Military Resistance

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thomasfbarton@earthlink.net

12.16.12

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Military Resistance 10L9

Bye Bye Bamiyan:
“When The Government Kicked Us Out From The Coal Mines, We Had No Other Choice Except To Join The Taliban”
“The Mining Project Has Destabilized What Was Once Considered Afghanistan’s Safest Province”

“Evicted Miners Have Turned To The Taliban For A Paycheck”
“The Taliban Fighters That Swarmed The Area Have Set Up Illegal Checkpoints And Exercise De Facto Authority In Many Parts Of The District”

Tribal leader Ali Wardak, center, unarmed, meeting earlier this year with ex-miners who have joined the insurgency December 14, 2012 By MARIA ABI-HABIB, YAROSLAV TROFIMOV and ZIAULHAQ SULTANI, Wall Street Journal [Excerpts]. Kersten Zhang contributed to this article. BAMIYAN, Afghanistan — Foreign investment in Afghanistan’s mining sector was meant to bring peace and prosperity. But here in Bamiyan province, it has so far put locals out of jobs and fueled a spreading insurgency. For decades, thousands of Afghans have dug for coal in the unregulated mines of Bamiyan’s Kahmard district, in a valley dotted with timber-framed entrances to dangerous, narrow shafts.

This summer, the Afghan government evicted these squatters to make way for a Chinese consortium that has won one of the biggest natural-resources concessions in a country that sits atop vast, largely untapped mineral wealth. The Chinese firm that won the tender, however, hasn’t yet replaced the lost jobs with new ones. Many evicted miners have turned to the Taliban for a paycheck, leading to a sharp decline in security. The Chinese investors now say they don’t know when the situation will improve enough to let them to start exploiting the site. “If people do not have jobs, the insurgents will get these people,” said Bamiyan Gov. Habiba Sarabi, adding that the mining project has destabilized what was once considered Afghanistan’s safest province. The Taliban fighters that swarmed the area have set up illegal checkpoints and exercise de facto authority in many parts of the district, say local Afghans. “When the government kicked us out from the coal mines, we had no other choice except to join the Taliban,” said one miner who declined to be identified and who says he is earning some $30 a day when he is with the Taliban. About 50 other former miners have taken up weapons alongside him, he said. As Afghanistan’s bitter winter advances on this mountainous region where freezing to death is common, the shortage of coal—used here for heating and cooking—is further alienating the population. “These communities are now ready to fight,” said Ali Wardak, a tribal leader who has been trying to negotiate on the matter with Kabul authorities. “The government and the Chinese are moving to a point of no return.” The Afghan Ministry of Mines says the summer’s closure of 103 illegal mining tunnels in Kahmard was needed to safeguard the area for the Chinese investors and to stop widespread child labor and unsafe practices, some of which have been documented earlier this year by The Wall Street Journal. According to the ministry, 1,000 jobs have been lost. Miners and local government officials say 5,000 to 10,000 people have become unemployed across Bamiyan and in the adjoining provinces of Samangan and Baghlan. “I can’t find a job to feed my children. Where will we find the firewood to heat our houses this winter?” said Sakhi Daad Lali, 51, a former laborer in Bamiyan’s coal mines and a father of 11. “People have no choice but to join the Taliban when the government doesn’t do anything to help them.” The Chinese consortium, led by state-run MCC China Metallurgical Group, won the concession for Bamiyan’s coal mines in 2009, along with more lucrative copper deposits

of Mes Aynak in Logar province, south of Kabul. The entire deal, details of which are confidential, has been valued at $3.5 billion. Bamiyan’s coal is supposed to power a 400-megawatt electricity station that the Chinese group has pledged to build, according to the ministry of mines, with half of that power going to Mes Aynak and the rest feeding Afghanistan’s national grid. The Chinese consortium is supposed to start developing the mines—estimated to hold 45 million tons of coal—by the spring, with the power station completed by 2015, said Afghanistan’s deputy minister of mines, Nasir Durrani. Speed is essential, said Gov. Sarabi. MCC Tongsin Resources Ltd., the MCC unit leading the coal project, said in a written response to questions that it didn’t know yet when work in Bamiyan would start. The feasibility report on a coal-fired power plant is still being compiled, it added. “The company and employees’ families worry about the security situation in Bamiyan, which causes a threat to our employees’ lives and property, and also causes many difficulties in the logistics supply,” MCC Tongsin wrote. The Taliban say they oppose the Chinese investment because the concession was awarded by a government they consider illegitimate. “We are against any foreign company extracting the mineral (wealth) of Afghanistan as long as Afghanistan is under occupation,” Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said. Many locals say they are turning to the Taliban for the opposite reason: Anger at the Chinese for failing to move ahead with a project they say would have given stable, better-paid jobs to the displaced miners. “The brave insurgents will fight against the Chinese if they don’t start their work and hire the poor laborers they have kicked off the land,” said Khaliqdad, a driver from the area who used to transport laborers to the coal mines.

AFGHANISTAN WAR REPORTS

Remembering Tyler
December 07, 2012 By BRIAN GEHRING, Bismarck Tribune Tyler Orgaard told his mother when he was 7 years old that he wanted to be a soldier. On Monday, Orgaard died doing what he loved doing.

He was one of two North Dakota National Guard soldiers killed by a roadside bomb in Lashkar Gah City, Helmand province, Afghanistan. On Thursday, his family talked about him in a small conference room at Fraine Barracks. Spc. Tyler Orgaard, who was 20, graduated from Bismarck Century High School last year and deployed to Afghanistan in June. It was his first overseas deployment. He was with the 118th Engineer Company based in Williston — his mission conducting route clearance operations. Jesse Orgaard, Tyler’s father, said his son lived his life with an all-in philosophy. “He lived more in 20 years than most people live in 80 years,” he said. Single-minded, meticulous and focused, Orgaard said his son prepared his entire life to be a soldier. Jesse Orgaard said he would go to bed at night leaving the Skype app on his phone on, just in case Tyler would call. The last time he did, it was about 6 in the morning, the day after Thanksgiving. Orgaard said his son was giggling — and he could hear a roommate laughing in the background — when Tyler asked whether the call had woken him up. He said his son was upbeat and positive about his mission; but then, that was just the way Tyler was about everything, he said. “He was always trying to lift up people,” Orgaard said. “Then he hung up and said he’d call me right back,” Orgaard said. But he knew the call back wouldn’t come until he had fallen back asleep — on purpose. Josie Orgaard said since Monday, they have been hearing a lot of stories about their son from friends who have stopped by to offer condolences. “We never realized how many hearts he touched,” she said. One of those stories was from a former teacher, who told her of Tyler’s kindness to a new student at Century who was having a difficult time adjusting. “He would have lunch with him every day,” she said, just to see how he was doing. Some of those stories, however, weren’t comforting. “We found out he had a lot of close calls,” Josie Orgaard said. Tyler’s sister, Kristy, three years older, said growing up they fought like a lot of siblings do. But that changed.

“He was my best friend,” she said of her brother, protective and always looking out for her. Jesse Orgaard said Tyler’s first passion was being a soldier, but mixed martial arts was a close second. He started training at Bismarck Combat Sports gym at age 15 and made his debut in the sport while still in high school. Kristy Orgaard said it was one of his dreams to get a degree in business management and open his own MMA gym. The family has set up a fund in his name at Gate City Bank to go to the gym in Bismarck where he trained. Jesse Orgaard said when the notification of Tyler’s death came he could feel himself screaming — but nothing came out. “When the knock on the door came, and I saw those two men in those suits, ... you know exactly what it means,” he said. Josie Orgaard said a part of Tyler came through her when she realized what had happened. She said Tyler was always worried about “the guy on my right and the guy on my left.” She said that was one of the first questions that came to her mind — “How were the others?” Then she worried about how the others in his unit would have to go back to work the next day, carrying on the same mission her son was so committed to completing in the three months remaining in his tour. Kristy Orgaard said what a lot of people didn’t know about her brother was that he was a very talented musician. She took piano lessons while Tyler didn’t, and it used to make her angry when he would hear a song, then pick up his guitar or sit down to a keyboard and play it like a pro. Kristy Orgaard said before Tyler shipped out, they had the “what if” talk. She said her brother told her what to do if the unthinkable happened. “‘Don’t cry for me. Be proud of me,’” she said. “Those were his words.”

Fatal Gunshot Wound Killed Lejeune Marine
December 4, 2012 By Daily News staff, Jacksonville Daily News

A Camp Lejeune Marine died in Afghanistan this weekend after being shot in the neck during combat, Marine officials told reporters Tuesday. Lance Cpl. Anthony J. Denier, 26, of Mechanicville, N.Y., died in Helmand province, Afghanistan, on Dec. 2 after being shot once in the neck between the gear that protected his head and chest, 1st Sgt. Stephen Griffin, a Marine spokesman, told Times Union in Albany, N.Y. Denier received the fatal wound at 8:31 a.m. Sunday, when enemy forces opened fire on a patrol of Marines in the city of Marjah, Griffin told Times Union, adding that military personnel flew Denier to the nearest medical facility, where he was pronounced dead at 10:45 that morning. Denier was a rifleman assigned to 3rd Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division. He joined the Marine Corps in March 2011 and was promoted to his current rank in May 2012, according to a press release from 2nd Marine Division. Griffin told Times Union that Denier was a qualified expert marksman and has first class physical fitness test and combat fitness test scores. He said Denier’s body was expected to arrive at Dover Air Force Base Tuesday or today and be flown home in a private aircraft four to seven days after arriving at Dover. Denier was single and had no children.

POLITICIANS REFUSE TO HALT THE BLOODSHED THE TROOPS HAVE THE POWER TO STOP THE WAR

MILITARY NEWS

“As A Marine, I Refuse To Support A Government That Prohibits The Sick From Finding Relief”
“30% Of Veterans From Iraq And Afghanistan Who Report Symptoms

Of PTSD, Traumatic Brain Injury, Depression, Mental Illness Or Other Cognitive Disability Find That Medical Marijuana Can Help Ease Their Symptoms”
“Marijuana Possession Of Less Than An Ounce For Members Of The Military May Result In Dishonorable Discharge, Forfeiture Of All Pay, And Confinement For Two Years”

Taking a stand against the criminalization of marijuana. [Socialist Worker] December 12, 2012 by Ryan Miller, Socialist Worker. Alessandro Tinonga contributed to this article. On Veterans Day, Oaksterdam University--a Bay Area medical marijuana training school that promotes legalization--hosted a press conference with former soldiers to decry the criminalization of marijuana in the military. Currently, marijuana possession of less than an ounce for members of the military may result in dishonorable discharge, forfeiture of all pay, and confinement for two years. Negative military service evaluations resulting from use or possession can restrict or bar eligibility for Veterans Administration benefits, as well as GI Bill and home loan guarantees.

Yet many of the roughly 30 percent of veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan who report symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injury, depression, mental illness or other cognitive disability find that medical marijuana can help ease their symptoms. Despite this--and a growing push for legalization in several states--the Obama administration has escalated raids on marijuana dispensaries over the past four years. In April, federal agents with the Internal Revenue Service and Drug Enforcement Administration raided Oaksterdam, along with a nearby dispensary. During his presidential campaign in 2008, Obama promised to abide by state decisions regarding marijuana. Ryan Miller served in the Marines from 1998 to 2002 and is now a sales associate at the Harborside Health Center in Oakland. He spoke at the Veterans Day press conference. ********************************************************************************************** [by Ryan Miller] In honor of Veterans Day, I must use this opportunity to exercise my rights and speak truth to power that many of my active-duty comrades don’t have the capacity or safety to do. For fear of retaliation, they are silenced. All people have the responsibility and moral imperative to legalize medicine that alleviates suffering and saves lives. As a veteran, full-time student and community activist, I must speak out on this issue and the impact of my service. Daily, I’m privileged to act as a conduit of justice, as community members, including veterans, come to Harborside, seeking genuine care and legitimate medicine that is criminalized and unjustly stigmatized. As an extension of my military tenure, I now serve the Oakland community by enabling the safest access to cannabis to heal our sickest neighbors and wounded warriors. Through my career at Harborside, I am able to restore a sense of service to my community and country nonviolently. As a veteran living with post-traumatic stress disorder, I have found it essential to my recovery to maintain consistent and compassionate employment. In 2012, the federal government has made my continued access to basic needs a contentious matter. Today, I ask the federal government and newly re-elected President Obama to allow this veteran to keep his job.

In May 2012, I was laid off from Berkeley Patients Group, a model dispensary, and due to federal harassment, the business was forced to close. Many of us were left unemployed, and patients were left under-served. With the current threat to Harborside, I may experience yet another layoff because of a U.S. Attorney’s political agenda that aims to extend the tentacles of the war on drugs. The number one reason for incarceration of veterans is drug-related. Grossly disproportionately affected are our veterans of color. I’m concerned about this contradiction and about the waste of public servants’ efforts in scapegoating patients. As a Marine, I refuse to support a government that prohibits the sick from finding relief. Each of us on this panel swore an oath of enlistment to protect and defend the Constitution against all enemies, both foreign and domestic. We have each demonstrated a willingness to die fighting for our collective right to speak. That is why I am honored to be here today, and why I serve the veterans and patients of Harborside Health Center. Thank you to Oaksterdam University for providing this venue and greater visibility to veterans in the cannabis movement.

FORWARD OBSERVATIONS

“At a time like this, scorching irony, not convincing argument, is needed. Oh had I the ability, and could reach the nation’s ear, I would, pour out a fiery stream of biting ridicule, blasting reproach, withering sarcasm, and stern rebuke. “For it is not light that is needed, but fire; it is not the gentle shower, but thunder. “We need the storm, the whirlwind, and the earthquake.” “The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppose.” Frederick Douglass, 1852

It is a two class world and the wrong class is running it. -- Larry Christensen, Soldiers Of Solidarity & United Auto Workers

Lessons Unlearned: Vietnam Then, Afghanistan Now
They had never heard of General Gwynn and so did not realize that, in countering an insurgency, the military was fulfilling a police role and had to apply minimum, not maximum, force; nor would they have known of his warning that a lull in guerrilla action is usually a danger sign, not a “victory”. Unlike the Western battlefield, a rising body count in an insurgency is a danger sign. The oft-expressed American desire to persuade the Viet Cong “to stand and fight,” a desire inherited from the French, was another pathetic fallacy. These were professional guerrillas who would not stand and fight—except on their own terms. From: WAR IN THE SHADOWS: THE GUERRILLA IN HISTORY, BY Robert B. Asprey; Captain, USMC, ret’d; William Morrow And Company; New York, 1994 Whatever the President said about guerrilla warfare, these officers, in general, secretly believed that military professionalism would prove more than a match in any battle with “irregulars.” Although, in time, some of the younger advisers would realize this error, the bulk remained convinced that professionalism—by which they meant adherence to Western military doctrines—would win the war.

They had never heard of Major Callwell’s writings on small wars, so they would never have pondered his sage advice to regard the native as the professional, the newcomer as the amateur. They had never studied Gallieni’s and Lyautey’s pacification campaigns. They had never heard of General Gwynn and so did not realize that, in countering an insurgency, the military was fulfilling a police role and had to apply minimum, not maximum, force; nor would they have known of his warning that a lull in guerrilla action is usually a danger sign, not a “victory”. Lacking suitable background, the American command did not realize that Western-style warfare is quantitative and that insurgency warfare is qualitative. To fight the latter successfully is frequently to reverse normal standards of measurement, just as trick mirrors in an amusement park make a fat person thin and a thin person fat. From the beginning, the American command erred by trying to use maximum, not minimum, force, and by designating the guerrilla the primary target rather than the population that supported him. Dead guerrillas became “victories”—enough “victories” would “win” the war. They did not understand that an insurgency is not “won”—except that it fades into relative quiescence. Unlike the Western battlefield, a rising body count in an insurgency is a danger sign. So is the necessity for “surprise” encounters, no matter how successfully fought. Progress is not made in an insurgency situation until local peasants are protected sufficiently and have sufficient reason to support government forces and supply necessary information on which to base operations. The oft-expressed American desire to persuade the Viet Cong “to stand and fight,” a desire inherited from the French, was another pathetic fallacy. These were professional guerrillas who would not stand and fight—except on their own terms. The Americans also failed to understand that qualitative warfare calls for careful target selection—that “saturation” of a battle area contains a number of built-in booby traps in an insurgency situation. The more units involved, the moreattenuated the lines of communication, thus the more targets available to the enemy. Worse than this, saturation of a battle area invariably damaged the peasants’ crops and villages, frequently killing innocent people, thereby alienating the very persons the government needed to “win.” Military commanders could not understand this. When General Harkins “.. . was asked about the political consequences when villages were hit with napalm, he replied that it ‘really puts the fear of God into the Viet Cong.’ ‘And that,’ he said, ‘is what counts.’”

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“Impregnably Armored By Good Intentions And Ignorance”
With a few splendid exceptions, American advisers did not understand very much. They came with confidence instead of caution; they taught before they learned. From Nolting on down, too many of them resembled Alden Pyle—Graham Greene’s Quiet American, “ .. . who was impregnably armored by his good intentions and his ignorance.” The insurgencies of our time, not to mention those of history, might never have happened. The lessons they furnished weren’t so much lost— they were never learned. To accomplish the military goal in Vietnam, to win the war,” to achieve “victory,” the American military command sought to repair doctrinal deficiencies with machines. It relied on technology as opposed to motivation, on helicopters and jeeps and trucks and armored personnel carriers, aircraft and ships as opposed to men. It did precisely what the American military command in China had done nearly twenty years earlier. It attempted to remedy political, social, and economic deficiencies with metal. The advisers were not at first discouraged because the new technology brought illusory success. The South Vietnamese Government estimated that the Viet Cong began the year with about sixteen thousand hard-core guerrillas. They estimated that in 1962 they had killed about twenty thousand “guerrillas” (I use quotation marks because we shall never know how many innocents were included in the figure). Yet VC strength, they estimated, had increased to twenty thousand! “ . . . At the same time,” Roger Hilsman later wrote, “captured documents, interrogation of prisoners, and other intelligence indicated that at the most only three to four thousand infiltrators had come down the Ho Chi Minh trail.” The other replacements came from hamlets and villages, and if some arrived under duress, a great many others came freely. Despite ARVN “victories,” the Viet Cong retained control of major areas. In summer of 1962, this writer flew several missions with U. S. Marine Corps helicopter squadrons operating out of Soc Trang, south of Saigon, the mission being to haul ARVN units to this or that threatened area. Fuel for these machines came from Saigon by tank truck, the Saigon trucker paying the Viet Cong a “toll” in order to pass to Soc Trang. This meant that at any moment the Viet Cong could prevent marine helicopters from flying. This rarely if ever happened—should it not have occurred to MACV that the effort could scarcely have been hurting the Viet Cong if the choppers were allowed to keep flying?

The fallacy of the new approach was already becoming evident. Initial Viet Cong fright soon turned to bewilderment; analysis followed to produce countertactics. Night operations increased, since helicopters at first did not fly at night. Assassinations and kidnappings greatly increased, the reasons being to enforce discipline, demonstrate determination, and gain recruits. By spring of 1962, the Viet Cong were beginning to fight back, and, by autumn, were not only pursuing active guerrilla tactics but were standing against ARVN units. Once again, Viet Cong countertactics were immensely aided by intelligence derived from peasant networks that, while on the defensive, were scarcely defunct. Marines at Soc Trang and American field units elsewhere were living, to use Bernard Fall’s term, in a fishbowl, their every movement, their take-off and landing, their resupply, noted and reported by Viet Cong agents. ******************************************************

Static Defense
The new technology did nothing to repair the existing gap between Vietnamese army units and peasants; indeed, helicopter delivery widened the intelligence gap by flying troops over villages and thus eliminating personal contact with the peasants—perhaps a good thing in the case of rapacious army units. The new vehicles also proved expensive. Helicopters and armored personnel carriers require large workshop and storage complexes, installations that in Vietnam demanded ground troops to provide security and nonetheless remained vulnerable to guerrilla attack, as did their lines of communication to major supply centers. Troops so assigned inevitably assumed a static role, to the guerrilla’s benefit. Armor plate and motors did not erase poorly conceived plans. American and Vietnamese planners were trying to strike the enemy all over the place. All too often, these were random strikes, because the commands lacked proper intelligence on which to base specific and profitable operations. Where good intelligence existed, Viet Cong intelligence frequently countered it. Helicopters and APCs are noisy, and a black-pajama-clad Viet Cong did not take long to ditch his weapon and either commence work in the field or hide along the reeded bank of a nearby canal. By summer of 1962, frustrated American airmen had begun developing new tactics, for example “eagle flights,” whereby helicopters landed a unit in a suspect area. If contact resulted, other, lingering helicopters immediately brought in reinforcements. The poverty of this tactic is too obvious for comment. *********************************************************************

Reporters Who Feed The Lies Rewarded
The conflict between Saigon and the field—between wishes and facts—had already produced a chilling corollary: extreme intolerance, on the part of both the Saigon regime and the American mission, of journalists who questioned the validity of allied performance. In March 1962, Mme. Nhu had begun persuading President Diem to expel three troublemakers, the veteran news correspondents Homer Bigart of the New York Times, François Sully of Newsweek, and James Robinson of NBC, each of whom was increasingly harassed by the Saigon government, as were other correspondents who, in Joseph Buttinger’s words, were “ . . . accused of being part of an international Communist- inspired conspiracy to slander the regime.” “The U.S. mission was anything but forceful in defending these correspondents against abuse and ill-treatment, and almost apologetic in explaining that these men were merely trying to live up to the American concept of a free press. Ambassador Frederick E. Nolting, Jr., and General Paul Harkins in particular were incensed by the American newsmen’s attacks on the regime. . . . They, as well as their superiors in Washington, spoke repeatedly of the “slanted” or even “irresponsible” press reporting out of Saigon, convinced not only that the correspondents who criticized the regime did harm to U.S.South Vietnamese relations, but also that they were wrong.” Reporters who wrote favorable accounts, among them Marguerite Higgins, Joseph Alsop, and Richard Tregaskis, received comforting little pats for their part in what was rapidly becoming the great deception. The Administration was running scared. *********************************************************************

Recruiting for The Resistance, 1960’s Style
Lansdale warned that the most urgent function is “ . . . to protect and help the people”: “When the military opens fire at long range, whether by infantry weapons, artillery or air strike, on a reported Viet Cong concentration in a hamlet or village full of civilians, the Vietnamese officers who give those orders and the American advisers who let them “get away with it” are helping defeat the cause of freedom. The civilian hatred of the military resulting from such actions is a powerful motive for joining the Viet Cong.” On the following day, Ambassador Taylor joined the select group of officials to report on the Vietnam situation. His words could not have been more gloomy. A new civilian government in Saigon was proving no more effective than the former military government, either in the capital or in the provinces. The Viet Cong everywhere had advanced and were threatening to cut the country in half. Despite heavy casualties produced by an increasingly stronger professionally competent ARVN (!), the Viet Cong not only were making good their losses but were adopting new and improved tactics:

“The ability of the Viet-Cong continuously to rebuild their units and to make good their losses is one of the mysteries of this guerrilla war. ... (We find) no plausible explanation of the continued strength of the Viet-Cong if our data on Viet-Cong losses are even approximately correct. “Not only do the Viet-Cong units have the recuperative powers of the phoenix, but they have an amazing ability to maintain morale. Only in rare cases have we found evidences of bad morale among Viet-Cong prisoners or recorded in captured Viet-Cong documents.”

Troops Invited:
Comments, arguments, articles, and letters from service men and women, and veterans, are especially welcome. Write to Box 126, 2576 Broadway, New York, N.Y. 10025-5657 or email contact@militaryproject.org: Name, I.D., withheld unless you request publication. Same address to unsubscribe.

“Did Any U.S. Officials Express Any Reluctance About Working With One Of The Most Brutal Dictatorships In The World?”
“When The Brutal Assad Dictatorship Was In Total Control Of The Country And Wasn’t Threatened By A Revolution, The U.S. Government Obviously Had No Reservations About Working With It To Torture People For The U.S. Government”

“Did Its Proficiency With Torturing Syrians Play An Important Role In Its Selection?”

December 13, 2012 by Jacob G. Hornberger, The Future of Freedom Foundation [Excerpts] President Obama has just announced that the U.S. government has decided to formally recognize the rebel group that is trying to oust Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad from power. The rebel group, however, seems not to be overly impressed with the president’s announcement. It seems to me that another important factor in all this is going to be the renditiontorture partnership that the U.S. government entered into several years ago with the Assad dictatorship. That’s the partnership in which U.S. officials kidnapped Canadian citizen Maher Arar and renditioned him to the Assad regime for the purpose of torture. How do they explain that to the Syrian rebels, especially if the rebels end up prevailing and establishing a new regime in Syria? Sure, today the U.S. government is supporting the rebels, but what about back then?

When the brutal Assad dictatorship was in total control of the country and wasn’t threatened by a revolution, the U.S. government obviously had no reservations about working with it to torture people for the U.S. government. One might even get the impression that the U.S. government loves submissive and compliant dictators who are solidly in power but then eager and willing to double-cross them and go the other side when it looks like the dictator might be ousted from power. That was certainly the case with Egyptian military dictator Hosni Mubarak, whom U.S. officials supported with cash and armaments for decades to enable him to maintain the dictatorship’s brutal grip on power over the Egyptian people. Then, when it appeared that the Egyptian people who had suffered for decades under that brutal U.S.-supported dictatorship got close to ousting Mubarak from power, the U.S. government jumped ship and went over to the side of the protestors. One of the most fascinating parts of the Arar kidnapping and rendition is that we still don’t know how the whole thing went down. Who were the American negotiators who struck the deal with the Syrian officials? Was the deal put into writing? Did President Bush sign off on the deal? What were the exact terms of the agreement? Were the methods of torture specified? Were any guarantees issued? How much did the agreement cost U.S. taxpayers? Did any U.S. officials express any reluctance about working with one of the most brutal dictatorships in the world? How was the Assad dictatorship chosen? Did its proficiency with torturing Syrians play an important role in its selection? In fact, owing to that nebulous, meaningless term — “national security,” the federal judiciary has proven even more submissive toward the military and the CIA than the mainstream press. When Arar sued for what U.S. officials had done to him, in concert with the Assad dictatorship, the federal courts denied him the right to bring his suit. The reason? “National security,” they said, would be threatened if the suit were permitted to proceed. Now, think about that. What does that mean? After all, the Syrians obviously know the details of the rendition-torture agreement, how it came into existence, and how it operated. They were a party to it! They know what they did to torture the guy. U.S. officials know all this too. So, how in the world could “national security,” whatever that term means, be threatened if Arar’s legal suit disclosed what Assad and Bush both know?

It’s just another example of how the much-ballyhooed term “national security,” a term not even mentioned in the Constitution, is used as a shield to cover up and protect official wrongdoing by the U.S. national-security state — and the vitally important role that the U.S. judiciary plays in enabling such cover-ups and wrongdoing. My hunch is that if the Syrian rebels get close to the center of power in Damascus, CIA agents will be rushing in to seize Assad’s Mahar Arar file, as the CIA did in Libya when Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi was on the verge of falling. Of course, much to the CIA’s chagrin, Human Rights Watch beat it to Qaddafi’s files and disclosed to the world the rendition-torture partnership that the U.S. government had with that dictator. Oh, by the way, the United States is still standing despite the fact that the American people, along with everyone else, learned this dark and nefarious “national-security” secret of the U.S. national-security state. The entire sordid mess is just one more example of the moral and political bankruptcy of the entire national-security state apparatus and the philosophy of foreign empire and interventionism that statists have foisted upon our nation. The best thing Americans could ever do, for themselves and the world, is to bring all troops home from everywhere and discharge them into the private sector, dismantle the standing army, military-industrial complex, and national-security state, and end the policy of empire and interventionism, including foreign military bases, foreign aid, renditiontorture partnerships, and U.S. government involvement in the internal affairs of other countries. That’s the key to freedom, prosperity, and harmony with the people of the world.

MORE:

Seeking Allies Among Syrian Rebels, U.S. Government Instead Finds “Anger And Exasperation With The United States” “Among Rebel Groups — And The Broader Population”

“Anti-American Sentiment Is Growing, Because The Americans Are Messing Up In Bigger Ways Lately”
“With Every Step To Correct Earlier Mistakes, He Said, ‘They Make A Bigger Mess’”

Rival rebel groups have declared solidarity with the Nusra Front, and Islamists have congratulated it on its new distinction. And seemingly everyone accuses the United States of hypocrisy for not slapping the terrorist label on Mr. Assad, whose forces have killed far more civilians than any rebel group. December 11, 2012 By MARK LANDLER, MICHAEL R. GORDON and ANNE BARNARD, New York Times [Excerpts] WASHINGTON — President Obama said Tuesday that the United States would formally recognize a coalition of Syrian opposition groups as that country’s legitimate representative, in an attempt to intensify the pressure on President Bashar al-Assad to give up his nearly two-year bloody struggle to stay in power. Experts and many Syrians, including rebels, say the move may well be too little, too late.

The Obama administration coupled its recognition with the designation hours earlier of a militant Syrian rebel group, the Nusra Front, as a foreign terrorist organization, affiliated with Al Qaeda. That is the kind of half-step that has led to mounting frustration in Syria, peaking this week with the blacklisting of the Nusra Front. Far from isolating the group, interviews with Syrian rebels and activists show, it has for now appeared to do the opposite. It has united a broad spectrum of the opposition — from Islamist fighters to liberal and nonviolent activists who fervently oppose them — in anger and exasperation with the United States. The widespread dissatisfaction among rebel groups — and the broader population — raises the possibility that now, just as the United States is stepping up efforts to steer the outcome in Syria, it may already be too late. More than 100 antigovernment organizations and fighting battalions have called online for demonstrations on Friday under the slogan, “No to American intervention — we are all Jabhet al-Nusra,” a reference to the Nusra Front’s Arabic name. “Anti-American sentiment is growing, because the Americans are messing up in bigger ways lately,” said Nabil al-Amir, an official spokesman for the rebel military council for Damascus and its suburbs, one of the committees that the United States and its allies are trying to coax into a unified rebel command. With every step to correct earlier mistakes, he said, “they make a bigger mess.” Rival rebel groups have declared solidarity with the Nusra Front, and Islamists have congratulated it on its new distinction. And seemingly everyone accuses the United States of hypocrisy for not slapping the terrorist label on Mr. Assad, whose forces have killed far more civilians than any rebel group.

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Source: Most CENTCOM Officers Fail Basic Geography

Unofficial CENTCOM Map (courtesy of The Atlantic 14 December 2012 by Sandy, The Duffle Blog TAMPA, FL – Sources at United States Central Command revealed today that less than half of the officers assigned to the command could correctly identify ten or more of the twenty-two countries in the command’s area of responsibility. “Of course we’re concerned about this,” said Colonel Albert Hawkins, CENTCOM’s Chief of Training. “I mean you can’t expect an officer to properly plan and execute an invasion of a foreign country if he can’t point to it on a map.” The officers were given a map of the CENTCOM AOR with nothing but the national borders outlined and asked to fill in the names of the countries. While most did well in identifying Iraq (82%) and Afghanistan (81%) fewer were able to properly identify Iran, Qatar and Kuwait (77%, 73% and 69% respectively). Just over half the officers were able to identify the remainder of the Gulf nations except Oman, which a full third identified as “Brunei.” “We’re OK with their knowledge of the Gulf region,” Hawkins stated, “even though we had to give a lot of them credit for labeling Qatar as Al Udeid. I mean Al Udeid Air Base is huge and it is out in the middle of nowhere. They may think the country is just the base.” When asked if there was any other worrying data in the test results Hawkins pointed out that, “41% of our officers correctly labeled India on their maps. That should be a plus but

unfortunately the test directions said to identify countries in the CENTCOM AOR and India is PACOM’s. And don’t get me started on the Stans.” “The Stans” is CENTCOM jargon for Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan. “Unfortunately,” Hawkins admitted, “most of our officers simply wrote ‘The Stans’ over the whole area and didn’t identify any individual countries. The officers that did try to identify individual countries usually labeled them with something marginally racist and insulting like ‘Hajistan’, ‘Camelstan’, or ‘Muslimastan.’” Colonel Stanley Rayburn, the Chief of International Engagement at CENTCOM, admitted he was one of the offenders. “Yeah, I should know better,” he admitted, “but to be honest the only time we care about the Stans anymore is when Pakistan threatens to cut off our land supply routes. “Then we take all the liaison officers from the Stans out to Hooters for some wings to show how important they are to our regional strategies. Pakistan backs down and we’re back to only seeing them at parties and photo opportunities for six months.” Colonel Hawkins was confident that renewed emphasis on basic map knowledge of the AOR would be the first step in resolving the training deficiency. “This is a core competency we’re going to have to improve upon,” he admitted, licking Hooters wing sauce residue off his fingers.

OCCUPATION PALESTINE

Heroic Zionist Soldiers Make War On Two Reuters Cameramen:
“Striking Them With The Butts Of Their Guns” “And Forced Them To Strip In The Street”
Dec 13, 2012 Reuters HEBRON, West Bank

Israeli soldiers punched two Reuters cameramen and forced them to strip in the street, before letting off a tear gas canister in front of them, leaving one of them needing hospital treatment. Israel’s military said on Thursday it took the allegations seriously, but offered no explanation for the assault that occurred on Wednesday evening in the heart of Hebron. Yousri Al Jamal and Ma’amoun Wazwaz said a foot patrol stopped them as they were driving to a nearby checkpoint where a Palestinian teenager had just been shot dead by an Israeli border guard. Their car was clearly marked ‘TV’ and they were both wearing blue flak jackets with ‘Press’ emblazoned on the front. The soldiers forced them to leave the vehicle and punched them, striking them with the butts of their guns. They accused them of working for an Israeli NGO, B’Tselem, which documents human rights violations in the occupied West Bank, the Reuters cameramen said. The soldiers did not let the men produce their official ID papers and forced them to strip down to their underwear, making them kneel on the road with their hands behind their heads, the cameramen said. Two other Palestinian journalists working for local news organizations, including a satellite television station affiliated to the Islamist group Hamas, were also stopped and forced to the ground. One of the soldiers then dropped a tear gas canister between the men and the IDF patrol ran away. The four journalists scrambled clear and Jamal and Wazwaz got to their car, which had rapidly filled up with tear gas, they said. They tried to drive away, but said they only got around 200 meters before they had to stop and exit the vehicle because of the choking gas. The soldiers then fired more tear gas in their direction. Wazwaz was overcome by the fumes and was taken to hospital by ambulance. He was released later the same night. The Israeli soldiers took two gas masks and a video camera from their car. The undamaged camera was later found abandoned further up the road. “We deplore the mistreatment of our journalists and have registered our extreme dismay with the Israeli military authorities,” said Stephen J. Adler, editor-in-chief of Reuters News. Tensions have been running particularly high in Hebron in the past week following repeated clashes between stone-throwing youths and soldiers. Muhammad al-Salameh, 17, was shot dead close to his house in the heart of Hebron on Wednesday evening after an altercation with border guards at a nearby checkpoint.

Some 800 Jewish [Zionist] settlers live among 30,000 Palestinians in the parts of the old city that are under Israeli control. [To check out what life is like under a murderous military occupation commanded by foreign terrorists, go to: www.rafahtoday.org The occupied nation is Palestine. The foreign terrorists call themselves “Israeli.”]

CLASS WAR REPORTS

“An Organized Effort To Occupy The Legislature Might Have Been Successful”
“But It’s Hard To Say, Because It Wasn’t Even Tried”
“Clear Contrast Between The Willingness Of Most Workers To Fight And The Approach Taken By The Official Leaders Of The Labor Movement”

“When Police Arrived On Horses To Clear The Area, Workers Held Them Off And Eventually Forced Them To Retreat. Police On Foot Again Tried To Establish Control And Failed Again”

Union members protest anti-working class law in Michigan. (Detroit Free Press-Romain Blanquart/Associated Press) December 12, 2012 by Eric Ruder, Socialist Worker [Excerpts] Despite the mobilization of more than 10,000 workers and their supporters to the state Capitol, Michigan--the site of some of the most important struggles of the U.S. labor movement--became the 24th state to pass “right-to-work” legislation on December 11. A crowd of at least 10,000 surrounded the Capitol on Tuesday, with another 2,500 people inside. Police used the pretext of the building’s age to keep a tight rein on the number of protesters allowed inside. With tempers flaring and at least some workers intent on trying to keep the legislators from voting, police used mace and other forms of violence and intimidation to keep most protesters far from the legislature’s proceedings.

Around 11 a.m., a couple hundred angry workers stormed a tent set up by the Americans for Prosperity, tearing it down before police could stop them. When police arrived on horses to clear the area, workers held them off and eventually forced them to retreat. Police on foot again tried to establish control and failed again. “Workers were harassing Tea Party people in the tent,” said Jeff Bale, a protester who teaches at Michigan State University, “They tore in half their ‘Don’t Tread on Me’ flag.” There was a clear contrast between the willingness of most workers to fight and the approach taken by the official leaders of the labor movement. Speaking before 9 a.m. at a rally were several thousand people had already gathered, Karla Swift, president of the Michigan AFL-CIO, put the attack on unions in a larger national context. “They think this is just about Michigan,” said Swift. “But we know this is about unions nationwide.” Yet Swift seemed to have already conceded that defeat was inevitable--and that the only possible way forward was electoral: to make Republican legislators pay in the 2014 elections. As Jeff Bale put it: “It was great to see organized labor participating in civil disobedience in the Capitol today. This is a big step forward from the rallies in 2011 against the Emergency Financial Manager laws and attacks on teacher tenure, at which (United Auto Workers President) Bob King and other labor leaders publicly distanced themselves from the Occupy movement. “But we have to be honest: sitting down on the rotunda floor today made for great pictures, but did nothing to disrupt the smash-and-grab anti-union votes happening in both chambers just feet away. There was plenty of anger among protesters to support a genuine direct action to disrupt the votes. It just wasn’t organized. “One sign of the potential for more radical action on Tuesday: Three school districts in the Detroit metro area--Warren, Fitzgerald and Taylor--had to close their doors because so many teachers took leave or called in sick to participate in the protests.” “In one of those school districts,” said Bale, “all it took was for the union rep to explain to teachers their options. “That sentiment existed throughout the state and could have been tapped into. Unfortunately, that energy and anger went to waste today.” An organized effort to occupy the legislature or the state office building might have been successful at this and other points during the day. But it’s hard to say, because it wasn’t even tried.

DANGER: POLITICIANS AT WORK

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