Category: Afghanistan

Is the United States in Good Company on the Death Penalty?

Is the United States in good company?

These are the countries that permit the death penalty:

Death Penalty Permitted

  • Afghanistan
  • Antigua and Barbuda
  • Bahamas
  • Bahrain
  • Bangladesh
  • Barbados
  • Belarus
  • Belize
  • Botswana
  • Chad
  • China (People’s Republic)
  • Comoros
  • Congo (Democratic Republic)
  • Cuba
  • Dominica
  • Egypt
  • Equatorial Guinea
  • Ethiopia
  • Guatemala
  • Guinea
  • Guyana
  • India
  • Indonesia
  • Iran
  • Iraq
  • Jamaica
  • Japan
  • Jordan
  • Kuwait
  • Lebanon
  • Lesotho
  • Libya
  • Malaysia
  • Mongolia
  • Nigeria
  • North Korea
  • Oman
  • Pakistan
  • Palestinian Authority
  • Qatar
  • St. Kitts and Nevis
  • St. Lucia
  • St. Vincent and the Grenadines
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Singapore
  • Somalia
  • South Sudan
  • Sudan
  • Syria
  • Taiwan
  • Thailand
  • Trinidad and Tobago
  • Uganda
  • United Arab Emirates
  • United States
  • Vietnam
  • Yemen
  • Zimbabwe

Read more: The Death Penalty Worldwide |

US Marines Identify ‘Urination’ Troops (Raw Video)

From the BBC:

At least two of four US Marines shown in a video appearing to urinate on Taliban corpses have been identified, a Marine Corps official has told the BBC.

The video, which was posted online, purports to show four US Marines standing over the bodies of several Taliban fighters, at least one of whom is covered in blood.

These soldiers did nothing to honor the traditions of the United States Marine Corps.

They did not act as the honorable warriors who serve this country so well.

Holy Sh*t: Pakistan Arrests C.I.A. Informants Who Aided Bin Laden Raid

The lede for this one goes to the New York Times, from the caption used for the picture above:

Instead of going after those who helped Osama bin Laden to live in this Abbottabad compound, Pakistan arrested those who assisted in the raid that killed him.

Oh, shit.

From the New York Times:

Pakistan’s top military spy agency has arrested some of the Pakistani informants who fed information to the Central Intelligence Agency in the months leading up to the raid that led to the death of Osama bin Laden, according to American officials.

Pakistan’s detention of five C.I.A. informants, including a Pakistani Army major who officials said copied the license plates of cars visiting Bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, in the weeks before the raid, is the latest evidence of the fractured relationship between the United States and Pakistan. It comes at a time when the Obama administration is seeking Pakistan’s support in brokering an endgame in the war in neighboring Afghanistan.

At a closed briefing last week, members of the Senate Intelligence Committee asked Michael J. Morell, the deputy C.I.A. director, to rate Pakistan’s cooperation with the United States on counterterrorism operations, on a scale of 1 to 10. 

“Three,” Mr. Morell replied, according to officials familiar with the exchange.  

The fate of the C.I.A. informants arrested in Pakistan is unclear, but American officials said that the C.I.A. director, Leon E. Panetta, raised the issue when he travelled to Islamabad last week to meet with Pakistani military and intelligence officers.

Pakistan is no ally of the United States of America.


Is America Ready for a Nuanced Discussion of Just War?

Writing about a lecture he attended at St. Irenaeus Church in Park Forest, Illinois, Park Forest Mayor John Ostenburg presents perhaps one of the most nuanced perspectives I’ve ever read on the Catholic Just War Theory. The lecture, given by Kathy Kelly, coordinator of Voices for Creative Nonviolence, "covered a much wider scope of things. Really, her presentation should have been promoted with the old John Lennon song title, ‘Give Peace a Chance,’ Ostenburg says on his blog, The Outpost Observer.

What follows is a summary of the lecture by Kathy Kelly, and additional perspective by Ostenburg, including the following:

While I agree with Ms. Kelly in principle, that the sincere and consistent efforts of even a handful eventually can reap genuine rewards, I also am inclined to believe that it is extremely difficult to control the behaviors of any individuals — or even nations — who have hatred in their hearts. Turning the cheek is a personal act that any one of us can take (I might even say, should take), but those charged with the responsibility of protecting the public at large face additional responsibilities that reach beyond that. As Christians, Ms. Kelly and her compatriots do well to imitate the actions of Jesus Christ in how he showed love for those who extended ill toward him; however, even Jesus took up the whip to expel the money-changers in the Temple because of the social ill they were spreading.

As such, I find it difficult to accept that absolute pacifism is enough to effect the kind of change that Ms. Kelly would like to see. Lest we forget, law enforcement also was a necessary component of the changes that ultimately brought major controls on racial hatred in the 1960s and 1970s. People had to be arrested, sentenced, and sent to jail; federal officers often had to engage in strong tactics in order to bring the wrongdoers to their knees. And — even with all the combined efforts of peaceful protest and effective law enforcement — things today are far from perfect and the ugly head of racism still rises all too often and spews its hateful venom.

So, from my perspective, it is legitimate for the U.S. to seek to curtail hateful acts by Al-Qaeda and/or the Taliban. But I also believe the methods we employ in our efforts at self-protection must likewise be legitimate.

An explanation of the Catholic Church’s Just War Theory follows.

What strikes me as fascinating in all of this is this line from Ostenburg’s post, "Even Jesus took up the whip to expel the money-changers in the Temple because of the social ill they were spreading."

Yes, He did. And I never thought about that in connection to warfare.

Read this post in full, and ask yourself, is America, polarized as it is today, ready for a truly nuanced discussion of war — and peace?

To All The Media: Colin Powell Debunks Claims That America Is Less Safe Under Obama (Video)

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I still love Colin Powell.

Dems Soft on Terror? Taliban’s Top Commander Captured

"Less talk, more action," might be a motto for President Obama’s approach to the two wars he inherited from President Bush.

From the New York Times:

The Taliban’s top military commander was captured several days ago in Karachi, Pakistan, in a secret joint operation by Pakistani and American intelligence forces, according to American government officials.

The commander, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, is an Afghan described by American officials as the most significant Taliban figure to be detained since the American-led war in Afghanistan started more than eight years ago. He ranks second in influence only to Mullah Muhammad Omar, the Taliban’s founder, and was a close associate of Osama bin Laden before the Sept. 11 attacks.

Mullah Baradar has been in Pakistani custody for several days, with American and Pakistani intelligence officials both taking part in interrogations, according to the officials.

It was unclear whether he was talking, but the officials said his capture had provided a window into the Taliban and could lead to other senior officials. Most immediately, they hope he will provide the whereabouts of Mullah Omar, the one-eyed cleric who is the group’s spiritual leader.

Disclosure of Mullah Baradar’s capture came as American and Afghan forces were in the midst of a major offensive in southern Afghanistan.

No Mission Accomplished, for sure. But certainly a big move in Afghanistan.

NPR: U.S. Releases Names Of 645 Bagram Detainees

From the AP, via NPR:

The government on Friday released a long-secret list of some 645 detainees held at a military base in Afghanistan, providing the information as part of a lawsuit seeking details of the treatment of terror suspects.

The list was just a small part of roughly 2,000 pages of documents that were released related to various lawsuits seeking government papers about detainees.

The identities of the detainees at Bagram air base had been sought by the American Civil Liberties Union. The list is dated Sept. 22, 2009.

ACLU lawyer Melissa Goodman said the government should also provide the details of how the inmates were captured and why they are being held.

"Hundreds of people have languished at Bagram for years in horrid and abusive conditions, without even being told why they’re detained or given a fair chance to argue for release," Goodman said.

Giuliani Forgets 9/11: ‘No Domestic Attacks’ Under Bush

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The Mayor of 9/11 forgot about all that, apparently. Or maybe he’s engaging in historical revisionism.

Yes, Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani has had the senior moment par excellence: he has officially forgotten September 11, 2001 ever happened.

From CBS 2 Chicago:

Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani set off a tempest about terrorism Friday with his claim that this nation "had no domestic attacks" under President George W. Bush. 

Giuliani somehow neglected to mention the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks as he was contrasting President Barack Obama’s handling of terrorism with that of Bush in light of the failed Christmas Day attempt to blow up a Detroit-bound flight. The Sept. 11 attacks toppled New York’s World Trade Center, killed nearly 3,000 people in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania and earned Giuliani accolades as "America’s mayor." 

The Republican said of Obama on ABC’s "Good Morning America" that "what he should be doing is following the right things that Bush did." 

While saying he believes Obama "turned the corner" on understanding the nature of terrorism when he publicly declared the U.S. at war, Giuliani added that Obama has plenty of room to improve on terrorism. 

"We had no domestic attacks under Bush," Giuliani said. "We’ve had one under Obama."

Oh, Rudy.

While I appreciated the analysis of Giuliani’s remarks on MSNBC’s Countdown with Keith Olbermann, Rachel Maddow really did it all justice. Enjoy the video above.

US Military Suicides Outnumber Soldiers Killed By Enemy Fire For 2009

This is incredibly sad.

Should the President write letters of condolence to family members?

I would. The letters are for the living, not the deceased.

C.I.A. Drops Blackwater

The C.I.A. has finally terminated ties with Blackwater.


From the New York Times:

The Central Intelligence Agency has terminated a contract with the security company formerly called Blackwater Worldwide that allowed the company to load bombs on C.I.A. drones in Pakistan and Afghanistan, intelligence officials said Friday.

The contract gave employees with the company an operational role in one of the Central Intelligence Agency’s most significant covert programs, which has killed dozens of militants with Predator and Reaper drones. The company’s involvement highlighted the extent to which the C.I.A. had outsourced critical jobs to private companies since the 9/11 attacks.

The contract with the company, now called Xe Services, was canceled this year by Leon E. Panetta, the C.I.A. director, according to a C.I.A. spokesman. In August, The New York Times first revealed the existence of the contract, which was run by a division of the company called Blackwater Select, which handles classified contracts.

George Little, the C.I.A. spokesman, said that Mr. Panetta had ordered that the agency’s employees take over the jobs from Xe employees at the remote drone bases in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and that Mr. Panetta had also ordered a review of all contracts with the company.

“At this time, Blackwater is not involved in any C.I.A. operations other than in a security or support role,” Mr. Little said.

This is Friday night news. Many times, unpopular news is released on Fridays to downplay the prime time media blitz. This release happend to come just after the NYTimes reported that Blackwater employees had joined C.I.A. operatives in secret operations during the Bush II administration.

Good riddance.

Read more.