Obama Take Action, Stop Mass Starvation in Afghanistan.

It's as an obscene a scenario as you can imagine.  Year after year, Afghan villages to which aid can easily be delivered are faced with starvation because the regions are peaceful and there is no need for Pentagon press releases about winning "hearts and minds."  

BBC reports:

"More than 2.5 million people face hunger in drought-stricken areas of Afghanistan despite billions of dollars of aid that have poured into the country in recent years, aid agencies say. Many villagers have only limited supplies of food left as winter looms...Aid agencies have been concerned for some time about the amount of aid directed towards conflict areas of Afghanistan.  Much of it is designed to win hearts and minds through "quick impact projects" in insurgency-plagued provinces in the south and east of the country. According to a US Congressional study, 80% of US aid has gone to troubled regions....For example, last year Kandahar province received four times more US aid per head than Bamiyan, while the equally quiet neighbouring Daykundi province saw five times less."

BBC says the policy of  letting people starve in the north and focusing on the southern, Pashtun regions is "roundly defended" by the US ambassador to Kabul, Ryan Crocker.  Crocker says:

"We have put substantial assistance into the south. You know, we are trying to end an insurgency here and that means, in part, funding a better future and giving people alternatives."

Getting aid to the villages faced with starvation is easy because security is not as big a problem.  The US manages to get food aid through to much "hotter" zones just fine.  Even in winter, airdrop capacity and technology is such that cargo planes can drop pallets of food and ammunition within a quarter mile of a combat outpost in all but worst of weather.   But ordinary, non-combatant Afghans who are starving in the snow don't rate this kind of attention (although I have no doubt that rank-and-file American soldiers would vie for these missions.)

Ten years after the occupation began,  Afghans at times are still often literally reduced to eating grass.

(Note: Bimayan Province is where our new little friends, the Afghan Youth Peace Volunteers, are from.)  

David Swanson of War is a Crime reports:

"While the “Super” Committee works on the federal budget for FY 2013 and beyond, under the radar, the Congress is moving forward with another huge Defense budget for FY 2012. When it returns from Thanksgiving break, the Senate will be voting on a $682.5 billion Defense Authorization bill."

2.5 million are in imminent danger.  $2 worth of foodstuffs, protein/vitamin-enriched flour, cooking oil, etc., is a reasonable cost per person since most people are already living on less than a dollar a day.  That's 2 times 2.5 million times 90 days or about a half billion dollars for a solid commitment to warding off hunger during the three harshest months of the winter.  We spend $10 billion per month in Afghanistan on military operations.  So the entire food part of the program would cost less what we spend in 2 days in fuel, ammo, and the cost of maintaining the occupation.

2 days.  Obama should ask Congress for an emergency appropriation and begin relief operations immediately.

The kicker is that the insurgency has steadily spread from the south, the "conflict areas," to the north, and Washington and the generals can't seem to figure out why. Why, why are Afghans so cynical about the US presence?  Now there is fighting where there was never fighting before!

When one looks at the dynamics, one thing starts to become perfectly clear: this is no recipe for winning a war.  Keep the masses in hunger and starvation, unleash brutal, indiscriminate force, such as drone attacks which kill mostly civilians, in the chase for a few insurgents, and make sure the Taliban is well-funded by the Pentagon itself through pay-offs for allowing military supply convoys to pass through.  This is a perfect recipe for keeping any war going.  

And why not?  In 2006 the Institute for Policy Studies and United for a Fair Economy reported that "stock price gains for defense contractors have averaged 48 percent" more than the overall stock market.  CEOs of major defense contracting corporations are not only in Occupy Wall Street's top one percent, but in the top .1%.

Investing Daily gushed last year:

The Afghanistan Troop Surge Means Profits!

the likelihood that the U.S. will end up the loser in Afghanistan is a long-term worry. In the short-term, military contractors doing business in Afghanistan will make a boatload of money...  - "How To Profit From the War in Afghanistan"

In 1934 Marine General and double Medal of Honor winner Smedley Butler took off his uniform and traveled the country to tell Americans what he had learned from his career.  The title of his book and speech was "War is a Racket."  Butler until his dying day shook people by the scruff and begged them to understand what he had seen:

   "War is a racket. It always has been. It is possibly the oldest, easily the most profitable, surely the most vicious. It is the only one international in scope. It is the only one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives... A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of the people. Only a small 'inside' group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few, at the expense of the very many. Out of war a few people make huge fortunes."

The failure of direct aid in the north is a microcosm of the greater, almost deliberate neglect on the part of the US to support the many avenues available, over the last ten years, for delivering meaningful assistance to Afghans wishing to rebuild the country's war-torn basic infrastructure, and instead directing billions toward foreign contractors and their subsidiaries who soak up 40-60 percent of the funds for profits and overhead, so that little of that aid actually reaches Afghans or goes toward projects that they themselves want and need.  

Much more effective would be fully funding the indigenous Afghan National Solidarity Program (NSP), which has thousands of local projects voted on by community councils which are ready for ground-breaking but lack funds.  The NSP has been found by the US Special Inspector General to be honest and efficient.  These are the kinds of projects which put Afghans on the path to sustainability by rebuilding vital parts of the traditional agrarian economy: water projects, canal clearing and irrigation, and secondary (unpaved) road improvement. It is a myth that development cannot be done in rural regions because of security concerns, a myth that is used to excuse years of abysmal neglect.  Dr. Greg Mortenson says:

“Aid can be done anywhere, including where Taliban are...But it’s imperative the elders are consulted, and that the development staff is all local, with no foreigners.”

The UN World Food Programme country director in Afghanistan, Louis Imbleau, in the BBC article is adamant about the looming food crisis in the country where fuel costs alone amount to at least $300,000 per year for every single US soldier on the ground.  Speaking of the effects of malnutrition on those children who survive, Imbleau says:

"it's irreversible and should just not be allowed to happen. It should not be allowed to happen."

Obama ask Congress for an emergency appropriation and begin relief operations immediately.

White House
Comments: 202-456-1111
Switchboard: 202-456-1414

Contact Congress
Switchboard: 202-224-3121

RAWA (2008): "Hunger Could Kill More People in Afghanistan Than the Taliban"

For more information of Afghan development go to Jobs for Afghans.


Old White Men Still Want to Kill Troy Davis (Apologies to Clarence)

When organizations from Amnesty International to a former Republican congressman says something is terribly, terribly wrong with an execution going forward, I tend to sit up and take note.  The DNA exonerations of the last decade which led many governors from both parties to put a halt on execution have cast real doubt on the fairness of our "justice" system.  In Massachusetts, WWII hero Louis Greco died in prison after doing 30 years for a murder he did not commit, and which the Feds knew he did not commit all along, and framed him for it.  He was exonerated posthumously after Judge Nancy Gertner awarded his and other families the largest settlement for wrongful prosecution in American history, $101 million.  If you've seen Scorcese's "The Departed" it depicts the Boston gang, including FBI agents, in whose machinations Louis was caught.  

More recently, the Supreme Court bent over backward to deny a damages award to John Thompson, who spent 14 years on Death Row and came within weeks of execution because prosecutors hid a blood test and other evidence that would have proven his innocence.

What kind of country are we living in now?

In 2001, Texas Defender Service issued it's report, A State of Denial: Texas Justice and the Death Penalty.  The report's Chapter 9, Bitter Harvest, examined the cases of six men executed by Texas in spite of serious questions of innocence at the time of their executions: David Wayne Spence, Robert Nelson Drew, Gary Graham, Odell Barnes Jr., Richard Wayne Jones, and David Stoker. Although George Bush once said famously as governor of Texas: "As far as I'm concerned, there has not been one innocent person executed since I've been governor.''

And Saddam Hussein can hit the United States with nucyular weapons in as little as 45 minutes.

Former Texas Court of Criminal Appeals Judge Charles Baird disagreed with Bush:

" We've had such an enormous amount of executions that it's difficult to believe that the system worked flawlessly in all of those cases.  I don't share governor Bush's confidence in the judicial system.  When I was on the court, I saw a lot of faulty trials from overzealous prosecutors and police officers."

Now calls are going out for citizens to call for a halt to the execution of Troy Davis in Georgia.   Twenty years ago, Troy Davis was convicted of killing a police officer. Since then, seven of the nine witnesses recanted their statements, and new witnesses have stepped forward identifying another man as the murderer..

The state of Georgia is keeping Davis on track to be executed as early as next month.

Instead of a new trial, Davis was forced to face a single federal judge where the burden was on Davis to prove his innocence -- the exact opposite presumption of a jury trial.  Despite acknowledging that the case against Davis was not "ironclad," the judge refused to grant a new trial.

From the updated Wiki entry:

Amnesty International condemned the decision to deny clemency, and the executive director of Amnesty International USA, added: "The U.S. Supreme Court must intervene immediately and unequivocally to prevent this perversion of justice." Former President (and Georgia Governor) Jimmy Carter released a public letter in which he stated "Executing Troy Davis without a real examination of potentially exonerating evidence risks taking the life of an innocent man and would be a grave miscarriage of justice."...A stay of execution was also supported by the NAACP; the president of the Georgia state conference said "This is a modern-day lynching if it's allowed to go forward." Former Republican Congressman and presidential candidate Bob Barr wrote that he is "a strong believer in the death penalty as an appropriate and just punishment," but that the proper level of fairness and accuracy required for the ultimate punishment has not been met in Davis' case.

It used to be the standard in America was "beyond reasonable doubt" for a conviction for a crime, nevermind execution.  But in the new America, Bushbama's America, we have ample evidence of where the new attitude stems from.  In dissenting from the US Supreme Court order which gave Davis the hearing before the single federal judge, joined by Justice Clarence Thomas, Scalia said that the U.S. Constitution guarantees only a fair trial, but that actual innocence is irrelevant:

   This Court has never held that the Constitution forbids the execution of a convicted defendant who has had a full and fair trial but is later able to convince a habeas court that he is “actually” innocent.

But if innocence is irrelevant, what makes the trial "fair?"  Scalia is the guy who would stay stone-faced and unmoved by the irony of the Old West call: "Give 'im a fair trial then hang him!"  

The real question is not why is Troy Davis scheduled for execution, but why was the man in the black robe not immediately put into a straitjacket and removed from the court after making this statement, for proving himself to be irretrievably, bat-shit crazy?  

There is only one thing we know about these kinds of cases, even if we are not fully schooled on the particulars.  And that is that there is a definite point when it is too late.

Campaign to save Troy Davis

The Office of the Governor
State of Georgia
203 State Capitol
Atlanta, Georgia 30334



To send an email, click here.



WaPo: Obama "Guaranteeing" Gaddafi Win

That Obama, so good at saying one thing and doing another.  By imposing a two-sided arms embargo on two vastly mis-matched sides, the Washington Post has said he has almost "guaranteed" Gaddafi win.  Gaddafi has been a back-door US ally since Shell-BP won its oil contracts, but popular pressure from both the left and even the right -- Americans in righteous awe of people bravely fighting for freedom -- has Obama playing a delicate game.

Fortunately for him it is what he is best at: saying one thing and doing another.  Washington Post today:

Initially advertised as a measure that would weaken the Gaddafi regime by preventing it from acquiring additional weapons, the State Department this week revealed its view that the U.N. embargo also makes it illegal to provide defensive arms to the opposition.

An evenhanded arms embargo might make sense if the Libyan conflict were between two equally armed sides and we were indifferent to which side won. But the Gaddafi regime is infinitely better-armed than the rag-tag opposition that, having freed half the country, now faces a withering counterattack from the regime's artillery and combat aircraft. The Obama administration professes to want the opposition to prevail, but by prohibiting arms transfers to both sides, it has almost guaranteed that Moammar Gaddafi will win a drawn-out conflict.

The administration can only keep making grim pronouncements that Gaddafi "must go" while holding its breath that he will prevail for so long.  Republicans will not shy away from this new slam, which comes as Obama tip-toes away from the most elementary of no-fly zones, which could entail simply "cratering" two key runways in Sebah and Sirte, as Senate Foreign Policy Committee Chairman John Kerry has suggested, so that Gaddadi's warplanes could not take off, or having a couple of jets circling high above friendlies. Gaddafi's air defense systems are ancient and pose little threat to high-flying F-16s. 

In other news, Russia has announced sanctions on Gaddafi.




Bradley Manning Execution Will be Directly at Obama's Feet

Those Democrats who still support Obama and purport to support Bradley Manning are forgetting one thing: as Commander-in-Chief, Obama and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates ultimately determine what charges will be brought, or even who will be prosecuted. That is because in the military, the chain of command is all. If the Commander in Chief tells you, "I need this man to show me where a landing on a beach should be, to save the lives of thousands of men, let him go," you have to let him go.

New charges have been filed against Manning last week which include ones which carry the death penalty.  This comes as it is revealed that he is being forced to strip naked for long periods of time in his jail cell.

Moreover, under the Yamashita standard the principle of command responsibility has been articulated for military organizations, although that case pertained to far more serious war crimes.  It was determined nevertheless that  a commander cannot "unlawfully disregard and fail to discharge his duty as a commander to control the acts of members of his command."

Make no mistake, if this were the Bush/Rumsfeld Department of Defense trying to execute Manning, we would be surrounding the White House. That's because Bush acted like a commander-in-chief, and it was easy to ascribe the real responsibility. Obama doesn't act like a CINC. But that doesn't mean he isn't one.

Even in the civilian courts the Obama Dept. of Justice decided to not pursue telecoms for violations of the FISA law. Obama pressured the Spanish government to not prosecute the Bush Gang for torture. Most recently, Obama directed the DOJ to not defend DOMA. In military courts he has even more authority.

If Bradley Manning is executed, it will be as if Obama will have pulled the lever himself. There are no ifs, and or buts. I liked Obama, and don't blame anyone for supporting him strongly in the last election. It was a magical moment, a Black president in my lifetime. But now I can say with final certainty he is not the man I thought he would be. If Manning dies, Obama wiil be Obama the Assassin for the history books, a terrible legacy for the first Black president. This will be the first time in American history a truthteller will be killed for reporting crimes in what is not even declared officially as a war.

Obama is losing people in droves over this.  Even the normally feistily supportive DailyKos readers, the flagship Democratic forum, are getting disgusted.

Primary Obama in 2012, better yet impeach him now. Anything else is Kool-aid.

Barbara Lee
Ron Paul VP

Daniel Ellsberg on Bradley Manning VIDEO

Bradley Manning Support Network Facebook


Shock, SHOCK That Curveball Lied! Is Bush Gang Nervous?

Strange this  is happening just as George W. Bush cancels a trip to Switzerland  to avoid war crimes charges and is probably better off not landing in France or Spain either, and just as American citizens across the country urge the Spanish government to  keep up its Bush Gang prosecution  efforts while  Obama does everything he can to squash them.  Powell's "discovery" that Curveball lied is akin to the shock, SHOCK that gambling is taking place in Rick's Cafe.

As Keith Olbermann would say, Who does Colin Powell think he's effing kidding?

The non-news that Iraqi defector "Curveball" lied reads like Colin Powell's legal gurus' attempt to keep their client from joining an illustrious list.  Brits who lost sons in Iraq are hairs' a breadth from lynching Tony Blair anywhere he goes, and George Bush's own  Amazon book webpage has become a billboard for advertising his crimes, in a convenient and heavily-trafficked "customer discussion" section.

Is something up?  You mean the powerful don't always get away with whatever they want?  You mean Cindy Sheehan and other Gold Star mothers have not lain down quietly and stopped asking the question: "FOR WHAT NOBLE CAUSE DID MY SON DIE?"

Of the UN presentation just before the Iraq invasion in which Powell seals Saddam's fate, citing his readiness to hit the U.S. with biological weapons, Historycommons.org states:

   "The case officer at the German intelligence agency BND who supervises the Iraqi defector "Curveball" is aghast at Secretary of State Colin Powell's UN presentation, particularly Powell's reliance on data supplied by Curveball as if it were verified fact. "Mein Gott!" he will later exclaim. "We had always told them it was not proven.... It was not hard intelligence.""

Come on guys.  Everyone knew Curveball was lying about the "mobile weapons labs" which were going to produce anthrax on the spot.  When Coalition Forces failed to find weapons of mass destruction, the CIA Survey Group went to track down why.  When they mentioned the big super-secret source, Curveball, the  LA Times reported in 2005:

"The Iraqis were all laughing.  They were saying, 'This guy? You've got to be kidding.'"

More importantly, who cares about Curveball?   Whatever happened to:

"the Iraqi regime could launch a biological or chemical attack in as little as 45 minutes.." - GW Bush Sept. 26, 2002

Because, even though it's been 8 years, we haven't even started talking about the good stuff. Like the  2002 National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) , the classified copy of which had said that Saddam was only likely to attack the US in self-defense, far from the jihadi madman Bush tried to portray.  Note here: Saddam was merely brutal, but rational, in a thuggish sort of way, no different than many of the dictators we had installed and supported throughout the years, like the Shah of Iran, Ferdinand Marcos, and Augusto Pinochet.  Irrational would mean suicidal, and that is exactly what Saddam knew attacking the United States or passing weapons to those who would, would be: suicide.  The classified NEI said Saddam knew the "exposure of Iraqi involvement" would lead to his death.

So what did Bush do when he gave the NEI to Congress?  What any good schoolboy would do when confronted with such a problem to his main argument: He crossed this part out.  Problem solved.  The NEI "White Paper" which was given to Congress made no mention that Saddam, was basically a coward and not a threat.  Only the sharp-eyed Vincent Bugliosi, the famed prosecutor who put away Charles Manson, read both versions side-by-side and noticed this omission, to which he says, "We're in the big-time now, folks, big-time deception."

 Michael Collins of ScoopNZ wrote in 2008:

"The NIE delivered to the White House on Oct. 1, 2002 noted that the one scenario in which Iraq would attack the United States involved a U.S. attack on Iraq that threatened Saddam Hussein's survival...That was deleted entirely. The July White Paper was "complete" and sent to Congress as the evidence justifying the invasion of Iraq."

This is the smoking gun which puts the lie to one of the Neocons' favorite refrains: Congress was looking at the same intelligence.  Well, no, they weren't.

Bugliosi is at present trying to break through to the states with a movie project which has been effectively banned in the US, "The Prosection of George W. Bush for Murder."   Movie trailer.    Movie website.

We never found what it was Saddam could launch at us in as little as "45 minutes," but we sure have what look like permanent bases, an embassy the size of the Vatican, and sweetheart oil deals for American companies for the next hundred years.

So now we know why over 5000 of the flower of our youth died violent, brutal dealths, when they believed Bush that their country was in danger and rushed to answer the call, many right out of high school.  The point never made when the Neocons tease, "would you rather have Saddam still in place?" - is that 5,000 fine Americans would still be in place too.  We have our reason for why these Americans died.  And the answer is not a good one.

The Egyptians have taught us one thing: as long as the thirst for freedom and justice exists, there is hope.  Ask George Bush's flight booker.

VIDEO: 2008 Television ad which ran across VT, attorney general campaign to appoint Bugliosi as Special Prosecutor:


Clinton Resign: Free Speech Needs a Champion

Full disclosure: I am friends with Ray McGovern, and have never been prouder to be able to say so.

After being shamelessly distorted by the major media as an incident of "heckling," Ray McGovern, 27-year CIA veteran who has served under seven presidents, gave this interview (embedded below) to PressTV, the Iranian news agency, on the assault on him which left him bloody and bruised after he stood silently with his back turned at a Clinton speech.

McGovern, whose duties including delivering morning intelligence briefings to the president, is now a leading opponent of the wars. The 72 year-old McGovern was wearing a Veterans for peace t-shirt when he was assaulted.  The video captures the assault occurring before Clinton's eyes no more than 30 feet away, with her never batting an eyelash or breaking stride. The subject of the speech was freedom of expression.

McGovern had been standing silently with his back turned in silent protest. It was just as Clinton had delivered the line "...and then they pulled the plug," with a slight pause and smile, that McGovern was pounced upon. The now viral video shows McGovern being dragged out, which is when he utters his first words "So this is America?"

McGovern's silent protest was intended to shun Clinton, who he criticizes as someone who "never met a war she didn't like," citing her support for the invasion of Iraq, for the war in Afghanistan, and for her present leading role in beating the drum for an attack on Iran.

McGovern, a Vietnam Veteran, shows his trademark sense of humor in the interview, and describes the juxtaposition of the content of Clinton's speech with what was transpiring before her eyes as "Kafka-esque." The one thing McGovern has never laughed at is the suffering of people, on all sides, caught on the pointy end of the stick of American foreign policy.

A consummate gentlemen, McGovern reserves his harsh words for people in power. This is the manner in which he gained some measure of fame when he confronted Donald Rumsfeld in a press conference in 2006. To initial jeers from the audience, McGovern asked Rumsfeld a series of pointed questions about his statements before the Iraq invasion. Strangely enough, it was Rumseld the Neocon Republican who choose to engage him and stopped security from throwing him out. Rumsfeld shouts out to security "No no, let him stay..." when they began to close in on him.

McGovern told OpedNews:

"At the same [Rumsfeld] speech, there was a courageous guy who stood with his back to Rumsfeld the entire speech. They left him completely alone and he walked out at the end, unbothered. Four years later, things have changed.

As one would expect of McGovern, he does not dwell on the thugs who left him bruised and bleeding in a DC jail cell but asks immediately - "Who gave the order?" - and says this is the question which deserves an answer.

If he does not get this answer and satisfaction, HILLARY MUST RESIGN.

On this eve of a congressional vote to further fund the war in Afghanistan, citizens can show their solidarity with McGovern by demanding their congressmen co-sponsor the resolution put forth by Rep. Barbara Lee , which will stop all further funding of military operations in Afghanistan except those necessary to effect an orderly withdrawal, beginning immediately.

Statement of Sibel Edmonds on McGovern Beating

To Those Who Second-Guess Our Police State Status: Shame on You! I just received the following news and I am way too upset to write a coherent piece on this. Ray McGovern is a good friend of mine. We live less than 10 miles apart. Together we have participated in many events and protests. He is one of the most informed, articulate, gentle, peace-loving and peace-seeking human beings I’ve ever known…For me, this hits too close to home: My father was similarly brutalized by dictator regimes, and that was only the beginning, before it escalated to being tortured and having his toenails pulled out by the state police. Why? He was a doctor, a surgeon with an inquiring mind, and he spoke out whenever he could against dictatorships and for liberties. Participating in peaceful demonstrations, encouraging others to rise up for their rights, and reading authors such as Steinbeck (the American author black-listed there as ‘communist and anarchist’) landed him on the list of to-be-punished and pacified… Right now, at this point, all I have to say to those who second-guess our nation’s police state status is this: “Shame on you!” As for my irate minority friends over here at Boiling Frogs, please help disseminate this news, because the scum bag media won’t;’ thank you.

Excerpt from 2006 press conference with Rumsfeld:

Rumsfeld: It turns out there were not weapons of mass destruction McGovern: You said you knew where they were. Rumsfeld: I did not... McGovern: You said they in Tikrit, around Baghdad, and north, south, and west of there. Those were your words..." -Ray McGovern in a press conference exchange with Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld 2006

The White House Comments: 202-456-1111 Switchboard: 202-456-1414

Contact Congress

VIDEO: PressTV Interview




Republicans Want to Give Taliban More Money

And why wouldn't they?  The war is making everyone rich (except us, who pay the bill.)  Reported practically before the ballots in all the states had been counted:

WASHINGTON: Republican lawmakers who now control the US House of Representatives said on Thursday that they would try to prevent President Barack Obama from withdrawing American troops from Afghanistan as he planned...

Now, thanks to Rep. John Tierney (D-MA), who won his re-election handily, we know that at least 20% of Pentagon contract funds for overland transportation of military supplies goes to insurgents, as payment for not attacking the truck convoys.  This means up to $400 million a year goes directly to financing the Taliban and its allies, which could include warlords on the U.S. payroll in other ways accustomed to playing both sides.  To put that in context, the Taliban hierarchy's income from opium profits is estimated at about $300 million a year.  This is not small leakage.  If the Pentagon gave the Taliban anymore, it should be issued stock.

The name of the Tierney subcommittee's full report is "Warlord, Inc."

Add to this the fact that a huge amount of reconstruction dollars never even reach the country, but are taken back by American contractors in the form of 40% profit margins and ex-patriot "consultant" salaries, and it's a "splendid little war," to quote President McKinley's Secretary of State.

A 2008 report by OXFAM bares the truth about what's really happening to reconstruction dollars going to Afghanistan, the loss of which is blamed, in the official line, on corrupt Karzai government cronies, which is only part of the truth.  OXFAM's watershed "Aid Effectiveness in Afghanistan" tells us:

Afghanistan's biggest donor, USAID, allocates close to half of its funds to five large US contractors in the country and it is clear that substantial amounts of aid continue to be absorbed in corporate profits. According to the US based Centre for Public Integrity, the US government has awarded major contracts in Afghanistan, some worth hundreds of millions of dollars, to, inter alia, KBR, the Louis Berger Group, Chemonics International, Bearing Point and Dyncorp International.  In some large contracts in Afghanistan there are up to five of layers international or national subcontractors, each of which usually takes between 10-20% profit on any given contract but in some cases as much as 50%.

The peerless Ann Jones writes:

Afghans keep asking: "Where did the money go?" American taxpayers should be asking the same question. The official answer is that donor funds are lost to Afghan corruption. But shady Afghans, accustomed to two-bit bribes, are learning how big-bucks corruption really works from the masters of the world.

So it's no mystery why Establishment Republicans would want to misread this week's Tea Party victories as a mandate to keep financing the Taliban.  No Taliban, no war.  No war, no hand-over-fist money making for campaign contributors who'll take care of them once they are out of office in one way or the other.  Son we are talking gigantic gobs of cushy jobs, stock options, likker, DC madams forever YEE HAW!!

And so far this has cost you, according to economist Joe Stiglitz, around $50,000 since 2001 for every typical American family.  Did someone say war is a racket?

Could this story get any worse?  Yes.  Not only are we paying for insecurity and hatred due to the civilian casualties, night raids based on faulty information, and drone attacks which leave Afghans begging us to tell them why we are doing this to them, we could easily have the very opposite, real security, a people allied with us in the region who would hunt down Al Qaeda themselves, and a prospering Central Asian economy, for about one-tenth the price.  When politicians intone gravely "we don't do nation-building" they may as well be saying "we don't do things the cheap, smart way that works for national security.  No damned profit."

Three Cups of Tea author Greg Mortensen recently told Nick Kristof of the New York Times:  "The conventional wisdom is that education and development are impossible in insecure parts of Afghanistan that the Taliban control. That view is wrong."  Mortensen says that by consulting tribal elders and insuring most work is done by locals, meaningful development can progress.

Kristof went to Kabul to talk to men in a shanty town on the outskirts and reported:

What intrigues me is that the men don’t seem particularly ideological...These men say that their preference would be to get regular jobs and live in peace. But there are no jobs, and now they are being told that they will be kicked out of their camp. They say the threatened expulsion is the result of a corrupt land deal by tycoons tied to the government of President Hamid Karzai. "If the government forces us out, then we’ll have to go and join the Taliban and fight..."

And the Taliban will have money to hire them.  Yours. Everyone knows the Taliban pays ten bucks a day.  That's called good money in these parts.  You might not like the work, but that's who's hiring.

And the war and the non-reconstruction will roll merrily along while them good old boys in Washington par-TAY with all the likker and wimmin money can bah.


Who your reconstruction dollars are NOT reaching



Live from Ft. Hood, Webcast of Protest Against 3rd Armored Cav Redeployment

Using webcam technology, the anti-war soldier's coffee house outside of Ft. Hood, Texas is providing video updates and webcasting live the protest against redeployment of the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment this month to Iraq.  Protesters include active-duty soldiers (off-duty), veterans, soldiers families and supporters.  Ft. Hood is the largest military base in the nation.

The Under the Hood Cafe website reads:

As corporate media heralds the end of combat forces in Iraq, Fort Hood is deploying 3,000 troops to Iraq from the 3rd Armored Calvary Regiment. Many of them have been deemed "undeployable" due to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and other conditions resulting from previous deployments during this decade of warfare in Iraq and Afghanistan...

Several upcoming events are aimed at peeling back the mass deception surrounding "the end of combat operations."

1:30 pm, Sunday, August 22, Killeen. There will be a peaceful march to the East Gate of Fort Hood protesting the deployment of additional troops to Iraq and drawing attention to the numbers being sent who are suffering from conditions that should render them "undeployable." Participants should gather at Under the Hood, 17 S. College, Killeen by 1:00 pm.

Please tune in and sign in to the live chatroom on the webcast page to join the discussion and show your support. NOTE: Look for the live action webcast to begin around 6pm EDT.



Latest Update Broadcast from the coffee house (recorded)


Live webcast (when "on air," hit circular "refresh" button in lower left-hand corner) Under the Hood Cafe Facebook page

"Last" Combat Brigade Out as Obama Sends 3rd Armored Cav In with Wounded

Falling down the rabbit hole: Media trumpets Obama's spin that the "last combat brigade" has left Iraq even as the Pentagon acknowledges to AFP that "while the remaining 50,000 troops will no longer have a formal combat mission after September 1, they will be well-armed and possibly coming under fire as they join in manhunts for Al-Qaeda figures or other extremists."

AFP report, "Despite New Mission, U.S. Troops Still in the Fight in Iraq":

"I don't think anybody has declared the end of the war as far as I know," Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell told MSNBC.

"Counter-terrorism will still be part of their mission," said Morrell, referring to the fight against militant networks.

Meanwhile media blacked-out protests continue this week at Ft. Hood, Texas to block the re-deployment Sunday of the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, which includes a large number of troops going on their 4th and 5th deployments diagnosed as suffering from PTSD.  Ft. Hood is the nation's largest military base.

Iraq Veteran Mike Prysner writes:

As Obama seeks applause for "ending" the war in Iraq, there are busloads of GIs suffering from PTSD, TBI and MST waiting to ship off to another tour in Iraq this month.

For this deployment, however, Fort Hood soldiers have begun standing up. Soldiers inside the unit are reporting a bleak situation regarding the mental health of many of its troops, and have begun organizing with other veterans and supporters to inspire those troops to exercise their right to refuse to let their lives be thrown away.

On July 30, approximately 30 active-duty soldiers, veterans, military families and supporters held a rally outside the gates of Fort Hood with a large banner directed at Colonel Allen, commander of 3rd ACR, which read "Col. Allen ... Do Not Deploy Wounded Soldiers!" Demonstrators also carried placards that read: "Tell the brass: Kiss my ass!" and "They lie, we die!"

The anti-war soldiers' coffee house outside of Ft. Hood is staging a mass demonstration this Sunday, in protest of the 3rd ACR deployment.  Under the Hood Cafe's Face Book page says:

This is a nation-wide call to action! Come to Fort Hood, Texas, Aug. 22 to participate in peaceful actions with veterans and anti-war leaders opposing the deployment of the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment’s 5,000 Soldiers to Iraq. This is your invite. Can you attend?

If you cannot attend you can show your solidarity by contacting the White House and asking that the many psychologically wounded of the 3rd Armored Cav not be redeployed.  There is really no getting around it: they are asking us to save their lives.  Anyone who has ever uttered the words "Support the Troops," your time has come.

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THE NEWS NOT IN THE NEWS: Soldiers, veterans and families protesting outside Ft. Hood, nation's largest military base, all month



U.S. Soldiers Shooting Random Vehicles in Iraq

Once again, as many soldiers who have turned against the occupation have stated, these are not isolated nor even unexpected events.  This is the nature of a brutal military occupation in which the enemy is the entire populace and the goal is control of resources or to maintain geopolitical fragmentation of a state.  

Outspoken Iraq veteran Ethan McCord says of another incident caught on video, of an Apache helicopter attack in 2007 on a wounded man and those trying to help him, words that are applicable to the entire occupation (I refuse to call this a war.  A war has two sides with armies facing each other who have roughly the same firepower.  This is a slaughter.)

McCord says:

"Instead of people being upset at a few soldiers in a video who were doing what they were trained to do, I think people need to be more upset at the system that trained these soldiers. They are doing exactly what the Army wants them to do."

Part of the brainwashing in the Army which teaches the dehumanization of an occupied population are words sung in basic training as you run or march:

we went to the market where all the hadji shop,
pulled out our machetes and we began to chop,

we went to the playground where all the hadji play,
pulled out our machine guns and we began to spray,

we went to the mosque where all the hadji pray,
threw in a hand grenade, and blew them all away.

Now as Obama draws down what is being called the "rebranded occupation" to the 50,000-troop permanent American presence, bolstered by what Jeremy Scahill calls the "coming surge" in private security contractors, we have the power, the many who worked for him and had high hopes, to demand the country be given back fully to the Iraqis.  We might not like the geopolitical outcome (a Shiite government leaning towards Iran) but it will tell the world we have renounced Bush foreign policy and are ready to make amends.  Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) has called for prosecution of Bush administration officials for "conspiring to manipulate intelligence in order to justify the U.S. invasion of Iraq."

IVAW alleges that Bush administration officials conspired to create the perception that Saddam Hussein presented an imminent threat to the United States in order to bypass an uncooperative U.N. Security Council and secure a congressional Authorization for Use of Military Force against Iraq.  The growing body of evidence, including testimony from British officials in the ongoing Chilcot Inquiry, indicates that Bush officials could be charged with criminal offenses against the United States and violations of international law for making false claims to national self-defense.

Seumus Milne of the UK Guardian writes:

The horrific cost of the war to the Iraqi people...and the continuing fear and misery of daily life make a mockery of claims that the US surge of 2007 "worked" and that Iraq has come good after all.

It's not only the hundreds of thousands of dead and 4 million refugees. After seven years of US (and British) occupation, tens of thousands are still tortured and imprisoned without trial, health and education has dramatically deteriorated, the position of women has gone horrifically backwards, trade unions are effectively banned, Baghdad is divided by 1,500 checkpoints and blast walls, electricity supplies have all but broken down and people pay with their lives for speaking out.

Please sign the Open Letter to the Iraqi People, authored by former soldiers in Iraq, and work to demand from your congressman that this country be given back to its people. The letter reads in part:

"We did unto you what we would not want done to us. More and more Americans are taking responsibility for what was done in our name. Though we have acted with cold hearts far too many times, we have not forgotten our actions towards you. Our heavy hearts still hold hope that we can restore inside our country the acknowledgment of your humanity, that we were taught to deny...."

Do not hate the soldiers in this video.  Pity them.  We have all played a part in this.  Like the soldiers who have stepped forward to renounce their actions, we can still step forward too.  In The Kiterunner (recommended) the narrator is told in a mysterious message from his past, "There is a way to be good again."






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