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Thank you, Barack Obama November 10, 2016

Posted by rogerhollander in 2016 election, Barack Obama, Civil Liberties, Climate Change, Criminal Justice, donald trump, Immigration, Media, Nazi / Fascist, Racism, Surveillance, Surveillance State, Trump, War.
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Roger’s note: the Obama presidency has been lethal to so many social movements, perhaps none more so than the anti-war movement.  Because he is a Democrat, and because the Democrats are the good guys (that’s a joke), he was to be trusted and supported.  Shit, they gave him the Nobel Peace Prize!  Like the Clintons, Obama has been and is little more than a mildly sugar-coated shill for the military industrial complex.  Because of the institutions of “security” and oppression that his presidency has strengthened and emboldened, the cost in life and liberty of the police-state violence against the massive resistance the is bound to erupt against Trump will be that much greater.

Good people have no reason to be thankful for Obama, but the Trump abominations certainly do.

Drones Visualization: Every U.S. Drone Strike In Pakistan Since 2004 (GRAPHIC) March 27, 2013

Posted by rogerhollander in Barack Obama, War.
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Pitch Interactive, a Berkeley-based data visualization unit, has created a graphic tracking every drone strike the United States has carried out in Pakistan since 2004. Wesley Grubbs, who created the visualization, joined HuffPost Live host Ahmed Shihab-Eldin Tuesday to explain the motivation behind the visualization.

“We want to shock people,” Grubbs said. “What we tried to do though with this was not just shock people with the number of casualties, but to shock people with the amount of information that we really don’t know.”

The visualization tracks the victims of the strikes using data from the Bureau for Investigative Journalism, specifically noting children and civilian collateral damage. Note the sharp uptick after President Obama takes office in 2009:




Obama takes Bush’s secrecy games one step further March 26, 2012

Posted by rogerhollander in Barack Obama, Civil Liberties, Criminal Justice, Democracy.
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  REPORTING FROM ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN — A U.S. drone missile strike killed four suspected militants in northwest Pakistan on Wednesday, ending a six-week hiatus in such attacks, imposed by Washington following American airstrikes late last year that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers and severely marred relations between the two nations.

After repeatedly boasting about it in public, Obama officials tell courts it cannot confirm the CIA drone program

By Glenn Greenwald, www.salon.com, March 26, 2012

The ACLU is suing the Obama administration under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), seeking to force disclosure of the guidelines used by Obama officials to select which human beings (both U.S. citizens and foreign nationals) will have their lives ended by the CIA’s drone attacks (“In particular,” the group explains, the FOIA request “seeks to find out when, where and against whom drone strikes can be authorized, and how the United States ensures compliance with international laws relating to extrajudicial killing”). The Obama administration has not only refused to provide any of that information, but worse, the CIA is insisting to federal courts that it cannot even confirm or deny the existence of a drone program at all without seriously damaging national security; from the CIA’s brief in response to the ACLU lawsuit:

. . .

What makes this so appalling is not merely that the Obama administration demands the right to kill whomever it wants without having to account to anyone for its actions, choices or even claimed legal authorities, though that’s obviously bad enough (as I wrote when the ACLU lawsuit was commenced: “from a certain perspective, there’s really only one point worth making about all of this: if you think about it, it is warped beyond belief that the ACLU has to sue the U.S. Government in order to force it to disclose its claimed legal and factual bases for assassinating U.S. citizens without charges, trial or due process of any kind”). What makes it so much worse is how blatantly, insultingly false is its claim that it cannot confirm or deny the CIA drone program without damaging national security.

Numerous Obama officials — including the President himself and the CIA Director — have repeatedly boasted in public about this very program. Obama recently hailed the CIA drone program by claiming that “we are very careful in terms of how it’s been applied,” and added that it is “a targeted, focused effort at people who are on a list of active terrorists, who are trying to go in and harm Americans, hit American facilities, American bases and so on.” Obama has told playful jokes about the same drone program. Former CIA Director and current Defense Secretary Leon Panetta also likes to tell cute little jokes about CIA Predator drones, and then proclaimed in December that the drone program has “been very effective at undermining al Qaeda and their ability to plan those kinds of attacks.” Just two weeks ago, Attorney General Eric Holder gave a speech purporting to legally justify these same drone attacks.

So Obama officials are eager to publicly tout the supposed benefits of the CIA’s drone programs in order to generate political gain for the President: to make him look like some sort of Tough, Brave Warrior single-handedly vanquishing Al Qaeda. The President himself boasts about how tightly controlled, precise and effective the CIA drones are. Everyone in the world knows the CIA has a drone program. It is openly discussed everywhere, certainly including the multiple Muslim countries where the drones routinely create piles of corpses, and by top U.S. Government officials themselves.

But then when it comes time to test the accuracy of their public claims by requesting the most basic information about what is done and how execution targets are selected, and when it comes time to ask courts to adjudicate its legality, then suddenly National Security imperatives prevent the government even from confirming or denying the existence of the program: the very same program they’ve been publicly boasting and joking about. As the ACLU’s Jameel Jaffer put it after Obama publicly defended the program: “At this point, the only consequence of pretending that it’s a secret program is that the courts don’t play a role in overseeing it” – that, and ensuring that any facts that contradict these public claims remain concealed.

This is why the U.S. Government’s fixation on secrecy — worse than ever under the Obama administration, as evidenced by its unprecedented war on whistleblowers — is so pernicious. It not only enables government officials to operate in the dark, which inevitably ensures vast (though undiscovered) abuses of power. Worse, it enables the government to aggressively propagandize the citizenry without challenge: Obama officials are free to make all sorts of claims about how great and targeted the drone program is and how it Keeps Us Safe™, while simultaneously suppressing any evidence or information that would test those claims and/or contradict them.

Worse still, it literally removes our highest political officials from the rule of law. The sole purpose of these vast claims of secrecy around the drone program — the absurd notion that they cannot even confirm or deny its existence without harming National Security — is to block courts from reviewing the legality of what they’re doing, which is another way of saying: they have removed themselves from the rule of law. Even Bush DOJ lawyer Jack Goldsmith, a vociferous advocate of executive power and secrecy powers, understands how abusive this is:

First, it is wrong . . . for the government to maintain technical covertness but then engage in continuous leaks, attributed to government officials, of many (self-serving) details about the covert operations and their legal justifications.  It is wrong because it is illegal.  It is wrong because it damages (though perhaps not destroys) the diplomatic and related goals of covertness.  And it is wrong because the Executive branch seems to be trying to have its cake (not talking about the program openly in order to serve diplomatic interests and perhaps deflect scrutiny) and eat it too (leaking promiscuously to get credit for the operation and to portray it as lawful).

Indeed, one of the worst abuses of the lawless Bush presidency was that Bush officials repeatedly invoked secrecy powers (the State Secret privilege) to shield their most controversial and lawless programs from judicial review: warrantless eavesdropping, rendition, and torture. One of the earliest alarms about what the Obama presidency would be was when the Obama DOJ told courts early in 2009 that it would continue to assert those same radical secrecy claims: thus telling courts that the very programs which candidate Obama long denounced as illegal were now such vital State Secrets that courts must not risk their disclosure by adjudicating their legality. Beyond Obama’s decree that the DOJ must not investigate Bush-era crimes, that was the instrument used by Obama to shield Bush’s criminal policies from judicial challenge: through Kafkaesque claims of secrecy whereby programs that everyone in the world knows exist were Too Secret even to let courts examine. In sum, there is only one place in the entire world where these policies of warrantless eavesdropping, rendition, torture, and CIA drones cannot be discussed: in American courts, when it’s time to review their legality and/or allow its victims to vindicate their legal rights.

Now, in this ACLU/FOIA case, the Obama administration is taking these warped secrecy games one step further. They boast publicly about the programs to lavish themselves with praise, only to turn around once they’re sued in court and insist that the programs are too secret even to acknowledge. So extreme is the fixation on secrecy from the Most Transparent Administration Ever™ that they are routinely reduced to this type of self-parody; behold how they are insisting in response to a separate FOIA lawsuit from The New York Times that they cannot even confirm or deny the existence of the OLC memo which authorized the assassination of Anwar Awlaki — even though the NYT reported on its contents. More amazingly still, the Obama administration continues to insist that they cannot confirm or deny the memo’s existence even after Eric Holder talks about the memo in a Senate hearing.

This would be laughable if it were not so destructive. It results in the government’s most consequential actions being completely shielded not only from public scrutiny, but also from the rule of law. It enables the most powerful political officials to inculcate the public with claims about their actions while preventing any form of checks and suppressing any contrary information. It literally means that the Obama administration is able to conduct multiple secret wars around the world, ones conducted by drone attacks, the very existence of which they refuse to acknowledge. And it is yet another means of how the Obama presidency is cementing the worst abuses of the Bush presidency: the very same ones he so inspirationally vowed to reverse.

Glenn Greenwald (email: GGreenwald@salon.com) is a former Constitutional and civil rights litigator and is the author of two New York Times Bestselling books on the Bush administration’s executive power and foreign policy abuses. His just-released book, With Liberty and Justice for Some, is an indictment of America’s two-tiered system of justice, which vests political and financial elites with immunity even for egregious crimes while subjecting ordinary Americans to the world’s largest and most merciless penal state. Greenwald was named by The Atlantic as one of the 25 most influential political commentators in the nation. He is the recipient of the first annual I.F. Stone Award for Independent Journalism, and is the winner of the 2010 Online Journalism Association Award for his investigative work on the arrest and oppressive detention of Bradley Manning.

Obama Confirms US Drone Program in Pakistan ‘US Drones Very Precise’ January 31, 2012

Posted by rogerhollander in Barack Obama, War.
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Roger’s note: President Obama: sending missiles into sovereign nations?  No problem.  Killing innocent bystanders?  Not that many, no problem.
Published on Tuesday, January 31, 2012 by Common Dreams

In frank admission, Obama argues he has authority to bomb sovereign nations and that ‘drones have not caused a great number of civilian casualties’

  – Common Dreams staff

On Monday, as President Obama was answering questions during an interview conducted by several Americans through a Google+’s “hangout” group video chat feature, he acknowledged publicly the use of US drones and airstrikes inside Pakistan.

In answering, Obama argued that “first of all, drones have not caused a great number of civilian casualties.” A claim that belies evidence. The question came from a young man named, Evan, from Brooklyn, New York, who said: “Mr. President, since you took office you’ve ordered more drone attacks in your first year than your predecessor did in his entire term. These drone attacks cause a lot of civilian casualties. I’m curious to know how you feel they help the nation and whether you think they’re worth it.”

In answering, Obama first argued that “first of all, drones have not caused a great number of civilian casualties. For the most part they have been very precise, precision strikes against Al Qaeda and their affiliates. We have been very careful in how it’s been applied.” He goes on to say that the drone program is “kept on a very tight leash” and that it’s not “just a bunch of folks in a room some where making decisions.”

In a follow up question regarding the degree to which US drone incursions might be “perceived” as interference in other countries, Obama responded that even in “sovereign nations” its better to have pinpoint capabalities, suggesting airstrike accuracy lessens the infringment of sovereignty in those nations, and, in fact, are helpful to those countries because they could not otherwise apprehend (or annihilate) these targets.

Subsequently, Obama confirmed that “a lot of these strikes have been in the FATA [Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas].”




Pakistan Calls Drone Use, Missile Strikes ‘Unlawful’ and ‘Counterproductive’

Al-Jazeera reports:

The controversial drone programme run by the CIA has often been met with protests in Pakistan amid concerns of civilian casualties. The Pakistani government publicly protests the operations, but is believed to support them.

A spokesman for Pakistan’s foreign ministry reiterated the government’s public protest in response to Obama’s comments.

“Notwithstanding tactical advantages of drone strikes, we are of the firm view that these are unlawful, counterproductive and hence unacceptable,” Abdul Basit said.

The New America Foundation, a think tank in Washington, says drone strikes in Pakistan have killed between 1,715 and 2,680 people in the past eight years.

The New America Foundation report, Year of the Drone, which studied drone attacks and civilian casualties, strongly refutes Obama’s claim that drones “have not caused a great number of civilian casualties.” According to the report:

Our study shows that the 283 reported drone strikes in northwest Pakistan, including 70 in 2011, from 2004 to the present have killed approximately between 1,717 and 2,680 individuals, of whom around 1,424 to 2,209 were described as militants in reliable press accounts. Thus, the true non-militant fatality rate since 2004 according to our analysis is approximately 17 percent. In 2010, it was more like five percent.*

We have also constructed a map, based on the same reliable press accounts and publicly available maps, of the estimated location of each drone strike. Click each pin in the online version to see the details of a reported strike. And while we are not professional cartographers, and Google Maps is at times incomplete or imperfect, this map gives our best approximations of the locations and details of each reported drone strike since 2004.


Tuesday, January 31, 2012 by The Guardian/UK

With Its Deadly Drones, the US is Fighting a Coward’s War

As technology allows machines to make their own decisions, warfare will become bloodier – and less accountable

The ancient Greeks, unlike the Jews or the Christians, invested their gods with human failings. Divine judgment, they believed, was neither flawless nor dispassionate; it was warped by lust, vengeance and self-interest. In the hands of Zeus, the thunderbolt was both an instrument of justice and a weapon of jealousy and revenge.

(Illustration by Daniel Pudles)

Those now dispensing judgment from on high are not gods, though they must feel like it. The people striking mortals down with drones are doubtless as capable as anyone else of self-deception, denial and cognitive illusions. More so, perhaps, as the eminent fictions of the Bush years and the growing delusions of the current president suggest.

Barack Obama began last week’s state of the union address by claiming that the troops who had fought the Iraq war had “made the United States safer and more respected around the world”. Like Bush, like the gods, he has begun to create the world he wants to inhabit.

These power-damaged people have been granted the chance to fulfill one of humankind’s abiding fantasies: to vaporize their enemies, as if with a curse or a prayer, effortlessly and from a safe distance. That these powers are already being abused is suggested by the mendacity of those who are deploying them. The CIA, which is running the undeclared and unacknowledged drone war in Pakistan, insists that there have been no recent civilian casualties. So does Obama’s chief counter-terrorism adviser, John Brennan. It is a blatant whitewash.

As a report last year by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism showed, of some 2,300 people killed by US drone strikes in Pakistan from 2004 until August 2011, between 392 and 781 appear to have been civilians; 175 were children. In the period about which the CIA and Brennan made their claims, at least 45 civilians have been killed. As soon as an agency claims “we never make mistakes”, you know that it has lost its moorings, as Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn suggested in his story of that title. Feeling no obligation to apologize or explain, count bodies or answer for its crimes, it becomes a danger to humanity.

It may be true, as the US air force says, that because a drone can circle and study a target for hours before it strikes, its missiles are less likely to kill civilians than those launched from a piloted plane. (The air force has yet to explain how it reconciles this with its boast that drones “greatly shorten decision time”.) But it must also be true that the easier and less risky a deployment is, the more likely it is to happen.

This danger is acknowledged in a remarkably candid assessment published by the UK’s Ministry of Defense, which also deploys drones, and has also used them to kill civilians. It maintains that the undeclared air war in Pakistan and Yemen “is totally a function of the existence of an unmanned capability – it is unlikely a similar scale of force would be used if this capability were not available”. Citing the German military theorist Carl von Clausewitz, it warns that the brutality of war seldom escalates to its absolute form, partly because of the risk faced by one’s own forces. Without risk, there’s less restraint. With these unmanned craft, governments can fight a coward’s war, a god’s war, harming only the unnamed.

The danger is likely to escalate as drone warfare becomes more automated and the lines of accountability less clear. Last week the US navy unveiled a drone that can land on an aircraft carrier without even a remote pilot. The Los Angeles Times warned that “it could usher in an era when death and destruction can be dealt by machines operating semi-independently“. The British assessment suggests that within a few years drones assisted by artificial intelligence could make their own decisions about whom to kill and whom to spare. Sorry sir, computer says yes.

“Some would say one man’s freedom fighter is another man’s terrorist,” George HW Bush opined on when he was vice-president. “I reject this notion. The philosophical differences are stark and fundamental.” Perhaps they are, but no US administration has convincingly defined them or consistently recognized them. In Latin America, south-east Asia, Africa and the Middle East, successive presidents have thwarted freedom and assisted state terrorism. Drones grant governments new opportunities to snuff out opposition of any kind, terrorist or democrat. The US might already be making use of them.

In October last year, a 16-year-old called Tariq Aziz was traveling through North Waziristan in Pakistan with his 12-year-old cousin, Waheed Khan. Their car was hit by a missile from a US drone. As always, their deaths made them guilty: if we killed them, they must be terrorists. But they weren’t. Tariq was about to start work with the human rights group Reprieve, taking pictures of the aftermath of drone strikes. A mistake? Possibly. But it is also possible that he was murdered out of self-interest. If you have such powers, if you are not held to account by Congress, the media or the American people, why not use them?

The danger to democracy, and not just in Pakistan but one day perhaps everywhere, should be evident. Yet, as fatalistic as the ancient Greeks, we drift into this with scarcely a murmur of debate, leaving the gods to decide.

© 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited



George Monbiot

George Monbiot is the author of the best selling books The Age of Consent: a manifesto for a new world order and Captive State: the corporate takeover of Britain. He writes a weekly column for the Guardian newspaper. Visit his website at www.monbiot.com

24 Comments so far

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Posted by secretarybird
Jan 31 2012 – 10:20am

“a drone can circle and study a target for hours before it strikes”

Only because the people down below lack anti-aircraft weapons (a pretty good sign that they are actually civilians).

Posted by pjd412
Jan 31 2012 – 12:47pm

Or, if not civilians, then no threat whatsoever to US citizens minding their own business within their borders.

Posted by Thalidomide
Jan 31 2012 – 10:42am

The Americans have been fighting cowardly wars ever since the end of world war 11. They only go after poor third world countries dropping their bombs from on high on innocent civilians. I remember their massive slaughter of the Vietnamese using napalm and cluster bombs. They are so vicious and dumb that killing poor people that have done nothing against them makes them feel good and they hate foreigners so much they don’t even bother to count the number they kill because it might remind people how uneven their wars are.

Posted by tiozapata
Jan 31 2012 – 11:34am

Amerikans/ Europeans have been slaughtering/ carrying out terrorist atrocities, aka wars; since 1492 ! Manifest Destiny, amerikan imperialism, terrorism, all deadly semantics; all have come Full Circle…..the fascist amerikan empire IS sliding into the abyss !!!

Posted by hummingbird
Jan 31 2012 – 12:37pm

“The ancient Greeks, unlike the Jews or the Christians, invested their gods with human failings. Divine judgment, they believed, was neither flawless nor dispassionate; it was warped by lust, vengeance and self-interest. In the hands of Zeus, the thunderbolt was both an instrument of justice and a weapon of jealousy and revenge.”–George Monbiot ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ “unlike the jews or christians”? i find that curious, george, because somewhere in the old testament we learn that g_d is a jealous g_d.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ “Yet, as fatalistic as the ancient Greeks, we drift into this with scarcely a murmur of debate, leaving the gods to decide.”–George Monbiot ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

good point! i find it amazing that people continue to expect the elect of mount olympus d.c. to solve all problems. we might blame that “faith” in the ruling class on the greeks, too. plato, realising that certain humans among us have such extraordinary qualities of leadership, intellectually wise and morally superior that they most naturally should be entrusted to manage all our affairs. why to even the landed gentry,  is tantamount to questioning the gods themselves!

plato went on to say that these most exalted ones know best which sciences a government supports and which sciences waste time and money. the sciences which lead to more magnificent weaponry should get the lion’s share for should another society attempt to wrest the g_d given (*see divine right of kings) land always makes weaponry top priority. we immoral, mortal commoners who glory in our leader’s success must see their altruism for what it is. they protect and manage the wealth for all of us.

Posted by Rainborowe
Jan 31 2012 – 2:09pm

The first, the original, meaning of “jealous” was “watchful” or “careful.”  This is the sense in which the translators of the King James Bible used it.

Posted by Obedient Servant
Jan 31 2012 – 3:10pm

Since you raise the point, Rainborowe, I’ve often wondered why the term “jealous” has gotten muddled in popular usage.

In addition to the synonyms you present, the original pejorative sense of jealous meant, and still sometimes means, “protective” or “possessive” (to a fault).  But in modern usage it’s also a synonym for “envious” or “covetous”,  which isn’t really the same thing.

‘Tis a semantic puzzle.

Posted by hummingbird
Jan 31 2012 – 11:04am

“god bless america…..and nobody else!”

“patriotism is the last refuge of scoundrels!” –dr. samuel johnson

Posted by onemorethought
Jan 31 2012 – 11:19am

When was the last time the U.S. actually won a war?

Posted by DogStarMan69
Jan 31 2012 – 11:51am

Reminds me of the late Bill Hicks’ view on the first Gulf slaughter;

“War? Well, a war is when *two* armies are fighting.”

Posted by raydelcamino
Jan 31 2012 – 7:17pm

When a war “ends”, so does the revenue stream for the banksters and their military industrial complex. No US war will ever end as long as the banksters own the US Government.

Posted by craigdp
Jan 31 2012 – 12:11pm

This is drivel, for two reasons:

Using drones is no more dastardly than using suicide bombers – both are indiscriminate and presume ‘collateral’ damage.

In the larger picture, all war is a crime. attempting to parse discrete levels of culpability is absurd prima facie.

Posted by pjd412
Jan 31 2012 – 1:14pm

Except suicide-bombing arises only as a desperate measure by a vastly out-gunned people trying futilely to defend themselves against an invader and occupier.  Stop the invasions and occupations and the suicide-bombings will stop.  Alternatvely, if the defenders were given the same advanced weaponry as the invader, they would discard their inaccurate suicide bombs too.

Also, with all the atrocities being done in our name by our governent, which are precipitating the suicide bombings to begin with, and all the work to be done resisting them, I frankly don’t have the indignation left to invest in the suicide bomber’s actions.  So, the symmetry you are trying to draw is no quite correct.  There is no symmetry between effect and casue – at the macroscopic non-quantum level anyway.

Posted by RV
Jan 31 2012 – 1:31pm

What is really absurd is failure to distinguish between the culpability of those who seek to impose imperial tyranny and those who attempt to defend their homes and families against it.

Posted by Lingum
Jan 31 2012 – 2:22pm

As some Palestinian once said, give us planes and tanks so we don’t have to use suicide/human bombers.

Posted by Siouxrose
Jan 31 2012 – 12:50pm

I appreciate Mr. Monbiot’s use of Greek mythology. His initial point was to show that the deities of Olympus have critical flaws unlike the premise of a more perfect God, one alone who is flawless, and governs our world as the sovereign ruler.

I take issue, however, with Mr. Monbiot’s conclusion:

“Yet, as fatalistic as the ancient Greeks, we drift into this with scarcely a murmur of debate, leaving the gods to decide. ”

The MIC acts like a stand-in for Divine authority as it sees no need to take input from citizens. It is this Luciferic force, masquerading as a god of indiscriminate death, that makes the decisions that eliminate all debate. It is not the citizenry, particularly those who advocate FOR world peace and see through the law-defying rationales of the “War on Terror,” who choose these outcomes!

WE is a dangerous notion when decisions are taken by a few (very damaged souls) on alleged behalf of all others.

Posted by medmedude
Jan 31 2012 – 1:09pm

this guy monbiot is an odd guy – i saw him last month “debating” helen calddicott about nuclear energy – he was shilling for the industry and his disrespect for this world renown expert was offensive

he’s one of these guys who says a little radiation is “good” for you – it ain’t

as far as the drones go – trying to make this sound like a man up situation is very macho on his part but i’ll bet 20 bucks he has never been under fire

as much as i hate our current military situation around the world i don’t want to see another one of our men or women injured or killed, not even one more

4800 dead – hundreds of thousands wounded emotionally and physically is quite enough

we need to stand down the war machine manned and unmanned and stop all this killing

our soldiers are not cowards but the likes of obummer, cheney, bush baby and mittens oromney who put them in harm’s way – they are truly cowards and when it was time for them to serve they had “other priorities” as cowards often do…

Posted by pjd412
Jan 31 2012 – 1:25pm

I really think you need some lessons in civility in the way you write your posts.  You write like an arrogant asshole.

Monbiot, as I do, regard the catastrophic consequences of AGW to be a far more dire issue than nuclear power plant safety issues – which are manifestly exaggerated by oppnents compared to any other industrial process – especially the mining and burning of coal.  The facts are, when a nuclear power plant is closed, it is replaced with a coal-burning one.  And even if it were replaced with renewables, it means that a coal power plant somewhere could have, but will not, be replaced with renewables.  As Monbiot has noted, this is madness.

Posted by medmedude
Jan 31 2012 – 1:53pm

i think that shilling for nuclear power exposes your ignorance of the dangers of nuclear energy its either willful ignorance or you work in the industry

go and live near one and count the days until your tumors arrive

death count from chernobyl – 1 million

fuskushima: well that is being written – the prefecture where that monstrosity sits is now uninhabitable for the half life of the isotopes being released – around 30,000 years or so

3 mile island – oh yeah we didn’t even measure that one

shill on bro – ignorant one – each to his own

If nuclear power plants are safe, let the commerical insurance industry insure them – they don’t and won’t and for good reason

shill on bro shill on

Posted by Lingum
Jan 31 2012 – 2:17pm

Regarding  Mr. Monbiot, I believe he was against nuclear power before he was for it. He now displays the passion of a convert.

Posted by justbreath
Jan 31 2012 – 7:24pm

Man, If you don’t wear metaphorical boots while posting on this site, one is likely to step in a pile of dung. PJD is lecturing med on civility at the same time calling him or her an “arrogant asshole.” (Pot calling the Kettle black.)

Since when did CD establish etiquette laws?

Posted by Cynthia
Jan 31 2012 – 2:20pm

But having a bunch of limp-wristed gays in the military now makes it okay for us to be cowardly and wimpish in the way we fight our manly wars of aggression. ;~)

Posted by ctrl-z
Jan 31 2012 – 2:53pm


n. 2. Archaic A line separating two political or geographical areas, esp. countries.

Posted by Obedient Servant
Jan 31 2012 – 3:20pm

“With Its Deadly Drones, the US is Fighting a Coward’s War”

“With these unmanned craft, governments can fight a coward’s war, a god’s war, harming only the unnamed.” ________________________

I get the point, but I think conceptualizing technobarbaric warfare as “cowardly” is unfortunate in one respect:  it’s susceptible to the inference that manunkind was better off when warmongers initiated good old-fashioned brave, heroic, glorious wars– wars against “named” targets, give or take a bunch of innocent bystanders.

You know, a MANLY war.

The CIA’s Unaccountable Drone War Claims Another Casualty November 7, 2011

Posted by rogerhollander in Criminal Justice, Pakistan, War on Terror.
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Published on Monday, November 7, 2011 by the Guardian/UK


If Tariq Aziz, the 16-year-old soccer fan I met last week in Pakistan, was a dangerous Taliban terrorist, let the CIA prove it.

by Pratap Chatterjee

Last Friday, I met a boy, just before he was assassinated by the CIA. Tariq Aziz was 16, a quiet young man from North Waziristan, who, like most teenagers, enjoyed soccer. Seventy-two hours later, a Hellfire missile is believed to have killed him as he was traveling in a car to meet his aunt in Miran Shah, to take her home after her wedding. Killed with him was his 12-year-old cousin, Waheed Khan.

Over 2,300 people in Pakistan have been killed by such missiles carried by drone aircraft such as the Predator and the Reaper, and launched by remote control from Langley, Virginia. Tariq and Waheed brought the known total of children killed in this way to 175, according to statistics maintained by the organization I work for, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism.

The final order to kill is signed allegedly by Stephen Preston, the general counsel at the CIA headquarters. What evidence, I would like to know, does Mr Preston have against Tariq and Waheed? What right does he have to act as judge, jury and executioner of two teenage boys neither he nor his staff have ever met, let alone cross-examined, or given the opportunity to present witnesses?

It is not too late to call for a prosecution and trial of whoever pushed the button and the US government officials who gave the order: that is, Mr Preston and his boss, President Barack Obama.

There are many people whom I know who can appear as witnesses in this trial. We – a pair of reporters, together with several lawyers from Britain, Pakistan and the US – met the victim and dozens of other young men from North Waziristan for dinner at the Margalla hotel in Islamabad on Thursday 27 October. We talked about their local soccer teams, which they proudly related were named for Brazil, New Zealand and other nations, which they had heard about but never visited.

The next morning, I filmed young Tariq walking into a conference hall to greet his elders. I reviewed the tape after he was killed to see what was recorded of some of his last moments: he walks shyly and greets the Waziri elders in the traditional style by briefly touching their chests. With his friends, he walks to a set of chairs towards the back of the hall, and they argue briefly about where each of them will sit. Over the course of the morning, Tariq appears again in many photographs that dozens of those present took, always sitting quietly and listening intently.

Tariq was attending a “Waziristan Grand Jirga” on behalf of drone strike victims in Pakistan, which was held at the Margalla hotel the following day. As is the Pashtun custom, the young men, each of whom had lost a friend or relative in a drone strike, did not speak. For four hours, the Waziri elders debated the drone war, and then they listened to a resolution condemning the attacks, read out by Mirza Shahzad Akbar, a lawyer from the Foundation for Fundamental Rights. The group voted for this unanimously.

Neil Williams, a volunteer from Reprieve, the British legal charity, sat down and chatted with Tariq after the jirga was over. Together, they traveled in a van to the Pakistani parliament for a protest rally against drone strikes led by Imran Khan, a former cricketer, and now the leader of the Tehreek-e-Insaaf political party.

The next day, the group returned home to Waziristan. On Monday, Tariq was killed, according to his uncle Noor Kalam.

The question I would pose to the jury is this: would a terrorist suspect come to a public meeting and converse openly with foreign lawyers and reporters, and allow himself to be photographed and interviewed? More importantly, since he was so easily available, why could Tariq not have been detained in Islamabad, when we spent 48 hours together? Neither Tariz Aziz nor the lawyers attending this meeting had a highly trained private security detail that could have put up resistance.

Attending that jirga, however, were Clive Stafford Smith and Tara Murray, two US lawyers who trained at Columbia and Harvard. They tell me, unequivocally, that US law is based on the fact that every person is innocent until proven guilty. Why was Tariq, even if a terrorist suspect, not offered an opportunity to defend himself?

Let me offer important alternative argument – the US government has a record of making terrible mistakes in this covert war. On 2 September 2010, the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan claimed to have killed Muhammad Amin, the alleged Taliban deputy governor of Takhar province in Afghanistan, in a drone strike. There was only one problem: Michael Semple, a Taliban expert at Harvard University, subsequently interviewed Muhammad Amin and confirmed that he was alive and well and living in Pakistan in March 2011.

The man who was killed was Zabet Amanullah, who was out campaigning in parliamentary elections – along with nine of his fellow election workers. This was confirmed by exhaustive research conducted by Kate Clark, a former BBC correspondent in Kabul who now works for the Afghanistan Analysts Network, who had met with Zabet Amanullah in 2008. The error could have been avoided, Clark points out in her report, if US military intelligence officers had just been “watching election coverage on television”, instead of living in its “parallel world” remote from “normal, everyday world of Afghan politics”.

If Barack Obama’s CIA believed in justice and judicial process, they could have attended the Islamabad jirga last Friday and met with Tariq. It was, after all, an open meeting. They could have arrested and charged Tariq with the help of the Pakistani police. If a prosecution is ever mounted over the death of Tariq, those of us who met him on several occasions last week would be happy to testify to the character of the young man that we had met. But if the CIA has evidence to the contrary, it should present it to the world.

Unless the CIA can prove that Tariq Aziz posed an imminent threat (as the White House’s legal advice stipulates a targeted killing must in order for an attack to be carried out), or that he was a key planner in a war against the US or Pakistan, the killing of this 16 year old was murder, and any jury should convict the CIA accordingly.

© 2011 Pratap Chatterjee



Pratap Chatterjee

Pratap Chatterjee is the author of two books about the war on terror: Halliburton’s Army: How a Well-Connected Texas Oil Company Revolutionized the Way America Makes War and Iraq, Inc. (Seven Stories Press, 2004). He is the former executive director of CorpWatch and a shareholder of both Halliburton and KBR.

Study: CIA drones strikes have killed 168 children August 12, 2011

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Roger’s note: I have been re-thinking the Vietnam War lately.  Some 60,000 US soldiers lost their lives, and millions of Vietnamese.  That is not to mention the destruction rained on that country by the US military and the ruined lives of countless thousands of returning American GIs.  Apart from the militaristic quasi-fascist right, common wisdom says that the war was a failure.  The naive analysts refer to it as if it were a mistaken policy (and not as the crime that it was).  I am thinking that from the perspective of US geo-political objectives, the war was not a failure.  It showed the world how much death and destruction the United States government was prepared to wreak on a peoples who oppose the American Empire.  Today President Obama is making a big fuss over the deaths of the government’s trained professional assassins know as the Navy Seals.  The Lyndon Johnsons, the Robert McNamaras, the George Bushs, the Dick Cheneys, the Donald Rumsfelds, the Barack Obamas, the Bill and Hillary Clintons … they kill and destroy with impunity.  They are the front men (Mrs. Clinton included)  for the military-industrial complex, about which ex-president Eisenhower warned in his farewell address.  I have no doubt that they believed or believe in their cause and consider their actions justifiable.  That, however, does not change the fact that they commit crimes against humanity


Justin Elliott, www.salon.com, August 12, 2011

AP/Noor Behram, HOIn this Aug. 23, 2010 photo provided by photographer Noor Behram, a man holds debris from a missile strike in North Waziristan, Pakistan.

Based on international and Pakistani news reports and research on the ground, the London-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism has issued a new study on civilians killed by American drones, concluding that at least 385 civilians have been killed in the past seven years, including at least 168 children.

Here’s a taste of the report, which can be read in full here (warning: graphic images):

Pakistani father Din Mohammad had the misfortune to live next door to militants in Danda Darpakhel, North Waziristan. His neighbours were reportedly part of the Haqqani Network, a group fighting US forces in nearby Afghanistan.

On September 8 2010, the CIA’s Reaper drones paid a visit. Hellfire missiles tore into the compound killing six alleged militants.

One of the Hellfires missed its target, and Din Mohammad’s house was hit. He survived. But his son, his two daughters and his nephew all died. His eldest boy had been a student at a Waziristan military cadet college. The other three children were all below school age.


An Obama administration official told ABC that these numbers are “way off the mark” — but, tellingly, did so on the condition of anonymity, meaning he or she will be protected from any accountability.

Meanwhile, the New York Times’ Scott Shane has an important article reviewing the same issue and in particular Obama counterterrorism adviser John Brennan’s claim in June that for the previous year CIA drone strikes hadn’t caused “a single collateral death because of the exceptional proficiency, precision of the capabilities we’ve been able to develop.” Shane finds that basically every outside observer — including those of all ideological stripes — finds this claim to be preposterous:


Others who question the C.I.A. claim include strong supporters of the drone program like Bill Roggio, editor of The Long War Journal, who closely tracks the strikes.

“The Taliban don’t go to a military base to build bombs or do training,” Mr. Roggio said. “There are families and neighbors around. I believe the people conducting the strikes work hard to reduce civilian casualties. They could be 20 percent. They could be 5 percent. But I think the C.I.A.’s claim of zero civilian casualties in a year is absurd.”


Brennan issued a new statement to the Times suggesting that the CIA has merely “not found credible evidence of collateral deaths” from the drone strikes:

“Fortunately, for more than a year, due to our discretion and precision, the U.S. government has not found credible evidence of collateral deaths resulting from U.S. counterterrorism operations outside of Afghanistan or Iraq, and we will continue to do our best to keep it that way,” Mr. Brennan said.

Given that the drones are operated remotely, it’s far from clear how the CIA even knows who is being killed in many of these strikes.

  • Justin Elliott is a Salon reporter. Reach him by email at jelliott@salon.com and follow him on Twitter @ElliottJustin More: Justin Elliott

CIA Can Expand Using Drones in Pakistan: Report December 4, 2009

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(Roger’s Note: Our Nobel Peace laureate Obama in action.  I am reminded of a line from an anti-war song, “peace on earth, or the earth in pieces.”  The depths to which US foreign policy has sunk: the Pakistan government officially protests our military aggression against their sovereign nation, but, wink, wink, we know they really want us to bomb them so it’s OK.  It would be comic if it were not so tragic.  Obama violates internation lawwith impunity as did Bush.  No mistake about it, this makes him an international outlaw.  More Plus ca change … you can believe in.)
Published on Friday, December 4, 2009 by Agence France-Presse

WASHINGTON – The White House has authorized the CIA to expand the use of unmanned aerial drones in Pakistan to track down and strike suspected Taliban and Al-Qaeda members, the New York Times reported Friday.

[Pakistani citizens protest the continued use of CIA drones in fall of 2008. The White House has authorized the CIA to expand the use of unmanned aerial drones in Pakistan to track down and strike suspected Taliban and Al-Qaeda members, the New York Times reported Friday. (TARIQ MAHMOOD/AFP/Getty Images)]Pakistani citizens protest the continued use of CIA drones in fall of 2008. The White House has authorized the CIA to expand the use of unmanned aerial drones in Pakistan to track down and strike suspected Taliban and Al-Qaeda members, the New York Times reported Friday. (TARIQ MAHMOOD/AFP/Getty Images)

The Times, citing unnamed sources, said that authorization to expand CIA drone usage in Pakistan’s tribal areas came this week, coinciding with President Barack Obama’s announcement Tuesday of sending 30,000 more US troops to Afghanistan. 

Washington is also talking with Pakistani officials about using the drones to strike in Baluchistan — a vast region outside of the tribal areas that borders Afghanistan and Iran — where Afghan Taliban leaders are reportedly hiding, the Times reported.

Analysts, intelligence agents and foreign officials have widely reported that Taliban fighters use Baluchistan as a base, crossing over the border into Afghanistan to and from the Taliban’s spiritual capital of Kandahar.

The northwest Pakistan tribal region has seen a surge in the US strikes, which fan anti-Americanism in the nuclear-armed Muslim country, since Obama took office.

While the drone program began under former president George W. Bush, the Obama administration has continued and expanded it.

Drones, usually armed with Hellfire missiles, are launched in the region and frequently controlled remotely from sites in the United States.

As a rule, the US military does not confirm drone attacks, which US officials say have killed a number of top-level militants.

Islamabad publicly opposes their use as a violation of its sovereignty, but analysts say that Pakistani officials give their use tacit support.

Criticism of the strikes in Pakistan has lessened in public since a US drone attack killed Pakistan’s much-feared Taliban warlord Baitullah Mehsud on August 5.

In late October, UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial Executions Philip Alston said that drone usage could be breaking international laws.

“The onus is really on the United States government to reveal more about the ways in which it makes sure that arbitrary extrajudicial executions aren’t in fact being carried out through the use of these weapons,” he added.

Alston said he had presented a report on the matter to the UN General Assembly.

Since August 2008, at least 65 such strikes have killed around 625 people, although it is difficult to confirm the precise identity of many of those who die given that the remote regions targeted are largely closed to outsiders.

© 2009 Agence France-Press