Archive for the ‘al Qaeda’ Category
Current U.S. strategy against the terrorist group al Qaida has not been successful in significantly undermining the group’s capabilities, according to a new RAND Corporation study issued today.
Al Qaida has been involved in more terrorist attacks since Sept. 11, 2001, than it was during its prior history and the group’s attacks since then have spanned an increasingly broader range of targets in Europe, Asia, the Middle East and Africa, according to researchers.
In looking at how other terrorist groups have ended, the RAND study found that most terrorist groups end either because they join the political process, or because local police and intelligence efforts arrest or kill key members. Police and intelligence agencies, rather than the military, should be the tip of the spear against al Qaida in most of the world, and the United States should abandon the use of the phrase “war on terrorism,” researchers concluded.
“The United States cannot conduct an effective long-term counterterrorism campaign against al Qaida or other terrorist groups without understanding how terrorist groups end,” said Seth Jones, the study’s lead author and a political scientist at RAND, a nonprofit research organization. “In most cases, military force isn’t the best instrument.”
The comprehensive study analyzes 648 terrorist groups that existed between 1968 and 2006, drawing from a terrorism database maintained by RAND and the Memorial Institute for the Prevention of Terrorism. The most common way that terrorist groups end — 43 percent — was via a transition to the political process. However, the possibility of a political solution is more likely if the group has narrow goals, rather than a broad, sweeping agenda like al Qaida possesses.
The second most common way that terrorist groups end — 40 percent — was through police and intelligence services either apprehending or killing the key leaders of these groups. Policing is especially effective in dealing with terrorists because police have a permanent presence in cities that enables them to efficiently gather information, Jones said.
Military force was effective in only 7 percent of the cases examined; in most instances, military force is too blunt an instrument to be successful against terrorist groups, although it can be useful for quelling insurgencies in which the terrorist groups are large, well-armed and well-organized, according to researchers. In a number of cases, the groups end because they become splintered, with members joining other groups or forming new factions. Terrorist groups achieved victory in only 10 percent of the cases studied.
Jones says the study has crucial implications for U.S. strategy in dealing with al Qaida and other terrorist groups. Since al Qaida’s goal is the establishment of a pan-Islamic caliphate, a political solution or negotiated settlement with governments in the Middle East is highly unlikely. The terrorist organization also has made numerous enemies and does not enjoy the kind of mass support received by other organizations such as Hezbollah in Lebanon, largely because al Qaida has not engaged in sponsoring any welfare services, medical clinics, or hospitals.
The study recommends the United States should adopt a two-front strategy: rely on policing and intelligence work to root out the terrorist leaders in Europe, North America, Asia and the Middle East, and involve military force — though not necessarily the U.S. military — when insurgencies are involved.
The United States also should avoid the use of the term, “war on terror,” and replace it with the term “counterterrorism.” Nearly every U.S. ally, including the United Kingdom and Australia, has stopped using “war on terror,” and Jones said it’s more than a mere matter of semantics.
“The term we use to describe our strategy toward terrorists is important, because it affects what kinds of forces you use,” Jones said. “Terrorists should be perceived and described as criminals, not holy warriors, and our analysis suggests that there is no battlefield solution to terrorism.”
Among the other findings, the study notes:
- Religious terrorist groups take longer to eliminate than other groups. Since 1968, approximately 62 percent of all terrorist groups have ended, while only 32 percent of religious terrorist groups have done so.
- No religious terrorist group has achieved victory since 1968.
- Size is an important predictor of a groups’ fate. Large groups of more than 10,000 members have been victorious more than 25 percent of the time, while victory is rare when groups are smaller than 1,000 members.
- There is no statistical correlation between the duration of a terrorist group and ideological motivation, economic conditions, regime type or the breadth of terrorist goals.
- Terrorist groups that become involved in an insurgency do not end easily. Nearly 50 percent of the time they end with a negotiated settlement with the government, 25 percent of the time they achieved victory and 19 percent of the time, military groups defeated them.
- Terrorist groups from upper-income countries are much more likely to be left-wing or nationalistic, and much less likely to be motivated by religion.
“The United States has the necessary instruments to defeat al Qaida, it just needs to shift its strategy and keep in mind that terrorist groups are not eradicated overnight,” Jones said.
The study, “How Terrorist Groups End: Lessons for Countering al Qaida,” can be found at http://www.rand.org.
The report was prepared by the RAND National Defense Research Institute, a federally funded research and development center that does research for the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Joint Staff, the unified commands and other defense agencies.
Read the excellent commentary at The Existentialist Cowboy – one of our FAVORITES!
WASHINGTON (CNN) — Former terrorist suspects detained by the United States were tortured, according to medical examinations detailed in a report released Wednesday by a human rights group.
The Massachusetts-based Physicians for Human Rights reached that conclusion after two-day clinical evaluations of 11 former detainees, who had been held at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and in Afghanistan.
The detainees were never charged with crimes.
“We found clear physical and psychological evidence of torture and abuse, often causing lasting suffering,” said Dr. Allen Keller, a medical evaluator for the study.
In a 121-page report, the doctors’ group said that it uncovered medical evidence of torture, including beatings, electric shock, sleep deprivation, sexual humiliation, sodomy and scores of other abuses.
The report is prefaced by retired U.S. Major Gen. Antonio Taguba, who led the Army’s investigation into the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal in 2003.
“There is no longer any doubt that the current administration committed war crimes,” Taguba says. “The only question is whether those who ordered torture will be held to account.”
Over the years, reports of abuses at Abu Ghraib and allegations of torture at Guantanamo prompted the Bush administration to deny that the U.S. military tortures detainees.
Since only 11 detainees were examined “the findings of this assessment cannot be generalized to the treatment of all detainees in U.S. custody,” the report says.
However, the incidents documented are consistent with findings of other investigations into government treatment, “making it reasonable to conclude that these detainees were not the only ones abused, but are representative of a much larger number of detainees subjected to torture and ill treatment while in U.S. custody.”
Four of the men evaluated were arrested in or taken to Afghanistan between late 2001 and early 2003 and later were sent to Guantanamo Bay, where they were held for an average of three years before being released without charge, the report says. The other seven were detained in Iraq in 2003 and released within a year, the report says.
All the subjects told examiners that they were subjected to multiple forms of torture or ill treatment that “often occurred in combination over a long period of time,” the report says.
While the report presents synopses of the detainees’ backgrounds based on interviews with them, the authors did not have access to the detainees’ medical histories. Therefore, there’s no way to know whether any of the inmates may have had medical or mental problems before being detained.
Among the ex-detainees was an Iraqi in his mid-40s, identified only as Laith, whom U.S. soldiers took into custody in October 2003 and who was released from Abu Ghraib in June 2004. According to the report, Laith was subjected to sleep deprivation, electric shocks and threats of sexual abuse to himself and his family.
“They took off even my underwear. They asked me to do some movements that make me look in a very bad way so they can take photographs. … They were trying to make me look like an animal,” Laith told examiners, according to the report.
According to the report, Laith said the most “painful” experiences involved threats to his family: “And they asked me, ‘Have you ever heard voices of women in this prison?’ I answered, ‘Yes.’ They were saying, ‘Then you will hear your mothers and sisters when we are raping them.’ ”
The examiners concluded in the report that “Laith appears to have suffered severe and lasting physical and psychological injuries as a result of his arrest and incarceration at Abu Ghraib prison.”
Another detainee, Youssef, was detained by U.S. soldiers nearly seven years ago when he tried to enter Afghanistan from neighboring Pakistan without a passport, the report says. He initially was held in an Afghan prison, where he describes “being stripped naked, being intimidated by dogs, being hooded and being thrown against the wall on repeated occasions,” the report says.
A few months later, he was taken to the Guantanamo Bay facility, where he was subjected to interrogators who would enter his cell and force him to lie on the floor with his hands tied behind his back to his feet, the report says.
Youssef said the interrogators wanted him to confess of involvement with the Taliban, the report says.
Based on its investigation, the report calls on the U.S. government to issue a formal apology to detainees subject to torture and ill treatment by the military since fall 2001 in Afghanistan, Iraq, Guantanamo Bay and elsewhere.
The rights group also demands that the Bush administration:
• “Repudiate all forms of torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment”;
• Establish an independent commission to investigate and report publicly the circumstances of detention and interrogation at U.S.-run prisons in Afghanistan, Iraq and Guantanamo Bay;
• Hold individuals involved in torturing detainees accountable through criminal and civil processes; and
• Monitor thoroughly the conditions at U.S.-run prisons all over the world.
We’d say to Justice Scalia (to use his own words) – “Get over it!“
WASHINGTON (CNN) — Suspected terrorists and foreign fighters held by the U.S. military at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, have the right to challenge their detention in federal court, the Supreme Court ruled Thursday.
The decision marks another legal blow to the Bush administration’s war on terrorism policies.
The 5-4 vote reflects the divide over how much legal autonomy the U.S. military should have to prosecute about 270 prisoners, some of whom have been held for more than six years without charges. Fourteen of them are alleged to be top al Qaeda figures.
Writing for the majority, Justice Anthony Kennedy said, “the laws and Constitution are designed to survive, and remain in force, in extraordinary times. Liberty and security can be reconciled; and in our system reconciled within the framework of the law.”
Kennedy, the court’s swing vote, was supported by Justices John Paul Stevens, David Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer, generally considered the liberal contingent.
At issue was the rights of detainees to contest their imprisonment and challenge the rules set up to try them.
A congressional law passed in 2006 would limit court jurisdiction to hear so-called habeas corpus challenges to detention. It is a legal question the justices have tackled three times since 2004, including Thursday’s ruling.
Each time, the justices have ruled against the government’s claim that it has the authority to hold people it considers “enemy combatants.”
Preliminary hearings have begun in Guantanamo for some of the accused. A military panel this month arraigned five suspected senior al Qaeda detainees, including the alleged mastermind of the September 11 attacks, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who was transferred to the prison camp in 2006.
The Bush administration has urged the high court not to get involved in the broader appeals, saying the federal judiciary has no authority to hear such matters.
Four justices agreed. In a sharp dissent, read in part from the bench, Justice Antonin Scalia said the majority “warps our Constitution.”
The “nation will live to regret what the court has done today,” Scalia said.
He was supported by Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito.
President Bush, who is traveling in Europe, said he disagreed with the Guantanamo ruling but promised to abide by it.
“Congress and the administration worked very carefully on a piece of legislation that set the appropriate procedures in place as to how to deal with the detainees,” he said. “We’ll study this opinion, and we’ll do so with this in mind to determine whether or not additional legislation might be appropriate so that we can safely say, truly say to the American people, ‘we are doing everything we can to protect you.’ ”
The Pentagon declined to comment, and the Justice Department said it was reviewing the decision and was expected to comment later Thursday.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, welcomed the ruling, saying the Supreme Court upheld the Constitution.
“I have long been an advocate of closing Guantanamo, so I would hope this is in furtherance of taking that action,” Pelosi said.
The appeals involve noncitizens. Sixteen lawsuits filed on behalf of about 200 prisoners were put on hold pending a ruling last year by a federal appeals court upholding the government’s right to detain and prosecute suspected terrorists and war criminals.
An attorney for one of the detainees, Salim Ahmed Hamdan — Osama bin Laden’s alleged driver and bodyguard — said he would file an appeal asking that charges be dropped against the Yemeni native.
“The clearest immediate impact of this ruling is to remove the remaining barriers for closing Guantanamo Bay. It means, in legal terms, Guantanamo Bay is no different than Kansas,” attorney Charles Swift said.
Now the ruling has been issued, a flood of similar appeals can be expected.
The lead plaintiffs are Lakhdar Boumediene, a Bosnian, and Fawzi al-Odah of Kuwait. They question the constitutionality of the Military Commissions Act, passed by Congress in October 2006. The law addresses how suspected foreign terrorists and fighters can be tried and sentenced under U.S. military law.
Under the system, those facing trial would have a limited right to appeal any conviction, reducing the jurisdiction of federal courts.
The suspects also must prove to a three-person panel of military officers they are not a terror risk. But defendants would have access to evidence normally given to a jury, and CIA agents were given more guidance in how far they can go in interrogating prisoners.
The law was a direct response to a June 2006 Supreme Court ruling striking down the Bush administration’s plan to try detainees before military commissions.
In 2004, the justices also affirmed the right of prisoners to challenge their detention in federal court. Congress and the administration have sought to restrict such access.
The Justice Department wanted the high court to pass on these appeals, at least until the first wave of tribunals had a chance to work. Administration officials also argued the prisoners have plenty of legal safeguards.
The White House has said it is considering whether to close the Guantanamo prison, suggesting some high-level al Qaeda detainees could be transferred to the federal prison in Leavenworth, Kansas, and to a military brig in North Charleston, South Carolina.
Most of the dozens of pending cases have been handled in the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, which in February 2007 upheld the Military Commissions Act’s provision stripping courts of jurisdiction to hear “habeas” challenges to the prisoners’ confinement.
But a three-judge panel of the same circuit expressed concern about why the U.S. military continues to limit attorney access to the Guantanamo men.
The detainees’ legal team alleges the government is unfairly restricting access to potentially exculpatory evidence, including documents they may not know exist before pretrial hearings.
Legal and terrorism analysts said the issues presented in these latest sets of appeals are unlike those the justices have delved into previously.
“The difference in this case is that they have a congressional enactment cutting back on habeas corpus that they have to wrestle with,” said Edward Lazarus, a leading appellate attorney and author of a book on the high court, “Closed Chambers: The Rise, Fall, and Future of the Modern Supreme Court.”
“And that, from a constitutional point of view, is really a different question.”
Keith Olbermann – ‘Countdown’
President Bush has resorted anew to the sleaziest fear-mongering and mass manipulation of an administration and public life dedicated to realizing the lowest of our expectations. And he has now applied these poisons to the 2008 presidential election, on behalf of the party at whose center he and John McCain lurk.
Mr. Bush has predicted that the election of a Democratic president could “eventually lead to another attack on the United States.” This ludicrous, infuriating, holier-than-thou and most importantly bone-headedly wrong statement came during a May 13 interview with Politico.com and online users of Yahoo.
The question was phrased as follows: “If we were to pull out of Iraq next year, what’s the worst that could happen, what’s the doomsday scenario?”
The president replied: “Doomsday scenario of course is that extremists throughout the Middle East would be emboldened, which would eventually lead to another attack on the United States. The biggest issue we face is, it’s bigger than Iraq, it’s this ideological struggle against cold-blooded killers who will kill people to achieve their political objectives.”
Mr. Bush, at long last, has it not dawned on you that the America you have now created, includes “cold-blooded killers who will kill people to achieve their political objectives?” They are those in — or formerly in — your employ, who may yet be charged some day with war crimes.
Through your haze of self-congratulation and self-pity, do you still have no earthly clue that this nation has laid waste to Iraq to achieve your political objectives? “This ideological struggle,” Mr. Bush, is taking place within this country.
It is a struggle between Americans who cherish freedom, ours and everybody else’s, and Americans like you, sir, to whom freedom is just a brand name, just like “Patriot Act” is a brand name or “Protect America” is a brand name.
But wait, there’s more: You also said “Iraq is the place where al-Qaida and other extremists have made their stand and they will be defeated.” They made no “stand” in Iraq, sir, you allowed them to assemble there!
As certainly as if that were the plan, the borders were left wide open by your government’s farcical post-invasion strategy of “they’ll greet us as liberators.” And as certainly as if that were the plan, the inspiration for another generation of terrorists in another country was provided by your government’s farcical post-invasion strategy of letting the societal infra-structure of Iraq dissolve, to be replaced by an American viceroy, enforced by merciless mercenaries who shoot unarmed Iraqis and then evade prosecution in any country by hiding behind your skirts, sir.
Terrorism inside Iraq is your creation, Mr. Bush!
It was a Yahoo user who brought up the second topic upon whose introduction Mr. Bush should have passed, or punted, or gotten up and left the room claiming he heard Dick Cheney calling him.
“Do you feel,” asked an ordinary American, “that you were misled on Iraq?”
“I feel like — I felt like, there were weapons of mass destruction,” the president said. “You know, ‘mislead’ is a strong word, it almost connotes some kind of intentional — I don’t think so, I think there was a — not only our intelligence community, but intelligence communities all across the world shared the same assessment. And so I was disappointed to see how flawed our intelligence was.”
You, Mr. Bush, and your tragically know-it-all minions, threw out every piece of intelligence that suggested there were no such weapons.
You, Mr. Bush, threw out every person who suggested that the sober, contradictory, reality-based intelligence needed to be listened to, fast.
You, Mr. Bush, are responsible for how “intelligence communities all across the world shared the same assessment.”
You and the sycophants you dredged up and put behind the most important steering wheel in the world propagated palpable nonsense and shoved it down the throat of every intelligence community across the world and punished anybody who didn’t agree it was really chicken salad.
And you, Mr. Bush, threw under the bus, all of the subsequent critics who bravely stepped forward later to point out just how much of a self-fulfilling prophecy you had embraced, and adopted as this country’s policy in lieu of, say, common sense.
The fiasco of pre-war intelligence, sir, is your fiasco.
You should build a great statue of yourself turning a deaf ear to the warnings of realists, while you are shown embracing the three-card monte dealers like Richard Perle and Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney.
That would be a far more fitting tribute to your legacy, Mr. Bush, than this presidential library you are constructing as a giant fable about your presidency, an edifice you might as claim was built from “Iraqi weapons of mass destruction” because there will be just as many of those inside your presidential library as there were inside Saddam Hussein’s Iraq.
Of course if there is one overriding theme to this president’s administration it is the utter, always-failing, inability to know when to quit when it is behind. And so Mr. Bush answered yet another question about this layered, nuanced, wheels-within-wheels garbage heap that constituted his excuse for war.
“And so you feel that you didn’t have all the information you should have or the right spin on that information?”
“No, no,” replied the President. “I was told by people, that they had weapons of mass destruction …”
People? What people? The insane informant “Curveball?” The Iraqi snake-oil salesman Ahmed Chalabi? The American snake-oil salesman Dick Cheney?
“I was told by people that they had weapons of mass destruction, as were members of Congress, who voted for the resolution to get rid of Saddam Hussein.
“And of course, the political heat gets on and they start to run and try to hide from their votes.”
Mr. Bush, you destroyed the evidence that contradicted the resolution you jammed down the Congress’s throat, the way you jammed it down the nation’s throat. When required by law to verify that your evidence was accurate, you simply resubmitted it, with phrases amounting to “See, I done proved it,” virtually written in the margins in crayon.
You defied patriotic Americans to say “The Emperor Has No Clothes,” only with the stakes — as you and the mental dwarves in your employ put it — being a “mushroom cloud over an American city.”
And as a final crash of self-indulgent nonsense, when the incontrovertible truth of your panoramic and murderous deceit has even begun to cost your political party seemingly perpetual congressional seats in places like North Carolina and Mississippi, you can actually say with a straight face, sir, that for members of Congress “the political heat gets on and they start to run and try to hide from their votes” — while you greet the political heat and try to run and hide from your presidency, and your legacy — 4,000 of the Americans you were supposed to protect — dead in Iraq, with your only feeble, pathetic answer being, “I was told by people that they had weapons of mass destruction.”
Then came Mr. Bush’s final blow to our nation’s solar plexus, his last reopening of our common wounds, his last remark that makes the rest of us question not merely his leadership or his judgment but his very suitably to remain in office.
“Mr. President,” he was asked, “you haven’t been golfing in recent years. Is that related to Iraq?
“Yes,” began perhaps the most startling reply of this nightmarish blight on our lives as Americans on our history. “It really is. I don’t want some mom whose son may have recently died, to see the Commander in Chief playing golf. I feel I owe it to the families to be as — to be in solidarity as best as I can with them. And I think playing golf during a war just sends the wrong signal.”
Golf, sir? Golf sends the wrong signal to the grieving families of our men and women butchered in Iraq? Do you think these families, Mr. Bush, their lives blighted forever, care about you playing golf? Do you think, sir, they care about you?
You, Mr. Bush, let their sons and daughters be killed. Sir, to show your solidarity with them you gave up golf? Sir, to show your solidarity with them you didn’t give up your pursuit of this insurance-scam, profiteering, morally and financially bankrupting war.
Sir, to show your solidarity with them you didn’t even give up talking about Iraq a subject about which you have incessantly proved without pause or backwards glance, that you may literally be the least informed person in the world?
Sir, to show your solidarity with them, you didn’t give up your presidency? In your own words “solidarity as best as I can” is to stop a game? That is the “best” you can do?
Four thousand Americans give up their lives and your sacrifice was to give up golf! Golf. Not “Gulf” — golf.
And still it gets worse. Because it proves that the president’s unendurable sacrifice, his unbearable pain, the suspension of getting to hit a stick with a ball, was not even his own damned idea.
“Mr. President, was there a particular moment or incident that brought you to that decision, or how did you come to that?”
“I remember when [diplomat Sergio Vieira] de Mello, who was at the U.N., got killed in Baghdad as a result of these murderers taking this good man’s life. And I was playing golf, I think I was in central Texas, and they pulled me off the golf course and I said, it’s just not worth it any more to do.”
Your one, tone-deaf, arrogant, pathetic, embarrassing gesture, and you didn’t even think of it yourself? The great Bushian sacrifice — an Army private loses a leg, a Marine loses half his skull, 4,000 of their brothers and sisters lose their lives — and you lose golf, and they have to pull you off the golf course to get you to just do that?
If it’s even true.
Apart from your medical files, which dutifully record your torn calf muscle and the knee pain which forced you to give up running at the same time — coincidence, no doubt — the bombing in Baghdad which killed Sergio Vieira de Mello of the U.N. and interrupted your round of golf was on Aug. 19, 2003.
Yet CBS News has records of you playing golf as late as Oct. 13 of that year, nearly two months later.
Mr. Bush, I hate to break it to you 6 1/2 years after you yoked this nation and your place in history to the wrong war, in the wrong place, against the wrong people, but the war in Iraq is not about you.
It is not, Mr. Bush, about your grief when American after American comes home in a box.
It is not, Mr. Bush, about what your addled brain has produced in the way of paranoid delusions of risks that do not exist, ready to be activated if some Democrat, and not your twin Mr. McCain, succeeds you.
The war in Iraq, your war, Mr. Bush, is about how you accomplished the derangement of two nations, and how you helped funnel billions of taxpayer dollars to lascivious and perennially thirsty corporations like Halliburton and Blackwater, and how you sent 4,000 Americans to their deaths for nothing.
It is not, Mr. Bush, about your golf game! And, sir, if you have any hopes that next Jan. 20 will not be celebrated as a day of soul-wrenching, heart-felt thanksgiving, because your faithless stewardship of this presidency will have finally come to a merciful end, this last piece of advice:
When somebody asks you, sir, about Democrats who must now pull this country back from the abyss you have placed us at …
When somebody asks you, sir, about the cooked books and faked threats you foisted on a sincere and frightened nation …
When somebody asks you, sir, about your gallant, noble, self-abdicating sacrifice of your golf game so as to soothe the families of the war dead.
This advice, Mr. Bush: Shut the hell up!
Please take the time to watch these videos – it’s what’s necessary for all of this to change.
Yes – it’s true – you can watch him say it. (We had to get past our aversion to the smirk to even watch this interview!) Listen closely – it’s at the 3:52 mark on the video:
(CBS) Last month, a government report revealed the U.S. military could not account for 190,000 — or 30 percent — of all weapons issued to Iraqi Security Forces between June 2004 and December 2005.
Thursday, Pentagon officials said $88 billion in spending in Iraq and Afghanistan is now under audit by the Department of Defense for fraud.
Now, in his exclusive report CBS News chief investigative correspondent Armen Keteyian has learned some of those missing weapons have ended up in the worst possible hands.
CBS News has learned that the CIA has photographic evidence that Austrian-made Glocks intended for Iraqi security forces and paid for by U.S. taxpayers are now in the hands of Iraqi insurgents — in numbers that the intelligence community believes are in the thousands.
According to an intelligence source, the U.S. contractor in charge of the Glocks somehow lost track of an entire shipment. That mysterious disappeance is now part of a massive military bribery investigation centered around a contracting office run out of a small trailer at a military base in Kuwait. Eighteen federal investigators are digging into the actions of dozens of high-ranking U.S officers and military contractors.
Thursday, at a House Armed Services Committee hearing, lawmakers took aim at what the chairman called “a culture of corruption” surrounding billions in Iraq war contracts, but stopped short of publicly saying where some of the weapons wound up.
“The number of folks who have enormous responsibilty to this country are involved has, I think, made this a real tragedy for our country,” says Duncan Hunter, the committee’s ranking member.
After the hearing, Keteyian confronted Army Lt. General Ross Thompson, who admitted the Inspector General at the Defense of Department is looking at the CIA’s evidence.
“We are going to report tonight that thousands of Glock pistols intended for Iraq security forces instead ended up in the hands of insurgents,” says Keteyian. “What is your reaction to that?”
“I don’t know that for a fact,” Thompson says. “It is something that is being investigated by the DOD IG right now and that’s something that is not within my responsibility or my area of expertise to comment on, but it is being actively investigated.”
As Congress prepares to send another $2 billion to the Iraq security forces, Dept. of Defense officials testified they are working to find better ways to maintain appropriate accountability and control over military material.
It’s small comfort to American soldiers in Iraq who may now be staring down the barrel of guns paid for by the U.S. government.
By Correlli Barnett
For George W Bush’s proclaimed “global war on terror”, this has been a week to remember – but also a week that should make us challenge the basic assumptions behind this so-called “war”.
Last Tuesday, the world commemorated the sixth anniversary of 9/11, when the ultimate totems of America’s capitalist pride, the 110-storey Twin Towers of the World Trade Centre, were attacked by Al Qaeda terrorists using hijacked airliners as guided missiles, and then, with the world watching on TV, collapsed one by one like broken Lego.
It was this stunning event which goaded President Bush into declaring his “global war on terror”.
But the World Trade Centre on September 11, 2001, was nothing like Pearl Harbour on December 7, 1941, when the entire American battle fleet was sunk or crippled by a mass air attack by another great power, Japan.
No matter how sensational its impact, 9/11 still remains a terrorist outrage perpetrated by a mere 19 men armed with Stanley knives.
Nor had the attack been masterminded, like Pearl Harbour, by the government of a foreign state, but simply by an Islamist fanatic and a handful of co-conspirators.
So for Bush to declare “war” on Osama Bin Laden and Al Qaeda was actually to exaggerate their importance – and glorify their actions. Worse, it was his declaration of “war” that led in 2001 to the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan and, in 2003, to the invasion and occupation of Iraq.
As it happens, this week has also been marked by Bush’s speech in which he said 5,700 US troops would be brought home from Iraq by the end of the year, followed by a gradual withdrawal up to next July.
There was also General David Petraeus’s report to Congress on how the “war” is going in Iraq four-and-a-half years after Bush’s own bragging announcement of “Mission Accomplished”.
Of course, Petraeus asserted that the new offensive against Iraqi insurgents (now all conveniently dubbed “Al Qaeda”) is going well, even if the insurgents may well have simply shifted out of the way of his 168,000 Darth Vader-style storm troops.
“Give me another six months,” says Petraeus, and the chance of one last military heave, and success would at last be won.
Success? While Petraeus was being subjected to sharp questioning this week by Republicans as well as Democrats, he could only offer the hope that by next summer – five years after “Mission Accomplished” – American forces in Iraq could be cut back to 130,000, the total before the current “surge”.
But let us recall that at the beginning of 2004 – repeat, 2004 – the Pentagon was proposing to reduce the 135,000 men then in Iraq to 105,000. In the bosoms of the American military and the Washington political hawks, hope certainly springs eternal.
The truth is that Petraeus has simply been using a temporary and doubtful tactical success in order to conceal long-term strategic failure.
In any case, whatever Petraeus achieves on the ground will be irrelevant because of the hopeless disarray, the utter impotence, of the Al-Maliki government in Baghdad. At the time of the invasion of Iraq in 2003, Bush and Co expected to create a strong and stable democratic regime. Instead, they have brought about a failed state.
And the human cost of “Operation Iraqi Freedom”? The total number of American servicemen and women killed in action already amounts to 3,826, with 168 British forces having been killed. And between 500,000 and 600,000 Iraqi men, women and children have died. What’s more, since Saddam fell, four million Iraqis have become refugees, either inside Iraq or beyond.
Meanwhile this week, another two British soldiers have been killed by the resurgent Taliban in Afghanistan, bringing the total British losses since 2001 to 78.
The occupation of Afghanistan in November 2001 was the first bitter fruit of that “global war on terror” declared by Bush in the hour of America’s rage and fright after 9/11.
When the Taliban regime refused to surrender Osama Bin Laden or shut his Al Qaeda training camps, Bush and Co decided that the only answer was to topple the Taliban, take over the country and convert its tribes and warlords to democracy.
So six years on, we have North Atlantic – repeat, North Atlantic – Treaty Organisation forces attempting to defeat a resurgent Taliban in Afghanistan. It’s a struggle which some soldiers estimate could last ten years or more.
And while in Iraq “democracy” has meant a government whose writ hardly runs beyond the Baghdad “Green Zone”, so in Afghanistan it has meant the government of Mohammed Karzai, whose writ hardly runs beyond Kabul.
This sixth anniversary of 9/11 has also been commemorated by Osama Bin Laden himself, popping up on a new video in order to praise the “martyrs” who carried out the attack, and to call on America and the West to convert to Islam.
No doubt as intended, the tape sharply reminds us that Al Qaeda has not been crushed by the loss of its Afghan bases.
The truth is that despite Bush’s “war on terror” and the American-led occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq, Islamist terrorism has continued to seethe and bubble across the world – and sometimes explode, as in Madrid in 2004 and London in 2005.
This summer, an attack on Glasgow Airport mercifully failed because of the terrorists’ own incompetence. And German counter-terrorism police foiled a plot (meant to mark the sixth anniversary of 9/11) which was aimed at truckbombing Frankfurt Airport and the US air base at Ramstein.
Yet the basic puzzle of 9/11 remains: exactly why did Osama Bin Laden decide to attack the World Trade Centre and other American targets?
It is clear enough that Bin Laden himself and Islamist militants everywhere are motivated by sheer hatred of America, her global hegemony and her materialist civilisation. This goes hand in hand with a passionate religious belief in the righteousness of the cause.
We’ve seen this in the videos of Bin Laden and of those young jihadists about to blow themselves up along with their fellow human beings.
But I have long thought that Bin Laden was also motivated by a specific strategic purpose in launching 9/11 – a wish to trap the United States into an ideological struggle with the Islamic world. He certainly succeeded in this – but only because Bush and his neo-con cronies have been all too willing to accept the challenge.
Why? Because just as much as Bin Laden and his fellow jihadists, they, too, see world affairs in simple terms of ideological conviction.
Remember, Bush and his vicepresident Dick Cheney are fundamentalist Christians, while Bush’s own political base lies in his fellow fundamentalists of the American ‘Bible belt’. And tragically for Britain, Tony Blair passionately shared Bush’s belief that world policy must be inspired by religious faith.
The grim truth is that when George W. Bush declared “a global war on terror”, he was really announcing a jihad of his own – a struggle to convert the whole world to American-style capitalist democracy.
Only a couple of weeks ago, Bush trumpeted to a tame audience of the American Legion that the U.S. was engaged in “the first ideological war of the 21st century”.
So we have two global jihads colliding head on. The collision has transformed world affairs from the cool-headed fixing of deals into an apocalyptic conflict between Good and Evil.
“We” are the righteous, while our chosen enemy is “the Axis of Evil” or “the Great Satan” (take your pick) with whom no compromise is possible, and against whom any violence is permissible.
Al Qaeda and its associated jihadists massacre the innocent to the cry of “Allah Akbar” (‘God is Great’). Meanwhile, President Bush launches “shock and awe” aerial onslaughts on Iraqi and Afghan villages and cities in the sure belief that Jesus Christ wants him to spread democracy around the world.
Yet belief in the righteousness of the cause is only the vehicle for something deeper and even more alarming. And that something is sheer emotion. We see it in jihadist books and preaching. We see it in Bush’s inflamed rhetoric. We saw it in the preachings of Tony Blair.
Such emotion is terrifyingly dangerous. The great German philosopher on war, Carl von Clausewitz, pointed out that the intensity of a conflict is determined by the importance of the political object at stake.
If the war is about some limited issue like ownership of a province or control of an economic asset, then the war itself will be limited in violence, extent and duration.
But wars have no such limits if they are fuelled by mutual hatred, or inspired by rival political or religious faiths, or fought for national survival. Instead, they will escalate to extremes.
All three of these factors were true of the titanic struggle to the death between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union in 1941-45.
Now we see a comparable mutual hatred and fear – comparable fanatical beliefs – fuelling the current struggle between the two jihads of Bush and Bin Laden.
Here lies the peril for the future. For how can “the Axis of Evil” and “the Great Satan” negotiate a businesslike compromise on the basis of live-and-let-live?
Today, Iran has become the prime target of Bush’s ideological mission. He recently trumpeted: “We will confront this danger before it is too late. Either the forces of extremism succeed or the forces of freedom succeed. Either our enemies advance their interests in Iraq, or we advance our interests.”
In this inflamed rhetoric, echoing his rants in 2002 and 2003 about Saddam Hussein and his alleged development of weapons of mass destruction, we can hear the louder and louder beat of war drums.
It therefore seems that the disastrous consequences of American interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan have taught Bush nothing.
Nor has he learned the harsh lesson from history that launching a war in order to achieve an ideological objective can lead to horribly unintended consequences.
Hitler expected a sixweek walkover when he invaded the Soviet Union in 1941, only for the war to end four years later with his suicide in the ruins of his own capital, Berlin.
The lesson here – the lesson of all military history – is that war, no matter how passionate the belief in the righteousness of the cause, is inherently uncontrollable, its outcome quite unpredictable.
Now, during the present honeymoon of Gordon Brown’s premiership, is therefore surely the moment for Britain to revert from ideology to strategy as the guide to her own approach to world affairs. For example, we should stop regarding the Iranian regime as yet another “monster” to be confronted and, instead, negotiate with those more moderate ayatollahs.
In 1820, that outstandingly able Tory statesman, Lord Castlereagh, refused to join other European states in meddling in “the domestic upsets” (his words) of certain countries then in revolutionary turmoil.
He told the great powers that Britain “would not charge itself as a member of the Alliance with the moral responsibility of administering a general European police”.
For ‘European’ in 1820, substitute “global” today, and Castlereagh’s dictum still makes admirable good sense.
Very similar advice was given to the young United States in 1821 by John Quincy Adams: “We are friends of liberty everywhere, but we go not abroad in search of monsters to destroy.”
If only George W. Bush would abandon his paranoid search for ideological monsters, we could all sleep more peacefully in our beds.
The true answer to Islamist jihad does not lie in Bush’s ideological counter-jihad, but in cool political heads and painstaking work by police forces and intelligence services across the world.
• CORRELLI BARNETT is the author of The Deport Generals (Phoenix Paperback, £8.99).
From The Daily Mail
See updates at bottom.
There’s a huge new media scandal breaking this morning, and the headline so far — that a much-used consultant to ABC News published a phony interview with Barak Obama — may well be the tip of the proverbial iceberg. The news about now ex-ABC consultant Alexis Debat (left) is just dribbling out, but I’m surprised people haven’t been connecting the dots. This post will seek to connect a couple of them.
Simply put, Debat — a former French defense official who now works at the (no, you can’t make these things up) Nixon Center — has also been a leading source in pounding the drumbeat for war in Iran, and directly linked to some bizarre stories — reported on ABC’s widely watched news shows, and nowhere else — that either ratcheted up fears of terrorism or that could have stoked new tensions between Washington and Tehran.
Ironically, while Debat’s alleged specialty is foreign affairs, it was a foray into American presidential politics that brought this budding scandal out into the open. This from today’s article by Howard Kurtz in the Washington Post:
A former consultant to ABC’s investigative unit admitted yesterday that he put his name on a purported interview with Barack Obama that he never conducted. Alexis Debat, a former French defense official who now works at the Nixon Center, published the interview in the French magazine Politique Internationale. He said he had hired a freelance journalist to conduct the interview, in which the Democratic presidential candidate supposedly said that Iraq was “already a defeat for America” that has “wasted thousands of lives.” Debat said he had been unable to locate the intermediary, and the Obama campaign says no such interview took place.
“I was scammed,” Debat said. “I was very, very stupid. I made a huge mistake in signing that article and not checking his credentials.”
But that’s not the only red flag about Debat’s credibility. It turns out that ABC News fired Debat as a consultant in June when it discovered that he had lied about earning a Ph.D. from the prestigious Sorbonne. According to the Post, ABC News also checked our Debat’s work for the network and didn’t find anything wrong. Today they say they’re checking again, and they should. Most recently, since ending his role with ABC, Debat helped raise a big international stir by pounding the drums for a U.S. attack on Iran.
The report came in the Rupert Murdoch-owned Times of London, right after rumors swept through Washington that aides to Vice President Dick Cheney were planning to use friendly news outlets — including several others owned by Murdoch — to whip up popular opinion for attacking Iran.
This story appeared in Murdoch’s Times on Sept. 2, 2007:
THE Pentagon has drawn up plans for massive airstrikes against 1,200 targets in Iran, designed to annihilate the Iranians’ military capability in three days, according to a national security expert. Alexis Debat, director of terrorism and national security at the Nixon Center, said last week that US military planners were not preparing for “pinprick strikes” against Iran’s nuclear facilities. “They’re about taking out the entire Iranian military,” he said.
Debat was speaking at a meeting organised by The National Interest, a conservative foreign policy journal. He told The Sunday Times that the US military had concluded: “Whether you go for pinprick strikes or all-out military action, the reaction from the Iranians will be the same.” It was, he added, a “very legitimate strategic calculus”.
Needless to say, the new information about Debat calls this story into question — big-time, as Cheney himself might say. But what is really going on? Is Debat pulling sensational stories from thin air, as was the case with Obama, to make a name for himself? Or in his role at the Nixon Center — which still has close ties to Henry Kissinger and others in the conservative foreign policy establishment like former Secretary of State James Baker, who spoke there recently– is he serving a higher agenda of spin?
If you look at the stories on which ABC News has acknowledged Debat’s work, many of the reports came from left field. Do you remember this report from June, on which ABC has apparently acknowledged Debat was a consultant?
Large teams of newly trained suicide bombers are being sent to the United States and Europe, according to evidence contained on a new videotape obtained by the Blotter on ABCNews.com. Teams assigned to carry out attacks in the United States, Canada, Great Britain and Germany were introduced at an al Qaeda/Taliban training camp graduation ceremony held June 9.
A Pakistani journalist was invited to attend and take pictures as some 300 recruits, including boys as young as 12, were supposedly sent off on their suicide missions.
How did ABC get this alarmist video — at a time when government officials in Washington seemed to be amping up fears over new terrorist attacks at home, going into the congressional debate over reauthorizing the government’s eavesdropping program and maintaining troop levels in Iraq? Did Debat play any role?
Ross acknowledged yesterday that Debat was a source on this controversial report regarding U.S. efforts in Iran, back in April:
A Pakistani tribal militant group responsible for a series of deadly guerrilla raids inside Iran has been secretly encouraged and advised by American officials since 2005, U.S. and Pakistani intelligence sources tell ABC News. The group, called Jundullah, is made up of members of the Baluchi tribe and operates out of the Baluchistan province in Pakistan, just across the border from Iran.
It has taken responsibility for the deaths and kidnappings of more than a dozen Iranian soldiers and officials.
Debat has also reportedly helped ABC analyze terrorism inside Saudi Arabia, and provided his “expert” commentary and information on stories ranging from the 2005 London bombings to the trial of his fellow Frenchman, al-Qaeda member Zacarias Moussaoui. His work should cause a re-examination of all of ABC News’ investigative reporting on both terrorism and Iran over the last couple of years, because — wittingly or unwittingly — no other network has better served the Bush agenda in the Middle East.
Iran has more than tripled its ability to produce enriched uranium in the last three months, adding some 1,000 centrifuges which are used to separate radioactive particles from the raw material. The development means Iran could have enough material for a nuclear bomb by 2009, sources familiar with the dramatic upgrade tell ABC News.
The sources say the unexpected expansion is taking place at Iran’s nuclear enrichment plant outside the city of Natanz, in a hardened facility 70 feet underground.
Was Debat — who was aggressively working with Ross on other Iran stories at the time — one of the sources on this, as well? If so, it would fit with Debat’s modus operandi on the Times of London article.
As noted at the top, there are two radically different ways to look at this scandal. Either Debat is a lone wolf, a deluded self-aggrandizer whose main agenda is promoting himself. Or he is acting in his role at the Nixon Center as a conduit, spreading information and occasional disinformation at the behest of others.
Either way, this is unarguably yet another huge black eye for the American media. But if the latter is true, it could also raise major questions about American foreign policy, and about the future of war and peace in the Persian Gulf.
UPDATE: Laura Rozen has a lot more on this.
UPDATE II: Wow:
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Microsoft founder Bill Gates and former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan have added their names to the list of people who say they were the subjects of fake interviews published in a French foreign affairs journal under the name of Alexis Debat, a former ABC News consultant.
Read this or George W. Bush will be president the rest of your life
September 11, 2007
by William Blum
The world is very weary of all this and wants to laugh again
Okay, Bush ain’t gonna get out of Iraq no matter what anyone says or does short of a)impeachment, b)a lobotomy, or c)one of his daughters setting herself afire in the Oval Office as a war protest. A few days ago, upon arriving in Australia, “in a chipper mood”, he was asked by the Deputy Prime Minister about his stopover in Iraq. “We’re kicking ass,” replied the idiot king. Another epigram for his tombstone.
And the Democrats ain’t gonna end the war. Ninety-nine percent of the American people protesting on the same day ain’t gonna do it either, in this democracy. (No, I’m sorry to say that I don’t think the Vietnam protesters ended the war. There were nine years of protest — 1964 to 1973 — before the US military left Vietnam. It’s a stretch to ascribe a cause and effect to that. The United States, after all, had to leave sometime.)
Only those fighting the war can end it. By laying down their arms and refusing to kill anymore, including themselves. Some American soldiers in Iraq have already refused to go on very dangerous combat missions. Iraq Veterans Against the War, last month at their annual meeting, in St. Louis, voted to launch a campaign encouraging American troops to refuse to fight. “Iraq Veterans Against the War decided to make support of war resisters a major part of what we do,” said Garrett Rappenhagen, a former U.S. Army sniper who served in Iraq from February 2004 to February 2005.
The veterans group has begun organizing among active duty soldiers on military bases. Veterans have toured the country in busses holding barbeques outside the base gates. They also plan to step up efforts to undermine military recruiting efforts.
Of course it’s a very long shot to get large numbers of soldiers into an angry, protesting frame of mind. But consider the period following the end of World War Two. Late 1945 and early 1946 saw what is likely the greatest troop revolt that has ever occurred in a victorious army. Hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of American soldiers protested all over the world because they were not being sent home even though the war was over. The GIs didn’t realize it at first, but many soon came to understand that the reason they were being transferred from Europe and elsewhere to various places in the Pacific area, instead of being sent back home, was that the United States was concerned about uprisings against colonialism, which, in the minds of Washington foreign-policy officials, was equated with communism and other nasty un-American things. The uprisings were occurring in British colonies, in Dutch colonies, in French colonies, as well as in the American colony of the Philippines. Yes, hard to believe, but the United States was acting like an imperialist power.
In the Philippines there were repeated mass demonstrations by GIs who were not eager to be used against the left-wing Huk guerrillas. The New York Times reported in January 1946 about one of these demonstrations: “‘The Philippines are capable of handling their own internal problems,’ was the slogan voiced by several speakers. Many extended the same point of view to China.”
American marines were sent to China to support the Nationalist government of Chang Kai-shek against the Communists of Mao Tse-tung and Chou En-lai. They were sent to the Netherlands Indies (Indonesia) to be of service to the Dutch in their suppression of native nationalists. And American troop ships were used to transport the French military to France’s former colony in Vietnam. These and other actions of Washington led to numerous large GI protests in Japan, Guam, Saipan, Korea, India, Germany, England, France, and Andrews Field, Maryland, all concerned with the major slowdown in demobilization and the uses for which the soldiers were being employed. There were hunger strikes and mass mailings to Congress from the soldiers and their huge body of support in the States. In January 1946, Senator Edwin Johnson of Colorado declared “It is distressing and humiliating to all Americans to read in every newspaper in the land accounts of near mutiny in the Army.”
On January 13, 1946, 500 GIs in Paris adopted a set of demands called “The Enlisted Man’s Magna Charta”, calling for radical reforms of the master-slave relationship between officers and enlisted men; also demanding the removal of Secretary of War Robert Patterson. In the Philippines, soldier sentiment against the reduced demobilization crystallized in a meeting of GIs that voted unanimously to ask Secretary Patterson and certain Senators: “What is the Army’s position in the Philippines, especially in relation to the reestablishment of the Eighty-sixth Infantry Division on a combat basis?”
By the summer of 1946 there had been a huge demobilization of the armed forces, although there’s no way of knowing with any exactness how much of that was due to the GIs’ protests.
If this is how American soldiers could be inspired and organized in the wake of “The Good War”, imagine what can be done today in the midst of “The God-awful War”.
Iraq Veterans Against the War could use your help. Go to: http://www.ivaw.org/
 Sydney Morning Herald, September 6, 2007
 New York Times, January 8, 1946, p.3
 New York Times, January 11, 1946, p.1
 Ibid., p.4
 For more information about the soldiers’ protests, see: Mary-Alice Waters, “G.I.’s and the Fight
Against War” (New York, 1967), a pamphlet published by “Young Socialist” magazine.William Blum is the author of:
Killing Hope: US Military and CIA Interventions Since World War 2
Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower
West-Bloc Dissident: A Cold War Memoir
Freeing the World to Death: Essays on the American Empire
Portions of the books can be read, and signed copies purchased, at www.killinghope.org