Sunday Roast, February 3, 2013 – Food for Thought

Just some numbers:

Iraq Body Count 2013

341 civilians killed

United States Body Count from gun violence in 2013 (you can use the date range button on the site)

936 civilians killed

Numbers may increase with every click on the link.

We all agree, that Iraq is a postwar society, plagued by ethnic conflicts and a weak government. We all agree that the United States of America is not that. Or do we?

This is an open thread. Comment on this, or on anything else that comes to mind and have a wonderful Sunday everyone.

The Craving (with Apologies to Edgar Allan Poe, Again)

This poem was originally published on 12/24/06. It is being presented here on the eleventh anniversary of the September 11 criminal attacks. It is this author’s very considered opinion that the attacks should have been treated as crimes and not Acts of War. You don’t use the military to go after the Mafia, and we should not have used the full force of our military to go after al Qaeda. In fact, I firmly believe that had we not gone in with our full military, we would have gotten the intel faster and Seal Team Six could have done their job sooner. But that’s a debate for another day.


There has been much speculation about why the President really chose to invade Iraq. Some say it was to stabilize the region so our access to oil would be secure. Some say it was because Saddam had tried to assassinate the president’s father years before. (Then-President Clinton had already punished Saddam for that one, but that’s another story.) I am of the belief that this was just one part of an ambitious effort by President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney to expand the powers of the Office of the President of the United States of America to a height even Richard M. Nixon would have secretly envied. They are invoking a theory called the “Unitary Executive” which, in essence, says that the Executive Branch of our government has just as much say as to how the laws and the Constitution should be interpreted as the other two branches. (And I don’t mind telling you that it wasn’t easy to work the phrase “Unitary Executive” into a poem structured like this.) This theory has not been widely accepted by constitutional scholars. That little detail, however, has not stopped them. With sincere apologies to Edgar Allan Poe and fans of his great poem “The Raven”, I would like to present my version of the president’s quest for power with a poem I call “The Craving.” And my most deepest thanks to my wife, Jane, for her invaluable assistance in writing this. I hope you enjoy it. And if by some strange fluke of reality, you happen to be reading this Mr. President, take the hint.

The Craving
By Wayne A. Schneider

Act I: Extremists

Once upon a Tuesday Morning, after I ignored a warning
Over many there came a furious full plume of fiery gore.
Later seated simply staring, suddenly someone was sharing
That the enemy was bearing, bearing toward my White House door.
“It’s those terrorists,” I muttered “bearing toward my White House door.”
It was one, and there were four.

The other planes had landed where the terrorists had planned it,
Bringing death and devastation on a scale unseen before.
But the passengers still flying on Flight 93 were trying
Continue reading

Afghanistan is Lost!

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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Ret. intel officer: US violated rules in Reuters shooting

From Raw Replay:

Lt. Col. Tony Shaffer told MSNBC’s Dylan Ratigan that US forces may have violated rules of engagement with the 2007 shooting of two Reuters employees in Baghdad.

I watched this video yesterday on Huffington Post in its entirety. It was very upsetting. The video was obtained by WikiLeaks.

From Huffington Post:

Calling it a case of “collateral murder,” the WikiLeaks Web site today released harrowing video of a U.S. Army Apache helicopter in Baghdad in 2007 repeatedly opening fire on a group of men that included a Reuters photographer and his driver — and then on a van that stopped to rescue one of the wounded men.

In the Ratigan interview with the gentleman from WikiLeaks, Julian Assange, he (Assange) says there is another similar video (a military whistleblower video) from Afghanistan – from May of last year where 97 people were bombed – that is going to be released through Wikileaks as soon as they “have finished their analysis”.

And the killing goes on..

Again, multiple blasts have rocked Baghdad. Latests news claim 127 people have died and 448 men, women and children have been wounded.

The explosions on Tuesday shook houses across the capital.

Official buildings located near the blasts include the interior ministry, the social affairs ministry, a university and the institute of fine arts.

There were civilian and security force personnel casualties, officials said.

Survivor Ahmed Jabbar, emerging from a damaged ministry building, told AP news agency: “What crime have we committed? Children and women were buried under debris.”

If anybody needs a reminder that not all’s well, even if the media have mostly stopped reporting on the violence unless it’s as devastating as the latest attack, here’s