Obama murders more men, women and children in Afghanistan, including aid workers

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Offline David Rothscum

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Afghans say US bombing run killed dozens

  By RAHIM FAIEZ and JASON STRAZIUSO, Associated Press Writers Rahim Faiez And Jason Straziuso, Associated Press Writers   – 1 hr 39 mins ago

KABUL – Bombing runs called in by U.S. forces killed dozens of civilians taking shelter from fighting between Taliban militants and Afghan and international troops, Afghan officials said Tuesday. The U.S. promised a joint investigation.

A provincial councilman said he saw about 30 bodies, many of them women and children, after villages bought them to a provincial capital.

Overall death toll estimates varied widely. Villagers estimated from 70 to well over 100 civilians may have died, according to local and regional officials. But no government official could confirm such a toll.

Civilian deaths have caused increasing friction between the Afghan and U.S. governments, and President Hamid Karzai has long pleaded with American officials to reduce the number of civilian casualties in their operations. Karzai meets with President Barack Obama in Washington on Wednesday.

In remarks at a Washington think tank Tuesday, Karzai alluded to the problem of civilian casualties without mentioning the bombing deaths. He said the success of the new U.S. war strategy depends on "making sure absolutely that Afghans don't suffer — that Afghan civilians are protected."

"This war against terrorism will succeed only if we fight it from a higher platform of morality," he added in a speech at the Brookings Institution. Asked later what he meant by that remark, Karzai said, "We must be conducting this war as better human beings," and recognize that "force won't buy you obedience."

The latest fighting broke out Monday soon after Taliban fighters — including Taliban from Pakistan and Iran — massed in Farah province in western Afghanistan, said Belqis Roshan, a member of Farah's provincial council. The provincial police chief, Abdul Ghafar, said 25 militants and three police officers died in that battle near the village of Ganjabad in Bala Baluk district, a Taliban-controlled area near the border with Iran.

Villagers told Afghan officials that they put children, women, and elderly men in several housing compounds in the village of Gerani — about three miles to the east — to keep them safe. But villagers said fighter aircraft later targeted those compounds, killing a majority of those inside, according to Roshan and other officials.

The top U.S. spokesman in Afghanistan, Col. Greg Julian, confirmed that U.S. coalition forces participated in the battle. Julian said five wounded Afghans sought medical treatment at a military base in Farah.

"We offer our condolences to those affected by today's operations and will immediately investigate the claims to determine what happened," Julian said.

Abdul Basir Khan, another member of Farah's provincial council, said Farah's governor had hoped to send a delegation to the bombing site Tuesday to investigate, but that officials decided not to go because of how dangerous the region was. It wasn't clear when investigators might reach the village.

The United Nations often takes a lead role in investigating high-profile civilian death cases, but the U.N. doesn't have any officials in Farah province.

A Western official in Kabul said Marine special operations forces — which fall under the U.S. coalition — had called in the airstrikes. The official asked not to be identified because he wasn't authorized to release the information.

Khan said villagers brought bodies, including women and children, to Farah city to show the province's governor. Khan estimated that villagers brought about 30 bodies.

"It was difficult to count because they were in very bad shape. Some had no legs," Khan said.

Farah's hospital treated at least three wounded villagers, including an 11-year-old boy whose chest, arms and shoulders were completely bandaged. A girl named Shafiqa had bandages under her chin. Two of her toes were severed in the fighting.

"We were at home when the bombing started," she told AP Television News. "Seven members of my family were killed."

Khan said villagers told him more than 150 civilians had died, but he said he had no way to know whether that claim was true.

The issue of civilian deaths is complicated in Afghanistan. Journalists and human rights workers can rarely visit remote battle sites to verify claims of civilian casualties. U.S. officials say Taliban militants sometimes force villagers to lie and say civilians have died in coalition strikes.

But the villagers' claims on Tuesday were bolstered by the wounded at Farah's hospital shown on AP Television News. And Khan's account of several truckloads of bodies taken to Farah city added more weight to the claims.

Mohammad Nieem Qadderdan, the former top official in the district of Bala Baluk, said he saw dozens of bodies when he visited the village of Gerani.

"These houses that were full of children and women and elders were bombed by planes. It is very difficult to say how many were killed because nobody can count the number, it is too early," Qadderdan, who no longer holds a government position, told The Associated Press by telephone. "People are digging through rubble with shovels and hands."

Qadderdan said the civilian casualties were "worse than Azizabad," a reference to an August 2008 strike in a district immediately to the north of Bala Baluk.

An Afghan government commission found that an operation by U.S. forces killed 90 civilians in Azizabad, a finding backed by the U.N. The U.S. originally said no civilians died; a high-level investigation later concluded 33 civilians were killed.

After the Azizabad killings, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, Gen. David McKiernan, announced a directive last September meant to reduce such deaths. He ordered commanders to consider breaking away from a fire-fight in populated areas rather than pursue militants into villages.


Associated Press writers Noor Khan in Kandahar and Robert Burns in Washington contributed to this report.

Offline EchelonMonitor

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ICRC: US Air Strikes Killed Dozens of Afghan Civilians
By VOA News
06 May 2009

Afghan villagers mark new burial site of victims who were allegedly killed during the coalition airstrikes in Bala Baluk district of Farah province, Afghanistan, 05 May 2009

The International Committee of the Red Cross says U.S.-led coalition warplanes killed dozens of civilians in western Afghanistan earlier this week.

Spokeswoman Jessica Barry said Wednesday that an ICRC team in Farah province at the site of the strikes found the bodies of women and children among those killed.

Barry also said that an aid volunteer for Afghanistan's Red Crescent organization was killed, along with 13 members of his family.

U.S. and Afghan authorities say they are investigating the incident.

The airstrikes took place during fighting that broke out after Taliban insurgents publicly executed three civilians.

There were reports that militants took refuge in civilian homes during the fighting.

Earlier, Afghan officials said the strikes killed dozens of civilians and 25 Taliban insurgents.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai called for greater protections for Afghan citizens.  Speaking in Washington Tuesday, he voiced support for anti-terrorism efforts, but he said measures must be taken to protect Afghan civilians.

The U.S. State Department expressed deep regret over the loss of life among innocent Afghans from operations in which U.S. forces are involved. 

Civilian casualties in the U.S.-led fight against the Taliban have stirred outrage across Afghanistan.


Offline chrsswtzr

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O'bomb'as Military "Solution"
« Reply #2 on: May 07, 2009, 11:50:17 AM »
What the 'Military Solution' Looks Like

An injured child from the Bala Baluk district of Afghanistan yesterday. (AP/Abdul Malek)

There's a tremendous sense of urgency surrounding President Obama's meetings today with the leaders of Afghanistan and Pakistan. And a sense of urgency often leads people to focus primarily on military solutions.

So it's worth stopping to consider what the "military solution" has been looking like recently in that region of the world.

Rahim Faiez writes for the Associated Press: "The international Red Cross confirmed Wednesday that civilians were found in graves and rubble where Afghan officials alleged U.S. bombs killed had dozens....

"Women and children were among dozens of bodies in two villages targeted by airstrikes, the International Committee of the Red Cross reported Wednesday, after sending a team to the district. The U.S. military sent a brigadier general to the region to investigate.

"A former Afghan government official said up to 120 people died in the bombing Monday evening...

"The first images from the bombings in Farah province emerged Wednesday. Photos from the site obtained by The Associated Press showed villagers burying the dead in about a dozen fresh graves, while others dug through the rubble of demolished mud-brick homes."

Matthew Lee writes for the Associated Press that Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton this morning said "the Obama administration 'deeply, deeply' regrets the loss of innocent life apparently as the result of a U.S. bombing in Afghanistan and will undertake a full review of the incident."

But the damage is done, both to the victims and to our goals. Consider what Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, wrote in a Washington Post op-ed in February: "We have learned, after seven years of war, that trust is the coin of the realm -- that building it takes time, losing it takes mere seconds, and maintaining it may be our most important and most difficult objective.

"That's why images of prisoner maltreatment at Abu Ghraib still serve as recruiting tools for al-Qaeda. And it's why each civilian casualty for which we are even remotely responsible sets back our efforts to gain the confidence of the Afghan people months, if not years."

And now let's take a look at what's going on in Pakistan, where, as Warren P. Strobel and Margaret Talev write for McClatchy Newspapers, "Obama and his team are urging [Pakistani President Asif Ali] Zardari to mount a sustained offensive against the Taliban and its allies, who're imposing a brutal form of Islamic rule across the country's northwest."

The problem: "Religious militants, who aspire to fundamentalist religious rule like the Taliban maintained in Afghanistan for five years until 2001, took advantage of a cease-fire with the government to win control over the scenic Swat valley and have since moved into neighboring districts, some of which are 60 miles from the capital of Islamabad."

But here is what Zardari's solution looks like. As Saeed Shah wrote for McClatchy Newspapers on Monday: "The Pakistani army's assault against Islamic militants in Buner, in northwest Pakistan, is flattening villages, killing civilians and sending thousands of farmers and villagers fleeing from their homes, residents escaping the fighting said Monday...

"[R]esidents' accounts of the fighting contradict those from the Pakistani military and suggest that the government of President Asif Ali Zardari is rapidly losing the support of those it had set out to protect."

Strobel and Talev write that the "heavy-handed military force...could further undermine support for the government.

"'All they're doing is displacing civilians and hurting people,' said a U.S. defense official who asked not to be further identified because he isn't authorized to speak to the media. 'It's not going to work.'"

So what will work? Who knows? As Paul Richter and Christi Parsons write in the Los Angeles Times, Obama seems to have no choice but to "overhaul a painstakingly developed security strategy that was unveiled only five weeks ago but already has become badly outdated."

And the greatest urgency, in fact, is now seen on the Pakistan side of the border. As Richter and Parsons write: "In what is emerging as Obama's first major foreign policy crisis, U.S. officials fear the militants could fracture Pakistan, the far more populous nation, further destabilizing the region and even posing a grave risk to the security of Islamabad's nuclear arsenal...

"Though the situation in Afghanistan may not have improved, it does suddenly seem more manageable. 'By comparison, it looks like Canada,' one U.S. official said in an interview."

Canada? With 60,000 American troops soon to be in harm's way? I don't think so. But you get the point.

Meanwhile, Obama is dealing with two reluctant allies.

As Rajiv Chandrasekaran writes in The Washington Post, "senior members of Obama's national security team say [Afghan President Hamid] Karzai has not done enough to address the grave challenges facing his nation. They deem him to be a mercurial and vacillating chieftain who has tolerated corruption and failed to project his authority beyond the gates of Kabul....

"Vexed by the challenge of stabilizing Afghanistan with a partner they regard as less than reliable, Obama's advisers have crafted a two-pronged strategy that amounts to a fundamental break from the avuncular way President George W. Bush dealt with the Afghan leader.

"Obama intends to maintain an arm's-length relationship with Karzai in the hope that it will lead him to address issues of concern to the United States, according to senior U.S. government officials. The administration will also seek to bypass Karzai by working more closely with other members of his cabinet and by funneling more money to local governors."

And Karen DeYoung writes in The Washington Post: "The Obama administration 'unambiguously' supports Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari, even as it puts 'the most heavy possible pressure' on his government to fight extremists in the country, Richard C. Holbrooke, Obama's special envoy to Pakistan and Afghanistan, told Congress yesterday....

"When the three sit down today, Obama will tell Zardari and Karzai that they 'have to work together, despite their issues and their history. That's just what has to be done,' said one of two senior administration officials who briefed reporters at the White House about the visits on the condition of anonymity."

As the New York Times editorial board writes: "American officials don’t have much confidence in either leader — a fact they haven’t tried to conceal. Most Afghans and Pakistanis share their doubts. But if there is any hope of defeating the Taliban, Mr. Obama will have to find a way to work with both men — and find the right mixture of support and blunt pressure to get them to do what is necessary to save their countries."

By Dan Froomkin  |  May 6, 2009; 1:00 PM ET

[source article]

Offline chris jones

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Our savior, the wings of societys angel are dipped in blood.


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Why is it that a country is responsible for more innocent civilian deaths than all the 'terrorists' caused deaths of all time put together and yet it not a classified as terrorist state?
Bombing other countries at will is not OK. The terror card is applied again and again.  I wonder where the money and weapons support comes from for the so-called terrorists to wage such a long resistance?

Offline vcif

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Why is it that a country is responsible for more innocent civilian deaths than all the 'terrorists' caused deaths of all time put together and yet it not a classified as terrorist state?
Bombing other countries at will is not OK. The terror card is applied again and again.  I wonder where the money and weapons support comes from for the so-called terrorists to wage such a long resistance?

If you are referring to the United States, then perhaps you didn't see Petraeus on CNN today. He explained quite clearly that it was the Taliban's fault that the US bombed those innocent people. So obviously, their deaths are the responsibility of the Taliban. Therefore, the Taliban are the terrorists.

We should all be happy that the US is fighting against such a terrible group of malicious murderers who are responsible for the deaths of innocent people.

I wish you guys would get with the program!


Offline Satyagraha

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Civilian deaths jeopardize Afghan war effort: US general
Updated at: 0411 PST,  Wednesday, June 03, 2009

WASHINGTON: The general chosen to lead US and NATO forces in Afghanistan warned on Tuesday that the war against insurgents could be lost unless civilian casualties were reduced.

Lieutenant General Stanley McChrystal, nominated by President Barack Obama to take over as commander in Afghanistan, told a congressional hearing that civilian deaths from coalition operations risked inflaming public anger and undermining military advances on the battlefield.

"If defeating an insurgent formation produces popular resentment, the victory is hollow and unsustainable," McChrystal said at his confirmation hearing.

"This is a critical point. It may be the critical point. This is a struggle for the support of the Afghan people.

"Our willingness to operate in ways that minimize casualties or damage -- even when doing so makes our task more difficult -- is essential to our credibility."

Civilian casualties -- often from US air power -- have caused mounting popular outrage in Afghanistan and friction with the Kabul government, with US and Western officials worried about handing propaganda victories to their Taliban foes.

President Hamid Karzai has demanded a halt in air strikes after one of the deadliest such incidents of the war in Bala Buluk, where his government says 140 civilians died earlier this month.

McChrystal, named to replace General David McKiernan as the top commander in Afghanistan, vowed to make protecting civilian lives a top priority.

Success in the conflict against insurgents should be measured not in the number of enemy killed but in "the number of Afghans shielded from violence," he said.

McChrystal, who met with a mostly friendly reception from members of the Senate Armed Services Committee, is due to take over the helm at a pivotal moment in the Afghan war after Obama unveiled a new strategy and ordered more than 21,000 additional troops to bolster the US force.

As a former special operations commander, McChrystal's elite troops carried out manhunts in Iraq that won him praise but human rights groups say his special forces lacked restraint in their interrogations of detainees.

McChrystal did not face a tough grilling from senators over the issue, but acknowledged he had misgivings about harsh interrogation techniques that were approved by then-secretary of defense Donald Rumsfeld.

And  the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, 
Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren,  ye have done it unto me.

Matthew 25:40