Afghans protest civilian deaths

This video from the USA is called 60 Minutes: Bombing Civilians In Afghanistan.

From Associated Press:

Feb 1, 5:49 AM EST …

Hundreds of Afghans demonstrated Sunday against an overnight U.S. military raid that one villager said killed several civilians. The American military said its forces only killed two militants.

The angry protesters gathered on the main highway linking Kabul and Kandahar near the site of the raid, the latest to stir up Afghan ire against foreign forces accused of killing civilians.

There is no better way to confirm that the national police, the national army and NATO forces combined are losing the war in Afghanistan than proof that they are creating citizen militias of untrained, armed men: here.

2 thoughts on “Afghans protest civilian deaths

  1. Feb 2, 2:58 PM EST

    Waste, fraud in Iraq being repeated in Afghanistan

    Associated Press Writer

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Waste and corruption that marred Iraq’s reconstruction will be repeated in Afghanistan unless the U.S. transforms the unwieldy bureaucracy managing tens of billions of dollars in infrastructure projects, government watchdogs warned Monday.

    The U.S. has devoted more than $30 billion to rebuilding Afghanistan. Yet despite the hard lessons learned in Iraq, where the U.S. has spent nearly $51 billion on reconstruction, the effort in Afghanistan is headed down the same path, the watchdogs told a new commission on wartime contracting Monday.

    “Before we go pouring more money in, we really need to know what we’re trying to accomplish (in Afghanistan),” said Ginger Cruz, deputy special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction. “And at what point do you turn off the spigot so you’re not pouring money into a black hole?”

    Better cooperation among federal agencies, more flexible contracting rules, constant oversight and experienced acquisition teams are among the changes urged by the officials in order to make sure money isn’t wasted and contractors don’t cheat.

    Cruz, along with Stuart Bowen, the top U.S. official overseeing Iraq’s reconstruction, delivered a grim report to the Wartime Contracting Commission. Their assessment, along testimony from Thomas Gimble of the Defense Department inspector general’s office, laid out a history of poor planning, weak oversight and greed that soaked U.S. taxpayers and undermined American forces in Iraq.

    Bowen, who has made 21 trips to Iraq since he was appointed in October 2004, said the U.S. has financed a wide array of projects in Iraq – from training the Iraqi army and police to rebuilding the country’s oil, electric, justice, health and transportation sectors.

    Some of these projects succeeded, Bowen told the commission at its first public hearing, but many did not. Violence in Iraq and constant friction between U.S. officials in Washington and Baghdad were also major factors that undercut progress.

    A 456-page study by Bowen’s office, “Hard Lessons: The Iraq Reconstruction Experience,” reviews the problems in an effort the Bush administration initially thought would cost $2.4 billion.

    The U.S. government “was neither prepared for nor able to respond quickly to the ever-changing demands” of stabilizing Iraq and then rebuilding it, said Bowen. “For the last six years we have been on a steep learning curve.”

    Overall, the Pentagon, State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development have paid contractors more than $100 billion since 2003 for goods and services to support war operations and rebuilding projects in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    Congress created the bipartisan panel a year ago over the objections of the Bush White House, which complained the Justice Department might be forced to disclose sensitive information about investigations.

    There are 154 open criminal investigations into allegations of bribery, conflicts of interest, defective products, bid rigging and theft in Iraq, Afghanistan and Kuwait, said Gimble, the Pentagon’s principal deputy inspector general.

    Gimble noted that contracting scandals have gone on since the late 1700s when vendors swindled George Washington’s army.

    “Today, instead of empty barrels of meat, contractors produced inadequate or unusable facilities that required extensive rework,” Gimble said. “Like the Continental Forces who encountered fraud, the (Defense Department) also encounters fraud.”

    Gimble’s office found that a small number of inexperienced civilian or military personnel “were assigned far-reaching responsibilities for an unreasonably large number of contracts.”

    He cited an account tapped frequently by U.S. military commanders in Iraq and Afghanistan to build schools, roads and hospitals. More than $3 billion was spent on these projects, which were not always properly managed.

    “In some instances, there appeared to be scant, if any, oversight of the manner in which funds were expended,” Gimble said. “Complicating matters further is the fact that payment of bribes and gratuities to government officials is a common business practice in some Southwest Asia nations.”

    In “Hard Lessons,” Bowen said his office found fraud to be less of a problem than persistent inefficiencies and hefty contractor fees that “all contributed to a significant waste of taxpayer dollars.”

    Styled after the Truman Committee, which examined World War II spending six decades ago, the eight-member panel has broad authority to examine military support contracts, reconstruction projects and private security companies.

    In addition to examining flawed contracting, the commission will also study whether battlefield jobs handled by contractors such as aircraft maintenance and motor pools should be reserved for military and government employees.

    The panel has until August 2010 to produce a final report. It can refer to the Justice Department any violations of the law it finds.

    Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., who pushed for formation of the commission, urged members to be aggressive and to hold people accountable.

    “Harry Truman has been rolling in his grave for the last five years,” said McCaskill, referring to the former Missouri senator (and later president) who led the Truman Committee. “A report is not going to be enough. You’re going to need a two-by-four.”

    On the Net:

    Commission on Wartime Contracting:


  2. Dear Friends, Colleagues and Supporters,

    Watch the video
    1. Watch the video
    2. Sign the Petition

    Many of you reading this e-mail worked diligently to support President Obama and his call for change. I’m sure you feel, as I do, an almost palpable air of excitement and pride right now in having a man of Obama’s intelligence and integrity in the White House. What I also find remarkable is Obama’s conviction that it is imperative for those who disagree with him to speak out, make their voices heard, and discuss ideas without attacking motivation or character.

    President Obama just committed 17,000 more soldiers to fight the war in Afghanistan. For me and the Brave New Foundation team, this decision raises scores of questions that must be addressed about troops, costs, overall mission, and exit strategy. Historically, it has been Congress’ duty to ask these questions in the form of oversight hearings that challenge policymakers, examine military spending, and educate the public. I invite you to sign the petition urging Senator John Kerry and Representative Howard Berman to hold congressional oversight hearings at once.

    The President has demonstrated his commitment to plurality of opinion and open debate on issues that impact our country most profoundly. In that spirit, I’m proud that Brave New Foundation will bring you Rethink Afghanistan, a new feature-length documentary I am directing in the tradition of Uncovered: The War on Iraq and Iraq for Sale: The War Profiteers. This documentary, which we will release in segments online, will foster the kind of discussion, debate and dissent Obama has called for, hopefully serving as a driving force to help make oversight hearings a reality.

    Watch the trailer in which experts weigh in on the consequences of military escalation.

    Since the situation in Afghanistan is extraordinarily complex, Brave New Foundation’s goal is to create videos posing some of the necessary questions Congress should ask. Watch the extended version of part one in our documentary.

    Without congressional oversight hearings, no one in Washington would have exposed corruption and mismanagement during the Civil War. No one would have caught the excessive military spending during World War II. And there would have been no national stage for a young John Kerry to throw down the gauntlet to Nixon over Vietnam.

    Before Afghanistan escalates any further, I believe Congress must inform the public and ask critical questions. Here’s what you can do to get people thinking about the need for congressional oversight hearings:

    1. Sign the petition urging Sen. Kerry and Rep. Berman to begin hearings immediately.
    2. Send this trailer video to your friends and family and post it your Facebook page and please take a second to Digg it.
    3. Watch the full-length version of the video.

    We look forward to bringing you more videos that raise these pressing questions, to hearing your concerns regarding this war, and to collaborating with the bloggers who have been writing about these issues at Get Afghanistan Right.

    Together, we can help Congress Rethink Afghanistan.


    Robert Greenwald
    and the Brave New Foundation team


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