Tag Archives | Rethink Afghanistan

The Fake Taliban Scam That Fooled NATO

Taliban flag

Taliban flag

Joshua Foust’s analysis of the fake Taliban scam that duped the U.S. Army and NATO is spot on, for The AfPak Channel at Foreign Policy:

Remember last month, when all the news was atwitter about the prospect of meaningful negotiations with the Taliban in Kabul?

The story was moderately shocking: a senior Taliban figure was being flown around the region, talking directly with General Petraeus, President Karzai, and other senior figures in the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and the Afghan government. The driving force behind coverage of those negotiations was New York Times reporter Dexter Filkins, who wrote that NATO had provided air transportation and secure road travel for Taliban leaders to visit Kabul for the negotiations.

Almost precisely one month later, Filkins and Carlotta Gall are writing the exact opposite:

In an episode that could have been lifted from a spy novel, United States and Afghan officials now say the Afghan man was an impostor, and high-level discussions conducted with the assistance of NATO appear to have achieved little. “It’s not him,” said a Western diplomat in Kabul intimately involved in the discussions.

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Dismembered Fingers Found Near Quarters of Alleged Rogue US Army Unit

US Army in AfghanistanAFP reports, via CommonDreams:

An investigator told how he found dismembered fingers near the quarters of an alleged rogue US army unit accused of killing Afghans for sport and taking trophies from the bodies.

The gruesome testimony came as a third US soldier faced a pre-trial hearing over the alleged killings — after which the rogue soldiers allegedly posed for photos with their victims — in southern Afghanistan earlier this year.

If proved in a full court martial, the crimes would be among the worst committed by US forces in Afghanistan, and could deal a blow to efforts to win over the support of ordinary Afghans in the war-torn country.

Private Andrew Holmes, one of five soldiers accused of going rogue, listened quietly as Special Agent Benjamin Stevenson described finding severed fingers near where members of the unit lived.

Army prosecutors allege Holmes participated in the execution of an Afghan the southern Kandahar province in January, kept a finger bone from an Afghan corpse and smoked hashish with some of the other killers.

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Bob Woodward Says Obama Wants Out Of Afghanistan

Woodward definitely has high level access in Washington, so it's entirely possible that his claims are accurate. No surprise that Obama's generals didn't give him an exit plan from Afghanistan, of course. From the Washington Post:
President Obama urgently looked for a way out of the war in Afghanistan last year, repeatedly pressing his top military advisers for an exit plan that they never gave him, according to secret meeting notes and documents cited in a new book by journalist Bob Woodward. Frustrated with his military commanders for consistently offering only options that required significantly more troops, Obama finally crafted his own strategy, dictating a classified six-page "terms sheet" that sought to limit U.S. involvement, Woodward reports in "Obama's Wars," to be released on Monday. According to Woodward's meeting-by-meeting, memo-by-memo account of the 2009 Afghan strategy review, the president avoided talk of victory as he described his objectives...
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Pulitzer Prize Winning Photos Capture The War On Terror

Hicks1Can an army make war on a concept? Tyler Hicks’ photography exhibit Histories Are Mirrors: The Path of Conflict Through Afghanistan and Iraq, doesn’t offer any answers where the contradictions of the War on Terror are concerned, but his images chronicle the soldiers and civilians who’ve been cast in the almost-decade-long tragedy. Hicks’ vivid photos show markets and massacres, heroes and hostages, every image taking its place in a sweeping drama presided over by a smiling villain: Saddam Hussein.

In Histories Are Mirrors, Hicks, a Pulitzer-winning New York Times staff photographer, documents the wreckage of the World Trade Center and the early years of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, through 2004. Many of the wall labels offer only dates and locations, but the exhibit isn’t merely a timeline. Hicks’ best photographs capture the eternal features that crop up in the emotional landscape of wars everywhere: fear, pain, pride, rage, hubris, hope and hopelessness.… Read the rest

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Pentagon Tries To Stop Book By Buying All Copies

Thanks to Isaac Hils for this. As publishers, this story definitely appeals to us at disinformation: Authors with books the Pentagon wants to stop, take note! From the Guardian:
It's every author's dream – to write a book that's so sensationally popular it's impossible to find a copy in the shops, even as it keeps climbing up the bestseller lists. And so it is for Anthony Shaffer, thanks to the Pentagon's desire to buy up all 10,000 copies of the first printing of his new book, Operation Dark Heart: Spycraft and Special Ops on the Frontlines of Afghanistan -- and The Path to Victory. And then pulp them. The US defence department is scrambling to dispose of what threatens to be a highly embarrassing expose by the former intelligence officer of secret operations in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and of how the US military top brass missed the opportunity to win the war against the Taliban. The department of defence is in talks with St Martin's Press to purchase the entire first print run on the grounds of national security...
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The Maxine Waters Investigation: What is Iran Doing in this Picture?

Maxine Waters

The timing of an investigation by the House Ethics Committee, which on August 2, 2010 formally brought a case against Congresswoman Maxine Waters, one of America’s most enduring liberal and fierce Anti War politicians, and the WikiLeaks of tens of thousands of Army documents related to the war in Afghanistan may be connected.

Speculation by bloggers, including John Young of Cryptome.com, and an expose at The Intel Hub that the WikiLeaks is part of a disinformation operation, and that the documents themselves could even be fake, should put every left leaning American on Yellow alert.

Fox News wasted no time exploiting the WikiLeaks documents to further vilify Iran, pointing out that the documents indicate the U.S. belief that Iran is arming the Taliban insurgency. This adds another layer to Fox’s steady stream of propaganda that has flowed over the years advocating for an attack on the country, and stands as a reason why some believe the leak was staged.… Read the rest

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The Five Biggest Revelations of The Wikileaks Documents

Wikileaks_logoBy Max Fisher for The Atlantic Wire::

Six years’ worth of secret U.S. documents relating to the war in Afghanistan have been released by Wikileaks, an Iceland-based website that collects and distributes such information. Some news organizations were given the tens of thousands of documents several weeks early so that they could sift through the files and prepare their coverage. The revelations are sure to spark wide debate about the U.S. role in Afghanistan and the nature of the ongoing war. Here are what currently appear to be the five biggest things we’ve learned so far.

  • Pakistani Intelligence Possibly Aiding Taliban. The New York Times reports, “Americans fighting the war in Afghanistan have long harbored strong suspicions that Pakistan’s military spy service has guided the Afghan insurgency with a hidden hand, even as Pakistan receives more than $1 billion a year from Washington for its help combating the militants, according to a trove of secret military field reports made public Sunday.” The Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) is said to be involved in “a network of Pakistani assets and collaborators that runs from the Pakistani tribal belt along the Afghan border, through southern Afghanistan, and all the way to the capital, Kabul.” This network may be working “with the Taliban in secret strategy sessions to organize networks of militant groups that fight against American soldiers in Afghanistan, and even hatch plots to assassinate Afghan leaders.” [Is Pakistan's spy service finally on our side?]…

[continues at The Atlantic Wire:]

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Wikileaks And The Afghanistan War Logs

Afghanistan WarAll hail Wikileaks and the Internet for giving us a glimpse of what’s really happening in the can’t-win war. The Guardian, the New York Times and Der Spiegel have published a huge cache of secret military files from the whistleblowing website Wikileaks, detailing the war in Afghanistan. Here’s a summary from the Guardian of what is still a breaking story, so expect more to come:

• The whistleblowing website Wikileaks has today published more than 90,000 secret US military files on the war in Afghanistan.

• Key disclosures relate to the relationship of the Pakistani intelligence service with the Taliban and how the US covered up evidence that the Taliban have acquired deadly surface-to-air missiles.

• The White House said Wikileaks was “irresponsible” for publishing the leaked documents, accusing the website of putting the lives of troops in danger…

[full investigation from the Guardian here]

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The Rolling Stone Story That Got McChrystal Fired

Barack Obama meets with Stanley A. McChrystal in the Oval Office 2009-05-19.jpg  President Barack Obama meets with Army Lt. Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, in the Oval Office at the White House, May 19, 2009.

President Barack Obama meets with Army Lt. Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, in the Oval Office at the White House, May 19, 2009.

The U.S. General who was in charge of the war in Afghanistan was fired yesterday by President Obama as a result of a Rolling Stone magazine article in which the General slagged off Obama, his VP Joe Biden and most of the people he works for in Washington. In case you’re curious, here’s a link to the Rolling Stone article in question, and below a little taste of what got the civilians so upset:

The general prides himself on being sharper and ballsier than anyone else, but his brashness comes with a price: Although McChrystal has been in charge of the war for only a year, in that short time he has managed to piss off almost everyone with a stake in the conflict. Last fall, during the question-and-answer session following a speech he gave in London, McChrystal dismissed the counterterrorism strategy being advocated by Vice President Joe Biden as “shortsighted,” saying it would lead to a state of “Chaos-istan.” The remarks earned him a smackdown from the president himself, who summoned the general to a terse private meeting aboard Air Force One.

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HIV ‘Bombs’ Latest Afghanistan Hazard

Searching_Afghan_war_ruins_in_UruzganI’d suggest taking this report with a pinch of salt as it comes from the notorious Murdoch-owned British tabloid The Sun, but one has to admit, it’s scary if true:

Taliban fighters are burying dirty needles with their bombs in a bid to infect British troops with HIV, The Sun can reveal.

Hypodermic syringes are hidden below the surface pointing upwards to prick bomb squad experts as they hunt for devices.

The heroin needles are feared to be contaminated with hepatitis and HIV. And if the bomb goes off, the needles become deadly flying shrapnel. The tactic, used in the Afghan badlands of Helmand, was exposed by Tory MP and ex-Army officer Patrick Mercer.

Senior backbencher Mr Mercer said yesterday: “Are there no depths to which these people will stoop? This is the definition of a dirty war.”…

[continues in The Sun]

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