War crimes in Afghanistan not investigated, Amnesty says


This video is called ‘Untried war crimes': Amnesty slams US military actions in Afghanistan.

From daily The Independent in Britain:

‘Flawed US military justice fails to recognise war crimes, says Amnesty International

Amnesty claims civilian deaths in Afghanistan have not been properly investigated

Cahal Milmo, Chief Reporter

Monday 11 August 2014

Dozens of potential war crimes committed by American forces in Afghanistan have gone uninvestigated by Washington because of a “deeply flawed” military justice system, Amnesty International alleges today.

The human rights group says thousands of Afghans have been killed or injured by US forces, who are due to pull out of the country at the end of this year, but have little chance of forcing the Pentagon to hold those responsible to account where deaths were unlawful.

In an 84-page report published today, Amnesty calls on the US to end what it says is a culture of secrecy surrounding military discipline and consider replacing its “commander-driven” investigations, which rely on soldiers’ own accounts of their actions, with civilian-managed courts martial.

The organisation studied 10 American military operations which resulted in the deaths of 140 civilians between 2009 and 2013 but said none had resulted in prosecutions, despite apparent evidence of atrocities. It said that since 2009, there had been just six trials of US personnel for the alleged illegal killing of Afghan civilians.

Richard Bennett, Amnesty’s Asia Pacific director, said: “The US military justice system almost always fails to hold its soldiers accountable for unlawful killings and other abuses. None of the cases we looked into were prosecuted by the US military. Evidence of possible war crimes and unlawful killings has seemingly been ignored.”

Amnesty said it had interviewed 125 witnesses and family members in connection with the Afghan cases, many of which involved operations by US special forces.

In two cases there was “abundant and compelling” evidence of war crimes, including the attempted cover-up of the shooting of pregnant women and torture of captives, according to the group.

American troops shot or fatally wounded five people during a night-time raid on a house where a family celebration – attended by guests including an Afghan police investigator and prosecutor – was taking place in the eastern Paktia province.

The dead included two pregnant women – one a mother of 10, the other a mother of six – and a 17-year-old girl. Witnesses told Amnesty’s investigators that after the raid in 2010, the American forces removed evidence, including digging their bullets out of walls and the bodies of the dead women.

A press release issued on behalf of US forces claimed that the troops had found the “bound and gagged” bodies of the three women in the house and suggested they may have been victims of a “traditional honour killing”.

The claims were later withdrawn and Nato admitted responsibility for all five deaths but no prosecution ever took place.

In the second case, the human rights group said there was evidence that an elite special forces unit – known as ODA 3124 – had carried out extra-judicial killings and torture during a three-month period ending in February last year in the central Wardak province.

Under international law, not every civilian death in war is unlawful. But if they have been targeted deliberately or indiscriminately then a full and impartial investigation must be held, Amnesty said.

THE families of thousands of Afghan civilians killed by US/NATO forces in Afghanistan have been left without justice, Amnesty International said in a new report released on Monday: here. And here.

United States scientist sacked for opposition to nuclear weapons


This video from Japan about nuclear destruction is called George Takei Remembers Hiroshima.

By Tom Hall in the USA:

US researcher victimized over article opposing nuclear weapons

5 August 2014

The Los Alamos National Laboratory fired James E. Doyle, a respected nuclear security expert, in early July after more than a year of persecution stemming from a scholarly article he had published calling for nuclear disarmament, according to an account published Thursday by the Center for Public Integrity.

The fact that a US government laboratory victimized a researcher for expressing opposition to nuclear weapons, a view shared by the overwhelming majority of the world’s population, testifies to the crisis-ridden character of American foreign policy. In case after case around the world, the US is attempting to shore up its declining supremacy through increasingly reckless and brazen acts of aggression, up to and including stoking conflict with Russia and China, both nuclear powers.

Located in New Mexico, the Los Alamos National Laboratory is a Department of Energy facility that researches and develops nuclear weapons. It is one of the largest research facilities in the world and has an annual budget of over $2 billion. Doyle had worked for 17 years as a contractor in the lab’s Nuclear Nonproliferation Division.

In February 2013, Doyle published a front-page article in Survival, the journal of the UK-based think tank International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS). Titled “Why Eliminate Nuclear Weapons?”, the piece argued that nuclear deterrence was a “myth” that damaged the ability of world governments to “meet the mutual global challenges of the twenty-first century.”

Doyle’s article dismantles the various official legends surrounding nuclear weapons. He disputes the shopworn assertion that the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki by the United States in World War II saved tens of thousands of lives by precluding an invasion of the Japanese mainland, citing the “emerging view among historians that the entry of the Soviet Union into the Pacific War on 9 August 1945 was more decisive in Japan’s decision to surrender than the threat of further atomic bombings.”

Moreover, Doyle points to the various near-misses during the Cold War, as well as the recklessness of American and Soviet politicians and military leaders during the Cuban missile crisis, as contradicting the theory that nuclear deterrence “induces caution during crises, [making] leaders more risk-adverse.” From this he concludes, “It is clearly unreasonable to assert that evidence supports the claim that nuclear deterrence was the major cause of war-avoidance [in the post-war era]. This assertion is a belief, unsupported by anything approaching a strong, clear body of historically documented evidence.” He ends by appealing to the “international community” to eliminate nuclear weapons by 2045, the 100-year anniversary of the atomic bombings of Japan.

Doyle submitted his article, prepared over months in his spare time, for review by the laboratory’s censors, although he was not required to do so. While his supervisors encouraged him to adopt a more “moderate” stance to avoid hurting the interests of the laboratory, they did not raise any concerns about classified information and did not attempt to prevent him from publishing the article.

Less than a week after publication, however, Doyle’s superiors declared that the article contained classified information. As part of a phony investigation, they demanded that Doyle hand over copies of every article he had ever published.

Demonstrating the politically motivated character of the investigation, Los Alamos’ Chief Classification Officer Daniel Gerth overruled three subordinates who advised him that they had found no classified material in the article. Despite making no effort to remove the article from circulation, which is still freely available on the IISS’s website, security officials at the laboratory demanded access to Doyle’s home computer in order to delete Doyle’s personal copies of the article from his hard drive.

The Laboratory administration suspended Doyle’s security clearance for one month. In addition, they suspended, rather than revoked, Doyle’s access to information on foreign nuclear programs, a method of proceeding that prevented him from appealing their action. Such information was crucial to Doyle’s work as a nuclear nonproliferation expert. Finally, on July 8, 2014, the Laboratory fired him.

There are indications that the campaign against Doyle originated from sections of Congress. The Center for Public Integrity cites Doyle’s former supervisor, Scott Gibbs, as saying that the lab’s government relations office in Washington had told him that Doyle’s article had upset someone on the House Armed Services Committee. Gibbs refused to comment further, and Washington officials contacted by the Center for Public Integrity declined to confirm or deny Gibb’s allegations.

However, the fact that all four of the complaints lodged by Doyle with numerous government agencies were summarily dismissed despite the obviously political character of the case suggests widespread collusion to punish Doyle for his remarks.

Doyle is a solidly establishment figure. Before working 17 years at Los Alamos, he wrote the Department of Energy’s plan for securing nuclear material in Russia in the aftermath of the collapse of the Soviet Union. He is a well-known researcher in nuclear non-proliferation and wrote a textbook on the subject that is used in more than 30 universities around the world. Indeed, his article opposes nuclear proliferation from the standpoint of safeguarding American “national security” and quotes Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama.

Yet clearly he is aware of the suicidal implications of contemporary American foreign policy and brought those concerns to the public at large in his article. This was considered a red line by sections of the US security apparatus.

The article clearly touched a nerve in government circles when it declared, “Current US nuclear posture with respect to Russia seems to be completely out of step with declared policy. In 1994, Russia and the United States reached a bilateral de-targeting agreement…but if Russia is not presumed to be a potential adversary, [the] fundamental features of the current US nuclear force structure and operating posture make little sense.” Although he holds back from any conclusions, the evidence Doyle offers makes clear that the real aim of US nuclear policy is maintaining an aggressive war footing, primarily against Russia, with an eye toward asserting its dominance over every area of the globe.

The government is clearly fearful of the examples set by Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning. Because of the immense dangers involved and the complete lack of any support for these policies among the population, the ruling elite cannot tolerate any dissension in the ranks of the military-industrial complex.

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Foreign soldiers killed Afghan peasants


This video says about itself:

Investigative journalist Jon Stephenson talks about New Zealand’s involvement in the war in Afghanistan. Marae Investigates TVNZ 24 April 2011.

By Tom Peters in New Zealand:

Civilians were killed in New Zealand-US raid on Afghan village

5 July 2014

An investigation by journalist Jon Stephenson, broadcast on Maori Television on Monday, found that a raid on an Afghan village on August 22, 2010, involving New Zealand, US and Afghan soldiers, resulted in 21 casualties, all of them innocent civilians.

According to the report—based on interviews with survivors, NGOs and Afghan government officials, and cell phone videos of the dead—six people were killed, including a three-year-old girl, and 15 were wounded.

The night-time raid on the village of Tirgiran in Baghlan province was in retaliation for an insurgent attack on New Zealand soldiers in neighbouring Bamiyan province on August 4 that killed Lieutenant Tim O’Donnell.

The US-led attack, which unleashed awesome firepower against an apparently defenceless village, was typical of the operations of the occupation forces. The war, which has lasted more than 12 years and caused tens of thousands of deaths, is a neo-colonial venture that faces widespread and entrenched opposition. The aim of such attacks is to terrorise the population into submission.

US helicopter gunships repeatedly fired on houses and dropped off NZ SAS troops, who burst into people’s homes. According to a press statement at the time by the US-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), 12 “insurgents” were killed. But ISAF also said there was a “possibility” of civilian deaths because a helicopter gun “malfunction” led to soldiers shooting into the wrong building. The New York Times quoted district governor Mohammed Ismail two days after the raid, who said eight people had been killed, including two women and a child.

In April 2011, NZ’s then defence minister Wayne Mapp told TVNZ that the raid was necessary “to protect our people.” He said allegations of civilian deaths had “been investigated and proven to be false.”

However, Said Ahmad, a 38-year-old farmer, who received shrapnel wounds from the raid, told Stephenson: “There were no Taliban. All of the people that were killed or wounded were innocent people … The helicopters were going, coming, going and coming in circles and firing on people. They shot at us and killed and wounded defenseless people.”

Mohammad Iqbal, another farmer who still has shrapnel lodged in his back and is unable to work, claimed that nine of those wounded were women.

Dr Abdul Rahman, one of the first people who arrived after the attack, showed Stephenson pictures of the dead and the wounded, and explained that he helped to bury a three-year-old girl named Fatima. Rahman provided a certificate issued by the former district governor, listing the names of the dead and wounded.

Stephenson noted that the United Nations and the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission both acknowledged the civilian casualties in a 2011 report. He also stated: “SAS troopers who took part in the mission are concerned that civilians died there.” He said there were no claims that NZ troops had themselves killed civilians.

Despite the extensive evidence that the raid on Tirgiran resulted in a massacre of innocent people, the NZ government dismissed Stephenson’s report. Prime Minister John Key told TV3 last Tuesday that a “thorough review” by the Chief of Defence Force had found that “there were insurgents that were killed but that was it.”

Defence Minister Jonathan Coleman was more evasive. He told reporters: “New Zealanders were not involved—and that’s categorical—in any civilian casualties or deaths.” Then he added that he “couldn’t rule out” that civilians had died in the raid “through actions taken by other forces.”

Stephenson hit back at the government, telling TV3 that, in addition to the eyewitness accounts in his report, “I did a lot of other investigation and confirmed from very senior Afghan officials, and from people like hospital directors and NGOs, that those accounts were accurate. So I think the prime minister’s in another world if he thinks that all this evidence counts for nothing and that he is categorically right.”

Stephenson has been harassed and spied on by the government and the military for previous reports exposing the complicity of NZ forces in war crimes—including a May 2011 report that revealed NZ troops had handed over prisoners to US and Afghan authorities for torture.

Last year the Sunday Star-Times revealed that the NZ military collaborated with US spy agencies to monitor Stephenson’s phone calls, and those of his associates, when he was in Afghanistan. A Defence Force manual leaked to the newspaper said “certain investigative journalists” should be regarded as a subversive “threat.” It said they could “obtain politically sensitive information” that could “bring the Government into disrepute” and called for “counter-intelligence” operations against them.

In June 2011, Stephenson complained to police after allegedly receiving a death threat from a senior SAS officer at a Wellington bar. Police said they investigated but did not lay charges.

Following Stephenson’s latest report, the political establishment closed ranks to defend the military. Labour leader David Cunliffe made a vague call for an “investigation” into the raid, while declaring that “New Zealand’s military has a proud record … It’s likely that New Zealand troops are not culpable but I think all New Zealanders would want to see the air cleared and the New Zealand military’s honour upheld.”

It was the 1999-2008 Labour government, supported by the “left wing” Alliance Party, that first sent SAS commandos into Afghanistan in 2001. More than a hundred NZ soldiers remained in the country until April 2013. Ten of them died.

Journalist Nicky Hager’s 2011 book Other People’s Wars revealed that intelligence agents from NZ’s Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) also worked throughout the war under US commanders, helping to select targets for assassination by ground troops or air strikes across Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The Greens, who supported the main troop deployment to Afghanistan, have remained silent on Stephenson’s revelations. So has the Maori nationalist Mana Party and its electoral ally, the Internet Party.

The coverup is driven by a definite agenda. Successive governments have strengthened military and intelligence ties with Washington, on which NZ’s ruling elite relies to conduct its own neo-colonial interests in the South Pacific.

Labour and the Greens, along with the National Party government, have not only indicated that they would support direct US intervention in Syria and Iraq. The political establishment backs the US military build-up in the Asia-Pacific, aimed at preparing for war against China. Key’s visit to Washington last month signalled closer collaboration with the Obama administration’s “pivot to Asia.”

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AFGHAN Defence Ministry spokesman General Mohammmad Zahir Azimi blamed a “terrorist in an army uniform” yesterday for a shooting spree that left a US general dead and 15 soldiers wounded. …Earlier, 200 people took part in an angry demonstration in Herat after a Nato helicopter strike killed four Afghan civilians: here.

On Tuesday, a soldier in the Afghan army opened fire on a group of high-ranking NATO coalition members, killing an American major general. The attack, which occurred at the British-run Marshall Fahim National Defense University outside of Kabul, comes amidst an increase in violence in Afghanistan over the past year: here.

United States general suggests re-invasion of Iraq


This video from England is called Anti [Iraq] War March – London, February 2003.

By James Cogan in the USA:

US general suggests re-invasion of Iraq if “national interests drive us there”

4 July 2014

US Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman General Martin Dempsey refused yesterday to rule out large numbers of American troops being returned to Iraq in defiance of mass opposition in the American working class and population as a whole. He told a press conference that while the Obama administration currently has no plans to increase the US military involvement in Iraq beyond 750 special forces advisors and additional embassy guards, the situation could rapidly change.

Dempsey stated: “We may get to that point if our national interests drive us there, if it becomes such a threat to the homeland that the President of the United States, with our advice, decides that we have to take direct action. I am just suggesting to you that we are not there yet.”

In the context of what has unfolded in Iraq and the Middle East since June 10, when the Al Qaeda-derived, Sunni extremist Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) seized control of the northern Iraqi city of Mosul and sent forces south toward Baghdad, Dempsey’s comment is a clear indication that plans are being prepared for a full-scale intervention into what is a cauldron of conflicts and intrigues.

After a decade of US imperialist violence, Iraq and Syria are effectively disintegrating as nation-states. Every neighbouring state is being inexorably drawn into what threatens to become a full scale regional war.

At the beginning of the week, ISIS declared the formation of an “Islamic State” over the territory it holds. In eastern Syria, along the border with Iraq, growing numbers of Sunni rebels fighting as part of the US-backed civil war against the Iranian-backed government of Bashar al-Assad are declaring their allegiance to ISIS. On Thursday, ISIS fighters seized Syria’s largest oil field, al Omar. It now holds major border crossings between the two countries. From the territory it commands in Iraq’s western Anbar province, it is seeking to gain control of Iraq’s border crossings with Jordan and Saudi Arabia.

Within Iraq, Maliki is directing a military counter-offensive against ISIS on the basis of sectarian appeals to Shiites. Offers by his government of an “amnesty” to Sunnis who ceased fighting fell on deaf ears, particularly under conditions in which some of the most extreme Shiite militias are fighting alongside Iraqi army units to crush the rebellion. Iranian military advisors are almost certainly embedded in Iraqi army units taking part in ferocious operations against ISIS and Sunni rebels to regain control of Baiji and the main oil refinery, a group of towns to the north of the city of Baqubah, and the city of Tikrit, the hometown of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.

The use of Su-25 ground attack jets, supplied by both Russia and Iran, in the assault on Tikrit has provoked intense speculation on whether they are being flown by Iranian or possibly even Russian pilots. No Iraqi has flown a Su-25 for well over a decade, and the small number of Iraqi air force pilots who would have been familiar with them are believed to have either fled the country or been killed during the occupation.

As Iran and Russia militarily and politically back Maliki against a Sunni rebellion, Saudi state media announced on Thursday that Saudi Arabia had deployed 30,000 troops, tanks and air support along its 800-kilometre border with Iraq. It alleged that Iraqi government forces on the other side “abandoned” their positions. The Jordanian monarchy has likewise mobilised its military to its 200-kilometre border with Iraq.

The mobilisations are being justified as necessary to prevent incursions into more countries by ISIS militants. In Iran and Baghdad, they will be viewed as preparations by Saudi Arabia for an invasion of the largely Sunni-populated western Iraq to assist the Sunni uprising. The Saudi monarchy has labelled the Iraqi government as a “stooge” of the Shiite fundamentalist regime in Tehran.

Adding further fuel to a highly combustible situation, the autonomous Kurdish Regional Government, with the vocal support of Israel, ordered its officials yesterday to draw up plans for an independence referendum to establish a separate Kurdish state. Its territory would incorporate the city of Kirkuk and Iraq’s main northern oil fields, which Kurdish troops occupied as Iraqi forces fled the ISIS advance last month. Maliki declared the independence moves “unconstitutional.”

Attempts to convene the Iraqi parliament and form a “national unity” government collapsed earlier in the week, with Shiite and Kurdish politicians exchanging threats of civil war and Sunni representatives walking out.

General Dempsey’s statements pose the question: For what mission would the Obama administration send American forces to kill and be killed in Iraq? Is US “national interest” to be achieved by assisting to suppress a Sunni uprising to shore up Maliki’s government? Or is it to be achieved by forcing the Iraqi Shiite establishment to reconcile with Sunni extremists, who are backed by Saudi Arabia and other reactionary regimes, and seeking to overthrow both Maliki and Assad? What of the Kurds? Will the US military be sent to Kirkuk to force the Kurdish nationalists to hand the city back over to Baghdad’s control?

The only consistent element of US foreign policy in the Middle East is that the “national interest” of the American financial and corporate elite—one pursued ruthlessly for decades by successive administrations—is military and political domination over the region and its oil reserves. The lies of the American political establishment before the 2003 invasion that Iraq had “weapons of mass destruction” were the pretext to implement long-held, neo-colonial plans to completely reorganise the Middle East.

Eleven years later, US ambitions to subjugate the region lie in tatters. The invasion and occupation of Iraq is responsible for a catastrophe of fratricidal sectarian and ethnic conflicts. No scenario of US troops going back to the Middle East has any support in the American working class, or workers anywhere. Trillions of dollars have been squandered and thousands of lives thrown away over the past decade in a murderous pursuit of global power by the financial oligarchs of Wall Street and their political representatives. Whatever new military action is launched by Washington, it can only lead to greater catastrophes.