Archive for the ‘Taliban’ Category

Pelosi Knocked Off Her Game: Tortureous Explanations Punishes the Facts

May 12, 2009

For Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), it’s a new week of old questions: What did she know about harsh Bush administration interrogation techniques, and when did she know it?

Usually a master of message discipline, Pelosi has been thrown off balance by a mounting firestorm over whether she or her staff learned six years ago that intelligence officials were using extreme tactics such as waterboarding.

By Tory Newmyer and Steven T. Dennis
Roll Call Staff

For weeks, the Speaker has insisted she didn’t, though a declassified report last week suggested otherwise.

And Republicans, sensing a rare opportunity, are moving to keep the heat on the discrepancy over competing versions of what precisely was disclosed at the classified briefings in question. The GOP is demanding the CIA release more documents showing exactly what Pelosi was told in 2002, as they continue a wider offensive targeting Democrats on security issues like the planned closure of the Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, detainee prison.

With a series of torture investigations already in the works, Attorney General Eric Holder set to appear Thursday before the House Judiciary Committee and the likelihood of either a series of Congressional hearings or a “truth commission,” the issue simply isn’t going away.

Pelosi’s camp is braced for the buzz saw awaiting the Speaker upon her return today from a surprise trip to Iraq. Their strategy: stick to their script and blast the GOP attacks as a politically motivated attempt to distract from abuses sanctioned by the Bush administration.

For Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), it’s a new week of old questions: What did she know about harsh Bush administration interrogation techniques, and when did she know it?

Usually a master of message discipline, Pelosi has been thrown off balance by a mounting firestorm over whether she or her staff learned six years ago that intelligence officials were using extreme tactics such as waterboarding.

For weeks, the Speaker has insisted she didn’t, though a declassified report last week suggested otherwise.

And Republicans, sensing a rare opportunity, are moving to keep the heat on the discrepancy over competing versions of what precisely was disclosed at the classified briefings in question. The GOP is demanding the CIA release more documents showing exactly what Pelosi was told in 2002, as they continue a wider offensive targeting Democrats on security issues like the planned closure of the Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, detainee prison.

With a series of torture investigations already in the works, Attorney General Eric Holder set to appear Thursday before the House Judiciary Committee and the likelihood of either a series of Congressional hearings or a “truth commission,” the issue simply isn’t going away.

Pelosi’s camp is braced for the buzz saw awaiting the Speaker upon her return today from a surprise trip to Iraq. Their strategy: stick to their script and blast the GOP attacks as a politically motivated attempt to distract from abuses sanctioned by the Bush administration.

Read the rest:
http://www.rollcall.com/issues/54_129
/news/34823-1.html?type=printer_friendly

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Pakistan is Fighting But is This a Serious Effort To Destroy The Taliban?

May 12, 2009

FACED with catastrophe, Pakistan still has time to play the dead-man’s hand it holds. The question is whether its leaders are betting or bluffing.

The recent, belated military response to the Taliban’s dissection of the country, combined with the disgust locals feel over extremist excesses, offers a potential winning formula.

By Ralph Peters
New York Post

Unless Pakistan’s government chooses to lose.

First, consider the current offensive to drive Taliban fighters from Buner and parts of the Swat Valley. Sounds great. But we’ve already bought that used car, only to see it break down pulling out of the lot.

Yes, the Pakistani army and its paramilitary Rangers are fighting. But the key questions are “For how long?” and “How far will they go?” A limited operation will have limited results. The religious extremists must be destroyed if Islamabad wants a return of peace and order.

Overheated news reports focus on refugees and distant air strikes. But every battle seems like the big one to the inexperienced. You can’t tell what’s really gone down until the dust settles.

Read the rest:
http://www.nypost.com/seven/05122009/po
stopinion/opedcolumnists/paks_p
oker_hand_168800.htm

Obama’s “It’s Our Fault” Approach Echoed By Hillary Clinton; But Facts Indicate Taliban Used “Human Shields”

May 9, 2009

Earlier this week, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton joined others in taking the blame for, well, lots of things, when she said it was the fault of the United States that “innocent” people of Afghanistan were killed in the fighting due to U.S. action.

I thought, “Hillary is starting to sound like Congressman John Murtha, making judgements while a long way from the battlefield.  Judgements that the U.S. is always the one at fault.”

That’s the way President Barack Obama sounded on his last two overseas trips too: it is all America’s fault.

After Mrs Clinton said she and the U.S. “deeply, deeply” regretted the deaths, Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai thanked Clinton for “showing concern and regret” and added that “we hope we can work together to completely reduce civilian casualties in the struggle against terrorism.”
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Ralph Peters wrote in the New York Post this last week that “Lying about civilian casualties is the one sure way to impede or even halt US (or Israeli) operations, to force such tight restrictions on our troops that they can’t win.”

He also said, “Few journalists bother to investigate. If the Taliban, al Qaeda, Hezbollah or Hamas says it, it must be so. In Media Wonderland, terrorists never lie. Now everysuccessful strike on a Taliban target generates the instant claim that the dead were all civilians.  And it isn’t just the media who back the Taliban. The Obama administration — a case study in instant foreign-policy ineptitude — signs up, too.  The U.S. coalition blamed Taliban militants Saturdayfor causing what Afghan officials say are dozens of civilian deaths during a prolonged battle that included American airstrikes. The U.S. said an unspecified number of civilians died but did not take responsibility for any deaths.”

Read all of Peters:
Self Defeating U.S. War Strategy

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KABUL – The U.S. coalition blamed Taliban militants Saturdayfor causing what Afghan officials say are dozens of civilian deaths during a prolonged battle that included American airstrikes. The U.S. said an unspecified number of civilians died but did not take responsibility for any deaths.

Afghanistan’s Interior Ministry declined to endorse the U.S. report, saying its own investigation would be completed soon.

Afghan officials have estimated up to 147 people died in the battle in the western province of Farah on Monday, but a U.S. spokeswoman called that number exaggerated. The U.S. report did not offer an estimate of the number killed in the battle.

The preliminary report said Taliban fighters herded Afghan villagers into houses to use as human shields while they fired on coalition forces in two villages in Farah. The report said that U.S. forces had responded to a call for help from Afghan forces and that militants attacked the troops from several locations.

The U.S. coalition blamed Taliban militants Saturdayfor causing what Afghan officials say are dozens of civilian deaths during a prolonged battle that included American airstrikes. The U.S. said an unspecified number of civilians died but did not take responsibility for any deaths.

Afghanistan’s Interior Ministry declined to endorse the U.S. report, saying its own investigation would be completed soon.

Afghan officials have estimated up to 147 people died in the battle in the western province of Farah on Monday, but a U.S. spokeswoman called that number exaggerated. The U.S. report did not offer an estimate of the number killed in the battle.

The preliminary report said Taliban fighters herded Afghan villagers into houses to use as human shields while they fired on coalition forces in two villages in Farah. The report said that U.S. forces had responded to a call for help from Afghan forces and that militants attacked the troops from several locations.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090509/ap_
on_re_as/as_afghanistan;_ylt=AlbNEENLtD
G.97PAoy5cL2Cs0NUE;_ylu=X3o
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vcF9zdG9yeQRzbGsDdXNyZXBvcnRibGFt

US almost doubles military aid to Pakistan

May 8, 2009

The United States has earmarked $700 million in its budget for the next fiscal year for training and equipment to improve Pakistan’s counterinsurgency capability.

By Anwar Iqbal
Dawn Newspaper, Pakistan

This is a major increase from the $400 million set aside for this purpose in the current fiscal year which expires on Sept. 30.

This marks the first time since 2003 that the Afghan war funding surpassed the outlay for Iraq. The Pentagon is seeking $130 billion in war funds for 2010, including $65 billion for Afghanistan and $61 billion for Iraq. For 2009, the Pentagon had request $87 billion for Iraq and $47 billion for Afghanistan.

The move demonstrates a shift in US priorities as the Obama administration increases its focus on fighting the militants it holds responsible for planning and executing the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

The proposed fund for Afghanistan covers the deployment of 21,000 additional US troops this year, raising the total to 68,000. More funds would be required if President Obama decides to meet the request of US commanders for 10,000 more troops next year.

The Pentagon’s $534 billion base budget is $21 billion, or four per cent, larger than last year’s. It includes key initiatives to reshape the US military to fight insurgencies across the world.

Major spending increases include $2 billion on intelligence and reconnaissance, $500 million to field and maintain helicopters, and funds to add 2,400 personnel to Special Operations Forces in 2010 as well as aircraft to support them. More will be spent on some modern weapons systems, with an increase in the purchase of littoral combat ships and the ‘fifth generation’ F-35 fighter jets.

The 2010 Pentagon eliminates $8.8 billion in weapons programmes that were in the 2009 budget. It would halt the programme for the F-22 fighter jet after 187 are manufactured.

Other major cuts include ending the $13 billion presidential helicopter programme, which has more than doubled in cost; the $19 billion transformational satellite programme; and the Air Force combat search-and-rescue helicopter programme, as well as cutting $1.2 billion from missile defence.

http://hotair.com/archives/20
09/05/08/pakistan-goes-to-war/

In Pakistan: Some Hope; But Much To Doubt

In Pakistan: Some Hope; But Much To Doubt

May 8, 2009

My Pakistani friend shrugged, “Even if the Taliban runs the government, we live in corruption.  These guys or Taliban — it makes no difference.”

So much for the democratically elected government of Pakistan.

The truth not told to Americans who pay most of the bills in Pakistan’s dubious war against terrorists is this: the people could care less and most have a very dim view of their government and ours.

Ours as in: most Pakistanis could care less about American lives.  Many cheered after 9/11.

I heard a very smart American talking head say on TV just the other day, “Prisident Zardari of Pakistan has every reason to win this war.  After all, the Taliban killed his wife Benazir Bhutto.”

One of my other Pakistani friends disputed this notion.

“Zardari gained more than anyone, even the Taliban, when his wife Benazir Bhutto was killed.  Who killed her doesn’t matter.  In Pakistan, what matters is, who is to gain?”

John E. Carey
Wakefield Chapel, Virginia

Related:
US almost doubles military aid to Pakistan
Asif Ali Zardari
Asif Ali Zardari

Obama scrambles against militant threat in Afghanistan, Pakistan

May 6, 2009

The fuse that could ignite an explosion of Islamic militancy in Afghanistan and Pakistan is burning so fast that the Obama administration is scrambling to keep pace.

As Pakistan’s army finally opened a belated offensive against the advance of extremist Taliban fighters, Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari and his key security ministers huddled Wednesday with their Afghan and U.S. counterparts in all-day meetings in Washington.

By Steven R. Hurst
Associated Press

Afghan President Hamid Karzai started the day on a solemn note, acknowledging Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton‘s expressions of regret for the deaths of dozens of Afghan civilians killed during Monday’s battle between U.S. forces and the Taliban.

President Barack Obama demanded the meetings as part of his complex, costly and far-reaching strategy for Afghanistan that now links success there with stability in neighboring Pakistan.

It’s a huge undertaking in distant lands where fiercely independent people have a long history of outlasting foreign militaries and refusing to change their ways. The Washington sessions represent an early test of whether a U.S. president at the start of the 21st century has sufficient leverage and power to succeed where great empires have failed.

The fuse that could ignite an explosion of Islamic militancy in Afghanistan and Pakistan is burning so fast that the Obama administration is scrambling to keep pace.

As Pakistan’s army finally opened a belated offensive against the advance of extremist Taliban fighters, Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari and his key security ministers huddled Wednesday with their Afghan and U.S. counterparts in all-day meetings in Washington.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai started the day on a solemn note, acknowledging Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton‘s expressions of regret for the deaths of dozens of Afghan civilians killed during Monday’s battle between U.S. forces and the Taliban.

President Barack Obama demanded the meetings as part of his complex, costly and far-reaching strategy for Afghanistan that now links success there with stability in neighboring Pakistan.

It’s a huge undertaking in distant lands where fiercely independent people have a long history of outlasting foreign militaries and refusing to change their ways. The Washington sessions represent an early test of whether a U.S. president at the start of the 21st century has sufficient leverage and power to succeed where great empires have failed.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090506/ap_on_go_
pr_wh/us_us_afghanistan_pakistan_analysis;_ylt=A
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A2L3VzX3VzX2FmZ2hhbmlzdGFuX3Bha2lzd
GFuX2FuYWx5c2lzBGNwb3MDMgRwb3MD
NgRzZWMDeW5fdG9wX3N0b3J5BHNsawN
hbmFseXNpc29iYW0

The Truth Is: Team Obama and The National Media Have To Grow Up Fast

May 6, 2009

O.K. we’ve enjoyed the love fest and the photo ops of the “First 100 Days;” which is about as meaningful as “Cinco de Cuatro” or any Hallmark Moment.

Now there is real work to do and issues to face and some of us have serious doubt that the Obama Administration and the free press are up to the task.

Consider these few challenges on the president’s plate:

Today Barack Obama will meet with the presidents of Afghanistan and Pakistan to convince both that he needs them to play a greater role in fighting off al-Qaeda, the Taliban and other terrorists: even though the word “terrorist” is practically banned inside the Obama government.  Reuters reporter David Alexander wrote that “Obama will warn that al Qaeda and its Talibanallies pose an existential threat and press Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari and Afghan President Hamid Karzai to toughen their response.”

If the threat is existential, no warning from an outsider is required, right?  And if a threat is existential, the leaders of Pakistan and Afghanistan could better articulate how they planned to save their own skins without so many billions of U.S. dollars from us — not to mention the sweat and blood of our troops.

In the Middle East, the President is pressing Israel to accept a “two-state  solution” with the Palestinians, as a precondition for Washington’s continued dialogue with Iran about its nuclear program.  But Israel has stated clearly that Iran poses an existential threat and it has a plan to deal with that threat.  Israel needs no encouragement on its existential threat from Obama: Obama has to hold them back.

Too many dichotomies.

On taxes and spending, Obama has said we need to spend more and the future will take care of itself.  On one day he is for big business but on most days he is not.  He gave Chrysler to the auto unions and an Italian carmaker of dubious future growth and hatched a plan Monday to raise taxes on American companies widely engaged in the global economic system.

What happened to jobs and growth?

Fortunately even the Democratic Congress is showing signs of waking up.  The “no plan for Gitmo prisoners” request for $600 million plus was rejected by the House Appropriations Committee because there is no plan: just a request for money.

When the President of the United States says “cinco de cuatro” and the Vice President urges people not to travel while flu is in the air, in direct contradiction of the president’s policy, this indicates a certain lack of professionalism and thought at the top of the U.S. government.  These are not small warning signs: they are alarm bells.

When the CDC tells schools to close for two weeks at the first sign a flu and then reverses itself before the two weeks are up: one should wonder what the hell is going on?

And if allies have to be persuaded to save their own nations maybe we shouldn’t spend more or send more troops.

And why is all this going on?  Because the American media is in love with Obama.  Until that love story plays out we’ll continue to travel an uneven and nonsensical path…. Without the needed professionalism and thought.  And without reporters skilled at making reality of the promises: starting with the promise of transparency, professionalism and thought.

http://michellemalkin.com/2009/05/
06/obamas-transparency-policy-do
nt-let-the-sunshine-in/

http://hotair.com/archives/2009/0
5/06/obama-to-force-israel-to-give-up-nukes/

Corruption In Obama Government Plus Loving Media is Taking us Where?

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Obama Is Causing Economic Recovery Delay: And Reshaping the Future Economy Forever?  For Worse?

From Peter Ferrara
The American Spectator

Even though American companies suffer the huge international competitive disadvantage of the second highest corporate tax rates in the industrialized world, Obama continues to scorn doing anything about this as taking us “back to the failed ideas of the past.” On Monday, Obama was out promoting still more tax increases on corporate America. He foolishly thinks that imposing taxes on the overseas investments of American companies will force investment back to the USA. But this is just one more whupping stick in Obama’s arsenal that is going to create full scale capital flight from the U.S. before his term is over. Watch as alert, independent thinking executives start to transform American companies with investments overseas into foreign companies with tentative investments in America at least for now.

Read it all:
http://spectator.org/archives/200
9/05/06/is-obama-delaying-economic-rec

Obama Asking Afghanistan, Pakistan to “Buy Into” Existential Threat With American Money

May 6, 2009

U.S. President Barack Obama will urge the leaders of Pakistan and Afghanistan to put aside a history of mistrust and join Washington in an alliance against Islamic extremists at a White House meeting on Wednesday, senior administration officials said.

By David Alexander
Reuters

Offering billions of dollars in U.S. military and civilian aid, Obama will warn that al Qaeda and its Taliban allies pose an existential threat and press Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari and Afghan President Hamid Karzai to toughen their response, the officials said.

“He’s going to make the obvious general points that have to be said and carry such enormous weight when they are said by the president of the United States — that these two countries have to work together for their mutual benefit, despite their history, despite the suspicions,” said one official.

The White House gathering, part of Obama’s new strategy for the U.S. war against al Qaeda, could produce specific agreements for cooperation on policing and border issues, the officials said.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20090506
/pl_nm/us_afghanistan_pakistan_usa_8

What holds back Pakistan?

May 6, 2009

So what holds back the rest of the Pakistan Army from pushing out the Taliban from their positions in the Swat valley? The initial response from military leaders has been consistent. The politicians in Islamabad, they say at army headquarters in Rawalpindi, believe they can negotiate with Taliban leaders in such a manner as to preserve the political support of Pushtun tribal elements overall.

By George H. Wittman
American Spectator

For its part, the Pakistan Army command has for many years worked closely with Pushtun militants: this was true against India and the Soviets in Afghanistan. These same groups now make up today’s Taliban. Parallel to this sense of loyalty to old comrades-in-arms is the thinking that civilian law enforcement, in concert with local paramilitary units, does nothing to follow-up the army’s initial victories. Hard won battles are perceived as undercut by civilian ineptitude.

In other words the army blames a lack of local follow-up and yet at the same time is itself hesitant to initiate a crushing blow on its old buddies who are now in the Taliban leadership. Many more explanations are available from General Staff in Rawalpindi, but the bottom line is always the same: “Our real enemy is India and always will be!”

To add to the arguments justifying army hesitancy for a large-scale attack on the Taliban, there is a continuing belief that the U.S. truly wishes to diminish the power of Islam in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Such views are rarely uttered to Western official representatives, but the depth of their feeling is often transmitted privately.

One factor acting as an obstacle of unstated but perhaps even greater importance is that American-trained General Ashfaq Pervez Kiyani, Chief of Army Staff, apparently has no immediate interest in heading a military action to take over once again from Pakistan’s ineffectual civilian leadership. Kiyani is quite satisfied with being able to shift potential blame for Islamic militancy and Taliban encroachment onto the civilian government.

Read the entire article:
http://spectator.org/archives/2009/
05/06/pakistans-time-of-troubles

In Pakistan, Taliban Has Won The PR War — Democracy and USA Have Lost

May 5, 2009

In Pakistan last week, the Taliban approached the outskirts of Islamabad and threatened the very existance of the government.  The government responded with an offensive into the Swat valley — in exchange for continued U.S. money and support and a promise from the U.S. to halt drone attacks which are unpopular among the Pakistani people.

From Dawn Newspaper, Pakistan:

Taliban spokesman Muslim Khan said the militants were in control of ‘90 per cent’ of the [Swat] valley and said their actions were in response to army violations of the peace deal such as attacking insurgents and boosting troop numbers in the region. He accused the government of acting under pressure from the US

Everything will be OK once our rulers stop bowing before America,’ he told AP by cell phone, adding the peace deal had ‘been dead’ since the operation in Buner.

Meanwhile, heavy shelling was witnessed in Swat’s Qambar area as militants engaged the security forces.

Read the rest:
http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-
content-library/dawn/news/pakistan/provin
ces/12-militants-besiege-46-securit-men-in-
mingora–bi-13

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http://hotair.com/archives/2009/05
/05/obama-might-end-drone-attacks-
on-al-qaeda-in-pakistan/

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If The U.S. Has To Say “Pakistan is Not A Failed State” It Just Might Be One…..

WASHINGTON (AFP) – The United States supports “unambiguously” Pakistan’s President Asif Ali Zardari and rejects the notion that his nuclear-armed state is collapsing, US envoy Richard Holbrooke said Tuesday.

Any attempt by the Pakistani military to launch a coup against Zardari’s eight-month-old civilian government would be “terrible,” he added in testimony to the House of Representatives.

Pakistan‘s of such immense importance to the United States, strategically and politically, that our goal must be to support unambiguously and help stabilize a democratic Pakistan headed by its elected president, Asif Ali Zardari,” Holbrooke said.

“We have the highest strategic interest in supporting this government.”

Rejecting US media reporting that President Barack Obama‘s administration is reaching out behind Zardari’s back to political rival Nawaz Sharif, he added: “We do not think Pakistan is a failed state.

“We think it is a state that is under extreme test. We have the same common enemies,” said Holbrooke, who is Obama’s special representative for Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20090505/pl
_afp/uspakistanafghanistanunrestcongressh
olbrooke_20090505175652

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“I remain comfortable that the nuclear weapons in Pakistan are secure, that the Pakistani leadership, and in particular the military, is very focused on this,” said Admiral Mike Mullen, the US Chairman of the Joint chiefs of Staff…..

http://www.brecorder.com/index.php
?id=34586&currPageNo=1&query=&s
earch=&term=&supDate
=

We at Peace and Freedom believe Pakistan just might be a failed state or nearly so….and the military could just take over the government at just about any time….

Related:
The White House of “We Can’t Do A Thing About It”