The bottom line is clear: Our vital interests in Afghanistan are limited and military victory is not the key to achieving them. On the contrary, waging a lengthy counterinsurgency war in Afghanistan may well do more to aid Taliban recruiting than to dismantle the group, help spread conflict further into Pakistan, unify radical groups that might otherwise be quarreling amongst themselves, threaten the long-term health of the U.S. economy, and prevent the U.S. government from turning its full attention to other pressing problems. -- Afghanistan Study Group

Sunday, January 8, 2012

News of the Day for Sunday, January 8, 2011

Here we go again: Afghan inmates 'tortured, abused' at US-run prison. Of course, if there aren't any pictures, nobody will care:

Afghanistan investigators revealed that many inmates were held without evidence at Bagram prison, officially known as the Parwan Detention Center that holds 3,000 detainees, including terror suspects. . . . The head of the commission investigating abuse accusations, Gul Rahman Qazi, said prisoners had complained of abuse including beatings, humiliating body searches and being exposed to extreme cold.

"During our visit to Bagram some of the prisoners talked of misconduct, some alleged they had been tortured," he said.

This Russian news service has more. (For some mysterious reason I'm not finding a lot about this in U.S. media, at least not yet.)

A small group of Taliban are said to have laid down their arms in Herat and joined the peace process in a formal ceremony.

The U.S. is now testing pilotless cargo helicopters in Afghanistan. Hey, why not turn the whole war over to the robots?

Eric Schmitt of the NYT says CIA drone attacks in Pakistan have been suspended since November due to tensions between the U.S and Pakistan. According to his informants, this has allowed militant groups in Pakistan, including the Haqqani network, to regroup and increase their activities. Make of it what you will. I link to this MSNBC reprint so people won't have to burn their NYT freebie privilege, in case that matters to someone.

Iraq Update

Twin bombings in Karbala, targeting Shiite pilgrims, kill 2 and injure 13.

Explosion in Mahmoudiya kills 1 pilgrim and injures 5.

Interior Ministry formally calls on Kurdistan to hand over Hashimi. Titular Iraqi president Jalal Talabani says he will go to Baghdad this week to discuss the issue. Meanwhile the Iraqiya bloc is showing signs of strain, with six members suspended over dissent about the tactic of blocking the session of parliament.

Isaac J. Bailey hopes for the best for the Iraqi people, but concludes it's not up to the U.S. to secure it for them. Meanwhile, Mike Dorning of Bloomberg News totes up the financial cost:

Direct federal spending on the war through 2012 will reach $823 billion, surpassing the $738 billion in inflation-adjusted dollars the U.S. spent on the Vietnam War, the Congressional Research Service estimated in a March 29 report. Only World War II had a higher direct cost, $4.1 trillion, in current dollars. Not counted in that is the interest of more than $200 billion the federal government has already had to pay on the resulting debt, said Linda Bilmes, a senior lecturer in public finance at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.

Bilmes also estimates the price over the next 40 years of health care and disability compensation for veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts will be almost $1 trillion. “The veterans’ costs in particular will dwarf the other budget costs,” said Bilmes, who was an assistant commerce secretary under President Bill Clinton.

By any measure, the price of the Iraq conflict has far outstripped forecasts by President George W. Bush’s administration as it made the case to go to war. Then-White House budget director Mitch Daniels and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld projected the U.S. would spend $50 billion to $60 billion and said they believed part of that would be defrayed by other countries.


dancewater said...

A story from Guantanamo

I later learned the United States paid a $3,000 bounty for me. I didn’t know it at the time, but apparently the United States distributed thousands of fliers all over Afghanistan, promising that people who turned over Taliban or Qaeda suspects would, in the words of one flier, get “enough money to take care of your family, your village, your tribe for the rest of your life.” A great number of men wound up in Guantánamo as a result.

I was taken to Kandahar, in Afghanistan, where American interrogators asked me the same questions for several weeks: Where is Osama bin Laden? Was I with Al Qaeda? No, I told them, I was not with Al Qaeda. No, I had no idea where bin Laden was. I begged the interrogators to please call Germany and find out who I was. During their interrogations, they dunked my head under water and punched me in the stomach; they don’t call this waterboarding but it amounts to the same thing. I was sure I would drown.

At one point, I was chained to the ceiling of a building and hung by my hands for days. A doctor sometimes checked if I was O.K.; then I would be strung up again. The pain was unbearable.

After about two months in Kandahar, I was transferred to Guantánamo. There were more beatings, endless solitary confinement, freezing temperatures and extreme heat, days of forced sleeplessness. The interrogations continued always with the same questions. I told my story over and over — my name, my family, why I was in Pakistan. Nothing I said satisfied them. I realized my interrogators were not interested in the truth.

dancewater said...

Another one

The fact that the United States had made a mistake was clear from the beginning. Bosnia’s highest court investigated the American claim, found that there was no evidence against me and ordered my release. But instead, the moment I was released American agents seized me and the five others. We were tied up like animals and flown to Guantánamo, the American naval base in Cuba. I arrived on Jan. 20, 2002.

I still had faith in American justice. I believed my captors would quickly realize their mistake and let me go. But when I would not give the interrogators the answers they wanted — how could I, when I had done nothing wrong? — they became more and more brutal. I was kept awake for many days straight. I was forced to remain in painful positions for hours at a time. These are things I do not want to write about; I want only to forget.

I went on a hunger strike for two years because no one would tell me why I was being imprisoned. Twice each day my captors would shove a tube up my nose, down my throat and into my stomach so they could pour food into me. It was excruciating, but I was innocent and so I kept up my protest.

dancewater said...

These stories made me very angry.

The country I grew up in no longer exists.