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General McChrystal Relieved Of Command: Obama Takes General Off Top Afghan Post

JENNIFER LOVEN and ANNE GEARAN | 06/23/10 01:59 PM | AP Via: Huff Post

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama ousted Gen. Stanley McChrystal as the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan on Wednesday, saying his scathing published remarks about administration officials undermined civilian control of the military and eroded trust on the president’s war team.

Obama chose McChrystal’s immediate superior – Gen. David Petraeus – to take over the troubled 9-year-old war in Afghanistan.

The president said he did not make the decision to accept McChrystal’s resignation over any disagreement in policy or “out of any sense of personal insult.”

“I believe it is the right decision for our national security,” Obama said in a statement in the Rose Garden, where he was flanked by Petraeus along with Vice President Joe Biden, Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.

McChrystal relieved: Gen. Stanley McChrystal has been relieved of command by President Obama. Gen. David Petraeus will replace McChrystal.

WASHINGTON (AP) – President Barack Obama says he has accepted the resignation of Gen. Stanley McChrystal with regret, but is certain that it is the right decision for the country’s national security and the future of the U.S. mission in Afghanistan.

Speaking in the Rose Garden, Obama says McChrystal’s biting comments about the president and his aides in a magazine article did not meet the standards of conduct for a commanding general.

Obama named Gen. David Petraeus to assume McChrystal’s role as the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan. He says the move will allow the U.S. to maintain leadership and momentum in the war.

Obama made the announcement following a private meeting with McChrystal and a separate meeting of his national security staff.

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General McChrystal’s Rolling Stone Interview A ‘Significant Mistake,’ Gates Says

ANNE GEARAN and JULIE PACE | 06/22/10 12:33 PM | AP – Via Huff Po

WASHINGTON — Defense Secretary Robert Gates says the top U.S. general in Afghanistan made “a significant mistake” and used poor judgment in remarks to a magazine reporter.

Gates says Gen. Stanley McChrystal has apologized to him. Gates also says he has recalled McChrystal to Washington to discuss the matter in person. That’s on top of the White House summons that McChrystal appear there Wednesday.

The Pentagon says McChrystal will hold a separate meeting with Gates.

Gates’ statement says nothing about whether McChrystal should keep his job.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.

WASHINGTON (AP) – Defense Secretary Robert Gates says the top U.S. general in Afghanistan made “a significant mistake” and used poor judgment in remarks to a magazine reporter.

Gates says Gen. Stanley McChrystal has apologized to him. Gates also says he has recalled McChrystal to Washington to discuss the matter in person. That’s on top of the White House summons that McChrystal appear there Wednesday.

The Pentagon says McChrystal will hold a separate meeting with Gates.

Gates’ statement says nothing about whether McChrystal should keep his job.

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McChrystal’s Rolling Stone Interview: General’s Team SLAMS Key Obama Officials (SLIDESHOW)

Huff Post- First Posted: 06-22-10 10:18 AM   |   Updated: 06-22-10 11:25 AM

Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s candid Rolling Stone interview prompted the White House to summon McChrystal, the most senior military commander in Afghanistan, to the capital for a standing meeting. McChrystal usually participates via teleconference.

Below are some of the most notable quotes and details from Michael Hasting’s profile of McChrystal, his staff, and the war that the U.S. is fighting in Afghanistan.

>>>PHOTOS HERE<<<

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White House Briefing Video: Live Stream Of Press Briefing With Robert Gibbs

Huffington Post First Posted: 06-22-10 12:54 PM   |   Updated: 06-22-10 12:55 PM

Visit this page for live streaming video whenever Press Secretary Robert Gibbs gives the White House press briefing.

>>>VIDEO HERE<<<

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Blackwater, Now Xe, Vying For $1 Billion Contract To Train Afghan National Police

HuffPo-  First Posted: 02- 8-10 12:36 PM   |   Updated: 02- 8-10 03:17 PM

“Blackwater Worldwide’s legal woes haven’t dimmed the company’s prospects in Afghanistan, where it’s a contender to be a key part of President Barack Obama’s strategy for stabilizing the country,” the AP reported recently.

Now called Xe Services, the company is in the running for a Pentagon contract potentially worth $1 billion to train Afghanistan’s troubled national police force. Xe has been shifting to training, aviation and logistics work after its security guards were accused of killing unarmed Iraqi civilians more than two years ago.Yet even with a new name and focus, the expanded role would seem an unlikely one for Xe because Democrats have held such a negative opinion of the company following the Iraqi deaths, which are still reverberating in Baghdad and Washington.

During the presidential campaign, then-Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, now Obama’s secretary of state, backed legislation to ban Blackwater and other private security contractors from Iraq.

Xe eventually lost its license to operate as guardian of U.S. diplomats in Iraq and the State Department, with Clinton at the helm, elected not to rehire the company when the contract expired in 2009. Delays in getting a new company in place led to a temporary extension of the State contract.

Derrick Crowe of Rethink Afghanistan notes that Xe is in the running for this contract “despite the fact that they’ve ‘trained’ the notoriously corrupt and incompetent Afghan Border Police. Recently, two Blackwater / Xe trainers were indicted for murdering Afghan civilians, and the company has a history of hiring people with a criminal record. Xe Services / Blackwater is a liability to the American cause around the world and doesn’t deserve another dime of taxpayer money.”

Rethink Afghanistan has posted a new video on the topic featuring Afghanistan-based correspondent Anand Gopal.

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By John Byrne | The Raw Story, May 6, 2009

United States interrogators killed nearly four dozen detainees during or after their interrogations, according a report published by a human rights researcher based on a Human Rights First report and followup investigations.

In all, 98 detainees have died while in US hands. Thirty-four homicides have been identified, with at least eight detainees — and as many as 12 — having been tortured to death, according to a 2006 Human Rights First report that underwrites the researcher’s posting. The causes of 48 more deaths remain uncertain.

The researcher, John Sifton, worked for five years for Human Rights Watch. In a posting Tuesday, he documents myriad cases of detainees who died at the hands of their US interrogators. Some of the instances he cites are graphic.

Most of those taken captive were killed in Afghanistan and Iraq. They include at least one Afghani soldier, Jamal Naseer, who was mistakenly arrested in 2004. “Those arrested with Naseer later said that during interrogations U.S. personnel punched and kicked them, hung them upside down, and hit them with sticks or cables,” Sifton writes. “Some said they were doused with cold water and forced to lie in the snow. Nasser collapsed about two weeks after the arrest, complaining of stomach pain, probably an internal hemorrhage.”

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By Dahr Jamail | Foreign Policy In Focus, April 18, 2009

“[W]hat lengths men will go in order to carry out, to their extreme limit, the rites of a collective self-worship which fills them with a sense of righteousness and complacent satisfaction in the midst of the most shocking injustices and crimes.”
-Love and Living, by Thomas Merton

On Wednesday, March 25, Major General David Perkins of the U.S. military, referring to how often the U.S. military was being attacked in Iraq, told reporters in Baghdad, “Attacks are at their lowest since August 2003.” Perkins added, “There were 1,250 attacks a week at the height of the violence; now sometimes there are less than 100 a week.”

While his rhetoric made headlines in some U.S. mainstream media outlets, it was little consolation for the families of 28 Iraqis killed in attacks across Iraq the following day. Nor did it bring solace to the relatives of the 27 Iraqis slain in a March 23 suicide attack, or those who survived a bomb attack at a bus terminal in Baghdad on the same day that killed nine Iraqis.

Having recently returned from Iraq, I experienced living in Baghdad where people were dying violent deaths on a daily basis. Nearly every day of the month I spent there saw a car bomb attack somewhere in the capital city. Nearly every day the so-called Green Zone was mortared. Every day there were kidnappings. On good days there were four hours of electricity on the national grid, in a country now into its seventh year of being occupied by the U.S. military, and where there are now over 200,000 private contractors.

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By Ron Paul | Daily Paul, March 10, 2009

Imagine for a moment that somewhere in the middle of Texas there was a large foreign military base, say Chinese or Russian. Imagine that thousands of armed foreign troops were constantly patrolling American streets in military vehicles. Imagine they were here under the auspices of “keeping us safe” or “promoting democracy” or “protecting their strategic interests.”

Imagine that they operated outside of US law, and that the Constitution did not apply to them. Imagine that every now and then they made mistakes or acted on bad information and accidentally killed or terrorized innocent Americans, including women and children, most of the time with little to no repercussions or consequences. Imagine that they set up check points on our soil and routinely searched and ransacked entire neighborhoods of homes. Imagine if Americans were fearful of these foreign troops, and overwhelmingly thought America would be better off without their presence.

Imagine if some Americans were so angry about them being in Texas that they actually joined together to fight them off, in defense of our soil and sovereignty, because leadership in government refused or were unable to do so. Imagine that those Americans were labeled terrorists or insurgents for their defensive actions, and routinely killed, or captured and tortured by the foreign troops on our land. Imagine that the occupiers’ attitude was that if they just killed enough Americans, the resistance would stop, but instead, for every American killed, ten more would take up arms against them, resulting in perpetual bloodshed. Imagine if most of the citizens of the foreign land also wanted these troops to return home. Imagine if they elected a leader who promised to bring them home and put an end to this horror.

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Nasir @ 12:00 CET

by George McGovern | The Washington Post, Jan 22, 2009

As you settle into the Oval Office, Mr. President, may I offer a suggestion? Please do not try to put Afghanistan aright with the U.S. military. To send our troops out of Iraq and into Afghanistan would be a near-perfect example of going from the frying pan into the fire. There is reason to believe some of our top military commanders privately share this view. And so does a broad and growing swath of your party and your supporters.

True, the United States is the world’s greatest power — but so was the British Empire a century ago when it tried to pacify the warlords and tribes of Afghanistan, only to be forced out after excruciating losses. For that matter, the Soviet Union was also a superpower when it poured some 100,000 troops into Afghanistan in 1979. They limped home, broken and defeated, a decade later, having helped pave the way for the collapse of the Soviet Union.

It is logical to conclude that our massive military dominance and supposedly good motives should let us work our will in Afghanistan. But logic does not always prevail in South Asia. With belligerent Afghan warlords sitting atop each mountain glowering at one another, the one factor that could unite them is the invasion of their country by a foreign power, whether British, Russian or American.

I have believed for some time that military power is no solution to terrorism. The hatred of U.S. policies in the Middle East — our occupation of Iraq, our backing for repressive regimes such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia, our support of Israel — that drives the terrorist impulse against us would better be resolved by ending our military presence throughout the arc of conflict. This means a prudent, carefully directed withdrawal of our troops from Iraq, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and elsewhere. We also need to close down the imposing U.S. military bases in this section of the globe, which do so little to expand our security and so much to stoke local resentment.

We cannot evade this reckoning. The British thought they could extend their control over Iraq even while pulling out their ground forces by creating a string of bases in remote parts of the country, away from the observation of most Iraqis. It didn’t work. No people that desires independence and self-determination wishes to have another nation’s military bases in its country. In 1776, remember, 13 little colonies drove the mighty British Empire from American soil.

In 2003, the Bush administration ordered an invasion of Iraq, supposedly to reduce terrorism. But six years later, there is more terrorism and civil strife in Iraq, not less. The same outcome may occur in Afghanistan if we make it the next American military conflict.

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