• Afghanistan Mon Amour

    May 1, 2021 // Comments Off on Afghanistan Mon Amour

    President Biden announced he will withdraw all troops from Afghanistan by September 11. That will end 20 years of a war which killed some 2,300 Americans, an unknown number of Afghans, and cost trillions of dollars to accomplish nothing.

    Biden speaks more plainly about failure than any previous president. “We cannot continue the cycle of extending or expanding our military presence in Afghanistan hoping to create the ideal conditions for our withdrawal, expecting a different result. I am now the fourth American president to preside over an American troop presence in Afghanistan. Two Republicans. Two Democrats. I will not pass this responsibility to a fifth.” We’ll take Biden at his word for now. Best to focus on the good.

    So leave aside how Biden piggy-backed off Trump’s decision, roundly criticized, to negotiate with the Taliban, and how Trump’s own plans to withdraw troops were sabotaged by the Deep State, including the false claims Russians were paying bounties for dead Americans. This could have been over two years ago, same as it could have been over 10 years ago. But neither Bush nor Obama had the courage to do it, Hillary certainly would not have, Trump was stopped, and so the dirty work fell to Joe.

    Let’s also leave aside the inevitable as America runs for the exit (and this alone suggests Biden plans on being a one-term president, setting himself like this.) The puppet regime in Kabul will dissolve like paper in the rain. The only question is how ugly the Taliban takeover will be; will they just close schools or will they behead teachers on TV?

    We should leave aside the Bush decision to invade Afghanistan at all. Sure the 9/11 hijackers were mostly Saudi, but Afghanistan was such an easy target and Al Qaeda did have some training camps there. Of course the 9/11 hijackers trained in American flight schools but even Dick Cheney wouldn’t bomb those (Biden’s choice of 9/11/2021 as the withdrawal date is meant to support that original sin of a lie.) Revenge morphed into nation building, “democracy in a box” it was called, and so by late 2001 the framework of the 20 year war was set. At the next off ramp, Obama let David Petraeus, then waiting for someone to cast Tom Hanks in his biopic, talk him into a surge of 30,000 troops soon after he took home his Nobel Peace Prize, the most ironic reward since Henry Kissinger got his. The rest is history.


    The modern American way of war is well-defined. Go in without an endgame, quit when the political cost hits critical, and leave the people supposedly democratized or otherwise liberated to their fate (Newspeak: “author of their own future”) while we honor our wounded troops with a free breakfast at Denny’s. Biden’s good friend, John Kerry, is an easy target because of his famous statement in 1971 about Vietnam: “How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?” Turns out it’s pretty easy.

    (The last American solider to die in Afghanistan, as of today, is Javier Gutierrez. He was shot to death by an Afghan soldier after a disagreement.)

    Next unleash the pundits to write about lessons learned. Their usual pattern is we had good intentions but the Iraqis, Afghans, Vietnamese, Pakistanis, et al, just didn’t do their share and we should never repeat this kind of thing. Nobody talks much about inertia, bureaucratic cowardliness, endless war as a questionable prophylaxis against terrorism, the ugliness of staying in because you don’t know why you started and are afraid of what happens if you end it. The only people now whining about unfinished business are feminists who seem to believe Marines should die so girls don’t have to wear burkas.


    The key theme in all these lessons learned is how could we have ever known it would turn out this way?

    Even before it started the war had to fail. Afghanistan, the graveyard of empires, had beaten Alexander the Great, Genghis Khan, the Mughal Empire, various Persian Empires, the Sikhs, the British, and the mighty Red Army. What betting man would think the U.S. would end up any different? 

    Many knew the war would fail when it was back-burnered for an equally doomed jihad in Iraq in 2003. Or maybe it was when Bin Laden escaped Afghanistan, and again when he was killed 10 years after the initial U.S. invasion and yet the troops stayed on. Perhaps it was when SNL 20 years back did a skit about a suburban cocktail party that comes to a halt to celebrate the U.S. capture of Kandahar though no one knows exactly why it mattered, just that we won!

    Others foresaw the eventual failure upon the death of Pat Tilman, the NFL star who joined the Army post-9/11 only to die in a volley of friendly fire and Pentagon lies. Maybe it was after a Taliban IED tore apart State Department officer Anne Smedinghoff (say her name) while on a propaganda mission. Maybe it was in 2009 when former Marine Matthew Hoh resigned in protest from his post in Afghanistan with the State Department over the war’s escalation. It could have been all those “feel good” media pieces about sons deploying to the same Afghan battlefields their fathers had served on.

    Or maybe when The Washington Post, long an advocate for all the wars everywhere, took a bruised penance publishing the Afghanistan Papers showing the government lied at every step. “We were devoid of a fundamental understanding of Afghanistan — we didn’t know what we were doing,” wrote Douglas Lute, a three-star Army general who served as the White House’s Afghan war czar during the Bush and Obama administrations. “What are we trying to do here? We didn’t have the foggiest notion of what we were undertaking.” It’s a sordid trip down a street without joy, with little grace and less honor, last chapter just as bad as the first. FYI, America will mark the 50th anniversary of the Pentagon Papers this year.

    The final knowing point for me personally was in 2012. That was when, after having written a whistleblowing book on the failure of Iraq reconstruction and nation building, focusing on the carpetbaggers the U.S. hired to do most of the ground work, I began receiving requests for recommendations. The U.S. was hiring the same monkeys to work on the Afghan program.

    I responded to each inquiry with a short note and a draft copy of my book, only to find later in every case the person who had helped sink the U.S. effort in Iraq was rehired in Afghanistan. Ironically, the initial title for my book wasn’t the unwieldy We Meant Well: How I Lost the War for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People but Lessons for Afghanistan from the Reconstruction of Iraq. The publisher changed it, thinking the war in Afghanistan might be over before we hit the shelves almost a decade ago.

    Those with any sense of history saw Afghanistan (and Iraq for that matter) and heard echoes of Vietnam-Vietnam-Vietnam. Others looked back to a war where far more Americans were killed, some 35,000, where we stayed for 70 years without a peace treaty, with the North Korea we “beat” now a nuclear power. Yet politicians dared stand up in 2001 to say “we’ll get it right this time, trust us.” Who could have imagined nearly all Americans did answer “OK.” And then said OK again and again for 20 years even as their own sons and daughters came home dead, maimed or psychologically destroyed.

    Lessons learned? None at all. We’ll do it again just as Vietnam followed Korea, and Afghanistan followed Vietnam. Fathers whose hands shake with PTSD sent their sons off to the same fate. If that, that, can’t stop these pointless wars, nothing ever will. So, nothing ever will.


    We will do this again because failure has no such consequences for the decision makers. Bush is reborn as a cuddly old goof, Obama remembered as the bestest president ever. Trump is criticized both as a war monger and for talking about pulling back U.S. troops in the Middle East. The era’s senior leaders — Blinken, Rice, Power, Nuland — are now working in better jobs for Biden. I’d like to hope they have trouble sleeping at night, but I doubt it.

    In the classic 1959 film Hiroshima Mon Amour a Japanese man says to his French lover “You saw nothing in Hiroshima. Nothing.” His frustration is in the two being bystanders on opposite sides of a war where all sides were inherently evil. There is always in the background talk about justice. What justice will be available to the Americans who went to their God like soldiers in Afghanistan, the uncountable Afghans who died at our hands, the promises to the living of a better future all now reviled lies?

    There are still those nights it takes a fair amount of whisky to abort thoughts about why no one gets impeached for wasting lives. But for tonight at least I’ll fill a glass half empty so I can raise it to Joe, for finally, imperfectly, awfully, clumsily ending this mess, better late than forever.


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    Posted in Afghanistan, Biden, Embassy/State, Iraq, Trump

    Was Bin Laden Right About 9/11?

    September 11, 2018 // 25 Comments »


    (A reprint of my 9/11 article from 2016…)

    OK, ok, serious now. It’s been 15 years now people, so we can talk about this kind of thing, ‘kay? That’s what anniversaries are for, after all.

    Peter Bergen, at CNN, who is often the sanest clown in the CNN circus, tell us that al Qaeda really blew it on 9/11.

    “Like the attack on Pearl Harbor,” says Bergen, “9/11 was a great tactical victory for America’s enemies. But in both these cases the tactical success of the attacks was not matched by strategic victories. Quite the reverse.” He goes on to remind us the U.S. totally kicked Japan’s butt.

    Now it can get a little fuzzy when you try to jam 9/11 and al Qaeda into the Saving Private Ryan narrative framework. So it’s important to understand what Bergen thinks al Qaeda’s goal was with the attacks 15 years ago. I’ll quote him so when I call him an idiot a bit later, you’ll understand my reasoning:

    “Bin Laden believed that al Qaeda’s attacks on New York and Washington would result in an American withdrawal from the Middle East. Instead, the United States quickly toppled the Taliban and al Qaeda… The United States not only did not reduce its influence in the Middle East, but it also established or added to massive bases in Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. And, of course, it also occupied both Afghanistan and Iraq. Bin Laden’s tactical victory on 9/11 turned out to be a spectacular strategic flop.”

    Um, OK.

    Bergen is an idiot. Al Qaeda got much, much more than it ever hoped for out of 9/11, and Bergen’s silly retelling of al Qaeda’s goals is part and parcel of what drives American foreign policy off a cliff on a daily basis in the Middle East.

    Japan was a nation set on territorial conquest in WWII. It bombed Pearl Harbor to destroy as much of America’s Navy as it could to buy itself as much time as it could to conquer as much as it could across the Pacific before America got back on its naval feet. Standard war as it has been since Caesar.

    Terrorists fight a different war, a political one. They don’t have navies. They have guys who hijack planes.

    Quite the opposite of what Bergen says, bin Laden did not want America to withdraw from the Middle East, he wanted to pull America into a Middle Eastern quagmire as deep and sticky as possible. This would drive recruits to al Qaeda’s cause, establishing with global certainty the west was at war with Islam.

    That worked; see Islamic State, and the way war and chaos has spread from edge-to-edge in the region, as well as the presence of so-called lone wolves in the U.S. and Europe. And remember, on 9/11, Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen and Libya were all stable countries and there were no lone wolves in California and Florida.

    Bin Laden did almost blow it. He expected the west to bog down in the graveyard of Afghanistan very quickly, but that didn’t happen. The early successes that drove the Taliban out of governing and into the mountains were done with very few troops and relatively clean bombing attacks. It was after that the Afghan war grew messy, when reconstruction and democracy and all that became the new goals interlaced with the U.S. having new tolerance for the nasty bastards running Pakistan.

    And, of course, the crown jewel of bin Laden’s success, still giving, was the invasion of Iraq.

    Bush’s invasion of Iraq was so transparently pointless to everyone but most Americans that it made concrete all the things bin Laden was saying: America was at war with Islam, America sought to conquer the Middle East, America wanted the oil, and so forth. But even bin Laden could not have hoped for the free gifts his cause got out of the invasion: the chance for al Qaeda to set up shop in Iraq, the massacre at Fallujah when the Marines reduced the city to medieval rubble, the images of torture from Abu Ghraib, the jihadi training grounds at prison Camp Bucca, and, of course, the overall Sunni-Shia clusterf*ck the invasion ended up as. You know, the one that is driving the current ISIS war today.

    And never mind the U.S. destruction of the Libyan state, America’s clumsy hand in crushing the Arab Spring, the growth of Islamic State and the little wars between the Turks and the Kurds, in Yemen, and more to come. Chaos and failed states favor the terrorists.

    As Canadian historian Gwynne Dyer, a guy we all should be listening to said, “It is hard enough for Westerners to recognize that their attackers actually have a coherent strategy and are not simply mad fanatics motivated by hatred. To accept that these terrorist attacks are not really about Western countries at all, but merely an attempt to use the overreaction of Western countries to create change in the Middle East, is beyond their understanding.”

    What Peter Bergen cannot seem to understand himself is bin Laden was practicing a kind of tough love when he staged the 9/11 attacks, to bring the wrath of the United States down on innocent Muslims to radicalize and politicize them. It is, bin Laden (and now ISIS) believe, for their own long-term good.

    We’ll need to wait longer to find out if the U.S. will ever get it. See you next year for the next anniversary of 9/11.

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    Posted in Afghanistan, Biden, Embassy/State, Iraq, Trump

    Happy bin Laden Day! CIA ‘Live Tweets’ bin Laden Killing to Celebrate Fifth Anniversary

    May 3, 2016 // 6 Comments »

    bin laden

    Hey everyone, Happy bin Laden Day! It was five years ago May 2 that “we” got bin Laden. How did you celebrate?

    For the CIA, marking the anniversary of the killing of Osama bin Laden was as simple as fake live tweeting the raid by SEAL Team Six on the Al-Qaeda founder’s compound in Pakistan. Using the hashtag #UBLRaid, the CIA blasted out updates of the May 2011 strike as if it was unfolding in real time, all so we could savor the sweet, sweet taste of revenge which brought back to life everyone killed on 9/11.

    Tweets included the now famous picture of President Barack Obama and other high-ranking U.S. officials watching matters unfold from the White House’s Situation Room.

    1:51 pm EDT – Helicopters depart from Afghanistan for compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, read one tweet.

    3:30 pm EDT – 2 helicopters descend on compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. 1 crashes, but assault continues without delay or injury, read another.

    That was followed just minutes later by: 3:39 pm EDT – Usama Bin Ladin found on third floor and killed.

    Think about how much has changed since that momentous day. In 2011 the U.S. was at war in Iraq and Afghanistan, facing the threat of a vicious global terror organization that had already killed Americans. Oh, wait, that looks just like 2016, only now we are also at war in Syria, too, still at war in Afghanistan (16 years in!) and back at war in Iraq. And al Qaeda is known as ISIS, and the Homeland remains a jittery mess on the verge of electing either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton, both of whom have enthusiastically endorsed lots more war in the Middle East.

    It’s as if Nothing. Has. Changed.

    Anyway, the CIA’s anniversary tweets open up the idea of live tweeting other American victories. How about a minute-by-minute live tweet of a waterboarding session? Or maybe, for a really special date, a live tweet on August 6 of the Hiroshima bombing?

    BONUS: Proving we have learned absolutely nothing, amid the bin Laden tweetstorm, CIA chief John Brennan said Sunday that taking out the head of Islamic State would have a “great impact.”

    “If we got Baghdadi, I think it would have a great impact on the organization. And it will be felt by them,” he said.

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    Posted in Afghanistan, Biden, Embassy/State, Iraq, Trump

    An All-American Nightmare

    January 14, 2013 // 33 Comments »

    This article was originally published on Salon.com, December 18, 2012

    Why Zero Dark Thirty Won’t Settle the Torture Question or Purge Torture From the American System

    If you look backward you see a nightmare. If you look forward you become the nightmare.

    There’s one particular nightmare that Americans need to face: in the first decade of the twenty-first century we tortured people as national policy. One day, we’re going to have to confront the reality of what that meant, of what effect it had on its victims and on us, too, we who condoned, supported, or at least allowed it to happen, either passively or with guilty (or guiltless) gusto. If not, torture won’t go away. It can’t be disappeared like the body of a political prisoner, or conveniently deep-sixed simply by wishing it elsewhere or pretending it never happened or closing our bureaucratic eyes. After the fact, torture can only be dealt with by staring directly into the nightmare that changed us — that, like it or not, helped make us who we now are.

    The president, a Nobel Peace Prize winner, has made it clear that no further investigations or inquiries will be made into America’s decade of torture. His Justice Department failed to prosecute a single torturer or any of those who helped cover up evidence of the torture practices.  But it did deliver a jail sentence to one ex-CIA officer who refused to be trained to torture and was among the first at the CIA to publicly admit that the torture program was real.

    At what passes for trials at our prison camp in Guantanamo, Cuba, disclosure of the details of torture is forbidden, effectively preventing anyone from learning anything about what the CIA did with its victims. We are encouraged to do what’s best for America and, as Barack Obama put it, “look forward, not backward,” with the same zeal as, after 9/11, we were encouraged to save America by going shopping.

    Looking into the Eyes of the Tortured

    Torture does not leave its victims, nor does it leave a nation that condones it. As an act, it is all about pain, but even more about degradation and humiliation. It destroys its victims, but also demeans those who perpetrate it. I know, because in the course of my 24 years as a State Department officer, I spoke with two men who had been tortured, both by allies of the United States and with at least the tacit approval of Washington. While these men were tortured, Americans in a position to know chose to look the other way for reasons of politics. These men were not movie characters, but complex flesh-and-blood human beings. Meet just one of them once and, I assure you, you’ll never follow the president’s guidance and move forward trying to forget.

    The Korean Poet

    The first victim was a Korean poet. I was in Korea at the time as a visa officer working for the State Department at the U.S. Embassy in Seoul. Persons with serious criminal records are normally ineligible to travel to the United States. There is, however, an exception in the law for political crimes. It was initially carved out for Soviet dissidents during the Cold War years. I spoke to the poet as he applied for a visa to determine if his arrest had indeed been “political” and so not a disqualification for his trip to the U.S.

    Under the brutal military dictatorship of Park Chung Hee, the poet was tortured for writing anti-government verse. To younger Americans, South Korea is the land of “Gangnam Style,” of fashionable clothing and cool, cool electronics. However, within Psy’s lifetime, his nation was ruled by a series of military autocrats, supported by the United States in the interest of “national security.”

    The poet quietly explained to me that, after his work came to the notice of the powers that be, he was taken from his apartment to a small underground cell. Soon, two men arrived and beat him repeatedly on his testicles and sodomized him with one of the tools they had used for the beating. They asked him no questions. In fact, he said, they barely spoke to him at all. Though the pain was beyond his ability to describe, even as a poet, he said that the humiliation of being left so utterly helpless was what remained with him for life, destroyed his marriage, sent him to the repeated empty comfort of alcohol, and kept him from ever putting pen to paper again.

    The men who destroyed him, he told me, entered the room, did their work, and then departed, as if they had many others to visit that day and needed to get on with things. The Poet was released a few days later and politely driven back to his apartment by the police in a forward-looking gesture, as if the episode of torture was over and to be forgotten.

    The Iraqi Tribal Leader

    The second torture victim I met while I was stationed at a forward operating base in Iraq. He was a well-known SOI leader. The SOI, or Sons of Iraq, were Sunni tribesmen who, as part of Iraq War commander General David Petraeus’s much-discussed “Anbar Awakening” agreed to stop killing Americans and, in return for money we paid them, take up arms against al-Qaeda. That was 2007. By 2010, when I met the man, the Sons of Iraq, as Sunnis, had no friends in the Shia-dominated government of Nouri al-Maliki in Baghdad and the U.S. was expediently allowing its Sunni friendships to fade away.

    Over dessert one sticky afternoon, the SOI leader told me that he had recently been released from prison. He explained that the government had wanted him off the street in the run-up to a recent election, so that he would not use his political pull to get in the way of a Shia victory. The prison that held him was a secret one, he told me, under the control of some shadowy part of the U.S.-trained Iraqi security forces.

    He had been tortured by agents of the Maliki government, supported by the United States in the interest of national security. Masked men bound him at the wrists and ankles and hung him upside-down. He said that they neither asked him any questions nor demanded any information. They whipped his testicles with a leather strap, then beat the bottoms of his feet and the area around his kidneys. They slapped him. They broke the bones in his right foot with a steel rod, a piece of rebar that would ordinarily have been used to reinforce concrete.

    It was painful, he told me, but he had felt pain before. What truly wounded him was the feeling of utter helplessness. A man like himself, he stated with an echo of pride, had never felt helpless. His strength was his ability to control things, to stand up to enemies, to fight, and if necessary, to order men to their deaths. Now, he no longer slept well at night, was less interested in life and its activities, and felt little pleasure. He showed me his blackened toenails, as well as the caved in portion of his foot, which still bore a rod-like indentation with faint signs of metal grooves. When he paused and looked across the room, I thought I could almost see the movie running in his head.

    Alone in the Dark

    I encountered those two tortured men, who described their experiences so similarly, several years and thousands of miles apart. All they really had in common was being tortured and meeting me. They could, of course, have been lying about, or exaggerating, what had happened to them. I have no way to verify their stories because in neither country were their torturers ever brought to justice. One man was tortured because he was considered a threat to South Korea, the other to Iraq. Those “threatened” governments were among the company the U.S. keeps, and they were known torturers, regularly justifying such horrific acts, as we would also do in the first years of the twenty-first century, in the name of security. In our case, actual torture techniques would reportedly be demonstrated to some of the highest officials in the land in the White House itself, then “legalized,” and carried out in global “black sites” and foreign prisons.

    A widely praised new movie about the assassination of Osama bin Laden, Zero Dark Thirty, opens with a series of torture scenes. The victims are various Muslims and al-Qaeda suspects, and the torturers are members of the U.S. government working for the CIA. We see a prisoner strapped to the wall, bloody, with his pants pulled down in front of a female CIA officer. We see another having water poured into his mouth and lungs until he wretches in agony (in what during the Middle Ages was bluntly called “the Water Torture,” later “the water cure,” or more recently “waterboarding”). We see men shoved forcibly into tiny confinement boxes that do not allow them to sit, stand, or lie down.

    These are were among the techniques of torture “lawfully” laid out in a CIA Inspector General’s report, some of which would have been alarmingly familiar to the tortured men I spoke with, as they might be to Bradley Manning, held isolated, naked, and without sleep in U.S. military prisons in a bid to break his spirit.

    The movie scenes are brutal, yet sanitized.  As difficult to watch as the images are, they show nothing beyond the infliction of pain. Horrific as it may be, pain fades, bones mend, bruises heal. No, don’t for a second think that the essence of torture is physical pain, no matter what Zero Dark Thirty implies. If, in many cases, the body heals, mental wounds are a far more difficult matter. Memory persists.

    The obsessive debate in this country over the effectiveness of torture rings eternally false: torture does indeed work. After all, it’s not just about eliciting information — sometimes, as in the case of the two men I met, it’s not about information at all. Torture is, however, invariably about shame and vengeance, humiliation, power, and control. We’re just slapping you now, but we control you and who knows what will happen next, what we’re capable of? “You lie to me, I hurt you,” says a CIA torturer in Zero Dark Thirty to his victim. The torture victim is left to imagine what form the hurt will take and just how severe it will be, almost always in the process assuming responsibility for creating his own terror. Yes, torture “works” — to destroy people.

    Khalid Sheik Mohammed, accused 9/11 “mastermind,” was waterboarded 183 times. Al-Jazeera journalist Sami al-Haj spent six years in the Guantanamo Bay prison, stating, “They used dogs on us, they beat me, sometimes they hung me from the ceiling and didn’t allow me to sleep for six days.” Brandon Neely, a U.S. military policeman and former Guantanamo guard, watched a medic there beat an inmate he was supposed to treat. CIA agents tortured a German citizen, a car salesman named Khaled el-Masri, who was picked up in a case of mistaken identity, sodomizing, shackling, and beating him, holding him in total sensory deprivation, as Macedonian state police looked on, so the European Court of Human Rights found last week.

    Others, such as the Court of Human Rights or the Senate Intelligence Committee, may give us glimpses into the nightmare of official American policy in the first years of this century. Still, our president refuses to look backward and fully expose the deeds of that near-decade to sunlight; he refuses to truly look forward and unambiguously renounce forever the use of anything that could be seen as an “enhanced interrogation technique.”  Since he also continues to support robustly the precursors to torture — the “extraordinary rendition” of captured terror suspects to allied countries that are perfectly happy to torture them and indefinite detention by decree — we cannot fully understand what men like the Korean poet and the Iraqi tribal leader already know on our behalf: we are torturers and unless we awaken to confront the nightmare of what we are continuing to become, it will eventually transform and so consume us.

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    Posted in Afghanistan, Biden, Embassy/State, Iraq, Trump

    Hillary One-Fifth the Man Obama Is

    June 15, 2012 // 3 Comments »

    After the US offered bounties in the millions for information on the next couple of Muslims scheduled for drone assassination, a Somali warlord (i.e., any goat herder with access to the internet) has put up his own bounty for Obama and Hillary.

    On the table is an offer of ten camels for Obama, and two for Hillary, referred to by the warlord as “the lady of Bill Clinton.” Most Western media presume the warlord was indeed referring to Hillary.

    CNN, which most Western media presume had completely given up journalism and the acquisition of facts, actually went out and found a university study showing the average cost of a camel in Somalia is $700.

    We note that the US previously had a $25 million bounty out there for info leading to the kill/capture of bin Laden. The Pakistani doctor, whose vaccination ruse helped uncover the bin Laden lair, is now forever in jail in his own country. No bounty was paid.

    (No jokes in the comments section about ten camels for Obama being nine camels too many, please)

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    Posted in Afghanistan, Biden, Embassy/State, Iraq, Trump


    September 22, 2011 // Comments Off on Insecurity

    When the Green Bay Packers visited the White House a few weeks ago to celebrate the team’s Super Bowl title, linebacker Desmond Bishop wasn’t with his teammates. He had forgotten his drivers license on the plane and without ID, was not allowsed past White House security.

    Really? Through the action of refusing entry to this semi-celebrity, the president was safer?

    I write this after a bought of air travel. We lined up, took off our shoes, were chastised for not pulling a laptop out of our bag while Kindles, smart phones and all matter of electronic stuff flowed through unmolested. We watched a befuddled older woman get pulled aside for having a 4 ounce tube of lotion (3 ounces is the allowed amount) in her bag. She was searched, told she was a bad person and then allowed to travel with the evil extra ounce as some sort of benevolent gift. Others had to drink their water or have it thrown away. There was a bin full of toothpaste and sunscreen in evil amounts.

    As we pass the 10th “anniversary” of 9/11, and count our soldier deaths in the thousands, and the number of people we have killed in the hundreds of thousands, it is worth a moment’s reflection before the media hyper drive takes off to think about what we have become. It seems to be one thing to be defeated by a bad guy, another altogether to have defeated ourselves. Yeah, bin Laden’s dead, along with the ever-long list of Number 2’s and 3’s and couriers and significant Taliban commanders, but in a way, so is a piece of us. George W. Obama. It’s a mug’s deal.

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    Posted in Afghanistan, Biden, Embassy/State, Iraq, Trump

    Is I a Real Juornalist?

    September 1, 2011 // 1 Comment »

    I thought journalists were supposed to think, but a piece by Tara McKelvey (photo), A Bigger Kill Than Bin Laden, is so sadly just stenography for the government that I hope she was paid off to jot it down instead of really being that stupid. She wrote about the US drone murder of the latest al Qaeda number 2 or 3 or 4.

    Tara (may I call you Tara?) wrote:

    Forget Osama bin Laden, the so-called terrorist mastermind. In real life, he was the guy watching videos of himself in a room in his Abbottabad compound; meanwhile, al-Rahman was making plans.

    Ok, check, Bin Laden was no big deal, which is why we took ten years to find him and everyone hated on him more than the Hamburgler. Tara, Tara, the US has killed al Qaeda’s number 2 or number 3 man so many times there are jokes about it.

    But wait, there is more from Tara. Here’s an objective paragraph that no doubt has her community college J-school prof in hiding:

    Obama supporters say the killing of al-Rahman is the latest in a string of White House successes against the terrorist group and further proof that the laserlike approach, with its reliance on drone strikes, is the right one. In this way, CIA officers are thinning the ranks of al Qaeda and gradually making them obsolete: Or, as Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said last month, Americans are “within reach of strategically defeating al Qaeda.”

    This is good news. With al Qaeda basically toast, we have repealed the Patriot Act, ended the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Libya, Somalia and can go back to wearing our shoes in the airport. Sweet. Thanks Tara!

    Ok, OK, here’s one more:

    Now that al-Rahman is gone, CIA officers in Langley, Va. and in stations around the world will double down on their efforts to pursue their other targets. These include al-Rahman’s boss, Ayman al-Zawahiri, (NOTE: He used to be al Qaeda NO. 2) who became bin Laden’s successor.

    In the meantime, CIA officials have reason to celebrate, since by almost any account the death of al-Rahman is significant. “Al Qaeda has not signed a surrender, and nor will it,” says Sageman, “but their ability to launch operations is diminished.”

    Now there’s the whole war of terror in a sentence. The goons celebrate some event as a major milestone (bin Laden dead, No. 2 killed) and then quickly add “but al Qaeda is still a threat” forever.

    It is almost as if the people making a living off of the war of terror just don’t want it to ever end.

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    Posted in Afghanistan, Biden, Embassy/State, Iraq, Trump

    Good News: Taliban Won’t Target Pakistan’s Nukes

    May 25, 2011 // Comments Off on Good News: Taliban Won’t Target Pakistan’s Nukes

    In what passes as good news these days, the Taliban has no plans to attack Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal, its spokesman declared, as the militants kept up their campaign to avenge Osama bin Laden’s death, ramming a pickup truck laden (Laden?) with explosives into a police station and killing six people.

    A larger assault earlier this week by the Pakistan Taliban on a naval base renewed fears that Pakistan’s sizable nuclear arsenal could be vulnerable. The Taliban’s spokesman dismissed those concerns, saying that “Pakistan is the only Muslim nuclear-power state.”

    Whew, I’m sleeping sounder tonight. Back to your bin Laden death celebrations, citizens.

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    Leaking: Intellectual Consistency is Inconvenient

    May 20, 2011 // Comments Off on Leaking: Intellectual Consistency is Inconvenient

    What happens to you when you leak classified information depends a lot on where you sit.

    If you sit in a grown up chair in the White House, you can leak just about anything without getting into trouble. “Sources” up high have discussed all sorts of bin Laden raid things, including details of the op and tales of stealth helos and drones. SecDef Gates said “Too many people in too many places are talking too much about this operation.” He added that the level of disclosures and blabbing violates an agreement reached in the White House Situation Room on May 8 to keep details of the raid private. “That lasted about 15 hours,” Gates said sourly.

    If you sit in a midlevel chair, you get the same request, only with a stern chaser. CIA director Leon Panetta warned employees in a memo obtained by The Associated Press that leakers will be investigated and possibly prosecuted after a flurry of reports in the media about the technology and methods used to track and ultimately kill Osama bin Laden.

    And if you sit in a low-level analyst’s chair with the words “Bradley Manning” stenciled on the back, you go to jail without trial for leaking things.

    But then again, what’s new here? High level officials at State and the Cheney Vice President’s office blew the cover for CIA officer Valerie Plame and were never punished. Outing a CIA clandestine officer is a Federal crime. It also wastes the incredible sums of money and time that went into creating a sustainable false identity (fake background, transcripts, job history, Facebook account, etc.) and endangers the lives of everyone that officer worked with.

    As a smart person said, “Intellectual consistency is inconvenient in the current political climate.” OK, I get it, nothing new to see here, move along folks.

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    Bin Laden Porn Stash: Hubba Hubba

    May 19, 2011 // 1 Comment »

    You gotta figure that if anyone could find a porn stash in the middle of Pakistan, it’d be a bunch of sailors.

    You can be equally sure that the hard drives and computer gear taken from bin Laden’s house must be being analyzed in the most Wikileaks proof facility the US government has. So then how is it that everyone in the world now knows that the SEALS discovered loads of porn inside Dr. Evil’s lair?

    The US Government leaked the info.

    With all the secrecy around what was found with bin Laden, it is odd at first that our premiere look inside reveals the guy’s hard drives were loaded with porn. Media speculation throbbed with delight in wondering if he liked gay stuff, or pedophilia, or bestiality or corpo or shemales or BDSM or Trump sex or lesbian wrestling or amputee masturbation or futanari or sexy clowns or schoolgirl anime or… well, if you want more, just Google it yourself. Whatever bin Laden did or not have is available on your desktop anyway and your teenage kids have already seen it. Start with “Two Girls, One Cup” and digress from there. Go ahead, I’ll wait.

    So why did the US leak that bin Laden had wank fodder, er, at hand? To discredit him, of course. The US seems to get some sort of self-pleasuring out of insinuating that world leaders we don’t like are sexual freaks. I guess the idea is that devout Muslims will think even less of Osama now that we all know he jerks the gherk even with three wives.

    It is an old game. In fact, blog SpyTalk had the story a year ago that the CIA actually made a video purporting to show Osama bin Laden and his cronies sitting around a campfire swigging bottles of liquor and savoring their conquests with boys. The actors were drawn from “some of us darker-skinned employees,” quoting a former CIA officer.

    Spytalk also reminds us that the CIA had a bag of dirty tricks ready for Saddam Hussein in preparation for the 2003 American invasion of Iraq that included making him look like a pedophile. Citing former CIA officials, the blog said one devious tactic involved creating a video showing the Iraqi strongman purportedly having sex with a teenage boy. “It would look like it was taken by a hidden camera,” one ex-CIA official told Spy Talk’s Jeff Stein. “Very grainy, like it was a secret videotaping of a sex session.”

    However, no real need to go all the way back to 2003 to find the US Government trying to make bad world leaders look like hairy palmed teenagers.

    Just last month the US Ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice, claimed that Gaddafi is supplying his troops with Viagra to encourage mass rape. Rice made the claim while accusing Gaddafi of numerous human rights abuses. The Viagra claim surfaced in an al-Jazeera report from Libya-based doctors who said they had found Viagra in the pockets of pro-Gaddafi soldiers.

    Or take North Korean Netflix buff Kim Jong Il. Otherwise reliable news sources reported on the 2000 girls employed in the dictator’s “pleasure groups”. Each “pleasure group” is composed of three teams — a “satisfaction team”, which performs sexual services; a “happiness team,” which provides massage and a “dancing and singing team.” The good news for Kim is that he is only accused of heterosexual excesses. Plus really bad hair for such a stud.

    Some folks really seem to believe that portraying bin Laden as a porn hoover will undercut his support. For example:

    This is why the leaks about Bin Laden’s “porn stash” are more than a joke. His sympathizers and potential followers are, by several measures, more categorically averse to pornography, adultery, and the mixing of men and women than they are to suicide bombing of civilian targets. If you want to sour these people on Bin Laden and his movement, calling him a terrorist won’t cut it. You’re better off portraying him as a hypocritical porn hound who lived in a million-dollar mansion, touched himself up for videos, and hid behind women when martyrdom called.

    Got it. Mass murder: OK. Boobs: Bad. Does that even make sense? We’re trying to persuade folks who think killing innocents is OK by appealing to their prudish side?

    Bottom Line: Cheap propaganda does not influence hearts and minds. Like telling fibs, it only serves to discredit the source, us in this case. Can we please stop the silliness America?

    Note: if you’re current on your to-do list, have fixed that leaky faucet, cleaned out your wallet, returned library books, made some extra for leftovers and put it in the freezer, spell-checked your Facebook, deleted your spam folder and sharpened all your pencils, then check out the hash tag #binLadenpr0n on Twitter for more fun.

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    John Demjanjuk Not Killed by SEAL Team 6

    May 13, 2011 // 1 Comment »

    John Demjanjuk is evil.

    He was found guilty May 12 of involvement in the murder of tens of thousands of Jews by a court in Germany, capping a 30-year international legal saga. German prosecutors accused the 91-year-old former Ohio auto worker of being a guard at the death camp of Sobibor in Poland. He was charged with being an accessory to about 27,900 murders.

    Demjanjuk had a hand in 27,900 murders, as a part of the last century’s most horrific crime, the planned genocide of every Jew on earth that took more than six million lives. Yet, despite the scale of his evil, he was afforded access to court systems in three countries (US, Israel and Germany) and allowed to defend himself, even to the point of resorting to dubious legal tactics designed to draw out proceedings. During this 30 year period of legal fighting, Demjanjuk was not held incommunicado, was not tortured and was not prohibited from seeing a lawyer.

    Holocaust museum chairman Avner Shalev said “While no trial can bring back those that were murdered, holding those responsible to justice has an important moral and educational role in society.”

    We have faced down evil before, evil on scale that makes al Qaeda seem like rag tag amateurs. The system worked. This is justice. You defeat an idea with a better idea.

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    Back to the Heady Days of Autumn 2001

    May 6, 2011 // Comments Off on Back to the Heady Days of Autumn 2001

    homer screams The WaPo reports on the latest episode of cheese-on-the-brain antics by some idiot American Dad. Ah yes, just like in those great days in Autumn 2001 when every paranoia was catered to.

    Two Muslim religious leaders say they were removed from a commercial airliner in Memphis on Friday and were told it was because the pilot refused to fly with them aboard. The aircraft pulled away from the gate, but the pilot then announced the plane must return. When it did, the imams were asked to go back to the boarding gate where they were told the pilot was refusing to accept them because some other passengers could be uncomfortable. Delta officials talked with the pilot for more than a half-hour, but he still refused.

    Meanwhile, bin Laden still dead. Keep fear alive!

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    What We Paid For

    May 5, 2011 // Comments Off on What We Paid For

    ketchup Unhappy over not seeing gory Osama splatter photos? Pissed that Obama keeps the best war porn to himself? As a taxpayer, you should be annoyed! After all, we paid for this stuff!

    Luckily, Reuters bought off some loyal Pakistani, who produced photos of the other dead guys inside La Casa de bin Laden. That ain’t ketchup on the floor, bud.

    Gore on the Floor.

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    Defeat an Idea with a Better Idea

    // Comments Off on Defeat an Idea with a Better Idea

    I’m not sad that bin Laden is dead, but there is a bigger issue here. Once the SEALs were in the room with bin Laden, it was no longer about bin Laden the man; it shifted to policy. Bin Laden was off the grid dead or alive at that point.

    You can kill a man with a bullet, but to defeat an idea you need to offer something better. We spent billions trying to teach rule of law in Iraq and Afghanistan and then do just the opposite when the tough case comes up.

    Nuremberg, not a bullet to the face of an unarmed man. You defeat an idea with a better idea.

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    Spiking the Football

    // Comments Off on Spiking the Football

    obama at ground zeroPresident Bush Trump Obama will not release photos of a dead bin Laden, saying that:

    “That’s not who we are. We don’t trot out this stuff as trophies. The fact of the matter is that this is someone who is deserving of the justice he received. … We don’t need to spike the football.”

    Obama heads to Ground Zero in New York today where he will spike the football.

    Meanwhile, make do with the fake photos clogging up your Facebook account.

    I am sure that the photos of bin Laden, shot in the face at close range, are no doubt gory and might inflame people who don’t like to know what the wars they demand really look like. In the early days of the Iraq War, a web site called Now That’s Fucked Up traded access to porn to soldiers who would send in explicit photos of what war looks like. Polk County, Florida shut down the site under Florida’s obscenity laws, and the URL now redirects to the Sheriff’s web site. Thankfully, there is no other porn now on the web. We’re safe again.

    If you want to see what war looks like, see what our soldiers have had to see in our names, another site has reposted many of the war photos. This is NSFW, not safe for decent people and full of horrific images of what modern war is all about, including photos of people who were shot in the face.

    Same here: photos of other dead guys inside Osama’s house.

    You will have nightmares.

    There are also some Abu Ghraib photos on that same site, the majority of which have also not been released to the public for fear of inflaming people. It’s just better we all don’t know, right?

    Have a look before heading out into the streets to scream USA! USA! when Obama goes all passive-aggressive at Ground Zero.

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    Smells Like…

    May 4, 2011 // Comments Off on Smells Like…

    obama osama videoEveryone official who made statements about “what happened” watched live video of the SEALS killing bin Laden. Yet–

    Day 1: Armed, shootout, used wife as human shield
    Day 2: Unarmed, no human shield, “resisted.” Wife resisted, shot in leg.
    Day 3: “SEALS thought bin Laden went for weapon.”

    Smells like something you would not want to step in with nice shoes on.

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    Stealth Helo

    // Comments Off on Stealth Helo

    stealth helicopter It looks like some new technology was left on the ground in the bin Laden raid.

    The photo shows what appears to be a modified tail rotor that does not match any previously photographed US helicopter. Press reports state that the SEALS inserted via Chinook helos, but that rotor is not from a Chinook. The rotor piece came from a US helicopter that crashed on site and was blown up by the SEALS. The rotor piece somehow survived.

    As usual, Aviation Week has the best take on this, suggesting the “new” helicopter is in fact a highly-modified Black Hawk. It does not appear to be a Yellow Fruit-type Little Bird, but that might also be a possibility. Hopefully the good guys got the contract for the scrap removal and no Chinese Embassy bombings will be necessary.

    UPDATE: The whole story at Army Times.

    More wreckage photos here. Some seriously geeky speculation online as well.

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    We Faced Monsters Before

    // 1 Comment »

    obama osama signIs it too soon? Can we talk about bin Laden intelligently yet or are we all still fapping away over SEAL Team 6?

    Cool? OK. CNN starts us downhill with a story about “How to Talk to Your Kids About Bin Laden’s Death.” One suggestion was “My kids are little, so I’ll keep it simple and say Bin Laden was a very bad man who hurt a lot of people before they were born and this was the best way our country could think of to make sure he couldn’t hurt anyone else.” Another offered “We told them that there was a mean man, Osama, that killed a lot of Americans. Then explained to them about ‘army men’ and how they captured him and sent him away forever so the mean man will never hurt any Americans again! I told them to be proud of our country and be proud to be an American!”

    It gets uglier in the “comments” section of just about any web site. One Facebooker assured us all bin Laden’s body was covered in pig’s blood before being fed to the sharks. Another commenter suggested it would have been best if the body had been dragged around New York behind a fire truck. Many unclever remarks focused on the virgins who would greet bin Laden in the afterlife (funny comment exception: it’s a typo in the Koran and they are Virginians, not Virgins). Most chanters of USA! USA! would have enjoyed kicking Osama’s skull around after doing keg stands, more Tri-Delt than war on terror as they consecrated Ground Zero with vomit, pizza boxes and beer cans. The scenes on TV looked a lot like the Iraqis in Fallujah dancing over the scorched contractors’ bodies, or militant Somalis hacking at the Black Hawk Down guys, than America’s next generation of academic elites.

    The worst remarks, however, came from the White House, where the word “justice” kept being used. Justice for the 9/11 families, justice for Nairobi and Dar and Khobar, justice for those killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, justice that supposedly will bring closure to an angry America. Obama will take a victory lap in New York on Thursday, no doubt singing “Another One Bites the Dust” while throwing gang signs at Gaddafi. You’re next!

    We have faced down monsters before. We brought the Nazi’s to trial, evil men who murdered millions, not thousands. We exposed their crimes, crushed them with their own words, and showed everyone who cared to look that we were better than them. Even the Israelis, no sissy boys there, brought Eichmann to trial when they could have, well, shot him in the face while unarmed and dumped his body in the ocean. We didn’t need torture and secret prisons.

    I’m not sad that bin Laden is dead, but there is a bigger issue here. Once bin Laden was found, it was no longer about him. You can kill a man with a bullet, but to defeat an idea you need to offer something better. Stuff like with liberty and justice for all– those words either mean something or they don’t. I want to explain that to my kids, not encourage them to grow up believing that revenge, not justice, is their America.

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    US v. Iran Proxy War: Another Round

    May 2, 2011 // Comments Off on US v. Iran Proxy War: Another Round

    fake osama death photoAs our collective national boner over the death of bin Laden works itself out, we now return you to our regularly scheduled war, already in progress.

    While you were pounding brews celebrating the splattering of bin Laden’s brains (Dude! USA! USA! Last thing through Osama’s mind: a bullet!), the US-Iran proxy war in Iraq continued for a record-breaking April.

    Always prescient Musings on Iraq reports that of US deaths in Iraq last month, half were due to enemy action and occurred in southern Iraq and Baghdad, and were likely the work of Iranian backed Special Groups. Tehran times militant attacks to coincide with important political events taking place in Iraq. Currently, that is the discussion over whether Baghdad should allow U.S. soldiers to remain in the country past the December 2011 withdrawal date, which the Iranian regime opposes.

    On April 30, a US Army spokesman blamed the League of the Righteous for recent missile attacks, and said that they, and the Hezbollah Brigades in Iraq, were supported by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Qods Force.

    Musings also has YouTube videos that purportedly show the attacks. This, plus Justin Bieber and funny penguins, is why God created the Internet.

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    We Win! Bin Laden Dead, War Over!

    // Comments Off on We Win! Bin Laden Dead, War Over!

    War is Over! With the death of bin Laden, this means that the war is over, right? The troops can all come home to a new era of peace and prosperity, and we can all leave our shoes on at the airport.


    Now, again, which ones are the insurgents, which are the rebels and which are the terrorists? Jeez, since all the 9/11 conspirators were in Pakistan just before the attacks, and now that it appears Osama was living in Pakistan literally under the eyes of the Pakistani military, I guess is it still a good idea that we invaded Iraq and Afghanistan. Also that we killed another Gaddafi kid this week (we nailed one of his daughters in 1986) and the other night popped one of bin Laden’s sons, who no doubt was also resisting.

    Bad news: McDonald’s didn’t stop serving burgers when the original Ronald passed away. Damn Hamburgler!

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