Monthly Archives: September 2011

Sex and the single drone

By Tom Engelhardt

In the world of weaponry, they are the sexiest things around. Others countries are desperate to have them. Almost anyone who writes about them becomes a groupie. Reporters exploring their onrushing future swoon at their potentially wondrous techno-talents. They are the pilotless drones, our grimly named Predators and Reapers.

As Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) director, Leon Panetta called them “the only game in town”. As secretary of defense Robert Gates pushed hard to up their numbers and increase their funding drastically. The US Air Force is already training more personnel to become drone “pilots” than to pilot actual planes. You don’t need
it in skywriting to know that, as icons of American-style war, they are clearly in our future – and they’re even heading for the homeland as police departments clamor for them.

They are relatively cheap. When they “hunt”, no one dies (at least on our side). They are capable of roaming the world. Someday, they will land on the decks of aircraft carriers or, tiny as hummingbirds, drop onto a windowsill, maybe even yours, or in their hundreds, the size of bees, swarm to targets and, if all goes well, coordinate their actions using the artificial intelligence version of “hive minds.”

“The drone,” writes Jim Lobe of Inter Press Service, “has increasingly become the [Obama] administration’s ‘weapon of choice’ in its efforts to subdue al-Qaeda and its affiliates.” In hundreds of attacks over the last years in the Pakistani tribal borderlands, they have killed thousands, including al-Qaeda figures, Taliban militants, and civilians. They have played a significant and growing role in the skies over Afghanistan.

They are now loosing their missiles ever more often over Yemen, sometimes over Libya, and less often over Somalia. Their bases are spreading. No one in Congress will be able to resist them. They are defining the new world of war for the twenty-first century – and many of the humans who theoretically command and control them can hardly keep up.

Reach for your dictionaries
On September 15, the New York Times front-paged a piece by the estimable Charlie Savage, based on leaks from inside the administration. It was headlined “At White House, Weighing Limits of Terror Fight,” and started this way:

The Obama administration’s legal team is split over how much latitude the United States has to kill Islamist militants in Yemen and Somalia, a question that could define the limits of the war against al-Qaeda and its allies, according to administration and Congressional officials.

Lawyers for the Pentagon and the State Department, Savage reported, were debating whether, outside of hot-war zones, the Obama administration could call in the drones (as well as special operations forces) not just to go after top al-Qaeda figures planning attacks on the United States, but al-Qaeda’s foot soldiers (and vaguely allied groups like the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and al-Shabab in Somalia).

That those lawyers are arguing fiercely over such a matter is certainly a curiosity. As presented, the issue behind their disagreement is how to square modern realities with outmoded rules of war written for another age (which also, by the way, had its terrorists). And yet such debates, front-paged or not, fierce or not, will one day undoubtedly be seen as analogous to supposed ancient clerical arguments over just how many angels could dance on the head of a pin. In fact, their import lies mainly in the fascinating pattern they reveal about the way forces that could care less about questions of legality are driving developments in American-style war.

After all, this fierce “argument” about what constraints should be applied to modern robotic war was first played out in the air over Pakistan’s tribal borderlands. There, the CIA’s drone air campaign began with small numbers of missions targeting a few highly placed al-Qaeda leaders (not terribly successfully). Rather than declare its latest wonder weapons a failure, however, the CIA, already deeply invested in drone operations, simply pushed ever harder to expand the targeting to play to the technological strengths of the planes.

In 2007, CIA director Michael Hayden began lobbying the White House for “permission to carry out strikes against houses or cars merely on the basis of behavior that matched a ‘pattern of life’ associated with al-Qaeda or other groups.” And next thing you knew, they were moving from a few attempted targeted assassinations toward a larger air war of annihilation against types and “behaviors.”

Here’s another curiosity. The day after Charlie Savage’s piece appeared in the Times, the president’s top advisor on counterterror operations, John O. Brennan, gave a speech at a conference at Harvard Law School on “Strengthening our Security by Adhering to our Values and Laws,” and seemed to settle the “debate,” part of which he defined this way:

Others in the international community – including some of our closest allies and partners – take a different view of the geographic scope of the conflict, limiting it only to the ‘hot’ battlefields. As such, they argue that, outside of these two active theatres, the United States can only act in self-defense against al-Qaeda when they are planning, engaging in, or threatening an armed attack against US interests if it amounts to an ‘imminent’ threat.

He then added this little twist: “Practically speaking, then, the question turns principally on how you define ‘imminence’.”

If there’s one thing we should have learned from the Bush years, it was this: when government officials reach for their dictionaries, duck!

Then, the crucial word at stake was “torture”, and faced with it – and what top administration officials actually wanted done in the world – Justice Department lawyers quite literally reached for their dictionaries. In their infamous torture memos, they so pretzled, abused, and redefined the word “torture” that, by the time they were through, whether acts of torture even occurred was left to the torturer, to what had he had in mind when he was “interrogating” someone. (“[I]f a defendant [interrogator] has a good faith belief that his actions will not result in prolonged mental harm, he lacks the mental state necessary for his actions to constitute torture.”)

As a result, “torture” was essentially drummed out of the dictionary (except when committed by heinous evil doers in places like Iran) and “enhanced interrogation techniques” welcomed into our world. The George W Bush administration and the CIA then proceeded to fill the “black sites” they set up from Poland to Thailand and the torture chambers of chummy regimes like Mubarak’s Egypt and Gaddafi’s Libya with “terror suspects,” and then tortured away with impunity.

Now, it seems, the Obama crowd is reaching for its dictionaries, which means that it’s undoubtedly time to duck again. As befits a more intellectual crowd, we’re no longer talking about relatively simple words like “torture” whose meaning everyone knows (or at least once knew). If “imminence” is now the standard for when robotic war is really war, don’t you yearn for the good old days when the White House focused on “what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is,” and all that was at stake was presidential sex, not presidential killing?

When legalisms take center stage in a situation like this, think of magicians. Their skill is to focus your attention on the space where nothing that matters is happening – the wrong hand, the wrong face, the wrong part of the stage – while they perform their “magic” elsewhere. Similarly, pay attention to the law right now and you’re likely to miss the plot line of our world.

It’s true that, at the moment, articles are pouring out focused on how to define the limits of future drone warfare. My advice: skip the law, skip the definitions, skip the arguments, and focus your attention on the drones and the people developing them instead.

Put another way, in the last decade, there was only one definition that truly mattered. From it everything else followed: the almost instantaneous post-9/11 insistence that we were “at war,” and not even in a specific war or set of wars, but in an all-encompassing one that, within two weeks of the collapse of the World Trade Center, Bush was already calling “the war on terror”. That single demonic definition of our state of existence rose to mind so quickly that no lawyers were needed and no one had to reach for a dictionary.

Addressing a joint session of congress, the president typically said: “Our war on terror begins with al-Qaeda, but it does not end there.” And that open-endedness was soon codified in an official name that told all: “the global war on terror” or GWOT. (For all we know, the phrase itself was the invention of a speechwriter mainlining into the zeitgeist.) Suddenly, “sovereignty” had next to no meaning (if you weren’t a superpower); the U.S. was ready to take out after terrorists in up to 80 countries; and the planet, by definition, had become a global free-fire zone.

By the end of September 2001, as the invasion of Afghanistan was being prepared, it was already a carte-blanche world and, as it happened, pilotless surveillance drones were there, lurking in the shadows, waiting for a moment like this, yearning (you might say) to be weaponized.

If GWOT preceded much thought of drones, it paved the way for their crash weaponization, development, and deployment. It was no mistake that, a bare two weeks after 9/11, a prescient Noah Shachtman (who would go on to found the Danger Room website at Wired) led off a piece for that magazine this way: “Unmanned, almost disposable spy planes are being groomed for a major role in the coming conflict against terrorism, defense analysts say.” 

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Capitalism and Christianity in British society


By Michael Skywood Clifford

A reporter once asked Mahatma Ghandi what he thought of civilisation in the west. “I think it would be a good idea,” he said. The same answer might apply to the question, “What do you think of Christianity in the West?”

Most of the Western Christian ‘democracies’ have lost much of their Christian culture. Even though many of the words and images still remain, secularism and materialism dominate – especially in Britain today, and its people tend to bow more to the god of greed than the God of the gospels. Napoleon once accused the British of being a nation of shopkeepers, would he call us a nation of supermarket goers now?

The Reverend Jeremiah Wright, Obama’s original spiritual advisor explains how frustrated he is about how society has changed in the USA.

“If you notice, Jesus taught us to pray, and I speak as a Christian minister – I realize that the country is not all Christian – but just in terms of the principles that I believe cut across interfaith lines and boundaries is in the prayer. The model prayer the Lord taught us as the Lord’s disciples has no first person singular pronoun. It’s ‘our,’ ‘we,’ ‘us.’ That got lost.

 “We became a ‘me’- focused, kind of dog-eat-dog, Ayn Rand, social Darwinist, survival of the fittest, be strong, and with no care, no concern, no compassion for those that are not born above the scratch line,” Wright said. “And no concern to make the communities in which they live and the world in which we live a community which really cares about all of God’s children, regardless of their colours and regardless of their faith.”

Prior to the first World War, Christianity had been the bedrock, the mantle and soil of Britain. From Christianity we fuelled our wisdom, our rituals, our traditions, our melodies, our manners, our fairness, our sense of duty, our honesty and our sense of family and community.

Indeed, the beginning of the Working Class movement and the Labour Party were crafted out of a combination of chapel and communism, from mysticism and Marxism. The combined agenda was unashamedly to create a fairer society, to look after the poor, the vulnerable, the sick, the aged and to care for each other. The working classes rebelled against being in service to the rich, or being exploited in filthy work, they looked around at the class system and saw the low social mobility and the terrible inequality of wealth in Great Britain.

The influence of Christian education

These days a lot of people hate Christianity – to wit, the propaganda against it has been ferocious and effective! – but my premise is that only two things fight unfettered capitalism: 1. Christianity (and perhaps other major world religions of an ethical tradition) and: 2. Socialism. Eradicate these and unbridled barbarism and Fascism result. This is because ordinary people lose an important part of their political and ethical education and also because the rulers – instead of providing for the poor, the sick and the vulnerable – see only mammon and status for themselves and regard all below them as Darwinian failures. Such is the terror of Social Darwinism which is replacing Christianity.

Christians believed that every young child must be taught about both the evil in the world and the potential evil they carry within themselves. This has been criticised as a bizarre and a cruel practice, a practice that will frighten children and give them nightmares. Yet – even though the child may pass through a phase of this – the basic theory is that when a child is aware of evil, the child seeks to do good. She becomes aware of her own short comings, and he takes his sinful self and tries to improve it, to heal it. Christian educators believe it is important to catch a child’s sense of ethics when they are young, because by the time teenage-hood has arrived it is too late to lay a good bedrock for learning if it is not already there.

Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6

Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him. Proverbs 22:15

Very few schools in the UK now teach the seven virtues: Chastity, temperance, charity, diligence, patience, kindness and humility, nor the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit: wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord, nor the twelve fruits of the spirit: Charity, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, generosity, gentleness, faithfulness, modesty, self-control, and chastity – and if they do they are full!

If the seven deadly sins were better known would we be astonished by Britain in the 21st Century?

1)Wrath – Britain is involved in three appalling wars.

2) Avarice – Britain’s culture of decency and neighbourliness is dissolving into a culture of turbo materialism.

3) Sloth – unemployment is rife and there are few jobs for young people and multitudes of TV channels (pushing out rubbish) are on all day for people to slump in front of.

4) Pride – the hero in today’s society is the celebrity, the supermodel, the sports star, the pop star. All of who actually produce very little of sustainable value but who get enormous pay outs because they represent certain products and ‘the aspiration to be rich’. Whatever happened to real heroes with genuine virtues?

5) Lust – pornography abounds in advertisements, television programmes, publications, the internet, etc. Sexual exploitation. Sex has become a commodity to be traded not simply an expression of love.

6) Envy – is used continually to convince people to buy products to ‘keep up with the Jones’, or maybe just to Lord it over them (encouraged by the gutter press).

7) Gluttony – obesity is becoming an epidemic. The Office for National Statistics claims that high incidences of obesity were found in urban areas including Birmingham, Liverpool, Manchester, Hull, and Newcastle-Upon Tyne, Sunderland, Leeds, Huddersfield, Coventry, Nottingham, Derby, Middlesborough, Reading, Portsmouth and areas of inner London (2010).

Wisdom says that children should learn by example of their elders. Some fine examples we have in the UK for our minors to follow – the bankers gambling away their customers money and justice not being done or being seen to be done; the press bugging telephones; MPs fiddling their expenses and a PM and a chancellor who used to smash up hotels!

Indeed Pope Benedict’s state visit to Britain caused controversy in 2010 after a senior aide called Britain a “Third World country”. Cardinal Walter Kasper, 77, was pulled out of the historic trip after making a series of embarrassing remarks. He was quoted in a magazine saying Britain was marked by “a new and aggressive atheism”. The cardinal also said: “When you land at Heathrow you think at times you have landed in a Third World country.”

Some attempt to rekindle Christianity’s fire after a slow wane since the Reformation came in the early 1800s with the Oxford Movement. However Christian attendance began to seriously decline at the beginning of the 20th Century.

 The new age was highly charged, modernism, industrialism and Marxism were breaking out everywhere.

Financial panics were common. Black Friday 1869, the Panic of 1873, the Paris Bourse crash of 1882, the Panic of 1884, the Panic of 1893, the Panic of 1896, the Panic of 1901 and the Panic of October 1907.

In the UK, serious riots broke out towards the end of the first decade (1910 – 1920 is historically known as ‘the Great Unrest’) where the clashes between police and the rioters ended in many deaths.

Militancy across the UK had increased from 1907. Riots occurred in Belfast as carters, coal porters and dockers went on strike over low wages. The Scottish miners’ dispute of 1909 and the cotton, boilermakers and miners strikes of 1910 preceded further serious unrest, commencing in 1910 with the miners’ strike in Tonypandy, South Wales when 12,000 miners struck for better pay and conditions against the Cambrian Coal Combine. Then 15,000 workers went on strike in the wool trade industry in Yorkshire, and further riots had occurred as a result of a strike by steel workers at Shotton on Deeside.

In August 1911 a transport worker’s strike began in Southampton for improved working conditions. The union’s demands were met in a few days and members returned to work, but in Liverpool the strike continued.

On 13 August, about 80,000 men and women marched to St George’s Hall. Scuffles broke out between protesters and police. At that time, 186 people were hospitalised, and 96 people arrested. Two days and nights of rioting followed with troops on the streets, there were 3,500 troops stationed in Liverpool and a gunboat on the river. On 15 August, prison vans, containing 90 of those convicted for involvement in the riots and escorted by Hussars, were attacked as they made their way down Vauxhall Road to Walton Jail. The regiment shot two men dead and wounded three others.

However, largely due to the Llanelli train strike, the government was unable to move their troops around Britain so a settlement was reached.

Over the summer of 1911 various groups had gone out on strike. Then came the first world war, and generations of young men were massacred. The establishment had thwarted the potential revolution by killing most of the young men of Britain

More financial mayhem followed in 1914. At the beginning of World War I, the US Treasury secretary William Gibbs closed the New York Stock Exchange to stop the sale of dollar-denominated securities. Then the chairman of the Federal Reserve Board embraced the “Too Big to Fail” doctrine orchestrating a bailout of New York banks by flooding the nation with paper currency.

The Great War and its impact

Nietzsche had written in the 19th century that ‘God is dead’. After the Great War many survivors of WWI felt that ‘a loving God’ had died in the trenches.

Christianity may have declined because people had simply lost faith; they no longer believed any more. My contention is that this tendency to reject Christianity has since been accelerated by the state and the power elite. There has been a increasing policy thoughout this century to denigrate Christianity through the media and various agencies and to seriously weaken its influence especially within the British working classes.

In the 19th Century, capitalist mass industrialists had found Christianity especially useful in forming passive employees – happy to accept their lowly station in this world and to strive for perfection in the next – who were too meek to complain about workers’ rights.

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The Due-process-free Assassination of U.S. Citizens is Now Reality

By Glenn Greenwald

September 30, 2011 “Salon” – – It was first reported in January of last year that the Obama administration had compiled a hit list of American citizens whom the President had ordered assassinated without any due process, and one of those Americans was Anwar al-Awlaki.  No effort was made to indict him for any crimes (despite a report last October that the Obama administration was “considering” indicting him).  Despite substantial doubt among Yemen experts about whether he even has any operational role in Al Qaeda, no evidence (as opposed to unverified government accusations) was presented of his guilt.  When Awlaki’s father sought a court order barring Obama from killing his son, the DOJ argued, among other things, that such decisions were “state secrets” and thus beyond the scrutiny of the courts.  He was simply ordered killed by the President: his judge, jury and executioner.  When Awlaki’s inclusion on President Obama’s hit list was confirmed, The New York Times noted that “it is extremely rare, if not unprecedented, for an American to be approved for targeted killing.”

After several unsuccessful efforts to assassinate its own citizen, the U.S. succeeded today (and it was the U.S.).  It almost certainly was able to find and kill Awlaki with the help of its long-time close friend President Saleh, who took a little time off from murdering his own citizens to help the U.S. murder its.  The U.S. thus transformed someone who was, at best, a marginal figure into a martyr, and again showed its true face to the world.  The government and media search for The Next bin Laden has undoubtedly already commenced.

What’s most striking about this is not that the U.S. Government has seized and exercised exactly the power the Fifth Amendment was designed to bar (“No person shall be deprived of life without due process of law”), and did so in a way that almost certainly violates core First Amendment protections (questions that will now never be decided in a court of law). What’s most amazing is that its citizens will not merely refrain from objecting, but will stand and cheer the U.S. Government’s new power to assassinate their fellow citizens, far from any battlefield, literally without a shred of due process from the U.S. Government.  Many will celebrate the strong, decisive, Tough President’s ability to eradicate the life of Anwar al-Awlaki — including many who just so righteously condemned those Republican audience members as so terribly barbaric and crass for cheering Governor Perry’s execution of scores of serial murderers and rapists — criminals who were at least given a trial and appeals and the other trappings of due process before being killed. 

From an authoritarian perspective, that’s the genius of America’s political culture.  It not only finds way to obliterate the most basic individual liberties designed to safeguard citizens from consummate abuses of power (such as extinguishing the lives of citizens without due process).  It actually gets its citizens to stand up and clap and even celebrate the destruction of those safeguards.

* * * * * 

In the column I wrote on Wednesday regarding Wall Street protests, I mistakenly linked to a post discussing a New York Times article by Colin Moynihan as an example of a “condescending” media report about the protest.  There was nothing condescending or otherwise worthy of criticism in Moynihan’s article; I meant to reference this NYT article by Ginia Bellafante.  My apologies to Moynihan, who rightly objected by email, for the mistake.  

UPDATE: What amazes me most whenever I write about this topic is recalling how terribly upset so many Democrats pretended to be when Bush claimed the power merely to detain or even just eavesdrop on American citizens without due process.  Remember all that?  Yet now, here’s Obama claiming the power not to detain or eavesdrop on citizens without due process, but to kill them; marvel at how the hardest-core White House loyalists now celebrate this and uncritically accept the same justifying rationale used by Bush/Cheney (this is war! the President says he was a Terrorist!) without even a moment of acknowledgment of the profound inconsistency or the deeply troubling implications of having a President — even Barack Obama — vested with the power to target U.S. citizens for murder with no due process.

Also, during the Bush years, civil libertarians who tried to convince conservatives to oppose that administration’s radical excesses would often ask things like this: would you be comfortable having Hillary Clinton wield the power to spy on your calls or imprison you with no judicial reivew or oversight?  So for you good progressives out there justifying this, I would ask this:  how would the power to assassinate U.S. citizens without due process look to you in the hands of, say, Rick Perry or Michele Bachmann?

I was on Democracy Now earlier this morning discussing the Awlaki assassination and presidential due-process-free killings:

My Water’s On Fire Tonight (The Fracking Song)

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Mullen Pakistan Critique Shows US AF/PAK Policy Unraveling

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Hartmann: Tom Hayden – An expanding war in Pakistan?

The Alyona Show: In case you missed it – full show 9/29/11

CAW Calls for Strategic Voting in Ontario Election

September 27, 2011 Address to Libyan People by Brother Leader, Muammar G…

Hartmann: If Obama Doesn’t Want to Lead the Revolution – Young People Will

Hartmann: Does Goldman Sachs Rule the World?

Hartmann: OccupyWallStreet – Should the Cop’s Family have been Outed?

Occupy Wall St. Spreads

Solving the Mystery of WTC 7 – Swedish

A photo from the past

A photograph from the 80’s has caused a stir in Washington after its publication by several media outlets. It was erroneously assumed that it was Jalaluddin Haqqani shown with President Ronald Reagan.

Beginning September 2011, the US military intelligence had been tipped about a major attack in Afghanistan being prepared by Jalaluddin Haqqani. To prevent it, they sought the help of their Pakistani counterparts. All efforts were in vain and on September 11 (the anniversary of the attacks in the United States which served as a pretext for the invasion of Afghanistan), a truck bomb exploded at the entrance to a NATO base, killing two people and injuring 80 others.

At first, the White House spokesman accused Pakistani secret services of laxity. Then, at a later stage, the head of US Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Mullen raised the tone and accused them of having instrumented the Haqqani network.

Even if it’s not Haqqani in the photo unearthed from the Getty Image archives, it is nevertheless instructive. President Ronald Reagan is seen receiving at the White House a hero of the anti-communist struggle, Yunus Khalis, who just happened to be a mentor to Haqqani. To the left of the photo is famous CIA operative Zalmay Khalilzad, then presidential Asia adviser. Subsequently, George W. Bush named ​​this neocon ambassador to Afghanistan, Iraq and the United Nations.

And yet, the George W. Bush administration accused Yunus Khalis in 2001 of having organized Osama bin Laden’s escape during the battle of Tora Bora.

America’s Foreign Policy Fiasco

By Patrick Seale

September 29, 2011 “The Diplomat” — US President Barack Obama is piling up the foreign policy disasters. In at least three areas crucial for world peace and US interests – Arab-Israel tensions, Afghanistan-Pakistan and Yemen-Somalia – he’s pursuing a course that can only be described as foolhardy. Indeed, the anger and hate towards the United States that he’s generating could take a generation to dispel.

Obama’s abject surrender to Israel on the Palestine question has shocked much of the world and gravely damaged the United States’ standing among Arabs and Muslims. In what is seen by many as an effort to court the Jewish vote at next year’s presidential election, Obama has thrown into reverse the policy of outreach to the Muslim world that he expressed so eloquently in his 2009 Cairo speech. If he’s now driven to use the US veto at the UN Security Council to block the application of a Palestinian state for UN membership, he will have been defeated by the very forces of Islamophobia he once hoped to tame.

Obama’s policy in Afghanistan is equally perverse. On the one hand, he seems to want to draw the Taliban into negotiations. But on the other, some of his army chiefs and senior diplomats apparently want to destroy the Taliban first. This is hardly a policy likely to bring the insurgents to the table. In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Ryan Crocker, the new US ambassador to Kabul, actually said that the conflict should continue until more of the Taliban are killed.  Who, one wonders, is in charge of US policy?

In a message on the occasion of the Eid at the end of Ramadan, Mullah Muhammad Omar, leader of the Afghan Taliban, seemed to hint at his readiness for a comprehensive negotiation. ‘Every legitimate option can be considered,’ he said,’ in order to reach the goal of an independent Islamic regime in Afghanistan.’ He urged foreign powers to withdraw their troops ‘immediately’ in order to achieve a lasting solution to the problem. In a gesture to his local opponents, he stressed that the Taliban didn’t wish to monopolize power and that all ethnicities would participate in a ‘real Islamic regime acceptable to all the people of the country.’

Surely the United States and its allies should respond positively to this message? A conference in Bonn next December is due to review NATO’s war in Afghanistan – a war that seems closer to being lost than won. About 25,000 soldiers reportedly deserted the Afghan armed services in the first six months of this year because they had lost faith in the Hamid Karzai government’s ability to protect them and their families. Coalition troops are due to withdraw their troops by the end of 2014. Might there not be an argument for an immediate offer of negotiation together with a pledge of an earlier withdrawal?  It is, after all, far from clear what strategic interests, if any, the West is defending in Afghanistan.

The subject is of considerable urgency since the US counter-insurgency strategy is in real trouble. In July, Ahmad Wali Karzai, Karzai’s powerful brother, was shot dead in Kandahar. In August, the Taliban attacked the British Council in Kabul. On September 10, a truck packed with explosives killed five people and wounded 77 US troops at a NATO military base south-west of Kabul – the highest injury toll of foreign forces in a single incident in the 10-year war. On September 13, insurgents staged a 20 hour-long assault on the US embassy and ISAF headquarters in the heart of Kabul – supposedly the best protected perimeter in the whole country. And on September 20, Burhanuddin Rabbani, head of the High Peace Council, was assassinated.

Rabbani, an ethnic Tajik, was charged by Karzai with the task of seeking peace with the Taliban. He seems to have made little or no progress. He was a mujahidin leader in the war against the Soviets in the 1980s, then president of Afghanistan from 1992 to 1996, before being ousted by the Taliban. He then became a leading figure of the Northern Alliance of Tajiks, Uzbeks and Hazaras who fought the Islamists until the Taliban were driven from power by the US invasion of 2001. Although it’s not yet clear who is responsible for Rabbani’s murder, suspicion has fallen on the Pakistan-backed Haqqani network.

Pakistan has a vital strategic interest in Afghanistan. It wants to keep Indian influence out of a country that it considers its strategic depth. It suspects Karzai of being in league with India, and would appear to prefer a Taliban-governed Afghanistan to Karzai’s US-backed regime. In any event, Rabbani’s death robs Karzai of a key ally and strains his relations with Pakistan. It could be a step towards a civil war if no early attempt is made to engage the Taliban.

Now entering its 11th year – at the colossal cost to the US taxpayer of about $120 billion a year – the Afghan war has drained US resources, dangerously undermined the Pakistani state and threatened to destroy the US-Pakistani alliance. Addressing the US Senate in mid-September, Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, accused Pakistan’s army and the ISI, the powerful military intelligence service, of being in league with the Haqqani network.  By using ‘violent extremism as an instrument of policy’, Mullen said, Pakistan was undermining the American military effort and jeopardizing the US-Pakistani strategic partnership.

Pakistan’s response was not long in coming. Speaking on the BBC programme The World Tonight on September 22, Gen. Asad Durani, a former head of the ISI, described US-Pakistan relations as in a state of ‘low-intensity conflict.’ Pakistan should back the United States’ opponents in Afghanistan, he said, if the US continued drone strikes against targets in Pakistan.

Meanwhile, in their hunt for the Taliban and their supporters, US special forces mount frequent night raids in Afghanistan, such as the one on September 2 that killed Sabar Lal , a wealthy Afghan, in his home in Jalalabad. According to press reports, the Americans broke in, handcuffed and blindfolded him and his guests, then took him out on the veranda and killed him. He had fought the Soviets in Afghanistan, spent five years in Guantánamo, then built a new life for himself and his family. Clearly this wasn’t enough to allay US suspicions of his links with Islamic militants, with US officials claiming he was an al-Qaeda affiliate.

In Yemen and the Horn of Africa, the United States’ increasing resort to drones, with their inevitable toll of civilian deaths, has enraged the local populations and driven recruits into the arms of the militants. According to the Washington Post, the Obama administration has used CIA-operated drones to carry out lethal attacks against al-Qaida in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen. The drone programme has killed more than 2,000 militants and civilians since 2001.

Surely, now is as good a time as any to ask whether US policy hasn’t created more terrorists than the CIA has managed to kill? Would it not be better if the United States were simply to declare victory in Afghanistan – and indeed in all the other places where its Special Forces operate – bring its troops home as soon as possible, and turn its attention to tending the wounds in its own broken society?

Patrick Seale is a British writer on the Middle East and author of ‘The Struggle for Syria’ and ‘Asad of Syria: The Struggle for the Middle East’. He has reported for Reuters and The Observer among other publications.

The Diplomat


The War in Libya is a Fraud: Using Human Rights Organizations to Launch Wars

By Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya

September 28, 2011 “Information Clearing House” —  The war against Libya is built on fraud. The United Nations Security Council passed two resolutions against Libya on the basis of unproven claims, specifically that Colonel Muammar Qaddafi was killing his own people in Benghazi. The claim in its exact form was that Qaddafi had ordered Libyan forces to kill 6,000 people in Benghazi. These claims were widely disseminated, but always vaguely explained. It was on the basis of this claim that Libya was referred to the U.N. Security Council at U.N Headquarters in New York City and kicked out of the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva.

False claims about African mercenary armies in Libya and about jet attacks on civilians were also used in a broad media campaign against Libya. These two claims have been sidelined and have become more and more murky. The massacre claims, however, were used in a legal, diplomatic, and military framework to justify NATO’s war on the Libyans.

Using Human Rights as a Pretext for War: The LLHR and its Unproven Claims

One of the main sources for the claim that Qaddafi was killing his own people is the Libyan League for Human Rights (LLHR). The LLHR was actually pivotal to getting the U.N. involved through its specific claims in Geneva. On February 21, 2011 the LLHR got the 70 other non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to sent letters to the President Obama, E.U. High Representative Catherine Ashton., and the U.N. Secretary-General Ban-ki Moon demanding international action against Libya invoking the “Responsibility to Protect” doctrine. Only 25 members of this coalition actually assert that they are human rights groups.

The letter is as follows:

We, the undersigned non-governmental, human rights, and humanitarian organizations, urge you to mobilize the United Nations and the international community and take immediate action to halt the mass atrocities now being perpetrated by the Libyan government against its own people. The inexcusable silence cannot continue.

As you know, in the past several days, Colonel Moammar Gadhafi’s forces are estimated to have deliberately killed hundreds of peaceful protesters and innocent bystanders across the country. In the city of Benghazi alone, one doctor reported seeing at least 200 dead bodies. Witnesses report that a mixture of special commandos, foreign mercenaries and regime loyalists have attacked demonstrators with knives, assault rifles and heavy-caliber weapons.

Snipers are shooting peaceful protesters. Artillery and helicopter gunships have been used against crowds of demonstrators. Thugs armed with hammers and swords attacked families in their homes. Hospital officials report numerous victims shot in the head and chest, and one struck on the head by an anti-aircraft missile. Tanks are reported to be on the streets and crushing innocent bystanders. Witnesses report that mercenaries are shooting indiscriminately from helicopters and from the top of roofs. Women and children were seen jumping off Giuliana Bridge in Benghazi to escape. Many of them were killed by the impact of hitting the water, while others were drowned. The Libyan regime is seeking to hide all of these crimes by shutting off contact with the outside world. Foreign journalists have been refused entry. Internet and phone lines have been cut or disrupted.

There is no question here about intent. The government media has published open threats, promising that demonstrators would meet a “violent and thunderous response.”

Accordingly, the government of Libya is committing gross and systematic violations of the right to life as guaranteed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Citizens seeking to exercise their rights to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly are being massacred by the government.

Moreover, the government of Libya is committing crimes against humanity, as defined by the Explanatory Memorandum to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. The Libyan government’s mass killing of innocent civilians amount to particularly odious offences which constitute a serious attack on human dignity. As confirmed by numerous oral and video testimonies gathered by human rights organizations and news agencies, the Libyan government’s assault on its civilian population are not isolated or sporadic events. Rather, these actions constitute a widespread and systematic policy and practice of atrocities, intentionally committed, including murder, political persecution and other inhumane acts which reach the threshold of crimes against humanity.

Responsibility to Protect

Under the 2005 World Summit Outcome Document, you have a clear and unambiguous responsibility to protect the people of Libya. The international community, through the United Nations, has the responsibility to use appropriate diplomatic, humanitarian and other peaceful means, in accordance with Chapters VI and VIII of the Charter, to help to protect the Libyan population. Because the Libyan national authorities are manifestly failing to protect their population from crimes against humanity, should peaceful means be inadequate, member states are obliged to take collective action, in a timely and decisive manner, through the Security Council, in accordance with the UN Charter, including Chapter VII.

In addition, we urge you to convene an emergency Special Session of the UN Human Rights Council, whose members have a duty, under UNGA Resolution 60/251, to address situations of gross and systematic violations of violations of human rights. The session should:

Call for the General Assembly to suspend Libya’s Council membership, pursuant to Article 8 of Resolution 60/251, which applies to member states that commit gross and systematic violations of human rights.

Strongly condemn, and demand an immediate end to, Libya’s massacre of its own citizens.

Dispatch immediately an international mission of independent experts to collect relevant facts and document violations of international human rights law and crimes against humanity, in order to end the impunity of the Libyan government. The mission should include an independent medical investigation into the deaths, and an investigation of the unlawful interference by the Libyan government with the access to and treatment of wounded.

Call on the UN High Commissioner of Human Rights and the Council’s relevant Special Procedures to closely monitor the situation and take action as needed.

Call on the Council to remain seized of the matter and address the Libyan situation at its upcoming 16th regular session in March.

Member states and high officials of the United Nations have a responsibility to protect the people of Libya from what are preventable crimes. We urge you to use all available measures and levers to end atrocities throughout the country.

We urge you to send a clear message that, collectively, the international community, the Security Council and the Human Rights Council will not be bystanders to these mass atrocities. The credibility of the United Nations — and many innocent lives — are at stake. [1]

According to Physicians for Human Rights: “[This letter was] prepared under the guidance of Mohamed Eljahmi, the noted Libyan human rights defender and brother of dissident Fathi Eljahmi, asserts that the widespread atrocities committed by Libya against its own people amount to war crimes, requiring member states to take action through the Security Council under the responsibility to protect doctrine.” [2]

The letters signatories included Francis Fukuyama, United Nations Watch (which looks out for Israel’s interests), B’nai B’rith Human Rights Commission, the Cuban Democratic Directorate, and a set of organizations at odds with the governments of Nicaragua, Cuba, Sudan, Russia, Venezuela, and Libya. Some of these organizations are viewed with hostility as organizations created to wage demonization campaigns against countries at odds with the U.S., Israel, and the European Union. Refer to the annex for the full list of signatories for consultation.

LLHR is tied to the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), which is based in France and has ties to the National Endowment for Democracy (NED). FIDH is active in many places in Africa and in activities involving the National Endowment for Democracy. Both the FIDH and LLHR also released a joint communiqué on February 21, 2011. In the communiqué both organizations asked for the international community to “mobilize” and mention the International Criminal Court while also making a contradictory claiming that over 400 to 600 people had died since February 15, 2011. [3] This of course was about 5,500 short of the claim that 6,000 people were massacred in Benghazi. The joint letter also promoted the false view that 80% of Qaddafi’s support came from foreign mercenaries, which is something that over half a year of fighting proves as untrue.

According to the General-Secretary of the LLHR, Dr. Sliman Bouchuiguir, the claims about the massacres in Benghazi could not be validated by the LLHR when he was challenged for proof. When asked how a group of 70 non-governmental organizations in Geneva could support the LLHR’s claims on Geneva, Dr. Buchuiguir has answered that a network of close relationship was the basis. This is a mockery.

Speculation is neither evidence nor grounds for starting a war with a bombing campaign that has lasted about half a year and taken many innocent civilian lives, including children and the elderly. What is important to note here is that the U.N. Security Council decided to sanction the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya on the basis of this letter and the claims of the LLHR. Not once did the U.N. Security Council and the member states pushing for war once bother to even investigate the allegations. In one session in New York City, the Indian Ambassador to the U.N. actually pointed this out when his country abstained from voting. Thus, a so-called “humanitarian war” was launched without any evidence.

The Secret Relationship between the LLHR and the Transitional Council

The claims of the Libyan League for Human Rights (LLHR) were coordinated with the formation of the Transitional Council. This becomes clear with when the close and cagey relationship of the LLHR and the Transitional Council becomes apparent. Logically, the Obama Administration and NATO had to also be a part of this.

Whatever the Transitional Council is and whatever the intent of some of its supporters, it is clear that it is being used as a tool by the U.S. and others. Moreover, five members of the LLHR were or would become members of the Transitional Council almost immediately after the claims against the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya were disseminated. According to Bouchuguir this includes Mahmoud Jibril and Ali Tarhouni.

Dr. Mahmoud Jibril is a Libyan regime figure brought into Libyan government circles by Saif Al-Islam Qaddafi. He would undemocratically be given the position of Transitional Council prime minister. His involvement with the LLHR raises some real questions about the organization.

The economist Ali Tarhouni on the other hand would become the minister for oil and finance for the Transitional Council. Tarhouni is Washington’s man in Libya. He was groomed in the United States and was present at all the major meetings about plans for regime change in Libya. As Minister of Oil and Finance the first acts he did were privatize and virtually handover Libya’s energy resources and economy.

The General-Secretary of the LLHR, Sliman Bouchuiguir, has even privately admitted that many influential members of the Transitional Council are his friends. A real question of interests arises. Yet, the secret relationship between the LLHR and the Transitional Council is far more than a question of conflict of interest. It is a question of justice and manipulation.

Who is Sliman Bouchuiguir?

Sliman Bouchuguir is an unheard of figure for most, but he has authored a doctoral thesis that has been widely quoted and used in strategic circles in the United States. This thesis was published in 1979 as a book, The Use of Oil as a Political Weapon: A Case Study of the 1973 Arab oil Embargo. The thesis is about the use of oil as an economic weapon by Arabs, but can easily be applied to the Russians, the Iranians, the Venezuelans, and others. It examines economic development and economic warfare and can also be applied to vast regions, including all of Africa.

Bouchuguir’s analytical thesis reflects an important line of thinking in Washington, as well as London and Tel Aviv. It is both the embodiment of a pre-existing mentality, which includes U.S. National Security Advisor George F. Kennan’s arguments for maintaining a position of disparity through a constant multi-faced war between the U.S. and its allies on one hand and the rest of the world on the other hand. The thesis can be drawn on for preventing the Arabs, or others, from becoming economic powers or threats. In strategic terms rival economies are pinned as threats and as “weapons.” This has serious connotations.

Moreover, Bouchuiguir did his thesis at George Washington University under Bernard Reich. Reich is a political scientist and professor of international relations. He has worked and held positions at places like the U.S. Defense Intelligence College, the United States Air Force Special Operations School, the Marine Corps War College, and the Shiloah Center at Tel Aviv University. He has consulted on the Middle East for the Foreign Service Institute of the U.S. State Department and received grants such as the Defense Academic Research Support Program Research grant and the German Marshal Fund Grant. Reich also was or is presently on the editorial boards of journals such as Israel Affairs (1994-present), Terrorism: An International Journal (1987-1994), and The New Middle East (1971-1973).

It is also clear that Reich is tied to Israeli interests. He has even written a book about the special relationship between the U.S and Israel. He has also been an advocate for a “New Middle East” which would be favourable to Israel. This includes careful consideration over North Africa. His work has also focused on the important strategic interface between the Soviet Union and the Middle East and also on Israeli policy in the continent of Africa.

It is clear why Bouchuiguir has his thesis supervised under Reich. On October 23, 1973, Reich gave a testimony at the U.S. Congress. The testimony has been named “The Impact of the October Middle East War” and is clearly tied to the 1973 oil embargo and Washington’s aim of pre-empting or managing any similar events in the future. It has to be asked, how much did Reich influence Bouchuiguir and if Bouchuiguir espouses the same strategic views as Reich?

The “New North Africa” and a “New Africa” – More than just a “New Middle East”

A “New Africa” is in the works, which will have its borders further drawn out in blood like in the past. The Obama Administration and its allies have opened the gateway for a new invasion of Africa. United States Africa Command (AFRICOM) opened the salvos of the war through Operation Odyssey Damn, before the war on Libya was transferred to NATO’ Operation Unified Protector.

The U.S. has used NATO to continue the occupation of post-Second World War Europe. It will now use AFRICOM to occupy Africa and create an African NATO. It is clear the U.S. wants an expanded military presence in Libya and Africa under the disguise of humanitarian aid missions and fighting terrorism – the same terrorism that it is fanning in Libya and Africa.

The way is being paved for intervention in Africa under the guise of fighting terrorism. General Carter Ham has stated: “If we were to launch a humanitarian operation, how do we do so effectively with air traffic control, airfield management, [and] those kind of activities?” [4] General Ham’s question is actually a sales pitch for fashioning African military partnerships and integration, as well as new bases that could include the use of more military drones against Libya and other African countries. The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) have both made it clear that the Pentagon is actively trying to establish more drone bases in Africa and the Arabian Peninsula to expand its wars. [WP] In this context, the AFRICOM Commander that there are ties between the Al-Shabaab in Somalia, Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb in North Africa, and the Boko Harem in Nigeria. [6]

The War in Libya is a Fraud

General Ham has said: “I remain confident that had the U.N. not made the decision, had the U.S. not taken the lead with great support, I’m absolutely convinced there are many, many people in Benghazi alive today who would not be [alive].” [7] This is not true and a far stretch from reality. The war has cost more lives than it could have ever saved. It has ruined a country and opened the door into Africa for a neo-colonial project.

The claims of the Libyan League for Human Rights (LLHR) were never supported or verified. The credibility of United Nations must be questioned as well as many humanitarian and human rights organizations that have virtually pushed for a war. At best the U.N. Security Council is an irresponsible body, but it has clearly acted outside of due legal process. This pattern now appears to be repeating itself against the Syrian Arab Republic as unverified claims are being made by individuals and organizations supported by foreign powers that care nothing for authentic democratic reforms or liberty.


[1] United Nations Watch et al., “Urgent Appeal to Stop Atrocities in Libya: Sent by 70 NGOs to the US, EU, and UN,” February 21, 2011:

[2] Physicians for Human Rights, “PHR and Human Rights Groups Call for Immediate Action in Libya,” February 22, 2011:

[3] The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the Libyan League for Human Rights (LLHR), “Massacres in Libya: The international community must urgently,” respond, February 21, 2011:

[4] Jim Garamone, “Africa Command Learns from Libya Operations,” American Forces Press Service, September 15, 2011:

[5] Gregory Miller and Craig Whitlock, “U.S. U.S. assembling secret drone bases in Africa, Arabian Peninsula, officials say,” The Washington Post, September 20, 2011; Julian E. Barnes, “U.S. Expands Drone Flights to Take Aim at East Africa,” The Wall Street Journal (WSJ), September 21, 2011.

[6] Garamone, “Africa Command Learns,” Op. cit.

[7] Ibid.


February 12, 2011 – Geneva, Switzerland

1. Hillel C. Neuer, United Nations Watch, Switzerland
2. Dr. Sliman Bouchuiguir, Libyan League for Human Rights, Switzerland
3. Mary Kay Stratis, Victims of Pan Am Flight 103, Inc., USA
4. Carl Gershman, President, The National Endowment for Democracy, USA
5. Yang Jianli, Initiatives for China, USA – Former prisoner of conscience and survivor of Tiananmen Square massacre
6. Yang Kuanxing, YIbao – Chinese writer, original signatory to Charter 08, the manifesto calling for political reform in China
7. Matteo Mecacci, MP, Nonviolent Radical Party, Italy
8. Frank Donaghue, Physicians for Human Rights, USA
9. Nazanin Afshin-Jam, Stop Child Executions, Canada
10. Bhawani Shanker Kusum, Gram Bharati Samiti, India
11. G. Jasper Cummeh, III, Actions for Genuine Democratic Alternatives, Liberia
12. Michel Monod, International Fellowship of Reconciliation, Switzerland
13. Esohe Aghatise, Associazione Iroko Onlus, Italy
14. Harris O. Schoenberg, UN Reform Advocates, USA
15. Myrna Lachenal, World Federation for Mental Health, Switzerland
16. Nguyên Lê Nhân Quyên, Vietnamese League for Human Rights, Switzerland
17. Sylvia G. Iriondo, Mothers and Women against Repression (M.A.R. Por Cuba), USA
18. David Littman, World Union for Progressive Judaism, Switzerland
19. Barrister Festus Okoye, Human Rights Monitor, Nigeria
20. Theodor Rathgeber, Forum Human Rights, Germany
21. Derik Uya Alfred, Kwoto Cultural Center, Juba – Southern Sudan
22. Carlos E Tinoco, Consorcio Desarrollo y Justicia, A.C., Venezuela
23. Abdurashid Abdulle Abikar, Center for Youth and Democracy, Somalia
24. Dr. Vanee Meisinger, Pan Pacific and South East Asia Women’s Association, Thailand
25. Simone Abel, René Cassin, United Kingdom
26. Dr. Francois Ullmann, Ingenieurs du Monde, Switzerland
27. Sr Catherine Waters, Catholic International Education Office, USA
28. Gibreil Hamid, Darfur Peace and Development Centre, Switzerland
29. Nino Sergi, INTERSOS – Humanitarian Aid Organization, Italy
30. Daniel Feng, Foundation for China in the 21st Century
31. Ann Buwalda, Executive Director, Jubilee Campaign, USA
32. Leo Igwe, Nigerian Humanist Movement, Nigeria
33. Chandika Gautam, Nepal International Consumers Union, Nepal
34. Zohra Yusuf, Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, Pakistan
35. Sekou Doumbia, Femmes & Droits Humains, Mali
36. Cyrille Rolande Bechon, Nouveaux Droits de l’Homme, Cameroon
37. Zainab Al-Suwaij, American Islamic Congress, USA
38. Valnora Edwin, Campaign for Good Governance, Sierra Leone
39. Patrick Mpedzisi, African Democracy Forum, South Africa
40. Phil ya Nangoloh, NamRights, Namibia
41. Jaime Vintimilla, Centro Sobre Derecho y Sociedad (CIDES), Ecuador
42. Tilder Kumichii Ndichia, Gender Empowerment and Development, Cameroon
43. Amina Bouayach, Moroccan Organisation for Human Rights, Morocco
44. Abdullahi Mohamoud Nur, CEPID-Horn Africa, Somalia
45. Delly Mawazo Sesete, Resarch Center on Environment, Democracy & Human Rights, DR Congo
46. Joseph Rahall, Green Scenery, Sierra Leone
47. Arnold Djuma, Solidarité pour la Promotion Sociale et la Paix, Rwanda
48. Panayote Dimitras, Greek Helsinki Monitor, Greece
49. Carlos E. Ponce, Latina American and Caribbean Network for Democracy, Venezuela
50. Fr. Paul Lansu, Pax Christi International, Belgium
51. Tharsika Pakeerathan, Swiss Council of Eelam Tamils, Switzerland
52. Ibrahima Niang, Commission des Droits Humains du Mouvement Citoyen, Senegal
53. Virginia Swain, Center for Global Community and World Law, USA
54. Dr Yael Danieli, International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies, USA
55. Savita Gokhale, Loksadhana, India
56. Hasan Dheeree, Biland Awdal Organization, Somalia
57. Pacifique Nininahazwe, Forum pour le Renforcement de la Société Civile, Burundi
58. Derik Uya Alfred, Kwoto Cultural Center, Southern Sudan
59. Michel Golubnichy, International Association of Peace Foundations, Russia
60. Edward Ladu Terso, Multi Media Training Center, Sudan
61. Hafiz Mohammed, Justice Africa Sudan, Sudan
62. Sammy Eppel, B’nai B’rith Human Rights Commission, Venezuela
63. Jack Jeffery, International Humanist and Ethical Union, United Kingdom
64. Duy Hoang, Viet Tan, Vietnam
65. Promotion de la Democratie et Protection des Droits Humains, DR Congo
66. Radwan A. Masmoudi, Center for the Study of Islam & Democracy, USA
67. María José Zamora Solórzano, Movimiento por Nicaragua, Nicaragua
68. John Suarez, Cuban Democratic Directorate, USA
69. Mohamed Abdul Malek, Libya Watch, United Kingdom
70. Journalists Union of Russia, Russia 
71. Sindi Medar-Gould, BAOBAB for Women’s Human Rights, Nigeria
72. Derik Uya Alfred, Kwoto Cultural Centre, Sudan
73. Sr. Anne Shaym, Presentation Sisters, Australia
74. Joseph Rahad, Green Scenery, Sierra Leone
75. Fahma Yusuf Essa, Women in Journalism Association, Somalia
76. Hayder Ibrahim Ali, Sudanese Studies Center, Sudan
77. Marcel Claude Kabongo, Good Governance and Human Rights NGO, DR Congo
78. Frank Weston, International Multiracial Shared Cultural Organization (IMSCO), USA
79. Fatima Alaoui, Maghrebin Forum for environment and development, Morocco
80. Ted Brooks, Committee for Peace and Development Advocacy, Liberia
81. Felly Fwamba, Cerveau Chrétien, DR Congo
82. Jane Rutledge, CIVICUS: World Alliance of Citizen Participation, South Africa
83. Ali AlAhmed, The Institute for Gulf Affairs, USA
84. Daniel Ozoukou, Martin Luther King Center for Peace and Social Justice, Cote d’Ivoire
85. Dan T. Saryee, Liberia Democratic Institute (LDI), Liberia

Dr. Frene Ginwala, former Speaker of the South African National Assembly
Philosopher Francis Fukuyama
Mohamed Eljahmi, Libyan human rights activist
Glenn P. Johnson, Jr., Treasurer, Victims of Pan Am Flight 103, Inc., father of Beth Ann Johnson, victim of Lockerbie bombing

Source: UN Watch (Refer to note 1)  – Source

 Venezuela slams US, NATO’s involvement in Libya

 Venezuela slams US, NATO’s involvement in Libya

Kosovo on knife-edge as NATO boosts troops at border

7 months of bombing: NATO war in Libya

Military Takeover of America: Nightly News Report

Military Takeover of America: Nightly News Report

Pentagon aims at target Pakistan

By Pepe Escobar

Syria will have to wait. The next stop in the Pentagon-coined “long war” is bound to be Pakistan. True, a war is already on in what the Barack Obama administration named AfPak. But crunch time in Pak itself looms closer and closer. Call it the “no bomb left behind” campaign.

Al-Qaeda is a thing of the past; after all, al-Qaeda assets such as Abdelhakim Belhaj are now running Tripoli. The new Washington-manufactured mega-bogeyman is now the Haqqani network.

A relentless, Haqqani-targeted manufacture of consensus industry is already on overdrive, via a constellation of the usual neo-conservative suspects, assorted Republican warmongers,”Pentagon officials” and industrial-military complex shills in corporate media.

The Haqqani network, a force of 15,000 to 20,000 Pashtun fighters led by former anti-Soviet mujahideen figure Jalalludin Haqqani, is a key component of the Afghan insurgency from its bases in Pakistan’s North Waziristan tribal area.

For Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Haqqani network “acts as a veritable arm of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence [ISI] agency”. It took Mullen no less than 10 years since Washington’s bombing of Afghanistan to figure this out. Somebody ought to give him a Nobel Peace Prize.

According to the US government narrative, it was the ISI that gave the go-ahead for the Haqqani network to attack the US Embassy in Kabul on September 13.

Pentagon head Leon Panetta has gone on record saying that in response, Washington might go unilateral. This means that the vast numbers of Pashtun farmers, including women and children, who have already been decimated for months by US drone attacks on the tribal areas should be considered as extras in a humanitarian operation.

The Pentagon’s “long war”, also known as the “war on terror”, may have cost the Pakistani economy up to a staggering $100 billion – and over 30,000 casualties, a large number of them civilians. Under “no bomb left behind”, expect “collateral damage” to keep piling up.

When in doubt, read the book
Predictably, Pakistani army chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kiani – incidentally, a Pentagon darling – denies the ISI is in bed with the Haqqanis. Well, they are. But even more salacious is the current Pakistani official spin – that because the US has failed so miserably in Af, now they are trying to blame Pak for the whole mess.

Looks like Mullen at least has been catching up with the late Syed Saleem Shahzad’s essential book on AfPak, Inside al-Qaeda and the Taliban: Beyond Bin Laden and 9/11. In the book, Saleem, who as Asia Times Online’s Pakistan bureau chief, details how the legendary – and vain – Jalalludin Haqqani (who still loves to dye his hair) never ceased to be a leading Taliban warlord; and how the ISI never stopped telling him that their offensives against himself, his son and his network were only a show.

The Haqqanis may be based in North Waziristan, but they run a great deal of the show in Paktia, Paktika and Khost on the other side of the border. Wily Jalalludin has pledged total allegiance to Taliban leader Mullah Omar – who everybody knows is holed up in Quetta, in Pakistan’s Balochistan province, but remains mysteriously invisible even to the best US eyes in the sky.

To believe that the ISI would simply get rid of the Haqqanis, or disable their North Waziristan bases so they wouldn’t be able to attack US and North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) forces in Afghanistan anymore, is pure wishful thinking. The Pakistani military has a major dog in the Afghan fight. And the name of the dog is Taliban – which they “invented” in the early 1990s.

Moreover, the Haqqanis can always be counted on as a sort of reserve army to fight the possibility of increasing Indian influence in Afghanistan.

When Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar says the US “cannot afford to alienate Pakistan”, she’s totally right. If that happens, the historic Taliban would turbo charge their already constant string of lethal attacks inside Afghanistan. The Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (Pakistan Taliban – TTP) would turbo charge cross-border attacks, from Kunar and Nuristan in Afghanistan into Dir and Bajaur in Pakistan. And hardcore military factions in Pakistan would be even more motivated to get rid of the civilian government altogether.

Because Washington to some extent trains and equips Islamabad’s military, and the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is so very cozy with the ISI, some may think Washington “owns” Islamabad.

It does – but up to a point. Somebody should convene a seminar in Washington to explain that the Pakistani army has a very different agenda from the ISI, while the ISI is crammed with secret rogue cells; it’s one of those cells that may have murdered Saleem Shahzad.

The Pakistani military is trying to make sure the “historic” Taliban led by Mullah Omar, as well as the Hizb-e Islami of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, lose much of their influence in Afghanistan. But at the same time, these hardcore ISI cells want to keep supporting the Haqqani network as a means to keep any future Afghan government on its toes.

Time for Beijing to collect
The going will get really tough if – when – the Pentagon/CIA/White House consortium decides that US Special Forces will violate Pakistani sovereignty by helicopter, a la the Abbottabad raid that killed Osama bin Laden, and go for the Haqqanis and thus risk a direct clash with the Pakistani army. Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani has already called an emergency meeting exactly to analyze this distinct possibility.

If that happens, Islamabad will certainly pull out all stops to dismantle Washington’s critical logistics supply network from the southern port city of Karachi to the Khyber Pass, severely disrupting the flow of NATO supplies to Afghanistan. It will destroy any possibility of intelligence-sharing and cooperation in counter-terrorism/counter-intelligence. Even al-Qaeda will have a new lease of life all across Pakistan – and not only in the tribal areas.

Not to mention that Pakistan has an army of 610,000 – with about 500,000 reserves. Considering that only 15,000 to 20,000 Taliban have been able to run rings around US/NATO troops in Afghanistan for years, the math spells out only one option for Washington: disaster.

Pakistan is one of China’s major geopolitical assets. There’s no question Beijing has already run plenty of calculations on how Washington’s strategic folly – or irrepressible desire to launch a “kinetic” whatever operation – can only result in total alienation of Pakistan.

Public Security Minister Meng Jianzhu – China’s top security official – was in Rawalpindi on Monday. Significantly, Interior Minister Rehman Malik stressed, “China is always there for us in the most difficult moments.” Meng for his part said they discussed ways to “contribute to national security and regional stability”.

Also this week, the Pakistani army engaged in joint exercises in the Punjab with forces from “Pakistan’s special friend” Saudi Arabia. With special friends like Beijing and Riyadh to compensate for lost military equipment or revenue, no wonder Pakistan’s generals are not exactly mired in desperation.

Yet Washington is desperate, feeling the urge to do something. So what to expect from now on?

Expect a festival of MQ-9 Reapers droning North Waziristan to death. What US President Barack Obama calls a tool of “unique capabilities”, for Pashtun farmers is a weapon of terror.

Expect strike after strike conducted out of a control room in Nellis air force base in Nevada.

Expect an array of strategic missile bombings with spectacular collateral damage.

Expect more Joint Special Operations Command-ordered special operations forces “kill/capture” raids.

Expect a new, humongous Joint Prioritized Effects List, just like in Afghanistan; no names, just a list of mobile or satellite phone numbers. If your mobile gets on the list by mistake, you’ll be snuffed the Hellfire way.

Expect deadly, eternal Pashtun vengeance against Americans to be as irreversible as death and taxes.

And most of all, expect a low intensity war to turn volcanic anytime.

Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007) and Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge. His new book, just out, is Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009).

He may be reached at

(Copyright 2011 Asia Times Online (Holdings) Ltd. All rights reserved. Please contact us about sales, syndication and republishing.)

Key witnesses on war crime trials die mysterious deaths in Europe

The key witness on the case of war crimes committed by field commanders of Kosovo Albanians against Serbs has been found dead in Germany. The circumstances of his death raise doubts. The Hague Tribunal may now cease the investigation into the atrocities committed against the Serbs. However, it is not the first time when The Hague turns a blind eye on the Albanians’ crimes in Kosovo.

The detective story took place in Germany’s Duisburg. Agim Zogaj, a Kosovan Albanian, a former guerrilla of the Kosovo Liberation Army, was supposed to testify against his former commander Fatmir Limaj. Agim Zogaj was known as “protected witness X” in the war crimes trial against Limaj. However, the “protected witness” passed away very unexpectedly. Zogaj was taking a walk in the park, but then decided to hang himself. Just like that.

Fatmir Limaj has been charged with brutal tortures and executions of two Serbian policemen in the Kosovo village of Klecke. The crimes were committed 12 years ago. He is also accused of embezzlement of state funds during the time of his service as the transport minister at Hashim Thaci’s government (2007-2010).

It is worthy of note that Limaj has already appeared in the case about torture and murder of Kosovo Serbs. The Hague Tribunal released him because of the lack of evidence. Afterwards, Limaj became a minister and then a deputy of the Kosovo parliament (in 2010). Now that Agim Zogaj has died, Limaj’s case at The Hague Tribunal may fall apart again.

Limaj is not the only and not the most prominent Albanian activist in Kosovo who is targeted in the investigation of grave crimes committed against the Serbs. The former Prime  Minister of the region Ramush Haradinaj is known a lot better. His case fell apart similarly to Limaj’s.

In 2005, The Hague Tribunal charged Haradinaj with war crimes. In 1998, he commanded the operations to destroy and expel the Serbs and the Gypsies. Haradinaj was serving as the Prime Minister of Kosovo at the time when the charges were brought against him. He stepped down immediately and arrived in The Hague. He spent only three months in custody and was released. In April 2008, The Hague acquitted Haradinaj on all 37 counts. However, the sentence was overturned in two years owing to the efforts taken by Serge Brammertz, the chief prosecutor of The Hague. According to the prosecutor, a number of witnesses on the case either disappeared or died.

Below are only several episodes of mysterious deaths of the people, who were supposed to testify against Haradinaj. A person named Kujtin Berisha was run over by a vehicle in Montenegro. Ilir Selmaj was killed in a fight. It was said that Selmaj attacked six men. The men were wielding knives, whereas Selmaj was weaponless. Bekim Mustafa and Auni Elezaj were shot dead. Kosovo policemen Sabaheta Tava and Isuk Hakljaja were killed; their bodies were burnt in a car.

As many as 40 witnesses have died since 1990. All of them were supposed to testify at The Hague against the commanders of Kosovan Albanians.

Another former prime minister of Kosovo – Agim Ceku – is also wanted by The Hague. In 1991-1995 he fought at the Croatian army against the Serbs. Like Haradinaj, Ceku participated in ethnic cleansing operations against the Serbs and other non-Albanian population of Kosovo. He was arrested in Slovenia, Hungary and Bulgaria, but then released.

However, it is Hashim Thaci, whom the Serbs want to see at The Hague most. Nowadays, this man receives top honors in Washington, Brussels and Berlin. In 1997, A Serbian court of Pristina sentenced him to ten years in jail for terrorist activities.

However, in March 2008, Carla Del Ponte, a former prosecutor of The Hague Tribunal, wrote in her book “The Hunt: Me and the War Criminals” that Thaci was involved in human organs trafficking. In 1999, Del Ponte wrote, KLA gunmen kidnapped as many as 300 Serbs, Gypsies and Albanians, who were not loyal to Thaci. The people were brought to the north of Albania and had their hearts and kidneys extracted. The organs were subsequently delivered to Europe, Israel and Turkey. The gruesome business brought Thaci at least 4 million Deutschmarks.

In December 2010, Swiss senator Dick Marty accused Kosovo Prime Minister Hashim Thaci of heading a crime ring that dealt with weapons, drugs and human organs. According to Marty’s report, captives had their blood drawn and tested to help determine whether their organs would be suitable for transplant.

As we can see, the death of an important witness in the case of war crimes committed against the Serbs is a regular occurrence. The above-mentioned Agim Zogaj was killed in the largest European country – Germany. There are hundreds of thousands of Albanians living in Germany. Their drug mafia is the strongest there.

Zogaj was murdered at the time when German troops in Kosovo had come into clashes with local Serbs who protested the creation of the full-fledged border between the region and the main part of Serbia. German Chancellor Angela Merkel previously urged the Serbian administration to liquidate their power bodies in the north of the region and deliver the Serbs under the power of Hashim Thaci.

It appears that that death of the witness is good for Germany. The country stakes on Thaci and other former KLA commanders in an attempt to separate Kosovo from Serbia.


Hartmann: Has corporate America ruined sports?

Hartmann: Could Hacktivists hack a Diebold Machine?

The Alyona Show: In case you missed it- full show 9/28/11

A peek under Saudi Arabia’s veil

By Sami Moubayed

DAMASCUS – Will the Arab Spring eventually reach Saudi Arabia? This question seems to be on everybody’s mind, from think-tanks in the United States to traditional cafes in Damascus and Baghdad.

Critics of Saudi Arabia are divided when it comes to the answer. Some respond with an affirmative “Absolutely,” claiming that the oil-rich kingdom cannot remain immune to the popular movements sweeping through Tunisia, Egypt, Bahrain, Yemen, Libya and Syria.

Its women are oppressed, they claim, and so is its small Shi’ite population. A rising generation of Saudi princes are fed up with tolerating aged monarchs from the House of Saud, waiting for achance to prop themselves on the throne of Riyadh.

Young people are restless for change in Saudi Arabia, just like everywhere else in the Arab world, and radicalism is on the rise in a country that gave birth to Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaeda.

Other Saudi-watchers shake their heads when answering the question, claiming that the US – a traditional ally of the House of Saud – would never allow it to fall.

The truth, however, is by far more complicated than a “yes” or “no” answer. True, unrest has already hit Saudi Arabia, and true, the US cannot tolerate radical change in Riyadh, but the US doesn’t hold Arab masses by remote control and cannot get Saudis to riot – if they don’t want to.

King Abdullah, aged 87, knows what it takes to please young Saudis. With swift moves, he has managed, for now, to keep a job bequeathed to him and his brothers by their father, the kingdom’s founder, King Abdul Aziz. In March, shortly after the collapse of Saudi Arabia’s ally, Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, in what was seen as a pre-emptive measure, King Abdullah ordered a massive increase in spending, up to $130 billion over the next decade, on measures like affordable housing for young Saudis.

Many young newly married couples have complained that it was becoming increasingly difficult to buy a house in Saudi Arabia. Abdullah additionally raised wages in the public sector and pledged more public sector jobs. Critics immediately accused him of “bribing” his citizens, but the king did what was required from him to keep his people happy.

Abdullah realized that times had changed since he was a young man in the 1940s, and that social media networks like Facebook and Twitter had completely revolutionized not only Saudi Arabia but the Arab and Muslim World at large. The handwriting had been on the wall, after all, since demonstrations began in Tunisia last December.

In Saudi Arabia, it immediately triggered an online campaign demanding major political and economic reform. In early February, 40 women demonstrated for the release of prisoners held without trial in Saudi jail. This was repeated in March in al-Qatif, al-Awamiyah, and Riyadh.

Demonstrators called for a “day of rage” on March 11, but it was severely suppressed by authorities. It is always painful for any leader to grant concessions under pressure, and Abdullah managed to make those concessions at the right time, before they became too painful and before riots snowballed, taking Saudi Arabia down the path of Egypt and Bahrain.

Abdullah wanted the Saudis to see him as part of the solution in Saudi Arabia, rather than as part of the problem, as was the case with Mubarak, for example.

At the weekend, King Abdullah took his reforms a step forward by granting Saudi women the right to vote and become members in the shura council, for the first time ever in Saudi history.

The Riyadh-based council is a powerful 150-member assembly, appointed by the king to advise on legislation. Opening it to women must have taken a lot of thinking, and courage, from the king, knowing that this would unleash hell on him from traditional and conservatives both within his family and in the clerical community of Saudi Arabia.

“We refuse to marginalize the role of women in Saudi society in every field of work,” King Abdullah said on state television, adding that empowering women would help empower the nation as a whole. This in itself is groundbreaking in the world’s strongest theocracy, where women are strictly segregated in public, forced to cover themselves when out, are separated from men at schools, restaurants, banks and work.

Famously, they cannot drive in Saudi Arabia, and cannot assume political jobs that are now open to both sexes throughout the world, like foreign minister or prime minister.

In 2009, he turned a deaf ear to all critics, establishing the first co-ed university in the kingdom, carrying his name. He then appointed Nora Bin Abdullah al-Fayez as the first deputy minister in Saudi Arabia. A Utah State University graduate, she had served as director general of the women’s sector of the Institute of Public Administration since 1993. Additionally she had also worked as professor at King Saud University between 1989 and 1995.

The new reforms will go into effect in the elections scheduled for 2015. They might not yield immediate results, given the resistance that such a decree would face from traditionalists and conservative Saudis who would now allow their daughter, sister or wife to campaign for public office.

When Abdullah’s brother King Saud introduced public education for women in 1960, Saudi society frowned on the decree and it took years for men to send their daughters to school.

That is why although the decree has been warmly received by a majority of Saudis, others are arguing that the timetable for their implementation is too long, asking Abdullah to put his words into action. They are demanding early elections where women are allowed to vote and run for office.

Others are saying that the step is too little too late, claiming that Saudi Arabia by now should have long allowed women the right to sit on the shura council.

The real reforms needed for 2011, they claim, are to make the entire shura council an elected body, rather than one appointed by the king.

Others are posing a simpler question, asking how women can campaign for office if they cannot even be allowed to drive.

King Abdullah actually went one step further from both loyalists and critics in Saudi Arabia, claiming that Saudi women can now change whatever legislation they want – including the world’s last standing driving ban on women – once they enter the shura council and other government bodies.

Sami Moubayed is a Syrian university professor, historian, and editor-in-chief of Forward Magazine in Syria.

(Copyright 2011 Asia Times Online (Holdings) Ltd. All rights reserved. Please contact us about sales, syndication and republishing.)

Terrorists and NATO are failures in Libya despite genocide

Sirte will not fall, frustratong the NTC and NATO scammers

The armed groups of the self-appointed National Transitional Council attacked the Libyan city of Sirte again on Monday, after a retreat that its leaders justified as a “tactical retreat,” which increased the frustration at the persistent strength and resistance of the forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi.

The military forces of the self-appointed National Transitional Council (NTC) again attacked with the support of aviation provided by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), an imperialist aggressor pact, which bombed areas of the city center, although many civilians continue to try to live there.

Residents who managed to get out blamed NATO and terrorists of the NTC for causing suffering to the population because the injured lack drugs because hospitals are bombed.

The Atlantic alliance itself confirmed on Monday that it hit many targets there, many of them allegedly military, with the contrived claim of protecting civilians, but the spokesman for Gaddafi, Moussa Ibrahim, blamed them for deliberately killing hundreds of innocent people.

Witnesses reported that tall columns of smoke emanating from the city were visible shortly after they heard loud explosions caused by NATO bombs and artillery forces of the NTC, as well as the tenacious response of pro-Gaddafi fighters.

People interviewed for regional TV channels reported that Gaddafi fighters dominate strategic positions from which they effectively strike forces of the terrorist NTC, which had to quit yesterday to retreat from their attempt to advance to the city center.

Rockets, grenades, mortars and snipers are the key resources that the Gaddafi faithful use to defend Sirte, his hometown, and Bani Walid, another bastion of resistance located southeast of Tripoli.

A military commander denied that the NTC was been forced out of Sirte in disarray and claimed that it was a “tactical withdrawal” after reaching three objectives, one of which was supposed to create a corridor for themselves to set upon innocent civilians.

The other two purposes, according to the vision of the terrorist elements, were to secure the suburbs and block any possible escape route for pro-Gaddafi fighters or civilians.

However, thousands of city residents are still suffering from shortages of food, medicines, drinking water and fuel, and are continually exposed to indiscriminate and increasingly cruel bombing by the Atlantic alliance, whose only purpose is to pave the way for a terrorist takeover, revealed local residents.

The same source quoted the spokesman of the NTC who admitted the magnitude of the resistance inside Sirte and said there were not enough men to control a territory where Gadhafi has prestige. Gaddafi’s whereabouts are unknown since late August.

Canadians win US Army Combat Support Contract

hakespeare, Angry Birds, and The Savior of Human Terrain System

By John Stanton

“How can anyone save a broken program from an office 1000 miles away?–That being the office where Colonel Sharon Hamilton [program manager] studiously works on her PhD. The same office where her deputy (another Army O-6 Colonel) hangs out and plays Angry Birds on his Human Terrain System [HTS] provided I-Pad.”

The Savior of HTS

According to sources, both Colonels have visited Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, (HQ of HTS) a handful of times and have participated in some After Action Reviews (AAR) with students. The Colonels have heard what is wrong with the HTS training program and have chosen to ignore the issues. “The last time the HTS Deputy visited Leavenworth he told the graduating cycle, ‘Do your tour and get out of HTS as quick as you can.’ They have heard from many deployed team members about troubles in the field and have ignored those issues too. Both Colonels are very much aware of the issues surrounding the totally inept HTS Training Director but have chosen to leave him in place. So it’s back to her PhD and his Angry Birds.”

 Hamilton apparently made a rare appearance to participate in a scheduled AAR and graduation ceremony with the July Cycle. But, according to observers, “as predicted she had no intention of letting the July Cycle ask questions of her or listen to their observations of training. Instead Hamilton told stories of how she alone has saved HTS. When one student was able to get a question in on how assignments were being made she ignored the question and continued to tell stories. The students had many questions for the Colonel that did not get asked. On every student’s mind was ‘Why did the program let go of so many quality HTAs and promote her TRADOC G2 HTA buddy to Social Scientist?'”

Colonel D and Toys Are Us

According to observers, “Colonel D’s” military extension has been denied because he is being medically retired by the Kansas National Guard. So the HTS is finally rid of him.

Not so fast!

“Colonel D, soon to be “Mr. D” is a finalist for the for the newly created DAC position of Director of Training. “The person doing the interviewing and making the final hiring decision is Colonel Sharon Hamilton. Ah NEPOTISM! The DAC’s that work in HTS training have started a pool and most are betting that Colonel Hamilton will pick Mr. D as he is the perfect scapegoat for everything broken within HTS Training, now and into the near future. She does not want to retire from TRADOC with a blemish on her military record. Good idea COL H,” said a source.

Colonel evidently imparted some of his leadership philosophy to the HTS training staff and faculty during a meeting. According to sources, “he recounted how he used to be a manager at a Toys ‘Я’ Us and decided to quit just prior to the Christmas season as this was the craziest/hardest time of year. How is that for sharing a leadership story with your subordinates? When things get tough – QUIT! Yet another golden example of FAIL! Some cartoons with a Toys ‘Я’ Us theme went up all over the HTS training facility. The favorite post was just inside the front door of the facility. It stated ‘Toys Я Us – School of Mangement.’ Management was intentionally misspelled.

The second most favored cartoon depicted Geoffrey the Giraffe standing amongst his subordinates. The caption stated ‘Geoffrey building report with his colleagues.’ This referenced the time when Colonel D saw the word “rapport” on a whiteboard during a briefing and asked “What report are you referring too?” The faculty members present had to explain the word ‘rapport’ to him. The rest of the week it was like a child that had just learned a new word. A popular saying within HTS is ‘The L in HTS stands for Leadership.’ OUCH!”

Shakespeare in Combat?

Oberon Associates, a subsidiary of Quebec based CGI, has been awarded just over $227 million (US) to run the US Army’s Human Terrain System (HTS), which “directly supports combat units in OIF/OEF” according to the Office of the Assistant to the Secretary of the Army. It is interesting to note that Oberon was the King of the Fairies most notably in Shakespeare’s A Midsummer’s Night Dream.

It may be good to have literary minded contractors running the show; if they can understand Shakespeare, maybe they can figure out HTS.

The Brits (BAE Systems) seemed to have mucked things up with the help of DCS, TRADOC-G2 and OSD/Intelligence, so it was time for a change.

Now it is up to the Canadians (CGI) to set things right. The size of the award makes it clear that HTS is going to be marketed at every turn through CGI Federal’s operations with the approval of DCS, TRADOC G2 and OSD/Intelligence. It also says that US Army Civil Affairs is out of $227 million bucks that it could have used to perform the same functions.

According to one source, “CGI should fire or demote every manager and supervisor currently in those positions. But the decay and morale is so systemic that I do not see how CGI can succeed.”

The contracting authority for HTS is at the Mission Installation Contracting Center (MICC) located at Joint Base Langley-Fort Eustis. TRADOC has a unit located there. An official at MICC said “the place of performance” would likely be scattered around the country as it is now but that some elements of HTS would be located at Langley-Fort Eustis. There are some changes being made in HTS that may shift the location of personnel from the Mid-West to the Eastern seaboard. The MICC official said “there are spacing issues at Langley-Fort Eustis and not everyone will be located on post.”

Langley-Fort Eustis is home to the USAF 633rd Air Base Wing and is composed of the 1st Fighter Wing; the 480th Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Wing; and the 192D Fighter Wing.

So Long, Fair Well

“From: Solomon, Mark (US SSA); Date: Friday, September 23, 2011; Subject: Re-bid Update; To: All

The award of HTS was announced this morning. BAE Systems was NOT awarded the re-bid. This is very sad news, but our focus still needs to be on keeping our men and women in uniform safe and that means ensuring our customer (HTS) is successful. Work will continue as usual, until I inform you otherwise. Please continue to show up for work (even after the 27th). I will provide more information as soon as I know more on a transition, timelines, etc. Thank you all for your hard work and dedication.

Regards, Mark Solomon, Deputy Program Manager– HTS/BAE Systems

According to one source, “HTS has 180 Defense Army Civilians (DACs) on Compensatory Time and Leave. Many of these are awaiting their next tour in theater. Additionally, the program has approximately 140 DAC’s supporting operations in Afghanistan. This means the HTS program has more DAC’s on Compensatory Time and Leave than it has deployed. There are dozens and dozens of formerly deployed HTS personnel that would also come back and work. So why is there an expensive HTS training program?”

A few months ago HTS advertised a DAC position for the Chief of the Training and Education Division (CTED). Sources say that the candidates were narrowed down to two for the final competition. They both were subsequently interviewed by Colonel Sharon Hamilton, Program Manager of HTS.

“It is important to note that this competition took place during this same time period the program was going through a number of investigations with one of them being accusations of racism,” said a source.

“The guy hired for the position has a Master’s Degree, is a minority, and has no experience that lends itself to the position. The bizarre thing about this situation is that he has several PhDs working for him that are clearly more qualified for the position. In fact, one of the PhDs performed the duties of this position for over a year and during that time the program was completely redesigned under his leadership. So everyone decided to give the new guy a break and see what he could do. To date he has done nothing that you would assume the CTED to do. He is clearly uncomfortable in this unfamiliar setting surrounded by DAC’s and contractors who have more education, experience and skills than he does. Plus, like the rest of the HTS leadership, he suffers from the inability to communicate effectively, lead, and appreciate the talents and experiences of those around him. Several of the DACs under him have already filed complaints accusing him of creating/fostering a hostile work environment.”

Some Good News! Wow!

“Glevum’s analysts are hard-working, creative, and properly credentialed in language and subject matter. SSRA has taken a lot of hits about its reliability and validity, but these analysts are at the mercy of whoever created the research design and collected the information. In addition, all data collected in a battle-space is subject to those kinds of problems and the SSRA analysts acknowledge that.

Glevum had some analysts who very thoughtfully conceived of a qualitative study for understanding stereotypes in Iraq. What they did was collect jokes told in Iraq. The creative approach to the study was to be commended. Few of the HTS internal SSRA critics in the Research Reachback Center or on the HTS teams in theater have done any better and most have done much worse in collecting data and getting good results either through qualitative or quantitative research. Very few will state in their research proposals or plans that there might be limitations to a study in terms of getting good data and results.”

John Stanton is a Virginia based writer specializing in national security matters. Reach him at

Noam Chomsky on Dilemmas in Humanitarian Intervention

“Getting it Right: Dilemmas in Humanitarian Intervention.”

By Noam Chomsky


On September 15, 2011, Noam Chomsky shared remarks on the pitfalls of humanitarian intervention with the Williams College community. A prominent American public intellectual and activist, Chomsky has written and lectured extensively on linguistics, philosophy, intellectual history, international affairs, and foreign policy.

His remarks kicked off the 2011 Williams College Class of ’71 Public Affairs Forum, a series of lectures throughout the fall semester that focus on humanitarian concerns, human rights, and different approaches to direct action around the world. For more about the Class of ’71 Public Affairs Forum go to

Posted September 28, 2011

Why President Saleh Returned to Yemen

It took many by surprise, but Saleh’s decision to rejoin the political fray at this time says much about the state of the region

By James Spencer

September 28, 2011 “The Guardian” – –  President Ali Abdullah Saleh has returned to Yemen after three months of convalescence in Saudi Arabia. He sneaked back without fanfare or prior announcement in the early hours of 23 September. Diplomats and even senior members of his own party were caught by surprise. Many are wondering what it means, and why he has come back now.

This may have been his first opportunity, medically speaking, to return. Until his meeting with King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia last week, Saleh had been wearing medical sheaths over his hands – presumably as a result of the burns sustained in the attack on his presidential palace last June. His recovery since the attack has been clearly visible.

Saleh’s medical progress has also paralleled the recent upturn in youth demonstrations across Yemen – and brutal attempts to suppress them. While the National Council of Revolutionary Forces had announced an intention to escalate its protests, there have been suggestions that the increased activity was partly instigated by Saleh’s henchman-turned-rival, Ali Muhsin, the powerful general who has aligned himself with the street protesters.

The youth movement’s increasing assertiveness also coincides with a surge in tribal activity. It is entirely possible that this was a last-ditch attempt to bump the president’s sons and nephews from the luxurious palaces in which they are ensconced and so forestall the president’s return.

While the west focuses almost exclusively on al-Qaida activity in Yemen, Saleh is unconcerned by much of it – indeed, there is good evidence that he has orchestrated at least part of it and can probably bring it back under control reasonably easily.

It is possible, though, that Saleh became concerned that the brutality that his eldest son Ahmed used to break up the peaceful protest march towards the main presidential palace was stripping away any remaining shred of democratic “legitimacy” from his kleptocratic, clannish regime: the 18 March attacks had already caused a major domestic schism, and unexpectedly severe foreign condemnation.

The president’s return, and reassumption of his presidential powers, may also be part of his strategy for prolonging the ineffectual dialogue with the political opposition, brokered by the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC). The president will doubtless continue to delay and obfuscate: beginning negotiations over again, or insisting on unacceptable preconditions. The call for elections, in his speech on Sunday, fits this pattern exactly.

But it is still strange that Saleh should need to return physically, since his absence insulated him from immediate political pressure. It may be, however, that he sees more political advantage in returning to the fray – judging that this is a particularly opportune moment to re-insert himself into Yemeni politics and positioning himself as the only one who can restore order.

While it is unlikely the recent butchery of demonstrators will bring a cascade of defections from the regime (as happened in March), it has almost certainly killed any hopes that Ahmed or the president’s nephew Yahya would be kept on as counter-terrorist commanders at US urging. (The idea that either of them is irreplaceable verges on the ludicrous: Ahmed flunked out of not one but two military academies.)

If Saleh and his cronies are to enjoy a peaceful and prosperous retirement, they need to ensure that they hand over power to others equally steeped in crimes against Yemenis. The extent of immunity from prosecution in the GCC transition plan has yet to be defined: some regime underlings will not be covered by it.

The fact that the Saudis allowed Saleh to return is equally significant. Previous reports stated that the lavishness of the palace in which Saleh recuperated was to encourage him to stay: the Saudis have a long history of hosting dissident or exiled politicians to menace or reward neighbouring countries.

Allowing him to return suggests that the Saudis are concerned about the situation in Yemen, and would rather someone control part of it than no one control any of it. If so, it is likely that the Arab League and GCC will continue to avoid examining or acting on Yemeni issues, to the youth movement’s fury.

Saleh’s return also suggests that the Saudis do not have an alternative candidate to succeed him, on whom all factions of the royal family agree. While the Saudis do not want chaos on their border, they do not want too stable a Yemen either: its demographics threaten the kingdom, as does its democratic potential. Saleh thus represents the Saudis’ least worst option.

This puts Saudi Arabia in a similar position to the west (although the west’s concern is solely a short-term, counter-terrorist one). Both of these key external parties might be willing to settle once again for Saleh, especially if he is able to restore some modicum of public order or demonstrate a counter-terrorist effect.

Where the two differ is that whereas a democratic candidate (of whom there are several in the diaspora) might serve the west’s needs better than another strong man, the Saudi royals regard a genuinely elected leader of Yemen as threatening their own rule.

While the president may have initially believed that he could sit out the protests, pressure has built over the last few weeks. In the event that it turns to civil war, Saleh is now on hand to take charge of his forces in what bodes to be a catastrophic finale to his presidency.

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