Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Torture? Mais, non. We know nothing.

From Reuters:

Canada brushes off allegations of Afghan torture

Canada brushed off allegations on Monday that Taliban members captured by Canadian troops and handed over to Afghan authorities had been tortured, saying the militants often made false claims of mistreatment.

...But the French-language daily La Presse said on Monday it had found three prisoners who alleged inmates had been beaten with bricks and cables, given electric shocks, deprived of sleep and had their nails torn out."

White guys with guns: Canada's military in Afghanistan

White guys with guns: Canada's military in Afghanistan

by Dave Markland, a member of the Vancouver Parecon Collective, organizes with StopWar.ca and contributes to their blog chronicling Canada's war in Afghanistan: www.stopwarblog.blogspot.com

Some quotes from the article. Lots more where this came from, fully referenced.

"In total, some 2500 personnel make up the conventional forces deployed in Afghanistan. Additionally, an unknown number of JTF-2 special forces work alongside special forces from the US and other countries as part of Operation Enduring Freedom. Very little is known about their role."
The one Canadian member of the JTF-2 who was killed hardly even made it onto the public radar. I found the guy's name by accident (Master Corporal Anthony Klumpenhouwer) on a military uberfan's blog when I was trying to find out who he was and what he was doing. They said he fell from a communications tower. What was he doing up there? Sniping, perhaps? We'll never know. But there was no ramp ceremony, no pictures of the body's return, no publicized military funeral. Really strange.

"...A Norwegian newspaper caused a stir early this year when it reported on sworn testimony by several US interrogators who had worked at the [Kandahar] base and described some of the goings-on, including the widespread use of torture."

Everybody else is doing it. I don't see any reason why Canadians would be an exception, especially since there is so much joint training with the U.S. military.

"Another soldier reports vengeance and geopolitics as his motivator: "I have absolutely no problem killing them," asserts a battle group sergeant. "They started this on September 11. We're just bringing the fight back to them"
Wonderful - ignorance of what's really going on combined with unfocused rage and a gun. Only good could come out of that.

"Shortly after arrival in Kandahar, members of the Van Doos regiment "étaient un peu frustrés de participer à une mission de reconstruction et auraient préféré combattre à leur arrivée en Afghanistan." ("were a little frustrated to be taking part in a reconstruction mission and would have preferred to fight upon their arrival in Afghanistan").
I guess all those "Fight...fight...fight" recruiting ads for the Canadian military have worked. Always attracts the best and the brightest.

"If all this Rambo-style readiness sounds to some like an echo of American military bravado, there may be good reason for it. Working in close quarters with their US counterparts seems to have caused a certain mindset to rub off on Canadian officers..."
Great role models.

"One of the key tools in Canada's version of "peacemaking", the British-made M777 Howitzer gun, which can shoot 6 inch-diameter bullets a distance of 30km (22 miles), has reportedly been dubbed the “Desert dragon” by insurgent fighters. Acquired by the Canadian Forces in the fall of 2005, the weapon has gained a devoted fan base among military brass. "When the infantry, for example, come up against a couple of houses where they would suffer casualties going in and clearing that house of the enemy, even though they would win, it's sort of nice to be able to stand back and turn to the tanker and say, 'Take that house out.'" So explained retired Major-General Lewis MacKenzie, who has been doing near full-time public relations for the war. Afghan bystanders, ceaselessly endangered by NATO operations, might disagree with MacKenzie that the experience is "sort of nice".
Winning hearts and minds, one atomized Afghan at a time.

And we're even hiring our own mercenaries. Is this the proper use for Canadian's money? Would they agree if they were asked? I doubt it. That's why we're not asked.
"Canadian forces, too, are getting in on the action. "For five years Col. Toorjan, a turbaned, tough-as-nails, 33-year-old soldier, has been working alongside U.S. and Canadian forces in Afghanistan as a paid mercenary commander," reports Canada's National Post. "Today, his militia force of 60 Afghan fighters guards Camp Nathan Smith, the Canadian provincial reconstruction team site (PRT) in Kandahar, and guides Canadian soldiers on their patrols outside the base." Toorjan and his armed men "wield significant influence in Kandahar's complex security web", making him a treasured ally, though before 9/11 he was "in effect a warlord", said the second-in-command of Canada's Provincial Reconstruction Team."

The use of mercenaries, it should be noted, runs counter to the International Convention on Mercenaries (1989). Canada, however, along with the USA, the UK and many others, is not a signatory to that treaty.
Just like the Americans. Never sign treaties that might prevent you from doing horrible things. That way, your ass is covered.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Learning to hunt Afghans

From TomDispatch by Nick Turse

"...Earlier this year, according to an article by Kimberly Johnson of the Marine Corps Times, Col. Clarke Lethin, chief of staff of the I Marine Expeditionary Force (I MEF) -- a unit based in Camp Pendleton, California that took part in the 2003 invasion of Iraq and will be returning there soon -- indicated that its commanders "believe that if we create a mentality in our Marines that they are hunters and they take on some of those skills, then we'll be able to increase our combat effectiveness. The article included this curious add-on: "The Corps hopes to tap into skills certain Marines may already have learned growing up in rural hunting areas and in urban areas, such as inner cities, said Col. Clarke Lethin, I MEF's chief of staff."

...While the colonel's language -- defended by some -- did seem to suggest that inner-city dwellers lived in an urban jungle of gun-toting hunters of other humans, none of the letters, pro or con, considered quite a different part of the Colonel's equation: the implicit comparison of enemies in urban warfare, today largely Iraqis and Afghans, to animals that are hunted and killed as quarry."

...From the commander-in-chief to low-ranking snipers, a language of dehumanization that includes the idea of hunting humans as if they were animals has crept into our world -- unnoticed and unnoted in the mainstream media.

Since Canadian soldiers were being sent to Blackwater to learn sniping skills, I wonder if the "big game" metaphor is used there too? After all, Blackwater used to have a bear paw on a black background centred in sniper-scope crosshairs until its murderous tendencies came to light. Now the black background and the crosshairs are gone. Part of its new harmless image, I suppose.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Canadian panel starts its work - but won't consult Canadians

The arrogant Mr. Harper and his advisors have started their work. While they discuss how to continue the war in Afghanistan indefinitely, and then make a report saying what a wonderful idea that would be, they have thoughtfully left out the great Canadian hordes who might object to this.

The Harper War panel - helping to spread "democracy" in Afghanistan while completely ignoring it in Canada. They don't want our opinions, just our money.

This, from an Afghan news source.

A Canadian panel, appointed by Prime Minister Stephen Harper to look into the future of Canadas mission in Afghanistan, has begun its work.

Informed sources told Pajhwok Afghan News the five-member panel headed by former deputy prime minister John Manley had its first meeting over the weekend at its office in downtown Ottawa. Moving at a fast pace, it recruited officials from the government.

As details of the meeting were not immediately available, sources indicated the panel discussed the process to be adopted to carry forward its mandate and submit recommendations to the Harper administration before the deadline of January 2008 expired.
The panel is believed to have decided against holding public hearings to solicit people's opinion on the future of Canadas mission in Afghanistan, an issue that has generated a heated political debate at home.

Due to vocal opposition to the presence of Canadian forces in Afghanistan, the Harper government has been compelled several times to go on the defensive, with his opponents calling for withdrawal of troops from Kandahar.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

News from Afghanistan - Oct. 22

11 of a family perish in NATO bombing: Residents

KABUL, Oct 22 (Pajhwok Afghan News): At least 11 members of a family were killed in NATO bombing in Jalrez district of the central Maidan Wardak province, residents said on Monday.

Haji Janan, chief of the provincial council, told Pajhwok Afghan News the airstrike was carried out in Ismailkhel area of the district last night and this morning.

He said the NATO aircrafts targeted house of a local named Qari. Eleven members of his family were perished while several houses were damaged in the attack, said the people's representative.

Three more villagers named Gulab, Muhammada Jan and another man, were killed in a second strike while they were busy retrieving bodies of those killed in the attack, said Haji Janan.

Another sixteen villagers had suffered injuries in the bombing. They had been shifted to hospitals in the province and the central capital Kabul, he added.

Mir Hazrat, a resident of the area, informed that 14 civilians were killed and 16 injured in the air raid. Hazrat said he himself recovered bodies of four women and seven men from rubbles of a house.

Around seven people were killed and injured in bombing by NATO aircrafts in the same area last week. The area was pounded following a Taliban ambush on a foreign forces convoy.

Press office of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Kabul said they did not know about civilian casualties. However, there was a clash in the area.

Responding to a mail from Pajhwok Afghan News, the press office said: "At this time, we dont have any information about civilians involved in this operation, but I can confirm that there is a firefighting in this area and we have only reports concerning insurgents."

Habib Rahman Ibrahimi/Javid Hamim

Canada's commitment to human rights slipping, thanks to Stevie.

Report on Reuters today:

Canada's commitment to human rights is slipping and the country must work hard to regain the position it once held as an international honest broker, a top United Nations official said on Monday.

U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour, who is Canadian, said she was particularly unhappy that Canada had voted against a nonbinding U.N. declaration of rights for indigenous peoples last month.

Her comments were aimed at the Conservative government, which took power in February 2006 and has shown less interest in multilateral diplomacy than its Liberal predecessor.

Amazing that there's lots of money and hot air for "humanitarian intervention" in Afghanistan (really sucking up to the U.S.) while the terrible conditions some aboriginal people in Canada live in are completely ignored, and their basic rights are voted against in a U.N. resolution by the Canadian delegate. They make us all look like fools.

There's outrage against human rights violations in Burma and concern for the Falun Gong in China, but not a word against the slaughter in Iraq or Bush's obscene push towards a war with Iran.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Conservatives a "savvy prowar party"?

Chalmers Johnston, while reviewing books about the Iraq War, makes this observation:

Holmes' argument that "a savvy prowar party may successfully employ humanitarian talk both to gull the wider public and to silence potential critics on the liberal side" ...[i]s worth considering.
Sounds like the pro-war Conservatives. Have they managed to gull the wider public? Certainly the ones who come out to the pro-war rallies (cleverly call "Support the Troops" rallies) have been fooled, as have the ones who stick the yellow ribbons on their cars.

The critics of the Afghanistan war have never been fooled by this stuff. There is no discernable "humanitarian" result from the use of all the guns, tanks and soldiers in the area. A lot of dead people though - on every side.

"...[T]hus, insurgencies in Iraq and Afghanistan, two devastated, poor countries, have managed to fight one of the most powerful American expeditionary forces in history to a virtual standstill. In short, "America's bellicose response to the 9/11 provocation was not only dishonorable and unethical, given the cruel suffering it has inflicted on thousands of innocents, but also imprudent in the extreme because it was bound to produce as much hatred as fear, as much burning desire for reprisal as quaking paralysis and docility. Some of the sickening effects are unfolding before our eyes. That even more malevolent consequences remain in store is a grim possibility not to be wished away."

Frankly, Mr. Gates, I don't GIVE a damn!

When U.S. warmongers criticize you, you know you're doing something right.

U.S. criticizes NATO over Afghan commitment

KIEV -- U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates criticized NATO on Monday for failing to send enough troops and other resources to Afghanistan, setting the stage for tense alliance discussions later this week.

"I am not satisfied that an alliance whose members have over two million soldiers, sailors, marines and airmen cannot find the modest additional resources that have been committed for Afghanistan," Mr. Gates said.
Maybe they don't want to send their soldiers and equipment to fight U.S. wars of aggression. Do ya think?

There have been some that have not yet announced their commitments, according to the report.

Another coalition of the unwilling? Wonder what the almighty U.S. threatened them with - nuclear obliteration?

Give these guys a medal

Soldiers kicked out of military
Several refused to do a tour of service in wartorn Afghanistan
The Edmonton Sun

The Canadian military has released several soldiers after they claimed conscientious objection to serving in wartorn Afghanistan, according to internal records from the National Defence department.

...Because service is voluntary, the policy applies only in rare cases where a member has an "epiphany" about war or bearing arms. Conscientious objection to a specific mission or national policy would not meet voluntary release criteria.

... "You could say I love the military, I want to stay in, I'm just not going to Afghanistan, and the chain of command would probably look at you and say we don't want you in the military because you aren't capable of following lawful command," McWhinnie said.

"That's our distinction in black and white: If it's a lawful command, you're obliged to follow it."

Just because it's lawful doesn't mean it's right. Torture has been "lawful" in the U.S. for some time. So has warrantless wire tapping and surveillance. Transportation and extermination of people was "lawful" in Nazi Germany.

... Steve Staples, director of the Rideau Institute, said some are enticed by flashy ads, the prospect of steady employment or the chance to help out fellow Canadians in emergencies. He believes the Canadian Forces should find other roles for those who don't want to fight in Afghanistan.

"They thought they were signing up to help Canada, not fight someone else's war in the Middle East," he said.

The neverending U.S. war against everything, and Stephen Harper's love of being a "wartime" prime minister. Who would join or extend a war that was illegal in the first place? These soldiers have shown true courage.

... Scott Taylor, a former soldier who now publishes Esprit de Corps magazine, said some resist deployment because they aren't psychologically or physically ready for combat or because they get cold feet.

Many signed up to learn a trade or because they thought it would be an adventurous career path -- not to fight a war.

"There was a long time when unless you were in the infantry, you wouldn't be doing any front-line stuff where there might be some danger," he said. "So it was kind of like a lifetime of training for a war you never thought was going to happen."

That's exactly what military training should be, and the leaders of the country should ensure that they are never used in frivolous wars to show they can "punch above their weight", the phrase that I loathe most from a Prime Minister that I loathe.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Illegal and immoral war in Afghanistan

The War in Afghanistan was wrong, too

...even U.S. intelligence agencies are admitting that the continuous killings of Afghanis and Iraqis continue to provide al-Qaeda with a steady stream of recruits.

"...The Taliban refused to accede to Bush’s unconditional demand. The result was the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, the ouster of the Taliban from power, the installation of a U.S.-approved regime, a nation ruled by regional warlords, the deaths of countless Afghanis, the failure to capture bin Laden, and an ever-growing terrorist movement generated by ever-deepening anger and hatred against the United States."

"...Did the United States have the legal and moral right to invade Afghanistan upon the Taliban’s refusal to turn bin Laden over to the United States? Many Americans would undoubtedly respond, “Yes, absolutely. When a country experiences a terrorist attack, it has the legal and moral right to attack and invade a sovereign and independent country that refuses to comply with an unconditional demand to give up the suspected perpetrators.”

"...Well, if that’s true then how would such proponents respond if, say, Venezuela attacked the United States for harboring terrorists? Would the proponents say, “I’m going to fight on the side of Venezuela because in the war on terror a country has the right to attack countries that are harboring terrorists”? Not likely."

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Mercenaries in Afghanistan

It seems that the thuggish mercenary problem isn't just in Iraq. Afghanistan has problems of its own.

Barnett Rubin on Afghanistan

(bold typeface is mine)

"...[I] explained that, while corruption occurred in Afghanistan as in every society, Afghans believed that the unprecedented level of corruption today was largely due to the foreign presence, not their culture. First of all, Afghans do not believe that the international drug problem is caused by greedy Afghan farmers. They think it is due to the global demand for illicit drugs and a policy regime that disproportionately punishes the weakest and poorest parts of the supply chain. Second, they see, if we do not not, the links among US security contractors, Afghan militias, and corrupt officials. They see the armed groups that destroyed their country remobilized and paid by a politically connected "private sector" subsidized by the U.S. government."

If this is clean government, why do I feel like taking a shower?

"Clean government": rhetoric contrasts with record

"Last night's throne speech surprised commentators with its highly-partisan claim "The government is clean."
After months and months of just-this-side-of-legal manoeuvering and perhaps some that isn't (we'll never know since everything is classified, just like George Bush's government), Harper's government is anything but clean.

I await with eager anticipation when the whole scuzzy operation is blown wide open. I just hope I'm not standing too close when it happens.

Some pundits made much of Stephen Harper's sense of humour, although I have yet to see any evidence of it. In an article in today's Globe and Mail by Lawrence Martin (subscription required), he notes that:

"This kind of good-naturedness looks good on Stephen Harper. Cynical political gamesmanship has been one of his chief problems. He is seen as too conniving by half. Most everything he does is viewed less as coming from his heart than as part of a grand political scheme."

There was nothing good-natured about Stephen Harper's remark. The sneer could be seen and heard from the outer reaches of the universe. He is a cynical political gamesman and there's no evidence that he possesses a heart except perhaps the merely functional muscle that pumps blood around his increasingly rotund frame.

As far as his heavy "humour"goes, he's about as funny as a slipped disc.

As far as Harper is concerned, I'll go with Dion's quote from Al Gore, that the environmental policy of Harper's band of devoted acolytes is "a complete and total fraud".

That goes for everything else in his "clean" government.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

How to sell a war

Harper should take a lead from Goering on selling a useless war to an unwilling citizenry.

"...[I]t reminds [Muhammad Sahimi] of what Reichsmarschall Hermann Goering of Nazi Germany once said:

"Naturally, the common people don't want war … but after all it is the leaders of a country who determine the policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked…."

Hitching Canada's wagon to a falling star

Philip S. Golub is a journalist and lecturer at the University of Paris VIII.

He likens the U.S. to a setting sun...

"The disastrous outcome of the invasion and occupation of Iraq has caused a crisis in the power elite of the United States deeper than that resulting from defeat in Vietnam 30 years ago. Ironically, it is the very coalition of ultranationalists and neo-conservatives that coalesced in the 1970s, seeking to reverse the Vietnam syndrome, restore U.S. power and revive "the will to victory" that has caused the present crisis."
...[N]or can the cause of their dissent be attributed to conflicting convictions over ethics, norms and values (though this may be a motivating factor for some). It lies rather in the rational realization that the war in Iraq has nearly "broken the U.S. Army," weakened the national security state, and severely, if not irreparably, undermined "America's global legitimacy" – its ability to shape world preferences and set the global agenda. The most sophisticated expressions of dissent, such as Brzezinski's, reflect the understanding that power is not reducible to the ability to coerce, and that, once lost, hegemonic legitimacy is hard to restore.
...[T]ransnational opinion surveys show a consistent and nearly global pattern of defiance of U.S. foreign policy as well as a more fundamental erosion in the attractiveness of the United States: The narrative of the American dream has been submerged by images of a military leviathan disregarding world opinion and breaking the rules. World public opinion may not stop wars but it does count in subtler ways.
...[H]istory is moving on and the world is slipping, slowly but inexorably, out of U.S. hands.
...[B]ut Vietnam and the Nixon era were a turning point in another more paradoxical way: Domestically they ushered in the conservative revolution and the concerted effort of the mid-1980s to restore and renew the national security state and U.S. world power. When the Soviet Union collapsed a few years later, misguided visions of omnipotence resurfaced. Conservative triumphalists dreamed of primacy and sought to lock in long-term unipolarity. Iraq was a strategic experiment designed to begin the Second American Century. That experiment and U.S. foreign policy now lie in ruins.

...[F]or the U.S. power elite, being on top of the world has been a habit for 60 years. Hegemony has been a way of life; empire, a state of being and of mind. The institutional realist critics of the Bush administration have no alternative conceptual framework for international relations, based on something other than force, the balance of power or strategic predominance.

...[T]he present crisis and the deepening impact of global concerns will perhaps generate new impulses for co-operation and interdependence in future. Yet it is just as likely that U.S. policy will be unpredictable: As all post-colonial experiences show, de-imperialization is likely to be a long and possibly traumatic process.

So, why is Canada looking to the U.S. for its safety and prosperity and not elsewhere...perhaps even to itself?

Dying to supply Wal-Mart

Thomas Walkom in the Toronto Star.

Our role in Afghanistan really about ties with U.S.

By appointing his new advisory panel on Afghanistan, Prime Minister Stephen Harper has inadvertently underlined what this war is about. It is not about Afghanistan. It is about the U.S.
...[Aghanistan panel member Pamela] Wallin still focuses on the Canada-U.S. border. "This is fundamental to Canada's future," she said in the same interview. "The north-south axis is crucial. Canada exports more to Home Depot in the U.S. than to France."

In effect, he decided to risk Canadian lives in Kandahar to keep trucks rolling across the Detroit River.

As did Harper.

Now, as he tries to finesse the political unpopularity of the Afghan war, the Prime Minister is doing his best to ensure that official discussion remains tightly focused on what he sees as our real interest there – our relationship with Washington.

This makes me so sick, I am lost for words. Sending cheap crap to Wal-Mart in exchange for the lives of young men and women is a good deal?

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Scuzz 'R Us - Harperites install the governments they want and you thought you voted for

Didn't get the government you wanted? Didn't get the candidate you thought you voted for?

Look no further than the New (neo)Conservative government's interference in municipal elections and thoroughtly scuzzy financing practices. You want to see the whole country go down the drain? Vote these guys into a majority and sit back and watch it happen.

Political interference charges dog Conservatives

Under investigation: allegations of meddling in municipal politics, and inflated rebates through in-and-out campaign financing.

"Charges are still before the courts that O'Brien tried to bribe his political rival Terry Kilrea into dropping out of the 2006 mayoral race. Part of the deal may have included an appointment facilitated by Baird. Kilrea has charged in a court affidavit that in July, O'Brien offered to help Kilrea secure a job on the National Parole Board and to give him $30,000 for campaign expenses if he dropped from the race."

"...Then the candidates claimed public funding for these advertising payments, which they claimed to be local spending. Public funding is given to local riding associations on the basis of actual campaign expenses, so these in-an-out transfers were used to inflate the size of local campaign budgets and, as a result, the size of federal rebates. Through the exchange of cheques, the Conservatives claimed millions in tax subsidies for their campaign."

"..Shortly after this news surfaced in September, Stephen Harper launched the Muslim veil controversy, which, with the excitement over the by-election, has deflected attention from in-and-out financing, at least until the Chief Electoral Officer reports again."

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Canadian soldiers dying for Karzai and Mullah Omar

Using our soldiers as pawns in new Afghan game

Thomas Walkom at the Toronto Star

Karzai is playing a carrot and stick game. The carrot is a place for the Taliban in the Afghan government. The stick is using Canadians and others to kill them (and be killed by them) if they don't go along with it.

The carrot Karzai is offering his adversaries, including Taliban leader Mullah Omar, is a major role in the country's government. Canada and other NATO countries willing to have their soldiers die for the Afghan regime constitute the stick.

Somehow, Canadians dying for the Afghan regime doesn't really have a very good ring to it, does it?

...His problem, however, is that Canadians – even those who now support the war – may not be willing to have their soldiers used as pawns in this new great game.

I never was, and I'm not now.

We have been given many reasons for going to war.

Sometimes, the federal government says we want to ensure that Afghan girls can go to school. Sometimes, it says the aim is to defeat the Taliban so as to prevent Afghanistan from becoming a terrorist base. At yet other times, we are told we are fighting to avenge the 9/11 attacks.
They use whatever they think might work at the time.

Chief of defence staff Gen. Rick Hillier says the aim is to kill the "scumbags."
Always a classy guy, Hillier. Nice to know he's the face of the Canadian military around the world. Makes me proud. (Sarcasm dripping from every word.)

All of these reasons are simple and powerful.
And powerful to the simple. Unfortunately, they're lies.

The argument that we are fighting the Taliban abroad so that we don't have to fight them in downtown Toronto may be wrong. But it has resonance.

However, when the rationale for war is simply to buttress the negotiating position of an obscure foreign leader, will Canadians be as amenable?

...I applaud Karzai for his attempts to end Afghanistan's nightmare through negotiation. Ultimately, a political solution is the only way out.

But at the same time, I wonder how the parents and husbands and wives and girlfriends and boyfriends of Canadian soldiers killed in Afghanistan will feel if he succeeds – if Mullah Omar becomes Karzai's prime minister; if, as part of a coalition deal, more severe forms of sharia law are imposed on women; if the very few gains Afghanistan has made in the field of human rights are reversed.

Won't they wonder if the whole thing was a waste of time? Won't they suspect their lovers and sons and daughters died for nothing?

And they'd be right.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Blackwater - good choice for training Canadian soldiers

N.Y times article about investigation into the Blackwater mercenary company:

The report by the Democratic majority staff of a House committee adds weight to complaints from Iraqi officials, American military officers and Blackwater’s competitors that company guards have taken an aggressive, trigger-happy approach to their work and have repeatedly acted with reckless disregard for Iraqi life.

Blackwater justified its actions by saying that it had never allowed one American diplomat's life to be lost.

That's nice. Shame about all those Iraqis, though.

Good thing Canada chose that wonderful outfit to train some of its military. I feel a lot better now.

Time to go, I think.

All this bombing and shooting must be making a heck of a difference in Afghanistan. It's making progress, say Our Glorious Leader Stephen Harper, the head of the armed forces and Hamid Karzai.

Oh...hold on a minute.

U.N.: Violence in Afghanistan up almost 25 percent in '07

Afghanistan is currently suffering its most violent year since the 2001 U.S.-led intervention, according to an internal United Nations report that sharply contrasts with recent upbeat appraisals by President Bush and his Afghan counterpart, Hamid Karzai.
Shooting your way to peace won't work. Get another idea or get out.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Disappearing the wounded

Although every military death in Afghanistan is reported, even though Stephen Harper and his New Canadian government did its best to keep photographers and news people away, it seems like the rapidly increasing numbers of the wounded - some severely - aren't reported anymore.

If you want to keep a war going, even the war with less and less support every day, you just keep the disturbing statistics away from Canadians. If we really knew, then support might drop futher.

What the hell. Who cares about democracy? Certainly not the department of Defense, which is becoming less and less about defense and more and more about agression. Since CSIS is now CSIA, when will the DoD become the Hexagon or the Octagon?

More Canadians injured, fewer reported

[T]hat tells a tale now rarely talked about: a great many Canadian soldiers are being injured in Afghanistan. And we’re not hearing about it.

[A] new policy has clearly emerged. Deaths are still reported but injuries are not, unless one of two scenarios exists. The first is if the injury is so severe, it may very well result in death. The second is if journalists already know about it.

Welcome to the police state

New York city is coming under ever more surveillance, by camera, blimp, plane and unmanned drone. Big Brother is indeed watching.

Here's Nick Turse's years-long tussle with the NYPD, for doing - nothing, really, except really, really cheesing them off.

And just in case you think it couldn't happen here (I'm kidding, of course):

According to Dwyer, for at least a year prior to those demonstrations, "teams of undercover New York City police officers traveled to cities across the country, Canada and Europe" to conduct covert surveillance of activists.

I don't believe for a minute that this was done without the knowledge of Canadian governments and law enforcement agencies. Not only did they know about it, they probably helped.

All for our security, of course. Question is, who do we need protecting from? And who do we go to when we need protecting from our government and police?