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Mayor Garcetti Praises Healing Trauma

¿Cómo hacer hablar a un terrorista? (How do you make a terrorist talk?)

By Jorge Morales Almada at La Ch

l hombre del turbante salió de la mesquita después de la primera oración del día. Era miércoles en el centro de Bagdad e ideal para que el equipo de espionaje del Ejército de Estados Unidos pasara desapercibido entre la multitud. Se trataba del jeque Abd al-Rahman, pieza clave para dar con el paradero de Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, líder en Irak de la red terrorista de al-Qaeda.

“Cuando se baje del automóvil blanco y se suba a uno azul, es que va a encontrarse con al-Zarqawi”, fue la pista que les dio un militante del grupo terrorista que había sido detenido por las tropas estadounidenses seis semanas antes de ese 7 de junio de 2006.

De manera discreta lo siguieron por más de 50 kilómetros hacia el norte, hasta una pequeña aldea a las afueras de Baquba, donde al-Rahman se bajó del vehículo y se introdujo a la casa que resultó ser el escondite del jefe máximo de al-Qaeda en Irak y por quien el gobierno estadounidense ofrecía 25 millones de dólares como recompensa, lo mismo que se ofrece por Osama Bin Laden.

Abu Musab al-Zarqawi en abril de 2006

Los espías estadounidenses lo habían confirmado, ahí estaba al-Zarqawi hablando con al-Rahman. Era el momento idóneo para capturarlo, pero las fuerzas especiales de combate estaban a media hora de distancia en helicóptero. El comandante a cargo no quiso correr riesgo de fuga y ordenó que los dos jets F-16 Fighting Falcons que se aproximaban soltaran sobre la vivienda las 500 libras de explosivos que llevaban.

La EXPLOSIÓN formó una cruz de polvo y escombro. Ahí murió al-Zarqawi y su consejero espiritual al-Rahman, además de una mujer y un niño.

Cuando llegaron los soldados, minutos después del bombardeo, al-Zarqawi era sacado de entre los escombros por policías iraquís. Un soldado estadounidense se le acercó y fue entonces cuando al verlo a los ojos, el terrorista soltó el último respiro.

La historia la cuenta Matthew Alexander, de 39 años de edad y líder de ese equipo de inteligencia del U.S. Army que interrogó a Abu Haydar, un hombre cercano al jeque al-Rahman.

“Abu Haydar es un hombre muy inteligente, es como Hannibal Lecter de la película Silence of the lambs, muy elegante e inteligente, manipulaba a los interrogadores y después de tres semanas de interrogatorios no obteníamos nada”, comentó Matthew Alexander, nombre que adoptó por seguridad de su familia.


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Starbucks agrees to sixth labor settlement in three years

By Seattle Times

Starbucks signed a settlement with the National Labor Relations Board last week agreeing to let Minneapolis-area employees post union materials in their break areas and discuss union issues while on the job, as long as it doesn’t interfere with their performance.

The settlement does not include financial payment, and it will not be final until the NLRB decides whether to address objections to the settlement by union organizers at the Industrial Workers of the World, according to Marlin Osthus, acting director of the NLRB’s upper midwest region office.

The IWW initiated the complaints that led to the settlement and, according to a press release, considers it a victory at this point.

It’s Starbucks’ sixth labor settlement in three years and its second in Minneapolis. In December, the coffee chain also lost a battle in administrative-law court when a judge determined that Starbucks had unfairly imposed work rules on employees who supported the IWW.

The company is appealing the court’s decision and has not acknowledged wrongdoing in any of the settlements.

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Washington Repeating Iraq Mistakes in Afghanistan

By Roll Call

Last week, as Congress moved to pass nearly $100 billion in war funding through a supplemental bill, 10 other veterans who served in Afghanistan and Iraq joined me in Washington, D.C., to visit Members of Congress and staff to encourage them to vote against the funding.

I do not know which was harder, seeing the impossibility of success in Afghanistan or seeing the impossibility within Congress to voice dissent from the administration. As a corporal in the U.S. Marines — who served in both Afghanistan and Iraq and who remains willing to give my life for this country — let me say from experience that our current strategy will not bring security to Afghanistan or to America.

What pained me in Afghanistan was witnessing too many civilian casualties, too many children without food and women without husbands, too many innocent Afghans who became anti-American because of our actions. But what pains me now: witnessing too many Members of Congress, too many administration officials and too many think-tank experts support this military approach.

As I pounded the Hill’s pavement, I heard numerous reasons why Congress needed to support the president’s agenda, and not one was convincing. I heard everything from “we want to give the administration a chance” to “this is leftover spending from the Bush administration” to “this will be the last supplemental like this,” and the one I was most appalled by, as thousands of lives remain in question, “Don’t want to oppose the administration during its honeymoon stage.”

I would respond with, “But how will we measure success?” After eight years of combat operations you’d think someone in Congress would be able to answer this question, but no one could. The only thing they seemed able to do, even the military veterans turned Congressional staffers — after fully recognizing the merit in everything I had to say and positively affirming my policy recommendations — was to close the meeting with a reluctant shrug in support of the administration’s agenda.


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Starbucks Twitter campaign hijacked by documentary about Starbucks’ union-busting

By at BoingBoing

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The Afghan Question – NPR


Why are we in Afghanistan? To destroy the Al-Qaeda? To make sure the Taliban doesn’t get back in power? Both? What is the economic impact of the war on the US economy? And, just what would victory in Afghanistan look like anyway? In this hour of To the Best of Our Knowledge, the question of Afghanistan. The Obama Administration’s refocusing the US military. But after years of war in Iraq, after Abu Grabib, after WMDs…does the US still have the moral authority to conduct nation building?


Robert Greenwald supports the Obama administration but thinks they’re dead wrong about Afghanistan. He’s the Director of the on-going, on-line documentary called “Rethink Afghanistan.” Greenwald tells Jim Fleming the sorts of questions he would put to the administration, and we also hear clips from his film.



  • Robert Greenwald is the director of the on-going on-line documentary called “Rethink Afghanistan.” Brave New Foundation. To watch the entire documentary on-line:
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Now on YouTube,an Outcry Against BofA’s Lewis

By New York Times

You’ve heard the complaints from pension funds. You’ve seen the demands from unions. Now watch the video.

Ahead of Bank of America’s annual meeting on Wednesday, the activist filmmaker Robert Greenwald is helping lead the charge to fire Kenneth D. Lewis, the bank’s embattled chief executive.

Mr. Greenwald, who has made films critical of Wal-Mart, John McCain, Rupert Murdoch and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, has produced a video demanding Mr. Lewis’s ouster and is distributing it on YouTube. The video, narrated by Robert B, Reich, the labor secretary under President Bill Clinton, portrays Mr. Lewis as the poster boy of corporate greed and incompetence.

The video is basically a collection of clips from news reports critical of Mr. Lewis and Bank of America for government bailouts, billions of dollars in bonuses, the Merrill Lynch purchase, high credit rates and anti-union advocacy. Interspersed between them, Mr. Greenwald repeatedly proclaims his message: “Fire Ken Lewis!”

That message has resonated with some big shareholders of Bank of America. Calpers, the huge California public pension fund, said Tuesday that it was voting against re-electing Mr. Lewis and the rest of the bank’s board. The fund joins Calstrs, the California teachers retirement fund, and several other state and union pension funds in opposing Mr. Lewis.

Two influential investor advisory groups, the RiskMetrics Group and Glass Lewis, have also recommended voting against Mr. Lewis.

Go to Video from Robert Greenwald via YouTube »

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Echoes of Vietnam in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Hearing Room

By Caitlin Webber at CQ

Exactly 38 years after he testified against the Vietnam War before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, John Kerry , now chairman of that panel, convened Afghanistan war veterans to offer opinions on the future of their generation’s conflict.

But while Kerry’s 1971 statement was unequivocally against the Nixon administration’s continuation of the war, in 2009 he finds himself in a more delicate position. He was an early and staunch supporter of President Obama, but has recently expressed skepticism about the administration’s new strategy for Afghanistan.

His proposal to triple non-military aid to Pakistan, backed by ranking Republican Richard G. Lugar of Indiana, has been delayed over differences with the White House on conditions for that money.

On Thursday he tried to refine his position on Obama’s new strategy.

“Let me be clear: There is much still to be done in Afghanistan and Pakistan, but our new focus creates a sense of determined optimism for us and our coalition allies,” Kerry said. “Better defined objectives should lead to a better battle plan for our troops. But this remains an immensely complicated task.”

Kerry reiterated his belief that the United States should not provide “a blank check” to either Afghanistan or Pakistan.

Lugar echoed the call from Kerry and many other members for more specifics on the administration’s plan.

“As the Obama administration devotes more resources and troops to Afghanistan, however, many details need to be fleshed out,” Lugar said.

Veterans’ Perspectives

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Afghan veterans offer stories from 7-year US involvement

WASHINGTON – One held the hand of a dying fellow soldier and told himself that the sacrifice would not be in vain. Another watched an Afghan tribal leader risk his life to seek US protection for his village – only to be told that it was not possible. A third interviewed insurgents who said they expect American troops to get tired and go home. A fourth beat suspected terrorists, only to find out later that they were innocent.

The veterans of the Afghan war testified yesterday before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee about a seven-year conflict that has attracted little debate, even as President Obama sends reinforcements to take on the Taliban.

The hearing took place as instability in Afghanistan spreads through neighboring Pakistan, and a day after the 38th anniversary of committee Chairman John F. Kerry’s testimony – as a Vietnam veteran – against that war in 1971.

Yesterday, the young veterans offered a sobering picture of the failures of US policy, but none advocated a complete withdrawal.

However, one veteran – Rick Reyes, a former corporal in the US Marines – called Obama’s decision to send 17,000 additional combat troops to Afghanistan “a mistake.”

“At a minimum, this occupation needs to be rethought,” he said.

Reyes, who was among the first US forces sent to Afghanistan after the 2001 terrorist attacks, said he arrested Taliban and Al Qaeda terrorism suspects in their homes based on tips by paid informants.

“Almost 100 percent of the time, we would find that the suspected terrorists were just innocent civilians,” he said. “We began to feel we were chasing ghosts. How can you tell the difference between members of the Taliban from Afghan civilians? The answer is: You can’t.”

In his written testimony, Reyes said he and his fellow Marines sometimes broke “hands, arms, legs” and wrecked homes during their midnight raids. But he did not describe these incidents to the committee yesterday, saying later that he did not want to distract from his message of opposition to a troop increase.

However, three other Afghan veterans argued passionately for a stepped-up US commitment, saying the mission could be saved by more troops and smarter tactics.

Westley Moore, a former Army captain who led a program that persuaded moderate Taliban to pledge allegiance to the new Afghan government, called the 17,000 additional troops “a paltry number” compared with what is required to protect the population in the rural areas.

“We are underfunded and undermanned in Afghanistan,” he told the senators. “We asked two brigades to have coverage over a 1,600-mile area that is . . . the most dangerous terrain in the world.” Moore said it would send the wrong message to the world if the United States were to simply leave.


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