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Sunday News – Shadow War Edition

I was planning on a regular Sunday news round up, but I’m running late and some juicy stories have already been covered today. So I thought I’d go after the front page story in today’s NYTimes.

As with some presidents in the past, LBJ and Nixon come to mind, Obama has been pursuing a secret or shadow war for some time. This shadow war has purportedly been against Al Qaeda in Yemen and Pakistan and a few other places, and has been driven by the CIA along with our military. There is often some partnering with various groups where we fight. We saw some of this come out in the wikileaks papers. And we’ve seen some small reporting of this in the main stream media.

Today the NYTimes has a front page article about Obama’s shadow war. I’ll include some passages, but take a look at the article as a whole. One thing that really struck me in the article that includes reports of mistakes or collateral damage including leaders on our side of the “war” (central to fighting Al Qaeda) and large numbers of women and children, is that they don’t appear to criticizes this operation in any real sense. They talk about it as if it were just another policy or some possibly reasonable thing that Obama should be doing. There is no outrage, no holding his feet to the fire, no investigation of it as an illegal war, which it clearly is. It’s yet another clear sign that there is no main stream media that includes actual, real journalism.

Anyway, back to the story:

At first, the news from Yemen on May 25 sounded like a modest victory in the campaign against terrorists: an airstrike had hit a group suspected of being operatives for Al Qaeda in the remote desert of Marib Province, birthplace of the legendary queen of Sheba.

But the strike, it turned out, had also killed the province’s deputy governor, a respected local leader who Yemeni officials said had been trying to talk Qaeda members into giving up their fight. Yemen’s president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, accepted responsibility for the death and paid blood money to the offended tribes.

The strike, though, was not the work of Mr. Saleh’s decrepit Soviet-era air force. It was a secret mission by the United States military, according to American officials, at least the fourth such assault on Al Qaeda in the arid mountains and deserts of Yemen since December.

The attack offered a glimpse of the Obama administration’s shadow war against Al Qaeda and its allies. In roughly a dozen countries — from the deserts of North Africa, to the mountains of Pakistan, to former Soviet republics crippled by ethnic and religious strife — the United States has significantly increased military and intelligence operations, pursuing the enemy using robotic drones and commando teams, paying contractors to spy and training local operatives to chase terrorists.

The White House has intensified the Central Intelligence Agency’s drone missile campaign in Pakistan, approved raids against Qaeda operatives in Somalia and launched clandestine operations from Kenya. The administration has worked with European allies to dismantle terrorist groups in North Africa, efforts that include a recent French strike in Algeria. And the Pentagon tapped a network of private contractors to gather intelligence about things like militant hide-outs in Pakistan and the location of an American soldier currently in Taliban hands.

While the stealth war began in the Bush administration, it has expanded under President Obama, who rose to prominence in part for his early opposition to the invasion of Iraq. Virtually none of the newly aggressive steps undertaken by the United States government have been publicly acknowledged. In contrast with the troop buildup in Afghanistan, which came after months of robust debate, for example, the American military campaign in Yemen began without notice in December and has never been officially confirmed.

Of course with any sort of shadow war with little accountability there are ramifications:

The May strike in Yemen, for example, provoked a revenge attack on an oil pipeline by local tribesmen and produced a propaganda bonanza for Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. It also left President Saleh privately furious about the death of the provincial official, Jabir al-Shabwani, and scrambling to prevent an anti-American backlash, according to Yemeni officials.

And:

The administration’s demands have accelerated a transformation of the C.I.A. into a paramilitary organization as much as a spying agency, which some critics worry could lower the threshold for future quasi-military operations. In Pakistan’s mountains, the agency had broadened its drone campaign beyond selective strikes against Qaeda leaders and now regularly obliterates suspected enemy compounds and logistics convoys, just as the military would grind down an enemy force.

For its part, the Pentagon is becoming more like the C.I.A. Across the Middle East and elsewhere, Special Operations troops under secret “Execute Orders” have conducted spying missions that were once the preserve of civilian intelligence agencies. With code names like Eager Pawn and Indigo Spade, such programs typically operate with even less transparency and Congressional oversight than traditional covert actions by the C.I.A.

And, as American counterterrorism operations spread beyond war zones into territory hostile to the military, private contractors have taken on a prominent role, raising concerns that the United States has outsourced some of its most important missions to a sometimes unaccountable private army.

Remember Obama’s campaign promise, he liked Blackwater’s use in our wars and he promised he would also use them and expand their uses wherever he could. He said it plain as day. He told the truth.

The report continues:

The officials said that they have benefited from the Yemeni government’s new resolve to fight Al Qaeda and that the American strikes — carried out with cruise missiles and Harrier fighter jets — had been approved by Yemen’s leaders. The strikes, administration officials say, have killed dozens of militants suspected of plotting future attacks. The Pentagon and the C.I.A. have quietly bulked up the number of their operatives at the embassy in Sana, the Yemeni capital, over the past year.

Notice they are killing people they suspect are “plotting” future attacks. Yes, you read that right. Even more than was true with Bush II, this new nobel peace prize president is mass murdering people he suspects may plot future attacks.

But wait, there’s more. There is a discussion of how this parallels the cold war with the Soviets, and then continues:

And some of the central players of those days have returned to take on supporting roles in the shadow war. Michael G. Vickers, who helped run the C.I.A.’s campaign to funnel guns and money to the Afghanistan mujahedeen in the 1980s and was featured in the book and movie “Charlie Wilson’s War,” is now the top Pentagon official overseeing Special Operations troops around the globe. Duane R. Clarridge, a profane former C.I.A. officer who ran operations in Central America and was indicted in the Iran-contra scandal, turned up this year helping run a Pentagon-financed private spying operation in Pakistan.

In pursuing this strategy, the White House is benefiting from a unique political landscape. Republican lawmakers have been unwilling to take Mr. Obama to task for aggressively hunting terrorists, and many Democrats seem eager to embrace any move away from the long, costly wars begun by the Bush administration.

Yes, you read that right. We are using some of the same players involved in creating Al Qaeda are involved in creating the next groups. And in killing other groups. After all, they did such a good job before.

Unfortunately these operations of course have some minor consequences:

The initial American strike in Yemen came on Dec. 17, hitting what was believed to be a Qaeda training camp in Abyan Province, in the southern part of the country. The first report from the Yemeni government said that its air force had killed “around 34” Qaeda fighters there, and that others had been captured elsewhere in coordinated ground operations.

The next day, Mr. Obama called President Saleh to thank him for his cooperation and pledge continuing American support. Mr. Saleh’s approval for the strike — rushed because of intelligence reports that Qaeda suicide bombers might be headed to Sana — was the culmination of administration efforts to win him over, including visits by Mr. Brennan and Gen. David H. Petraeus, then the commander of military operations in the Middle East.

As word of the Dec. 17 attack filtered out, a very mixed picture emerged. The Yemeni press quickly identified the United States as responsible for the strike. Qaeda members seized on video of dead children and joined a protest rally a few days later, broadcast by Al Jazeera, in which a speaker shouldering an AK-47 rifle appealed to Yemeni counterterrorism troops.

A Navy ship offshore had fired the weapon in the attack, a cruise missile loaded with cluster bombs, according to a report by Amnesty International. Unlike conventional bombs, cluster bombs disperse small munitions, some of which do not immediately explode, increasing the likelihood of civilian causalities. The use of cluster munitions, later documented by Amnesty, was condemned by human rights groups.

An inquiry by the Yemeni Parliament found that the strike had killed at least 41 members of two families living near the makeshift Qaeda camp. Three more civilians were killed and nine were wounded four days later when they stepped on unexploded munitions from the strike, the inquiry found.

Yes, Obama did that. We did that.

We are conducting a secret, shadow war that is killing countless people, doing immeasurable damage to people’s lives. We are creating generations of new terrorists. We are doing evil. All under Obama. Not because he inherited anything from Bush. But because that’s what he wants to do.

Treat this as a new/open thread. Feel free to discuss this or other topics.

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100 Responses

  1. But, but…he once made a speech…So, stop saying that!

  2. To quote a recent post of mine:

    Dishonesty and it’s twin brother Secrecy have been involved in every monumental fuck-up our nation has gotten into.

  3. Of all the things the government has done in the past 10 years, these illegal, immoral, and unnecessary wars are the absolute worst. I am not a pacifist and have fought for my country but this is too much.

    In a way these war crimes dishonor the service and sacrifice of all those who went before. Torture and the murder of innocents as official policy are not the ways of the country I thought I knew.

    But no worries, impeachment was taken off the table and none of those responsible will be tried in the Hague where they belong.

  4. Yep, yep, yep. Agree with all of those comments. Sickening. Kind of too much really. We’ll have to watch more of this stuff to trickle out.

  5. The war on terror, like the war on drugs will never end. The U.S. will always be at war, its path to peace.

    • And now add to that a war on the middle class. I think they’ll win that one though.

      • They do seem to be winning that one. But, as Uppity says, I can see November from my house.

        • I can see 2012 from the 7-11. (That’s for Biden.)

          • 😯

          • I really dislike how Biden (and Reid for that matter) was excused for his comments which really were quite retro and patronizing on race (and gender) and yet he got to be part of the historic barrier-breaking campaign and all of us Hillary supporters were falsely singled out as racists. If anyone had issues with race, it was him.

          • “My sister is smart, runs every one of my campaigns; is beautiful; graduated with honors from college; is homecoming queen. But she’s a … she is what I call a ‘girl-boy’ growing up, you know what I mean? … And I tell you what? Girl-girls are tougher than girl-boys. But there’s one important thing I noticed.The great thing about marrying into a family with five sisters, there’s always one that loves you. ‘Cause you can count on splitting them a bit. You know what I mean?… I shouldn’t be going off like this, but — hey, folks, 37 more hours, 37 more hours”

            –Joseph Robinette Biden, 37 hours away from being VP-elect. But of course Palin is the stupid one we were supposed to worry about being a heartbeat away from the presidency.

          • We should have just cut out the middleman and put Jim Beam on the ticket. I hear he’s an amazing debater.

          • Still hard to believe Biden got away with it.

          • Hard to believe they called Sarah stupid.

          • Joe has always been special.

          • It’s hard to believe anyone named “Robinette” could occupy the VP slot. We no longer live in the Age of Grover.

    • I disagree. The wars will end someday, when they bankrupt the USA.

  6. Speaking of war on the middle class. First ever Medicare denials of FDA approved anti-cancer drugs

    Sounds like the beginning of something approximating Death Panels. RW blog but the sourcing is quite good.

    Just days after the recess appointment of Donald Berwick, the controversial new head of Medicare and Medicaid, the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance posted the following grim news: for the first time in history, an FDA-approved anti-cancer therapy may not be covered by Medicare.

    I don’t welcome our new Health Care overlords. Don’t let the awful be the enemy of the horrifically bad.

    • HMOs already deny expensive drugs and treatments under the label of “unnecessary”. It’s more of the same, but now the government is making it legal. It’s Obama’s “thank you” to his donors.

    • The article says Medicare is still considering the drug and “may not” approve.

      Stay tuned.

  7. Anyone who feels even a tiny bit safer because Obama has the power to torture and assassinate is a moron.

    HELLO? He can torture and kill YOU too!

    • Who’s that knocking on my door?

      Brb

    • How could Obama torture and kill his special, special snowflakes? They’re too special. They’re the ones they’ve been waiting for. Nobody’s waiting for the ones he’s having killed, that’s their problem.

  8. Thanks for the heads up on this story and your analysis is right on. Please correct your spelling next time.

    • Thank you and please use deodorant next time.

      • surely I’m not the only one who thinks the principal posts at this very intelligent and interesting site should definitely NOT have mistakes like “feat to the fire” and “plane as day” in them. How dare I want The Confluence not to make such cringeworthy mistakes. In case you hadn’t comprehended, I enjoyed the post in general.

        • Your concern has been duly noted.

        • these are unpaid posts done in people’s spare time, collecting news and giving analysis to a community that obviously wants them or TC wouldn’t have as many hits as it does. DT’s roundups are always so thorough and thoughtful. Stop being petty.

          • Stop being cliquish and defensive. So you think spelling errors in the main posts are OK? I disagree and don’t think it’s a “petty” issue, and would like to be able to disagree without being flamed.

          • Those who can, do. Those who can’t, criticize.

            This is the blogosphere, where we get to make speling and gramatic errers. We also get to say “fuck”

            But thank you for your concern.

            And please use mouthwash next time too.

          • So this is what I get for politely offering one discrete criticism while praising the site and the poster? That is seriously fucked up.

          • I couldn’t care less about wobbly spelling in blog posts that are substantive and communicate their point.

          • No, I don’t think spelling errors are okay. I’m thinking about organizing a boycott with 20 lashes at sundown as punishment. Actually 40–he made two! If you’re really that concerned, and not a concern troll or a rude, immature jerk with poor social skills, there are better ways to make your point (or ways to grow up and get some perspective). These people aren’t our servants, they don’t owe us anything, and they don’t have to put up with our whining, carping, and petty preoccupations. Maybe you can lead by example by cranking out continuous extensive posts in your spare time and demonstrating how consistently error-free they are, I’m sure you’ll be a huge hit.

          • Politely?

            Seemed pretty fucking rude to me.

            DandyTiger got his degree in one of them “hard” sciences, not in a squishy subject like history like I did. He even went to a real university like Stanford or something, not a state cow college like CSU Stanislaus. But he had a very busy day today and barely had time to finish his post.

            He receives NOTHING for the work he does here, other than the appreciation of our readers.

            So how about you cut him some fucking slack?

          • If you have any further complaints, take them up with our proofreader, Boogieman7167.

          • If you want some constructive criticism, it’s a little too early to pull out the oh noes I’m being oppressed theme. You want to milk it a bit more first.

          • Damn spelling nazis.

          • Politely? Discrete? Nobody asked for you to spell check the post and then post the results. Try agreeing/disagreeing on the issues rather than making demands. DT’s post has a lot of information in it. I’m still going through it myself and it’s extremely upsetting what is happening in our names. Two instances of the spellings of homophones being interchanged? Seems so very irrelevant.

          • Did I miss something… some misspellings… oh my… 😯

        • And while they are stone tired let’s have them fix, it’s to its. See we notice, but the other main posters tell ’em as everyone here is working, running back and forth between one or two jobs and using a variety of devices to get it done. iphones, ipads and other gadgets. Personally I think my iphone has a plot against me…as it always mixes things up.

          So, duly noted and hope there aren’t any in this one here… lol If you knew what some of do you would pass out or die laughing.

          • It’s really rough being your own editor when you’re trying to post something nearly daily. I try to go back and get all of mine but it’s damned near impossible to get them completely right. When I’m doing a paper, I always make sure I have enough time to let it sit a day or two so I can look at it with fresh eyes. I usually try to go in a tweak posts if there are spelling errors or mistakes because I know they can make you look lame. But really, it’s hard to write consistently and a lot without blowing it some times. That’s especially true when it comes to the homophones because I write trying to listen to what I say … sometimes that means I’ll screw up and use there or their interchangeably and I really don’t intend to. Plus, I know the difference. But damn, it’s hard to catch them all!

          • With blogging, you’re trying to stay as current as possible and what would really be lame is to have a copy editor proofreading round the clock when it comes to a blog like this which is completely grassroots and isn’t some paid gig. This is a people-powered site, with a lively milieu, and it reacts immediately to what’s happening. I’m always impressed with how BB and you Kat usually get something up right away about breaking events. I think I’d rather have the info as quickly as it could be presented rather than have our prolific frontpagers waste their time on fixing every single typo and other human error that doesn’t obstruct the substance of the post or that are easy enough to clarify in the comment section if there is any real confusion on something.

          • If anyone would actually like a proofreader, I offer my services. I’m very “literate” and won a lot of spelling bees when I was a kid. I could be a real spelling nazi if I wanted, lol, but the contents of the posts are much more important!

            Thanks to Dandy for a great post and to all the frontpagers here at the Confluence.

        • There, fixed those two. Let me know if there are any more. I don’t want to offend your sensibilities.

          • There goes 30K a year down the tubes for a lame education.

          • Two bad them highly-paid programmers with they’re fancy 111’s and 0000’s cant figure out how too tell when ewe use the wrong word butt spell it rite.

          • Uh oh, now I’m in trouble. Actually natural languages are surprisingly hard. Those damn humans…

          • The iPhone saved me from being the undisputed queen of typos, but now when it gets random you look extremely weird rather than just dumb. Changing “Schmidt” to “schizophrenics”? Ahhhhh….

          • Firefox thinks “blogosphere” and “Obama” are typos.

          • Who knew Firefox could get metaphysical.

          • Firefox thinks Biden is a typo too.

          • Well he’s certainly a mistake.

          • 1-20-2013: end of error one and error two? and will we just replace with more errors?

          • But it was an amazing exercise in 11th dimensional chess to somehow convince those deeply principled Obots to accept a superhawk with retrograde attitudes about race as second in command. You would have thought they’d rebel, with all their deeply held beliefs and all. How did he ever convince them to cross the Rubicon? He’s a political genius, that’s all.

          • Jeralyn said “Biden would be a deal-breaker” before Obama announced he picked Hair-plug Joe. Immediately afterward she pulled an Emily Litella and said “Nevermind.”

          • She had already been to the convention and received her kool-aid transfusion. She was 100% obot by then. I remember she, with some drama, had to go off and think about it. I don’t think anyone really believed it would be a deal-breaker for her.

          • it’s easy to see why the Axelrahms and Gibbsies laugh in progs’ faces when the progs say anything is a dealbreaker. If progs never follow through, then everybody knows it’s a bluff… but these amazing progressives are too riveted by their theories of 11 dimensional chess to be bothered by politics 101.

          • We tried to explain that if you give away all your leverage you’ll get kicked and laughed at.

            So how’d that work out, “Professional Left”?

          • They seem to enjoy being kicked.. or are in on the kabuki …or really are that clueless.

        • I think it’s easy to say that until you try to write them day in and day out and quickly. Yes, I wish we had a full time editor with fresh eyes, but none of us get paid to do this and some of us write daily which is more than professional journalists do at newspapers and magazines. Also, most of us hold down other jobs. So, I’d just ask you nice to cut us some slack. Also, if some one corrects me nicely, I’ll take care of it. I’ve had blurry brain some times and usually folks just say, did you mean empathy or apathy? or did you mean Bill Frisk or Rick Santorium? Some days, it’s just easier than others to catch things and DT’s had a tough day.

          • None of us have editors or proofreaders to catch our mistakes either.

            (Except for the damn volunteer spelling nazis and grammar fascists)

          • Thanks. Sadly I think the grammar concern troll is just a troll. But in this matter I’ll freely admit that human languages aren’t where I spend most of my brain power. And I can certainly get sloppy. Especially when I’m in meetings all day and into the evening. Fried brain on a keyboard, news at 11.

          • I’m not sure Cobrito is a troll looking at the comment history, but even if the spelling really needed to be pointed out for some reason (like wanting to pass on the post to colleagues), it could have been pointed out without being pushy about it.

          • I think it’s cool to indicate there are a few typos. Or to point them out for correction. Best of all, mention a few typos and say delete this comment after — clearly indicating that you don’t mean this to stand out in case you’re embarrassed. You can also notice how late the post is and ignore such things.

            But as a first time commenter (or at least very infrequent), what did he do? He came here and his one comment included please correct the spelling next time. Not really the best way to introduce yourself to a group of people you wish to commune with. That tells me he has no such wishes. That instead he is a concern troll. I think others made that obvious conclusion and responded in kind.

          • Exactly. I don’t know this person’s history, but it looks like straight-up trolling following an established pattern. Hang out for a while before you start issuing commands and barking out orders. You can’t expect a good reception that way.

          • DT, it *was* rude and I was one of the ones who responded in kind — all I meant was that just right now I checked comments that Cobrito left in the past to see if this person had posted before–that’s what I meant by not being sure if it’s a troll, seems kinda iffy to me. Just wanted to clarify that. Sorry I’m not making sense at this hour.

          • Also, it’s not like it’s unknown that being a grammar Nazi is considered rude and most people don’t respond well to it. Sure, I’ve done it to Obots who clomped in here at 4am, but it’s hard to believe that anyone doesn’t know that showing up as an unknown quantity and making such a big deal about it looks like you’re trying to pick a fight.

          • You’re making total sense as always, Wonk. You know more about him than we do, it’s just that judging him on this alone he looks sort of Classic Trollish. 😉

          • There’s a type of troll called a “suicide bomber.”

            They show up then blow up.

    • When I post for front pages, I really appreciate alerts to spelling errors or typos. It’s also nice for the editors to point out where the errors are so it’s quick and easy for the poster to make the corrections. Also, if some sentences get too convoluted to be easily understood, alerts to that are also appreciated.

      Now, if only commenters here could edit comments! Hint, hint.

      Blessed are the editors. Really!

  9. Excellent post! Thank you!

  10. Mr. Nobel Peace Prize knew he was handed yet another prize that he didn’t deserve and decided to pay back the deluded who awarded it to him with no peace.

    • I wonder if the Nobel Prize committee has given up drinking their koolaid.

      If not, maybe they will give him another one because “he is just so awesome!”

      djmm

  11. WikiLeaks’ Collateral Murder: U.S. Soldier Ethan McCord’s Eyewitness Story.

    • Soldier Ethan McCord asks for Mental Health Services, and is offered Criminal Charges 14:30 (in the above video) instead. NOW, can we connect the dots between the high suicide rates and culture of putting soldiers off via intimidation/threats that are requesting these services. Where are the PEACE groups?

    • Also it’s worth a reminder, the WikiLeaks people showed everything to the WH before publishing, giving them an opportunity to request any redactions, etc., the WH never responded.

      I purposely made that sentence long and structurally wobbly to draw criticism from our new grammar concern troll.

    • Thank you, Woman Voter, for posting this video. It makes the Wikileak’s video even more powerful to have the first hand narrative of this soldier who was there. Oh, the horror.

  12. Here’s a rather weird late night find. I was surfing around, you know, because I’ve been up for 20 hours and am too tired to sleep — don’t you hate when that happens — oh yea, where was I, so I’m surfing around VP’s because we’re making fun of Joe foot in mouth, and what do I find… None other than a VP we had that was half white, half native american, raised by his grandparents in, get this, Kansas, and who was not born in a US state, but was born in a territory before it became a state. I shit you not. He was Hoover’s VP, Charles Curtis.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Curtis

    • Omg, that’s Cra-zee. Why don’t we ever hear about him? It sounds like he was pretty active in First Nations affairs, and he co-sponsored the first incarnation of the ERA. Herbert Hoover’s VP was Native American and sponsored the ERA? What is going ON? Why does our political class suck worse than the 1920’s?

      • FDR’s first VPOTUS was John Nance Garner, who described the vice presidency as being “not worth a bucket of warm piss.”

        • Yeah, but everyone knows Garner and Henry Wallace and on and on while the one guy we should know languishes in obscurity. It’s bizarre. Hopefully Ben Kingsley will give him the recognition he deserves.

  13. Precog!

    Now Obama can campaign on his precog abilities, along with all his other great accomplishments!

    Who knew? A solitary precog can assign American citizens to death lists with no indictment or trial.

    Such a deal we get with Barack “Hoover II” Obama. Lightbringer…and Precog!

  14. Obama Sees New Lows in Job Approval per Gallup headline “lowest ever…….”.

  15. I would like to say thank you Dandy.for all your hard work here.as well as the rest of the great crew here at T.C.
    hugs all around…

  16. Deadly Legacy – Iraq

    journeymanpictures | August 16, 2010
    August 2010

    Seven years after the invasion of Baghdad, the Iraqi people are experiencing a devastating legacy. Babies are being born with severe deformities and cancer at a rate, which makes the effects of Hiroshima look tame.

    • I just viewed this again and am quite distressed because they said they didn’t show the most severe cases and put up a statement saying why (Journeyman Pictures). I am distressed as the magnitude of the problem seems to be enormous and I am also wondering if the exposure by our soldiers will affect their reproductivity and long term health as well.

      The video is truly disturbing and I hope the folks in Washington are aware of the situation and working hard on finding a sensible closure to these wars.

  17. Deadly Iraq Legacy

  18. Oh, the horror.

    This is important to view. Reading about all the birth defects did not prepare me for what I saw.

    Oh, what a terrible legacy we leave in Iraq.

    Thnx, Woman Voter, for another gripping video.

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