This was started
around 2000 before the word "blog" was invented.
(Or at least in common use.)
I've resurrected it to start a 2009 blog.
Eric Margolis gets it right in this from the Winnipeg Sun:
U.S. stirs a hornet's nest in Pakistan
By ERIC MARGOLIS
Last Updated: 17th May 2009, 1:06am
PARIS -- Pakistan finally bowed to Washington's angry demands last
week by unleashing its military against rebellious Pashtun tribesmen
of North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) -- collectively mislabelled
"Taliban" in the West.
The Obama administration had threatened to stop $2 billion US annual
cash payments to bankrupt Pakistan's political and military leadership
and block $6.5 billion future aid, unless Islamabad sent its soldiers
into Pakistan's turbulent NWFP along the Afghan frontier.
The result was a bloodbath: Some 1,000 "terrorists" killed
(read: mostly civilians) and 1.2 million people -- most of Swat's
population -- made refugees.
Pakistan's U.S.-rented armed forces have scored a brilliant victory
against their own people. Too bad they don't do as well in wars
against India. Blasting civilians, however, is much safer and more
Unable to pacify Afghanistan's Pashtun tribes (a.k.a. Taliban),
a deeply frustrated Washington has begun tearing Pakistan apart
in an effort to end Pashtun resistance in both nations. CIA drone
aircraft have so far killed over 700 Pakistani Pashtun. Only 6%
were militants, according to Pakistan's media, the rest civilians.
Pashtun, also improperly called Pathan, are the world's largest
tribal people. Fifteen million live in Afghanistan, forming half
its population. Twenty-six million live right across the border
in Pakistan. Britain's imperialists divided Pashtun by an artificial
border, the Durand Line (today's Afghan-Pakistan border). Pashtun
Many Pashtun tribes agreed to join Pakistan in 1947, provided much
of their homeland be autonomous and free of government troops. Pashtun
Swat only joined Pakistan in 1969.
As Pakistan's Pashtun increasingly aided Pashtun resistance in Afghanistan,
U.S. drones began attacking them. Washington forced Islamabad to
violate its own constitution by sending troops into Pashtun lands.
The result was the current explosion of Pashtun anger. I have been
to war with the Pashtun and have seen their legendary courage, strong
sense of honour and determination. They are also hugely quarrelsome,
feuding and prickly.
One quickly learns never to threaten a Pashtun or give him ultimatums.
These are the mountain warriors who defied the U.S. by refusing
to hand over Osama bin Laden because he was a hero of the anti-Soviet
war and their guest. The ancient code of "Pashtunwali"
still guides them: Do not attack Pashtun, do not cheat them, do
not cause them dishonour. To Pashtun, revenge is sacred.
Now, Washington's ham-handed policies and last week's Swat atrocity
threaten to ignite Pakistan's second worst nightmare after invasion
by India: That its 26 million Pashtun will secede and join Afghanistan's
Pashtun to form an independent Pashtun state, Pashtunistan. This
would rend Pakistan asunder, probably provoke its restive Baluchi
tribes to secede and tempt mighty India to intervene militarily,
risking nuclear war with beleaguered Pakistan.
The Pashtun of NWFP have no intention or capability of moving
into Pakistan's other provinces, Punjab, Sindh and Baluchistan.
They just want to be left alone. Alarms of a "Taliban takeover
of Pakistan" are pure propaganda.
Lowland Pakistanis repeatedly have rejected militant Islamic parties.
Many have little love for Pashtun, whom they regard as mountain
wild men best avoided.
Nor are Pakistan's well-guarded nukes a danger -- at least not yet.
Alarms about Pakistan's nukes come from the same fabricators
with hidden agendas who brought us Saddam Hussein's bogus weapons.
THE REAL DANGER
The real danger is in the U.S. acting like an enraged mastodon,
trampling Pakistan under foot, and forcing Islamabad's military
to make war on its own people. Pakistan could end up like U.S.-occupied
Iraq, split into three parts and helpless.
If this continues, at some point patriotic Pakistani soldiers may
rebel and shoot the corrupt generals and politicians on Washington's
Equally ominous, a poor people's uprising spreading across Pakistan
-- also mislabelled "Taliban" -- threatens a radical national
rebellion reminiscent of India's Naxalite rebels. As in Iraq, profound
ignorance and gung ho military arrogance drive U.S. Afghan policy.
Obama's people have no understanding what they are getting into
in "AfPak." I can tell them: An unholy mess we will long
do I think about the torture memos?
I knew going into this administration that I wasn't going to like
everything that Obama did or proposed. But I promised to cut him
some slack for the first six months, no matter what. There was a
major bobble there on Day 29 when he upped the ante on Afghanistan-17,000
more troops when we should be getting the Hell out of there?
I tried to console myself that he probably knew more about the situation
than I was privy to know and had some master plan that would save
lives (and Afghanis tan) in the long run. It wasn't easy, but I
hung in there.
Now- no more, Barack, and it hasn't been 100 Days yet. You get no
special credit from me for releasing the torture memos. You were
following the law to do that.
But it is illegal, unconscionable, immoral and most unwise to announce
that those who tortured and who produced the twisted "legal"
documents to condone torture will not be prosecuted.
I thought you wanted to redeem America's moral standing in the eyes
of the world? This is not the way to do it.
And a memo author- former Assistant Attorney General Jay Bybee-
is now a judge in the 9th Circuit Court? Please! The man should
at a minimum be impeached and removed from office. (Actually, I
wouldn't object to seeing him in an orange jump suit and shackled.)
What is most important to me is that officials- presidents on down-
who commit crimes must have those crimes thoroughly investigated
and revealed to the public with enough of a penalty exacted that
future officials will be more law-abiding. Recent malefactors have
been getting away unscathed.
1. Nixon got off scot-free thanks to the unconditional pardon by
his successor Gerald Ford.
2. Reagan and Bush pére escaped any punishment thanks
to the last-minute Bush pardons that hobbled the Walsh Investigation
of the Iran-Contra Affair. Then when Clinton became president he
declined to either investigate the Iran-Contra Affair and the crimes
against the people of Central America. Or to prosecute those responsible.
3. Are the crimes of Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld-Ashcroft-et al - the illegal
war against Iraq, its occupation, the tortures, the civil rights
abuses of US citizens- also to go uncensored and unpunished with
no reforms to prevent future misdeeds?
If so, Barack Obama, shame on you.
Now a bit of history:
In the past special prosecutors and Congressional committees have
done good work in uncovering crimes and political misdeeds: Senator
Tom Walsh of Montana investigating Teapot Dome in the early 20s,
the Nye Committee of the '30s investigating the munitions industry
in World War I, Judge Ferdinand Pecora and the banking scandal of
the '30s, plus Senator Harry Truman's investigations of war industries
as WW II was in progress - all come to mind.
The star in this group is the Church Committee of the mid-70s which
came on the heels of Watergate and investigated civil rights abuses
by US intelligence agencies, including attempts to assassinate foreign
leaders. Many important reforms were put into place as a result-
reforms that have been watered down or ignored by recent presidents.
For the 14 reports that the Committee issued, see http://www.aarclibrary.org/publib/contents/church/contents_church_reports.htm
(More recent "investigations" have been either cover-ups-
the Warren Commission and the 9-11 Commission- are two examples
or have been political ploys, such as Special Investigator Starr
pursuing President Clinton.
[See my articles on Starr posted in "Archives" especially
this one: http://www.janrainwater.com/htdocs/KennethStarr.htm]
protest from the American public will it take for Congress to appoint
a truly independent Special Prosecutor with sub-p0ena power to investigate
the eight years of Bush fils?
Well, at least Malia and Sasha got their dog. And a cutie he is.
If my great mutt, TomPaine, predeceases me, I want a Portuguese
your taking a look at Ray McGovern's article, Anatomy of Bush's
'Torture Paradigm' in today's consortiumnews.com.
Here is an
authorized the torture in our name? The Red Cross report lacks the
earmarks of rogues or rotten apples at the bottom of
some barrel. http://www.nybooks.com/icrc-report.pdf
W. Bush set the tone and created the framework, with strong support
from Vice President Dick Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.
The first hints
of what was in store came from the President himself in the White
House bunker late on Sept. 11, 2001, at a meeting with his closest
national security advisers after his TV address to the nation about
the terrorist attacks that morning.
bunker mentality prevailing at that meeting comes through clearly
in the report of one of the participants, Richard Clarke in his
book, Against All Enemies. Describing the President as confident,
determined, forceful, Clarke provides the following account of what
President Bush said:
Nothing else matters.
Any barriers in your
way, theyre gone.
in the discussion, Secretary Rumsfeld noted that international law
allowed the use of force only to prevent future attacks and not
for retribution, Bush nearly bit his head off.
the President yelled in the narrow conference room,
I dont care what the international lawyers say, we are
going to kick some ass.
the Gloves Off
In the weeks
that followed, the air in Washington hung heavy with demons of retribution.
Afghanistan was invaded in October 2001, and during a prisoner uprising
on Nov. 25, a CIA officer was killed there.
A young American
citizen, John Walker Lindh, was discovered among the prisoners in
the area. There was not the slightest evidence that Lindh had anything
to do with the killing.
show that U.S. Joint Special Operations troops were told that the
office of the Defense Secretarys counsel (William J. Haynes
II, was Pentagon general counsel at the time) had authorized an
Army intelligence officer to take the gloves off and ask whatever
he wanted of Lindh.
intervention by Justice Department ethics attorney Jesselyn Radack,
Lindh was not properly read his rights. Instead, the FBI agent on
the scene ad-libbed in an offhand way, You have the right
to an attorney. But there are no attorneys here in Afghanistan.
Lindh had been
seriously wounded in the leg. Despite that, U.S. troops put a hood
over him, stripped him naked, duct-taped him to a stretcher for
days in an unheated and unlit shipping container, and threatened
him with death.
Parts of his
humiliating ordeal were captured on film (a practice that became
tragically familiar with the photos of Abu Ghraib).
In her book,
Canary in the Coalmine: Blowing the Whistle in the Case of John
Walker Lindh, attorney Radack comments that official documents
pertaining to this case provide the earliest known evidence
that the Bush Administration was willing to push the envelope on
how far it could go to extract information from suspected terrorists.
protested, Radack was fired as Justice Department legal ethics advisor,
put under criminal investigation, and even added to the no-fly
I am as happy
and relieved as anyone that Captain Phillips has been rescued and
is unharmed. However, I am troubled by the possible unintended consequences
of killing the three pirates (and then arresting the fourth who
had gone aboard an American warship as a negotiator.)
Will any or all of the 200 hostages of other nationalities held
in Somalia be killed in retaliation?
Surely negotiations in future piracy captures will be even more
Most commentators seemed to have little understanding that Somalia
is a failed state, there is NO government, and people are literally
starving. Instead the piracy was termed a "business."
Someone just sent me the following from the Independent of
January 5 by Johann Hari, titled "You are being lied to about
---In 1991, the government of Somalia collapsed. Its nine million
people have been teetering on starvation ever since - and the ugliest
forces in the Western world have seen this as a great opportunity
to steal the country's food supply and dump our nuclear waste in
waste. As soon as the government was gone, mysterious European ships
started appearing off the coast of Somalia, dumping vast barrels
into the ocean. The coastal population began to sicken. At first
they suffered strange rashes, nausea and malformed babies. Then,
after the 2005 tsunami, hundreds of the dumped and leaking barrels
washed up on shore. People began to suffer from radiation sickness,
and more than 300 died.
Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, the UN envoy to Somalia, tells me: "Somebody
is dumping nuclear material here. There is also lead, and heavy
metals such as cadmium and mercury - you name it." Much of
it can be traced back to European hospitals and factories, who seem
to be passing it on to the Italian mafia to "dispose"
of cheaply. When I asked Mr Ould-Abdallah what European governments
were doing about it, he said with a sigh: "Nothing. There has
been no clean-up, no compensation, and no prevention."
At the same time, other European ships have been looting Somalia's
seas of their greatest resource: seafood. We have destroyed our
own fish stocks by overexploitation - and now we have moved on to
theirs. More than $300m-worth of tuna, shrimp, and lobster are being
stolen every year by illegal trawlers. The local fishermen are now
starving. Mohammed Hussein, a fisherman in the town of Marka 100km
south of Mogadishu, told Reuters: "If nothing is done, there
soon won't be much fish left in our coastal waters."---
Does this change the piracy picture a bit for you?
December 20, 2005
Some Really Good
1. The Minority Report
of the House Judiciary Committee finds that "there is substantial
evidence the President, the Vice President and other high ranking
members of the Bush Administration misled Congress and the American
people regarding the decision to go to war with Iraq; misstated
and manipulated intelligence information regarding the justification
for such war; countenanced torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading
treatment and other legal violations in Iraq; and permitted inappropriate
retaliation against critics of their Administration." . . .
"these charges clearly rise to the level of impeachable misconduct"
. . . .
for John Nichols' article
on the three resolutions that John Conyers has introduced:
HRes. 636 for a select committee to
investigate the charges above
HRes.637 to consure Bush
HRes.638 to censure Cheney