Monday, July 13, 2009

Convoy Of Death Revisited US Has No Interest in Afghan Army Massacre of POWS & A.G Eric Holder & Abu Ghraib's " A Few Bad Apples"

UPDATE: 3:10 PM ,July 13, 2009
An about face on the part of Obama-

It appears Obama does want at least an initial investigation into the Afghan Massacre aka "Convoy of Death" let's see how far he's willing to go if it turns out the allegations are true that US allies in Afghan committed a War Crime & were American personnel complicit in the crime or its coverup.

obama war crime-Afghan Massacre Convoy of Death

Obama Orders Probe of Alleged Mass Grave by Associated press,July 12, 2009 via TruthOut

Investigation to focus on the deaths of up to 2,000 Taliban in Afghanistan.

Washington - President Barack Obama has ordered his national security team to investigate reports that U.S. allies were responsible for the deaths of as many as 2,000 Taliban prisoners of war during the opening days of the war in Afghanistan.

Obama told CNN in an interview that aired Sunday that he doesn't know how the U.S.-allied Northern Alliance behaved in November 2001, but he wants a full accounting before deciding how to move forward.

"I think that, you know, there are responsibilities that all nations have even in war," Obama said during an interview at the end of a six-day trip to Russia, Italy and Ghana.

"And if it appears that our conduct in some way supported violations of the laws of war, then I think that, you know, we have to know about that."

Were They Killed by US-Backed Forces?

The president's comments seem to reverse officials' statements from Friday, when they said they had no grounds to investigate the 2001 deaths of Taliban prisoners of war who human rights groups allege were killed by U.S.-backed forces.

Reacting to the interview, Physicians for Human Rights hailed Obama's decision.


UPDATE: 12:49 AM July 13, 2009

The Death Convoy Of Afghanistan:Witness Reports And The Probing Of A Mass Grave Point To War Crimes. Does The United States Have Any Responsibility For The Atrocities Of Its Allies? A Newsweek Investigation.
From the magazine issue dated Aug 26, 2002

"How many are buried at Dasht-e Leili? Haglund won't speculate. "The only thing we know is that it's a very large site," says a U.N. official privy to the investigation, and there was "a high density of bodies in the trial trench." Other sources who have investigated the killings aren't surprised. "I can say with confidence that more than a thousand people died in the containers," says Aziz ur Rahman Razekh, director of the Afghan Organization of Human Rights. NEWSWEEK's extensive inquiries of prisoners, truckdrivers, Afghan militiamen and local villagers--including interviews with survivors who licked and chewed each other's skin to stay alive--suggest also that many hundreds of people died"

One wonders if those who are supposed to replace the Taliban in Afghanistan are in many ways no better than the Taliban Regime. Anyway we see that there was apattern of covering up War Crimes committed by US allies or the US itself. If America would insist on pursuing investigations & War Crimes trials of Afghans or American personnel who might have been involved in the alleged massacre then this might lead to investigations into War Crimes committed by the US in Iraq ie torture & abuse of prisoners, massacres of families or entire villages or the fire-bombing of Fallujah etc. This of course the Obama administration is not willing to investigate such crimes committed by US forces & the Obama administration appears to claim no international body or organization has any right to hold the US responsible for its actions. America is after all above reproach they claim because it is guided by Divine Providence.

Afghanistan massacre -- the convoy of death pt. 1 of 6

President Obama's desire to look forward & not back is just another way of sweeping the past crimes of the Bush era under the rug. Obama appears to fear causing what he considers to be undue anguish in the nation by seeking the truth. Obama agrees it seems with the Republicans & Bush apologist that what they did was done with the best of intentions and in "Good Faith". So if the Bush Regime created a policy which led to widespread abuse of POWs in Guantanamo , or Abu Ghraib or Bagram or a dozen other detention facilities run by US personnel its no big deal because it was all done in "Good Faith" or as President Bush would say God Told Him To invade Iraq & abuse & torture as many Iraqis & Afghans as he wished. After all America always has God on its side so it can do no wrong . Maybe more people who arrested for various crimes in America should appeal to the courts claiming they killed someone but it was done in Good Faith and therefore are innocent. One wonders is Obama really trying to avoid setting a precedent in which his administration or other future administrations would be open to being investigated . So much for "the Rule of Law" and integrity & responsibility & transparency.

and in a related story about possible US involvement in the so called "Convoy of Death" in Afghanistan in which it is alleged that upwards of 3,000 Taliban prisoners were massacred by US allies in Afghanistan. The official US position is that no Americans were killed or took part in the killings so the US refuses to investigate. So the attitude is that if the massacre occurred it is of no interest to the US government even though the Afghanistan General who allegedly was in charge & may have personally order the massacre was an ally of the US government. Ah but what the Hell no Americans were killed. Besides the US military & CIA & US government & its congress etc. have little regard for the lives of "Foreigners". We see this over & over again at Gitmo or other prisons and in the streets of Iraqi cities & Afghan villages that can be wiped out by US Drones. So is it the case that there many people in the Obama administration who seem to think like the Bush/Cheney Regime that those people murdered by US soldiers are just "Collateral Damage".

Even if legally the US has no jurisdiction in this alleged massacre surely there is a moral & ethical responsibility on the part of the US government to pursue some form of investigation or to pressure on the UN or the World Court or other appropriate bodies to seek a thorough investigation into this matter. After all the Afghanistan government is one of America's allies and yet the US claims it has not vested interests in such a massacre carried out by Afghan forces. Is it just that the US government doesn't want to open this rather nasty can of worms for if they insisted on investigating this incident as a War Crime it might lead to attempts by others to open up investigations into the War Crimes committed by the Bush /Cheney Regime.

Obama Admin: No Grounds to Probe Afghan War Crimes" by: Lara Jakes The Associated Press July11,2009 via Truthout

Washington - Obama administration officials said Friday they had no grounds to investigate the 2001 deaths of Taliban prisoners of war who human rights groups allege were killed by U.S.-backed forces.

The mass deaths were brought up anew Friday in a report by The New York Times on its Web site. It quoted government and human rights officials accusing the Bush administration of failing to investigate the executions of hundreds, and perhaps thousands, of prisoners.

U.S. officials said Friday they did not have legal grounds to investigate the deaths because only foreigners were involved and the alleged killings occurred in a foreign country.

The Times cited U.S. military and CIA ties to Afghan Gen. Abdul Rashid Dostum, whom human rights groups accuse of ordering the killings. The newspaper said the Defense Department and FBI never fully investigated the incident.

Asked about the report, Marine Corps Col. David Lapan, a Pentagon spokesman, said that since U.S. military forces were not involved in the killings, there is nothing the Defense Department could investigate.

"There is no indication that U.S. military forces were there, or involved, or had any knowledge of this," Lapan said. "So there was not a full investigation conducted because there was no evidence that there was anything from a DoD (Department of Defense) perspective to investigate."

The allegations date back to November 2001, when as many as 2,000 Taliban prisoners died in transit after surrendering during one of the regime's last stands, according to a State Department report from 2002.

Witnesses have claimed that forces with the U.S.-allied Northern Alliance placed the prisoners in sealed cargo containers over the two-day voyage to Sheberghan Prison, suffocating them and then burying them en masse using bulldozers to move the bodies, according to the State Department report. Some Northern Alliance soldiers have said that some of their troops opened fire on the containers, killing those within.

Dostum, the Northern Alliance general who is accused of overseeing the atrocities, has previously denied the allegations.

A former U.S. ambassador for war crimes issues, Pierre Prosper, told the Times that the Bush administration was reluctant to investigate the deaths, even though Dostum was on the payroll of the CIA and his soldiers worked with U.S. special forces in 2001.

Dostum was suspended from his military post last year on suspicion of threatening a political rival, but Afghan President Hamid Karzai recently rehired him, the Times reported.

A pattern of secrecy & cover-ups & whitewashing seems to be emerging in the Obama administration following in the footsteps of Bush & Cheney. Or is this just the way America has always operated committing War Crimes or Crimes Against Humanity yet answerable to no one ???

Attorney General of the US Eric Holder investigation of allegations of abuse & torture of POWs or detainees by US personnel will only focus on low level interrogators & will not go after those who created & ordered the implementation of these so called Harsh Techniques & would therefore be just another white wash of the crimes committed under the Bush/Cheney Regime.

Once again Obama administration is disappointing to those who had believed he would as President go after those who committed crimes. And once again Obama sides with Conservative Democrats & the Republicans & all those committed to upholding the status quo while wrapping themselves in the American flag claiming that America does not have to answer to anyone for its actions. If the President or Vice President ordered it then they claim it was legal. And of course they still claim no matter how many speeches Obama makes about " the rule of law" that that the rule of law & the AGeneva Conventions & International Laws on torture or war crimes & crimes against humanity when all is said & done does not apply to America's government or to the CIA or the Pentagon or even American citizens. What Holder is suggesting is treating Abu Ghraib scandal & the abuses at other US run facilities as if they were merely the result of a few bad apples & so he will seek out a few scape-goats to make it look as if he is serious about uncovering the extent of abuse by US personnel.

"The Holder Trial Balloon: Abu Ghraib Redux" by Glenn Greenwald at July 12, 2009

Yesterday, I treated this new Newsweek report that Eric Holder is "leaning toward appointing a prosecutor to investigate the Bush administration's brutal interrogation practices" as something to celebrate. But new facts about what that investigation would entail and, more importantly, would exclude -- facts added by today's Washington Post -- strongly suggest it's the opposite. ...the investigation will only target "rogue" CIA interrogators who exceeded the limits of what John Yoo authorized, and would not include high-level policy makers who authorized the torture tactics and implemented America's torture regime:

... the sources said an inquiry would apply only to activities by interrogators, working in bad faith, that fell outside the "four corners" of the legal memos. . . . The actions of higher-level Bush policymakers are not under consideration for possible investigation.

... targeting low-level interrogators while shielding high-level policy-makers from prosecution -- would be "something close to the worst of both worlds." That's true not only because it would replicate the disgraceful whitewashing of the Abu Ghraib prosecutions. It would do that, but even worse, it would bolster the principal instrument of executive lawlessness -- the Beltway orthodoxy that any time a President can find a low-level DOJ functionary to authorize what he wants to do, then it is, by definition, "legal" and he's immune from prosecution when he does it, no matter how blatantly criminal it is...

... Holder’s probe will take John Yoo’s work . . . and treat them as the settled law of the time. Already clear and public evidence that DOJ lawyers drafted those memos entirely in bad faith, on orders from Bush officials who literally dictated what they wanted the memos to say, will be similarly ignored.

...If this is the approach Holder takes -- one that, yet again, shields high-level Bush officials while targeting low-level "rogue" agents -- one can make a strong argument that it is worse than doing nothing, that this will actually further subvert the rule of law rather than strengthen it.

...But whatever else is true, the tactics authorized by George Bush and Dick Cheney were patently criminal regardless of how many memos they directed John Yoo to write.

And Cheney's shadow still hangs over Washington:

"Cheney Is Linked to Concealment of CIA Project" by Scott Shane New York Times, July 11,2009 via

WASHINGTON - The Central Intelligence Agency withheld information about a secret counterterrorism program from Congress for eight years on direct orders from former Vice President Dick Cheney, the agency's director, Leon E. Panetta, has told the Senate and House intelligence committees, two people with direct knowledge of the matter said Saturday.

The report that Mr. Cheney was behind the decision to conceal the still-unidentified program from Congress deepened the mystery surrounding it, suggesting that the Bush administration had put a high priority on the program and its secrecy.

Mr. Panetta, who ended the program when he first learned of its existence from subordinates on June 23, briefed the two intelligence committees about it in separate closed sessions the next day.

The disclosure about Mr. Cheney's role in the unidentified C.I.A. program comes a day after an inspector general's report underscored the central role of the former vice president's office in restricting to a small circle of officials knowledge of the National Security Agency's program of eavesdropping without warrants, a degree of secrecy that the report concluded had hurt the effectiveness of the counterterrorism surveillance effort.

...Representative Peter Hoekstra of Michigan, the top Republican on the House intelligence committee, said last week that he believed Congress would have approved of the program only in the angry and panicky days after 9/11, on 9/12, he said, but not later, after fears and tempers had begun to cool.

One intelligence official, who would speak about the classified program only on condition of anonymity, said there was no resistance inside the C.I.A. to Mr. Panetta's decision to end the program last month.

"Because this program never went fully operational and hadn't been briefed as Panetta thought it should have been, his decision to kill it was neither difficult nor controversial," the official said. "That's worth remembering amid all the drama."

...Questions over the adequacy and the truthfulness of the C.I.A.'s briefings for Congress date to the creation of the intelligence oversight committees in the 1970s after disclosures of agency assassination and mind-control programs and other abuses. But complaints increased in the Bush years, when the C.I.A. and other intelligence agencies took the major role in pursuing Al Qaeda.

The use of harsh interrogation methods, including waterboarding, for instance, was first described to a handful of lawmakers for the first time in September 2002. Ms. Pelosi and the C.I.A. have disagreed about what she was told, but in any case, the briefing occurred only after a terrorism suspect, Abu Zubaydah, had been waterboarded 83 times.

Democrats in Congress, who contend that the Bush administration improperly limited Congressional briefings on intelligence, are seeking to change the National Security Act to permit the full intelligence committees to be briefed on more matters. President Obama, however, has threatened to veto the intelligence authorization bill if the changes go too far, and the proposal is now being negotiated by the White House and the intelligence committees.

"Bush Surveillance Program Was Massive" by Pamela Hess the Associated Press,July 11,2009 via

WASHINGTON - The Bush administration built an unprecedented surveillance operation to pull in mountains of information far beyond the warrantless wiretapping previously acknowledged, a team of federal inspectors general reported Friday, questioning the legal basis for the effort but shielding almost all details on grounds they're still too secret to reveal.

The report, compiled by five inspectors general, refers to "unprecedented collection activities" by U.S. intelligence agencies under an executive order signed by President George W. Bush after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.

Just what those activities involved remains classified, but the IGs pointedly say that any continued use of the secret programs must be "carefully monitored."

The report says too few relevant officials knew of the size and depth of the program, let alone signed off on it. They particularly criticize John Yoo, a deputy assistant attorney general who wrote legal memos undergirding the policy. His boss, Attorney General John Ashcroft, was not aware until March 2004 of the exact nature of the intelligence operations beyond wiretapping that he had been approving for the previous two and a half years, the report says.

Most of the intelligence leads generated under what was known as the "President's Surveillance Program" did not have any connection to terrorism, the report said...

The inspectors general interviewed more than 200 people inside and outside the government, but five former Bush administration officials refused to be questioned. They were Ashcroft, Yoo, former CIA Director George Tenet, former White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card and David Addington, an aide to former Vice President Dick Cheney.

According to the report, Addington could personally decide who in the administration was "read into" - allowed access to - the classified program.

The only piece of the intelligence-gathering operation acknowledged by the Bush White House was the wiretapping-without-warrants effort...

...In the wake of the new report, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt, renewed his call Friday for a formal nonpartisan inquiry into the government's information-gathering programs.

...The report questioned the legal advice used by Bush to set up the program, pinpointing omissions and questionable legal memos written by Yoo, in the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel...

The report says Yoo's analysis approving the program ignored a law designed to restrict the government's authority to conduct electronic surveillance during wartime, and did so without fully notifying Congress. And it said flaws in Yoo's memos later presented "a serious impediment" to recertifying the program.

Yoo insisted that the president's wiretapping program had only to comply with Fourth Amendment protections against search and seizure - but the report said Yoo ignored the Federal Intelligence Surveillance Act, which had previously overseen federal national security surveillance.

(Obama's reaction to maintain the status Quo :)

...House Democrats are pressing for legislation that would expand congressional access to secret intelligence briefings, but the White House has threatened to veto it.


and so it goes,

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