Most of 5 freed Taliban prisoners have less than hard-core pasts - Los Angeles Times. Arriving in the western Afghanistan city of Herat in the late 1990s during Taliban rule, Pakistani journalist Rahimullah Yusufzai expected a locked-down, cowering population.
Instead, he heard residents openly criticize the militant Islamic movement. At the provincial government offices, he saw a parade of local clerics come to meet the governor, founding Taliban member Khairullah Khairkhwa, who greeted them in the local Persian, a language most of his comrades didn't speak. "He knew these people didn't really support the Taliban, so he made an extra effort," said Yusufzai, who has covered Afghanistan for three decades. "He was a friendly man and did not try to force his views on you.
When President Obama met top NATO officials in Brussels on March 26, he publicly expressed renewed optimism that America’s estimated $120-billion effort to reconstruct Afghanistan will leave behind “a stable and secure country that serves the prosperity and the security of the Afghan people.” A month earlier, however, a group of senior US military officers rendered a much harsher judgment in private about the legacy of the 12-year US-led intervention. CIA's Pakistan drone strikes carried out by regular US air force personnel. Link to video: Drone: exclusive clip from new documentary A regular US air force unit based in the Nevada desert is responsible for flying the CIA's drone strike programme in Pakistan, according to a new documentary to be released on Tuesday.
The film – which has been three years in the making – identifies the unit conducting CIA strikes in Pakistan's tribal areas as the 17th Reconnaissance Squadron, which operates from a secure compound in a corner of Creech air force base, 45 miles from Las Vegas in the Mojave desert. Afghanistan. Pakistan. Afghanistan: U.S. Special Forces Guilty of War Crimes? Nerkh district is not an easy place to get to.
It’s only a few miles along paved tarmac from the provincial capital, but the thick apple orchards and mud-walled compounds that line the road offer cover for the insurgents, who plant bombs and snatch passengers from their cars. The only way for me, my driver and my translator to get there is to attach ourselves to an Afghan army convoy heading to the district center. The soldiers are terrified of roadside bombs, and their line of Humvees inches forward as they sweep the ground ahead on foot.
Halfway there, we are ambushed by machine-gun fire and rocket-propelled grenades coming from nearby compounds. U.S. Kicks Drug-War Habit, Makes Peace With Afghan Poppies. Indicting the US Government for crimes against humanity – unsealing the evidence. It is opportune that only a couple of weeks after three-times human rights awardee Bradley Manning presented his case against the US Government for war crimes committed in Iraq and Afghanistan, details have been released (see video trailer above) of a 15 month investigation by the Guardian and the BBC into torture centres in Iraq, coordinated by US Special Forces commander, James Steele, and former US General Petraeus.
Add in evidence of system-wide torture and massacres in Iraq and Afghanistan as compiled by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism (see below) with additional evidence from a number of other sources (also below) and what we have is much more than a dossier but an indictment – unsealed and without need for a grand jury – that could form the basis of charges raised against the US Administration either in the World Court or – deliciously turning the tables – at the military tribunal of Bradley Manning.
The game is afoot! Note 1. Note 2. Note 3. The Way of the Knife: NYT’s Mark Mazzetti... Afghanistan. Chart: A Grisly Milestone in Afghanistan. Attacks on U.S and NATO Soldiers by Afghan Security Forces. "Descent Into Chaos": Ahmed Rashid on How the US Aid to "War on Terror" Ally Pakistan is Aiding the Taliban. Ahmed Rashid on Pakistan, Afghanistan and the US "war on terror" "Pakistan on the Brink": Ahmed Rashid on Perilous Ties Between the U.S., Pakistan and Afghanistan.
This is a rush transcript.
Copy may not be in its final form. NERMEEN SHAIKH: Top U.S. and Pakistani military officials will meet in the Pakistani capital Islamabad today in the first high-level talks since NATO air strikes killed two dozen Pakistani soldiers last November. Commander of the U.S. Central Command, General James Mattis, and commander of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, General John Allen, will meet chief of staff of the Pakistani army, General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani. Part 2: Ahmed Rashid on U.S. Relations with Pakistan and Afghanistan, Drones, and Journalists in Danger. Top U.S. General: We Don't Know Why Afghan Troops Are Killing Us. International Security Assistance Force Commander U.S.
Marine Corps General John Allen visits Forward Operating Base Farah, August 11, 2012. Photo: ISAF/Flickr General John Allen, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, said he still doesn’t know why at least 10 NATO troops have died in the last two weeks at the hands of the Afghan forces they mentor. He suspects it may have something to do with asking those Afghans to perform dangerous operations during the recent Muslim holy month. Maybe. If that doesn’t sound like a positive sign for the decade-long war — after all, the entire American strategy now depends on turning security over to the Afghans — Allen wasn’t in a mood to sugar-coat Afghanistan. During the past several weeks, Afghan forces have turned their guns on the U.S. troops that mentor them with increasing frequency. But beyond that, Allen said his staff was still studying why the attacks have increased.
Allen also had a message for Karzai. Protests grow as civilian toll of Obama’s drone war on terrorism is laid bare - Asia - World. One lost a son and brother, killed by a missile that tore from the sky as they sat talking with others; one man’s father was among those who died when a missile hit a tribal gathering.
Another man, a wage labourer, was in the local bazaar when he heard his father was also among the dozens killed in the same incident. These individuals and their stories represent the collateral damage of America’s drone missile programme in Pakistan, a covert CIA operation that has been conducted largely out of sight and beyond scrutiny. Earlier this year, in his first public comment on the programme, President Barack Obama claimed the operations involved “precision strikes” against anti-American targets. “A lot of these strikes have been in [Pakistan’s tribal areas],” he said. “For the most part, they’ve been very precise precision strikes against al-Qa’ida and their affiliates, and we’re very careful in terms of how it’s been applied.” Mr Khan became increasingly distressed and added: “A human is human.
The causes of the protests in Afghanistan. (updated below) Most American media accounts and commentary about the ongoing violent anti-American protests in Afghanistan depict their principal cause as anger over the burning of Korans (it’s just a book: why would people get violent over it?)
— except that Afghans themselves keep saying things like this: Protesters in Kabul interviewed on the road and in front of Parliament said that this was not the first time that Americans had violated Afghan cultural and religious traditions and that an apology was not enough. “This is not just about dishonoring the Koran, it is about disrespecting our dead and killing our children,” said Maruf Hotak, 60, a man who joined the crowd on the outskirts of Kabul, referring to an episode in Helmand Province when American Marines urinated on the dead bodies of men they described as insurgents and to a recent erroneous airstrike on civilians in Kapisa Province that killed eight young Afghans.
“They always admit their mistakes,” he said. Photos from Afghanistan by Tyler Hicks. U.S. wastes $34 billion in Afghan and Iraq contracting. Nieman Watchdog. War in Afghanistan: all the data you need to understand the conflict. Ninety Percent of Petraeus's Captured "Taliban" Were Civilians. WASHINGTON, Jun 12, 2011 (IPS) - During his intensive initial round of media interviews as commander in Afghanistan in August 2010, Gen. David Petraeus released figures to the news media that claimed spectacular success for raids by Special Operations Forces: in a 90-day period from May through July, SOF units had captured 1,355 rank and file Taliban, killed another 1,031, and killed or captured 365 middle or high-ranking Taliban.
The claims of huge numbers of Taliban captured and killed continued through the rest of 2010. Despite Troop Surge, Taliban Attacks and U.S. Casualties Soared. WASHINGTON, Jul 3, 2011 (IPS) - Data on attacks by armed opposition forces and U.S. combat casualties since the U.S. troop surge in Afghanistan was completed last summer provide clear evidence that the surge and the increase in targeted killings by Special Operations Forces have failed to break the momentum of the Taliban. The Taliban and allied insurgent organisations launched 54 percent more attacks and killed or wounded 56 percent more U.S. troops over the nine months from last October through May than in the comparable period a year earlier, according to data collected by the U.S. Department of Defence and by the highly-respected Afghanistan NGO Safety Office (ANSO).
The nearly 1,571 attacks in May recorded by ANSO , which exceeded the previous monthly peak total of 1,541 attacks in September 2010, was achieved four months earlier in the fighting season than the previous peak. Secretary of Defence Robert Gates said last June that U.S.