Reports From: The Small Wars Journal, Understanding Each Other, Diversity and Dissent: Aftonbladet-Israel controversy: The Nightmare World We Live In.
“My friends and fellow Americans you have been sold a cheap facsimile, of what could have been a great nation, and received no more than a "pig-in-the-poke" in return.
Everyone owes it to their children, and their coming generations to educate themselves to what really is, and what really has been in this country, and what lies have been told, and realize what fools we have been made out to be.
We as Americans owe it to ourselves and our generations to stand, and fight by whatever means are necessary to insure that what has happened is no longer allowed to continue.
We must put it all on the line, and realize that in order for our country to be ever be truly great, all men and women must be able to live in a country, devoid of petty prejudice's, with respect and dignity and a true possibility to live in prosperity and freedom unabated with the shackles that now bind us.
Then and only then can we rest assured that our children and their generations will have a future that is filled with hope and justice for all.”
(Swedish Tabloid Aftonbladet Published An Article Accusing Israeli Soldiers Of Plundering The Organs Of Palestinian Teenagers On The West Bank)
The White House has assembled a list of about 50 measurements to gauge progress in Afghanistan and Pakistan as it tries to calm rising public and congressional anxiety about its war strategy. Administration officials are conducting what one called a "test run" of the metrics, comparing current numbers in a range of categories - including newly trained Afghan army recruits, Pakistani counterinsurgency missions and on-time delivery of promised US resources - with baselines set earlier in the year. The results will be used to fine-tune the list before it is presented to Congress by Sept. 24. Lawmakers set that deadline in the spring as a condition for approving additional war funding, holding President Obama to his promise of "clear benchmarks" and no "blank check."
AFGHANISTAN / PAKISTAN
US Sets Metrics to Assess War Success - Karen DeYoung, Washington Post.
White House has assembled a list of about 50 measurements to gauge progress in Afghanistan and Pakistan as it tries to calm rising public and congressional anxiety about its war strategy. Administration officials are conducting what one called a "test run" of the metrics, comparing current numbers in a range of categories - including newly trained Afghan army recruits, Pakistani counterinsurgency missions and on-time delivery of promised US resources - with baselines set earlier in the year. The results will be used to fine-tune the list before it is presented to Congress by Sept. 24. Lawmakers set that deadline in the spring as a condition for approving additional war funding, holding President Obama to his promise of "clear benchmarks" and no "blank check."
US Fears Clock Ticking on Afghanistan - Paul Richter and Julian Barnes, Los Angeles Times.
The Obama administration is racing to demonstrate visible headway in the faltering war in Afghanistan, convinced it has only until next summer to slow a hemorrhage in US support and win more time for the military and diplomatic strategy it hopes can rescue the 8-year-old effort. But the challenge in Afghanistan is becoming more difficult in the face of gains by the Taliban, rising US casualties, a weak Afghan government widely viewed as corrupt, and a sense among US commanders that they must start the military effort largely from scratch nearly eight years after it began. A turnaround is crucial because military strategists believe they will not be able to get the additional troops they feel they need in coming months if they fail to show that their new approach is working, US officials and advisors say.
New Army Chief in Private War for More Troops - Michael Smith, The Times.
The new head of the army is to direct all its efforts towards winning the war in Afghanistan. General Sir David Richards is expected to push hard in Whitehall for more British troops, both on the ground in Helmand and to train the Afghan forces - though he will do so in private. He is determined the British Army will not suffer a repeat of the damage caused to its reputation by its withdrawal in southern Iraq. Richards, who is 57 and married with two daughters, took over as chief of general staff on Friday when General Sir Richard Dannatt retired. His style will initially be more restrained than that of Dannatt, who was willing to challenge the government publicly about equipment and manpower shortages. Asked recently whether, like Dannatt, he had a “shopping list” of equipment his men needed, Richards replied emphatically “No”, signalling he wants to defuse recent tensions between the government and the army. However, he is determined to ensure that the army has what it needs to fight the war in Afghanistan, which means he faces similar problems and confrontations, however private, to those Dannatt faced.
Major Fraud Allegations Top 550 in Afghan Election - Voice of America.
Independent Afghan election monitors say allegations of major fraud have more than doubled in the past two days and that investigators are now looking into more than 550 reported incidents. Investigations into the latest fraud allegations, reported by the Electoral Complaints Commission, could further delay a vote counting process that has been much slower than officials predicted. The latest official results from about one-third of polling stations show incumbent President Hamid Karzai leading with 46 percent. His closest challenger, Abdullah Abdullah, has 31 percent. A candidate needs to get more than 50 percent of the vote to avoid a two-man runoff.
Increasing Accounts of Fraud Cloud Afghan Vote - Carlotta Gall, New York Times.
Afghan election officials said Sunday that the serious fraud reports that they were considering had suddenly doubled - to 550 from 270, in a development likely to stoke public outrage and perhaps even delay the official results past September. By law, each of the more serious cases, out of more than 2,000 complaints of irregularities so far, must be investigated before the elections results can be certified. Western officials say they are increasingly ill at ease with the prospect of a national government in limbo even while American and NATO troops are pressed by the Taliban in a new phase of war that commanders concede is not going well. Politics in Afghanistan works through a system of tribal, factional and ethnic networks in which power brokers organize support for a candidate in return for money, power or position. Yet this election has surpassed previous ones in the scale of bribery, corruption of election officials, ballot stuffing and altering the count, election observers and political analysts said.
Major Fraud Allegations Double in Afghan Election - Heidi Vogt and Jason Straziuso,Associated Press.
Major fraud complaints in the Afghan presidential election surged Sunday to nearly 700, raising concern that the volume of cases that must be investigated will delay announcement of a winner and formation of a new government. President Hamid Karzai is leading with 46.2 percent of votes from the Aug. 20 ballot, followed by ex-Foreign Minister Abdullah Abdullah with 31.4 percent, according to official figures from 35 percent of the polling stations. Karzai must win over half the votes to avoid a run-off. Final results cannot be certified until the election complaint commission finishes investigating all major fraud allegations. Officials had hoped to release the final tally by Sept. 17, but the huge number of complaints makes that unlikely. The commission said Sunday it had received 691 "Category A" fraud allegations - more than double the 270 major complaints reported two days before.
Many Women Stayed Away From the Polls In Afghanistan - Pamela Constable,Washington Post.
Five years ago, with the country at peace, traditional taboos easing and Western donors pushing for women to participate in democracy, millions of Afghan women eagerly registered and then voted for a presidential candidate. In a few districts, female turnout was even higher than male turnout. But on Aug. 20, when Afghans again went to the polls to choose a president, that heady season of political emancipation seemed long gone. This time, election monitors and women's activists said, a combination of fear, tradition, apathy and poor planning conspired to deprive many Afghan women of rights they had only recently begun to exercise.
US Walks Fine Line in Afghan Vote - Anand Gopal and Matthew Rosenberg, Wall Street Journal.
The US and its allies are walking a thin line by trying to monitor the count in Afghanistan's presidential vote without influencing the outcome, as results from the election trickle into public view. Rampant allegations of electoral fraud, combative statements from candidates, and popular speculation about the US's role as kingmaker have made the balancing act more difficult. According to the latest results, released Saturday, President Hamid Karzai's lead has widened, with votes from a third of the polling stations counted. At stake in the vote is not just the credibility of the new Afghan government, but also that of the US and its allies, who have backed the democratic experiment with troops on the ground, say Western diplomats.
British Chinook Helicopter Destroyed in Afghanistan Following Crash - Rosa Prince,Daily Telegraph.
NATO forces in Afghanistan have been forced to destroy a crashed British Chinook helicopter to keep it out of the hands of the Taliban for the second time in 10 days. None of the 15 soldiers and four crew on board was injured in the crash, described as a “hard landing,” which is not thought to have been caused by enemy action. But the £40 million Chinook sustained damage to its undercarriage, nose and front rotor, making it unflyable, and a decision was taken that it could not be recovered safely. Rather than leaving it for Taliban forces to obtain, the helicopter was destroyed using explosives.
Suicide Blast Kills 16 in Pakistan's Swat Valley - Ayaz Gul, Voice of America.
Officials in Pakistan say a suicide bomb has killed at least 16 police recruits in the Swat region, where Taliban insurgents have had their stronghold until recently. This is the second major suicide bombing in the country's northwest within the past week, raising fears Taliban militants have regrouped and are hitting back. Provincial Information Minister Iftikhar Hussain tells VOA the deadly suicide attack in Mingora, the main town of the Swat Valley, targeted a police training facility and instantly killed 14 people. The minister says that up to 70 volunteers for a new community police force were holding their daily drills when a suicide bomber entered the training ground and detonated his explosives. He described condition of some of those wounded in the attack as critical.
Suicide Attack Kills 15 in Pakistan's Swat Valley - Haq Nawaz Khan and Joshua Partlow, Washington Post.
A suicide bomber detonated his explosives amid a gathering of police recruits in the heart of Pakistan's Swat Valley on Sunday, killing at least 15 and demonstrating the Taliban's power to attack despite the heavy military presence in the area. A second explosion in Pakistan targeted a NATO convoy of fuel trucks near a border crossing with Afghanistan in the southwestern province of Baluchistan, causing no deaths but frustrating efforts to supply US and other foreign troops.
Suicide Bomber Kills 15 Police Recruits in Pakistan’s Swat Valley - Jane Perlez and Pir Zubair Shah, New York Times.
A suicide bomber blew himself up on Sunday at a central police station in the largest town in the Swat Valley, killing 15 police recruits and shattering the semblance of normality that the army had tried to enforce in the troubled area. A group of new police officers, recently hired to patrol local communities, was performing training exercises when the suicide bomber struck at the police station in Mingora, the information minister for the North-West Frontier Province, Mian Iftikhar Hussain, said. The attack came as the Pakistani Army has asserted that it now controls most of the Swat Valley and that the Taliban militants who held sway there for nearly two years have been beaten back to only a few enclaves.
Suicide Bomber Kills 15 Police Trainees in Pakistan - Alex Rodriguez, Los Angeles Times.
A suicide bomber targeted police recruits undergoing training in Pakistan's Swat Valley on Sunday, killing at least 15 trainees and renewing fears that a region touted as safe by the government remains vulnerable to Taliban militants. The attack occurred in the valley's largest city, Mingora, where thousands of Pakistanis have been returning to their homes and businesses after spending weeks displaced by the war between government troops and Taliban fighters. Authorities said they were not sure how the bomber got onto the grounds of the police station. Mingora police said he may have scaled a 6-foot wall, but they are also investigating the possibility that he blended in with recruits as they arrived for the training session.
Pakistan's Taliban Kill 16 in First Swat Valley Attack Since Army Operation - Saeed Shah, Daily Telegraph.
Pakistan's Taliban killed at least 16 in first large scale attack in the Swat Valley since the army claimed it had crushed the radical movement in the area last month. The bomber detonated himself at a training session for police enlisted for a new community security force set up to stop Taliban infilration of the area. Another 20 officers were also injured in the assault, at a police facility in Swat's main city of Mingora. The attack took place soon after the authorities had lifted a curfew in an attempt to demonstrate normal life is returning to Swat. Pakistan's Taliban, closely linked to al Qaeda, no longer control Swat, which lies just 100 miles from Islamabad, but the blast showed that they retain lethal capabilities.
Taliban Hits NATO Fuel Convoy - Kay Johnson, Associated Press.
Bombings set a NATOfuel convoy ablaze, threatening the supply line to international forces in Afghanistan. A separate attack targeted a Pakistani police station, killing 16 cadets in the northwest's Swat Valley. The two blasts hours apart and hundreds of miles from each other came as Pakistani officials said Taliban militants were ramping up strikes to avenge recent setbacks, including the loss of territory to the military and the death of their top leader in a CIA missile strike near the Afghan border. Pakistan's military has in recent months intensified its fight against the al Qaeda-linked extremists, who threaten stability in the nuclear-armed nation and are suspected of helping plot attacks against US and NATOtroops across the border in Afghanistan.
How to Lose in Afghanistan - Anthony H. Cordesman, Washington Post opinion.
The United States cannot win the war in Afghanistan in the next three months - any form of even limited victory will take years of further effort. It can, however, easily lose the war. I did not see any simple paths to victory while serving on the assessment group that advised the new US commander, Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, on strategy, but I did see all too clearly why the war is being lost. The most critical reason has been resources. Between 2002 and 2008 the United States never provided the forces, money or leadership necessary to win, effectively wasting more than half a decade. Our country left a power vacuum in most of Afghanistan that the Taliban and other jihadist insurgents could exploit and occupy, and Washington did not respond when the US Embassy team in Kabul requested more resources.
Remnants of Iraq Air Force Are Found - Rod Nordland, New York Times.
Iraqi officials have discovered that they may have a real air force, after all. The Defense Ministry revealed Sunday that it had recently learned that Iraq owns 19 MIG-21 and MIG-23 jet fighters, which are in storage in Serbia. Ministry officials are negotiating with the Serbs to restore and return the aircraft. The Serbian government has tentatively promised to make two of the aircraft available “for immediate use,” according to a news release from the ministry. The rest would be restored on a rush basis, the ministry said. An Iraqi delegation went to Serbia as part of an effort by the government to locate assets stashed abroad by Saddam Hussein to evade sanctions. Serbia had had friendly relations with Mr. Hussein’s government.
Iran Claims Report 'Vindicated' Nuclear Program - Voice of America.
A top Iranian nuclear official says a UN report has "vindicated" his country's nuclear program as a peaceful one. The semi-official Iranian news agency Fars quotes Ali Asghar Soltanieh Saturday as saying Iran will resist political pressure to give up its nuclear goals. The International Atomic Energy Agency released a report Friday saying Iran has allowed its inspectors greater access to its main nuclear complex in the city of Natanz. But the report said Iran failed to reveal if its nuclear program includes a military component. Soltanieh, Iran's envoy to the UN nuclear agency, said Iran will cooperate with inspections but not beyond its legal obligation.
Iran Arms Remained Sealed - Peter Spiegel, Wall Street Journal.
The chief executive of the Italian firm named by the United Arab Emirates as having delivered containers with weapons from North Korea to an Iran-bound ship said his company received the shipment in sealed crates that were never opened before being put on the freighter. Mario Carniglia, head of Milan-based Otim, an international freight-forwarding company, said in an email interview that his company received 10 containers from the exporter and had them shipped from the North Korean port of Nampo to the Chinese port of Dalian. In Dalian, Otim placed the containers on the ANL-Australia, which was headed to Bandar Abbas, Iran, Mr. Carniglia said. "The containers left Dalian ... untouched with the same seals put on at the origin," he said.
The UAE stopped the Iran-bound ship in Dubai about a month ago and informed the United Nations that it found various small weapons, including detonators and rocket launchers, from North Korea onboard, according to a UN Security Council diplomat.
Legal Check on ANL Arms Ship - Patrick Walters, The Australian.
The Rudd government will investigate whether an Australian-registered ship carrying an undeclared cargo of weapons from North Korea, bound for Iran, may have broken Australian laws and violated sanctions. United Arab Emirates authorities reportedly seized up to 10 container loads of weapons, including rocket-propelled grenades and trigger mechanisms, from the vessel,ANL Australia, when it berthed at Abu Dhabi in mid-July. The Financial Times quoted UN diplomatic sources at the weekend as saying the weapons had been ordered by an Iranian company with links to the Revolutionary Guards Corps.
Weapons exports from North Korea are strictly prohibited under UN Security Council resolution 1874 and UAEauthorities confiscated the containers containing the weapons after the ship berthed, and reported the find to UN authorities.
Cheney Says He Was Proponent for Military Action Against Iran - Michael M. Phillips, Wall Street Journal.
Former Vice President Dick Cheney hinted that, in the waning days of the Bush administration, he had pushed for a military strike to destroy Iran's nuclear-weapons program. In an interview on Fox News Sunday, Mr. Cheney described himself as being isolated among advisers to then-President George W. Bush, who ultimately decided against direct military action. "I was probably a bigger advocate of military action than any of my colleagues," Mr. Cheney said in response to questions about whether the Bush administration should have launched a pre-emptive attack prior to handing over the White House to Barack Obama. "I thought that negotiations could not possibly succeed unless the Iranians really believed we were prepared to use military force," Mr. Cheney said. "And to date, of course, they are still proceeding with their nuclear program and the matter has not yet been resolved."
Panel in Iran Will Oversee Investigations Into Unrest - Michael Slackman, New York Times.
Conservative rivals of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran have continued to challenge his drive to consolidate power, appointing a committee to supervise investigations into the unrest that swept the nation after he claimed a landslide victory in the disputed presidential election in June, political analysts said. On Saturday, a day before Mr. Ahmadinejad stepped before a hostile Parliament to defend his 21 nominees for the cabinet - one of the many internal fights he is confronting - the chief of the judiciary, Sadeq Larijani, announced the appointment of a panel to oversee investigations by allies of the president into the postelection unrest. Mr. Larijani, a rival of the president, said the committee was told “to ensure that the defendants’ rights are reserved and that they are treated properly,” according to the semi-official Fars news service, offering a not-too-subtle vote of no confidence in the president’s handling of events.
Israel, Iran and Obama - Wall Street Journal editorial.
The International Atomic Energy Agency has produced another alarming report on Iran's nuclear programs, though it hasn't released it publicly, only to governments that would also rather not disclose more details of Iran's progress toward becoming a nuclear theocracy. Meanwhile, Iran intends to introduce a resolution, backed by more than 100 members of the so-called Non-Aligned Movement, that would ban military attacks on nuclear facilities. No actual mention of Israel, of course. The mullahs understand that the only real challenge to their nuclear ambitions is likely to come from Israel. They've long concluded that the UN is no threat, as IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei has in practice become an apologist for Iran's program. They can also see that the West lacks the will to do anything, as the Obama Administration continues to plead for Tehran to negotiate even as Iran holds show trials of opposition leaders and journalists for saying the recent re-election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was fraudulent. The irony is that the weaker the West and UN appear, the more probable an Israeli attack becomes.
A Libyan Lesson In Tehran - Jim Hoagland, Washington Post Opinion.
But it is not too late to apply lessons from that plea bargaining to President Obama's determination to reach a somewhat similar arrangement with Iran. Like Gaddafi, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his followers have one goal they can never abandon, even if it must remain swaddled in silence and in their promises to change in other ways. Iranians live in a culture of negotiation, much as Americans venerate entrepreneurship or the French value style and elegance. The act of negotiating, for Iranians, is a high art and the ultimate framework for all human interaction. Arriving at a quick, clear outcome based on compromise is amateurish and rude, if not unpatriotic.
Israel Has Iran In Its Sights - Micah Zenko, Los Angeles Times Opinion.
Iran has until late September to respond to the latest international proposal aimed at stopping the Islamic Republic from developing a nuclear weapon. Under the proposal, Iran would suspend its uranium enrichment program in exchange for a UN Security Council commitment to forgo a fourth round of economic and diplomatic sanctions. But if diplomacy fails, the world should be prepared for an Israeli attack on Iran's suspected nuclear weapons facilities. As Adm. Michael Mullen, the chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, recently acknowledged: "The window between a strike on Iran and their getting nuclear weapons is a pretty narrow window."
US CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY
Cheney Criticizes Probe of Bush-Era CIA Interrogators - Michael Bowman, Voice of America.
Former US Vice President Dick Cheney says the Obama administration's decision to open a criminal probe of US interrogators in the war on terror is politically motivated and detrimental to America's national security. In an interview on US television, Cheney was blunt when asked about the Justice Department's decision to investigate Central Intelligence Agency operatives who interrogated terror suspects during the former Bush administration. "I think it is a terrible decision," he said. Cheney, a longtime defender of the Bush administration's efforts to extract information from terror suspects, said taking legal action against those entrusted with protecting America is a grave error.
Cheney: Interrogations Probe Is a 'Political Act' - Alexi Mostrous, Washington Post.
Former vice president Richard B. Cheney on Sunday condemned the Justice Department's decision to investigate suspected CIA prisoner abuses, reiterated his assertion that enhanced interrogation techniques worked in revealing terror plots, and indicated that he may not cooperate with the prosecutor assigned to the case. Cheney accused President Obama of setting a "terrible precedent" by allowing an "intensely partisan, politicized look back at the prior administration." Asked whether he would talk to John Durham, the veteran prosecutor appointed by Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. to examine allegations that the CIA abused Sept. 11 terror suspects, Cheney said: "It will depend on the circumstances and what I think their activities are really involved in." Holder announced the investigation last Monday, the same day that a long-awaited inspector general's review of the agency's interrogation methods was released.
Cheney Offers Sharp Defense of CIA Interrogation Tactics - Rachel L. Swarns, New York Times.
Former Vice President Dick Cheney on Sunday sharply criticized the Obama administration’s decision to investigate the abuse of prisoners held by the Central Intelligence Agency as he delivered a forceful defense of the full range of interrogation techniques used by intelligence officers. Broadcast just six days after Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. appointed a federal prosecutor to examine the abuse of detainees, Mr. Cheney described the use of waterboarding and other coercive methods - including threatening detainees with a gun and a drill - as legal and crucial elements of the counterterrorism war.
Cheney: CIA Torture Probe 'Outrageous' - Sean Lengell, Washington Times.
Former Vice President Dick Cheney on Sunday called the Justice Department's decision to investigate whether CIA interrogators abused terrorism suspects after the Sept. 11 attacks "an outrageous political act" that "offends the hell out of me." "It's clearly a political move; I mean, there's no other rationale for why they're doing this," Mr. Cheney said on Fox News Sunday. He said the investigation "will do great damage, long term, to our capacity to be able to have people take on difficult jobs, make difficult decisions, without having to worry about what the next administration is going to say." Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. last week appointed John Durham as a special counsel to reconsider pursuing criminal charges against CIA employees who interrogated some of al Qaeda's hardest core members. The Justice Department previously had declined to prosecute under President George W. Bush.
Ex-Intelligence Officials Cite Low Spirits at CIA - Walter Pincus and Joby Warrick,Washington Post.
Morale has sagged at the CIA following the release of additional portions of an inspector general's review of the agency's interrogation program and the announcement that the Justice Department would investigate possible abuses by interrogators, according to former intelligence officials, especially those associated with the program. A. B. "Buzzy" Krongard, the third-ranking CIA official at the time of the use of harsh interrogation practices, said that although vigorous oversight is crucial, the public airing of once-classified internal assessments and the prospect of further investigation are damaging the agency. "Morale at the agency is down to minus 50," he said.
It's Never A Quick Fix At The CIA - Loch K. Johnson, Washington Post Opinion.
Attorney General Eric Holder's appointment last week of a special prosecutor to investigate CIAprisoner abuses is but the latest of many efforts to rein in the agency. I've been a witness to some of those efforts, as an assistant to Sen. Frank Church of Idaho during his committee's investigations in the 1970s and later as an aide to former defense secretary Les Aspin when he led a probe of agency structures in the aftermath of the Aldrich Ames spying scandal. Such inquiries can prove useful, leading to critical reforms, stronger oversight and, perhaps most important, changed attitudes about the CIA and other intelligence agencies. But I've also learned that high-profile investigations will not transform human nature, turning intelligence officials - or the presidents and White House aides who direct them - into angels, unsusceptible to zeal and folly.
The CIA In Double Jeopardy - Jospeh Finder, New York Times Opinion.
So what changed? A lot of things, of course, but most of all, our national political climate. Reeling from the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, many on the front lines of the war against terrorism felt a sense of fear and urgency that, years later, it’s hard for some to recall. Now, the attacks receding into the past, a lot of us see things in a different light. Certainly Mr. Holder, now the attorney general, does. Last week he announced the appointment of a career prosecutor, John Durham, to review a dozen or so cases of abuses inflicted upon detainees by Central Intelligence Agency employees and contractors in the course of carrying out “enhanced interrogation” (which they had been ordered to do, and which had been authorized by the Justice Department) and to determine whether to initiate a criminal investigation.
THE LONG WAR
Lack of Translators Still Hampers Intelligence - Rowan Scarborough, Washington Times.
US national security agencies remain woefully short of foreign-language speakers and translators nearly eight years after the Sept. 11 attacks resulted in a war on an enemy that often communicates in relatively obscure dialects, current and former officials say. The necessary cadre of US intelligence personnel capable of reading and speaking targeted regional languages such as Pashto, Dari and Urdu "remains essentially nonexistent," the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence wrote in a rare but stark warning in its 2010 budget report. The gap has become critical in the war effort, especially in the Afghanistan-Pakistan theater, where al Qaeda and Taliban operatives text message, e-mail and talk in languages that the intelligence community had largely ignored before 2001.
Blackwater Recruits Used in CIA Squad - Adam Goldman and Pamela Hess, Associated Press.
When the CIA revived a plan to kill or capture terrorists in 2004, the agency turned to the well-connected security company then known as Blackwater USA. With Blackwater's lucrative government security work and contacts arrayed in hot spots around the world, company officials offered the services of foreigners supposedly skilled at tracking terrorists in lawless regions and countries where the CIA had no working relationships with the government. Blackwater told the CIA that it "could put people on the ground to provide the surveillance and support - all of the things you need to conduct an operation," a former senior CIA official familiar with the secret program toldThe Associated Press.
Ex-Homeland Security Chief Michael Chertoff Sees Riisk in Current Anti-terror Policies - Sebastian Rotella, Los Angeles Times.
Former Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, who has a new book out this week, warned in an interview that national security will suffer if counter-terrorism warriors fear that bosses will second-guess their front-line actions after the fact. Chertoff said his book, "Homeland Security: Assessing the First Five Years," lays out an architecture for defending the nation against the threats of the 21st century. As Homeland Security chief from 2005 through the end of the Bush administration, Chertoff oversaw 218,000 employees and a $50-billion budget. He was head of the Justice Department's criminal division from 2001 to 2003, during which time he led the investigation of the Sept. 11 attacks and prosecutions of cases including the Enron scandal.
Acknowledging The Obvious - Stephen F. Hayes, Weekly Standard Opinion.
Is the mainstream media coming around? The Washington Post has an important front-page story this morning, with matter-of-fact reporting on the importance of Khalid Sheikh Mohammad as an intelligence source and the enhanced interrogation techniques that made him talk. The piece is headlined: "How a Detainee Became an Asset: September 11 Plotter Cooperated After Waterboarding." One key source is former CIA Inspector General John Helgerson, who acknowledged that two of the CIA’s “most powerful” enhanced interrogation techniques “elicited a lot of information." "Certain of the techniques seemed to have little effect, whereas waterboarding and sleep deprivation were the two most powerful techniques and elicited a lot of information," he said in an interview with the Post.
Eric Holder’s Hidden Agenda - Andrew C. McCarthy, National Review opinion.
'This is an administration that is determined to conduct itself by the rule of law. And to the extent that we receive lawful requests from an appropriately created court, we would obviously respond to it.” It was springtime in Berlin and Eric Holder, a well-known “rule of law” devotee, was speaking to the German press. He’d been asked if his Justice Department would cooperate with efforts by foreign or international tribunals to prosecute US government officials who carried out the Bush administration’s post-9/11 counterterrorism policies. The attorney general assured listeners that he was certainly open to being helpful. “Obviously,” he said, “we would look at any request that would come from a court in any country and see how and whether we should comply with it.” As the Associated Press reported at the time, Holder was “pressed on whether that meant the United States would cooperate with a foreign court prosecuting Bush administration officials.” He skirted the question in a way Americans ought to find alarming. The attorney general indicated that he was speaking only about “evidentiary requests.” Translation: The Obama administration will not make arrests and hand current or former American government officials over for foreign trials, but if the Europeans or UN functionaries (at the nudging of, say, the Organization of the Islamic Conference) want Justice’s help gathering evidence in order to build triable cases - count us in.
Eric Holder's Anti-CIA Witch Hunt - Jennifer Rubin, Weekly Standard opinion.
Attorney General Eric Holder's decision to ask a special prosecutor to investigate for possible criminal prosecution CIA operatives who interrogated terrorists in overseas locations is the latest and most egregious instance of political gamesmanship by Holder, who strode into office promising to remove the taint of politicization from the Justice Department. Holder's announcement brought a storm of criticism from senators, former CIA director Michael Hayden, former vice president Dick Cheney, and veteran Justice Department attorneys. CIA employees, already reeling from congressional attacks, were understandably mystified by Holder's words assuring them of his "respect and gratitude" and puzzled as to how naming a special prosecutor could evidence a willingness, as Holder put it, "to look forward, and not backward." Holder's puffing to the effect that all who acted in "good faith and within the scope of legal guidance given by the Office of Legal Counsel" should have nothing to fear is belied by the nature of the investigation, which will examine whether agents really were acting in good faith and correctly applying the OLC's instructions on interrogation.
No Cause for Shame - Marc A. Thiessen, National Review opinion.
The release this week of the CIA inspector general’s report makes clear that the CIA interrogation program was both lawful and effective in stopping new attacks. But was it moral? I believe that Americans can be comfortable not only with the efficacy but also with the morality of this effort. Here is why. The principle at work here is casuistry, in the proper sense of that term. Under casuistry, a just society adheres to certain moral norms. There are times when one finds exceptions to these norms, but the norm remains - and the exception must be justified. For example, the Ten Commandments teach us, unequivocally: “Thou shalt not kill.” Yet most of us agree that there are circumstances in which it is both moral and ethical to kill another human being. If a policeman sees a criminal who is about to kill an innocent person, he may use lethal force to stop him. If a foreign enemy threatens your country, it is permissible to go to war to defend it against such aggression. The norm - killing human beings is wrong - remains. But in some circumstances, killing - indeed, organized killing by the state - is morally and ethically permissible.
The 'Most Prolific' Detainee - Thomas Joscelyn, Weekly Standard opinion.
On March 1, 2003, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (KSM), the principal planner of the September 11 attacks, was captured in Rawalpindi, Pakistan. US interrogators quickly went about the business of getting him to talk, and for good reasons. KSM's operatives were already here, inside America, planning attacks. Shortly after KSM was detained, an Ohio-based truck driver named Iyman Faris was arrested by the FBI. Faris had reportedly been under suspicion beforehand, but US authorities suddenly determined that they had to arrest him. It turned out that Faris, an al Qaeda-trained sleeper agent, had been dispatched to the United States by KSM to plot attacks on landmarks in the New York area, including the Brooklyn Bridge. Then, in late March, a young Pakistani man named Uzair Paracha was arrested. He had been working out of an office in Manhattan's Garment District for a company owned by his father, Saifullah Paracha. KSM wanted Uzair to facilitate the entry of al Qaeda operatives and use the Parachas' import-export business to smuggle explosives into the United States.
Protect Our Mariners - John B. Perkins III, Washington Times opinion.
Piracy in the waters around the Horn of Africa continues to be a vexing problem for the United States and the US Navy. In recent weeks, the focus has begun to shift away from naval measures to finding a Somalia-based solution, such as building up the local coast guard. This is a commendable initiative but amounts to kicking the can, as no one believes it is feasible in the near term. In the meantime, American sailors continue to be placed in harm's way every day with insufficient protection. Last year, 111 ships were attacked or hijacked off the Horn of Africa. We exceeded that figure in the first five months of 2009.
Navy’s Role in the Arctic May Change as Icy Lanes Clear Up - Travis J. Tritten,Stars and Stripes. Early explorers dreamed of a safe trade route across the frozen Arctic for hundreds of years. Now as global temperatures warm and ice rapidly melts, the US Navy is weighing the possibility that within decades the Arctic will open into one of the world’s prime shipping lanes. New climate data point to a summer season completely free of sea ice as early as 2030 - about 70 years sooner than previously predicted - allowing ships to move freely for the first time in history, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. By midcentury, the Navy could be faced with providing maritime security for a new ice-free Arctic and a commercial shipping boom on par with the Suez Canal, the Strait of Hormuz and the Strait of Malacca, said Rear Adm. David Titley, commander of Naval Meteorology and Oceanography Command.
UK Denies Deal Aided Bomber - Alistair MacDonald, Wall Street Journal.
UK government fended off accusations that it paved the way for the recent release of the convicted Lockerbie bomber by failing to exclude him from a 2007 prisoner transfer agreement between the UK and Libya. Abdel Baset al-Megrahi, a Libyan man who is the only person convicted in the 1988 bombing of a Pan Am flight that killed 270 people, was released by Scotland this month on "compassionate" grounds because he has terminal prostate cancer. Both the UK government and Scotland have insisted the decision was made solely by Scottish Justice Minister Kenny MacAskill, and Mr. al-Megrahi's release was unrelated to the transfer agreement. But since Mr. al-Megrahi's release, the British government has faced repeated suggestions that it facilitated the move to help advance the interests of UK oil firms in Libya.
Downing Street Approved Lockerbie Bomber Deal - Suzy Jagger and Tom Baldwin,The Times.
Gordon Brown was dragged into the centre of the row over the early release of the Lockerbie bomber last night after it emerged that a key decision that could have paved the way for the terrorist to serve his sentence in Libya was approved by Downing Street. A source close to Jack Straw told The Times that the move to include Abdul Baset Ali al-Megrahi in a prisoner transfer agreement in 2007 was a government decision and was not made at the sole discretion of the Justice Secretary. “It wasn’t just Jack who decided this. It was a Government decision. Jack did not act unilaterally.” The row over the early release of the Lockerbie bomber ten days ago shows no sign of abating after the Ministry of Justice indicated yesterday that the decision to include al-Megrahi in a prisoner transfer agreement had been made with the possibility of trade deals with Libya in mind.
Lockerbie Bomber 'Set Free for Oil' - Jason Allardyce, The Times.
The British government decided it was “in the overwhelming interests of the United Kingdom” to make Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi, the Lockerbie bomber, eligible for return to Libya, leaked ministerial letters reveal. Gordon Brown’s government made the decision after discussions between Libya and BP over a multi-million-pound oil exploration deal had hit difficulties. These were resolved soon afterwards. The letters were sent two years ago by Jack Straw, the justice secretary, to Kenny MacAskill, his counterpart in Scotland, who has been widely criticised for taking the formal decision to permit Megrahi’s release. The correspondence makes it plain that the key decision to include Megrahi in a deal with Libya to allow prisoners to return home was, in fact, taken in London for British national interests.
Jack Straw Admits Cave-in over Libyan Lockerbie Bomber Demands - Simon Johnson, Daily Telegraph.
Jack Straw has admitted the Government caved in to Libyan demands that the Lockerbie bomber be included in a prisoner transfer deal with Britain. The Justice Secretary said he originally wanted Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al Megrahi omitted from the agreement, but relented and agreed the bomber should be eligible. He said the Libyans deserved "something" in return for giving up their nuclear weapons programme but vehemently denied striking a "backdoor deal" over Megrahi. Shortly after the reversal of Britain's stance, a multi-billion pound oil exploration deal between Libya and BP was rubberstamped.
Official’s Message on Lockerbie Bomber Cited British ‘Interests’ - Associated Press.
The British government asked for the Lockerbie bomber to be included in a prisoner transfer agreement with Libya because it was in the “overwhelming interests of the United Kingdom” as a major oil deal was being negotiated, a British newspaper reported Sunday. The Sunday Times, citing leaked correspondence between Justice Secretary Jack Straw and his Scottish counterpart, Kenny MacAskill, said the decision was made as “wider negotiations” with the government of Libya continued. Mr. Straw rejected any suggestion that economic considerations played a role in the decision to release the bomber, Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi. “The suggestion that at any stage there was some kind of backdoor deal done over Mr. Megrahi’s transfer because of trade is simply untrue,” Mr. Straw said in an interview with the BBC on Sunday.
Britain’s Disgrace - National Review editorial.
The release of Abdelbaset al-Megrahi is worse than a crime, it is a mistake, from any and every point of view. The terrorist who brought down Pan Am 103 over Lockerbie in Scotland is now back in his native Libya, happily ensconced with his admiring family in a most luxurious villa and treated as a national hero. Alleged to be terminally ill, he has been freed from life imprisonment ostensibly on grounds of compassion - he who showed no compassion to his victims. Many in the Arab and Muslim world can only conclude that if you kill 270 Westerners the rewards are greater than any price you might have to pay. Megrahi’s release clearly establishes that something more powerful than the law courts and justice is at work. And what might that something be? Big money, of course, and the politics that go with it. Muammar Qaddafi, the dictator of Libya for the past 40 years and a man with a long record of sponsoring terror, has stated that the real issue here has always been trade. Megrahi was his agent, and if the British wanted the oil-and-gas contracts now available in Libya they had to release him. Qaddafi’s smarmy playboy son is quite as open about it. For the past two years, evidently, British ministers have been putting in place the agreements and the bureaucratic machinery to allow Qaddafi to blackmail them.
British Soldiers Banned from Using Live Bullets to Save Money - Michael Smith, The Times.
British soldiers are being forced to train with blanks rather than live rounds to save money. The entire Territorial Army (TA) and a number of nonfrontline regular army units will be affected by the ban on the use of real bullets in personal weapons, according to defence sources. Soldiers bound for Afghanistan will be spared the restrictions, but even they will start training with live rounds only in the last three months before departure. Those learning to shoot as part of basic training will also be allowed to use real bullets. Patrick Mercer, the Tory MP and a former infantry commanding officer, said: “The idea that our frontline reserves should not be able to use live rounds is quite extraordinary.
Italian PM Visits Libya to Mark Friendship Treaty - Sabina Castelfranco, Voice of America.
Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi will visit Libya for a few hours on Sunday to celebrate the anniversary of a friendship pact signed last year. He is not planning to stay to attend the events marking the 40th anniversary of the military coup that brought Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi to power in 1969. Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi will only spend a few hours in Tripoli. For the third time in three months he will meet with Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. They will have dinner together to mark the one-year anniversary of a friendship and cooperation pact, which put an end to residual animosity over Italy's colonial rule.
Gaddafi Prepares for His 40-year Spectacular, But Will Anyone Turn Up? - Martin Fletcher, The Times.
Colonel Gaddafi is sparing no expense to ensure the week-long festivities are the most spectacular in Libyan - and African - history. Who will attend them is another matter. The Government had still not published a guest list yesterday, but it appeared that President Abela of nearby Malta was the only Western leader to have accepted Libya’s invitation. Silvio Berlusconi, the Prime Minister of Italy, incurred heated domestic criticism by visiting Tripoli yesterday to mark the first anniversary of an Italian-Libyan friendship treaty, but he was not staying for the celebrations. Russia, France and Spain have dismissed Libyan claims that their heads of state are coming.
Ethiopian Troops Seize Somali Town - Associated Press.
Hundreds of Ethiopian troops have crossed the border and seized control of a Somali town from Islamist insurgents, witnesses said Saturday. The overnight incursion into the strategically important town of Belet Weyne is the first time Ethiopian troops have seized control of a town in war-ravaged Somalia since leaving the country in January as part of a peace deal. The Islamist insurgency had used the presence of Ethiopian Christian troops on Somali soil as a propaganda tool to recruit fighters.
Local resident Abdinur Ahmed Maow said the Ethiopians who crossed the border joined other Ethiopian troops that had been near the town for around three days. He said that the Islamist forces left "without a single shot." Islamist fighters had been present in the western part of the town, which is divided by a river, since the Ethiopian pullout in January. Resident Abdulahi Faramiliq said the troops were cordoning off residential areas and going house-to-house searching for weapons.
Marines Teach Nonlethal Tactics to African Counterparts - Warren Peace, Stars and Stripes.
Sitting in a conference room on Tuesday, 12 representatives from African marine corps and naval services watch a video of young men being taught how to make their beds. The teachers in the video - Marine Corps drill instructors - are full of aggression and shouting at the recruits. It’s how the members of Marine Forces Africa chose to introduce themselves to their African counterparts. Brig. Gen. Tracy Garrett, Marine Forces Africa commander, said it’s important for US Marines and their African counterparts to know each other intimately because they could be operating side by side during future operations.
Hope in South Africa - New York Times editorial.
For years, South Africa was an international laughing stock for its tragically absurd approach to the deadly AIDSepidemic. Now, that national nightmare may be ending. The new government of President Jacob Zuma seems to have a clearer-eyed view of the problem, its remedies and the need to improve the overall health care system than its predecessor did. Fixing what’s broken will not be easy, but we are encouraged by signs of a commitment to do so. To see how far South African leaders have come, one needs to recall where the country was.
Latin American Journalists Face New Opposition - Alexei Barrionuevo, New York Times.
In recent months, journalists across the region have faced opposition not only from courts but also from the leaders of several countries, who have moved to restrict critical coverage and paint the news media as the enemy. That tendency has been especially glaring in Venezuela. Since taking office in 1999, the government of President Hugo Chávez has pursued strategies to limit the independence of the media, including the recent endorsement of a move to revoke the licenses of dozens of radio stations and approval this month of an education law that would further restrict the media. “What is happening in Venezuela you can see in other parts of Latin America,” said Carlos Lauría, senior Americas program coordinator with the Committee to Protect Journalists in New York. In Nicaragua, Ecuador, Colombia, Bolivia and Argentina, in particular, he said, leaders “are reacting with a lot of intolerance to criticism in the media.”
Venezuela Accuses Protesters of Attempting 'Rebellion' - Agence France-Presse.
Venezuela's top prosecutor said Saturday that recent street protests were legally tantamount to "rebellion" against President Hugo Chavez's government and that demonstrators will now be charged. The dramatic move by Attorney General Luisa Ortega capped a week of huge street protests, mostly directed against a new education law that critics say is politically charged. "People who disturb order and the peace to create instability of institutions, to destabilize the government, or attack the democratic system, we are going to charge and try them," Ortega said in a statement, referring to the government of leftist-populist Chavez.
Obama vs. Honduran Democracy - Mary Anastasia O'Grady, Wall Street Journal opinion.
If the Obama administration were a flotilla of ships, it might be sending out anSOS right about now. ObamaCare has hit the political equivalent of an iceberg. And last week the president’s international prestige was broadsided by the Scots, who set free the Lockerbie bomber without the least consideration of American concerns. Mr. Obama’s campaign promise of restoring common sense to budget management is sleeping with the fishes. This administration needs a win. Or more accurately, it can't bear another loss right now. Most especially it can't afford to be defeated by the government of a puny Central American country that doesn't seem to know its place in the world and dares to defy the imperial orders of Uncle Sam. I'm referring, of course, to Honduras, which despite two months of intense pressure from Washington is still refusing to reinstate Manuel Zelaya, its deposed president. Last week the administration took off the gloves and sent a message that it would use everything it has to break the neck of the Honduran democracy. Its bullying might work. But it will never be able to brag about what it has done.
Honduras' Coup Must Not Stand - Robert White and Glenn Hurowitz, Los Angeles Times opinion.
When Honduran soldiers entered democratically elected President Manuel Zelaya's bedroom and packed him off in his pajamas at gunpoint to exile this summer, the politicians and industrialists who backed the ouster had confidence that President Obama wouldn't touch them. Even though the United States maintains 600 troops in Honduras, they thought they could pull off the first successful military coup in Latin America since the end of the Cold War. So far, they're right: The Honduran junta's intransigence in negotiations to restore democracy has been rewarded with US complacency, setting an extremely dangerous precedent for other areas of the world. Unexpectedly, in the age of Obama, democracy is in retreat.
Japan Enters New Era in Crushing Election Rebuke of Ruling Party - Kurt Achin,Voice of America.
Japanese voters have resoundingly rejected the party that has set the country's policy agendas for more than half a century. The rise of a center-left party promising to soothe the pain of globalization is being seen as a major break with business as usual. As official results continued to solidify in Japan, media exit polls made it clear the party is over for those who currently run the country. Cheers of delight went up at the headquarters of candidates for the Democratic Party of Japan, as broadcasters predicted a landslide victory over the Liberal Democratic Party.
Ruling Party Is Routed In Japan - Blaine Harden, Washington Post.
Breaking a half-century hammerlock of one-party rule in Japan, the opposition Democratic Party won a crushing election victory Sunday with pledges to revive the country's stalled economy and to steer a foreign-policy course less dependent on the United States. But it was pent-up voter anger, not campaign promises, that halted 54 years of near-continuous dominance by the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP). The party had become a profoundly unpopular, but deeply entrenched, governing force that so feared it would be swept from power that it had put off a national election for nearly three years.
With Bold Stand, Japan Opposition Wins a Landslide - Martin Fackler, New York Times.
Japan’s voters cast out the Liberal Democratic Party for only the second time in postwar history on Sunday, handing a landslide victory to a party that campaigned on a promise to reverse a generation-long economic decline and to redefine Tokyo’s relationship with Washington. Many Japanese saw the vote as the final blow to the island nation’s postwar order, which has been slowly unraveling since the economy collapsed in the early 1990s. In the powerful lower house, the opposition Democrats virtually swapped places with the governing Liberal Democratic Party, winning 308 of the 480 seats, a 175 percent increase that gives them control of the chamber.
Rise of a New Era in Japan - Yka Hayashi, Wall Street Journal.
Japanese voters overwhelmingly rejected the party that has largely ruled their nation for most of the past half a century, choosing instead an untested rival to grapple with an enfeebled economy and an aging society. The historic change in government could usher in a new era for Japanese politics that replaces the staid consensus that guided Japan in its postwar boom years with a more fractious, competitive environment. The upstart Democratic Party of Japan and the establishment Liberal Democratic Party share similar positions on a number of issues. But the more-liberal DPJ is pushing an ambitious and expensive domestic spending agenda with an eye toward reigniting Japan's economy.
Ruling Party Swept Away in Japanese Election Rout - Peter Alfrod, The Australian.
Japan's long-dominant Liberal Democratic Party was headed last night for a shattering defeat, losing about two-thirds of the seats it held before Prime Minister Taro Aso called an election six weeks ago. The new prime minister will be Yukio Hatoyama, whose Democratic Party of Japan last night looked to have added 200 seats to the 111 it held when the House of Representatives was dissolved. Mr Hatoyama, 62-year-old grandson of the LDP's foundation prime minister, Ichiro Hatoyama, has gained a massive mandate to reform Japan's political and economic system. From its formation in 1955, the conservative party presided over Japan's rise from a post-war shambles to the world's second-largest and most vigorous economy, a unique security alliance with the US,spectacular financial-political scandals, a devastating collapse of its post-bubble economy from the early 1990s, a lengthy but unsatisfactory recovery from 2002 and finally the plunge back into deep recession.
Japanese Government Crushed in Election Rout - Richard Lloyd-Parry, The Times.
Japan was struck by a political tsunami yesterday as the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) was swept aside after 54 years of virtually unbroken conservative rule. Several generations of political careers, including those of at least one former Prime Minister, were brought to a humiliating end as the centrist Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) won a crushing victory. It was the country’s most decisive election result, and the DPJ’s victory puts Japan in the hands of a party in which the young, women, and trades unions have greater power than at any time before.
Japan Victor Hails 'Revolution' - BBC News.
Japan's opposition leader Yukio Hatoyama has hailed an election "revolution", with exit polls suggesting a massive win for his party. The Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) won 300 seats in the 480-seat lower house, ending 50 years of almost unbroken rule by the LDP, NHK TV predicted. Mr Hatoyama, 62, said people were "fed up" with the governing party. Prime Minister Taro Aso said that he took responsibility for the defeat and would resign as head of the LDP. Japan is suffering record unemployment and its economy is struggling to emerge from a bruising recession.
Japanese Voters Reject Longtime Ruling Party - John M. Glionna and Yuriko Nagano,Los Angeles Times.
Japanese voters on Sunday handed a humiliating defeat to the Liberal Democratic Party after its half-century of nearly unbroken rule, opting for an untested opposition party that pledged to revive the nation's ailing economy. Signaling frustration over a declining quality of life, a record-high unemployment rate, unraveling social services and political scandals, voters rebuked Prime Minister Taro Aso and a party that had dominated national politics here since the Eisenhower administration. In landslide numbers, they turned to Democratic Party of Japan leader Yukio Hatoyama, the wealthy grandson of a former prime minister, who left the Liberal Democratic Party and in 1996 helped found a now-thriving opposition movement. His party won 308 seats in parliament's 480-member lower house, according to the final tally reported by Japanese news media, assuring that he will be elected prime minister in the coming weeks.
Pivotal Moment in Japan's History - Greg Sheridan, The Australian.
Yukio Hatoyama's victory is a pivotal point in modern Japanese history. And when Japan pivots, the consequences for Australia are enormous. Hatoyama and his Democratic Party of Japan promise to break down the influence of Japan's all-powerful bureaucracy and put power into the hands of politicians. They also promise to reverse the crippling fertility decline, which has led to Japan's population starting to decrease, to seek a more independent foreign policy, to redistribute money and spending power to the consumer and most of all to normalise Japanese politics - to create a competitive two-party system. It's a grand sweep of history, to wipe away the post-war settlement under which Japan has changed government just once since the mid-1950s.
An Insider's Revolution - Daniel Sneider, Washington Post opinion.
Japanese voters went to the polls on Sunday with one overriding aim - to bring an end to more than a half-century of nearly uninterrupted one-party conservative rule. The monumental victory handed to the opposition Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) marks a quiet revolution in the politics of America's most important Asian ally. This is more than a simple shift in power. It ushers in a competitive, two-party democracy in which politicians and their constituents may finally have more say in shaping Japanese policy than bureaucrats and businessmen. Neither Japanese voters nor the DPJ seek radical change. They want to invigorate a sclerotic system that has been unable to respond to the multiple challenges of a global economic slowdown, an aging society and the rise of Japan's long-time rival, China. The architect of this election triumph is an unlikely, and widely misunderstood, revolutionary leader: Ichiro Ozawa. The victory fulfills a strategy that Ozawa presented in remarkable clarity in his 1993 manifesto, "Blueprint for a New Japan," which he wrote while he was a senior leader of the long-ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP).
Japan Throws the Bums Out - Mary Kissel, Wall Street Journal opinion.
It was inevitable that even the Japanese would eventually get fed up with patronage politics, governance gaffes and decades of economic drift. Yesterday's election victory of the Democratic Party of Japan and party leader Yukio Hatoyama is no small thing. It undermines nearly 54 years of Liberal Democratic Party dominance in Tokyo. The last time this happened - in 1993 - a motley coalition of eight parties held power for merely 11 months. The DPJ, by contrast, has been a party for more than a decade and wants to stay for the Lower House's full four-year term. Mr. Hatoyama also wields the biggest popular mandate in more than a decade after winning a resounding majority in the Lower House yesterday. The DPJ and its allies now control both legislative houses. Such a political earthquake was last witnessed in 2005, when former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi called a snap election to get a popular mandate to reform Japan's economy and oust antireform MPs.
Myanmar Army Routs Ethnic Chinese Rebels in the North - Thomas Fuller, New York Times.
The Myanmar military has overwhelmed rebels from an ethnic Chinese minority in the northern reaches of the country, the junta’s second victory over armed opponents in three months. The routing over the weekend of the forces of the small, Chinese-speaking Kokang ethnic group gives Myanmar’s governing generals momentum in their campaign to quell armed opposition before elections and the adoption of a new Constitution next year. Several well-armed groups, notably the Wa and Kachin, still stand in the way of the junta’s goal of complete control over the country. But a recently announced agreement of solidarity among the rebel groups, which had the potential to slow the central government’s advance against the Kokang, may be fraying.
Thousands of Myanmar Refugees Stream into China - Mark Magnier, Los Angeles Times.
An uneasy calm settled over northern Myanmar on Sunday as rebels and refugees continued to cross the border into southern China after an assault by Myanmar's military. United Nations and overseas Myanmar groups say more than 10,000 ethnic Kokang refugees, including hundreds of militiamen, are now in southern China, presenting a logistical headache for Beijing. Still unclear, analysts said, is whether this is only a lull in the fighting and how great an effect this human tide will have on relations between China and its ally, Myanmar, which is also known as Burma.
Dalai Lama Arrives in Taiwan for Visit - Associated Press.
The Dalai Lama denied any political agenda as he began what he described as a ''purely humanitarian'' mission to comfort victims of Taiwan's worst storm, trying to calm fears that he would further anger China. Although the Tibetan spiritual leader has traveled to Taiwan before, many fear his visit could hurt the island's improving relations with rival China - the signature issue in the 15-month-old administration of Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou. China has protested the visit, and a Chinese official for Taiwan affairs Sunday night warned it ''is bound to have a negative influence on the relations between the mainland and Taiwan.'' Ma has said he approved the Dalai Lama's visit but will not meet him.
Chechnya and Its Neighbors Suffer a Relapse - Ellen Barry, New York Times.
Just a year ago, Russian authorities were so proud of their success at bringing order to the north Caucasus that they made Chechnya a stop for the Valdai Discussion Club, the handpicked group of Western analysts flown to Russia every year to hobnob with top officials. Two busloads of writers and academics were shuttled to the gigantic mosque built by President Ramzan A. Kadyrov in memory of his father, granted a wide-ranging interview with Mr. Kadyrov and allowed to stroll down the repaved, repainted and rebuilt streets of Grozny, the Chechen capital. Even the skeptics among them left impressed: calm, it seemed, had returned to Russia’s crucible of violence. That case is difficult to make after the summer of 2009. Explosions and shootings have been a daily occurrence in the region all summer. Between June and August, 436 people have been killed, compared with 150 during the same months in 2008. And the number of attacks jumped to 452 from 265, according to statistics compiled by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a private research group based in Washington.
Moldova Elects Pro-Western House Speaker Amid Turmoil - Stefan Bos, Voice of America.
The pro-Western coalition of the former Soviet republic of Moldova has won election of their candidate to the key-post of speaker of parliament and also named an ex-Communist as its choice for president of Europe's poorest nation. But Moldova faces political turmoil after the powerful Communist Party boycotted the vote amid concerns over the country's economic future. Not everyone celebrated when Mihai Ghimpu became the first politician of Moldova's four-party ruling coalition to take office, as parliament speaker: All members of the Communist Party in parliament boycotted the vote and walked out of the legislature.
Olmert Indicted in Corruption Cases - Joshua Mitnick, Wall Street Journal.
Israel's state prosecutor indicted former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on multiple counts of fraud and breach of public trust in connection with a trio of corruption scandals spanning his terms as mayor of Jerusalem and as minister of trade and industry from 2002 to 2006. Mr. Olmert will be the first former Israeli prime minister to be put on trial on criminal charges here. He was forced to resign in September 2008 amid political fallout from the police investigation into alleged corruption. Representatives for Mr. Olmert weren't reachable to comment. A spokesman for Mr. Olmert told Israel's Channel 1 public-television news that the indictment is filled with inaccuracies and contradictions. "We are sure that when we arrive in court, things will look differently," said the spokesman, Amir Dan.
Former Israeli Prime Minister Is Indicted - Isabel Kershner, New York Times.
Former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert of Israel was formally indicted on three counts of corruption on Sunday, concluding a lengthy criminal investigation that had forced him to resign. According to the 61-page indictment, which the attorney general, Menachem Mazuz, and the state prosecution presented to the Jerusalem District Court, Mr. Olmert is accused of crimes including fraud, breach of trust, falsifying corporate records and failing to report income. If convicted, he could face years in prison. Mr. Olmert has always denied wrongdoing. On Sunday, his media adviser, Amir Dan, said in a statement that the attorney general and state prosecutors, having brought down a prime minister, had no choice but to press charges against Mr. Olmert.
Olmert Indicted On Graft Charges - Howard Schneider, Washington Post.
Former Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert was indicted Sunday in a corruption scandal that led to his resignation last year and set the stage for a rightward shift in Israeli politics. Prosecutors alleged that Olmert, as mayor of Jerusalem in the 1990s and later as trade minister, profited from a double-billing scheme in which he charged charities and the government for trips and expenses already paid by other organizations. About $90,000 collected for trips - often to the United States and sponsored by major Jewish groups - was allegedly accumulated in his account at a travel agency and then used for personal vacations and other expenses, according to the indictment.
Former Israeli Prime Minister Olmert Indicted on Corruption Charges - Richard Boudreaux, Los Angeles Times.
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was indicted Sunday in corruption scandals that drove him to resign last year, a long-awaited legal step that made him the first current or former holder of Israel's most powerful office to be charged with a criminal offense. The decision by Atty. Gen. Menachem Mazuz will give Israelis a single judicial airing of three cases against Olmert that, along with other scandals involving senior government officials, have undermined public confidence in the country's politicians in recent years. Olmert, 63, is accused of taking illegal cash payments from a wealthy political supporter, double-billing for trips abroad, and steering government grants to clients of a close friend and former law partner. The allegations cover a 13-year period when Olmert was mayor of Jerusalem and minister of trade and industry, but they surfaced after he became prime minister in 2006 and weighed heavily on his capacity to lead. He has since left politics.
Israel Launches Air Strike in Gaza - Robert Berger, Voice of America.
Israel has launched an air strike in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip. There was damage, but no reports of injuries. The Israeli air force bombed a tunnel the army said was meant to smuggle Palestinian terrorists from Gaza into Israel. A building over the entrance to the tunnel was destroyed about a kilometer-and-a-half from the Israeli border fence. The military said the air raid was in response to Palestinians firing a rocket into Israel on Saturday. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel has adopted a new policy of deterrence since he took office five months ago. Mr. Netanyahu told Israel Radio that terror against Israeli citizens would not be tolerated. "If rockets are fired at Israel," he said, "there will be an immediate and painful response."
US Accuses Pakistan of Illegal Missile Modification - Voice of America.
A report in a major US newspaper says Washington has accused Pakistan of illegally modifying US-made missiles to make them capable of striking land targets, a potential threat to India.The New York Times says the charge was made in an unpublicized diplomatic protest in late June to Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani and other top Pakistani officials. The newspaper reports US officials suspect Pakistan has modified the missiles in a manner that violates the Arms Control Export Act. The Times says Pakistan has denied the charges, saying it developed the missile on its own. The missile dispute is flaring up as the Obama administration seeks congressional approval for $7.5 billion in aid for Pakistan over the next five years.
US Says Pakistan Altered Missiles Sold for Defense - Eric Schmitt and David E. Sanger, New York Times.
The United States has accused Pakistan of illegally modifying American-made missiles to expand its capability to strike land targets, a potential threat to India, according to senior administration and Congressional officials. The charge, which set off a new outbreak of tensions between the United States and Pakistan, was made in an unpublicized diplomatic protest in late June to Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani and other top Pakistani officials. The accusation comes at a particularly delicate time, when the administration is asking Congress to approve $7.5 billion in aid to Pakistan over the next five years, and when Washington is pressing a reluctant Pakistani military to focus its attentions on fighting the Taliban, rather than expanding its nuclear and conventional forces aimed at India.
Horse Soldiers tells the important story of the Special Forces soldiers who first put American boots on the ground in Afghanistan in 2001. Fighting alongside the Northern Alliance, the troops, often riding on horseback, achieved several important victories against the Taliban.
War 2.0: Irregular Warfare in the Information Age - Thomas Rid and Marc Hecker.
War 2.0: Irregular Warfare in the Information Age argues that two intimately connected trends are putting modern armies under huge pressure to adapt: the rise of insurgencies and the rise of the Web. Both in cyberspace and in warfare, the grassroots public has assumed increasing importance in recent years. After the dot-com bubble burst in 2000, Web 2.0 rose from the ashes. This newly interactive and participatory form of the Web promotes and enables offline action. Similarly, after Rumsfeld's attempt to transform the US military into a lean, lethal, computerized force crashed in Iraq in 2003, counterinsurgency rose from the ashes. Counterinsurgency is a social form of war - indeed, the US Army calls it armed social work - in which the local matrix population becomes the center of strategic gravity and public opinion at home the critical vulnerability.
Confronting insurgent violence in Iraq and Afghanistan, the US military has recognized the need to "re-learn" counterinsurgency. But how has the Department of Defense with its mixed efforts responded to this new strategic environment? Has it learned anything from past failures? In The New Counterinsurgency Era, David Ucko examines DoD's institutional obstacles and initially slow response to a changing strategic reality.
Journey into Darkness: Genocide in Rwanda - Thomas P. Odom.
In July 1994, Thomas P. Odom was part of the US Embassy team that responded to the Goma refugee crisis. He witnessed the deaths of 70,000 refugees in a single week. In the previous three months of escalating violence, the Rwandan genocide had claimed 800,000 dead. Now, in this vivid and unsettling new book, Odom offers the first insider look at these devastating events before, during, and after the genocide.
Joker One: A Marine Platoon’s Story of Courage - Donovan Campbell.
Donovan Campbell, first as a Marine and then as a writer, shows us that the dominant emotion in war isn’t hatred or anger or fear. It’s love. His story stands as a poignant tribute to his men–their courage, their dedication, their skill, and their love for one another, even unto death.
The Battle for Peace: A Frontline Vision of America's Power and Purpose - Anthony Zinni and Tony Koltz
The intellectual complement to Zinni and Clancy's bestselling Battle Ready(2004), a narrative memoir salted with specific policy recommendations, this volume provides the former US Central Command chief's analysis of America's current global position. Zinni begins by asserting that America's status as "the most powerful nation in the history of the planet" has created a de facto empire. The US has no choice: if it fails to take the lead, nothing significant happens. At the same time, Americans must recognize that, in a global age, there can be no zero-sum games.
The Unforgiving Minute: A Soldier's Education - Craig Mullaney
The Unforgiving Minute is the ultimate's soldier's book - universal in its raw emotion and its understanding of the larger issues of life and death. Mullaney, a master storyteller, plunges the depths of self-doubt, endurance, and courage. The result: a riveting, suspenseful human story, beautifully told. This is a book written under fire - a lyrical, spellbinding tale of war, love, and courage. The Unforgiving Minute is the Three Cups of Tea of soldiering.
Great Powers: America and the World after Bush - Thomas P.M. Barnett
In civilian and military circles alike, The Pentagon’s New Map became one of the most talked about books of 2004. “A combination of Tom Friedman on globalization and Carl von Clausewitz on war, [it is] the red-hot book among the nation’s admirals and generals,” wrote David Ignatius in The Washington Post. Barnett’s second book, Blueprint for Action, demonstrated how to put the first book’s principles to work. Now, in Great Powers, Barnett delivers his most sweeping - and important - book of all.
The Accidental Guerrilla: Fighting Small Wars in the Midst of a Big One - David Kilcullen
A remarkably fresh perspective on the War on Terror. Kilcullen takes us "on the ground" to uncover the face of modern warfare, illuminating both the big global war (the "War on Terrorism") and its relation to the associated "small wars" across the globe: Iraq, Afghanistan, the Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand, Chechnya, Pakistan and North Africa.
Thomas E. Ricks uses hundreds of hours of exclusive interviews with top officers in Iraq and extraordinary on-the-ground reportage to document the inside story of the Iraq War since late 2005 as only he can, examining the events that took place as the military was forced to reckon with itself, the surge was launched, and a very different war began.
Why Vietnam Matters: An Eyewitness Account of Lessons Not Learned - Rufus Phillips
Phillips details how the legendary Edward G. Lansdale helped the South Vietnamese gain and consolidate their independence between 1954 and 1956, and how this later changed to a reliance on American conventional warfare with its highly destructive firepower. He reasons that our failure to understand the Communists, our South Vietnamese allies, or even ourselves took us down the wrong road. In summing up US errors in Vietnam, Phillips draws parallels with the American experience in Iraq and Afghanistan and suggests changes in the US approach. Known for his intellectual integrity and firsthand, long-term knowledge of what went on in Vietnam, the author offers lessons for today in this trenchant account.
Baghdad at Sunrise: A Brigade Commander's War in Iraq - Peter Mansoor
This is a unique contribution to the burgeoning literature on the Iraq war, analyzing the day-to-day performance of a US brigade in Baghdad during 2004-2005. Mansoor uses a broad spectrum of sources to address the military, political and cultural aspects of an operation undertaken with almost no relevant preparation, which tested officers and men to their limits and generated mistakes and misjudgments on a daily basis. The critique is balanced, perceptive and merciless - and Mansoor was the brigade commander. Military history is replete with command memoirs. Most are more or less self-exculpatory. Even the honest ones rarely achieve this level of analysis. The effect is like watching a surgeon perform an operation on himself. Mansoor has been simultaneously a soldier and a scholar, able to synergize directly his military and academic experiences.
From a universally respected combat journalist, a gripping history based on five years of front-line reporting about how the war was turned around - and the choice now facing America. We interpret reality through the clouded prism of our own experience, so it is unsurprising that Bing West sees Iraq through the lens of Vietnam. He served as a Marine officer there, and he thinks politicians and the media caused the American public to turn against a war that could have been won. Now a correspondent for the Atlantic, West has made 15 reporting trips to Iraq over the last six years and is almost as personally invested in the current conflict as he was in Vietnam; this book, his third on Iraq, is his attempt to ensure that the "endgame" in Iraq turns out better than in his last war.
After a series of disastrous missteps in its conduct of the war, the White House in 2006 appointed General David Petraeus as the Commanding General of the coalition forces. Tell Me How This Ends is an inside account of his attempt to turn around a failing war. Linda Robinson conducted extensive interviews with Petraeus and his subordinate commanders and spent weeks with key US and Iraqi divisions. The result is the only book that ties together military operations in Iraq and the internecine political drama that is at the heart of the civil war. Replete with dramatic battles, behind-doors confrontations, and astute analysis, the book tells the full story of the Iraq War’s endgame, and lays out the options that will be facing the next president.
The War Within: A Secret White House History 2006-2008 - Bob Woodward
Woodward interviewed key players, obtained dozens of never-before-published documents, and had nearly three hours of exclusive interviews with President Bush. The result is a stunning, firsthand history of the years from mid-2006, when the White House realizes the Iraq strategy is not working, through the decision to surge another 30,000 US troops in 2007, and into mid-2008, when the war becomes a fault line in the presidential election. As violence in Iraq reaches unnerving levels in 2006, a second front in the war rages at the highest levels of the Bush administration. In his fourth book on President George W. Bush, Bob Woodward takes readers deep inside the tensions, secret debates, unofficial backchannels, distrust and determination within the White House, the Pentagon, the State Department, the intelligence agencies and the US military headquarters in Iraq. With unparalleled intimacy and detail, this gripping account of a president at war describes a period of distress and uncertainty within the US government from 2006 through mid-2008. The White House launches a secret strategy review that excludes the military. General George Casey, the commander in Iraq, believes that President Bush does not understand the war and eventually concludes he has lost the president's confidence. The Joint Chiefs of Staff also conduct a secret strategy review that goes nowhere. On the verge of revolt, they worry that the military will be blamed for a failure in Iraq.
We Are Soldiers Still: A Journey Back to the Battlefields of Vietnam - Harold Moore and Joe Galloway
In their stunning follow-up to the classic bestseller We Were Soldiers Once... and Young, Lt. Gen. Hal Moore and Joe Galloway return to Vietnam and reflect on how the war changed them, their men, their enemies, and both countries - often with surprising results. It would be a monumental task for Moore and Galloway to top their classic 1992 memoir. But they come close in this sterling sequel, which tells the backstory of two of the Vietnam War's bloodiest battles (in which Moore participated as a lieutenant colonel), their first book and a 1993 ABC-TV documentary that brought them back to the battlefield. Moore's strong first-person voice reviews the basics of the November 1965 battles, part of the 34-day Battle of the Ia Drang Valley. Among other things, Moore and Galloway (who covered the battle for UPI) offer portraits of two former enemy commanders, generals Nguyen Huu An and Chu Huy Man, whom the authors met - and bonded with - nearly three decades after the battle. This book proves again that Moore is an exceptionally thoughtful, compassionate and courageous leader (he was one of a handful of army officers who studied the history of the Vietnam wars before he arrived) and a strong voice for reconciliation and for honoring the men with whom he served.
The West Point cadets Murphy follows through their baptism by fire are an admirable sample of young American men and women: intelligent, ambitious and intensely patriotic. Most come from career military families and hold conservative opinions. Murphy describes their four years at West Point with respect even when discussing their love lives and marriages. All yearn for battle, and most get their wish. The book's best passages describe the confusion of moving to Iraq or Afghanistan and fighting insurgents, for which they lack both training and equipment. All feel something is not right but concentrate on the job at hand; some inevitably die or are grievously wounded.
Iraq And The Evolution Of American Strategy - Steven Metz
Today the US military is more nimble, mobile, and focused on rapid responses against smaller powers than ever before. One could argue that the Gulf War and the postwar standoff with Saddam Hussein hastened needed military transformation and strategic reassessments in the post–Cold War era. But the preoccupation with Iraq also mired the United States in the Middle East and led to a bloody occupation. What will American strategy look like after US troops leave Iraq? Metz concludes that the United States has a long-standing, continuing problem “developing sound assumptions when the opponent operates within a different psychological and cultural framework.” He sees a pattern of misjudgments about Saddam and Iraq based on Western cultural and historical bias and a pervasive faith in the superiority of America’s worldview and institutions. This myopia contributed to America being caught off guard by Saddam’s invasion of Kuwait in 1990, then underestimating his longevity, and finally miscalculating the likelihood of a stable and democratic Iraq after he was toppled. With lessons for all readers concerned about America’s role in the world, Dr. Metz’s important new work will especially appeal to scholars and students of strategy and international security studies, as well as to military professionals and DOD civilians. With a foreword by Colin S. Gray.
We as a nation have lost sight of the realities. What was, what was suppose to be, and what is, are not the same. We are fighting wars in places we have no place being, and giving billions of dollars in aid to countries that are becoming rich, while our country becomes poor.
We have lost sight of what America was supposed to be. We can't heal the world, while our own country lays dying in sickness and poverty, nor should we be expected to. At the same time, we shouldn't be trying to influence the whole world with our political and religious beliefs.
I quit the church because they kept wanting money for the "missions, and building fund," while they were letting people in our own community who were disabled and down on their luck suffer. My grandmother always said, "Clean up your own backyard, before you start trying to clean up others," and I am a firm believer in that.
As an American citizen, and a Vietnam veteran I am ashamed at what our country has become over the last century. All of this talk about a world economy, and the New World Order is going to be our down fall. We have allowed the left wing-liberals, and the right-wing fascist, to take over our government. Americans puts more money in other countries through government aid, and "Sunday School donations," than can be imagined, while the suffering in our own cities and villages never ends. We have allowed foreign powers, and illegal immigrants to come into our country and steal our very soul, and break our own economy. All of this as part of our desire to dominate the world through politics and religion, Sure I sympathize with the plight of people in other countries, but I believe that we have an obligation and a responsibility to take care of our own citizen first and foremost.
We have become a country that is on the one hand afraid of our own shadow; i.e the "war on terror," and on the other, a fascist regime set on an attempt at world domination. In the process we are becoming a third world country, and a welfare state.
We have allowed what were once American driven companies to become world power conglomerations, who have take good jobs, that were once America's life's force, and allowed them to be sent overseas with no penalty, and at the expense of the American citizenry. We have allowed them in their greed to form monopolies and conglomerations that that make a few men and women wealthy beyond reason in the name of capitalism, and in the process we have become no better off than our forefathers who were ruled by feudalism, where a few rich elite held sway over the masses.
We have allowed our leaders to send our children and grandchildren into foreign lands to fight, and for some to die while others become hopelessly maimed, not for prevailing threats against our life, liberty, or happiness, but for the enrichment of greedy millionaires, billionaires, and the multinational conglomerations they own. We have invaded sovereign nations, influenced elections, and overthrown freely elected governments at the expense of millions of lives, all perpetrated by lies and deceit, for the benefit of nothing but greedy capitalist who desire to control the world and make peasants of all of us, while they become rich and maintain powers no man deserves.
Are there solutions to these problems? Yes, there are, but it's going to take a whole new revolution and mindset to ever do it.
Why is it so unreasonable to believe that there should not be limits on the amount of wealth that any one individual or family should be allowed to accumulate? Why is it unreasonable to believe that companies and corporations should be limited on the amount of holding they can have?
I am not advocating that the government should own and control everything as in communism, instead I believe that there should be equal and fair limitations set to insure that there is a fair and equal distribution of wealth in this country. I mean how many homes and cars can and do one family use and deserve? Why should one family be allowed to own ten homes across the world, while another American can't even afford to own one?
I am afraid that our forefathers and we have been sold a "pig-in-the-poke." Even our constitution was set-up and written by wealthy men, who were not willing to part with the wealth that they had accumulated at the expense of slaves, poor tradesman, and theft from the Native Americans. Many may be surprised to know that at the end of the Revolutionary War, George Washington was the richest man in America, and that men like John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson were all millionaires by today’s standards.
When they wrote all about freedom and liberty, it was about their freedom and liberty. Freedom and justice for all was a blatant lie. They never freed the slaves, they never gave the poor who didn't own property, and had fought alongside them in the war the right to vote, they never gave women equal rights, and they never made the Native Americans equal partners in the new venture we now call the United States of America.
Only George Washington in later years was willing to free his slaves. They didn't, because they knew if they did, that they would have to relinquish part of the power and wealth that they had accumulated by their crooked dealings and at the expense of everyone they had trampled on, stole from and held in slavery.
My friends and fellow Americans you have been sold a cheap facsimile, of what could have been a great nation, and received no more than a "pig-in-the-poke" in return.
Everyone owes it to their children, and their coming generations to educate themselves to what really is, and what really has been in this country, and what lies have been told, and realize what fools we have been made out to be.
We as Americans owe it to ourselves and our generations to stand, and fight by whatever means are necessary to insure that what has happened is no longer allowed to continue.
We must put it all on the line, and realize that in order for our country to be ever be truly great, all men and women must be able to live in a country, devoid of petty prejudice's, with respect and dignity and a true possibility to live in prosperity and freedom unabated with the shackles that now bind us.
Then and only then can we rest assured that our children and their generations will have a future that is filled with hope and justice for all.
Main article: Aftonbladet-Israel controversy
In August 2009 the tabloid ran an article in which some people who were interviewed claimed that the Israeli Defense Force took organs from Palestinians who died in Israeli custody. The article featured interviews with Palestinians making the claims and an IDF spokesperson denying it. The Palestinian claim in the article sparked an angry reaction by Israeli Foreign Ministry official Yigal Palmor who associated the article with the medieval blood libel. The author of the article, Donald Bostrom, spoke to Israel Radio on 19 August 2009 and replied that "But whether it's true or not — I have no idea, I have no clue." Bostrom told CNN that the purpose of his article was to call for an investigation into the claims about stealing organs in the early 1990s. Another Swedish newspaper, Sydsvenskan, criticized Aftonbladet for publishing for what Sydsvenskan called "an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory." The brother of the Palestinian featured in the photograph alongside the article, Jalal Ghanem, could not confirm the allegations made by the Aftonbladet but he said that there were stitches that ran from the chest down to the bottom of the abdomen. The family of Bilal Ahmed Ghanem mentioned that a Swedish photographer was present at the funeral of their son and that this was the only time they had met.
Elisabet Borsiin Bonnier, the Swedish ambassador to Israel has strongly condemned the article, stating: "The article in the Swedish newspaper is shocking and terrifying for us Swedish, as it influences the Israeli citizens... The embassy can not emphasize more its disgust.". The Swedish foreign ministry and the Swedish foreign minister Carl Bildt distanced themselves from the ambassador's statement and underlined that Sweden is a democracy with freedom of speech, and that the state representatives should not comment on individual articles in newspapers.
Helle Klein from Aftonbladet responded to Israeli allegation "The Israeli reactions to Aftonbladet's article about illegal trading in organs break records for exaggeration... The harsh tones from the Israeli side do not benefit the State of Israel... How should the Israeli government's behaviour be understood? It's about realpolitic... The Israeli government is one of the most extremely right-wing in the country's history and Foreign Minister Lieberman has had a cool reception in both the USA and the EU... Lieberman and Netanyahu need an external enemy to blame to unite domestic opinion... and Aftonbladet's article was a chance for the Israeli government to demonstrate its ability to act against alleged anti-Semitism.".
Henrik Bredberg in Sydsvenska Dagbladet said, "Donald Bostrom publicised a variant of an anti-Semitic classic, the Jew who abducts children and steals their blood... The regrettable aspects just seem to grow and grow... the Israeli government rages and speaks of an article which 'shames Swedish democracy and the entire Swedish press'. Hardly. Freedom of expression and freedom of the press are part of democracy... Dare to believe in freedom of the press and open debate. Even when individual editors make stupid and tasteless decisions."
Bredberg also said in the same paper, "The Foreign Ministry has made it clear that Swedish freedom of the press applies. Good. Aftonbladet should not be given the unwarranted glory of martyrdom... Publication seems to represent an obvious lack of judgment. Unfortunately the lack of judgment did not stop there. The Swedish ambassador in Tel Aviv... attacked the article and thereby created the impression that having views about or intervening in individual publications should be a task for the government and its representatives."
Only once has a Swedish minister acted against a publication. Former foreign secretary Laila Freivalds asked for a closure of a web site that was involved in Muhammad cartoons controversy and condemned the publication of the cartoons. Because of these actions, Freivalds was forced to resign from the government and commentors feel that Reinfeldt and Bildt is unlikley to do the same misstake.
Several political commentatiors have pointed out that that Sweden upholds the presidency of the Council of the European Union at the time of this dispute. From an Israeli point of view, discrediting Sweden as anti-semitic may be a way to reply several months of European critisism on Israeli Middle East politics.
Published: 25 Aug 09 15:18 CET
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In an open letter to the people of Sweden, Moshe Kantor, President of the European Jewish Congress, calls on government officials to demand editorial responsibility over the publication of an article accusing Israeli defence forces of harvesting the organs of dead Palestinians.
- 'Cyncism prevails for vote-hungry officials in Sweden and Israel' (28 Aug 09)
- Swedish aid groups deny anti-Israel bias (27 Aug 09)
- Sweden's free speech tradition draws Israeli ire (27 Aug 09)
Like many of you, I have been closely following developments concerning the story in the Swedish daily “Aftonbladet” alleging that Israeli soldiers "harvested" the organs of Palestinians. At the outset, it should be abundantly clear to everyone that the preposterous allegations in this story are false and unsubstantiated, and what’s more, harmful, inciteful, and potentially libelous.
To be sure, freedom of speech is a bedrock of democracy, and you should rightly be proud that it is enshrouded in the Swedish Constitution. But no less important alongside that freedom is responsibility and accountability. And that is where the most egregious problems with this issue lie; which could lead to the loss of greater values such as diminishing the sanctity of life. The bitter lessons of our shared history teaches us that there is a short distance between “anything goes” under cloak of “freedom of speech” to actions of incitement and violence. In our recent history, for example, it was all too common for similar, unsubstantiated stories against Jews to be printed, which gave credence to the worst atrocities of mankind. Precisely because of that shared history and experience, as Europeans, we can not accept this type of irresponsible hate speech cloaked as journalism.
While much has been made of Swedish government officials’ responses, I believe that a fundamental issue has been woefully overlooked; the responsibility that lies with both the article’s author and the newspaper’s editors. The allegations made in the story derive from dangerous age-old anti-Semitic canards and hateful blood libel and should be condemned as such. But the central issue is that the author of the story and the “Aftonbladet” editors have been given a green light under the banner of “freedom of speech” to disseminate these false allegations, that, in the words of Swedish Foreign Minister Bildt’s blog, “can stir anti-Semitism”.
Words have the power to uplift us, to inspire us and to improve the world around us. But when used irresponsibly, they have the power to stir hatred and violence. And that is the problem at the crux of this matter. To be sure, many Swedes have spoken out against the story and they should be commended, but the silence with which others and the government have treated the issue is deafening – and alarming.
As president of a non-partisan organization representing Jewish communities throughout Europe, I have the responsibility to ensure that issues of importance to the Jewish community are raised – for the betterment of all minorities in Europe. Because we are all Europeans, one and the same.
I am proud that we have been at the forefront of joint efforts with the European Parliament, the European Commission and European leaders to foster concrete efforts to promote tolerance and reconciliation throughout Europe. And I hope that as they chair the Presidency of the European Union, Swedish officials will continue to enhance these efforts. But as recent trends throughout Europe have shown, unacceptable incidents of anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism are all too real, and in several European nations, including Sweden, are regrettably on the rise.
As we approach a major anniversary of the beginning of WWII and the attempted annihilation of an entire people simply because they were Jews, we must stop and ask ourselves about the values of freedom of speech and the intrinsic responsibility that is bound to that freedom. Yes, freedom of speech is a hallmark of rational and free governments and people. But members of the media have an added responsibility – to fact check and to exercise caution before printing any unsubstantiated article – no matter how many newspapers it may sell. Too many times, incitement and blood libel have masqueraded as “articles” with horrific consequences.
Therefore, I implore you as educated, rational European brothers and sisters, to demand responsibility and credibility from your reporters, their editors and their publishers. What’s more, editorial integrity, responsibility, and accountability MUST be demanded by government officials. Otherwise, the sacred institution of freedom of speech will be worth nothing more than something to wrap our fish in.
Moshe Kantor, President of the European Jewish Congress, a pan-European Jewish umbrella organization.
sraeli lawyer Guy Ophir has filed a lawsuit against the Swedish newspaper Aftonbladetover an article it published in which IDF soldiers were accused of harvesting organs from Palestinians.
The organ harvesting article published in Aftonbladet.
The $7.5 million suit, which names the paper and writer Donald Bostrom, was filed in Manhattan Supreme Court on Tuesday, according to Ophir, who said the article's allegations were anti-Semitic and amounted to "racist blood libel" against Jews and Israeli soldiers.
"It's something Goebbels would have written," Ophir told The Jerusalem Post. He said he filed the suit in New York because the newspaper had representatives there; the paper is also distributed in New York, and the article made reference to a Jew from New Jersey arrested earlier this month on organ trafficking charges. "The lawsuit, it comes from anger," Ophir said, adding that he would donate any money from damages to charity, including the IDF.
Calling the article "very dangerous," Ophir said the article was "totally libelous." As a retired IDF soldier who served in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, Ophir said the article's claims were medically impossible. "Those things that are stated in the article never happened," he said.
On Monday, the editor-in-chief of Aftonbladet denied accusations that he was anti-Semitic. "I'm not a Nazi," Jan Helin wrote in a blog post. "I'm an editor-in-chief who has allowed the publication of a culture article because it asked a number of relevant questions."
Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt has rejected Israeli calls for official condemnation of a Swedish newspaper article about organ harvesting, saying freedom of expression is a cornerstone of democracy.
Video: Swedish Embassy "shares Israel's dismay" over report IDF abducts Palestinians to steal organs. http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1194419829128&pagename=JPost/Page/VideoPlayer&videoId=1249418649481
Bildt said in a blog posted late Thursday that he would not condemn an article in the Swedish tabloid Aftonbladet that suggested Israeli troops had harvested the organs of dead Palestinians. He said freedom of expression is part of the Swedish constitution.
"Freedom of expression and press freedom are very strong in our constitution by tradition. And that strong protection has served our democracy and our country well," Bildt wrote. "If I were engaged in editing all strange debate contributions in different media I probably wouldn't have time to do much else."
Bildt said he understood why the article stirred strong emotions in Israel, but said basic values in society are best protected by free discussion.
The article, published Monday, recounted Palestinian allegations that IDF soldiers killed Palestinians to harvest their organs, and implied a link to the recent arrest in the United States of an American Jew suspected of illicit organ trafficking.
Bildt rejected claims that Sweden harbors anti-Semitic feelings, adding that the condemnation of anti-Semitism was the only issue on which there has ever been complete unity in the Swedish Parliament.
He also drew a parallel between the current debate and the outrage triggered by the cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad published in Danish daily Jyllands-Posten in 2005.
"When we had an agitated discussion about what many people saw as official defamation of Islam and the Prophet Muhammad, I think we gained an understanding that it is through openness that we best build the tolerance and the understanding that is so important in our society," Bildt wrote. "That is my belief in this case too."
The article has enraged Israeli officials, with Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman saying Thursday that Stockholm's refusal to take a stand reminded him of Swedish behavior during World War II.
"It is a shame that the Swedish Foreign Ministry does not get involved when speaking about blood libels against Jews, something that is reminiscent of Sweden's position during World War II when it also did not intervene," Lieberman said in a sharply worded statement.
Lieberman said that he would pass on to Bildt a harsh protest of his ministry's retraction of the envoy's statement. He also said that Israel was considering revoking press privileges for the newspaper, and in any event would no longer cooperate with it.
It was a "pity" that after the Swedish envoy did the "right thing" and condemned the article, the Swedish Foreign Ministry distanced itself from her, rather than backing her up, Lieberman said.
Senior diplomatic officials said meanwhile that the Swedish government's refusal to condemn the article will "stain" Israeli-Swedish ties.
Not only did the Swedish government refuse to condemn the article, as Israel had hoped and expected, but it also removed a condemnation of the article from the Swedish Embassy's Web site.
"This was a local initiative," Anders Joerle, a spokesman at the Foreign Ministry in Stockholm, said of the condemnation issued by Swedish Ambassador Elisabet Borsiin Bonnier.
Bonnier, in a sharply worded statement posted on the embassy's Web site, had said the article was "as shocking and appalling to us Swedes as it is to Israeli citizens. Weshare the dismay expressed by Israeli government representatives, media and the Israeli public. This embassy cannot but clearly distance itself from it."
According to the statement, "Freedom of the press and freedom of expression are freedoms which carry a certain responsibility. It falls on the editor-in-chief of any given newspaper."
Bonnier's statement sparked intense criticism in Sweden, with the Green Party spokesman Per Gahrton saying she should be recalled and taught "the basics of Swedish freedom of speech," and the Swedish media questioning why a government-appointed official criticized an article in a newspaper based in a country where there is press freedom.
The editor of the paper where the article appeared, Jan Helin, also lashed out at the envoy, calling her statement denouncing the article an infringement on freedom of the press.
"Have you woken up in Iran?" Helin wrote. "No, it is Sweden's Ambassador Elisabet Borsiin Bonnier in Tel Aviv, who attacks the Swedish freedom of press and freedom of expression."
The editor, in a signed editorial, backed up the article and continued to call Israel to task. "It's deeply unpleasant and sad to see such a strong propaganda machine using centuries-old anti-Semitic images in an apparent attempt to get an obviously topical issue off the table," he wrote.
The Foreign Ministry's spokesman for the Israeli press, Yossi Levy, said that Israel was "astounded and concerned" at the continued hesitation of the Swedish government to condemn an article "seeping with anti-Semitism."
"Just as the paper has the right of freedom of the press, so too does the Swedish government have the right to clearly express in a determined manner its position against this anti-Semitic manipulation that is being used as a tool to demonize Israel," Levy said.
Israel's ambassador to Sweden, Benny Dagan, is scheduled to meet on Friday in Stockholm with Sweden's deputy foreign minister.
Diplomatic officials in Jerusalem said that while Israel hoped the Swedes would issue a statement, they doubted this would happen.
As a result, they said, the next time that the Swedes protested to Israel about any alleged human rights violation, or when they wanted Israeli involvement in the diplomatic process, this would be in the background. "This will be the elephant in the room, and the elephant will stay there because they don't want to show it the door," one official said.
The Swedish influence and relevance here will be weakened, he said, adding that this came at a time when Sweden holds the rotating EU presidency.
Aug 24, 2009 ... The Aftonbladet Swedish newspaper published another report providing further details on the 'organs harvest' allegations in which reporter ...
The Local's James Savage comments on Swedish politics, in English
Aftonbladet row: Israel will not get its apology
When Swedish tabloid Aftonbladet published an article accusing Israeli soldiers of plundering the organs of Palestinian teenagers on the West Bank, it caused a storm in Israel, where many sniffed Swedish anti-Semitism. The Israeli insistence that Swedish ministers condemn the article has caused relations between the two countries to sink to a new low.
What Israeli ministers appear to find hard to grasp is that it is politically impossible for a Swedish government to get involved in what newspapers publish. Assuming that their diplomats provide them with good-quality information about Sweden, they should know this.
Now, it’s understandable that the Aftonbladet story hit a nerve, partly thanks to the article’s headline – “Our sons’ organs are being plundered”. It was inevitable that it would unleash an acrimonious debate – in the Israeli press, politics and even here on The Local’s own forums.
But the Israeli ministers have either deliberately or unintentionally misrepresented the Swedish position. This is particularly true for Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman. He said the Swedish failure to condemn the article was hypocritical, given its response to the Muhammad caricature controversy in 2005. By linking the two, he seemed to imply that Sweden was sensitive to Muslim concerns, but not those of Israelis.
According to the Jerusalem Post, Lieberman ‘pointed out that Sweden shut down an Internet site in the country that posted the caricatures, and the Swedish foreign minister wrote a letter of apology to the president of Yemen.’
Lieberman’s understanding of the Swedish position is seriously skewed, and is worth tackling, as it has gained currency in international reports. There are four main reasons why Lieberman is wrong here:
1. In 2005, a completely different government was in power. The current centre-right government is not being inconsistent by failing to follow a line set out by Social Democrats 4 years ago. No more inconsistent than, say, Barack Obama is when he follows different policies to George W. Bush.
2. Social Democrat Foreign Minister Laila Freivalds was forced to resign in 2005, after it was revealed that she had sought the closure of a nationalist website that had published cartoons of Muhammad. It was widely perceived that she had acted against the interests of free speech. There was also controversy when it was suggested that she had apologized to the government of Yemen over the cartoons (although the actual contents of the letter did not really go as far as an apology). The Freivalds affair makes it incredibly unlikely that the current government would contemplate condemning the article, let alone apologize for it.
3. The current government has been consistent: when faced with renewed controversy over Muhammad cartoons in 2007, Reinfeldt met with Muslim ambassadors, but again refused to condemn or apologise for the cartoons.
4. Many Swedish politicians outside the government have condemned the Aftonbladet article, including members of the governing party, such as in this article by senior Moderate MEP Gunnar Hökmark , where he compares Aftonbladet’s article to Nazi propaganda. Yet even Hökmark agrees that it is not the place of the government itself to get involved. We may never know what Bildt and Reinfeldt privately think about the article, but it would be unsurprising if their views were similar to Hökmark’s.
It’s understandable that many Israelis, and the Israeli government, are angry about the article. It’s also easy to understand their bafflement at politicians who refuse to express an opinion (something not usually in short supply in most places). But it’s also clear that the Israeli government has either unwittingly or deliberately confused the facts to whip up a new row with Sweden.