Thursday, October 29, 2009

Afghan Thugs and CIA Harmony

An IO lashing Ahmed Karzai and, by extension, brother Hamid.
Ahmed Wali Karzai, the brother of the Afghan president and a suspected player in the country’s booming illegal opium trade, gets regular payments from the Central Intelligence Agency, and has for much of the past eight years, according to current and former American officials.

The agency pays Mr. Karzai for a variety of services, including helping to recruit an Afghan paramilitary force that operates at the C.I.A.’s direction in and around the southern city of Kandahar, Mr. Karzai’s home.

The financial ties and close working relationship between the intelligence agency and Mr. Karzai raise significant questions about America’s war strategy, which is currently under review at the White House.

The ties to Mr. Karzai have created deep divisions within the Obama administration. The critics say the ties complicate America’s increasingly tense relationship with President Hamid Karzai, who has struggled to build sustained popularity among Afghans and has long been portrayed by the Taliban as an American puppet. The C.I.A.’s practices also suggest that the United States is not doing everything in its power to stamp out the lucrative Afghan drug trade, a major source of revenue for the Taliban.

More broadly, some American officials argue that the reliance on Ahmed Wali Karzai, the most powerful figure in a large area of southern Afghanistan where the Taliban insurgency is strongest, undermines the American push to develop an effective central government that can maintain law and order and eventually allow the United States to withdraw.
As though "backing thugs" was some sort of new and unexplored avenue for conducting CIA business, senior American military intelligence official, Major General Michael Flynn, complains,
“If we are going to conduct a population-centric strategy in Afghanistan, and we are perceived as backing thugs, then we are just undermining ourselves.”
Never stopped them before.

Naturally, Ahmed claims all this unpleasant talk implicating his actions as "illegal" is terribly mean. Rest assured, he is completely unfamiliar with what these Americans call "opium," never heard of this C I A.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

CIA Drone Program: Escalating Instability

The US has been warned that its use of drones to target suspected terrorists in Afghanistan and Pakistan may violate international law.
Human rights investigator Phil Alston has finally come forth and stated the obvious: CIA drone strikes violate international law.
"My concern is that these drones, these Predators, are being operated in a framework which may well violate international humanitarian law and international human rights law.

"The onus is really on the government of the United States to reveal more about the ways in which it makes sure that arbitrary executions, extrajudicial executions, are not in fact being carried out through the use of these weapons."
Admittedly difficult given that that is exactly what the CIA drone strikes are designed to do.

This news came on the heels of another report demonstrating that CIA drone strikes have increased "dramatically" during the Obama administration.
Since taking office, President Obama has sanctioned at least 41 Central Intelligence Agency drone strikes in Pakistan that have killed between 326 and 538 people, many of them, critics say, “innocent bystanders, including children,” according to a published report.
Based on a study just completed by the non-profit, New America Foundation of Washington, D.C., “the number of drone strikes has risen dramatically since Obama became President,” Mayer reports.

In fact, the first two strikes took place on Jan. 23, the President’s third day in office and the second of these hit the wrong house, that of a pro-government tribal leader that killed his entire family, including three children, one just five years of age.

At any time, the C.I.A. apparently has “multiple drones flying over Pakistan, scouting for targets,” the magazine reports. So many Predators and its more heavily armed companion, the Reaper, are being purchased that defense manufacturer General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, of Poway, Calif., can hardly make them fast enough. The Air Force is said to possess 200.

Mayer writes, “the embrace of the Predator program has occurred with remarkably little public discussion, given that it represents a radically new and geographically unbounded use of state-sanctioned lethal force.” Today, Mayer writes, “there is no longer any doubt that targeted killing has become official U.S. policy.” And according to Gary Solis, who teaches at Georgetown University’s Law Center, nobody in the government calls it assassination. “Not only would we have expressed abhorrence of such a policy a few years ago; we did,” Solis is quoted as saying.
And the arc of instability widens its swath.
David Kilcullen, a counter-insurgency warfare authority who co-authored a study for the Center for New American Security, of Washington, D.C., has suggested the drone attacks have backfired. As he told The New Yorker, “Every one of these dead non-combatants represents an alienated family, a new revenge feud, and more recruits for a militant movement that has grown exponentially even as drone strikes have increased.”
The CIA have a target list -- "367 names and included some 50 Afghan drug lords" -- but should demonstrate that the CIA assassination drone program "makes sure that arbitrary executions, extrajudicial executions, are not in fact being carried out." Who can the CIA torture to get a false confession for that?

Codename "Donna": A CIA Asset in Cuba

Castro's sister 'spied for CIA'

A sister of Cuba's former long-time leader, Fidel Castro, has admitted spying for the CIA in the 1960s.

Juanita Castro, who now lives in Miami, said she had gathered sensitive information for the US for three years.

In her memoirs, she said she had fallen out with Fidel and her other brother Raul - Cuba's current president - over the killing of their opponents.

Ms Castro, 76, said she had helped to warn and hide Cuban dissidents before finally fleeing the island in 1964.
In her memoirs - Fidel and Raul, My Brothers, the Secret History - Ms Castro says she was recruited by the Central Intelligence Agency in Havana two years after the 1959 revolution brought Fidel Castro to power.

She agreed to help because she had become disenchanted when Fidel abandoned the nationalist democratic revolution he promised and instead imposed a one-party Marxist state "simply out of the need to hold power", she said.

"Did I feel remorse about betraying Fidel by agreeing to meet with his enemies? No, for one simple reason: I didn't betray him. He betrayed me," she wrote.

"He betrayed the thousands of us who suffered and fought for the revolution that he had offered, one that was generous and just and would bring peace and democracy to Cuba, and which, as he himself had promised, would be as 'Cuban as palm trees'," she wrote.

Ms Castro said that at a meeting with a CIA officer called "Enrique" at a hotel in Mexico City in 1961, she was given the codename "Donna" and codebooks so she could receive instructions.

She agreed on the condition that she received no money and was not asked to participate in any violent acts against the Cuban government.