On June 7, the day Afghanistan became America’s longest-ever war, the New York Times reported on an ongoing investigation poised to prove that private security companies “are using American money to bribe the Taliban” to fuel combat and thus enhance demand for their services. The news follows a “series of events last month that suggested all-out collusion with the insurgents,” the Times said.
Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), a leading opponent of the war, wondered, “Is the U.S. paying for attacks on U.S. troops?”
“Our troops are dying in Afghanistan, and now it turns out we may be funding their killers,” Kucinich said in a statement e-mailed to Raw Story, renewing his longstanding call for a pullout. “Our continued presence in Afghanistan is detrimental to our security.”
“The American people are paying to prop up a corrupt government that may be using our money to pay private companies to drum up business by paying the insurgents to attack our troops,” he said.
Kucinich’s motion in March to implement a swift withdrawal of US troops from the region failed by a margin of 365-65 in the House.
“In the coming weeks, Congress is expected to be asked to give another $33 billion for war efforts… I will be bringing this report to the personal attention of individual Members of Congress prior to the vote on any additional war funding,” the Ohio congressman said.
The Times interviewed a NATO official in Kabul who “believed millions of dollars were making their way to the Taliban.”
A White House spokesperson did not return a request for comment.
Robert Greenwald, an ardent war critic and director of the 2009 documentary “Rethink Afghanistan,” viewed the Times story as vindication for his message.
“Supporting a corrupt elite in a civil war does nothing to make us safer, costs the United States billions of dollars, and it’s not working,” Greenwald told Raw Story.
It “confirms what we have heard numerous times from our friends, co workers and producers in Afghanistan. The United States is effectively funding both sides of the war all too often,” he said.
The administration and large bipartisan majorities in Congress continue to support and fund 8-year-long military operations in Afghanistan, warning that a pullout could lead to a Taliban takeover and greater threats to American interests.
Richard Holbrooke, US special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, told reporters Monday that the US, Japan, Britain and other countries have “committed” roughly “200 million dollars” to fund peace efforts in Afghanistan, Agence-France Presse reports. The Afghanistan Peace and Reconciliation Program aims to reintegrate Taliban fighters who have renounced violence into Afghan society.
Brave New Films, the documentary film company behind a series of damaging anti-McCain viral videos in the 2008 presidential campaign, has put its sights on Carly Fiorina, the Republican candidate for Senate in California.
In the latest of three videos attacking Ms. Fiorina that the company has released since July, several former Hewlett-Packard employees who say they were laid off during Ms. Fiorina’s tenure as chief executive of the company describe her as ruthless and extravagant.
The video, which asserts that the workers are among 30,000 whose jobs were shipped overseas when she ran the company, comes as dozens of candidates in both parties run campaign advertisements criticizing their opponents for supporting policies that encourage outsourcing American jobs.
A spokeswoman from Ms. Fiorina’s campaign said the company had a history of distorting the facts. ”This group has consistently made misleading videos,” Andrea Saul, the spokeswoman, said in an e-mail.
Indeed, the group’s first film linking Ms. Fiorina to the The Tea Party splices footage of Ms. Fiorina addressing a Tea Party crowd with shots of angry Tea Partiers calling President Obama a communist at a rally that her spokeswoman said Ms. Fiorina did not even attend.
Three months after 9/11, every major Taliban city in Afghanistan had fallen — first Mazar-i-Sharif, then Kabul, finally Kandahar. Osama bin Laden and Mullah Omar were on the run. It looked as if the war was over, and the Americans and their Afghan allies had won.
Butch Ivie, then a school administrator in Winfield, Ala., remembers, “We thought we’d soon have it tied up in a neat little bag.”
But bin Laden and Omar eluded capture. The Taliban regrouped. Today, Kandahar again is up for grabs. And soon, Afghanistan will pass Vietnam as America’s longest war.
The Vietnam War’s length can be measured in many ways. The formal beginning of U.S. involvement often is dated to Aug. 7, 1964, when Congress passed the Tonkin Gulf Resolution, giving the president a virtual carte blanche to wage war. By the time the last U.S. ground combat troops were withdrawn in March 1973, the war had lasted 103 months.
U.S. forces attacked Afghanistan on Oct. 7, 2001. On June 7, the war will complete its 104th month. President Obama on Thursday reaffirmed his commitment to the war, saying “it is absolutely critical that we dismantle that network of extremists that are willing to attack us.”
This longest war is far from America’s bloodiest. It has drifted in and out of focus and, for much of its life, been obscured by another war, in Iraq.
I guess we should be grateful for small favors in that relative to other battles, there’s been less loss of life, although I’d say it’s still 1,800 lives too many.
Former Bush Secretary of State Colin Powell spoke on This Week last week to say that even with the troop increase in Afghanistan, “victory” (however you define that) ultimately was in the hands of the Afghans.
If that’s the case, one has to ask why the hell we need to be there for anyway.
BraveNewFilm’s ReThink Afghanistan is fundraising to purchase an ad in the Politico (because you know they all read it) asking Congress and the President to pull the troops by December 2011. If you’re able, please consider donating to inject some sense into this debate.
Left-wing documentary firebrand Robert Greenwald Thursday challenged actors Greg Kinnear and Katie Holmes — who were cast this week to play John F. Kennedy and his wife Jackie in a History Channel miniseries about the Kennedys — to “insist on a historically accurate and politically unbiased script.”
In February, Greenwald corralled a group of prominent historians including former Kennedy advisor Ted Sorenson who in a video took objection to the script, calling it a politically motivated “character assassination.”
The eight-hour miniseries is being produced by Joel Surnow, the executive producer of the hit action-torture series “24″ and an outspoken political conservative.
The miniseries is scheduled to air in 2011 and marks the channel’s first foray into scripted drama. It is also in keeping with the network’s move to broaden its audience and attract younger viewers — a decision that seemed to pay off earlier this week when the channel recorded its biggest ever ratings for Sunday’s premiere of “America: The Story of Us.”
At the time of the February broadside, the channel defended the project, saying the historians had seen an early draft and that History’s standards for historical accuracy “are more rigorous than the broadcast networks.”
With the high-profile casting of Kinnear and Holmes this week to play the lead characters, Greenwald again went on the offensive.
It’s the silly season of attention-getting campaign ads, and Hollywood director, producer and political activistRobert Greenwald – of “Outfoxed” fame — may have hit the sweet spot with his spoof ad on Prop. 17, the coming insurance ballot initiative backed largely by Mercury General Insurance.
With Mercury and the “Yes on Prop. 17″ forces ready to drop some big cash on expensive TV ad time to argue the measure will increase competition and reduce consumer costs on insurance, this scathing spot from Greenwald’s progressive Brave New Films — which has produced such documentary efforts as “Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch’s War on Journalism,” “Sick for Profit,” “WalMart: The High Cost of Low Price,” and “Iraq for Sale” –aims to counter.
It stars a “Mercury spokesman” haplessly trying to convince folks that insurance companies really do want to spend millions to be, uh, good guys and cut premium costs. (The sounds of hysterical laughter are a hallmark of this spot.) The classic Greenwald effort looks timed to take some of the punch out of that coming Mercury campaign.
The spot is a production of StopProp17.org, the consumer group fighting the initiative.
With big money backing the measure — Mercury has already put $3.5 million into the kitty — voters will be deluged with information on Prop. 17, which will be on the June primary ballot. So here’s the first salvo in a war that’s only just beginning.
By Andrew McLemore at The Raw Story
The US military has used drones to attack suspected terrorists in Pakistan since at least 2004. Proponents of the small, unmanned planes say they are capable of “surgical strikes” that reduce civilian casualties and effectively combat terrorism.
Is that true? Well, not really, according to a new report from the New America Foundation, a non-profit research institute.
The percentage of civilians killed by drones in Pakistan is at about 32 percent, or one out of three, the report states, and the strikes themselves have little effect in deterring terrorist activities in either Pakistan or Afghanistan. Researchers do not believe any of the reported strikes targeted Osama bin Laden.
Our study shows that the 114 reported drone strikes in northwest Pakistan, including 18 in 2010, from 2004 to the present have killed approximately between 834 and 1,216 individuals, of whom around 549 to 849 were described as militants in reliable press accounts, about two-thirds of the total on average. Thus, the true civilian fatality rate since 2004 according to our analysis is approximately 32 percent.
The group’s report is titled “The Year of the Drone,” referring to 2009. According to the figures obtained by the foundation, the Obama administration has increased the use of drone strikes considerably when compared to the previous years of the Bush administration.
There were 114 reported drone strikes from 2004 through 2009, but only 45 during the Bush years. The other 51 were during last year.
…[A]lthough the drone strikes have disrupted militant operations, their unpopularity with the Pakistani public and their value as a recruiting tool for extremist groups may have ultimately increased the appeal of the Taliban and al Qaeda, undermining the Pakistani state. This is more disturbing than almost anything that could happen in Afghanistan, given that Pakistan has dozens of nuclear weapons and about six times the population.
Although the US military executes the strikes with the approval of the Pakistani government, the people feel differently. Only 9 percent approve of drone strikes.
The group ReThink Afghanistan has already created a short documentary using some of the report’s findings.
“Clearly when you have a drone strike that kills a wedding party of ninety people when you’re really after one person and maybe you didn’t even get that person, this contributes to the problem,” Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) says in the film.
Watch it here: