Chelsea Manning will write for The Guardian

This video from the USA says about itself:

Ann Wright on Chelsea Manning Being Sentenced to 35 Years in Prison

23 August 2013

Ann Wright speaks to The Real News in an exclusive interview responding to Wikileaks Whistleblower Chelsea Manning being sentenced to 35 years in prison.

By Jackson Connor in the USA:

Chelsea Manning To Join The Guardian U.S. As Contributing Opinion Writer

02/10/2015 3:48 pm EST Updated: 1 hour ago

The Guardian U.S. has hired Chelsea Manning as a contributing opinion writer covering war, gender and freedom of information, Katharine Viner, the publication’s editor-in-chief, announced Tuesday via Twitter.

Currently serving a 35-year sentence in federal prison for supplying thousands of classified military documents to WikiLeaks, Manning — who was once known as Bradley — has written on such topics before. In December, she penned an essay for The Guardian titled “I am a transgender woman and the government is denying my civil rights,” and in June she wrote a piece for The New York Times blasting the U.S. government for keeping information from the American people.

“I believe that the current limits on press freedom and excessive government secrecy make it impossible for Americans to grasp fully what is happening in the wars we finance,” Manning wrote for The Times.

According to Politico, Manning will write her pieces for The Guardian U.S. from Fort Leavenworth prison in Kansas and will not be paid for her work.

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.

Pentagon wars in scores of countries

United States armed forces around the world

By Patrick Martin in the USA:

The global scale of US militarism

3 January 2015

Last month President Obama dispatched a formal letter to the Speaker of the House, John Boehner, listing a series of countries where US troops were or have been engaged in military operations during 2014. The preamble explains that the document is “consistent with the War Powers Resolution (Public Law 93-148), as part of my efforts to keep the Congress informed about deployments of U.S. Armed Forces equipped for combat.”

The War Powers Resolution was enacted by Congress in 1973, in the aftermath of the US withdrawal from Vietnam, and over the veto of President Richard Nixon, to require the president to keep the legislative branch regularly appraised of military operations that were being conducted without a congressional declaration of war.

Obama’s letter outlines a series of military operations in 2014, some completed, some ongoing, that go far beyond what is generally reported in the American media, which is generally limited to news of Afghanistan, the Iraq-Syria conflict (albeit very little) and occasional reports of drone missile strikes.

Not a single major US newspaper reported the issuance of the letter, titled, “Six Month Consolidated War Powers Resolution Report,” although it was released by the White House Press Office December 11 and is available on the White House web site.

If one combines the operations reported in this letter with published reports about the deployment of US troops in supposed noncombat situations, as well as joint military exercises with NATO countries and other US allies, it is possible to present a picture of the vast worldwide scope of US military activities in the course of last year.

The map presented here shows the countries where US forces are deployed in four of the six regional theaters of operations for the US military (all but the Northern and Southern Commands, which cover the Western hemisphere).

The White House letter to Congress declares that as part of operations against Al Qaeda and associated forces, “the United States has deployed combat-equipped forces to a number of locations in the U.S. Central, Pacific, European, Southern, and Africa Command areas of operation.”

The Obama administration thus maintains in full the pretext for global deployment of US military power, the “war on terror” first declared by George W. Bush in 2001. There is, of course, no acknowledgement that in several countries, notably Libya and Syria, Al Qaeda is not the enemy but a key ally in US efforts to overthrow the regimes of Muammar Gaddafi (murdered in 2011) and Bashar al-Assad (who would face a similar fate in the event of victory of the US-backed “rebels”).

The Obama letter continues: “It is not possible to know at this time the precise scope or the duration of the deployments of US Armed Forces necessary to counter this terrorist threat to the United States.” In other words, the Obama administration, like its predecessor, has declared war on the world, reserving the right to send US military forces anywhere, anytime, regardless of any decision by Congress, let alone the wishes of the American people.

The letter devotes its main focus to the areas of responsibility of the US Central Command and US Africa Command, the first comprising the Middle East and Central Asia from Israel to Pakistan, the second comprising the entire African continent.

US Central Command

The Central Command has run US military operations in Afghanistan from 2001 to the present, in Iraq from 2003 to 2011, and again in Iraq and Syria from August 2014 on. At least 10,600 US troops remain in Afghanistan, despite the formal end of Operation Enduring Freedom, the official title of the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan begun by Bush and continued by Obama.

Under a Memorandum of Understanding with the US-backed puppet government of Afghanistan, all Afghan prisoners of US forces have been transferred to Afghan custody, and new Afghan detainees are to be transferred within 96 hours of capture. However, the letter informs Congress, “United States forces in Afghanistan continue to detain a small number of third-country nationals under the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force (Public Law 107-40), as informed by the law of war.”

Translated into plain language, this means that US forces continue to imprison and interrogate (i.e., torture) an unspecified number of non-Afghan prisoners in military facilities in Afghanistan, where they are outside any legal regimen, whether Afghan, American or international.

The other main theater of operations for Central Command is the newly launched US war in Iraq and Syria, nominally against the Islamic fundamentalist group Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Some 3,100 US troops are deployed in Iraq, and warplanes from the US, several NATO countries, and the Persian Gulf sheikdoms have bombed ISIS and Al Nusra Front targets in Syria. The long-term goal of the US intervention is to overthrow the Assad regime in Syria, while blocking the growing influence of Iran in Shiite-ruled Iraq.

For the first time, the US military is directly training and equipping Kurdish Peshmerga forces, which are currently fighting ISIS, but could turn against Baghdad, to fight in support of an independent Kurdistan.

Other countries within the Central Command area of operations include:

Yemen, the target of frequent drone strikes against Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), similar to those that killed three American citizens in 2011. The Obama letter declares: “The US military has also been working closely with the Government of Yemen,” without noting that that government is no longer in control of its own capital, having been displaced by rebel forces opposed to both the government and Al Qaeda. An unspecified number of US military personnel are on the ground in Yemen for “security” at the US embassy. Further US military engagement in Yemen could quickly become as complex as the current intervention in Syria’s multisided civil war.

Jordan, where the US has deployed “Patriot missile systems, fighter aircraft, and related support, command, control, and communications personnel and systems” at the invitation of the US puppet regime of King Abdullah, including 1,700 American troops.

• The Gulf monarchies: there are 2,500 US troops in Kuwait, a US air base in Qatar, the headquarters of the US Fifth Fleet in Bahrain, and 2,000 US military personnel at Eskan Village Air Base in Saudi Arabia. US warplanes and warships also have the use of bases in Oman and the United Arab Emirates. None of these are currently classified as combat operations, so they are not mentioned in the White House letter. The precise base locations are detailed here, in a 2012 Al Jazeera graphic.

Egypt: On the border with Israel, about 700 US military personnel are in the Sinai desert, monitoring Egyptian compliance with the 1977 Camp David Accords, which provided for Israeli return of the territory to Egypt, and a largely demilitarized Egyptian presence in the region.

US Africa Command

The US Africa Command (Africom) has the fastest-growing field of operations. Before Obama took office, Africom had an office in Stuttgart, Germany, because no African country would allow it to locate on its territory, and US troops were based in Djibouti, the former French Somaliland, and conducted operations in Somalia.

Under Obama, Africom played a key role in the US-NATO war against Libya in 2011, and US forces have returned to Libya on several occasions, most recently to evacuate the US embassy from Tripoli last summer (this entailed combat deployments in both Libya and neighboring Tunisia).

According to Obama’s notification to Congress, there are 200 US military personnel in Niger who “continue to provide support for intelligence collection and to facilitate intelligence sharing with French forces conducting operations in the Sahel and with other partners in the region.” There are also US military personnel in Chad detailed to “security cooperation activities.”

Somalia is a major target of US military operations, including both drone missile strikes, such as those that killed Ahmed Godane and Tahliil Abdishakur, two top leaders of the Al Shabab Islamist militia.

The Obama administration deployed US military personnel to several countries in central and east Africa in 2011, on the pretext of seeking to apprehend Joseph Kony and other leaders of the Lord’s Resistance Army, a guerrilla group active in Uganda, South Sudan, the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

As many as 300 US military personnel are still engaged in anti-Kony operations in this region, Obama told Congress, but all details about locations and activities were relegated to a classified annex of the December 11 letter. The map assumes that US military personnel operate in all the countries targeted as locations of the LRA. There was a separate deployment of US troops to the Central African Republic as a response to the collapse of the central government and a series of ethnic/tribal massacres in the capital city, Bangui, and other towns.

The most recent deployment of US Africom troops is the 3,000 sent to Liberia, in West Africa, to build healthcare facilities for treating patients in the ongoing Ebola epidemic. All three former colonial powers in the tri-country region affected by the epidemic have used the crisis to send in military forces: British troops in Sierra Leone, French troops in Guinea, and US troops in Liberia. The Obama administration hopes eventually to establish the headquarters of Africom in Liberia.

US European Command

The US European Command coincides with NATO, always commanded by an American general, and included joint operations with the 24 NATO member nations in Europe, as well as three former Yugoslav republics, Bosnia, Montenegro and Macedonia, which are candidates for future NATO membership.

The European Command also controls operations in Kosovo, the breakaway region of Serbia whose independence has been recognized by most but not all of the EU countries and by the United States. The NATO-led Kosovo Force (KFOR) was rubber-stamped by the UN Security Council after the illegal NATO war against Serbia in 1999 that led to the creation of an independent Kosovo. There are 700 US military personnel in Kosovo as part of a force of nearly 5,000 NATO troops.

NATO forces have carried out a series of exercises in Ukraine as well as supplying military equipment to the right-wing regime established in early 2014 by a political coup backed by the United States and Germany. Last month the Ukrainian parliament voted to scrap the country’s nonaligned status, the first step towards applying to join NATO. US military personnel have operated in both Ukraine and Georgia as part of exercises with anti-Russian regimes in the two countries.

An 11-page fact sheet issued in November by the European Command details the virtually continuous series of air, sea and ground exercises conducted by NATO forces and joined by most of the non-NATO countries in the region, including Sweden, Finland, Serbia, Ukraine, Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan. Romania, Poland and the Baltic states were the main focus of these activities, as part of the US-NATO buildup in the course of the Ukraine crisis.

US Pacific Command

Not listed under “combat-equipped forces,” although by far the most formidable US military deployment is the Pacific Command, which operates throughout the Asia/Pacific region with headquarters in Hawaii and large troop deployments in Japan and South Korea, including nuclear-armed units.

Under Obama’s “pivot to Asia,” the Pacific Command will account for more than 60 percent of all US military forces, up from 50 percent under the Bush administration. This includes new US basing arrangements in the Philippines, Singapore and Australia, as well as renewed close military ties to New Zealand, and ongoing US military exercises in Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and Taiwan.

Arming and training foreign military and police forces is serious business. The principal goal of these programs is to bolster allies and promote stability. But this form of assistance too often fails to meet its objectives. Done poorly, it can fuel conflicts, enable human rights abuses, and draw the United States into unnecessary wars. Unfortunately, U.S. military aid programs perform poorly far too often, and they are growing rapidly without adequate congressional or public scrutiny: here.

Five reasons congress should reject Obama’s ISIS war. The Obama administration wants a rubber stamp on its unwise, unlimited, and unauthorized new war in the Middle East. It shouldn’t get it: here.

US military torture in Iraq, Afghanistan on photos

This video is called Iraq – Torture and prisoner abuse by American soldiers.

By Patrick Martin in the USA:

US judge sets deadline in lawsuit over Iraq, Afghanistan torture photos

23 October 2014

The Obama administration is fighting a bitter rearguard action against the release of further damning evidence that the US military engaged in the torture of prisoners in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

The most recent development came Tuesday in a brief hearing before US District Judge Alvin Hellerstein in Washington DC, part of a long-running Freedom of Information Act lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union and several journalists seeking the release of 2,100 photographs depicting the torture of people detained by the US military.

The pictures are said to be more disturbing than those released in 2004 showing the abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison outside of Baghdad, which caused worldwide revulsion against the US occupation regime in Iraq.

The photographs were taken by individual soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan, mainly between 2003 and 2006, for their own use and to exchange with fellow soldiers as trophies or memorabilia of their wartime activities. They were confiscated in the course of more than 200 internal investigations into charges of mistreatment and abuse of prisoners, all of which have been closed without charges being brought.

The US Army released descriptions of the photos to the ACLU plaintiffs, and even these brief captions make for chilling reading. They include soldiers pointing guns at the heads of detainees who are hooded and bound, soldiers beating detainees with their fists or objects, soldiers posing with groups of bound and restrained prisoners, soldiers posing with corpses, and, in at least one case, a female soldier pointing a broomstick at the rectum of a hooded detainee.

The Pentagon reportedly catalogued the 2,100 images in May 2009, dividing them into three categories according to the degree of political damage their release would cause. The categories were described as follows:

* Category A: Will require explanation; egregious, iconic, dramatic

* Category B: Likely to require explanation; injury or humiliation

* Category C: May require explanation; injury without context

The proceedings before Judge Hellerstein are the result of a protracted political and legal conflict going back to 2009, when President Obama released a few legal memorandums justifying torture that were written by the Bush Justice Department, and initially agreed to release the photographs as well.

After a month of intense lobbying by the military brass and former Bush administration officials, Obama reversed himself and withheld the photos, claiming, “The most direct consequence of releasing them, I believe, would be to further inflame anti-American opinion and to put our troops in greater danger.”

The administration appealed to the Supreme Court against a lower court order to release the photographs and prevailed on Congress to pass legislation giving the secretary of defense the authority to suppress such photographs for a three-year period (renewable indefinitely) by certifying that they would endanger US national security. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates issued that certification in November 2009, and his successor, Leon Panetta, did the same in November 2012.

The plaintiffs challenged the 2012 certification on a new ground, because Panetta had simply issued a half-page statement declaring all the photographs off-limits. Under the terms of the law, they argued, the Pentagon had to give specific reasons for withholding each photograph.

Last August, Judge Hellerstein agreed and issued an order for the administration to release the material in redacted form—that is, showing the victims but with the faces of the torturers obscured—or give specific reasons why each photograph should be kept secret.

At Tuesday’s hearing, the judge set a deadline of December 12 for the Justice Department to release the photographs or provide the explanations. He also set the date for a subsequent hearing, January 23, 2015, where the plaintiffs will be able to challenge the withholding of any photographs.

The case before Judge Hellerstein is only one of at least four different legal and political venues in which the Obama administration is engaged in an all-out defense and cover-up for American government personnel, both CIA and military, who engaged in the torture of prisoners.

The White House, Justice Department and CIA have been stalling for months the release of a massive report by the Senate Intelligence Committee on torture at CIA black sites overseas between 2003 and 2006. The committee voted to declassify the report and release it to the public last April, but Obama assigned the task of vetting the report to the agency that carried out the torture, and the CIA has continuously pushed back the deadline, now set for October 29.

According to a report last week by McClatchy News Service, the report fails to hold any officials of the Bush administration responsible for the torture of prisoners at CIA black sites, limiting its criticism to lower-level CIA personnel.

In another federal district courtroom in Washington, before Judge Gladys Kessler, the Justice Department is fighting an order to release videos of the force-feeding of prisoners at the Guantanamo Bay detention center, the result of a lawsuit by one of the prisoners, Abu Wa’el Dhiab.

At a hearing last week, Judge Kessler agreed to delay for 30 days her order to release the videos, giving the Obama administration time to file an appeal. (See: Judge delays order to release Guantanamo force-feeding videos).

According to a report Sunday in the New York Times, the Obama administration is now debating how to proceed at an upcoming session of the Committee Against Torture, a United Nations panel set up under the UN Convention Against Torture, which the US government ratified in 1994.

The Bush administration took the position that the torture convention applied only to actions by US personnel committed within the United States, but not to the actions taken overseas, as in war zones or CIA secret prisons. The Obama administration had distanced itself from that interpretation, which was a flagrant assertion of the “right” to torture, but officials were now said to be having second thoughts.

“But the Obama administration has never officially declared its position on the treaty, and now, President Obama’s legal team is debating whether to back away from his earlier view,” the Times wrote. “It is considering reaffirming the Bush administration’s position that the treaty imposes no legal obligation on the United States to bar cruelty outside its borders, according to officials who discussed the deliberations on the condition of anonymity.”

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US Supreme Court suppresses torture photos
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