April 2, 2012
By Madison Ruppert
“Should anyone be surprised by this? What are they trying to hide?” –KTRN
John Henry Browne, the attorney for Staff Sergeant Robert Bales, the man accused of single-handedly massacring 17 Afghan villagers, is now accusing the United States government of “an almost complete information blackout” which is blocking him from preparing a proper defense for Bales.
Browne alleges that he and his legal team has been prevented from being able to interview the witnesses to the tragic incident as well as the injured civilians in southern Afghanistan.
“We were expecting a lot more cooperation. The prosecutors in this case promised us a lot of cooperation which we’re just not getting,” Browne said to reporters in Seattle, Washington.
“We are facing an almost complete information blackout from the government, which is having a devastating effect on our ability to investigate the charges preferred against our client,” he added.
38-year-old Bales allegedly strolled out of his base in Kandahar, a southern Afghan province, without being stopped or questioned, early on March 11, after which he conducted a merciless, calculated assault on two villages killing 17 civilians, including women and children.
However, this case has been rife with inconsistencies and unanswered questions, especially surrounding the possibility of multiple soldiers being involved in the tragic killings.
March 30, 2012
By Steve Watson
“We wonder if the Army would have reprimanded this soldier if he spoke and Mitt Romney’s rally?” –KTRN
The uniformed solider who endorsed Ron Paul during a rally in Iowa in January has been officially reprimanded by the US Army.
After being cut short during a CNN interview on January 3, Reserve Corporal Jesse Thorsen, who has served two tours in Afghanistan and was due to head back for a third, was invited on to the stage by Paul himself to address Paul’s cheering supporters.
“If there’s any man out there that’s had a vision out there, it’s definitely [Ron Paul],” Thorsen said. “His foreign policy is by far, hands down better than any other candidate’s out there, and I’m sure you all know that. We don’t need to be picking fights overseas and I think everybody else knows that, too.”
Someone within the military infrastructure did not take kindly to Thorsen’s remarks, and a move was immediately set in motion to punish the 10-year veteran for his words.
Detractors began pointing to Department of Defense Directive 1344.10 which states that active duty troops wearing a uniform are expected to avoid activities that “imply official sponsorship, approval, or endorsement” of political figures.
As military news site Stars and Stripes reports, Army reserve officials said Thursday that Thorsen’s actions clearly violated Defense Department rules, and that a letter of reprimand has been placed in his personnel file.
March 12, 2012
By Beth Stebner
“The US military once again shows it’s true colors. This would never have even happened if they weren’t there to begin with. It’s time to bring these men and women home.” –KTRN
Nine children and three women were among 16 innocent Afghan civilians shot and killed by a U.S. soldier who opened fire after suffering a ‘mental breakdown’ early this morning.
The soldier reportedly entered the Afghan family’s homes in the middle of the night and opened fire on his victims in a killing spree. A relative of the deceased added that he then ‘poured chemicals over their dead bodies and burned them.’
The U.S service member is said to have surrendered to U.S. military authorities after entering the three homes, and is currently in their custody. Afghan president Hamid Karzai condemned the attacks as ‘an assassination’ and demanded an explanation from the U.S.
The attack could deepen strife between the two countries, as it comes weeks after NATO soldiers burned copies of the Koran – the Muslim holy book – sparking a violent protest that left some 30 people dead.
January 7th, 2011
By: Dominic Streatfeild
Haki Mohammed and his brothers were shovelling manure on their farm in Yusifiyah in the spring of 2003 when the soldier arrived. Dishevelled and distressed, the man had run a great distance. “Please,” he entreated, “are you true Arabs?”
The Iraqis, raised in a culture of obligatory hospitality towards needy strangers, immediately understood the subtext. The man needed help. Even had he not been a soldier (Haki thought he recognised the uniform of a Special Republican Guard), they were honour-bound to offer assistance. “Of course,” Haki assured the man. “What is it you need?”
The soldier held out his AK-47. “Take it.” He indicated the webbing around his waist, stuffed full of charged magazines. “Take them all. I don’t want them. But I need a dishdasha or a robe. Anything that isn’t a uniform.” Then the soldier started to undress.
The Mohammeds were indeed good Arabs. They fetched a dishdasha and the man slipped it on. Then, without warning, he flung the ammunition and the rifle down and ran off into the desert. Bemused, the Yusifiyans examined his belongings. He wasn’t a Republican Guard at all. His uniform, bereft of rank badges, was that of a rarer outfit: Manzaumat al-Amin, the Iraqi military’s security and protection agency.
A small, nondescript town of a few thousand souls 25km south-west of Baghdad, Yusifiyah is known for its rich soil, which enables the production of potatoes famous throughout Iraq for their size and flavour. The singer Farouk al-Khatib was born here. But that’s about it. For those uninterested in either potatoes or Iraqi popular music, there’s little of interest: farms criss-crossed by irrigation ditches, a great deal of sand, and not much else.
Yusifiyah’s obscurity, however, together with its convenient location – less than 30 minutes’ drive from Baghdad airport – make it perfect for certain purposes: hiding things, for example. Things you’d rather no one ever knew about. Secret things.
Sure enough, 15km to the south lies a big, big secret. The secret dates back to 1977, when the then-president Ahmed Hassan al-Bakr ordered the construction of a vast munitions plant outside the town. Built by the Yugoslavs, the factory was originally to be named after Bakr himself, until Saddam Hussein seized power in 1979. In a fit of patriotic zeal, the fledgling dictator named it after the Iraqi general Qa’qaa ibn Umar, who in the seventh century inflicted a most glorious massacre on the Persian army in the second battle of Qasidiya: Al Qa’qaa.
August 11, 2010
Lieutenant General Babaker Zebari said Iraq’s politicians had to find a way to “fill the void” after American troops withdraw from the country at the end of next year under a bilateral security pact.
“At this point, the withdrawal (of US forces) is going well, because they are still here,” Zebari said.
“But the problem will start after 2011; the politicians must find other ways to fill the void after 2011, because the army will be fully ready in 2020.
Zebari’s remarks came as US forces were in the process of withdrawing thousands of soldiers from Iraq to meet an August 31 declaration of an end to combat operations by US troops.
By that point, Washington has committed to having 50,000 troops stationed in Iraq, from about 64,000 now.
July 7, 2010
The US military has pressed criminal charges against a soldier suspected of leaking video of a US helicopter attack in Iraq to the website, WikiLeaks.
Army Spc Bradley Manning is accused of transferring classified data on to his personal computer and transmitting it to an unauthorised third party.
Spc Manning allegedly handed over footage of an Apache helicopter killing 12 civilians in Baghdad in 2007.
He was detained in Baghdad in June, two months after the video’s publication.
The army has yet to say what leaked information led to the charges, however the date of the operation cited in the charge sheet matches that of the helicopter incident – 12 July 2007.
According to a US Army statement, Spc Manning was charged on Monday with eight violations of US criminal law and four violations of army regulations governing the handling of classified information and computers.
He is accused of downloading a classified video of a military operation in Iraq and transmitting it to an uncleared third party, in violation of a section of the Espionage Act, according to the charge sheet.
Spc Manning is also alleged to have abused access to a secret-level network to obtain more than 150,000 US state department cables, some of them classified. More than 50 cables are said to have been passed to an unauthorised person.
If convicted of all charges, he could face a prison sentence of between 50 to 70 years, according to army spokesman Lt Col Eric Bloom.
Col Bloom told the BBC that the next step would be an Article 32 hearing, at which time an investigating officer will determine whether the case should go to court-martial.
In the meantime, Spc Manning was free to retain his own counsel and make telephone calls, he added. It has yet to be decided if any court-martial would be open to the public.
Spc Manning is said to have confessed to leaking the video of the helicopter attack to WikiLeaks in a series of online chats with a former computer hacker, Adrian Lamo.
He allegedly also admitted handing over other items to WikiLeaks, including a classified army document assessing the threat level of the website, which promotes the leaking of information by whistleblowers.
WikiLeaks says it does not know whether Spc Manning was the source of the leak as it does not keep personal records of the people who approach it. It also denies it has any diplomatic cables.
However, the charge sheet accuses Spc Manning of obtaining a classified cable titled “Reykjavik 13″, which was published by WikiLeaks on 18 February. The cable from the US embassy in Iceland describes meetings between its charge d’affaires Sam Watson, members of the Icelandic government and the British ambassador.
Following the army’s announcement that Spc Manning had been charged, WikiLeaks posted a message on Twitter.
“If the charges against Manning are true, he will be the Daniel Ellsberg of our times,” it said, referring to the US military strategist who leaked 7,000 pages of top-secret documents in an effort to halt the Vietnam War.
Mr Lamo meanwhile told the BBC that he would like to apologise to the 22-year-old.
“Not for doing what I did – which I believe was right – in that it protected US and coalition service men and women abroad,” he said. “But what I am sorry for is that I was not a good friend to him.”
“I put the interest of many ahead of the interest of one.”
The video published by WikiLeaks in April shows an Apache helicopter opening fire on a group of about eight people, whom the pilots identify as armed insurgents.
After a voice on the transmission urges the pilots to “light ‘em all up”, the individuals on the street are shot by the gunship’s cannon.A few minutes later a van drives to the scene, and its occupants appear to start picking up a wounded person. It, too, is fired upon.Two children were among the casualties, along with a photographer working for the Reuters news agency and his assistant. The US military initially said the helicopters had been engaged in combat operations against a hostile force.
February 8, 2010
Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula number two Sufyan al-Azdi al-Shahri called for attacks against US interests “everywhere,” in an audio message released Monday.
“American and Crusader interests are everywhere and their agents are moving everywhere,” Shahri said. “Attack them and eliminate as many enemies as you can.”