Guest blogged by Ernest A. Canning
"Somehow this madness must cease."
- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., "Beyond Vietnam" April 4, 1967.
In Beyond Afghanistan, I utilized Dr King's "Beyond Vietnam" speech to deconstruct the empty words used by our Harvard-educated President during a December 1, 2009, address in which he sought to justify an escalation of the war in Afghanistan.
I noted then that President Barack Obama deliberately conflated the Taliban with al Qaeda just as "President" George W. Bush conflated Saddam with al Qaeda to exploit the fear and anger engendered by 9/11. Robert Scheer revealed, in War of Absurdity that there were, at that time, less than 100 members of al Qaeda still inside Afghanistan, who, per General James Jones, did not retain the "ability to launch attacks on either us or our allies." I added:
Earlier, I posted a five part series on the more than 50-year history of CIA torture. In Part III, citing Victor Marchetti's heavily redacted The CIA & The Cult of Intelligence, I reported on how the CIA's William Colby constructed interrogation centers whose [emphasis added] “operations…consisted of torture tactics against suspected Vietcong…usually carried out by Vietnamese nationals”; that this morphed into the infamous Phoenix torture, then kill and dump program, in which an estimated 46,000 Vietnamese lost their lives; that General Petreus suggested that the Phoenix Program be reinstated on a “global scale.”
A powerful, must-see Democracy Now segment, The New Pentagon Papers: WikiLeaks Releases 90,000+ Secret Military Documents Painting Devastating Picture of Afghanistan War (video below) potently establishes that nothing has really changed.
Our current crop of military and political leaders inside the Bush and Obama administrations have erected an elaborate deception as they carry out wars of imperial conquest and war crimes, including targeted killings of suspected terrorists in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq, just as our past military and political leaders in the Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon administrations erected an elaborate deception to justify the quagmire in Southeast Asia a generation ago...
Rick Rowly's Synopsis of the Afghan "Pentagon Papers"
While I sincerely hope readers will take the time to watch the entire video, I felt it appropriate to provide a partial transcript of Rick Rowly's description of the significance of the newly disclosed 90,000 plus secret military documents. Rowly stated:
A third interesting thing that these documents do is they put flesh on a process that we’ve been tracking...of a transition to what some people call a special forces war, an entirely covert and classified war that’s conducted with drone strikes and midnight raids and targeted assassinations, where everything is classified, there are no media embeds, and there’s very little accountability.
Amy Goodman quoted a Stephen Grey piece from the UK Guardian which focused on the targeted assassinations of Task Force 373, whom Grey described as having "also killed civilian men, women and children and even Afghan police officers who have strayed into its path." Matthew Hoh, a former Marine Corps captain in Iraq and former State Department official in Afghanistan, added: "A lot of times...we kill the wrong people. Well, you know, sometimes we get the right guy, but he’s actually just somebody who’s been turned in by someone who’s got a grudge against him."
That is what occurred when hundreds of innocents were turned over for the huge bounties we had offered at the outset of the war in Afghanistan; people who were then shipped to Guantanamo where they languished for years. But where arrest and torture led to embarrassment for the Bush regime, the military appears to now look to bury their mistakes.
Nothing new, really!
While the details contained in these Afghan "Pentagon Papers" are new, the story of our involvement in death squads, torture, assassination, drug smuggling, and support for corrupt and brutal military regimes is by no means new and different from the history I described in my earlier, five-part series on CIA torture. What, you actually thought we were there to bring democracy and freedom to the Afghan people? Or did you just buy into the new iteration of the domino theory --- that we have to fight "them" over there so we won't have to fight "them" here?
UPDATE: In a follow-up appearance with guest host Chris Hayes on MSNBC's Rachel Maddow Show (video below), Rick Rowly, who had recently embedded with U.S. marines in Afghanistan, blew away the Obama administration's attempt to spin the matter by claiming that, because the WikiLeaks documents covered a period ending in December, 2009, they are outdated because they predate the “new” strategy embodied by Obama's escalation.
Rowly not only explained how this "new" strategy was failing both militarily and politically, but said it was "shocking" that the military would attempt to dismiss the damning information as irrelevant simply because the WikiLeaks documents ran only through last December.
UPDATE 07/27/2010: In a public email Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) announced two important Resolutions that will come before the House this week:
The first vote is likely to occur this Tuesday on House Concurrent Resolution 301, sponsored by myself and Congressman Ron Paul of Texas. This resolution aims to cause the United States to withdraw from Pakistan. Now, it's not generally known that we have at least 124 Special Forces troops on the ground inside Pakistan. It is absolutely urgent that we take a stand to stop spreading war in Pakistan. To nip in the bud the U.S. ground presence.
We already know the U.S. has had missile strikes inside Pakistan since March of 2005 with a lot of innocent villagers killed. All that we can do is to expand the war into Pakistan, destabilize that government and have the United States fighting on still another front. We have to get out of Pakistan and that's why Ron Paul and I have come together, for the first time, to force a vote on this question.
Later in the week we'll be faced once again with the question whether to continue to fund the War in Afghanistan. The New York Times and other news agencies have taken WikiLeaks reports and have released this news globally. And what we've learned in the last 24 hours is that there is another secret war going on in Afghanistan. A war of failure. A war of our troops getting undermined by people that we think are working with us.
This is occurring in Pakistan, it's also happening in Afghanistan. The Afghanistan government is a cesspool of corruption. There is no plausible way that anything even remotely resembling a democracy can be established there. Our presence there is an occupation fueling an insurgency.
We have to get out of Afghanistan. We owe it to our troops. We owe it to our national security. We owe it to our budget. We owe it to the American people who hope for a better life here at home.
Powerful July 26, 2010 Democracy Now! segment on WikiLeaks Release of 90,000+ Secret Military Documents...
Rick Rowly's follow-up appearance with Chris Hays on MSNBC's Rachel Maddow Show...
Ernest A. Canning has been an active member of the California state bar since 1977. Mr. Canning has received both undergraduate and graduate degrees in political science as well as a juris doctor. He is also a Vietnam vet (4th Infantry, Central Highlands 1968).