United States drone war from Germany


This 2013 video from the USA is called Jeremy Scahill – Dirty Wars: Inside America’s Covert Wars.

By Elisabeth Zimmermann in Germany:

US conducting drone war from Germany

8 April 2014

The American Ramstein military base in the German state of Rhineland-Palatinate plays a central role in Washington’s global drone war. This has been revealed by research from the daily Süddeutsche Zeitung, and the radio networks Norddeutsche Rundfunk (NDR) and Westdeutsche Rundfunk (WDR), based on details from American military documents and former drone pilot Brandon Bryant.

Already early last summer, it was revealed that drone attacks in Africa were being directed from Germany. The central role is played by the Air and Space Operation Centre at the Ramstein base in Rhineland-Palatinate, which is the largest overseas US air base. Pictures from drones circling over African countries such as Somalia are evaluated there. The men and women in the flight centre receive their orders from Stuttgart, where Africom, the headquarters of the US’s African command, has been based since 2007.

Representatives of the German and American governments have always denied that drone attacks are launched from German territory.

When US president Obama visited Germany last June, he claimed in reference to such reports that no drone attacks were conducted or ordered from German territory. “We don’t use Germany as a starting point for unmanned drones in the war on terror. I know that there have been some reports here in Germany according to which that could be the case. It is not the case,” said Obama.

German government representatives answered related questions in parliament, claiming they were not aware that such attacks were flown or directed from Germany.

Both statements were false. The latest revelations also prove that interventions in Pakistan and Yemen were handled from Ramstein. The US military base plays a crucial role in the drone war, which has executed thousands of “suspected terrorists” who had no judicial process or opportunity to defend themselves, as well as numerous civilians that even the US government admits are entirely innocent.

According to estimates from the Bureau of Investigative Journalists, approximately 1,000 civilians have been killed in Pakistan and Yemen by drone attacks since 2004. Foreign Policy magazine estimates that 2,000 “suspects” have been killed by drones since November 2001. The number of civilian deaths remains disputed and is likely many times more than the published figures.

The US Ramstein base serves as a centre for data collection in the drone war. The remote-controlled machines send their data via a satellite to the base, from where it is forwarded through fiber-optic cables to the United States.

In a bunker deep underground on the Ramstein base is the so-called distributed ground system (DGS). There are only five of these US Air Force installations globally that are permanently in operation. Three are located in the United States, one in South Korea, and another, DSG 4, has been at Ramstein since 2003. Only selected soldiers have access to this high security area. No outsider would have any idea of what is going on under their noses.

The DGS is the “central nervous system” of US drone interventions. All of the strands involved in a drone attack are brought together here. Live pictures supplied by drones from Yemen, Somalia, the Afghan-Pakistani border area or other countries are analysed and compared against intelligence information. Decisions are taken, meaning the orders for illegal killings, and then carried out in each target area.

Drone pilots, who are usually based in the US, receive analysis and instructions from DSG-4 in Ramstein through an encrypted chat system called mIRC.

“Without Germany, the US military’s entire drone war would not be possible,” former drone pilot Brandon Bryant told the Süddeutsche Zeitung. He explained on the ARD television programme Panorama, “The air base at Ramstein plays a very essential role in the global drone war. Without this base in Germany, none of it would work. It is the epicentre for the flow of information for the US’s overseas operations.”

Bryant, 28, was stationed at an airbase in New Mexico until April 2011, from where he controlled drones. According to his own figures, he participated in the deaths of 1,626 people, including alleged terrorists, terrorist suspects, and probably civilians.

In the more than 6,000 hours that he flew, there was not a single operation “in which I did not call Ramstein to connect with my drone. At the airbase, virtually all information comes together, like in a funnel,” Bryant said April 3 on the Panorama programme.

He left the air force because he had questioned the integrity of his superiors. “They broke international law and violated human rights. We were basically a killing machine,” said Bryant in explaining his departure from the US military.

The German government responded with evasions to the new evidence that the Ramstein base plays a central role in the US global drone war.

“The American government gave assurances to the federal government that such armed and remote-controlled aircraft were neither flown nor guided from American bases in Germany,” claimed government spokesman Stefan Seibert, referring to the government’s previous level of awareness. But now there was “new information reported,” which the German government wished to make the subject of discussions with the US government. The German government took these reports “seriously.”

In reality, the German government not only knew a lot more about the US drone programme than it is admitting in public, but is directly implicated in it. However, to admit this would have wide-ranging consequences, since the drone programme is in blatant violation of German and international law.

A parliamentary report from January 20, 2014, cited by the Süddeutsche Zeitung, comes to the conclusion that it was “indisputable that Germany” should not tolerate “military operations in violation of international law” that were being implemented by foreign states from German territory. If the US military executes a terror suspect by drone-fired missile outside of a combat zone and in breach of international law, this could “represent complicity in a crime against international law,” if the German government knew about it but didn’t protest.

German intelligence services pass information to the NSA and US military that assists in the identification of drone targets, receiving information in exchange. Three German citizens have also been killed as a result of such data in Pakistan.

Twenty-year-old Bünyamin E from Wuppertal lost his life on October 4, 2010, in a drone attack in Waziristan. The state prosecutor abandoned a full investigation in June 2013.

Patrick N from Offenbach, a German who had converted to Islam, travelled with his wife and two children to Pakistan in 2011 and allegedly joined the “Islamic movement of Uzbekistan.” The 27-year-old died on February 16, 2012, when rockets struck the pickup in which he was travelling near the border with Afghanistan. In addition to him, a further nine people are estimated to have lost their lives.

Samir H from Aachen was killed in a drone attack on a land rover on March 9, 2012. The 29-year-old had travelled to the Afghan-Pakistan border region with his wife and children in 2009 and allegedly also joined the “Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan.” The German government gave no statements on whether German security forces had passed information on Samir H to American intelligence. Investigations into his death were halted by the state prosecutor in August 2013.

These are the three cases made public. It is not known how many more cases there are where information obtained and passed on by German security forces have led to the deaths of those targeted. However, it is known that a broad range of information flows from Germany to the United States daily, including names, telephone numbers and e-mail addresses from suspects who have travelled to Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria or Yemen.

The close, and in many areas illegal, collaboration of German and American security forces goes back to the terrorist attacks of September 11 and the Social Democratic-Green Party government in Germany at the time.

So-called rendition flights, which took prisoners to secret “black sites” in various locations around the world, were allowed to stop over regularly in Germany without any obstruction. The German government refused to call for the release of Morat Kurnaz, who grew up in Bremen but sat in Guantanamo Bay for four years, having committed no crime. And in 2003, when the German-Lebanese Khalid El-Masri was kidnapped in Macedonia by the CIA, the German government did not lift a finger to support him.

Last week, the German parliament established an investigatory committee to focus on the surveillance practices of the NSA, while shedding light on Ramstein’s role in the global drone war. But like the investigation of the committee into the murders by the neo-Nazi NSU, all indications are that this will be a cover-up rather than an exposure.

This is shown by the treatment of the most important witness on the NSA programmes, Edward Snowden, who exposed the NSA’s surveillance systems. Although the investigatory committee has invited him as a witness, the German government at the same time refused to give him any assurance of asylum or a secure period of residency in Germany. As a result, Snowden, who understandably fears for his life, will not be able to appear in person before the committee.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Sarin gas attack in Syria and the Turkish government


This video from the USA is called Seymour Hersh: Obama “Cherry Picked” Intel on Syrian Chemical Attack to Justify U.S. Strike (1 of 2).

And this is Part 2.

By Patrick Martin:

New exposé by Seymour Hersh: Turkey staged gas attack to provoke US war on Syria

7 April 2014

In a lengthy article published Sunday by the London Review of Books, investigative journalist Seymour Hersh reports that the sarin gas attack on a Damascus suburb on August 21, 2013 was actually carried out by Syrian “rebel” forces acting at the behest of Turkey, for the purpose of providing a pretext for a US attack on Syria.

The gas attack killed many hundreds of people in the Damascus suburb of Ghouta, and the Obama administration and the corporate-controlled US media immediately blamed the Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad for the atrocity. The New York Times, in particular, published a lengthy analysis by its military “expert,” C. J. Chivers, which purported to show, based on rocket trajectories, prevailing winds and other technical factors, that the gas shells could only have been fired from Syrian army artillery positions.

For several weeks, the Ghouta attack became the pretext for a warmongering campaign by the White House and the US and European media. Obama threatened immediate air strikes, claiming that the Syrian government had crossed a “red line” against the use of chemical weapons, which he had laid down in 2012.

The US president then abruptly reversed himself and announced he would seek congressional approval first, only to call off any overt military action in favor of a deal brokered by Russian President Vladimir Putin in which Assad agreed to the supervised dismantling of his chemical weapons stockpiles.

By Hersh’s account, “Obama’s change of mind had its origins at Porton Down, the defence laboratory in Wiltshire. British intelligence had obtained a sample of the sarin used in the 21 August attack and analysis demonstrated that the gas used didn’t match the batches known to exist in the Syrian army’s chemical weapons arsenal. The message that the case against Syria wouldn’t hold up was quickly relayed to the US joint chiefs of staff… As a consequence the American officers delivered a last-minute caution to the president, which, in their view, eventually led to his cancelling the attack.”

The US military leadership also knew that White House claims that there could be no other source for the sarin gas than the Syrian army were false. “The American and British intelligence communities had been aware since the spring of 2013 that some rebel units in Syria were developing chemical weapons,” Hersh reports. “On 20 June analysts for the US Defense Intelligence Agency issued a highly classified five-page ‘talking points’ briefing for the DIA’s deputy director, David Shedd, which stated that al-Nusra maintained a sarin production cell…”

Hersh quotes extensively from this US government document, which the office of the US director of national intelligence now denies ever existed:

Al-Nusrah Front’s relative freedom of operation within Syria leads us to assess the group’s CW [chemical weapons] aspirations will be difficult to disrupt in the future… Turkey and Saudi-based chemical facilitators… were attempting to obtain sarin precursors in bulk, tens of kilograms, likely for the anticipated large scale production effort in Syria.”

Hersh notes that members of al-Nusra were arrested in Turkey last May in possession of two kilograms of sarin. They were charged in a 130-page indictment with “attempting to purchase fuses, piping for the construction of mortars, and chemical precursors for sarin.” All have since been released pending trial, or had charges dropped altogether.

Those arrests followed chemical weapons attacks in Syria in March and April 2013, where a UN investigation found evidence implicating the Syrian “rebels.” One source told Hersh, “Investigators interviewed the people who were there, including the doctors who treated the victims. It was clear that the rebels used the gas. It did not come out in public because no one wanted to know.”

The “no one,” of course, was the US government, its European allies, and its UN stooges—as well as their political apologists in the media and the pseudo-left groups such as the International Socialist Organization that were either openly campaigning for military intervention in Syria or justifying it by portraying the US-financed “rebels” as the bearers of a democratic revolution.

When the August 21 attack took place, Obama ordered the Pentagon to draw up plans for bombing Syria, and, as a former intelligence official told Hersh, “the White House rejected 35 target sets provided by the joint chiefs of staff as being insufficiently ‘painful’ to the Assad regime.”

The US bombing plan ultimately envisioned “a monster strike” involving two wings of B-52 bombers equipped with 2,000-pound bombs, as well as Tomahawk cruise missiles fired from submarines and surface warships.

Hersh continues: “The new target list was meant to ‘completely eradicate any military capabilities Assad had,’ the former intelligence official said. The core targets included electric power grids, oil and gas depots, all known logistic and weapons depots, all known command and control facilities, and all known military and intelligence buildings.”

The bombing attack drawn up at the direction of the Obama White House would have itself constituted a war crime, causing thousands if not tens of thousands of casualties and crippling Syria as a functioning society.

Hersh then passes on to his most important revelation: that US officials believed the Turkish government, or its intelligence agencies, had instigated the gas attack in Ghouta.

He cites concerns among US military and intelligence leaders that “there were some in the Turkish government” who supported “dabbling with a sarin attack inside Syria—and forcing Obama to make good on his red line threat.”

This was reinforced by the British military intelligence finding on the type of gas used in Ghouta. This included a message to the Americans: “We’re being set up here.” This was followed by a further message about the Ghouta attack that “a senior official in the CIA sent in late August: ‘It was not the result of the current regime [i.e., Assad]’. UK & US know this.”

Hersh suggests that the bitter controversy over the attack on a US consulate and CIA mission in Benghazi, Libya in 2012, which killed four Americans including the ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens, is directly linked to the infighting over Syria.

It has been widely reported that the CIA organized the shipment of Libyan weapons stockpiles from Benghazi to the Syrian rebels. Hersh cites a “highly classified annex” to the report of the Senate committee that investigated the Benghazi attack.

This document “described a secret agreement reached in early 2012 between the Obama and [Turkish] Erdogan administrations… By the terms of the agreement, funding came from Turkey, as well as Saudi Arabia and Qatar; the CIA, with the support of MI6, was responsible for getting arms from Gaddafi’s arsenals into Syria. A number of front companies were set up in Libya, some under the cover of Australian entities. Retired American soldiers, who didn’t always know who was really employing them, were hired to manage procurement and shipping. The operation was run by David Petraeus, the CIA director who would soon resign when it became known he was having an affair with his biographer.”

According to Hersh, after the Benghazi fiasco, the CIA was pulled out, but the Libya to Turkey to Syria pipeline continued, possibly including “manpads”—portable surface-to-air missile launchers, which the Obama administration had opposed supplying the rebels out of concern that they would be used to attack civilian airliners.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan tasked Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MIT) with engineering a provocation that would give a pretext for direct US military intervention. Hersh quotes his source: “‘The MIT was running the political liaison with the rebels, and the Gendarmerie handled military logistics, on-the-scene advice and training—including training in chemical warfare,’ the former intelligence official said. ‘Stepping up Turkey’s role in spring 2013 was seen as the key to its problems there… Erdogan’s hope was to instigate an event that would force the US to cross the red line. But Obama didn’t respond in March and April.’”

Two sources described to Hersh a working dinner during Erdogan’s visit to Washington in May 2013 in which Obama, Secretary of State John Kerry and National Security Adviser Thomas Donilon met Erdogan, foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu and MIT chief Hakan Fidan. Erdogan appealed for Obama to attack Syria, telling him “your red line has been crossed.” Obama then pointed at Fidan and said, “We know what you’re doing with the radicals in Syria.”

Hersh cites a “US intelligence consultant” who describes a classified briefing for Martin Dempsey, chairman of the joint chiefs, and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, prepared before the August 21 gas attack. The briefing noted “the acute anxiety” in the Erdogan regime over the military setbacks for the Syrian rebels and warned that the Turkish leadership felt “the need to do something that would precipitate a US military response.”

In the period following the gas attack, Hersh’s former intelligence official source explained, communications intercepts and other data supported the suspicion that Turkey had organized the Ghouta attack. “We now know it was a covert action planned by Erdogan’s people to push Obama over the red line,’ the former intelligence official said. ‘They had to escalate to a gas attack in or near Damascus when the UN inspectors’—who arrived in Damascus on 18 August to investigate the earlier use of gas—‘were there. The deal was to do something spectacular. Our senior military officers have been told by the DIA and other intelligence assets that the sarin was supplied through Turkey—that it could only have gotten there with Turkish support. The Turks also provided the training in producing the sarin and handling it.’”

Only a week ago, evidence surfaced that supports the credibility of Hersh’s report. A video was posted on YouTube of a meeting of Turkish officials, including Fikan, in which the intelligence chief suggests that Turkish agents should mount an attack on a Muslim shrine inside Syria to provide a pretext for a Turkish invasion of the country.

Hersh’s account is his second long exposé in four months of the “false flag” gas attack in Damascus. Both articles were published in the British journal because no major US newspaper or magazine will any longer publish material from the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist.

Beginning with his reporting of the My Lai massacre in Vietnam for the New York Times, Hersh has specialized in developing sources in the US military and intelligence apparatus, frequently those with policy differences with the current administration in Washington. Hersh left the Times for Newsday, and then wrote for the New Yorker for many years.

Both the New Yorker and the Washington Post refused to publish his first report on the Ghouta gas attack, which charged that the sarin attack had been carried out by Syrian rebels in the al-Nusra Front, forcing Hersh to find a British publisher for his account. The US press was largely silent on that report, and it has so far blacked out the latest exposure.

The author also recommends:

Seymour Hersh exposes US government lies on Syrian sarin attack
[10 December 2013]

The war drive against Syria
[26 August 2013]

Syria chemical warfare claims aim to provoke Western intervention
[22 August 2013]

“If you’re inside the bureaucracy, you can’t tell the White House something they don’t want to know.” -Seymour Hersh: here.

Media blacks out Seymour Hersh exposé of US lies on Syrian gas attack: here.

US officials say they have a plan to supply the “moderate opposition” in Syria with weapons that are to be channelled through Washington’s regional allies: here.

Syria, Russia and Ukraine: here.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Sexual assault case against United States Army general


This video from the USA says about itself:

USA Army General Sodomizes USA Soldier

22 Dec 2012

‘My husband has been home just five years out of the last 11′: Wife of general accused of multiple sexual misconduct charges blames war for adultery in the military

The wife of a U.S. Army general facing adultery and sex charges said military marriages have suffered from the extended U.S. involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan and described infidelity as an emotional war wound that gets overlooked.

Rebecca Sinclair said she was hurt to learn of her husband Brigadier General Jeffrey Sinclair’s affair with a subordinate, which led to charges against him for more than two dozen military law violations.

But as the conduct of other U.S. generals is called into question – including that of retired Army General David Petraeus, who on November 9 quit his CIA director’s post over an affair – Rebecca Sinclair said she felt compelled to speak out.

Her husband has been deployed to Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere five times since the Sept. 11 terror attacks, spending a total of six of the past 11 years away from his wife and two children — the eldest, a sixth-grader, has attended six schools so far, Rebecca Sinclair said.

Many military wives know their husbands are unfaithful but stay silent to preserve their families or their financial security, especially because their spouses’ own careers can be hampered by frequent moves, said Rebecca Sinclair, who has taught business at various community colleges during her 27-year marriage.

Her husband’s affair and the fallout ‘is very painful for me, very hurtful, but I just really feel that this is something I need to talk about,’ she said. ‘Because it’s not an isolated case.’

The wife of an Army general facing sexual misconduct charges in North Carolina has written an opinion piece in support of her husband, claiming that the stresses of a decade of war contributed to recent high-profile military scandals.

Rebecca Sinclair’s husband, Fort Bragg-based Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Sinclair, faces a long list of charges including forcible sodomy, wrongful sexual conduct, violating orders, engaging in inappropriate relationships and adultery.

Sinclair is accused of forcing women to have sex with him during combat tours and threatening at least one victim’s life, as well as her career and the lives of her relatives if she told anyone about his actions.

Prosecutors allege that the married general committed sex crimes against five women including four military subordinates and [a] civilian between 2007 and 2012 in places like Iraq, Afghanistan and Germany.

The 27-year Army veteran was deputy commander in charge of logistics and support for the 82nd Airborne Division in Afghanistan before being abruptly relieved in May.

Rebecca Sinclair’s piece was published just days after retired Gen. David Petraeus admitted having an affair with his biographer and resigned as director of the CIA. Rebecca Sinclair has spoken out about what she sees as the toll of a decade of war on military couples, many of whom have found themselves in a repeated pattern of deployments, homecomings and moves. Her husband – Jeffrey Sinclair is accused of sodomy, forcing women to send him naked photos and threatening violence against a subordinate. Prosecutors say Sinclair threatened one victim’s life, as well as her career and the lives of her relatives if she exposed him.

By Gabriel Black in the USA:

Sexual assault case against US Army general begins

8 March 2014

Opening arguments began in a court martial case Friday in which a US Army general is accused of sexually assaulting a female US Army captain. The case comes as a procedural vote in the US Senate killed a bill, deeply opposed by the Pentagon, which would have removed the prosecution of sexual assault cases from the military commanders of the accused and put them in the hands of independent military prosecutors.

The Army prosecution has charged General Jeffrey Sinclair with sexual assault in addition to five other crimes. Sinclair is the highest-ranking military officer in the United States ever to be court-martialed on sexual assault charges.

According to AP News, prosecutors argued that Sinclair “used his authority to intimidate and coerce a female officer nearly 20 years his junior into sex.” Sinclair and the alleged victim, who, per AP News rules, remains unknown, had an affair for three years while she served under his command in Afghanistan.

The US Army Captain took the stand and described being forced to perform oral sex on the General after heated arguments they had in his office, and, another time, her own. “He grabbed me by the back of the neck and pushed me down. I tried to pull back, and he put his other hand on my shoulder… It felt disgusting. It felt like I had no control over my body.”

The captain broke into tears as she told the court that, after a discussion with the General about his wife and how the captain would like to meet her, “he told me that if I ever told her or anyone else about he and I, he would kill me and then he would kill my family.” She added, “and he would do it in a way no one would ever know.”

The general has pleaded not guilty to the charge of sexual assault. …

While denying having sexually assaulted the Captain, a charge that could lead to life-imprisonment, the General has pled guilty to “conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman,” “inappropriate relationships,” adultery, impeding an investigation, and possession of pornography.

He admits asking two women, one civilian one not, for nude photos of themselves, having sexual relations with three women and attempting to have one with another. These are military crimes that could put him in prison for 15 years.

The Associated Press reports that the General’s “lawyers are hoping the plea will limit some of the salacious evidence and reduce the case to his word against hers.”

Whatever the outcome of the case the incidence of sexual assaults in the military are endemic. In the 2012 fiscal year, 2,434 cases were reported, in 2013, 3,553 were. It is estimated that only one in ten cases are reported due to fear of demotion, intimidation and violence. The last 12 years of unending wars, military occupations and colonial-style subjugation has encouraged the most brutal and backward sentiments in the military as witnessed by the sadistic sexual abuse of detainees at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.

In late February, in response to reports of sexual assault and alcohol abuse, the Army removed 588 soldiers from “positions of trust,” including posts as recruiters and sexual assault response coordinators.

In 2010, the Department of Defense estimated that 19,300 sexual assaults occurred, with more than half of the estimated victims being men. While combat trauma is the leading cause of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in male veterans, rape and sexual violence is the leading cause among female veterans.

In an expression of its general disdain for the constitutional principle of civilian control over the military the Pentagon brass—and its supporters in the US Senate–have steadfastly opposed any measures concerning sexual abuse that would interfere with the military’s “chain of command.” On Thursday, a bill by Senator Kirsten E. Gillibrand, Democrat of New York, that would put the prosecution of such cases in the jurisdiction of independent military prosecutors failed by five votes.

Both the Pentagon and the leadership of the House Armed Services Committee opposed the measure. South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, who has the closest ties to the military, warned any fellow Republicans considering a run for the 2016 presidential race that a vote for the Gillibrand proposal would wreck their chances.

“People wanting to run for president on our side, I will remind you of this vote. You want to be commander in chief? You told me a lot today about who you are as commander in chief,” Graham said. “You were willing to fire every commander in the military for reasons I don’t quite understand. So we will have a good conversation as to whether or not you understand how the military actually works.”

Opposition to the bill ran across party lines. Armed Services Chairman Carl Levin—Democrat of Michigan—claimed there would be more sexual abuse if “we undermine the authority of the very commanders who must be at the heart of the solution. Powerful evidence should lead us to the conclusion that we should not remove the authority of commanders to prosecute these cases.”

The vote coincided with a damning exposure of the military’s in-house treatment of abuse with revelations that a Lieutenant Colonel, responsible for training military prosecutors working on sexual abuse cases in the Army, is, himself, being investigated for sexually assaulting a female Army lawyer.

On Thursday an anonymous officer told the Stars and Stripes that it was investigating allegations that Lt. Col. Joseph Morse attempted to kiss and grope a female Army lawyer against her will at a training conference. Lt. Col. Morse’s job is to train lawyers in the military who handle sexual and physical abuse cases.

Military judge won’t dismiss sexual assault charges against Army general: here.

UK military allowed to investigate sexual assaults without involving police: here.

Enhanced by Zemanta

United States military rape, film


This video from the USA is called The Invisible War (Rape In The US Army) Part 1.

By Maria Duarte in Britain:

Film: The Invisible War

Friday 7th March 2014

MARIA DUARTE recommends a hard-hitting documentary on rape in the US armed forces

The Invisible War

Directed by Kirby Dick

5 Stars

Oscar-nominated director Kirby Dick exposes one of the US’s most disgraceful and well-guarded secrets in this powerful and shocking documentary about the rape of soldiers within its military ranks, which is of epidemic proportions.

It makes such sobering viewing that two days after US Secretary of Defence Leon Panetta saw it in April last year he made changes to the way sexual assaults are investigated in the military. Unfortunately they didn’t go far enough as they are still being looked into by military personnel.

The problem lies in the fact that victims have to report any case of rape to their commanding officers which often results in a conflict of interest.

The documentary reveals how a third of servicemen did not report their attack because the person they had to report it to was friends of the rapist. A quarter failed to do so because the person they had to divulge it to was the rapist himself.

It also shows how more than a fifth of female veterans have been sexually assaulted while serving and that a female soldier is more likely to be raped by a fellow soldier than be killed in combat.

Once they report their attack the women are the ones who are blamed and court martialled, with some being charged with adultery because their attacker was married while the perpetrators face no reprisals and are free to rape again and again.

The US military seems to be a haven for serial rapists, with 15 per cent of incoming recruits having attempted or committed rapes before joining up, according to a navy study.

Through a series of compelling and harrowing interviews with female victims and their families, followed by unflinching head-to-heads with politicians and members of the military hierarchy, Dick paints a disturbing picture of systematic abuse and its cover-up.

To add insult to injury, in 2011 rape was deemed an occupational hazard of military service in an unsuccessful court case brought by 16 male and female rape survivors against former secretaries of defence Robert Gates and Donald Rumsfeld.

And even though significant reforms were passed by Congress last year to tackle the issue, what this film demonstrates is that until rapes in the military are investigated by an independent body instead of in-house nothing will change.

Enhanced by Zemanta

United States military spying on pro-peace groups


This video from the USA is called Exclusive: Inside the Army Spy Ring & Attempted Entrapment of Peace Activists, Iraq Vets, Anarchists.

By Patrick Martin in the USA:

Documents confirm US military spying on antiwar groups

1 March 2014

Newly released documents confirm that the US Army was the prime mover of the surveillance and infiltration of antiwar groups on the West Coast. The documents shed light on the circumstances surrounding a protracted lawsuit against federal government spying on antiwar activists.

The lawsuit, Panagacos v. Towery, was filed in 2010 by Julianne Panagacos and six other antiwar activists against a government spy, John Towery, who infiltrated at least four different organizations in the Puget Sound, Washington area: Port Militarization Resistance, Students for a Democratic Society, the Industrial Workers of the World, and Iraq Veterans Against the War.

Towery was identified in 2009 as the man who, under the pseudonym John Jacob, became active in all these groups. He supplied information to the Washington State Fusion Center, which links federal state and local police agencies, including the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Until now, however, Towery had always denied that he was acting at the behest of the US military, even though he was a member of the Force Protection Service at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, a huge military base in Tacoma, Washington. Domestic spying by the armed forces is illegal under the Posse Comitatus law and has been officially banned—while continuing in secret—since the exposure of Pentagon spying on the 1960s movement against the Vietnam War.

The new documents came to light as the result of a Public Records Act request in a separate case, involving a member of Port Militarization Resistance who was framed up on charges of assaulting a policeman during an antiwar march.

One of the newly released documents is a 2007 email from Towery, using his military account, to the FBI and police departments in Everett and Spokane, Washington, Portland and Eugene, Oregon, and Los Angeles. He proposes that they form a cross-agency group for intelligence sharing on “leftist/anarchist” activists.

Larry Hildes, the National Lawyers Guild attorney who filed the lawsuit, said in a press statement issued February 24, “The latest revelations show how the Army not only engaged in illegal spying on political dissidents, it led the charge and tried to expand the counterintelligence network targeting leftists and anarchists. By targeting activists without probable cause, based on their ideology and the perceived political threat they represent, the Army clearly broke the law and must be held accountable.”

Towery attended a Domestic Terrorism Conference in 2007 at which “domestic terrorist” dossiers on antiwar and left-wing activists were distributed for police review. These individuals could later be targeted for state repression ranging from preventing them from boarding airplanes (if they were placed on the federal “no-fly” list) to preventive detention in the event of a mass roundup of supposed “terrorists.”

In addition to Towery, other named defendants include his supervisor Thomas Rudd, the US Army, Navy and Coast Guard, military officers in each of these services, and dozens of local police departments and individual officers in Washington state.

The Obama administration has sought to have the Panagacos lawsuit dismissed, as well as demanding that all documents in the case be sealed. In December 2012, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the allegations of government violations of the First and Fourth Amendments to the US Constitution were “plausible,” and the case is now in the discovery phase, with trial scheduled for June 2014.

The administration’s official posture is that Towery was not working for the Army when he infiltrated the antiwar groups, but working “off-hours” for the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department. However, the email was sent from his desk at Lewis-McChord during business hours, using his military email address and identifying himself by military rank.

Attorney Hildes and one of the seven plaintiffs in the Panagacos suit, Glenn Crespo, were interviewed Tuesday on the NPR program Democracy Now. Crespo described how Towery had sought to entrap him by persuading him to buy guns and learn how to shoot.

After seeming to befriend Crespo while attending antiwar meetings, Towery at one point visited him at home and showed him a gun and how to load and unload it. Later, he showed Crespo documents about military tactics and suggested making use of them in “our actions.” Subsequently, he gave Crespo a copy of a proposed article written from the perspective of the 9/11 hijackers. Fortunately, Crespo’s reaction to these approaches—which he described as “the weirdest thing in the world”—was to keep his distance.

“The Army was expressly paying him to monitor, disrupt and destroy these folks’ activism and their lives,” Hildes said. “People would get busted over and over and over. Towery was attending their personal parties, their birthday parties, their going-away parties, and taking these vicious notes and passing them on about how to undermine these folks, how to undermine their activities, how to destroy their lives.”

Enhanced by Zemanta

Yemen wedding guests killed by US drone


This video is called Drone strike kills 15 wedding-goers instead of Al-Qaeda convoy in Yemen.

From Associated Press:

U.S. Drone May Have Killed Dozen Civilians In Yemen: Report

by KIMBERLY DOZIER

02/20/2014 11:59 am EST

WASHINGTON (AP) — A U.S. military drone strike in Yemen last December may have killed up to a dozen civilians on their way to a wedding and injured others, including the bride, a human rights group says. U.S. officials say only members of al-Qaida were killed, but they have refused to make public the details of two U.S. investigations into the incident.

Human Rights Watch released a report on the drone strike Thursday, citing interviews with eight witnesses and relatives of the dead as well as Yemeni officials. The report said four Hellfire missiles were fired at a wedding procession of 11 vehicles on Dec. 12, 2013, in Radda in southern Yemen, killing at least 12 men and wounding at least 15 others, six of them seriously.

The report said the procession “may have included members” of Yemen’s al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, “although it is not clear who they were or what was their fate.” Family members and survivors say all those hit were civilians; Yemeni officials told Human Rights Watch that most were militants.

“We asked both the Yemeni and the U.S. authorities to tell us which of the dead and wounded were members of militant groups and which if any were civilians,” report author Letta Tayler, a senior terrorism and counterterrorism researcher at Human Rights Watch, told The Associated Press. “They did not reply to this question.”

She added: “While we do not rule out the possibility that AQAP fighters were killed and wounded in this strike, we also do not rule out the possibility that all of those killed and wounded were civilians.”

The New York-based group called on the U.S. government to investigate and make the findings public.

A Pentagon spokesman, Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby, said he would not comment on specific operational details. …

The officials said the Pentagon can’t release details because both the U.S. military and the CIA fly drones over Yemen. By statute, the military strikes can be acknowledged, but the CIA operations cannot. The officials said that if they explain one strike but not another, they are revealing by default which ones are being carried out by the CIA.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the drone operations publicly.

The continued secrecy surrounding the drone program shows how the Obama administration has been slow to transfer the CIA drones over to the military’s Joint Special Operations Command nearly a year after Obama promised in a May 2013 speech to put the military largely in charge of lethal strikes and thereby make the program more transparent. Congress has objected to the transfer to the military, because the CIA can strike in countries where the military cannot — for instance, in countries that refuse to allow U.S. counterterrorist actions on its soil.

With the drone program in limbo, U.S. officials have simply continued to say nothing of the strikes, wherever they occur.

“The U.S. refusal to explain a deadly attack on a marriage procession raises critical questions about the administration’s compliance with its own targeted killing policy,” Tayler wrote in the report.

The local Yemeni governor and military commander called the strike a mistake and compensated the families of those killed and injured.

The Human Rights Watch report lists the names and ages of 12 men who witnesses said were killed in the attack, along with the names of six men who were seriously wounded.

According to the nonpartisan public policy institute New America Foundation, the U.S. has launched 99 drone strikes in Yemen since 2002.

A drone strike in Yemen in December may have killed civilians and violated Obama’s targeted killing policies: here.

US Drones: ‘Psychological torture’ from above and the resistance from below. Drone strikes in Yemen are ‘tearing apart the social fabric of some world’s poorest, most marginalized,’ says anti-drone organizer: here.

Yemen’s negotiated transition between the elite and the street: here.

Enhanced by Zemanta

John Pilger on Korean and other wars


This video from South Korea is called Peace activists on Jeju Island rally to protect their village from military base plans.

By John Pilger, from the New Statesman in Britain:

Buried horors and forgotten wars

Thursday 20th February 2014

JOHN PILGER looks back to the Korean war of 1950-53 and how distorted history masks the true nature of a conflict which scars the region to this day

Fifty years ago, EP Thompson‘s The Making of the English Working Class rescued the study of history from the powerful. Kings and queens, landowners, industrialists and imperialists had owned much of public memory.

In 1980 Howard Zinn‘s A People’s History of the United States also demonstrated that the freedoms and rights we enjoy precariously – free expression, free association, the jury system, rights of minorities – were the achievements of ordinary people, not the gift of elites.

Historians, like journalists, play their most honourable role when they myth-bust.

Eduardo Galeano’s Open Veins of Latin America (1971) achieved this for the people of a continent whose historical memory was colonised and mutated by the dominance of the United States.

We need such smokescreen-clearing now more than ever.

The powerful would like us to believe that the likes of Thompson, Zinn and Galeano are no longer necessary – that we live, as Time magazine put it, “in an eternal present” in which reflection is limited to Facebook and historical narrative is the preserve of Hollywood.

This is a confidence trick. In Nineteen Eighty-Four George Orwell wrote: “Who controls the past controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.”

The people of Korea understand this well.

The slaughter on their peninsula following the second world war is known as “the forgotten war,” whose significance for all humanity has long been suppressed in military histories of cold war good versus evil.

I have just read The Korean War: a History by Bruce Cumings (2010), professor of history at the University of Chicago.

I first saw Cumings interviewed in Regis Tremblay’s extraordinary film The Ghosts of Jeju, which documents the 1948 uprising on the southern Korean island of Jeju and the campaign by the present-day islanders to stop the building of a base with US missiles aimed provocatively at China.

Like most Koreans, the farmers and fishing families protested at the senseless division of their nation between north and south in 1945 – a line drawn along the 38th parallel by a US official, Dean Rusk, who had “consulted a map around midnight on the day after we obliterated Nagasaki with an atomic bomb,” as Cumings writes.

The myth of a “good” Korea (the South) and a “bad” Korea (the North) was invented.

In fact, Korea, north and south, has a remarkable people’s history of resistance to feudalism and foreign occupation, notably Japan’s in the 20th century.

When the US defeated Japan in 1945 it occupied Korea and often branded those who had resisted the Japanese as “commies.”

On Jeju, as many as 60,000 people were massacred by militias supported, directed and in some cases commanded by US officers.

This and other unreported atrocities were a “forgotten” prelude to the Korean war (1950-53), in which more people were killed than Japanese died during all of the second world war.

Cumings gives an astonishing tally of the degree of destruction of the cities of the North – Pyongyang 75 per cent, Sariwon 95 per cent, Sinanju 100 per cent.

Great dams in the North were bombed in order to unleash internal tsunamis. “Anti-personnel” weapons, such as napalm, were tested on civilians.

Cumings’s superb investigation helps us understand why today’s North Korea seems so strange, an anachronism sustained by an enduring mentality of siege.

“The unhindered machinery of incendiary bombing was visited on the North for three years,” he writes, “yielding a wasteland and a surviving mole people who had learned to love the shelter of caves, mountains, tunnels and redoubts, a subterranean world that became the basis for reconstructing a country and a memento for building a fierce hatred through the ranks of the population.

“Their truth is not cold, antiquarian, ineffectual knowledge.”

Cumings quotes Virginia Woolf to describe how the trauma of this kind of war “confers memory.”

The guerrilla leader Kim Il Sung had begun fighting the Japanese militarists in 1932.

Every characteristic attached to the regime he founded – “communist, rogue state, evil enemy” – derives from a ruthless, brutal, heroic resistance, first to Japan, then the United States, which threatened to nuke the rubble its bombers had left.

Cumings exposes as propaganda the notion that Kim Il Sung, leader of the “bad” Korea, was a stooge of Moscow.

In contrast, the regime that Washington invented in the South, the “good” Korea, was run largely by those who had collaborated with Japan and the United States.

The Korean war has an unrecognised distinction.

It was in the smouldering ruins of the peninsula that the US turned itself into what Cumings calls “an archipelago of empire.”

When the Soviet Union collapsed in the 1990s, it was as if the whole planet was declared pro-US – or else.

But there is China now.

The base being built on Jeju Island will face the Chinese metropolis of Shanghai, less than 300 miles away, and the industrial heartland of the only country whose economic power is likely to surpass that of the US.

“China,” says President Obama in a leaked briefing paper, “is our fast-emerging strategic threat.”

By 2020, almost two-thirds of all US naval forces in the world will be transferred to the Asia-Pacific region. In an arc extending from Australia to Japan and beyond, China will be ringed by US missiles and nuclear-weapons-armed aircraft.

Will this threat to all of us be “forgotten” too?

Enhanced by Zemanta

Canadian metal rockers protest against Pentagon abuse of their music as torture


This music video is called Harsh Stone White – Skinny Puppy.

From daily The Independent in Britain:

Metal band Skinny Puppy send US government invoice after finding out their music was ‘used as torture device in Guantanamo Bay’

Christopher Hooton

Friday 31 January 2014

The US Army’s use of Metallica’s oeuvre as a tool in its interrogations in Iraq is well documented, but it opted for something a little more esoteric in Guantanamo Bay, according to one Canadian industrial metal band.

“We heard through a reliable grapevine that our music was being used in Guantanamo Bay prison camps to musically stun or torture people,” founder cEvin Key told the Phoenix New Times. “We heard that our music was used on at least four occasions.”

While Metallica politely asked the US military to stop using their music for the sleep deprivation of detainees, Skinny Puppy took it one step further.

“So we thought it would be a good idea to make an invoice to the US government for musical services,” Key added. “Thus the concept of the [band's new] record title, Weapons.”

Despite the band’s aggressive sound, they said they had never envisioned their music being used in such a way.

Asked how he felt about their songs allegedly being used in the detention camp, Key replied: “Not too good. We never supported those types of scenarios. … Because we make unsettling music, we can see it being used in a weird way. But it doesn’t sit right with us.”

See also here.

This Band Billed the Pentagon $660,000 For Using its Music to Torture GITMO Prisoners: here.

Enhanced by Zemanta