Truth Frequency Radio


Jan 14, 2013

Stephen Lendman, Contributor
Activist Post

America came to stay. Accelerated withdrawal claims reflect subterfuge. Washington officials and media scoundrels don’t explain. Misinformation and illusion substitute for reality.

Reuters headlined “Obama, Karzai accelerate end of US combat role in Afghanistan.”

“Obama’s determin(ed) to wind down a long, unpopular war.”

The New York Times headlined “Obama Accelerates Transition of Security to Afghans.”

Obama is “eager to turn a page after more than a decade of war.”

“(B)eginning this spring American forces (will) play only a supporting role in Afghanistan.”

The Washington Post headlined “Obama announces reduced US role in Afghanistan starting this spring.” Plans are “for a small troop presence in the country after the American mission formally ends there in 2014.”

On January 11, Obama and Karzai’s joint press conference was more surreal than honest. Duplicitous doublespeak substituted for truth. “(T)ransition is well underway,” said Obama. Plans are for Afghan forces to replace Americans. By yearend 2014, they’ll “have full responsibility for their security, and this war will come to a responsible end.” At the same time, US forces will “continue to fight alongside (Afghans) when necessary.” Obama didn’t say what troop strength will remain.

Drone wars continue daily. US Special Forces and CIA elements came to stay. Search and destroy missions are prioritized.

By spring 2013, “our troops will have a different mission – training, advising, assisting Afghan forces. It will be a historic moment and another step toward full Afghan sovereignty.”

“Afghanistan (has) a long-term partner in the United States of America.”

It’s Washington’s longest war. Iraq and Afghanistan are its most costly ones.

Iraq boils out of sight and mind. Afghanistan rages. Experts agree. The war was lost years ago. It continues. Why US officials don’t explain.

A previous article discussed Lt. Colonel Daniel Davis. He assessed conditions accurately. His 84-page unclassified report called them disastrous.

“How many more men must die in support of a mission that is not succeeding,” he asked? His report’s opening comments said:

Senior ranking U.S. military leaders have so distorted the truth when communicating with the US Congress and American people in regards to conditions on the ground in Afghanistan that the truth has become unrecognizable.

This deception has damaged America’s credibility among both our allies and enemies, severely limiting our ability to reach a political solution to the war in Afghanistan.

His classified report was more explicit.

“If the public had access to these classified reports,” he explained, “they would see the dramatic gulf between what is often said in public by our senior leaders and what is actually true behind the scenes.”

“It would be illegal for me to discuss, use, or cite classified material in an open venue, and thus I will not do so.”

He traveled thousands of miles throughout the country. He spoke to US commanders, subordinates, and low-ranking soldiers. He talked at length with Afghan security officials, civilians and village elders.

What he learned bore no resemblance to rosy scenario official accounts. Insurgent forces control “virtually every piece of land beyond eyeshot of a US or International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) base.”

Everywhere he visited, “the tactical situation was bad to abysmal.”

Afghanistan’s government can’t “provide for the basic needs of the people.” At times, local security forces collude with insurgents.

Davis hoped to learn something positive. He “witnessed the absence of success on virtually every level.” One senior enlisted leader spoke for others. He hoped to get out alive in one piece.

Why war continues remains for Obama to explain. He dissembles instead.

Afghanistan is strategically important. It straddles the Middle East, South and Central Asia. It’s in the heart of Eurasia.

Occupation projects America’s military might. It targets Russia, China, Iran, and other oil-rich Middle East States. It furthers Washington’s imperium. It prioritizes unchallenged global dominance.

China and Russia matter most. Allied they rival US superpower strength. Beijing is economically robust. Russia’s nuclear capability and military pose the only threat to America’s formidable might.

Russia is also resource rich. Its oil reserves are vast. Its natural gas supply is the world’s largest. Expect neither country to roll over for Washington. They’re a vital last line of defense.

More on Washington’s plans below. A previous article discussed Afghanistan’s troubled history.

In his book titled, Freedom Next Time: Resisting the Empire, John Pilger addressed it, saying:

Through all the humanitarian crises in living memory, no country has been abused and suffered more, and none has been helped less than Afghanistan.

For centuries, Afghans endured what few can imagine. Marauding armies besieged cities, slaughtered thousands, and caused vast destruction.

Great Game 19th-century struggles followed. Wars, devastation, and deplorable human misery reflect daily life for millions. America bears full responsibility now.

Wherever US forces show up, mass killings, destruction and incalculable human misery follows. After over 11 years of war and occupation, Afghans perhaps suffer most of all.

Living conditions are deplorable. Millions remain displaced. Makeshift dwellings substitute for real ones. Little protection from harsh Afghan weather is afforded. People freeze to death in winter.

Dozens of children die daily. Millions have little or no access to clean water. Life expectancy is one of the world’s lowest. Infant mortality is one of the highest. So is pre-age five mortality. Electricity is scarce.

Extreme poverty, unemployment, human misery, and constant fear reflect daily life. Afghans worry about surviving. Many don’t get enough food. Forced evictions affect them. They lack healthcare, education, and other vital services.

Occupation related violence harms innocent men, women, children and infants. Civilians always suffer most. Washington prioritizes conquest, colonization, plunder and dominance. War without end rages. Human needs go begging.

Displaced Afghans lack virtually everything necessary to survive. Included are proper housing, clean water, sanitation, healthcare, education, employment, enough income, and sufficient food to avoid starvation.

America and Afghanistan’s puppet government don’t help. Karzai is a pathetic stooge. He’s a caricature of a leader. He wasn’t elected. He was installed. He’s a former CIA asset/UNOCAL Oil consultant.

He’s little more than Kabul’s mayor. He’s despised. He wouldn’t last five minutes unprotected anywhere.

Afghanistan is the world’s leading opium producer. During the 1990s, Taliban officials largely eradicated it. Washington reintroduced it.

Crime bosses and CIA profit hugely. So do major banks. Money laundering is a major profit center. An estimated $1.5 trillion is laundered annually. Around $500 billion reflects elicit drug money.

Obama lied about ending combat operations by 2014. America came to stay. Permanent occupation is planned. Washington’s empire of bases reflect it.

During WW II, Brits complained that Americans were “overpaid, overfed, oversexed, and over here.” They’re virtually everywhere now. Planet earth is Washington occupied territory. Bases vary in size.

They include large main operating bases to medium and smaller-sized ones. Covert ones supplement them. US Special Forces operate in over 120 countries. CIA elements are everywhere.

National sovereignty rights are violated. America’s malevolent agenda is hostile. Public land is expropriated.

Toxic pollution, environmental damage, intolerable noise, violence, occupation related criminality, and unaccountability reflect Washington’s presence.

It’s hugely destructive. Afghanistan’s dystopian hell reflects it. Status of Forces Agreements (SOFA) establish a framework under which US forces operate abroad.

They provide an illusion of legitimacy. Nations are pressured and bullied to accept what harms their national interest.

In his book, The Sorrows of Empire: Militarism, Secrecy, and the End of the Republic, Chalmers Johnson explained SOFAs as follows:

America’s foreign military enclaves, though structurally, legally, and conceptually different from colonies, are themselves something like microcolonies in that they are completely beyond the jurisdiction of the occupied nation.

The US virtually always negotiates a ‘status of forces agreement’ (SOFA) with the ostensibly independent ‘host’ nation.

They’re a modern-day version of 19th-century China’s extraterritoriality agreements. They granted foreigners charged with crimes the right to be tried by his (or her) own government under his (or her) own national law.

SOFAs prevent local courts from exercising legal jurisdiction over American personnel. Murder and rape go unpunished unless US officials yield to local authorities. Offenders are usually whisked out of countries before they ask.

America’s total number of SOFAs is unknown. Most are secret. Some are too embarrassing to reveal. America has hundreds of known, shared, and secret bases in over 150 countries.

Johnson said they “usurp, distort, or subvert whatever institutions of democratic (or other form of) government may exist with the host society.”

Their presence is troubling. Locals lose control of their lives. They have no say. There’s virtually no chance for redress. Permanent occupations harm most.

America built city-sized Iraq and Afghanistan super bases. They weren’t established to be abandoned. Washington came to stay. Both countries are US occupied territory.

Tens of thousands of private military contractors supplement military forces. Their skills range from technical to hired guns.

Obama suppressed Washington’s agenda. Permanent occupation is planned. America came to stay. Abandoning what’s strategically important won’t happen. How much longer Americans will tolerate war without end, they’ll have to explain.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at [email protected] His new book is titled How Wall Street Fleeces America: Privatized Banking, Government Collusion and Class War. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening. http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour/

Hamid Karzai: Afghans will decide on scale of US post-2014 presence

President holds out prospect small force could stay on, and urges Washington to keep up current spending levels

Afghan President Hamid Karzai The Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, has asked Washington to give his country drones and universities to replace the soldiers it has stationed there now, and said he will let the Afghan people decide whether a small contingent of US troops could stay on after most leave in 2014.

Karzai seemed upbeat and relaxed on his return from a trip to Washington to meet Barack Obama, smiling, laughing, and even describing the pleasant sound of a flag fluttering on his official car in a news conference broadcast live on national TV.

The Afghan leader has been as vocal in demanding continued US spending in his impoverished country as he has been with concerns about the presence of US troops on the ground. But he apparently returned pleased with agreements over long-term supplies and funding, and with hints of a speeded-up withdrawal of US forces.

He said: “We shouldn’t think that when foreigners leave our country that we are not capable of protecting it … We don’t want the US soldiers present in Afghanistan but we want their economic support.”

Afghanistan will need help with soldiers’ salaries and military hardware for many years to come, if its army is to have any hope of holding off the Taliban. Karzai said he was confident Washington would share even advanced technology with his country.

“We asked them to give us drones, and they agreed and promised them to us,” he said, detailing the outcome of the trip and adding that he wanted more foreign cash for education as well. “We asked the Americans to make universities in eight zones.”

Full Article

Bin Laden Death Photos Might Not See the Light of Day

Michael Doyle
McClatchy Newspapers
January 13, 2013

Skeptical-sounding federal judges on Thursday considered whether the public can see pictures of terror mastermind Osama bin Laden, taken after he had been shot dead by U.S. Navy SEALs in a raid on his hideout two years ago.

The 52 pictures, some described as “graphic” and “gruesome” by a top CIA official, highlight a Freedom of Information Act fight that climaxes just as Hollywood’s version of bin Laden’s death hits movie theaters. But while Hollywood’s depiction has attracted both critical acclaim and political heat, and was accomplished with the CIA’s help, the real world pictures snapped by elite commandos seem destined to remain secret.

“They’re telling us it’s a risk . . . that Americans will die if we release these documents,” Judge Merrick Garland said Thursday, adding that “when the government tells us this is likely to lead to death, shouldn’t we defer to that (even) more than when they say it will result in the release of secret information?”

Read full article

US troops will stay in Afghanistan post-2014

bbc.co.uk
January 11, 2012

US President Barack Obama and Afghan leader Hamid Karzai have discussed the possibility of keeping a US military force in Afghanistan beyond 2014.

In a joint statement after White House talks, the two leaders also said the US would give custody of Afghan prisoners to the Afghan government.

They also backed holding talks in Doha between the Afghan government and the Taliban.

Read more

Shields and Brooks Discuss U.S. Mission in Afghanistan, Cabinet Nominations

PBS Newshour

Watch Shields and Brooks Discuss Afghanistan, Cabinet Nominations on PBS. See more from PBS NewsHour.

Transcript

JUDY WOODRUFF: And to the analysis of Shields and Brooks. That is syndicated columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks.

Welcome back, gentlemen.

MARK SHIELDS: Thank you, Judy.

JUDY WOODRUFF: So, Afghanistan. The president met with Hamid Karzai today at the White House.

David, what do you make of this announcement or sense now that they are going to try to get U.S. troops out of a combat role quicker than expected?

DAVID BROOKS: I guess I’m mostly impressed by how little resistance there is to us hitting the exits, maybe even quicker than what we heard about today.

Some of it just budgetary. We just can’t afford it. But I guess I have two concerns. One is what happens to schoolgirls there if the Taliban takes over part of the country.

And, second — and this goes to the whole mood of the country right now — suppose something happens abroad, and we have to do something expensive around the world.

Where is the money going to come from for that? Where is the public will going come from? I think the mood of the country, it’s not isolationist, but it’s, don’t bother us now. We got problems here at home.

And it’s very unlikely that we will go eight years without having a major foreign crisis that will cost us something. And so when that crisis comes, will we turn around and say, OK, we’re broke, but we’re going to spend some money to do this?

JUDY WOODRUFF: So more arguments for getting out sooner?

DAVID BROOKS: I think right now there is no resistance. The president could pull everything out, as Ben Rhodes said, and there would be some people on Capitol Hill who would raise some questions, but among the country, very little resistance.

JUDY WOODRUFF: How do you see it?

MARK SHIELDS: I think David is right about the lack of resistance.

I think there is a sense, Judy, that, regardless of 25,000 troops, 30,000 troops, that that is — it amounts to a corporal’s guard. And it reminded me of what Sen. Ernest Hollings said about Ronald Reagan sending 1,800 Marines to Lebanon, too few to fight, too many to die.

And, of course, 241 of them were blown up in barracks in Beirut. But I just think there is — there is not a sense of mission in Afghanistan today. There is not a — and I think that contributes to the willingness to leave.

JUDY WOODRUFF: And so this debate, it sounds like it is all but over. It’s about when.

MARK SHIELDS: Yes, I don’t know what will happen on Capitol Hill. But I’m not sure that there’s the political majority or even sizable minority in the country is going say we want to you stand up and fight to maintain 50,000 American troops in Afghanistan.

JUDY WOODRUFF: So the man, David, the president wants to oversee the withdrawal, the drawdown and the withdrawal, is Chuck Hagel to head the Pentagon. We talked about him last week. You said then that you thought it would be hard to get him confirmed. Do you still think so?

DAVID BROOKS: Did I? I have changed my mind.

(LAUGHTER)

DAVID BROOKS: Well, I was right then.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Giving you a chance.

DAVID BROOKS: But reality has changed, so I’m also right now.

(LAUGHTER)

DAVID BROOKS: Which — I think he’s going to get confirmed. There is Republican opposition.

Some people are saying it is up to Chuck Schumer, the senator, the Democratic senator from New York. He holds a key position. The idea that Chuck Schumer, who is one of the senior Democrats in the Senate, is going to vote against Obama’s defense secretary, seems to me infinitesimally small. So, I think he is pretty likely to get it.

I think the one thing that strikes me with these picks, with John Kerry, with Chuck Hagel, is that, like Obama, they were among the least social of senators, that they have the similar profile, probably more intellectual than the average senator, but they were not Joe Bidens going around shaking everybody’s hands. They were very solitary people.

And so we have gone from a team of rivals to a team of loners. And so they are very similar temperamentally.

JUDY WOODRUFF: What does that say in the national security — and then throw in John Brennan, who the president wants to go to CIA.

MARK SHIELDS: No, I think the Chuck Hagel thing is — there have been 579 Cabinet officers in the history of the United States.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Whoa, Mark.

MARK SHIELDS: All right? And a grand total of nine nominees have been rejected by the United States Senate on up-or-down votes, and exactly one since 1989 and two since 1959.

I mean, that’s all. So the idea of Chuck Hagel being rejected — and John Tower, the late John Tower, who was rejected secretary of defense, a former senator, there were large questions about his ethical dealings in business and his personal behavior toward women and his personal comportment.

And there is none of that with Chuck Hagel. I mean, there is no scandal. There is no background that’s going to come out and bite. So I think he will.

He’s not the first enlisted man, which has been said time and again. Bill Perry, who was Bill Clinton’s first secretary of defense, was an enlisted man briefly, then became an officer.

MARK SHIELDS: But he is a combat veteran.

And I think it is interesting. David mentioned John Kerry. John Kerry, Jim Webb, Dan Inouye — Dan Inouye died. Jim Webb left the Senate voluntarily. John Kerry will now leave in all likelihood to become secretary of state. There were only four members of the United States Senate who had earned a Purple Heart in combat, John McCain being the fourth.

I mean, and so what you have in Kerry and Hagel are two men who have seen war up front and up close, and who have become far more reluctant to deploy Americans. They don’t talk in the ancient language of swagger, how we are going to go in and kick some tail, or anything of the sort, like so many of the noncombatants do.

So I think that Hagel — I think Brennan will bring up a discussion. We will find out how liberals, if, in fact, they really do care about the use of drones in this administration. They seem to have given a pass to President Obama and his — he has used drones a lot more than President Bush ever did. And I think the Republicans will use it to discuss Benghazi, but I think he will confirmed as well.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Both of them.

You were talking about a group of loners around the president. What do these choices and what we know so far about the president’s White House staff and Cabinet say about the president, do you think?

DAVID BROOKS: Well, it’s not exactly great copy for us, because they are not the most exciting group, necessarily.

They are a group that has — are people of integrity, every single one of them. There will be no scandals, including the new treasury secretary nominee, Jack Lew. So there will be no scandals. And there will be no stupidity. They’re — without exception, they’re cautious, reliable, responsible and for the most part extremely experienced.

So I give them high marks for these sorts of things. I think the way you fault the president is insular. They are already very well known to him, have been for a long time. A lot of them have already been working for him and are probably exhausted by what has happened over the last four years.

Second, nobody from business. I really think it would have been useful to have somebody from the business community.

Third, still very strong on the Harvard-Yale-Princeton axis, very much the establishment of the Democratic — central-left Democratic Party.

And so if you wanted some freshness, if you wanted somebody outside the box, somebody who would bring something new to an administration that is already tired because of what has happened, I don’t think you see that. So you see caution, safety, intelligence, and experience. You don’t see freshness.

MARK SHIELDS: If you want diversity, I mean, you have got the University of Nebraska, Chuck Hagel. You have got somebody who started his own business. You have got somebody who is pro gun, pro-life, anti-tax. I mean, he certainly doesn’t fit into any ideological cookie cutter.

I agree with David that the president likes people around him who have been there and have been there for a while. I think Jack Lew is an exceptionally good choice to be secretary of the treasury. This is not about saving Detroit. It’s not about the banking system coming to collapse.

We’re in a fiscal and budgetary bind of historic proportions, and it’s going to be Congress to a great degree and the White House. And I think if there’s anybody — he has been twice budget director.

He — Judy, 30 years ago, Jack Lew was negotiating for the speaker of the House, Thomas P. O’Neill, they were doing the Greenspan commission on Social Security between Ronald Reagan’s White House and the Democrats in the House.

I mean, his — his experience, his knowledge — he doesn’t have panache. He doesn’t have dash. He’s not a — quote — he’s not going to give you, you know, too colorful things. He’s not going to talk off the record like that. But he is — I just think he is a great choice.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Just quickly, some conversation this week about lack of diversity so far in the president’s picks. Should we be concerned about that?

DAVID BROOKS: You know, Ruth Marcus said he should have had some binders full of women.

I do think Ruth made the point that there is not a lot of — that there’s not a lot of diversity in just the world view you bring to the office.

If it’s a bunch of white men, there is some loss there.

I do think Valerie Jarrett is still there, who is still a very important and much-not-talked about part of the administration and very powerful. So she does have a different demographic background.

I do think the lack of diversity is, as I say, more important in the lack of business experience and just the lack of spreading out across the country, diversity of background. I do think that is still a bit lacking.

But I don’t think that is the fundamental problem. I think the fundamental problem is a little insularity.

JUDY WOODRUFF: What do you think?

MARK SHIELDS: I think it’s — and I don’t argue with that. I think it’s not unimportant for people to see people like themselves in positions of leadership. And I think that is very important.

I think, in that sense — but you do want people who — with respect to who they are, that they are qualified and are going to do well, I mean, are going to succeed. You don’t want to just see people who become symbols.

And I think the quintessential example of that is Hillary Clinton. I mean, Hillary Clinton has succeeded as secretary of state, was — and in many regards I think is an inspiration not simply to her gender, but to all kinds of Americans, and recognized by the fact that second only to Chris Christie, she’s the most popular political figure in America, who is the most popular figure in America, Chris Christie.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, we’re going to get a chance next week to talk about guns, but — and we have only got about a minute.

But at this point, what are you hearing, David, that may come out of the White House? And will it fly in the Congress?

DAVID BROOKS: I think the conventional view now is that there will be some reforms. They will be closing some of the gun loopholes, maybe some of the magazine-related issues.

But you won’t get the ambitious things like the assault weapons ban, which Dianne Feinstein was trying to get.

JUDY WOODRUFF: But you are saying they will ask for it, you think?

DAVID BROOKS: Well, I think they won’t even ask.

My own sense is they won’t even ask for it. They will ask for these smaller things. And I do think there’s a realistic chance of getting those things passed.

MARK SHIELDS: I think the background check will be pushed and pushed hard.

The question whether they will bring to it the same level of intensity and relentlessness and expertise that they brought to the campaign. I mean, I think there is a chance here. I think the NRA has stumbled badly. They boast an increase in membership.

I think they are like the Tea Party. I think they misunderstand what is going on in the country and the change in mood in the country, especially after Newtown. The Tea Party defeated Richard Lugar in Indiana and was full of themselves. And now instead of a conservative Republican holding that seat, like Lugar, it is a moderate Democrat, Joe Donnelly, holding that seat.

And I think the NRA is very much of the same myopic mind-set. And I think that’s…

DAVID BROOKS: I think I disagree with that. I think they know exactly what they are doing.

They know they’re going to lose something, but they’re making sure gun owners think Obama is going to take away your guns. And they’re mobilized.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Nothing myopic about the two of you.

MARK SHIELDS: Ooh.

JUDY WOODRUFF: David Brooks, Mark Shields, and — thank you both.

And Mark and David keep up the talk on The Doubleheader, recorded in our newsroom. That will be posted at the top of the Rundown later tonight.

Obama, Karzai agree to speed up Afghan military transition

Matt Spetalnick
reuters.com
January 11, 2013

President Barack Obama and Afghan President Hamid Karzai agreed on Friday to speed up the handover of combat operations in Afghanistan to Afghan forces this year, underscoring Obama’s determination to move decisively to wind down the long, unpopular war.

Signaling a narrowing of differences, Karzai appeared to give ground in White House talks on U.S. demands for immunity from prosecution for any U.S. troops who stay in Afghanistan beyond 2014, a concession that could allow Obama to keep at least a small residual force there.

Both leaders also threw their support behind tentative Afghan reconciliation efforts with Taliban insurgents. They each voiced support for the establishment of a Taliban political office in the Gulf state of Qatar in hopes of bringing insurgents to inter-Afghan talks.

Read more

Afghan Taliban Welcome US ‘Zero Option’ On Troops

military.com
January 11, 2013

The Taliban have welcomed news from Washington that the US might withdraw all its troops from Afghanistan next year, saying the American public was pressing for an end to “this aimless war”.

The comment came ahead of a crucial meeting between President Barack Obama and Afghan President Hamid Karzai at the White House on Friday that is expected to focus on how many American soldiers will remain in Afghanistan.

The US and its NATO allies have long planned to withdraw their combat troops by the end of 2014, although it has been widely expected that Washington will leave a force to train, advise and assist the Afghan army and police.

Read more

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