Nov 22

- Permanent US Afghanistan Occupation (Activist Post, Nov 22, 2013):

Washington didn’t attack, invade and occupy Afghanistan to leave. Permanent occupation is planned.

NBC News headlined “Endless Afghanistan? US-Afghan agreement would keep troops in place and funds flowing, perhaps indefinitely,” saying:

While many Americans have been led to believe the war in Afghanistan will soon be over, a draft of a key US-Afghan security deal obtained by NBC News shows the United States is prepared to maintain military outposts in Afghanistan for many years to come, and pay to support hundreds of thousands of Afghan security forces.

The agreement reflects an open-ended military commitment. It involves “thousands of American troops (and) billions of US taxpayer dollars.

Draft “Security and Defense Cooperation Agreement Between the United States of America and the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan” provisions state in part: Continue reading »

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Nov 22

- Afghanistan rebuffs U.S. demand to sign security pact (The Raw Story/AFP, Nov 22, 2013):

Afghanistan on Friday rebuffed a US demand to sign a highly anticipated security pact as soon as possible, insisting the document must wait until after next year’s presidential election.

Washington warned Kabul on Thursday to sign the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) as soon as possible, with senior officials hinting that delaying beyond the end of this year could mean no post-2014 US troop presence.

The latest US run-in with President Hamid Karzai was set off by the Afghan leader saying the painstakingly negotiated deal would not be signed until after the election in April.

Continue reading »

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Nov 03

- Preparing for a North Korean Collapse (The Diplomat, Oct 31, 2013):

A report by Bruce Bennett and the RAND Corporation has brought attention to one of the most important issues for international politics. Ironically, despite being a region of vital interest within American foreign policy, there has been very little public discussion of what to do in the event of government collapse in North Korea. Bennett’s timely report provides a series of vital contributions to the discussion and further outlines the lack of preparation in political, social, economic and military terms. Yet beyond the critical end game for the Korean peninsula are deeper questions concerning how any international force might respond. Specifically, how can the U.S. and Republic of Korea effectively mobilize regional powers with their differing security and development goals?

Continue reading »

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Oct 29

- Confessions of a Drone Warrior (GQ Magazine, Oct 23, 2013):

He was an experiment, really. One of the first recruits for a new kind of warfare in which men and machines merge. He flew multiple missions, but he never left his computer. He hunted top terrorists, saved lives, but always from afar. He stalked and killed countless people, but could not always tell you precisely what he was hitting. Meet the 21st-century American killing machine. who’s still utterly, terrifyingly human

From the darkness of a box in the Nevada desert, he watched as three men trudged down a dirt road in Afghanistan. The box was kept cold—precisely sixty-eight degrees—and the only light inside came from the glow of monitors. The air smelled spectrally of stale sweat and cigarette smoke. On his console, the image showed the midwinter landscape of eastern Afghanistan’s Kunar Province—a palette of browns and grays, fields cut to stubble, dark forests climbing the rocky foothills of the Hindu Kush. He zoomed the camera in on the suspected insurgents, each dressed in traditional shalwar kameez, long shirts and baggy pants. He knew nothing else about them: not their names, not their thoughts, not the thousand mundane and profound details of their lives.He was told that they were carrying rifles on their shoulders, but for all he knew, they were shepherd’s staffs. Still, the directive from somewhere above, a mysterious chain of command that led straight to his headset, was clear: confirmed weapons. He switched from the visible spectrum—the muted grays and browns of “day-TV”—to the sharp contrast of infrared, and the insurgents’ heat signatures stood out ghostly white against the cool black earth. A safety observer loomed behind him to make sure the “weapon release” was by the book. A long verbal checklist, his targeting laser locked on the two men walking in front. A countdown—three…two…one…—then the flat delivery of the phrase “missile off the rail.” Seventy-five hundred miles away, a Hellfire flared to life, detached from its mount, and reached supersonic speed in seconds.

It was quiet in the dark, cold box in the desert, except for the low hum of machines.

Continue reading »

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Oct 25

Related info:

- Michael Hastings Believed His Mercedes Was Being Tampered With (LA Weekly)

- The Michael Hastings Car Crash: No Skids Marks, A Flying Engine And ‘Boston Brakes’ (Liberty Blitzkrieg)

- Barrett Brown and Michael Hastings v. FBI (Cryptome, June 20, 2013)

- Michael Hastings Told WikiLeaks Lawyer He Was Being Investigated By The FBI Only A Few Hours Before Deadly Car Crash (Daily Mail, June 20, 2013)

- On The Assassination Of Journalist Michael Hastings: ‘We Got The Message …’ (Video – Veterans Today, June 19, 2013):

“For those who didn’t watch the entire video, go back.  Catch the last few seconds.  I was flabbergasted.”


“Whenever I’d been reporting around groups of dudes whose job it was to kill people, one of them would usually mention that they were going to kill me.”

- Exclusive: Who Killed Michael Hastings (Nation of Change, Oct 25, 2013):

Early in the morning on June 18, a brand new Mercedes C250 coupe was driving through the Melrose intersection on Highland Avenue in Hollywood when suddenly, out of nowhere, it sped up. According to an eye-witness, the car accelerated rapidly, bounced several times then fishtailed out of control before it slammed into a palm tree and burst into flames, ejecting its engine some 200 feet away.

A witness, Jose Rubalcalva, whose house stood adjacent to the crash, told Ana Kasparian of the The Young Turks news network that no one could approach the burning car because it kept exploding. In a simulated full-frontal crash of a 2013 C250 coupe, the car doesn’t explode on impact nor does it launch its engine 200 feet.

In fact, said Nael Issa, a Mercedes Benz dealer in Long Beach, “The car has a crumble zone, so when it crashes it goes in like an accordion. And in some cases the engine drops down, so it doesn’t go into you.”

The driver in the fatal crash was Michael Hastings, a 33-year-old crack investigative reporter for Rolling Stone magazine, whose June 2010 article, “The Runaway General,” exposed the behind-the-scenes failure of top U.S. General Stanley McChrystal’s counterinsurgency strategy in Afghanistan—and, even more damagingly, revealed McChrystal’s mocking attitude toward the Obama administration, which ultimately led to the general’s resignation.

Continue reading »

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Oct 24

- $500 per gallon for gas – Sticker shock from war spending waste (CNN, Oct 23, 2013):

500 for a gallon of fuel?That was the exorbitant figure paid with U.S. tax dollars to a contractor building a hospital in rural Afghanistan, according to a report from the government watchdog tasked with investigating expenditures on Afghanistan’s reconstruction.

Continue reading »

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Oct 16

- John Kerry in Afghanistan to push to keep U.S. troops in the country after 2014 (The Raw Story, Oct 11, 2013):

US Secretary of State John Kerry held talks with President Hamid Karzai in Kabul on Friday to try to advance troubled negotiations with Afghanistan on some US troops staying in the country after 2014.

Karzai said this week that he was prepared to walk away from the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) talks if Afghanistan was not happy with its conditions.

Continue reading »

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Oct 12

- Foreigners train Syrian rebels in Afghanistan to use chem weapons – Lavrov (RT, Oct 11, 2013):

There are reports that some third countries are training Syrian rebels to use chemical weapons in Afghanistan, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said. The intention is to put the skill to use in new false flag actions in Syria, he explained.

The suspected training happened in Afghan territories not under control of the government in Kabul, Lavrov said.

“Some reports indicate that [Al-Qaeda-linked radical] Al-Nusra Front is planning to smuggle toxic compounds and relevant specialists into Iraqi territory to stage terrorist attacks there this time,” Lavrov said.

Continue reading »

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Oct 07

- Veteran New York Times Reporter: “This Is Most Closed, Control-Freak Administration I’ve Ever Covered” (ZeroHedge, Oct 6, 2013):

American constitutional experts say that Obama is worse than Nixon.

The government has taken to protecting criminal wrongdoing by attacking whistleblowers … and any  journalists who have the nerve to report on the beans spilled by the whistleblowers.  (The government has also repealed long-standing laws against using propaganda against Americans on U.S. soil, and the government is manipulating social media – more proof here and here).

The Obama administration has prosecuted more whistleblowers than all other presidents combined.

And it goes out of its way to smear whistleblowers, threaten reporters who discuss whistleblower information and harass honest analysts.

Journalism is not only being criminalized in America, but investigative reporting is actually treated like terrorism.

The government admits that journalists could be targeted with counter-terrorism laws (and here). For example, after Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Chris Hedges, journalist Naomi Wolf, Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg and others sued the government to enjoin the NDAA’s allowance of the indefinite detention of Americans – the judge asked the government attorneys 5 times whether journalists like Hedges could be indefinitely detained simply for interviewing and then writing about bad guys. The government refused to promise that journalists like Hedges won’t be thrown in a dungeon for the rest of their lives without any right to talk to a judge

Continue reading »

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Sep 27

- U.S. general sees problems, progress in developing Afghan air force (Reuters, Sep 21, 2013):

He said the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force was re-examining all infrastructure projects after a report that one $37 million aviation facility may have been used to store opium and other concerns raised by Congress.

 

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Sep 05

- Afghan soldier casualty rate comparable to America’s losses in Vietnam War – US general (RT, Sep 5, 2013):

Approximately 50 to 100 Afghan soldiers are killed in battle per week, a top US general said Wednesday. That rate that is comparable to the number of American service members who lost their lives in the Vietnam War.

“The Afghan security forces are suffering more casualties, no question about it,” Lieutenant General Mark Milley said via video link from Afghanistan, according to AFP.

Continue reading »

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Sep 01

- Brzezinski: ‘Global Political Awakening’ Making Syrian War Difficult (Storyleak, Aug 29, 2013):

During a short interview with Germany’s DW News last Monday, former US National Security Adviser and Trilateral Commission co-founder Zbigniew Brzezinski commented on the growing inefficiency of war due to the increased political knowledge of the public.

“Given the contemporary reality of what I have called in my writings ‘Global Political Awakening,’ a policy of force based primarily on Western and in some cases former colonial powers does not seem to me a very promising avenue to an eventual solution to the regional problem,” said Brzezinski, referring to the situation in Syria.

Despite Brzezinski’s noted long-term relationship with Obama which included a top foreign policy adviser position, Brzezinski denied any specific knowledge of his plans regarding Syria, saying that if the administration has a strategy, it’s a “very well-kept secret.”

Obama’s Middle Eastern strategy has been a mere continuation of the policies seen under Bush, exemplified by former four star general and NATO commander Wesley Clark’s admission of the Bush-era Pentagon plan to overthrow several countries including Libya and Syria.

Continue reading »

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Aug 26


YouTube Added: 26.08.2013

Description:

On August 21st, 2013 chemical weapons were used the Syrian conflict yet again. Western powers, the U.S. and France in particular enthusiastically didn’t hesitate for even a moment to take advantage of the tragedy, decrying it as a crime against humanity and using it as a springboard to announce their preparations for military strikes against the Syrian government.

Make no mistake this was a crime against humanity… but the gas was NOT used by the Syrian government, it was used by the NATO backed rebels. In this video we’re going to show you definitive evidence to support this claim and we’re going explain the U.S. and NATO’s motive for committing such an atrocity. The leaked documents that we are going to be presenting are available for you to download yourself. You’ll find a in a link in the description to that download and you’ll also find links to the mainstream articles we used in our research: Continue reading »

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Aug 25

- “Obama: The Bush Clone” – The Russian MP’s Tweet Heard Around The World (ZeroHedge, Aug 25, 2013):

Translated from his original Russian tweet:

Via ITAR-TASS,

Obama rolling towards war in Syria unstoppably, says Russian MP

U.S. President Barack Obama is heading into a war in Syria unstoppably, the same way that George W. Bush was rolling once in the past into a war in Iraq, believes Dr. Alexei Pushkov, the chairman of the State Duma foreign policy committee.

“In exactly the same way it was in Iraq, the war in Syria will be illegitimate and Obama will turn into a Bush clone,” Dr. Pushkov tweeted Sunday.

Via Reuters,

Russia warned the United States on Sunday against repeating past mistakes, saying that any unilateral military action in Syria would undermine efforts for peace and have a “devastating impact” on the security situation in the Middle East.

Referring to the United States’ military intervention in Iraq, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement that any military action would affect joint U.S.-Russian efforts for an international peace conference on Syria.

We once again decisively urge (the United States) not to repeat the mistakes of the past and not to allow actions that go against international law. Any unilateral military action bypassing the United Nations will … lead to further escalation (in Syria) and will affect the already explosive situation in the Middle East in the most devastating way,” the ministry said.

Next, from RT:

Continue reading »

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Aug 06

- Big Oil’s Central Asian Mafia (Veterans Today, Aug 6, 2013)

(Excerpted from Big Oil & Their Bankers: Chapter 17: Caspian Sea Oil Grab)

According to Kurt Wulff of the oil investment firm McDep Associates, the Four Horsemen, romping in their new Far East pastures, saw asset increases from 1988-1994 as follows: Exxon Mobil- 54%, Chevron Texaco- 74%, Royal Dutch/Shell- 52% and BP Amoco- 54%.  Big Oil had more than doubled its collective assets in six short years.

This quantum leap in global power had everything to do withthe takeover of the old Soviet oil patch and the subsequent impoverishment of its birthright owners.

While the Four Horsemen gorged on Russian and Central Asian oil, Wall Street investment bankers were facilitating the oil grab and ripping off the Russian Treasury.

Salomon Smith Barney’s Phibro Energy oil trading subsidiary set up shop in Moscow.  Goldman Sachs was hired by Yeltsin to lure foreign capital to Russia.  Heading the Russian Goldman Sachs team was Robert Rubin, later Clinton Secretary of Treasury & Citigroup CEO.  CS First Boston took a 20% stake in Lukoil, in partnership with BP Amoco. Continue reading »

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Aug 06

… and Libya, Yemen, Somalia, Pakistan and …


- Requiem For The Children of Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan (Veterans Today, Aug 6, 2013)

 

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Aug 03

Flashback.


- Meet The Man In Charge Of America’s Secret Cyber Army (In Which ‘Bonesaw’ Makes A Mockery Of PRISM):

Inside Fort Meade, Maryland, a top-secret city bustles. Tens of thousands of people move through more than 50 buildings—the city has its own post office, fire department, and police force. But as if designed by Kafka, it sits among a forest of trees, surrounded by electrified fences and heavily armed guards, protected by antitank barriers, monitored by sensitive motion detectors, and watched by rotating cameras. To block any telltale electromagnetic signals from escaping, the inner walls of the buildings are wrapped in protective copper shielding and the one-way windows are embedded with a fine copper mesh.

This is the undisputed domain of General Keith Alexander, a man few even in Washington would likely recognize. Never before has anyone in America’s intelligence sphere come close to his degree of power, the number of people under his command, the expanse of his rule, the length of his reign, or the depth of his secrecy. A four-star Army general, his authority extends across three domains: He is director of the world’s largest intelligence service, the National Security Agency; chief of the Central Security Service; and commander of the US Cyber Command. As such, he has his own secret military, presiding over the Navy’s 10th Fleet, the 24th Air Force, and the Second Army.

Schematically, Alexander’s empire consists of the following: virtually every piece in America’s information intelligence arsenal.

 

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Jul 31

- The U.S. Military Has Awarded Contracts to Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan (Liberty Blitzkrieg, July 31, 2013):

I suppose it just wasn’t enough that our allies, “the rebels” in Syria, have significant Al-Qaeda elements to them. No, we are the USA! USA! Best country ever. Defender of human rights. City on a hill. We must do far more than that. So we did.

This story below from Bloomberg, highlights a 236-page report by the U.S. Army Suspension and Debarment Office, which shows that military contracts have been granted to the Taliban and Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan. Yep, this is exactly what happens when an empire gets too big, too corrupt, and ends up in the hands of a bunch of sociopaths.

From Bloomberg:

Supporters of the Taliban and al-Qaeda in Afghanistan have been getting U.S. military contracts, and American officials are citing “due process rights” as a reason not to cancel the agreements, according to an independent agency monitoring spending.

“I am deeply troubled that the U.S. military can pursue, attack, and even kill terrorists and their supporters, but that some in the U.S. government believe we cannot prevent these same people from receiving a government contract,” Sopko said.

Continue reading »

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Jun 26

- THE TERROR DIASPORA: US spreads blowback nightmare (Asia Times, June 20, 2013):

The Gulf of Guinea. He said it without a hint of irony or embarrassment. This was one of US Africa Command’s big success stories. The Gulf … of Guinea.

Never mind that most Americans couldn’t find it on a map and haven’t heard of the nations on its shores like Gabon, Benin, and Togo. Never mind that just five days before I talked with AFRICOM’s chief spokesman, the Economist had asked if the Gulf of Guinea was on the verge of becoming “another Somalia”, because piracy there had jumped 41% from 2011 to 2012 and was on track to be even worse in 2013.

The Gulf of Guinea was one of the primary areas in Africa where “stability,” the command spokesman assured me, had “improved significantly,” and the US military had played a major role in bringing it about. But what did that say about so many other areas of the continent that, since AFRICOM was set up, had been wracked by coups, insurgencies, violence, and volatility?

Continue reading »

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Jun 25

And rightfully so.

Traitor Bush was beyond horrible, Obama is even worse.



YouTube Added. 21.06.2013

Flashback:

- LIAR Obama Promised To Label GMO Food In 2007 (Video)

- More Obama Lies: Obama on Why He Opposed Individual Mandate: Forcing Uninsured to Buy Insurance Is Like Forcing Homeless to Buy Homes

- Elite Puppet President Obama Exposed

- MSNBC Exposes President Obama’s lies: FED GAVE Banks Access to 23.7 TRILLION DOLLARS NOT $700 Billion!

- Barack Obama Lies 7 Times In Under 2 Minutes!!!!! (Video)

- EXPOSED: Barack Obama, Rahm Emanuel and the Chicago Political Syndicate – Total Corruption (Video)

Liar in Chief  (Barack Obama Campaign Promise – October 27, 2007):

- Obama: ‘I will promise you this, that if we have not gotten our troops out by the time I am President, it is the first thing I will do. I will get our troops home. We will bring an end to this war. You can take that to the bank.’ (Video)

I ask you how many of our soldiers and how many civilians have died because of this lie?

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Jun 23

- Meet The Man In Charge Of America’s Secret Cyber Army (In Which “Bonesaw” Makes A Mockery Of PRISM)

With his revelations exposing the extent of potential, and actual, pervasive NSA surveillance over the American population, Edward Snowden has done a great service for the public by finally forcing it to answer the question: is having Big Brother peek at every private communication and electronic information, a fair exchange for the alleged benefit of the state’s security. Alas, without further action form a population that appears largely numb and apathetic to disclosures that until recently would have sparked mass protests and toppled presidents, the best we can hope for within a political regime that has hijacked the democratic process, is some intense introspection as to what the concept of “America” truly means.

However, and more importantly, what Snowden’s revelations have confirmed, is that behind the scenes, America is now actively engaged in a new kind of war: an unprecedented cyber war, where collecting, deciphering, intercepting, and abusing information is the only thing that matters and leads to unprecedented power, and where enemies both foreign and domestic may be targeted without due process based on a lowly analyst’s “whim.”

It has also put spotlight on the man, who until recently deep in the shadows, has been responsible for building America’s secret, absolutely massive cyber army, and which according to a just released Wired profile is “capable of launching devastating cyberattacks. Now it’s ready to unleash hell.”

Meet General Keith Alexander, “a man few even in Washington would likely recognize”, which is troubling because Alexander is now quite possibly the most powerful person in the world, that nobody talks about. Which is just the way he likes it. Continue reading »

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Jun 22

- The Waste List: 66 Crazy Ways That The U.S. Government Is Wasting Your Hard-Earned Money (Economic Collapse, June 20, 2013):

Why did the U.S. government spend 2.6 million dollars to train Chinese prostitutes to drink responsibly?  Why did the U.S. government spend $175,587 “to determine if cocaine makes Japanese quail engage in sexually risky behavior”?  Why did the U.S. government spend nearly a million dollars on a new soccer field for detainees being held at Guantanamo Bay?  This week when I saw that the IRS was about to pay out 70 million dollars in bonuses to their employees and that the U.S. government was going to be leaving 7 billion dollars worth of military equipment behind in Afghanistan, it caused me to reflect on all of the other crazy ways that the government has been wasting our money in recent years.  So I decided to go back through my previous articles and put together a list.  I call it “The Waste List”.  Even though our politicians insist that there is very little that can still be cut out of the budget, the truth is that the federal budget is absolutely drowning in pork.

The following are 66 crazy ways that the U.S. government is wasting your hard-earned money… Continue reading »

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Jun 18

- Pentagon official: 4 Americans killed in attack at U.S. base in Afghanistan (CNN, June 18, 2013):

Four Americans were killed during a rocket attack at Bagram Air Base, outside of Kabul, a Pentagon official said Tuesday on the condition of anonymity.The U.S.-led International Security Assistance Force confirmed that four NATO coalition service members had been killed in an attack but did not disclose the nationality of the casualties or the exact location of the attack.

In a written statement, ISAF said the four were killed in an “attack in eastern Afghanistan.”

Continue reading »

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Jun 08

- Soldier pleads guilty to murdering 16 Afghan civilians (Reuters, June 7, 2013):

A U.S. Army sergeant who killed 16 Afghan civilians in cold blood last year pleaded guilty on Wednesday to premeditated murder and other charges under a deal with military prosecutors that spares him from the death penalty.

Staff Sergeant Robert Bales, a decorated veteran of four combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, admitted to leaving his Army post in the Afghan province of Kandahar last March to gun down and set fire to unarmed villagers, mostly women and children, in attacks on their family compounds.

“As far as why, I’ve asked that question a million times since then,” Bales said, in a calm, steady voice, when the judge pressed him for an explanation. “There is not a good reason in this world for why I did the horrible things that I did.”

Continue reading »

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Jun 05

- Former UK ambassador: CIA sent people to Uzbekistan for extreme torture, to be ‘raped with broken bottles,’ ‘boiled alive’ and ‘having their children tortured in front of them’ (Nov 4, 2009)

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Jun 04

- Pentagon Has No Idea What 108,000 Contractors Are Doing (Fiscal Times, June 3, 2013):

The number of contractors working in Afghanistan now vastly outnumbers American troops stationed there, according to a Congressional Research Service report. CRS, along with the Government Accountability Office, also determined that the Pentagon is unable to properly document the work these contractors are doing. And the information DOD is receiving is often unreliable and inaccurate.

According to CRS, there are now 108,000 private workers in Afghanistan, a workforce that dwarfs the 65,700 American troops still stationed there. That means there are 1.6 contractors for every American soldier in Afghanistan. This is an increase from last month, when The Fiscal Times reported that there were 1.4 contractors per American soldier.

Given the size of the private forces, it’s not surprising that CRS found that in recent years, the Defense Department spent more than any other agency to support contractor work.

Continue reading »

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May 26


YouTube

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May 21

- Former US drone pilot quits, regretting bombing innocents, including children (PressTV, May 20, 2013):

A former US assassination drone pilot says he quit the force after feeling “numb” about seeing a child and other civilians blown away in his remote bombing of targets in Afghanistan and realizing he has unconsciously developed a desire to kill.

Continue reading »

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May 11

Flashback:

- Veterans Today’s Gordon Duff: Obama’s Drone Strikes On Pakistan Not Targeting Terrorists, But Securing $80 Billion US Opium Empire

- Afghanistan: Opium Cultivation Rose Substantially In 2012 (New York Times)

- Afghan Opium Poppy Farming Increases 20%, Fuelled By High Opium Prices (Guardian)

- CIA Created Afghan Heroin Trade (Veterans Today)

- Afghanistan: Is Creating A ‘Narco-State’ Considered ‘Nation-Building?’ (Veterans Today)

- Brought To You By Poppy Bush, Obama Bin Bush And Al-CIAda: Photos Of U.S. And Afghan Troops Patrolling Poppy Fields June 2012 (Public Intelligence)

- Breaking News: Afghanistan – America’s ‘Total Lie War’ (Veterans Today)

- Afghanistan: Heroin Production Rose Between 2001 And 2011 From Just 185 Tons To A Staggering 5,800 Tons/Year (Daily Mail)

- Afghan Opium Production Increases By 61 Percent, Opium Yield Rises 133 Percent From 2010 (AFP)

- War On Drugs Revealed As Total Hoax: US Military Admits To Guarding, Assisting Lucrative Opium Trade In Afghanistan (Natural News)

- Afghan Opium Production ‘Rises By 61%’ Compared With 2010 – Per-Hectare Price Of Opium More Than Doubled (BBC News)


- U.S. Kicks Drug-War Habit, Makes Peace With Afghan Poppies (Wired, May 9, 2013):

ZARI, Afghanistan — Because of the poppies, the raw material for most of the world’s heroin, the list of things 1st Lt. Christopher Gackstatter and his 2nd Platoon can’t do in Sartok is far longer than the list of things they can.

Marching into the mud-walled village in t­­his sun-baked district of southern Afghanistan on an April 24 intelligence-gathering mission, the boyish 25-year-old lieutenant and his roughly dozen riflemen and machine gunners are mindful of the many poppy-related prohibitions, developed over 12 painful years of war, that have been passed down to their Bravo Company by the higher unit, 3-41 Infantry, part of the Texas-based 1st Brigade of the 1st Armored Division.

They’re not allowed to actually step foot in Sartok’s many acres of poppy fields or damage the fields in any way.

They can’t even threaten to destroy the fields or send in Afghan troops to burn, plow under or poison the delicate, pastel-colored flowers.

Nor can they discourage poppy farmers, however gently, from growing their illicit crop, which is hardier and commands a higher price than alternatives such as wheat. Poppy cultivation has been illegal in Afghanistan since 2001 but still represents a full quarter of the country’s gross domestic product and a major source of revenue for the Taliban, to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars a year. Many of the middlemen who buy up raw poppy paste for onward sale to heroin-producers hail from the insurgent group.

The rules are fairly new and reflect a subtle but profound shift in the way the U.S. Army thinks about Afghanistan, its people and culture and conflict. Having furtively experimented with every possible approach to Afghan poppies since 2001 — from blissfully ignoring them to actively destroying them and everything in between — today the ground-combat branch has made peace with poppies, viewing them as a potential good thing for Afghanistan and the Army.

Continue reading »

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May 01

- US Boeing 747 crash and burn caught on dashcam in Afghanistan (VIDEO) (RT, April 30, 2013):

Harrowing footage of a US cargo plane in Afghanistan plummeting to the ground immediately after takeoff and erupting in a massive ball of flames has emerged online. All seven passengers onboard were killed.

Video apparently shot from a vehicle dashcam shows the National Airlines Boeing 747 taking off from the Bagram Airfield military base, just north of the Afghanistan capital of Kabul, on Monday.

The plane’s nose pitches up heavily on its ascent, stalls, and then falls from the sky in a matter of seconds. It immediately explodes upon impact, sending a massive, think plume of smoke up into the sky.

Continue reading »

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