Posts Tagged ‘War on Terror’

London Telegraph:

The former CIA chief, Porter Goss, approved a 2005 decision to destroy 92 tapes showing US agents waterboarding two terrorism suspects, according to newly released internal emails.

FBI investigators are still examining who knew what about the destruction of the videos, which showed officers using the simulated drowning technique that is widely considered to be torture, on Abu Zubaydah and another terrorism suspect.

The emails were released by the Justice Department under a Freedom of Information Act request by the American Civil Liberties Union.

Mother Jones:

WikiLeaks has revealed the secrets of the Pentagon, Scientology, and Sarah Palin—and the explosive video of a US attack on civilians and journalists in Iraq. Meet the shadowy figure behind the whistleblower site.

Julian Assange’s response to this article is here. Read follow-up posts on WikiLeaks’ media blitz and the MoJo-WikiLeaks feud.

The clock struck 3 a.m. Julian Assange slept soundly inside a guarded private compound in Nairobi, Kenya. Suddenly, six men with guns emerged from the darkness. A day earlier, they had disabled the alarm system on the electric fence and buried weapons by the pool. Catching a guard by surprise, they commanded him to hit the ground. He obliged, momentarily, then jumped up and began shouting. As the rest of the compound’s security team rushed outside, the intruders fled into the night.

Assange, a thirty-something Australian with a shock of snow-white hair, is sure the armed men were after him. “There was not anyone else worth visiting in the compound,” he says, speaking on the phone from an undisclosed location in Africa.

The self-centeredness and shadowy details of Assange’s tale—and his insistence that he must be taken at his word—are typical. They’re part of his persona as the elusive yet single-minded public face of WikiLeaks, the website that dubs itself the “uncensorable Wikipedia for untraceable mass document leaking and analysis.” Designed as a digital drop box, the site is a place where anyone can anonymously post sensitive or secret information to be disseminated and downloaded around the globe. Earlier this week, it posted its most explosive leak yet, a video shot by an American attack helicopter in July 2007 as it opened fire upon a group of a men on a Baghdad street, killing 12, including two unarmed Reuters employees. (Two children were also seriously wounded in a subsequent attack.) WikiLeaks said it had obtained the classified footage from whistleblowers inside the US military.

Since its launch in December, 2006, WikiLeaks has posted more than 1.2 million documents totaling more than 10 million pages. It has published the operating manuals from the Guantanamo Bay detention camp, NATO’s secret plan for the Afghan war, and inventories of US military materiel in Iraq and Afghanistan. In September 2007, a few weeks before Assange’s alleged close call in Nairobi, it posted a document exposing corruption in the highest levels of the Kenyan government. Assange claims that the site receives as many as 10,000 new documents daily.

WikiLeaks’ commitment to what might be called extreme transparency also means that it won’t turn away documents that have questionable news value or are just plain dishy. It’s posted Sarah Palin’s hacked emails and Wesley Snipes’ tax returns, as well as fraternity initiation manuals and a trove of secret Scientology manuals. According to WikiLeaks’ credo, to refuse a leak is tantamount to helping the bad guys. “We never censor,” Assange declares.

Powerful forces have come after the site, but without much luck. In 2008, after WikiLeaks posted documents alleging money laundering at the Swiss bank Julius Baer, the firm unsuccessfully tried to shut down its California servers. When the site posted a secret list of websites blacklisted by the German government, including several child pornography sites, the student who ran the German WikiLeaks site was arrested for disseminating kiddie porn. Even the hyper-litigious Church of Scientology has failed to get its materials removed from the site.

Such unsurprising reactions to WikiLeaks’ brazenness only seem to further energize Assange’s conviction that it’s always wrong to try to stop a leak. WikiLeaks isn’t shy about antagonizing its enemies. Its reply to the German raid sounded like the opening shot of an Internet flame war: “Go after our source and we will go after you.” In response to the Church of Scientology’s “attempted suppression,” it has posted even more church documents.

WikiLeaks can get away with this because its primary server is in Sweden (Assange says it’s the same one used by the giant download site The Pirate Bay), where divulging an anonymous source, whether one’s own or someone else’s, is illegal. Several mirror sites across the globe provide backup in case one goes down. (Much of the WikiLeaks website is currently inaccessible due to a fundraising drive.)

Though the site appears secure for now, its foes have not given up on finding its weaknesses. In March, WikiLeaks published an internal report (PDF) written by an analyst at the Army Counterintelligence Center titled “WikiLeaks.org—An Online Reference to Foreign Intelligence Services, Insurgents, or Terrorist Groups?” The analyst stated that sensitive information posted by WikiLeaks could endanger American soldiers and that the site could be used “to post fabricated information; to post misinformation, disinformation, and propaganda.” He concluded that identifying and prosecuting the insiders who pass information on to WikiLeaks “would damage and potentially destroy this center of gravity and deter others from taking similar actions.”

WikiLeaks said the report was proof that “U.S. Intelligence planned to destroy” the site. Soon afterwards, Assange asserted that he’d been tailed by two State Department employees on a flight out of Iceland, where he had been lobbying for a new press freedom law. He tweeted that “WikiLeaks is currently under an aggressive US and Icelandic surveillance operation.”

Amid this swirl of wanted and unwanted attention, Assange (pronounced A-sanj) lives like a man on the lam. He won’t reveal his age—”Why make it easy for the bastards?” He prefers talking on the phone instead of meeting in person, and seems to never use the same number twice. His voice is often hushed, and gaps fill the conversation, as if he’s constantly checking over his shoulder. Like him, the organization behind his next-generation whistleblowing machine can also be maddeningly opaque. It’s been accused of being conspiratorial, reckless, and even duplicitous in its pursuit of exposing the powerful. “It’s a good thing that there’s a channel for getting information out that’s reliable and can’t be compromised,” says Harvard law professor Lawrence Lessig. But, he adds, “There’s a difference between what you can legally do, what you can technically do, and what you ought to do.”

WASHINGTON — Suicides in the US Army rose to a new record in 2009, with 160 soldiers taking their lives, the military said Friday, calling it a “painful year.”

Army leaders had warned that the suicide rate was on track to surpass last year’s toll of 140:

AFP | Jan 16, 2010

Human rights activists demonstrate waterboarding in front of the Justice Department. A soldier father stands accused of waterboarding his daughter because she couldn’t recite the alphabet

Daily Mail | Feb 8, 2010

A soldier waterboarded his four-year-old daughter because she was unable to recite her alphabet.

Joshua Tabor admitted to police he had used the CIA torture technique because he was so angry.

As his daughter ‘squirmed’ to get away, Tabor said he submerged her face three or four times until the water was lapping around her forehead and jawline.

Tabor, 27, who had won custody of his daughter only four weeks earlier, admitted choosing the punishment because the girl was terrified of water.

The practice of waterboarding was used by the CIA to break Al Qaeda suspects at Guantanamo Bay. Detainees had water poured over their face until they feared they would drown. President Barack Obama has since outlawed the practice.

Tabor, a soldier at the Lewis-McChord base in Tacoma, Washington, was arrested after being seen walking around his neighbourhood wearing a Kevlar military helmet and threatening to break windows.

Police discovered the alleged waterboarding when they went to his home in the Tacoma suburb of Yelm and spoke to his girlfriend.

She told them about the alleged torture and the terrified girl was found hiding in a closet, with bruising on her back and scratch marks on her neck and throat.

Asked how she got the bruises, the girl is said to have replied: ‘Daddy did it.’

During a police interview Tabor allegedly admitted grabbing his daughter, placing her on the kitchen counter and submerging her face into a bowl of water.

Sergeant Rob Carlson said the punishment was carried out because the girl would not recite the alphabet.

Police have not revealed Tabor’s military service, but his base is home to units that have served in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Tabor has been charged with assault and ordered to remain on his base and have no contact with his daughter or girlfriend, who has not been named. He is due to appear in court this week.

The girl has been taken into care. Her natural mother lives in Kansas but Tabor had been granted custody by a court.

Press TV | Mar 4, 2010

Former head of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency Hamid Gol says the United States is seeking to create and train terrorist groups in the region.

In a Wednesday interview with Fars news agency, Gol said Washington had been making efforts to destabilize the region through supporting groups like the Pakistan-based Jundallah terrorist group.

Gol went on to say that such attempts by the US intelligence agencies were in particular directed at fomenting unrest in Iran.

“The US intelligence agencies pursued just one goal by forming Rigi’s group which was provoking unrests and instability in Iran,” Gol was quoted as saying.

He also accused Washington and its western allies of seeking to strain ties between Iran and Pakistan.

The remarks come days after Iranian security forces arrested Jundallah ringleader Abdolmalek Rigi while he was aboard a Kyrgyz airliner on a flight from the United Arab Emirates to Kyrgyzstan.

In his confession broadcast by Press TV in late February after his arrest, Rigi talked about offers of unlimited support by the US spy agency, the CIA, saying the Americans offered to “cooperate with us” and “promised to give us a base along the border with Afghanistan near Iran.”

Rigi’s group has claimed responsibility for numerous terrorist attacks in Iran. The group has carried out murder, armed robbery, kidnappings, acts of sabotage and bombings inside Iran.

Whatever happened to bin Laden?

CNN | Mar 3, 2010

Osama bin Laden – remember him? Where is he, and is the U.S. getting closer to killing or capturing him?

Those are the questions hovering over several recent developments in the Afghanistan war: the capture of Afghan Taliban military leader Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar,  the killing of two key Taliban commanders  and an increase in drone attacks.

But several authorities on the eight-year Afghanistan war say no one should expect to see bin Laden in handcuffs anytime soon.

“No, I don’t think we’re getting any closer,” says Stephen Tanner, author of “Afghanistan: A Military History from Alexander the Great to the War against the Taliban.”

Tanner says the ISI, Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence Agency, knows where bin Laden is hiding, but is not ready to say.

“We got to make a deal with Pakistan because I’m convinced that he’s [bin Laden] protected by the ISI,” Tanner says.

Tanner says that rogue elements within the ISI – if not the Pakistani government – may be using bin Laden as a “trump card” to exert leverage over the United States. Tanner says that Pakistani leaders are concerned that the U.S. will draw closer to India, Pakistan’s chief rival.

Flashing the bin Laden trump card will insure that the U.S. will continue to send aid to Pakistan because it considers it a bulwark against radical Islam, Tanner says. Without the bin Laden trump card, though, Pakistan would be in danger of being abandoned by the U.S., Tanner says.

“I just think it’s impossible after all this time to not know where he is. The ISI knows what’s going on in its own country,” Tanner says. “We’re talking about a 6-foot-4-inch Arab with a coterie of bodyguards.”

Even if the U.S. draws a bead on bin Laden, he won’t be captured alive, says Thomas Mockatis, author of, “Osama bin Laden: A Biography.”

Mockatis says bin Laden has bodyguards who are tasked with shooting him if his capture seems imminent.

“Killing bin Laden would not be a good thing,” Mockatis says. “He’s already a hero. Killing bin Laden would just create one more martyr.”

An image of a potential target relayed by a US drone.

This method of warfare is being massively expanded under the leadership of the Americans. It’s a war of quick successes and of decisions made in the shadows. A war that appears to be clean and yet amounts to government-ordered murder.

SPIEGEL | Mar 12, 2010

CIA drones are killing terrorists — and civilians — in Pakistan almost every day. The unmanned aircraft are becoming the weapon of choice in the fight against al-Qaida and its allies. But the political, military and moral consequences are incalculable. SPIEGEL ONLINE has investigated Barack Obama’s remote-controlled campaign against terrorism.

What is the cost of rendering a terrorist harmless once and for all by killing him? During the course of 14 months, the CIA used unmanned and heavily armed small aircraft known as drones to stage 15 strikes against the presumed locations of the leader of the Pakistani Taliban. On Aug. 5, 2009, on the 16th try, the drones finally managed to kill Baitullah Mehsud.

On that day, a Predator drone was hovering about three kilometers (2 miles) above the house of Mehsud’s father-in-law, somewhere in the Pakistani province of South Waziristan. The drone’s infrared camera sent remarkably sharp images in real time to CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia. The images showed the Taliban leader sitting on the roof of his house, in the company of his wife, his uncle and a doctor.

At that very moment, thousands of miles away in the United States, someone pressed a button, and two Hellfire missiles shot from the drone. Mehsud and 11 others were killed.

Related

‘The Soldiers Call It War Porn’

This incident is so well documented because it was reconstructed for an article in The New Yorker. But the hunt for Mehsud cost the lives of far more than 11 people. According to estimates, between 207 and 321 people died in the course of the 16 attempts to eliminate Mehsud — and it is certain that not all of them were Taliban fighters.

Obama, Prince of Peace and King of the Drones

So what is the value of eliminating a terrorist? The US’s drone war has been expanded dramatically in the last year and a half, an escalation that began under former President George W. Bush. But his successor, Nobel Peace Prize winner Barack Obama, has not just continued the program. He has elevated it to the preferred method for killing al-Qaida and its allies.

More missiles have already been fired from drones in the 13 months since Obama has been in office than in the entire eight years of the Bush presidency. Dozens have been fired since the beginning of the year, and this year the US military will, for the first time, likely train more drone pilots than fighter pilots, says P.W. Singer, an expert on modern warfare at the Washington, DC-based Brookings Institution. According to Singer, as many as a third of all aircraft the military acquires in the future will be unmanned. At any given moment each day, several unmanned aircraft are in use against terrorists in the skies above Pakistan. Others are in the skies over Yemen, Iraq, Afghanistan and Somalia.

Full Story