Updates on Libyan war/Stop NATO news: August 1, 2011

1 August 2011 — Stop NATO

  • NATO Attack On Libyan Television Kills Three, Wounds 15
  • As In Serbia And Elsewhere, U.S. And NATO Target Media In Libya
  • Murder By Video Game And ‘Bug Splats’: CIA Drone War In Pakistan
  • Pakistani ISI Chief Asked U.S. To Stop Deadly Drone Strikes
  • Two-Thirds Of New Zealanders Want Special Forces Out Of Afghanistan

NATO Attack On Libyan Television Kills Three, Wounds 15


Voice of Russia
July 31, 2011

NATO’s Tripoli TV raid caused casualties

Authorities in Tripoli say NATO’s air raid on transmitters of Libyan state television Saturday left 3 people killed and 15 injured.

NATO defends its action as complying with the Security Council resolution on Libya and also necessary to suppress intimidation by the Gaddafi regime.


As In Serbia And Elsewhere, U.S. And NATO Target Media In Libya


July 31, 2011

As in Serbia and elsewhere NATO and U.S. target media in Libya
By northsunm32

When Gadaffi targets journalists it is a crime as suggested in this article: http://www.freelibya.org/pressreleases/181-gaddafi-war-crimes-media-journalists-under-attack-in-libya-systematically-targeted-by-gaddafi-in-qcampaign-of-violenceq.html

But when NATO intervenes and bombs media outlets killing journalists there is little outrage. Libya has reported that three journalists were killed in a NATO air strike on state television.

This is not the first time that NATO and the U.S. have targeted journalists and media outlets. Other incidents included the deliberate targeting of journalists in occupied territories in the Middle East, the NATO bombardment of Radio Television Serbia (RTS) in Belgrade in 1999 and the American army bombing in Kabul and Baghdad of Al Jazeera television.

Khaled Basilia director of the stations attacked said;Three of our colleagues were murdered and 15 injured while performing their professional duty as Libyan journalists,’ Basilia branded the strike ‘an act of international terrorism and in violation of UN Security Council resolutions.’ Of course this language is not to be used against the good guys on a humanitarian mission. No doubt this is all done to save the lives of innocent civilians. The NATO language if anything is even more Orwellian.

NATO said it struck three television transmitters to silence ‘terror broadcasts’ by Moamer Gadaffi’s regime The statement went on:’NATO conducted a precision air strike that disabled three ground-based Libyan state TV satellite transmission dishes in Tripoli… with the intent of degrading Kadhafi?s use of satellite television as a means to intimidate the Libyan people and incite acts of violence against them,’ I call this the Demon Principle. Acts that are normally regarded as against international humanitarian law are justified by the Demon Principle. Everyone associated with the demon becomes a legitimate target. This is somewhat of a mirror image of what AL Qaeda and Breivik reason and use to target people who any less biased observer would find to be protected from attack. Terrorists considers us all as targets as supporting the regimes that attack international terrorism or in Breiviks case support imperialist cultural marxism. While NATO does not extend the principle to all those under Gadaffi’s rule it applies to anyone obviously supporting that rule.

Basilia noted that the channel posed no threat to civilians. ‘We are not a military target, we are not commanders in the army and we do not pose threat to civilians,’ ‘We are performing our job as journalists representing what we wholeheartedly believe is the reality of NATO’s aggression and the violence in Libya.’ Of course this will be simply written off as propaganda but even propaganda is not regarded as a sufficient grounds for targeting news media under international humanitarian law. Perhaps NATO just does not like the reports of collateral damage such as occured with the recent bombing by NATO of a hospital.


Murder By Video Game And ‘Bug Splats’: CIA Drone War In Pakistan


The Nation
July 31, 2011

Fighting back against the CIA drone war
By Muhammad Idrees Ahmad

They call it ‘bug splat’, the splotch of blood, bones, and viscera that marks the site of a successful drone strike. To those manning the consoles in Nevada, it signifies ‘suspected militants’ who have just been ‘neutralised’; to those on the ground, in most cases, it represents a family that has been shattered, a home destroyed.

Since June 18, 2004, when the CIA began its policy of extrajudicial killings in Pakistan, it has left nearly 250 such stains on Pakistani soil, daubed with the remains of more than 2,500 individuals, mostly civilians. More recently, it has taken to decorating other parts of the world.

Since the Pakistani government and its shadowy intelligence agencies have been complicit in the killings, the CIA has been able to do all this with complete impunity. Major human rights organisations in thrall to the Obama Administration have given it a pass. So have the media, who uncritically accept officials’ claims about the accuracy of their lethal toys. Two recent developments might change all this.


On July 18, 2011, three Pakistani tribesmen, Kareem Khan, Sadaullah, and Maezol Khan, filed a formal complaint against John A Rizzo, the CIA’s former acting General Counsel, at a police station in Islamabad. Until his retirement on June 25, 2009, Rizzo served as legal counsel to the programme whose victims have included Kareem Khan’s son and brother, Maezol Khan’s seven-year-old son, and three family members of Sadaullah (who also lost both legs and an eye in the attack).

In an interview with Newsweek’s Tara McKelvey, Rizzo bragged that he was responsible for signing off on the ‘hit list’ for ‘lethal operations’. The targets were ‘blown to bits’ in ‘businesslike’ operations, he said. By his own admission, he is implicated in ‘murder’. Indeed, he boasted: ‘How many law professors have signed off on a death warrant?’ And that is not the full extent of Rizzo’s derring-do: he claims he was also ‘up to my eyeballs’ in Bush’s programme of torture in black sites in Afghanistan and elsewhere.

The detailed First Information Report (FIR) that barrister Mirza Shahzad Akbar prepared on behalf of the tribesmen was filed at the Secretariat Police Station in Islamabad, whose territorial jurisdiction includes the residence of Rizzo’s leading co-conspirator Jonathan Banks, the CIA station chief who has since fled Pakistan. As a party to a conspiracy to commit murder in Pakistan, Akbar believes that Rizzo is subject to the country’s penal code.

Clive Stafford Smith, the celebrated human rights lawyer best known as George W. Bush’s nemesis over Guantanamo, is leading the campaign to secure an international arrest warrant for Rizzo. Asked about the question of jurisdiction, Smith told me that that ‘there is no issue of jurisdiction – these are a series of crimes, including murder … committed on Pakistani soil against Pakistani citizens’. The CIA, he says, is ‘waging war against Pakistan’. He insists that ‘there is no question that [Rizzo] is liable for the crimes he is committing. The only issue is whether he will face the music or be kept hidden by the authorities.’

Smith, who heads the legal charity Reprieve, is a practical man, uninterested in mere symbolic gestures. Earlier, he successfully sued the Bush administration for access to prisoners at Guantanomo and has so far secured the release of 65 of them. He is confident that once the Islamabad police issues a warrant, Interpol will have no choice but to pursue the case. Furthermore, he notes, depending on the success of this test case, they will broaden it to also include drone operators.

The US position so far is to either claim that it is engaged in legitimate self-defence, or to make the policy more palatable by downplaying its human cost. Neither argument is tenable.

The laws of war do not prohibit the killing of civilians unless it is deliberate, disproportionate or indiscriminate. However, Akbar and Smith reject the applicability of these laws to CIA’s drone war. ‘The US has to follow the laws of war,’ Smith recently told the Guardian. But ‘the issue here is that this is not a war’ – there is no declared state of conflict between the US and Pakistan.

Moreover, Gary Solis of Georgetown University, an expert in the laws of war, told Newsweek that ‘the CIA who pilot unmanned aerial vehicles are civilians directly engaged in hostilities, an act that makes them ‘unlawful combatants’ and possibly subject to prosecution’.


The US government has made bold claims for the extraordinary accuracy of its wonder-weapons. In a press conference earlier this year, US President Barack Obama’s chief counter-terrorism adviser John Brennan insisted that ‘nearly for the past year there hasn’t been a single collateral death’ in the CIA’s drone war.

This would be remarkable indeed if it weren’t demonstrably false. A major investigation by the London-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism (TBIJ) has shown that in just ten CIA drone attacks since August last year there were a minimum of 45 individuals killed who were confirmed civilians. These include women, children, policemen, students and rescuers among others. TBIJ has also identified an additional 15 attacks in which 65 more civilians might have been killed.

Unlike the New America Foundation or the neoconservative Long War Journal – the two most frequently cited, and least reliable, sources on drone casualties – TBIJ’s investigation does not rely on official claims or the media reports that exclusively rely on them. Chris Woods, the journalist who led the TBIJ investigation, told me earlier this month that, besides reviewing thousands of media reports about the attacks – including those written days, weeks, or even months after the initial incident – the Bureau has worked with journalists, researchers, and the lawyers representing the civilians killed in the attacks. The Bureau has also employed its own researchers in Waziristan to corroborate the evidence it has gathered.

However, as the Bureau notes, its figures for civilian casualties are a ‘conservative estimate’. It has only included those in its list whose civilian status it can confirm through multiple sources. The actual figures are likely much higher. But given the restrictions on travel to the region, a more comprehensive assessment of the war’s human cost remains impossible.

The respected Pakistani journalist Rahimullah Yusufzai told me that it is no longer possible for journalists from outside to travel to the tribal region and, as a result, most of the reporting comes from a handful of stringers based in Miranshah and Mir Ali.

Confined to the environs of the region’s two main cities, even the journalists based in FATA have to call up the military’s press office for information on all strikes that occur beyond those limits. The kind of courage exhibited by 39-year-old Noor Behram, who photographed the aftermath of 27 drone attacks in North and South Waziristan between November 29, 2008, and June 15, 2011, is rare. The photos are currently on display at London’s Beaconsfield gallery. Unsurprisingly, the picture that emerges does not quite jibe with the CIA’s claims. ‘For every ten to 15 people killed,’ he told the Guardian, ‘maybe they get one militant’.

The CIA claims that of the nearly 2,500 Pakistanis killed in the drone attacks, 35 were ‘high value targets’ – that is, people it actually intended to kill. The rest it claims were mostly ‘suspected militants’. The world of think-tankery is even more linguistically challenged – in the New America Foundation’s database there is no category for ‘civilian’ – there are only ‘militants’ and ‘others’. Given the history of both the US and Pakistani spy organisations there is ample ground for scepticism, but in the light of the Bureau’s investigation, the public would be wise to treat all future victims of the drone war as civilians unless proven otherwise.

But even where guilt is established, the killings would still constitute extra-judicial murder since no declared state of hostilities exists between the US and Pakistan. Things have come a long way since July 2001, when following Israel’s ‘targeted killing’ of Palestinians, the then US Ambassador to Israel Martin Indyk declared: ‘The United States government is very clearly on record as against targeted assassinations … They are extrajudicial killings, and we do not support that.’

Under Obama, extrajudicial killings have been adopted as a less complicated alternative to detention. Earlier in the year, Newsweek quoted one of Obama’s legal svengalis – American University’s Kenneth Anderson, author of an essay on the subject that was read widely by Obama White House officials – as saying: ‘Since the US political and legal situation has made aggressive interrogation a questionable activity anyway, there is less reason to seek to capture rather than kill.’

‘And if one intends to kill, the incentive is to do so from a standoff position because it removes potentially messy questions of surrender.’


So far, the drones policy has been an unmitigated disaster. The handful of Taliban and Al-Qaeda leaders killed have been replaced by a more ruthless leadership which has progressively expanded its operational ambit into the Pakistani mainland. To the extent that ‘militants’ are killed, they are mostly foot soldiers whose death has no discernible impact on the outcome of the insurgency; indeed, it merely helps deepen resentment and broaden the militants’ support base. The CIA practice of bombing funerals and rescuers has ensured that even those who might otherwise disdain the Taliban identify with them as common victims of a uniquely barbarous adversary. Unable to strike back at the US, the Taliban instead revenge themselves on Pakistani soldiers and civilians in attacks that are no less brutal.

Two years ago, when I spoke to Yusufzai amid one of the most ferocious wave of terrorist attacks on Peshawar, he remained optimistic that, once the US withdrew from Afghanistan the militancy would recede. Events of the past two years have tempered his optimism. Last week when I spoke to him again, he told me that conditions have deteriorated so much that Pakistan will have to live with the consequences of America’s reckless war long after it has withdrawn.

The drone attacks are merely compounding the mess.

Campaigners in Britain and Pakistan are determined to bring transparency to Obama’s secretive war and justice to its victims.

Barrister Akbar told me in an email that with his team of researchers, he is ‘working to dig out information beyond the news reports, trying to find out the identities of individuals killed in drone strikes’. He is now representing a growing number of individuals who have lost family members to the CIA drones, and many more are coming forward.

‘This is only the start of a long, long, peaceful battle to stop this kind of ‘murder by videogame’,’ says Smith. ‘What we most need are allies willing to work with us, and help provide truthful information about what is really happening on the ground in Pakistan’s border regions.’


Pakistani ISI Chief Asked U.S. To Stop Deadly Drone Strikes


July 31, 2011

ISI chief asked US to stop drone strikes
By Anwar Iqbal

-The Pakistanis say that since June 18, 2004, when the CIA began the drone strikes, the unmanned aircraft had killed more than 2,500 people, mostly civilians. The US spy agency has conducted almost 250 strikes since 2004.
The strikes have jumped from fewer than 50 in the Bush administration, to more than 200 strikes since President Barack Obama took office.

WASHINGTON: After years of pussyfooting, Pakistan has finally asked the United States to stop the CIA-run unmanned air strikes into its tribal areas, diplomatic sources told Dawn.

Although the drone raids started in 2004, the official request for stopping the strikes was conveyed earlier this month when ISI chief Lt-Gen Shuja Pasha visited Washington.

According to diplomatic sources, Mr Pasha told acting CIA Director Michael J. Morell that the raids had become a major source of embarrassment for the Pakistani government as it was blamed for failing to stop a foreign power from killing its own citizens.

Before this, Pakistan had publicly protested the strikes but had never officially asked the United States to discontinue them, although Pakistani leaders often complained that drones were killing too many innocent civilians.

The Pakistanis say that since June 18, 2004, when the CIA began the drone strikes, the unmanned aircraft had killed more than 2,500 people, mostly civilians. The US spy agency has conducted almost 250 strikes since 2004.

The strikes have jumped from fewer than 50 in the Bush administration, to more than 200 strikes since President Barack Obama took office.

The US government, however, rejects such claims as incorrect, insisting that drones are extraordinarily accurate. ‘There hasn’t been a single collateral death’ since last year, President Obama’s chief counter-terrorism adviser John Brennan told a recent news briefing.

The dispute took an interesting turn on Friday, when former US intelligence chief Dennis Blair said that the United States should stop its drone campaign in Pakistan. The CIA’s drone operation aimed at Al Qaeda was backfiring by damaging the US-Pakistan relationship, he said.

But the top White House adviser on Pakistan and Afghanistan, Lt-Gen (retd) Douglas Lute, rejected this argument. Speaking at the same forum as Mr Blair in Aspen, Colorado, Mr Lute said now was the time to keep up US counter-terrorist actions in Pakistan, even if they upset the Pakistani government.

Pakistan’s Ambassador Husain Haqqani told the same audience at the Aspen Security Forum that his government was pushing for a reduction because they’d begun to fray public support.

’Part of the agreement is neither side is going to talk too much about the drone strikes,’ he said. ‘They’ve taken out many people who needed to be taken out …but if the cost is if support for the overall war starts to decline, you have to take that into account.’


Two-Thirds Of New Zealanders Want Special Forces Out Of Afghanistan


Xinhua News Agency
August 1, 2011

Two in three New Zealanders want special forces out of Afghanistan: poll

WELLINGTON: Nearly two thirds of New Zealanders want the country’s special forces to come home after they finish their current tour of duty in Afghanistan, a poll revealed Monday.

The New Zealand Herald-DigiPoll survey found 63.3 percent of respondents wanted the country’s Special Air Service forces out of Afghanistan, while 23.1 percent thought they should remain beyond March next year, while the rest said they did not know.

The 38 SAS troops are based in Kabul and have been training and mentoring the Afghan Crisis Response Unit, which responds to incidents including terrorist attacks.

Last month the New Zealand SAS intervened in a three-hour gunfight with Taliban fighters who attacked the home of Jan Mohammed Khan, a close adviser to President Hamid Karzai, and in June, they helped fight off an attack at the Inter-Continental Hotel in Kabul.

New Zealand Prime Minister John Key has said that the force needed to come home to ‘regroup’ and spend time in New Zealand, but a spokesman for Key told the New Zealand Herald only that Key’ s ‘expectation’ was they would return in March, the newspaper reported Monday.

Other New Zealand forces are serving as a provincial reconstruction team in Afghanistan’s Bamiyan province, and will be gradually withdrawn by 2014.

The New Zealand SAS Group, formed in 1955, is an elite combat unit of the New Zealand Defence Force tasked with counter-terrorism and difficult overseas operations.

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