Monday, February 13, 2012

U.S. Navy: Iran Prepares "Suicide Bomb Boats" in Gulf

Iranian Navy response:  "HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!"

By Warda Al-Jawahiry

MANAMA (Reuters) - 

Iran has built up its naval forces in the Gulf and prepared boats that could be used in suicide attacks, but the U.S. Navy can prevent it from blocking the Strait of Hormuz, the commander of U.S. naval forces in the region said on Sunday.

Iran has made a series of threats in recent weeks to disrupt shipping in the Gulf or strike U.S. forces in retaliation if its oil trade is shut down by sanctions, or if its disputed nuclear program comes under attack. 
Weaponry like this makes U.S. Navy claim laughable if not so serious
"They have increased the number of submarines ... they increased the number of fast attack craft," Vice Admiral Mark Fox told reporters. "Some of the small boats have been outfitted with a large warhead that could be used as a suicide explosive device. The Iranians have a large mine inventory."

"We have watched with interest their development of long range rockets and short, medium and long range ballistic missiles and of course ... the development of their nuclear program," Fox, who heads the U.S. Fifth Fleet, said at a briefing on the fleet's base in the Gulf state of Bahrain.

Iran now has 10 small submarines, he said.

Military experts say the U.S. Navy's Fifth Fleet patrolling the Gulf - which always has at least one giant supercarrier accompanied by scores of jets and a fleet of frigates and destroyers - is overwhelmingly more powerful than Iran's navy. 
Carrier Killer:  Iranian Navy Mehrab missile
But ever since al Qaeda suicide bombers in a small boat killed 17 sailors on board the destroyer U.S.S. Cole in a port in Yemen in 1996, Washington has been wary of the vulnerability of its huge battleships to bomb attacks by small enemy craft.

Asked whether the U.S. Navy was prepared for an attack or other trouble in the Gulf, Fox said: "We are very vigilant, we have built a wide range of options to give the president and we are ready... What if it happened tonight? We are ready today."

Iranian officials have threatened to block the Strait of Hormuz, the outlet to the Gulf through which nearly all of the Middle East's oil sails.

Asked if he took Iran's threats seriously, Fox Said: "Could they make like extremely difficult for us? Yes they could. If we did nothing and they were able to operate without being inhibited, yeah they could close it, but I can't see that we would ever be in that position."

He added that diplomacy should be given priority in resolving the tension. 
Iranian Navy spoof on U.S. Navy threats; only the insane want war
"So when you hear discussion about all this overheated rhetoric from Iran we really believe that the best way to handle this is with diplomacy... I am absolutely convinced that is the way to go. It is our job to be prepared. We are vigilant."

Contacts between the U.S. Navy and Iranian craft in the Gulf region were routine, Fox said, referring to cases where his sailors helped Iranian ships that were in distress or threatened by pirates.

In addition to commanding the Fifth Fleet, Fox is also the commander of a multinational naval task force charged with ensuring Gulf shipping routes stay open. Although most of its firepower is American, the task force also includes other Western countries and the Gulf Arab states.

The European Union slapped an embargo on Iranian oil last month, which is due to kick in completely by July 1. The United States and EU have both imposed new sanctions on Iran's central bank which make it difficult for countries to pay Tehran for oil and for Iran to pay for the goods it imports.

Editing by Firouz Sedarat and Peter Graff.

Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of The 5th Estate.

Images:  Google royalty free unless otherwise attributed.

This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc.  We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.

“Just Don’t Call It a Militia” Part 7, Final Chapter of Series from Human Rights Watch

When the U.S. leaves Afghanistan this time, abandoning Afghan "friends" and bogus occupation mercs there will be a predictable bloodbath, just as with Vietnam and other countries the U.S. has lost illegal wars in

Human Rights Watch


To the Government of Afghanistan

Accountability for the ALP

  • Ensure that all allegations of abuses or violations of operational rules by ALP personnel, including unauthorized arrest, detention, or use of firearms, are seriously investigated. Ensure that accountability mechanisms for the ALP take account of the greater risk of abuses by forces working in remote areas.
  • Allocate adequate resources, including additional personnel, in order to investigate complaints. Create an external complaints body to allow members of the public to report abuses by the ALP and other police forces. This body should have dedicated provincial staff to proactively monitor the ALP and pay particular attention in remote areas where the national police cannot provide effective oversight and to areas where oversight is otherwise challenging.
  • Suspend ALP personnel against whom there are credible allegations of abuse, improper use of force, or unauthorized raids until the allegations are properly investigated and appropriate disciplinary action or criminal prosecutions are carried out.
  • Create a victim and witness protection program, which will include mechanisms for protecting the identity of complainants who fear retaliation.

Recruitment and Vetting for the ALP

  • Amend the February 2011 Ministry of Interior ALP directive to strengthen provisions on recruitment, vetting, and rules of engagement. In particular, ensure that all recruits are individually vetted, even if they have previously been members of a similar force, such as LDI, ISCI, and AP3, and that there are no exceptions to the rules, including those who have been through the reintegration program.

Ensure that vetting of new recruits for the ALP, including those that were former combatants and have reintegrated, includes checks for past allegations of human rights abuses. If there are credible allegations of serious human rights abuses, ensure that those individuals are refused admission into the ALP and are criminally investigated and the individuals held accountable as appropriate. 
  • Ensure that any official accused of intimidating or threatening communities or individuals in order to force them or their relatives to join the ALP are investigated and held accountable. Deliberate violations of recruitment and vetting rules by officials from the Ministry of Interior or at the provincial or district level should result in disciplinary action, including removal from positions of authority in the recruitment and vetting process for ALP. 

Operational Rules for the ALP

  • Clarify the operational rules for the ALP regarding law enforcement, arrest and detention, and involvement in military or paramilitary operations to limit future abuses and ensure maximum oversight and accountability. The ALP should be prohibited from involvement in arrests or detention except in clear cases of a crime being committed and when the Afghan National Police are not available to carry out a timely arrest. ALP units should be prohibited from engaging in interrogations of detainees, and should immediately seek to transfer detainees as soon as possible, and within a maximum 48 hour period where travel and communications prevent a swifter transfer. ALP members using or in possession of unauthorized weapons should be investigated and sanctioned.

Assessment of the ALP program

  • Create an independent panel to carry out an assessment of the ALP program which would examine:
    • the adequacy of ALP recruitment and vetting, including whether individuals responsible for human rights abuses have been recruited as members of the ALP;
    • whether the ALP has adhered to its operational rules, including in the areas of law enforcement, arrest and detention, interrogations, and involvement in military or paramilitary operations;
    • whether the ALP is empowering local strongmen or warlords;
    • the effectiveness of local shuras in recruitment and vetting;
    • the impact of the ALP on ethnic and political relationships and tensions; and
    • the effect on the ALP of the government’s reintegration policy and whether APRP it is leading to breaches of ALP recruitment rules.
  • This independent panel should include a wide range of government officials, the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC), representatives of civil society, with UNAMA observers.

The Planned Disbanding of the ALP

  • Develop workable plans by 2012 for the disbandment of the ALP in conjunction with Afghan and international authorities managing the Inteqal (Transition) process.
  • Develop plans for the provision of alternative employment well in advance of the demobilization of ALP personnel who are not transferred to the Afghan National Police or Afghan National Army.
  • Ensure that when the ALP is disbanded, weapons and uniforms are returned and failure to do so results in fines or other appropriate sanctions.
  • Ensure that a credible demobilization program is built into long-term security sector planning, particularly as transition plans are formulated.

The ALP and the Afghan Peace and Reintegration Program

  • Prevent reintegrees who go through the Afghan Peace and Reintegration Program (APRP), from joining the ALP for a minimum of one year after they have reintegrated in order to discourage the ALP recruitment safeguards being undermined by the political imperatives of reintegration, and to persuade communities that those reintegrating are committed to their renunciations of violence. Ensure that no ALP recruitment rules are bypassed in order to have them accepted. Ensure that Afghan officials who play a role in APRP, including governors and other local officials, do not promise or provide jobs in the ALP to combatants without going through the official recruitment and vetting process.
  • Ensure that there are sufficient resources to provide protection to reintegrees, so that the ALP does not become the default option for security protection for reintegrating ex-combatants.
  • Ensure that Afghan officials who play a role in APRP, including governors and other local officials, do not promise or provide jobs in the ALP to former combatants without going through the official recruitment and vetting process.
  • Ensure that APRP vetting mechanisms are introduced to allow communities to have a meaningful opportunity to raise human rights concerns about the reintegration of former combatants against whom there are allegations of human rights violations into a local security apparatus. Include mechanisms for the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission, civil society groups, and other relevant agencies to share information about individuals against whom there are credible allegations of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and other serious human rights violations.

Irregular Armed Groups

  • Disband irregular armed groups, investigate them for abuses, and hold accountable individuals implicated in criminal offenses.
  • The National Directorate of Security should cease reactivating and supporting irregular armed groups with weapons, funds, and other assistance.
  • The Independent Directorate of Local Government should issue guidance to local government officials, including provincial and district governors, to ensure that they are aware that they do not have the authority to create or support irregular armed forces. The IDLG should share reports of potential breaches of this guidance with the Office of the President and the Ministry of Interior.

Regarding Child Recruitment and Sexual Abuse

  • The Ministry of Interior and Ministry of Defense should ensure that the “Action Plan between the Afghan government and the United Nations Country Task Force on Monitoring and Reporting Regarding Children Associated with National Security Forces in Afghanistan” is fully implemented. Ensure that the Action Plan includes adequate resources to monitor the ALP, including investigations into all allegations of child recruitment and the sexual abuse of children, and proactive monitoring activities at check points and other ALP sites to assess the ages of ALP members.
  • Fully prosecute any member of the security forces implicated in the sexual abuse of children and make clear in regular public statements that the government has a zero tolerance policy towards the sexual abuse of children by security forces.

To the Taliban and other Insurgent Forces

  • Cease attacks against civilians, including against civilian police personnel who are not taking part in counterinsurgency operations and are not taking a direct part in hostilities.

To the United States and the International Security Assistance Force

  • Press the Afghan government and its agencies to implement the above recommendations.
  • Ensure that pressure for the ALP to achieve results and legitimate concerns about governance challenges do not lead to shortcuts in recruitment, vetting, and adherence to operational rules.
  • Focus on long-term solutions to local policing and protection of civilians that adhere to the rule of law and international best practices.
  • Develop or clarify internal guidelines when allegations of abuse by the ALP or other armed groups are received by US armed forces. Specifically:
  • Acknowledge that local perceptions that an armed group, including the ALP, has ties to US forces is often seen as being a barrier to accountability.
  • Ensure that all allegations of abuses by armed groups are fully investigated or are passed to the appropriate Afghan government authorities for appropriate action. Be transparent with local government officials regarding actions being taken and follow-up on the status of investigations by US or Afghan officials.
  • Provide appropriate protection and assistance to complainants and their families who have a credible fear of retaliation. This can include assisting complainants in accessing central government bodies to avoid local threats and working in conjunction with local human rights groups where appropriate. US officials should make direct representations to the relevant authorities on behalf of complainants who are at risk. 
  • Work with the Afghan government to put in place adequate mechanisms including designated personnel in every district where the ALP is in operation, to prevent, monitor, and respond to human rights violations by ALP units.  
  • Ensure that US forces involved in the creation of ALP units do not put pressure on Afghan officials to violate the ALP recruitment process to integrate commanders or groups with poor human rights records, such as registered or unregistered private security groups or precursors to the ALP, including LDI, ISCI, or AP3.
  • Ensure increased and adequate training for the ALP to ensure a full understanding and commitment to the ALP rules of engagement, including that the ALP does not have powers to detain, arrest, or interrogate individuals, as well as limitations on the permissible use of firearms.
  • Ensure that ISAF forces do not use the ALP for law enforcement or military operations except in emergency situations, such as to defend against immediate insurgent attacks.

To the US Department of State

  • Ensure that adequate mechanisms are in place to prevent, monitor, and respond to human rights violations by ALP or other armed groups funded and trained by US forces. Fully implement the Leahy Law, which prohibits the provision of military assistance to any unit of foreign security forces where there is credible evidence that such unit has committed gross violations of human rights, such as torture or cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment, and “flagrant denial of the right to life, liberty or the security of the person” and that no “effective measures” are being taken to bring those responsible to justice.[416]

To the US Department of Defense and CIA

  • Audit all relationships with Afghan security forces and armed groups to ensure there is no support or cooperation with individuals or units against whom there are credible allegations of serious human rights abuses. Sever all ties, including training, arming, and funding, with abusive commanders and units, whether regular or irregular.
  • Report any incident of human rights violations by Afghan security forces or armed groups to the relevant Afghan authorities and ensure that appropriate disciplinary or criminal action is taken.

This report was written by Rachel Reid, Afghanistan researcher in the Asia division at Human Rights Watch, and Sahr Muhammedally, consultant to the division. The report was based on research conducted by Rachel Reid, Sahr Muhammedally, and research assistants Hadi Marifat and Fezal Reshad. It was edited by Brad Adams, director of the Asia division, James Ross, legal and policy director, and Joseph Saunders, deputy program director of Human Rights Watch. Bede Sheppard, senior researcher in the children’s rights division and Aruna Kashyap, researcher in the women’s rights division reviewed the sections on children and sexual abuse.

Production assistance was provided by Jake Scobey-Thal, associate in the Asia division, Grace Choi, publications director, and Anna Lopriore, photo editor. Kristi Ng, associate in the Asia Division, also provided research assistance.

Human Rights Watch acknowledges the assistance of the Peace Training and Research Organization, Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission, Afghanistan Analysts Network, the Afghanistan NGO Security Office, and UNAMA. We are appreciative of the interviews granted by ISAF and NATO officials, US civilian officials, European officials, and numerous former and current Afghan government officials.

Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of The 5th Estate.

Images:  Google royalty free unless otherwise attributed.

This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc.  We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.

“Just Don’t Call It a Militia” Part 6 of 7, Final Chapters of Report

This is dated however it is timely and provides valuable background relating to the present situation in Afghanistan and eventual Taliban takeover....; The 5th Estate apologizes for the time lag in republishing this series, final chapter 7 to follow

Human Rights Watch

Prior to introducing the ALP in a particular area the Ministry of Interior and US special operations forces say they ensure that there is an operational shura to nominate ALP members. [359] T his often requires working in areas where security is challenging and there may be significant displacement of the population, which adds to the challenges of creating representative and ethnically balanced shuras. [360]

The involvement of the shuras is often presented as a key safeguard, particularly by US officials.[361] One US official interviewed by Human Rights Watch identified the shuras as a critical way of ensuring that the ALP does not replicate past mistakes of local defense forces, which were disconnected from local communities and were not representative of those communities. According to the official, “There have been many attempts to establish similar programs. The key is a functional representative shura…. If a shura is recognized as representative then we begin [the ALP process].”[362]

Brilliant move U.S.:  Insult ALP recruits with women instructors
Much rests therefore on the ability of the shuras to recommend and vouch for members of the ALP.[363]Vetting is also supposed to be done by Afghan security agencies, though the track record of the Afghan government to vet at any level is dismal. One former Ministry of Interior official, Abdul Hadi Khalid, who was in the ministry when the failed Afghan National Auxiliary Police was in operation, cautioned that the same reassurances were given in 2007 and 2008:

"We also did the same thing then: we recruited through the elders, we got their guarantees through a shura process. In those days also it was the Americans’ idea. They also had one-year contracts, after that they could join the national police."[364]

An ISAF official similarly acknowledged the weakness in vetting and said:

"I have no confidence in a local vetting process. Who will dare to say no? That’s just not the way things work. Anyone who has experience of working on such projects and is honest about it will say the same. I was around for ANAP. We’ve seen again and again that this kind of vetting does not work." [365]

As discussed in section II above, the ANAP is widely regarded to have been a failure, in part because it was taken over by local strongmen.

While a heavy responsibility is placed on the shuras to nominate and vouch for ALP members, there is no systematic process for this and little oversight or evaluation. In recent years a plethora of overlapping and competing shuras have been used or created for various development, governance, conflict resolution, and reconstruction purposes.[366] This reflects in part a pragmatic response to the weakness of the state as service provider. A number of people we interviewed raised questions about how representative shuras are, how strong the tribal system of governance is after decades of war, what impact the involvement of central government or US forces have on the credibility of shuras, as well as more technical questions about the capacity of Afghan government institutions to support the work of shuras.

Suras bullshitting U.S. Troops:  "Americans are unbelievably stupid"
Most Afghans interviewed for this report strongly approved of efforts to involve respected elders and village representatives in important security decisions, though many questioned the degree to which this was happening and the adequacy of the shuras involved.[367]Research by Afghan analysts, PTRO, shared with Human Rights Watch also raises concerns about the ability of local shuras to vet candidates effectively in areas where large numbers of households are displaced by conflict. This is quite often the case, since ALP forces are sometimes created in the wake of “clearance” operations by the international military. For instance, research in October 2010 in the village of Shahabuddin, Baghlan, which is normally home to 800 households, found that only 200 families were in the area at the time the shuras for the ALP were held. This population was largely transient, leaving the village at night, and was represented at the shura by only one elder and one religious leader.[368]

Others questioned whether the role of elders was diminished after so many years of war. A former Ministry of Interior official, Abdul Hadi Khalid, said:

There’s a big difference between these elders [today], and those elders that we had before war.… Our society was a feudal-religious society. In those days, those who had land, or spiritual leaders, the government relied on them, and through them society was managed. And communities accepted them. But now through war over three or four decades those traditions have been broken[369]

Given the weakness of the Afghan state, any system of vetting, including through shuras, is likely to have weaknesses.[370] Direct involvement by the central government could provide a check to prevent local strongmen in some areas from having too much control over the local government and security entities.

For instance, in Sheberghan district in the northern province of Jawzjan, the local government promised to convert a local strongman and his armed group into an ALP unit. The Ministry of Interior, however, rejected this.[371] A foreign military official confirmed that, “in some cases there had been some interventions [by MOI and ISAF] to try to prevent political or ethnic factions dominating local forces.”[372]

Despite efforts to ensure that local communities drive recruitment, with shuras nominating and vetting ALP members, in three of the provinces where Human Rights Watch conducted interviews—Wardak, Herat, and Uruzgan—there were complaints that communities were pressured to cooperate with the ALP (or its predecessor AP3).[373]

Politics of Implementation: IDLG and ASOP

The Independent Directorate of Local Governance (IDLG), through its Afghan Social Outreach Program (ASOP), is the government body responsible for supporting and creating the shuras upon which the Ministry of Interior relies for the ALP.[374]

Lewat Social Outreach Program
ASOP began in January 2008 and now has a local presence in 100 districts in provinces all over the country. Its mandate is to improve stability, dispute resolution, and government outreach to villages and districts “through the revival of traditional practices of collective decision making.”[375] ASOP’s primary function is to create representative “Community Councils” at the district level, which break down into smaller sub-councils at the village level.[376]The community councils are chosen by a larger jirga of 200-400 people, which is assembled by ASOP officials.[377]

The pressure on ASOP for rapid expansion compounds the difficulty of creating representative shuras. Between 2008 and 2010 ASOP was rolled out to 100 districts.[378] One senior government official acknowledged that they were under considerable pressure: “There is lots of responsibility placed on them. It’s not a normal work for anyone. There is too much demand, and it’s a very complex situation.”[379]

Although the IDLG is intended to help make local government more representative and meritocratic, it is widely regarded as a highly political entity. The IDLG, unlike other ministries, reports directly to the president. International civilian officials who have worked closely with the IDLG expressed concerns about the capacity and political bias of the IDLG.[380] Mohammad Osman Tariq, a political analyst, told Human Rights Watch:

"Mostlyit [IDLG] was used as a tool for 2009 election for the president.… everyone knows that. And it is a tool for okaying what the presidents says. They don’t do what they are meant to do, professionalize the service. It’s about patronage."[381]

The result can be the creation of shuras that are not trusted. An international official told Human Rights Watch:

As always, the Afghan kids, especially girls, will suffer again
"In some cases they [shuras] are respected, but in many places they aren’t trusted, they are captured by local elites, violence providers. Or they don’t exist. Can some friends of Karzai create them? Can Special Forces help? It’s not obvious, at least not as fast as they want."[382]

These concerns do not suggest that shuras should be excluded from the ALP recruitment process, but they do raise questions about how meaningful the role of the shuras will be. As a former Minister of Interior official told Human Rights Watch:

"There are no guarantees in Afghanistan! Who can guarantee [the shuras]? They say these are mullahs and elders, but who guarantees the Mullahs and elders?... If there is no rule of law then there is no meaning in this talk of guarantees."[383]

From Attackers to Protectors: Reintegration Efforts and the ALP

The ALP and past local defense initiatives are often intertwined with reintegration efforts, including the latest drive to persuade combatants to rejoin the government under the Afghan Peace and Reintegration Program (APRP). This has a potentially distorting effect on both programs.

For instance, some of the initial ALP recruits in Baghlan were former Hezb-i-Islami fighters who surrendered to the government and participated in the reintegration program after being defeated by the Taliban in March 2010.[384] Some from villages north of the provincial capital of Pul-e-Khumri were offered the chance to join the ALP or a demining training program in Baghlan.[385] According to Alam Jan, a member of the Baghlan Provincial Council, these fighters “remained jobless for a couple of months after joining the government,” but by August 2010 some began doing patrols with US troops in the Shahabudeen area.[386] The rapid transformation of former fighters into members of the ALP is seen unfavorably by some members of the Baghlan government and local residents. According to local residents and provincial government officials, former fighters who are now with the ALP carried out kidnappings and forcibly collected ushr when they operated under Hezb-i-Islami.[387] Rather than seeing these individuals brought to justice, communities see them receiving government security positions.

Renegade ALP pukes terrorize civilians
When asked about whether APRP was using ALP to provide employment and security for reintegrees, the ministry official who was then in charge of ALP, Gen. Khan Mohammad Khan, said that there was no barrier to their involvement:

"In general it doesn’t matter if they are Talib or Hezb-i-Islami. If they don’t have a bad background and don’t have a link with another group then they can join.… We never make a group of the ALP from one specific tribe."[388]

One international official raised concerns regarding whether the reintegrees were genuine or fake. He estimated that “approximately 1,500 of 1,700 reintegrated to date are not genuine insurgents. Despite this, the government just tried to wangle US$3 million for salaries for reintegrated commanders.”[389]

The temptation of using the ALP as an employment program to encourage current combatants to lay down their arms is strong for the Afghan government and its foreign military allies. Not only do reintegrated fighters need to be offered employment if the deals have a hope of sticking, they also need security to protect themselves from reprisal attacks. Concerns about reprisal attacks against reintegrees are exacerbated when the local police force is unable or unwilling to assist the reintegrees. For instance, when a group of Hezb-e-Islami reintegrees came under attack by the Taliban in Baghlan in September 2010, the ANP, which is dominated by Andrabi Tajiks, did not intervene.[390]

In February 2010, then Minister of Interior Hanif Atmar suggested that local defense initiatives be used for reintegrees as a way to find them employment.[391] An international official who is closely involved with the program acknowledged that despite the public comments to the contrary, special operations forces see the “ALP as way to flip people”—to get insurgents who go through APRP to be able to hold on to their weapons and be involved “in some kind of defense force.”[392] The US Department of Defense in its November 2010 report to Congress also stated that, “The ALP program complements reintegration by supporting the provision of security for communities and individuals who reintegrate.”[393] For instance, in Baghdis, Afghan analysts who examined the ALP found that “almost all of the groups that have come forward [for reintegration] have stated wishes to be given a checkpoint, arms and some control over their local areas. With initial expectations so high it is hard for the provincial government to resist.”[394]
Marked for death on Taliban return:  Afghan Local Police
Giving former insurgents control over security without proper vetting for past human rights abuses sends the wrong message. Not only can it threaten the safety of the local community, which in the recent past may have been terrorized by the insurgents, it also sends a message that there is no accountability for human rights abuses and that criminal behavior gets rewarded with invitations to join the state security apparatus.

Although Afghan government officials have been keen to stress that reintegration includes a grievance resolution component, refusing reintegration on the grounds of prior human rights abuses is rare.[395] What vetting there is seems to rely heavily on biometric testing and ad hoc communications with local security officials.[396] There is no formal mechanism for the exclusion of those against whom there are serious allegations of war crimes or other serious human rights abuses.[397] At the time of writing, there are several donors, nongovernmental organizations, and other agencies considering ways of creating more formal mechanisms for some kind of human rights vetting or strengthened grievance resolution processes, but it is not clear that the government is prepared to engage in meaningful vetting.[398


[359] Human Rights Watch interview with US official, Kabul, September 27, 2010.

[360] For example, efforts to gather shuras post insurgent clearance operations in Panyway and Khakhrez in Kandahar, and Gadji village in Baghlan. Human Rights Watch interview with PTRO analyst, Kabul, February 21, 2011.

[361] Human Rights Watch interviews with Afghan and US officials involved in ALP, Kabul, September and October 2010, and February 2011.

[362] Human Rights Watch interview with American official, Kabul, February 22, 2011.

[363] Numerous Human Rights Watch interviews with government and foreign officials, including interview with US official, Kabul, September 27, 2010, and with Khan Mohammad Khan, Director of ALP, Kabul, February 22, 2011.

[364]Human Rights Watch interview with Abdul Hadi Khalil, former Deputy Minister of Interior, Kabul, October 26, 2010.

[365] Human Rights Watch interview with ISAF official, Kabul, June 7, 2011.

[366] The National Solidarity Program has created 22,490 Community Development Councils to administer development projects funded by the World Bank. The ASOP (see below) has around 100 Community Councils at the provincial level subdivided at the district and village level. The Afghan Peace and Reconciliation Program has Provincial Level Peace Councils with proposals for district level peace councils. International military forces sometimes use their own shuras forreconstruction and development efforts. For more see Shah Mahmood Miakhel and Noah Coburn, “Many Shuras Does Not a Government Make,” USIP, 2010, p. 3, (accessed April 15, 2011).

[367]Human Rights Watch interviews in Baghlan, Jalrez, Wardak, Shindand in Herat province, and Arghandab in Kandahar province. Human Rights Watch interviews with PTRO researchers, Kabul, February 24, 2011, Peace Training Research Organization, Afghan Local Police, p. 6 (2011) (on file with Human Rights Watch).

[368] Human Rights Watch interviews with PTRO researchers, Kabul, February 24, 2011, Peace Training Research Organization, Afghan Local Police, p. 6 (2011) (on file with Human Rights Watch).

[369] Human Rights Watch interview with Abdul Hadi Khalid, Kabul, October 26, 2010.

[370] A weakness in the vetting process for ALP recruits in Baghlan is highlighted by findings of the Peace Training and Research Organization (PTRO), which examined the ALP unit in Baghlan and found that some of the men now with the ALP collected ushr in the Shahubudeen area with threats of violence and in one case threw boiling water on an individual’s genital areas. PTRO, Afghan Local Police, p. 6.

[371] Human Rights Watch telephone interview with security official, May 21, 2011.

[372] Human Rights Watch interview with international military official, Kabul, June 4, 2011.

[373] See section V on the Wardak AP3 pilot, one of the precursors to ALP, where elders interviewed by Human Rights Watch said they came under pressure to agree to AP3. As discussed in section VI, in Shindand Herat province, there was also government pressure upon elders to cooperate with ALP. And in Khas Uruzgan, Uruzgan province, elders complained of forcible recruitment by the ALP commander Mullah Neda Mohammad.

[374] Where ASOP does not have a presence in a province, then the District Delivery Program, which is trying to improve access to justice at the district level, can be used or IDLG officials will work directly with the communities.

[375] Independent Directorate of Local Governance: “Afghanistan Social Outreach Programme – Programme Document ForKhost, Kunar, Laghman, Nangarhar, Nuristan, Paktia & Paktika Provinces, October 2008.” On file with Human Rights Watch.

[376] Human Rights Watch interview with Hidayatullah Babakarkhail, Director, ASOP, Kabul, February 28, 2011.

[377] Ibid.

[378] Ibid.

[379] Human Rights Watch interview with senior Afghan official, Kabul, February 28, 2011.

[380] Human Rights Watch interviews with various international military and civilian officials and Afghan officials, 2009-2011. For example, officials with some involvement in the setting up of a shura in Tagan, Kapisa province, said that the ASOP shuras represented only a small segment of the local population. Human Rights Watch interviews with officials, Kabul, February 17, 2010 and May 1, 2010.  

[381] Human Rights Watch telephone interview with Mohammad Osman Tariq, March 29, 2011.

[382] Human Rights Watch with international official, Kabul, March 1, 2010.

[383] Human Rights Watch interview with former Ministry of Interior head of Administration, Major General  Esmatullah Dawlatzai, Kabul, October 26, 2010.

[384] “Hezb Fighters to Support Government Against Taliban,” The Frontier Post, March 9, 2010 March 2010, Afghan officials announced that 70 fighters, including 11 commanders, with Hezb-e-Islami Gulbuddin would support Afghan security forces against the Taliban in Baghlan).

[385]Human Rights Watch interview with analyst from PTRO, Kabul, February 20, 2011. See also UNDP, Disbandment of Illegal Armed Groups, Third Progress Quarter Report, December 2010, (accessed March 20, 2011).

[386] Human Rights Watch telephone interview with Alam Jan, Baghlan Provincial Council Member, April 4, 2011; Human Rights Watch telephone interview with Gran Seward, Afghanistan Analysts Network, April 2, 2011; Human Rights Watch interview with PTRO members, Kabul, February 20, 2011 and telephone interview March 31, 2011. See also Michael Glick, “Plan to Convert Talib, Create Defense Force has Peril and Promise,” Stars and Stripes, September 29, 2010; Urike Demmer, “The Battle of Shahubudeen: Under Fire in Afghanistan Baghlan Province,” Der Spiegel, October 13, 2010,,1518,722605,00.html (accessed March 15, 2011).

[387] Human Rights Watch interviews with local government officials and residents of Omer Khel, Shahbudeen, March 14-15, 2011. PTRO, Afghan Local Police, 2011. A September 2010 Stars and Stripes article assessing the former Hezb-i-Islami recruits that US troops was working with concluded that “[t]hey roamed and robbed and raided. They collected ‘taxes’ for protection, and kidnapped for ransom. Occasionally, NATO and local security officials say, they picked up the banner of insurgency and attacked Western troops or the Afghan police or army.” Michael Glick, “Plan to Convert Talib, Create Defense Force has Peril and Promise,” Stars and Stripes, September 29, 2010. According to the New York Times, in Imam Sahib district of Kunduz province, some former Taliban members, who have reintegrated and are in the process of joining the Afghan Local Police, have also continued the practice of collecting ushr from locals. Those who have refused to pay have been beaten. Rod Norland, Some Police Recruits Impose ‘Islamic Tax’ on Afghans,New York Times, June 12, 2011.

[388] Human Rights Watch interview with Khan Mohammad Khan, Former Head of ALP, Kabul, February 22, 2011.

[389] Human Rights Watch interview with international official, Kabul, June 3, 2011.

[390] Human Rights Watch interview with PTRO analyst, Kabul, February 19, 2011. According to the Afghanistan Analysts Network, on September 17, 2010, the Taliban attacked a base in Shahubdeen where the former Hezb-e-Islami fighters who had reintegrated were located. The local ANP refrained from getting involved. Local sources interviewed by AAN concluded that this was because the ANP in Baghlan consists mainly of Andrabi Tajiks “who did not wish to risk their lives for Pashtuns.” German forces along with Afghan soldiers intervened, with US air support, in a battle that lasted four days. Four former fighters were killed. Thomas Ruttig, “Another Militia Gone Wrong,” Afghanistan Analysts Network, October 18, 2010, (accessed March 30, 2011); see also UrikeDemmer, “The Battle of Shahubudeen: Under Fire in Afghanistan Baghlan Province,”Der Spiegel, October 13, 2010(describing the German troops’ intervention against the Taliban attack on reintegrees in Baghlan in September 2010).

[391] Cable from Embassy of Kabul, Interior Minister Atmar Discusses Police Training; Insurgent Reintegration with Ambassador Holbrooke, February 2010, (accessed May 4, 2011). Human Rights Watch interview with Minister Mohammed Masoom Stanekzai, Kabul, Head of High Peace Council and Presidential Advisor, Kabul, February 28, 2011.

[392] Human Rights Watch interview with ISAF official, Kabul, June 7, 2011.

[393] Department of Defense, “Report on Progress Toward Security and Stability in Afghanistan - Report to Congress In accordance with section 1230 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008 (Public Law 110-181), as amended,” November 2010, p. 67, (accessed February 9, 2011).

[394] PTRO, The Afghan Local Police, 2011, p. 4 (on file with Human Rights Watch).

[395] For discussion of grievance process in APRP see Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, Afghanistan Peace and Reintegration Program, April 2010, (accessed June 1, 2011).

[396] Human Rights Watch interview with government official, Kabul, September 28, 2010, and February 28, 2011.

[397] The January 2010 Amnesty Law, although primarily focused on past conflicts, allows those engaged in the current hostilities to be granted immunity if they agree to reconciliation with the government. “Resolution of National Assembly on National Reconciliation and General Amnesty to the President No. 44, Date: 16/02/1386,” art. 3.3, on file with Human Rights Watch.

[398] Human Rights Watch interviews, Washington DC, May 11 and 12, 2011.

Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of The 5th Estate.

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This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc.  We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.

Obama’s Unprecedented War on Whistleblowers

Obama and crew, CIA, DOD, NSA will not stop until STOPPED; Bradley Manning: Patriot, Leader, nominated for Nobel Peace Prize

By Peter Van Buren

From Manning to Kiriakou, critics are aggressively targeted as the White House turns a blind eye to abuses

This originally appeared on TomDispatch.

On January 23rd, the Obama administration charged former CIA officer John Kiriakou under the Espionage Act for disclosing classified information to journalists about the waterboarding of al-Qaida suspects. His is just the latest prosecution in an unprecedented assault on government whistleblowers and leakers of every sort. 
Get a clue, TIME
Kiriakou’s plight will clearly be but one more battle in a broader war to ensure that government actions and sunshine policies don’t go together. By now, there can be little doubt that government retaliation against whistleblowers is not an isolated event, nor even an agency-by-agency practice. The number of cases in play suggests an organized strategy to deprive Americans of knowledge of the more disreputable things that their government does. How it plays out in court and elsewhere will significantly affect our democracy.

Punish the Whistleblowers

The Obama administration has already charged more people — six — under the Espionage Act for alleged mishandling of classified information than all past presidencies combined. (Prior to Obama, there were only three such cases in American history.)

Kiriakou, in particular, is accused of giving information about the CIA’s torture programs to reporters two years ago. Like the other five whistleblowers, he has been charged under the draconian World War I-era Espionage Act.

That Act has a sordid history, having once been used against the government’s political opponents. Targets included labor leaders and radicals like Eugene V. Debs, Bill Haywood, Philip Randolph, Victor Berger, John Reed, Max Eastman and Emma Goldman. Debs, a union leader and socialist candidate for the presidency, was, in fact, sentenced to 10 years in jail for a speech attacking the Espionage Act itself. The Nixon administration infamously (and unsuccessfully) invoked the Act to bar the New York Times from continuing to publish the classified Pentagon Papers. 
Barak Obama:  Traitor, Liar, Murderer, Thief, Torturer
Yet, extreme as use of the Espionage Act against government insiders and whistleblowers may be, it’s only one part of the Obama administration’s attempt to sideline, if not always put away, those it wants to silence. Increasingly, federal agencies or departments intent on punishing a whistleblower are also resorting to extra-legal means. They are, for instance, manipulating personnel rules that cannot be easily challenged and do not require the production of evidence. And sometimes, they are moving beyond traditional notions of “punishment” and simply seeking to destroy the lives of those who dissent.

The well-reported case of Thomas Drake is an example. As an employee, Drake revealed to the press that the National Security Agency (NSA) spent $1.2 billion on a contract for a data collection program called Trailblazer when the work could have been done in-house for $3 million. The NSA’s response? Drake’s home was raided at gunpoint and the agency forced him out of his job.

“The government convinced themselves I was a bad guy, an enemy of the state, and went after me with everything they had seeking to destroy my life, my livelihood and my person — the politics of personal destruction, while also engaging in abject, cutthroat character assassination and complete fabrication and frame up,” Drake told “Marriages are strained, and spouses’ professional lives suffer as much as their personal lives. Too often, whistleblowers end up broken, blacklisted and bankrupted,” said the attorney who represents Drake.

In Kiriakou’s case, the CIA found an excuse to fire his wife, also employed by the Agency, while she was on maternity leave. Whistleblower Bradley Manning, accused of leaking Army and State Department documents to the website WikiLeaks, spent more than a year in the worst of punitive conditions in a U.S. Marine prison and was denied the chance even to appear in court to defend himself until almost two years after his arrest. Former chief military prosecutor at Guantanamo Morris Davis lost his career as a researcher at the Library of Congress for writing a critical op-ed for the Wall Street Journal and a letter to the editor at the Washington Post on double standards at the infamous prison, as did Robert MacClean for blowing the whistle on the Transportation Security Administration. 

Four employees of the Air Force Mortuary in Dover, Delaware, attempted to address shortcomings at the facility, which handles the remains of all American service members who die overseas. Retaliation against them included firings, the placing of employees on indefinite administrative leave, and the imposition of five-day suspensions. The story repeats itself in the context of whistleblowers now suing the Food and Drug Administration for electronically spying on them when they tried to alert Congress about misconduct at the agency. We are waiting to see the Army’s reaction to whistleblower Lieutenant Colonel Daniel Davis, who documented publicly this week that senior leaders of the Department of Defense intentionally and consistently misled the American people and Congress on the conduct and progress of the Afghan War.

And this remains the most partial of lists, when it comes to recent examples of non-judicial government retaliation against whistleblowers.

Government bureaucrats know that this sort of slow-drip intimidation keeps people in line. It may, in the end, be less about disciplining a troublemaker than offering visible warning to other employees. They are meant to see what’s happening and say, “Not me, not my mortgage, not my family!” — and remain silent. Of course, creative, thoughtful people also see this and simply avoid government service.

In this way, such a system can become a self-fulfilling mechanism in which ever more of the “right kind” of people chose government service, while future “troublemakers” self-select out — a system in which the punishment of leakers becomes the pre-censorship of potential leakers. At the moment, in fact, the Obama administration might as well translate the famed aphorism “all that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good people to remain silent” into Latin and carve it into the stone walls of the CIA’s headquarters in Langley, Virginia, or NSA headquarters at Fort Meade, or the main office of the State Department at Foggy Bottom where I still fight to keep my job.

Silent State

I am told that, in its 223 years of existence, I am the only Foreign Service Officer ever to have written a critical book about the State Department while still employed there. “We Meant Well: How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People“ exposed what State did not want people to know: that they had wasted enormous amounts of money in Iraq, mostly due to ignorance and a desire for short-term successes that could be trumpeted back home. For the crime of writing this book and maintaining a blog that occasionally embarrasses, State Department officials destroyed my career, even as they confirm my thesis, and their own failure, by reducing the Baghdad Embassy to half its size in the face of Iraq’s unraveling.

“The State Department was aware of Mr. Van Buren’s book long prior to its release,” explains attorney Jesslyn Radack, who now represents me. “Yet instead of addressing the ample evidence of fraud, waste and abuse in the book, State targeted the whistleblower. The State Department’s retaliatory actions are a transparent attempt to intimidate and silence an employee whose critique of fraudulent, wasteful and mismanaged U.S. reconstruction efforts in Iraq embarrassed the agency.”

Without allowing any rebuttal or defense, State suspended my security clearance, claiming my blogging was an example of “poor judgment,” transferred me from a substantive job into a meaningless telework position, threatened felony conviction over alleged disclosure of classified information, illegally banned me from entering the building where I supposedly work, and continues to try to harass and intimidate me.

My travel vouchers from as far back as the law allows have come under “routine” re-examination. My Internet activity is the subject of daily reports. My credit reports have been examined for who knows what. Department friends who email me on topical issues have been questioned by agents of Diplomatic Security, the State Department’s internal police. My Freedom of Information Act request for documents to help defend myself and force State to explain its actions has been buried.

Without a security clearance, and with my Diplomatic Passport impounded, I will never serve overseas again, the lifeblood of being a Foreign Service Officer (FSO). A career that typically would extend another 10 years will be cut short in retaliation for my attempt to tell the truth about how taxpayer money was squandered in Iraq.

All of this has taken place in such a way that I cannot challenge it (except by writing and speaking about it in public — at additional risk). The State Department has standard disciplinary procedures that it could have invoked against me, but those leave room for public challenges and, in some cases, would allow me to force documents into the open that State would rather not share with you.

Hall Walkers: Ghosts in the Machine

Before “telework” existed as an option that allowed undesirable employees to be sent home and into a kind of benign house arrest, people like me at State were called “hall walkers.” They were the ones whom the Department no longer wanted as employees, but who could not be fired due to lack of evidence. So they would have their security clearances suspended without recourse, be removed from their assignments, and yet told that, to get paid, they needed to be physically present in the main State building eight hours a day.

Since they were not assigned to an office, State was wholly unconcerned about how they occupied themselves during those long empty days. And though as a “teleworker” I am not one, the hall walkers are still with us.

The main State building is enormous, with literally miles and miles of corridors, and the hall walker might wander them, kill time at the library, have a long lunch, stop in to chat with former colleagues still willing to be seen in his or her company. Even in the first FSO training course called A-100, young diplomats are advised that the most ignominious end to a career is not failing at your job, but being thrown into the purgatory of hall walking — still on the payroll but no longer a member of the tribe. Disowned, shunned, exiled in the ancient Greek tradition.

Hall walking is a far cry from being dragged through a trial or spending two years in solitary, but it exists on the same continuum. No one at State will say how many employees still exist in the shadow world of hall walking, but at least dozens is a reasonable guess.

I am told as well that State Department officials are increasingly moving to suspend security clearances for acts wholly outside the realm of security, like blogging they find offensive. One State Department Human Resources employee confided to me that this has, in fact, become the go-to strategy for winnowing out unwanted employees in the too-hard-to-fire category, a sad evolution, given the sorry history of the State Department in the McCarthy era.

Fighting Back

For a government employee being punished extra-legally by an agency ignoring its own rules, there is still one recourse: the Office of the Special Counsel. Created in 1979, it was to be an ombudsman meant to keep an eye on governmental nastiness and ensure the implementation of the Whistleblower Protection Act. Empowered, among other things, to investigate and “make right” instances of federal retaliation against legitimate whistleblowers, the office was sidelined through several administrations.

Under George W. Bush, it was embroiled in scandal when its head, Special Counsel Scott Bloch, instead purged its staff of lawyers who disagreed with him and announced that he would not follow up on cases of discrimination based on sexual orientation. Last summer, Bloch pleaded guilty to deleting evidence from his computer while under investigation for retaliating against his own staff.

At a moment when government extra-legal retaliation against whistleblowers and leakers is on the rise, call it ironic, but the Office of the Special Counsel has seen a rebirth under its current head, Obama appointee Carolyn Lerner. As the Washington Post recently described her, Lerner has “gone to the mat and tried to expand the boundaries of the law’s protections for whistleblowers. She has lifted long-sagging morale at an agency that, instead of behaving as an independent watchdog, has treaded water for much of its existence.”

Specifically, Lerner reassignedstaff members to review a backlog of cases against whistleblowers facing reprisals, including “veterans’ hospital staff members reporting poor lab procedures [and] air traffic controllers claiming flight-pattern dangers.” She has enforced a 60-day limit on responses from federal agencies. The Office seems to have re-embraced its mission. “She’s a pit bull,” saysTom Devine, legal director of the Government Accountability Project, which defends whistleblowers.

There are other signs of resistance in Washington to the urge to cloak the government in silence. For example, Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA) launchedan investigation into the Food and Drug Administration’s secret email monitoring of scientists warning that unsafe medical devices were being approved over their objections. Whistleblowers, said Grassley, often are treated “like skunks at a picnic.”

The Senator demanded that FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg disclose who authorized the monitoring, how many employees were targeted, and whether the agency obtained passwords to personal email accounts, allowing communications on private computers to be intercepted. He also wants to know whether the agency’s two-year surveillance campaign is still ongoing.

In another recent case, the Office of the Special Counsel formally asked the Air Force to take harsher disciplinary action against supervisors at the Dover mortuary who had tried to fire two whistleblowers who raised accusations about the mishandling of soldiers’ remains.

The Government Accountability Project has filed a complaint on my behalf with the Office of the Special Counsel demanding that the State Department cease its retaliatory personnel practices against me. The Department is particularly vulnerable, given its drumbeat of support for the rights of bloggers and other dissidents in the Middle East and China. State has already been forced to readmit me to the building and return my access badge. I remain an optimist, believing that my complaint will succeed and that, someday, I will return to work at a State Department where employees can talk openly about the bad as well as the good.

It Matters

Americans, who elect and pay for their government in Washington, deserve to know exactly what it does there — and elsewhere around the world — with their dollars. As in my case in Iraq, such information often is only available if some insider, shocked or disturbed by what he or she has seen, decides to speak out, either directly, in front of Congress, or through a journalist.

The Obama administration, which arrived in Washington promoting “sunshine” in government, turned out to be committed to silence and the censoring of less-than-positive news about its workings. While it has pursued no prosecutions against CIA torturers, senior leaders responsible for Abu Ghraib or other war crimes, or anyone connected with the illegal surveillance of American citizens, it has gone after whistleblowers and leakers with ever increasing fierceness, both in court and inside the halls of various government agencies.

There is a barely visible but still significant war raging between a government obsessed with secrecy and whistleblowers seeking to expose waste, fraud and wrongdoing. Right now, it is a largely one-sided struggle and the jobs of those of us who are experiencing retaliation are the least of what’s at stake.

Think of those victims of retaliatory personnel practices and imprisoned whistleblowers as the canaries in the deep mineshaft of federal Washington, clear evidence of a government that serves its people poorly and has no interest in being held accountable for that fact. This administration fears the noise of democracy, preferring the silence of compliance.
[Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author in his private capacity and do not in any way represent the views of the Department of State, the Department of Defense or any other entity of the U.S. government. The Department of State most certainly does not approve, endorse or authorize this article.]

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Peter Van Buren spent a year in Iraq as a State Department Foreign Service Officer serving as Team Leader for two Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs). Now in Washington, he writes about Iraq and the Middle East at his blog, We Meant Well. His book, We Meant Well: How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People (The American Empire Project, Metropolitan Books), will be published this September.

Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of The 5th Estate.

Images:  Google royalty free unless otherwise attributed.

This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc.  We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.

STRATFOR : Obama, CIA Continue to Kill Innocent Civilians in Syria Uprising

Obama criminal regime continues to deliver death to innocents, protesters in Syria



On Feb. 10, two security facilities in Aleppo, Syria, were struck by car bombs in separate incidents. The Military Security Branch headquarters and al-Orkoub area's law enforcement headquarters were severely damaged by the attacks. In both locations, the blasts shattered windows, destroyed nearby vehicles and warped a cast iron fence on the perimeter of the buildings -- leaving concrete blocks and bodies strewn around the area. According to the Syrian Health Ministry, the attacks killed at least 28 individuals, including civilians, and wounded 235 others. Photos from Syrian state media show one building -- it appears to be the Military Security Branch headquarters -- at least partially flattened and another showing severe structural damage. These photos also show the probable blast seat, located 100-150 feet in front of one of the buildings. The leaning beams and bent reinforcement bar from the perimeter wall indicate that the blast seat was outside the wall. The physical security measures, including the perimeter, functioned as designed, but the explosion was large enough to reach the building past the exterior wall. A similar twin bombing took place in Damascus on Dec. 23. That attack targeted two branches of Syria's Office of the Security Directorate and killed 40 people.

This STRATFOR analysis republished with permission and thanks from The 5th Estate.

Obama Signs Executive Order Declaring War On Iran

After all the talk about "peace:"  Exact same scenario in buildup to illegal wars in Iraq and Afghanistan; if oil situation is bad enough to declare "National Emergency" then why is U.S. EXPORTING OIL FROM ALASKA????

Pakalert Press

Up next:  Martial Law;  Americans:  YOU WERE WARNED
On February 5, 2012, President Obama invoked the NDAA, which authorizes the use of military force, and issues an executive order declaring the “threat” of Iran a National Emergency. The video below shows this issuance of President Obama executive order which declares Iran’s threat to cut off oil supplies a national emergency.

Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of The 5th Estate.

Images:  Google royalty free unless otherwise attributed.

This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, and social justice issues, etc.  We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.



The real truth on 9/11 slowly continues to bleed out

Technical experts are mounting major challenges to official U.S. government accounts of how three World Trade Center skyscrapers collapsed in near-freefall after the 9/11 attacks 15 years ago.

Many researchers are focusing especially on the little-known collapse of



The Geopolitics Of The United States, Part 1: The Inevitable Empire

The Empire and the inevitable fall of the Obama criminal regime

STRATFOR Editor’s Note: This installment on the United States, presented in two parts, is the 16th in a series of STRATFOR monographs on the geopolitics of countries influential in world affairs.

Like nearly all of the peoples of North and South America, most Americans are not originally from the territory that became the United States.



Geopolitics Of The United States Part 2: American Identity And The Threats of Tomorrow

A look back at 2011 predictions for the future in order to put events of today into perspective

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We have already discussed in the first part of this analysis how the American geography dooms whoever controls the territory to being a global power, but there are a number of other outcomes that shape what that power will be like. The first and most critical is the impact of that geography on the American mindset.



By Robert S. Finnegan

This e-mail outlines and confirms the acts of espionage against Indonesia and Indonesians by Akiko Makino and the others involved both in Kobe University and in AI Lab at University of Airlangga, Surabaya; Bahasa Indonesia original follows English translation...



UPDATED 01/07/2015 : New Analysis Challenges Tamiflu Efficacy; Hong Kong Corona Virus Outbreak


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Obama criminals now resulting to biowarfare in quest to destroy Chinese and ASEAN economy; "novel virus substrain" points directly to a Kawaoka / Fouchier / Ernala-Ginting Kobe lab virus weaponized and genetically altered to specifically target and infect the Asian population: Ribavirin...



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The 5th Estate has just purchased a library on H5N1 "Novel" virus pandemics, there are dozens of PDF and Exel documents we feel will assist you in saving lives following intentional releases of the H5N1 and now MERS viruses; we will begin by printing those that appear to be extremely relevant here: H5N1 Kobe-Kawaoka-Ernala series continues soon with more "Smoking Gun" e-mails from Teridah Ernala to The 5th Estate . . .



By Robert S. Finnegan

On October 12, 2002 the Indonesian island of Bali experienced a terrorist attack that rocked the world. It was unquestionably well-coordinated and executed, the largest in the country's history.