- After General Stanley McChrystal took charge of US/NATO
Afghan forces last June, systematic atrocities escalated sharply after
promises of kinder, gentler killing (an oxymoron), winning hearts and minds,
and fewer civilian casualties as a "paramount" objective - now
much higher the result of more than a fourfold increase in night raids,
targeting civilians, including children, while they sleep.
- McChrystal's resume exposed his history - death squad
terror, mostly against civilians, the same counterinsurgency he waged
throughout Iraq as Commanding General, Joint Special Operations Command
(JSOC), especially in Al-Anbar Province that increased violence to curb
- It's no surprise for a man this writer earlier called
"a hired gun, an assassin, a man known for committing war crime atrocities
as (JSOC) head" - since 1980 comprised of Army Delta Force and Navy
Seal units, killers to reign terror on vulnerable targets, mainly civilians
in Iraq and Afghanistan, and earlier in Vietnam as part of Operation Phoenix.
More on that below.
- Rare On-the-Ground Reports
- The London Times Kabul-based Jerome Starkey reports what
major US media accounts suppress. For example, his March 15 commentary
headlined, "Survivors of family killed in Afghanistan raid threaten
- The incident involved the February 12 killing of two
pregnant women, a teenage girl, a policeman and his brother. "No one
has claimed responsibility (and) A US official in Kabul refused to"
say for reasons of national security, the usual cover-up for high crimes
and misdemeanors prohibited for any reason.
- This time, survivors were paid off for their loss, but
family head Haji Sharabuddin wants justice, not money, and to get it "will....do
suicide attacks and (the whole province) will support us."
- Starkey debunked the official story about the raid being
a mistake. These were targeted assassinations, the same kinds rampant daily
on the ground and by drone-launched missiles, mostly against civilians
called Taliban or Al Qaeda militants.
- Sayed Mohammed Mal, Gardez University's vice-chancellor,
told Starkey that he once thought these type raids safeguarded Afghans,
what he now knows isn't so after members of his own family were killed.
"I realize I was wrong," he said. "Now I accept the things
(other) people told me. I hate (foreign forces). I hate the Government"
that tolerates them.
- According to the dead policeman's son, Abdul Ghafar,
"My father was friends with the Americans and they killed him....I
want to kill them. I want the killers brought to justice." Another
victim's father, Mohammed Tahir, said "They teach us human rights,
then they kill a load of civilians. They didn't come here to end terrorism.
They are terrorists."
- A March 8 Starkey article titled, "Karzai offers
families 'blood money' for sons killed in raid" told a similar story
about other victims - "nine children killed (aged 12 - 18) in a brutal
night raid" called a mistake - a cold-blooded one murdering children
while they slept, shot in their beds, or dragged to another room and killed.
Also, Abdul Khaliq, a neighboring farmer, was gunned down when he ran out
of his house during the raid.
- During the February Marja campaign, Operation Moshtarak
killed 19 civilians. US Special Forces bombed three minibuses in Oruzgan
province, killing at least 27 more, at times apologizing when victims are
revealed as noncombatants.
- As for the reported successful US offensive, New York
Times writer Richard Oppel's April 3 article headlined otherwise, saying:
"Violence Helps Taliban Undo Afghan Gains," explaining "how
little (control) Marines (have) outside their own outposts," the Taliban
as dominant as ever. So much so that "Even the Marines admit to being
somewhat flummoxed," Brig. General Larry Nicholson saying "Most
people here identify themselves as Taliban," stopping short of acknowledging
widespread hostility to occupation.
- Starkey's April 19, 2009 article headlined "Botched
Afghan raid kills mother and (her brother-in-law and three) children (one
a new-born)" in Khost province - another "mistake" the Pentagon
conceded, the same kind made daily, always against civilians, admitted
only as damage control, the official lie, when cover-up doesn't work.
- A late December Kunar province massacre killed 8 children,
dragged from their beds and shot in cold blood, some of them handcuffed.
The Pentagon called them terrorists, making improvised explosive devices
(IEDs). They were kids, students, in grades six through 10 (aged 11 - 17),
eight from the same family. After speaking to their school headmaster,
a government investigator said:
- "It's impossible they were Al Qaeda. They were children.
They were civilians. They were innocent. I condemn this attack."
- In late February, nine more children were killed, aged
12 - 18. Most were "shot at close range while they slept," another
dragged from his bed and murdered, NATO initially alleging their involvement
in IED making, then saying they entered a village and took fire so returned
it, and finally admitting they were civilians saying:
- "Knowing what we know now, it would probably not
have been a justifiable attack. We don't now believe that we busted a major
ring," something known all along but only acknowledged as damage control.
- On March 22, Starkey headlined "US-led forces in
Afghanistan are committing atrocities, lying, and getting away with it,"
saying McChrystal-led forces "are rarely called to account because
most reporters are too dependent on access, security and the 'embed culture'
to venture out" and learn the truth. Worse still, they're paid to
lie, cover up, or be fired.
- For example, New York Times writers CJ Chivers and Rod
Nordland's February 14 article headlined "Errant US Rocket Strike
Kills Civilians in Afghanistan." It quoted Hamid Karzai expressing
"regret (for) this tragic loss of life." Neither he or the writers
acknowledged the cold-blooded murder of 10 Helmand province civilians,
including five children, verboten admissions in major US media reports.
- Nor by a puppet leader. Yet fearing national opposition
to his regime, he's begun openly criticizing Washington saying, "They
wanted to have a puppet government," virtually admitting that US/NATO
forces are invaders.
- Paid Lying - What Major US and Western Media Do
- Like in America, the entire Western media, including
BBC and so-called National Public Radio and Public Broadcasting scrupulously
suppress the truth. They rarely mention "embarrassing" incidents,
and when they do it's dismissively. They won't say raids terrorize, bomb
homes and wedding parties, massacre civilians, their wives and children,
noncombatants called Taliban or Al Qaeda, to save villages by destroying
them, to pacify Afghans by killing them, to bring tyranny papered over
as democracy. If reporters did, they'd be fired.
- What they suppress, Starkey reports, his latest April
5 article headlined, "US special forces 'tried to cover-up' botched
Khataba raid in Afghanistan," saying:
- "US special forces dug bullets out of their victims'
bodies in the bloody aftermath of a botched night raid, then washed the
wounds with alcohol before lying to their superiors about what happened...."
- The victims - two pregnant women, a teenage girl, a police
officer and his brother, those killed in the above mentioned February 12
raid. After initial lies and cover-up, NATO finally "admitted responsibility
for all the deaths for the first time last night," yet continuing
to deny a cover-up and saying no evidence showed inappropriate conduct.
In other words, murdering civilians in cold blood is acceptable and appropriate.
Apparently so as it's ongoing daily.
- Extrajudicial Killings - Predator Drones Target Civilians
- On March 16, the ACLU filed a Freedom of Information
Act (FOIA) lawsuit:
- "demanding that the government disclose the legal
basis for its use of unmanned drones to conduct targeted killings overseas.
In particular, the lawsuit asks for information on when, where and against
whom drone strikes can be authorized, the number and rate of civilian casualties
and the other basis information essential for assessing the wisdom and
legality of using armed drones to conduct targeted killings."
- At issue is using them against civilians, Admiral Dennis
Blair, Obama's Director of National Intelligence (DNI), saying US citizens
will be targeted.
- The ACLU sued the Defense, State, and Justice Departments
after each provided no requested information "nor have they given
any reason for withholding documents. The CIA answered the ACLU's request
by refusing to confirm or deny the existence of any relevant documents."
CIA wasn't sued because the ACLU will first appeal its non-response to
the Agency Release Panel.
- Killer drones were used in Bosnia in 1995 and against
Serbia in 1999. America's new weapon of choice is now commonplace in Iraq,
Pakistan, Yemen, Afghanistan, Somalia, perhaps elsewhere, and virtually
anywhere targeted attacks are planned globally.
- Officially know as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or
remote piloted vehicles (RPVs), they're used, among other purposes, for
surveillance and combat equipped with Hellfire or other missiles for targeted
- At issue is their legality, given their use outside traditional
battlefields for extrajudicial assassinations, a practice US and international
laws prohibit. Yet reports confirm the Obama administration ramping up
their use - why the ACLU and other human rights groups express concern.
- A December 2009 Social Science Research Network-published
Notre Dame Legal Studies Paper titled, "Unlawful Killing with Combat
Drones: A Case Study of Pakistan, 2004 - 2009" said the following:
- "First drones launch missiles or drop bombs, the
kind of weapons that may only be used lawfully in an armed conflict. Until
the spring of 2009, there was no armed conflict (in Pakistan). International
law does not recognize the right to kill without warning outside an actual
armed conflict. Killing without warning is only tolerated during the hostilities
of an armed conflict, and, then, only lawful combatants may lawfully carry"
- CIA members "are not lawful combatants and their
participation in killing persons - even in an armed conflict - is a crime."
US military forces may be "lawful combatants in Pakistan" only
if its government requested them. It did not.
- Further, beyond targeted individuals, collateral killing
is commonplace. "Drones have rarely, if ever, killed just the intended
target. By October 2009, the ratio has been up to" 50 civilians for
each militant. As a result, drone use violates "the war-fighting principles
of distinction, necessity, proportionality and humanity."
- Yet they happen daily in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan,
and have escalated dramatically under General McChrystal for extrajudicial
killings. Along with bombers and helicopter gunships, their use in Afghanistan
(and North Waziristan, Pakistan) is so pervasive that anyone in the open
or near targeted sites risks being killed - civilians, including women
and children, most vulnerable.
- Spiegel online (spiegel.de March 13, 2010) calls killer
drones the "Lynchpin of Obama's War on Terror....the weapon of choice....But
the political, military and moral consequences are incalculable."
- One report said in the past two years the Air Force Research
Laboratory embarked on a program to "build the ultimate assassination
robot (described as) a tiny, armed drone for the US special forces to employ
in terminating 'high-value targets' " that most often are noncombatants.
- On April 4, New York Times writers Jane Perlez and Pir
Zubair Shah headlined, "Drones Batter Qaeda and Allies Within (North
Waziristan) Pakistan," referring to a "stepped-up campaign....over
the past three months (casting) a pall of fear over an area (by) fly(ing)
overhead sometimes four at a time, emitting a beelike hum virtually 24
hours a day, observing and tracking targets, then unleashing missiles on
their quarry...." The ferocity of strikes got one "militant"
to say, "It seems they really want to kill everyone....," civilians,
of course, most vulnerable.
- Vietnam's Operation Phoenix - Prototype for McChrystal's
- From 1968 - 1973, the CIA ran the Phoenix Program with
US Special Forces' Military Assistance Command Vietnam-Special Operations
Group (MACV-SOG), involving covert missions to crush the National Liberation
Front (NFL resistance Viet Cong or VC).
- It was a depersonalized murder program to remove opposition
elements and terrorize people into submission - now used against Iraq,
Afghanistan, North Waziristan, Pakistan, elsewhere, and perhaps one day
coming to a neighborhood near you.
- In 1975, Counterspy magazine called Phoenix "the
most indiscriminate and massive program of political murder since the Nazi
death camps of world war two." Included were security-risk US military
personnel and members of the South Vietnamese government. Before it ended,
around 80,000 people were killed, yet it failed.
- In the mid-1960s, it began as a CIA Counter Terror (CT)
program that recruited, organized, supplied and directly paid CT teams
whose function was to use Vietcong techniques, kidnappings and intimidation
against the Vietcong leadership.
- By 1968, it was expanded and called Intelligence Coordination
and Exploitation (ICEX), then Phoenix, to neutralize the VC as top priority,
much like McChrystal's counterterrorism in Afghanistan and North Waziristan,
and earlier in Iraq.
- In Vietnam, a Civil Operations and Rural Development
Support (CORDS) organization was established overseeing Phoenix. It was
a gimmick doomed to fail, much like current Iraq and Afghanistan occupations
aren't sustainable in countries known historically as foreign occupier
- Phoenix was called Vietnam's "grand illusion of
the American cause," the same miscalculation today no matter how long
current wars continue, whatever amounts are spent, or how much more terror,
mass killings and destruction lie ahead for people determined to resist
and prevail. Given their past successes, odds are they'll do it again,
no matter the price.
- Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at <mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org>email@example.com.
Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge
discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour
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