Monthly Archives: May 2012

The going price of getting away with murder… would $33m be enough?

Robert Fisk

The Long View: Are the Pakistanis being so dastardly when they lock up a national who has helped in a murder?

La Clinton hath spoken. Thirty-three million smackers lopped off Pakistan’s aid budget because its spooks banged up poor old Dr Shakeel Afridi for 33 years after a secret trial. And, as the world knows, Dr Afridi’s crime was to confirm the presence of that old has-been Osama bin Laden in his grotty Abbottabad villa.

Well, that will teach the Pakistanis to mess around with a brave doctor who is prepared to help the American institution that tortures and murders its enemies. Forget the CIA’s black prisons and rendition and water-boarding, and the torture of the innocents in the jails of our friendly dictators. Dr Afridi was just doing the free world a favour. And WOW, Dr Afridi got shopped by Leon Pannetta when he was CIA boss, and now Barack Obama is accused of letting him down.

Well, I pause here. Dr Afridi was brought before a secret trial in the Khyber tribal area – no charge sheets, no lawyers, no statements from the defendant or the prosecution, just a measly accusation of conspiracy against the state of Pakistan and “high treason”. I’ve never known the difference between “treason” and “high treason” but – since Pakistan’s security apparatus is a mirror image of the British Empire – I assume it was invented by us. “High treason” means treason against the monarch. By fingering Bin Laden, after using a ruse about vaccinating his family against hepatitis B to gain access to him, Dr Afridi was committing treason against King Asif Ali Zardari, otherwise known as the President of Pakistan.

But hold on a moment. Let’s suppose Vladimir Putin sent a KGB/FSB hit squad to Britain to murder a former agent called Alexander Litvinenko who had turned against his old spymasters. And let’s suppose that the Russians murdered Litvinenko. Which – in real life – they did. And Litvinenko – in real life – was indeed a trusted agent of the Russians, just as Bin Laden was a much-admired servant of the CIA when he was fighting the Russians in Afghanistan.

Getting a bit close to home? Well, let’s go a stage further. Supposing Litvinenko was murdered after being identified by a friendly British GP – working for the KGB/FSB – who vaccinated the Berezovsky family against hep B. What do Messrs Cameron and Clegg and the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police and the Lord Chief Justice and the Lord High Executioner and all the other nabobs do? Do they accuse the British GP of treason, clap him in irons, stage a hush-hush trial covered by the Official Secrets Act and send the chap off to rot in the Tower of London for – say – 33 years?

Or do they accept a bribe from Moscow of, say, $33m (£21m) to let the GP out of jug so he can potter off to Moscow to be given a new home and restart his career as a doktor for the nomenklatura?

In other words, are the Pakistanis being so dastardly when they lock up a national who has helped a foreign power murder an exile inside his own country of Pakistan? And, more to the point, wouldn’t we do the same?

And let’s take the story of hypocrisy a stage further. Wasn’t there a brave Israeli citizen called Mordechai Vanunu, who, in opposition to the nuclear weapons that his country was amassing in secret, spoke out to the world about this outrageous threat to international world order and was subsequently kidnapped from Italy by intelligence agents, tried in Israel for “treason” – in secret, of course – and spent 18 years in prison? Now I grant you that’s 15 years shorter than poor old Dr Afridi, but Vanunu still lives under grave restrictions to his liberty and has twice been imprisoned again for the heinous crime of chatting to foreign journalists.

And has La Clinton threatened to suspend a single dollar of Israel’s annual $3bn in aid from the United States for the next 33 years in order to protest Israel’s treatment of Vanunu? Not to mention – not even to utter the words – Sabra and Chatila, Gaza, a 45-year occupation, illegal colonisation of West Bank land, etc, etc, or, indeed, for producing nuclear weapons. And we absolutely must not mention Jonathan Pollard, the former CIA and US Navy intelligence officer sentenced to life in prison in 1987 for spying for Israel. For if Pollard is not released, is Israel threatening to cut its aid to America? Hold on, that doesn’t quite compute, does it? But you get the point.

It’s about hypocrisy. Sure, Pakistan is a corrupt country. Sure, it is corrupt from the shoeshiner up to the pinnacles of power. But I suppose in the end, if you’re going to prostitute yourself to America – financially and militarily, as Pakistan has done for decades – that’s the price you pay. Which is why hypocrisy will win. For Dr Afridi, I predict, will be quietly given a substantial reduction in his sentence, will be released – or disappear – from his Pakistani prison and, in a few months/ years, when Zardari has scored enough points from Dr Afridi’s imprisonment, the good doctor will pop up in the US with a fine medical practice and the pleasure of knowing – of course – that La Clinton has re-endowed Pakistan with its missing $33m.

This is a cross post from The Independent UK.

FACING THE WRITING ON THE WALL IN KABUL

By Eric Margolis

One of my favorite artists was the superb Victorian painter Lady Jane Butler who captured in oil the triumphs and tragedies of the British Empire.
Her haunting painting, “The Retreat from Kabul, ” shows the sole survivor of a British army of 16,500, Dr. William Brydon, struggling out of Afghanistan in January, 1842. All the rest were killed by Afghan tribesmen after a futile attempt to garrison Kabul.
This gripping painting should have hung over the NATO summit meeting last week in Chicago to remind the US and its allies that Afghanistan remains “the graveyard of empires.”
The latest empire to try to conquer Afghanistan has failed, and is now sounding the retreat.
All the hot air in Chicago about “transition,” Afghan self-reliance, and growing security could not conceal the truth that the mighty US and its dragooned western allies have been beaten in Afghanistan by a bunch of mountain warriors from the 12th Century.
The objective of war is to achieve political goals, not kill people. The US goal was to turn Afghanistan into a protectorate providing bases close to Caspian Basin oil, and to block China. After an eleven-year war costing $1 trillion, this effort failed – meaning a military and political defeat.
The US dragged NATO into a war in which it had no business and lacked any popular support. The result: a serious weakening of the NATO alliance, raising questions about whose interests it really serves. The defeat in Afghanistan will undermine US domination of Western Europe.
Claims made in Chicago that the US-installed Afghan regime will stand on its own with $4 billion of aid from the west were pie in the sky. Once US support ends, the Karzai regime is unlikely to survive much longer than did Najibullah’s Afghan Communist regime in Kabul after its Soviet sponsor withdrew in 1989. Or the US-run South Vietnamese regime that fell in 1975.
The current 350,000-man Afghan government army and police are mercenaries fighting for money supplied by the US and NATO. Many are ethnic Uzbeks and Tajiks, blood foes of the majority Pashtun. Taliban and its allies are fighting for nationalism and faith. History tells us who will prevail.
All Afghans know the western powers have been defeated. Those with sense are already making deals with Taliban. Vengeance being a cherished Afghan custom, those who collaborated closely with the foreign forces can expect little mercy.
Air power is the key to US control of Afghanistan. Warplanes and helicopter gunships circle constantly overhead to defend western bases and supply routes. Reduce this air power, as will likely happen after 2014, and remaining US troops will be in peril. Pakistan’s temporary closure of NATO land supply routes to Kabul and Kandahar provides a foretoken of what may occur. Currently, the US must rely on Russia for much of its heavy supplies.
Already there are worries about getting US and NATO troops out of Afghanistan.
France’s new president, Francoise Hollande, wisely reaffirmed his pledge to withdraw all French troops this year. Other NATO members are wishing they could do the same. No one wants to have their soldiers be the last to die in a futile war that everyone knows is lost.
To wage and sustain the Afghan War, the US has been forced to virtually occupy Pakistan, bribe its high officials, and force Islamabad to follow policies hated by 95% of its people, generating virulent anti-Americanism. The Afghan War must be ended before it tears apart Pakistan and plunges South Asia into crisis into which nuclear-armed India is likely to become involved.
Washington intends to leave garrisons in Afghanistan after the 2014 announced pullout date, rebranding them “trainers” instead of combat troops. Their mission will be to keep the pro-US Afghan regime in power. But neither the US nor NATO will come up with the $4 billion promised in Chicago.
Washington is encouraging India to get ever more deeply involved in Afghanistan – even to become its new colonial power. India would be wise to keep its hands off.
In a second “Retreat from Kabul,” remaining US garrisons in Afghanistan may face the fate of the 1842 British invaders, cut off, ambushed, and hacked to pieces by the ferocious Pashtun tribesmen. 30

The Imperial Mind

American rage at Pakistan over the punishment of a CIA-cooperating Pakistani doctor is quite revealing

BY 

Americans of all types — Democrats and Republicans, even some Good Progressives — are just livid that a Pakistani tribal court (reportedly in consultation with Pakistani officials) has imposed a 33-year prison sentence on Shakil Afridi, the Pakistani physician who secretly worked with the CIA to find Osama bin Laden on Pakistani soil. Their fury tracks the standard American media narrative: by punishing Dr. Afridi for the “crime” of helping the U.S. find bin Laden, Pakistan has revealed that it sympathizes with Al Qaeda and is hostile to the U.S. (NPR headline: “33 Years In Prison For Pakistani Doctor Who Aided Hunt For Bin Laden”; NYT headline: “Prison Term for Helping C.I.A. Find Bin Laden”). Except that’s a woefully incomplete narrative: incomplete to the point of being quite misleading.

What Dr. Afridi actually did was concoct a pretextual vaccination program, whereby Pakistani children would be injected with a single Hepatitis B vaccine, with the hope of gaining access to the Abbottabad house where the CIA believed bin Laden was located. The plan was that, under the ruse of vaccinating the children in that province, he would obtain DNA samples that could confirm the presence in the suspected house of the bin Laden family. But the vaccine program he was administering was fake: as Wired‘s public health reporter Maryn McKenna detailed, “since only one of three doses was delivered, the vaccination was effectively useless.” An on-the-ground Guardian investigation documented that ”while the vaccine doses themselves were genuine, the medical professionals involved were not following procedures. In an area called Nawa Sher, they did not return a month after the first dose to provide the required second batch. Instead, according to local officials and residents, the team moved on.”

That means that numerous Pakistani children who thought they were being vaccinated against Hepatitis B were in fact left exposed to the virus. Worse, international health workers have long faced serious problems in many parts of the world — including remote Muslim areas — in convincing people that the vaccines they want to give to their children are genuine rather than Western plots to harm them. These suspicions have prevented the eradication of polio and the containment of other preventable diseases in many areas, including in parts of Pakistan. This faux CIA vaccination program will, for obvious and entirely foreseeable reasons, significantly exacerbate that problem.

As McKenna wrote this week, this fake CIA vaccination program was “a cynical attempt to hijack the credibility that public health workers have built up over decades with local populations” and thus “endangered the status of the fraught polio-eradication campaign, which over the past decade has been challenged in majority-Muslim areas in Africa and South Asia over beliefs that polio vaccination is actually a covert campaign to harm Muslim children.” She further notes that while this suspicion “seems fantastic” to oh-so-sophisticated Western ears — what kind of primitive people would harbor suspicions about Western vaccine programs? – there are actually “perfectly good reasons to distrust vaccination campaigns” from the West (in 1996, for instance, 11 children died in Nigeria when Pfizer, ostensibly to combat a meningitis outbreak, conducted drug trials — experiments — on Nigerian children that did not comport with binding safety standards in the U.S.).

When this fake CIA vaccination program was revealed last year, Doctors Without Borders harshly denounced the CIA and Dr. Afridi for their “grave manipulation of the medical act” that will cause “vulnerable communities – anywhere – needing access to essential health services [to] understandably question the true motivation of medical workers and humanitarian aid.” The group’s President pointed out the obvious: “The potential consequence is that even basic healthcare, including vaccination, does not reach those who need it most.” That is now clearly happening, as the CIA program “is casting its shadow over campaigns to vaccinate Pakistanis against polio.” Gulrez Khan, a Peshawar-based anti-polio worker, recently said that tribesman in the area now consider public health workers to be CIA agents and are more reluctant than ever to accept vaccines and other treatments for their children.

For the moment, leave to the side the question of whether knowingly administering ineffective vaccines to Pakistani children is a justified ruse to find bin Laden (just by the way, it didn’t work, as none of the health workers actually were able to access the bin Laden house, though CIA officials claim the program did help obtain other useful information). In light of all the righteous American outrage over this prison sentence, let’s consider what the U.S. Government would do if the situation were reversed: namely, if an American citizen secretly cooperated with a foreign intelligence service to conduct clandestine operations on U.S. soil, all without the knowledge or consent of the U.S. Government, and let’s further consider what would happen if the American citizen’s role in those operations involved administering a fake vaccine program to unwitting American children. Might any serious punishment ensue? Does anyone view that as anything more than an obvious rhetorical question?

There are numerous examples that make the point. As’ad AbuKhalilposes this one: “Imagine if China were to hire an American physician who would innocently inject unsuspecting Americans with a chemical to obtain information for China.  I am sure that his prison term would be even longer.” Or what if an American doctor of Iranian descent had done this on behalf of the Quds Force, in order to find a member of the designated Iranian Terror group MeK who was living in the United States (one who, say, has been working with Israel to help assassinate Iranian nuclear scientists and wound their wives, or one who was trained by the U.S.), after which Iranian agents invaded his American home, pumped bullets in his skull and shot a few others (his wife and a child) and then dumped his corpse into the Atlantic Ocean? Or take the case of Orlando Bosch, the CIA-backed anti-Cuban Terrorist long harbored by the U.S.; suppose a Cuban-American doctor sympathetic to Castro had injected American children as part of a fake vaccination program in order to help Cuba find and kill Bosch on U.S. soil; he’d be lucky to get 33 years in prison.

In fact, the U.S. Government tries to impose the harshest possible sentences on Americans who do far less than Dr. Afridi did in Pakistan. The Obama administration charged former NSA official Thomas Drake with espionage and tried to imprison him fordecades merely because he exposed serious waste, corruption and illegality in surveillance programs — without the slightest indication of any harm to national security. Right now, they’re charging Bradley Manning with “aiding the enemy” — Al Qaeda — and attempting to impose life imprisonment on the 23-year-old Army Private, merely because he leaked information to the world showing serious war crimes and other government deceit (something The New York Times does frequently) which nobody suggests was done in collaboration with or even with any intent to help Al Qaeda or any other foreign entity. Given all that, just imagine how harshly they’d try to punish an American who secretly collaborated with a foreign intelligence service — who created a fake vaccine program for American kids — to enable secret military action on U.S. soil without their knowledge.

But of course none of these comparisons is equivalent. It’s all different when it’s done to America rather than by America. That’s the great prize for being the world’s imperial power: the rules you impose on others don’t bind you at all. I’m quite certain that none of the people voicing such intense rage over Pakistan’s punishment of Dr. Afridi would voice anything similar if the situation were reversed in any of the ways I’ve just outlined. Can you even imagine any of them saying something like: yes, this American doctor injected American kids with ruse vaccines in order to help the intelligence service of Iran/Pakistan/China/Cuba conduct clandestine operations on U.S. soil without the knowledge of the U.S. Government, but I think that’s justified and he shouldn’t be punished.

If you read or watch any accounts of life in the Roman empire, what you will frequently witness is someone being severely punished for an act against a Roman citizen. That was the most severe crime and the one most harshly punished: one could do any manner of bad things to non-citizens, but not so much as raise a hand to a Roman citizen.

Watch how often that formulation is used in our political discourse: he tried to kill Americans, people will emphasize when justifying all sorts of U.S. government actions. In other words, there are ordinary, pedestrian crimes (like this one, from today: “An American drone fired two missiles at a bakery in northwest Pakistan Saturday and killed four suspected militants, officials said, as the U.S. pushed on with its drone campaign despite Pakistani demands to stop. This was the third such strike in the country in less than a week”). But then there is the supreme crime: he tried to kill Americans! It’d be one thing if this outrage were honestly expressed as self-interest (we give massive aid to Pakistan so they should do our bidding), but instead, it is, as usual, couched in moral terms.

That is the imperial mind at work. Its premises are often embraced implicitly rather than knowingly: American lives are inherently more valuable; foreign lives are expendable in pursuit of American interests; the U.S. has the inalienable right to take action in other countries that nobody is allowed to take in the U.S. (just imagine: “An Iranian drone fired two missiles at a bakery in the northwest U.S. Saturday and killed four suspected militants, Iranian officials said, as Iran pushed on with its drone campaign despite American demands to stop. This was the third such strike in the country in less than a week” or “Thirty five women and children were killed by a Yemeni cruise missile armed with cluster bombs which struck an alleged Marine training camp in Texas”).

These self-venerating imperial prerogatives are the premises driving the vast bulk of American foreign policy and military discourse. It is certainly what’s driving the spectacle of so many people pretending that the punishment of Dr. Afridi is some sort of aberrational act which the U.S. and other Decent, Civilized Countries would never do.

* * * * *

Two related points:

(1) NPR emphasizes what appear to be the genuine due process deficiencies in the punishment imposed on Dr. Afridi, though he certainly is receiving more due process than those informally and secretly accused of Treason by the U.S. Government and given the Anwar Awlaki treatment, or accused of Terrorism and targeted with a U.S. drone or locked for a decade or so in a cage without charges of any kind.

(2) Zaid Jilani, formerly of Think Progress, asks a really good question about the Hollywood Election Year film depicting the bin Laden raid being produced by Sony Pictures with the help of the Obama administration: “Will the movie feature Pakistani kids tricked into getting fake vaccines? Probably not.” If the film does mention this, I’d bet it will be to marvel at and celebrate the James-Bond-like ingenuity of the CIA.

This is a cross post from salon.com

Hillary Finally Brings Bureau of Spy/Diplomatic Liaisons Out of the Closet

By Peter Chamberlin

Clinton finally brings the secret military/State Dept. covert operations out into the open (SEE:  Clinton Goes Commando, Sells Diplomats as Shadow Warriors).  This is the logical outcome of a process started long ago, during the Reagan Administration, when Congress put restrictions on the CIA’s shadow wars in Central America.  It was then that this so-called “smart policy” began, thereafter, all of the CIA’s illegal operations were contracted out to private interests.   Hillary’s baby, “the Conflict Bureau,” grew out of Reagan’s NED (National Endowment for Democracy).   The new bureau of State Dept. activism was originally called the “Office of Public Diplomacy,” as first revealed in the Congressional Iran/Contra Hearings.  These hearings uncovered the inner workings of a new State Dept. entity, which was intended to take over many of the CIA’s  operations.

Private corporations and benefactors were solicited to form patriotic partnerships with the military, to be overseen by a hierarchy of diplomats.  These partnerships turned-out to be privately funded criminal enterprises, which were organized to implement Administration policies.  The objective of these enterprises was to destabilize nations by turning the people against their own governments.  This was to be done primarily through diplomatic largess, as opposed to the use of military force.  A veritable river of cash and other economic incentives began to pour into the hands of poor people and local criminal networks.  The people’s loyalty would be bought, as would the criminals’ silence, as well as the local bureaucrat’s complicity.  The louder that those who received their newfound wealth boasted of their good fortune, the more envious the rest of the people would become.  All forces would contribute to the primary mission of destabilization.

Perhaps the most important acquisition that the beneficent diplomats could make would be that of the voices of established local journalists and newsmen, who would be the primary agitators of the class struggle between the haves and the have-nots.  In Muslim countries, the most important acquisition would likely be local religious authorities and devotees, who could be used to further agitate long-simmering local religious squabbles, such as that between Sunni and Shia.

Through the “smart” interplay between the various news-generating sources at their disposal, the aggressive diplomats could actually take over popular dialogues and generate “new news” (propaganda).   By using their local and national players to dominate popular opinion-making, diplomats could successfully replace the ongoing national narratives with new false narratives, which were used to bring the thinking of the people in line with the Administration’s will for them.  The overriding purpose was to generate national revolutions by first creating a false perception of an ongoing revolution within the minds of the people.   The people were made to believe in an inevitable national revolution by hiring locals to stage revolutionary attacks (terrorism) on key targets, at critical junctures in the molding of the national debate.  The contracted newsmen spread the story of the ongoing revolution far and wide, while the newsmen who could not be bought are deceived with selective leaks from anonymous government sources.  The revolutionary (terrorist) acts are timed so as to validate the doctored news reports.

Today the diplomatic meddlers have networks of NGOs (non-governmental organizations) to assist them with the process of spreading the “pork” locally and creating new false narratives which mirror the latest fashionable lies being peddled by Washington’s other sources.  You see the process most completely in the fate suffered by Libya, or Syria, or that visited upon the people of Iraq.  At the end of the “smart” process is nothing but war and local devastation giving the US and NATO military a foot in the door.   For this the national governments are blamed by the manipulated, agitated, radicalized and weaponized masses.

Hillary is extremely proud of her smart operation, her “Silk Road” to hell.

The author runs his own blog therearenosunglasses where this post appeared originally.

Chicago summit: Pakistan defies US egotism

Jawad Raza Khan

Pakistan is undeniably under huge compression especially after discontinuing NATO supplies, since the dejected Salala incident. Experts are evaluating the situation on hourly basis, giving news and theories with pessimistic approach leaving audience hopeless (most of them). Bonn conference, Shamsi Air Base and Chicago moot all are discussed at length, but what is really unheard off is something which should have been discussed with pride and grace. Our media may call this nation as a shameless bunch of different mobs, but in reality what has certainly ensued since then, is amazing.  All our pseudo- intellectuals were of the opinion that Pakistan will not be able to take on the challenge of blocking NATO supplies for more than 10 days but this great nation has responded with such a strength that has forced our corrupt leaders to think twice before opening the NATO’s line of communication. How it happened is not been highlighted “24- Have indeed changed the course “Well Done Soldiers”!

Godless notion (non-believers) cannot comprehend, how a country like Pakistan is standing one against forty eight not for aid, not for satisfying ID (driven by the pleasure principle, which strives for immediate gratification of all desires), not defying principles but only for their self-respect, making the world realize that “We are not horde but are existing and breathing as a nation”. The defiance shown by Pakistani nation is exceptional in history, here I must confess that Pakistan has to open this supply route but this planned or unplanned delay has indeed gave Pakistan some sort of a moral tonic in its existing dismal state. Extremely deplorable law and order situation, constitutional crisis, political tussle, depressing economy and above all unlimited power cut offs in scorching summers could not change the trend in this part of the world and Americans are now indeed feeling the heat. They need supplies from south, well before 2014, otherwise their withdrawal can turn into a rout and importantly “They know it”.

Unfortunately the above mentioned is not transpired on our media, indeed that’s part of the strategy given by their MASTERS (46 million dollars are certainly worth doing this worthless act of treachery). The proven fact is that in a country like Pakistan, media cannot be trusted as true reflection of mass desire, courtesy Mr. Dollar. On one hand, US is not ready to apologize for our 24 braves who were ruthlessly killed by US led NATO forces but on the other side, it is more than astonishing to see some shameless advertisements on all private media channels with a common phrase USAID from American people to Pakistani people to build Pakistan (Typical American). These advertisements started appearing on FM channels first but are now frequently visible on our so called free media.  Truly speaking it’s more than a shameful act by our media tycoons who are extremely busy in making money while emotionally killing citizens of Pakistan. If Americans are so anxious to help Pakistan, in principle, they must first apologize for their brutal act against their own allies on Salala check post. This private Army of our media cannot fight this media war against Pakistan as they are nothing but bunch of greedy, dishonest and disloyal people working on foreign agenda.

In contrast to what all happening on electronic and print media, Social media has by and large truly and loudly expressed the true Pakistani opinion against American egotism.

The situation of Pak-US relations can easily be summed up (in the backdrop of Non NATO Ally) with this sentence “He’s such a big gun in the office; they’re planning to fire him! It’s about time for Pakistan to stand on principles, there is no such suggestion to be at war against NATO but an opportunity given by the sacrifice of our 24 valiant soldiers, who had risen to the occasion, wants to see Pakistan rising with grace and honour, definitely from heavens.

The writer is based in Rawalpindi.

Is the Whirling Dervish of TAPI Politics Finally Spinning America’s Way?

Peter Chamberlin

It had to eventually happen–Afghan politics have come full circle, and then some.  It was only a matter of time before the TAPI pipe dream would once again be offered as a solution to the Afghan conflict.  The Taliban are once again being handed the keys to the kingdom in exchange for partnering with Western oil giants as the means for ensuring TAPI pipeline security.  The last time we heard the snake charmers make this offer was  in 1996, when Marty Miller of Unocal tried to convince all the factions that the “pipeline was a conflict resolution process.”  When this approach also failed to keep all parties satisfied, speculation arose that Unocal or another consortium partner gave secret support to the Taliban, in order to push-out the Northern Alliance forces of Ahmad Shah Massoud from their northern sanctuary, the location of the finalized pipeline route.  What will happen this time, when the Taliban or the mega-corporations prove to be unmovable and the whole diplomatic episode is exposed as another charade?  Karzai is a marked man, just as Rabbani before him was marked for termination by the medieval Taliban.

When it comes to Afghanistan and energy corridors, there are no new ideas under the sun–even Hillary Clinton’s favorite project, the “Silk Road,”  is just another attempt to revive one of her husband’s policy failures.  The following  testimony was given to Congress on 12 February 1998, by John Maresca, International head of Unocal–

“There are few, if any, other areas of the world where there can be such a dramatic increase in the supply of oil and gas to the world market. The solution seems simple: build a ‘new’ Silk Road.”

Anyone who has been paying attention to the decisions being made in Washington concerning the final resolution of the Afghan dilemma should have seen something like this coming down the pipe.  The Obama team has consistently pushed a revived TAPI project like it was already a done deal.  All of Obama’s emissaries have done everything imaginable to coerce Pakistan into signing-on to the mega-project, usually by portraying  TAPI as something in Pakistan’s best interests and the Iranian IPI pipeline as something harmful.  If  today’s report that the Taliban also want TAPI is true, then the US has once again performed another act of “ju jitsu diplomacy,” whereby a foreign entity’s decisions are turned on their heads, so that blatant lies are swallowed whole, as if they were the only truth.  In Pakistan’s case, after Ambassador Holbrooke successfully donned the disguise of humanitarian benefactor he was able to dominate the media with pro-American propaganda.

The pipeline plot was actually a subtle form of arm-twisting, intended to force Pakistan into helping the US bring the war to a close.  If Pakistan would only consent to forcibly bending the Taliban into a cooperative frame of mind, then all of these economic benefits and problem-solving initiatives would simply fall into their laps.  Such is the nature of American Fascist “diplomacy.”  Holbrooke’s hallmark.

Just as Pakistan is now being forced into an undesired partnership with America, through a combination of economic incentives and military pressure, Turkmenistan has been maneuvered into a corner until conditions could be made amenable to TAPI development.  TAPI would be a reality by now were it not for American obstructionism.  By February 10, 1993, Bridas Corp. of Argentina had already signed contracts to build the pipeline with the Turkmen state gas company, Turkmenneft,  but construction was blocked by Unocal of California lawyers, who hung the project up in US courts on legal technicalities.

In hindsight, it is apparent that the President of Turkmenistan at that time, Saparmurat Niyazov, also helped Unocal negate the contract which he had previously signed with Bridas, because he didn’t like the 75/25 split specified in the contract, since Bridas would receive the 75% as the project developer.  Thereafter, with development rights to all of that gas and oil up in the air, the Saudis took control of the project, as they assumed the dubious position of financier of both factions in the legal and political battles to build TAPI.  New corporations were formed by different Saudi royals, Delta and Ningharco; Delta partnered with Unocal and Ningharco backed Bridas.  Ningharco was a shell company based in the Jersey Isles, run by the head of Saudi intelligence, Prince Turki.  The Saudis were controlling both sides of the bidding war and negotiations, which continued behind the scenes right up until the attacks in Washington and New York, committed by mostly Saudi terrorists on September 11, 2001.  Is it simply an awful coincidence that the TAPI negotiations came to a dead end simultaneously with the rise of the mostly Saudi terrorist organization, we know as “Al-CIA-da”?

Saudis, Saudis everywhere, most of them stirring-up trouble of some sort,…and yet they are still helping us to run the terror war–the war which has made this new TAPI deal with the Taliban  possible.  This entire war has been a farce, an exercise in building Saudi wealth.  And still, no one in Washington gives a damn–as long as their schemes help bring about the dreamed-of strategic pipeline corridor through Afghanistan and Balochistan.  It will all be celebrated as a great victory, Obama snatching Hillary’s pipe dreams and his second term out of thin air,  making it the cornerstone of a “New American Century.”  All of this, thanks to Saudi double-dealing and the twisted legacy of Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton, administered by the capable hands of Clinton’s wife.

 

Questions regarding the End Game in Afghanistan

Editor’s Note: We share two articles here with our readers.First by Dave Llindorff, a cross post from his blog ‘This Can’t be Happening’ and the other by Gen Talat Masud(R) published in Express Tribune looking at the question from purely Pakistan’s perspective.

No Country for Young Men as Old Men Play for Time: The

End in Afghanistan is Totally Predictable

by:
Dave Llindorff

 

John Kerry, back before he was a pompous windsurfing Senate apologist for American empire, back when he wore his hair long and was part of a movement of returned US military veterans speaking out against the continuation of the Vietnam War, famously asked the members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee at a hearing, “How do you ask a man to be the last one to die for a mistake?”

That was 1971, and the Vietnam War continued to drag on for two more years, with more Americans dying, and with many more Vietnamese being killed, until finally the last US combat troops were gone. But even then the fighting continued, with the Army of South Vietnam armed and financed by the United States, until April 30, 1975, when the last resistance ended and Vietnam was liberated and reunified and finally at peace.

During those two terrible years between Kerry’s statement and the end of US combat operations, American soldiers stationed in Vietnam knew that the war was lost, and knew they were there for no reason other than keeping President Nixon from looking like he had lost a war, particularly as he faced re-election during the campaign year of 1972. There was, understandably, massive resort to drugs, including marijuana, opium, heroin, LSD and others, as well as alcohol. There was the fragging of commanding officers who were too aggressive about sending their troops into danger. There was insubordination and insurrection and there was desertion.

Now consider the situation in Afghanistan. Once again a war has been lost by the US, this time to forces far weaker and more poorly organized than the Viet Cong and the North Vietnamese army.
Once again American troops are being asked to keep fighting for a mistake — this time the 2001 fantasy of the Bush/Cheney administration that it could make a client state out of Afghanistan, a mistake that President Obama doubled down on after taking over the White House, when he called Afghanistan the “good war” and committed another 30,000 troops there, plus ordering up an aggressive kill campaign of night raids, assassinations and the heavy use of pilotless armed drone aircraft.

John Kerry (l) testifying at the Senate in '71 and Iraq/Afghan War vets lining up to return medals to NATO in ChicagoJohn Kerry (l) testifying at the Senate in ’71 and Iraq/Afghan War vets lining up to return medals to NATO in Chicago a few days ago
The difference this time is that these troops are hearing their commander in chief tell the American public that he is going to end the whole thing at the end of 2014 (assuming of course that he is still commander in chief then). He is saying that the war, now opposed by almost three-fourths of the American people according to recent polls, will be ended in two and a half more years no matter what the situation is on the ground in Afghanistan.

The American forces in Afghanistan know they have already lost the war there. And they also know that as the drawdown of troops begins from that war-torn country, they will be hit harder and harder by the Taliban and other forces trying to take back the country from the US and from the compradore leaders who have been serving as the lackeys to the US. They know too that as soon as the last of them has boarded the last plane out, or perhaps even earlier, the current corrupt Afghan leadership will be hopping a commercial flight out too, to join their money in Switzerland or Abu Dhabi or some other safe haven, and the Taliban will come marching into Kabul to take over from them.

How much worse must those soldiers feel than the US soldiers in Vietnam, who at least didn’t have an end-point held out in front of them to taunt them. Today’s American soldiers and Marines in Afghanistan fight staring at a surrender date at which point all their fighting and killing and dying and being will be acknowledged as having been in vain. The American soldiers in Vietnam in 1971 or 1972 could at least pretend that after they left, the South Vietnamese government might at least try to fight on and establish itself.

In Afghanistan, the soldiers being ordered to fight on can have no such illusions. Soldiers in the Afghan army and police, whom US forcers are training, supposedly to be able to take over from them, are turning their guns on the Americans with alarming frequency. Just today, the Pentagon cited, as “good news”(!), word that Afghan security services had disrupted 160 planned attempts by their uniformed countrymen to kill US soldiers and marines.

That’s gotta be a downer if you wear a US uniform over there.

I predict that the next two and a half years of pointless war in Afghanistan will be a terrible scene of drug abuse (there’s no shortage of opium and heroin in the country, perhaps the leading producer of the drug in the world), of terrible carnage of civilians as increasingly automated remote killing methods are employed to make up for the lack of motivation among the troops, and of US casualties, as the Taliban resistance grows increasingly confident of its power and its impending victory.

The “government” of Afghanistan, meanwhile, knowing its days are numbered, will be preparing its exit, with money spirited out of the country, while the police and army, knowing that they will ultimately pay a deadly price for serving the US master, and too poor to buy their way out of the country, will increasingly turn on American forces, or simply switch to what they know will be the ultimate winning side. This is all totally predictable.

The end, then, is not in question.

The only question is, why on earth would we here in America allow this disaster to drag on for another two and a half years, just to provide cover for our current failed crop of political and military leaders?

 

Beyond Chicago

Published: May 22, 2012

The writer is a retired lieutenant-general of the Pakistan Army and served as chairman of the Pakistan Ordnance Factories Board

The summit in Chicago is primarily meant to focus on issues related to Nato matters. It is expected to provide President Barack Obama an opportunity to show his people how he has handled relations with allies. With the US and Nato forces drawdown in Afghanistan planned for 2014, Pakistani presence at the conference became relevant as Afghanistan’s security and stability have a direct bearing on the former’s security.

But several questions come to mind as Nato and US forces withdraw. What is the likely scenario that will emerge once Nato and the US withdraw? Can the Afghan forces hold up to the Taliban onslaught and are there any chances of a negotiated settlement? What role, if any, should Pakistan play to facilitate an orderly withdrawal?

The prognosis is that once the US forces leave, Afghanistan could lapse into civil strife because though the Afghan National Army has come a long way, it has yet to gel into an effective national force to counter the Taliban and warlords opposed to the government. Moreover, President Hamid Karzai’s government has not been able to win the confidence of the people due to pervasive corruption, poor governance and failing security. Capitalising on these weaknesses, Afghan Taliban enjoy local support, at least, in the eastern and southern parts of the country.

Pakistan faces a huge dilemma. Immediately after 9/11, president George W Bush addressed Pakistan in his famous remarks “either you are with us or against us”. General Pervez Musharraf took no time to be on the side of the US and to become a frontline state. For if we had not allied ourselves with the US and Nato, India would have played the key role in Afghanistan and extended maximum facilities for transit and enhanced its regional influence. Paradoxically, since then, Pakistan has been an ally of the US but also sided with forces against the US.

On the one hand, it supports the US in its policies in Afghanistan, but it can also not ignore the Taliban with whom it has maintained functional, if not friendly, relations. Further, Washington itself has been engaging the Taliban leadership, albeit not with much success. These conflicting demands make Pakistan — in the eyes of the US and Nato countries — an unreliable partner and part of the problem rather than the solution.

The irony is that the military leadership now realises the inherent dangers for Pakistan in an allout victory of the Taliban in Afghanistan. It will inspire the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) to intensify their insurgency and it is also possible that the Afghan Taliban may turn their sights on Pakistan — the strategic depth in reverse.

The question, then, is, how are Pakistan’s interests best served in this complex situation? The ideal approach would be to leave it to the Afghans to decide in an ‘Afghan-led, Afghan-owned process’, but that does not seem feasible in the current scenario. Islamabad finds itself trapped and is unable to navigate the political and diplomatic conundrum. The period from now until the end of 2014, however, provides a narrow window of opportunity to work with Nato and the US to develop a shared strategy that protects our national interests.

But a major impediment lies in taking this course. If India remains the main enemy in Pakistan’s security paradigm, Islamabad will continue the policy of co-opting militants, including the Afghan Taliban. By pursuing the same old policy of looking at every security problem through the Indian prism — while facing declining resources, internal turmoil and international isolation — it will result in increased reliance of Pakistan on militant proxies.

We are at the cusp of a situation where the moment of truth has arrived. This moment requires that we decide how the interests of our country can best be served. The militants with their pseudo religious-militaristic ideology and resources, generated through illegal means, continue to gain strength while the state is weakening. Any further indecisiveness on the government’s part and military leadership on how to deal with the Afghan, the TTP and other militant groups will only worsen the present situation.

Two Perspectives on NATO Supply Line Blockade

This article by Nasim Zehra was sent directly to the Moderator today.

                                                                                   Demonstrators Protest The NATO Summit In Chicago

At Chicago Pakistan Retrieves Some Lost Diplomatic Space

 

Nasim Zehra

 

Chicago: The Chicago summit that fell in the middle of hard negotiations between two troubled allies generated both tensions and an opportunity for both Pakistan and the United States to steer forward the negotiations.

 

Day one at the summit was dominated with the straight forward story, put out in leading US newspapers quoting US officials, that the US administration

 

for not opening of NATO supply lines Pakistan’s President Zardari gets no bilateral meeting with President Obama. Similarly the stories that were circulated in the NATO media center by “sources” immediately after President Zardari’s meeting with the Secretary Clinton, were that the Secretary essentially presented Washington’s demand list ranging from opening of the NATO supply routes to ending support for the militants and that US had taken the issue of apology off its check list of issues that needed to be addressed. The bottom-line was that that there was no meeting ground between the two as Pakistan presented its demands.

 

(NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen talking to the President of Pakistan, Asif Ali Zardari)

By contrast day two was dominated by Pakistan clearly presenting its position on Afghanistan ranging from Pakistan’s commitment to regional peace, stability and trade, to the setback from the Salala attack to the sacrifices made by Pakistan and the parameters set by Pakistan’s parliament for negotiating the reopening of NATO supply routes. He emphasized that the DCC decision on the NATO supply routes were now being implemented by a negotiating team mandated to do so. President Zardari also announced a 20 million dollar contribution towards the Afghan National Forces.

 

Before the NATO meeting on Afghanistan began a very brief exchange of pleasantries between the Pakistan and US Presidents also took place. The US president again spoke of the need for Pakistan to “play its very imortant role in Afghanistan.”

 

Significantly soon after the President’s address, the NATO Secretary General said NATO invited Pakistan to the summit because it sought “positive engagement with Pakistan,” appreciated Pakistan’s commitment to Afghan peace and was hopeful about Pakistan reopening the NATO supply lines.

 

Meanwhile on the Zardari-Clinton meeting as details emerge there was agreement between the two to take specific steps on the two of the four issues on which the negotiations have yet to result in a settlement. One, on the NATO supply routes a decision was taken that a very senior Pakistani and US official will step in to resolve the outstanding issue of the container fee. Two, the issue of apology could be addressed within a package agreement that could simultaneously address all the four issues.

 

On the two other issues, including no repeat of Salala and no unilateral drone attacks, the two militaries and intelligence agencies have been engaged in dialogue. While border control mechanisms to avoid another Salala like attack are almost in place, discussions between ISI and CIA to agree on specific parameters within which drone attacks would take place, are almost near finalization. Clearly the parliament’s no drones recommendation has been translated into no unilateral drone attacks. This will continue to weigh heavy

 

On the government politically while the army concedes , the best possible way out is to ensure that these attacks take place with prior notice to Pakistan based on shared intel and also within certain geographical areas.

 

Pakistan’s participation in the Chicago summit has helped the troubled Pakistan-US relations move a step forward towards some resolution. No quick break through was expected but more hospitality and diplomacy by the US was.

 

However in the middle of hard negotiations on the NATO supply routes, the US decided to use a ‘no meeting with Obama’ pressure to force Pakistan to re-open the routes. While remaining committed to facilitating NATO’s role of ensuring security and stability in Afghanistan, Pakistan made its case of having the right to pursue its own national interest too. This includes a demand for US apology, no unilateral drone strikes and no repeat of Salala.

 

Meanwhile by indicating before the summit that Pakistan was willing to open the NATO supply routes and then by subsequently attending the Chicago summit, Pakistan has retrieved some of the negotiating space that it lost by unnecessarily prolonging the parliamentary process and unwisely asking for a US delay in publicly apologizing over Salala.

Nasim Zehra is a known political columnist & TV Anchor.She was personally present in Chicago to cover the Summit.

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US-Pak  Relations  – The Salala Hangover!

By Imran Malik

A good strategist is one who is never caught without options. He continually monitors the implementation of his strategy, makes adjustments and course corrections if needed while always maintaining strategic direction and keeping the desired ends in sight. The national interests however always remain “supreme”!

Did our strategists manage to do so post Salala?

Pakistan’s response to Salala was essentially the correct one. Instead of going headlong into a confrontation with the US and other NATO/ISAF countries she chose to follow the strategy of indirect approach. Her reactions were generally asymmetric in nature. She decided to apply subtle pressures on all such US/NATO/ISAF vulnerabilities which would yield disproportionately large and strong strategic dividends without going to war. Thus the Pakistani reaction of closing the NATO supply routes, taking back control of the Shamsi Airbase, boycotting the Bonn Conference and stopping/limiting operational, intelligence, administrative, logistic and technical cooperation with the US/NATO/ISAF amongst a host of other measures was justified and correct.

The strategy should have worked. It almost did. Almost.

The Errors :

Strategic Direction: As said earlier Pakistan should have kept her policy/strategy under constant review and made prompt course corrections whenever required. The overall strategic environment in the Afghan theater of war and US-Pak relations underwent a massive change in the past six months or so. We should have made compatible adjustments to our strategy to maintain strategic direction and keep our desired end state in sight. But we were static and pedantic in our thinking and approach. And as a result events overtook us. Now we are moving at tangents to our so called allies if not on parallel axis.

The Timing: Salala occurred in November 2011 and by February 2012 the strategic and diplomatic environment had been so deftly managed by Pakistan that the US was ready to apologize at the appropriate level. We should have grabbed the opportunity with both hands. That would have met  Pakistan’s major condition and would have smoothly brought the US-Pak relationship back to an even keel within the relevant time frame. The GWOT could have carried on as usual. However, our political government erred by asking for a deferment of the apology to garner political mileage out of the evolving situation.

The Leverage: The closure of the NATO supply routes and the stopping of all operational, intelligence, logistic, administrative and technical cooperation with the US actually hurt them the most. US/NATO/ISAF/ had about three to six months reserves and stocks in Afghanistan at the start of this issue. They successfully opened up the Northern Distribution Network (NDN) to relieve pressure on their supplies. However the NDN was a far more expensive enterprise both in cost and time. The US could bear the cost but could not overcome the time factor. Thus Pakistan had by default moved into a great position to exercise its leverage over the US. And at just about the most critical time, Pakistan let go and missed the opportunity. Pakistan was ill-served by its strategists.

The Political Dimension:  The PPP Government miscalculated grossly when it decided to exploit the strategic environment for domestic political advantage. Unable to take a firm decision on the issue they palmed it off to a Parliamentary Committee on National Security  (PCNS) to gain time and space to find a way out of the imbroglio. And when the stage was set for the US to apologize and all details had been worked out they deferred it to a later time to garner political mileage out of it. The shenanigans of the Haqqani NW in Kabul in mid-April 2012 put paid to all these domestic political maneouverings and desires. A costly error of judgement and poor understanding of the international strategic environment, indeed.

The Financial Dimension: Pakistan’s sordid climb down from a high position of moral strength vis a vis US to one of a beggar has been precipitated by the Government’s terrible governance, unmatchable corruption, destruction of the country’s economy and the pending budget requirements. Its greed to milk the situation for political gains backfired horribly and in its wake relegated Pakistan into an extremely weak negotiating and bargaining position. Our impending elections too were a very major factor in the PPP Governments gross miscalculations.

The US Posturing: The posturing of the US Administration and some of its Congressmen like Rep Dana Rohrabacher vitiated the environment making crisis management and resolution of the issues extremely difficult if not impossible. Post April terrorist attacks in Kabul they started blaming Pakistan and further dithering on the apology and other matters. Slowly and gradually Pakistan’s leverage lost its clout. Now it has been reduced to the inconsequential.

The Chicago Summit: Thus by frittering away our political, diplomatic and strategic advantage our President has literally managed an invitation to Chicago where, as announced by the US spokesman, there is no scheduled meeting between the US and Pakistan Presidents! What we may expect from the Chicago Summit is perhaps a part-release of the CSF and may be some restoration of economic and military aid. Period. There is no likelihood of a worthwhile and significant apology coming from any acceptable level. There is also no question of the drone attacks coming to a halt!

Then what was all this commotion about? If after the manifestation of our policy post-Salala this is the outcome then what have we actually achieved? Were we better off vis a vis US before Salala or post-Salala? Where is our leverage now? We have no worthwhile apology forthcoming and the drones will not stop raining death and destruction. Economic and military aid will continue to come with strings. The Government’s befuddled handling of the entire situation has allowed the fleeting opportunities to slip by unexploited. Our national interests have not been secured either. The loss of face, dignity, self-respect and pride is additional.

Was Pakistan better off pre-Chicago or will there be any improvement post Chicago?

 

The author is a retired Brigadier and an ex Defence Attache to Australia and New Zealand.

This is a cross post from The Nation Newspaper.

The Journalist’s Call!

This is a Pakpotpourri Exclusive

By Waheed Hamid

The importance of Investigative Journalism has always been of great value for a society to discover truth and reality. However fast moving environment filled with latest media technologies and social networking has further enhanced its importance. The buzz phrase remains “truth can never be hidden” but  to counter such investigative journalism  a media with an agenda keeps blurring the truth through perceptions.

The journalists Adrian Levy and Catherine Scott-Clark an award-winning investigative journalist in their book comprising 500 pages put on sale from 1st May 2012 “The Meadow: Kashmir 1995 — Where the Terror Began”  claim that a group of foreign tourists, two Americans, two Britons, a German and a Norwegian were murdered by a group of Kashmiri militants who worked for the Indian Army back in 1995. The Indian government, Indian Intelligence agencies and Indian Military prolonged their capture and sabotaged negotiations with the kidnappers which resulted in the killing of the hostages. This was later discovered that it was an Indian conspiracy to put the blame on Pakistan and its intelligence agencies afterwards for the killing and kidnapping of the tourists. However, upon investigation it was learned that the men were killed by another group, funded and controlled by the Indian government. Quoting the Kashmir police’s crime branch squad, the two authors write that the investigators had been convinced that the Government-controlled renegades had the control of four Westerners after Al Faran dropped them. Adrian Levy told in a interview to NYT that “We also determined the exact route taken by the kidnappers, and followed that route, through Anantnag, and over in Kishtwar and the Warwan Valley, interviewing hundreds of villagers over the years, staying in Sukhnoi where we learned from villagers, and then the IB and the J&K police, the hostages had been deliberately penned in for 11 weeks approximately, while they were observed in detail and near daily, by an Indian helicopter.”

The U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon visited India’s capital recently to meet with government officials and business leaders. It is  hoped that Ban would have also discussed India’s own human rights record. A New York-based rights group accuses India of abuses like extrajudicial killings and widespread torture by troops and police. Ban should press the Indian government to repeal the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, which gives the military sweeping powers to act in troubled and insurgency-wracked areas, including Indian-controlled Kashmir and the states of Manipur and Nagaland. The humane stance on Siachen by Pakistan also leads the social  organisations to impress on India to stop environmental and human rights violations .

May it be humanitarian and environmental issue of Siachen, setting and slaughtering humans to build perceptions  or human rights violations it remains moral obligation on the intellectuals to make the society aware and capable of differentiating between perception, reality and morality to build a better world for coming generations.

The writer is based in Rawalpindi

DRONE ATTACKS: The Latest Aspect Of Growing U.S. “SHADOW WARFARE”

By Sherwood Ross

Although President Obama’s top counter-terrorism adviser says caution is exercised when making drone attacks, official U.S. announcements often state that suspects are killed. This very word betrays the fact that every drone attack is a crime because it is illegal in any civilized society to kill suspects. The killings are murder, pure and simple.

Picture shows victim of drone attacks.Published at SITE: http://www.pakistankakhudahafiz.com/2012/05/07/pakistani-students-win-int%E2%80%99l-award-with-film-on-drone-attacks/

(Only last week, Washington announced it killed four “suspected militants” by drone attack in Pakistan, resulting in a formal protest from Islamabad “strongly condemning” the killings. “Such attacks are in total contravention of international law and established norms of interstate relations,” the  Pakistan statement stressed.)


And the Washington Post  quoted a Pakastani government official who reminded: “When a duly elected democratic Parliament says three times not to do this, and the U.S. keeps doing it, it undermines democracy.”


Presidential adviser John Brennan told a group of academicians at the Woodrow Wilson Center, “We only authorize a strike if we have a high degree of confidence that innocent civilians will not be injured or killed, except in the rarest of circumstances,” Charlie Savage of The New York Times reports in the April 30th edition.


But Brennan acknowledged “instances when — despite the extraordinary precautions we take — civilians have been accidentally injured, or worse, killed in these strikes. It is exceedingly rare, but it has happened. When it does, it pains us and we regret it deeply, as we do any time innocents are killed in war.”


Exceedingly rare? As Juan Cole of the University of Michigan observed in “The Nation”  magazine, the Britain-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism(BIJ) found “not only are civilians routinely killed by U.S. drone strikes in northern Pakistan” but “often people rushing to the scene of a strike to help the wounded are killed by a second launch.” Presumably, some of  these victims may include medical personnel and relatives.


The BIJ estimates the U.S. has killed some 3,000 people in 319 drone strikes. Of these, 600 were civilian bystanders and approximately one in four of those were children.


“At the very time Brennan made his speech, there emerged further confirmation of CIA ‘signature strikes’ that were launched at people who allegedly may be engaged in a pattern of activity that could somehow suggest their involvement in some form of terrorism on the basis of dubious intelligence,” said Francis Boyle, the distinguished professor of international law at the University of Illinois, Champaign.


“These ‘signature strikes’ are indiscriminate and thus illegal and war crimes. And the fact that  all these drone strikes constitute widespread and systematic war crimes mean they also constitute Crimes against Humanity as defined by the Rome Statute for the International Criminal Court and customary international criminal law,” Boyle added.


“Obama, Brennan, Petraeus and the CIA operatives involved must be held criminally accountable for these war crimes and Crimes against Humanity in Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia, inter alia,” said Boyle, author of “Tackling America’s Toughest Questions”(Clarity).


Obama, who presents himself as the doting father of two daughters, is systematically and criminally taking the lives of other parents’ children in his blind passion to destroy his enemies. He has radically stepped up drone attacks over his predecessor, George W. Bush, and makes no apologies for their commission. The drones are now so “hot” in the Pentagon arsenal that manufacturers cannot keep pace with the demand for them. The U.S. has 7,000 unmanned aerial vehicles, Cole writes, which it has deployed in strikes in six countries under direction of the CIA and Pentagon.


Cole points out the drone strikes are largely carried out in places where no war has been declared; neither has any Status of Forces Agreement been signed. “They operate outside the framework of the Constitution, with no due process or habeas corpus, recalling premodern practices of the English monarchy, such as declaring people outlaws, issuing bills of attainder against individuals who offend the crown and trying them in secret Star Chamber proceedings.”


“The only due process afforded those killed from the air is an intelligence assessment, possibly based on dubious sources and not reviewed by a judge,” Cole writes. “There is no consistency, no application of the rule of law. Guilt by association and absence of due process are the hallmarks of shadow government.”


Of the 3,000 slayings in Pakistan by drone strikes, writes Bill Van Auken on Urukunet, only 170 victims have been identified as “known militants.”


According to Van Auken, Brennan told his Woodrow Wilson Center audience, “The constitution empowers the president to protect the nation from any imminent threat of attack” but that assertion “is a lie.” Van Auken explained, “As U.S. officials acknowledged, Sunday’s attack in Pakistan was directed at elements who were allegedly preparing not to attack the US, but rather to resist the US military occupation of Afghanistan.”


The accelerating drone strikes are only one aspect of the emerging covert operations that were once a minor arrow in the national security quiver, “The Nation” writer Cole states, but today are “the cutting edge of American power.”


“Drone strikes, electronic surveillance and stealth engagements by military units such as the Joint Special Operations Command, as well as dependence on private corporations, mercenary armies and terrorist groups, are now arguably more common as tools of U.S. foreign policy than conventional warfare or diplomacy,” Cole writes.


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(Author Sherwood Ross is a Miami-based public relations consultant  “for good causes” who writes on political and military topics. He formerly reported for the Chicago Daily News and worked as a columnist for wire services).

This article is shared directly by author to run on pakpotpourri.