Showing posts sorted by relevance for query afghanistan. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query afghanistan. Sort by date Show all posts

Thursday, November 26, 2020

From The Afghan Opium Trade To The American Opioid Epidemic....,

The CIA doesn't give a damn for the military-money-congressional complex wars. The CIA cares about its own power, money, methods, and means - like the Mafia. They don't want a war with the people paying their (official) expenses so they keep their real scope of operations on the down-low.

Best believe they don't give a damn about what congress wants, what the president wants, or what the people want. They lied about Osama bin Laden doing his international man of mystery thing from a James Bond cave complex in Afghanistan because the Taliban cut off the supply of opium by more than 90%. The United Nations was helping the Taliban eradicate opium production. But once the USA and allies liberated Afghanistan from the rule of the Taliban that the USA had created to resist the Soviets, opium production mysteriously skyrocketed to levels higher than before the Taliban started its eradication program.

As noted previously, the obvious and predictable and actual consequences of an action being the real reason for the action, it was this resumption of the opium trade out of Afghanistan that was the real reason for the intelligence supplied by the CIA on the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden. The Pakistani intelligence service, ISI, is the CIA's Karachi branch office, the junior partner in this trade. The existence of a never-ending stream of military and CIA transports into and out of Afghanistan and Pakistan - whose contents can never be examined because "national security" - is the primary global smuggling method. The war profiteering, the extra-judicial powers afforded by the Patriot Act and the eternal War on Terror, is just a bonus.

As for the Afghan people, living in one of the poorest and least developed failed states in the world, lacking roads, airports, shipping, etc, and subject to military total information awareness surveillance on the ground, in the air, and from space, 24/7/365, these medieval peasants have somehow managed to smuggle millions of kilograms of one of the most illicit substances in the world every year for the past 819 years - "Afghanistan has been the world's leading illicit opium producer since 2001."

Everyone wants the troops to leave Afghanistan except the Pentagon brass and the CIA. They have prevailed over two presidents and are now ready to manipulate a third into intensifying the war.
Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrump

Why are we continuing to train these Afghanis who then shoot our soldiers in the back? Afghanistan is a complete waste. Time to come home!

Barack Obama @BarackObama

VP Biden on Afghanistan: "We are leaving in 2014. Period."

Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrump

I agree with Pres. Obama on Afghanistan. We should have a speedy withdrawal. Why should we keep wasting our money -- rebuild the U.S.!

Barack Obama @BarackObama

President Obama: "By the end of next year, our war in Afghanistan will be over."

Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrump

We should leave Afghanistan immediately. No more wasted lives. If we have to go back in, we go in hard & quick. Rebuild the US first.

Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrump

We should have the small remaining number of our BRAVE Men and Women serving in Afghanistan home by Christmas!

M.K. Bhadrakumar explains why the Pentagon prevailed over two presidents:

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

defense contracting in afghanistan at record high

FAS | There are more Department of Defense contractors in Afghanistan today than there are uniformed U.S. military personnel, according to a new report from the Congressional Research Service. Not only that, the ratio of contractors to troops in Afghanistan is higher than in any prior military engagement in U.S. history.

“As of March 2009, there were 68,197 DOD contractors in Afghanistan, compared to 52,300 uniformed personnel. Contractors made up 57% of DOD’s workforce in Afghanistan. This apparently represented the highest recorded percentage of contractors used by DOD in any conflict in the history of the United States,” the CRS report (pdf) said. A copy of the report was obtained by Secrecy News.

At a time when the deployment of U.S. forces in Afghanistan may be increased (or reduced), the CRS report casts a detailed and fairly nuanced spotlight on the role of defense contractors there. The report notes, for example, that more than 75% of the DoD contractor personnel in Afghanistan are local nationals. Only about 15% are U.S. citizens.

Contractors provide essential logistical, translation and other services, while offering increased flexibility. But they also pose management challenges in monitoring performance and preventing fraud. In the worst cases, “abuses and crimes committed by armed private security contractors and interrogators against local nationals may have undermined U.S. efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan,” the CRS report noted. See “Department of Defense Contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan: Background and Analysis,” August 13, 2009.

Friday, October 23, 2009

$400.00/gallon gas drives debate over afghan war

TheHill | The Pentagon pays an average of $400 to put a gallon of fuel into a combat vehicle or aircraft in Afghanistan.

The statistic is likely to play into the escalating debate in Congress over the cost of a war that entered its ninth year last week.

Pentagon officials have told the House Appropriations Defense Subcommittee a gallon of fuel costs the military about $400 by the time it arrives in the remote locations in Afghanistan where U.S. troops operate.

“It is a number that we were not aware of and it is worrisome,” Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.), the chairman of the House Appropriations Defense panel, said in an interview with The Hill. “When I heard that figure from the Defense Department, we started looking into it.”

The Pentagon comptroller’s office provided the fuel statistic to the committee staff when it was asked for a breakdown of why every 1,000 troops deployed to Afghanistan costs $1 billion. The Obama administration uses this estimate in calculating the cost of sending more troops to Afghanistan.

The Obama administration is engaged in an internal debate over its future strategy in Afghanistan. Part of this debate concerns whether to increase the number of U.S. troops in that country.

The top U.S. general in Afghanistan, Stanley McChrystal, reportedly has requested that about 40,000 additional troops be sent.
Democrats in Congress are divided over whether to send more combat troops to stabilize Afghanistan in the face of waning public support for the war.

Any additional troops and operations likely will have to be paid for through a supplemental spending bill next year, something Murtha has said he already anticipates.

Afghanistan — with its lack of infrastructure, challenging geography and increased roadside bomb attacks — is a logistical nightmare for the U.S. military, according to congressional sources, and it is expensive to transport fuel and other supplies.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Subverting Marijuana Legalization While Facilitating Heroin Exfiltration...,

sputniknews |  The hegemonic narrative rules that Washington bombed Afghanistan in 2001 in "self-defense" after 9/11; installed a "democratic" government; and after 16 years never de facto left because this is a key node in the Global War on Terror (GWOT), against al-Qaeda and the Taliban alike.

Washington spent over $100 billion in Afghan reconstruction. And, allegedly, $8.4 billion in "counternarcotics programs". Operation Enduring Freedom — along with the "liberation" of Iraq — have cost an astonishing several trillion dollars. And still the heroin ratline, out of occupied Afghanistan, thrives. Cui bono?

Have a SIGAR
An exhaustive Afghanistan Opium Survey details the steady rise of Afghan opium production as well as the sprawl in production areas; "In 2016, opium production had increased by approximately 25 times in relation to its 2001 levels, from 185 tons in 2001 to 4800 tons in 2016."

Another exhaustive report issued by the delightful acronym SIGAR (Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction) even hints — discreetly — at the crucial connection; Operation Enduring Freedom feeding America's heroin epidemic.

Afghanistan is infested by contractors; numbers vary from 10,000 to tens of thousands. Military and ex-military alike can be reasonably pinpointed as players in the heroin ratline — in many cases for personal profit. But the clincher concerns the financing of US intel black ops that should not by any means come under scrutiny by the US Congress. 

A Gulf-based intel source with vast experience across the Pentagon-designated "arc of instability" tells the story of his interaction with an Australian intel operative who served in Afghanistan; "This was about 2011. He said he gave US Army Intelligence and the CIA reports on the Afghan heroin trade — that US military convoys from the ports of Pakistan were being used to ship the heroin out of Afghanistan — much of it was raw opium — for distribution as their backhaul.

No one answered.

He then cornered the key army intelligence operations and CIA at a meeting and asked why no action was taken. The answer was that the goal of the US was winning the hearts and minds of the population and giving them the poppies to grow won their hearts. He was then warned that if he brought this issue up again he would be returned to Australia in a body bag."

The source is adamant, "CIA external operations are financed from these profits. The charge that the Taliban was using the heroin trade to finance their operations was a fabrication and a form of misdirection."

And that brings us to a key motive behind President Trump's going against his instincts and accepting a new Afghan surge; "In the tradition of the opium wars of perfidious Albion in the 19th century, in which opium paid for tea and silk from India, and the taxes on these silk and tea imports financed the construction of the mighty British Navy which ruled the seas, the CIA has built itself up into a most powerful agent based on the trillion dollar heroin trade. It is impossible for Trump to overcome it as he has no allies to tap. The military are working together with the CIA, and therefore the officers that surround Trump are worthless."

Thursday, March 03, 2016

getting rich or dying trying in afghanistan...,

newyorker |   America’s war in Afghanistan, which is now in its fifteenth year, presents a mystery: how could so much money, power, and good will have achieved so little? Congress has appropriated almost eight hundred billion dollars for military operations in Afghanistan; a hundred and thirteen billion has gone to reconstruction, more than was spent on the Marshall Plan, in postwar Europe. General David Petraeus, a principal architect of U.S. counterinsurgency strategy, encouraged the practice of pumping money into the economy of Afghanistan, where the per-capita G.D.P. at the time of the invasion was around a hundred and twenty dollars. He believed that money had helped buy peace during his command of American forces in Iraq. “Employ money as a weapons system,” Petraeus wrote in 2008. “Money can be ‘ammunition.’

The result was a war waged as much by for-profit companies as by the military. Political debate in Washington has focussed on the number of troops deployed in Afghanistan and the losses that they have sustained. To minimize casualties, the military outsourced any task that it could: maintenance, cooking and laundry, overland logistics, even security. Since 2007, there have regularly been more contractors than U.S. forces in Afghanistan; today, they outnumber them three to one.

One result has been forms of corruption so extreme that the military has, in some cases, funded its own enemy. When a House committee investigated the trucking system that supplied American forces, it found that the system had “fueled a vast protection racket run by a shadowy network of warlords, strongmen, commanders, corrupt Afghan officials, and perhaps others.” Its report concluded that “protection payments for safe passage are a significant potential source of funding for the Taliban.” The system risked “undermining the U.S. strategy for achieving its goals in Afghanistan.”

The system has also made a few individuals very rich. Hikmatullah Shadman, an Afghan trucking-company owner, earned more than a hundred and sixty million dollars while contracting for the United States military; for the past three years, he has been battling to save much of his fortune in a federal court in Washington, D.C. In United States of America v. Sum of $70,990,605, et al., the Justice Department has accused Hikmat, as he’s known, of bribing contractors and soldiers to award him contracts. Hikmat has maintained his innocence, even as eight soldiers have pleaded guilty in related criminal cases. Several members of the Special Forces who have not been accused of wrongdoing have defended him. In a deposition, Major Jerry (Rusty) Bradley, a veteran Special Forces officer, said, “The only way to right a wrong of this magnitude is to be willing to draw your sword and defend everything that you believe in.”

Saturday, July 01, 2017

Drugs, Mental Illness, Terrorism...,

thenews |  Terrorism, drugs-for-arms and money laundering are intrinsically linked and pose a considerable threat to global peace and security. They destabilise the political and financial stability of many nation-states. They were accelerated in the wake of 9/11. Militants and extremists have a nexus with criminal networks involved in dealing drugs and arms.

Evidence available with intelligence agencies confirms that from Al-Qaeda to Daesh the real challenge involves the free flow of legal and illegal funds. Until today, the international community has failed to sever their financial lifeline.

It is an open secret how the drug trade in post-Taliban Afghanistan was institutionalised through the puppet regime in Kabul and the patronising attitude of war lords in many provinces of the country. Once opium started being processed at a mass scale into morphine and heroin in Afghanistan, it brought tonnes of money for commanders on the ground.

Since 2004, the controlled democracy in Afghanistan has been playing into the hands of more sophisticated narco-enriched commanders. It is no longer a secret that the Taliban – with whom the US and its allies have always been in negotiation since 2004 – knew how to buy or muscle a vote which would protect their opium interests in every election.

Even Afghanistan’s neighbours have been making profits from the windfall: criminal groups from Central Asia, says the UN, have made profits worth $15.2 billion from the trafficking of opiates in 2015. Tajikistan is, by far, the worst affected by the drug plague owing to a combination of history, poverty and geography.

In the late 1990s, the drug trade was believed to be a source of finance for the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) – a terrorist group which had bases in Afghanistan and Tajikistan. After the war in Afghanistan, the IMU lost most of its influence. But the drugs trade continued with organised criminals taking the place of political or religious activists. In a survey conducted by the Open Society Institute, eight out of 10 of those polled said – hardly surprisingly – that “the main reason to turn to drug trafficking was to make big money”.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

if this is the very best the military has to offer, that splains some things...,

National Journal | They were said to be generals cut from the same cloth, David Petraeus and John Allen: whip-smart, adaptable, erudite and above reproach. Indeed Allen was Petraeus’s hand-picked successor in Afghanistan, having served as deputy commander at Centcom in Tampa, Fla., first under Petraeus, then under Marine Gen. James Mattis. Petraeus and Allen, the soldier and the Marine, represented, in other words, the very best that the U.S. military has to offer.

And yet, in less than a week, the careers of two very different men may be ruined as a result of alleged inappropriate behavior with women.

It was scandalous enough when Petraeus stepped down as CIA director after an FBI investigation uncovered his extramarital affair with his biographer, Paula Broadwell. The latest hairpin plot twist came early Tuesday when the Defense Department abruptly announced that the nomination of Allen, the outgoing commander in Afghanistan, to be commander of NATO forces was “on hold” pending an investigation by the FBI and the Pentagon inspector general related to his relationship with Jill Kelley – the woman who kicked off the FBI probe by reporting threatening emails she had received from Broadwell, and who has denied having any relationship with Petraeus beyond family friend.

A senior U.S. defense official told National Journal on Tuesday that investigators are now looking into “potentially inappropriate communications” between Allen and Kelley, 37, a doctor’s wife who worked at Centcom in Florida. According to The Washington Post, in the course of the Petraeus-Broadwell probe, the FBI uncovered between 20,000 and 30,000 documents — most of them e-mails —shared between Kelley and Allen.

In the end, Petraeus’ downfall marks the formal finish to a career that had in some ways passed its peak. The influence of his signature contribution to U.S. military doctrine—expensive counterinsurgency programs that take years to implement, with little to show in the way of results, as in Afghanistan —has been fading.

As for Allen, his tenure in Afghanistan is proving at least as troubled as Petraeus’, beset by “green-on-blue” attacks by Afghan soldiers and officials on allied troops, and a stubborn Taliban supported by Pakistani elements across the border.

During a visit to Afghanistan I made last May, he came across as sober and largely humorless in manner as he described in intellectual terms his strategic plans in Afghanistan. “There is this sense, and it’s a very Western sense I think, that there is a Napoleonic decisive battle that tends to end wars. In counterinsurgency, it’s much less about that than about creating an enduring capacity that grows and compounds on itself over time," Allen said. "And that’s what’s happened.”

He was far less of a glamorous or show-boating figure than Petraeus. Nevertheless, he’s now one of the leading men in a national soap opera.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

declassified the taliban

To the U.S. and the Soviets, Afghanistan has always been a pawn in a much bigger game. Both countries have used Afghanistan for their own gain since the late 1970’s.The Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in December 1979. A peace agreement between the two countries wasn’t signed until February 1989, when Afghanistan defeated the Soviet Union.

The Taliban's rise to power was a project of Pakistan's secret service the ISI. The ISI was the arm through which the CIA managed its campaign in Afghanistan. The Bank of Commerce and Credit International served as the trellis on which these relational vines grew. Tensions rose as the Afghan government accused Pakistan of aiding the Taliban. The Taliban massacred thousands of innocent civilians.In 1998 the United States launched cruise missiles at Afghanistan, stating that its intent was to destroy the so called terrorist bases/training facilities used by Osama Bin Laden and his followers.

The Taliban banned the cultivation of drugs. In this movie, Ahmed Shah Massoud explains that. Massoud says the Taliban were just trying to corner the drug market. In 1999 and 2000 the UN Security Council Resolutions 1267 and 1333 were adopted. These resolutions used sanctions against the Taliban on grounds that they offered sanctuary to Osama Bin Ladin and for their continued support of terrorism and the cultivation of drugs. Check it out.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

taliban in pakistan

NYTimes | Even as C.I.A. drone aircraft pound Al Qaeda in Pakistan’s tribal region, there is growing concern among American military and intelligence officials about different militants’ havens in Pakistan that they fear could thwart American military efforts in Afghanistan this year.

American officials are increasingly focusing on the Pakistani city of Quetta, where Taliban leaders are believed to play a significant role in stirring violence in southern Afghanistan.

The Taliban operations in Quetta are different from operations in the mountainous tribal areas of Pakistan that have until now been the main setting for American unease. But as the United States prepares to pour as many as 30,000 additional troops into Afghanistan, military and intelligence officials say the effort could be futile unless there is a concerted effort to kill or capture Taliban leaders in Quetta and cut the group’s supply lines into Afghanistan.

From Quetta, Taliban leaders including Mullah Muhammad Omar, a reclusive, one-eyed cleric, guide commanders in southern Afghanistan, raise money from wealthy Persian Gulf donors and deliver guns and fresh fighters to the battlefield, according to Obama administration and military officials.

“When their leadership is where you cannot get to them, it becomes difficult,” said Gen. Dan K. McNeill, who until June was the senior American commander in Afghanistan and recently retired. “You are restrained from doing what you want to do.”

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Afghanistan: Another Untold Story

Information Clearinghouse | Barack Obama is on record as advocating a military escalation in Afghanistan. Before sinking any deeper into that quagmire, we might do well to learn something about recent Afghan history and the role played by the United States.

Less than a month after the 11 September 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, US leaders began an all-out aerial assault upon Afghanistan, the country purportedly harboring Osama bin Laden and his al Qaeda terrorist organization. More than twenty years earlier, in 1980, the United States intervened to stop a Soviet “invasion” of that country. Even some leading progressive writers, who normally take a more critical view of US policy abroad, treated the US intervention against the Soviet-supported government as “a good thing.” The actual story is not such a good thing.[...]

While claiming to be fighting terrorism, US leaders have found other compelling but less advertised reasons for plunging deeper into Afghanistan. The Central Asian region is rich in oil and gas reserves. A decade before 9/11, Time magazine (18 March 1991) reported that US policy elites were contemplating a military presence in Central Asia. The discovery of vast oil and gas reserves in Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan provided the lure, while the dissolution of the USSR removed the one major barrier against pursuing an aggressive interventionist policy in that part of the world.

US oil companies acquired the rights to some 75 percent of these new reserves. A major problem was how to transport the oil and gas from the landlocked region. US officials opposed using the Russian pipeline or the most direct route across Iran to the Persian Gulf. Instead, they and the corporate oil contractors explored a number of alternative pipeline routes, across Azerbaijan and Turkey to the Mediterranean or across China to the Pacific.

The route favored by Unocal, a US based oil company, crossed Afghanistan and Pakistan to the Indian Ocean. The intensive negotiations that Unocal entered into with the Taliban regime remained unresolved by 1998, as an Argentine company placed a competing bid for the pipeline. Bush’s war against the Taliban rekindled UNOCAL’s hopes for getting a major piece of the action.

Interestingly enough, neither the Clinton nor Bush administrations ever placed Afghanistan on the official State Department list of states charged with sponsoring terrorism, despite the acknowledged presence of Osama bin Laden as a guest of the Taliban government. Such a “rogue state” designation would have made it impossible for a US oil or construction company to enter an agreement with Kabul for a pipeline to the Central Asian oil and gas fields.

In sum, well in advance of the 9/11 attacks the US government had made preparations to move against the Taliban and create a compliant regime in Kabul and a direct US military presence in Central Asia. The 9/11 attacks provided the perfect impetus, stampeding US public opinion and reluctant allies into supporting military intervention.

Monday, December 07, 2015

for racetards and bibtards mistakenly believing they've spotted some common ground...,

salon |  Sometime in 1994, as Afghanistan tumbled into disarray in the wake of the civil war that followed the 1989 Soviet withdrawal, there emerged a highly secretive and heavily armed group known as the Taliban. Its declared purposes were to restore peace, to enforce traditional law and to defend the Islamic character of Afghanistan. The world now knows the rest of the story. After the cleric-led movement captured Kabul, the nation’s capital, in September 1996, it became clear to all observers that the Taliban represented a very troubling development in Islamic radicalism.

The Taliban, which springs from the Sunni branch of Islam, began a genocidal campaign designed to wipe out Shiite Muslims from much of Afghanistan. It openly countenanced international terrorism, harboring the criminal mastermind Osama bin Laden and giving him virtually free rein to plan bombings and assassinations. And it imposed a disturbing and deeply fundamentalist form of Muslim culture on the nation. Under the Taliban regime, girls’ schools were closed and women were forced to quit their jobs (at one time, 40 percent of Afghan doctors were female) and to wear a head-to-toe garment known as the burkha. Movies, television, videos, music and dance — all were banned.

This is a story that needs telling to a wide audience, and journalist Ahmed Rashid, who has covered the Afghan wars for more than 20 years as a correspondent for the Far Eastern Economic Review and the Daily Telegraph, is well equipped to do that. Getting it was not an easy task: The Taliban is about as impenetrable a political organization as exists anywhere in the world. Its acknowledged leader, Mullah Mohammed Omar, has never met with Western reporters or diplomats and has never even been photographed.

The tale is even more complicated, though. There’s also the matter of oil — specifically the desire of international oil companies to build a pipeline from the Caspian oil-producing region (home to Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and several other small nations) to serve potentially massive markets in South Asia. The route goes directly through Afghanistan, and the result has been what Rashid refers to as “romancing the Taliban”: For years, he reports, U.S. economic interests, driven by oil, took precedence over human-rights concerns; only very recently did pressure from American women concerned about the repression of Afghan women finally lead to a reversal in policy. Rashid was on the scene all along, covering what he calls the new “Great Game” in Central Asia, a late 20th century version of the late 19th century colonial struggle for hegemony. “Policy was not being driven by politicians and diplomats,” he writes, “but by the secretive oil companies and intelligence services of the regional states.”

The chief virtue of Rashid’s account is his ability to delve beneath the surface of events without falling prey to a one-sided Marxist-style economic analysis. Oil is important — but so is geopolitics, including the American desire to play off Afghanistan against Iran; and so are the obvious issues surrounding the oppression of women by the Taliban. As Rashid places the Taliban in its historical and social context, he accomplishes the difficult task of maintaining a degree of empathy while still excoriating the organization as cruel, barbaric and repressive. Its members aren’t even good Muslims by anyone’s standard except their own:

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

potus' lip poked out...,

The Hill | President Barack Obama recently called Rep. John Conyers Jr. to express his frustrations with the Judiciary Committee chairman’s criticism.

In an interview with The Hill, Conyers said his opinions of Obama’s policies on healthcare reform and the war in Afghanistan have not sat well with the president.

According to the lawmaker, the president picked up the phone several weeks ago to find out why Conyers was “demeaning” him.

Obama’s decision to challenge Conyers highlights a sensitivity to criticism the president has taken on the left. Conyers’s critical remarks, many of which have been reported on the liberal-leaning Huffington Post, appear to have irritated the president, known for his calm demeanor.

Conyers, the second-longest-serving member of the House, said, “[Obama] called me and told me that he heard that I was demeaning him and I had to explain to him that it wasn’t anything personal, it was an honest difference on the issues. And he said, ‘Well, let’s talk about it.’”

Sitting in the Judiciary Committee’s conference room two days after Obama delivered his speech on Afghanistan, the 23-term lawmaker said he wasn’t in the mood to “chat.”

Obama’s move to send in 30,000 troops to Afghanistan by the summer of 2010 has clearly disappointed Conyers.

He said he intends to press his case in writing soon.

“I want something so serious that he has to respond in writing, like I am responding in writing to him,” he said.

“Calling in generals and admirals to discuss troop strength is like me taking my youngest to McDonald’s to ask if he likes french fries,” Conyers said.

Many on the left have argued that military leaders routinely respond to crises by calling for more troops.

“I’ve been saying I don’t agree with him on Afghanistan, I think he screwed up on healthcare reform, on Guantánamo and kicking Greg off,” Conyers said, referring to the departure of former White House counsel Greg Craig.

Craig was a leading proponent in the White House of closing the terrorist detention center at Guantánamo Bay and releasing photos of detainees undergoing torture. Closing the military prison has proven to be politically difficult, and Obama reversed field on the photos, opting not to make them publicly available.

The White House did not respond to requests for comment for this article.

The liberal Conyers has been an outspoken proponent of a single-payer healthcare system and a critic of U.S. involvement in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

He has also been at odds with White House policy on extending expiring provisions of the Patriot Act, crafting legislation that is to the left of the Senate’s version.

Obama and Conyers have a complicated and nuanced relationship.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

afghanistan in its greater context

SAQ | The situation in Afghanistan reveals two matters that must be recognized for what they are:

Firstly, the idea of democracy, that is a central government with parliamentary representation, cannot be established in the Greater Central Asia. Not one of the countries in the region has any track record to show the contrary. Even Kyrgyzstan’s ‘Tulip’ Revolution has resulted in a clan-based regime.

Secondly, this is due to the ethnic nature of the nation states into which the region has been divided. The ‘Stans’ were founded by Soviet Russia that built on Imperial Russia’s wanton use of cultivating Cossacks and clan-based political structures in order to consolidate its hold on the region. The Durand Line that separates Pakistan and Afghanistan was formalized as a strategic boundary from which nineteenth century Imperial Britain could ensure an advantageous defensive position against a not-so-probable Russian offensive.

Therefore, the cause for what is termed ‘terrorism’ is nationalism and the root cause of nationalism in the region is the manner in which the region is divided. Nigel J. R. Allen, in his brilliant 2001 article on the region ‘Defining Place and People in Afghanistan’ stated that; ‘The absurdity of a Eurocentric world also extends to the concept of a nation-state’. It is little wonder then that the US-ISAF forces are in the process of dismantling that truly absurd suggestion of the Durand Line that remains the Pakistan-Afghan border.

To Make All Things New:
The current political dialectic can only lead to further destabilization without offering any prospects of a logical and peaceful balance of powers. If US-ISAF forces begin to place pressure on the Afghanistan-Tajikistan border, the ramifications would be disastrous. According to Nicklas Norling of CACI, Russia is moving towards the militarisation of the ‘Stans’ through the use of Islamic militants whose activities would provide the provocation and justification for it. One Russian analyst has stated that ‘preservation of Russia’s wholeness begins in the Ferghana Valley’. A similar caveat was used by the FSB in order to provide the justification for the second Chechen War in 1999.

With the geopolitical tensions growing between Russia and the US and the geo-strategic interests of China and Europe at stake, the use of the terrorist dialectic is wholly problematic as it fails to make a clear distinction between players and reflect the greater reality on the ground. P. J. Taj, a Pakistani political analyst interviewed on al Jazeera on the 8th of August stressed the fact that we are reduced to sophomoric speculation when determining who funds the Taliban; the lines are blurred. But there is one reality that must be taken into consideration by think tanks and leaders alike; the entire region is a Sea of Islam; it is Muslim.

The situation in Greater Central Asia will necessitate the reworking of the current political dialectic. Muslims of the region have two options; they either allow themselves to be herded into the next phase of bloodshed or they consolidate politically, using their intellects, and shape the future of what Sir Halford Mackinder called the ‘Heartland’ of the greater globe.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

the surge in afghanistan

Washington Post | What distinguishes the president's plan -- and opens him to criticism from some liberals as well as conservatives -- is its recognition that U.S. goals cannot be achieved without a major effort to strengthen the economies and political institutions of Pakistan and Afghanistan. The Bush administration tried to combat the al-Qaeda threat with limited numbers of U.S. and NATO troops, targeted strikes against militants, and broad, mostly ineffective, aid programs. It provided large sums of money to the Pakistani army, with few strings attached, in the hope that action would be taken against terrorist camps near the Afghan border. The strategy failed: The Taliban has only grown stronger, and both the Afghan and Pakistani governments are dangerously weak.

The lesson is that only a strategy that aims at protecting and winning over the populations where the enemy operates, and at strengthening the armies, judiciaries, and police and political institutions of Afghanistan, can reverse the momentum of the war and, eventually, allow a safe and honorable exit for U.S. and NATO troops. This means more soldiers, more civilian experts and much higher costs in the short term: Mr. Obama has approved a total of 21,000 more U.S. troops and several hundred additional civilians for Afghanistan, and yesterday he endorsed two pieces of legislation that would provide Pakistan with billions of dollars in nonmilitary aid as well as trade incentives for investment in the border areas. More is likely to be needed: U.S. commanders in Afghanistan hope to obtain another brigade of troops and a division headquarters in 2010, and to double the Afghan army again after the expansion now underway is completed in 2011. Mr. Obama should support those plans.

Such initiatives are not the product of starry-eyed idealism or an attempt to convert either country into "the 51st state" but of a realistic appreciation of what has worked -- and failed -- during the past seven years. As Mr. Obama put it, "It's far cheaper to train a policeman to secure his or her own village or to help a farmer seed a crop than it is to send our troops to fight tour after tour of duty with no transition to Afghan responsibility." That effort will be expensive and will require years of steadiness. But it offers the best chance for minimizing the threat of Islamic jihadism -- to this country and to the world.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

afghan pitfalls

Dissident Voice | Under pressure, the Taliban could launch another attack inside India. After the attacks on Mumbai last November, India was threatening ‘surgical strikes’ against Pakistan, forcing Pakistan to divert its troops to the eastern front. Another Mumbai, followed by Indian surgical strikes against Pakistan, could produce consequences too horrendous to contemplate.

Are US objectives in Afghanistan so vital as to bring two nuclear powers to the brink of a war?

Iran was not much of a factor when British India and Soviet Union were fighting in Afghanistan. It is now. In Iraq, Iran favored the defeat of the Sunni insurgency once it had denied the United States a victory. In Afghanistan, Iran prefers to create a quagmire for the Americans, ensuring a long stalemate between them and the Taliban.

In light of the consequences that have flowed from the US presence in Afghanistan, who would advise an escalation? President Obama still has time to put on hold his plans to send more troops to Afghanistan. Instead, the best political minds around the world should be examining the least costly exit from a war that promises to become a quagmire, at best, and, at worst, a disaster, which no US objective in the region can justify.

Unless, dismantling the world’s only Islamicate country with the bomb is an objective worthy of such horrendous costs. (this is of course the sixty four thousand dollar question. I suspect that the dismantling and prevention of further "islamicate" nuclear capabilities/ambitions is among Farmer Brown's prime directives)

Sunday, July 27, 2008

The Meta-Group's Geostrategic Goal

The fact that the United States will use drug traffickers as geostrategic assets does not at all mean that Washington and the traffickers will necessarily have the same agendas. In theory at least, the contrary should be true. Although the United States may have used known traffickers like Zaman and Qadir to regain access to Afghanistan, its stated ultimate goal, and the one assumed by the mainstream media, was to reimpose its own kind of order. Whether the country is Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Colombia, or Kosovo, America's national interest is said to be to install and then protect pipelines. And pipelines require peace and security.

The prime geostrategic goal of the drug traffic in Afghanistan is precisely to prevent peace and security from happening. It is true that the international illicit drug industry, like the international oil industry, is polymorphous and flexible, relying on diversified sources and markets for its products in order to maintain its global dominance. But for the global drug traffic to prosper, there must always be key growing areas where there is ongoing violence, and state order does not prevail. However, in speaking above of America's stated national interest, I do not assume that a U.S. government will always represent that national interest. Something else has happened in recent decades, the growth of the drug trade to the point that it now represents a significant portion of national and international wealth. And it has to be said that the American free enterprise system, like every other dominant political system in a current nation with world pretensions, will tend above all to represent the interests of the wealthy. Thus Bush Administration policies cannot be assumed to reflect the national goals of peace and security, as outlined above.

On the contrary, its shocking underfunding of Afghanistan's recovery, like its complex and destabilizing interventions in Georgia, suggest that it, as much as the drug traffic, hopes to utilize instability – as a pretext for maintaining unstable U.S. bases in countries like Uzbekistan, whose people eventually will more and more object to them. These policies can be said to favor the interests of the drug traffic more than the interests of security and orderly development.

A test of the Bush Administration's true intentions in the War on Terror came as early as November 2001. The Americans had learned, correctly, that Osama bin Laden was holed up in the caves of Tora Bora. While storming the caves was a difficult military challenge, surrounding and isolating them was well within the capacity of U.S. military strength. However General Franks, the United States commander, entrusted the task of capturing bin Laden to two local commanders: Hazrat Ali and Haji Zaman. As we have seen, Hazrat Ali and Haji Zaman were not only drug lords, they were earlier part of the 1980s heroin trail to Soviet troops that had been organized "with the blessings of the CIA." Thus the U.S. could hardly plead ignorance as to these men's activities and interests, which clearly involved making sure that the writ of Kabul would never extend to their own Nangahar Province. For the drug trade to thrive in Afghanistan, it was necessary that the influence of Osama and the Taliban be preserved, not extinguished. The folly of using Hazrat Ali and Haji Zaman was brought to Franks' attention at the time:
Military and intelligence officials had warned Franks and others that the two main Afghan commanders, Hazrat Ali and Haji Zaman, couldn't be trusted, and they proved to be correct. They were slow to move their troops into place and didn't attack until four days after American planes began bombing – leaving time for al-Qaida leaders to escape and leaving behind a rear guard of Arab, Chechen and Uzbek fighters.[110]
The failure to use U.S. troops cannot be attributed to the motive of appeasing local sentiments:
Pir Baksh Bardiwal, the intelligence chief for the Eastern Shura, said that he would welcome a massive influx of U.S. troops. He believed that the Pentagon planners were making a grave mistake by not surrounding Tora Bora.[111]
A U.S. journalist who was there, Philip Smucker, claims that the treachery of the local commanders went beyond their slowness to surround Tora Bora. He describes hearing how one lower level commander
whom Ali had assigned to guard the Pakistani border, had acted as an outright escort for al Qaeda.... "Ilyas Khel just showed the Arabs the way out of the country into Pakistan".....That Ali had entrusted [Khel, who had once served under the military commander of Osama's friend Younis Khalis] suggested to us that the escapes were part of a much broader conspiracy to assist al Qaeda right through to the end.[112]
How high up did this conspiracy go? Certainly Ali's failure to capture Osama could have been and was predicted. But if capturing Osama was indeed the U.S. goal (as announced at the time by Colin Powell), the real question is why the task was not entrusted to U.S. troops. In the wake of 9/11, Sibel Edmonds, a former FBI translator, has claimed to possess information linking the American 9/11, and much else, to massive drug-trafficking which has corrupted high level U.S. officials. Among other things, she has claimed that the U.S. has never gone after top-level drug traffickers, because
this would upset "certain foreign relations." But it would also expose certain of our elected officials, who have significant connections with high-level drugs- and weapons-smuggling – and thus with the criminal underground, even with the terrorists themselves.....[113]
After Ms. Edmonds reported improprieties to her FBI employers, she was fired. She has appealed her firing, but the Bush administration has invoked the unusual claim of the "state-secrets privilege" to prevent the lawsuits she has filed from being heard in court. At this point we know little more than that what concerned her involved arms-dealing, drug-trafficking, and Turkey. It is I think a matter of national priority to learn more about the American links to Far West, Ltd., the group accused of staging the Russian 9/11. It is a matter of more than purely historic interest to learn if that group's Islamist and American connections could have supplied a meeting-ground for staging the American 9/11 as well. Lobster Magazine - The Global Drug Meta-Group

Monday, September 29, 2008

The Long War - Consequences and Costs (Part III)

Third, Where we are going:

The Neoconservatives, who have set the foreign policy of the Bush administration, have called for what they call The Long War. They expect it to last about half a century, that is for most of your lives.

What is it? What will it do to our position in the world? What will it do to our laws and our concept of civil liberties? What effect will it have on our society and economy? What will it cost in terms of money?

  • The core idea of neoconservatism is that America , alone among world powers, has the strength, the wisdom and the right to impose its will upon all the nations of the world, in effect to remake them not in the American image, as we would define it, but as subordinate states within a new American security system. These concepts have been spelled out in numerous articles and speeches by prominent neoconservatives within and outside of government. The most important have also been embedded in the 2005 “National Defense Strategy of the United States of America ” which baldly states that “ America is a nation at war [which] At the direction of the President…will defeat adversaries at the time, place, and in the manner of our choosing.” That is, to engage in preemptive military strikes. Adversaries are variously described, but among the descriptions are those who seek to “limit our global freedom to act” and “dominate key regions” or “develop and use breakthrough technologies to negate current U.S. advantages in key operational domains.” Broadly speaking, “Our role in the world depends on effectively projecting and sustaining our forces in distant environments where adversaries may seek to deny us access.” In short, the official doctrine of America is world domination.
  • Attempting to implement this doctrine now has us engaged in wars in Iraq , Afghanistan and Somalia . Inevitably, these military actions spill over into neighboring countries. Fighting in Afghanistan has caused in the last week to attack targets in Pakistan (infuriating not only the pro-American government and causing it to close down our supply route to Afghanistan but causing great popular anger while doing little or nothing to improve our position in Afghanistan ). We can be sure that wherever we try to implement the neoconservative doctrine, we will lose allies and friends while entrenching and embittering those we attack.
  • The effect on the American society is already pernicious. Our government has acquired the habit of lying to us (as it did on the Iraq war), of withholding information even from the Congress (as it has done on the Department of Defense expenditures), of setting aside the Constitution (as it has done on incarceration and torture of prisoners of war and on invasion of privacy of our own citizens by wiretaps in violation of the law) and in numerous other ways that would have shocked our ancestors. In short we have taken several steps toward the ghastly world described by George Orwell in his novel 1984.
  • It has polarized our society to a degree that makes intelligent debate on public policy nearly impossible and often dangerous and has so skewed our economy that, as I have pointed out, we spend more on military power than the rest of the world combined and more than we spend on all other public programs combined. Doing so, and refusing the admit the costs, have caused us to go deeply into debt, to allow our cities and schools to degrade and kept us from addressing the ultimate security issue of any free society, the health of our citizens.
  • The cost we can project to implement the neoconservative program is literally staggering. Some estimates, which are probably underestimates, run to about double our gross national product, upwards of $20 trillion.
Is this just a fantasy? A pipedream of a bunch of unbalanced, angry and frustrated neoconservatives?

I wish I could tell you that it is. Sadly, it is much more. For example, we now have nearly 1,000 U.S. military bases in other countries. We have the troops and weapons in place to act anywhere in the world. The Bush administration maintains publicly that it has the authority to do so. The previously operative law, the War Powers Resolution (P.L 93-148 of 1973), which was passed by Congress over the veto of President Nixon, limits the president’s authority to commit American troops into hostile situations and requires him “in every possible circumstance” to consult with the Congress before so doing. In the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, President Bush convinced the Congress to grant him full authority (P.L. 102-1 of September 18, 2001) to “use the Armed Forces of the United States as he determines to be necessary and appropriate in order to (1) defend the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq; and (2) enforce all relevant United Nations Security Council Resolutions regarding Iraq.” President Bush has taken the position that this resolution gives him even wider authority over anywhere he deems a threat to exist. With this in mind, the Department of Defense, under Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, created a special secret force, said to number 55,000 men with a budget of about $80 billion, which does not have to report to Congress or even to civilian representatives of the Government, the ambassadors, but is authorized to carry out assassinations and even to overthrow governments. Members of this force were active in the Somalia invasion and are already said to be involved in covert activities in Iran . We learned on September 11, 2008 that some of them had been sent into Pakistan despite the refusal of its government to allow them.

It is, of course, possible to encourage proxies to act without committing American troops. This seems to have been the case in the recent crisis over Georgia .

What happened in Georgia may be almost as much a lesson for America as what is happening in Iraq , Afghanistan and Somalia . The major difference is that an attack on Russia would cause a nuclear world war. Russia, under the Tsars, the Communists and Vladimir Putin, naturally was sensitive to what happened on its frontier – just as America, under the Monroe Doctrine, has always been in Latin America. Recognizing this strategic reality, James Baker, the first President Bush’s secretary of state, promised the Russians that we would not move NATO ahead “even one inch.” We have now moved it right into Russia ’s immediately neighborhood. I agree with Mr. Baker that this was not a wise move. But worse was to follow. You would have to read the press very carefully to learn that it was Georgia that attacked South Ossetia (whose citizens have Russian passports and which has been essentially independent for about 20 years). On August 7, Georgian President President Mikheil Saakashvili ordered the attack when, he claims, he was given a “green light” by the Bush administration. Anticipating the move, the Russians reacted in their usual heavy-handed fashion. So we were furious. Vice President Dick Cheney rushed to Georgia to promise them a billion dollars in aid and after considerable diplomatic arm twisting a NATO delegation rushed in to commiserate. But then, of course, nothing happened. We would not go to war with Russia to protect South Ossetia . Nor would NATO. So we created a crisis where none existed and both Georgians and inhabitants paid the bill in suffering.

Now look at what lies ahead in Iran

Two issues have dominated discussion of Iran – its alleged attempts to acquire nuclear weapons and its supposed intervention in Iraq . Of course, also, many people, particularly women, dislike its regressive social policies toward women. But, on the nuclear issue bear in mind two things:

  • first, it was America that got Iran started toward nuclear weapons. As Jonathan Power wrote, “Lost somewhere in the mists of history is the knowledge that it was the pro-American Shah of Iran who initiated Iran ’s quest to build a nuclear bomb. And it was the anti-American revolution led by Ayatollah Khomeini that initially suspended work on the bomb.” Also our most authoritative estimators of facts in foreign affairs, our 16 intelligence agencies, found unanimously last November that they had “high confidence” that Iran had no nuclear weapons and had no plans to attempt to build them.

I obviously do not have access to all of the data available to intelligence community, but I have learned in my foreign affairs experience that to understand any other country’s policies one must put himself, as it were, on the other side of the table, in the chair occupied by its leader. So what would I do if I were Ayatollah Ali Khamenei or President Mahmoud Ahmadi Najad? I would see that President Bush singled out three countries which he called “the Axis of Evil.” Then he threatened them with “regime change.” The Iranian leader would know that regime change is a euphemism for overthrowing their governments and killing their leaders. So what did America do? Iraq , which did not have nuclear weapons, was destroyed while North Korea , which did have nuclear weapons and so could not be safely attacked, was offered an aid program, money and food supplies. That leaves Iran . What would a rational, patriotic, practical Iranian leader do? No doubt he would try to acquire this ultimate defense tool as quickly and as secretly as he could. Even blowing up all the identified nuclear-related sites and killing all the nuclear-related technicians will simply delay the process and guarantee that Iran will eventually get the bomb.

  • second, the Bush administration has charged that Iran was playing a significant role in thwarting our operations in Iraq – that is acting as we expected in our 2005 National Security Strategy. But the US intelligence experts found that these charges were exaggerated or unproven.
Again, if I were an Iranian policy planner, I would urge that my government do what it could to make American lives there difficult. As an Iranian, I would react as an American would if a foreign power, which proclaims itself our enemy, were occupying Mexico . Imagine our reaction to that! In fact, we don’t have to imagine. We just have to remember the Bay of Pigs operation against Cuba .

We are not yet in a full-scale war against Iran , but if we attack Iran with nuclear weapons, the estimates are that we will kill upwards of 3 million Iranians but then we will be in a guerrilla war that will make Iraq look like a picnic. Iran has 150 thousand national guardsmen, already organized and fully equipped for guerrilla warfare – in 2003 Iraq had none at all – and Iran has a fleet of fast, highly maneuverable and lethal speed boats that will attack our fleet and above all oil tankers. On attacking Iran , the “free world” is not with us. Public opinion polls tell us that whereas at least the western Europeans used to regard us as the world’s leader toward stability, many now think of us as a rogue nation. Americans would not use that term, but the latest polls in April this year show that 81% of us think that “things have pretty seriously gotten off on the wrong track.” In my meetings with conservative business leaders, I find that practically all think that an attack on Iran would be insane. Many think that our brief role as the world’s leader is nearly ended, that if the 20th century was the American century, the 21st will not be. Now, for the first time, we are even being turned down for further borrowing by the great sovereign wealth funds. They have come to regard us the way a bank does a customer whose assets are pledged, who is spending too much and who does not seem to be acting rationally.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

aging white population of Europe/North America vs youth of Central/Western Asia and Afrika

pbs |  WILLIAM BRANGHAM: The scenes of the children and the education, if you can call it that, that they’re getting are really quite terrifying.

And I was wondering if you could just tell us a little bit more about the men who think that this is a good thing to teach children, to teach children so young to learn how to kill.

NAJIBULLAH QURAISHI: I have never seen this in my journalism life before.

At the beginning, I didn’t know when they mentioned me they have a school, they are children, if I want to go and film. I was thinking maybe there is a proper lesson, they maybe learn some mathematics, some grammar or some language or something or maybe proper Koran. I was thinking like this.

But, suddenly, I come across with jihad for 3 years old, or 4- or 5-year-old children. You’re telling what is jihad and how to kill. So then I was shocked.

MAN (through interpreter): What is this word? Jihad. What is jihad?

NAJIBULLAH QURAISHI: These guys mainly come from Pakistan.

They were telling me that this is the time they should teach the children, and they should learn from now and they should be prepared.

MAN (through interpreter): Fire it from a standing position, like this.

NAJIBULLAH QURAISHI: For them, they should be ready for fighting, for everything at the age of 12 or 13 for something like this.

They were asking the children about the weapons, for example, how many bullets it takes, where this pistol made from, where is Kalashnikov made from, why we should use this, and who should we — against with this, and lots of different things which the children knew from this age.

Then, on the film, you can see the second generation, which is all the teenagers, like 13 or 17. And they’re ready to blow themselves up or to do a suicide attack.

I came to the conclusion about Afghanistan’s future and Afghanistan’s next generation. Still, we have over 90 percent uneducated people. We don’t have security. Day by day, all the terrorists come into Afghanistan, all the farmers.

Right now in Afghanistan, we have Haqqani Network. We have Hezb-e-Islami or Hekmatyar. We have the Taliban. And now we have this crazy group, the most — worst group ever I have seen in my life. And I cannot see any bright future about that country, and I don’t think if there is any — any power to defeat them.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

in measured results, how successful have Petraeus' strategies been in Afghanistan and Iraq?

aljazeera | Defence Secretary Robert Gates referred to him as "the pre-eminent soldier-scholar-statesman of his generation".

But his critics say, the legacy of his career is not that stellar and deserves far more scrutiny than the US media and politicians are willing to give it. 

Earlier this year, Lieutenant Colonel Daniel Davis released a whistleblower report on conditions in Afghanistan.

He said that Petraeus consistently gave glowing and inaccurate accounts of US military progress and that Petraeus built a so-called "cult of personality" around himself.

"A message had been learned by the leading politicians of our country, by the vast majority of our uniformed service members, and the population at large [that] David Petraeus is a real war hero - maybe even on the same plane as Patton, MacArthur, and Eisenhower .... But the most important lesson everyone learned [was to] never, ever question General Petraeus or you'll be made to look a fool!"

In his report, Davis was scathing in his assessment of US military commanders:

"Senior ranking US military leaders have so distorted the truth when communicating with the US Congress and American people in regards to conditions on the ground in Afghanistan that the truth has become unrecognisable.

"This deception has damaged America’s credibility among both our allies and enemies, severely limiting our ability to reach a political solution to the war in Afghanistan."

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

downed drone belonged to cia

Video - RT 'US poker, Iran chess: Lies vs strategy'

WaPo | The unmanned surveillance plane lost by the United States in Iran was a stealth aircraft being used for secret missions by the CIA, U.S. officials said Monday.

The officials said Iran’s military appears to be in possession of one of the more sensitive surveillance platforms in the CIA’s fleet, an aircraft that was shaped and designed to evade enemy defenses.

The mission of the downed drone remains unclear. Iran, a longtime adversary of the United States, is believed by U.S. intelligence agencies to be pursuing the development of a nuclear weapon and is also accused of providing support to anti-coalition elements in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

The RQ-170 has been used by the CIA for highly sensitive missions into other nations’ airspace, including months of surveillance of the compound in Pakistan in which Osama bin Laden was hiding before he was killed in a May raid by Special Operations forces.

A CIA spokeswoman declined to comment on whether the drone was being flown by the agency. A Pentagon spokesman, George Little, also declined to comment.

The disclosure that the drone apparently recovered by Iran was being flown by the CIA comes after previous signals from U.S. officials that had created the impression that the plane was being flown by the U.S. military on a more mundane mission over Afghanistan and had simply strayed into Iranian territory.

A statement issued by the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan on Sunday said that the downed drone “may be a U.S. unarmed reconnaissance aircraft that had been flying a mission over western Afghanistan late last week. The operators of the UAV lost control of the aircraft and had been working to determine its status.”