Tag Archives: Taliban

In Pre-Sentencing Letter, Drone Whistleblower Daniel Hale Says Crisis of Conscience Motivated Leak

“I came to believe that the policy of drone assassination was being used to mislead the public that it keeps us safe… I began to speak out, believing my participation in the drone program to have been deeply wrong.”

By Brett Wilkins, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 7-25-2021

Whistleblower Daniel Hale faces sentencing after pleading guilty to violating the Espionage Act by leaking classified information about the U.S. targeted drone assassination program. (Photo: Bob Hayes/handout)

Attorneys for drone whistleblower Daniel Hale—who faces sentencing next week after pleading guilty earlier this year to violating the Espionage Act—on Thursday submitted a letter to Judge Liam O’Grady in which the former Air Force intelligence analyst says a crisis of conscience drove him to leak classified information about the U.S. targeted assassination program.

The 11-page handwritten letter (pdf) begins with a quote from U.S. Admiral Gene La Rocque, who said in 1995 that “we now kill people without ever seeing them. Now you push a button thousands of miles away… Since it’s all done by remote control, there’s no remorse.” Continue reading

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Afghans left to pick up the pieces of the West’s failed war

As the Taliban rapidly expand in the shadow of US and NATO allies’ retreat, has anyone considered the impact on innocent civilians?

By Paul Rogers.  Published 7-3-2021 by openDemocracy

Photo: Piqsels

Military leaders in the United States and Britain, as well as allied countries, now accept that they have lost their war with the Taliban.

When US President Joe Biden confirmed his predecessor Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from Afghanistan, this was tacit acceptance of a position that is rarely stated so bluntly in public. Although General Austin S Miller, the US commander in Afghanistan, came close this week when he admitted it was worrisome that as his troops pull out, there has been a rapid loss of districts throughout the country to the Taliban. Continue reading

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The US is so desperate to leave Afghanistan that it’s abandoning its allies

A hasty withdrawal puts the Afghan government and NATO in the emboldened Taliban’s firing line.

By Paul Rogers.  Published 12-4-2020 by openDemocracy

Joint Chiefs of Staff Army General Mark Milley | Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Carlos M. Vazquez II, DOD, CC BY 2.0

The United States responded to the 9/11 attacks by terminating the Taliban regime in Afghanistan and quashing al-Qaida. At the time there was widespread domestic support for the action and most allied states were also in agreement, at least at first. A few analysts were more cautious and the openDemocracy view at the time was that al-Qaida wanted a war, to show how significant it was but also to trap Western forces in Afghanistan and drag the United States down in much the same way as Soviet Union had been in the 1980s.

Now, there are signs that precisely that is happening, with the Afghan government and the Taliban agreeing to an outline of how negotiations on a peace settlement might be achieved. This comes after two months of talks in Qatar that have really been between the United States and the Taliban. The main topic of the talks was the withdrawal of all uniformed US forces by next May in return for a Taliban ceasefire and a pledge from Taliban leadership that they would not allow al-Qaida or ISIS to maintain a presence in the country. Continue reading

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‘Full Frontal Attack on Rule of Law’: Trump Sanctions Top ICC Officials Probing US War Crimes in Afghanistan

Human rights advocates blasted the move as “another brazen attack against international justice” that “is designed to do what this administration does best—bully and intimidate.”

By Jessica Corbett, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 9-2-2020

The Trump administration on Wednesday announced sanctions targeting International Criminal Court Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda and Phakiso Mochochoko, the court’s prosecution jurisdiction division director. (Photo: ICC)

Human rights advocates the world over condemned the Trump administration on Wednesday for imposing sanctions on two top officials at the International Criminal Court—just the latest act of retaliation for the Hague-based ICC’s ongoing investigation into war crimes allegedly committed by U.S. forces and others in Afghanistan during the so-called War on Terror.

“The Trump administration’s perverse use of sanctions, devised for alleged terrorists and drug kingpins, against prosecutors seeking justice for grave international crimes, magnifies the failure of the U.S. to prosecute torture,” said Richard Dicker, international justice director at Human Rights Watch. “The administration’s conjuring up a ‘national emergency’ to punish war crimes prosecutors shows utter disregard for the victims.” Continue reading

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How Trump is opening the way for the Taliban to take Afghanistan back

Trump’s eagerness to ‘bring our boys home’ is leaving the Afghan government with little power to resist the Taliban afterwards.

By Paul Rogers. Published 7-31-2020 by openDemocracy

Goodbye Afghanistan | US Air Force photo by Clay Lancaster. Public domain.

One of Donald Trump’s main election pledges back in 2016 was to ‘bring our boys home’. Alongside this came criticism of Germany and other NATO states for not paying their way on military spending. He has followed up on both themes this week, by starting to reduce the US presence in Germany, albeit shifting some to Poland and leaving all the mechanisms of a rapid return in place, so that the extent of the ‘back home’ is far from what it appears.

Extricating US forces from Middle East is another matter. Many army units are consolidating in fewer bases in Iraq or moving to nearby Kuwait. The US Navy is holding on, too, mainly because of the confrontation with Iran. It currently has two carrier battle groups within reach of the region. Continue reading

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ICC Condemns ‘Unlawful’ US Attempt to Block Court’s War Crimes Investigation Via Threats and Coercion

Nearly 70 of the court’s member states signed a statement in support of the ICC.

By Julia Conley, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 6-24-2020

Judge Chile Eboe-Osuji, President of International Criminal Court. Photo: ICC

The head of the International Criminal Court expressed shock late Tuesday at the Trump administration’s continued threats to the institution and accused the U.S. of unlawful conduct.

Chile Eboe-Osuji, president of the body, accused the Trump administration of attempting to coerce the court “in order to have justice the way [it wants] it.” Continue reading

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Despite Demand for End to ‘Dangerous’ US Meddling, Trump Says Troops to Venezuela ‘An Option’

“It’s not up to the U.S. or anyone else to decide Venezuela’s future. After all, when has U.S. meddling ever ended well for the people in the targeted country?”

By Jon Queally, staff writer for Common Dreams. Published 2-3-2019

“Certainly, it’s something that’s on the—it’s an option,” Trump said of sending the U.S. military to Venezuela during an interview with CBS’s “Face The Nation” with Margaret Brennan that aired Sunday morning. Photo: Michael Strasser/US Army

As demands intensify for the U.S. government to cease its “dangerous” and anti-democratic meddling in the internal affairs of Venezuela, President Donald Trump on Sunday morning said that sending U.S. troops to the politically fractured Latin American nation is “an option” he continues to consider.

“Certainly, it’s something that’s on the—it’s an option,” Trump said during an interview with CBS’s “Face The Nation” with Margaret Brennan. Continue reading

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Trump, Blackwater, and private war

A military drawdown in Syria and Afghanistan is good for America’s enemies – and contractors.

By Paul Rogers. Published 12-24-2018 by openDemocracy

Blackwater military helicopter in Baghdad Operation Iraqi Freedom, 2004. Wikicommons/U.S. Air Force Photo by Master Sgt. Michael E. Best. Some rights reserved.

 

At the end of 2003 the United States-led war in Iraq was going badly wrong. It had started so well from the Pentagon’s perspective, as American troops entered Baghdad within weeks of launching the invasion in late March. The regime crumbled and a statue of Saddam Hussein was toppled. The sitting president George W Bush soon delivered a triumphal speech in front of a banner declaring “mission accomplished”. Even then it looked premature. At that point, the quick victory Washington expected was already running into quicksands.

By mid-summer, a rapidly evolving urban insurgency was inflicting serious casualties among the coalition of international (mainly US and British) forces. Many of the latter were killed. But improvements in trauma care meant that six or seven times their number were now surviving previously fatal wounds – albeit with appalling, life-changing injuries: loss of limbs and other body parts, severe abdominal injuries, PTSD at an almost unbearable level. Continue reading

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ICC Weighing More Than a Million Statements by Afghans Alleging War Crimes Violations

Trove of claims submitted to International Criminal Court alleges crimes committed by various factions since 2003, including Afghan forces, the Taliban, the CIA, and the U.S. military.

By Andrea Germanos, staff writer for CommonDreams. Published 2-16-2018

A U.S. soldier in Spin Boldak, Afghanistan on Feb. 8, 2015. (Photo: U.S. Army/Capt. Lindsay Roman

International Criminal Court (ICC) judges are weighing over one million statements from Afghans who allege they are victims of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by actors in the armed conflict there, including Afghan forces, the Taliban, the CIA, and the U.S. military.

The victims began submitting their statements to the ICC judges in late November after ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda asked the court for authorization to begin a formal probe of possible war crimes committed in Afghanistan, saying, “there is a reasonable basis to believe that war crimes and crimes against humanity have been committed in connection with the armed conflict in Afghanistan.” The development, said Solomon Sacco, head of international justice at Amnesty International, was “a seminal moment for the ICC.”   Continue reading

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Blackwater Founder’s ‘Disturbing’ Plan to Privatize Afghan War Gains Ground

“There’s a bad record of contractors and human rights abuses.”

By Jake Johnson, staff writer for Common Dreams. published 8-8-2017

Despite the fact that private contractors have a long record of abuse and deadly criminality, Prince believes that they should have a stronger presence in Afghanistan. (Photo: Melissa Golden/Redux)

As President Donald Trump vents his frustration with the United States’ “losing” strategy in Afghanistan, the “notorious mercenary” and Blackwater founder Erik Prince has seized the moment to offer his favored alternative: privatize the war.

According to a report by Katrina Manson of the Financial Times on Monday, Prince has drafted a proposal—dated August 2017—that would hand the longest war in American history over to a private “band of experienced sergeants,” who would fight alongside U.S.-trained Afghan forces.

Prince, Manson writes, “proposes a two-year plan for fewer than 5,000 global guns for hire and under 100 aircraft, bringing the total cost of the U.S. effort to turn round a failing war to less than $10 billion a year.” Continue reading

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