You are browsing the archive for ass-kissing little chickenshit.

Afghan Night Raid Deaths Lead to Thousands Protesting, Up to Twelve Deaths

5:31 am in Uncategorized by Jim White

David Petraeus’ favorite tool for cowing populations into quiescence, the night raid, has led yet again to deaths NATO characterizes as insurgents but Afghans say are civilians. In this case, four were killed in an overnight raid Tuesday night, two men and two women. A crowd of two to three thousand took to the streets in Taloqan and there were multiple deaths when police opened fire on the crowd.

Reuters, in its story, is careful to note the difference between what Afghan civilians say and what NATO says in identifying those killed in the raid:

Local police and residents say the four people killed in the raid late on Tuesday night in Taloqan were civilians. NATO-led forces said those killed in the raid were armed insurgents.

Via Dawn, AFP also covers the raid:

The troubles erupted after Nato-led forces said they killed four insurgents including two armed women in an overnight raid in the town.

A spokesman for the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said the raid targeted the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), a militant group that operates from bases including in Afghanistan.

But the protesters claimed those killed during the Nato raid were civilians.

The Reuters article goes into more detail on the NATO claim the women killed were insurgents:

In male-dominated Afghanistan, female fighters are very rarely found among insurgent ranks, and the few who have been identified are mostly foreigners. A NATO spokesman said he did not know the nationalities of the dead women.

Notably, it wasn’t just foreign troops who were the objects of the protest:

In Taloqan, demonstrators threw stones and handfuls of mud at a billboard of Karzai and also chanted “death to Karzai.”

Even though Afghan President Hamid Karzai has publicly spoken out against night raids repeatedly, it appears that he now is getting some of the blame when it is believed that civilians have been killed. If Karzai is going to be targeted by large protests each time there is a disputed night raid, this could well change the dynamic going forward.

It will be very interesting to watch for further details as they emerge from this raid. Karzai would seem to be in a position to make an even stronger protest than he has in the past, so the wording and nature of his response will bear watching. Also, NATO must overcome the barrier Reuters points out that Afghan women almost never join the armed insurgency, and we already have a statement from NATO claiming the women were armed.   Aruguing in NATO’s favor is the mention that the group targeted comes from Uzebekistan, so it is possible the women were not from Afghanistan.  Recall in this context also that just over a year ago, US special operations forces actually dug their bullets out of the bodies of women they killed in a raid (see video above for more coverage of that raid). NATO will need to provide credible evidence that the women killed were indeed insurgents, and they will have to do this in the context of a history of tampering with evidence in previous raids gone bad.

Obama Administration Set to Cover For Petraeus’ Training Failure

5:03 am in Uncategorized by Jim White

David Petraeus: winner in propaganda, failure in training troops.


On Wednesday, I noted that Senator John Kerry (D-MA) was quoted in the Washington Post pointing out the impossibility of David Petraeus’ plan to train Afghan forces to take over security responsibility in Afghanistan after a US pullout. I predicted a ramping up of the Petraeus propaganda machine kicking into gear to protect Petraeus’ reputation as he prepares to assume control of the CIA in his planned preparation for the presidency. Friday’s Los Angeles Times has a remarkable article where we see that the Obama administration is planning to “scale back” training of Afghan forces under cover of saving money. The Times tries to present this as the administration somehow pushing back against Petraeus’ plans, but it looks to me much more like the administration is covering for the abject failure, once again, of Petraeus’ training myth.

Here is the remarkable passage from Wednesday’s Washington Post on the impossibility of training sufficient Afghan troops to take over security there:

Many have questioned the feasibility of plans to recruit and train as many as 400,000 Afghan security forces to take over once foreign troops depart.“Despite our best efforts, there are challenges — corruption, predatory behavior, incompetence — still evident within the Afghan army and police,” Kerry said. “On top of these problems, there is the question, ultimately, of money, resources.”

That statement by Kerry, where he appears be pointing out failure in Petraeus’ key strategy of training Afghan troops so that we can withdraw ours then leads to today’s article in the Los Angeles Times. The article begins:

After months of internal deliberations, the Obama administration has decided to limit the expansion of Afghanistan’s army and police forces over the next 18 months, largely to hold down the costs of training, equipping and paying them.

If we are to take this at face value, then we are supposed to believe that it’s just too darned expensive to follow the Petraeus plan of training so many Afghan troops so fast. And the Times tries to present this as a difference between what Petraeus wants and what the administration wants:

Petraeus and senior Pentagon officials had pushed to add as many as 73,000 troops to the Afghan force, officials said. Instead, the administration has limited the addition to 47,000, which would bring the authorized Afghan force to a total of 352,000. The U.S. government provides most of the money to recruit, train and pay the Afghan troops.

However, by hiding behind this “it costs too much” excuse, which John Kerry nicely framed for them, the administration is able to provide cover for Petraeus failing miserably, once again, to reach his troop training goal, just as he did multiple times in Iraq and now in Afghanistan. In going out of their way to protect Petraeus’ reputation before he gets saddled with accusations of failing to meet his training goals in Afghanistan, the administration also gets the “bonus” of using the scaled back training as an excuse to “follow” the recommendation that will be coming from Petraeus to scale back the troop drawdown:

They said Petraeus and other senior officers in the Pentagon favor limiting the scale and slowing the pace of any U.S. pullout in order to preserve fragile security gains, especially in the south and east, where the Taliban presence remains strong.

And, of course, by slowing the buildup of Afghan forces, that allows the addition of ever more Friedman units to the date on which our drawdown of troops will be complete. So much for the cost savings from a slower training schedule.

David Petraeus, once again, will be given a free pass for his failure. The Obama administration is going to change the training goals under the guise of scaling back expenses when the underlying reason almost certainly is that Petraeus had zero chance of hitting his stated goal. The punditocracy will once again sing Petraeus’ praise as he takes the reins at CIA. What new failures await him there?

John Kerry at Nexus of Pakistan Relations, Afghanistan Strategy

5:28 am in Uncategorized by Jim White

Senator John Kerry (D-MA)

With US-Pakistan relations strained over the US mission that killed Osama Bin Laden and the push by many in Congress to accelerate withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan in the wake of Bin Laden’s death, Senator John Kerry (D-MA) finds himself at the nexus of these two vital issues. Recall that Kerry was one of a number of US elected officials who visited Pakistan during the Raymond Davis saga, claiming that he felt his visit would achieve Davis’ release “within the next few days” after his visit. Davis was eventually released four weeks after the Kerry trip. Today, we see Kerry featured prominently in the news for his plan to visit Pakistan again in an attempt to repair damage to US-Pakistan relations arising from the Bin Laden mission and for his statements suggesting that a new Afghanistan strategy is now needed.

Reuters describes the Kerry’s upcoming visit to Pakistan:

Senator John Kerry will travel to Pakistan in coming days to put relations “on the right track” after the killing of Osama bin Laden in a surprise Navy SEALs raid, but he is likely to face fury from the army over what it sees as a breach of trust.

Kerry, a Democrat who is close to the Obama administration, said he expected to see “all the main players” in Pakistan to discuss strains in bilateral ties following the May 2 operation that killed the al Qaeda leader in his Pakistani hideout.

“A number of people suggested it would be good to get a dialogue going about the aftermath and how we get on the right track,” Kerry, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told reporters in Washington.

At the same time he is playing a leading role (and rightly so, as Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee) in repairing the relationship with Pakistan, Kerry is also the first politician quoted in Wednesday’s Washington Post article on calls to accelerate withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan:

The death of Osama bin Laden and growing pressure from Congress to shrink the U.S. footprint and expense in Afghanistan have given new impetus to those within the Obama administration who favor a swift reduction of U.S. forces, according to senior administration officials and leading lawmakers.

/snip/

Current expenditures of $10 billion a month are “fundamentally unsustainable” and the administration urgently needs to clarify both its mission and exit plan, Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) said Tuesday.

Even though Kerry is described in the article as often a leading indicator for thinking from the Obama administration, it is clear that the administration has not reached consensus on a new Afghanistan strategy, as the article quotes an unnamed senior administration official that “there will be no re-litigation” of the strategy.

In my opinion, the most important point to make it into the Post story is that, at long last, there is finally a piercing of Petraeus’ training myth. The article notes that “many” now question the concept of training Afghan forces to take over when we leave and Kerry confronts the problem head-on:

Many have questioned the feasibility of plans to recruit and train as many as 400,000 Afghan security forces to take over once foreign troops depart.“Despite our best efforts, there are challenges — corruption, predatory behavior, incompetence — still evident within the Afghan army and police,” Kerry said. “On top of these problems, there is the question, ultimately, of money, resources.”

The fact that Kerry now sees that training so many Afghan troops is not feasible and will waste huge amounts of money is a huge development to make it into the pages of the Washington Post. Watch for the Petraeus propaganda machine to push back on this very hard, making over-inflated claims of progress that the press will accept at face value rather than subjecting to fact-checking.  Petraeus owes much of the rapid rise in his career trajectory to his “Groundhog Day”-like reliance on always making strong progress toward troop training whether it is in Iraq or Afghanistan.  And, just as in the movie, we always seem to be starting fresh on those training efforts.  Why it has taken so long for Washington to figure out that we are stuck in an endless loop of re-starting training is beyond me. Perhaps Senator Kerry can help us to break out of the loop.

Can Petraeus Avoid Self-Promotion at CIA?

4:48 am in Uncategorized by Jim White

Can Petraeus set aside self-promotion and provide neutral analysis of military strategy he set into motion?

Articles by Phil Stewart and Mark Hosenball at Reuters and Walter Pincus at the Washington Post finally, now that he has been formally nominated by President Obama, point out the difficulties David Petraeus will face as he becomes the next Director of the Central Intelligence Agency. Taken together, the two articles clearly paint Petraeus as a highly politicized military man intent on becoming president who now must take on the role of a traditionally civilian agency tasked with providing neutral analysis. Most importantly, Stewart and Hosenball point out that a key portion of that analysis will cover the progress of military strategy set in motion in Afghanistan by Petraeus himself. Pincus quotes CIA veteran John Gannon asking the key question of whether Petraeus will be able to avoid self-promotion when providing that analysis.

Stewart and Hosenball set the stage for their analysis by stating that Petraeus “has a reputation for brainpower and political savvy”. Pincus takes that characterization even further, noting Petreaus’ presidential ambitions:

Petraeus comes to the agency with a particularly high profile and, like George H.W. Bush before him, has long been seen as having presidential aspirations. Bush had to sign a letter agreeing not to run in 1976 as part of his confirmation. That profile is seen within the agency as both a plus and a minus, veterans say.

Hmmm. Bush took over CIA in January, 1976 and signed the agreement not to run that year. Does Obama have a similar agreement in mind for Petraeus and the 2012 race?

At any rate, Stewart and Hosenball point out the inherent conflict of interest that Petraeus will face:

But in his role as U.S. military commander in Afghanistan, Petraeus has been a developer of the counterinsurgency strategy whose results are incomplete as the Obama administration plans to begin a withdrawal of U.S. soldiers this summer.

Because he helped to craft U.S. policy and has publicly defended it against critics, some officials wonder how open Petraeus will be in his new role to critiquing his own work.

They wonder if he will faithfully represent to the White House a CIA view of Afghanistan and Pakistan that is more pessimistic than that of Pentagon brass.

Pincus notes that CIA is nervous about Petraeus taking over:

The agency staff is always nervous with change, particularly when the new director comes with a high-profile military background, a history of regularly changing jobs and a hint that this may just be a temporary stopover on the way to something else.

Pincus concludes his article with a blockbuster quote from former CIA deputy director for intelligence John Gannon:

“The challenge for Petraeus is to avoid promoting himself rather than the organization,” said Gannon.

I’ll take promoting himself for $500, Alex. David Petraeus has made a career of promoting himself at the expense of many lives and billions of taxpayer dollars. I don’t see him changing that any time soon.

Petraeus to CIA Completes Cheney’s Dream, Consolidates Intelligence Within Pentagon

5:30 am in Uncategorized by Jim White

Screen shot from an Army ad produced by Petraeus' propaganda machine.

Today is the day that my worst fears will be realized, and the propaganda machine that has been mercilessly promoting the career of David Petraeus will achieve his nomination to be Director of Central Intelligence.

Aside from the horrible nature of this move in putting a blatantly political operator into a highly visible position from which he can consolidate his credentials for an eventual presidential campaign (see Spencer Ackerman for a very different take on this aspect), this move can be seen as finally completing Dick Cheney’s dream of moving virtually all intelligence functions into the Pentagon. Back when Michael Hayden was nominated to head CIA, the ongoing Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA)-CIA turf war was noted:

What worries some experts, however, is a shift in the balance of power within the US intelligence infrastructure as the CIA is weakened and the Pentagon expands its role. For one thing, the Pentagon’s intelligence activities largely escape congressional scrutiny. ”Rumsfeld and Cambone claim that everything they do is a military operation,” says Richard Clarke, the former head of counterterrorism at the National Security Council, ”[and] that therefore nothing that they do should have oversight by the House and Senate intelligence committees. But they are doing things that are clearly intelligence.”

It is precisely this ability to “escape congressional scrutiny” that has driven the move to consolidate intelligence functions within the Pentagon. Here is more from Jeremy Scahill on how this was brought about:

While JSOC has long played a central role in US counterterrorism and covert operations, military and civilian officials who worked at the Defense and State Departments during the Bush administration described in interviews with The Nation an extremely cozy relationship that developed between the executive branch (primarily through Vice President Dick Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld) and JSOC. During the Bush era, Special Forces turned into a virtual stand-alone operation that acted outside the military chain of command and in direct coordination with the White House. Throughout the Bush years, it was largely General McChrystal who ran JSOC. “What I was seeing was the development of what I would later see in Iraq and Afghanistan, where Special Operations forces would operate in both theaters without the conventional commander even knowing what they were doing,” said Colonel Wilkerson. “That’s dangerous, that’s very dangerous. You have all kinds of mess when you don’t tell the theater commander what you’re doing.”

Wilkerson said that almost immediately after assuming his role at the State Department under Colin Powell, he saw JSOC being politicized and developing a close relationship with the executive branch. He saw this begin, he said, after his first Delta Force briefing at Fort Bragg. “I think Cheney and Rumsfeld went directly into JSOC. I think they went into JSOC at times, perhaps most frequently, without the SOCOM [Special Operations] commander at the time even knowing it. The receptivity in JSOC was quite good,” says Wilkerson. “I think Cheney was actually giving McChrystal instructions, and McChrystal was asking him for instructions.” He said the relationship between JSOC and Cheney and Rumsfeld “built up initially because Rumsfeld didn’t get the responsiveness. He didn’t get the can-do kind of attitude out of the SOCOM commander, and so as Rumsfeld was wont to do, he cut him out and went straight to the horse’s mouth. At that point you had JSOC operating as an extension of the [administration] doing things the executive branch–read: Cheney and Rumsfeld–wanted it to do. This would be more or less carte blanche. You need to do it, do it. It was very alarming for me as a conventional soldier.”

The key thing to note here is how Cheney bypassed McChrystal’s direct commander in SOCOM to dictate McChrystal’s actions. At least in regard to when those actions were in Iraq, it should be noted that McChrystal’s field commander there was none other than David Petraeus. I think Wilkerson is wrong here when he claims that McChrystal was acting without the knowledge of the field commander.   For McChrystal to be carrying out “rogue” operations at the direct command of the Vice President and bypassing his SOCOM commander, it seems inconceivable that Petraeus could not have been aware of what was happening. It seems most likely that Petraeus was both aware of what was going on and approved of it, since he is often seen as crediting McChrystal and his night raids for their effects in Iraq and then in Afghanistan. This means that Petraeus had to be aware of, and approved, Cheney’s actions that were designed to bypass congressional scrutiny of actions that would have been subject to oversight had they taken place through the CIA.

In today’s New York Times article about Petraeus’ nomination, we see that the blurring of the lines between intelligence and military functions already is almost complete:

The result is that American military and intelligence operatives are at times virtually indistinguishable from each other as they carry out classified operations in the Middle East and Central Asia. Some members of Congress have complained that this new way of war allows for scant debate about the scope and scale of military operations. In fact, the American spy and military agencies operate in such secrecy now that it is often hard to come by specific information about the American role in major missions in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and now Libya and Yemen.

The operations have also created tension with important allies like Pakistan, while raising fresh questions about whether spies and soldiers deserve the same legal protections.

Officials acknowledge that the lines between soldiering and spying have blurred. “It’s really irrelevant whether you call it a covert action or a military special operation,” said Dennis C. Blair, a retired four-star admiral and a former director of national intelligence. “I don’t really think there is any distinction.”

I’m sure Dick Cheney approves of Obama’s move to put Petraeus in charge of the CIA, because it is clear that Petraeus fully subscribes to Cheney’s vision of a Pentagon in control of the most important intelligence functions, fully protected from congressional oversight.

Drone Strikes Again on Hold As US-Pakistan Relations Continue to Deteriorate

5:44 am in Uncategorized by Jim White

Gen. James (fun to shoot some people) Mattis is meeting with the head of Pakistan's military today. What could possibly go wrong? (photo: Wikimedia Commons)

As relations between the US and Pakistan continue to deteriorate, it appears that drone strikes have again been put on hold. I can find no reports of any strikes since the March 17 strike on a village jirga killed over forty people. This strike especially infuriated Pakistan, coming just a day after Raymond Davis was released and, despite ample evidence of many civilians being killed, the initial US response was defiant, claiming that only militants were killed and that those killed “weren’t gathering for a bake sale”. Pakistan immediately canceled its participation in the already delayed (due to the Davis case again) trilateral meeting with the US and Afghanistan. I can find no new date yet announced for this meeting.  The US military has clearly stated that General David Petraeus has not apologized to Pakistan’s military for the strike and now General James (fun to shoot some people) Mattis is meeting with the head of Pakistan’s army today.  This meeting comes amid yet another escalation in the diplomatic break between the two countries, as Dawn reports that a number of US military personnel have been barred from the leaving the country.

There is a chronological list of drone strikes in Pakistan at Wikipedia.  Note that Raymond Davis was arrested after killing two Pakistanis on January 7 of this year.  It took a while for relations over this incident to fray, but notice that at the height of the Davis crisis, there were no drone strikes between the strikes on January 23 and February 21, a gap of almost a month.  It was in the middle of that gap, on February 12, when the US announced that it was delaying the trilateral meeting, presumably as a protest against Davis being held.  We now are in a gap of three weeks, with no reported attacks since the March 17 attack a day after Davis’ release.  This attack prompted a rare immediate response from the Pakistan military:

The Pakistani military chief, Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, issued an unusual and unusually strong condemnation of the attack. “It is highly regrettable that a jirga of peaceful citizens, including elders of the area, was carelessly and callously targeted with complete disregard to human life,” the statement said.

And as mentioned above, the US response only heightened the crisis:

But American officials on Thursday sharply disputed Pakistan’s account of the strikes and the civilian deaths, contending that all the people killed were insurgents. “These people weren’t gathering for a bake sale,” an American official said. “They were terrorists.”

After some local Pakistani press reports that Petraeus had apologized to Kayani for the attack, the US military made the strange move of denying such an apology:

The International Security Assistance Force (Isaf) Commander in Afghanistan General David Petraeus has neither apologised nor given any explanation to Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani regarding the killing of 44 civilians in the March 17 drone attack in Dattakhel area of North Waziristan Agency.

A local news agency reported that Petraeus had contacted Kayani to apologise over the killings.

/snip/

When contacted by The News, a US military source in Pakistan denied these reports carried by a local news agency, and said, “With regards to the allegation that General Petraeus contacted the Pakistani military or that he expressed regret over this alleged incident, I can assure you that General Petraeus hasn’t had any contact with Pakistani military leaders since his meeting with General Kayani on March 3.”

In a further escalation of diplomatic moves, Pakistan has now barred a number of US military personnel from leaving the country:

There are varying claims about the number of US soldiers denied exit from the country. Some sources claim that about 20-30 people have been affected, while others contend the figure is slightly less than one hundred.

The men were assigned to the US Office of Defence Representative in Pakistan (ODRP), which oversees Washington`s military relations with Islamabad, including training and equipment.

Most of these people had been working on different projects with the Pakistan military. Some of the soldiers had overstayed their visas while a majority of them had expired NOCs.

In the midst of these tensions comes today’s meeting between General James Mattis, head of Central Command and Kayani:

General Mattis, head of US Central Command overseeing the wars in Afghanistan and the Middle East, would meet Pakistan’s army chief Ashfaq Kayani for a “regular, scheduled visit”, the US embassy in Islamabad said.

“It’s not extraordinary… it’s a military to military relationship,” said embassy spokesman Alberto Rodriguez.

But the visit comes after a US report this week criticised the Pakistani military for failing to forge a clear and sustained path to beat religious insurgents holed up in the lawless regions bordering Afghanistan.

Let’s hope that Mattis has learned some diplomacy since his famous speech in 2005:

Lt. Gen. James Mattis, who commanded Marine expeditions in Afghanistan and Iraq, made the comments Tuesday during a panel discussion in San Diego, California.

“Actually it’s quite fun to fight them, you know. It’s a hell of a hoot,” Mattis said, prompting laughter from some military members in the audience. “It’s fun to shoot some people. I’ll be right up there with you. I like brawling.

“You go into Afghanistan, you got guys who slap women around for five years because they didn’t wear a veil,” Mattis said. “You know, guys like that ain’t got no manhood left anyway. So it’s a hell of a lot of fun to shoot them.”

What could possibly go wrong by sending this man to a critical meeting during a time of frayed relations?

Will Petraeus Propaganda Machine Get Him DCI Job?

5:48 am in Uncategorized by Jim White

I noted last week that there is a push to appoint General David Petraeus as head of the CIA should Leon Panetta move on to be Secretary of Defense and that this would represent a terrible move by President Obama. Sadly, this push now seems to have moved beyond the whispers on Twitter that I noted last week to a story that can be found here on NPR’s website. The NPR story is notable for its listing of “top jobs” potentially available to Petraeus when he rotates out of Afghanistan later this year, pitching Petraeus as worthy of a very high position but noting that many top positions already seem to be “taken” and pouting that Petraeus is not a candidate to be Chair of the Joint Chiefs.

The NPR story fits into a general pattern of propaganda that is generated on many fronts to promote Petraeus’ career. Back in January, I noted the push to get a fifth star for Petraeus and was able to do some digging on the Republican front groups that were a leading part of that effort. The current effort to push Petraeus, however, seems to be originating with help from inside the government and/or military. The NPR story cites “government sources” and “sources close to Petreaus”. Given the tone of the NPR piece, I find it disturbing that “government sources” seem concerned with finding Petraeus a position that is suitably important enough for him. It seems to fit within an overall atmosphere that promotes Petraeus in a way that I find to be quite offensive. Take, for example, the Army recruiting ad that is embedded above. I saw this ad run again just last night during the NCAA National Championship basketball game on CBS. Here is the “Information” about the ad that the Army provides on its YouTube Army Strong Videos channel:

A parade of U.S. Army leaders are shown in powerful archival footage, from General George Washington to Teddy Roosevelt, Douglas MacArthur, Dwight D. Eisenhower and Colin Powell. The message ends with a call to action:They bring out the best in others and themselves. Can you?

Since Petraeus appears within that “powerful archival footage”, he is clearly being touted as worthy of comparison to Washington, Roosevelt, and Eisenhower. That’s a lot of presidents, so I find it very informative that this ad would run again in an extremely high viewership slot when Petreaus is being touted for a position that would be seen by many as a stepping stone to the presidency. How can it be legal for this ad to run in this way at this time?

Just in case the Army pulls the video or blocks its embedding function, here is a screengrab of Petraeus as he appears in the ad among the historical figures to whom he is being compared:

David Petreaus has inserted himself, time after time, into the political arena, often by falsely claiming progress on training of troops in Iraq or Afghanistan, going all the way back to his interference in the 2004 presidential election.  Obama needs to resist this relentless push from those who would have David Petraeus as president and who think that DCI would be the next logical step in his career advancement to the presidency.  Rather than appointing Petraeus to that vital position, Obama should let him rotate into a position of minor importance more in keeping with his multiple failures in the field and his pathological lying about those failures.

Quagmires R Us: Now Adding Libya to Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq

7:34 am in Uncategorized by Jim White

Dial "Q" for quagmire. (White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Remarkably, the US is sending “clandestine” CIA teams into Libya to coordinate bombing runs and to provide contact with the rebels there at the same time that courts in Pakistan are still sorting out how Raymond Davis was allowed to leave the country after his blood money payment despite having been placed on the Exit Control List.  Also, Washington is gearing up for a “debate” on drawing down US troops from Afghanistan this summer, with the military now angling to narrow the options to include only insignificant numbers to be withdrawn.  Meanwhile, despite the best efforts of the remaining “non-combat” US troops there, violence in Iraq continues, with 56 killed in a single attack Wednesday.

In Pakistan, the Lahore High Court has given various government offices until April 8 to respond to a petition that has been filed with the court requesting information on how CIA operative Raymond Davis was allowed to leave the country despite having been placed on the Exit Control List:

The petition, filed by Barrister Javed Iqbal Jaffery, requested the court to seek explanation from Federal Law Minister Babar Awan, Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, AD&SJ Mohammad Yousuf Aujla and others as to why they facilitated Davis in his acquittal and emergent departure despite the fact that his name was placed on the Exit Control List (ECL).

/snip/

The petitioner had stated that the LHC had directed the interior ministry to place Davis’s name on the ECL and the court was also assured by a law officer and the ministry that the order had been complied with.

He had further said that the court order was in place when Davis was released and the LHC had not suspended or withdrawn its order and no such application was filed by any one on behalf of Davis.

The petitioner had therefore alleged that the government and its functionaries released Davis ignoring the order of the LHC through which his name was placed on the ECL.

And yet, despite the ongoing fallout from the CIA’s continuing misadventures in Pakistan, Obama has signed a “finding” allowing CIA teams to enter Libya with assignments that appear to be very similar to Davis’ reported activities in developing targets for drone attacks:

The Central Intelligence Agency has inserted clandestine operatives into Libya to gather intelligence for military airstrikes and to contact and vet the beleaguered rebels battling Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi’s forces, according to American officials.

/snip/

In addition to the C.I.A. presence, composed of an unknown number of Americans who had worked at the spy agency’s station in Tripoli and others who arrived more recently, current and former British officials said that dozens of British special forces and MI6 intelligence officers are working inside Libya. The British operatives have been directing airstrikes from British jets and gathering intelligence about the whereabouts of Libyan government tank columns, artillery pieces and missile installations, the officials said.

/snip/

In addition, the American spies are meeting with rebels to try to fill in gaps in understanding who their leaders are and the allegiances of the groups opposed to Colonel Qaddafi, said United States government officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the classified nature of the activities. American officials cautioned, though, that the Western operatives were not directing the actions of rebel forces.

Given the track record of the US in these matters, you can bet that it is only a matter of time until our operatives are engaged not just in “directing the actions” of the the rebels but also actively engaged in the miraculous “training” that always is just on the verge of achieving success, but needs only another Friedman Unit or two to be completed. Of course, we probably also will need some drone strikes to “protect” the rebels and their trainers, too.

At the more mature end of the quagmire process that is beginning in Libya, we are about to move to the next phase in Afghanistan. The Washington Post reports Thursday morning on the upcoming battle over the extent of troop reductions this summer:

Military leaders and President Obama’s civilian advisers are girding for battle over the size and pace of the planned pullout of U.S. troops from Afghanistan this summer, with the military seeking to limit a reduction in combat forces and the White House pressing for a withdrawal substantial enough to placate a war-weary electorate.

Despite the fact that Obama is the Commander in Chief, Obama is following his usual negotiation strategy by allowing others to set the parameters of the debate:

Gen. David H. Petraeus, the top allied commander in Afghanistan, has not presented a recommendation on the withdrawal to his superiors at the Pentagon, but some senior officers and military planning documents have described the July pullout as small to insignificant, prompting deep concern within the White House.

/snip/

As both sides prepare for what they expect to be a vigorous debate, they are seeking ways to achieve their favored outcome by limiting what the other can do. For the military, that means crafting a narrow set of choices, because there is general agreement that reduction numbers need to originate in the field, not be imposed by the White House. But the National Security Council may attempt to impose its own limitations by setting a date by which all the surge forces must be brought home, the officials said.

And how is that going to work out? We only need go as far as Iraq to find out. The “drawdown” there was finalized by redefining the remaining troops as “non-combat”. And that is going just swimmingly:

Sunni militants linked to al-Qaeda were responsible for a bloody siege in Tikrit in which 56 people were killed, Iraqi officials have said.

Tuesday’s attack took place at a local government building in Tikrit, the hometown of Saddam Hussein.

A fierce gun-battle ended when the attackers – numbering about eight – blew themselves up.

Just how many quagmires do we have to be engaged in simultaneously for the military-industrial-congressional complex to be satisfied?

Petraeus to Head CIA Would Be Obama’s Worst Move Yet

5:30 am in Uncategorized by Jim White

Can you spot the war-mongering Republican in this photo? (ISAFMedia photo)

In a presidency that has been marked by actions in direct opposition to his high-minded campaign, Barack Obama appears poised on the precipice of a move that could do more material damage to the US than his refusal to prosecute torturers, coddling of big business, healthcare sellout, escalation of existing wars and starting of a new one all combined. Rumors started on Twitter last night that, in a strange exchange of places, the potential nomination of Leon Panetta as Secretary of Defense could be coupled with nominating General David Petraeus to head CIA. This is so wrong, so stupid, so downright evil that I hardly know where to start.

First, the rumors. Michael Goldfarb tweeted last night “@stephenfhayes @lrozen Same here–also hearing Petraeus to replace Panetta…….which would be a way easier confirmation than Hagel.” Laura Rozen responded “I swear, I heard 2nd hand petraeus too for CIA but have a hard time as yet believing it. @thegoldfarb @stephenfhayes”. What should be everyone’s response was uttered by bmaz “WTF?…” And as if that is not enough, Rozen followed with evidence that Petraeus’ office seems to be taking it seriously “Indeed, I wrote his spokesman this AM expecting cackling laughter wave off from Tampa, but heard nothing @bmaz @thegoldfarb @stephenfhayes”.

Just last June, I actually praised Obama for choosing to put Petraeus in Afghanistan to replace the fired Stanley McChrystal. I saw that as a strategic move intended to burden Petraeus with owning the failure of the war in Afghanistan, thereby stripping Petraeus of the political future he has so clearly been angling to arrange. Allowing Petraeus to cut and run from Afghanistan now would accomplish exactly the opposite. The fraudulent nature of Petraeus’ never-ending claims of “training” troops to take over the future of their countries, whether it is in Iraq or Afghanistan is becoming so clear that even the brain-dead US press seems destined to stumble across the story soon.

If Petraeus is allowed to move to CIA, look for him to once again wipe his failure-laden slate clean and jump onto the drone bandwagon. The role of training local troops will disappear from what will “save” our efforts in Afghanistan, and the entire US press will be filled with adulation for the brave keyboard warriors in CIA who kill evil brown people from afar with missiles fired from drones. The reason for this is that Petraeus’ entire career has been built by leaks that he himself has fashioned in self-promotion. And now the guy who has built his career on leaks is being considered to head CIA? Say it ain’t so!

Why does Obama feel such a need to put war-mongering Republicans in positions of responsibility in his government?  Is it because in his heart of hearts, Obama is a war-mongering Republican?  Putting Petraeus in charge of CIA would make that statement loud and clear.

Why is Admiral William Fallon the only public figure who was able to see Petreaus for what he truly is?

US Kills More Civilians in Afghanistan Despite “Progress” Propaganda

4:59 am in Uncategorized by Jim White

Look! Herat is so safe you can buy popcorn on the street! (ISAFMedia photo)

On Tuesday, US forces in Afghanistan released a propaganda push highlighting “progress” in the city of Herat as the beacon of how Afghanistan is moving toward peace and being able to defend itself.   Look, in the photo you can see that you can actually buy popcorn on the streets of Herat!  The next day, on Wednesday, a US helicopter killed two more civilians, including at least one child.  The initial press release by ISAF on this attack was produced only in propaganda mode, bleating the death of a Haqqani network leader and making false claims about “protecting” civilians who unexpectedly appeared in the area while helicopters were attacking their target.

To the extent that there is a mission in Afghanistan, the US is now there to provide security while the Afghan government and defense forces develop to the point that Afghanistan can provide its own security after we leave.  That means that it is vital for the US military to “prove” that it is making progress toward that end, and so ISAF puts much effort into providing propaganda showing how wonderful things are.  On Tuesday, we had this gem:

The Islamic Republic of Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai named Herat as a transitional city during a speech in Kabul, today.

Development, governance and commerce in Herat happen at a rate higher than many other areas, and Afghans will take the lead in defending national sovereignty and tranquility here.

Life in Herat is vibrant, and the city is a benchmark of progress, said Brig. Gen. Sayed Agha Saqueb, Herat Provincial Afghan National Police chief.

If Hearat is so wonderful and safe, why wasn’t Karzai there to make his proclamation?  And the most wonderful part of all in this press release:

The ANP is providing the security for all districts in Herat, while the 207th Afghan National Army Corps, based at Camp Zafar, assists, said the general. The ANP assures roughly 80 percent of security in the area.

See?  All that training that Saint David Petraeus has ordered to take place is working!  This press release would have us dancing in the streets of Herat and buying the popcorn that ISAFMedia so dutifully captured in their photo.  But, oops, the propaganda factory must have been working overtime, because a bit of off-message information slipped through:

“Making a living is getting better day by day,” Saqueb said. “We have many factories and industrial states. We have electricity, the border with Iran and Turkmenistan, and there are many activities with merchant and other aspects with these two countries.”

Some unfortunate propaganda writer will be in a bit of trouble for letting out that trade with Iran could possibly be one aspect of the vibrancy of Herat.

In the meantime, only one day after producing this “feel good” piece on Herat, ISAF propaganda generators kicked into high gear to trumpet a helicopter attack on a Haqqani network leader:

Coalition forces conducted a precision airstrike targeting a Haqqani network leader, killing two insurgents and wounding one in Terayzai district, Khost province today.

The Haqqani leader is involved in the supply of weapons, ammunition, and vehicles to HQN operatives and participates in direct attacks against Afghan and coalition forces.

Coalition forces called in a precision air strike and the targeted vehicle was destroyed.

Just prior to the weapon impact, an unassociated civilian vehicle and two pedestrians walking in a wadi appeared, next to the target vehicle.

Immediately following the strike, the civilian vehicle came to a stop. Seven passengers were observed walking away from the non-target vehicle. Afghan National Security Forces spoke with the driver of the vehicle who stated there were no injuries to anyone in his vehicle.

The disposition of the two pedestrians walking in the wadi is not known at this time. Efforts are under way to confirm their status.

This press release is just such a beautiful piece of propaganda. It was a “precision air strike” that “destroyed” the “targeted vehicle”. The target was an evil person, involved in supplying weapons to those who attack US forces in the area. And, best of all, the attack spared some civilians who just “appeared” on the scene just prior to “impact” of the weapon. The civilians in a vehicle were spared. Isn’t ISAF awesome?

But, the “efforts” to “confirm the status” of the two pedestrians came to a sad end, as reported in the Washington Post:

A NATO helicopter gunship inadvertently killed two civilians while attacking suspected insurgents in the northern province of Khost, NATO announced Thursday.

/snip/

“At the time of the strike, two civilians were walking near the moving targeted vehicle,” NATO said Thursday. “They were previously unseen by coalition forces prior to the initiation of the airstrike. Unfortunately both were killed as an unintended result of the strike.”

Khost provincial police chief Abdul Hakim Ishaqzai said at least one of the civilians was a child.

Perhaps ISAF should be a little slower to rush propaganda pieces to the wires while there is still a chance that an attack they are trumpeting actually ended up killing another innocent child.