Archive for Afghanistan

Bowe Knows Desertion

No, not that Bo:

This Bowe:

Emotions ran high Wednesday at a hearing on Capitol Hill to examine the circumstances surrounding Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl’s capture by the Taliban in 2009 and the deal that led to his release in late May.

Spc. Cody Full, who was Bergdahl’s roommate before their deployment and served closely with him at the base, said at the hearing that he has no doubt Bergdahl deserted and that the desertion was pre-meditated.

“Knowing that someone you needed to trust deserted you in war and did so on his own free will is the ultimate betrayal,” Full told members of two subcommittees of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

Mike Waltz, who commanded an Army Special Forces unit in eastern Afghanistan when Bergdahl was captured, told subcommittee members that all military resources in that part of the country were redirected to search for Bergdahl and that the Taliban capitalized on that effort to launch attacks.

“They began feeding false information into our informant network in order to lure our forces into a trap,” Waltz said.

Waltz, who is now a senior national security fellow with the New America Foundation, added that if “someone was killed during that specific amount of time, unless they tripped and hit their head on the way to the mess hall, they were out looking for Sgt. Bergdahl.”

Members of Bergdahl’s former platoon have said at least six soldiers were killed searching for him, including 2nd Lt. Darryn Andrews, whose father Andy Andrews also testified at Wednesday’s hearing.

“Exactly why did my son die?” Andrews asked. “Tell me one more time because I don’t know what we’ve accomplished.”

I’ve tried to keep an open mind. I don’t know nothin’, and I wasn’t there. But now that I’ve heard from those who did know Bergdahl, I can begin to draw my own conclusions. And I already know this administration all too well:

In particular, National Security Adviser Susan Rice has come under fire for saying that Sgt. Bergdahl served “with honor and distinction.”

Full addressed that comment directly on Wednesday.

“Bowe Bergdahl should not be characterized as having served with ‘honor and distinction,’” said Full, who said that he was motivated to speak out because he was offended by the “hero’s welcome” given to Bergdahl, which he said was not extended to those who died searching for him.

In perhaps the most poignant moment of the hearing, Rep. Randy Weber, R-Texas, asked Andy Andrews whether, given the option, he would be willing to trade five senior Taliban leaders to have his son back.

“If my son had been a deserter, then no,” Andrews said. “Absolutely not.”

“But my son was a man of honor,” he continued, fighting back tears, “and I would do almost anything.”

Republicans in Congress are wary about passing any serious legislation because they don’t trust Obama to implement it as it was written. They have a point.

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Good Morning, Kabul!

I don’t care how or why he did it, I give credit to President Obama for his secret visit to the troops in Afghanistan yesterday. I only wish he’d do more of it, and not just on Memorial Day weekend, and not only when he’s in hot water with the veterans.

As Commander-in-Chief, he should be more present among the men and women who serve him. So, good for him.

However:

The CIA’s top officer in Kabul was exposed Saturday by the White House when his name was inadvertently included on a list provided to news organizations of senior U.S. officials participating in President Obama’s surprise visit with U.S. troops.

The White House recognized the mistake and quickly issued a revised list that did not include the individual, who had been identified on the initial release as the “Chief of Station” in Kabul, a designation used by the CIA for its highest-ranking spy in a country.

The disclosure marked a rare instance in which a CIA officer working overseas had his cover — the secrecy meant to protect his actual identity — pierced by his own government.

Loose lips sink ships, fellas.

Tangential to the rest of the story, but the WaPo goes on to say:

The only other recent case came under significantly different circumstances, when former CIA operative Valerie Plame was exposed as officials of the George W. Bush administration sought to discredit her husband, a former ambassador and fierce critic of the decision to invade Iraq.

Really? That’s not how history—WaPo history—remembers it:

On November 15, 2005, journalist Bob Woodward of The Washington Post revealed that “a government official with no axe to grind” leaked to him the identity of outed CIA officer Valerie Plame in mid-June 2003. According to an April 2006 Vanity Fair article (published March 14, 2006), former Washington Post executive editor Ben Bradlee said in an interview “that Armitage is the likely source is a fair assumption”, though Bradlee later told the Post that he “[did] not recall making that precise statement” in the interview.[10]

In the September 4, 2006 issue of Newsweek magazine, in an article titled “The Man Who Said Too Much”, journalist Michael Isikoff, quoting a “source directly familiar with the conversation who asked not to be identified because of legal sensitivities”, reported that Armitage was the “primary” source for Robert Novak’s piece outing Plame. Armitage allegedly mentioned Wilson’s CIA role to Novak in a July 8, 2003 interview after learning about her status from a State Department memo which made no reference to her undercover status.[13] Isikoff also reported that Armitage had also told Bob Woodward of Plame’s identity in June 2003, and that special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald investigated Armitage’s role “aggressively”, but did not charge Armitage with a crime because he “found no evidence that Armitage knew of Plame’s covert CIA status when he talked to Novak and Woodward”.

As so often happens, my ire at President Obama or some other liberal figure veers off into a screed at the ignorant, lying liberal media. Richard Armitage, not Scooter Libby and not Dick Cheney, outed Valerie Plame. And he was never charged, even though he did a very stupid thing, because he outed her inadvertently.

I can understand why the WaPo doesn’t read itself, however. Who wants to subject oneself to lies and propaganda?

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Religion of Pieces

It’s too early in the day to link to the stories themselves, but I think you should know that a suicide bomber in an Afghanistan market turned human beings to chunks and spray. And Somali Islamists beheaded two women on suspicions of being Christian. While making their children watch.

And it’s not even breakfast.

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He Almost Had Me

It starts so well:

Zaid Jilani, a former blogger with the left-wing think tank Center for American Progress, explained this week how the Obama administration frequently tries to censor the progressive organization’s content when it departs from the White House’s agenda.

Do tell:

“One of the controversial topics that was very constrained in our writing at ThinkProgress in 2009 was Afghanistan.,” he wrote. “CAP had decided not to protest Obama’s surge, so most of our writing on the topic was simply neutral — we weren’t supposed to take a strong stand.”

That was tough for Jilani, a strong opponent of the war. And as congressional opposition to the war increased over time, he found he was able to criticize the White House more directly.

But in 2011, one post went too far.

Jilani had just published a story — “one of the most successful things [he] had ever written at that point” — which indicated troops levels at the end of Obama’s Afghan “surge” would actually be higher than at any point in the George W. Bush administration. And it came complete with a graph, which congressional opponents of the war took into committee hearings on Capitol Hill.

The Obama administration was furious.

“Phone calls from the White House started pouring in,” Jilani claimed, “berating my bosses for being critical of Obama on this policy . . . Soon afterwards all of us ThinkProgress national security bloggers were called into a meeting with CAP senior staff and basically berated for opposing the Afghan war and creating daylight between us and Obama.”

You think this doesn’t go on at CBS, NPR, etc., etc? Ha! That’s why we call it the Democrat-Media Complex.

He wasn’t done, either:

“It confused me a lot because on the one hand, CAP was advertising to donors that it opposed the Afghan war,” Jilani noted. “In our ‘Progressive Party,’ the annual fundraising party we do with both Big Name Progressive Donors and corporate lobbyists (in the same room!) we even advertised that we wanted to end the war in Afghanistan.”

“What that meeting with CAP senior staff showed me was that they viewed being closer to Obama and aligning with his policy as more important than demonstrating progressive principle, if that meant breaking with Obama,” Jilani explained.

“Essentially, they were doing the same thing to us RT [Russia Today] America is telling its American producers to do now — align with your boss, who is the president of the country.”

Obama = Putin. Perfect. Couldn’t have said it better myself.

So where’s the problem?

The blogger eventually left his post at CAP, citing “reasons of other censorship and dealing with both corporate sponsors and that institution’s fealty to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).”

Great. Super. Just when I thought I had a soul brother, he shivs me with his scimitar.

PS: “Fealty”? Get over yourself.

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George W. Who?

After five years of Obama, it’s almost as if Bush never happened:

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki has urged residents of the embattled city of Fallujah to force out insurgents linked to al-Qaeda who have taken control there.

Mr Maliki said if the people expelled what he called terrorists, they would be spared military action.

Iraqi forces are preparing to recapture the city, which has been out of government control for days.

Hundreds have already fled shelling and air strikes by government forces.

Mr Maliki called on “the people of Fallujah and its tribes to expel the terrorists” so “their areas are not subjected to the danger of armed clashes”, state television reported.

The former Iraqi national security adviser, Mowaffak al-Rubaie, has told the BBC it was impossible to defend all of Iraq from attacks by the al-Qaeda-linked militants the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, known as ISIS.

At least Obama kept his promise to get our boys out!

Where else did he say he’d do that?

A young Afghan girl has been detained wearing a suicide vest in southern Afghanistan, officials say.

She was held on Sunday night in Helmand province, as she tried to carry out an attack on border police, an interior ministry spokesman told the BBC.

The girl, reported to be as young as eight and thought to be the sister of a prominent Taliban commander, is said to be in a state of shock and confusion.

Police told the BBC she was encouraged to carry out the attack by her brother.

Awww, sweet!

Al Qaeda and the Taliban terrorizing innocent Muslims across Asia and the Middle East, especially little girls: it’s almost like the years 2001-2009 never existed!

More on the Al Qaeda-ization of Iraq:

The climactic battles of the American War in Iraq were fought in Anbar Province, with U.S. forces at great cost retaking the city of Fallujah at the end of 2004 and Ramadi, the provincial capital, in 2006-07. The latter success was sparked by an unlikely alliance with tribal fighters that turned around what had been a losing war effort and made possible the success of what became known as “the surge.” By 2009, violence had fallen more than 90%, creating an unexpected opportunity to build a stable, democratic and prosperous country in the heart of the Middle East.

It is now obvious that this opportunity has been squandered, with tragic consequences for the entire region. In recent days the Iraqi army appears to have been pushed, at least temporarily, out of Fallujah and Ramadi by al Qaeda in Iraq militants. A battle is raging for control of Anbar Province with some tribal fighters supporting the government and others AQI. Mosul, the major city of northern Iraq and a longtime hotbed of AQI activity, could be next to fall. If it does, AQI would gain effective control of the Sunni Triangle, an area north and west of Baghdad the size of New England.

AQI’s control would stretch beyond the Sunni Triangle because its offshoot, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, dominates a significant portion of Syrian territory across the border. This creates the potential for a new nightmare: an al Qaeda state incorporating northern Syria and western Iraq.

We’ve had tens of thousands of troops in Germany, Japan, South Korea, etc. for how many decades? And this limp-di*ked loser can’t manage to keep won what thousands gave their lives to win?

Hard as it may be to concede, this failure may be the worst, the most inexcusable, of his myriad failures.

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You Were Saying?

Spoke (or wrote) too soon:

An Indian author whose memoir about her dramatic escape from the Taliban became a Bollywood movie was shot dead by militants in Afghanistan, police said Thursday.

Sushmita Banerjee, also known as Sushmita Bandhopadhya, was killed outside her home in Paktika province, according to Dawlat Khan Zadran, the police chief of eastern Paktika province.

He said suspected Taliban insurgents broke into her house Wednesday night, blindfolded and tied up her husband, and fled with Banerjee.

Her body was found Thursday, dumped outside a madrasa, or religious school, in the outskirts of Sharana city, the provincial capital.

“She had around 20 bullet holes in her body,” Zadran said.

In 2003, her book was made into a Bollywood film, “Escape from Taliban.” Bollywood movies are extremely popular in Afghanistan.

Well, this will make a hell of a sequel.

The Taliban are the Mounties of the Hindu Kush: they always get their woman—and riddle her with bullet holes.

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Army Refuses To End Contracts With Al Quaeda Aligned Companies

They insist that the companies receive “due process”!

How quaint. American citizens can barely receive due process any more.

The U.S. Army is refusing to suspend contracts with dozens of companies and individuals tied to Al Qaeda and other extremist groups out of concern for their “due process rights,” despite repeated pleas from the chief watchdog for Afghanistan reconstruction.
In a scathing passage of his latest report to Congress, Special Inspector General John Sopko said his office has urged the Army to suspend or debar 43 contractors over concerns about ties to the Afghanistan insurgency, “including supporters of the Taliban, the Haqqani network and al Qaeda.”
Sopko wrote that the Army “rejected” every single case.
“The Army Suspension and Debarment Office appears to believe that suspension or debarment of these individuals and companies would be a violation of their due process rights if based on classified information or if based on findings by the Department of Commerce,” Sopko said, summing up the Army’s position.

Our government is a mystery, wrapped in an enigma. Who could possibly understand this?

- Aggie

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That and a Kopek

Hey, whoopie, glad to hear it: Malala addresses the UN.

A Pakistani teenager nearly killed by Taliban gunmen for advocating that all girls should have the right to go to school gave her first formal public remarks Friday at the United Nations. It also happened to be Malala Yousafzai’s 16th birthday.

“Today, it is an honor for me to be speaking again after a long time,” she said. “Being here with such honorable people is a great moment in my life.”

She looked out at an audience of hundreds of children from around the world and U.N. members, including Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, and told them that she was wearing a pink shawl that once belonged to Benazir Bhutto, the two-time prime minister of Pakistan who was killed in 2007 in a suicide attack at a political rally.

“I don’t know where to begin my speech,” she said. “I don’t know what people would be expecting me to say. But first of all, thank you to God for whom we all are equal and thank you to every person who has prayed for my fast recovery and a new life. I cannot believe how much love people have shown me.”

The symbolism of her speech is truly amazing. The symbolism of Benazir Bhutto’s shawl is more so. The article reminds us of what happens to women in that society if they get too big for their burkas.

This is what happens:

After the U.S.-led Operation Enduring Freedom toppled the militant Taliban regime 12 years ago, girls’ schools reopened, burqas were no longer compulsory and many women went back to work. So when the Afghan government last week appointed a former Taliban official as a commissioner on the newly established independent human rights commission, many were shocked.

Abdul Rahman Hotak, nominated for the post by Afghan President Hamid Karzai, was the editor of Taliban newspaper “Afghan Sunrise” and worked for the group’s education directorate during its rule – an alarming choice, some say, for someone tasked with championing the rights of women who were denied so many freedoms under the Taliban.

Hotak also opposes Karzai’s proposed Elimination of Violence Against Women law (EVAW), which would make domestic and public violation against women punishable by law. Criticized for being un-Islamic, it has been languishing in Afghanistan’s parliament since 2009.

And then there’s this:

A Pakistani Taliban group on Saturday banned the use of “tight or thin” clothes both for men and women in the holy month of Ramzan and warned of one month imprisonment for not fasting.

The Ramzan code of conduct guidelines was issued in a pamphlet after the Mullah Nazir Taliban Group held a shura meeting in Wana headquarters of South Waziristan Agency.

Tight or thin clothes have been banned for both men and women during the holy month, the pamphlet stated.

“We warn the shopkeepers and tailors with severe punishments (for violating the rule). Fine up to Rs 50,000 would be imposed on those found guilty,” the pamphlet read.

As Malala shows us (and Aesha before her), there is justice for women living under the Taliban. Just not while they’re living under the Taliban. Here among the infidels, we protect and treasure women (as indeed we do men). There, not so much.

[I]n June, a suicide bomber blew up a bus carrying 40 schoolgirls as it made its way to an all-girl campus in Quetta. Fourteen female students were killed.

“Dear sisters and brothers,” she said, “we realize the importance of light when we see darkness. We realize the importance of our voice when we are silenced. In the same way when we were in Swat, we realized the importance of pens and books when we saw the guns.

“The extremists were and they are afraid of books and pens,” she said.

“The power of education frightens them. They are afraid of women. The power of the voice of women frightens them.”

Beautiful, Malala, but just remember: fourteen girls’ voices will never be heard again. Who’s frightened again?

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Take a Number

The line to bitch-slap the President of the United States of America forms to the right. No cutting, China!

US and Afghan officials say they are committed to talks with the Taliban, despite an assault on a CIA station and government buildings in Kabul.

Who wrote that, Fox Butterfield? We’re suing for peace because they they won’t stop attacking us, not despite it. And don’t think the Taliban don’t know it.

Taliban militants launched the attack with gunfire and bombs early on Tuesday.

Security forces repelled them, but four insurgents and three guards died

Analysts say the Afghan Taliban have showed no sign of abating their assault on security targets, despite last week’s announcement that they had set up an office in Doha in the Gulf state of Qatar for peace talks.

Good God, are they tone deaf?

White House spokesman Jay Carney said in a statement that Mr Obama and Mr Karzai spoke over the phone on Tuesday, and were still committed to the planned talks.

“The leaders reaffirmed that an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace and reconciliation process is the surest way to end violence and ensure lasting stability in Afghanistan and the region,” he said.

“They reiterated their support for an office in Doha for the purpose of negotiations between the High Peace Council and authorised representatives of the Taliban.”

Of all the mealy-mouthed contortions of the truth ever uttered by that meek weasel of a man, that has to be the mealiest-mouthed.

How was your day, dear?

Okay, I guess. I had to make reference to “lasting stability in Afghanistan” and “authorised representatives of the Taliban”. But otherwise, not so bad.

Oh sweetie. Have a martini.

I think I will. Two. Six.

Why do I always think of Pirates of the Caribbean when I hear about the “authorised representatives of the Taliban”.

Most of them are missing an eye and/or a limb.And they haven’t bathed since… they haven’t bathed.

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Judge, Jury, and Texecutioner

Oh, well, as long as you had a reason

Fort Hood massacre suspect Army Maj. Nidal Hasan argues that he sought to protect Taliban leaders during a shooting rampage at the sprawling Texas military base that killed 13 people.

Representing himself against murder charges, Hasan explained his “defense of others” strategy at a pre-trial hearing on Tuesday without offering details, according to a statement from the military base.

That prompted the military judge overseeing the long-delayed court-martial to give him a day to present any facts to underpin his case, the statement said.

Judge Col. Tara Osborn will at that time consider Hasan’s request for a three-month delay to further prepare his arguments.

A devout Muslim who opposed the war in Afghanistan, Hasan is charged with opening fire on military personnel at Fort Hood in November 2009. Thirteen people were killed and more than 30 others were hurt.

There’s something wrong there. The story declares that Nidal Hasan is a devout Muslim, but also reports that he killed 13 people. That can’t be right, can it?

And how can he help the Taliban (in Afghanistan and Pakistan) from Ft. Hood (Killeen), Texas?

But that does give me an idea. President Obama gets all squeamish about judicial niceties for terrorists and enemy combatants in American custody, but happily vaporizes them from the air if they are “free-range” terrorists and enemy combatants. That goes for Americans too. So, what if prison authorities give Major Hassan an extra free period in the exercise yard, and President Obama gets the control stick for a Hellfire Missile-armed Predator Drone? Let nature take its course.

We don’t even need to wait for a verdict. Anwar al-Awlaki, an American, was never tried; neither was his (late) son.

This is not “a modest proposal”, as Jonathan Swift once made. We already do this all the time—well, President Obama does—and I’m not complaining. What’s another extrajudicial killing?

PS: Fearing pushback from our more sensitive readers, perhaps we can just free Major Hassan across the Rio Grande in the “impressive progress” (™Barack Obama) of modern Mexico. Same result.

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Obomber: Drone Stikes Up, Way Up

Was there ever a President who enjoyed war as much as Barack Obama? And how ’bout his base? They just can’t get enough of the drone strikes.

KABUL, Afghanistan — One morning recently, a teenager named Bacha Zarina was collecting firewood on her family’s farm in eastern Afghanistan. About 30 yards away, as relatives recall, two Taliban commanders stood outside a house.

A missile screamed down from the sky, killing the two men instantly. Two chunks of shrapnel flew at Bacha Zarina and lodged in her left side.

Her family took her to the nearest hospital, a half-hour drive away, but she died en route, an accidental victim of the rapidly escalating U.S.-led campaign of drone strikes in Afghanistan. She was 14 or 15 years old.

Score! The Democrat War On Women continues! Obomber is winning!!

The U.S. military launched 506 strikes from unmanned aircraft in Afghanistan last year, according to Pentagon data, a 72 percent increase from 2011 and a sign that U.S. commanders may begin to rely more heavily on remote-controlled air power to kill Taliban insurgents as they reduce the number of troops on the ground.

Though drone strikes represented a fraction of all U.S. air attacks in Afghanistan last year, their use is rising even as American troops have pulled back from ground and air operations and pushed Afghan soldiers and police into the lead. In 2011, drone strikes accounted for 5 percent of U.S. air attacks in Afghanistan; in 2012, the figure rose to 12 percent.

It’s a double!! Obomber is so hot. He’s a killing machine. USA! USA! USA!

Do I sound bitter? It’s because I recall absolutely vicious criticism leveled at Israel when they used drones to take out leadership of the suicide terror network – not the flunky soldiers, but the leaders. Where are the outraged voices of academia, the news media, the UN, other world leaders? Where are the cartoons of a naked Obama devouring dead Afghan babies (like the Chris Brown cartoon that won that best political cartoon award in Britain, showing Ariel Sharon doing just that). I want to see that cartoon and I want to honor the creator in Congress. America has become a civilian killing machine because America doesn’t want to sacrifice troops. And because America elected a democrat and they can kill with impunity. All well and good. But remember this next time you hear Israel accused of brutality.

- Aggie

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Obama Pulling Plug On Afghanistan?

In 2014

This should be taken with a grain of salt, since it was written by a journalist, but it appears that we are turning Afghanistan over to the Taliban on 2014.

The Obama administration is considering the possibility of removing all U.S. troops in Afghanistan after the NATO combat mission officially finishes at the end of 2014, White House officials said Tuesday.

The comments by Ben Rhodes, the White House’s deputy national security adviser, come as the Pentagon and White House mull over the number of troops that could be left in Afghanistan after 2014 to fight insurgents and train Afghan security forces.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai and President Obama are scheduled to meet on Friday in Washington.

Rhodes said the administration is considering a range of options, with one scenario having no U.S. troops there. The range, according to defense officials, had until recently been between 6,000 to 15,000 U.S. troops possibly remaining in the country, based on an assessment by the U.S. top commander in Afghanistan, Gen. John Allen.

“We have an objective of making sure there’s no safe haven for al Qaeda within Afghanistan and making sure that the Afghan government has a security force that is sufficient, again, to assure the stability of the Afghan government and the denial of that safe haven,” Rhodes said.

“That’s what causes us to look for different potential troop numbers or not having potential troops in the country,” he continued.

I’m agnostic on this. Would al Qaeda really try another September 11th-type terror attack after what they’ve been through? Possibly. Do the Afghans deserve more American sacrifice when they cannot seem to get their act together? Doubtful. And the public is certainly fed up with war.

- Aggie

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