A Response to Controversial 'Time' Cover: What ALSO Happens If We Leave Afghanistan

Greg Mitchell

As I noted early this morning over at my Daybook, Time magazine's cover story this week arrives with a graphic cover image next to the title, "What Happens If We Leave Afghanistan." It shows an Afghan teen named Aisha whose nose and ears had been sliced off by the Taliban.

Inside, editor Rick Stengel explains that he consulted psychologists about what harm could be done to children who might see this disturbing image. But he also defends the aim of the story itself in the following paragraph:

"The much publicized release of classified documents by WikiLeaks has already ratcheted up the debate about the war. Our story and the haunting cover image by the distinguished South African photographer Jodi Bieber are meant to contribute to that debate. We do not run this story or show this image either in support of the U.S. war effort or in opposition to it. We do it to illuminate what is actually happening on the ground. As lawmakers and citizens begin to sort through the information about the war and make up their minds, our job is to provide context and perspective on one of the most difficult foreign policy issues of our time. What you see in these pictures and our story is something that you cannot find in those 91,000 documents: a combination of emotional truth and insight into the way life is lived in that difficult land and the consequences of the important decisions that lie ahead."

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This Time cover may go down as one of the most manipulative ever. Pure propaganda. Pure warmongering. First the media refuses to publish pictures of the carnage of war caused by the U.S. and their allies, including Canada. Then they put out this. Peacenik will never read another word in Time Magazine. Bring the troops home now.

The Shame of the Fourth Estate

Charles Kaiser

Let me make this utterly clear: What you see on Fox News, what you read on Right Wing websites, is the utter and complete perversion of journalism, and it can have no place in a civilized society. It is words crashed together, never to inform, only to inflame. It is a political guillotine. It is the manipulation of reality to make the racist seem benevolent, and to convict the benevolent as racist—even if her words must be edited, filleted, stripped of all context, rearranged, fabricated, and falsified, to do so.

What you see on Fox News, what you read on Right Wing websites… is a manipulation. Not just of a story, not just on behalf of a political philosophy. Manipulation of a society, its intentional redirection from reality and progress, to a paranoid delusion and the fomenting of hatred of Americans by Americans...The assassins of the Right have been enabled on the Left.

— Keith Olbermann's special comment on the Sherrod debacle

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Peacenik thinks Keith Olbermann is a great American.


Walkom: WikiLeaks offer insight into Canada’s detainee affair

punditman says... 
For those who have followed the Afghan conflict with an honest eye, there is not a lot that is surprising in the WikiLeaks documents. The war is going badly. We knew that. Elements of Pakistan's intelligence service support the Taliban. We knew that. NATO routinely kills civilians. Ditto. However, to quote Noam Chomsky, "details happen to be important." In this case, journalist Thomas Walkom demonstrates just how important they are when it comes to Canada's role. In particular, the relationship between the American CIA and the Afghan National Directorate of Security is crucial  and it explains why Harper's government wants to keep its files on the detainee issue away from public scrutinty.  In flaunting both Canadian and international law, will they ever be held to account?

Thomas Walkom
For Canadians trying to puzzle out the so-called Afghan detainees scandal, one item stands out from the mass of raw intelligence leaked this week.

It’s the second-last line in a report of a March 8, 2008, meeting with Amrullah Saleh, at the time head of Afghanistan’s National Directorate of Security. And it casually notes that until 2009, the entire budget of this secret police force was provided by America’s Central Intelligence Agency.

As the New York Times, one of the handful of newspapers first given the documents by the non-profit group WikiLeaks put it: “For years, the CIA had essentially run the NDS as a subsidiary.”

Why this matters in the Canadian context is that it destroys the rationale for the elaborate Afghan prisoner transfer system, first established in late 2005 during the dying days of the then Liberal government and now fiercely defended by Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Conservatives.


Assange: WikiLeaks Has 15,000 More Documents ‘Under Review’

punditman says...Go WikiLeaks! 

Posted By Jason Ditz On July 26, 2010 @ 7:02 pm

In an interview Monday evening on CNN, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange revealed that his organization has another 15,000 classified US documents above and beyond the 92,000 such documents released yesterday, and that these documents may be released at some point in the future.

In the brief interview, Assange dismissed Obama Administration claims that his organization was a threat to national security, saying it was a typical “shoot the messenger” attitude that the group has often faced in leaks.

It was at this point that Assange explained that while the 92,000 leaked documents had been vetted by the organization and found to be of no tactical value before their release, they have some 15,000 other documents that are still undergoing review to make sure that, among other things, they don’t reveal the names of Afghans secretly working for the NATO occupation forces.

Assange’s organization has been behind a number of previous leaks against a number of governments, but its role in US foreign policy emerged earlier this year when they leaked a classified video from 2007 showing US helicopters killing Iraqi civilians.

Afghan War Leaks Expose Costly, Deceitful March of Folly

by Ray McGovern

The brutality and fecklessness of the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan have been laid bare in an indisputable way just days before the House of Representatives is scheduled to vote on whether to throw $33.5 billion more into the Afghan quagmire, when that money is badly needed at home.

On Sunday, the Web site Wikileaks posted 75,000 reports written mostly by U.S. forces in Afghanistan during a six-year period from January 2004 to December 2009. The authenticity of the material - published under the title "Afghan War Diaries" - is not in doubt.

The New York Times, which received an embargoed version of the documents from Wikileaks, devoted six pages of its Monday editions to several articles on the disclosures, which reveal how the Afghan War slid into its current morass while the Bush administration concentrated U.S. military efforts on Iraq.

Wikileaks also gave advanced copies to the British newspaper, The Guardian, and the German newsmagazine, Der Spiegel, thus guaranteeing that the U.S. Fawning Corporate Media could not ignore these classified cables the way it did five years ago with the "Downing Street Memo," a leaked British document which described how intelligence was "fixed" around President George W. Bush's determination to invade Iraq.

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A hidden world, growing beyond control

punditman says...This in-depth series by the Washington Post looks at known counterterrorism, homeland security and intelligence programs and the astronomical budgets they eat up. It's right out of a dystopian novel. Truly Mind boggling in its wastefulness and uselessness when it comes to addressing root causes of terrorism. As the US economy continues to sputter, as 100,000 Americans file for bankruptcy each month, as three million Americans face home foreclosures this year on top of the 2.8 million who were foreclosed in 2009, think of what a droplet of this money could be used for instead. How can one not turn away in total disgust?

The top-secret world the government created in response to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, has become so large, so unwieldy and so secretive that no one knows how much money it costs, how many people it employs, how many programs exist within it or exactly how many agencies do the same work.

These are some of the findings of a two-year investigation by The Washington Post that discovered what amounts to an alternative geography of the United States, a Top Secret America hidden from public view and lacking in thorough oversight. After nine years of unprecedented spending and growth, the result is that the system put in place to keep the United States safe is so massive that its effectiveness is impossible to determine.

The investigation's other findings include:

* Some 1,271 government organizations and 1,931 private companies work on programs related to counterterrorism, homeland security and intelligence in about 10,000 locations across the United States.
* An estimated 854,000 people, nearly 1.5 times as many people as live in Washington, D.C., hold top-secret security clearances.
* In Washington and the surrounding area, 33 building complexes for top-secret intelligence work are under construction or have been built since September 2001. Together they occupy the equivalent of almost three Pentagons or 22 U.S. Capitol buildings - about 17 million square feet of space.
* Many security and intelligence agencies do the same work, creating redundancy and waste. For example, 51 federal organizations and military commands, operating in 15 U.S. cities, track the flow of money to and from terrorist networks.
* Analysts who make sense of documents and conversations obtained by foreign and domestic spying share their judgment by publishing 50,000 intelligence reports each year - a volume so large that many are routinely ignored.

Keep Reading...


In the matter of Omar Khadr, shame on us

Lawrence Martin

You either support high standards of justice or you don’t.

To avoid depression over the standards of justice in this country, here’s a tip: Stay away from opinion polls on Omar Khadr.

If you ever thought Canadians were a progressive, fair-minded people who believed in equal rights before the law, these soundings tell a different story.

They say most Canadians don’t want the Toronto-born Mr. Khadr to be returned to Canada from Guantanamo Bay for a legitimate judicial process. All other nations have repatriated their Gitmo detainees. Led by our counterclockwise Justice Department, we are the lone heathen holdout.

In the case of the 23-year-old Mr. Khadr, we invoke a double standard. We’re saying he’s not entitled to the same judicial rights as others. In so doing, we turn our backs on repeated rulings of our top courts that his rights have been violated, that we’re failing “to comply with a fundamental principle of justice.”

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After four years of non-stop, pro-war, pro-violence propaganda, including Hockey Night in Canada's eager participation, is it any wonder that Canadians no longer have a sense of what is right or wrong in the so called war on terror. War crimes. What dat? Civil rights. Who cares? Peacenik says it is time to bring Mr. Khadr, a child soldier, home. And it is time to bring the troops home.

Chomsky: Is the U.S. Gearing Up for the Destruction of Iran?

Iran sits at the top of US concerns about keeping control of Middle East oil-producing regions, preparing for serious violence if other means do not suffice.

The dire threat of Iran is widely recognized to be the most serious foreign policy crisis facing the Obama administration. General Petraeus informed the Senate Committee on Armed Services in March 2010 that "the Iranian regime is the primary state-level threat to stability" in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility, the Middle East and Central Asia, the primary region of US global concerns. The term "stability" here has its usual technical meaning: firmly under US control.

In June 2010 Congress strengthened the sanctions against Iran, with even more severe penalties against foreign companies. The Obama administration has been rapidly expanding US offensive capacity in the African island of Diego Garcia, claimed by Britain, which had expelled the population so that the US could build the massive base it uses for attacks in the Central Command area. The Navy reports sending a submarine tender to the island to service nuclear-powered guided-missile submarines with Tomahawk missiles, which can carry nuclear warheads. Each submarine is reported to have the striking power of a typical carrier battle group. According to a US Navy cargo manifest obtained by the Sunday Herald (Glasgow), the substantial military equipment Obama has dispatched includes 387 "bunker busters" used for blasting hardened underground structures. Planning for these "massive ordnance penetrators," the most powerful bombs in the arsenal short of nuclear weapons, was initiated in the Bush administration, but languished. On taking office, Obama immediately accelerated the plans, and they are to be deployed several years ahead of schedule.

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Peacenik goes back and forth on this issue. Peacenik recently read something about Europe not allowing the U.S. or Israel to attack Iran. On the other hand there are lots and lots of influential Americans who would love to attack Iran. Is Iran a threat to the U.S.? No. Was Iraq a threat to the U.S.? No. Was Afghanistan a threat to the U.S.? No. Can Europe influence U.S. foreign policy? No. Will Iran be attacked?

Judge Rules CIA Can Suppress Information About Torture Tapes and Memos

Ruling Allows CIA to Conceal Evidence of Its Own Illegal Conduct, Says ACLU

NEW YORK - July 15 - A federal judge today ruled that the government can withhold information from the public about intelligence sources and methods, even if those sources and methods were illegal. The ruling came in response to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) litigation filed by the American Civil Liberties Union for Justice Department memos that authorized torture, and for records relating to the contents of destroyed videotapes depicting the brutal interrogation of detainees at CIA black sites.

The government continues to withhold key information, such as the names of detainees who were subjected to the abusive interrogation methods as well as information about the application of the interrogation techniques. Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York today ruled that the government can continue to suppress evidence of its illegal program.

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So much for justice. Peacenik.


Tory filibuster seeks to block hearings on G20 policing

Opposition accuses Tories of ducking scrutiny of their role in matter

Anti-summit protesters clash with police in downtown Toronto, Ont June 25/2010. Windows were smashed throughout the downtown core.

Stephen Harper’s Conservatives are filibustering to block opposition efforts to launch hearings on policing at the Toronto G20 summit, accusing political rivals of seeking a platform to build sympathy for “thugs and hooligans” who rioted there.

Parliament is adjourned for the summer, and the opposition majority – the NDP, Liberals and Bloc – forced the Commons committee on public safety to reconvene on Monday to vote on whether to start federal hearings on the G20 security.

But during a two-hour meeting, Conservative MPs on the committee repeatedly requested speaking time to object to holding an inquiry now, and the Tory chair refused opposition demands for a vote. Opposition MPs together can out-vote the Tories on the committee.

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The Tories continue to follow George Bush's playbook. Use every means available to thwart accountability. Is there any issue the Liberals, and NDP and Bloc care enough about to stand up to the Tories. Peacenik is beginning to think that none of these parties derserve Peacenik's vote in any future election.

Scary Anti-Iran Talk Is Escalating -- And Weapons May Be Moving Into Position for Attack

Though Iran does not have nuclear capability, the U.S. and Israel are espousing a doctrine of "pre-emption."

Crazy talk about the Middle East seems to be escalating, backed up by some pretty ominous military deployments. We'll start with the department of scary statements:

First up, Shabtai Shavit, former chief of the Israeli spy agency Mossad, speaking June 21 at Bar Ilan University, Tel Aviv on why Israel should launch a pre-emptive strike at Iran: “I am of the opinion that, since there is an ongoing war, since the threat is permanent, since the intention of the enemy in this case is to annihilate you, the right doctrine is one of presumption and not retaliation.”

Second up, Uzi Arad, Israeli prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s national security advisor, speaking before the Jewish Agency in Jerusalem June 22 on his belief that the “international community” would support an Israeli strike at Iran: “I don’t see anyone who questions the legality of this or the legitimacy.”

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Will Iran be attacked? Would the Peace Prize winning Obama authorize an attack? Peacenik doesn't know. But with the world economy going down the toilet, leaders everywhere will be looking to divert attention. An attack on Iran would not surprise Peacenik.


The Financial Con Of The Decade Explained So Simply Even A Congressman Will Get It

Tyler Durden's picture

Sometimes, when chasing the bouncing ball of fraud and corruption on a daily basis, it is easy to lose sight of the forest for the millions of trees (all of which have a 150% LTV fourth-lien on them, underwritten by Goldman Sachs, which is short the shrubbery tranche). Luckily, Charles Hugh Smith, of oftwominds.com has taken the time to put it all into such simple and compelling terms, even corrupt North Carolina congressmen will not have the chance to plead stupidity after reading this.

Of course, to those familiar with the work of Austrian economists, none of this will come as a surprise.

1. Enable trillions of dollars in mortgages guaranteed to default by packaging unlimited quantities of them into mortgage-backed securities (MBS), creating umlimited demand for fraudulently originated loans.

2. Sell these MBS as "safe" to credulous investors, institutions, town councils in Norway, etc., i.e. "the bezzle" on a global scale.

3. Make huge "side bets" against these doomed mortgages so when they default then the short-side bets generate billions in profits.

4. Leverage each $1 of actual capital into $100 of high-risk bets.

Read on...

Peacenik says it is time to throw the bankers, and financiers in jail, confiscate their wealth, and start over. The system is corrupt, broken, and finished. Time for a new beginning.

Saving Face in Unwinnable War

Sinking in debt and no closer to victory, heads may roll as the U.S. and NATO wrap up their pointless Afghan adventure

by Eric Margolis

Fire-breathing U.S. Gen. Stanley McChrystal and his Special Forces "mafia" were supposed to crush Afghan resistance to western occupation. But McChrystal was fired after rude remarks from his staff about the White House.

A more cerebral and political general, David Petraeus, replaced McChrystal. Petraeus managed to temporarily suppress resistance in Iraq.

Last week, the usually cautious Petraeus vowed from Kabul to "win" the Afghan War, which has cost the U.S. nearly $300 billion to date and 1,000 dead. The problem: No one can define what winning really means. Each time the U.S. reinforces, Afghan resistance grows stronger.

Afghanistan is America's longest-running conflict.

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Peacenik says bring the troops home now.


The War Drones On

punditman says... 
In past wars, there was some measurable degree of moral outrage  when it came to killing civilians. But nowadays, it seems this little inconvenience is considered by many people to be...well...a little inconvenienceif they notice  at all. Instead, there seems to be more concern about the misdeeds of Lindsay Lohan or the fact that LeBron James decided to play basketball for another city and he announced it by doing an hour-long  TV "tweet" to promote his brand. The shock! The horror! Fans are burning James' jersey while giving a pass to the Pentagon's killer drones that kill 10 civilians for every "bad guy." Has society become this pathetic, shallow and ignorant? Punditman hopes not...

By Robert Koehler

"Complaints about civilian casualties have also stirred concern among human rights advocates."

The problem is that a sentence like this — arguably a dead sentence, with a few quasi-facts entombed in an inert moral sensibility — parades as serious news. I mean, it’s lifted straight from the New York Times: from a story about drones, the CIA hit list and our cool new PlayStation way of killing bad dudes (and everyone else in the vicinity). Someone with an active conscience could come upon a sentence like that, in the middle of a painfully ill-focused story on the endless war, and think she must be going insane.
As an archeological find, it’s worth examining in closer detail, but first let me put it in context. The use of pilotless aircraft in Pakistan and Afghanistan to assassinate Taliban or al-Qaeda leaders and other Islamic, America-hating insurgents — with missiles, no less — seems to have hit a snag of legal controversy lately because of the news that one of the people on the list of targets, Anwar al-Awlaki, was born in New Mexico. He’s an American citizen.


This War Can be Won, You Want Me to Believe? Rules of Engagement

punditman says...How not to win hearts and minds.


On July 2, 2010 the US Senate 99-0 voted to spend $37 billion more dollars to fund the war in Afghanistan. Not long before that vote, the US House Appropriations Subcommittee announced that it would cut off $4 billion in US aid to Washington's client regime in Kabul, Afghanistan. The reasons cited for this decision center around the widely publicized corruption of that regime. For some reason, the subcommittee’s action was met with cheers from some elements in the moribund US antiwar movement. It's as if this attempt to blame the US-sponsored Karzai government for the corruption endemic in Afghanistan is the beginning of the end of the US assault on the Afghan people.

Of course, the exact opposite is the more likely truth. Obama's dismissal of McChrystal does not seem to be about admitting a failed policy as much as the appointment of Petraeus appears to announce that the US military plans on ramping up its bloody assault. One can call it a surge or one can call it something else, but what occurred under Petraeus' command in Iraq was simple. First, the US rules of engagement were relaxed. Then, the US provided support--tacit and active--to certain armed political factions within Iraq. These factions in turn attacked their enemies, killing thousands while dividing the nation along sectarian lines that continue to simmer. Meanwhile, US forces assisted in these endeavors by putting up concrete barriers dividing neighborhoods, and arresting and killing Iraqis who opposed the factions favored by Washington.

According to a paper published by the Afghanistan Analysts Network, some key support for the Taliban and other resistance groups in Afghanistan comes from communities "who have prisoners in the Guantanamo system." If this is the case (and it makes perfect sense), then it is also fair to assume that the upcoming escalation of the war and the accompanying increase in the arrest of insurgents will enhance this type of support, as well. Still, when one reads the current scenarios about the next few months in Afghanistan, it seems as if the war planners believe that, yes there will be an upsurge in resistance at first but that the US and its escalation will prevail. It's as if they believe the military might of the US-led forces will prevail over whatever the insurgency can put up, despite the fact that the insurgency has been able to stalemate all of the forces arrayed against it for almost ten years.