The Obama administration is hell bent to oust Syrian President Bashar al Assad. Determined to repeat the mistakes of Iraq and Libya, and caving to congressional war hawks, the CIA began arming rebels opposed to Assad. What could possibly go wrong? Plenty, apparently the CIA program was hijacked by Turkey and the weapons were diverted …
Tag: War on Terror
Dec 28 2015
Jun 16 2015
After much wrangling with the White House and the CIA, the US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) released the 525 page executive summary of its full 6000 page report on the CIA’s detention and interrogation better known as the Torture Report. After five years and $40 million, the bulk of the report remains classified. If the executive report is any sample of what the CIA did, the rest of the report is must be really damning.
In a laughable move today, the Senate today passed an amendment to the 2016 National Defense Authorization Act that would forbid the use of torture by any agent of the U.S. government and standardize certain noncoercive interrogation methods across the government’s military and intelligence arms. This is “laughable” because torture is already against the law in this country, President Obama chose not the enforce the laws.
Instead the Obama administration has kept hidden much of the evidence under the guise of “national security,” in clear violation of US and International laws. Even more laughable is President Obama’s statement after the release of the SSCI’s executive report when he said, “one of the strengths that makes America exceptional is our willingness to openly confront our past, face our imperfections, make changes and do better.” It was nauseating to hear that statement praised. Without holding anyone accountable, by promoting and appointing to office those who authorized and ordered torture, Pres. Obama is complicit in their crimes.
Yesterday another CIA atrocity has been exposed:
CIA torture appears to have broken spy agency rule on human experimentation
By Spencer Ackerman, The Guardian
The Central Intelligence Agency had explicit guidelines for “human experimentation” – before, during and after its post-9/11 torture of terrorism detainees – that raise new questions about the limits on the agency’s in-house and contracted medical research.
Sections of a previously classified CIA document, made public by the Guardian on Monday, empower the agency’s director to “approve, modify, or disapprove all proposals pertaining to human subject research”. The leeway provides the director, who has never in the agency’s history been a medical doctor, with significant influence over limitations the US government sets to preserve safe, humane and ethical procedures on people.
CIA director George Tenet approved abusive interrogation techniques, including waterboarding, designed by CIA contractor psychologists. He further instructed the agency’s health personnel to oversee the brutal interrogations – the beginning of years of controversy, still ongoing, about US torture as a violation of medical ethics.
But the revelation of the guidelines has prompted critics of CIA torture to question how the agency could have ever implemented what it calls “enhanced interrogation techniques” – despite apparently having rules against “research on human subjects” without their informed consent.
Indeed, despite the lurid name, doctors, human-rights workers and intelligence experts consulted by the Guardian said the agency’s human-experimentation rules were consistent with responsible medical practices. The CIA, however, redacted one of the four subsections on human experimentation.
“The more words you have, the more you can twist them, but it’s not a bad definition,” said Scott Allen, an internist and medical adviser to Physicians for Human Rights.
The agency confirmed to the Guardian that the document was still in effect during the lifespan of the controversial rendition, detention and interrogation program.
After reviewing the document, one watchdog said the timeline suggested the CIA manipulated basic definitions of human experimentation to ensure the torture program proceeded.
“Crime one was torture. The second crime was research without consent in order to say it wasn’t torture,” said Nathaniel Raymond, a former war-crimes investigator with Physicians for Human Rights and now a researcher with Harvard University’s Humanitarian Initiative.
In one more of his memorable segments, John Oliver, host of HBO’s “Last Week Tonight,” enlisted Dame Helen Mirren to read parts of the executive report.
We don’t need another law, we need the torturers brought to justice.
May 25 2015
If you haven’t watched the PBS Frontline segment on “Secrets, Politics and Lies,” you should but be prepared to get really angry. It is a painful indictment of the war crimes committed by the CIA since September 11, 2001, under the guise of legality, that will leave you wondering if we truly have a democracy left in the country. Not only are the administrations of George W. Bush and Barack Hussein Obama responsible for the crimes that were committed, they were, and are, responsible for the cover up. And so is the media.
The program opens with the critique of the CIA propaganda film “Zero Dark Thirty” that the agency used as a means to sell the lie that tortured worked and was crucial in finding Osama bin Laden. We know now, it wasn’t and didn’t. Watching men like former CIA lawyer John Rizzo and the agency’s former Deputy Director John McLaughlin coldly rationalize their crimes will make you wonder why they aren’t in prison. That’s easily answered. President Barack Obama wanted it swept under the rug and his Attorney General Eric Holder’s justice department put little to no effort in making the case for war crimes.
This is the first five minutes of the show. Warning, some of it is graphic.
America on evil: Stunning PBS Frontline doc reveals the depths of CIA propaganda
By Heather Digby Parton, Salon
“Secrets, Politics and Torture” tells the deeply disturbing story of an intelligence community’s craven lies
according to the Frontline documentary “Secrets, Politics and Torture,” the official story the film depicted was a lie, so perhaps the classified information Panetta and company shared with the “Zero Dark Thirty” production was false as well. It’s not a crime to spread government propaganda. If it were, the entire leadership of the U.S. intelligence services and a fair number of top White House officials would be legally exposed.
The Frontline film, takes a detailed look at the torture program and the saga of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Torture Report, the summary of which was finally released last December. (The 6,000 page report remains classified.) We know about the waterboarding and confining of prisoners in a tiny box for days, the sleep deprivation, the beatings and the grotesque depravities like “rectal feeding” from the Senate report. It reads like a bureaucratic version of the Marquis de Sade’s “20 days of Sodom.” Seeing all that put in context with the lies and the coverup lends it a new layer of horror.
Of particular interest in this film are the interviews with top CIA officials John Rizzo, the agency’s legal counsel, and John McLaughlin, the deputy CIA director at the time, both of whom excuse any alleged shortcomings in the torture regime as a result of the agency being tasked with something it wasn’t trained to do. The film does make it clear that the members of the interrogation team, in the beginning at least, were sickened by what they were doing, but were told to continue by the people in Washington who insisted they keep doing it.
Rizzo is a complicated character who explains that he didn’t see his duty as one requiring him to question the morality of the program, but simply to find ways to protect the agency from legal exposure. And he cleverly did that by getting buy-in from the Department of Justice, members of Congress and the White House. He is a creature of the CIA, and is loyal to the agency. But he admits to being shaken when he went to John McCain, after the program had been revealed, to try to convince him that it was highly controlled and effective – and Mccain simply said, “it all sounds like torture to me.” Rizzo was also obviously upset that CIA Director of Operations Jose Rodriguez took it upon himself to destroy tapes of the first horrific interrogation, the revelation of which served as the catalyst for the Senate Torture Investigation.
But if Rizzo comes off as at least somewhat ambiguous about the whole thing, John McLaughlin reveals himself as one of the most chilling characters in recent American history. You wouldn’t assume that this rather bland looking fellow would look menacingly into the camera and hiss, “We were at war. Bad things happen in war,” as if he were in a Clint Eastwood movie. But he does just that.
He also specializes in fatuous nonsense like this:
The CIA faced a real dilemma here: On the one hand, we knew this program would be contentious. On the other hand, we asked ourselves: Wouldn’t it be equally immoral if we failed to get this information and thousands of Americans died? If there was another 9/11? How immoral would that be? That’s the dilemma we were up against. And we felt a moral commitment to protect the United States.
That’s very stirringly heroic, but it ignores the fact that despite his insistence otherwise, there’s simply no evidence that their program was effective at all, much less any more effective than other means that didn’t require the United States of America to twist itself into a pretzel to try to justify its immoral behavior. And you have to wonder: With that kind of logic are there any limits to what we can do? It doesn’t sound like there are. [..]
This is reminiscent of one of those congressional investigations that came out of Seymour Hersh’s exposé of CIA activity mentioned earlier. The 1975 Pike Committee Investigation report into abuses by the agency (along with the FBI and the NSA) was never published because the Republicans opposed it. But it was leaked to Daniel Schorr, who finally managed to get some excerpts published in the Village Voice; and it was later published in its entirety in England. Maybe somebody will leak the full Torture Report as well.
But the damage is already done, unfortunately. Torture was once a taboo, illegal and unthinkable, but it is now officially on the menu. John Brennan, the current CIA chief, would not rule out using it again in the future, saying it would be policy decision by our leaders. Bad things happen in wars, you know.
Esquire‘s Charles Pierce makes note of a recent article in the New York Times by investigative reporter Charles Savage who asks the only question worth asking:
But the open debate and vote was also striking because national security programs have so often been created in secret over the past 14 years – from the C.I.A.’s now-defunct torture program to sweeping surveillance activities to the use of drones to kill terrorism suspects away from combat zones. Secrecy has always been traditional and accepted in wartime, but traditional wars have an end. Under two administrations now, as the United States has remained on a permanent war footing against Al Qaeda and its splintering, morphing progeny, tensions over fighting battles in the shadows have steadily escalated. If this is a forever war, can a democracy wage it in secret?
And what Charlie said:
Secrecy is addictive. It deforms and mutates political institutions the way that alcohol and heroin deforms and mutates individual lives. It forces those institutions to take secrecy itself as their primary constituency. It forces the imperatives of secrets onto institutions designed to be free and open and democratically accountable. This is really what you’re being asked to debate when Chris Christie bellows about your not having civil liberties when you’re dead, or when Marco Rubio talks tough about what has to be done to maintain our values. The answer to Savage’s question is a definitive “no,” but that doesn’t really mean much any more.
Some of us will not give up the fight to bring these crimes to light and seek justice for the victims of these war criminals. There is no statute of limitation on war crimes, just ask Germany.
Apr 24 2015
At news conference, President Barack Obama expressed “profound regret” for killing two civilians, who were being held captive by Al Qaeda, during a counter-terrorism strike in an attempt to rescue them along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border this past January. The operation involved a drone strike.
The US president spoke shortly after the White House announced that intelligence officials had concluded that the January counter-terrorism operation had “accidentally” killed Dr Warren Weinstein, a US government aid worker, and Giovanni Lo Porto, an Italian aid worker. [..]
Separately, the White House also disclosed that it had mistakenly killed two other Americans, both of whom were suspected of being high-level al-Qaida members but had not been specifically targeted.
Obama did not mention the two American al-Qaida members in the statement from the White House, in which he sought to explain how his counter-terrorism strike could have take the lives of two hostages. Neither did he use the word “drone”. [..]
Yet the president struck a surprisingly defiant tone, insisting that his administration had acted on the best intelligence available at the time and claiming that his decision to declassify the operation and initiate a review was a sign of American exceptionalism.
He said he had decided to make the existence of the operation public because Weinstein and Lo Porto’s families “deserve to know the truth” and “the United States is a democracy, committed to openness, in good times and in bad”.
Also mentioned in the article by a team of reporters at The Guardian was that, despite the president’s claim of “transparency,” there is still a great deal of secrecy surrounding the use of drones and a lack of accountability for the number of civilian killed during these raids.
The American Civil Liberties Union in March sued the Obama administration, which has proclaimed itself the most transparent in history, for disclosure of critical legal documents underpinning what the administration calls its “targeted killing” program – including the criteria for placement on a list permitting the US to kill people, including its own citizens, without trial.
Obama’s admission regarding the deaths of Weinstein and Lo Porto is likely to intensify criticism of the president’s worldwide drone strikes, conducted by the CIA and the military’s Joint Special Operations Command. A recent analysis by human-rights group Reprieve estimated that US drone strikes intending to target 41 men had killed 1,147 people as of November.
These drone operations may get even more exposure due to the court on Germany that has allowed a law suit brought by families of Waleed bin Ali Jaber and Salim bin Ali Jaber, innocent civilians who were killed in a drone strike on August 12, 2012 in Yemen, to go forward. It may also put Germany in a awkward position
Salim and Waleed’s deaths sparked protests in their village, and the incident was later well-documented by international media and human rights groups. Their family representative, Faisal bin Ali Jaber, has met with Yemeni and U.S. national security officials and members of Congress. But the United States still has not formally acknowledged or apologized for the incident.
The previously unreported intelligence report, viewed by The Intercept, indicates that the U.S. government knew soon after the strike that it had killed two civilians. It could add fire to a lawsuit that Faisal bin Ali Jaber has launched in Germany, as further evidence that U.S. strikes put innocent Yemenis at risk.
Jaber will testify next month in front of a German court, alleging that Germany is violating a constitutionally enshrined duty to protect the right to life by allowing the United States to use Ramstein Air Base as part of its lethal drone operations.
It is the first time a victim of a U.S. drone strike will air his grievances in court, lawyers for the case told The Intercept. The lawsuit could put Germany in the awkward position of having to publicly defend its role in the U.S. drone program.
As The Intercept reported today, the U.S. military sees Ramstein as an essential node in the technical infrastructure for its armed and unarmed drone operations. A budget request for the Ramstein station stated that without the facility, “weapon strikes cannot be supported.”
The Obama administration has come under heavy criticism from international and human rights organizations over the legality of its drone program and the targeted assassinations of American citizens suspected of terrorist involvement without due process.
In a another case in Pakistan, a judge has ordered the [police to investigate the CIA for its authorization of drone strikes in 2009:
Last Tuesday, the Islamabad High Court ordered police to open a criminal case against former CIA Islamabad Station Chief Jonathan Bank and ex-CIA legal counsel John A. Rizzo for murder, conspiracy, terrorism and waging war against Pakistan.
The complainant is Kareem Khan, whose son Zahin Ullah Khan and brother Asif Iqbal were killed in an alleged December 2009 CIA drone strike in the mountainous Waziristan region bordering Afghanistan.
The case was lauded as the “first of its kind for directly implicating and naming a CIA official” by University of Hull international legal expert Niaz Shah. [..]
However, the case appears to rest on whether Pakistan’s political apparatus is willing to pursue a sensitive legal action that police say may imperil U.S.-Pakistan relations.
According to court documents seen by TIME, not only does Khan’s case implicate ex-CIA officials, it also calls for an investigation into the U.S. embassy in Islamabad, where Khan believes the drone strike was ordered. [..]
Even if the investigation receives the green light, bringing ex-CIA officials to trial will be an onerous battle in Pakistan. Should Bank and Rizzo fail to appear, one recourse is the international police body Interpol, which can extradite former CIA officials to stand trial, says Mirza Shahzad Akbar, the Pakistani attorney leading case. However, cases against CIA officials seldom succeed, even when Interpol is invoked, for reasons of diplomatic sensitivity. [..]
Even if the investigation receives the green light, bringing ex-CIA officials to trial will be an onerous battle in Pakistan. Should Bank and Rizzo fail to appear, one recourse is the international police body Interpol, which can extradite former CIA officials to stand trial, says Mirza Shahzad Akbar, the Pakistani attorney leading case. However, cases against CIA officials seldom succeed, even when Interpol is invoked, for reasons of diplomatic sensitivity.
Assassin and murder, this is Obama’s legacy.
Oct 22 2014
The Obama administration has decided to arm the Kurdish militants in Kobnani to fight ISIS. What could possibly go wrong?
· Pentagon investigating claims but admits one load missing and it would be embarrassing if it ended up in terror group’s hands
· Turkey criticises arms airdrops saying the strategy will never lead to desired results
A US airdrop of arms to besieged Kurds in Kobani appears to have missed its target and ended up in the hands of Islamic State (Isis) militants.
Video footage released by Isis shows what appears to be one of its fighters for in desert scrubland with a stack of boxes attached to a parachute. The boxes are opened to show an array of weapons, some rusty, some new. A canister is broken out to reveal a hand grenade.
The Pentagon said it was investigating the claim but admitted that one of its airdrops had gone missing. If confirmed, it would be an embarrassment for the US, given the advanced technology available to its air force.
The seemingly bungled airdrop comes against a steady stream of US-supplied weapons being lost to Isis forces, mainly from the dysfunctional Iraqi army. Isis is reported to have stolen seven American M1 Abrams tanks from three Iraqi army bases in Anbar province last week.
Earlier this month, Secretary of State John Kerry said the United States would not act to prevent the Islamic State from seizing Kobani because the Syrian Kurdish town was not a “strategic objective.” But as news cameras on the Turkish-Syrian border showed Islamic State fighters assaulting a town in plain sight, the U.S.-led coalition responded with the most airstrikes of its Syria campaign. The U.S.-led coalition has also begun dropping air supplies of weapons and aid to the Syrian Kurds, a move it had resisted for weeks. Now Turkey says it will open its border with Syria to let Iraqi Kurdish fighters join the fight. The Turkish government had opposed aiding the Syrian Kurds in Kobani because of their links to Turkey’s longtime foe, the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, the PKK. To help us sort out this complicated picture, we are joined by longtime international law professor and former United Nations Special Rapporteur Richard Falk, who has just returned from four months in Turkey.
Sep 30 2014
John Oliver’s “This Week Tonight” on HBO is fast becoming the show to watch, especially his longer segments. This past Sunday John explains how drones are making the blue skies terrifying.
“Drone strikes will be as much a characteristic of the Obama presidency as Obamacare or receiving racist email forwards from distant relatives.” [..]
“Drone strikes are one of those things that it’s really convenient not to think about that much,” Oliver lamented. “Like the daily life of a circus elephant or that Beck is a Scientologist.” [..]
“When children from other countries are telling us that we’ve made them fear the sky,” he insisted, “it might be time to ask some hard questions.” [..]
“Congratulations everyone. We did it. We managed to make blue skies completely terrifying.”
It’s all in how you define “imminent.”
Sep 24 2014
Are the Syria strikes an illegal war? By what authority has President Barack Obama ordered these attacks? The administration says that it doesn’t need congress to approve it and congress, along with the courts, has surrendered its responsibility.
By Jonathan Turley, Constitutional Law Professor George Washington University
I just completed a two-city debate with former Bush official John Yoo on executive power with a focus on undeclared wars. It appears Yoo won the debate . . . at least with President Obama. Indeed, Yoo appears to have had Obama at “hello” to quote Jerry Maguire. Without any declaration of war, Obama has launched attacks against targets in Syria – an act of war by any measure and a violation of international law.
We have been discussing the growing concerns over President Barack Obama’s series of unilateral actions in ordering agencies not to enforce law, effectively rewriting laws, and moving hundreds of millions of dollars from appropriated purposes to areas of his choosing. One of the greatest concerns has been his unchecked authority asserted in the national security area.
The most serious acts of unilateral presidential action falls within war powers – powers that the Framers expressly and carefully limited to prevent precisely this type of attack. Of course, the Administration does not use the word “war.” I previously represented members of Congress in challenging Obama’s intervention in the Libyan civil war without a declaration from Congress. In the case, President Obama insisted that he alone determines what is a war and therefore when he needs a declaration. Since the court would not recognize standing to challenge the war, it left Obama free to engage in war operations in any country of his choosing.
Professor Turley joined David Corn, Mother Jones Washington Bureau Chief, on MSNBC’s “The Last Word” with Lawrence O’Donnell to discuss just how legal are these attacks.
By Dan Roberts, The Guardian
Lawyers use Iraq’s right of self-defence and weakness of Syrian regime – which US has undermined – to justify failure to seek UN approval
In a letter to the United Nations secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, released near 24 hours after attacks began, US ambassador Samantha Power argued that the threat to Iraq from Islamic State, known as Isis or Isil, gave the US and its allies in the region an automatic right to attack on its behalf. [..]
The brief letter did not mention the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, which rested on erroneous claims of weapons of mass destruction and arguably contributed to its current instability, but stresses instead the country’s right to self-defence in the face of this new threat. [..]
The US also argued that there was legal right to pursue Isis inside Syria due to the weakness of that country’s government – a regime the US has been actively urging be undermined by rebel groups for much of the past two years. [..]
Fearing that US politicians up for re-election in November may balk at voting for a third military attack on Iraq and being sucked into a Syrian quagmire, the White House has avoided seeking a fresh authorisation of the use of military force, preferring to rely on early authorisations against al-Qaida granted after the 11 September 2001 attacks.
But this means arguing that Isis is equivalent to al-Qaida, even though the groups are split – logic that several critics in Congress, such as Virginia senator Tim Kaine, have argued is flawed and requires a fresh authorisation to fix.
Power reached for similar arguments in her letter to the UN, arguing that Tuesday’s separate attack on Khorasan rebels in Syria was also an act of self defence by the US due to the group’s closeness to al-Qaida.
By Trevor Timm, The Gusrdian
When it comes to military strikes against Isis in Syria, his administration’s strategy relies on what the meaning of ‘is’ is
Want to decipher what the US military is really doing in Iraq and Syria, or figure out whether its regional war against the Islamic State (Isis) is legal? Good luck. The Obama administration’s secret efforts to redefine the ordinary meaning of key legal terms and phrases has made that near impossible.
For instance, in his Tuesday statement that US airstrikes that have expanded into Syria, Obama studiously avoided any discussion about his domestic legal authority to conduct these strikes. That dirty work was apparently left up to anonymous White House officials, who told the New York Times’s Charlie Savage that both the Authorization of Use of Military Force (AUMF) from 2001 (meant for al-Qaida) and the 2002 war resolution (meant for Saddam Hussein’s Iraq) gave the government the authority to strike Isis in Syria.
In other words: the legal authority provided to the White House to strike al-Qaida and invade Iraq more than a dozen years ago now means that the US can wage war against a terrorist organization that’s decidedly not al-Qaida, in a country that is definitely not Iraq. [..]
So when you hear the words “imminent attack”, “civilians”, militants” or “ground troops” from now on, be careful: if the government says they’re not misleading you, it might only be because they’ve secretly changed the definition of “misleading”.
Public Law 107-40 – the President is authorized to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001
Public Law 107-243 – The President is authorized to use the Armed Forces of the United States as he determines to be necessary and appropriate in order to defend the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq
Neither one of those laws applies to this situation. The president is in violation of his oath of office.
Sep 24 2014
First it was Al Qaeda, then it was ISIS (or Is, or ISIL, whatever), now a new “monster under the bed” has been marched out as the latest excuse to bomb another Muslim country, number seven for President Barack Obama, who has managed to surpass any of his predecessors. So who and what is “Khorasan”? Are we now suppose to believe a proven liar, James Clapper, that this group is such a threat to US national security that it’s necessary to violate Syria’s sovereignty, further enabling terrorist groups to attract members? All of a sudden this group is an imminent threat when as recently as Monday weren’t even on the radar.
Marcy Wheeler isn’t biting into this either:
It appears the legal logic behind the attack (besides the fact that Congress hurriedly approved funding for war through December so it could get back to the campaign trail) is that in addition to striking ISIS in Syria (an attack we don’t have any reasonable legal justification for) we are also attacking a group that James “Too Cute by Half” Clapper just rolled out, “Khorasan,” which unlike ISIS has not been kicked out of Al Qaeda and therefore might be targetable under the 2001 AUMF. [..]
Today’s continuation of that narrative appears in CNN (and ABC, which I won’t link to because of their infernal auto-play ads), which doesn’t ask how the US hoped to surprise Khorasan if they had just rolled them out as the big new boogeymen. [..]
The threat of Ibrahim al-Asiri – who with one bomb that could not have worked and several more claimed attacks identified by double agents in Saudi employ not only created the excuse for millions of dollars in TSA scanner profits, but also the ability to label Yemen an “imminent” threat and therefore bomb it – has moved to Syria.
Label the country an “imminent” threat. Then bomb.
In Obama’s statement, he emphasized the Khorasan tie.
She’s not the only one questioning the latest excuse to start another war:
If Khorasan group was truly an imminent threat, why would the US delay bombing them just so they could bomb ISIS simultaneously?
— Micah Zenko (@MicahZenko) September 23, 2014
Are people asking why a group calling itself "khurasan" is basing itself in Syria? Or is this just a USG name for a cell?
— GregorydJohnsen (@gregorydjohnsen) September 23, 2014
So far the only source for any information about this new group comes from two people, who as Marcy says, “have a somewhat strained relationship with the truth and a very cozy relationship with disinformation,” Clapper and Mike Rogers (R-MI), chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.
This latest US military intervention has gone from a humanitarian rescue, to assisting the Iraq army fighting ISIS to bombing another sovereign nation under the guise of “national security” in a mere 6 weeks. While there is no dispute that ISIS and Kordasan are terrorist groups and some very bad people, but this has the whiff of being just another excuse to overthrow Syrian President Bashir Assad.
Sep 23 2014
By Spencer Ackerman, The Guardian
- US and allies have deployed jets and missiles against militants
- Isis stronghold of Raqqa is among targets, says US official
- ‘Dozens’ of fighters are killed, says monitoring group
- Bahrain, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, UAE and Jordan involved
The United States stepped up its war against the Islamic State militant group, launching air strikes on targets in Syria for the first time.
The Pentagon press secretary, rear admiral John Kirby, confirmed that the US and allied nations sent fighter jets, bomber aircraft and Tomahawk missiles in an operation against Isis that he described as “ongoing”.
A US official, speaking on condition of anonymity, indicated that Raqqa, a Syrian stronghold of Isis, was among the targets of the operation, which began in the early hours of Tuesday morning local time.
The first wave of strikes finished about 90 minutes later at around 10pm EDT (2am GMT), but the operation was expected to continue for several more hours. [..]
The US was joined in the Syria operation by Bahrain, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates, an official said.
The strikes were carried out by manned air force and navy aircraft, while the Tomahawk missiles were launched from US ships in the northern Persian Gulf and the Red Sea. The aircraft carrier USS George HW Bush is in the Gulf.
Kirby said the strikes were ordered by army general Lloyd Austin, the commander of US forces in the Middle East and South Asia “under authorisation granted to him by the commander in chief”. [..]
Syria’s foreign ministry says the US informed Damascus’ envoy to the United Nations before launching the raids.
As Doc Maddow would say, “watch this space.”
MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell, host of “The Last Word.” spoke with several MSNBC contributors and observors.
Sep 19 2014
Yesterday the Senate joined the House of Representatives to give the Pentagon funds to train un-vetted moderate fighters of the Syrian rebel army. The pro-war pundits have been all over the media. So as the US inches its way into another war in the Middle, Lee Fang of The Nation asks a good questions: Who is paying the pro-war pundits? Shouldn’t the public know about their links to Pentagon contractors?
If you read enough news and watch enough cable television about the threat of the Islamic State, the radical Sunni Muslim militia group better known simply as IS, you will inevitably encounter a parade of retired generals demanding an increased US military presence in the region. They will say that our government should deploy, as retired General Anthony Zinni demanded, up to 10,000 American boots on the ground to battle IS. Or as in retired General Jack Keane’s case, they will make more vague demands, such as for “offensive” air strikes and the deployment of more military advisers to the region.
But what you won’t learn from media coverage of IS is that many of these former Pentagon officials have skin in the game as paid directors and advisers to some of the largest military contractors in the world. Ramping up America’s military presence in Iraq and directly entering the war in Syria, along with greater military spending more broadly, is a debatable solution to a complex political and sectarian conflict. But those goals do unquestionably benefit one player in this saga: America’s defense industry.
Keane is a great example of this phenomenon. His think tank, the Institute for the Study of War (ISW), which he oversees along with neoconservative partisans Liz Cheney and William Kristol, has provided the data on IS used for multiple stories by The New York Times, the BBC and other leading outlets. [..]
Left unsaid during his media appearances (and left unmentioned on his congressional witness disclosure form) (pdf) are Keane’s other gigs: as special adviser to Academi, the contractor formerly known as Blackwater; as a board member to tank and aircraft manufacturer General Dynamics; a “venture partner” to SCP Partners, an investment firm that partners with defense contractors, including XVionics, an “operations management decision support system” company used in Air Force drone training; and as president of his own consulting firm, GSI LLC.
To portray Keane as simply a think tank leader and a former military official, as the media have done, obscures a fairly lucrative career in the contracting world. For the General Dynamics role alone, Keane has been paid a six-figure salary in cash and stock options since he joined the firm in 2004; last year, General Dynamics paid him $258,006.
To expose the conflicts of interest by these media analysts. Mr. Fang joined Amy Goodman and Nermeen Shaikh of Democracy Now.
Transcript can be read here
The media needs to be honest with the public about who they are presenting as “experts” to promote the push to another illegal war.
Sep 18 2014
While Congress is holding hearings on whether or not President Barack Obama’s current plan to contain ISIS and assist so-called moderates of the rebel Syrian army, the CIA expressed its doubts on what the agency most likely perceives as an encroachment on their not so covert operations to train these un-vetted rebels that has been going on for a year in Jordan. That was reported earlier this week by Huffington Post‘s Ryan Grim and Sam Stein:
One Democratic member of Congress said that the CIA has made it clear that it doubts the possibility that the administration’s strategy could succeed.
“I have heard it expressed, outside of classified contexts, that what you heard from your intelligence sources is correct, because the CIA regards the effort as doomed to failure,” the congressman said in an email. “Specifically (again without referring to classified information), the CIA thinks that it is impossible to train and equip a force of pro-Western Syrian nationals that can fight and defeat Assad, al-Nusra and ISIS, regardless of whatever air support that force may receive.”
He added that, as the CIA sees it, the ramped-up backing of rebels is an expansion of a strategy that is already not working. “The CIA also believes that its previous assignment to accomplish this was basically a fool’s errand, and they are well aware of the fact that many of the arms that they provided ended up in the wrong hands,” the congressman said, echoing intelligence sources.
Probably for all the wrong reasons, the CIA is right. President Obama’s plan is not just doomed to failure but may well make matters worse.
In an interview with MSNBC’s Ann Cury, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed his doubts about the strategy and condemned ISIS
“Are Americans afraid of giving casualties on the ground in Iraq? Are they afraid of their soldiers being killed in the fight they claim is against terrorism?” Rouhani said.
“If they want to use planes and if they want to use unmanned planes so that nobody is injured from the Americans, is it really possible to fight terrorism without any hardship, without any sacrifice? Is it possible to reach a big goal without that? In all regional and international issues, the victorious one is the one who is ready to do sacrifice.
“Maybe it is necessary for airstrikes in some conditions and some circumstances,” he added. “However, air strikes should take place with the permission of the people of that country and the government of that country.” [..]
Asked about the extremists’ beheading of American James Foley and Steven Sotloff and Briton David Haines, Rouhani said ISIS’ actions are at odds with Islamic tenets.
“They want to kill humanity,” he said. “And from the viewpoint of the Islamic tenets and culture, killing an innocent people equals the killing of the whole humanity. And therefore, the killing and beheading of innocent people in fact is a matter of shame for them and it’s the matter of concern and sorrow for all the human and all the mankind.”
But he also took issue with the American-led coalition, saying members include nations that helped ISIS with weapons and training.
Rouhani told the NBC that the US-led coalition against the ISIL group was not a serious movement and added that US had been present in the region since 2001 to fight terrorism in Iraq and Afghanistan but it not only did not solved the terrorism problem but exacerbated the crisis.
Iraq’s new Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has emphatically stated that foreign ground troops are not needed or wanted
Al-Abadi praised the U.S. aerial campaign targeting the militants who have overrun much of northern and western Iraq and carved out a proto-state spanning the Syria-Iraq border, saying it has helped efforts to roll back the Sunni extremists.
But he stressed that he sees no need for the U.S. or other nations to send troops into Iraq to help fight the Islamic State.
“Not only is it not necessary,” he said, “We don’t want them. We won’t allow them. Full stop.” [..]
The comments provided a sharp rebuttal to remarks a day earlier by the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey, who told the Senate Armed Services Committee that American ground troops may be needed to battle Islamic State forces in the Middle East if President Barack Obama’s current strategy fails.
And the insanity will continue
Sep 13 2014
By John Queally, Common Dreams
‘What I think we’re going to end up seeing [in Syria] is the end result of the disaster that Obama inherited, not just from Bush, but from his own first term,’ says investigative journalist
Investigation journalist Jeremy Scahill sat down with MSNBC’s Ari Melber on Thursday to discuss President Obama’s announced plan to escalate the U.S. military campaign against the group known as the Islamic State and offered a damning assessment of the administration’s “strategy.” He said that not only is the militant group (also known by the acronym ISIS) the product of failed military adventurism but that continued attempts to bomb al Qaeda-like groups out of existence simply creates a cycle of “blowback” that is self-defeating and counter-productive. [..]
“Now I think there’s the potential for huge blowback here,” Scahill said of Obama’s plan to launch airstrikes-including possible carpet bombing-against targets in Syria. “I also think that ISIS is, in part, the product of blowback from the Bush era and the Obama era.”
Scahill continued: “What I think we’re going to end up seeing [in Syria] is the end result of the disaster that Obama inherited, not just from Bush, but from his own first term.” Scahill reminded the audience that though former President Bush had bombed Yemen only once (“that we know of”), but but President Obama has dramatically increased the number of airstrikes in Yemen and Pakistan, ratcheted up the covert war in Somalia, and otherwise expanded the sphere of the U.S. so-called “counter-terrorism” operations.
“President Obama, for all the criticism he gets from Dick Cheney,” argued Scahill, “is actually far more effective at the ‘war games’-so to speak-than the neocons were, because he’s able also to sell it to the liberal base.”
Attacking terrorist organizations with military tactics is part of the reason these groups exist. Innocent civilians are killed. Property is destroyed. Hate for Americans is fueled.