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Posts Tagged ‘jeremy scahill’

by Jeremy Scahill, Rebel Reports, Jan 21, 2010

In an interview with the Pakistani TV station Express TV, Defense Secretary Robert Gates confirmed that the private security firms Blackwater and DynCorp are operating inside Pakistan. “They’re operating as individual companies here in Pakistan,” Gates said, according to a DoD transcript of the interview. “There are rules concerning the contracting companies. If they’re contracting with us or with the State Department here in Pakistan, then there are very clear rules set forth by the State Department and by ourselves.”

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Contrary to popular belief, the US actually has 189,000 personnel on the ground in Afghanistan right now—and that number is quickly rising.

By Jeremy Scahill, RebelReports, Dec 18, 2009

A hearing in Sen. Claire McCaskill’s Contract Oversight subcommittee on contracting in Afghanistan has highlighted some important statistics that provide a window into the extent to which the Obama administration has picked up the Bush-era war privatization baton and sprinted with it. Overall, contractors now comprise a whopping 69% of the Department of Defense’s total workforce, “the highest ratio of contractors to military personnel in US history.” That’s not in one war zone—that’s the Pentagon in its entirety.

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By Jeremy Scahill, ZNet, Dec 7, 2009

At a covert forward operating base run by the US Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) in the Pakistani port city of Karachi, members of an elite division of Blackwater are at the center of a secret program in which they plan targeted assassinations of suspected Taliban and Al Qaeda operatives, “snatch and grabs” of high-value targets and other sensitive action inside and outside Pakistan, an investigation by The Nation has found. The Blackwater operatives also assist in gathering intelligence and help direct a secret US military drone bombing campaign that runs parallel to the well-documented CIA predator strikes, according to a well-placed source within the US military intelligence apparatus.

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Jeremy Scahill, The Nation, Nov 23, 2009

At a covert forward operating base run by the US Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) in the Pakistani port city of Karachi, members of an elite division of Blackwater are at the center of a secret program in which they plan targeted assassinations of suspected Taliban and Al Qaeda operatives, “snatch and grabs” of high-value targets and other sensitive action inside and outside Pakistan, an investigation by The Nation has found. The Blackwater operatives also assist in gathering intelligence and help run a secret US military drone bombing campaign that runs parallel to the well-documented CIA predator strikes, according to a well-placed source within the US military intelligence apparatus.

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The UN group is also calling on the US to appoint a Special Prosecutor to investigate crimes by US officials.

By Jeremy Scahill, RebelReports, June 10, 2009

The UN Human Rights Council has issued a report blasting the US for killing civilians, violating human rights and creating a “zone of impunity” for unaccountable private contractors to fight its wars. The UN group also criticized the US use of drones to attack Pakistan. The report, released this week was authored by Philip Alston, the U.N. special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions.

“First, the government has failed to track and make public the number of civilian casualties, or the conditions under which deaths occurred,” he said. “Second, the military justice system fails to provide ordinary people, including U.S. citizens and families of Iraqi and Afghan victims, basic information on the status of investigations into civilian casualties or prosecutions resulting therefrom.”

Alston called on the US to establish a national commission to investigate the killing of civilians and for the appointment of a Special Prosecutor to criminally investigate government officials accused of crimes.

“The government has failed to effectively investigate and punish lower-ranking soldiers for such deaths, and has not held senior officers responsible,” Alston said. “Worse, it has effectively created a zone of impunity for private contractors and civilian intelligence agents by only rarely investigating and prosecuting them.”

On the issue of drone attacks, Alston said, “Targeted killings carried out by drone attacks on the territory of other states are increasingly common and remain deeply troubling… The U.S. government should disclose the legal basis for such killings and identify any safeguards designed to reduce collateral civilian casualties and ensure that the government has targeted the correct person.”

According to Reuters:

U.S. diplomat Lawrence Richter objected to Alston’s remarks, saying the U.N. investigator did not have the mandate to cover military and intelligence operations related to armed conflict.

Richter told the Human Rights Council that the United States has an extensive legal framework to respond to unlawful killings and is doing all it can to provide information about the deaths that occur in its armed conflicts.

Alston, who is an Australian law professor, visited the United States last year, before Obama became president.

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Obama Could Issue an Executive Order to End the Wars Tomorrow (Yes, It’s That Simple)

By Nora Eisenberg, AlterNet. Posted January 29, 2009.

In a wide-ranging interview, veteran Paul Sullivan discusses Bush, Obama and the legacies of the Gulf War.

Paul Sullivan is a veteran of the 1991 Gulf War, serving in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Iraq as a Cavalry Scout with the Army’s 1st Armored Division.

As executive director of the National Gulf War Resource Center from 1997 to 2000, he advocated for the passage of the Persian Gulf Veterans Act of 1998, which expanded health care and disability benefits for Gulf War veterans. From 2000 to 2006, he was Veterans Affairs project manager, leading a team that produced reports related to the Gulf War, Iraq war and Afghanistan war.

Sullivan is a life member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the Disabled American Veterans and is presently the executive director of Veterans for Common Sense, a Washington nonprofit organization focusing on issues related to national security, veterans’ rights and benefits and civil liberties.

Two days after the inauguration, Paul spoke with me about a number of topics, including: the lies, drugs and poisons involved in the Gulf War and its current sequels; the suicide epidemic among Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans; the rash of homicides around military bases; the need for a truth commission; skewed research on Gulf War illness at VA; signs of conspiracy and subterfuge; the legacies of Bush 41 and Bush 43; the first days of Barack Obama; and his hopes for Michelle Obama as a true friend of veterans and veterans’ families.

Nora Eisenberg: You’ve been involved with veterans’ issues and rights for close to two decades — as a veteran and advocate for veterans. Why have you devoted your life to this?

Paul Sullivan: The military taught us a valuable lesson during war: never leave a fallen comrade behind. We are now applying that essential lesson for use outside the war zone: We must never leave a fellow veteran behind.

Most people don’t know that under a little-noticed 1991 law, the Gulf War began on Aug. 2, 1990, and it continues through today. The devastation that began with the bombing of Iraq on Jan. 17, 1991, continues through today. … Out of 700,000 Gulf War veterans, 290,000 filed disability claims against VA. VA also reports that 250,000 Gulf War veterans sought medical care at VA hospitals.

Friends of mine completed suicide after the Gulf War because VA delayed or denied assistance. A few friends suffered without answers from Lou Gehrig’s disease, also known as ALS, for years before dying early, often after fighting VA.

The Gulf War continues as the new Iraq and Afghanistan wars. VA reports an additional 330,000 Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans have already filed disability claims against VA, and 400,000 have already been treated at VA hospitals. That’s a grand total of 620,000 disability claims and 650,000 veteran patients.

We continue fighting for veterans because they need it, and because we are successful. Our 2007 lawsuit forced VA to establish a toll-free suicide-prevention hot line. In the first 15 months, the hot line received 85,000 calls and performed more than 2,100 rescues of suicidal veterans.

We fought for and secured $1.8 billion in emergency funding in 2007 that VA used to hire thousands of new doctors and claims processors. VCS testified repeatedly about the need to reform VA’s broken claims system, and Congress acted by passing an overhaul bill in late 2008. Yet much more work needs to be done in 2009 and beyond.

The time has come to bring common sense to our U.S. government — we must end the wars, bring our troops home with a responsible plan, provide medical care and benefits to our veterans, begin repairing our Constitution and our international reputation, and create a truth commission that will present the facts about the causes, conduct and consequences of the war to the American public. Then we can learn from our mistakes and move forward.

Now that President Bush has been peaceably removed from office, President Obama need only sign an executive order to end the wars (see Title 38, United States Code, Section 101, Paragraph 33). Congress also has the authority under the Constitution to end the war. Yes, it is that simple.

MORE HERE

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