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Archive for the ‘Blackwater’ Category

Chilcot Inquiry: the Report and the Regrets

Iraq_Inquiry_logo

Channel 4 New: Published on Jul 4, 2016. It has been long in coming, but at long last and finally, here it is: “The inquiry has not expressed a view on whether military action was legal. That could, of course, only be resolved by a properly constituted and internationally recognised court . . . We have however concluded that the circumstances in which it was decided that there was a legal basis for UK military action were far from satisfactory”.

Jeremy Corbyn – Response to the Chilcot Inquiry report

‘This is the entire speech I just gave to the House of Commons in response to the Chilcot Inquiry report into the Iraq war. It is only a provisional response – as I only received the report this morning – but I will be giving a further response later today. The intervention in Iraq was a tragic decision which lead to the deaths of 179 British personnel and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis – while destabilising the region and increasing the threat of terrorism to our own country. Published on Jul 6, 2016’.

The Report of the Iraq Inquiry. Executive Summary

Introduction

  1. In 2003, for the first time since the Second World War, the United Kingdom took part in an opposed invasion and full‑scale occupation of a sovereign State – Iraq. Cabinet decided on 17 March to join the US‑led invasion of Iraq, assuming there was no last‑minute capitulation by Saddam Hussein. That decision was ratified by Parliament the next day and implemented the night after that.
  2. Until 28 June 2004, the UK was a joint Occupying Power in Iraq. For the next five years, UK forces remained in Iraq with responsibility for security in the South‑East; and the UK sought to assist with stabilisation and reconstruction.
  3. The consequences of the invasion and of the conflict within Iraq which followed are still being felt in Iraq and the wider Middle East, as well as in the UK. It left families bereaved and many individuals wounded, mentally as well as physically. After harsh deprivation under Saddam Hussein’s regime, the Iraqi people suffered further years of violence.
  4. The decision to use force – a very serious decision for any government to take – provoked profound controversy in relation to Iraq and became even more controversial when it was subsequently found that Iraq’s programmes to develop and produce chemical, biological and nuclear weapons had been dismantled. It continues to shape debates on national security policy and the circumstances in which to intervene.
  5. Although the Coalition had achieved the removal of a brutal regime which had defied the United Nations and which was seen as a threat to peace and security, it failed to achieve the goals it had set for a new Iraq. Faced with serious disorder in Iraq, aggravated by sectarian differences, the US and UK struggled to contain the situation. The lack of security impeded political, social and economic reconstruction.
  6. The Inquiry’s report sets out in detail decision‑making in the UK Government covering the period from when the possibility of military action first arose in 2001 to the departure of UK troops in 2009. It covers many different aspects of policy and its delivery.[1]

TonyBlair

[1] “The Report of the Iraq Inquiry. Executive Summary” The Iraq Inquiry. http://www.iraqinquiry.org.uk/media/246416/the-report-of-the-iraq-inquiry_executive-summary.pdf.

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CIA Covert Operations and U.S. Interventions

 ‘Special thx go out to Frank Dorell and all who contributed to this documentary (Posted 19 Jan 2012)’.  

 

Blackwater in the Ukraine: Bild am Sonntag & Suzanne Kelly

‘Allegations of for- profit “Blackwater” like mercenaries in Eastern Ukraine fly but how far off could those speculating be? We ask former CIA officer Jack Rice (15 May 2014)’.

McClatchy’s Matthew Schofield writes insightfully that “the notion that elite American fighters are prowling the backroads and slag heaps of [the Ukraine] is oft-repeated. After first surfacing in March [2014], the rumors sounded like the sort of paranoid fantasies created in a war zone where anti-Americanism is rampant. But now the rumors are being repeated in Germany’s capital — and resonating. That alone may count as a victory for Russian propagandists, even if there are no American mercenaries. The White House says there are not. Bild am Sonntag, a tabloidlike newspaper that occasionally breaks major stories on the German government, is reporting that German intelligence has told Chancellor Angela Merkel’s office that it had unconfirmed reports that 400 Americans appear to be aiding the interim Ukrainian government in its fight against pro-Russian separatists. According to Bild, the German intelligence agency cited U.S. intelligence officials as its source. The report, which appeared Sunday [, 11 May], has since been repeated by many German news outlets. The allegation that the information was presented to the chancellor’s office in a weekly briefing in April lends it gravitas. That such reports in Bild on more than one occasion have proved true enhances its credibility. The chancellor’s office and the German intelligence service have declined to either confirm or deny, a development that leaves an atmosphere of doubt in a country where tensions are rife about just how angry Germany should be at Russia’s actions in Ukraine — fuelled in no small part by German reliance on Russian natural gas and oil and the extensive business ties between the two nations”.[1]

The report in the weekend edition of Bild am Sonntag indicated that circa 400 members of the U.S. security firm Academi (the mercenary outfit previously known as Blackwater) were operating in support of the Ukrainian army. In addition, the paper informs its readers that apparently the German government had been informed of this by the U.S. secret service on 29 April 2014.[2] Moreover the below clip was also provided as confirming this piece of news.

Academi’s Vice President Suzanne Kelly denied the report subsequently: “Academi is not taking part in any operations in Ukraine, and in the future this is not planned”.[3]

 

 

[1] Matthew Schofield, “Rumors of American mercenaries in Ukraine spread to Germanya” McClatchy (15 May 2014). http://www.stripes.com/news/europe/rumors-of-american-mercenaries-in-ukraine-spread-to-germany-1.283154.

[2] “Kämpfen US-Söldner in der Ukraine?” Bild am Sonntag (09 May 2014). http://www.bild.de/politik/ausland/ukraine/us-soeldner-von-blackwater-im-einsatz-34992896.bild.html.

[3] “Academi bestreitet Einsatz in Ukraine” ?” Bild am Sonntag (12 May 2014). http://www.zeit.de/politik/ausland/2014-05/ukraine-academi-soeldner-dementi; “Academi denies reports of American mercenaries in Ukraine’s east” Ukrinform (12 May 2014). http://www.ukrinform.ua/eng/news/academi_denies_reports_of_american_mercenaries_in_ukraines_east_321284.

Dirty Wars Trailer: JSOC in Action

It has been quite a few years now since Jeremy Scahill told the world about Blackwater and its nefarious actions, but now he is set to be back on people’s minds bothering administrations in an attempt to bring truth to the people: Dirty Wars follows investigative reporter Jeremy Scahill into the heart of America’s covert wars, from Afghanistan to Yemen, Somalia and beyond. Part political thriller and part detective story, Dirty Wars is a gripping journey into one of the most important and underreported stories of our time (29 November 2013).

The freelance journalist and researcher Dawn Paley tells us that “Scahill’s latest book, Dirty Wars: The World is a Battlefield [, released on 23 April] . . .  is a valuable volume for those wishing to better understand how current and past events in Mexico and Central and South America connect to the so-called war on terror. A must-read for anyone wanting to learn more about the US drone wars and targeted kill programs, Dirty Wars is a bit slow going off the top, but before long, Scahill introduces compelling characters and provides readers with access to entire families who have been adversely impacted by US war policies in Yemen and elsewhere. Dirty Wars also contains a number of items of specific interest to folks whose interests lie south of the US border. Using carefully gathered evidence, Dirty Wars makes it clear that American military campaigns do little more than exacerbate existing situations. Sadly, this is as true in the Western hemisphere as it is in the Middle East. Scahill carefully documents how the militaristic approach taken by the US government towards perceived terror threats in Somalia, Yemen and elsewhere has served to drive up the influence of local armed groups”.[1]

As such, Scahill wants to create a new meaning for the term ‘dirty wars’, which has been in use since the seventies to describe “state repression against political opponents, trade unionists and civilians in the Southern Cone (Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Paraguay, Brazil and Bolivia)”,[ii] as Paley reminds us. Scahill’s Dirty Wars clearly refer to what is happening today, as the U.S. is flexing its covert military muscle. On the film’s dedicated website this can be read: “Investigative reporter Jeremy Scahill stumbles upon a US night raid gone badly wrong in a remote corner of Afghanistan, where a witness swears to having seen American soldiers digging bullets out of the bodies of pregnant dead women. Scahill’s investigation leads him to unravel the secret manoeuvres of the shadowy and powerful Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) as he is drawn into a world of covert operations unknown to the public and carried out across the globe by men who do not exist on paper and may never appear before Congress. In military jargon, JSOC teams “find, fix, and finish” their targets, who are selected through a secret process. No target is off limits for Obama’s “kill list,” including US citizens. From Afghanistan to Yemen and Somalia, as well as back home in New York where he tries to piece the puzzle together, Scahill meets with Special Forces operators, military generals and US-backed warlords who go on camera and on the record—some for the first time. He tracks down the survivors of targeted assassinations and drone strikes, including the family of the first American citizen being hunted by his own government. Described as “a mystery thriller as compelling as any feature film” by The Huffington Post, Dirty Wars is also a New York Times Bestselling book (Serpent’s Tail publishers) by Jeremy Scahill on the same topic, exhaustively researched and footnoted”.[3]


[1] Dawn Paley, “Scahill’s ‘Dirty Wars’ Offers Lessons for Latin America” Upside Down World (10 July 2013). http://upsidedownworld.org/main/international-archives-60/4370-scahills-dirty-wars-offers-lessons-for-latin-america.

[2] Dawn Paley, “Scahill’s ‘Dirty Wars’ Offers Lessons for Latin America”.

[3] “FILM SYNOPSIS” Dirty Wars. http://dirtywars.org/blog.

Iraq for Sale: The War Profiteers

Robert Greenwald’s classic 2006 documentary is a damning indictment of the Bush invasion and occupation of Iraq: ‘The story of what happens to everyday Americans when corporations go to war. Acclaimed director Robert Greenwald (Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price, Outfoxed) takes you inside the lives of soldiers, truck drivers, widows and children who have been changed forever as a result of profiteering in the reconstruction of Iraq. Iraq for Sale uncovers the connections between private corporations making a killing in Iraq (Blackwater, Halliburton/KBR, CACI and Titan) and the decision makers who allow them to do so’.[1]

U.S. Demands Iranian Answers, or how to Respond to Ludicrous Allegations

In Honolulu things have been heating up over the past days and now temperatures have reached boiling point. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton namely declared the following: “Iran has a long history of deception and denial regarding its nuclear program and in the coming days we expect Iran to answer the serious questions raised by this report. The U.S. will continue to consult closely with our allies on the next steps we can take to increase pressure on Iran”.[1]  In a way that resembles Colin Powell’s 2003 deception, the IAEA under its new chief Amano ‘showed satellite images, letters and diagrams to 35 nations earlier Friday [, 11 November] in Vienna as it sought to underpin its case that Iran apparently is working secretly on developing a nuclear weapon’.[2]  In spite of the fact that its newly released report does not deliver any clear proof or convincing arguments regarding Iran’s bomb-building abilities, sufficing to spice the text with lots of ‘mights’, ‘coulds’ and ‘mays’, and literally stating that “There are also indications that some activities relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device continued after 2003, and that some may still be ongoing”.[3]  Now the war drums are sounding loudly across the Western world because of ‘indications’ that something ‘may still be ongoing’ . . .

The Bush administration was adamant in its condemnation of Iran, even suggesting that its troubles in Iraq were due to machinations hatched in Tehran . . . The Obama administration has been equally vocal in its opposition to the Islamic Republic. About two weeks ago, Clinton staged a media assault employing the offices of VOA: ‘U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has told VOA that she believes the government of Iran is a dictatorship, and she said the United States wants to assure Iranians that their aspirations for freedom are legitimate. She spoke to VOA’s Persian News Network Wednesday [, 26 October] and addressed the Iranian people directly. She said the United States hopes to open a “virtual embassy in Tehran” online by the end of the year. She said America would very much like to improve relations with Iranians and encouraged Iranian students to “come and study in the United States.” And she said Washington seeks to provide tools that would allow Iranians to circumvent the “electronic curtain” she said Iran has imposed on communications online’.

 

Could it be that the Obama administration, borrowing a leaf from the Bush playbook, is heating up the temperature at home by means of conjuring up another warlike phantom abroad in time for the 2012 presidential elections???  Now that the Libyan war has been brought to a provisional conclusion of sorts with the authorised murder of Colonel Gadhafi, and the prospect of more sweet crude flowing in the right direction, and now that U.S. combat troops are vacating Iraqi territory to be replaced by well-paid contractors, while the inconclusive war in the Hindu Kush continues in spite of the execution of Usamah bin Laden, the presentation of a new bogeyman seems appropriate: re-enter Iran and its phantom-like nuclear weapons programme. As  reiterated by VOA’s Persian News Network’s reporter, President Obama has called the Libya operation “a recipe for success”, unlike Iran’s 2009 Green Revolution, which was probably instigated by the Bush administration, now it has the appearance that the current U.S. administration is floating the possibility of regime change in Tehran. In the above clip, Clinton is presenting the “soft power” side of this new resolve. The recently released IAEA report, on the other hand, seems well-placed to usher in the “hard power” segment of Washington’s plans for Iran and its political leadership.

President Obama seems to have begun his re-election bid in earnest now. At the end of October he appeared on Jay Leno’s TV show to announce his administration’s foreign policy strategy to the American public: in Libya “[n]ot a single U.S. troop was killed or injured, and that, I think, is a recipe for success in the future”.[4]  In this way Obama has clearly positioned himself at the opposite side of his predecessor’s stance, his predecessor  whose foreign policy has led to many American troops dying in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan. While the current U.S. president is all but continuing the Bush strategy in the Hindu Kush, the operations in North Africa are now rhetorically employed to define President Obama’s approach to American military intervention. Air power and unmanned drone strikes are the new weapons of choice. President Obama is thus staking out his position at the forefront of a new understanding of warfare, a new understanding that sees military intervention as remote-controlled and from above, rather than consisting of boots on the ground effectively occupying foreign soil. Whereas Donald Rumsfeld on 10 September 2001 envisioned an American military that was a slimmed down yet still powerful fighting machine, consisting of gun-toting men and women, the current administration apparently views tomorrow’s soldiers as joystick-wielding operators bringing death and destruction from afar and above, aided by special forces executing targeted assassinations and other delicate groundwork.


[1] “U.S. demands Iran response to IAEA report within days” AP (11 November 2011). http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/u-s-demands-iran-response-to-iaea-report-within-days-1.395137.

[2] “U.S. demands Iran response to IAEA report within days”.

[3] “Iran and the IAEA: Tehran Warns U.S., Allies Against an Attack” A Pseudo-Ottoman Blog (11 November 2011). https://sitanbul.wordpress.com/2011/11/11/iran-and-the-iaea-tehran-warns-u-s-allies-against-an-attack/.

[4] Jim Kuhnenn, “Obama to Leno: Libya a recipe for success” AP (26 October 2011). http://news.yahoo.com/obama-leno-libya-recipe-success-043624485.html.

Iraq Troop Withdrawal: Private Contractors Return to Baghdad and Beyond

Last month Joshua Hersh wrote that the “Obama administration is willing to drop American troop levels in Iraq to as low as 3,000 by the end of this year, The Huffington Post has confirmed. The new figure, first reported Tuesday [, 6 September] by Fox News, represents a significant drop in the number of American military personnel expected to remain in the country after the American mission in Iraq expires on Dec. 31. A source familiar with the situation told HuffPost that the 3,000 figure was correct, although  there may end up being as many as 5,000 troops in the country at any time, given the logistics of troop rotations. Administration and Pentagon officials had hoped to secure Iraqi-government approval for a larger troop presence in Iraq into 2012, with the U.S. recently pushing for a final figure of around 10,000. But administration officials have lately come to believe that approval would be hard to get for anything more than a few thousand troops. The troop presence would probably include some combination of  military trainers and air and naval advisers, the source said, adding that some Pentagon officials fear the 3,000 number may be too small to achieve even their limited missions”.[1]  So, President Obama is thus apparently sticking to his campaign promise of removing American men and women in uniform from Iraq, give or take a few thousand. Or, is he???

On Tuesday, 4 October, the U.S. State Department divulged its plans ‘to bring in thousands of private contractors to protect diplomats once American troops withdraw from Iraq at the end of the year’. The mercenaries could number ‘as many as 17,000’, bringing the total of armed U.S. personnel on the ground in Iraq to 20,000 at the end of 2011.[2]  CNN’s Charley Keyes notes that the “U.S. Defense Department has spent $206 billion on contractors to support the latest wars. Rep. Darrell Issa, R-California, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said contractor costs would continue to rise as the State Department increases its workforce in Iraq because of the withdrawal of U.S. troops. ‘The State Department will increase its manpower from about 8,000 to 17,000, the great majority of whom will be contractors for security, medical, maintenance, aviation and other functions’, Issa said. The congressman said President Barack Obama has failed to combat waste and fraud.  ‘This record will continue unless this administration takes concrete actions to protect precious taxpayer dollars’, Issa said. ‘The United States has not achieved the peace dividend that this administration promised by doubling down in Afghanistan’”.[3]  And so it seems that the waste and incompetence displayed by the Bush administration and documented in Robert Greenwald’s documentary Iraq for Sale, is set to continue under the auspices of the Obama administration, including the wrangling between the Department of Defense and the State Department. The long shadow of Donald Rumsfeld will now also be tainting Barack Obama . . . But now there is the Commission on Wartime Contracting (CWC) to ensure that the excesses of the Bush administration are not repeated in the second decade of the 21st century. Alas, as indicated on the dedicated website the CWC did ‘sunset on September 30, 2011’,[4]  and will thus no longer be in a position to exert any kind of oversight on the Obama administration’s handling of the contractor issue in Iraq (or Afghanistan).

 


[1] Joshua Hersh, “Iraq Troop Withdrawal: Obama Administration Supports Reducing U.S. Forces To 3,000 By End Of 2011” The Huffington Post (06 September 2011). http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/09/06/iraq-troop-withdrawal-reducing- forces_n_950576.html.

[2] Charley Keyes, “Plans for private contractors to protect U.S. diplomats in Iraq criticized” CNN (04 October 2011). http://articles.cnn.com/2011-10-04/us/us_us-contractors-war-zones_1_contractors-iraq-and-afghanistan-dov-zakheim?_s=PM:US.

[3] Charley Keyes, “Plans for private contractors to protect U.S. diplomats in Iraq criticized-2”. http://articles.cnn.com/2011-10-04/us/us_us-contractors-war-zones_1_contractors-iraq-and-afghanistan-dov-zakheim/2?_s=PM:US.

[4] Commission on Wartime Contracting. http://www.wartimecontracting.gov/.