Archive for the 'Secret Wars' Category
Quietly and without much notice, the Air Force has reversed its policy of publishing statistics on drone strikes in Afghanistan as the debate about drone warfare hits a fever pitch in Washington. In addition, it has erased previously published drone strike statistics from its website. (Read more)
The 54 countries which were co-opted in the sweeping CIA drive against terrorism include the usual suspects such as Pakistan, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Algeria and Libya which have poor or non-existent legal systems, judicial oversight, and human rights. But it also includes western countries such as Australia, Canada, Sweden, Denmark, Belgium, Finland, Germany, Spain, and Italy, some of which are fierce advocates of civil liberties and human rights.
India is not among the countries named in the report. The list of 136 detainees does not include any Indians, nor were any apprehended in India. A majority of them were detained in Pakistan in raids and many of them are Pakistanis, confirming the country’s reputation as a terrorist haven. (Read more)
He took office in 2012 after the first vote of its kind since dictator Mohamed Siad Barre was ousted in 1991.
“Today is a milestone, it is not the end of the journey, but it is an important milestone towards that end,” Mrs Clinton said after talks with Mr Mohamud. (Read more)
Somalia was better off stateless:
Stateless in SomaliaPeter Leeson drawing on statistical data from the United Nations Development Project, World Bank, CIA, and World Health Organization. Comparing the last five years under the central government (1985–1990) with the most recent five years of anarchy (2000–2005), Leeson finds these welfare changes:
* Life expectancy increased from 46 to 48.5 years. This is a poor expectancy as compared with developed countries. But in any measurement of welfare, what is important to observe is not where a population stands at a given time, but what is the trend. Is the trend positive, or is it the reverse?
* Number of one-year-olds fully immunized against measles rose from 30 to 40 percent.
* Number of physicians per 100,000 population rose from 3.4 to 4.
* Number of infants with low birth weight fell from 16 per thousand to 0.3 — almost none.
* Infant mortality per 1,000 births fell from 152 to 114.9.
* Maternal mortality per 100,000 births fell from 1,600 to 1,100.
* Percent of population with access to sanitation rose from 18 to 26.
* Percent of population with access to at least one health facility rose from 28 to 54.8.
* Percent of population in extreme poverty (i.e., less than $1 per day) fell from 60 to 43.2.
* Radios per thousand population rose from 4 to 98.5.
* Telephones per thousand population rose from 1.9 to 14.9.
* TVs per 1,000 population rose from 1.2 to 3.7.
* Fatalities due to measles fell from 8,000 to 5,600.
Despite this, the US wreaked death and destruction upon the country in an attempt to establish a favorable state:
Blowback in Somalia in many cases they were chopping their head off and taking the head to the Americans or whoever. And telling them, ‘We killed this guy.’”
The Novye Aldi massacre was a notorious crime in which Russian federal forces summarily executed dozens of people in the Novye Aldi (Aldy) suburb of Grozny, the capital of Chechnya, in the course of a “mopping-up” (zachistka) operation conducted there on February 5, 2000, soon after the end of the battle for the city. As a result of a deadly rampage by the special police forces at least 60 and up to 82 local civilians were killed and at least six women were raped. Numerous houses were also burned and civilian property was stolen in an organized manner.
The Yemeni government initially said that those killed were al-Qaeda militants and that its Soviet-era jets had carried out the Sept. 2 attack. But tribal leaders and Yemeni officials would later say that it was an American assault and that all the victims were civilians who lived in a village near Radda, in central Yemen. U.S. officials last week acknowledged for the first time that it was an American strike.
“Their bodies were burning,” recalled Sultan Ahmed Mohammed, 27, who was riding on the hood of the truck and flew headfirst into a sandy expanse. “How could this happen? None of us were al-Qaeda.”
More than three months later, the incident offers a window into the Yemeni government’s efforts to conceal Washington’s mistakes and the unintended consequences of civilian deaths in American air assaults. In this case, the deaths have bolstered the popularity of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the terrorist network’s Yemen affiliate, which has tried to stage attacks on U.S. soil several times.
Furious tribesmen tried to take the bodies to the gates of the presidential residence, forcing the government into the rare position of withdrawing its assertion that militants had been killed. (Read more)
he CIA has dismissed as “baseless” and “uninformed” claims made by the former lover of ex-agency chief David Petraeus that Libyan militants were held in secret US prisons prior to the deadly Benghazi consulate attack.
Paula Broadwell, the biographer whose affair with Petraeus led to his abrupt resignation Friday, alleged that the assault, in which US ambassador Christopher Stevens was killed, was an attempt to free men being detained in a covert CIA annex. (Read more)
29 dead in a little over a week. Nearly 200 gone this year. The White House is stepping up its campaign of drone attacks in Yemen, with four strikes in eight days. And not even the slaying of 10 civilians over the weekend seems to have slowed the pace in the United States’ secretive, undeclared war. (Read more)
A federal investigation alleged Enrique Prado’s involvement in seven murders, yet he was in charge when America outsourced covert killing to a private company.
It was one of the biggest secrets of the post-9/11 era: soon after the attacks, President Bush gave the CIA permission to create a top secret assassination unit to find and kill Al Qaeda operatives. The program was kept from Congress for seven years. And when Leon Panetta told legislators about it in 2009, he revealed that the CIA had hired the private security firm Blackwater to help run it. “The move was historic,” says Evan Wright, the two-time National Magazine Award-winning journalist who wrote Generation Kill. “It seems to have marked the first time the U.S. government outsourced a covert assassination service to private enterprise.”
The quote is from his e-book How to Get Away With Murder in America, which goes on to note that “in the past, the CIA was subject to oversight, however tenuous, from the president and Congress,” but that “President Bush’s 2001 executive order severed this line by transferring to the CIA his unique authority to approve assassinations. By removing himself from the decision-making cycle, the president shielded himself — and all elected authority — from responsibility should a mission go wrong or be found illegal. When the CIA transferred the assassination unit to Blackwater, it continued the trend. CIA officers would no longer participate in the agency’s most violent operations, or witness them. If it practiced any oversight at all, the CIA would rely on Blackwater’s self-reporting about missions it conducted. Running operations through Blackwater gave the CIA the power to have people abducted, or killed, with no one in the government being exactly responsible.” None of this is new information, though I imagine that many people reading this item are hearing about it for the first time.
Isn’t that bizarre?
The bulk of Wright’s e-book (full disclosure: I help edit the website of Byliner, publisher of the e-book) tells the story of Enrique Prado, a high-ranking CIA-officer-turned-Blackwater-employee who oversaw assassination units for both the CIA and the contractor. To whom was this awesome responsibility entrusted? According to Wright’s investigation, a federal organized crime squad run out of the Miami-Dade Police Department produced an investigation allegedly tying Prado to seven murders carried out while he worked as a bodyguard for a narco crime boss. At the time, the CIA declared him unavailable for questioning; the investigation was shut down before he was arrested or tried.
There’s a lot more to the story — Wright’s e-book is almost 50 pages long — but this bit is of particular note:
The reporting on Prado’s activities at Blackwater produced no evidence that the firm’s employees had ever killed anyone on behalf of the CIA. But I spoke to Blackwater employees who insisted that they had. Two Blackwater contractors told me that their firm began conducting assassinations in Afghanistan as early as 2008. They claimed to have participated in such operations — one in a support role, the other as a “trigger puller.” The contractors, to whom I spoke in 2009 and 2010, were both ex-Special Forces soldiers who were not particularly bothered by assassination work, although they did question the legality of Blackwater’s involvement in it.
According to the “trigger puller,” he and a partner were selected for one such operation because they were Mexican Americans, whose darker skin enabled them to blend in as Afghan civilians. The first mission he described took place in 2008. He and his partner spent three weeks training outside Kabul, becoming accustomed to walking barefoot like Afghans while toting weapons underneath their jackets. Their mission centered on walking into a market and killing the occupant of a pickup truck, whose identity a CIA case worker had provided to them. They succeeded in their mission, he told me, and moved on to another. This contractor’s story didn’t completely fit with other accounts about Prado’s unit at Blackwater. The e-mail written by Prado and later obtained by the Times seemed to indicate that the unit wouldn’t use Americans to carry out actual assassinations. Moreover, two CIA sources insisted that the contractors I spoke to were lying. As one put it, “These guys are security guards who want to look like Rambo.”
When I asked Ed O’Connell, a former Air Force colonel and RAND analyst with robust intelligence experience in Afghanistan, to evaluate these contractors’ claims, he first told me they were almost certainly a “fantastical crock of shit.” But a year later, in 2011, after a research trip in Afghanistan for his firm Alternative Strategies Institute, O’Connell had changed his assessment. He told me, “Your sources seem to have been correct. Private contractors are whacking people like crazy over in Afghanistan for the CIA.”
Early last month, Tausug villagers on the Southern Philippine island of Jolo heard a buzzing sound not heard before. It is a sound familiar to the people of Waziristan who live along Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan, where the United States fights the Taliban. It was the dreaded drone, which arrives from distant and unknown destinations to cause death and destruction. Within minutes, 15 people lay dead and a community plunged into despair, fear and mourning.
The U.S. drone strike, targeting accused leaders in the Abu Sayyaf and Jemaah Islamiyah organisations, marked the first time the weapon has been used in Southeast Asia. The drone has so far been used against Muslim groups and the Tausug are the latest on the list.
Just as in Pakistan and other theatres of the “war on terror”, the strike has provoked controversy, with a Filipino lawmaker condemning the attack as a violation of national sovereignty. This controversy could increase with the recent American announcement that it plans to boost its drone fleet in the Philippines by 30 per cent. The U.S. already has hundreds of troops stationed on Jolo Island, but until now, the Americans have maintained a non-combat “advisory” role. (Read more)
7 April 2012 UPDATE: Fifty-one years after the failed attempt to invade Cuba, the Central Intelligence Agency and Department of Justice continue to claim that releasing the final volume of a CIA history of the debacle would “confuse the public” and should therefore remain withheld. The National Security Archive originally requested the document in 2005. Last year, the Archive filed a FOIA lawsuit to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of Bay of Pigs debacle. That prompted the release of three volumes of the five volume history (one volume was already available at the Johnson Presidential Library); the CIA and DOJ have continued to fight the release of the fifth volume. Judge Kessler, of the US District Court in Washington DC, is expected to soon rule on the case.
In late 2011, the Central Intelligence Agency explained to Judge Kessler of the US District Court in Washington DC that releasing the final volume of its three-decade-old history of the 1961 Bay of Pigs debacle would “confuse the public,” and should be withheld because it is a “predecisional” document. Wow. And I thought that I had heard them all. (Read more)
For years, the notion that Poland could allow the CIA to operate a secret prison in a remote lake region was treated as a crackpot idea by the country’s politicians, journalists and the public.
A heated political debate this week reveals how dramatically the narrative has changed.
In a string of revelations and political statements, Polish leaders have come closer than ever to acknowledging that the United States ran a secret interrogation facility for terror suspects in 2002 and 2003 in the Eastern European country. (Read more)
This is from last month. There’s a quiet war in the Philippines too!
The Philippine military said it killed Southeast Asia’s most-wanted terrorist and two other senior militants Thursday in a U.S.-backed airstrike marking one of the region’s biggest anti-terrorism successes in recent years.
The dawn strike targeting a militant camp on a southern Philippine island killed Malaysian Zulkifli bin Hir, also known as Marwan, a top leader of the regional, al Qaida-linked Jemaah Islamiyah terror network, said military spokesman Col. Marcelo Burgos.
The U.S. had offered a $5 million reward for the capture of Marwan, a U.S.-trained engineer accused of involvement in a number of deadly bombings in the Philippines and in training new militants. A U.S. official confirmed Thursday that the Pentagon had assisted in the strike. (Read more)
I have to laugh when I see the International Republican Institute (IRI) described by the international media as an “organization that promotes democracy” (in this case, on NPR). The IRI is in the news lately because Egypt’s military government has put some of its members on a “no-fly” list and thereby trapped them in the country, facing investigation and possible trial. I am wondering just how credulous these journalists and editors are: if I were to describe the Center for Economic and Policy Research as “a magical organization that transforms scrap metal into gold”, would that become CEPR’s standard description in the news?
The IRI is an international arm of the US Republican party, so anyone with the stomach to watch the Republican presidential debates might doubt whether this would be a “democracy-promotion” organization. But a look at some of their recent adventures is enough to set the record straight: in 2004, the IRI played a major role in overthrowing the democratically elected government of Haiti. In 2002, the head of the IRI publicly celebrated the short-lived military coup that overthrew the democratically elected government of Venezuela. The IRI was also working with organizations and individuals that were involved in the coup. In 2005, the IRI was involved in an effort to promote changes in Brazil’s electoral laws that would weaken the governing Workers party of then President Lula da Silva.
Most recently, in 2009, there was a military coup against the democratically elected government of Honduras. The Obama administration did everything it could to help the coup succeed, and supported “elections” in November of 2009 to legitimize the coup government. The rest of the world – including even the Organization of American States (OAS), under pressure from South American democracies – refused to send observers. (Read more)