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Archive for June, 2009

Posted by Martha de Hoyos on June 30th, 2009

Testimonio Completo:

Rick Reyes/John Kerry: 30 Años Después de Vietnam:

A través de Facebook Rick Reyes contactó a Robert Greenwald y Brave New Foundation y juntos hicieron una labor intensiva que terminó en una audiencia histórica frente al Comité de Relaciones Exteriores del Senado de los EEUU. Como miembro de la infantería de la marina, y habiendo servido en operaciones de combate en Afganistán e Irak, Rick Reyes fue invitado para presentar su perspectiva acerca del conflicto en Afganistán. El testimonio de Reyes fue histórico, no solo criticó elocuentemente las razones del porque no se deben mandar más tropas, sino que también profundizó el hecho de que la influencia foránea es el factor número uno en la desestabilización del país.

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Posted by ZP Heller on June 29th, 2009

According to the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan and a newly released UN report, there were 800 civilian casualties between January and May 2009. Armed clashes between insurgents, the US military, and the ISAF are up 24 percent this year, and have displaced tens of thousands more people. With over 1,000 recorded incidents of violence in May alone, Afghanistan is experiencing the worst security since the war began. And to make matters worse, the UN reported concluded, “The next period will likely experience an increase in the level of violence compared with the same period last year, including complex suicide attacks, intimidation and assassinations carried out by insurgents.” That period, unfortunately, coincides with the Afghan presidential and provincial council elections slated for August.

The deadly consequences of militarizing the political crisis in Afghanistan may seem logical, but they’re no less disturbing as we see staggering numbers of civilian casualties from this war. Complicating matters is the fact that insurgents have been targeting NGOs and aid workers. In the past six months, there were over 60 security incidents involving NGOs, with many aid workers reported killed or kidnapped. Such violence undercuts the chances of already underfunded humanitarian efforts, and yet the Pentagon has responded with more troops and airstrikes, creating more violence, more casualties, more anti-American sentiment, and the need for even more aid.

US military leaders clearly view the precarious situation in Afghanistan in part as a PR war. That’s why they were so quick to blame Taliban militants for the Farah province aistrikes that left up 140 civilians dead. But as Gareth Porter reported last week, the official military investigation of that disastrous attack revealed there were no Taliban fighters killed during second and third B-1 bombings, in which the majority of civilians died. So much for the military’s human shield theory.

We can’t allow the Pentagon to continue blaming Taliban insurgents when it’s obvious that these civilian deaths are primarily the result of current US foreign policy. To help those Afghans whose lives have been shattered by US military operations, contribute to RAWA through the Afghan Women’s Mission. And to help change foreign policy to incorporate a more humanitarian approach, sign up to become a Peacemaker.

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Posted by Gareth Porter on June 29th, 2009

WASHINGTON, Jun 25 (IPS) – The version of the official military investigation into the disastrous May 4 airstrike in Farah province made public last week by the Central Command was carefully edited to save the U.S. command in Afghanistan the embarrassment of having to admit that earlier claims blaming the massive civilian deaths on the “Taliban” were fraudulent.

By covering up the most damaging facts surrounding the incident, the rewritten public version of report succeeded in avoiding media stories on the contradiction between the report and the previous arguments made by the U.S. command.
The declassified “executive summary” of the report on the bombing issued last Friday admitted that mistakes had been made in the use of airpower in that incident. However, it omitted key details which would have revealed the self-serving character of the U.S. command’s previous claims blaming the “Taliban” – the term used for all insurgents fighting U.S. forces – for the civilian deaths from the airstrikes.
(more…)

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Posted by GRITtv on June 26th, 2009

Paul Fitzgerald and Elizabeth Gould have traveled to and from Afghanistan for the past 30 years. They were the first American journalists to acquire permission to enter Afghanistan behind Soviet lines in 1981 for CBS News and produced a documentary, “Afghanistan Between Three World,” for PBS. For twenty years they have continued to follow events in Afghanistan and write about it’s history and US involvement. They are out with a new book, Invisible History: Afghanistan’s Untold Storyir?t=lauraflanders-20&l=as2&o=1&a=0872864944.

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Posted by Tom Andrews on June 26th, 2009

For those concerned the U.S. is becoming mired in a military quagmire in Afghanistan there was good news and bad news on the House floor this afternoon:

The good news is that a majority of House Democrats just voted (131-114) to support the McGovern amendment to the House Defense Authorization bill that requires the Pentagon to develop a military exit strategy from Afghanistan.

The bad news is that the overwhelming majority of House Republicans voted against the amendment (164-7), leading to its defeat.

(more…)

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Posted by robertgreenwald on June 25th, 2009

With the Pentagon admitting military error led to civilian casualties in last month’s Farah province airstrikes, and congressional calls for an exit strategy growing louder, there’s never been a more important time for people to Rethink Afghanistan.

Is there a library, school, or member of Congress who needs to see this documentary on DVD? Brave New Foundation just made parts 1-3 available for a suggested donation of $19.95. When you donate, you’ll not only receive Troops, Pakistan, and Cost of War plus special features, but you also have the option to donate your copy to a library, school, or member of Congress of our choosing.

If you decide to keep the DVD for yourself, consider using it to host a screening in your neighborhood through Brave New Theaters.

And now, here’s your chance to get a copy completely free. The first 20 people to gather three friends to see the DVD will get it at no charge. Simply Tweet their names @reply to @afghanistandocu, and be sure to include your friends’ names!

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Posted by ZP Heller on June 24th, 2009

Today is Afghanistan Exit Action Day. As Congress prepares to authorize $550 billion in military spending along with an additional $130 billion to fight the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan–more federal dollars than Bush ever requested–Rep. Jim McGovern is proposing a bill that requires Defense Secretary Gates to establish an exit strategy. McGovern intends to propose it as an amendment to the House Armed Services Committee wartime spending bill making its way to the House floor today.

At HuffPo, Tom Andrews emphasized the vital importance of setting an exit strategy:

I realize how hard it may seem for Congressional Democrats to require the Obama administration to develop an exit strategy as a condition for continued funding. After all, this is our guy, right? The last thing our guy needs is a Democratic Congress second guessing, making demands, and putting conditions on the war.

But this is exactly what we and the administration need precisely because he is our guy.

Unlike Mr. Limbaugh, we want and need President Obama to succeed. The very real prospect of the United States embedded in an endless war in Afghanistan would undermine everything this administration is trying to do while imperiling the very Congressional Democrats President Obama needs to move his agenda.

Though McGovern currently has 91 co-sponsors, we can get that number to over 100 and give this bill real visibility by the time the House votes on it later today or tomorrow. Call your Representative at (202) 224-3121 and:

1. urge her/him to co-sponsor Rep. Jim McGovern’s Afghanistan Exit Strategy bill – H.R. 2404
2. vote for Rep. McGovern’s amendment to the Defense Authorization bill (H.R. 2647)

Over at After Downing Street, David Swanson has the full list of co-sponsors as well as the latest updates on this story.

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Posted by ZP Heller on June 23rd, 2009

Though the Pentagon finally took responsibility for the Afghan civilian deaths in last month’s Farah province airstrikes, we’re only seeing minor adjustments toward a deeply flawed military strategy in need of a complete overhaul.

Late last week, Adm. Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs, said US troops were responsible for civilian casualties in the May 4 airstrike, during which B-1 bombers unleashed three 2000 lb bombs and five 500 lb bombs on a village compound, killing up to 140 Afghan civilians. Following Mullen’s admission, Gen. Stanley McChrystal announced plans to limit the use of these deadly airstrikes in populated areas. Meanwhile, McChrystal will also issue orders in the coming days to disengage from combat whenever possible in order to reduce the number of civilian casualties. According to McChrystal’s spokesman, Rear Admiral Greg Smith, “Even if you are receiving fire from a structure, the first question you have to ask is: ‘Can I de-escalate the situation by removing my force or relocating it’?”

Shouldn’t commanders on the ground have been asking themselves this question all along? And why has it taken military leaders this long to restrict airstrikes to more uninhabited areas? Either limiting airstrikes and calling for disengagement signals a genuine shift in military strategy, or this is just a PR maneuver on McChrystal’s end–an attempt to save face because the soaring civilian death toll could quickly become inversely proportionate to the war’s popularity. I’m betting on the latter, considering McChrystal’s predecessor, Gen. McKiernan, tried a similiar tactical shift last year when US airstrikes resulted in an inordinate number of civilian deaths. As I noted last week, this could easily be part of the Pentagon’s plan to take greater control of the media narrative regarding the war.

Either way, you can take action and ensure the Pentagon takes further steps to disengage from the war in Afghanistan altogether. By becoming a Peacemaker, you’ll be alerted whenever there are civilian casualties to call our government and protest the current US foreign policy. Then, support Rep. Jim McGovern’s calls for an exit strategy.

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Posted by Jeremy Scahill on June 22nd, 2009

Three days after his inauguration, on January 23, 2009, President Barack Obama ordered U.S. predator drones to attack sites inside of Pakistan, reportedly killing 15 people. It was the first documented attack ordered by the new U.S. Commander in Chief inside of Pakistan. Since that first Obama-authorized attack, the U.S. has regularly bombed Pakistan, killing scores of civilians. The New York Times reported that the attacks were clear evidence Obama “is continuing, and in some cases extending, Bush administration policy.” In the first 99 days of 2009, more than 150 people were reportedly killed in these drone attacks. The most recent documented attack was reportedly last Thursday in Waziristan. Since 2006, the U.S. drone strikes have killed 687 people (as of April). That amounts to about 38 deaths a month just from drone attacks.

The use of these attack drones by Obama should not come as a surprise to anyone who followed his presidential campaign closely. As a candidate, Obama made clear that Pakistan’s sovereignty was subservient to U.S. interests, saying he would attack with or without the approval of the Pakistani government. Obama said if the U.S. had “actionable intelligence” that “high value” targets were in Pakistan, the U.S. would attack. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, echoed those sentiments on the campaign trail and “did not rule out U.S. attacks inside Pakistan, citing the missile attacks her husband, then-President Bill Clinton, ordered against Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan in 1998. ‘If we had actionable intelligence that Osama bin Laden or other high-value targets were in Pakistan I would ensure that they were targeted and killed or captured,’ she said.”

(more…)

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Posted by Brave New Foundation on June 22nd, 2009

This Tuesday, June 23, come see renowned journalist Anand Gopal at Brave New Studios in LA. Gopal, who has been covering the war in Afghanistan for the Christian Science Monitor, will be giving a multimedia presentation about his experiences living and working in the Middle East, as well as his opinion on the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan. Don’t miss this exciting presentation!

Date: Tuesday, June 23rd

Location: 10536 Culver Boulevard, Culver City, CA 90232
Please enter through the gate behind the building.

Time: 6 pm

RSVP: Please RSVP by emailing: ewagner@bravenewfoundation.org
Seating is very limited, so we will be taking a small number of RSVPs.

Parking: There is free parking on the streets on either side of our building. Please do not park in the parking spots behind the building as they are reserved.

Refreshments: Light refreshments will be provided before Gopal’s talk.

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