Obama’s Collateral Damage

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HAT TIP:  Al Jazeera English

An investigation into a missile strike carried out by US-led forces in Afghanistan earlier this week has found that 13 civilians were among 16 people killed, the US military has said. The military made the admission on Saturday, after originally saying that 15 opposition fighters had been killed in the strike in the Gozara district of Herat province.

Afghan officials insisted all along that six women and two children were among those killed. Following Afghan outrage over the attack, US generals undertook an investigation, travelling to Gozara and talking to locals there. The generals said some anti-government fighters had also been killed in the strike. Michael Ryan, a US brigadier general, said that the investigation proved how seriously the US takes civilian casualties.

The US has come under increasing criticism over the past few months over the deaths of civilians in military operations in Afghanistan. Hamid Karzai, the Afghan president, said that rising civilian deaths was a source of tension between Kabul and Washington. There are currently 80,000 US and Nato soldiers in Afghanistan, battling Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters. Barack Obama, the US president, is expected to approve the deployment of about 30,000 extra US troops to Afghanistan soon.

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An earlier Al Jazeera English article from late January amplified the criticism of the Pakistan’s President toward U.S.  bombing raids in his country.

Asif Ali Zardari, the Pakistani president, has called on Barack Obama, his US counterpart, to end American missile attacks in South Asian nation’s tribal border regions with Afghanistan.Zardari’s comments were reported in the local media on Saturday, a day after the first US attacks in Pakistan since Obama’s inauguration.

“With the advent of the new US administration, it is Pakistan’s sincere hope that the United States will review its policy and adopt a more holistic and integrated approach toward dealing with the issue of terrorism and extremism,” a ministry statement said. Such strikes against Taliban and al-Qaeda fighters are counterproductive, the private NNI news agency quoted Zardari as saying.

Eight alleged foreign fighters, including one aligned with al-Qaeda, were killed with 14 other people in a double strike in the Waziristan area on Friday, according to Pakistani security officials.

The foreign ministry said that an unspecified number of civilians were also killed in the air raid by an unmanned aircraft.The foreign ministry said that it had informed US officials of its “great concern”.

“We maintain that these attacks are counterproductive and should be discontinued,” it said.”

While there are some on this board that discount the collateral damage of U.S. Imperialism, I cannot.   Historically, foreign invasions of this region have yielded nothing but death and failure.  They’ve never succeeded.  For the last thirty years, these people have been subjected to unending war and it has reduced the Pashtun region spanning both Afghanistan and Pakistan to the Dark Ages.   Primitive tribalism, Muslim extremism and Sharia Law reign supreme and repress the collective promise of the people.

Even more troubling are signs that President Obama is continuing Bush Administration policies immunizing government officials and their private sector agents from accountability for torture and extra rendition.   Democracy Now reports:

The Obama administration has decided to continue a Bush administration policy of invoking “state secrets” to dismiss a lawsuit accusing a Boeing subsidiary of helping the CIA secretly transport prisoners to torture chambers overseas.

On Monday, a San Francisco appeals court heard arguments on the American Civil Liberties Union’s attempt to reinstate the case against Jeppesen International Trip Planning on behalf of five former prisoners.

The lawsuit accused Jeppesen of arranging at least seventy flights since 2001 as part of the CIA’s extraordinary rendition program. The Bush administration successfully won the case’s dismissal on the grounds it would risk exposing “state secrets.” On Monday, Obama administration lawyers told judges the government’s stance is unchanged.

ACLU Executive Director Anthony Romero said, “The] Justice Department stood up in court today and said that it would continue the Bush policy of invoking state secrets to hide the reprehensible history of torture, rendition and the most grievous human rights violations committed by the American government. This is not change. This is definitely more of the same.”

The Administration has made great strides and taken major steps toward intelligence reform in the thirty days it’s been in power, but its policy in Afghanistan and Pakistan is troubling and deserves far more scrutiny than it is getting from the corporate media.  It damn sure deserves more scrutiny by blackfolks. Unnecessary civilian deaths and immunizing the facilitators of torture are not  and will never be “Change We Can Believe In.”

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Michelle and Laura tour the White House

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After arguing passionately over proposition 8, I feel that you all could use some humor.  This is my first attempt at humor in a long while.   It stops when I am depressed and I am trying to recover.

I understand Michelle Obama got a grand tour of their new digs the other day and a little birdie told me that this is how it went down.

Mrs. Bush: (with clenched teeth and squeezed butt cheeks)   Welcome to the White House, Mrs. Obama.  It is a (makes air quotes) “fabulous honor” for me to introduce you to the loyal household staff and give you the grand tour of the entire residence and state rooms.

Mrs. Obama: Mrs. Bush, the cameras are gone.  You can cut the act.

Mrs. Bush: Whew.  Thank You.  I didn’t know how long I could’ve kept up the act.  The truth of the matter is that you people frighten me.  I just don’t know what this world is coming to.  Your husband’s election over a perfectly good white man is just not right if you ask me.

Mrs. Obama: No damnbody asked you.

Mrs. Bush: Anyhoo, I’ve had two Xanax and two Bloody Mary’s so we need to make this quick before they kick in.

Mrs. Obama: I can handle it from here. Don’t you have some embarrassingly servile House Negro who can show me around while you sleep it off?

Mrs. Bush: Condi is either shopping for shoes or in the Middle East and George fired that turncoat Colin Powell four years ago.

Mrs. Obama: No, Ma’am.  I didn’t mean those embarrassingly servile House Negroes, I meant the Black servants that wait on you hand and foot like they’re still on a plantation.

Mrs. Bush: Ron Christie, Armstrong Williams, and Alphonso Jackson are no longer with the Administration, dear.

Mrs. Obama: Nevermind. I see your (makes air quotes) “medication” is beginning to kick in.  Let’s just move on.

Mrs. Bush: Mrs. Obama, this is the White House Red Room, one of the White House’s many color themed historic parlors.   In keeping with this theme, your husband could entertain his many socialist and communist sympathizers and collaborators as they plot to redistribute the hard earned wealth of the the richest 1%.

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Mrs. Obama: Since were on the red theme, is this the room where your husband concocted the twin red herrings of weapons of mass destruction and yellow cake uranium from Africa as a pretext for war in Iraq? Cat got your tongue?  That’s what I thought. Why dontcha just keep it moving.

Mrs. Bush: Mrs. Obama, this is the famous Lincoln Bedroom that the previous president kept as busy as a brothel on a Saturday night by wheeling his wealthy campaign donors in and out at lightning speed. Needless to say, we’ve restored the room to its intended purpose.  How do you people plan to honor President Lincoln?

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Mrs. Obama: The best way to honor President Lincoln, Mrs Bush, is to unify the nation and preserve the union he so vigorously defended, unlike your draft-dodging, chickenhawk husband, and to work across the aisle with mutual respect and bipartisanship.

Mrs. Bush: Michelle, dear, here we have the historic Treaty Room as renamed by Jacqueline Kennedy, your role-model.   Speaking of Mrs. Kennedy, I do hope that you can keep better track of your husband than Jackie could. Democrat wives seem to have a problem in that department.  Anyhoo, The Nuclear Test Ban Treaty was signed in this room by President Kennedy in 1963. Your husband can use the room to surrender our nation’s sovereignty to the U.N. and leave us defenseless in the War on Terror.

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Mrs. Obama: Treaties, now that’s a concept I wasn’t aware the Administration knew anything about.   Have you ever heard about the Geneva Conventions?  No?  Neither has GeeShrubya.   As for keeping track of my man, nobody whose ever worked for Barack ever slipped up and referred to him as “my husband,” like your girl, Condi.  I know my man, but it must be sheer torture wondering whether your husband has a taste for brown sugar, honey.  Barack certainly does, and as you can see, (with both hands on her hips) that’s one mission he accomplished when he married me.

Mrs. Bush: (Flustered) Well I never…

Mrs. Obama: That probably explains alot.  Can we wrap this up?

Mrs. Bush: Last on our tour is the Diplomatic Reception Room, which serves as an entrance to the White House from the South Grounds for the members of the first family and for visiting dignitaries and ambassadors arriving to officially present their credentials to the President.  Y’all can use this room to pray to Mecca five times a day and receive all your terrorist supporters like Ahmadinejad and Hamas.

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Mrs. Obama: Diplomacy.  Now that’s another concept I am certain y’all aren’t familiar with.  How could you be…what with your preoccupation with preemptive war and indiscriminate bombing of defenseless civilians and all.  It’s hard to find time to grapple with the complexities of international law and the rules of war when your wars are just shameless grabs for oil and economic supremacy.

Mrs. Bush: Mrs. Obama, that concludes the official tour. Is there anything else you’d like to see?

Mrs. Obama: You mean other than seeing you, Lynn Cheney, and Mrs. Rumsfeld visiting your husbands in federal prison?

Mrs. Bush: Yes.

Mrs. Obama: I’d really love to see you carry your flat ass upstairs and pack.  Your time’s up.