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Sunday, September 19, 2021

Why does Martha Raddatz hide civilian casualties of US drone strikes in Afghanistan?

Anyone familiar with the way the United States has waged war in Afghanistan knows that air strikes, increasingly carried out by drones, have been a big part of the package. Much more under Trump than even Obama. They also know that innocent civilians are too often killed by these air strikes, although those deaths receive little attention by major US media outlets.

The August 29 drone strike that killed 10 civilians, including 7 children was different. Most drone strikes happen out in the country where most Afghans live. This was different because it happened in Kabul, and because the media was there in force to cover the withdrawal story, and because it could be framed as another Biden Afghan withdrawal f*ck up. So, finally the story of a drone strike killing Afghan civilians is getting the much needed coverage it deserves.

But to make the story stick, it must be framed as a uniquely Biden screw-up, and not a general characteristic of how the US has conducted itself in Afghanistan over the past twenty years.

Martha Raddatz has covered the US war in Afghanistan from the beginning. She has also been one of the chief boosters of the war all these years. She has earned a role as a vital part of the US war machine. She knows very well that US drone strikes have killed civilians in the past, and while she is happy to put these ten civilian corpses at the feet of Joe Biden, she is keen to keep the secret that, really, this sort of thing has been happening all along in Afghanistan.

She gave another proof of that today, when she interviewed Admiral Mike Mullen about this most recent drone strike on ABC News This Week. You have to listen closely because the proof is in what Raddatz doesn't say:

Mullen: We've had drone strikes that were very effective over many years that didn't kill any civilians, and we've also had drone strikes which did ...

Raddatz: I want to turn to Chairman Milley. You've seen the stories...

A few minutes ago, Martha Raddatz was lamenting the deaths these ten civilians in this drone strike. Now she has a former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff admitting there have been others, and she doesn't probe further? No follow up questions about those other civilian deaths in those other drone strikes?

What's up with that?

Clay Claiborne

Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Did Oliver North call for the assassination of Joe Biden on Fox News Hannity?

Oliver North said on Hannity Monday:

Just one last thought, at one point he[Biden] said about the terrorists that had killed those thirteen Americans. He said he wouldn't forget. He was not going to forgive, and he would make them..he would bring them to justice. We ought to say that about Joe Biden right now.

What Biden actually said about how he would deal with those terrorists was,“We will not forgive. We will not forget. We will hunt you down and make you pay,"  and in case anybody mistakenly thought that meant he planned to arrest them and bring them to trial, the next day he ordered a drone strike that killed two for openers.

Oliver North knew perfectly well that when he made that analogy, he was comparing Joe Biden to the terrorists,  and suggesting they both should we dealt with the same way. He also knew perfectly well that Biden was advocating execution by the most violent means with no recourse to due process of law, and no pivot to "justice" hides that. Sean Hannity damn well knew it too.

I'll say this much. These Fox News mouth pieces need to be called to account for the way they advocate violence to their viewers. No good can come from talk like this.

Clay Claiborne.

Monday, August 30, 2021

Peter Alexander's racist question

NBC News White House reporter Peter Alexander asked Press Secretary Jen Psaki this question at today's White House Press Conference [my summary, see video for exact wording]:

Don't all these US weapons falling into the hands of the Taliban endanger Americans and Americans around the world, and Western interest?

I can give him a pass for looking out for Americans First, seeing that he's from an American news outlet. But after Jen Psaki told him they didn't think they left the Taliban with the capability to hit the United States at home, even Apache helicopters can't fly that far,  Peter shifted the proposed danger to Americans around the globe, and Western ...interests.

By Western interests he means, first and foremost "western" lives, of course, because when it comes terrorists, its lives that are most at risk. Unless, his concern is coldly for western capital, that is.

Most of what the US left in Afghanistan, and won't destroy, in the way of weapons, are small arms, vehicles, and light artillery, the kind of stuff useful in a regional war, or in suppressing a population. I expect it will be the Afghan people that will suffer first and foremost for that, then the people in the region, and, yes, finally "interests" all over the globe, be they "western" or not.

And BTW, one of the things wars always do—they always flood the world with small arms. Always. That is one of the ways the Hell outlives the War. There are still 45 ACPs and 30 cal. carbines killing on American streets that were brought back from the second world war.

Why didn't Peter Alexander ask about the danger the weapons we are leaving pose to the Afghans? Why is he concerned solely with American and Western interests? I think the NBC News White House correspondent is letting his white chauvinist priorities show. Enough so that I wrote this blog post, and posted the videos below, to call him out on it.

Clay Claiborne

Short Version

Full Clip for Context


Google Maps shows us "Biden should've held Bagram" is very bad advice

In this video production I put together on Sunday, I use Google Maps to understand 

—  Clay Claiborne

Why Biden Abandoned Bagram Airbase in Afghanistan

Illustrated Transcript

I'm no kind of military expert. In fact, I haven't served a day in the military in my life, but in this video I'm going to show you how you can use Google Maps, and a little common sense to show that the received wisdom from the politicians and media pundits that pushed the Afghan war on us in the first place, that Biden should have held Bagram Airbase, or as Senator Ben Sasse put it on ABC's This Week today:

"Abandoning Bagram airbase will be read about in military textbooks for decades as one of the stupidest military blunders ever. "

This Google Map shows the road from Kabul to Bagram. As you can see, it's 58 kilometers from Kabul, and can be expected to take an hour and twenty minutes by car on a good day.

While it's true that Bagram has two runways, as compared to Kabul's one. It's almost 60 kilometers from Kabul, where most of the people are. Everybody being evacuated would have to be pushed up that road before they could get on a plane. 

Martha Raddatz knows the Afghan War well. She's been with the war from the very beginning, and she's seen it from all angles. She has a real overview. In an earlier segment in that same This Week, she pointed out that traveling by road in Afghanistan ain't no cake walk:

       Tony Blinken: There's other ways to leave Afghanistan, including by road..."

       Martha Raddatiz: "That's a very dangerous trip."

What a fun trip the Kabul-Bagram Airport Road  could turn out to be. Especially if ISIS or Al Qaeda, or anybody should try to interfere.

Actually, there are two roads from Kabul to Bagram, but the same problems apply. This second doesn't look recommended. It is longer, and it takes longer, and I have to imagine the transits times on both will start to stretch out once you start putting a lot of traffic on them, and especially if you have to start probing for IEDs and landmines. Not to mention the problems we might have if the Taliban was to get it into their heads that the only reason we were hanging on to Bagram is to continue the occupation.

Here we've switched to the terrain view, and we can see that Bagram is pretty much in the middle of nothing.

Here we zone in, and we can see there's really not much to evacuate in the immediate neighborhood.

Here's a real closeup. We can see the former Soviet base nearby. Foreign occupations don't end well in Afghanistan. When will they ever learn.

Anyway, let's look at some of nearby names on the map.

Here's Karam. They have a high school and a bus stop. At least that's a start. It's close to the Airport Road, so it should be easy to evacuate.

Here's Daw-lat-sah, on the other side of Bagram. Please forgive my pronunciation. When Martin Sheen narrated my Vietnam Doc, he made me get recording of native speakers pronouncing all the Vietnamese names so he could get them right, but I'm on a reduced schedule here. 

Here Daw-lat-sah close up. I still don't see much there, so it would appear that Bagram is pretty much in the middle of no-where, which is good for a military base, security-wise and all, but bad for an evacuation point.

Parwan University seems to be the most substantial thing in the area.

Photo by Hashmat Noon

Here's a picture of what appears to be the main building.

Photo by Yahia Rahimi

Here's another view, pretty as its set against the mountains. We can see two cars, a pickup truck, and bus parked off to the side. Probably more around back.

Photo by Yahia Rahimi

Here's a better view of the whole campus. We can see three buildings and maybe a dozen people.

Photo by Hashmat Noon


Here we can see a courtyard or maybe a garden?

Photo by Yahia Rahimi

And now we say good-bye to Parwan University

Photo by Abdul mosawer Ahmadi

Very pretty flowers, but as we can see, there just isn't much to be evacuated from around Bagram.

Almost every American and Afghan to be evacuated would have to make that road trip from Kabul to Bagram, and as Martha said:

Martha Raddatiz: "That's a very dangerous trip."

So, you can see that all those pundits and politicians that are complaining that Biden didn't hold on to Bagram are just blowing so much smoke. You know that because they keep talking Bagram's two runways, without addressing these other problems.

Well, I say: One runway in the city is worth two in the bush.

And all those demanding that Biden retake Bagram really want this Forever War to continue.

Friday, August 27, 2021

Did Trump play "enemy of my enemy" games with ISKP, the deadliest terror group in Afghanistan?

Yesterday on Fox News Outnumbered, Kash Patel, Trump's Chief of Staff for the Pentagon, and Director of Counter-terrorism, let slip this very important revelation on how the Trump Administration had been conducting counter-terrorism in Afghanistan:
ISIS-K and Al Qaeda are normally fighting each other, and we normally, under President Trump, let them kill each other because they're two foreign terrorist organizations that are enemies of the United States.
The revelation that the Trump Administration's policy towards fighting ISKP and Al Qaeda has been to "let them kill each other" is extremely troubling because they haven't been just killing each other, both of these terror organizations have mainly been killing innocent Afghans.

The Islamic State of Khorasan Province, also known by its initials ISKP, and renamed ISIS-K, by the western media, is the newer terrorist threat in the region. It is the group widely believed responsible for the two suicide attacks that killed over a hundred people, including 13 US soldiers, outside of Kabul Airport yesterday. It is the sworn enemy of both the Taliban and Al Qaeda, who they consider anathema. While Trump was in office, it emerged as the most dangerous of all the international Islamic terror organizations. Although it started in Khorasan Province, Afghanistan in 2015, in recent years it has expanded its reach throughout South Asia. In particular, it is a growing threat in India, and the Kashmir region. According to this comprehensive ORF report on ISKP, it is "arguably is the most visceral ISIS wilayat (an administrative division), with capabilities of orchestrating some of the most violent attacks in the country across the civilian and governmental spectrum." It has also been showing "increasing potency in parts of Africa." After ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi committed suicide, rather than be captured by US Delta forces in October 2019, ISKP began to eclipse even ISIS itself. According to the ORF report, "Since the 2014–2017 period, anecdotal evidence, especially online, points to IS-K as having a stronger play in South Asia than ISIS central." 

Because US media rarely bothers to cover terror attacks in which Americans aren't killed, yesterday's revelation of the brutality and lethality of ISKP may be news to us, but it is well known in Afghanistan and other parts of South Asia just what horrors this terror group, that the Trump Administration "let kill," according to his Director of Counter-terrorism, is capable of. Here is brief survey of its most deadly attacks in the past few years: 

On 9 September 2018 ISKP claimed 55 causalities in a suicide bombing in Kabul. The next day it killed an Indian intelligence official in Kashmir.

At an election day rally in Nangarhar, 2 October 2018, ISKP claimed 90 causalities.

On 3 October 2018, the Taliban again accused the US forces of supporting ISKP through airstrikes. In August 2018,  they also accused US forces of "rescuing" ISKP in Nangarhar. In light of Kash Patel's admission, these Taliban claims deserves further investigation.

On 5 October 2018, ISKP bombed the USAID Building in Nangarhar.

On 21 March 2019, ISKP claimed 50 causalities among Shi'ites in 3 bombings near a shrine in Kabul.

On 8 April 2019 ISKP claimed to have killed 21 Afghan security and intelligence personnel in 4 attacks in Jalalabad in 5 days.

On 13 April 2019, ISKP claimed 70 casualties among Hazara Shi'ites and Pakistani soldiers in a suicude bombing in Quetta.

On 21 April 2019, ISKP claimed 30 casualties in a 4-man suicide raid at the Afghan communications ministry in Kabul. 

On 30 May 2019, ISKP killed 50 military trainees in suicide bombing outside of the Marshal Fahim National Defense University.

On 2 June 2019, ISKP claimed 33 causalities among Shi'ites, journalists, and security forces in 3 IED blasts in Kabul.

On 13 June 2019, Al Qaeda and Taliban leaders reiterated their charge that ISKP is an enemy "puppet."

On 19 June 2019, ISKP claimed 21 causalities on the Taliban in Kunar. Two days later, the Taliban charged the US with rescuing ISKP in Kunar. Four days later, ISKP made advances, and killed 20 Taliban fighters in Kunar.

On 29 June 2019, ISKP claimed more than 25 casualties among Taliban fighters in Nangarhar.

On 6 July 2019, ISKP claimed 40 casualties from a bombing inside a Shi'ite Mosque in Ghazni.

On 7 August 2019, ISKP ambushed Afghan forces in Kabul, killing or wounding 20

On 18 August 2019, ISKP claimed 400 casualties among Shi'ites and security forces in two bombings at a Kabul wedding hall.

On 9 September 2019, ISKP claimed 52 casualties in Kabul during a remembrance of Ahmad Shah Massous.

On 8 October 2019, ISKP claimed 30 casualties among Shi'ites in Ghazni blast, and 40 soldiers killed or wounded in a VBIED attack in Jalalabad.

On 13 November 2019, Taliban accused Afghan government of rescuing besieged ISKP fighters in Nangarhar. Four days later, the Taliban announced the defeat of ISKP in Kunar and Nangarhar.

On 27 February 2020, ISKP claimed 30 casualties among Shi'ites in a bike bombing in Kabul.

On 6 March 2020, ISKP claimed 150 casualties in a suicide attack at a ceremony in Kabul.

On 12 May 2020, ISKP claimed 100 casualties in a suicide attack at a funeral in Nangarhar.

In a prison raid in Jalalabad on 3 August 2020, ISKP claimed to have killed 100 security personnel and freed hundreds of inmates.

On 24 October 2020, ISKP claims killing 25 and wounding 50 in a Kabul suicide operation.

On Human Rights Day, 10 December 2020, Malalai Maiwand, 26, was murdered by ISKP. She became the third journalist killed by the group in less than a month.

On 28 December 2020, ISKP claimed 20 casualties among justice ministry staff in Kabul. 

On 13 January 2021, ISKP reported 20 Afghan security forces killed or wounded in house raid in Jalalabad.

On 3 March 2021, ISKP claimed credit for the shooting deaths of three female television station employees in Jalalabad.

On 28 May 2021, ISKP attempted to assassinate the Kunar governor with a bomb blast in Nangarhar.

On 1 June 2021, ISKP bombed a bus carrying Hazaras in Parwan. The next day they bombed buses carrying Shi'a Hazara in Kabul, and claimed a car bombing on Afghan special forces in Jalalabad. 

On 4 June 2021, ISKP claimed 24 casualties among Shi'a Hazara in two bombings in Kabul.

On 14 June 2021, ISKP claimed 23 casualties among Shi'a Hazara in two bombings in Kabul.

On 9 July 2021, ISKP claimed 13 casualties in bomb blast on a minibus transporting "polytheists" in Herat.

On 12 July 2021, ISKP claimed 18 casualties in blast on NDS and Kabul governor's office staff.

On 3 August 2021, ISKP claimed 14 casualties in MIED blast on a bus transporting Shi'a Hazaras in Herat.

On 26 August 2021, ISKP claimed over 100 deaths, including 13 US military personnel in suicide bombings outside of Hamid Karzai International Airport. The American people are shocked by this latest attack because US corporate media hasn't regarded these preceding attacks as newsworthy. Nor was this the first time ISKP has attacked the airport. HKIA has been the target of attacks on 26 December 2020, and 12 December 2020

This is just a sampling of the carnage the Trump administration was letting ISKP commit, according Kash Patel's admission, or even helping them commit, according to Taliban accusations. Did US President Donald J. Trump's response to this growing terror threat by saying "let them kill each other?" Were those the marching orders he gave to Kash Patel, his Pentagon Chief of Staff, and Director of Counter-terrorism? Did he allow ISKP to metastasize all over South Asia because he knew they opposed Al Qaeda and the Taliban, and was he following an "enemy of my enemy is my friend" strategy towards this new terrorist group? The appropriate congressional committees should call upon Kash Patel to testify, and ask these important questions.

Clay Claiborne