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Blackwater, US Military Working For Taliban Drug Lords

Blackwater, US Military Working For Taliban Drug Lords
Blackwater and India’s Intelligence Agency are protecting and supporting Taliban to carry out operations in Pakistan

Veterans Today
January 23, 2010

The following article is by Gordon Duff, a Marine Vietnam veteran, grunt and 100% disabled vet. He has been a UN Diplomat, defense contractor and is a widely published expert on military and defense issues. He is active in the financial industry and is a specialist on global trade. Gordon Duff acts as political and economic advisor to a number of governments in Africa and the Middle East.

BLACKWATER/XE ACCUSED OF COMPLICITY IN TERRORISM AND WAR AGAINST US TROOPS

TOP TALIBAN MILITANTS RECEIVE MEDICAL CARE AT BAGRAM AIR FORCE BASE

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has been briefed by the Pakistani Military High Command that they are being overwhelmed by highly trained and extremely well armed militants in the border regions and terrorists operating across the country. We have been told by the highest sources that Blackwater/Xe and other US based mercenary groups have been actively attacking police, military and intelligence organizations in Pakistan as part of operations under employment of the Government of India and their allies in Afghanistan, the drug lords, whose followers make up the key components of the Afghan army.

Investigations referenced in the Pakistan Daily Mail by abrina Elkani and Steve Nelson indicate that, rather than hunt terrorists who have been killing Americans, these groups have actually taken key militant leaders into Afghanistan where they are kept safe and even offered medical treatment by the United States military. Years ago, we all heard the rumor that Osama bin Laden had received care at a US hospital in Qatar after leaving Sudan to take over what we claim was the planning of 9/11. FBI transcripts verify that bin Laden, according to testimony by former FBI translator Sibel Edmonds, was working for the US at that time and had maintained contact with his CIA handlers through the fateful summer of 2001.

The Army of Pakistan has been regularly capturing advanced weapons of Indian manufacture from militants in the border region. India maintains 17 “consular” camps inside Pakistan, near the border, adjacent to Blackwater facilities, falsely designated as CIA or USAID stations. Pakistan claims these operations train Taliban soldiers and terrorists for operations against civilian targets in Pakistan. Thousands have died in Pakistan over recent months during these attacks. Pakistan also contents these same groups are, not only fighting the Pakistan military but the Americans as well.

General Stanley McChrystal had withdrawn American forces from key areas in Afghanistan across from enemy held regions under attack by the Army of Pakistan. We are now told that this allowed those areas to become safe havens for forces formerly operating in Pakistan, who are now enjoying the freedom and hospitality of, not only Afghanistan but are being ignored by the NATO forces in the region.

The untold story is the massive complicity of Americans with their private airline, now suspected in yet another war, not Vietnam, not Central America/Iran Contra but Afghanistan, for a third time, of smuggling narcotics. The pattern is impossible to ignore.

Hired Killers in Haiti

Iran says US, UK, Canada assist Afghan drug trade

Are America’s Mercenary Armies Really Drug Cartels?

 



Gates Admits Blackwater Operating in Pakistan

Gates Admits Blackwater Operating in Pakistan

Raw Story
January 22, 2010

The Pentagon has gone into damage control mode after Defense Secretary Robert Gates appeared to confirm that security contractor Blackwater is operating in Pakistan.

The admission, quickly denied by Defense Department officials, has set fire to long-simmering rumors inside Pakistan about the involvement of for-profit contractors in the war against the Taliban.

Defense Department officials say Gates did not mean to suggest that Blackwater is now operating on Pakistani soil when a journalist from Pakistan’s Express TV asked him about military contractors’ activities.

In the interview, which took place Thursday, Gates was asked “about another issue that has come up and again … about the phone security companies [sic] that have been operating in Iraq, in Afghanistan and now in Pakistan. Xe International, formerly known as Blackwater or Data Corp. Under what rules are they operating here in Pakistan?”

“Well, they’re operating as individual companies here in Pakistan, in Afghanistan and in Iraq,” Gates replied. “If they’re contracting with us or with the State Department here in Pakistan, then there are very clear rules set forth by the State Department and by ourselves.”

Pentagon backtracks after Gates admits Blackwater operating in PakistanThe Pentagon has gone into damage control mode after Defense Secretary Robert Gates appeared to confirm that security contractor Blackwater is operating in Pakistan.

The admission, quickly denied by Defense Department officials, has set fire to long-simmering rumors inside Pakistan about the involvement of for-profit contractors in the war against the Taliban.

Defense Department officials say Gates did not mean to suggest that Blackwater is now operating on Pakistani soil when a journalist from Pakistan’s Express TV asked him about military contractors’ activities.

In the interview, which took place Thursday, Gates was asked “about another issue that has come up and again … about the phone security companies [sic] that have been operating in Iraq, in Afghanistan and now in Pakistan. Xe International, formerly known as Blackwater or Data Corp. Under what rules are they operating here in Pakistan?”

“Well, they’re operating as individual companies here in Pakistan, in Afghanistan and in Iraq,” Gates replied. “If they’re contracting with us or with the State Department here in Pakistan, then there are very clear rules set forth by the State Department and by ourselves.”
Story continues below…

“This appears to be a contradiction of previous statements made by the Defense Department, by Blackwater, by the Pakistani government and by the US embassy in Islamabad, all of whom claimed Blackwater was not in the country,” investigative reporter Jeremy Scahill wrote.

In November, Scahill reported that Blackwater is operating out of a covert US operating base in Karachi, where it “plan[s] targeted assassinations of suspected Taliban and Al Qaeda operatives, ‘snatch and grabs’ of high-value targets and other sensitive action inside and outside Pakistan.”

In December, the UK’s Guardian reported that Blackwater guards are patrolling a CIA airbase in Baluchistan province.

Gates’ comments have sent Pakistan’s legislature into an uproar, with at least one government official denying knowledge of Gates’ remarks.

Pakistan has been rife with rumors in recent years about private security contractors operating on the country’s soil, and “about purported US plots to seize Pakistan’s nuclear weapons and build permanent American military bases,” as the Wall Street Journal puts it.

“Mr. Gates himself may have inadvertently helped fuel a new rumor,” the Journal stated.

Defense officials tried to clarify the comment Thursday night, telling reporters that Mr. Gates had been speaking about contractor oversight more generally and that the Pentagon didn’t employ Xe [a.k.a. Blackwater] in Pakistan.

It was too late, however. By Friday morning, an array of Pakistani newspapers, television stations and radio programs reported that “Blackwater” had begun operating in Pakistan as well, citing Mr. Gates’s comments.

Whether it was a mistake or an unintentional admission, Gates’ comments are certain to complicate efforts by the US to prod Pakistan into refocusing away from its long-time rival, India, to the Taliban presence on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.

To that end, the US has announced it will provide Pakistan with a dozen Shadow drones, smaller cousins of the Predator drones the US uses in air strikes in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the New York Times reports.

The US has also announced a new strategy for the war effort that focuses on the “re-integration” of Taliban fighters into mainstream society. The effort will be led by Afghan President Karzai. In discussing the plans Friday, Karzai “spoke about offering money and jobs to tempt Taliban fighters to lay down their arms and return to civilian life,” according to Pakistan’s Dawn Media Group.

 



13 Afghan Protesters Killed by NATO Forces

13 Afghan Protesters Killed by NATO Forces

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O29DDWUBb5I

US Drone Fired Missile Into a ‘Crowd of Suspects,’ Killing 13 Afghans

 



Iran says US, UK, Canada assist Afghan drug trade

Iran says US, UK, Canada assist Afghan drug trade

Press TV
January 14, 2010

A senior Iranian anti-drug official has accused the US, Britain and Canada of playing a major role in Afghanistan’s lucrative drug trade.

On the sidelines of an anti-drug conference in Tehran, deputy head of Iran’s Drug Control Headquarters Taha Taheri said that Western powers are aiding the drug trade in Afghanistan.

“According to our indisputable information, the presence of the United States, Britain and Canada has not reduced the dug trade and the three countries have had major roles in the distribution of drugs,” IRIB quoted Taheri as saying on Thursday.

Iranian officials have always criticized Western countries over their policies towards Afghanistan, where poppy cultivation has drastically increased since the US-led military occupation of the country in 2001.

Taheri added that drug catalysts are being smuggled into Afghanistan through borders that are controlled by US, British and Canadian troops.

Some 13,000 tones of drug catalysts are brought into Afghanistan every year as the war-torn country is the producer of 90 percent of the world’s opium.

The UN office on drugs and crime said last month that the 2009 potential gross export value of opium from Afghanistan stood at $2.8 billion.

Iranian police officials maintain that drug production in Afghanistan has had a 40-fold increase since the US-led invasion of the country in 2001.

“More than 340 tones of drugs have been seized all over Iran in the past nine months,” IRNA quoted the commander of the drug squad, General Hamid Reza Hossein-Abadi, as saying earlier this month.

The UN has praised Tehran for its commitment to the fight against drug trafficking.

Are America’s Mercenary Armies Really Drug Cartels?

 



U.S. Provoking War With Venezuela

Netherlands has Granted U.S. Military Use of its Islands in the Caribbean

globalresearch.ca
January 14, 2010

The government of the Netherlands recently granted the US military use of its islands in the Caribbean, with the excuse that this is to help in the “war against drugs”. In reality, this is a direct threat to the Chavez government in Venezuela.

In the Dutch media articles have appeared about the “war-mongering” president of Venezuela, Hugo Chávez, who is “preparing a war against Colombia”. Now Chávez has accused the Netherlands of supporting aggression against Venezuela, because the Netherlands has given permission to the American armed forces to use the military bases on the Dutch Caribbean islands of Aruba and Curaçao[1].

In the media Hugo Chávez, as always, has been presented like some “crazy populist”, and of course the “civilised Netherlands” are presented as being totally innocent.

Later Maxime Verhagen, the Dutch minister of foreign affairs, said the American military were on Aruba and Curaçao, as part of the “war against drugs”. He remains silent about what is really happening on Aruba and Curaçao.

Authors such as Noam Chomsky and Eva Golinger have pointed out in different articles that the so-called “war against drugs” has nothing to do with any battle against drug smuggling, but has been used for other causes such as fighting against guerrilla movements and the spying of other countries. Since the start of the “war against drugs” there has only been more smuggling and consumption of drugs.

The fact that the Netherlands are participating in this is quite normal, because the Dutch government has a tradition of supporting American imperialism. After Britain the Netherlands are the biggest ally of the U.S. in Western Europe. The cabinet of Prime Minister Balkenende gave political support to the invasion of Iraq that was based completely on lies. Now the Netherlands have troops in Afghanistan, officially to rebuild the country, but in practice to prop up the corrupt regime of Karzai.

The bases on Aruba and Curaçao

In 1999 the Netherlands and the U.S. signed an agreement for the establishment of Forward Operating Locations (FOLs). This meant that the American military could use air force bases on Aruba and Curaçao. While the bases were originally used for operations against drug smuggling and the Colombian guerrilla movement FARC, this changed with the election of George Bush. Venezuela was seen as a threat by then, because it was a beacon of hope for the poor and working people of Latin America. In 2002 there was a CIA-backed coup attempt against the democratically elected Hugo Chávez. Since then there have only been more intrigues against Venezuela.

In 2006 there was a big military exercise by the U.S., Netherlands, Belgium, Great Britain, France and Canada in the Caribbean, named Joint Caribbean Lion 2006. This exercise was clearly a provocation against Venezuela. After criticisms by the Venezuelan government the then-minister of defence Henk Kamp and some right-wing MPs decided to accuse Chávez of “wanting to conquer the Antilles”. This was based on false statements from the Venezuelan opposition, that stated Chávez claimed everything within 200 miles from the Venezuelan coast as Venezuelan territory, while in that speech Chávez clearly said “12”, and not “200” miles.

Now there is a new conflict. This has everything to do with the recent militarization of Colombia and its seven military bases that have been given to American troops. Venezuela is not talking nonsense as the media keep claiming. Colombia’s military spending now is 5% of its Gross Domestic Product. At the peak of her struggle against the FARC this was 2.5%.

Also the American Fourth Fleet has been stationed back in the Caribbean since 2008. This fleet was disbanded in 1950 after the end of WWII, but now it is back and close to the Venezuelan coast.

The Netherlands are now playing the role of junior partner of the U.S. in the Caribbean. Different spy planes have been detected above Venezuela. An American Boeing RC-135 has taken off at different times from Curaçao and has been detected over Venezuelan air space.

Hugo Chavez orders military to shoot at US aircraft

 



Are America’s Mercenary Armies Really Drug Cartels?

Are America’s Mercenary Armies Really Drug Cartels?

Gordon Duff
December 29, 2009

News out of Afghanistan, Pakistan and India reports massive corruption at the highest levels of government, corruption that could only be financed with drug money. In Afghanistan, the president’s brother is known to be one of the biggest drug runners in the world.

In Pakistan, President Zardani is found with 60 million in a Swiss Bank and his Interior Minister is suspected of ties to American groups involved in paramilitary operations, totally illegal that could involve nothing but drugs, there is no other possibility.

Testimony in the US that our government has used “rendition” flights to transport massive amounts of narcotics to Western Europe and the United States has been taken in sworn deposition.

American mercenaries in Pakistan are hundreds of miles away from areas believed to be hiding terrorists, involved in “operations” that can’t have anything whatsoever to do with any CIA contract. These mercenaries aren’t in Quetta, Waziristan or FATA supporting our troops, they are in Karachi and Islamabad playing with police and government officials and living the life of the fatted calf.

The accusations made are that Americans in partnership with corrupt officials, perhaps in all 3 countries, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India, are involved in assassinations, “unknown” criminal activities and are functioning like criminal gangs.

There is no oil. There is nothing to draw people into the area other than one product, one that nobody is talking about. Drugs.

The US got involved in massive drug operations, importation, processing and distribution during the Reagan years, supposedly to finance covert CIA operations involving death squads tasked with murdering Sandinista “infrastructure” in Nicaragua.

The deal involved Israel, Iran and the Colombian cartel. Saddam was even involved. In the end, President Reagan was put on the stand only to remember little or nothing of his tenure in office. Lt. Col. Oliver North was convicted as was Secretary of Defense Weinberger and many others. Pardons and “other methods” were used to keep the guilty out of jail.

Now we find what was supposed to be a CIA operation with one company only, Xe, operations that were meant to hunt a couple of terrorist/Taliban leaders in and around Quetta, a city of 1 million in remote Baluchistan has turned into a honeycomb of operations involving millions of dollars and personnel of all kinds, perhaps even ranking diplomats and high government officials, the highest.

The cover of hunting terrorists in remote areas with hundreds of armed men in cities on the other side of the country, cities filled with 5 star hotels, country clubs, polo, cricket and fine restaurants is not really cover, even by CIA standards.

The reports, bribes, actions that look and smell like drug gangs at work, tell a story that nobody wants to talk about.

With 50 billion dollars of opium from Afghanistan alone and crops in Pakistan and India also, managing the world’s heroin supply is, by my estimation, how all of this “muscle” is staying busy. When you see a black van full of armed men, is there a sign somewhere saying:

“We are counter terrorists working for the Central Intelligence Agency and we are only in town here, hundreds of miles from the nearest terrorist because we need a hot shower and to get a noise in the transmission checked out.”

Everyone can choose to believe what they want. It’s time we stopped lying. Its about drugs, always has been, always will, drugs and money. It buys men, it buys guns and it can buy governments and has, as anyone with eyes can see.

 



Afghan Puppet Government Wants US Troops Until 2024

Afghan Puppet Government Wants US Troops Until 2024

NY Times
December 9, 2009

KABUL, Afghanistan — President Hamid Karzai said Tuesday that Afghanistan would not be able to pay for its own security until at least 2024, underscoring his government’s long-term financial dependence on the United States and NATO even as President Obama has pledged to begin withdrawing American troops in 2011.

Mr. Karzai spoke at a news conference here with Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates, who did not put a timetable on the American and allied financial commitment but acknowledged that there was a “realism on our part that it will be some time before Afghanistan is able to sustain its security forces entirely on its own.”

The news conference came just hours after as many as a dozen people were killed during an allied raid in Laghman Province, Afghan officials said, prompting hundreds of villagers to march in protest.

Read Full Article Here

Hamid Karzai’s brother ‘on CIA payroll’

 



War tax proposed to pay for protecting Afghan opium fields, bribing Taliban

Obama Allies Want New Tax To Pay For Cost Of Protecting Afghan Opium Fields, Bribing Taliban

Paul Joseph Watson
Prison Planet.com
November 20, 2009

Not content with savaging American taxpayers with two huge new financial burdens during an economic recession, in the form of health care reform and cap and trade, close allies of Barack Obama have proposed a new war surtax that will force Americans to foot the bill for the cost of protecting opium fields in Afghanistan, paying off drug lords, and bribing the Taliban.

Warning that the cost of occupying Afghanistan is a threat to the Democrats’ plan to overhaul health care, lawmakers have announced their plan to make Americans pay an additional war tax that will be taken directly from their income, never mind the fact that around 36 per cent of federal taxes already go to paying for national defense.

“Regardless of whether one favors the war or not, if it is to be fought, it ought to be paid for,” the lawmakers, all prominent Democratic allies of Obama, said in a joint statement on the “Share The Sacrifice Act of 2010 (PDF),” reports AFP.

The move is being led by the appropriately named House Appropriations Committee Chairman Dave Obey, Representative John Murtha, who chairs that panel’s defense subcommittee; and House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank.

The tax would apply to anyone earning as little as $22,600 per year in 2011.

The proposal is described as “heavily symbolic” with little chance of passing, but it once again illustrates the hypocrisy of an administration that swept to power on the promise of “change” to the Neo-Con imperial agenda and a resolve to reduce U.S. military involvement overseas. In reality, there are more troops in Iraq and Afghanistan now under Obama that at any time during the Bush administration.

At the height of the Bush administration’s 2007 “surge” in Iraq, there were 26,000 US troops in Afghanistan and 160,000 in Iraq, a total of 186,000.

According to DoD figures cited by The Washington Post last month, there are now around 189,000 and rising deployed in total. There are now 68,000 troops in Afghanistan, over double the amount deployed there when Bush left office.

What precisely would this extra tax be used to pay for? Namely, bribing the Taliban, paying off CIA drug lords, and protecting heroin-producing opium fields.

Numerous reports over the past two weeks have confirmed that the U.S. military is paying off the Taliban with bags of gold to prevent them from attacking vehicle convoys, proving that there is no real “war” in Afghanistan, merely a business agreement that allows the occupiers to continue their lucrative control of record opium exports while they finalize construction of dozens of new military bases from which to launch new wars.

The Afghan opium trade has exploded since the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, following a lull after the Taliban had imposed a crackdown. According to the U.N., the drug trade is now worth $65 billion. Afghanistan produces 92 per cent of the world’s opium, with the equivalent of at least 3,500 tonnes leaving the country each year.

This racket is secured by drug kingpins like the brother of disputed president Hamid Karzai. As a New York Times report revealed last month, Ahmed Wali Karzai, a Mafia-like figure who expanded his influence over the drug trade with the aid of U.S. efforts to eliminate his competitors, is on the CIA payroll.

As Professor Michel Chossudovsky has highlighted in a series of essays, the explosion of opium production after the invasion was about the CIA’s drive to restore the lucrative Golden Crescent opium trade that was in place during the time when the Agency were funding the Mujahideen rebels to fight the Soviets, and flood the streets of America and Britain with cheap heroin, destroying lives while making obscene profits.

Any war surtax will merely go straight to maintaining the agenda that Obama inherited from Bush, the continued looting of Afghanistan under the pretext of a “war on terror” that, as revelations about bribing the Taliban prove, doesn’t even exist.

U.S. Army paying the Taliban not to shoot at them

 



U.S. Army paying the Taliban not to shoot at them

U.S. Army paying the Taliban not to shoot at them

Aram Roston
The Nation
November 11, 2009

On October 29, 2001, while the Taliban’s rule over Afghanistan was under assault, the regime’s ambassador in Islamabad gave a chaotic press conference in front of several dozen reporters sitting on the grass. On the Taliban diplomat’s right sat his interpreter, Ahmad Rateb Popal, a man with an imposing presence. Like the ambassador, Popal wore a black turban, and he had a huge bushy beard. He had a black patch over his right eye socket, a prosthetic left arm and a deformed right hand, the result of injuries from an explosives mishap during an old operation against the Soviets in Kabul.

But Popal was more than just a former mujahedeen. In 1988, a year before the Soviets fled Afghanistan, Popal had been charged in the United States with conspiring to import more than a kilo of heroin. Court records show he was released from prison in 1997.

Flash forward to 2009, and Afghanistan is ruled by Popal’s cousin President Hamid Karza. Popal has cut his huge beard down to a neatly trimmed one and has become an immensely wealthy businessman, along with his brother Rashid Popal, who in a separate case pleaded guilty to a heroin charge in 1996 in Brooklyn. The Popal brothers control the huge Watan Group in Afghanistan, a consortium engaged in telecommunications, logistics and, most important, security. Watan Risk Management, the Popals’ private military arm, is one of the few dozen private security companies in Afghanistan. One of Watan’s enterprises, key to the war effort, is protecting convoys of Afghan trucks heading from Kabul to Kandahar, carrying American supplies.

Welcome to the wartime contracting bazaar in Afghanistan. It is a virtual carnival of improbable characters and shady connections, with former CIA officials and ex-military officers joining hands with former Taliban and mujahedeen to collect US government funds in the name of the war effort.

In this grotesque carnival, the US military’s contractors are forced to pay suspected insurgents to protect American supply routes. It is an accepted fact of the military logistics operation in Afghanistan that the US government funds the very forces American troops are fighting. And it is a deadly irony, because these funds add up to a huge amount of money for the Taliban. “It’s a big part of their income,” one of the top Afghan government security officials told The Nation in an interview. In fact, US military officials in Kabul estimate that a minimum of 10 percent of the Pentagon’s logistics contracts–hundreds of millions of dollars–consists of payments to insurgents.

Understanding how this situation came to pass requires untangling two threads. The first is the insider dealing that determines who wins and who loses in Afghan business, and the second is the troubling mechanism by which “private security” ensures that the US supply convoys traveling these ancient trade routes aren’t ambushed by insurgents.

A good place to pick up the first thread is with a small firm awarded a US military logistics contract worth hundreds of millions of dollars: NCL Holdings. Like the Popals’ Watan Risk, NCL is a licensed security company in Afghanistan.

What NCL Holdings is most notorious for in Kabul contracting circles, though, is the identity of its chief principal, Hamed Wardak. He is the young American son of Afghanistan’s current defense minister, Gen. Abdul Rahim Wardak, who was a leader of the mujahedeen against the Soviets. Hamed Wardak has plunged into business as well as policy. He was raised and schooled in the United States, graduating as valedictorian from Georgetown University in 1997. He earned a Rhodes scholarship and interned at the neoconservative think tank the American Enterprise Institute. That internship was to play an important role in his life, for it was at AEI that he forged alliances with some of the premier figures in American conservative foreign policy circles, such as the late Ambassador Jeane Kirkpatrick.

Wardak incorporated NCL in the United States early in 2007, although the firm may have operated in Afghanistan before then. It made sense to set up shop in Washington, because of Wardak’s connections there. On NCL’s advisory board, for example, is Milton Bearden, a well-known former CIA officer. Bearden is an important voice on Afghanistan issues; in October he was a witness before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, where Senator John Kerry, the chair, introduced him as “a legendary former CIA case officer and a clearheaded thinker and writer.” It is not every defense contracting company that has such an influential adviser.

But the biggest deal that NCL got–the contract that brought it into Afghanistan’s major leagues–was Host Nation Trucking. Earlier this year the firm, with no apparent trucking experience, was named one of the six companies that would handle the bulk of US trucking in Afghanistan, bringing supplies to the web of bases and remote outposts scattered across the country.

At first the contract was large but not gargantuan. And then that suddenly changed, like an immense garden coming into bloom. Over the summer, citing the coming “surge” and a new doctrine, “Money as a Weapons System,” the US military expanded the contract 600 percent for NCL and the five other companies. The contract documentation warns of dire consequences if more is not spent: “service members will not get food, water, equipment, and ammunition they require.” Each of the military’s six trucking contracts was bumped up to $360 million, or a total of nearly $2.2 billion. Put it in this perspective: this single two-year effort to hire Afghan trucks and truckers was worth 10 percent of the annual Afghan gross domestic product. NCL, the firm run by the defense minister’s well-connected son, had struck pure contracting gold.

Host Nation Trucking does indeed keep the US military efforts alive in Afghanistan. “We supply everything the army needs to survive here,” one American trucking executive told me. “We bring them their toilet paper, their water, their fuel, their guns, their vehicles.” The epicenter is Bagram Air Base, just an hour north of Kabul, from which virtually everything in Afghanistan is trucked to the outer reaches of what the Army calls “the Battlespace”–that is, the entire country. Parked near Entry Control Point 3, the trucks line up, shifting gears and sending up clouds of dust as they prepare for their various missions across the country.

The real secret to trucking in Afghanistan is ensuring security on the perilous roads, controlled by warlords, tribal militias, insurgents and Taliban commanders. The American executive I talked to was fairly specific about it: “The Army is basically paying the Taliban not to shoot at them. It is Department of Defense money.” That is something everyone seems to agree on.

Mike Hanna is the project manager for a trucking company called Afghan American Army Services. The company, which still operates in Afghanistan, had been trucking for the United States for years but lost out in the Host Nation Trucking contract that NCL won. Hanna explained the security realities quite simply: “You are paying the people in the local areas–some are warlords, some are politicians in the police force–to move your trucks through.”

Hanna explained that the prices charged are different, depending on the route: “We’re basically being extorted. Where you don’t pay, you’re going to get attacked. We just have our field guys go down there, and they pay off who they need to.” Sometimes, he says, the extortion fee is high, and sometimes it is low. “Moving ten trucks, it is probably $800 per truck to move through an area. It’s based on the number of trucks and what you’re carrying. If you have fuel trucks, they are going to charge you more. If you have dry trucks, they’re not going to charge you as much. If you are carrying MRAPs or Humvees, they are going to charge you more.”

Hanna says it is just a necessary evil. “If you tell me not to pay these insurgents in this area, the chances of my trucks getting attacked increase exponentially.”

Whereas in Iraq the private security industry has been dominated by US and global firms like Blackwater, operating as de facto arms of the US government, in Afghanistan there are lots of local players as well. As a result, the industry in Kabul is far more dog-eat-dog. “Every warlord has his security company,” is the way one executive explained it to me.

In theory, private security companies in Kabul are heavily regulated, although the reality is different. Thirty-nine companies had licenses until September, when another dozen were granted licenses. Many licensed companies are politically connected: just as NCL is owned by the son of the defense minister and Watan Risk Management is run by President Karzai’s cousins, the Asia Security Group is controlled by Hashmat Karzai, another relative of the president. The company has blocked off an entire street in the expensive Sherpur District. Another security firm is controlled by the parliamentary speaker’s son, sources say. And so on.

In the same way, the Afghan trucking industry, key to logistics operations, is often tied to important figures and tribal leaders. One major hauler in Afghanistan, Kandahar (AIT), paid $20,000 a month in kickbacks to a US Army contracting official, according to the official’s plea agreement in US court in August. AIT is a very well-connected firm: it is run by the 25-year-old nephew of Gen. Baba Jan, a former Northern Alliance commander and later a Kabul police chief. In an interview, Baba Jan, a cheerful and charismatic leader, insisted he had nothing to do with his nephew’s corporate enterprise.

But the heart of the matter is that insurgents are getting paid for safe passage because there are few other ways to bring goods to the combat outposts and forward operating bases where soldiers need them. By definition, many outposts are situated in hostile terrain, in the southern parts of Afghanistan. The security firms don’t really protect convoys of American military goods here, because they simply can’t; they need the Taliban’s cooperation.

One of the big problems for the companies that ship American military supplies across the country is that they are banned from arming themselves with any weapon heavier than a rifle. That makes them ineffective for battling Taliban attacks on a convoy. “They are shooting the drivers from 3,000 feet away with PKMs,” a trucking company executive in Kabul told me. “They are using RPGs [rocket-propelled grenades] that will blow up an up-armed vehicle. So the security companies are tied up. Because of the rules, security companies can only carry AK-47s, and that’s just a joke. I carry an AK–and that’s just to shoot myself if I have to!”

The rules are there for a good reason: to guard against devastating collateral damage by private security forces. Still, as Hanna of Afghan American Army Services points out, “An AK-47 versus a rocket-propelled grenade–you are going to lose!” That said, at least one of the Host Nation Trucking companies has tried to do battle instead of paying off insurgents and warlords. It is a US-owned firm called Four Horsemen International. Instead of providing payments, it has tried to fight off attackers. And it has paid the price in lives, with horrendous casualties. FHI, like many other firms, refused to talk publicly; but I’ve been told by insiders in the security industry that FHI’s convoys are attacked on virtually every mission.

For the most part, the security firms do as they must to survive. A veteran American manager in Afghanistan who has worked there as both a soldier and a private security contractor in the field told me, “What we are doing is paying warlords associated with the Taliban, because none of our security elements is able to deal with the threat.” He’s an Army veteran with years of Special Forces experience, and he’s not happy about what’s being done. He says that at a minimum American military forces should try to learn more about who is getting paid off.

“Most escorting is done by the Taliban,” an Afghan private security official told me. He’s a Pashto and former mujahedeen commander who has his finger on the pulse of the military situation and the security industry. And he works with one of the trucking companies carrying US supplies. “Now the government is so weak,” he added, “everyone is paying the Taliban.”

To Afghan trucking officials, this is barely even something to worry about. One woman I met was an extraordinary entrepreneur who had built up a trucking business in this male-dominated field. She told me the security company she had hired dealt directly with Taliban leaders in the south. Paying the Taliban leaders meant they would send along an escort to ensure that no other insurgents would attack. In fact, she said, they just needed two armed Taliban vehicles. “Two Taliban is enough,” she told me. “One in the front and one in the back.” She shrugged. “You cannot work otherwise. Otherwise it is not possible.”

Which leads us back to the case of Watan Risk, the firm run by Ahmad Rateb Popal and Rashid Popal, the Karzai family relatives and former drug dealers. Watan is known to control one key stretch of road that all the truckers use: the strategic route to Kandahar called Highway 1. Think of it as the road to the war–to the south and to the west. If the Army wants to get supplies down to Helmand, for example, the trucks must make their way through Kandahar.

Watan Risk, according to seven different security and trucking company officials, is the sole provider of security along this route. The reason is simple: Watan is allied with the local warlord who controls the road. Watan’s company website is quite impressive, and claims its personnel “are diligently screened to weed out all ex-militia members, supporters of the Taliban, or individuals with loyalty to warlords, drug barons, or any other group opposed to international support of the democratic process.” Whatever screening methods it uses, Watan’s secret weapon to protect American supplies heading through Kandahar is a man named Commander Ruhullah. Said to be a handsome man in his 40s, Ruhullah has an oddly high-pitched voice. He wears traditional salwar kameez and a Rolex watch. He rarely, if ever, associates with Westerners. He commands a large group of irregular fighters with no known government affiliation, and his name, security officials tell me, inspires obedience or fear in villages along the road.

It is a dangerous business, of course: until last spring Ruhullah had competition–a one-legged warlord named Commander Abdul Khaliq. He was killed in an ambush.

So Ruhullah is the surviving road warrior for that stretch of highway. According to witnesses, he works like this: he waits until there are hundreds of trucks ready to convoy south down the highway. Then he gets his men together, setting them up in 4x4s and pickups. Witnesses say he does not limit his arsenal to AK-47s but uses any weapons he can get. His chief weapon is his reputation. And for that, Watan is paid royally, collecting a fee for each truck that passes through his corridor. The American trucking official told me that Ruhullah “charges $1,500 per truck to go to Kandahar. Just 300 kilometers.”

It’s hard to pinpoint what this is, exactly–security, extortion or a form of “insurance.” Then there is the question, Does Ruhullah have ties to the Taliban? That’s impossible to know. As an American private security veteran familiar with the route said, “He works both sides… whatever is most profitable. He’s the main commander. He’s got to be involved with the Taliban. How much, no one knows.”

Even NCL, the company owned by Hamed Wardak, pays. Two sources with direct knowledge tell me that NCL sends its portion of US logistics goods in Watan’s and Ruhullah’s convoys. Sources say NCL is billed $500,000 per month for Watan’s services. To underline the point: NCL, operating on a $360 million contract from the US military, and owned by the Afghan defense minister’s son, is paying millions per year from those funds to a company owned by President Karzai’s cousins, for protection.

Hamed Wardak wouldn’t return my phone calls. Milt Bearden, the former CIA officer affiliated with the company, wouldn’t speak with me either. There’s nothing wrong with Bearden engaging in business in Afghanistan, but disclosure of his business interests might have been expected when testifying on US policy in Afghanistan and Pakistan. After all, NCL stands to make or lose hundreds of millions based on the whims of US policy-makers.

It is certainly worth asking why NCL, a company with no known trucking experience, and little security experience to speak of, would win a contract worth $360 million. Plenty of Afghan insiders are asking questions. “Why would the US government give him a contract if he is the son of the minister of defense?” That’s what Mahmoud Karzai asked me. He is the brother of President Karzai, and he himself has been treated in the press as a poster boy for access to government officials. The New York Times even profiled him in a highly critical piece. In his defense, Karzai emphasized that he, at least, has refrained from US government or Afghan government contracting. He pointed out, as others have, that Hamed Wardak had little security or trucking background before his company received security and trucking contracts from the Defense Department. “That’s a questionable business practice,” he said. “They shouldn’t give it to him. How come that’s not questioned?”

I did get the opportunity to ask General Wardak, Hamed’s father, about it. He is quite dapper, although he is no longer the debonair “Gucci commander” Bearden once described. I asked Wardak about his son and NCL. “I’ve tried to be straightforward and correct and fight corruption all my life,” the defense minister said. “This has been something people have tried to use against me, so it has been painful.”

Wardak would speak only briefly about NCL. The issue seems to have produced a rift with his son. “I was against it from the beginning, and that’s why we have not talked for a long time. I have never tried to support him or to use my power or influence that he should benefit.”

When I told Wardak that his son’s company had a US contract worth as much as $360 million, he did a double take. “This is impossible,” he said. “I do not believe this.”

I believed the general when he said he really didn’t know what his son was up to. But cleaning up what look like insider deals may be easier than the next step: shutting down the money pipeline going from DoD contracts to potential insurgents.

Two years ago, a top Afghan security official told me, Afghanistan’s intelligence service, the National Directorate of Security, had alerted the American military to the problem. The NDS delivered what I’m told are “very detailed” reports to the Americans explaining how the Taliban are profiting from protecting convoys of US supplies.

The Afghan intelligence service even offered a solution: what if the United States were to take the tens of millions paid to security contractors and instead set up a dedicated and professional convoy support unit to guard its logistics lines? The suggestion went nowhere.

The bizarre fact is that the practice of buying the Taliban’s protection is not a secret. I asked Col. David Haight, who commands the Third Brigade of the Tenth Mountain Division, about it. After all, part of Highway 1 runs through his area of operations. What did he think about security companies paying off insurgents? “The American soldier in me is repulsed by it,” he said in an interview in his office at FOB Shank in Logar Province. “But I know that it is what it is: essentially paying the enemy, saying, ‘Hey, don’t hassle me.’ I don’t like it, but it is what it is.”

As a military official in Kabul explained contracting in Afghanistan overall, “We understand that across the board 10 percent to 20 percent goes to the insurgents. My intel guy would say it is closer to 10 percent. Generally it is happening in logistics.”

In a statement to The Nation about Host Nation Trucking, Col. Wayne Shanks, the chief public affairs officer for the international forces in Afghanistan, said that military officials are “aware of allegations that procurement funds may find their way into the hands of insurgent groups, but we do not directly support or condone this activity, if it is occurring.” He added that, despite oversight, “the relationships between contractors and their subcontractors, as well as between subcontractors and others in their operational communities, are not entirely transparent.”

In any case, the main issue is not that the US military is turning a blind eye to the problem. Many officials acknowledge what is going on while also expressing a deep disquiet about the situation. The trouble is that–as with so much in Afghanistan–the United States doesn’t seem to know how to fix it.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uQ1_eGqDZv4

Taliban Still Working for the CIA?

Taliban Find U.S. Military Ammo Dump

Tarpley: Alqaeda is the ‘CIA Arab Legion’

Afghans Trained By Blackwater Join Taliban

Is the Taliban on the U.S. Gov. Payroll?

 



Afghans Trained By Blackwater Join Taliban

Afghans Trained By Blackwater Join Taliban

Huffington Post
October 18, 2008

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-iQxlj55SEs

Remember when Sarah Palin said that “the surge principles that have worked in Iraq need to be implemented in Afghanistan.” Well…as Ms. Palin would say, many Afghans working for the Afghan security forces are now switching sides and are now defecting to the Taliban.

Guess who trained many of them? Blackwater!

An Aljazeera producer was able to interview some of those defectors who were unafraid to reveal their identities and were not bashful about their Blackwater issued IDs.

Afghanistan is not Iraq. The surge methods will not work in Afghanistan. Hamid Karzai’s government is on the verge of collapse and it will be hard paying off the Taliban not to attack its forces.

 



Fake Afghan Poll Sites Favored Karzai

Fake Afghan Poll Sites Favored Karzai, Officials Assert

NY Times
September 6, 2009

Afghans loyal to President Hamid Karzai set up hundreds of fictitious polling sites where no one voted but where hundreds of thousands of ballots were still recorded toward the president’s re-election, according to senior Western and Afghan officials here.

The fake sites, as many as 800, existed only on paper, said a senior Western diplomat in Afghanistan, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the political delicacy of the vote. Local workers reported that hundreds, and in some cases thousands, of votes for Mr. Karzai in the election last month came from each of those places. That pattern was confirmed by another Western official based in Afghanistan.

“We think that about 15 percent of the polling sites never opened on Election Day,” the senior Western diplomat said. “But they still managed to report thousands of ballots for Karzai.”

Besides creating the fake sites, Mr. Karzai’s supporters also took over approximately 800 legitimate polling centers and used them to fraudulently report tens of thousands of additional ballots for Mr. Karzai, the officials said.

The result, the officials said, is that in some provinces, the pro-Karzai ballots may exceed the people who actually voted by a factor of 10. “We are talking about orders of magnitude,” the senior Western diplomat said.

The widening accounts of fraud pose a stark problem for the Obama administration, which has 68,000 American troops deployed here to help reverse gains by Taliban insurgents. American officials hoped that the election would help turn Afghans away from the Taliban by giving them a greater voice in government. Instead, the Obama administration now faces the prospect of having to defend an Afghan administration for the next five years that is widely seen as illegitimate.

“This was fraud en masse,” the Western diplomat said.

Most of the fraud perpetrated on behalf of Mr. Karzai, officials said, took place in the Pashtun-dominated areas of the east and south where officials said that turnout on Aug. 20 was exceptionally low. That included Mr. Karzai’s home province, Kandahar, where preliminary results indicate that more than 350,000 ballots have been turned in to be counted. But Western officials estimated that only about 25,000 people actually voted there.

Waheed Omar, the main spokesman for Mr. Karzai’s campaign, acknowledged Sunday that there had been cases of fraud committed by different candidates. But he accused the president’s opponents of trying to score political points by making splashy accusations in the news media. “There have been cases — we have reported numerous cases — and our view is the only place where discussion can be held is in the Election Complaints Commission,” he said.

American officials have mostly kept a public silence about the fraud allegations. A senior American official said Sunday that they were looking into the allegations behind the scenes. “An absence of public statements does not mean an absence of concern and engagement on these issues,” the official said.

But a different Western official in Kabul said that there were divisions among the international community and Afghan political circles over how to proceed. This official said he believed the next four or five days would decide whether the entire electoral process would stand or fall. “This is crunch time,” he said.

Adding to the drumbeat, on Sunday the deputy director of the Afghan Independent Election Commission said that the group was disqualifying all the ballots cast in 447 polling sites because of fraud. The deputy director, Daoud Ali Najafi, said it was not clear how many votes had been affected, or what percentage they represented of the total. He gave no details of what fraud had been discovered.

With about three-quarters of the ballots counted in the Aug. 20 election, Mr. Karzai leads with nearly 49 percent of the vote, compared with 32 percent for his main challenger, Abdullah Abdullah. If no candidate receives more than 50 percent, the election goes to a runoff.

Officials in Kabul say it will probably take months before the Election Complaints Commission, which is dominated by Westerners appointed by the United Nations, will be able to declare a winner. Such an interregnum with no clear leader in office could prove destabilizing for a country that is already beset by ethnic division and an increasingly violent insurgency.

One opposition candidate for president, Ashraf Ghani, the former finance minister, said that the scale of the fraud on Election Day had deeply damaged the political process that was being slowly built in Afghanistan.

“For five years Mr. Karzai was my president,” he said in an interview at his home in Kabul. “Now how many Afghans will consider him their president?”

Since ballots were cast last month, anecdotal evidence has emerged of widespread fraud across the Pashtun-dominated areas of southern and eastern Afghanistan, where Mr. Karzai has many allies. Many of the allegations come from Kandahar Province, where Mr. Karzai’s younger brother, Ahmed Wali Karzai, is the chairman of the provincial council and widely regarded as the most powerful man in the region. Last week, the governor of Shorabak District, which lies in Kandahar Province, claimed that Hamid Karzai’s allies shut down all the polling centers in the area and falsified 23,900 ballots for Mr. Karzai.

Two provincial council candidates in Kandahar, both close to the government, confirmed that widespread pro-Karzai fraud had occurred, in particular in places where poor security prevented observers and candidates’ representatives from watching.

“Now people will not trust the provincial council and the government system,” said Muhammad Ehsan, the deputy head of the provincial council, who was running for re-election. “Now people understand who has come to power and how.”

Hajji Abdul Majid, 75, the chief of the tribal elders council in Argestan District, in Kandahar Province, said that despite the fact that security forces opened the town’s polling place, no one voted, so any result from his district would be false.

“The people know that the government just took control of the district center for that day of the elections,” he said. “People are very frustrated. They don’t believe in the government.”

He added: “If Karzai is re-elected, people will leave the country or join the Taliban.”

Read Full Article Here

 



Afghan drug trafficking brings U.S. $50 billion a year

Afghan drug trafficking brings U.S. $50 billion a year

Russia Today
August 20, 2009

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cRVZTMHen_E

The US is not going to stop the production of drugs in Afghanistan as it covers the costs of their military presence there, says Gen. Mahmut Gareev, a former commander during the USSR’s operations in Afghanistan.

RT: General, you were in Afghanistan when the Soviet troops were there. In your opinion, what was the most difficult task that our troops faced in that country, what was the hardest thing for them to accomplish?

Mahmut Gareev: For the Soviet troops, the most difficult thing was the uncertainty of their status. Immediately after our paratroopers landed in Kabul, Marshal Sokolov, Chief of the Defense Ministry’s Task Force, said at the meeting of unit commanders, “We did not come here to fight. Do not engage in any hostilities. Establish garrisons, carry on combat training and be vigilant. That is all.” But the very next day, then-Minister of Defense Colonel Rafi came running to him. Panic-stricken, he said there had been a rebellion in Gerat, and the rebels had disarmed the army command and seized the artillery. He begged for urgent help. Well, we didn’t come to fight, did we? The situation was getting catastrophic: if the same happened in two or three other places that would mean that the government army was defeated and disarmed by rebels in front of Soviet troops. So, Sokolov ordered a battalion dispatched to Gerat for that one and only case, but then it became a habit, with units being sent here and there.

The idea that troops would not engage in the fighting had been naïve from the very beginning. How can one ever go to a country where the people are in a civil war and stand aside? It had been clear since the very beginning that going there and staying away from the fight would be impossible.

Essentially, we went there without any goal or program. What to do, what objectives to pursue? I still hear arguments about whether the troops accomplished their objectives or not. There were no objectives, such as occupying an area or to defeat somebody. That uncertainty of our status made everything, including the task of helping the Afghan army, extremely difficult.

RT: They mention decisive movements, quick actions and a large army presence but that is exactly what the US and the coalition forces did and they are still failing to accomplish their task, they are still stuck in the same battles that the Soviet troops were stuck in. What’s the difference, what is their mistake?

M.G.: They’re repeating our mistake. At the moment, the number of American, British and other troops in Afghanistan is almost equal to what we had in the 40th division, which is about 100 thousand. 42 countries are involved. But they’re having great difficulties in solving problems. NATO forces are very difficult to manage. Six months ago they made a decision to move one squadron from the north of Afghanistan to the south where the British troops are stationed. It was discussed in Bundestag. Half a year later – the decision has been made, but the squadron still remains where they were before. Actually, they themselves admit that if drugs were smuggled past them, they wouldn’t interfere. Why? That’s another tough question. Now, what if Russia was to act selfishly and play in geopolitics – just like our opponents are used to doing? They got us involved in the war in Afghanistan and immediately began to provide help for those rebels, the Mujahideen. We could do the same now – we could support the rebels and fight against Americans. But it’s not even in our people’s minds. No one is going to do that.

When I was there in 1989 and 1990, the production of drugs almost ceased, apart from in certain areas. Since then, it has increased by 44 per cent. And all of the drug traffic goes through the city of Osh where we want to establish our base, Termes or other places.

90 per cent of drugs from Afghanistan go to former Soviet republics. 80 per cent of the world’s drugs are produced in Afghanistan. They’ve outdone the South American countries, such as Columbia. Thirty thousand young people in Russia die from drug use every year. And, sadly, some of the leaders of the CIS countries don’t really want to interfere. In other words, there are too many people who make money on this.

I don’t make anything up. Americans themselves admit that drugs are often transported out of Afghanistan on American planes. Drug trafficking in Afghanistan brings them about 50 billion dollars a year – which fully covers the expenses tied to keeping their troops there. Essentially, they are not going to interfere and stop the production of drugs. They engage in military action only when they are attacked. They don’t have any planned military action to eliminate the Mujahideen. Rather, they want to make the situation more unstable and help the Taliban to be more active. They even started negotiations with them, trying to direct them to the Central-Asian republics, to destabilize the whole region and set up their bases there.

One would think – right now, Russia is interested in cooperation with America. During Obama’s visit, there was talk about providing air and ground corridors for Americans to supply their troops in Afghanistan. And some journalists even say now that it’s good for Russia that Americans are in Afghanistan; that we need to help them because they are there to restrain the Mujahideen and keep them from attacking us. That’s right – it’s just that the problem is that they don’t do anything of the kind.

Read Full Article Here

U.S. Military Says Its Force in Afghanistan Is Insufficient

Majority of Americans now oppose Afghan war: poll

 



Bush to Shift Troops From Iraq Into Afghanistan

Bush to Shift Troops From Iraq Into Afghanistan

Jon Swaine
London Telegraph
September 9, 2008

President George W Bush is preparing to bolster US troop numbers in Afghanistan using forces freed up from Iraq.

The US will withdraw about 8,000 of its 146,000 soldiers in Iraq by February – and send 4,500 more to join the 33,000 in Afghanistan.

Mr Bush is expected to say in a speech to the US National Defence University that the improved security situation in Iraq will permit a “quiet surge” of troops in Afghanistan in the coming months.

“While the progress in Iraq is still fragile and reversible … there now appears to be a ‘degree of durability’ to the gains we have made,” Mr Bush will say.

However he will state that efforts in Afghanistan must now be ramped up.

“For all the good work we have done in that country, it is clear we must do even more. Unlike Iraq, it has few natural resources and has an underdeveloped infrastructure. Its democratic institutions are fragile,” Mr Bush will explain.

He will make clear that longer-term decisions about the deployments will be left to General David Petraeus, soon to become the Commander of US Central Command, and Mr Bush’s successor as president, who will take office in January.

Read Full Article Here

 

Afghanistan: The Good War?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JJVTkIDFQM8

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6sPZ4A5nY8o

Coup against Iraqi gov’t exposed
http://www.presstv.ir/detail.aspx?id=68816&sectionid=351020201

Millions of Iraqis Uprooted—Media Give Little Coverage of Major Crisis
http://en.epochtimes.com/n2/world/iraq-refugees-displaced-3934.html

16 US troops commit suicide in Iraq
http://www.presstv.ir/detail.aspx?id=68821&sectionid=351020201

US air power triples deaths of Afghan civilians, says report
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/sep/08/afghanistan.usa

New book says U.S. spied on Iraqi leaders
http://uk.news.yahoo.com/rtrs/20080905/tpl-uk-bush-iraq-book-4b8df73.html

 



60 Children Among Afghan Dead In U.S Air Strike

60 Children Among Afghan Dead In U.S Air Strike

NY Times
August 26, 2008

KABUL, Afghanistan — A United Nations human rights team has found “convincing evidence” that some 90 civilians — among them 60 children — were killed in air strikes on a village in western Afghanistan on Thursday night, a statement issued by the United Nations mission in Kabul said, making it almost certainly the deadliest case of civilian casualties caused by any United States military operation in Afghanistan since 2001.

The United Nations the team visited the scene and interviewed survivors and local officials and elders, getting a name, age and gender of each person reported killed. The team reported that 15 people had been injured in the air strikes, which occurred in the middle of the night.

The numbers closely match those given by a government commission sent from Kabul to investigate the bombing, which put the total dead at up to 95.

Mohammad Iqbal Safi, the head of the parliamentary defense committee and a member of the government commission, said the 60 children were between three months old and 16 years old, all killed as they slept. “It was a heart breaking scene,” he said.

The death toll may even rise higher since heavy lifting gear is needed to uncover all the remains, said one Western official who had seen the United Nations report.

“This is a matter of grave concern to the United Nations,” Kai Eide, the United Nations special representative for Afghanistan said in a statement. “It is vital that the International and Afghan military forces thoroughly review the conduct of this operation in order to prevent a repeat of this tragic incident,” he said.

The United Nations report adds pressure to the United States military, which has to date said only that 25 militants and five civilians were killed in the air strikes, which were aimed at a Taliban named Mullah Saddiq. The military announced it was conducting an investigation after the high civilian death toll was reported.

The bombing occurred around midnight, the United Nations statement said. “Foreign and Afghan military personnel entered the village of Nawabad in the Azizabad area of Shindand district,” it said. “Military operations lasted several hours during which air strikes were called in.” “The destruction from aerial bombardment was clearly evident, with some 7-8 houses having been totally destroyed and serious damage to many others,” it said.

Chalabi aide arrested on suspicion of Baghdad bombings
http://www.mcclatchydc.com/homepage/story/51031.html

Two Page Note Governs U.S. Military In Afghanistan
http://www.washingtonpos..AR2008082703628_pf.html

Bush administration sought to extend troop presence in Iraq through 2015.
http://thinkprogress.org/2008/08/2..roop-presence-in-iraq-through-2015/

UN finds evidence 90 civilians dead in US-led strikes
http://uk.news.yahoo.com/afp/20…unrest-civilian-us-un-2802f3e.html

Air strike sharpens civilian casualties row
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/aug/24/afghanistan.usa

Afghanistan: Hamid Karzai accuses America over civilian deaths
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/..merica-over-civilian-deaths.html

 



Afghanistan Opium Supplies 93% of World’s Heroin

Afghanistan Opium Supplies 93% of World’s Heroin

NY Times
August 5, 2008

In the morass that is Afghanistan, not just the Taliban are flourishing. So too is opium production, which increasingly finances the group’s activities. There is no easy way to end this narcotics threat, a symptom of wider instability. Even a wise and coordinated plan of attack would take years to bear real results. But the United States and the rest of the international community are failing to develop one. They must work harder, smarter and more cooperatively to rescue this narco-state.

The scope of the problem is mind-numbing. Opium production mushroomed in 2006 and 2007, and Afghanistan now supplies 93 percent of the world’s heroin, with the bulk going to users in Europe and Russia. According to official figures, the narcotics trade rakes in about $4 billion a year, which is about half of Afghanistan’s gross domestic product. It strengthens the extremist forces that American and NATO troops are fighting and dying to defeat; it undermines the Afghan state they are trying to build; and it poisons drug users across Europe, where many people do not see Afghanistan as their problem and leaders are shamefully ignoring the connection.

Last week, the United Nations reported an alarming new development: Afghan drug lords are recruiting foreign chemists, mostly from Turkey, Pakistan and Iran, to help turn raw opium into highly refined heroin. Doing so adds value and lethality to the product they export.

American, European, Afghan and United Nations officials have sabotaged their mission by continuing to bicker over why poppy cultivation has skyrocketed, what to do about it and who should act. In a particularly damning indictment in The Times Magazine, Thomas Schweich, a former State Department official, blamed corrupt Afghan officials, internal policy divisions and the reluctance of American and NATO military to take on counternarcotics roles, as much as the Taliban.

Mr. Schweich should have pointed a finger at President Bush for the fundamental failure in Afghanistan. Mr. Bush put too few resources into the country after 9/11, then left the aftermath to NATO and various warlords while America shifted focus to the disastrous war of choice in Iraq. The results: a Taliban and Al Qaeda resurgence coupled with historic poppy crops.

It is very good news that 20 of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces may soon be free of poppy cultivation, but that means production is overwhelmingly concentrated in the south, largely in Helmand Province, where the Taliban are strongest and the government is weakest.

Mr. Schweich’s main recommendation — to aggressively eradicate poppy crops by aerial spraying — is politically untenable and of questionable value. Other things can be done, or done better, including building a criminal justice system that can prosecute major drug traffickers and having American and NATO forces play a more robust role in interdiction. The Afghan and American governments have broken ground on a new airport and agricultural center in Helmand — an encouraging attempt to help farmers shift from poppies to food crops.

Allegations that President Hamid Karzai protects officials and warlords in the trade are troubling. Washington and its allies must press him to address this problem. They also should seize assets and ban visas for major traffickers who have homes outside Afghanistan.

Longer term, the answer lies in a consistent, integrated and well-financed plan to establish security throughout Afghanistan, put kingpins in jail, develop a market economy and a functioning government in Kabul, and rapidly expand incentives for smaller farmers to stop growing poppies. It is all one more daunting Bush administration legacy that will be left for the next president to fix.

U.S. adds 30 days to Marines’ tours in Afghanistan
http://www.reuters.com/article/newsOne/idUSN0473020080804

Pentagon OKs over $10 billion in arms sales for Iraq
http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20080801/pl_nm/..n3aHyCY1DJlX6GMA

New US defense strategy centers on ‘long war’
http://rawstory.com/news/afp/New_US_defense_..nters_on__07312008.html

1 In 4 Soldiers Have Hearing Loss
http://www.armytimes.com/news/2008/08/gns_hearingloss_080408/

 



Afghan News Anchor Arrested for Criticising Government
July 31, 2008, 4:00 pm
Filed under: Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai' | Tags: ,

Afghan News Anchor Arrested for Criticising Government

Quqnoos
July 29, 2008

The Ariana TV journalist allegedly arrested under orders of Cabinet for criticising Karzai administration

Muhammad Naseer Fayez, an Afghan journalist, news anchor and the host and writer of the political program “Haqeeqat” (The Truth) broadcasting on Ariana Television Network was arrested on July 28 by the NDS for allegedly airing a program critical of the Afghan government.

His weekly program was aired on Sunday night and related to changes in the Afghan cabinet. However the program was critical of the achievements of the Afghan government over the last 4 years.

The program was interrupted but did not resume on Sunday night.

Quqnoos.com has been told that the reason for the interruption was direct pressure from the Presidential Office, and this pressure also resulted in the show not being repeated on Monday, like it normally is.

On Monday, in the Afghan Cabinet weekly meeting, apparently a decision was made backed by President Karzai to have Mr Fayez arrested and have the matter referred to the Attorney-General for prosecution.

Quqnoos.com has not been able to get any information about the current condition of Mr Fayez. There are fears for Mr Fayez’ safety given his previously critical programs on the Karzai government.

Read Full Article Here

 



International Coalition Forces “bomb Afghan police”

International Coalition Forces “bomb Afghan police”

BBC
July 20, 2008

At least 13 Afghan police and civilians have died in two incidents involving international forces, officials say.

Four Afghan police and five civilians died in an apparently mistaken air strike by international coalition forces in Farah province.

Separately, the Nato-led Isaf said it had “accidentally” killed at least four civilians in Paktika province.

The incidents are the latest in a series of controversial clashes involving foreign troops.

They come as US Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama is in Afghanistan as part of an overseas tour.

Mr Obama, who wants to increase US troop levels in Afghanistan, was due to meet Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Sunday.

Mr Karzai has said no civilian casualty is acceptable.

Read Full Article Here

Iraq PM did not back Obama troop exit plan: government
http://www.reuters.com/article/newsOne/idUSN1932883920080720

Blackwater expands its fleet of airships
http://www.airforcetimes.com/news/2..ater_main_071908/

Iraqi Leader: US Should Leave as Soon as Possible
http://www.commondreams.org/archive/2008/07/20/10482/

Afghanistan Hit by Record Number of US and NATO Bombs
http://www.airforcetimes.com/news/2008/07/airforce_bomb_oef_071708/

 



CIA Funded Warlords Turn Guns On U.S. Troops

CIA Funded Warlords Turn Guns On U.S. Troops

U.S. News
July 11, 2008

The war in Afghanistan reached a wrenching milestone this summer: For the second month in a row, U.S. and coalition troop deaths in the country surpassed casualties in Iraq. This is driven in large part, U.S. officials point out, by simple cause and effect. Marines flowed into southern Afghanistan earlier this year to rout firmly entrenched Taliban fighters, prompting a spike in combat in territory where NATO forces previously didn’t have the manpower to send troops. “We’re doing something we haven’t done in seven years, which is go after the Taliban where they’re living,” says a U.S. official.

But amid a well-coordinated assassination attempt on Afghan President Hamid Karzai and large-scale bombings last week in the capitals of both Afghanistan and Pakistan, U.S. forces are keenly aware that they are facing an increasingly complex enemy here—what U.S. military officials now call a syndicate—composed not only of Taliban fighters but also powerful warlords who were once on the payroll of the Central Intelligence Agency. “You could almost describe the insurgency as having two branches,” says a senior U.S. military official here. “It’s the Taliban in the south and a ’rainbow coalition’ in the east.”

Indeed, along with a smattering of Afghan tribal groups, Pakistani extremists, and drug kingpins, two of the most dangerous players are violent Afghan Islamists named Gulbuddin Hekmatyar and Jalaluddin Haqqani, according to U.S. officials. In recent weeks, Hekmatyar has called upon Pakistani militants to attack U.S. targets, while the Haqqani network is blamed for three large vehicle bombings, along with the attempted assassination of Karzai in April.

Ironically, these two warlords—currently at the top of America’s list of most wanted men in Afghanistan—were once among America’s most valued allies. In the 1980s, the CIA funneled hundreds of millions of dollars in weapons and ammunition to help them battle the Soviet Army during its occupation of Afghanistan. Hekmatyar, then widely considered by Washington to be a reliable anti-Soviet rebel, was even flown to the United States by the CIA in 1985.

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Afghanistan orders investigation into U.S. attack

Afghanistan orders investigation into U.S. attack

AP
July 6, 2008

Afghanistan’s president has ordered an investigation into allegations that missiles from U.S. helicopters struck civilians, though the Ministry of Defense said Sunday that the attack killed or wounded 20 militants.

President Hamid Karzai ordered the defense and interior ministries, as well as local government officials, to investigate Friday’s attack in eastern Afghanistan.

The issue of civilians casualties has caused friction between the Afghan government and U.S. and NATO troops in the past, and it has weakened the standing of the Western-backed Karzai in the eyes of the population.

Karzai has repeatedly called for better coordination between Afghan and foreign troops in pursuing militants through populated areas, and he has pleaded for international troops to cut down on civilian casualties. Deaths of ordinary Afghans caused a huge outcry in summer of 2007, but there have been fewer accusations of such killings in recent months.

Karzai’s statement quoted allegations from Gov. Tamin Nuristani, the governor of Nuristan province, as saying that 15 civilians were killed and seven wounded.

However, the Ministry of Defense on Sunday said up to 20 militants were killed and wounded in an air attack in Kunar province Friday. The area of the attack is on the border between Kunar and Nuristan, and both statements referred to the same incident.

The U.S.-led coalition insists those killed were militants who had previously attacked a NATO base with mortars. Despite Nuristani’s claims, a coalition statement said there are “no official reports of non-combatant injuries or casualties.”

Meanwhile, the chief government official in the Deh Bala district of Nangarhar province said villagers reported that between 30 and 35 people walking in a group toward a wedding were killed in a bombing early Sunday. Up to 10 others were wounded, he said.

Haji Amishah Gul said the group was hit while resting in the shadow of a mountain. Those killed included men, women and children, he said.

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Condoleezza Rice Says She’s `Proud’ of Decision to Invade Iraq
http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/..&sid=aIefxPxr_Gw8&refer=home

Afghan Capital Struck by Suicide Bombing
http://www.washingtonpost.com/..008/07/07/AR2008070700329.html

Claims of more Afghans killed in US-led strikes
http://afp.google.com/article/ALeqM5gTBAqt4qyrU13712JQzMre_smWEQ

U.S. Journalist Photographs Grisly Aftermath of Attack in Iraq, Gets Booted by Military
http://www.alternet.org/module/printversion/90480

 



Spooks Promise Terror Attack For New President


Spooks Promise Terror Attack For New President

Both Clinton and Bush exploited bombings within first year of taking office, Obama or McCain likely to enjoy the same opportunity

Paul Joseph Watson
Prison Planet
May 27, 2008

National intelligence spooks are all but promising that history will be repeated for a third time running, and the new President of the United States – likely Barack Obama or John McCain – will be welcomed into office by a terror attack that will occur within the first year of his tenure.

“When the next president takes office in January, he or she will likely receive an intelligence brief warning that Islamic terrorists will attempt to exploit the transition in power by planning an attack on America, intelligence experts say,”

according to a report in the Washington Times.

“Islamic terrorists bombed the World Trade Center in February 1993, in Mr. Clinton’s second month as president. Al Qaeda’s Sept. 11 attacks came in the Bush presidency’s first year….The pattern is clear to some national security experts. Terrorists pay particular attention to a government in transition as the most opportune window to launch an attack.”

Naturally, the Washington Times article makes out as if a terror attack within the early stages of a new presidency is a bad thing, but both Clinton and Bush exploited terror in America to realize preconceived domestic and geopolitical agenda

The 1993 World Trade Center bombing was an inside job from start to finish – it did not come as a “surprise” to the U.S. government since they ran the entire operation, having cooked the bomb for the “Islamic terrorists” that they had groomed for the attack.

In 1993 the FBI planted their informant, Emad A. Salem, within a radical Arab group in New York led by Ramzi Yousef. Salem was ordered to encourage the group to carry out a bombing targeting the World Trade Center’s twin towers. Under the illusion that the project was a sting operation, Salem asked the FBI for harmless dummy explosives which he would use to assemble the bomb and then pass on to the group. At this point the FBI cut Salem out of the loop and provided the group with real explosives, leading to the attack on February 26 that killed six and injured over a thousand people. The FBI’s failure to prevent the bombing was reported on by the New York Times in October 1993.

The attack, coupled with the Oklahoma City bombing less than two years later, enabled Bill Clinton to whip up support for the passage of a plethora of unconstitutional legislation, including the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, the Brady Bill, the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act, and a $100 million dollar grant to Israel for “counter-terrorism” purposes.

By the time Clinton left office, the Patriot movement – which before the OKC bombing had grown in leaps and bounds, spurred on by the atrocities committed by the federal government at Waco – was effectively dead.

Few need reminding of George W. Bush’s agenda before he took office. The ideological framework that would shape his presidency – encapsulated by the goals of the Neo-Con Project For a New American Century – required a “new Pearl Harbor” to get things started, which is exactly what they received on September 11, 2001.

Furthermore, the attacks enabled Bush to pursue an invasion of Iraq that he had dreamed of achieving as early as 1999, according to the ghostwriter of Bush’s autobiography Mickey Herskowitz.

“One of the keys to being seen as a great leader is to be seen as a commander-in-chief. My father had all this political capital built up when he drove the Iraqis out of Kuwait and he wasted it. If I have a chance to invade—if I had that much capital, I’m not going to waste it. I’m going to get everything passed that I want to get passed and I’m going to have a successful presidency,” Bush told Herskowitz.

That “chance to invade” arrived on the morning of 9/11, within hours of which Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, “Was telling his aides to come up with plans for striking Iraq — even though there was no evidence linking Saddam Hussein to the attacks.”

A Congressional Research Service report last month stated, “Whether an incident of national security significance occurs just before or soon after the presidential transition, the actions or inactions of the outgoing administration may have a long-lasting effect on the new president’s ability to effectively safeguard U.S. interests and may affect the legacy of the outgoing president.”

The government seems pretty certain that McCain or Obama will be presented with a terror attack early on in their presidency and is giving them ample time to prepare the best method of exploiting it, but only to “safeguard U.S. interests,” naturally.

The pattern is clear – each time a new President takes office they have a mandate to act as a torch bearer for the same agenda – domestic repression and foreign invasion. A terror attack provides the perfect pretext to realize those goals.

Whether it be Barack Obama or John McCain, we can expect a new crisis to conveniently arrive shortly after they take office, enabling them to pursue the same tyrannical blueprint followed by their predecessors.

 

Pakistani Newspaper: “Another Twin Towers like drama is being planned”

9/11 Blogger
May 22, 2008

From an article out of Pakistan’s The Nation newspaper.

“…the situation in Afghanistan looks precarious. Some NATO countries are already slithering over sending more troops and some are being frugal with financial support. President Karzai, who faces the election next year, is quarrelling with UK over the deals it has been making with the former Taliban leaders to get them to change sides. Recent think-tank reports warn of the possible collapse of the whole government leaving a vacuum that Taliban would fill. And to cover up their failure in Afghanistan, the US-allied forces are once again making Pakistan as a nexus of the so-called Islamist terror.

Once again fabricating lies, as was done in Iraq, Pakistani tribesmen are accused of working on a plan in concert with the Taliban and Al-Qaeda to launch another attack on the US and its western allies. To convince the allies of the looming Taliban attack, another Twin Towers like drama is being planned in which Pakistan is the villain apparent while the US-installed Afghan president is ruling the roost. He has 40,000 highly equipped US and NATO forces in addition to the US-trained Afghan army against scattered Taliban militants whose strength hardly exceeds ten thousand. Instead of fighting with them fair and square in Afghanistan, he conveniently shifts the blame onto Pakistan.”

Read Full Article Here

U.S. Terror Attack Seen Likely After Election
http://washingtontimes.com/apps/p../541243918/1001&template=printart

White House announces Bush won’t run in ’08 (not satire)
http://mparent7777-1.livejournal.com/273555.html

 



Afghanistan Mission Close To Failing

Afghanistan Mission Close To Failing

Guardian
February 29, 2008

After six years of US-led military support and billions of pounds in aid, security in Afghanistan is “deteriorating” and President Hamid Karzai’s government controls less than a third of the country, America’s top intelligence official has admitted.

Mike McConnell testified in Washington that Karzai controls about 30% of Afghanistan and the Taliban 10%, and the remainder is under tribal control.

The Afghan government angrily denied the US director of national intelligence’s assessment yesterday, insisting it controlled “over 360” of the country’s 365 districts. “This is far from the facts and we completely deny it,” said the defence ministry.

But the gloomy comments echoed even more strongly worded recent reports by thinktanks, including one headed by the former Nato commander General James Jones, which concluded that “urgent changes” were required now to “prevent Afghanistan becoming a failed state”.

Read Full Article Here

 

Judge OKs mandatory anthrax vaccine
Judge Dismisses Challenge to Military’s Mandatory Anthrax Vaccine

Raw Story
February 29, 2008

http://youtube.com/watch?v=2dHeG0aTwVw

The Pentagon can require its troops be vaccinated against anthrax, a federal judge said Friday.

Judge Rosemary M. Collyer said the Food and Drug Administration acted appropriately when it found the vaccine to be safe and approved its use. She dismissed a lawsuit by military officials who argued the drug is unproven and the scientific data unsound.

“The court will not substitute its own judgment when the FDA made no clear error of judgment,” Collyer wrote.

The dispute has languished in the court system for years. A federal judge suspended the vaccination program in 2004 after faulting the FDA’s process for approving the drug. After the FDA redid the process and again found it to be safe, the military announced plans to reinstate mandatory vaccinations.

That prompted this latest lawsuit by eight military members who argued the vaccine should be optional.

“We owe it to our service members to give them every possible protection,” Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said. “Force protection is the number one priority in the Defense Department and the anthrax inoculation program is an important force-protection measure.”

Mark Zaid, an attorney for the plaintiffs, said the FDA relied on outdated studies that didn’t prove the vaccine is safe or effective against inhaled anthrax.

“It would appear the court has condoned an agency’s manipulation of decades-old data to support a present-day policy objective,” Zaid said. “We are absolutely going to appeal.”

Soldier admits having himself shot to avoid Iraq return
http://rawstory.com/news/2008/Soldie..g_himself_shot_to_0226.html

More troops for Iraq and Afghanistan, Defense Department says
http://www.csmonitor.com/2008/0227/p99s04-duts.html

US patrol shoots Iraqi civilian
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/7268645.stm

US Air Force censors blogs
http://www.theinquirer.net/gb/..02/28/air-force-censors-blogs

Marines Call New Body Armor Impractical
http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,333154,00.html

Iraqi Hospitals Unable To Cope With Bombings
http://wiredispatch.com/news/?id=60570

PHR Files Suit Against Defense Department in FOIA Dispute Over Documents Concerning Mass Grave in Afghanistan
http://physiciansforhumanrights.org/library/news-2008-02-19.html

U.S. Expects 140K Troops In Iraq By July
http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/N25602446.htm

‘We scrounge for everything’: U.S. soldier in Afghanistan
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/0..login&pagewanted=all

 



Britain in secret talks with the Taliban

Britain in secret talks with the Taliban

London Telegraph
December 26, 2007

Agents from MI6 entered secret talks with Taliban leaders despite Gordon Brown’s pledge that Britain would not negotiate with terrorists, The Daily Telegraph can disclose.

Officers from the Secret Intelligence Service staged discussions, known as “jirgas”, with senior insurgents on several occasions over the summer.

An intelligence source said: “The SIS officers were understood to have sought peace directly with the Taliban with them coming across as some sort of armed militia. The British would also provide ‘mentoring’ for the Taliban.”

The disclosure comes only a fortnight after the Prime Minister told the House of Commons: “We will not enter into any negotiations with these people.”

Opposition leaders said that Mr Brown had “some explaining to do”.

The Government was apparently prepared to admit that the talks had taken place but Gordon Brown was thought to have “bottled out” just before Prime Minister’s Questions on Dec 12, when he made his denial instead.

It is thought that the Americans were extremely unhappy with the news becoming public that an ally was negotiating with terrorists who supported the September 11 attackers.

The delicate balance in Afghanistan was underlined as it emerged that two diplomats had been ordered by the Kabul government to leave the country after allegations that they had met Taliban insurgents without the administration’s knowledge.

The pair, a top European Union official and a United Nations staff member, were declared “persona non grata” and said to be “threatening national security”.

They are both Afghan experts who have been working in the country since the 1980s. They are in their forties and cannot be named. One man works as a political adviser to the European Union while the other is employed as a political adviser to the UN mission in Kabul.

One of the men described the charges as “banal and preposterous” and said he hoped the Afghan government would quickly drop its threat to deport them.

MI6’s meetings with the Taliban took place up to half a dozen times at houses on the outskirts of Lashkah Gah and in villages in the Upper Gereshk valley, to the north-east of Helmand’s main town.

The compounds were surrounded by a force of British infantry providing a security cordon.

To maintain the stance that President Hamid Karzai’s government was leading the negotiations the clandestine meetings took place in the presence of Afghan officials.

Read Full Article Here