Thursday, January 06, 2011

The drone wars and more

Yesterday Kimberly Dozier (AP) reported the US drone program targeting alleged terrorists had consolidated its base of operation at one classified and undisclosed spot near the Pentagon where the U.S. Joint Special Operations Command will oversea it. Though the move is not said to do a damn thing to improve justice, it's thought that it will assist in speeding the killings. And when your goal is to break the law, as Barack's administration's goal apparently is, the whole thing becomes about breaking it quicker. Brookings Boy Michael O'Hanlon salavated to Dozier over the inter-facing with the National Security Council the new location will provide and Dozier notes the Pentagon is supposed to oversee the program.

Mark Dankof ran for the US Senate out of Delaware in 2000 on the Constitutional Party's ticket. (Democrat Tom Carper won the seat.) Press TV (link has video and transcript) spoke with Dankof about the report:

Press TV: Some have predicted a positive response from the US public because this is "the only tool where we can see immediate, positive results." Is that true?

Dankof: I think if you count this as a positive result, all the political blowback that is going to occur has already occurred as a result of these previous drone strikes. The fact of the matter is that the military knows and our politicians know that we have already spent one trillion dollars in barred money in both Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts, under very dubious circumstances and now we are resorting to something that frankly is going to get a lot of innocent people killed and I think there is going to be an even bigger backlash against what the United States is doing in both of these countries. So, I think over the long haul, this is going to be more of the same and nobody seems to have an idea as to how to extricate the United States from both of these situations and I think also the question again is how much money we are spending; to what extent the Israelis are going to be involved in these operations and frankly you should look both at Iraq and Afghanistan. We do not know how much this joint strike operation and joint strike command is going to cost; how many people are working for it and frankly who is going to be making the decisions and who gets targeted and when the shooting starts.

Meanwhile Clarence Lanzrath writes the Las Vegas Sun wondering why the US military remains in Iraq and also why the US is "not vehemently protesting the virtual genocide in Iraq by certain factions against Christians?" Meanwhile the editorial board of Lebanon's Daily Star offers this take, "The bombings in Iraq and Egypt are a warning for Lebanon’s Christians and more importantly, their leaders: put aside greed, narrow-mindedness and racism, and work on ensuring that members of the community become fully-fledged citizens who require no special protection inside the country, or assistance from abroad." Pagan Newswire Collective's Jason Pitzl-Waters offers his thoughts at the Washington Post:

These events are the sad fruits of mixing raw social and political power with religions that operate on a exclusionary, one-true-path, basis. What you see in Iraq or Egypt is just the extreme and violent form of a sickness that has haunted history since the now-dominant monotheisms rose to prominence and power. If you believe that only your faith can hold the truth, and that all others are either duped, ignorant, or evil, all you need to do is add the promise of power for the persecutions and violence to begin. This is not a controversial statement, or at least not a controversial statement to anyone who has studied history. The histories, chronicles, and even the holy books of the monotheisms, all attest to the fate of groups that their God doesn't approve of.

From yesterday's snapshot:

The 56-year-old organization Open Doors released their [PDF format warning] "2011 World Watch List" today documenting the countries in which they find Christians to be the most persecuted in. Last year's number eighth placed Mauritania has been kicked out of the top ten by the 'biggest gainer' Iraq which moved from number seventeen in the 2010 report to number eight in this year's report. Peter Elliott (Everday Christian) quotes Open Doors' Paul Estabrooks stating, "Our perspective is that what is happening in Iraq is just one more example of Islamic extremism that can be seen in Pakistan right through the Middle East to Morocco. Much of it is the perception that America is leading another crusade against them. The interesting thing is there is in-fighting between their groups as well. The targeting of Christians has been really heightened since the Iraq War and it's continuing on. It's almost like an ethnic cleansing or a religious cleansing that's going on. It's like they want to get rid of them because they remind them too much of the decadent West."

Meanwhile in the US, Iraq War veteran Charles Whittington will likely not be returning to the Community College of Baltimore County. Charles wrote an essay as part of an assignment. He received an A on the paper and it was suggested that he submit it to the student newspaper which he did and they ran it. Then suddenly the college was concerned about his writing. Daniel de Vise (Washington Post) summarizes this Baltimore Sun story: "The college sought a psychological evaluation as a condition of Whittington's return. Whittington delivered one, but college officials said the documents had to come directly from his evaluator, according to the article." Michael Leon (Veterans Today) covers the story here. And, from the right, David French at National Review sees the college's position on this as damaging.

The following community sites -- plus Al Jazeera, War News Radio, Jane Fonda, and Diane Rehm -- updated last night and this morning:

Turning to the topic of Bradley Manning. Monday April 5th, WikiLeaks released US military video of a July 12, 2007 assault in Iraq. 12 people were killed in the assault including two Reuters journalists Namie Noor-Eldeen and Saeed Chmagh. Monday June 7th, the US military announced that they had arrested Bradley Manning and he stood accused of being the leaker of the video. Leila Fadel (Washington Post) reported in August that Manning had been charged -- "two charges under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. The first encompasses four counts of violating Army regulations by transferring classified information to his personal computer between November and May and adding unauthorized software to a classified computer system. The second comprises eight counts of violating federal laws governing the handling of classified information." Manning has been convicted in the public square despite the fact that he's been convicted in no state and has made no public statements -- despite any claims otherwise, he has made no public statements. Manning is now at Quantico in Virginia, under military lock and key and still not allowed to speak to the press. Paul Courson (CNN) notes Bradley is a suspect and, "He has not admitted guilt in either incident, his supporters say." We'll close with this from William Fisher (Public Record) on Bradley:

While Julian Assange, the head of Wikileaks, conducts international media interviews from a manor house in the English countryside, PFC. Bradley Manning, the soldier the military reportedly believes is responsible for providing Wikileaks’ information, languishes in solitary confinement in a Marine brig.
Now, a group of respected professional psychologists has asked Defense Secretary Gates to change the conditions of his imprisonment because “solitary confinement can have severely deleterious effects on the psychological well-being of those subjected to it.”
Psychologists for Social Responsibility (sySR) says it is “deeply concerned about Manning’s pretrial detention conditions, including solitary confinement for over five months, a forced lack of exercise, and possible sleep deprivation.

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oh boy it never ends