Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
March 17, 2009

Killer Commandos In Afghanistan

On the 9th the New York Times reported the the U.S. Halted Some Raids in Afghanistan:

The commander of a secretive branch of America’s Special Operations forces last month ordered a halt to most commando missions in Afghanistan, reflecting a growing concern that civilian deaths caused by American firepower are jeopardizing broader goals there.

The halt, which lasted about two weeks, came after a series of nighttime raids by Special Operations troops in recent months killed women and children, and after months of mounting outrage in Afghanistan about civilians killed in air and ground strikes.
Military officials said the halt was ordered in part to allow American commanders time to impose new safeguards intended to reduce the risk of civilian deaths.

If so, the new safeguards do not work. These troops are again out to kill:

A convoy of angry Afghans from Maywand district arrived at the outskirts of Kandahar city yesterday with the bodies of three men in the back of two minibuses and a pickup truck.

They said the men had been shot to death along with two others when U.S. Special Forces swept into the village of China in the eastern part of Maywand early Sunday morning.

The people in the convoy intended to protest the killing to Kandahar Governor Tooryalai Wesa, but were stopped by police before they reached the governor's palace.

The U.S. military says the dead men were anti-government insurgents. The protesters say the men were a local mullah and several farm labourers.
The villagers said helicopters swooped into China (which rhymes with Tina) and several homes were raided some time after midnight Saturday.

The five men who were killed, three of whom were elderly, were not related, they said. Two other people are missing, said the Afghans. U.S. Special Forces said they had three people in custody.
The group of about 100 protesters who travelled to Kandahar, most of them in Toyotas which are ubiquitous in Afghanistan, got as far as a traffic circle in a suburb on the western edge of the city where they were turned back by police.

They pointed to the gunshot wounds in the dead men's heads.

All three shot in the head. Executed?

The Special Operations troops are sweeping in by helicopter at night without knowledge of the regular Canadian and U.S. troops stationed in the area. They shot three people in the head, kill another two, take other as prisoners maybe never to return and vanish back into the night.

The regular troops on the ground then have to bear the naturally very angry local response. The Special Operation people are not under the same command as the NATO/ISAF troops or the regular U.S. troops in Afghanistan. They have a separate chain of command.

Seymour Hersh made some waves last week when he remarked on the NYT piece quoted above:

It’s an executive assassination ring essentially, and it’s been going on and on and on.

According to Hersh, during the Bush administration these troops were under direct command of Dick Cheney.

Who commands them now? Biden? Obama?

Who ordered them to kill the local mullah and the two farm workers?

And for what reason? They were "anti-government" the Special Operation forces excuse themselves. So those locals did not like Hamid Karzai? Is that now enough reason to deserve a headshot?

Posted by b on March 17, 2009 at 16:11 UTC | Permalink


As in Iraq, we're using every weapon available -- bribery, intimidation, special ops, news blackouts, pilotless drones -- probably phosphorous and cluster bombs, too, where "appropriate."

The NYT has an article today on how small groups of 30-50 infantrymen are gradually being deployed along the Pakistan border, and having some success in stopping cross-border infiltration. I take this as mainly information management, but it too plays a role. The point is to achieve the illusion of success, and some kind of stasis, after which we'll withdraw.

Posted by: seneca | Mar 17 2009 16:52 utc | 1

The Salvador option in Afghanistan too? The successor to John Negroponte?

Today, Secretary Clinton likened Ambassador Hill to former Ambassador John Negroponte, who was nominated for the same post under the Bush administration, despite not having any Middle East experience.

"Another very distinguished, experienced diplomat, John Negroponte, was our ambassador to Iraq. He did not have Middle East or Arabic-language skills when he was sent to Iraq. I believe the people you've just mentioned, my former colleagues, all voted for former deputy secretary Negroponte," she said.

Indeed, all three Senators voted to confirm Negroponte as Ambassador to Iraq on May 6, 2004.

there you have it, change you can believe in.

Posted by: dan of steele | Mar 17 2009 18:30 utc | 2

With Tim Geitner at Treasury and Bill Gates at Defense the policies and basic beliefs of the Bush Administration continue in force:

#1: "Government is Evil. Greed is Good." The AIG bonuses were no problem to the Obama Administration until they were publicized. The financial meltdown continues because Treasury can't recognize and fix the basic problem; 60 trillion dollars of unsecure derivatives.

#2: "Kill them all and let Allah sort them out." Afghanistan and Pakistan will continue disintegrate until the DOD runs out of Avfuel and the Mullahs are bought off and a firm troop withdrawal date is set.

Posted by: VietnamVet | Mar 17 2009 18:37 utc | 3

Topic was, from the linked conversation between Seymour Hersh and Walter Mondale, i.a.:

"Henry Kissinger’s secret dealings, mostly relating to the Vietnam War. (Hersh, who has written volumes about Kissinger, said that he will always believe that whereas ordinary people count sheep to fall asleep, Kissinger “has to count burned and maimed Cambodian babies.”)"

A new "Sideshow" now in Afghanistan, as we already had it in Cambodia? And again the "Partners in Crime" (this time Bush and Cheney) will get away with it although we now have the International Criminal Court???

Posted by: thomas | Mar 17 2009 19:32 utc | 4

Mullahs of "AfPak", as it's now dearly referred to, will be howling like Maliki for US:ISAF troops to remain on to stabilize their baaksheesh scams, and Robert Gates will be only to happy to cooperate, since active duty forces bring $118,000M **every year** to Defense for "payroll, benefits and other undisclosed national security purposes",which amounts to $3,300,000 per active duty soldier, although I don't believe their combat paychecks reflect that taxpayer largesse: combat pay is a mere $250 a month extra. By comparison, Apple Computer's wild success resulted in only $1,200,000 revenue per employee, making Defense combat missions 300% more profitable than Apple, and why we're "in it for the long haul" as Cheney used to crow, "in it for a PNAC century"! He's STILL making huge deferred compensation profits from his GWOT. What a guy!

Posted by: | Mar 17 2009 19:49 utc | 5

Anger in Pakistan at US plan to expand drone attacks

Pakistani politicians and officials described the idea of extending military operations into the vast, south-west province of Baluchistan as provocative and counterproductive, and warned of a severe backlash if the US went ahead.

Posted by: annie | Mar 19 2009 5:45 utc | 6

The old British Raj dream of a Tajikistan-Baluchistan railway to the Indian Ocean to extract Afghanistan's copper & iron ore deposits, each the richest in all Asia,
if not north through Tajikistan and south through Baluchistan, then east into China and west into Iran, all under the radar of MSM in the West, thank you very much. It's not very surprising when you realize Afghanistan is in Full Spectrum Dominance lockdown, nothing electronic in or out that the US doesn't monitor and triangulate:

Tajikistan starts building railroad link to Afghan border

DUSHANBE:Daily Times - Tajikistan on Thursday started building a railroad to connect its capital Dushanbe to a bridge on the Afghan border, a key link in the projected NATO supply route through the former Soviet Union.

The United States (US) plans to transit non-military supplies for its troops by railroad through Russia and former Soviet Central Asian states. A formal agreement with Tajikistan, the ultimate link of the new transit path, is still to be signed.

The new route is important to the US as the Taliban have stepped up attacks on the traditional supply corridor in Pakistan. “Tajikistan’s President Imomali Rakhmon, speaking at the launch ceremony, invited foreign investors to take part in the project,” Rakhmon’s office said in a statement. The cost of building the 146-kilometre link is estimated at $131 million. Tajikistan, the poorest former Soviet republic, struggles to restore and modernise its infrastructure devastated during the 1990s civil war.


IRINN Reports on New Railroad to Afghanistan

Announcer: The Torbat-e Heydariyeh-Khaf railroad, 148 kilometers in length, has gone into operation. It is the continuation of the Mashhad-Khaf line. With its operation it will be possible to haul iron ore.

We will talk with Mr. Mohammadizadeh, governor-general of the Province of Khorasan-e Razavi. Hello Mr. Mohammadizadeh.

Mohammadizadeh: Hello to you and your dear viewers.

Announcer: Mr. governor-general, tell us about the benefits of this railroad and what it will do for the economies of Iran and its neighbors.

Mohammadizadeh: Construction work began on this railroad in the year 2002. It is 148 kilometers long. It has eight stations and cost about 50 billion tomans, fortunately it went into operation today.

The primary objective in creating this line is to haul iron ore, with an annual load of about .52 million tons. The ore must be loaded converted to gondolas ultimately into various types of steel and iron beams in factories that exist in and out of the Province of Khorasan.

This divine blessing exists in abundance in the iron ore region of the Province of Khorasan, and must be transported by this railroad.

Another reason is the public use of the Torbat-e Heydariyeh - Khaf - Sangan route, using the facilities for transporting passengers and goods.

More important is that the vital artery for the economic development of our nation with the friend and brother nation of Afghanistan will travel by way of this very railroad.

About 6 months ago inside Afghanistan the ground was broken for the Afghanistan railroad by our president of the republic's first vice-president and today also the ground was broken for the line from Sangan to Harat inside Afghanistan.

The credits for ths project have been procured, and for the first time the culture of the railroad is coming into the friend and brother nation of Afghanistan and the nation of Afghanistan will have a train and a railroad.

It appears that the conditions that exist in Afghanistan in terms of reconstruction and the needed goods in the outside world, this railroad can be effective achieving economic development and the sociasl welfare of the people of Afghanistan.

It can therefore be said in short that this project has great importance for the iron ore of Khaf, for the use of the people in several cities along the route and especially for establishing a railroad for government of the Islamic Republic of Iran for the people of Afghanistan.

[Yeah, right, the 'people']

Posted by: Bi Bi | Mar 20 2009 2:21 utc | 7

Interesting news. For the first time the Special Operations troops seem to come under local command: US-AFGHANISTAN: McKiernan Gets Control of Disputed Raids

WASHINGTON, Mar 20 (IPS) - U.S. Special Operations forces in Afghanistan, whose commando raids and airstrikes against suspected Taliban targets have caused large numbers of civilian casualties that have angered Afghans, have quietly been put under the "tactical control" of the commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, Gen. David McKiernan, for the first time.

An order issued Tuesday at the direction of CENTCOM chief Gen. David Petraeus gives McKiernan authority over all operations by Special Operations units stationed in the country, as Col. Gregory Julian, McKiernan's spokesperson, confirmed in an e-mail to IPS. The order, which has not been made public, modifies previous command arrangements which had excluded U.S. Special Operations forces from McKiernan’s command authority.

Posted by: b | Mar 21 2009 10:22 utc | 8

b 8) great. now us military operations will be run like usaid operations, by proxy:

McKiernan gained experience in the Balkans as a staff officer in the 1990s. In July 1996, General McKiernan joined the Allied Command Europe Rapid Reaction Corps (ARRC), serving as the Deputy Chief of Staff G-2/G-3 forward deployed in both Sarajevo and Bosnia-Herzegovina.

The UNPROFOR operations developed into the largest, most expensive, and most complex peacekeeping operation in the history of the UN.

"The lack of an overall structure for lessons learned collection and sharing was reinforced by the multiplicity of nations, organizations, and agencies involved and the inability to freely share findings and experiences."

Balkanization of AfPak into N Af, S Af, W Pak and E Pak. Consolidation of S Af and W Pak into "SW Territories" with natural resource direct connection to Indian Ocean?

"The pre-flight's done, I've cleaned my gun, we're pulling pitch at four;
Another day to kill and play, while sitting in the door."

Posted by: | Mar 22 2009 2:50 utc | 9

bi bi, that is a rather intriguing video, i wish i understood the lyrics.

b #8, will the air strikes subside or escalate?

Posted by: annie | Mar 22 2009 4:42 utc | 10

@annie @10 - increase - Air Strikes Up in Afghanistan

In 2008 3,400 "munitions drops', i.e. bombs on Afghanistan. Four time more than on Iraq.

Posted by: b | Mar 22 2009 5:08 utc | 11

Pakistan to expel all Afghan refugees

Pakistan’s government has announced plans to oust all Afghan refugees, even those who have been living in the country for years, and send them back to their country by September of the ongoing year. About one and a half million Afghan refugees currently live in different parts of Pakistan. This order will require the forced deportation of 15,000 Afghans per day from Pakistan, and require 4,000 trucks operating continuously back and forth from the border.

Waqar Marof, director of foreign refugees’ affairs in Pakistan, said Pakistan will oust all one and a half million Afghan refugees in their country. The on going conflict and economical crisis in Pakistan can not provide for Afghan refugees, Marof said. As long as Pakistan's economy is in dire straits with the IMF and World Bank, it can not feed its own hungry. Afghan refugees are a burden to be removed.

“If these refugees stay longer in Pakistan, they will break the back bone of the Pakistan economy” the refugee director said.

Two years ago, the UNHCR has made a decision to give out a permit cards to Afghan refugees to remain in Pakistan, but these will be expired at the end of 2008.

Waqar remarked in his speech that the process of sending back Afghan refugees will continue until September. Any Afghan seen after that in Pakistan will be arrested by the police and after the punishment and legal fines, will be handed over to the Afghan government at the Pakistan border, Mr. Marof said.

Posted by: Barry Zia | Mar 25 2009 0:43 utc | 12

US to appoint Afghan 'prime minister'

White House plans new executive role to challenge corrupt government in Kabul

London Guardian: The US and its European allies are ­preparing to plant a high-profile figure in the heart of the Kabul government in a direct challenge to the Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, the Guardian has learned.

The creation of a new chief executive or prime ministerial role is aimed at bypassing Karzai. In a further dilution of his power, it is proposed that money be diverted from the Kabul government to the provinces. Many US and European officials have become disillusioned with the extent of the corruption and incompetence in the Karzai government, but most now believe there are no credible alternatives, and predict the Afghan president will win re-election in August.

A revised role for Karzai has emerged from the White House review of Afghanistan and Pakistan ordered by Barack Obama when he became president.

It is to be unveiled at a special conference on Afghanistan at The Hague on March 31.

As well as watering down Karzai's personal authority by installing a senior official at the president's side capable of playing a more efficient executive role, the US and Europeans are seeking to channel resources to the provinces rather than to central government in Kabul.

Posted by: Karzai Ousted | Mar 25 2009 3:49 utc | 13

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