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Posts Tagged ‘Afghanistan’

The New York Times

Published: May 1, 2012

Good evening from Bagram Air Base. This outpost is more than seven thousand miles from home, but for over a decade it has been close to our hearts. Because here, in Afghanistan, more than half a million of our sons and daughters have sacrificed to protect our country.

Today, I signed an historic agreement between the United States and Afghanistan that defines a new kind of relationship between our countries – a future in which Afghans are responsible for the security of their nation, and we build an equal partnership between two sovereign states; a future in which the war ends, and a new chapter begins.

Tonight, I’d like to speak to you about this transition. But first, let us remember why we came here. It was here, in Afghanistan, where Osama bin Laden established a safe-haven for his terrorist organization. It was here, in Afghanistan, where al Qaeda brought new recruits, trained them, and plotted acts of terror. It was here, from within these borders, that al Qaeda launched the attacks that killed nearly 3,000 innocent men, women and children.

And so, ten years ago, the United States and our allies went to war to make sure that al Qaeda could never again use this country to launch attacks against us. Despite initial success, for a number of reasons, this war has taken longer than most anticipated. In 2002, bin Laden and his lieutenants escaped across the border and established safe-havens in Pakistan. America spent nearly eight years fighting a different war in Iraq. And al Qaeda’s extremist allies within the Taliban have waged a brutal insurgency.

But over the last three years, the tide has turned. We broke the Taliban’s momentum. We’ve built strong Afghan Security Forces. We devastated al Qaeda’s leadership, taking out over 20 of their top 30 leaders. And one year ago, from a base here in Afghanistan, our troops launched the operation that killed Osama bin Laden. The goal that I set – to defeat al Qaeda, and deny it a chance to rebuild – is within reach.

Still, there will be difficult days ahead. The enormous sacrifices of our men and women are not over. But tonight, I’d like to tell you how we will complete our mission and end the war in Afghanistan.

First, we have begun a transition to Afghan responsibility for security. Already, nearly half the Afghan people live in places where Afghan Security Forces are moving into the lead. This month, at a NATO Summit in Chicago, our coalition will set a goal for Afghan forces to be in the lead for combat operations across the country next year. International troops will continue to train, advise and assist the Afghans, and fight alongside them when needed. But we will shift into a support role as Afghans step forward.

As we do, our troops will be coming home. Last year, we removed 10,000 U.S. troops from Afghanistan. Another 23,000 will leave by the end of the summer. After that, reductions will continue at a steady pace, with more of our troops coming home. And as our coalition agreed, by the end of 2014 the Afghans will be fully responsible for the security of their country.

Second, we are training Afghan Security Forces to get the job done. Those forces have surged, and will peak at 352,000 this year. The Afghans will sustain that level for three years, and then reduce the size of their military. And in Chicago, we will endorse a proposal to support a strong and sustainable long-term Afghan force.

Third, we are building an enduring partnership. The agreement we signed today sends a clear message to the Afghan people: as you stand up, you will not stand alone. It establishes the basis of our cooperation over the next decade, including shared commitments to combat terrorism and strengthen democratic institutions. It supports Afghan efforts to advance development and dignity for their people. And it includes Afghan commitments to transparency and accountability, and to protect the human rights of all Afghans – men and women, boys and girls.

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Respect candidate takes seat from Labour with 10,140 majority, claiming ‘the most sensational victory in British political history’

Patrick Wintour, political editor | The Guardian | Friday 30 March 2012

 

George Galloway, right, is greeted by a supporter as he arrives to hear the results of the Bradford West byelection. Photograph: Anna Gowthorpe/PA

George Galloway, the leading figure in Respect, has grabbed a remarkable victory in the Bradford West byelection, claiming that “By the grace of God, we have won the most sensational victory in British political history”.

It appeared that the seat’s Muslim community had decamped from Labour en masse to Galloway’s call for an immediate British troop withdrawal from Afghanistan and a fightback against the job crisis.

On a turnout of 50.78%, Labour’s shellshocked candidate Imran Hussein was crushed by a 36.59% swing from Labour to Respect that saw Galloway take the seat with a majority of 10,140.

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Cost of war in Afghanistan will be major factor in troop-reduction talks

The Washington Post via: Huff Post

By Rajiv Chandrasekaran, Published: May 30

Of all the statistics that President Obama’s national security team will consider when it debates the size of forthcoming troop reductions in Afghanistan, the most influential number probably will not be how many insurgents have been killed or the amount of territory wrested from the Taliban, according to aides to those who will participate.

It will be the cost of the war.

The U.S. military is on track to spend $113 billion on its operations in Afghanistan this fiscal year, and it is seeking $107 billion for the next. To many of the president’s civilian advisers, that price is too high, given a wide federal budget gap that will require further cuts to domestic programs and increased deficit spending. Growing doubts about the need for such a broad nation-building mission there in the wake of Osama bin Laden’s death have only sharpened that view.

“Where we’re at right now is simply not sustainable,” said one senior administration official, who, like several others interviewed for this article, spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal policy deliberations.

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I’m going to start this post out properly. This is a day meant to honor fallen veterans, so let’s do that first.

This is a list of United States Armed Forces members killed in Afghanistan in the month of May, 2011.

Army Pfc. William S. Blevins

Army Pvt. Andrew M. Krippner

Army Pvt. Thomas C. Allers

Army Sgt. 1st Class Clifford E. Beattie

Army Pfc. Ramon Mora Jr.

Army Cpl. Brandon M. Kirton

Army Staff Sgt. David D. Self

Army Spc. Bradley L. Melton

Army Pvt. Lamarol J. Tucker

Army Pvt. Cheizray Pressley

Army Spc. Brian D. Riley Jr.

Army Sgt. Robert C. Schlote

Army Sgt. Amaru Aguilar

Marine Lt. Col. Benjamin J. Palmer

Marine Sgt. Kevin B. Balduf

Army 1st Lt. Demetrius M. Frison

Army Sgt. Ken K. Hermogino

Army Spc. Riley S. Spaulding

Army Sgt. Kevin W. White

Does this bother you? It makes me sick to my stomach. It bothers me even more that we officially crossed the 6,000 dead mark in May of 2011 (Iraq and Afghanistan combined) and nobody noticed. We officially stand at 6,014; I do not have the latest death listed here because the name of the latest dead soldier has not been released, as far as I can tell.

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CIA Spied On Bin Laden From Safe House

TPM MUCKRAKER

Eric Lach | May 6, 2011, 9:45AM

The CIA had for months been spying on the compound where Osama bin Laden was found and killed by U.S. forces earlier this week, according to reports.

The agency maintained a rented safehouse near bin Laden’s compound, where a small team of spies “relied on Pakistani informants and other sources to help assemble a ‘pattern of life’ portrait of the occupants and daily activities at the fortified compound where bin Laden was found,” officials told The Washington Post.

A variety of technologies were used, according to The New York Times:

Observing from behind mirrored glass, C.I.A. officers used cameras with telephoto lenses and infrared imaging equipment to study the compound, and they used sensitive eavesdropping equipment to try to pick up voices from inside the house and to intercept cellphone calls. A satellite used radar to search for possible escape tunnels.

Despite the efforts, technology and millions of dollars used in the operation, agents were never able to photograph or record the voice of the man living on the top floor of the compound. According to the Times, agents called a man who took regular walks in the compound’s courtyard “the pacer,” but they were never able to confirm that he was bin Laden.

“You’ve got to give him credit for his tradecraft,” a former senior CIA official who played a leading role in the manhunt told the Post.

On the other hand, the official said, bin Laden’s decision to go to Abbottabad left him vulnerable. While it was not an obvious place to hide, and took him out of range of the U.S. drones that patrol the border with Afghanistan, Abbottabad is a place where “anybody can go.”

“It makes it easier for the CIA to operate,” the official said.

According to the Post, the safehouse was shut down after the raid.

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The War Is Over. Start Packing!

Monday 2 May 2011
by: Robert Naiman, Truthout

We got our man. Wave the flag, kiss a nurse (or a sailor) and start packing the equipment. It’s time to plan to bring all our boys and girls home from Afghanistan. When the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks rolls around, let the world see that we are on a clear path to bringing home our troops from Afghanistan and handing back sovereignty to the Afghan people.

With more Sherlock Holmes than Rambo and judging from press accounts, not much role for the 100,000 US troops in Afghanistan, US intelligence tracked Osama bin Laden to a safe house in a well-appointed suburb of Pakistan’s capital and a small US force raided the compound. Press reports say Osama bin Laden was killed in a firefight in the compound and that his body has been buried at sea, in accordance with Islamic tradition that expects a burial within 24 hours.

Success typically has many authors, and I don’t doubt the ability of some to argue that our occupation of Afghanistan has contributed to this result. Perhaps, it will turn out that some prisoner captured in Afghanistan by US forces contributed a key piece of information that helped investigators find bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

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Politicking in the Mos Eisley Cantina

Monday 25 April 2011
by: Davidson Loehr, Truthout

Our economic and political mess became more clear once I realized that most of the important political deals take place in the Mos Eisley Cantina. You know the scene from the first “Star Wars” movie in 1977: a dark, smoky bar located somewhere in a twilight zone: a liminal and lawless hideout where the ethically reprehensible is the norm.

We know our elected officials don’t do their political work up in the daylight of our world, because none of the big ticket laws they pass have anything to do with what the majority of our citizens want. There are differences between the two political parties, but they’re differences of degree, not kind. How can it be that the people we elected to serve us routinely sell us out to the highest bidders?

The majority of US citizens are against our illegal invasions of Iraq, Afghanistan, and our bombing of Libya to remove Qaddafi, the brutal dictator we have coddled for decades. And a majority of our citizens would also be against our other four military operations – in Yemen, Pakistan, the Horn of Africa and Columbia – if they knew about them. Most of us were not fooled when President Obama said he unilaterally authorized bombing Libya because his heart bled for the half million citizens Qaddafi will probably kill – though for the past week, it seems we’ve stopped caring. If our hearts really bled that easily for the slaughter of innocents, why didn’t we invade countries that had no oil? And if we think the death of a half million innocents is repugnant enough to demand preventative action, what about President Clinton’s sanctions against Iraq, which caused the deaths of half a million Iraqi children? When asked on US television if she [Madeline Albright, US secretary of state] thought that the death of 500,000 Iraqi children from sanctions in Iraq was a price worth paying, Albright replied: “This is a very hard choice, but we think the price is worth it.” (See here.)

The majority of our citizens want our soldiers brought home now. As John Kerry said to our House Foreign Relations Committee in 1970 about the ongoing Vietnam War: “How do you ask someone to be the last person to die for a mistake?” Today’s answer seems to be that members of Congress do it without much genuine emotion, because wars – whether right or wrong – are immensely profitable for some of the corporations whose lobbyists woo our representatives in dark places. And few if any of their children are going to be in those wars.

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