Tag: Stanley McChrystal

Omar Khadr Trial SUSPENDED ! Defense lawyer collapses in court !

Yesterday evening the news broke that Omar Khadr’s only attorney, Lt Col Jon Jackson, collapsed in the Guantanamo courtroom during the beginning of the trial !

(previous diary on the trial & background history here: https://docudharma.com/diar…  )

A witness posted this at Huffpo:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/…

On Thursday afternoon I watched Omar Khadr’s sole defense lawyer, Lt. Col. Jon Jackson, collapse in the Guantanamo Bay courtroom in the middle of conducting a cross-examination of a key government witness. He was taken away on a stretcher by ambulance, hooked up to an I.V. Fortunately Jackson, who’s only 39 years old, was breathing normally at the time, though as an observer in the courtroom I was stunned. It all happened so suddenly and he seemed to be in perfect health and in complete control of his questioning. I learned Friday morning that the trial has been suspended indefinitely.

This morning’s update says that Lt Col Jackson suffered a gall stone attack (after having had surgery 2 months ago)  and is being evacuated from Guantanamo to a hospital in the US for medical treatment.   Reporters were told by an official that the trial has been suspended for at least 30 days.  

Emptywheel at FDL also has this:

http://emptywheel.firedoglake….

There is a comment about removing one of the jurors from the case for having so called pre conceived notions


He said he thought that some earlier policies had lost America its “reputation for being a beacon of freedom.”

Asked specifically which policies had led him to this conclusion he authoritatively cited examples including; charge without trial, torture, rendition and the denial of access to members of the International Committee of the Red Cross to detainees held in secret locations. He went on to say that he believed a small number of detainees may have been killed while in American custody but added: “I don’t think my views differ from those of the President.”

By the time he had admitted that he would be “suspicious” of any evidence obtained under torture his fate was sealed.

Carol Rosenberg’s McClatchy Miami Herald

http://www.miamiherald.com/201…

We know from her report Khadr was in the courtroom after all,

Jackson was put on “convalescent leave,” according to Broyles, a status that allows him to continue to draw a salary and not use up vacation days.

He cited privacy reasons for not releasing the lieutenant colonel’s health condition but said he was likely being airlifted to Walter Reed Army Medical Center, the Pentagon’s premier hospital. He was on a morphine drip Thursday night at the base hospital.

Jackson, who has been on the case for about a year, became Khadr’s lone lawyer within a week of his surgery after the Toronto-born teen fired volunteer civilian attorneys Barry Coburn and Kobie Flowers from Washington D.C.

Parrish ordered the Army defender to stay on the case, but the Pentagon Defense Office provided him no additional assistance beyond two enlisted paralegals who had already been on the case.

Khadr, who sits in court with three guards behind him, leaped to his feet when his Army defender collapsed about 4 p.m. Thursday, according to Khadr family lawyer Dennis Edney, who functions in the war court only as a consultant because he is not a U.S. citizen. The guards didn’t interfere.

“We were all shocked,” Edney said.

Canadian:

http://www.torontosun.com/news…

Ottawa Citizen

We Should Be Embarrassed 8/13/2010

http://www.ottawacitizen.com/n…

A United Nations special representative for children and armed conflict issued a statement on Aug. 9, saying “the Omar Khadr case will set a precedent that may endanger the status of child soldiers all over the world.”

“Even if Omar Khadr were to be tried in a national jurisdiction, juvenile justice standards are clear; children should not be tried before military tribunals,” the statement from Radhika Coomaraswamy explains. “The United States and Canada have led the way in creating and implementing these norms. … I urge both governments to come to a mutually acceptable solution on the future of Omar Khadr that would prevent him from being convicted of a war crime that he allegedly committed when he was a child.”

Canada’s government has ignored this, as it has ignored questions about the implications of Khadr’s age all along.

His age, though, is not the only factor that makes many observers of his trial queasy.

There is also the fact that the judge has ruled that statements Khadr made to his interrogators are admissible, even though they were, as Khadr’s defence argued, “fruit of a poisonous tree.” Khadr was, in the words of a defence submission, “asphyxiated, terrorized by dogs, doused with freezing water and left in the cold.” He was threatened with rape.  

More Canadian opinion from Chantal Hébert at Toronto Star 8/11/2010


Canada’s top court described Khadr’s treatment as “. . . state conduct that violates the principles of fundamental justice.” It added: “Interrogation of a youth, to elicit statements about the most serious criminal charges while detained in these conditions and without access to counsel (. . .) offends the most basic Canadian standards about the treatment of detained youth suspects.”

About violations of Khadr’s Charter rights, the Court found that: “. . . their impact on Mr. Khadr’s liberty and security continue to this day and may redound into the future.”

Despite those prescient words, the ruling stopped short of prescribing a remedy to the federal government.

On the face of it, the absence of Supreme Court prescriptions in the Khadr case falls short of its own, recently reaffirmed, deterrence principle. In a matter that involves state abuse of the right to liberty and security of a person in a fundamental way, that absence has ultimately tipped the scale towards virtually unfettered government discretion.

Got to love our northern sisters and brothers, “unfettered government discretion” is used to describe being held without charges or legal counsel, then put on trial in a foreign country in front of a jury of military officers, apparently selected to have no pre conceived notions about whether your age was relevant years ago, or how the “confessions” or just witness statements were obtained –  by shooting you in the back, first, then isolating you for years in the disgrace of Bush & Cheney’s little waterboarding gulag where you no doubt heard what happened to the prisoners who didn’t cooperate– or sometimes did.

No wonder poor Lt Col Jon Jackson might be feeling some physical stress attempting to navigate this.  Kids don’t get to select their parents.  

“Kildeer” Gibbs and Omar Khadr Trial

My contention is that White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs is doing the Kildeer maneuver, like the bird who cries to draw you away from its nest,  as a distraction from what is going on with the trial of Omar Khadr, who has been held in U.S. custody as an enemy combatant for 8 years and since he was only 15 years old.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/O…

Since Khadr was not yet of legal age when he was nearly killed then revived by the U.S. military, then used as part of Bush and Cheney’s sadistic little game to “prove” that this country needed to invade Iraq on false pretenses, it looks really awkward, not to mention immoral, to be trying the prisoner with the idea of permanent incarceration or the death penalty. (if the prosecution is to be believed, the maximum penalty in this case is life imprisonment)  Even more so that he was born in Canada.

Hence Kildeer Gibb’s dig about not being satisfied until we had Canadian healthcare.  Obviously we have the finest healthcare in the world because we can revive almost indefinitely people who have nearly been tortured to death.

Because I checked the usual suspects on the kick a hippie sh*t stirring list, the OFA/DNC paid campaigner and Beltway insider types, the ones who like to use the word “firebaggers,”   and they’re all ignoring this like it’s his turn.  Like they radioed in the strike coordinates to the WH @ PressSec office.

Or they are going to actually proxy bomb Iran next.  But then I remembered the game right wing people like to play called “you’re insincere in your concerns.”

Maybe Kildeer Gibbs could diss the Canadians’ troops next and they could pull out of Afghanistan like the Dutch did.

http://www.aolnews.com/world/a…

Aug 3 2010


“This is the start,” an Afghan political analyst, Haroon Mir, told Agence France-Presse. “It’s a chain — the Dutch start to withdraw, followed by the Canadians, then the British by 2014. In the middle I think we will see a number of other NATO members… setting a timetable to leave.”

The Dutch will be replaced by U.S. and Australian, Slovak and Singaporean soldiers.

Canadian press, this am:

Montreal Gazette Aug 12, 2010

Khadr trial to hear first arguments

http://www.montrealgazette.com…


More than eight years after U.S. forces captured a 15-year-old Omar Khadr on an Afghan battlefield, prosecution and defence lawyers present their opening arguments today in his war crimes trial -the first such case proceeding under the Obama administration.

Seven U.S. military officers will sit in judgment of the Canadian-born terror suspect after the military judge in the case yesterday excused eight others from the initial jury pool, acting on requests and challenges from either the defence or prosecution.

Postmedia News has also learned that the defence has been seeking to present two Canadian government officials as defence witnesses – a request likely to rankle the Conservative government, which has resisted calls from human- rights and other activist groups calling for Khadr’s immediate repatriation.

The officials – Sabine Nolke and Suneeta Millington – have over the years been dispatched to visit Khadr at the U.S. naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, as part of the Canadian government’s bid to monitor his confinement conditions and other aspects of his treatment.  

Omar Khadr is so far intending on being tried in absentia because he considers the entire proceedings a sham and has fired his U.S. civilian lawyers. He has a Pentagon appointed attorney.

The Week in Editorial Cartoons – Afghanistan’s Future Through the McChrystal Ball

Crossposted at Daily Kos



McChrystal in Rolling Stone by John Cole, Scranton Times-Tribune, Buy this cartoon

(what do Shel Silverstein and Dr. Hook have to do with this?  Read this)

The Week in Editorial Cartoons – General A*S Kicking and When Joe Met Tony

Crossposted at Daily Kos

THE WEEK IN EDITORIAL CARTOONS

This weekly diary takes a look at the past week’s important news stories from the perspective of our leading editorial cartoonists (including a few foreign ones) with analysis and commentary added in by me.

When evaluating a cartoon, ask yourself these questions:

1. Does a cartoon add to my existing knowledge base and help crystallize my thinking about the issue depicted?

2. Does the cartoonist have any obvious biases that distort reality?

3. Is the cartoonist reflecting prevailing public opinion or trying to shape it?

The answers will help determine the effectiveness of the cartoonist’s message.

:: ::

Jeeves and Wooster

Mike Luckovich

Mike Luckovich, Comics.com (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Obama, McChrystal, and a Shit-Head Reporter

The very tip-top of the New York Times’ front page today is occupied by this flaming headline…

McChrystal Is Summoned to Washington Over Remarks

An angry President Obama summoned his top commander in Afghanistan to Washington on Tuesday after a magazine article portrayed the general and his staff as openly contemptuous of some senior members of the Obama administration.

The author of the article — Michael Hastings, a freelance journalist — appears to have been granted intimate access to General McChrystal’s inner circle. Most of the comments seem to have been uttered during unguarded moments, in places like bars and restaurants where the general and his aides gathered to unwind.

A McChrystal aide is quoted saying of Mr. Holbrooke: “The Boss says he’s like a wounded animal. Holbrooke keeps hearing rumors that he’s going to be fired, so that makes him dangerous.”

The article also describes a conversation in which General McChrystal and an aide talk about Mr. Biden. “Are you asking about Vice President Biden?” General McChrystal jokes.

“Biden?” suggests a top adviser. “Did you say ‘Bite me?’ ”

In a parallel universe, where Planet Earth is inhabited by intelligent life-forms, Obama would say…

“Soldiers have been grousing about higher-ups for at least 5000 years, and only a shit-head of a reporter like Michael Hastings would repeat what soldiers say among themselves off-duty in a bar, and only a shitty “life-style” magazine like Rolling Stone would print it.”

But on our stupid branch of the multi-universe, on Planet Stupid, where shit-heads rule…

This story is a very big deal.

(And if you think I’m a cheerleader for McChrystal, read this.)

Ruh-oh! McChrystal’s Rolling Stone Interview Prompts Operation AACYA

General Stanley McChrystal, who runs things in Afghanistan for the US Military,  gave a rather candid and heartfelt interview to Rolling Stone magazine.

“The Runaway General” has a few issues with some of his civilian colleagues….  like the Ambassador Eikenberry.

So far his special assistant Duncan Boothby has submitted his resignation (aka “fired”) and McChrystal has been summoned to a meeting tommorrow at the White House.

And he’s apologized.  McChrystal:  “It was a mistake reflecting poor judgement and should never have happened.”

President Hamid Karzai is praising him, saying he’s the best general ever,  and his spokesperson is saying he hopes he stays.


http://www.huffingtonpost.com/…

This week’s development comes as criminal investigators are said to be examining allegations that Afghan security firms have been extorting as much as $4 million a week from contractors paid with U.S. tax dollars and then funneling the spoils to warlords and the Taliban, according to a U.S. military document. The payments are intended to ensure safe passage through dangerous areas they control.

The payments reportedly end up in insurgent hands through a $2.1 billion Pentagon contract to transport food, water, fuel and ammunition to American troops stationed at bases across Afghanistan.

“When we understand that slide, we’ll have won the war.”

Photobucket

General McChrystal admits stunning defeat.

via bagnewsnotes

NATO Apologizes for Death of 2 Teen Sports Players, 2 Cousins

The two young teenaged sons of Rahmatullah Rahmat, of Khost, Afghanistan, were coming home from playing volleyball on the spring day in April, when they were killed by NATO forces which mistook them for “insurgents” as they drove towards them.

NATO has apologized for the deaths.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/…

All of the victims were unarmed, and died at the scene after failing to respond to warning shots.

Mr. Rahmat, who is called Rahnatullah Mansour in another story, also has 2 brothers who lost sons in the tragedy.


http://www.google.com/hostedne…

“Nobody can imagine what is going on in my family”

Mansour said that the victims in Monday’s shooting were his sons Faizullah, 13, and Nasratullah, 17; and nephews Maiwand and Amirullah, both 18. He said all were students except Amirullah, who was a police officer.

NATO originally claimed that 2 of the deceased were insurgents whose fingerprints were in a biometric database, but have backed away from that.

http://news.iafrica.com/worldn…

It added that the presence of their fingerprints in the database “has not yet been determined to be relevant to the incident on Monday night,” ISAF said.

“We sincerely regret this tragic loss of life,” it quoted Major General Mike Regner, deputy chief of staff for joint operations, as saying.

Training is supposed to begin soon to help prevent further incidents.

In the southern province of Kandahar, where the next NATO large scale, “terrorist purging” activity is going to go, the situation amongst the civilians is getting grimmer as the time approaches.    The vice mayor of Kandahar, who was known for being a good man who was not corrupt, was recently gunned down in a mosque.    An 18 year old Afghan woman was murdered right outside a U.S.  Development Alternatives International office. Nida Khayani, a woman lawmaker from the north, barely survived an assassination attempt. http://www.undispatch.com/node…


http://www.independent.co.uk/o…

As a result, roads are now shut and the drab march of blast barriers has begun. It is just one sign that things are getting worse. Foreigners cannot walk down the street or stop in the bazaar to gauge the local climate. Meetings invariably take place in private rooms deep inside fortified compounds. Yet for some reason, Kandaharis continue to risk talking to journalists in the knowledge that what they say might get them killed.

/snip

Nor is it just the Taliban who are the problem. Criminal syndicates wage their own terror campaign, allegedly killing business rivals, upstarts and those who speak out against them. The deaths of several prominent campaigners, such as the women’s rights advocate Sitara Ackakzai, have been unofficially linked to the mafia rather than the Taliban.

….  “You can’t say anything about these guys. The government is involved with them.”

As NATO gets ready to go in, the real insurgents have been busy planting landmines everywhere.  Since Kandahar is an agricultural province, this helps ruin the ability of farmers to be able to grow crops.

The Canadians have been busy trying to get rid of various military hardware, including landmines, and suffered serious losses to a demining team on April 11th.

This is a statement from their government:


http://www.afghanistan.gc.ca/c…

“Canada vehemently condemns the violent attacks that occurred on a team working for the Demining Agency for Afghanistan in Kandahar on April 11th which resulted in the deaths of four deminers and injuring 17 more.

“Deminers play a vital, yet often overlooked role in Afghanistan. They risk life and limb to remove the thousands of landmines that litter this country, making the land available for use once more.

“Deminers, and all NGO workers, put their own lives at risk every day to ensure the safety of Afghanistan’s communities. Their efforts mean that children have a place to play, farmers have fields to sow and Afghans can move more safely across this land.”

“On behalf of all Canadians, I extend our deepest sympathies to those who were injured and condolences to the friends and families of those who were killed in this terrible attack.

There were still an estimated 10 to 20 million landmines in the ground of Afghanistan in the 1990’s.

A sobering history of how 30 years of  war destroyed farming for food and replaced it with farming for poppies for cash can be found here in this March 2010 article by history professor Alfred McCoy of the Univ of Wisconsin at Madison:

The Opium wars in Afghanistan

http://www.atimes.com/atimes/S…

http://www.atimes.com/atimes/S…


To understand the Afghan War, one basic point must be grasped: in poor nations with weak state services, agriculture is the foundation for all politics, binding villagers to the government or warlords or rebels.  The ultimate aim of counterinsurgency strategy is always to establish the state’s authority.

“We can’t keep on doing business as usual,” one senior Afghan official said.  (quote from the first WAPO link)

It remains to be seen if somebody working for Gen. McChrystal  can come up with a universal translation of “STOP THE CAR HERE NOW” which makes sense to people who are expecting to get killed if they do stop.  

Germany’s Merkel Apologizes for Afghan Deaths- Again

Germany’s Chancellor Merkel expressed regrets for 6 accidental friendly fire deaths of Afghan soldiers to Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Saturday March 3rd.   http://www.google.com/hostedne…

So does Nato Brigadier General Eric Tremblay


http://www.euronews.net/2010/0…

Issuing an apology, NATO Brigadier General Eric Tremblay said: “We regret this tragic loss of life. We will try and strive to improve our tactics, techniques and procedures.”

Germany, The Local

Earlier Friday April 2


http://www.thelocal.de/nationa…

Earlier Friday, three German soldiers were killed and eight were injured – four seriously – when the Taliban ambushed a patrol in the worst firefight the Bundeswehr has seen in its nearly eight years in the war-torn country.

According to Brigadier Frank Leidenberger, the commander of the international ISAF forces in northern Afghanistan, the patrol was attacked by about 100 Taliban insurgents as it removed mines planted in the road in the dangerous district of Chahar Dara, near the Bundeswehr’s Kunduz base.

Other reports said up to 200 Taliban fighters had been involved in the ambush and had used rocket-propelled grenades among other weapons.

The deaths of the German soldiers bring to 39 the total number of Germans killed since the beginning of the Afghanistan war in 2002. They have caused shock and dismay in Germany.

There are currently 4000 troops from Germany in Afghanistan, many in the northern, more peaceful area, with 850 more to be sent soon.

Canada, CBC

Later Friday April 2


http://www.cbc.ca/world/story/…

German soldiers in an armoured personnel carrier opened fire after coming across two civilian vehicles that refused to stop. Soon after, it was discovered the vehicles were carrying Afghan troops.

“Yesterday, after a military operation which took place in the Char Dara district of Kunduz province, Afghan national army troops were distributing food near the German troops when German troops opened fire,” said Afghan defence ministry spokesman Gen. Zahir Azimi.

“In this incident six Afghan soldiers were killed. The defence ministry have already condemned the incident,” he said.

America, Boston Globe

2 days later


http://www.boston.com/news/wor…

The friendly fire shooting Friday took place in northern Kunduz Province, where German forces were sharply criticized last September (2009) when they ordered an air strike on two tanker trucks that had been captured by the Taliban. Up to 142 people died, many of them civilians.

Speaking during a visit to South Africa, German Defense Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg expressed sorrow over the friendly fire deaths and said German soldiers were doing everything possible to avoid such incidents.

The September 4th airstrike may have been called in by the Germans, but it was carried out by a United States warplane.

Chancellor Merkel expressed regret and took responsibility for that incident in December, and it resulted in a cabinet resignation.  http://af.reuters.com/article/…  

House Votes To Stay In Afghanistan, Chalabi De-Baths Again, MI5 Hides in Court

Four War on Terra stories for a Wednesday afternoon:

1. The House of Representatives just voted No on a resolution to direct the President to remove the United States Armed Forces from Afghanistan within 30 days, or by Dec 31, 2010 if a later date is safer.  65 to 356.  H Conn RES 248 was sponsored by Dennish Kucinich of Ohio and had 19 co sponsors.     http://clerk.house.gov/evs/201…

Patrick Kennedy (D, RI) is down as a NO vote inspite of this story on HuffPo where he yells at the MSM for not paying attention to this national debate.   “We’re talking about war and peace, $3 billion, 1,000 lives and no press! No press !”  WTF?  No vote, dude!  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/…

The Yes on withdrawal votes were as follows.  We thank the 5 Republicans who also voted for this (marked with ••).

Baldwin

••Campbell, John, CA 48

Capuano

Chu

Clarke

Clay

Cleaver

Crowley

Davis (IL)

DeFazio

Doyle

••Duncan John TN- 2

Edwards (MD)

Ellison

Farr

Filner

Frank (MA)

Grayson

Grijalva

Gutierrez

Hastings (FL)

Jackson (IL)

Jackson Lee (TX)

••Johnson Timothy  (IL- 15)

Johnson, E. B.

••Jones Walter NC -3

Kagen

Kucinich

Larson (CT)

Lee (CA)

Lewis (GA)

Maffei

Maloney

Markey (MA)

McDermott

McGovern

Michaud

Miller, George

Nadler (NY)

Napolitano

Neal (MA)

Obey

Olver

••Paul, Ron, TX 14

Payne

Pingree (ME)

Polis (CO)

Quigley

Rangel

Richardson

Sánchez, Linda T.

Sanchez, Loretta

Schakowsky

Serrano

Speier

Stark

Stupak

Tierney

Towns

Tsongas

Velázquez

Waters

Watson

Welch

Woolsey

Gen. McChrystal Issues Apology #2 for Bombing Afghan Civilians

On Sunday, Feb 21st, NATO planes fired on what they mistook for a convoy of 3 insurgent vehicles in central Afghanistan, during the biggest offensive of the war, called “Moshtarak,” (“Together”) near Marjah.

When the bombing was over, and the scene looked at more closely, at least 27 civilians had been mistakenly killed, including 4 women and a child, and 12 others were injured.  According to another account, the dead included 2 children, a 3 year old boy and a 9 year old girl.

General Stanley McCrystal has issued an apology to the president of Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/…


“We are extremely saddened by the tragic loss of innocent lives,” McChrystal’s statement said. “I have made it clear to our forces that we are here to protect the Afghan people, and inadvertently killing or injuring civilians undermines their trust and confidence in our mission. We will redouble our efforts to regain that trust.”

http://www.miamiherald.com/201…

President Karzai had called for NATO forces to try to protect more civilians from harm on Saturday.


“We need to reach the point where there are no civilian casualties,” Karzai said. “Our effort and our criticism will continue until we reach that goal.”

 That was the day there was another civilian death, which came after the initial NATO bombing mistake which took the lives of 12 civilians on Feb 14th, the day after the start of the Marjah operation.  There was an apology  for the single death also.            


The civilian was killed Friday after he dropped a box which soldiers feared contained a bomb and began running toward a coalition position, NATO said. The box contained materials that could be used to make a bomb but no explosives NATO said.

“This is truly a regrettable incident, and we offer our condolences to the family,” said a NATO spokeswoman, Navy Capt. Jane Campbell, said in a statement.

Per the BBC, NATO (British) Lt. Gen Nick Parker said that an investigation is underway.

 video transcript (warning, advertisement before Lt Gen Parker is bizarre in context)

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/sou…



Lt Gen Parker:

“I have to say these are very difficult incidents. Our people are not doing this deliberately. They have to make snap judgements, and sometimes these incidents occur.   General McCrystal had all his junior commanders in this morning,

and he made it absolutely clear to them, that he expects commanders on the ground to make these difficult judgements as clearly and as carefully as they possibly can, in order to minimize the risk of casualties to civilians.  We’re clear, if we kill the people we’re trying to protect, our credibility is undermined.”  

On Sunday, according to McClatchy, via the WAPO today, US Army General David Petraeus said the Afghanistan Marjah operation is just the beginning of a hard effort that will last 12 to 18 months, and the level of United States casualties will be “tough to bear.”            http://www.washingtonpost.com/…

Afghanistan and Steady Presidential Nerves

 

Quite possibly the best thing happening with Afghanistan right now is President Obama’s steady nerves and careful deliberation on what is the best and correct course of action for America to take.

Advocates of sending more troops to Afghanistan have been searching for a winning rationale to sell an escalation to the public. Despite public opinion polls saying support for the war is disappearing, more U.S. troops for Afghanistan seemed like a foregone conclusion.

Up until yesterday when five British troops were killed by an Afghan policeman, one of the more persuasive arguments has been that the West needs to train more Afghan soldiers so the Afghans can take charge of their country’s own security.

Now with five soldiers dead, The Guardian reports that commanders in Afghanistan fear Taliban infiltration as troops hunt for the assassin.

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