Friday, 30 March 2012

Scoundrel Media Afghan Massacre Cover-Up

By Stephen Lendman

In all US war theaters, troops commit unspeakable atrocities. Trained to dehumanize enemies, their mission involves killing, destruction, and much more.

Local treasures are looted. Women are raped. Civilians are treated like combatants. Children are indiscriminately harmed like adults. Prisoners are tortured. Mutilations are common. Crimes of war and against humanity are institutionalized. It's all in a day's work like taking out the garbage.

Viciousness defines US wars. No crime's too great to commit. Human lives are valueless. Only winning matters, then on to the next war. Lies, deception, unspeakable brutality, and cover-up define them.

Scoundrel media are directly complicit, including claiming one soldier murdered 16 Afgans on March 11. Credible evidence suggests up to 20 involved. Claiming a lone gunman defiles the atrocity's affect on living family members, friends, and other Afghans victimized by numerous similar incidents. More below.

During America's Iraq invasion and occupation, reports suggested soldiers got amphetamines and pornographic materials to incite ravaging women. More than US troops were involved. According to Ernesto Cienfuegos, La Voz de Aztlan editor-in-chief:

"The American people and the rest of the world are generally not aware that the U.S. government has hired literally thousands of (mercenaries), many with notorious war crime records."

"A significant number of these are rapists, sodomites and murderers from South African and Serbia. These vile individuals work for (the so called) Security Service under contract to the Pentagon. Most....are cronies of both Bush and Cheney and are owned by nefarious (individuals with) ties to the Burbank, California pornography industry."

"Among the Afrikaner war criminals hired by the Pentagon are Frans Strydom and Deon Gouws, both with despicable atrocity records against South Africa Blacks that sought independence. There are an estimated 1,500 South Africans employed by ―Security Service (personnel) in Iraq, according to the South African foreign ministry."

"Many used their atrocities backgrounds during Apartheid to bolster their credentials to the Pentagon. Many other hired mercenaries are Serbians, known rapists of Muslim-Croatian women....The Military Police, including Brigadier General Janis Karpinski, said cells where sexual torture took place were dominated by these mercenaries in collusion with the CIA and Military Intelligence."

"Film crews run mostly by mercenaries actually instigated rapes and sodomy of the POWs inside the Abu Ghraib prison. The mercenaries had the full cooperation of the CIA and Military Intelligence and perverted elements inside Pentagon and the U.S. government. In addition, these mercenaries trolled the Iraqi countryside for Iraqi women they could abduct, rape and film."

Afghanistan reflects similar abuses. Cover-up prevents information coming out and prosecutions. Rarely are US forces held accountable. Commanders routinely get off scot-free, including ones ordering troops to kill all Iraqi and Afghan men on sight, combatants and civilians.

According to US Major General James Mattis, "It's fun to shoot some people. I'll be up-front with you. I like brawling." Murdered civilians are repulsively called "collateral damage." Mattis isn't alone. Commanders and enlisted troops are involved.

Afghan combatant bodies are burned in violation of international law and US military code. Culpable troops aren't punished. Civilians are killed for sport. At times, their fingers and other body parts are kept as trophies. Photos are taken as souveniers. Similar abuses are common in all US wars. Lies and cover-up suppress them.

"Kill teams" are deployed. Indiscriminate murder, sadism, and other atrocities are committed, most often with impunity. It's done for sport and lust. Celebratory high-fives follow.

Rarely ever are soldiers like Jeremy Morlock punished. Others guilty like him get off scot-free, especially commanders. His 5th Stryker Brigade committed countless murders and atrocities. Cover-up involved staging incidents to look like defensive actions against attacks. Pentagon apologies ring hollow. Soldiers are trained to kill reflexively.

America's Tortured Past

US history reflects atrocities. Native Americans were slaughtered, starved, neglected, exposed to deadly pathogens, and virtually exterminated.

In the antebellum South, slaves were tortured by whipping, painful restraints, prolonged isolation in sealed sheds with choking tobacco smoke, and other punishments. Theodore Roosevelt defended water torture (today's waterboarding) called the "water cure" to extract confessions from Filipinos because "nobody was seriously damaged."

In 1995, Bill Clinton issued Presidential Decision Directive 39 (PDD-39). It authorized extraordinary rendition for interrogations and torture.

In his book, "War Without Mercy," John Dower documented Pacific War atrocities by both sides. American forces "mutilat(ed) Japanese war dead for souvenirs, attack(ed) and (sank) hospital ships, sho(t) sailers who had abandoned ship and pilots who had bailed out, kill(ed) wounded soldiers on the battlefield, and tortur(ed) and execut(ed) prisoners."

Atrocities included torturing and buying combatants alive. In the Korean War, mass indiscriminate killings of civilians were commonplace. Entire towns and villages were incinerated and their populations exterminated, including women and children.

Combatants and civilians were buried alive, burned, drowned, shot, stabbed, or beaten to death. Women had their breasts, legs, and arms cut off. Others were beheaded. Thousands of civilians were brutally tortured. One family of six was hanged upside down from a tree and burned alive. Another civilian was skinned alive, then burned to death.

Others were murdered with bats, spears, stones, sticks, clubs, flails, and pickaxes. Women were assaulted and raped. US forces massacred tens of thousands of civilians systematically, ruthlessly, and brutally. Some were disemboweled alive.

Vietnam was similar. Atrocities were widespread and commonplace. They included massacres, rapes, torture, mutilations, wanton mass destruction, use of chemical and biological weapons, and much more.

US forces got carte blanche to carpet bomb, incinerate entire villages, burn people alive, fire freely on civilians, murder wounded prisoners, beat them to death, throw them out of helicopters, torture sadistically, gang rape young girls, and commit every other imaginable atrocity to people General William Westmoreland called "worthless termites."

Operation Phoenix death squads murdered thousands of Vietnamese. Some were alleged high-value targets, others noncombatant civilians. Foreign Service officer Wayne Cooper called the operation a "disreputable, CIA-inspired effort, often deplored as a bloody-handed assassination program (and) a failure." Before it ended, 80,000 or more died.

Throughout the Iraq and Afghan wars, Special Forces death squads murdered thousands of targeted subjects and others indiscriminately. Daily killing field slaughter continues.

Bush authorized them. So did Obama. Both approved global covert operations. Obama OK'd killing US civilians. Sociologist Emile Durkheim once said, "The immorality of war depends entirely on the leaders who willed it."

Nuremberg prosecutor Justice Robert Jackson denounced "men who possess themselves of great power and make deliberative and concerted use of it to set in motion evils which leave no home in the world untouched."

International and US laws are clear and unequivocal. So are US military standards, including Army Field Manual 27-10. It incorporates Nuremberg and Law of Land Warfare (1956) principles.

It prohibits any military or civilian personnel to the highest levels from committing crimes under international and US laws. It also requires disobeying illegal orders.

Nonetheless, mass murder, torture, and other atrocities are committed like sport virtually daily. They define all US wars.

Richard Nixon once told Henry Kissinger, "We're gonna level that goddam country. We're gonna hit 'em, bomb the livin' bejusus out of 'em." Kissinger approved, saying, "Mr. President, I will enthusiastically support that, and I think it's the right thing to do." After all they're just "worthless termites."

Major Media Scoundrels: Guilt by Complicity

Compared to America's bloodstained history, killing 16 Afghan civilians on March 11 was a drop in the ocean. Yet it was too much for major media scoundrels to provide truth and full disclosure.

Various reports, including Russia Today, said up to 20 US troops were involved in the incident, not a lone sergeant. He's been hung out to dry to absolve others, including commanders who deploy them on missions, as well as top US military and civilian officials who approve America waging lawless wars of aggression.

An Afghan parliamentary investigation team contradicts Pentagon lies. Two days were spent collecting eyewitness accounts, including from survivors. Investigator Hamizai Lali told Afghan News:

"We are convinced that one soldier cannot kill so many people in two villages within one hour at the same time, and the 16 civilians, most have been killed by the two groups."

He believes up to 20 soldiers were involved. Half their victims were children aged two through 12. He appealed for international help to disclose the truth and assure those responsible are punished in Afghan, not US, courts.

Investigatory team head Sayed Ishaq Gillani said witnesses reported seeing helicopters dropping chaff during the attack to hide targets from ground attacks.

Villagers said victims offered no resistance. Nonetheless, they were gunned down in cold-blood. Night raids like this are commonplace. Despite public outrage, US commanders said they'll continue. Innocent civilians are murdered repeatedly.

One surviving family member said:

"I don’t want any compensation. I don’t want money. I don’t want a trip to Mecca. I don’t want a house. I want nothing. But what I absolutely want is the punishment of the Americans. This is my demand, my demand, my demand and my demand."

His brother died in the slaughter. The Pentagon named one gunman, now identified as Staff Sergeant Robert Bales. He was whisked out of Afghanistan, flown to Kwait, then to army prison at Fort Leavenworth, KS Friday.

Afghan army head General Sher Mohammad Karimi said US military officials "ignored and blocked" his attempt to investigate the incident. They also prevented Afghan officials from interrogating Bales.

In lockstep, US media scoundrels regurgitated Pentagon lies. Outrageously, the Washington Post quoted Captain Chris Alexander, Bales' platoon commander, saying he's "hands down, one of the best soldiers I ever worked with."

In fact, he like other death squad members are cold-blooded killers. The Post also quoted Bales commenting on his participation in a 2007 Iraq battle, saying:

"We discriminated between the bad guys and the noncombatants and then afterward we ended up helping the people that three or four hours before were trying to kill us. I think that’s the real difference between being an American as opposed to being a bad guy, someone who puts his family in harm’s way like that."

The quote's so deplorable it sounds like someone made it up, but Post scoundrels made it look legitimate to portray Bales more as hero than cold-blooded killer.

A Pentagon statement said Bales received over a dozen medals and badges for combat service and good conduct. His wife Karilyn was quoted, saying "all of the work Bob has done and all the sacrifices he has made for his love of his country, family and friends."

The Post suppressed evidence that up to 20 US soldiers were involved, or that numerous other atrocities like this occur regularly.

The New York Times was just as shameless. Cover-up and denial suppressed vital truths. Bales alone was mentioned. The article said he was injured twice in previous deployments and cited his lawyer calling his military record exemplary.

How much more blood has he on his hands? For sure plenty, but this was the first time he got caught. Moreover, The Times, like the Post, characterizes him as heroic, not villainous.

In medium security confinement, he's yet to be charged a week after the incident. The Times said Pentagon officials found no clues explaining what "motivated the killings."

They lied, saying:

"When it all comes out, it will be a combination of stress, alcohol and domestic issues. He just snapped."

Bales' lawyer, John Henry Browne, dismissed allegations of family problems and drinking. He said his family hoped he'd avoid this deployment after three previous ones. He also called him "mild-mannered."

In lockstep with other US media scoundrels, The Times article suppressed what readers most deserve to know - the full truth about death squad killings as policy, and the many thousands of noncombatant Afghans, Iraqis, and earlier victims affected.

Blaming this incident on a lone gunman suppresses the gravity of what goes on routinely and the responsibility up the chain of command to Joint Chief heads, Defense Secretary Panetta, and Obama.

It also defiles the pain and suffering of surviving family members, relatives, friends, and others victimized by similar incidents.

Nothing compensates for their loss. Afghans want US occupiers out of their country immediately. After over a decade of daily atrocities, they want what no one should endure finally ended.

It's their country, their lives, and their right. It's true everywhere America shows up. Death, destruction, and vicious occupation follows. Iraqis and Libyans feel the same way. Can you blame them?

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at 


Thursday, 15 March 2012

Stop the bombs and talk to the Taliban

Stop the bombs and talk to the Taliban

By Hanan Habibzai

Keeping tabs on the events of the war in Afghanistan is not difficult. Press coverage includes daily reports of soldiers dying and killing, elections counts and recounts and even stories from the far flung tribal areas.

But there is little about what the ordinary Afghan thinks. What is his story? How does the war affect him? Does he want President Karzai to stay in power? Does he want more troops, be they from the US or France? Do they make him feel safe? When answered these questions weave the missing thread through the real story of the war. These answers tell a frustrating tale.

Look back to May, for example, when US air strikes killed more than 100 civilians. This is when the Afghan people first began to lose faith in President Barack Obama. As protocol required Obama and US secretary of state Hillary Clinton expressed their deep sympathy with the victims, and said sorry for the civilian deaths.

But a change occurred. Right at that moment that the ordinary people of Afghanistan lost faith in Obama’s commitments for peace and stability. After the death of yet more non-militants, they began to suspect that Obama could not keep his early promises to protect civilian live in Afghanistan.

Karzai, meanwhile, in the US at the time, and travelled back to the devastated area. He sanctioned the award of 100,000 Afghanis (US$2,000) to each of the victim's families.

This is the price of an Afghan life.

Along with the government 'gift', families were forced to sign a document to say they were happy with the settlement. Happy that the $2,000 should clean up the human mess that bombs leave behind. For those families with little money, their options were limited.

In the west, some countries have a law to protect animals. If anyone dares to harm an animal, he or she will face justice. In my country a human life can be taken very easily because there is little justice. Since the war began, mass killing has become part and parcel of everyday life. If any dare to challenge this notion or to call for justice, perhaps, they accused of being insurgents. This is the story of the ordinary Afghan.

The ordinary Afghan, who testimonies I have spent years collecting, does not understand why the international forces have not found Osama Bin Laden and Mullah Omar. He does not understand his fellow countrymen and women are paying the price.

Three decades of war takes its toll.

Some of those ordinary Afghans killed in the bombs on two fuel tankers earlier last month, had survived Russian invasion. They would not be surprised by theirs deaths because of what they had seen once before.  When a small group of Taliban hijacked two tankers which carried fuel for NATO forces in northern Kundoz, local people saw it as a chance to get free fuel for their lamps.

They remembered a time back in 1980s, when Mujahideen gave out captured equipment seized from the Russian invaders. These included fuel, food, clothes and car spare parts.  On pondering further on the Russian invasion, the ordinary Afghan remembers that, despite war, the USSR considered attacks on locals’ haphazard and foolhardy way to conduct their military campaign. Such attacks would only bring retaliation and in turn cause a long drawn out battle.

The Russians strategy was to give to the Afghan government at the time. They didn't keep private jails and they tolerated petty looting.  But the Americans and Germans decided to frightened local people when the Taliban stole their tanks, heavily bombing them. After World War II it was the first mass killing committed by German troops in the history.

Isn't it strange, Afghans are saying to themselves, that while we did not expect peace from the Russian army because, well they were invaders and committed to no international treaty. Yet these Americans and Germans invaded Afghanistan under the cloak of an international treaty committed to peace. But so far, it poses a continuous threat to normal life.

Lives in countless Afghan villages have been threatened since 2003, for the lives of perhaps one or two Taliban militants were hidden there. Sometimes they are killed in these deadly air strikes, other times they escape. But what is consistent is that hundreds of ordinary villagers have been killed by wild card strikes.

Women rights, democracy, human rights and political stability are the constant battle cry of the invaders. But ordinary Afghans appreciation of such gifts is tempered by heavy bombs, which are damaging all hopes of democracy and justice. Meanwhile, the criminals and sadly comical farce of Karzai's government remains. After allegedly winning the elections last month, and a recount still not complete, hopes of competency governance is vanishing fast.

It seems unlikely that my country will be free of its current government, full of drug lords and war criminals, which care little for social justice and democracy and more about lining their already bulging pockets. This is just a snapshot of what my fellow Afghan witnesses day by day. He also sees a resurgent Taliban, offering an alternative.

And it is because of this that NATO must talk to the Taliban. There is no option but to negotiate. The Taliban alternative, while distasteful to some, is more palatable than the trekking across Europe sleep on the streets of Calais or to stay at home and hope the bombs do not fall.

This article first published in 

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Truth Subcontracted--When Misguided People Guided US’s Foreign Policy

Truth Subcontracted--When Misguided People Guided US’s Foreign Policy

Dr. Mohammed Daud Miraki, MA, MA, PhD
Dr. Rahmat Rabi Zirakyar MA, PhD

The recent incident at Bagram Airbase involving the burning of the Holy Koran has exhibited the return on the US’s investment in Afghanistan. This is the legacy in part of subcontracting the truth to the so-called cultural advisors. This is not the first time this type of disgraceful conduct witnessed by others or the news of such misconduct made its way to the media and stirred peoples’ emotions. Similar misconducts happened many times during US operations in Pashtun villages. This is due to the US government subcontracting the truth by hiring incompetent advisors. By subcontracting the truth to ignorant translators and advisors both linguistically and culturally with premeditated desire to undermine Pashtuns also contributed to the loss of Pashtun lives and destruction of their villages. It is this flawed approach and misguided policy that has contributed to the continuous disaster and current crisis involving the desecration of the Holy Koran in Afghanistan.

It has been reported that a commission of Afghan lawmakers visited Bagram to get a glimpse of what has happened and who was the responsible party. According to these visiting members of the parliament, the American military personnel had placed the blame for this incident on the Afghan translators. The translators allegedly could not distinguish between the Holy Koran and other writings. This is the core subject of this write up that the US government has delegated responsibility of their affairs to these information and advising mercenaries. Whether they have been translators, advisors and the so-called ‘think-tanks’, their core value is to maximize utility, namely dollars accumulations for themselves. 
The cost of the invasion has been of course tremendous to the people of Afghanistan. However, the cost of subcontracting the truth could have been avoided. The people that suffered the most from this business relationship have been the Pashtun people. For example, on the eve of the US invasion of Afghanistan, the leaders of the Afghan minorities and their fellow travelers along with some alienated de-Pashtunized members of former royal cast had lined up to enlist and serve their pockets. The alienated de-Pashtunized former royal cast was hoping to get a piece of the pie; however, due to the overwhelming power of the Northern Alliance these de-Pashtunized former royal cast was deprived even though they served the American-led invasion with absolute sincerity.

Meanwhile since misguided people were guiding the US policy and some of these insiders were of the Afghan descent such as Khalilzad and his acolytes, while the want-to-be translators, cultural experts and advisors had found a golden opportunity to fill their pockets with large sums of money. The overwhelming majority of these translators and advisors of the Afghan minorities background did not know their own mother tongue of Dari [Afghan version of Persian] and cultural values well enough to qualify as either translators or cultural advisors. As to Pashto, none of these minorities and members of the alienated de-Pashtunized royal cast could speak Pashto with exception of few words and few flawed sentences.  
 Also, since the anti-Pashtun Northern Alliance was partner to the US-led NATO forces, the Pashtun endured the eventual cost as the Northern Alliance equated all Pashtuns with Taliban. Consequently, the initial cost was wholesale transfer of Pashtun prisoners whether fighters or peasants to Guantanamo Bay, Kandahar, or Bagram prisons. Since none of the translators and advisors could understand Pashto and they had a preconceived prejudice and premeditated hatred toward Pashtuns, they simply labeled everyone that spoke Pashto as Taliban fighters. 
Pashtun prisoners were labeled Taliban simply because they spoke Pashto. Moreover, the overwhelming majority of the translators and advisors were supporters of the Northern Alliance, the organization composed of Afghan minorities that sold Afghanistan for mere change of less than $200 million. The CIA’s field commander in Afghanistan Berntsen shared his experience with the Northern Alliance as follows:

“I know from my experience that Persians and their Afghan cousins are all carpet salesmen at heart.”

By implication, Berntsen believed that the commanders of the Northern Alliance would sell Afghanistan like a carpet. This is the character of the Northern Alliance elements and their supporting cadre of US employed translators eager to target Pashtuns.

A segment of the translators and advisors was composed of former Afghan Parchami communists with a grudge against the US for supporting the former Mujahideen fighters against the former Soviet Union and their installed communist regime in Afghanistan. Hence, these former Soviet-connected Afghan Communists were aiming to undermine US in Afghanistan even if it meant undermining Afghan lives and their sacred values. The Parcham (Flag) faction of the Khalk (People) Party had collaborated with Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in December of 1979 as the Northern Alliance did with the US-lead invasion of Afghanistan in October of 2001. Majority of Parchamis was non-Pashtun and their leadership was vehemently anti-Pashtun, especially after the Soviet invasion.

Meanwhile, the US has found itself in such a hostile neighborhood wherein the neighbors of Afghanistan whether they are the Pakistani intelligence agency, the ISI or the Iranian Sepa organization are more than eager to undermine the US. Their aim is to further humiliate the US since they know that the Pashtuns are the only people capable of ensuring this eventual humiliation. Unfortunately, all this happens at the cost of Pashtun lives and livelihood.

We would like to make two essential points one pertaining to the domestic constituency of Afghan minorities enjoying the decade of occupation and the other point pertains to the US national interests.

The Americans have desecrated the Holy Koran on a number of occasions in Pashtun villages and detention facilities in Bagram; however, since the non-Pashtun population was not present during the desecration, it did not matter to them or they did not believe Pashtuns’ claim of desecration. Especially, the supporters of the Northern Alliance did not want to address any redress that would undermine their economic gains with the foreign forces. When the desecration of the Holy Koran took place at Bagram Airbase, these Afghan minority workers were shocked to see with their own eyes what Pashtuns complained about for the past ten years. Consequently, these workers submitted to their emotions and Islamic believes by expressing their disenchantment and outrage.

We have a message to these hypocrites that the Pashtun people have endured this type of treatment for the past ten years while the non-Pashtuns of the Northern Alliance collaborated with the invaders. These collaborators enjoyed the leftover dirt thrown at them at every turn of the way. Meanwhile, the US government has to reassess this business of subcontracting information to these information mercenaries. The elements of the Northern Alliance serving as translators labeled every Pashtun man as a Talib fighter and every Pashtun family as collaborator. Consequently, Pashtun men, families and villages have been targeted with no mercy. 
The traitorous behavior of these translators and advisors cost the lives of thousands of Pashtuns all over Afghanistan. Hence, these translators and advisors could not save themselves from the wrath of the Afghan nation including the resistance. However, the US government should also hold these translators and advisors responsible for their misguided assistance. Moreover, the so-called ‘think tanks’ mushroomed in the aftermath of 911 of which there are dimes a dozens at the consultancy landscape. They should have been scrutinized not bankrolled for providing flawed self-serving advice that ruined an entire nation, Afghanistan. 

However, since the US days seem to be numbered in Afghanistan, it is a little too late to undo this flawed and criminal approach wherein peoples lives are subcontracted to an army of self-centered and self-sold individuals and organizations. This subcontracting along with the continuous bombing and murders and deprivation of the Pashtun people from all spheres of normal life constitute too great of cost to undo at this time. The only feasible action at this time would be to start the process of complete withdrawal of all foreign forces and instituting justice and peace in All Afghanistan.

The Afghan nation whether Pashtuns or non-Pashtuns have realized in the past week when the Holy Koran was desecrated that the US in Afghanistan has not only cost the lives of the people there but also undermined their religious and cultural principles.

All Rights Reserved, 2012