Civilians killed in Pentagon’s re-started Iraq war


This video from the USA says about itself:

Iraq Reports Civilian Casualties in U.S. Airstrikes on ISIS

13 October 2014

Iraq has reported civilian casualties resulting from U.S. airstrikes targeting ISIS. According to the Los Angeles Times about 18 civilian casualties were found after a building was bombed in Euphrates river valley town, Hit. The U.S. military has denied that there is any evidence of the reported casualties. Are these casualties inevitable when carrying out airstrikes in highly populated areas? We discuss it, in this Lip News clip with Mark Sovel and Elliot Hill.

By Thomas Gaist in the USA:

US military admits civilian deaths in Mideast air war

8 January 2015

US airstrikes against targets in Iraq and Syria likely led to civilian deaths, US military officials with Central Command (CENTCOM) acknowledged Wednesday.

An internal investigation by CENTCOM into 18 cases of possible civilian deaths has already “dismissed” claims about civilian casualties resulting from 13 of the 18 strikes, yet five cases remain under investigation, according to the military. In an email to the New York Times from CENTCOM, a spokeswoman cited two cases specifically where civilian casualties “may have” occurred.

US warplanes have bombed 3,222 targets inside Iraq and Syria, according to an official Pentagon announcement Wednesday. “I’m confident that the destruction level is high,” said Pentagon spokesman Army Colonel Steve Warren.

The official admissions cast further doubt on previous claims made by General James Terry, a top US commander in the new war, that the US raids did not produce any civilian casualties. “We have some great capability in terms of precision… I am tracking no civilian casualties,” Terry claimed in mid-December.

The claims of the US military had already been challenged in October of last year when the Syrian Organization for Human Rights found that US airstrikes had killed at least 32 civilians.

The US air campaign, which is supported by a coalition of governments including Great Britain, France, Denmark, the Netherlands, Belgium, Australia and Canada as well as Saudi Arabia, Jordan, UAE and Bahrain, began in August, and was expanded to target forces inside Syria in September.

In statements Tuesday, US Admiral John Kirby defended the dismissal of 13 possible cases of civilian casualties in US airstrikes without giving any concrete explanation.

Also Tuesday, Admiral Kirby announced that the US would begin new efforts to train fighting groups for the war against the Assad regime in Syria. The training will apparently be conducted from sites inside Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. US Special Forces General Michael Nagata is currently combing through existing Syrian rebel units in an effort to recruit fighters to the new training programs, according to the Times.

The Obama administration claims that the bombing campaign is intended to weaken and destroy the militant group Islamic State, which has taken control over portions of Iraq and Syria. Through this intervention, the US ruling elite is seeking to reassert its domination over Iraqi politics while preparing new efforts to overthrow the Assad regime in Syria.

Is it really possible that the US military could avoid causing civilian casualties while launching more than 3,200 strikes that, according to the Pentagon’s own statistics, destroyed at least 980 buildings? When it comes to assessing the number of civilian deaths produced by the American war machine, it would be foolish to take the US military at its word.

During the current bombing of Iraq and Syria, the US military has generally launched strikes without forward-deployed spotters to visually assess targets beforehand. Instead, strikes have been directed by US and Iraqi troops stationed at command and control facilities in Baghdad and Irbil.

Despite the barrage of airstrikes, targeting IS-controlled oil refineries, tanks and vehicle convoys, IS still controls Mosul, the second-largest city in Iraq.

For decades, the US government has consistently sought to conceal and downplay the true extent of the mass slaughter carried out by its military against populations overseas. Despite claims about “precision munitions,” however, ample evidence shows that the US military has used its advanced weaponry to murder countless civilians in recent years through a steadily expanding global reign of terror across the Middle East and Africa.

One recent Human Rights Watch report found that fully 69 percent of the drone strike victims were civilians.

Reporting on a series of 13 drone strikes against the town of Miramshah in Northern Pakistan, the New York Times noted in 2013 that the attacks “mostly occur in densely populated neighborhoods.”

The Pakistani government released statistics in 2009 showing that in the course of 44 drone strikes against targets in the tribal regions of the country, the US killed five intended targets and some 710 innocent civilians. In its effort to kill a single Taliban leader, the CIA launched 16 failed strikes, killing more than 300 civilians in the process, according to some reports.

Some 350 US drone strikes killed as many as 900 civilians in Pakistan during the years 2004-2013, according to a source cited by an Amnesty International report, “Will I be Next? US Drone Strikes in Pakistan.”

The Amnesty report presented damning evidence that the US intentionally launches attacks when civilians are known to be present, including “double tap” follow-up strikes launched to kill rescue and recovery workers who have gathered to deal with the dead and the wounded from an initial strike.

Reports have shown that the US military and CIA possess their own “kill lists.” Under the Obama administration, the adoption of the “Disposition Matrix”—a system for orchestrating and integrating the US government’s worldwide assassination programs, reportedly designed largely by CIA Director John Brennan in his previous position as White House counterterrorism chief—has made extralegal murder a permanent and central function of the executive branch.

Far from seeking to avoid “civilian casualties,” as the military leadership claims, the mass slaughter of noncombatants is one of the main goals of US imperialist policy. By continually demonstrating their readiness to kill civilians, US military planners and their employers at the Pentagon and on Wall Street aim to terrorize masses of people into submission to US imperialism.

President Obama will send Congress a draft resolution to authorize war against Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) “in the near future,” congressional leaders said after a meeting at the White House January 13. The resolution would provide the legal basis for the war that Obama launched in August, with air strikes against ISIS targets in Iraq, which were extended to Syria a month later: here.

US Secretary of State John Kerry joined 20 of the 60 or so “coalition” states in London on Thursday in crisis talks over the offensive by the Sunni militants of Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS): here.

2015 and the rising tide of war: here.

Nobel Prize winner Malala’s views, don’t drown them in hypocritical praise


This video, recorded in the USA, is called Malala Yousafzai To Obama’s Face: Drones Fuel Terrorism.

Ms Yousafzai won the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize. Media said: ‘because of her stance for girls’ education’. Educating girls contributes to peace indeed, indirectly.

Media usually neglect Malala Yousafzai’s anti-drone warfare stance. This side of her makes her an even more deserving Nobel Prize winner, being more directly pro-peace. Alfred Nobel, founder of the prize, intended it for directly anti-war people.

Helen Keller from the USA is very famous as a champion of blind and deaf people. In the Capitol, where the United States Congress meets, a statue honours her.

However, very often Big Politics and Big Media ignore Ms Keller’s political views: she was a feminist, a pacifist, a socialist, and a member of the Industrial Workers of the World.

Another famous woman from the USA is Katharine Lee Bates, author of the very well-known poem/song America the Beautiful. Ms Bates was a feminist, a lesbian, a Christian socialist, and an anti-imperialist. All of these now conveniently ‘forgotten’ by United States Right wingers, who, when singing America the Beautiful, conveniently forget its later stanzas, so inconvenient for them.

These two women have been dead for a long time. Will a young woman of only seventeen years old now suffer a similar fate at the hands of Big Politics and Big Media?

I will quote now from the blog of Juan Cole in the USA. Juan Cole deserves sharp criticism for his support of the 2011 Libya war; a war which led to disasters for women’s rights, to a sharp increase in racism, to ever worsening bloodshed both within and outside the borders of Libya, and to hundreds of thousands of Libyans becoming refugees to save their lives.

However, this blog post by Juan Cole is better than his views on Libya:

Listening to Nobelist Malala Yousafzai instead of just Honoring Her

By Juan Cole | Oct. 11, 2014

Malala Yousafzai has become the youngest winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in history, sharing it this year with India’s Kailash Satyarthi, a children’s rights activist.

Ms. Yousafzai, from Pakistan’s picturesque Swat Valley, was shot in the head by a member of the Tehrik-i Taliban Pakistan (TTP or Pakistani Taliban Movement) two years ago this month for standing up for girls’ education.

There is always a danger that in honoring a figure like Malala Yousafzai, the world will drown out her more challenging views. Martin Luther King, Jr. is now mainly lauded for his “I have a Dream” speech but his socialism, anti-imperialism, and opposition to the Vietnam War is little remembered. Likewise, Lila Abu-Lughod has warned against the use of Ms. Yousafzai by powerful white men as a symbol whereby they can pose as champions of Muslim women against Muslim men– an argument first made powerfully in a another context by Gayatri Spivak. The real Malala Yousafzai is harder to deploy for those purposes than is Malala the symbol.

Islamophobes who use her story as an indictment of the religion of Islam have another think coming. She credits her religion with inspiring her values, the values that made here a nobelist: “What the terrorists are doing is against Islam because Islam is a religion of peace. It tells us about equality, it tells us about brotherhood, it tells us about love and friendship and peace, that we should – we should be nice and kind to each other.”

It should be remembered that Ms. Yousafzai told Barack Obama off about his drone strikes in the Federally Administered Tribal Area (FATA) of northwest Pakistan. She said of her meeting with the US president, “I also expressed my concerns that drone attacks are fueling terrorism… Innocent victims are killed in these acts, and they lead to resentment among the Pakistani people. If we refocus efforts on education it will make a big impact.”

She appears to oppose military action against the Taliban: ‘If you hit a Talib with your shoe, then there would be no difference between you and the Talib. You must not treat others with cruelty and that much harshly, you must fight others but through peace and through dialogue and through education.’

She approvingly quoted her father as criticizing novelist Salman Rushdie for his book Satannic [sic; Satanic] Verses, but as standing for freedom of speech for such authors. Her remarks caused her book to be banned in many Pakistani private schools, angering the country’s fundamentalists. She also criticized the denial of rights to Pakistan’s Ahmadi minority.

Honoring someone with the bravery and resiliency and ethical intelligence of a Malala Yousafzai is easy. Taking her more challenging positions seriously and engaging with them is much more difficult.

The blog post might have added that Malala is a supporter of socialism.

It might also have added that Malala sees as her heroine Malalai Joya, Afghan feminist and opponent of the United States and other foreign occupation of her country.

When Stoltenberg, the new boss of militarist organisation NATO, praised Malala, I felt disgust. Don’t let warmongers drown the true voice of the youngest Nobel Peace Prize winner ever; the way the establishment tries to drown Katherine Lee Bates, Helen Keller, Dr Martin Luther King, etc. etc.

Malala Yousafzai gives $50,000 to reconstruction of Gaza schools. Nobel peace prize winner says money will go through UN agency and help rebuild 65 schools in Palestinian territory: here.

Malala Yousafzai, the 17-year-old Pakistani female education activist, shot and wounded but never silenced by the Taliban, became the youngest ever Nobel Peace Prize recipient last week. Few women have ever won a Nobel Prize. Of the 867 awards distributed since 1901, just 46 have gone to women: here.

Pakistani, tortured in Iraq, sues British government


This rock music video from Brazil is called Torture Squad – Holiday in Abu Ghraib (Official Music Video HD). Lyrics are here.

From daily The Guardian in Britain:

MoD and Foreign Office sued by Pakistani citizen in Iraq torture case

Yunus Rahmatullah accuses UK of complicity in torture and abuse after his capture by British special forces in Iraq in 2004

Richard Norton-Taylor

Tuesday 29 July 2014 09.56 BST

A Pakistani citizen is suing the Ministry of Defence and Foreign Office, accusing them of responsibility for his subjection to torture and severe abuse over 10 years.

Yunus Rahmatullah was captured by British special forces in Iraq in 2004 and handed over to US troops soon afterwards. The incident was initially kept secret from ministers and only disclosed to MPs five years later, in 2009. Rahmatullah, now 31, was released by the US without charge in May.

He is believed to have been first held at Camp Nama, a secret detention facility at Baghdad airport that British troops helped to run. He was later transferred to Iraq’s notorious Abu Ghraib jail before being rendered to the Bagram “black prison” in Afghanistan.

The court of appeal ruled in 2011 that Rahmatullah was unlawfully detained and ordered a writ of habeas corpus – the ancient British legal right to be charged or released from arbitrary detention – to be issued.

However, lawyers acting for the government later successfully argued in the supreme court that British ministers had no power “to direct the US” to release Rahmatullah from Bagram.

He describes in detail his torture and abuse in a 60-page document drawn up by his lawyers and seen by the Guardian. He says when he was captured by British special forces in Iraq in early 2004 he was beaten unconscious. Soldiers cut his clothes with a pair of scissors until, he says, he was “completely naked”.

His lawyers’ statement of claim describes how a soldier poured water on to Rahmatullah’s face after placing a cloth over his mouth and nose causing “a sensation of drowning”.

He was shackled and hooded, and lapsed in and out of consciousness as he was beaten and thrown against a wall. He was suspended upside down and “repeatedly dunked into a tank of water”, says the court document.

At one point, he was taken to a room “where he was horrified to see six or seven naked detainees piled on top of each other”, according to the court statement. He was thrown on top of the detainees and kept in the room for more than two days.

Despite an agreement signed by Britain and the US that specifically referred to the rights of prisoners of war and detained civilians enshrined in the Geneva conventions and international humanitarian law, Rahmatullah was handed over to US forces who secretly took him to Afghanistan. His entire body, including his eyes and mouth, were “taped tightly with duct tape”, the court document says. He was locked in a solitary cell with rats and cockroaches. With other Bagram detainees, he was exposed to daylight in 2006, for the first time in two and half years.

After going on hunger strike, he was subjected to force-feeding on six separate occasions. Apart from limited communication with International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) representatives, he had no contact with the outside world, including his family, until 2010.

British officials, their “servants and agents”, were “recklessly indifferent to the illegality of their actions”, Rahmatullah’s lawyers have told the high court.

Kat Craig, legal director at the human rights group Reprieve, who has recently visited Rahmatullah, said he had been “through 10 years of frankly unimaginable horror”.

She added: “Now that he has finally been able to speak freely to his lawyers, there is no longer any doubt that the British government bears responsibility for his torture and illegal rendition to Bagram.”

Craig continued: “Yunus was robbed of 10 years in the prime of his life; a time when he wanted to find a career, choose a partner and build a family.

“The government must now come clean about the full extent of British involvement in this disgraceful episode in our history – only then will Yunus be able to move on and try to rebuild his life.”

Reprieve legal directors says there is ‘no doubt’ of British responsibility for torture and rendition of Yunus Rahmatullah: here.