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Anti-War - A new report coming out of the New York Times reveals that President Obama has signed a secret order dramatically expanding the scope of US military operations in Afghanistan in 2015.
Despite claims that the war is ending at the end of 2014, the new order will ensure that US ground troops will continue to carry out direct combat operations throughout 2015, and potentially beyond.
Obama had announced back in May that there would no combat role at all in 2015, and that the remaining troops, about 10,000 of them, would be limited to training Afghan forces.
There was said to have been a heated debate within the administration about this decision, which led to the secret order changing the policy back toward US troops in direct combat.
The Pentagon was said to have been the driving force behind the decision, with civilian leaders seeking to keep the war limited to al-Qaeda remnants, while the Pentagon wanted to get back to direct fighting against the Taliban.
As usual, the debate on US war policy was kept totally out of the public eye, and Americans were led to believe that the end of direct combat was indeed finalized, even though it was not the case.
BBC - The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) said opium production was up by 17% since last year.
Its Afghan Opium Survey 2014 said the area under poppy cultivation had risen by 7% to cover 224,000 hectares.
UNODC head Yury Fedotov warned there was a serious risk Afghanistan could become a narco-state, following the withdrawal of foreign forces.
Most poppies are still grown in southern Helmand province, where British troops were stationed until October.
NPR - Afghanistan has signed a pact with the U.S. to allow about 10,000 troops to remain in the country after the end of the year, when most American forces are to be withdrawn.
The country's newly inaugurated president, Ashraf Ghani, signed the Bilateral Security Agreement, or BSA, which would leave in place the U.S. troops and a few others from NATO allies to bolster Afghan forces.
... NPR's Tom Bowman says that although most of the U.S. troops will be inside bases training Afghans, "Some U.S. troops will handle a counterterrorism mission, so they could be in harm's way, despite the president saying combat is over."
Tony Blinken, Obamas deputy national security adviser, told CNN that the United States will spend about $20 billion on the continued military presence in Afghanistan after 2014 - CNN
Who What Why - $20 billion is about one-third to one-half of what the United States Department of Education spends on elementary, secondary and vocational education, and comparable to what it spends on higher education...
-$20 billion is what the U.S. government budgeted for 2013 to subsidize often-struggling farmers
-Its four-fifths of what we spend for science, space and technology
-Its more than twice the budget of the Environmental Protection Agency
-Its a third of what we spend on veterans hospital and medical careon the people who fight in all wars combined
-Its about a third of what we spend on administration of justice
-Its about 8 times what we spend on national parkswhich have suffered continued cuts in recent years, resulting in reduced services and closures
Michael Hastings, Rolling Stone, 2012 - On June 25th, Bowe's battalion suffered its first casualty of the deployment. A popular officer, 1st Lt. Brian Bradshaw, was killed in a blast from a roadside bomb near the village of Yaya Kheyl, not far from the outpost. Though Bradshaw was in a different company, the 24-year-old's death rocked the unit, shattering the sense of invulnerability that accompanies those who have just arrived in country. Bowe's father believes that Bradshaw and Bowe had grown close at the National Training Center, and his death darkened his son's mood. It was all too much for Bowe. On June 27th, he sent what would be his final e-mail&SHY; to his parents. It was a lengthy message documenting his complete disillusionment with the war effort. He opened it by addressing it simply to "mom, dad."
"The future is too good to waste on lies," Bowe wrote. "And life is way too short to care for the damnation of others, as well as to spend it helping fools with their ideas that are wrong. I have seen their ideas and I am ashamed to even be american. The horror of the self-righteous arrogance that they thrive in. It is all revolting."
The e-mail went on to list a series of complaints: Three good sergeants, Bowe said, had been forced to move to another company, and "one of the biggest shit bags is being put in charge of the team." His battalion commander was a "conceited old fool." The military system itself was broken: "In the US army you are cut down for being honest... but if you are a conceited brown nosing shit bag you will be allowed to do what ever you want, and you will be handed your higher rank... The system is wrong. I am ashamed to be an american. And the title of US soldier is just the lie of fools." The soldiers he actually admired were planning on leaving: "The US army is the biggest joke the world has to laugh at. It is the army of liars, backstabbers, fools, and bullies. The few good SGTs are getting out as soon as they can, and they are telling us privates to do the same."
In the second-to-last paragraph of the e-mail, Bowe wrote about his broader disgust with America's approach to the war an effort, on the ground, that seemed to represent the exact opposite of the kind of concerted campaign to win the "hearts and minds" of average Afghans envisioned by counterinsurgency strategists. "I am sorry for everything here," Bowe told his parents. "These people need help, yet what they get is the most conceited country in the world telling them that they are nothing and that they are stupid, that they have no idea how to live." He then referred to what his parents believe may have been a formative, possibly traumatic event: seeing an Afghan child run over by an MRAP. "We don't even care when we hear each other talk about running their children down in the dirt streets with our armored trucks... We make fun of them in front of their faces, and laugh at them for not understanding we are insulting them."
Bowe concluded his e-mail with what, in another context, might read as a suicide note. "I am sorry for everything," he wrote. "The horror that is america is disgusting." Then he signed off with a final message to his mother and father. "There are a few more boxes coming to you guys," he said, referring to his uniform and books, which he had already packed up and shipped off. "Feel free to open them, and use them."
On June 27th, at 10:43 p.m., Bob Bergdahl responded to his son's final message not long after he received it. His subject line was titled: OBEY YOUR CONSCIENCE!
"Dear Bowe," he wrote. "In matters of life and death, and especially at war, it is never safe to ignore ones' conscience. Ethics demands obedience to our conscience. It is best to also have a systematic oral defense of what our conscience demands. Stand with like minded men when possible." He signed it simply "dad."....
In the early-morning hours of June 30th, according to soldiers in the unit, Bowe approached his team leader not long after he got off guard duty and asked his superior a simple question: If I were to leave the base, would it cause problems if I took my sensitive equipment?
Yes, his team leader responded if you took your rifle and night-vision goggles, that would cause problems.
Bowe returned to his barracks, a roughly built bunker of plywood and sandbags. He gathered up water, a knife, his digital camera and his diary. Then he slipped off the outpost.
Bowe might have spent his childhood hiking in the mountains of Idaho, but the terrain he now faced was nothing like back home. To get to Pakistan, he would first have to descend some 1,500 feet from the mountain outpost and skirt the village of Yaya Kheyl, a town known for harboring Taliban. At that hour, there would be few people on the main road through Paktiki, dubbed "Route Audi" by U.S. forces. But as dawn broke, a stream of motorbikes and pedestrians would start to pass by. Alone, white-skinned and likely wearing his Army uniform, Bowe would have stood out immediately.
If Bowe made it through town, the next step would be even more daunting: He would have to slog eight miles through deep sand so fine that soldiers called it "moondust." If he was lucky, he might pick up a path used by Kuchi nomadic tribesmen to bring their sheep to market. Along the way, Bowe would pass grave sites: tall stacks of rocks marked by bright flags. Then he'd be forced to climb back up the switchbacks to Omna, where his platoon had been bogged down on its first major mission, traverse the Bermel Plateau, and once again scale mountain peaks to cross the border into Pakistan.
At 9:00 that morning, the acting platoon leader, Sgt. 1st Class Larry Hein, called in over the radio to report a missing soldier. According to sources in the battalion, this was the last thing Hein needed, given all the scrutiny the unit had been under. The men needed a break. Instead, they had to find a member of their platoon. "That was a shitty week for all of them," says one soldier in the unit.
By 11:37 a.m., a Predator drone was on station, monitoring the area with a call sign of VOODOO. At 2:10 p.m., a Pathfinder and a team of tracking dogs arrived at the small outpost. Five minutes later, another Predator drone began circling the area. At 2:42, Guardrail an electronic intercept plane run by the same clandestine Army agency that killed Pablo Escobar captured low-level voice intercepts picked up from radio or cellphone traffic. An American soldier with a camera was reportedly looking for someone who spoke English.
The search quickly escalated. No one knew whether Bowe was a deserter,&SHY; a prisoner or a casualty. At that point he was simply listed as DUSTWUN short for "Duty Status: Whereabouts Unknown." But either way, the Army wanted him back, fast. At 4:42 that afternoon, Col. Michael Howard, the senior officer responsible for three eastern provinces in Afghanistan, ordered that "all operations will cease until the missing soldier is found. All assets will be focused on the DUSTWUN situation and sustainment operations."
Within an hour, two F-18s were circling overhead. Afghan forces passed along intelligence that a U.S. soldier had been captured by the Taliban. By that evening, two F-15s call sign DUDE-21 had joined the search. A few minutes later, according&SHY; to files obtained by WikiLeaks, a radio transmission intercepted by U.S. forces stated that the Taliban had captured&SHY; three civilians and one U.S. soldier. The battalion leading the manhunt entered and searched three compounds in the area, but found nothing significant to report.
The next morning, more than 24 hours after Bowe had vanished, U.S. intelligence intercepted a conversation between two Taliban fighters:
"I SWEAR THAT I HAVE NOT HEARD ANYTHING YET. WHAT HAPPENED. IS THAT TRUE THAT THEY CAPTURED AN AMERICAN GUY?"
"YES THEY DID. HE IS ALIVE. THERE IS NO WHERE HE CAN GO (LOL)" "IS HE STILL ALIVE?"
"YES HE IS ALIVE. BUT I DONT HAVE THE WHOLE STORY. DONT KNOW IF THEY WERE FIGHTING. ALL I KNOW IF THEY WERE FIGHTING. ALL I KNOW THAT THEY CAPTURE HIM ALIVE AND THEY ARE WITH HIM RIGHT NOW."
Then another intercept was picked up:
"CUT THE HEAD OFF"
Later that evening, a final intercept confirmed that Bowe had been captured by the Taliban, who were preparing an ambush for the search party.
"WE ARE WAITING FOR THEM."
"LOL THEY KNOW WHERE HE IS BUT THEY KEEP GOING TO WRONG AREA."
"OK SET UP THE WORK FOR THEM."
"YES WE HAVE A LOT OF IED ON THE ROAD."
"GOD WILLING WE WILL DO IT."
"WE WERE ATTACKING THE POST HE WAS SITTING TAKING EXPLETIVE HE HAD NO GUN WITH HIM. HE WAS TAKING EXPLETIVE, HE HAS NOT CLEANED HIS BUTT YET." "WHAT SHAME FOR THEM."
"YES LOOK THEY HAVE ALL AMERICANS, ANA HELICOPTERS THE PLANES ARE LOOKING FOR HIM."
"I THINK HE IS BIG SHOT THAT WHY THEY ARE LOOKING FOR HIM."
A third voice chimed in:
"CAN YOU GUYS MAKE A VIDEO OF HIM AND ANNOUNCE IT ALL OVER AFGHANISTAN THAT WE HAVE ONE OF THE AMERICANS."
"WE ALREADY HAVE A VIDEO OF HIM."
The next day, American forces had a chance to free Bowe. The battalion operations officer, call sign GERONIMO 3, met with two tribal elders from the nearby village. The elders had been asked by the Taliban to arrange a trade with U.S. forces. The insurgents wanted 15 of their jailed fighters released, along with an unidentified sum of money, in exchange for Bowe. The officer hedged, unwilling or unable to make such a bargain, and no deal was struck. Instead, the Army ordered all units stationed in the eastern half of Afghanistan known as RC East, in military jargon to join the search for Bowe.
On July 4th, the search effort got a break: Bowe was spotted in a village in Ghazni, about 15 miles across the mountains to the west. He was wearing khaki, with a bag covering his head, and he was being driven in a black Toyota Corolla, escorted by three to five motorcycles. But by the time troops arrived to investigate, it was too late. That was the last time that Bowe would be seen until the first propaganda video, released later that month.
Over the next few months, Bowe's unit would be consumed with trying to find him. When Fancey, Bowe's former platoon leader, heard the news at the base where he had been reassigned, he couldn't believe what had happened to his former private. "I was like, 'What? You're joking, right?' The next few weeks, it was like we were in a movie. It was like, this shouldn't be real."
Back in Idaho, on the afternoon of June 30th, Bowe's mother, Jani, heard her dog Rufus barking. The gate to the driveway was closed. On the other side stood a pickup truck flanked by three men in Army uniforms. They were from the Idaho National Guard, and they'd driven down from Boise.
"Oh," she thought. "Why are they standing there?" Then the panic struck. "No, no, no," she thought. "He just got there."
Jani approached the men. "What do you want?" she asked.
"Is your husband home?" they replied. "Do you have anybody home with you?"
She asked what they wanted.
"We can't tell you," they said.
She told them her husband didn't have a cellphone, so she called UPS, where Bob has worked for 28 years. Then UPS texted him on their internal message system. Bob met Jani and the three officers in the parking lot of the UPS depot, about 10 miles from the Bergdahls' home.
"It's not the worst news," an officer told the couple. "As of this morning, they told me your son has been listed as DUSTWUN. There was a 100 percent accountability muster this morning. Your son is off post. He's missing." Bob got back in his truck and finished his UPS route. It was only another couple of hours, he said, and there was no one around to replace him. MORE
51% Want All U.S. Troops out of Afghanistan next year
Troops may stay in Afghanistan
American troops protecting
the poppy fields of Afghanistan
One of 18 photos obtained by LA Times
US Marines in Afghanistan sport Nazi flag
War is obsolete. The last time someone surrendered was Japan and that was 60 years ago. The Afghans will never surrender. We will just get tired and come home. - Ted Turner
How to tell you're no longer an empire
John Mueller, Foreign Affairs: An al Qaeda computer seized in Afghanistan in 2001 indicated that the groups budget for research and weapons of mass destruction, almost all of it focused on primitive chemical weapons work, was some $2,000 to $4,000.
before it was liberated by the U.S. military.
US troop levels the Afghan war - 2003 through the planned increase - laid alongside US troop levels in Vietnam during 1960-1965
1. The planning of 9-11 was done in hotels and apartments in Germany and Spain, and flight schools in the United States. Even Paul Pillar, former CIA deputy chief for counter-terrorism will tell you that an al Qaeda base in Afghanistan would not significantly increase threats to the United States.
2. If the Taliban had control of Afghanistan, it would likely not allow al Qaeda in. Richard Holbrooke, the U.S. president's guy in Afghanistan, will tell you the same.
3. The Taliban would not necessarily gain full control of Afghanistan if the United States left. It never had it before, and appears unlikely to be able to take it now. These three points, as Robert Naiman has pointed out, make the leap from US withdrawal to an al Qaeda attack on the United States quite a large one.
4. Occupying and bombing Afghanistan is actually making us less safe. It is enraging people against the United States, building the Taliban and other resistance.
5. The occupation is also damaging the rule of law. Our engagement in this illegal enterprise makes it more difficult to prevent other nations from engaging in wars of aggression.
6. The occupation is not benefiting the Afghan people. It is not protecting their rights or their lives. It is brutally taking their lives with bombs and imprisoning them without charge or trial or the rights of prisoners of war.
7. The Taliban is made up of poor people fighting in order to eat. They need aid, diplomacy, jobs, education, and resources, not bombs and troops and mercenaries. We're paying tens of thousands of Afghans to fight as mercenaries. We could pay them to rebuild their country and have money to spare.
8. That we are supposedly succeeding against al Qaeda when arguments are needed to reauthorize the PATRIOT Act, but supposedly failing against al Qaeda when it's time to continue or escalate wars is insulting, not credible.
9. The citizens of the United States oppose the war, and it's our money and our kids, and our country being placed in danger of blowback.
10. The people of Afghanistan, according to an ABC News poll, want the United States to withdraw. It's their country, and you cannot impose democracy on them without obeying their majority opinion.
11. If we've been through eight years of this and not been able to even devise a rough description of what a "success" would look like, what are the chances that it will be identified and achieved in year nine?
12. It's called the graveyard of empires for a reason.
13. Our states' militias, the national guard, are needed at home and cannot constitutionally be sent abroad to fight for empire.
14. US soldiers signed up to defend the United States, not to commit war crimes in distant lands.
15. There is nothing worse than war that could conceivably take its place. Killing people is the worst thing there is.
David Swanson is the
author of the new book "Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency
and Forming a More Perfect Union"
Asia Times - [An] intelligence assessment shared by Moscow reveals that almost half of the US supplies passing through Pakistan is pilfered by motley groups of Taliban militants, petty traders and plain thieves. The US Army is getting burgled in broad daylight and can't do much about it. Almost 80% of all supplies for Afghanistan pass through Pakistan. The Peshawar bazaar is doing a roaring business hawking stolen US military ware, as in the 1980s during the Afghan jihad against the Soviet Union. This volume of business will register a quantum jump following the doubling of the US troop level in Afghanistan to 60,000.
AFGHANISTAN: MISSION ACCOMPLISHED?
PROGRESS REPORT In a press conference, President Bush said, "I think we're making progress in Afghanistan" -- days after President Hamid Karzai was the subject of an attempted assassination plot. The Interior Ministry said the Taliban, nearly vanquished from the country in 2001, admitted to launching the attack. These rounds of violence are the latest in what has been an eroding situation over recent years. . .
2007 was the bloodiest year in Afghanistan since 2001, with 6,000 killed in the country. Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Schloesser, who commands U.S. forces in Afghanistan, said violence in 2008 "may well reach a higher level than it did in 2007," as insurgents pour in from Pakistan. "This year won't be different," he said. The attempted assassination of Karzai "came as the latest sign of a trend" that the insurgency in Afghanistan "is spreading from the Taliban stronghold of the south to the central and northern regions of the country," Christian Science Monitor reported this week. Furthermore, "there is no security force in Afghanistan that people trust," according to member of parliament Ramazan Bashardost. He added that, after a recent attack, "the security forces fled the area before the ordinary people did." Afghanistan also has rates of illiteracy "among the highest in the world," a "weak and corruption-ridden government," and still retains the world's largest opium poppy crop.
According the Agency Coordinating Body for Afghan Relief, "Western countries have failed to deliver $10 billion of nonmilitary assistance pledged to Afghanistan over the last six years and the United States, by far the biggest donor, is responsible for half of the shortfall." Funding for Provincial Reconstruction Teams, which Bush "has called the leading edge of stabilization efforts," is "ad hoc and comes from so many sources that congressional investigators were unable to determine how much has been spent," a House Armed Service Committee report said last week. Overall, 42 percent of Afghans rate U.S. efforts in Afghanistan positively," down from 68 percent in 2005 and 57 percent last year, according to a December ABC News poll.
AFGHAN ANTI-CORRUPTION CHIEF IS DRUG DEALER
JUSTIN HUGGLER, INDEPENDENT, UK - Afghanistan's new anti-corruption chief has a shady past. Izzatullah Wasifi served nearly four years in a US prison for trying to sell heroin to an undercover agent in Las Vegas for $65,000. It is not the ideal CV for a man appointed to root out corruption in the country that is overwhelmingly the world's biggest supplier of opium, from which heroin in refined.
UN CHIEF: NATO CANNOT DEFEAT TALIBAN BY FORCE
GUARDIAN - NATO "cannot win" the fight against the Taliban alone and will have to train Afghan forces to do the job, the UN's top official in the country warned yesterday. "At the moment NATO has a very optimistic assessment. They think they can win the war," warned Tom Koenigs, the diplomat heading the UN mission in Afghanistan. "But there is no quick fix." In forthright comments which highlight divisions between international partners as NATO battles to quell insurgency, Mr Koenigs said that training the fledgling Afghan national army to defeat the Taliban was crucial. "They [the ANA] can win. But against an insurgency like that, international troops cannot win."
JUST WHAT AN AFGHAN FARMER NEEDS
PR WATCH - Hill & Knowlton will head "a complex $3.8M PR effort" for the U.S. State Department, "targeting Afghan citizens and stakeholder groups to dissuade Afghan farmers from cultivating poppies and boosting global drug trade." Poppy production has soared since the 2001 U.S. invasion. Afghanistan provided 86 percent of the world's heroin in 2005, and "planting has significantly increased in 2006," according to a State Department official. Hill & Knowlton will "deploy communications through seven Afghan provinces" and "build capability" within the Agriculture, Interior and Counter-narcotics Ministries, by providing "communications professionals" and developing each ministry's own communications office. "Foreign and domestic media will be brought along" on poppy eradication missions, and "alternative livelihood efforts" will be promoted in the PR campaign. Current messages include, "Growing poppies is against Islam and harmful for the reputation of Afghanistan." Previous U.S.-funded PR work, by the Rendon Group and others, has been called costly and ineffective by Afghan officials.
OUR FORGOTTEN COLONY
PROGRESS REPORT - In a visit last month to Afghanistan, President Bush depicted the country as an unqualified success story, describing it as "inspiring." The reality is much more complicated and troublesome. A report released this month by the Council on Foreign Relations provides the grim details. The Council describes a country "challenged by a terrorist insurgency that has become more lethal and effective and that has bases in Pakistan, a drug trade that dominates the economy and corrupts the state, and pervasive poverty and insecurity."
Last year "was the deadliest [year] in rebel violence since U.S.-led forces ousted the Taliban in 2001." With the country on the verge of becoming "a disastrous situation," the United States is withdrawing troops and disbursements of financial assistance are declining. Counter-terrorism expert Steven Simon predicts, "There will likely be a crescendo of violence, focused largely on Kabul, this summer." It's time to face reality and change course.
Even the Bush administration "has now admitted that the insurgency [in Afghanistan] is growing and becoming more effective." Attacks "have increased in lethality, with increased use of tactics seen in Iraq, including suicide bombings, which...have quadrupled in the past year, and improvised explosive devises, whose use has doubled." . . . Some experts attribute the spike in violence to "a vast canvas of weakly governed and unprotected territory in which drug traffickers, feuding tribesmen and opportunistic criminals -- as well as Taliban gunmen on motorbikes and mysterious suicide bombers -- operate with increasing ease." Last year "1,600 people, including 91 U.S. troops, were killed...more than double the total in 2004." Violence is expected to increase further as "insurgents will try to test the NATO forces that are moving in to take over from more seasoned US military troops.
In 2005, Afghanistan produced 87 percent of the world's opium. With the exception of 2001, when coalition forces deposed the Taliban, opium production has steadily increased since 1995. Last year, the export value of the illicit opium was $2.7 billion, accounting for more than 50% of the Afghan economy. About 2 million Afghans (about 9% of the population) is involved in opium production. It's not hard to understand why. The average yearly gross income for an opium-growing family ($1800) is about nine times Afghanistan's average per capita GDP ($226). Ultimately, "efforts to stabilize Afghanistan will fail if the licit economy does not expand fast enough to provide enough employment, income, and investment to more than balance the loss of income from opiates."
The key to economic expansion in Afghanistan is reconstruction. In 2002-2003, per capita economic assistance in Afghanistan "was far below all Balkan operations, East Timor, and Iraq, and even below Namibia and Haiti" during the first two years of stabilization operations in those countries. . . One big problem: "much of the increase in aid has gone to the security sector, which has cost far more than projected." Richard Holbrooke, former Ambassador to the UN, noted, "With so much at stake, it is surprising that the administration asked for a pittance (about $40 million) for Afghan reconstruction in its recent supplemental, after the State Department and the U.S. Embassy requested about 10 times as much. Still worse, Congress compounded the lowered funding request by cutting the appropriation to $4 million."
A United Nations report concluded last year that Afghanistan remains one of the world's least developed countries, ranking 173rd out of 178 countries surveyed. For every 1,000 babies born in Afghanistan, 142 die before their first birthday. An Afghan woman dies in pregnancy every half-hour. Overall life expectancy is estimated at just under 42 years. Three-quarters of adults are illiterate and few girls go to school. But no problem haunts the country more than its displaced peoples - the UN estimates four million Afghans are refugees in Pakistan and Iran, and another two million are uprooted in their own country. The total, a fifth of the population, represents the largest refugee crisis in the world.
NY TIMES - Poppy cultivation in Afghanistan, the source of most of the opium and heroin on
BACK AGAIN: THE RENDON GROUP TO SPIN AFGHANISTAN
DAILY SPIN - "The Pentagon has hired the Rendon Group to counsel and coordinate communications for Afghanistan president Hamid Karzai," O'Dwyer's PR Daily reports. "The U.S., according to the New York Times, wants to bolster the leadership of Karzai by promoting 'visible signs of reconstruction.' The paper reports that Karzai's government, in recent weeks, has issued 'choreographed announcements about hundreds of schools and clinics to be built or rehabilitated in the next few months.' Karzai and U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, the country's defacto CEO, made a media splash on April 17 with a ceremony to celebrate the planting of 850,000 trees as part of the 'greening of Kabul' campaign." But Afghanistan is far from the success story that the Bush administration has been projecting, according to a recent New Yorker article by Seymour Hersh. An unpublished report commissioned by the Pentagon found that "the victory in Afghanistan was not, in the long run, a victory at all," Hersh writes.
DISINFOPEDIA - The Rendon Group is a secretive public relations firm that has assisted a number of U.S. military interventions in nations including Argentina, Colombia, Haiti, Iraq, Kosovo, Panama and Zimbabwe. Rendon's activities include organizing the Iraqi National Congress, a PR front group designed to foment the overthrow of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein
In May 1991, then-President George Bush, Sr. signed a presidential finding directing the CIA to create the conditions for Hussein's removal. The hope was that members of the Iraqi military would turn on Hussein and stage a military coup. The CIA did not have the mechanisms in place to make that happen, so they hired the Rendon Group to run a covert anti-Saddam propaganda campaign. Rendon's postwar work involved producing videos and radio skits ridiculing Saddam Hussein, a traveling photo exhibit of Iraqi atrocities, and radio scripts calling on Iraqi army officers to defect. . . According to ABC, Rendon came up with the name for the Iraqi National Congress and channeled $12 million of covert CIA funding to it between 1992 and 1996. Writing in The New Yorker, Seymour Hersh says the Rendon Group was "paid close to a hundred million dollars by the CIA" for its work with the INC.
MS NEWS - Female performers in an Afghan province have been banned from performing on television and radio. According to Reuters, female entertainers have been declared un-Islamic in the Southeastern province. . . Earlier this year, for the first time in over a decade a video with footage of a famous Afghan female singer was broadcast on public television. The footage of the female performer came just a few weeks after the approval of Afghanistan's new constitution that endorses equal rights for women and men. However, Afghanistan's Supreme Court protested the video, stating that they were opposed to women singing. From 1992-1996, during Afghanistan's civil war, the Islamic mujahadeen did not allow images of women to be broadcasted on television. When the Taliban came to power in 1996, they banned television altogether
IRIN - Less than one percent of the money requested by US president George W Bush, in an overall funding request of US $87 billion to cover post-war activities in Iraq and Afghanistan, would go towards Afghan reconstruction, the representative of a leading NGO in the country said on Wednesday. . . A sum of just US$ 800 million has been earmarked for reconstruction in Afghanistan, forcing CARE to promptly issue a press statement, following the budget's announcement on Monday evening, suggesting that more priority appeared to be attached to Iraq - a country with at least some semblance of a physical infrastructure in place - than to Afghanistan
MEET YOUR NEW ALLIES
[Gen. Abdul Rashid Dostum is a nasty piece of work, an Afghan warlord and drug lord who easily qualifies as an international war criminal. He'll be visiting Washington soon and you can expect the media to overlook his seamy side, perhaps giving the general a makeover much as the National Geographic did describing a piece by its writer Robert Young Pelton]
NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC - Though Dostum's name is almost always preceded in print by the seemingly oxymoronic "brutal warlord," Pelton paints a more benign portrait, calling the general "gentle" and "shy." . . . Dostum's appointment [to the new government] was met with understandable controversy, given his initial opposition to the interim government and his reputation for political infidelity - a reputation Pelton disputes. "Afghanistan is a collection of alliances. It's like Survivor on steroids," says Pelton. "You don't get to the top by being a traitor or by undermining people or backstabbing people. You get to the top by forming people around you who trust and support you." Among those people who came to trust and support Dostum were the 12 Green Berets assigned to the general. Pelton spent much of his several-week stay in their company and was "blown away" by what he saw.
[Now here is an excerpt from a document filed in federal District Court by lawyers for John Walker Lindh to support their motion that he be released from jail pending his trial on charges of conspiring with Al Qaeda to kill Americans]
JOHN WALKER LINDH FILING: In early November 2001, troops of the State of Afghanistan defending a battle line against Northern Alliance advances in the Takhar region retreated toward Kunduz. Mr. Lindh walked without rest for about two days, covering approximately 50 miles through mountainous terrain before arriving in Kunduz. Upon arrival, he was exhausted, severely dehydrated and in physical and psychological shock that impaired his ability to speak. On approximately Nov. 24, 2001, Mr. Lindh and others surrendered their weapons to troops under the command of Gen. Abdul Rashid Dostum and were driven by truck to the fortress at Qala Jangi near Mazar-i-Sharif.
At Qala Jangi, Mr. Lindh was held prisoner by Dostum's forces. Dostum and his troops have a reputation for massacring, raping and looting prisoners. That reputation was known to Mr. Lindh and others. On or about Nov. 25, 2001, Mr. Lindh was seated on the ground in the area around the Qala Jangi fort with his hands bound behind him. At that time, he heard an explosion. When Mr. Lindh attempted to run, he was hit by shrapnel or bullets and fell to the ground, where he lay for some hours until he was helped into the basement of the fort by other prisoners.
Mr. Lindh remained in the Qala Jangi fort basement for about seven days until Dec. 1, 2001. During that time, Mr. Lindh had almost no food and very little drinking water. While Mr. Lindh was in the basement, Dostum's soldiers threw grenades through ventilation ducts, killing prisoners below.
At one point, Dostum's soldiers poured oil or diesel fuel down a duct into the basement. About 5 to 10 minutes later, Dostum's soldiers lit the fuel and also poured it into another area of the basement, in which prisoners were more tightly packed. Many prisoners died from the fire. Dostum's soldiers also fired large rockets into the basement through a ventilation shaft, killing many prisoners.
Toward the end of the week, Dostum's soldiers directed ice cold water through the ducts to flood the basement. As the water rose, Mr. Lindh was able to stand up with the help of other prisoners to avoid drowning. Around Mr. Lindh, other prisoners who could not stand were drowned. Wounded, starved and freezing, Mr. Lindh emerged from the fort on Dec. 1, 2001. He was dizzy and numb from the events and apparently still had shrapnel or bullets imbedded in his body.
YURY RAZGULAYEV, PRAVDA, November 2001: The Northern Alliance . . . have weaker funding sources, so they were earning their income from selling drugs. General Dostum had a factory producing heroin.
CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR - As the 1989 to 1995 civil war ground on, Dostum enjoyed an increasingly ferocious reputation. According to Ahmed Rashid's book, "Taliban," he once had one of his own soldiers - accused of stealing - tied to the treads of a tank and rolled to his death. In one Taliban attempt to take Mazar-e Sharif in 1997 - and again when they were retreating last fall - soldiers who might have surrendered or been captured seem to have wound up in mass graves. Only last month, prisoners being held in a jail here were found near starvation . . .
[DOSTUM] WAS suspected of earning huge profits by exporting drugs via Uzbekistan" - Cooley, Unholy Wars
ASIA TIMES, August 27, 1997 - The analytical unit of the Russian Federal Security Bureau recently issued a classified intelligence report on the current situation in the war-torn former Soviet republic of Tajikistan. The report pins the primary blame for the present aggravation of the military-political situation in the republic on the powerful Afghan warlords, and the Uzbeki warlord General Abdul Rashid Dostum in particular . . . Why were Dostum's henchmen interested in perpetuating a destabilized Tajikistan? Simple, say specialists from the FSB: The Afghan warlords are interested in continuation of the civil war in Tajikistan because the violence and unrest facilitates the task of smuggling huge amounts of drugs into the republic and from there to Russia, Europe and North America. The report specifically emphasizes that drug trafficking is a primary source of income for different warring factions in Afghanistan. More importantly, of course, drug trafficking supplements the personal income of the leaders from the various Afghan factions -- including Taliban officials.