Posts from the ‘Afghanistan’ Category
Koran Burning in NATO Error Incites Afghans for 2nd Day
BAGRAM, Afghanistan — Protests against the burning by NATO personnel of an undisclosed number of Korans spilled into a second day on Wednesday and seemed poised to widen as the United States Embassy in Kabul ordered a lockdown suspending all travel by its staff.
The violent protests began on Tuesday as news of the burning spread along with word that NATO personnel were also preparing to dispose of many more Korans by incineration.
There are approximately 8.8 billion missing in Iraq; completely unaccounted for
THE DARKNESS HAS COME
BY JOHN TULLY
THE LOS ANGELES SUN
Last year the oily and corrupt House majority leader, Congressman Tom DeLay, personally used the Department Of Homeland Security to track down and locate members of the Texas State Legislature who had fled to Oklahoma after Mr. DeLay tried to redistrict his home state into illogical shapes that were straight off of a sushi plate.
This week Mr. DeLay subpoenaed a brain-dead woman to Capitol Hill to score political capital from the religious and rigid right, and distract from his vast legal problems, including the illegal use of campaign funds and his current successful attempt to literally change the House’s ethics rules, written in secret.
Texas, of course, is where they execute retarded people and adolescents.
Irving Kristol’s son Bill, the neoconservative dreamer and top propagandist for the Iraq invasion since his co-founding of The Project For A New American Century, had his expert say on Fox News the other day. He claimed that one of the neurologists who had examined Terri Schiavo said: ” She can recover substantially if she gets the proper rehabilitation. ”
It almost makes you long for the days of uninterrupted Atlanta courtroom-killer news and video.
There are approximately $8.8 billion missing in Iraq; completely unaccounted for. The money was entrusted to the U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority. Never one to miss an opportunity for irony, George W. Bush nominated yet another chief architect of the Iraq invasion, Paul Wolfowitz to run The World Bank. That’s a perfect triangle of failure with a secretary of state who did a miserable job advising Bush on National Security and an attorney general who tried to find legal loopholes in torture laws.
A recent document uncovered Halliburton’s newest overcharge of $108 million for Jordanian and Turkish fuel—”The cost data did not reconcile to KBR’s (Halliburton subsidiary) accounting” – and added to countless overcharges totaling close to two billion dollars. Meanwhile, Congress decides to investigate steroid use in professional baseball.
They must not know that Chandra Levy’s killer is still on the loose.
The media swine scoffed and smirked at veteran journalist Dan Rather’s final plea for courage as they ripped apart Michael Jackson for wearing pajamas and blanketed the airwaves with coverage of Martha Stewart. It’s always hard to figure out, week in and week out, who the biggest media weenie is. George Will and David Brooks both could hardly wait to make immediate cheeky/mealy-mouthed references to France in discussing the Syrian mess in Lebanon. Everyone in the cool kids media club was praising Bush for his bold leadership, though almost two months have gone by since the Iraqi election and the many sides are still fighting, and the country is a bloody mess.
Or is it the three-headed liberal weenie, The Evan Thomas/ Howard Fineman/ Chris Matthews Monster with their newest shtick, the just-so-wacky-it-might-work: “George Bush is an idiot-genius who had to lie to America to get us into a war to bring freedom to the Middle East.” Subtitle: “We won’t know for 50 years”
Talk about mission creeps.
In fact, all three men were performing it brilliantly last week, after about 20 minutes of adolescent discussion of Mr. Jackson’s wardrobe and Ms. Stewart’s homecoming, on radio legend Don Imus’ program. That hardly left them any time to discuss the brand-new appointment of America’s chief diplomat to the United Nations, John Bolton.
The little coverage and criticism the media did give the truly absurd nomination usually referred to a bad joke that Bolton had once told about cutting off the top floors of the UN building and it not mattering. But the consistently undiplomatic Bolton once seriously asserted, “We (United States) are the Security Council.” One of the few reporters left in Washington, Mark Shields, remarked that the nomination was “like naming Howard Stern as your chief of protocol or Mary Baker Eddy as your surgeon general.”
Back in the middle of 2003, before Jon Stewart was a big star, Chris Matthews was on The Daily Show and was asked about the presidential election and the long list of Democratic candidates. The war that Mathews had passive-aggressively cheer leaded had not been going well. The questions that he had failed to ask the politicians and leaders about the preparation and planning for the war were coming home to roost. With all his experience in “Wershington” as he calls it in his Pennsylvanian drawl, working for the late, great Thomas P. “Tip” O’Neill, among others, this would have been a perfect opportunity to educate the young people about the issues on a cool TV show and discuss the politics involved with them.
But Mr. Matthews tried to be hip and irreverent, and summarized the whole field of candidates by giddily telling Stewart that Congressman Dick Gephardt had big eyebrows.
Tip O’Neill was probably rolling in his grave that summer night. And just about the same time out in Colorado, an old salty dog named Hunter S. Thompson was stewing about the sorry state of affairs in America.
The journalist and author fumed: “It is genuinely incredible. The U.S. Treasury is empty, we are losing that stupid, fraudulent chickencrap war in Iraq, and every country in the world except a handful of corrupt Brits despises us. We are losers, and that is the one unforgivable sin in America.
“Beyond that, we have lost the respect of the world and lost two disastrous wars in three years. Afghanistan is lost, Iraq is a permanent war zone, our national economy is crashing all around us, the Pentagon’s ‘war strategy’ has failed miserably, nobody has any money to spend, and our once-mighty U.S. America is paralyzed by mutinies in Iraq and even Fort Bragg.
“The American nation is in the worst condition I can remember in my lifetime, and our prospects for the immediate future are even worse. I am surprised and embarrassed to be a part of the first American generation to leave the country in far worse shape than it was when we first came into it. Our highway system is crumbling, our police are dishonest, our children are poor, our vaunted Social Security, once the envy of the world, has been looted and neglected and destroyed by the same gang of ignorant greed-crazed bastards who brought us Vietnam, Afghanistan, the disastrous Gaza Strip and ignominious defeat all over the world. The stock market will never come back, our armies will never again be No. 1, and our children will drink filthy water for the rest of our lives.”
He ended his diatribe by declaring “Big Darkness Come Soon”
The day after Thompson killed himself, the beat-up, piled-upon and tired-looking Mr. Rather declared simply and dramatically: “Gonzo is dead”
This fact was immediately evident upon watching the cable news channels.
CNN’s Judy Woodruff introduced two young women at computers who were reading weblogs to gauge the reaction to the sad news. One of the women stated that Thompson had basically pioneered the practice of Gonzo Journalism. Don Imus’ producer stooge Bernard McGuirk and sports stooge Sid Rosenberg just could not, for the life of them, figure out what all the fuss was about regarding Thompson’s death. “What did he ‘eva do?” chortled the pool-ball headed producer. “Who is this guy?” laughed Mr. Rosenberg.
But their questions would soon be answered by the newsbunnies at MSNBC who were broadcasting Live from the Studio with In-Depth coverage of the top story: The darkness had indeed come.
©2005 NY HERALD SUN
Little Boys With Their Toys
September 22 2002
By John S. Tully
Los Angeles–It has become the age of “muddled thinking” around Washington D.C. and throughout this great nation. The debate about Mr. Hussein never materialized and now the war drums are beating hideously loud. No politician it seems is even questioning the administration’s stance that regime change must take place now. The non-debate is currently focusing on when to strike and whether the rest of the world will be cooperative.
This is a time when we are still actively engaged in Afghanistan, searching for remnants of Al-Quaeda amongst the Taliban regime; one that still has a viable presence in a country that our troops will be engaged in for many years to come. In this “War On Terrorism” Osama Bin Laden has not been found and dozens of military experts can still find no connection between Al Qaeda and Iraq. The Middle East peace process is in shambles; the two sides continue to tear one another apart and there are no concrete plans in place to change this paradigm. Indeed, Mr. Sharon has declared that he will strike back if Iraq launches scud missiles on Israel as it did during the Gulf War.
Meanwhile, both India and Pakistan have nuclear capability at a time of increased reports of Al Quaeda presence in both countries. There is serious uneasiness in the entire region about the ramifications of a power play in an Islamic country by a foreign power.
Administration officials asked the United Nations for permission to go back into Iraq and hold meaningful inspections of their weapons program; permission was granted unconditionally with disarmament being the ultimate goal. Now it seems that nothing short of a “regime change” will satisfy officials in the White House and the State Department.
Experts from the military, scholars of international diplomacy, recognized leaders of democratic countries have warned the United States that an attack on Iraq could be disasterous for the entire region and in fact the entire globe. Saddam Hussein is a very dangerous man in a very dangerous neighborhood. Evidence shows that he does have chemical and biological weapons. There is however absolutely no conclusive evidence of any kind that Mr. Hussein has “Weapons of Mass Destruction”
Young American men and women are about to go to a war with Iraq that may take more lives than that devastating day last September. With six weeks until the elections United States Congressman and Senators have fallen silent; their hollow echoes frightening the rest of the world.
Who will speak up?
©2002 The Los Angeles Sun
Civilian contractors working for the Pentagon in Afghanistan not only outnumber the uniformed troops, according to a report by a Congressional research group, but also form the highest ratio of contractors to military personnel recorded in any war in the history of the United States.
On a superficial level, the shift means that most of those representing the United States in the war will be wearing the scruffy cargo pants, polo shirts, baseball caps and other casual accouterments favored by overseas contractors rather than the fatigues and flight suits of the military.
More fundamentally, the contractors who are a majority of the force in what has become the most important American enterprise abroad are subject to lines of authority that are less clear-cut than they are for their military colleagues.
What is clear, the report says, is that when contractors for the Pentagon or other agencies are not properly managed — as when civilian interrogators committed abuses at Abu Ghraib in Iraq or members of the security firm Blackwater shot and killed 17 Iraqi citizens in Baghdad — the American effort can be severely undermined.
As of March this year, contractors made up 57 percent of the Pentagon’s force in Afghanistan, and if the figure is averaged over the past two years, it is 65 percent, according to the report by the Congressional Research Service.
The contractors — many of them Afghans — handle a variety of jobs, including cooking for the troops, serving as interpreters and even providing security, the report says.
The report says the reliance on contractors has grown steadily, with just a small percentage of contractors serving the Pentagon in World War I, but then growing to nearly a third of the total force in the Korean War and about half in the Balkans and Iraq. The change, the report says, has gradually forced the American military to adapt to a far less regimented and, in many ways, less accountable force.
The growing dependence on contractors is partly because the military has lost some of its logistics and support capacity, especially since the end of the cold war, according to the report. Some of the contractors have skills in critical areas like languages and digital technologies that the military needs.
The issue of the role of contractors in war has been a subject of renewed debate in Washington in recent weeks with disclosures that the Central Intelligence Agency used the company formerly known as Blackwater to help with a covert program, now canceled, to assassinate leaders of Al Qaeda. Lawmakers have demanded to know why such work was outsourced.
The State Department also uses contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan, although both the department and the C.I.A. have said they want to reduce their dependence on outside workers.
Responding to the Congressional research report, Frederick D. Barton, a senior adviser to the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, said it was highly questionable whether contractors brought the same commitment and willingness to take risks as the men and women of the military or the diplomatic services.
He also questioned whether using contractors was cost effective, saying that no one really knew whether having a force made up mainly of contractors whose salaries were often triple or quadruple those of a corresponding soldier or Marine was cheaper or more expensive for the American taxpayer.
With contractors focused on preserving profits and filing paperwork with government auditors, he said, “you grow the part of government that, probably, the taxpayers appreciate least.”
Congress appropriated at least $106 billion for Pentagon contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan from 2003 through the first half of the 2008 fiscal year, the report says.
The report said the combined forces in Iraq and Afghanistan still had more uniformed military personnel than contractors over all: 242,657 contractors and about 282,000 troops as of March 31