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Member since: Wed Mar 16, 2005, 10:12 AM
Number of posts: 60,364

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Renditions continue under Obama, despite due-process concerns


Renditions continue under Obama, despite due-process concerns
By Craig Whitlock, Published: January 1

The three European men with Somali roots were arrested on a murky pretext in August as they passed through the small African country of Djibouti. But the reason soon became clear when they were visited in their jail cells by a succession of American interrogators.

U.S. agents accused the men — two of them Swedes, the other a longtime resident of Britain — of supporting al-Shabab, an Islamist militia in Somalia that Washington considers a terrorist group. Two months after their arrest, the prisoners were secretly indicted by a federal grand jury in New York, then clandestinely taken into custody by the FBI and flown to the United States to face trial.

The secret arrests and detentions came to light Dec. 21 when the suspects made a brief appearance in a Brooklyn courtroom.

The men are the latest example of how the Obama administration has embraced rendition — the practice of holding and interrogating terrorism suspects in other countries without due process — despite widespread condemnation of the tactic in the years after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
Posted by unhappycamper | Thu Jan 3, 2013, 08:06 AM (4 replies)

Another Money Pit: F-22 problems persist


Burned pieces are all that is left of the F-22 Raptor that crashed in November. The pilot safely ejected from the aircraft.

No. 2: F-22 problems persist
By Randal Yakey / The News Herald
Published: Sunday, December 30, 2012 at 18:47 PM.

TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE — The F-22 Raptor has been a bone of contention all year.

The Air Force’s most expensive fighter jet ever has been the center of national controversy after problems with the oxygen system. With the “grounding” of an F-22 at Tyndall Air Force Base in May and a crash on the base in November, the scrutiny only increased.

Even the cost of the plane has been contested. The Air Force has claimed the cost of the plane was between $140 and $190 million, but the Congressional Budget Office has said the stealth fighter has cost the U.S. government more than $400 million per plane.


The problems at Tyndall started this past spring. On May 31, a Raptor landed on its belly after the landing gear was not properly deployed. Little information has been released about the incident other than it was believed to be “pilot error.”

unhappycamper comment: Guess who built the F-22. (Hint: At least half the team is now building the useless F-35. )

We The People spent almost $87 billion dollars (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/F-22) for 187 of these bad boys. Crashed a few of them and then grounded them for almost a year.

Heckova job Lockheed Martin and Boeing.
Posted by unhappycamper | Wed Jan 2, 2013, 08:49 AM (3 replies)

Army drops suspension of contractor in criminal probe


Army drops suspension of contractor in criminal probe
Tom Vanden Brook, USA TODAY3:26p.m. EST December 30, 2012

WASHINGTON - The Army has lifted its suspension of the owner of its top propaganda contractor in Afghanistan, despite the Pentagon's ongoing criminal investigation against him for late tax payments, treatment of his Afghan employees and an online smear campaign he launched against USA TODAY.

The Army had suspended Camille Chidiac, co-owner of Leonie Industries, in May after he admitted to setting up disparaging social media and web sites against two journalists from USA TODAY. At the time, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta ordered "appropriate action" taken against Chidiac, according to Pentagon press secretary George Little, who called Chidiac's ctions "intolerable."

The Army reversed the suspension Nov. 15, allowing Chidiac to bid for new federal contracts, including an extension of the propaganda contract in January. The Army, in a statement from spokesman Matthew Bourke, decided that Chidiac should be reinstated because the Army concluded that he conducted the smear campaign on his own time without Leonie's resources. Chidiac put his ownership stake in a trust in an agreement reached with the Army. That prompted the Army to lift its suspension of Chidiac, according to Bourke.


The Army refused to provide copies of its investigation or the agreement. Retired Lt. Gen. Scott Black joined Leonie's board of directors as part of the deal, according to company spokesman Gar Smith.
Posted by unhappycamper | Tue Jan 1, 2013, 09:02 AM (0 replies)

US War Machine Leaves Ugly Imprint in Afghanistan


US War Machine Leaves Ugly Imprint in Afghanistan
Jon Queally, staff writer
Published on Monday, December 31, 2012 by Common Dreams

If only in a microcosm, a dispatch from a remote outpost in Afghanistan reveals the damage and dysfunction created by years of US occupation and how little regard western military forces have for local communities when a final determination is made that an outpost should be abandoned.

Reporting from Kunar province, the Guardian's Emma Graham-Harrison describes that following a recent midnight departure from a US military outpost that had existed for years, all that was left in the morning were "piles of equipment, an unpaid rent bill and a festering land dispute that threatens to undermine the Afghan government."


At a separate base closing nearby, all that was left following the US departure was a land dispute that villagers warned would push neighbor against neighbor and some into the the welcoming arms of the Taliban.

With a planned drawdown scheduled for 2014, but with no signs of a significant peace agreement in Afghanistan, the reality of life on the ground in the shadow of war appears precarious at best for most Afghans.

Previous thread: http://www.democraticunderground.com/11792078
Posted by unhappycamper | Tue Jan 1, 2013, 08:36 AM (3 replies)

All-volunteer military may desensitize U.S. to war, some fear


A 1st Infantry Division soldier at a checkpoint in Baqubah, Iraq in 2004.

All-volunteer military may desensitize U.S. to war, some fear
Posted on Monday, December 31, 2012
By Matthew Schofield | McClatchy Newspapers

WASHINGTON — Before a roadside bomb in Baghdad burned and tore apart Jerry Majetich, before 62 operations put him back together, even before he volunteered for the Marines, then the Army, there were five older brothers who’d enlisted and a mother who’d served as an Army nurse in Korea.

His family background shaped former Staff Sgt. Majetich, who’s now 42 and a single father and investment firm vice president in Jacksonville, Fla. Despite the torment since the 2005 blast, that history is part of what moved his 21-year-old son to consider leaving college to pursue a military career, and his 17-year-old daughter to join her high school Reserve Officers’ Training Corps.

January marks 40 years since the United States ended the military draft, and an ever smaller slice of the population appears to share Majetich’s belief, however. Statistics are rare, but a Department of Defense 2011 Status of Forces survey indicated that 57 percent of active troops today are the children of current or former active or reserve members of the armed forces.

A recent Gallup poll showed that despite the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, a much smaller percentage of those who’ve reached military age since Sept. 11, 2001, have served than in previous decades.

unhappycamper comment: The All-volunteer military was created after the Vietnam adventure ended.

Anti-war sentiments by both drafted and non-drafted soldiers were on full display at that time. Fraggings and drugs. protest marches and simple acts of defiance were the order of the day.

After Vietnam the Department of War decided to bite the bullet and not draft people (who may have on objection to killing people). Since only volunteers were part of the war machine, privatization of mess halls and military housing provided a big-time boost to inserting civilians into the military.

Fast forward 30 years and we we have folks like Halliburton, KBR and Blackwater poisoning soldiers, electrocuting soldiers and killing locals at will.

Yea, this all-volunteer force is a 'winner' on all counts.

Posted by unhappycamper | Tue Jan 1, 2013, 06:50 AM (5 replies)

Afghans to take over greater security role


Afghans to take over greater security role
Posted on Monday, December 31, 2012
By ALEXANDRA ZAVIS | Los Angeles Times

KABUL, Afghanistan — Afghan forces are preparing to take the lead in safeguarding more parts of the country in line with plans to assume full responsibility for security when most foreign troops withdraw by the end of 2014, President Hamid Karzai's government announced Monday.

The next phase of the hand-over of security duties from North Atlantic Treaty Organization-led troops to Afghan soldiers and police will begin in two months and will give the national forces primary responsibility for defending 87 percent of the population, said Ashraf Ghani Ahmadzai, who heads a transition commission set up by the government.

Speaking at a news conference, he dismissed concerns about the readiness of Afghan troops to take on the lead combat role against the Taliban-led insurgency, saying security has improved or remained the same in areas that have already made the transition.

"When the enemies of Afghanistan have attacked the Afghan national security forces, they have been defeated," Defense Minister Bismillah Khan Mohammadi told reporters at the briefing.

unhappycamper comment: It appears Defense Minister Bismillah Khan Mohammadi is channeling dubya or Dickie.
Posted by unhappycamper | Tue Jan 1, 2013, 06:20 AM (1 replies)

The Flaw in the American System


The Flaw in the American System
Die Welt, Germany
By Olaf Gersemann
Translated By Sandra Alexander
29 December 2012
Edited by Lydia Dallett

Every friendship ends at money — above all in politics. Ultimately, the fight over the new budget plan in the U.S. Congress shows the weaknesses of the political system.

A political system that promotes an ideological polarization of the population, or at least does not prevent it; a political system that in the best case yields parliamentary majorities capable of action only as an exception; a political system that even then does not force compromises, at the exact moment when they are urgently necessary: that’s how it is in the U.S.

These days, America is suffering under it — and soon perhaps the whole world with it. Namely, a recession threatens the U.S. if President Obama, his Democratic friends in Congress and the Republican opposition do not rapidly — very rapidly — succeed jointly in avoiding the fiscal cliff.

America is suffering — and the rest of the world, at least the European world, wavers once again between sheer lack of comprehension and appreciative horror: These stupid Yankees! Jump into the abyss and carry us with them once again.
Posted by unhappycamper | Tue Jan 1, 2013, 05:48 AM (0 replies)

(Research) Group warns military: Prepare now for risks of ‘mutant soldier’ future


Group warns military: Prepare now for risks of ‘mutant soldier’ future
By David Ferguson
Monday, December 31, 2012 17:26 EST

Researchers at California Polytechnic State University warn that the U.S. military is working to create and implement technologies that will give soldiers “mutant powers” without fully thinking through the consequences. According to Wired magazine’s “Danger Room” blog, the scientists warn that if the military fails to prepare properly, these advancements, including enhanced strength and endurance, superior cognition and a lack of fear, the technology could do more harm than good.

Patrick Lin and his colleagues Maxwell Mehlman and Keith Abney have produced a report for the Greenwall Foundation (.pdf), a foundation dedicated to rewarding excellence in the arts and humanities as well as in the growing field of bioethics. The report, “Enhanced Fighters: Risk, Ethics and Policy” warns that “military human enhancements” could pose a decided risk to enlisted personnel. The means used to produce the enhancements, including drugs, special nutrition, electroshock, gene therapy and robotic implants, are all only dimly understood. The consequences of utilizing these techniques with anything but exquisite care could be devastating.

“With military enhancements and other technologies, the genie’s already out of the bottle: the benefits are too irresistible, and the military-industrial complex still has too much momentum,” wrote Lin in an email to Wired. “The best we can do now is to help develop policies in advance to prepare for these new technologies, not post hoc or after the fact (as we’re seeing with drones and cyberweapons).”

Unintended consequences of “mutant fighter” technology, the report said, could include maimed and killed soldiers from technologies gone awry, spurring costly lawsuits. Tweaked and modified soldiers could be found in violation of international law, spawning a fresh international crisis every time U.S. troops are deployed. Worse, the new technologies could kick off a frantic arms race between the U.S. and its enemies.
Posted by unhappycamper | Tue Jan 1, 2013, 05:28 AM (0 replies)
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