Afghans “Thanking Bradley Manning”

Author: by Kathy Kelly
Date of Source: Wednesday, May 29, 2013
Afghan Peace Volunteers Thanking Bradley Manning

Afghan Peace Volunteers Thanking Bradley Manning

A few evenings ago, as the sky began to darken here in Kabul, Afghanistan, a small group of the Afghan Peace Volunteers, (APVs),gathered for an informal presentation about WikiLeaks, its chief editor Julian Assange, and its most prominent contributor, Bradley Manning. Basir Bita, a regular visitor to the APV household, began the evening’s discussion noting that June 1st will mark the beginning of Bradley Manning’s fourth year in prison.  Two days later his trial will begin, a trial which could sadly result in his imprisonment for a life sentence. June 1st also begins an international week of support and solidarity, aimed at thanking Bradley Manning [1].

Basir believes that the vast majority of Afghans are among myriads world-wide who have Manning to thank for information they will need in struggles for freedom, security, and peace. He wishes that more people would find the courage to stand up to military and government forces, especially their own, and act as “whistle-blowers.”

I often hear Afghan individuals and groups express longing for a far more democratic process than is allowed them in a country dominated by warlords, the U.S./NATO militaries, and their commanders.  In the U.S., a lack of crucial information increasingly threatens democratic processes. How can people make informed choices if their leaders deliberately withhold crucial information from them?  Manning’s disclosures have brought desperately needed light to the U.S. and to countries around the world, including struggling countries like Afghanistan.

Hakim, who mentors the Afghan Peace Volunteers, recalled that Bradley Manning passed on documents that record 91,730 “Significant Actions,” or “SIGACTS” undertaken here by the U.S. /ISAF forces, of which 75,000 were released by WikiLeaks.

These SIGACTS include attacks by drones, sometimes invisible drones, and night raids. Continue reading

The Onion: The parts left out of the official transcript of Obama’s praise of George W. Bush

President Barack Obama shakes hands with former President George W. Bush, as former President Bill Clinton applauds at right after Obama spoke at the dedication of the George W. Bush presidential library on the campus of Southern Methodist University in Dallas, April 25, 2013.

President Barack Obama shakes hands with former President George W. Bush, as former President Bill Clinton applauds at right after Obama spoke at the dedication of the George W. Bush presidential library on the campus of Southern Methodist University in Dallas, April 25, 2013.

[Not all our readers may know, The Onion is a satirical newspaper in the US, which through its humorous twist on events manages to reveal the many essential truths that lurk beneath the surface of the official stories. -- Frontlines ed.]

http://www.theonion.com/articles/obama-orders-reinvasion-of-iraq-after-illuminating,32202/

The Onion • ISSUE 49 •17 • Apr 25, 2013

Obama Orders Reinvasion Of Iraq After Illuminating Trip Through Bush Presidential Library

Obama says the case for war outlined in the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum is “clear and undeniable.”

DALLAS—After taking an “eye-opening” tour of the newly dedicated George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum in Dallas Thursday, President Barack Obama reportedly ordered the United States military to reinvade Iraq.

The president told reporters that the museum’s numerous displays provided illuminating information concerning the ongoing threat posed by Iraq and the necessity of re-deploying combat troops in order to bring stability and lasting democracy to the troubled country. Continue reading

Revealed: Pentagon’s link to Iraqi torture centres

Exclusive: General David Petraeus and ‘dirty wars’ veteran behind commando units implicated in detainee abuse

The Guardian, Wednesday 6 March 2013

The Guardian investigation was spurred by the 2010 Wikileaks release.  Their initial video report, “The Torture Trail: What did General Petraeus’s special advisor, James Steele, know?”, showed how the newly released US military files reveal an instruction to ignore detainee abuse by Iraqi authorities; what that meant on the ground; and just how far up the chain of command the order went.  That 7-minute  video, from 2010, is shown here:

CLICK ON THIS LINK TO VIEW THE COMPLETE AND FINAL 2013 VIDEO REPORT (51 minutes): James Steele: America’s mystery man in Iraq

The Pentagon sent a US veteran of the “dirty wars” in Central America to oversee sectarian police commando units in Iraq that set up secret detention and torture centres to get information from insurgents. These units conducted some of the worst acts of torture during the US occupation and accelerated the country’s descent into full-scale civil war.

Colonel James Steele was a 58-year-old retired special forces veteran when he was nominated by Donald Rumsfeld to help organise the paramilitaries in an attempt to quell a Sunni insurgency, an investigation by the Guardian and BBC Arabic shows. Continue reading

We Must Not Fail Bradley Manning

US-War-Crimesby KEVIN ZEESE, Counterpunch, March 4, 2013

As I sat in court last Thursday at Fort Meade, watching Bradley Manning take responsibility as the Wikileaks whistleblower, two things struck me: (1) his thorough intelligence fueled by intellectual curiosity and (2) his empathy for other people when so many in war had lost their humanity.

This was the second time I had heard Manning testify. The first was his testimony about the abusive pre-trial incarceration he suffered for one year while being held in a cage in Kuwait and in solitary confinement in the Quantico Brig.  I’ve now seen him testify for a total of 15 hours.

His testimony leads me to wonder: what would have happened to Bradley Manning if we had a decent educational system that included affordable, preferably free, college education so that young people weren’t driven to the military for economic reasons? What could Bradley Manning have given the country if he had been able to pursue his interests and natural talents? Would Manning have joined the military if the country was honest about how the US Empire operates around the world?

But, that was not to be.  The country failed Bradley Manning.

I hope we do not fail him again.

Manning made it clear last Thursday that he leaked the documents to Wikileaks because he saw serious problems in US foreign policy. Problems which are as serious as they can be: war crimes, criminal behavior at the highest levels up to Secretary of State Clinton, unethical behavior and bullying of other nations. Continue reading

Afghanistan: False promise of withdrawal, is now long term US troop plan

AFP Photo / Shah Marai
[Obama's election promises notwithstanding, the Afghan troops trained by US and NATO forces cannot be trusted by imperialism to be loyal and effective gendarmes of the post-occupation neo-colonial system.  So, it is now announced, the US will carry on its training and counterinsurgency operations, indefinitely.  -- Frontlines ed.]
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10k US troops to stay in Afghanistan past 2014 deadline

26 November, 2012

Ten thousand US troops will stay in Afghanistan past 2014, senior officials say, despite earlier demands from President Barack Obama to end the war during the second year of his upcoming term.

Most of the 66,000 or so troops currently positioned in Afghanistan will be removed by Pres. Obama’s predetermined deadline, the sources say, but a substantial amount of Americans will be asked to remain indefinitely to conduct training and counterterrorism operations after allied North Atlantic Treaty Organization troops are expunged in late 2014.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Gen. John Allen, the top US commander overseeing the war in Afghanistan, proposed that anywhere from 6,000 to 15,000 troops remain overseas following the end of the current NATO operation occurring there. A number closer to 10,000 was established after top Obama administration officials reached a compromise with the Pentagon, the paper reports. Continue reading

Horror stories from young Afghans at US hearing

Associated Press : Washington, Mon Nov 12 2012

ThUS soldier hearinge soldier accused of killing 16 Afghan civilians watched as child after child described the bloodbath that left their parents and other loved ones dead. Whatever reaction Staff Sgt. Robert Bales might have had, he kept hidden behind a calm face.

Three sessions of nighttime testimony in Bales’ preliminary hearing, scheduled to accommodate witnesses participating by video link from Afghanistan, wrapped up late Sunday. After the hearing at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, the investigating officer will decide whether to court-martial Bales, who could be sentenced to death if convicted.

The witnesses were as young as little Robina, just 7, who wore a deep-red head covering and a nervous smile. She described how she hid behind her father when a gunman came to their village that night, how the stranger fired, and how her father died, cursing in pain and anger.

“I was standing behind my father,” she testified Saturday night. “He shot my father.”

One of the bullets struck her in the leg, but she didn’t realize it right away.

Prosecutors say Bales slipped away from his base to attack two villages in Kandahar province, killing 16 civilians, including nine children. The slayings drew such angry protests that the U.S. temporarily halted combat operations in Afghanistan, and it was three weeks before American investigators could reach the crime scenes. Continue reading

5 Things They Don’t Tell You About Drone Strikes

by Mehdi Hasan, The Huffington Post,  October 30, 2012
Yesterday, I was a panellist on BBC1’s Sunday Morning Live show on which, for once, I was able to debate the morality of the Obama administration’s CIA drone programme in Pakistan. There has been little discussion of the specific details of the programme in the mainstream media, on either side of the pond, and the recent US presidential debate on foreign policy saw moderator Bob Schieffer ask Mitt Romney (and not Barack Obama) a single, loaded and unfocused question on the issue.
Now, in the wake of a Pakistani man taking the British government to court over its alleged involvement in the killing of his father in a US drone strike in Waziristan, British media organisations are starting to pay attention.
But here are five things they – politicians, journalists, security ‘experts’, etc – don’t tell you about drone strikes – four out of five of which I managed to squeeze into yesterday’s discussion on the BBC (and which resulted in fellow panellist and former home secretary David Blunkett, to his credit, suggesting he may have to rethink his support for drones):
1) Despite their supposed ‘accuracy’ and ‘precision’, a study by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism says CIA drones have been responsible for between 474 and 881 civilian deaths in Pakistan since mid-2004 – including 176 Pakistani children, who were just as innocent as Malala Yousafzai. Continue reading

Between the US bombs and Taliban fighters: The Children Under Attack in Pakistan and Afghanistan

October 18, 2012

Infanticide as Policy?

by DAVE LINDORFF, Counterpunch

Six children were attacked in Afghanistan and Pakistan this past week. Three of them, teenaged girls on a school bus in Peshawar, in the tribal region of western Pakistan, were shot and gravely wounded by two Taliban gunmen who were after Malala Yousufzai, a 14-year-old girl who has been bravely demanding the right of girls to an education. After taking a bullet to the head, and facing further death threats, she has been moved to a specialty hospital in Britain. Her two wounded classmates are being treated in Pakistan.

The other three children were not so lucky. They were killed Sunday in an aerial attack by a US aircraft in the the Nawa district of Helmand Province in Afghanistan, not so far from Pakistan. The attack, described by the military as a “precision strike,” was reportedly aimed at several Taliban fighters who were allegedly planting an IED in the road, but the strike also killed three children, Borjan, 12; Sardar Wali, 10; and Khan Bibi, 8, all from one family, who were right nearby collecting dung for fuel.

Initially, as is its standard MO, the US denied that any children had been killed and insisted that the aircraft had targeted three “Taliban” fighters, and had successfully killed them. Only later, as evidence grew indesputable that the three children had also been killed, the US switched to its standard fallback position for atrocities in the Afghanistan War and its other wars: it announced that it was “investigating” the incident and said that it “regretted” any civilian deaths.

There are several questions that arise immediately from this second story. First of  all, if the three kids were close enough to be killed by this “precision” attack, they were surely also close enough to have been visible to whatever surveillance craft was monitoring the activities of the Taliban fighters, and if they were seen, there should have been no air strike called in. Second, the US, allegedly trying to reduce civilian casualties, is supposedly now operating its air attacks under rules of engagement that only allow strikes where there is “imminent danger” to US or allied forces. How is planting an IED an “imminent” danger? If the location is known, troops in the area can be alerted, and the IED removed or detonated. An identified IED is not an imminent threat. Continue reading

What the drones protest march in Waziristan aims to achieve

Sports star turned politician Imran Khan and civil rights lawyer Clive Stafford Smith will highlight US drones’ innocent victims

guardian.co.uk, Thursday 4 October 2012

A family from South Waziristan flee the battle zone

[A 2009 Brookings Institution report found that US drone attacks kill 10 civilians for every one militant in heavily targeted regions like Waziristan. Photograph: Aamir Qureshi/AFP/Getty Images]

The British civil rights lawyer Clive Stafford Smith and international cricketer turned politician Imran Khan will begin a peace march on 7 October into Pakistan‘s Waziristan region. Their aim is to highlight the plight of innocent people killed or injured by US drones.

Smith took the precautionary measure of writing to President Obama and his CIA director, David Petraeus, informing them about the march. In the letter, he requested that the president ensure the names of him and the other marchers would not be on the weekly kill list the president reviews, along with security officials, in the White House situation room. Smith wrote:

“Please remember that you and I are both lawyers from the same tradition, and it would be unseemly (as well as being both illegal and upsetting for my family) if you were to authorize my assassination.”

Like the sealed corridors in which the top secret kill list nomination process occurs – an account of which was reportedly leaked by the Obama administration to the New York Times – Waziristan has, until now, remained in the shadows, a place about which very little is known or reported. It is hoped the march will help open the area to public scrutiny by taking media there to gather independent information. Continue reading

Afghan Army: “Please Tolerate the US Soldier’s ‘Cultural Insensitivities’ — ‘No Offense’ intended”

October 04, 2012
Turning the Tables in Afghanistan — The Humiliation of Can-Do American Boys
by WILLIAM BLUM

In Afghanistan, the US military has tried training sessions, embedded cultural advisers, recommended reading lists, and even a video game designed to school American troops in local custom. But 11 years into the war, NATO troops and Afghan soldiers are still beset by a dangerous lack of cultural awareness, officials say, contributing to a string of attacks by Afghan police and soldiers against their military partners. Fifty-one coalition troops have been killed this year by their Afghan counterparts. While some insider attacks have been attributed to Taliban infiltrators, military officials say the majority stem from personal disputes and misunderstandings.

So the Afghan army is trying something new, most likely with American input: a guide to the strange ways of the American soldier. The goal is to convince Afghan troops that when their Western counterparts do something deeply insulting, it’s likely a product of cultural ignorance and not worthy of revenge. The pamphlet they’ve produced includes the following advice:

“Please do not get offended if you see a NATO member blowing his/her nose in front of you.”

“When Coalition members get excited, they may show their excitement by patting one another on the back or the behind. They may even do this to you if they are proud of the job you’ve done. Once again, they don’t mean to offend you.”

“When someone feels comfortable in your presence, they may even put their feet on their own desk while speaking with you. They are by no means trying to offend you. They simply don’t know or have forgotten the Afghan custom.” (Pointing the soles of one’s shoes at someone is considered a grievous insult in Afghanistan.)

The guide also warns Afghan soldiers that Western troops might wink at them or inquire about their female relatives or expose their private parts while showering — all inappropriate actions by Afghan standards.

Early in 2012, a video showed US soldiers urinating on dead Taliban fighters

Demonstrators show copies of the Koran allegedly set alight by US soldiers serving with NATO forces in Afghanistan, during a protest at the gate of Bagram airbase on Feb. 21, 2012. (SHAH MARAI/AFP/Getty Images)

Hmmm. I wonder if the manual advises telling Afghan soldiers that urinating on dead Afghan bodies, cutting off fingers, and burning the Koran are all nothing more than good ol’ Yankee customs, meaning no offense of course.

And does it point out that no Afghan should be insulted by being tortured in an American military prison since the same is done at home to American prisoners.

Most importantly, the Afghan people must be made to understand that bombing them, invading them, and occupying them for 11 years are all for their own good. It’s called “freedom and democracy”.

I almost feel sorry for the American military in Afghanistan. They’re “can-do” Americans, accustomed to getting their way, habituated to thinking of themselves as the best, expecting the world to share that sentiment, and they’re frustrated as hell, unable to figure out “why they hate us”, why we can’t win them over, why we can’t at least wipe them out. Don’t they want freedom and democracy? … They’re can-do Americans, using good ol’ American know-how and Madison Avenue savvy, sales campaigns, public relations, advertising, selling the US brand, just like they do it back home; employing media experts, psychologists, even anthropologists … and nothing helps. And how can it if the product you’re selling is toxic, inherently, from birth, if you’re ruining your customers’ lives, with no regard for any kind of law or morality, health or environment. They’re can-do Americans, used to playing by the rules — theirs; and they’re frustrated as hell. Continue reading

Iraq and Afghanistan War Veterans Protest, Throw Their Medals at NATO Summit!

May 20, 2012 CHICAGO (Reuters) – Nearly 50 U.S. military veterans at an anti-NATO rally in Chicago threw their service medals into the street on Sunday, an action they said symbolized their rejection of the U.S.-led wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

When the master feeds them shit, even lapdogs bite the hand that feeds them–eventually

[Imperialists call their neo-colonial project in Afghanistan "nation building" and call their construction of new comprador regimes "humanitarian" and "promoting democracy."  But their callous dismissal of human rights and sovereignty has resulted in thousands of horrifying murders of civilians by the imperialist military occupation forces and puppet Afghan forces.  The puppet military (developed and trained to provide "indigenized" cover for the occupation)  scrambles for credibility, and attempts to distance itself from responsibility for the NATO forces' round after round of mass killings of civilians. -- Frontlines ed.]

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Afghan commanders show new defiance in dealings with Americans

[Afghan Special Forces participate in a night raid training exercise in Kabul. Since the signing of a new cooperation agreement in April, Afghan commanders have been reluctant to go on night raids.]

By , Washington Post, May 11, 2012

KABUL —Afghan commanders have refused more than a dozen times within the past two months to act on U.S. intelligence regarding high-level insurgents, arguing that night-time operations to target the men would result in civilian casualties, Afghan officials say.The defiance highlights the shift underway in Afghanistan as Afghan commanders make use of their newfound power to veto operations proposed by their NATO counterparts.
For much of the past decade, NATO commanders have dictated most aspects of the allied war strategy, with Afghan military officers playing a far more marginal role. But with the signing of an agreement last month, Afghans have now inherited responsibility for so-called night raids — a crucial feature of the war effort.To Afghan leaders, the decisions made by their commanders reflect growing Afghan autonomy from Western forces as NATO draws down, and prove that Afghan forces are willing to exercise more caution than foreign troops when civilian lives are at stake. Continue reading

Communist (Maoist) Party of Afghanistan: “On the Kandahar Massacre”

Intensifying and expanding the resistance until the total and unconditional expulsion of the occupiers and the defeat of the puppet regime is the only principled method of confronting the war crimes of the occupying forces

American imperialist occupiers once again butchered children, women, and elderly men in Afghanistan. A group of American occupying soldiers and officers attacked the poor huts of villagers and slaughtered seventeen children, women, and old men––wounding several others and burning twelve bodies––in the Panjawai district of Kandahar on midnight of the 11th of March. The leadership of the occupying forces depicted this unforgivable crime as the result of mental illness of one of their soldiers, offered a mere empty token of apology, and declared the usual: that they would lead an investigation into this matter.

Definitely this war crime, like the other war crimes of the occupiers, is something that does not emanate from the personal mental problems of one or more of the occupying soldiers or officers; it is the result of the overall nature and characteristic of such forces. It should be noted that the imperialist occupation, and the imposition of a puppet regime over the peoples of an occupied country, is itself a great imperialist war crime. Therefore, a just response to the war crimes of the imperialist occupiers and their satraps, is not to legally prosecute the officers and soldiers responsible for these crimes, to take personal revenge against them as individuals, or the unjust efforts of freeing some prisoners, but the further intensification and expansion of resistance, until the total expulsion of the occupiers from the country and the destruction of their puppet regime.

Hamid Karzai the head of the puppet regime, while he is constantly telling the participants and supporters of this regime that soon a “long-term strategic agreement” would be signed with America (an agreement that actually has no other meaning other than prolonging the condition of occupation), has declared the crimes of the occupiers in Panjawai to be a deliberate and obvious act of terrorism and has demanded the trial of the perpetrators. However, it is clear that according to the previous agreements between the American occupation and its puppet regime, and specifically between George W. Bush and Hamid Karzai, that every American soldier and officer in Afghanistan has legal sanctity; they only can be put on trial in the US, according to the constitution of that country. Hamid Karzai while he is carrying “Shah Shojaian Sword” of national treason, at the same time is showing his servitude in empty and meaningless “nationalistic” gestures towards his imperialist masters in order to “prove” his political competency in their court.   Continue reading

Afghan diaspora in solidarity with victims of Kandahar massacre

Sjpjc Logo

RALLY FOR SLAIN AFGHANS

Saturday March 17th, 2PM
Fremont Amtrak Station at Fremont Blvd.
better lifeVigil planned in Fremont’s ‘Little Kabul’ for slain Afghan civilians

By Rob Dennis

The Argus

Local Afghans are organizing a rally and candlelight vigil Saturday for the 16 civilians, including nine children, shot dead by a U.S. soldier over the weekend in southern Kandahar Province.

Military officials say an Army staff sergeant slipped off a U.S. base before dawn Sunday, stormed into homes in two villages and opened fire. Some of the corpses were burned. Five other people were wounded.
“This is the third major event that’s occurred in Afghanistan recently, with dead bodies being urinated on, the Quran-burning and now this,” said one of the vigil’s organizers, Farhad Bajawory, 26, of Union City. “The apologies that come have no value to us anymore.”
The soldier, who has not been identified, has been flown out of Afghanistan and is awaiting charges. The rally will be from 2 to 4 p.m. at the Amtrak and Altamont Commuter Express station at 37260 Fremont Blvd., in the Centerville neighborhood nicknamed “Little Kabul” for its large number of Afghan residents and businesses.

Organizers are inviting people of all backgrounds to attend the rally; they are asking them to wear all-black clothing and bring posters, signs and U.S. and Afghan flags, along with small candles for the vigil. The location of the vigil will be announced at the event. They also plan to have everyone sign a banner that reads, “RIP 9 children, 4 men and 3 women, 16 innocent civilians,” which they will send to the White House.

Nearly 600 people on Facebook so far have signed up to attend the event. Bajawory said the organizers, all Tri-City area residents, felt compelled to respond in some way to the latest atrocity in their homeland.

“We all have cousins and uncles that are still out there,” Bajawory said. “We still feel a deep connection to them, even though many of us who will be there this Saturday were actually born here.”

Justice for Afghan victims “… as if it were our own citizens”

by Paul Woodward, writing in War in Context, on March 13, 2012

“The United States takes this as seriously as if it was our own citizens, and our children, who were murdered,” President Obama said today, referring to the 16 Afghan citizens who were apparently killed by a single American soldier before dawn on Sunday morning. “We’re heartbroken over the loss of innocent life.”

Yet more than two days after the shooting, the Pentagon has still not named the suspect.

Contrast this with the 2011 Tuscon shooting in which six people died and Jared Lee Loughner’s name and photo were being published by every mainstream media outlet within hours.

The unnamed soldier responsible for Sunday’s massacre will likely become the only American soldier whose name the people of Afghanistan never forget.

As much as the White House and the Pentagon work to present this turn of events as an aberration, it will for most Afghans and much of the world come to symbolize America’s involvement in a country few Americans knew anything about before 9/11 and just as few care much about now.

Once this soldier’s name is eventually made public it seems likely that whatever motivated him to go on a brutal yet systematic rampage, his actions will be portrayed as the product of the singular workings of his own mind or damaged brain. The Pentagon will present this as the story of soldier X — not the closing chapter in an ill-conceived war. Continue reading