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Libyan Airspace ‘Under Control’ As Two Sides Meet

Huffpost- First Posted: 03/25/11 08:48 AM Updated: 03/25/11 08:48 AM

BENGHAZI, Libya — France declared Libya’s airspace “under control” on Friday, after NATO agreed to take command of the no-fly zone in a compromise that appeared to set up dual command centers and possibly new confusion. Coalition warplanes struck Moammar Gadhafi’s forces outside the strategic eastern gateway city of Ajdabiya.

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Representatives for the regime and the rebels were expected to meet formally for the first time Friday, in Ethiopia, in what the U.N. described as a part of an effort to reach a cease-fire and political solution.

The overnight French and British strikes on an artillery battery and armored vehicles were intended to give a measure of relief to Ajdabiya, where residents have fled or cowered under more than a week of shelling and fighting between rebels and government troops. Explosions also could be heard in Tripoli, the Libyan capital, before daybreak Friday, apparently from airstrikes.

“Libyan airspace is under control, and we proved it yesterday, because a Libyan plane in the hands of pro-Gadhafi forces, which had just taken off from Misrata in order to bomb Misrata, was destroyed by a French Rafale,” Adm. Edouard Guillaud said on France-Info radio.

But the compromise that puts NATO in charge of clearing the skies still leaves the U.S. responsible for the more difficult task of planning attacks on Gadhafi’s ground forces and other targets.

Ajdabiya has been under siege for more than a week, with the rebels holding the city center and scattered checkpoints but facing relentless shelling from government troops on the outskirts. Residents are without electicity or drinking water, and many have fled.

The U.S. military said coalition jets flew about 150 on Thursday, about 70 of them with American planes.

“The operation is still focusing on tanks, combat vehicles, air defense targets – really whatever equipment and personnel are threatening the no-fly zone or civilians on the ground in such locations as Ajdabiya and along some other areas on the coast,” Marine Corps Capt. Clint Gebke told reporters from aboard the USS Mount Whitney.

The U.S. has been trying to give up the lead role in the operation against Gadhafi’s forces, and NATO agreed late Thursday to assume one element of it – control of the no-fly zone.

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Wikileaks recieved excellent coverage on CNN last night, including inteviews with Daniel Elsberg, Pentagon Papers, John Sloboda, the Iraq Body Count’s co-founder, and Phil Shiner of the U.K.-based Public Interest Lawyers.

John Sloboda, the Iraq Body Count’s co-founder, told reporters that the names of civilian victims are among the details included in the documents. “Almost every log tells a story, and far too often, this is a previously unknown story of human suffering and death,” he said. Sloboda said the meticulous records kept by the U.S. military and published by WikiLeaks will be a valuable tool in investigating civilian casualties in the Iraq war.

Phil Shiner of the U.K.-based Public Interest Lawyers, a firm specializing in international and human rights law, told reporters that some information in the documents would be the subject of legal action in the United Kingdom. He alleged the documents revealed details about unlawful killings of civilians, indiscriminate attacks against them and unjustified use of lethal force.
“There must now be a judicial inquiry into all these deaths,” he said.

Pentagon Papers whistle-blower Daniel Ellsberg, responsible for leaking the U.S. government’s top secret study on the Vietnam War in 1971, attended the press conference and praised Assange.
“I want very much to congratulate all of you who are mining this material to learn what we could have learned if it had come out earlier,” Ellsberg said.

Group: Investigate reports of torture in Iraq WikiLeaks documents

By the CNN Wire Staff
October 23, 2010 10:50 p.m. EDT

London, England (CNN) — Human Rights Watch on Saturday urged the Iraqi and U.S. governments to launch investigations into reports of torture and detainee abuse after the WikiLeaks website published thousands of classified military documents detailing the war in Iraq.

The release includes evidence that Iraqi security forces tortured and killed prisoners, the group said. Human Rights Watch called on the Iraqi government to prosecute those responsible.

It also urged the U.S. government to look into whether its forces broke international law by transferring thousands of detainees to Iraqi custody despite what Human Rights Watch called “the clear risk of torture.”

“These new disclosures show torture at the hands of Iraqi security forces is rampant and goes completely unpunished,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “It’s clear that U.S. authorities knew of systematic abuse by Iraqi troops, but they handed thousands of detainees over anyway.”

Also Saturday, anti-war activists said at a news conference that the WikiLeaks release revealed that 15,000 more Iraqi civilians died during the conflict than previously thought.

source:

CNN
Wikileaks
Democracy Now

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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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The Pro-Israel Lobby’s Plan to Storm Congress
TIME
By Michael Scherer / Washington Monday, Mar. 22, 2010

Most days, lobbyist Steve Aserkoff focuses on directly shaping the opinions of his assigned target audience — 14 U.S. Senators and 65 members of the House. But on Sunday, the America Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) operative faced a different challenge: Preparing a conference room filled with several dozen grassroots Zionists, most of whom had never been to Capitol Hill before, to swarm the legislature in a mass lobbying effort.

“We are going to the Hill to ask for three particular things,” Aserkoff told the group, between PowerPoint slides listing talking points and showing maps of the Capitol complex. “The Capitol Police are not TSA, so do not disrobe when you enter those buildings.”

(1) “The United States needs to lead the international community in imposing crippling sanctions on Iran without delay”

(2) The second lobbying priority identified for AIPAC delegates was to reaffirm the U.S.-Israeli relationship, and pressure the Obama Administration to avoid airing disagreements publically

(3) The third “ask” that AIPAC supporters will make of Congress on Tuesday is to once again pass the $3 billion in U.S. aid provided annually to Israel. “It’s a very tough ask this year,” Aserkoff admitted, noting the U.S. domestic budgetary and economic challenges. Among other major purchases, the Israeli government has announced plans to replace its aging fleet of F-16 fighter jets with new, American-made F-35 fighters, a major cost that Israel hopes will be substantially born for by American taxpayers.

 This is the one that raises the hair on my neck

Israel has been salivating over the F-35 Lightning II since they talked with Robert Gates about it some time ago. Their are several countries in line, most of which have contributed to the project, but it is Israel who is first, even though they haven’t contributed to the effort.

The following is attributed to absoluteastronomy.com

At the expense of being more detectable by radar, many more missiles, bombs and fuel tanks can be attached on four wing pylons and two near wingtip positions. The two wingtip locations can only carry AIM-9X Sidewinder. The other pylons can carry the AIM-120 AMRAAM, Storm Shadow

Storm Shadow is an Anglo-French air-launched cruise missile, manufactured by MBDA and used by France, Italy, the United Kingdom and Greece. Storm Shadow is the British name for the weapon; in French service it is called SCALP EG…

, AGM-158 Joint Air to Surface Stand-off Missile
AGM-158 JASSM
The AGM-158 JASSM is a low observable standoff cruise missile developed in the United States.- Overview :…

(JASSM) cruise missiles, guided bombs, 480-gallon and 600-gallon fuel tanks. An air-to-air load of eight AIM-120s and two AIM-9s is conceivable using internal and external weapons stations, as well as a configuration of six 2,000 lb bombs, two AIM-120s and two AIM-9s. With its payload capability, the F-35 can carry more air to air and air to ground weapons than legacy fighters it is to replace as well as the F-22 Raptor
F-22 Raptor
The Lockheed Martin/Boeing F-22 Raptor is a fifth-generation fighter aircraft that uses stealth technology. It was designed primarily as an air superiority fighter, but has additional capabilities that include ground attack, electronic warfare, and signals intelligence roles…

. Solid-state lasers were being developed as optional weapons for the F-35 as of 2002.

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McCain’s DADT Support Letter Signed By A Bunch Of Dead Guys

Jason Linkins Huff Post- First Posted: 03- 5-10 10:10 AM   |   Updated: 03- 5-10 10:42 AM

On the matter of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell,” Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) once promised that he would listen to “leaders in the military,” telling people that the “day that the leadership of the military comes to me and says, Senator, we ought to change the policy, then I think we ought to consider seriously changing it.” But when those military leaders came to him and told him it was time to change the policy, McCain retreated from his previous pledge, because it turns out he gets to pick and choose which military leaders he gets to heed.

And in this case, McCain has chosen the signatories of a letter signed by “over a thousand retired and flag general officers,” among other folks. But, as noted by Amanada Terkel, that letter turns out to be something of an exercise in ghost whispering:

…a new Servicemembers United report obtained in advance by DC Agenda severely undermines the legitimacy of this letter. Some of the problems:
– The average age of the officers is 74. The “oldest living signer is 98, and several signers died in the time since the document was published.” Servicemembers United Executive Director Alex Nicholson added that only “a small fraction of these officers have even served in the military during the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ period, much less in the 21st century military,” so it’s hard to believe that they “know how accepting and tolerant 18- and 21-year-olds are today.”

– “At least one signer, Gen. Louis Menetrey, was deceased when the letter was published and didn’t sign the document himself. According to a footnote on the letter, his wife signed the document for him after his death using power of attorney — six years after Alzheimer’s disease robbed him of the ability to communicate.”

Additionally, there’s the little problem of those living signatories who “never agreed” to sign the letter, as well as a handful who have some remarkably backward views on the world in which we live, such as this guy.

Anyway, for his next trick, John McCain will produce an 1876 letter from General George Armstrong Custer that reads, “No, no, don’t worry, I can totally take these guys!”

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Kristol Uses Pirate Crisis To Argue For More Defense Spending

Think Progress-By Ali Frick at 6:11 pm

Earlier this month, Defense Secretary Robert Gates announced a plan to reorient defense spending away from lucrative boondoggles for contractors and toward systems that are proven to work and are needed in present-day military situations. Conservatives immediately cried foul; Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) went so far as to claim that the Obama administration “is willing to sacrifice the lives of American military men and women for the sake of domestic programs.”

Right-wing pundit Bill Kristol was among the conservatives fearmongering about the supposed “cuts.” Following North Korea’s test launch of a missile, Kristol declared that “it is scary to have a president” talk about cutting the defense budget. “It is a very dangerous moment,” he said. Today on Bill Bennett’s radio show, Kristol said he hoped that the pirate crisis would make President Obama think twice before following through on the proposed budget reforms:

KRISTOL: Unfortunately, given the world we live in, this [military funding] is not something we can skimp. And that’s another thing I hope the president realizes

BENNETT: Budget cuts. The defense budget cuts, right?

KRISTOL: Well I hope he thinks about that. I mean, a lot of things that don’t look necessary — who needs the a big destroyer, the U.S.S. Bainbridge? Who needs Seals getting hours, weeks, months of training being snipers, isn’t that something that went out of fashion 70 years go? You can imagine people making these arguments. And it turns out, a lot of these things turn out to be important. … And I do hope it makes him sort of understand that there’s no substitute for having a strong and large military, honestly.

AUDIO & MORE HERE

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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.

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