As usual on Veteran’s Day, we are urged to honor our “heroes” and salute their martial courage, while ignoring the murderous imperial role they play in “fighting for their country.”
This really cannot be done. A professional army is by definition an organized band that kills on command. This can only be justified on the grounds that its mission is purely defensive, designed to repel invasion of the national territory the troops are sworn to protect and defend.
But this is hardly the role of the U.S. armed forces today, when Washington maintains hundreds of major military bases around the world, and thousands of smaller military installations, all of them dedicated to maintaining an economic and political status quo increasingly protested by popular majorities seeking a freer, more democratic world. In short, in spite of its multicultural and bi-gender facade, the U.S. military is an anti-democratic force. And there is nothing heroic about suppressing democracy.
Yes, our troops often display spectacular physical courage under fire. But so did soldiers defending Nazism and Communism, Japanese soldiers defending a brutal empire, and Confederate soldiers fighting to preserve chattel slavery. We do not ordinarily consider these soldiers heroes, no matter how great their martial courage, because we rate the missions they were sent on as illegitimate or evil.
We cannot have it both ways. If military service is value neutral, then it does not matter what cause soldiers fight for, we must salute their courage under fire. But if the value of physical courage is inextricably bound up with the legitimacy of the mission a soldier is sent on, then we must withhold hero status from imperial soldiers who fight – not to defend us from evil – but merely to preserve and extend the hegemony of empire. In the latter case, their bravery is stained and diminished by the ignoble cause they have been commanded to serve.
Actually, these days a soldier does not even have to demonstrate physical courage to be designated a hero. Cheap praise is heaped on our soldiers merely for being in the military, quite apart from anything they may do on a field of battle. This is directly related to a steady decline in public support for imperial military missions, which the architects of empire resist by equating anti-war sentiment with hostility to soldiers. “Support our troops” actually means “support the mission,” no matter how illegitimate.
This we must not do. The grotesque barbarity displayed at Abu Ghraib – hardly ancient history – was neither heroic, nor accidental. In fact, it was deliberately sanctioned policy, extensively pre-tested by Israel, to associate all resistance to foreign invasion with sexual humiliation. In short, it was an attempt to make legitimate heroism impossible for Iraqis, to stain public memory of resistance with images of utter disgrace. To invoke “support our troops” in this context is to embrace complete moral degeneracy.
A better option would be to widely publicize and critique the civilian leaders who craft such policies, and degrade our troops in the name of honoring them. “Support our troops – dispatch Donald Rumsfeld to jail,” should have been a national slogan years ago. Today, we have just as much reason to call for the same for Barack Obama – our first African-American president, who overthrew a Libyan government with the highest standard of living in Africa, leaving the country to the mercy of murderous and plundering gangs.
Service? Honor? Respect? What have any of these words to do with the role of the U.S. military in the world today? What is honorable about occupying Afghanistan in the service of a government so corrupt it makes the Taliban seem preferable? How is respect cultivated by mass murder of civilians by drones? What kind of “service” is involved in establishing an international network of torture centers in defiance of international law and basic morality?
Yes, let’s honor our troops, not by continuing the atrocities that degrade them, but by abolishing the imperial military and developing a real national defense policy to replace it.
Ann Jones’ new book, They Were Soldiers: How the Wounded Return from America’s Wars: The Untold Story, is devastating, and almost incomprehensibly so when one considers that virtually all of the death and destruction in U.S. wars is on the other side. Statistically, what happens to U.S. troops is almost nothing. In human terms, it’s overwhelming.
Know a young person considering joining the military? Give them this book.
Know a person not working to end war? Give them this book.
Jones presents the choice before us in the clearest terms in the introduction:
Contrary to common opinion in the United States, war is not inevitable. Nor has it always been with us. War is a human invention — an organized, deliberate action of an anti-social kind — and in the long span of human life on Earth, a fairly recent one. For more than 99 percent of the time that humans have lived on this planet, most of them have never made war. Many languages don’t even have a word for it. Turn off CNN and read anthropology. You’ll see.
What’s more, war is obsolete. Most nations don’t make war anymore, except when coerced by the United States to join some spurious ‘coalition.’ The earth is so small, and our time here so short. No other nation on the planet makes war as often, as long, as forcefully, as expensively, as destructively, as wastefully, as senselessly, or as unsuccessfully as the United States. No other nation makes war its business.
Jones begins her book with that distinguishing feature of war: death. The U.S. military assigns specialists in “Mortuary Affairs” to dispose of the dead. They dispose of their own sanity in the process. And first they dispose of their appetite. “Broiled meat in the chow hall smells much the same as any charred Marine, and you may carry the smell of the dead on a stained cuff as you raise a fork to your mouth, only to quickly put it down.” Much of the dead is — like the slop at the chow hall — unrecognizable meat. Once dumped in landfills, until a Washington Post story made that a scandal, now it’s dumped at sea. Much of the dead is the result of suicides. Mortuary Affairs scrubs the brains out of the port-o-potty and removes the rifle, so other troops don’t have to see.
Then come, in vastly greater numbers, the wounded — Jones’ chapter two. A surgeon tells her that in Iraq the U.S. troops “had severe injuries, but the injuries were still on the body.” In Afghanistan, troops step on mines and IEDs while walking, not driving. Some are literally blown to bits. Others can be picked up in recognizable pieces. Others survive. But many survive without one or two legs, one or two testicles, a penis, an arm, both arms — or with a brain injury, or a ruined face, or all of the above. A doctor describes the emotion for a surgical team the first time they have to remove a penis and “watch it go into the surgical waste container.”
“By early 2012,” Jones writes, “3,000 [U.S.] soldiers had been killed by IEDs in Iraq and Afghanistan, and 31,394 wounded. Among the wounded were more than 1,800 soldiers with severe damage to their genitals.” Doctors treat an injured soldier’s limbs first, later their genitals, later still their brains.
Back in the states, two young parents and “two pretty adolescent girls,” step up “to sit on the padded platforms in the center of the room. They move with the tentative sobriety of shock. Aides wheel in a gurney that bears a bundle in a flannel sheet. They gather the edges of the sheet and swing the package over the platform into the very heart of the family. Carefully they lower it and then begin to peel away the wrapping. There, revealed, restored to the family, is the son, their boy, not dead, but missing both arms, both legs, and some part — it’s impossible to tell how much — of his lower torso. The director calls out a cheery greeting, ‘Hi Bobby! How are you doing today?’ Bobby tries to answer but makes no sound. He flops on the platform, an emaciated head, eyes full of fear, his chest all bones under a damp grey ARMY tee shirt…”
Be all that you can be.
In training you’re ordered into a poison gas chamber and exposed to a bit of it. If Assad trained his troops that way, we’d murder a half million Syrians to get even. But U.S. military training is training in blind subservience, usually properly resented when it’s too late. Up goes your chances of being dead, injured, guilt-ridden, traumatized, homicidal, and suicidal. Jones recounts the story of a soldier who murdered two Iraqi prisoners, came home convinced he was a murderer, laid out the two dead Iraqis’ dog tags, wrapped a hose twice around his neck, and hung himself. Twenty-two a day: that’s the count of U.S. veteran suicides according to the V.A. The rate is 4.7 times higher than normal, according to the Austin-American Statesmen’s investigation of Texas veterans. That doesn’t count recklessly crashed cars and motorcycles. And it doesn’t count the epidemic of overdoses of the drugs meant to solve the problem.
How to help such suffering? Therapists used to ask people to talk and now ask them to take drugs. In either case, they don’t ask them to honestly deal with their guilt. Between 2001 and 2007 homicides committed by active duty and veteran U.S. troops went up 90 percent. The military looks for problems in soldiers’ family lives to explain such troubles, as if they all suddenly began marrying the wrong spouses just when their country deployed them into the stupidest war yet waged. Jones tells the story of one Marine who killed his wife but kept her body on the couch to watch TV with him for weeks. “I killed the only girl who ever loved me,” he later lamented. Chances are good he had killed other people who were loved as well — he’d just done so in a context in which some people praised him for it.
One wounded warrior tells Jones he loves war and longs to get back into it. “Blowin’ shit up. It’s fucking fun. I fuckin’ love it.” She replies, “I believe you really mean that,” and he says, “No shit. I’m trying to educate you.” But an older Army officer has a different view: “I’ve been in the army 26 years,” he says, “and I can tell you it’s a con.” War, he believes in rather Smedley Butlerish fashion, is a way to make a small number of people “monufuckinmentally rich.” He says his two sons will not serve in the military. “Before that happens I’ll shoot them myself.” Why? “War is absurd,” he says. “Boys don’t know any better. But for a grown man to be trapped in stupid wars — it’s embarrassing, it’s humiliating, it’s absurd.”
Shocking new revelations come as activists prepare to sue the U.S. military for unlawful spying
Anti-war activists who were infiltrated and spied on by the military for years have now been placed on the domestic terrorist list, they announced Monday. The shocking revelation comes as the activists prepare to sue the U.S. military for unlawful spying.
“The fact that a peaceful activist such as myself is on this domestic terrorist list should be cause for concern for other people in the US,” declared Brendan Maslauskas Dunn, plaintiff in the lawsuit. “We’ve seen an increase in the buildup of a mass surveillance state under the Obama and Bush Administrations.”
The discovery is the latest development in a stunning saga that exposes vast post-9/11 spying networks in which military, police, and federal agencies appear to be in cahoots.
Documents declassified in 2009 reveal that military informant John Towery, going by the name ‘John Jacob,’ spent over two years infiltrating and spying on Olympia, Washington anti-war and social justice groups, including Port Militarization Resistance, Students for a Democratic Society, the Industrial Workers of the World, and Iraq Veterans Against the War.
Towery admitted to the spying and revealed that he shared information with not only the military, but also the police and federal agencies. He claimed that he was not the only spy.
The activists, who blast the snooping as a violation of their First and Fourth Amendment rights, levied a lawsuit against the military in 2009.
“The spying resulted in plaintiffs and others being targeted for repeated harassment, preemptive and false arrest, excessive use of force, and malicious prosecution,” reads a statement by the plaintiffs.
The Obama Administration attempted to throw out the litigation, but in December 2012 the 9th Circuit Court ruled that the case could continue.
When the plaintiffs were preparing their deposition for the courts two weeks ago, they were shocked to discover that several Olympia anti-war activists were listed on the domestic terrorist list, including at least two plaintiffs in the case.
The revelations prompted them to amend their lawsuit to include charges that the nonviolent activists were unlawfully targeted as domestic terrorists.
“The breadth and intensity of the spying by U.S. Army officials and other law enforcement agents is staggering,” said Larry Hildes, National Lawyers Guild attorney who filed the lawsuit in 2009. “If nonviolent protest is now labeled and treated as terrorism, then democracy and the First Amendment are in critical danger.”
Plaintiffs say this case takes on a new revelevance as vast NSA dragnet spying sparks widespread outrage.
“I think that there is a huge potential for the case to set precedent,” declared plaintiff Julianne Panagacos. “This could have a big impact on how the U.S. military and police are able to work together.”
She added, “I am hopeful we will win.”
Last year more US troops died by suicide than died in combat in Afghanistan. More than 20 percent of military personnel deployed to combat will develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Some 32 percent of US soldiers reported depression after deployments. More than 20 percent of active-duty military are on potentially dangerous psychotropic drugs; many are on multiple types. Violent crime among active duty military members increased 31 percent between 2006-2011.
The statistics, compiled by the military last year, are as telling as they are disturbing. The Defense Department scrambles to implement new programs to better treat the symptoms. They implement new substance abuse and psychological counseling programs while they continue to prescribe more dangerous psychotropic drugs. Unfortunately, most often ignored are the real causes of these alarming statistics.
The sharp rise in military suicides, drug and alcohol abuse, and domestic and other violence, is the unintended consequence of a violent foreign policy — of an endless and indefinable “global war on terrorism.”
Particularly in the past decade or so, we have lived in a society increasingly marked by belief in the use of force as a first and only option. We have seen wars of preemption and aggression, everywhere from Iraq to Pakistan to Libya, Yemen, and elsewhere. We have seen an unprecedented increase in the use of drones to kill overseas, often resulting in civilian deaths, which we call “collateral damage.” We have seen torture and assassination (even of American citizens) become official US policy. When asked by Senator Ron Wyden last week if the president has the right to assassinate American citizens on US soil, President Obama’s nominee to head the CIA, John Brennan, could not even give a straight answer.
The warning that “he who lives by the sword dies by the sword” goes not only for individuals but for entire societies. It is a warning to all of us. A country or a society that lives with the violence of pre-emptive war in fact self-destructs.
Let us not forget that this endless war is brought to us primarily by the neo-conservatives who dominate foreign policy in both political parties and who never cease agitating for US military deployments overseas. Of course with very few exceptions they have declined to serve in the military themselves. These endless wars would not be possible, we should also remember, without the Federal Reserve printing the money out of thin air to finance our overseas empire. We are speeding toward national bankruptcy while at the same time turning the rest of the world against us with our aggressive foreign policy. Does anyone really believe this will make us safer and more secure?
Many who claim to support the military look the other way when the service-members return home broken in mind and body after years of deployments abroad. I served five years as a US military doctor in the difficult 1960s and even then saw some of this first-hand. During the 1960s the consequence of an unwise prolonged war tragically resulted in violence in our streets, and even students being shot by our military at Kent State University.
The truth is, killing strangers in unconstitutional and senseless wars causes guilt to the participant no matter what kind of military indoctrination is attempted. Those afflicted may attempt to bury the pain in alcohol or drugs or other destructive behaviors, but we see that only leads to more problems. It may not be popular to point this out, but it goes against human nature to kill a fellow human being for retaliating against those who initiate a war of aggression on their soil.
Who cares most for those in military service, those who agitate for more of what is destroying their lives and weakening our national defense, or the many of us who are urging a foreign policy of non-intervention and peace? If we are to survive, we must beware the seen and unseen consequences of pre-emptive war.
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)
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
The United States has reportedly dispatched a large number of troops and military hardware to a military base in southern Yemen.
According to some Yemeni media, about 4,000 American troops, a number of F-16 jet fighters, Lockheed C-5 Galaxy military transport aircraft and Apache helicopters have been stationed in al-Anad Air Base in Lahij province.
The deployment of the American forces and military hardware to Yemen has changed the Arab country to one of the biggest US military bases in the Middle East, the reports say.
In July, Yemeni military sources unveiled that about 150 American troops equipped with high-tech military and communication tools have arrived in Yemen.
The US soldiers arrived in the al-Anad Air Base on a military plane on July 1, the Ansarullah website quoted Yemen’s military sources as saying.
The deployments came after Yemeni Foreign Minister Abu Bakr al-Kurbi revealed that Sana’a had requested Washington to send assassination drones “in some cases against fleeing al-Qaeda leaders.”
In May, US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta for the first time admitted to the use of drones in Yemen.
The United States has launched frequent assassination drone attacks not just in Yemen but in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Somalia. The attacks have left thousands of people dead over the past few years.
- The War in Yemen; 100+ Drone Strikes Since May 2011 (reason.com)
Rape is Rape … Except When You’re a Female Detainee
Hello friends! Have you heard the terrific news? President Obama stands up for women, and speaks out against rape! “Rape is rape!” Except when the U.S. Military is doing the raping, of course, in which case political expediency requires Barack Obama to whitewash and completely ignore rape, forever.
In May 2009, Barack Obama announced he would not comply with a court order that would have brought hundreds of meticulously documented cases of rape and sexual assault from prisons in Iraq and Afghanistan to the forefront of public debate and scrutiny.
The court order stipulated the release of an estimated 2,000 photographs taken from Abu Ghraib and six other prisons across Iraq and Afghanistan. According to Major General Antonio Taguba, who led the formal inquiry into prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib, the photographs in question depict “torture, abuse, rape and every indecency.”
Explaining his decision to ignore the order, President Obama argued, “The most direct consequence of releasing [the photographs], I believe, would be to inflame anti-American public opinion and to put our troops in greater danger.”
I think I found the perfect keynote speaker for your college’s next Take Back the Night rally!
President Obama went on to add, apparently with no sense of shame whatsoever, “I want to emphasize that these photos that were requested in this case are not particularly sensational.”
And as a precautionary measure against the possibility that rape is actually “sensational” — especially when perpetrated (and gleefully documented) by the U.S military — the Pentagon’s official position on this matter is that the photographs in question do not even exist. Indeed, it’s unlikely that any of this “rape” stuff even happened. There’s certainly no evidence to support such wild claims.
But what about the video Major General Taguba obtained during his investigation, which shows “a male American soldier in uniform sodomizing a female detainee“? Don’t worry, that’s not “particularly sensational.” No need to fret! Move along! Also: that video doesn’t exist, and that never happened.
How about the photograph that depicts “an American soldier apparently raping a female prisoner”? Or the photograph that shows “a male translator raping a male detainee”? Or the countless photographs which are said to document “sexual assaults on prisoners with objects including a truncheon, wire and a phosphorescent tube”? How about the photo that shows “a female prisoner having her clothing forcibly removed to expose her breasts”?
That’s just a long list of “not particularly sensational”, misinformed speculation. Please try to remember: these photographs don’t even exist, according to the Obama Administration.
Also, this never happened:
Among the graphic statements, which were later released under US freedom of information laws, is that of Kasim Mehaddi Hilas in which he says: “I saw [name of a translator] ******* a kid, his age would be about 15 to 18 years. The kid was hurting very bad and they covered all the doors with sheets. Then when I heard screaming I climbed the door because on top it wasn’t covered and I saw [name] who was wearing the military uniform, putting his **** in the little kid’s ***…. and the female soldier was taking pictures.”
By now we are all well acquainted with Rep. Todd Akin’s ridiculous comments about “legitimate” rape, as well as President Obama’s widely-praised and publicized rebuttal, in which he called Akin’s remarks “offensive.” Obama went on to state, “rape is rape” and that Akin’s comments were “way out there.” As the November election looms, Obama supporters have jumped at the opportunity to contrast the president with the out-of-touch, anti-woman Rep. Akin, the latest poster boy for the Republican War On Women.
Yes, Barack Obama knows that “rape is rape.” Except when the U.S. military rapes women and children. Then rape is “not particularly sensational” or worthy of public disclosure, dialog or debate; then rape never even occurred, probably. And we don’t need to talk about rape that never happened. That’s just common sense, folks.
The President, according to BUST Magazine, has become “the new feminist in town,” and his mighty takedown of Rep. Akin has been enshrined forever in the Annals of Brave Lip Service (“as if you needed another reason to swoon over our amazing president”; “We think feminism looks good on him“).
But Obama’s “rape is rape” lip service to America isn’t for everyone; it doesn’t really “resonate” if you’re a female detainee who was videotaped being raped by a U.S. soldier in uniform and then told that there’s nothing “particularly sensational” about that, no need to cause a commotion, think about the Troops that will be put in harm’s way! This is all silly goose talk anyway, since there is no evidence that such a rape even occurred. (Even though there is.)
But don’t be fooled: Todd Akin’s uninformed, hypothetical conjecturing about rape is the real war crime that needs to be exposed. That’s the real war being fought, in Jezebel Land, which apparently now suffers from “rape fatigue.”
And women will continue to praise Barack Obama for his bravery and feminism. And why shouldn’t they? The alternative is simply too gross to think about; whether a drone strike wiped out an entire village, whether President Obama covered up hundreds of rapes, or whether a phone call was placed by a high official in a forgotten, endless war… The point is, we need to bring Todd Akin to justice, before Jezebel explodes!
Riley Waggaman was the former co-editor of Wonkette.com.
According to the Army Times newspaper, the United States will soon deploy a brigade of about 3,000 troops – “and likely more” – for duty “across the continent” of Africa. The “pilot program”has all the markings of a permanent, roving presence, joining the 1,200 U.S. soldiers stationed in Djibouti and the 100-plus Special Forces dispatched to Central Africa by President Obama, last October.
As always and everywhere, the U.S. is looking for bases to occupy – although the U.S. military command in Africa doesn’t call them bases. Rather, “as part of a ‘regionally’ aligned force concept,’ soldiers will live and work among Africans in safe communities approved by the U.S. government,” said AFRICOM’s Maj. Gen. David Hogg.
The First Black U.S. President, who in 2009 lectured Africans that “corruption” and “poor governance,” rather than neocolonialism, were the continent’s biggest problems, has made the U.S. military the primary interlocutor with African states. Functions that were once the purview of the U.S. State Department, such as distribution of economic aid and medical assistance, are now part of AFRICOM’s vast portfolio. In Africa, more than anyplace in the world, U.S. foreign policy wears a uniform – which should leave little doubt as to Washington’s objectives in the region: Africa is to be dominated by military means. Obama’s “good governance” smokescreen for U.S. neocolonialism is embedded in AFRICOM’s stated mission: “to deter and defeat transnational threats and to provide a security environment conducive to good governance and development.” Translation: to bring the so-called war on terror to every corner of the continent and ensure that U.S. corporate interests get favorable treatment from African governments.
AFRICOM’s array of alliances and agreements with African militaries already embraces virtually every nation on the continent except Eritrea and Zimbabwe. All but a handful of Black African states routinely take part in military maneuvers staged by Americans, utilizing U.S. command-and-control equipment and practices. The new, roving U.S. brigade will further institutionalize U.S. ties with the African officer class, part of AFRICOM’s mission to forge deep “soldier-to-soldier” relationships: general-to-general, colonel-to-colonel, and so forth down the line. The proposed network of “safe communities” to accommodate the highly mobile U.S. brigade is a euphemism for joint bases and the most intense U.S. fraternization with local African militaries. Regime change will never be farther away than a drink at the officers club.
According to the Army Times article, the composition of the new brigade, in terms of military skills, is not yet known. However, the brigade is conceived as part of the “new readiness model,” which “affords Army units more time to learn regional cultures and languages and train for specific threats and missions.” This sounds like special ops units – Rangers and Special Forces – which have been vastly expanded under President Obama (and are quite capable of carrying out regime-change operations on their own or in close coordination with their local counterparts).
In most cases, coups will be unnecessary. Regional African “trade” blocs like ECOWAS, the 16-member Economic Community of West African States, and IGAD, the six-nation Intergovernmental Authority on Development, in East Africa, have provided African cover for U.S. and French military/political designs in the Ivory Coast and Somalia, respectively. These blocs will doubtless become even more useful and compliant, as U.S. military commanders and their African counterparts get cozier in those “safe communities.”
Americans, no matter how bloody their hands, have always liked to think of themselves as “innocents abroad.” “As far as our mission goes, it’s uncharted territory,” said AFRICOM’s Gen. Hogg. Not really. The Americans are following a European chart in Africa that goes back centuries, and their own long experience in the serial rape of Latin America, where the close fraternization of U.S. and Latin American militaries in recent decades smothered the region in juntas, dirty wars, torture-based states, and outright genocide.
The U.S. and its African allies perpetrated of the worst genocide since World War Two: the death of six million in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. Uganda, which acts as a mercenary for the U.S. in Africa, is complicit in mega-death in Congo and Somalia. As Milton Allimadi, publisher of Black Star News, reported: “In 2005 The International Court of Justice (ICJ) found Uganda liable for the Congo crimes. The court awarded Congo $10 billion in reparations. Uganda’s army plundered Congo’s wealth and committed: mass rapes of both women and men; disemboweled pregnant women; burned people inside their homes alive; and, massacred innocents.”
Naturally, as a henchman of the United States, Uganda has not paid the $10 billion it owes Congo. Ugandan leader Yoweria Museveni, who became Ronald Reagan’s favorite African after seizing power in 1986 with a guerilla army packed with child soldiers, and who for decades waged genocidal war against the Acholi people of his country, now plays host to the Special Forces continent sent by President Obama, ostensibly to fight the child soldier-abusing Joseph Kony and his nearly nonexistent Lord’s Resistance Army.
Rwanda, the Pentagon’s other hit man on the continent, has been cited by a United Nations report as bearing responsibility for some of the millions slaughtered in Congo, as part of its ongoing rape and plunder of its neighbor.
Gen. Hogg says AFRICOM’s mission is to combat famine and disease. Yet, the AFRICOM-assisted Ethiopian invasion of Somalia in late 2006 led to “the worst humanitarian crisis in Africa – worse than Darfur,” according to United Nations observers. The 2007 humanitarian crisis and the escalating U.S.-directed war against Somalia made the 2010 famine all but inevitable.
Ugandan soldiers, nominally working for the African Union but in the pay of the Pentagon, kept watch over western interests in the starving country, as did the 1,200 soldiers stationed at the U.S. base in neighboring Djibouti – a permanent presence, along with the French garrison.
There’s nothing “uncharted” or mysterious about AFRICOM’s mission. The introduction of the 3,000-strong mobile brigade and a network of supporting bases prepares the way for the arrival of much larger U.S. and NATO forces – the recolonization of Africa. Gen. Hogg swears up and down there are no such plans. “For all the challenges that happen and sprout up across Africa, it really comes down to, it has to be an African solution,” he said.
That’s exactly the same thing they said in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya.
Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.
- Libya, Africa and Africom (alethonews.wordpress.com)
The first story was shaky from the start, that Sgt. Robert Bales “sneaked” off a combat outpost into hostile, landmined territory in the middle of the night, walked north a little over a half mile to a village, engaged in bloody murder, then walked back that half mile, past the base, and another mile south, killed more people, then turned himself in at the gate, all within an hour. Sharp-eyed bloggers did the math and recalled from other reports that Bales has part of a foot missing from a wound in Iraq, making the feat all the more remarkable.
Among the dead were a number of children, including a two-year-old.
Two weeks later the Pentagon’s story changed, and Bales had managed to sneak off the base twice over a longer timeline:
“Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, who is suspected in the shooting deaths this month of 17 Afghans, sneaked off his remote outpost twice during his alleged 90-minute rampage in two Afghan villages, two senior U.S. officials told CNN on Monday.
The officials said that, after the March 11 shootings in one village in Kandahar province, Bales sneaked back onto his base. They said Bales was seen at that point by fellow troops.
One official said investigators believe Bales told other soldiers he had just killed military-aged Afghan men. The officials said they did not know whether those troops told anyone else.
Then Bales sneaked out again and headed to the second village; he was apprehended by a search party as he attempted to re-enter the combat outpost the second time, the officials said.
Before this account, an Afghan guard was believed to have been the sole person who saw Bales that night. The guard alerted U.S. troops on base.”
The UK Guardian noted around the same time:
“Members of the Afghan delegation investigating the killings said one Afghan guard working from midnight to 2am saw a US soldier return to the base around 1.30am. Another Afghan soldier who replaced the first and worked until 4am said he saw a US soldier leaving the base at 2.30am. It’s unknown whether the Afghan guards saw the same US soldier. If the gunman acted alone, information from the Afghan guards would suggest that he returned to base in between the shooting sprees.”
Never mind that this leaves open the question of whether security at a “hot” outpost is routinely left, in this era of attacks coming from inside the wire, to purely indigenous guard, while US troops sleep. Ho Chi Minh would have dreamed of this situation. CNN reported that a US official told them that Bales had returned to the base “unnoticed.”
“One U.S. official with knowledge of the investigation said an Afghan guard allegedly spotted Bales leaving his outpost around 1 a.m. It is not clear why Bales’ superiors weren’t alerted, and the official said Bales was not noticed when he allegedly returned to the compound an hour later.”
The NY Times report quoting one Afghan General Hameed seemed aimed at putting a bit of spin on how Bales could have sashayed on and off the base so easily, saying:
“In recent interviews, American and Afghan officials said that the outpost in the rural Panjwai district was guarded by Afghan soldiers that night, as it probably was on most nights, because there were relatively few American soldiers based there, possibly only a platoon. Platoons typically have between 25 and 40 soldiers. -“Details Offered on How Suspect Could Have Left Afghan Base”“
So let me get this straight. A base in one of the most hostile parts of a war zone is under indigenous guard at night because, out of 25 – 40 tough US soldiers, they all need to be get their beauty sleep? This isn’t the 21st Century Army. This is “F Troop.” If the Pentagon really wants to fool people, they should learn when to shut up.
Jefferson Morley of Salon.com was the first reliable American outlet to report President Karzai’s, and the members of an Afghan Parliament investigative team’s, insistence that there was more than one shooter:
“A group of Afghan parliamentary investigators has concluded that Bales was part of a group of 15-20 soldiers. As Outlook Afghanistan reported Monday, “The team spent two days in the province, interviewing the bereaved families, tribal elders, survivors and collecting evidences at the site in Panjwai district.” One of the parliamentarians told Pajhwok Afghan News that investigators believed 15 to 20 American soldiers carried out the killings.”
“After our investigations, we came to know that the killings were not carried out by one single soldier. More than a dozen soldiers went, killed the villagers and then burnt the bodies,” lawmaker Naheem Lalai Hameedzai claimed…..
“All the villagers that we talked to said there were 15 to 20 men (who) had conducted a night raid operation in several areas in the village,” said Hameedzai.”
Disputing this is the governor of the province and the local police chief. The provincial governor who upholds the one gunman scenario says:
“It is time for Afghanistan to calm down and not let the insurgents take advantage of this case. They want foreign troops to leave such areas like this so they can hold those areas. We should be aware of their intentions and try to help the government, not the insurgents.”
The governor does not say where in “try to help the government” the truth figures in.
Interestingly, the initial Reuters report on the scene immediately after the killings made numerous references to multiple shooters, in addition to reporting that one staff sergeant was in custody, and that US officials were insisting on one shooter
“Neighbors and relatives of the dead said they had seen a group of U.S. soldiers arrive at their village in Kandahar’s Panjwayi district at about 2 a.m., enter homes and open fire.
An Afghan man who said his children were killed in the shooting spree accused soldiers of later burning the bodies.
“They (Americans) poured chemicals over their dead bodies and burned them,” Samad told Reuters at the scene.
Neighbors said they had awoken to crackling gunfire from American soldiers, who they described as laughing and drunk.
“They were all drunk and shooting all over the place,” said neighbor Agha Lala, who visited one of the homes where killings took place.”"
Now the first western reporter to gain access to child witnesses in the shooting, which she says the military tried to block, gives accounts of many men with “flashlights” on the ends of their rifles and on their helmets. As carried by MSNBC:
“”the children told Hakim [Yalda Hakim, a journalist for SBS Dateline in Australia] that other Americans were present during the rampage, holding flashlights in the yard.
Noorbinak, 8, told Hakim that the shooter first shot her father’s dog. Then, Noorbinak said in the video, he shot her father in the foot and dragged her mother by the hair. When her father started screaming, he shot her father, the child says. Then he turned the gun on Noorbinak and shot her in the leg.
“One man entered the room and the others were standing in the yard, holding lights,” Noorbinak said in the video.
A brother of one victim told Hakim that his brother’s children mentioned more than one soldier wearing a headlamp. They also had lights at the end of their guns, he said.
“They don’t know whether there were 15 or 20, however many there were,” he said in the video.
Army officials have repeatedly denied that others were involved in the massacre, emphasizing that Bales acted alone.”
The interesting thing here is that Afghan children don’t have videogames. They don’t have TV. In most parts of the country they don’t even have electricity. So night-raid equipment like weapons lights are not likely to arise from their imaginations.
From SureFire catalog “Weapon Lights”, Standard night-raid equipment for US forces
VIDEO: The SureFire Story
Hakim told MSNBC that the reason American investigators gave for trying to prevent her from interviewing the children was that her questions could “traumatize them.”
Stop the presses. In this war of nightly drone attacks on compounds known to have children present, in which hundreds if not thousands of children have been killed, and killed in night raids on such compounds, the interviews might “traumatize” them. I am rarely at a loss for words. This is one of those times.
One story floated about a week after the killings puts down the sighting of more than one soldier to possible confusion with the search party looking for Bales.
“It is unclear whether the soldiers the villagers saw were part of a search party that left the base to look for Bales, who was reported missing.”
But numerous reports make clear that the search party never left the area of the base.
“About 3:30 a.m., the official said, a surveillance camera spotted Bales returning to the base, and the search team found him just outside the compound.”
The NY Times, quoting Afghan Gen. Abdul Hameed, the corps commander for the Afghan National Army in Kandahar, reported:
“When American commanders became aware that a soldier was missing, they first checked sleeping quarters, toilets and the kitchen area before organizing a patrol to look outside the compound, General Hameed said. But before the patrol left, a high-powered infrared camera on a small blimp spotted Sergeant Bales nearby.”
Salon.com’s Morley reports an “unnamed senior U.S. official’ telling the New York Times: “When it all comes out, it will be a combination of stress, alcohol and domestic issues,” leaving aside the question of how the senior official already knows how it will all “come out.”
“The passing admission that two other soldiers face disciplinary action for drinking with Bales on the night of the massacre might cast doubt on the notion that no one else knew what Bales was going to do. Army spokeswoman Lt. Col Amy Hannah said in telephone interview that she could not confirm the Times’ account. “I am not aware of any releases of information” about other soldiers facing disciplinary action, Hannah said. If the U.S. official’s remarks to the Times were accurate, then the Army is refraining from disclosing how many soldiers are under investigation.
Then there is conflicting eyewitness testimony. In this CNN video, one man describes the actions of a group in carrying out the killings. “They took him my uncle out of the room and shot him,” he says. “They came to this room and martyred all the children.” But one boy seen on the tape says there was only a single gunman. Still other witnesses pointed out a place outside the home, where they said they found footprints of more than one U.S. soldier.
Journalists seeking to clarify the question have been thwarted. In Afghanistan, Pajhaowk Afghan News reports that Lewis Boone, the public affairs director for coalition forces, declined to answer questions about the massacre, saying that a joint Afghan-ISAF team was investigating the killings. As the Seattle Times noted yesterday, the Army has been struggling “to regulate information on the Afghanistan suspect.”
The laugh for the day in Morley’s report comes when Ryan Evans, who worked with ISAF in Afghanistan and is now a research fellow at the Center for National Policy in Washington, said he thought “a cover up is very unlikely.” Now why would anyone think that, after Lt. Col. Daniel Davis just told us in a major report on Afghanistan that:
“We seem significantly challenged to tell the truth in almost any situation.”
And in a fascinating McClatchy report, Karzai’s lead investigator seems to differ with the president’s conclusion of more than one shooter, but then apparently contradicts himself.
KABUL, Afghanistan — The chief Afghan investigator in last month’s slayings of 17 civilians says there’s strong evidence that only one killer was involved, a view that puts him at odds with Afghanistan’s president, Hamid Karzai.
Afghan army chief Gen. Sher Mohammad Karimi, whom Karzai sent to Kandahar to investigate the massacre, told McClatchy that two survivors he interviewed offered credible accounts that the killings were the act of a lone person.
“They told me the same thing,” Karimi said. “They both said there was (only) one individual who came to their house.”
At a meeting at the presidential palace with relatives of the victims days after the massacre, Karzai openly questioned the U.S. account of a lone gunman. The president pointed to one relative and said: “In his family, in four rooms people were killed — children and women were killed — and then they were all brought together in one room and then set on fire. That, one man cannot do.”
Karimi said he returned to Kabul to deliver his interim report but the villagers had spoken to Karzai before he did.
“And everybody said (to the president), ‘Sir, it was not one person. … How can one guy shoot people in four rooms, kill them, then lift them, bring them to one room and set them on fire?’”
Underscoring how the incident has become a political football, Karimi himself appeared to parrot Karzai’s line in an interview with an Australian television program broadcast last week, in which he said, “I’m guessing — assumption — that (the killer was) helped by somebody. One person or two persons.”
There are a couple of possibilities here. Karimi could be honestly saying, interpreted by McClatchy as a contradiction, that two survivors said “there was (only) one individual who came to their house.” This would not rule out other men going to other houses or taking positions outside, and McClatchy could be wrong in its interpretation. Or, as McClatchy suggests, Harimi could be trying to play both sides of the fence. However, the rest of Harimi’s witness to the Australian reporter is clear, and MSNBC views it differently than McClatchy:
“Gen. Karimi, assigned by Afghan President Hamid Karzai to investigate the murders, told Hakim that he, too, wonders whether Bales acted alone and how he could left the base without notice.
“Village elders said several soldiers took part and that there is boot prints in the area,” Karimi told Hakim. He said villagers told him that they saw three or four individuals kneeling and that helicopters were overhead during the rampage.
“To search for him?” Karimi said he asked them.
“No,” he said they told him. “They were there from the very beginning.””
Other soldiers who have been stationed at the same base paint a different picture of how hard it would be to sneak off the base. The NY Times tells us:
“A Green Beret who has spent time in Panjwai in the past year said the combat outpost would have been relatively small, protected by dirt-filled containers known as Hesco barriers, with guard towers and perhaps a blimp with a high-powered camera capable of capturing images more than a mile away. It would have been difficult, but not impossible, for Sergeant Bales to slip away at night unnoticed, as the Army says he did.”
Okay. Not impossible. But now it’s twice.
As if this brew needs anymore spice, Bales’ attorney claims the government is withholding evidence:
“UPDATE: The attorney representing the American soldier accused of slaughtering 17 Afghan civilians accused the U.S. government on Friday of withholding evidence that would be crucial to his defense.
Speaking to the Associated Press, lawyer John Henry Browne detailed what he said were numerous examples of the government going out of their way to “hide evidence,” including denying his team access to video allegedly taken from a surveillance blimp showing Staff Sgt. Robert Bales on the night of the killings.”
Perhaps most damning of all, one might ask, isn’t this a simple matter of interviewing the many wounded witnesses? After all, we know beyond doubt that they saw what happened first hand. But Bales’ attorney Brown issued the following statement at the end of March:
“We are facing an almost complete information blackout from the government, which is having a devastating effect on our ability to investigate the charges preferred against our client,” the defense team statement said.
“When we tried to interview the injured civilians being treated at Kandahar Hospital we were denied access and told to coordinate with the prosecution team. The next day the prosecution team interviewed the civilian injured. We found out shortly after the prosecution interviews of the injured civilians that the civilians were all released from the hospital and there was no contact information for them,” the statement said.”
The LA Times reports attorney Browne saying:
“People on our staff in Afghanistan went to the hospital where there supposedly were eyewitnesses to this … and we were told by the prosecutors to come back the next day, which is fine. We went back the next day, and they’d all been released from the hospital and they’d all been scattered throughout Afghanistan. That was a violation of the trust we had in the prosecutors,”…
“We’ve been misled greatly…. They were promised to be there, and they were not,” he said, adding that there isn’t much hope of finding the witnesses now. “People just disappear into the Afghan countryside.”
Finally the Global Post, a project of long-time Boston Globe journalist Charles Sennott, turns in a report which seems to attempt to discount the value of Afghan witness testimony, but in the end relates detail from a witness which corroborates the behavior of soldiers intent on committing war crimes:
“Baran’s brother was killed in the shooting spree, but he didn’t see the shooting happen. Baran said he told Karzai what his sister-in-law, who was at the scene, had told him.
When GlobalPost asked Baran to speak directly with his sister-in-law, he initially refused.
“You don’t need to talk her,” Baran said. “I did, and I can tell you the story.”
Eventually Baran relented, allowing GlobalPost to interview her by phone.
Massouma, who lives in the neighboring village of Najiban, where 12 people were killed, said she heard helicopters fly overhead as a uniformed soldier entered her home. She said he flashed a “big, white light,” and yelled, “Taliban! Taliban! Taliban!”
Massouma said the soldier shouted “walkie-talkie, walkie-talkie.” The rules of engagement in hostile areas in Afghanistan permit US soldiers to shoot Afghans holding walkie-talkies because they could be Taliban spotters.
“He had a radio antenna on his shoulder. He had a walkie-talkie himself, and he was speaking into it,” she said.”
BBC says villagers say they heard helicopters in the night, explained by “correspondents” in the same report by the fact that helicopters are heard often in that part of the country. However helicopters in support of an operation would be distinctly closer and louder than those passing by at altitude.
“A woman in one of the targeted villages told the BBC she first heard helicopters at 02:00 and then gunfire. Others said helicopters and gunfire could be heard from midnight….Some villagers say that helicopters were flying overhead as the killings took place. Many locals appear to believe that they were in fact supporting the operation rather than trying to stop the gunman.
But correspondents say helicopters are frequently heard overhead in parts of the country.”
Reports of Bales’ testimony and behavior seem an intriguing mix of admissions to guilt and confusion. Reuters:
“Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales initially asserted that he had shot several Afghan men outside a U.S. combat outpost in southern Afghanistan on March 11 and did not mention that a dozen women and children were among the dead, according to a senior U.S. official briefed on the case.
“He indicated to his buddies that he had taken out some military-aged males,” the senior official said. Soldiers normally use that term to denote insurgents.
But Bales’ story soon broke down when commanders on the base learned details of the pre-dawn shooting spree in which 16 Afghan civilians were killed in their homes. At that point, the 38-year-old Army veteran was taken into custody. He refused to talk further and soon asked for a lawyer, two officials said.”
Bales’ wife has stood steadfastly by her husband, saying that whatever he had done, he loved children and could never harm them.
In 2007 after a battle in Iraq, Bales told the Fort Lewis Northwest Guardian:
“I’ve never been more proud to be a part of this unit … for the simple fact that we discriminated between the bad guys and the noncombatants,” he told the after a battle in Iraq in 2007. “Afterward we ended up helping the people that three or four hours before were trying to kill us.”
The Christian Science Monitor reports words from Bales which are startlingly contrary to the charges:
“The charges run contrary to Bales’ own words in the 2007 interview with his local newspaper as well, when he expressed disdain for any insurgent would could put “his family in harm’s way like that,” he said. “I think that’s the real difference between being an American as opposed to being a bad guy.””
Publicintellligence.net notes the irony of the current lack of evidence against Bales when forensics against insurgents in Afghanistan are highly developed:
“A presentation from the U.S. Army’s Office of the Provost Marshal General indicates that as of August 2011 there were three Joint Expeditionary Forensics Facilities (JEFFs) throughout Afghanistan including one in Kandahar, the same province where Staff Sgt. Bales reportedly committed the massacre. These forensics facilities are capable of DNA analysis, latent print identification, photographic forensics, as well as chemical and ballistic analysis.
… it remains to be seen whether the U.S. military will present the same level of forensic evidence that it routinely collects and analyzes when attempting to prosecute suspected insurgents.”
The families of the dead have been paid $50,000 for each victim, an extraordinary sum for most Afghans who often take work, when it is available, which pays one dollar a day. The country is the fifth poorest in the world and suffers a 60% rate of child malnutrition, according to Save the Children. Typical victim compensation in cases of civilian deaths is on the order of $2,000.
Dateline SBC interviews with child witnesses
- RT: Bales in court as massacre body count mysteriously rises to 17 (jhaines6.wordpress.com)
Changes made in DOD Instruction “Handling Dissident and Protest Activities Among Members of the Armed Forces”
On February 22, 2012, the Department of Defense made major changes to DOD Instruction 1325.06 (PDF download).
These changes appear to be part of a major military policy change that is designed to stifle and suppress a growing GI movement against the wars in the Middle East.
Some of the more troubling changes include:
Enclosure 3, section 2. OFF-POST GATHERING PLACES. Commanders have the authority to place establishments off-limits in accordance with established procedures when, for example, the activities taking place
thereat these establishments include, but are not limited to, counseling, encouraging, or inciting Service members to refuse to perform duty or to desert; pose a significant adverse effect on Service members’ health, morale, or welfare; or otherwise present a clear danger to the loyalty, discipline, or morale of a member or military unit.
The changes in this section certainly appear to be directed at the GI coffeehouses at Fort Hood, Joint Base Lewis-McChord and in Kaiserslautern, Germany. Free speech and GI Rights advocates need to be ready to respond to possible moves by commanders to place the coffeehouses off-limits under this newly revised regulation.
Also one could argue that a commander could place a Mennonite Church or a Quaker Meetinghouse on the off-limits list, since these establishments have been known to encourage their members to resist participation in war.
Enclosure 3, Section 8. PROHIBITED ACTIVITIES
a. Military personnel must not actively advocate supremacist, extremist, or criminal gang doctrine, ideology, or causes, including those that advance, encourage, or advocate illegal discrimination based on race, creed, color, sex, religion, ethnicity, or national origin or those that advance, encourage, or advocate the use of force, violence, or criminal activity or otherwise advance efforts to deprive individuals of their civil rights.
b. Military personnel must reject active participation in criminal gangs pursuant to section 544 of Public Law 110-181 (Reference (i)) and in other organizations that advocate supremacist, extremist, or criminal gang doctrine, ideology, or causes; including those that attempt to create illegal discrimination based on race, creed, color, sex, religion, ethnicity, or national origin; advocate the use of force, violence, or criminal activity; or otherwise engage in efforts to deprive individuals of their civil rights. Active participation in such gangs or organizations is prohibited. Active participation includes, but is not limited to, fundraising; demonstrating or rallying; recruiting, training, organizing, or leading members; distributing material (including posting online); knowingly wearing gang colors or clothing; having tattoos or body markings associated with such gangs or organizations; or otherwise engaging in activities in furtherance of the objective of such gangs or organizations that are detrimental to good order, discipline, or mission accomplishment or are incompatible with military service.
c. Commanders have the authority to employ the full range of administrative and disciplinary actions, including administrative separation or appropriate criminal action, against military personnel who engage in activity prohibited in paragraphs 8.a. or 8.b. of this enclosure
when such conduct or activity is detrimental to good order and discipline or is service discrediting.
d. The functions of command include vigilance about the existence of such activities; active use of investigative authority to include a prompt and fair complaint process; and use of administrative powers such as counseling, reprimands, orders, and performance evaluations to deter such activities.
e. The Military Departments shall ensure that the policy and procedures on prohibited activities in this Instruction are included in initial active duty training, precommissioning training, professional military education, commander training, and other appropriate Service
On the surface, this section may not look so troubling. The military has, at least officially, long banned its members from active participation in hate groups. However, if read carefully, these changes are in fact very troubling. First, the DOD does not define the term “extremist” anywhere in this regulation, which opens the door for soldiers to be prosecuted for mere membership in peaceful organizations that are deemed to be “extremist.”
Secondly, the DOD has omitted the requirement (previously found in section 8 (c) above), that prohibited conduct or activity in a banned organization must be “detrimental to good order and discipline or is service discrediting.”
Third, the DOD has now banned even the wearing of clothing or colors off-post that would reflect membership in one of the loosely defined banned organizations.
Enclosure 3, Section 9. PREVENTIVE ACTIVITIES
a. Commanders should remain alert for signs of future prohibited activities. They should intervene early, primarily through counseling, when observing such signs even though the signs may not rise to active advocacy or active participation or may not threaten good order and discipline, but only suggest such potential. The goal of early intervention is to minimize the risk of future prohibited activities.
b. Examples of such signs, which, in the absence of the active advocacy or active participation addressed in paragraphs 8.a and 8.b are not prohibited, could include mere membership in criminal gangs and other organizations covered under paragraph 8.b. Signs could also include possession of literature associated with such gangs or organizations, or with related ideology, doctrine, or causes. While mere membership or possession of literature normally is not prohibited, it may merit further investigation and possibly counseling to emphasize the importance of adherence to the Department’s values and to ensure that the Service member understands what activities are prohibited.
This entire section is completely new to the regulation, and requires that commanders be alert for “future prohibited activities.” While the regulation tries to skirt the line of not violating the First Amendment (i.e. “mere membership or possession of literature” is not prohibited), it makes it clear that commanders are expected to “investigate” such soldiers, which will inevitably result in negative counseling statements (blackmarks against a soldier’s record) and subsequent harassment from NCO’s (non-commissioned officers).
As a whole, the newly revised DOD Instruction 1325.06 poses serious dangers for the civil liberties of all military service-members. We at the Military Law Task Force of the National Lawyers Guild remain ready to do our part to protect soldiers in need. Please do not hesitate to contact us, if we can be of assistance.
UPDATE ADDED ON FEBRUARY 25, 2012: In section 8 (b) above, the DOD bans organizations that “attempt to create illegal discrimination based on race, creed, color, sex, religion, ethnicity, or national origin.” Interesting enough, in the post-DADT era, sexual orientation didn’t make the list.
- Leaked Email: Military Top Brass Warn Troops Off March For Ron Paul (mountainrepublic.net)
- Military Warns Active-Duty Ron Paul Supporters Against Joining Upcoming Protest March (notesandobservations.me)