangible action of issuing an apology and firing both of them.”

You can read the whole letter here (PDF).

Ralph Peters Wants The Taliban To Kill An American Soldier (updated)

Wonder if Peters has a yellow ribbon magnet on his SUV.

Amazing.  This jerk (Ralph Peters) starts with “we should wait for all the facts,” and then proceeds to call Bowe Bergdahl deserter and a liar, and says that as far as he’s concerned, “the Taliban can save us a lot of legal hassles and legal bills,” leaving hanging in the air the implication that if the Taliban kills Bergdahl, it would be just fine with him.

Here’s Cenk on The Young Turks showing Mr Peters saying that the prisoners at Gitmo should be killed:

Mr Peters, I think you’re an un-American death-fetishist asshole.  But we’ll wait for all the facts…

UPDATE:  Our Mr Peters (sorry, I won’t call him by his military rank after he called for the death of Pfc Bergdhl) is more of a loose cannon than we knew.  The Wonk Room has a lovely piece regarding Peters’ ideas for dealing with the Somali pirates:

Attack their harbors with land, sea and air power. Kill pirates, sink their vessels (including those dual-use fishing boats) and wreck their support infrastructure. The clans behind the pirates must feel sufficient pain to rein in their young thugs. The price for piracy should be stunning.

And we don’t need to stay to rebuild Somalia. End the fix-it fetish now. We need to leave while their boats are still burning down to the waterline.

Also, Matthew Yglesias posted a video of Mr Peters’ “unhinged rant” about the DHS memo regarding rightwing extremism:

Rock on, dude.

I think we now have enough evidence to say quite conclusively that Peters is in fact an un-American death-fetishist asshole.

Sifton: “Up to 100 detainees have died in US custody”

Raw Story:

Any torture investigation should focus on the deaths of approximately 100 prisoners who were in U.S. custody, says attorney and human rights investigator John Sifton. Senate torture hearings have examined the effectiveness of enhanced interrogation techniques but Sifton says this is the wrong focus. “Those are the wrong debates to be having right now,” Sifton told Democracy Now’s Amy Goodman.

“We knew that up to a hundred detainees had died in US custody in Iraq and Afghanistan, and we had published this information previously. But I brought it up again, because I feel like the debate right now about torture is missing the point,” he said.

“These aggressive techniques were not just limited to the high-value detainee program in the CIA. They spread to the military with disastrous results. They led to the deaths of human beings. And when there’s a corpse involved, when there’s a dead body involved, you can’t just have a debate about policy differences and looking forward or looking backward.”


Read the article in The Daily Beast by John Sifton entitled “The Bush Administration Homicides“.

AIG Outrage Revealed: Fights Almost 50% Of Serious Claims

ProPublica

Civilian workers who suffered devastating injuries while supporting the U.S. war effort in Iraq and Afghanistan have come home to a grinding battle for basic medical care, artificial limbs, psychological counseling and other services.

The insurance companies responsible for their treatment under taxpayer-funded policies have routinely denied the most serious medical claims. Those insurers — primarily American International Group (AIG) — recorded hundreds of millions of dollars in profits on this business.

The civilian contractors have played an indispensable role in the two conflicts, delivering fuel to frontline troops, guarding U.S. diplomats and translating for soldiers during dangerous raids. More than 1,400 civilian workers have died and 31,000 have been wounded or injured in the two war zones.

The insurance system for civilian contractors has generated profits for the providers, primarily AIG, the war zone’s dominant player. Insurers collected more than $1.5 billion in premiums paid by U.S. taxpayers and have earned nearly $600 million in profit, according to congressional investigators.

Continue reading

AIG Turns Back On Blind Amputee

How AIG has handled John Woodson’s claim is unconscionable.  While executives get bonuses and expensive junkets, Woodson received the least expensive route they could possible take.  He is a 51 year old truck driver for the KBR contracting firm who lost his leg when his truck hit a roadside bomb in Iraq.

An Oklahoma man who lost an eye and a leg in Iraq says the giant insurance company AIG refused to provide him a new plastic leg and fought to keep from paying for a wheelchair or glasses for the eye in which he has 30 percent vision.

Woodson is one of a number of injured contractors whose alleged difficulties with AIG were examined in the joint investigation.

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Afghanistan’s New Law: Limit Women’s Rights, “Legalize Rape” In Marriage, & Outraging Ministers

Afghan President Hamid Karzai landed a devastating blow to women’s right with his new law.

An effort by ministers from the United States, Canada and other members of the 42-nation coalition fighting in Afghanistan to put an optimistic face on the war’s progress came close to collapse on Tuesday when Afghan President Hamid Karzai was publicly accused of supporting a law that dramatically limits the rights of women.

Attended in total by 72 countries and organizations interested in rebuilding the country, The Hague summit was meant to be a “big tent” show of support for U.S. President Barack Obama’s new Afghanistan war plans. But by day’s end the participants had been forced to confront the reality of a government riddled with corruption and committed to legislating sexual inequality.

According to United Nations organizations that have seen it, a law backed by the Karzai government would legalize rape within marriage and would forbid women from going to the doctor or leaving their home without their husband’s protection.

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Maher: New Rules – March 27th

Bill Maher had some great one liners, my faves:  ” Lou Dobbs would become a suicide bomber.”  “Glenn Beck would have to send out for more bat shit.”

Follow this link to watch the opening of the show.  Bill’s guests were Mos Def, Christopher Hitchens, & Salman Rushdie.  Maher interviewed Bill Bradley at the beginning of the show.

General Craddock to retire?

There has been some movement in the case of NATO commander Craddock. Various generals have objected to his cavalier plan to kill Afghan opium growers summarily. He dumped his plans and is now seemingly on the road to retirement.

Der Spiegel updates on this earlier story:

On Jan. 30, General Bantz John Craddock gave up. On that day, the NATO High Commander retracted an order calling on troops fighting in Afghanistan with NATO’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) to attack drug traffickers and facilities. Many of Craddock’s comrades found the order unpalatable — it explicitly directed NATO troops to kill those involved in the drug trade even if there was no proof that they supported insurgents fighting against NATO or Afghan security forces.

General Egon Ramms, from Germany, who heads up the NATO command center responsible for Afghanistan in Brunssum, the Netherlands, expressed his displeasure with the order as did US General David McKiernan, who heads up the NATO command in Afghanistan. Both felt that the order violated ISAF rules of engagement as well as international law.

According to Spiegel Craddock is attending a seminar for military retirees and not expected to stay in his role. Good