Tag Archives: afghanistan

Ron Paul: Get Out Of The Regime Change Business

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Two reports on Libya are pertinent, where the West brought about regime change. One says that the oil production is recovering. This is regime change on behalf of western oil companies. This is morally unjustifiable. The other report is of chaos, and that shows the effects of regime change on a lot of innocent people in Libya. This too is morally unjustifiable. Iraq is another example. No one can credibly say that the U.S. was morally justified in causing regime change in Iraq. Afghanistan is a third case. For articles by others from other perspectives on regime change, see here and here.

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US Led Forces Kill Five Afghan Civilians

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Local officials said on Wednesday that a woman and two children were among the dead, a Press TV correspondent reported.

NATO claimed that the foreign forces operation was carried out against the Taliban in cooperation with Afghan forces, saying two Taliban militants were killed.

Other sources put the number of civilian deaths at seven.

The killing of Afghan civilians by blasts and US-led foreign forces has prompted anti-US demonstrations in the country.

The US invaded Afghanistan in 2001 under the pretext of combating terrorism and toppling the Taliban regime.

However, insecurity continues to rise across Afghanistan despite the presence of thousands of US-led foreign forces in the country.

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The World’s Most Dangerous Drug Cartel

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A scathing report authored by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on the United States President’s role in protecting the Afghanistan drug trade essentially labels Barack Obama as the most powerful drug cartel leader our world has ever known.

Speaking at a conference this week on communicable diseases Lavrov lashed out over Obama’s refusal to eradicate Afghanistan’s poppy crop and stated, “It is hard for us to understand why our American partners don’t want the International Security Assistance Force to do this. This issue is crucial to the fight against the drug threat and, consequently, the spread of HIV/AIDS.”

Enraging Russian authorities the most was Obama’s 2009 decision to stop the eradication of Afghanistan’s poppy crop and, instead, order American military forces to actually begin protecting not only the fields where these dangerous drug plants are grown, but also protecting the transporters and manufacturers who turn it into heroin.

Since the US war against Afghanistan was launched the Bush administration paid American contractors and Afghan security personnel hundreds of millions of dollars to slash and burn individual poppy fields. Upon taking office, however, Obama regime officials stated bluntly that those efforts to eradicate Afghanistan’s poppy fields had failed and ordered their destruction stopped.

In late 2001 when the US invaded Afghanistan they accounted for 12% of the world’s opium production. By 2008, it accounted for 93% and the United Nations has reported this week that Afghanistan opium production is set to rise another staggering 61% this year.

As a virtual flood of Afghan heroin continues to devastate children and families, Russian officials publicly blame America for this plague because almost all this deadly drug comes from US-dominated Afghanistan and leading Russia’s envoy to NATO Dmitry Rogozin to warn this past week that Russia will reject the US presence in Afghanistan after its current UN mandate expires.

Not being told to the American people about Obama’s reason for protecting the global drug trade was his being able to use the money gained from this ‘death business’ to save the US economy from complete collapse in 2009 shortly after he took office.
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A Real “Drawdown”?

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“President Barack Obama,” reports CNN, “is expected to announce this week that 30,000 U.S. ‘surge’ forces will be fully withdrawn from Afghanistan by the end of 2012.” As the latest installment of the Afghanistan “timetable” chronicles, the President’s speech can be expected to include all of the standard doublespeak bromides about “shifting responsibility” and “achieving our mission.”

Despite all of the White House’s solemn talk of drawdowns and “sustainability here at home,” the changes we’re supposed to regard as big news take place on the narrowest margins of United States foreign policy. Way out on the periphery of the neocolonialist agenda, a negligible tweak here or there is quite acceptable to the state capitalist elite, for whom there is never a real danger.

Policy shifts — even personnel changes — occur within a framework where the underlying assumptions of empire are taken for granted, and where an entire economy has been built upon what Dwight Eisenhower famously dubbed the “military-industrial complex.” For the power elites who formulate foreign affairs, whether Democrat or Republican, “liberal” or “conservative,” the war industry itself — the economic engine driving our endless wars — is as American as apple pie

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Afgan People Protest NATO’s Killing Of 4 People Under Banner Of ‘War On Terror’

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by Jacob G. Hornberger

The angry protests currently taking place in Afghanistan provide a microcosm of the U.S. government’s entire foreign policy and so-called war on terrorism. Afghan citizens are protesting NATO’s recent killing of four people, including two women. NATO officials are saying that the four were terrorists. The Afghan people aren’t buying it. They are angrily contending that the four people killed were innocent.

An angry crowd of some 2,000 Afghans protested the killings. Afghan forces then proceeded to kill 14 protestors. That protest was followed up with another one yesterday in which four people were injured.

What better example of how the U.S. government has instigated and perpetuated the war on terrorism with its very own foreign policy of empire and interventionism?

Here1:16 PM 5/20/2011s how the game is played. The U.S. Empire kills someone in Afghanistan, Iraq, or elsewhere in the Middle East. The Empire exclaims, “We’ve killed a terrorist! We’ve killed a terrorist!”

But one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter. The U.S. Empire is a military invader and occupier in that part of the world. Therefore, there are countless people who are trying to oust the occupier from that part of the world. That shouldn’t surprise anyone. Few people like an occupier.

So, while the Empire looks upon people they’re killing as “bad people,” the locals oftentimes don’t see it that way. In fact, given the large number of people that the Empire has killed in Iraq and Afghanistan who had nothing to do with any insurgency, it is entirely possible that the four people they just killed weren’t doing anything to resist the occupation.

Regardless, the fact is that those 4 deaths have caused a lot of anger and rage, which produced the protests, which resulted in even more killing. That additional killing is certain to raise the anger and rage even more.

So, even if we assume that those 4 dead people were insurgents, the Empire is now faced with thousands of angry people, some of whom are likely to become insurgents or terrorists themselves.

Do you see why their war on terrorism is endless? They kill 4 people they say are terrorists and end up with 100 or so more terrorists to kill down the line. And when they kill those 100 terrorists, they’re faced with 1000 more from the people who become angry over those killings.

Do you see why they’ve been over there occupying those countries for more than 10 years?

Why, just last week NATO officials were apologizing for accidentally killing two children — a 14-year old boy and a 12-year-old girl — in separate incidents. They apologized because they said that they had no intention of killing the kids. They were accidentally killed as part of the Empire’s nighttime raids against terrorists.

Regardless of the reason for the deaths of those two kids, it is a virtual certainty that there are going to be people who are angry over their killing. Who wouldn’t be angry over the killing of two innocent children?

After all, consider all the anger and rage that boiled over when the U.S. Empire killed hundreds of thousands of children with its 11 years of brutal sanctions against Iraq. Consider the anger and rage that erupted when U.S. spokesman said that the deaths of those children were “worth it.”

That rage ultimately manifested itself in the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in 1993, the USS Cole, the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, and on the WTC on 9/11.

Thus, in the attempt to kill terrorists, the Empire kills two innocent children, which then produces more terrorists from the people who are angry over the killing of those kids.

It’s a never-ending process. Let’s face it: The U.S. Empire has become the greatest terrorist-producing machine in history. For every terrorist they kill over there, they produce 100 more to kill down the line. What better formula for ever-increasing military budgets than that?

I’ve got an idea: Let’s bring all the troops home and see what happens. If terrorists attack the United States, then we deal with them here, not in someone else’s country where children, wedding parties, and others are killed in the process of killing terrorists. At least then, the Empire’s perpetual terrorist-producing machine will have been dismantled.
Jacob Hornberger is founder and president of the Future of Freedom Foundation.

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Is The FBI Using Afghanistan As A Biometrics Proving Ground?

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The Afghan biometrics program was barely off the ground when it started having an impact.

Formally established in late 2009 to collect the fingerprints, iris scans, and facial images of Afghan national security forces, the program’s initial goal was to keep criminals and Taliban insurgents from infiltrating the army and police force. But information sharing—with partners like the FBI—is also a key component of the program.

“The FBI has collected thousands of latent prints from the battlefield in Afghanistan,” said Special Agent Janeen DiGuiseppi, our liaison officer in Kabul for the biometrics program. “When the Afghans started enrolling people, we began to cross-check our records with theirs.”

In fact, when they searched their database, the Afghans identified the 82nd unidentified latent print the FBI passed to them and found that it belonged to an individual they had arrested a few months before as an accessory to a crime. The individual’s prints had originally been collected in 2007 in connection with a different crime.

“We were able to give the Afghans information to help them prosecute the case,” DiGuiseppi said. “That’s exactly the kind of information exchange we are looking for—going both ways. It helps solve crimes, and it enhances security for Afghans and Americans in the war theater.”

The biometric program answers two basic questions, said Air Force Lt. Col. Cristiano Marchiori, an advisor to the program: “Who are you, and are you a bad guy?” Already 300,000 Afghans have been enrolled, from soldiers and police to criminals in prison. The ability of the Afghans to collect, store, and match this data against other sources of information is an invaluable tool as the government strives to prevent fraud and corruption.

The centerpiece of the program is the Afghan Automated Biometric Identification System (AABIS), administered by about 50 Afghans at the Ministry of Interior in Kabul. The FBI supports the effort through training and mentoring, along with data sharing, said DiGuiseppi. “So far it’s been a great partnership. And as the program grows, it will become even more useful.”

At the biometrics offices, three shifts of examiners catalog and check fingerprints on large computer screens, while technicians prepare “jump kits”—laptop computers, scanners, and other equipment used in the field to collect fingerprints, facial images, and iris scans. The Afghan colonel who supervises the program emphasized that Afghans are doing all the collections and maintaining the database, but he readily acknowledged the FBI’s role in the program. “We are very thankful for the FBI’s help and their willingness to train and assist us,” he said.

The partnership is mutually beneficial. “A strong Afghan biometric program reduces the enemy’s anonymity and his capability to operate anonymously in the battle space,” said Marchiori. “If we have one unique identifier—a set of prints, an iris scan—it’s hard for the enemy to hide among the population when he’s trying to register a vehicle or vote or move around the country freely.”

Afghan Ministry of Interior officials plan to use the biometrics program to enroll eight million citizens as part of a national ID effort. “This is for the betterment of the country,” one Afghan official said. “This is for security and for helping the Afghan people.”


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Afghan Campaign Causes $100 Mil. in Crop & Home Damage

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Afghan and foreign forces have caused more than $100 million damage to fruit crops and homes during security operations in southern Kandahar province, a government delegation said on Tuesday.

Tens of thousands of foreign and Afghan troops are deployed in Kandahar, a traditional stronghold of the Afghan Taliban, where they have been conducting military offensives over the past year.

Violence is at its worst since U.S.-backed Afghan forces overthrew the Islamist government in 2001 after it refused to hand over al Qaeda militants, including Osama bin Laden, after the September 11 attacks on the United States.

The government delegation, led by President Hamid Karzai’s adviser, Mohammad Sadiq Aziz, said Afghan and foreign forces caused unreasonable damage to homes and orchards, just as the harvest was about to begin, and displaced a number of people.

ISAF was not immediately available for comment on the report by the government delegation, which presented its findings to Karzai on Tuesday.

“The Omid (Hope) military operation, which has been going on for some time in Arghandab, Zhari, and Panjwai districts, has inflicted severe damage to the people,” Aziz said in a statement released by Karzai’s office.

Aziz said several Afghans detained by foreign troops during the operation had been released after requests were made by the government delegation.

But Zalmai Ayoubi, spokesman for the governor of Kandahar, said the Taliban booby-trapped the orchards and empty houses of people who had fled ahead of security operations and that troops had no choice but to blow up those sites.

He said the claims by the villagers about the cost of the damages were highly exaggerated.

In November, the Afghan Rights Monitor (ARM), a human rights group, reported widespread damage to hundreds of houses in the same three districts, home to about 300,000 of the province’s more than one million inhabitants.

It said foreign forces had used aerial bombing to strike Taliban strongholds and to set off mines and homemade bombs sometimes hidden as booby traps in private homes.

(Reporting by Hamid Shalizi; Writing by Michelle Nichols; Editing by Ron Popeski)

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Gorgon Drones To Be Deployed In Afghanistan?

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In ancient times, Gorgon was a mythical Greek creature whose unblinking eyes turned to stone those who beheld them. In modern times, Gorgon may be one of the military’s most valuable new tools.

This winter, the Air Force is set to deploy to Afghanistan what it says is a revolutionary airborne surveillance system called Gorgon Stare, which will be able to transmit live video images of physical movement across an entire town.

The system, made up of nine video cameras mounted on a remotely piloted aircraft, can transmit live images to soldiers on the ground or to analysts tracking enemy movements. It can send up to 65 different images to different users; by contrast, Air Force drones today shoot video from a single camera over a “soda straw” area the size of a building or two.

With the new tool, analysts will no longer have to guess where to point the camera, said Maj. Gen. James O. Poss, the Air Force’s assistant deputy chief of staff for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance. “Gorgon Stare will be looking at a whole city, so there will be no way for the adversary to know what we’re looking at, and we can see everything.”

Questions persist, however, about whether the military has the capability to sift through huge quantities of imagery quickly enough to convey useful data to troops in the field.

Officials also acknowledge that Gorgon Stare is of limited value unless they can match it with improved human intelligence – eyewitness reports of who is doing what on the ground.

The Air Force is exponentially increasing surveillance across Afghanistan. The monthly number of unmanned and manned aircraft surveillance sorties has more than doubled since last January, and quadrupled since the beginning of 2009.

Indeed, officials say, they cannot keep pace with the demand.

“I have yet to go a week in my job here without having a request for more Air Force surveillance out there,” Poss said.

But adding Gorgon Stare will also generate oceans of more data to process.

“Today an analyst sits there and stares at Death TV for hours on end, trying to find the single target or see something move,” Gen. James E. Cartwright, the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said at a conference in New Orleans in November. “It’s just a waste of manpower.”

The hunger for these high-tech tools was evident at the conference, where officials told several thousand industry and intelligence officials they had to move “at the speed of war.” Cartwright pressed for solutions, even partial ones, in a year or less.

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Four U.S. Soldiers Die In Separate Attacks Near Pakistan Border

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NATO has announced that four US-led soldiers have lost their lives in southern Afghanistan amid a growing fear in the West of the number of fatalities in the war-ravaged country.

A statement released by the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said that a soldier was killed on Sunday after a bomb exploded in Spin Boldak district of Kandahar province near the border with Pakistan.

No further detail has yet been disclosed.

According to a Press TV correspondent, three more NATO soldiers have also been killed in another separate attack in the southern province of Helmand.

The rise of civilian casualties due to the presence of US-led forces has provoked anti-American sentiments in war-ravaged Afghanistan as well as other countries in the region.

This has led to the rise of attacks on US-led soldiers and NATO supply convoys in Afghanistan and neighboring Pakistan over the past weeks.

At least 640 foreign troops have lost their lives in Afghanistan so far in 2010, making it the deadliest year for US-led forces since the 2001 invasion of the country.

Western public opinion is also growing increasingly tired of the war and mounting casualties. The United States and NATO have more than 150,000 troops in the war-torn country.

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US Hires Private Security in Afghanistan, Lines Pockets of Taliban

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Heavy US reliance on private security in Afghanistan has helped to line the pockets of the Taliban with millions of dollars.
It also threatens the safety of coalition troops because contractors often do not vet local recruits and wind up hiring warlords and thugs, US Senate investigators said.
The report by the Senate Armed Services Committee follows a separate congressional inquiry in June that concluded that trucking contractors pay tens of millions of dollars a year to local warlords for convoy protection.

Concern: Millions of dollars spent by the U.S. government on private security contracts in Afghanistan has actually helped to line the pockets of the Taliban
Democratic Senator Carl Levin, chairman of the Senate panel, said he is worried the US is unknowingly fostering the growth of Taliban-linked militias and endanger coalition troops at a time when Kabul is struggling to recruit its own soldiers and police officers.
‘Almost all are Afghans. Almost all are armed,’ Mr Levin said of the army of young men working under US contracts.
‘These contractors threaten the security of our troops and risk the success of our mission,’ he told reporters.
‘There is significant evidence that some security contractors even work against our coalition forces, creating the very threat that they are hired to combat.
‘We need to shut off the spigot of US dollars flowing into the pockets of warlords and power brokers who act contrary to our interests and contribute to the corruption that weakens the support of the Afghan people for their government,’ he added.
Chairman: Democratic Senator Carl Levin (pictured) said he was concerned the U.S. was unknowingly fostering the growth of militias
The Defence Department does not necessarily disagree but warns that firing the estimated 26,000 private security personnel operating in Afghanistan in the near future is not practical.
This summer, US forces in Afghanistan pledged to increase their oversight of security contractors and set up two task forces to look into allegations of misconduct and to track the money spent, particularly among lower-level subcontractors.
The Defence Contract Management Agency has increased the number of auditors and support staff in the region by some 300 % since 2007.
And in September, General David Petraeus, the top war commander in Afghanistan, directed his staff to consider the impact that contract spending has on military operations.
But military officials and Republicans on the Senate Armed Services Committee warn that ending the practice of hiring local guards could worsen the security situation in Afghanistan.
They said providing young Afghan men with employment can prevent them from joining the ranks of Taliban fighters. And bringing in foreign workers to do jobs Afghans can do is likely to foster resentment, they say.
Also, contract security forces fill an immediate need at a time when US forces are focused on operations, commanders say.
‘As the security environment in Afghanistan improves, our need for (private security contractors) will diminish,’ Gen Petraeus told the Senate panel in July.
‘But in the meantime, we will use legal, licensed and controlled (companies) to accomplish appropriate missions.’
Mr Levin said he is not suggesting that the US stop using private security contractors altogether.
But the US must reduce the number of local security guards and improve the vetting process of new hires if there is any hope of reversing a trend that he says damages the American mission in Afghanistan.
His report represents the broadest look at Defence Department security contracts so far, with a review of 125 of these agreements between 2007 and 2009.
The review concludes there were ‘systemic failures’ in the management of the contracts, including ‘widespread’ failures ‘to adequately vet, train and supervise armed security personnel’.
The panel’s report highlights two cases in which security contracting firms ArmorGroup and EOD Technology relied on personnel linked to the Taliban.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1318762/U-S-reliance-private-security-Afghanistan-funding-Taliban-militants.html#ixzz11tjCQrUT