The US Defense Department is pushing for a compromise plan to maintain nearly 8,000 American troops in Afghanistan after the scheduled 2014 drawdown of US-led forces in the war-torn nation.
The plan further intends to significantly reduce American troop presence in Afghanistan over the following two years after the “phased” drawdown scheme, calling for slashing the number of troops in the country to between 3,500 and 6,000 by 2016, The Washington Post reports, citing senior US government and military authorities.
The plan, according to the report, represents a bid to “strike a compromise” between senior Pentagon commanders, who called for 10,000 US soldiers to remain in the country after 2014, and several top civilian advisers to President Barack Obama, who have advocated a much smaller long-term troop presence.
Another option under serious consideration called for even greater reduction of US troops in the country to below 1,000 by early 2017, “with most of the personnel operating from the giant US Embassy in Kabul.”
Under the option, according to senior military authorities cited in the report, elite Special Operations commandos would not be based in Afghanistan after 2016. Instead, they would be flown into the country from US warships in the area or bases in nearby countries “to conduct counterterrorism missions.”
Afghan President Hamid Karzai, meanwhile, has expressed his support for a continued US military presence in his country although the decision “and the provision of immunity to American forces” may require the approval of the nation’s legislators.
Nearly 66,000 US soldiers are currently deployed in Afghanistan, but the Obama administration is expected to announce soon the number of troops that will be brought back this year as part of its phased drawdown approach.
The Obama Administration recently underwent its first U.N. treaty body review, and the resulting concluding observations made public yesterday should be a cause for alarm. The observations, issued by independent U.N. experts tasked with monitoring compliance with the international treaty on the rights of children in armed conflict (formally known as the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict or “OPAC”), paint a dark picture of the treatment of juveniles by the U.S. military in Afghanistan: one where hundreds of children have been killed in attacks and air strikes by U.S. military forces, and those responsible for the killings have not been held to account even as the number of children killed doubled from 2010 to 2011; where children under 18 languish in detention facilities without access to legal or full humanitarian assistance, or adequate resources to aid in their recovery and reintegration as required under international law. Some children were abused in U.S. detention facilities, and others are faced with the prospect of torture and ill-treatment if they are transferred to Afghan custody.
By ratifying OPAC in 2002, the U.S. committed to guaranteeing basic protections to children in armed conflict zones, and to submit periodic reports on the implementation of its treaty obligations to the U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child. We wrote about the latest U.S. report, released in November, which revealed that over 200 children have been held in U.S. custody in Afghanistan since 2008, some for lengthy periods of time. During its review of the U.S. on January 28, the Committee posed critical questions about the treatment of children by the U.S. military and issued recommendations to remedy these human rights violations.
These recommendations include taking “concrete and firm precautionary measures [to] prevent indiscriminate use of force” particularly against children, and ensuring all allegations of unlawful use of force are “investigated in a transparent, timely and independent manner” and that “children and families victims of attacks and air strikes do always receive redress and compensation.” In regard to the detention of juveniles, the Committee urged the U.S. to ensure that all children under 18 are detained separately from adults and guaranteed access to free and independent legal assistance as well as an independent complaints mechanism. Importantly, considering the previous U.S. response to the Committee revealed that the average age of children detained by U.S. forces is only 16 years old and the average length of stay for juveniles in U.S. military custody has been approximately one year, the Committee recommended children be detained only “as measures of last resort and for the shortest possible period of time and that in all cases alternatives to detention are given priority.”
The Committee also stressed that allegations of torture and other forms of mistreatment must be investigated and the perpetrators brought to justice, and that no child should be transferred to Afghan custody if “there are substantial grounds for the danger of being subject to torture and ill treatment.” The Committee specifically mentioned the case of Omar Kadr, a former child soldier who was detained by U.S. forces at the age of 15 and was subjected to torture and a systematic program of harsh and highly coercive interrogations at the American prisons at Guantánamo Bay and Bagram.
The U.S. government’s human rights obligations do not end with the release of a periodic report or the completion of a treaty body review. In order to give meaning to the words of the children’s rights treaty, the U.S. must work diligently to implement the Committee’s recommendations and ensure that our military forces, intelligence agents, and other government officials treat children in the war zones of Afghanistan and elsewhere in accordance with international law.
- A quarter of countries supported CIA in torturing, detaining individuals: report (alethonews.wordpress.com)
There is a high probability that US sanctions against Iran have been violated by its own army. Part of the $1.55 billion in fuel the US bought from Turkmenistan for the Afghan army in the last five years may have originated in Iran.
A report by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) suggested that “despite actions taken by DOD to prevent the purchase of Iranian fuel with US funds, risks remain that US economic sanctions could [have been] violated” from 2007 to 2012.
Most of the fuel for domestic Afghan consumption comes from neighboring Iran. Because of the US sanctions on Tehran restricting the trade of Iranian oil and petroleum products, the ISAF has been required to abide by the regulations and buy petrol from eight Afghan-owned companies that deliver petroleum from Turkmenistan, which borders both Iran and Afghanistan.
The SIGAR report also acknowledged there are no plausible oversight mechanisms to make sure Iranian petroleum products are not included in future fuel purchases.
Turkmenistan is a major regional oil producer, which also trades for petroleum products made in Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Russia and Iran. Petrol vendors in Turkmenistan use flexible supply schemes, meaning that fuel of various origins could potentially be blended together.
In response to a draft of SIGAR report, the US Embassy in Kabul stated that “it is possible that if blending is taking place in Turkmenistan it could contain some Iranian fuel,” but refused to admit that fuel imported from Russia could also be blended with Iranian fuel prior to its import into Afghanistan.
“All fuel imports carry a ‘verified Fuel Passport’ from the refinery, which provides information on the origin, quantity, quality, and specifications of the fuel,” the embassy explained.
“Suppliers are unlikely to blend Iranian fuel, or any other product, with other sourced fuel because of the potential that blending could cause product deviation from specification standards and potentially cause a rejection of the entire shipment,” the embassy said.
In 2012, the Pentagon reportedly spent over $800 million on imports from Turkmenistan, most likely for fuel purchases.
The Central Intelligence Agency’s (CIA) drone campaign in Pakistan will not be bound by new counterterrorism rules that the Obama administration is finalizing.
The rules, referred to as the “playbook” by officials, are supposed to establish parameters for killing overseas threats. Once completed, the playbook will detail how names are added to assassination lists, which legal principles justify the killing of U.S. citizens, and what offices must sign off before drone strikes are carried out.
But the CIA will be exempted from the rules for at least a year. Agency leaders objected to being bound by the playbook, citing the pressing need to continue bombing Taliban and al-Qaeda targets in Pakistan before the U.S. withdraws from neighboring Afghanistan, where the drones are based.
Greg Miller of The Washington Post wrote that the drafting of “the playbook was nearly derailed late last year by disagreements among the State Department, the CIA and the Pentagon on the criteria for lethal strikes and other issues. Granting the CIA a temporary exemption for its Pakistan operations was described as a compromise that allowed officials to move forward with other parts of the playbook.”
Critics of the government assassination program view the playbook as indicative of the institutionalization of the U.S. killing policy. It is “a step in exactly the wrong direction,” Hina Shamsi, director of the American Civil Liberty Union’s National Security Project, told the Post. She called it “a further bureaucratization of the CIA’s paramilitary killing program.”
Meet the new boss who, upon his inauguration, declared that the right to life is unalienable. Let me be clear, that does not mean he cannot take yours.
In fact, he runs through a list of men, women, and children on Tuesdays, hung over from inaugurations or not, and picks whom to murder and murders them.
We are not supposed to call it murder, of course, because it is properly assassination. Except that no public figures are being assassinated; 98% of those killed are not targeted at all; some are targeted for suspicious behavior without knowing their names; one type of suspicious behavior is the act of retrieving the dead and wounded from a previous strike; and those targeted are not targeted for politics but for resisting illegal occupations. Moreover, an assassination is a type of murder.
We’re not supposed to call it murder, nonetheless, because it sounds more objective to call it killing. But murder is a type of killing, specifically unlawfully killing a person especially with malice aforethought. Killing by accident is not murder and not what the president is doing. Killing legally is not murder and not what the president is doing – at least not as far as anyone knows or according to any interpretation of law put forward. Killing indirectly by encouraging poverty or environmental destruction or denial of healthcare may be things the president is doing, but they are not murder and not drone wars.
Imagine if a non-president went through a list of everyone in your local elementary school, picked out whom to kill, and ordered them killed. You would call it murder. You would call it mass-murder. You would call it conspiracy to commit mass murder. Why would electing that mass murderer president change anything? Why would moving the victims abroad change anything?
KILL ANYTHING THAT MOVES
Kill Anything That Moves is the title of an important new book from Nick Turse, covering the mass-murdering enterprise known in Vietnam as the American War, and in the United States as the Vietnam War. Turse documents that policy decisions handed down from the top led consistently, over a period of years, to the ongoing slaughter of millions of civilians in Vietnam.
Much of the killing was done by hand or with guns or artillery, but the lion’s share came in the form of 3.4 million combat sorties flown by US and South Vietnamese aircraft between 1965 and 1972. Air strikes are President Obama’s primary instrument of foreign relations as well; he ordered 20,000 air strikes in his first term.
The well-known My Lai massacre in Vietnam was not an aberration, but an almost typical incident and by no means the worst of them. Turse documents a pattern of ongoing atrocities so pervasive that one is compelled to begin viewing the war itself as one large atrocity. Something similar could be done for the endless war on everywhere that we are currently living through. Scattered atrocities and scandals in Afghanistan and Iraq are interpreted as freak occurrences having nothing to do with the general thrust of the war. And yet they are its essence.
Kill anything that moves, was an order given to US troops in Vietnam indoctrinated with racist hatred for the Vietnamese. “360 degree rotational fire” was a command on the streets of Iraq given to US troops similarly conditioned to hate, and similarly worn down with physical exhaustion.
Dead children in Vietnam resulted in comments like “Tough …, they grow up to be VC.” One of the US helicopter killers in Iraq heard in the Collateral Murder video says of dead children, “Well it’s their fault for bringing their kids into a battle.”
In Vietnam anyone dead was the enemy, and sometimes weapons would be planted on them. In drone wars, any dead males are militants, and in Iraq and Afghanistan weapons have often been planted on victims.
The US military during the Vietnam War shifted from keeping prisoners toward murdering prisoners, just as the Endless War on Everywhere has shifted from incarceration toward murder with the change in president from Bush to Obama.
In Vietnam, as in Iraq, rules of engagement were broadened until the rules allowed shooting at anything that moved. In Vietnam, as in Iraq, the US military sought to win people over by terrorizing them. In Vietnam, as in Afghanistan, whole villages were eliminated.
In Vietnam, refugees suffered in horrible camps, while in Afghanistan children are rapidly freezing to death in a refugee camp near Kabul.
Torture was common in Vietnam, including water-boarding. But it wasn’t at that time yet depicted in a Hollywood movie as a positive occurrence.
Napalm, white phosphorus, cluster bombs, and other widely despised and banned weapons were used in Vietnam as in the current war.
Vast environmental destruction was part of both wars.
Gang rape was a part of both wars.
The mutilation of corpses was common in both wars.
Bulldozers flattened people’s villages in Vietnam, not unlike what US-made bulldozers do now to Palestine.
Mass murders of civilians in Vietnam, as in Afghanistan, tended to be driven by a desire for revenge.
New weaponry allowed US troops in Vietnam to shoot long distances, resulting in a habit of shooting first and investigating later, a habit now developed for drone strikes.
Self-appointed teams on the ground and in helicopters went “hunting” for natives to kill in Vietnam as in Afghanistan.
And of course, Vietnamese leaders were targeted for assassination.
Then, as now, the atrocities and “war crimes” were committed with impunity as part of the crime that was the war itself. Or perhaps it would be more accurate to say: because there was impunity then, it remains today.
Turse discovered that the military investigated numerous accusations, documented incidents, and then buried the reports. So did others in the government. So did the media, including Newsweek which buried a major investigation. Those who engaged in that cover-up don’t have on their hands the blood that had already been spilled, but do have on their hands the blood that has been spilled since in similar wars that might have been prevented. … Full article
In the spring of 1944, in the quiet little town of Alcolu, South Carolina, two young girls, Betty June Binnicker, age 11, and Mary Emma Thames, age 8, were brutally murdered while picking flowers along a railroad track. Their bodies were found in a nearby water filled ditch. The cause of death was determined to be multiple blows to their skulls with a metal railroad spike. A Mr. George Stinney was soon arrested for the murders. While there was no physical evidence or eyewitness accounts linking the defendant to the crime, unfortunately for Mr. Stinney, the two girls were white. He was black.
Two white police officers were able to get a confession out of Mr. Stinney within an hour, behind closed doors. It was the only evidence offered up during his trial, a trial that was held in one day and lasted only two and a half hours. It was attended by 1,500 people, all of them white. Blacks were not allowed in the courtroom. Mr. Stinney, his family having been driven from their small town, faced the trial alone. Council for the defense offered no evidence on its client’s behalf, and it requested no psychiatric evaluation of the defendant. A guilty verdict was reached after only 10 minutes of deliberation by the (all white male) jury. No recommendation for mercy was given. Had Mr. Stinney’s lawyer filed a simple one sentence appeal, the execution would have been automatically stayed for at least a year. But this was impossible due to the fact that Mr. Stinney did not see his attorney again from the time he left the court. Furthermore, his attorney never spoke to any members of the defendant’s family, let alone inform them that they had the right to appeal the death sentence. Just 81 days after his arrest, on June 16, 1944, Mr. Stinney would walk into the execution chamber.
There is one more tragic element to this already tragic story. Mr. George Junius Stinney Jr. was just 14 years old when he was put to death. He was the youngest person (legally) executed in the United States in the 20th century.
Being small for his age, weighing just 95 pounds (approximately 43 kilograms) and only five feet one inch tall (approximately 1.5 meters), it was with great difficulty that the death sentenced was carried out. But carried out it was. His small body was propped up with books in order to get him to fit properly in the electric chair (the original designers having carelessly overlooked the fact that one day their device might be used to execute a small child), allowing for an electrode to be attached to his right leg.
One commentator reported that George said nothing as the mask was lowered over his face. But after the first 2,400 volts passed through the boy’s small body “the death mask slipped from his face and his eyes were open when two additional shots of 1,200 and 500 volts followed.” George’s head “went up and the mask came of his face … and saliva and all was coming out of his mouth and tears from his eyes.”
The Governor, Olin Johnson, had received hundreds of letters and telegrams asking for leniency for the young boy. But facing a primary election in July, the Governor was not inclined to grant clemency. One telegram compared the execution of a child to something that Adolf Hitler would do. A stinging and bitter accusation considering that American troops had just landed on the beaches of Normandy ten days earlier in the D-Day invasion to liberate France from Nazi occupation and terror. On that one day alone, 9,000 Allied soldiers would die or be wounded fighting the Germans.
It can be argued that the execution of a 14 year old child was a social aberration from a bygone era. A simple anomaly. An isolated case that “fell through the cracks.” A repulsive event from a period when America was still suffering from racial and social ignorance. Surely, as a society, the United States has progressed far beyond the days of when it tolerated the State sanctioned execution of children, has it not?
Two pilots are sitting in an air-conditioned windowless room in New Mexico. Before them sit an array of 14 computer monitors and four keyboards. 6,250 miles away (about 10,000 kilometers) they are controlling a Predator drone that is circling lazily in a figure eight pattern over Afghanistan. They are observing a crude house made of mud when the order is given to launch a laser guided Hellfire missile at the target. With just seconds to go till impact, a small child walks out from behind one of the corners of the structure. A flash on the control screen confirms the impact and explosion, with parts of the structure collapsing and the child disappearing.
“Did we just kill a kid?” the co-pilot asks the pilot.
“Yeah, I guess that was a kid,” the pilot replies.
Confirmation as to whether or not a missile strike had just been carried out on a child was requested. “No. That was a dog,” comes the anonymous response from a military command center.
The pilots review the video of the drone strike that had just taken place.
A dog on two legs?
One of the pilots is no longer in the Air Force, declining to renew his enlistment contract when it was up. After 6,000 flight hours and six years of military service he says “I saw men, women and children die during that time. I never thought I would kill that many people. In fact, I thought I couldn’t kill anyone at all.” He has since been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder by doctors with the Veterans’ Administration.
While the above incident could be deemed an “accident,” apparently the targeted murder of children is now accepted US military policy.
Lt. Col. Marion “Ced” Carrington, Commander of 1st Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, states, “It kind of opens our aperture. In addition to looking for military-age males, it’s looking for children with potential hostile intent” as well. While the Lt. Col would not elaborate on what exactly are the rules of engagement when encountering potential child combatants, reassuringly he tells us that he advises the soldiers serving under him to use “courageous restraint.”
Apparently this “courageous restraint” was lacking on October 14, 2012, when US Marines operating in Helmand province requested, and got clearance for, an airstrike on “shadowy figures” thought to be in the process of setting up an improvised explosive device (IED). The assailants killed in the strike turned out to be three children who were 12, 10 and 8 years old.
The International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), a part of NATO and the organization that is nominally in command of the war (the reality being, of course, that it is a US led affair), said that it may have “accidentally killed three innocent Afghan civilians.” Family members of the victims reported that the children were sent to gather dung, which is used for fuel.
America’s first war in Iraq and its associated sanctions are believed to have resulted in the deaths of over half a million children. America’s second war in Iraq is believed to have resulted in the deaths of over 600,000 Iraqis (most of them between the ages of 15 and 44). America’s targeted drone attacks in the Tribal Regions between Afghanistan and Pakistan have reportedly killed between 474 and 881 civilians, including 176 children
If these were the actions of China, Russia, Iran, or any other country on Earth, we would be able to see them clearly for what they are. War crimes and crimes against humanity of the highest order. We would also realize that they are the actions of a society that is in moral decline.
Why it is impossible for the vast majority of Americans to see this is incomprehensible.
Acknowledgement: The author would sincerely like to thank Professor Bryan A. Stevenson, founder and Executive Director of the Equal Justice Initiative, for making him aware of the story of George Stinney.
Tom McNamara is an Assistant Professor at the ESC Rennes School of Business, France, and a Visiting Lecturer at the French National Military Academy at Saint-Cyr, Coëtquidan, France.
“Afghan kids recruited for suicide attacks” by Joe Gould and John Ryan, July 18, 2012, Army Times. Accessed at:
“Attempts to clear name of 14-year-old boy who was executed in South Carolina 67 years ago” Reporter: Mark Potter, Anchor: Brian Williams, NBC Nightly News 6:30 PM EST (NBC News Transcripts), October 4, 2011.
“Attorney Decries Juvenile Executions (From Young Blood: Juvenile Justice and the Death Penalty, P 159-165, 1995, Shirley Dicks, ed. – See NCJ-166057)” by D. Bruck, 1995. Accessed at:
“Columbia Journal; Prison Lures Them In (as Tourists)” February 22, 1994, The New York Times. Accessed at:
“D-Day June 6, 1944” United States Army Official Homepage. Accessed at:
“Do Targeted Killings Work?” by Daniel L. Byman, Senior Fellow Foreign Policy, Saban Center for Middle East Policy, July 14, 2009, The Brookings Institute. Accessed at: http://www.brookings.edu/research/opinions/2009/07/14-targeted-killings-byman
“Iraq Sanctions Kill Children, U.N. Reports” by Barbara Crossette, December 1, 1995, The New York Times. Accessed at:
“Living Under Drones: Death, Injury, and Trauma to Civilians From US Drone Practices in Pakistan” the International Human Rights and Conflict Resolution Clinic (Stanford Law School) and the Global Justice Clinic (NYU School of Law), September 2012. Accessed at:
“Questions Raised in Deaths of Afghan Children in Coalition Strike” by Alissa J. Rubin, October 17, 2012, The New York Times. Accessed at:
“Some Afghan kids aren’t bystanders” by Dan Lamothe and Joe Gould, December 3, 2012, Military Times. Accessed at:
“Study Claims Iraq’s ‘Excess’ Death Toll Has Reached 655,000” by David Brown, October 11, 2006, The Washington Post. Accessed at:
“The Human Cost of the War in Iraq: A Mortality Study, 2002-2006” by G. Burnham, S. Doocy, E. Dzeng, R. Lafta and L. Roberts, with the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University, Al Mustansiriya University and the Center for International Studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, October 11, 2006. Accessed at:
“The Merciful Executioner: Spectacles of Sexual Danger and National Reunification in the George Stinney Case, 1944” by Annette Louise Bickford, University of Toronto, Southern Anthropologist Vol. 35, No. 1, 2010
“The Woes of an American Drone Operator” by Nicola Abé, December 14, 2012, Der Spiegel. Accessed at:
“War in Iraq: Humanitarian Relief Efforts” April 11, 2003, The Washington Post. Accessed at:
“When Something Wicked This Way Comes: Evolving Standards of Indecency – Thompson and Stanford Revisited” by J. L. Whitney, 46 Clev. St. L. Rev. 801 (1998)
“World: Middle East Iraqis blame sanctions for child deaths” by Jeremy Bowen, August 12, 1999, BBC. Accessed at:
Photo – George Stinney, 1944, executed at age 14 years old (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
- US sets records with number of drone strikes in Afghanistan this year (rt.com)
- Newtown kids v Yemenis and Pakistanis: what explains the disparate reactions? [2 of 2] (wondersofpakistan.wordpress.com)
Commander of US-led forces in Afghanistan General John R. Allen (file photo)
Commander of the US-led forces in Afghanistan General John R. Allen has offered plans that would keep thousands of American troops in the war-torn country after Washington’s planned 2014 withdrawal.
Allen has submitted three plans to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta with troop levels ranging between 6,000 and 20,000, the New York Times cited a senior Pentagon official as saying on Wednesday.
General Allen’s options reportedly offer US involvement in security issues in Afghanistan and advising Afghan military forces.
With 6,000 troops, it is expected that the US mission in Afghanistan would largely rely on Special Operations commandos who would engage in targeted killings and assassination missions, with limited logistical support and training for Afghan forces.
The 10,000-strong mission is expected to engage in training Afghan security personnel; while with 20,000 troops Washington would add some conventional army forces to patrol in certain areas.
US President Barack Obama is supposed to discuss the options with his Afghan counterpart, Hamid Karzai, during his visit to the White House next week.
The United States, which currently has about 66,000 troops stationed in Afghanistan, led the invasion of the country in 2001, under the pretext of eradicating Taliban forces and bringing stability to the country.
However, torn apart by a war that has lasted over a decade, Afghanistan is still dealing with untamed violence, as well as rising insecurity topped by social problems.
Meanwhile, the Pentagon, the White House and US generals based in Afghanistan keep providing contradictory information on the composition, tasks and the size of the contingent that would remain in Afghanistan beyond the 2014 deadline.
- ‘US will maintain military presence in Afghanistan beyond 2014′ (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Prince Harry ‘kills innocent afghans’, according to former Afghanistan prime minister (dailyrecord.co.uk)
An analyst says America and its allies have planned to leave a residual force of more than 10,000 troops in Afghanistan passed 2014, contrary to the agreement.
In the background of this, American pilots are currently under special training ready to be deployed to Afghanistan in coming months in what appears to be a renewed build up by certain US forces. 66,000 US troops are stationed in Afghanistan. America is expected to honor a 2014 agreed deadline to withdraw from the country.
Press TV has interviewed Mr. Mohammad Daoud Abadi, Chairman of the Afghanistan National Peace Council, Los Angeles about this issue. The following is an approximate transcription of the interview.
Press TV: We see American pilots training in conditions similar to that of Afghanistan. Are we preparing for a longer stay of US troops in Afghanistan do you think?
Abadi: Thank you for inviting me again I appreciate it. Before I answer that question I’d like to thank Press TV for it’s worldwide media presence and being honest on the matters, we do appreciate that very, very much.
In response to your question I must say that what we hear from the US government is that they’re planning to leave a 6,000 to 9,000 fighting force in Afghanistan after 2014. That plus another 5,000 from NATO allies.
What I’m hearing – I hope it’s not correct, but what I’m hearing from the media and from different sources is that the US has planned to leave these 6,000 soldiers in Baghram airport, Kandahar in the south and Jalalabad in the East.
They are planning to have the Spaniards in Hira and Shindand airport, which is close to the Iranian border, to the Italians and on the North the Mazar e Sharif, the Germans still be staying.
To be honest and to look at it from a technical point of view this residual force will not be a force to really do the terrorist war or against terrorist activities because let’s say that if they are in Baghram airport and they fly from Baghram airport to Kandahar to do an operation, it is a 2 hour flight of 350 kilometers distance – it takes two hours for a helicopter to get there.
So in general this residual force is there for some other purpose other than what is claimed. Therefore this policy as I have said, this time the Pentagon will fail on this again and I don’t think this is something that they can count on.
Press TV: Just how much has President Hamid Karzai been a president to the Afghan people and tried to help efforts to oust the US occupiers from Afghanistan?
Abadi: Based on yesterday’s report Mr. Karzai is coming to Washington in early January and they will hopefully be talking about future issues in Afghanistan as well as the matter of residual forces.
President Karzai is going to make the biggest mistake of his life if he agrees to residual forces because that will mean the continuation of war in Afghanistan.
As I have said before the Mujaheddin of Afghanistan have put this condition even at the 19th of December meeting in Paris – this was the first condition that both sides the Taliban and Jamiat e Islami of Afghanistan put on the table.
Therefore what Mr. Karzai is going to sign with them based on their immunity issues, that is not going to work. As for US forces they are defeated now they were defeated then.
The United States says that its military has detained more than 200 teenagers in war-torn Afghanistan since 2008.
The US Department of State revealed that the Afghan teenagers were held at a military prison next to Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan and a few of them are still imprisoned at the Detention Facility in Parwan.
The figure was released in a report sent every four years to the United Nations regarding the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
The US military held the teenagers to “prevent a combatant from returning to the battlefield,” the report claimed.
Jamil Dakwar, the director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s human rights program, said on Friday that if the average age is 16, “This means it is highly likely that some children were as young as 14 or 13 years old when they were detained by US forces.”
Dakwar also criticized the length of the detentions, which the State Department report said was one year on average.
“This is an extraordinarily unacceptably long period of time that exposes children in detention to greater risk of physical and mental abuse, especially if they are denied access to the protections guaranteed to them under international law.”
Tina M. Foster, the executive director of the International Justice Network which represents adult and juvenile Bagram detainees, said, “I’ve represented children as young as 11 or 12 who have been at Bagram.”
“I question the number of 200, because there are thousands of detainees at Parwan,” Foster stated on Friday.
“There are other children whose parents have said these children are under 18 at the time of their capture, and the US doesn’t allow the detainees or their families to contest their age.”
The United States and its allies invaded Afghanistan in 2001 on the pretext of combating terrorism. The offensive removed the Taliban from power, but years into the invasion, insecurity remains in the country.
British forces in Afghanistan have been accused of killing four boys in Afghanistan’s southern province of Helmand in October.
According to a report published by the Guardian on Tuesday, a group of lawyers recently sent a letter to British Defense Secretary Philip Hammond, demanding that the UK government investigate the alleged killings.
The lawyers, acting on behalf of the relatives of two of the victims, said that during an operation in the village of Loi Bagh in the Nad Ali district of Helmand on October 18, the UK troops shot dead the Afghan boys while they were drinking tea.
The victims were identified as 18-year-old Fazel Mohammed, Naik Mohammed, 16, Mohammed Tayeb, 14, and 12-year-old Ahmed Shah.
The British troops were on a joint operation with Afghan forces.
“We submit that all of the victims were under the control and authority of the UK at the times of the deaths and ill-treatment,” the letter to Hammond read.
“The four boys killed all appear to have been deliberately targeted at close range by British forces. All were killed in a residential area, over which UK forces clearly had the requisite degree of control and authority.”
Major Adam Wojack, a spokesperson for the foreign forces in Afghanistan, has confirmed the operation. However, he has claimed that four “Taliban enemies in action” were killed.
The letter also includes a statement by the relatives of the victims, rejecting “any suggestion that any of the four teenagers killed were in any way connected” to the Taliban. “All four were innocent teenagers who posed no threat whatsoever to Afghan or British forces.”
- British forces accused of killing four teenagers in Afghan operation (guardian.co.uk)
In the United States, the dominant narrative about the use of drones in Pakistan is of a surgically precise and effective tool that makes the U.S. safer by enabling “targeted killing” of terrorists, with minimal downsides or collateral impacts.
This narrative is false.
Those are the understated opening words of a disturbing, though unsurprising, nine-month study of the Obama administration’s official, yet unacknowledged, remote-controlled bombing campaign in the North Waziristan region of Pakistan, near Afghanistan. The report, “Living Under Drones,” is a joint effort by the New York University School of Law’s Global Justice Clinic and Stanford Law School’s International Human Rights and Conflict Resolution Clinic.
The NYU/Stanford report goes beyond reporting estimates of the civilian casualties inflicted by the deadly and illegal U.S. campaign. It also documents the hell the Pakistanis endure under President Barack Obama’s policy, which includes a “kill list” from which he personally selects targets. That hell shouldn’t be hard to imagine. Picture yourself living in an area routinely visited from the air by pilotless aircraft carrying Hellfire missiles. This policy is hardly calculated to win friends for the United States.
Defenders of the U.S. campaign say that militants in Pakistan threaten American troops in Afghanistan as well as Pakistani civilians. Of course, there is an easy way to protect American troops: bring them home. The 11-year-long Afghan war holds no benefits whatever for the security of the American people. On the contrary, it endangers Americans by creating hostility and promoting recruitment for anti-American groups.
The official U.S. line is that America’s invasion of Afghanistan was intended to eradicate al-Qaeda and the Taliban, who harbored them. Yet the practical effect of the invasion and related policies, including the invasion of Iraq and the bombing in Yemen and Somalia, has been to facilitate the spread of al-Qaeda and like-minded groups.
U.S. policy is a textbook case of precisely how to magnify the very threat that supposedly motivated the policy. The Obama administration now warns of threats from Libya — where the U.S. consulate was attacked and the ambassador killed — and Syria. Thanks to U.S. policy, al-Qaeda in Afghanistan spawned al-Qaeda in Iraq, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, and al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb.
If that’s success, what would failure look like?
Regarding Pakistani civilians, the report states,
While civilian casualties are rarely acknowledged by the U.S. government, there is significant evidence that U.S. drone strikes have injured and killed civilians.… It is difficult to obtain data on strike casualties because of U.S. efforts to shield the drone program from democratic accountability, compounded by the obstacles to independent investigation of strikes in North Waziristan. The best currently available public aggregate data on drone strikes are provided by The Bureau of Investigative Journalism (TBIJ), an independent journalist organization. TBIJ reports that from June 2004 through mid-September 2012, available data indicate that drone strikes killed 2,562–3,325 people in Pakistan, of whom 474–881 were civilians, including 176 children. TBIJ reports that these strikes also injured an additional 1,228–1,362 individuals.
The Obama administration denies that it has killed civilians, but bear in mind that it considers any male of military age a “militant.” This is not to be taken seriously.
The report goes on,
U.S. drone strike policies cause considerable and under-accounted-for harm to the daily lives of ordinary civilians, beyond death and physical injury.Drones hover twenty-four hours a day over communities in northwest Pakistan, striking homes, vehicles, and public spaces without warning. Their presence terrorizes men, women, and children, giving rise to anxiety and psychological trauma among civilian communities. Those living under drones have to face the constant worry that a deadly strike may be fired at any moment, and the knowledge that they are powerless to protect themselves.
It’s even worse than it sounds:
The U.S. practice of striking one area multiple times, and evidence that it has killed rescuers, makes both community members and humanitarian workers afraid or unwilling to assist injured victims. Some community members shy away from gathering in groups.
How can Americans tolerate this murder and trauma committed in their name? But don’t expect a discussion of this in Monday night’s foreign-policy debate. Mitt Romney endorses America’s drone terrorism.