The American Bear

Sunshine/Lollipops

Afghanistan faults U.S., Taliban for deadly airstrike | latimes.com

The Taliban and U.S. military were both at fault in a NATO airstrike in eastern Afghanistan this month that killed 17 civilians, including 12 children, according to an Afghan government investigation. The inquiry raised the number of civilian deaths from an earlier total of 11.

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization has completed an investigation of the same incident in Kunar province, but its report is still under review, a coalition spokesman said.

… “As the reports confirm that armed Taliban were there in the area, we strongly condemn the use of civilians and their homes as shields by the Taliban,” President Hamid Karzai said in a statement. But, he added, airstrikes on residential areas are not acceptable “under any name and for any purpose whatsoever.”

Karzai added that the airstrike in a crowded residential area by the International Security Assistance Force violated human rights and breached an Afghan executive order banning the use of such weapons in populated neighborhoods.

Afghanistan Confirms Eleven Children Killed in April 6 NATO Air Strike | Jim White

Khaama Press reports today that a group of investigators appointed by the Afghan government has confirmed that eleven children were killed on Saturday in a NATO air strike in Kunar Province. Although several press reports indicate that NATO has said that it is investigating the strike, I can find no word on the Defense Department or ISAF websites mentioning this strike. The absence of any report from NATO is puzzling, since their site provides near-daily accounts of actions under the heading of “Joint Command Operational Update”.

Here is how Khaama Press relates the confirmation of the deaths:

Head of the Afghan delegation appointed by Afghan president Hamid Karzai to probe NATO airstrike in eastern Kunar province of Afghanistan confirmed at least 11 children and 4 women were killed during raid.

The delegation also added that at least 25 people had suffered casualties during the air raid in this province.

Afghan official: U.S. Airstrike kills 10 children

An Afghan official says 11 civilians, including 10 children, have been killed in an airstrike during a weekend military operation in eastern Afghanistan.

Wasifullah Wasify, a government official in Kunar province, said Sunday the airstrike occurred the day before during a fierce gunbattle between Taliban militants and a joint force of U.S. and Afghan forces.

He says 10 children and one woman were killed when the airstrike destroyed a house in a remote area of the province.

A U.S. civilian adviser also was killed in Saturday’s fighting. Col. Thomas Collins, a spokesman for U.S.-led forces in Afghanistan, provided new details about the adviser’s death, saying he was killed during fighting in Kunar province. Most of the troops on the ground were Afghan and the Americans were operating in an advisory and training role, he said. The coalition also provided air support.

The American adviser was one of three U.S. civilians killed Saturday. The two others — a female foreign service officer with the U.S. State Department and an employee with the U.S. Defense Department — were killed in a suicide bombing in southern Zabul … . Three U.S. soldiers also were killed in the attack.

NATO airstrike kills two Afghan children

sinidentidades:

A NATO helicopter strike killed two children in southern Afghanistan on Saturday, officials said, in the latest civilian casualties to beset the coalition’s war against Taliban militants.

The operation close to Ghazni city was conducted after local people complained of a Taliban post targeting traffic convoys in the area, Mohammad Ali Ahmadi, the deputy governor of Ghazni province, said.

“It was a joint (Afghan and coalition) operation conducted this morning that killed nine Taliban. Unfortunately, two school children were also killed and seven other civilians were wounded,” he said.

A spokesman for the NATO’s International Security Assistance Force said it was aware of the reported civilian casualties and was seeking further information.

However he added that the ISAF helicopter engagement was not in direct support of Afghan forces, without giving further details.

It was unclear who called in the airstrike, but President Hamid Karzai recently banned Afghan forces from requesting foreign air support.

Civilian casualties mostly caused by air strikes have been one of the most sensitive issues in relations between Karzai and the NATO-led military.

Attack by Police Officer Kills 4 in Afghanistan | NYTimes.com

A police officer opened fire on U.S. and Afghan forces at a police headquarters in eastern Afghanistan on Monday, sparking a firefight that killed two U.S. troops and two other Afghan policemen. The attacker was also killed in the shootout, officials said

.

Outside of Kabul, meanwhile, U.S. troops fired on a truck approaching their military convoy, killing two Afghan men inside it.

The incident in the eastern Wardak province was the latest in a series of insider attacks against coalition and Afghan forces that have threatened to undermine their alliance at a time when they need to work increasingly close together in order to hand over responsibility as planned next year.

The attack also comes a day after the expiration of the Afghan president’s deadline for U.S. special forces to withdraw from the province following accusations of abuse by those under their command.

U.S. officials have said that they are working with Afghan counterparts on coming up with a solution that will answer President Hamid Karzai’s concerns and maintain security in Wardak. The majority of U.S. troops in Wardak are special operations forces.

In Monday’s attack, an Afghan police officer stood up in the back of a police pickup truck, grabbed hold of a machine gun and started firing at the U.S. special operations forces and Afghan policemen in the police compound in Jalrez district, said the province’s Deputy Police Chief Abdul Razaq Koraishi.

The assailant killed two Afghan policemen and wounded four, including the district police chief, before he was gunned down, Koraishi said. He did not have a death toll for the U.S. troops.

The U.S. military said in a statement that two American service members were killed in the shooting.

Five Afghan police officers were being held for questioning by the Americans, Koraishi said.

Karzai had ordered U.S. special operations forces to leave Wardak province, which lies just outside the Afghan capital, Kabul, because of allegations that Afghans working with the commandos were involved in abusive behavior. He gave them two weeks to leave, and the deadline expired Sunday.

In the convoy shooting, U.S. forces spokesman Jamie Graybeal said the Afghan driver failed to heed instructions to stop as his truck came close to the American convoy near Kabul.

"The convoy took appropriate measures to protect themselves and engaged the vehicle, killing two individuals and injuring one," Graybeal said in an email. He said an assessment is underway.

Associated Press video shows a U.S. major cursing out one of his soldiers and slapping him over the head with his cap as Afghans pulled dead bodies from the truck. In the video, the major appears to be upbraiding the soldier for not using a laser to warn the approaching truck.

Nato commander apologises after troops shoot dead Afghan children | guardian.co.uk

NATO said on Saturday its forces had accidentally shot dead two Afghan boys, in the latest of a series of reports of civilian deaths at the hands of international troops.

The shooting, in the southern province of Uruzgan, could further strain the relationship between the Nato-led International Security Assistance Force (Isaf) and Afghan president Hamid Karzai, who has demanded US special forces leave another province over allegations of torture. The two boys were shot dead when they were mistaken for insurgents during an operation in northwest Uruzgan on 28 February, Isaf commander US General Joseph Dunford said in a statement.

"I offer my personal apology and condolences to the family of the boys who were killed," Dunford said. "The boys were killed when Coalition forces fired at what they thought were insurgent forces." Dunford added that a team of Afghan and Isaf investigators visited the village on Saturday and met local leaders.

The area, Lowar-e-Dowahom, was often patrolled by international troops, a spokesman for provincial governor Amir Mohammad Akhundzada said. “They saw two young children who were apparently listening to a radio and they shot them – it is not yet clear why,” the spokesman said.

NATO to help implement Karzai air strike decree: NATO commander | Reuters

NATO will work with the country’s defence leadership to implement a ban by President Hamid Karzai on Afghan forces using NATO air strikes in residential areas, the new NATO commander in Afghanistan, U.S. General Joseph Dunford, said on Sunday.

Karzai announced on Saturday that he would issue a decree banning Afghan security forces from requesting NATO air strikes on “Afghan homes or villages”, following the deaths of 10 civilians in the eastern province of Kunar last Wednesday.

The NATO air strike had been requested by Afghanistan’s intelligence agency, Karzai said on Saturday.

In his first meeting with reporters since assuming command of NATO’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) a week ago, General Dunford said he would work out the details of how to implement Karzai’s order.

“We got the broad guidance from the President, and we will work out the details in the coming days,” he said at the heavily guarded ISAF headquarters, several hundred meters from Karzai’s palace.

Karzai’s decree was expected to be issued on Sunday and paralleled a “tactical directive” issued by ISAF in June last year, which forbade international troops from using air strikes against insurgents “within civilian dwellings”, Dunford said.

That directive was issued days after 18 civilians were killed during a NATO air strike in eastern Logar province.

Nato air strike kills civilians in eastern Afghanistan, officials say | guardian.co.uk

A Nato air strike in eastern Afghanistan has killed 10 civilians, five of them children, and wounded five other children, Afghan officials said.

Civilian deaths in air strikes have been one of the most emotive and high-profile issues of the war in Afghanistan, although in recent years UN statistics show that the Taliban have caused the majority of civilian casualties.

If confirmed the latest deaths are likely to spark protests and renew tensions over civilian casualties between the Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, and the Nato-led military coalition.

A single home in the remote Sultan valley, in Kunar province, was hit by bombs around 3am on Wednesday, said Wasifullah Wasifi, spokesman for the provincial governor.

Four Taliban commanders were also killed in the attack, said Farid, chief of staff for the Kunar governor who, like many Afghans, goes by only one name.

“Four women and five children were killed, and five children wounded. One man, who was the leader of the family, was also killed, according to reports from the site,” Farid told the Guardian by phone from Kunar.

“Four Taliban commanders were also killed in this incident, but it is not clear in what part of the site they were, whether they were inside the house. We have sent a delegation to the site.”

The MP for Kunar, Haji Sakhi, said: “There is no government control in that area, it is all controlled by militants. Several times we have complained to ministry of defence, ministry of interior and presidential palace about it.

“Two Pakistani Taliban and three Afghan Taliban were killed. Among them was a well-known commander from the area, Qari Shah Pur,” he said, adding that “seven people were also arrested by Nato, [and] those still there say they were innocent”.

The Nato-led coalition declined to confirm whether there had been an air strike in the area overnight, saying only that it was looking into allegations of civilian casualties.

“We are looking into allegations of civilian casualties and we are assessing the circumstances,” said a spokesman in Kabul, Major Gary Allen. “I cannot even confirm the raid or air strike. We are trying to assess what exactly did happen.”

UN group says US attacks, air strikes kill hundreds of Afghan children in recent years | The Washington Post

NEW YORK — Attacks by U.S. military forces in Afghanistan, including air strikes, have reportedly killed hundreds of children over the last four years, according to the U.N. body monitoring the rights of children.

The Geneva-based Committee on the Rights of the Child said the casualties were “due notably to reported lack of precautionary measures and indiscriminate use of force.” It was reviewing a range of U.S. policies affecting children for the first time since 2008 — the last year of the Bush administration and the year Barack Obama was first elected president.

And, as they’re apt to do: NATO rejects UN report on death of Afghan children

The People We Bury

Tom Engelhardt:

In late December 2001, not long after Washington’s second Afghan War began, there was that wedding celebration in eastern Afghanistan in which 110 of 112 villagers were reportedly killed by American B-52 and B-1B bombers using precision guided weapons. Then there were the more than 40 Iraqi wedding celebrants (27 from one extended family, including 14 children) who died when U.S. planes struck their party at a village near the Syrian border back in May 2004, and the Afghan bridal party of 70 to 90 who were taken out by a U.S. airstrike on a road near the Pakistani border in July 2008. (The bride and 46 of those accompanying her died, according to an Afghan inquiry, including 39 women and children.) Added to this list should be the 24 unarmed Iraqi men, women, and children, ranging in age from 3 to 76, murdered by U.S. Marines in November 2005 in the long-forgottenHaditha massacre. And the 14-year-old girl whom American soldiers gang-raped and murdered along with her family in Mahmudiya, south of Baghdad, the next year. And then there was the headline-grabbing case of those 16 civilians, nine of them children, 11 from one family, reportedly slaughtered (and some of their corpses burned) by Staff Sergeant Robert Bales in two southern Afghan villages in the course of a single night in March 2012.

Let’s not forget either the 12 Iraqis, including two Reuters employees, shot dead (and two children badly wounded) on a Baghdad street in July 2007 by the laughing crew of an Apache helicopter, as revealed in an infamous video released by WikiLeaks. There were also the 60 children (and up to 30 adults) who died in the Afghan village of Azizabad on an August night in 2008 while attending a memorial service for a tribal leader who had been, villagers reported, anti-Taliban. That, too, was thanks to air strikes. There were also those three (or more) Afghan civilians hunted down “for sport” in the summer of 2010 by a self-appointed U.S. “kill team” who were collecting trophy body parts. And there were the 10 boys, including two sets of brothers, collecting wood for their families in Afghanistan’s Kunar Province early in 2011, who were attacked by U.S. helicopters. Only one wounded boy survived. Or most recently, the 11 Yemeni civilians, including women and children, in a Toyota truck killed by a U.S. airstrike and initially labeled “al-Qaeda militants.”

Such a list, of course, only scratches the surface of a reality that we in the United States have hardly noticed and so have to expend no effort whatsoever to ignore. Unlike for the victims of 9/11 or more recently of Newtown, there will be no memorials, no teddy bears, no special rites, no solemn ceremonies. Nothing. The distant dead of our wars have largely paid the price in silence and anonymity for what the U.S. intelligence community likes to call the last superpower’s duty of being a “global security provider” — and which elsewhere often looks more like inflicting mayhem on local populations.

In addition, the particular form of “security” we’ve brought to such areas via the U.S. military continues even after we leave. U.S. troops are gone from Iraq, for example, but the violence our invasion and occupation set loose has never ended. Iraq Body Count has just issued its report on rising deaths from violence in that country in 2012, both among the Iraqi police (922) and civilians (4,471). It concludes: “In sum the latest evidence suggests that the country remains in a state of low-level war little changed since early 2009, with a ‘background’ level of everyday armed violence punctuated by occasional larger-scale attacks designed to kill many people at once.” We bear genuine responsibility for this, but no longer care a whit.

From the introduction to Nick Turse’s shattering new post at TomDispatch, "So Many People Died": The American System of Suffering, 1965-2014

Precision Doublespeak

On the US’s targeted killing of “senior al Qaeda leader” Abdel Rehman al-Hussainan (aka Abu Zaid al Kuwaiti) on Friday in Pakistan:

From DAWN.com:

Al-Hussainan was having breakfast when a missile fired from a drone targeted him in a Pakistani tribal region.

From the NYT:

Mr. Hussainan’s wife and daughter were wounded in the drone strike, and his wife later died while being treated at a hospital and was buried near Mir Ali.

Combining the two stories:

"Abdel Rehman al-Hussainan and Mr. Hussainan’s wife and daughter were having breakfast when a missile fired from a drone targeted them in a Pakistani tribal region. Al-Hussainan was killed and his wife and daughter were wounded in the drone strike. His wife later died while being treated at the hospital.”

So, recalling the words of the “priest-like" Counterterrorism Advisor John Brennan,

[The U.S. is] exceptionally precise and surgical in terms of addressing the terrorist threat. And by that I mean, if there are terrorists who are within an area where there are women and children or others, you know, we do not take such action that might put those innocent men, women and children in danger,

one is left to conclude that the U.S drone “rulebook” includes an exception for killing women and children while they eat breakfast with Dad, or Brennan, Obama, the DoJ and their media enablers have no idea what the words “surgical” and “precise” mean, or they’re (still) lying through their teeth.

BONUS: Robert Greenwald of the Brave New Foundation digs deeper in Mr. President: How Do You Define Precise? and U.S. Drone Strikes Are Causing Child Casualties: Video and Report.

The impact of America’s drone war in the likes of Pakistan and Yemen will linger on, especially for the loved ones of the 178 children killed in those countries by U.S. drone strikes.

U.S. Drone Strikes Are Causing Child Casualties: Video and Report.

War Costs’ latest video (with accompanying report) brings attention to the children who have died as a result of drone strikes. The video names some of the children who perished in these strikes, and points out the obfuscation tactics of American officials who will not own up to the significant amount of civilian casualties that have occurred due to this legally- and morally-dubious policy.

The nauseating irony that these strikes are being carried out with the approval of a Nobel “Peace” Prize winner.

(via mehreenkasana)

(via mehreenkasana)

[From CBS News:] ‘At least half of the Palestinians killed in the conflict so far have been civilians, including at least eight children and a pregnant woman.’ Dead children are now a commonplace of the ceaseless death campaigns conducted by the United States and Israel. That alone reveals a great deal, more than anyone decent cares to know, about the nature of the ‘civilization’ involved. But … a pregnant woman. That’s a new and creative touch. Does someone in Israel get extra points for that? A special medal for extraordinary heroism? I suspect so. The World as Slaughterhouse

Analysis: How Washington Post strips casualties from covert drone data | The Bureau of Investigative Journalism

“In a series of emails with senior Bureau staff, the Washington Post graphics editor noted that ‘TBIJ indeed does have the most accurate and comprehensive public representation of drone strikes.’ Nevertheless the Post’s plan was to aggregate data from the Bureau, the New America Foundation and the Long War Journal ‘in a way that will not highlight casualty counts’.”

Alongside the Washington Post’s latest blockbuster reports on the Obama administration’s drone kill list is a new graphic, depicting US covert strikes since 2002.

Based on reports by monitoring organisations, the graphic lists hundreds of US drone strikes in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia, in what the paper says will be a regularly updated project. Also detailed are ‘the names of prominent militant leaders killed in individual strikes,’ the paper says.

But there the information stops.

All other casualty information has been stripped from the Washington Post’s data. There is no reference to the numbers reported killed in each strike. No names or numbers are put to the civilians killed.

In short, the paper has removed much of the information that is most valuable for assessing the effectiveness of the US drone campaign.

As a series of emails between the Washington Post and the Bureau reveals, the decision to strip out pertinent casualty data was an editorial one, and was part of broader ‘reservations and concerns’ at the paper concerning casualty counts.

An examination of the Post’s reporting indicates the paper frequently omits credible reports of civilian deaths in US covert drone strikes.

So concerned was the Bureau at the Washington Post’s intention to strip away casualty information that it has refused permission for the paper to use its work in such a significantly amended form.

Read the rest of this important piece.

By censoring civilian casualty data, the Washington Post is complicit in a form of propaganda against the public - propping up the idea that our drone war is a precise “tool” used only, somehow, in a fight against an endless wave of “suspected militants” when, in fact, civilians are killed with alarming frequency, as TBIJ’s data shows.

Manufacturing consent courtesy of the mainstream U.S. press.

fariyah:

[In] the US, most people don’t even know that their own military just blew away three young Afghan children. The sad truth is, even if they did know, they wouldn’t really care. There’d be no outpouring onto the streets of people demanding a halt to the air attacks and the drone killings. Only 28% of Americans say they object to America’s drone warfare, though it is clear that drone attacks are leading to the deaths of hundreds — perhaps thousands — of innocent civilians. According to a recent poll by the Pew Research Center, a survey of 20 countries about reactions to drone warfare found that in the US only 28 % of Americans said they disapproved of America’s drone warfare campaign. In countries that are normally America’s allies, like Britain, Germany and Japan, disapproval rates were 47%, 59% and 75% respectively. In the US, the survey found 62 % of Americans actively support drone warfare, giving America the distinction of being the only country surveyed in which a majority of the public supports killing by drone.

The attackers of the three schoolgirls in Pakistan, who have been arrested already, will almost certainly be imprisoned for their heinous crimes. Not so the pilot and the targeting personnel who called in his deadly strike that led to the deaths of three Afghan children. They will come home from the war hailed as “heroes” by any Americans they meet. People will pass them and say, “Thank you for your service” — even though that “service” includes killing little children.

I leave it to readers to imagine how they think this impacts on the parents and relatives of the children who were killed by America’s “brave” military. I know though that if a foreign military blew my kids away with impunity and for nothing, they would in that moment create an enemy for life—and Liam Neeson’s character would have nothing on me in terms of my desire to exact vengeance, either.

Those befuddled Americans who are still asking, “Why do they hate us?” should think about this a bit.

Dave Lindorff, Children Under Attack (via canadian-communist)