http://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/57807207

“Blowing the Whistle: Former US Official Reveals Risks Faced by Internal Critics

US President Barack Obama has said that Edward Snowden should have used official channels instead of taking NSA spying public. Now, a former high-ranking US government official has revealed how the Pentagon retaliates against internal critics.

John Crane doesn’t live far from CIA headquarters on the south bank of the Potomac River, with its verdant forest and rolling hills. The Pentagon is just a few miles upstream. Crane, as a child of the US military-intelligence complex, feels at home here. He served as a part of the system for more than 25 years and he still believes in it — even if it has since declared him as its enemy.

Crane is sitting in his kitchen. In front of him lies a leather briefcase embossed with the US seal. He is 60 years old, though he looks younger with his slicked-back hair and neatly trimmed beard. He still wears the typical uniform of day-to-day government business in Washington: a shirt monogrammed with his initials, cufflinks and a blazer with golden buttons. It’s the way he showed up to work for more than a quarter century, when he flashed his badge to security and drove up to his office inside the complex on Army Navy Drive in Arlington, Virginia. For a long time, he could see the Pentagon, the American Department of Defense, right out his office window.

Later they moved, to a non-descript office tower a little further out, but Crane and his staff remained an important part of the Defense Department. Over the years, he made a career within the US military hierarchy. In his final role as assistant inspector general, he had finally made it up into the senior leadership ranks. Around 1,600 civil servants report to the inspector general, of whom around 90 worked for Crane until his departure. Their job is to follow up on internal problems, corruption and other violations of the law. In modern democracies, an inspector general is a kind of free safety who is supposed to ensure that the government apparatus is functioning according to the principles of the rule of law.

Crane’s work inside the Pentagon was sensitive. It was his job to deal with grievances — from small squabbles to major scandals — within the military apparatus. He was responsible for relations with Congress and, first and foremost, the US defense apparatus’ internal whistleblowing program — a kind of complaint box for the close to 3 million civilian and military employees of the Pentagon as well as for the NSA, which is subordinate to the Defense Department. He remained in the position until he began suspecting that his superiors had bent the rules in order to nullify one unwelcome whistleblower.

The conflict led Crane to question almost everything he had ever believed in or worked for. The man who, during his career, had attended to dozens of whistleblower cases decided to become one himself. In a new book,* and in several interviews with SPIEGEL, SPIEGEL TV and the Guardian, he has now told his story for the first time. It’s one that covers far more than just the fate of a single high-ranking Pentagon employee who was ousted from his job in 2013 as a result of a dispute with his superiors…….”

Two pages: http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/ex-us-official-reveals-risks-faced-by-internal-govt-critics-a-1093360.html

http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2016/05/12/making-what-you-eat-a-core-part-of-high-school-sports/

http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/ask/well/question/30823

http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/ask/well/question/30824

http://www.nbcnews.com/health/kids-health/could-diet-drinks-make-your-baby-fat-n570716

http://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/57807414

http://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/57807535

Snowden is a fairly easy target to criticize, his age coupled with inexperience can make it seem he was impetuous but he didn’t have many choices either

‘ The supreme irony? In their zeal to punish Drake, these Pentagon officials unwittingly taught Snowden how to evade their clutches when the 29-year-old NSA contract employee blew the whistle himself. Snowden was unaware of the hidden machinations inside the Pentagon that undid Drake, but the outcome of those machinations – Drake’s arrest, indictment and persecution – sent an unmistakable message: raising concerns within the system promised doom.

“Name one whistleblower from the intelligence community whose disclosures led to real change – overturning laws, ending policies – who didn’t face retaliation as a result. The protections just aren’t there,” Snowden told the Guardian this week. “The sad reality of today’s policies is that going to the inspector general with evidence of truly serious wrongdoing is often a mistake. Going to the press involves serious risks, but at least you’ve got a chance.

Two pages: http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/ex-us-official-reveals-risks-faced-by-internal-govt-critics-a-1093360.html

http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/may/22/how-pentagon-punished-nsa-whistleblowers

http://www.theguardian.com/world/video/2016/may/22/pentagon-government-whistleblower-thomas-drake-edward-snowden-video

http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/may/22/snowden-whistleblower-protections-john-crane

http://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/57805785


http://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/57807414

It has nothing to do with ignorance, it’s all about GREED. It has always been about GREED. You just have to look at what DuPont did in covering up PFOA toxicity and what Monsanto did with PCBs to realize that. They even let their own employees suffer just to save a few bucks. The fossil fuel industry does exactly the same thing. This is the problem with profit driven science that isn’t at all about science but more about corrupt capitalism.

In a sense he’s right- as a matter of fact we have a bill in Congress right now called the Chemical Reform Act that actually places the burden of proving synthetic chemicals as being safe rather than assuming so. It’s how the system works in Europe where the standards are much more stringent than they are here. There is also much research showing many of the chemicals banned in Europe and not banned here as being strongly linked to higher rates of cancer and birth defects, like BHT and BHA (among other things.) There’s been articles published in prestigious journals like Nature and Science about this and others. The picture isn’t all rosy; living longer is due to other factors, like better health care however the rates of cancer, heart disease, obesity, diabetes, food allergies, hypertension, heart disease, etc. etc., are all going way up.

In a recent 60 minutes episode it was shown by a fast food industry insider that the fast food industry has been employing chemists to put additives in “trash food” that makes people addicted to it- not surprising to anyone really.

A recent study showed that artificial sweeteners and HFCS used in diet sodas consumed by pregnant women results in overweight children. Processed food has been shown to lead to a much higher rate of cancer.

A breakthrough Stanford study a few years ago showed how air pollution and exposure to certain plastics can lead pregnant women to give birth to children more prone to autism and ADHD, and determined the environment vs genetic factor was .65 to .35

I don’t drink any soda, alcohol, smoke, or consume meat that comes from farms that contains antibiotics or growth hormones, and grow my own vegetables pesticide free. I have diabetes, heart disease and hypertension on both sides of my family and both my parents died young and my older sister has hypertension and now has early symptoms of diabetes also; I’m the only one in my family who hasn’t been on any meds whatsoever (knock on wood) and who hasn’t suffered from heart disease, high blood pressure or diabetes (once again knock on wood, haha.)

It has nothing to do with ignorance, it’s all about GREED. It has always been about GREED. You just have to look at what DuPont did in covering up PFOA toxicity and what Monsanto did with PCBs to realize that. They even let their own employees suffer just to save a few bucks. The fossil fuel industry does exactly the same thing. This is the problem with profit driven science that isn’t at all about science but more about corrupt capitalism.

In a sense he’s right- as a matter of fact we have a bill in Congress right now called the Chemical Reform Act that actually places the burden of proving synthetic chemicals as being safe rather than assuming so. It’s how the system works in Europe where the standards are much more stringent than they are here. There is also much research showing many of the chemicals banned in Europe and not banned here as being strongly linked to higher rates of cancer and birth defects, like BHT and BHA (among other things.) There’s been articles published in prestigious journals like Nature and Science about this and others. The picture isn’t all rosy; living longer is due to other factors, like better health care however the rates of cancer, heart disease, obesity, diabetes, food allergies, hypertension, heart disease, etc. etc., are all going way up.

In a recent 60 minutes episode it was shown by a fast food industry insider that the fast food industry has been employing chemists to put additives in “trash food” that makes people addicted to it- not surprising to anyone really.

A recent study showed that artificial sweeteners and HFCS used in diet sodas consumed by pregnant women results in overweight children. Processed food has been shown to lead to a much higher rate of cancer.

A breakthrough Stanford study a few years ago showed how air pollution and exposure to certain plastics can lead pregnant women to give birth to children more prone to autism and ADHD, and determined the environment vs genetic factor was .65 to .35

I don’t drink any soda, alcohol, smoke, or consume meat that comes from farms that contains antibiotics or growth hormones, and grow my own vegetables pesticide free. I have diabetes, heart disease and hypertension on both sides of my family and both my parents died young and my older sister has hypertension and now has early symptoms of diabetes also; I’m the only one in my family who hasn’t been on any meds whatsoever (knock on wood) and who hasn’t suffered from heart disease, high blood pressure or diabetes (once again knock on wood, haha.)
http://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/57807693

Michael Garibaldi wrote:

piet bel wrote:

The rise in gluten intolerance and the market conquest of the GMO seeds seem to have gone in lock step with each other.

Before the GMO seeds appeared on the market, gluten intolerance was hardly ever heard of and the reduction in varieties of grain in the name of efficiency and greater profits most likely plays an important role here.

 

 

The number of additives in just about everything we eat also plays a role and I wonder if the Agro witchcraft doctors and the medical professions are not partners in crime.
Gluten intolerance, something that was practically unheard of 50 years ago, is practically an epidemic now. My understanding is that it is related to the much higher protein, harder wheats that have been bred over the past half century.

 

http://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/57807207

“Blowing the Whistle: Former US Official Reveals Risks Faced by Internal Critics

US President Barack Obama has said that Edward Snowden should have used official channels instead of taking NSA spying public. Now, a former high-ranking US government official has revealed how the Pentagon retaliates against internal critics.

John Crane doesn’t live far from CIA headquarters on the south bank of the Potomac River, with its verdant forest and rolling hills. The Pentagon is just a few miles upstream. Crane, as a child of the US military-intelligence complex, feels at home here. He served as a part of the system for more than 25 years and he still believes in it — even if it has since declared him as its enemy.

Crane is sitting in his kitchen. In front of him lies a leather briefcase embossed with the US seal. He is 60 years old, though he looks younger with his slicked-back hair and neatly trimmed beard. He still wears the typical uniform of day-to-day government business in Washington: a shirt monogrammed with his initials, cufflinks and a blazer with golden buttons. It’s the way he showed up to work for more than a quarter century, when he flashed his badge to security and drove up to his office inside the complex on Army Navy Drive in Arlington, Virginia. For a long time, he could see the Pentagon, the American Department of Defense, right out his office window.

Later they moved, to a non-descript office tower a little further out, but Crane and his staff remained an important part of the Defense Department. Over the years, he made a career within the US military hierarchy. In his final role as assistant inspector general, he had finally made it up into the senior leadership ranks. Around 1,600 civil servants report to the inspector general, of whom around 90 worked for Crane until his departure. Their job is to follow up on internal problems, corruption and other violations of the law. In modern democracies, an inspector general is a kind of free safety who is supposed to ensure that the government apparatus is functioning according to the principles of the rule of law.

Crane’s work inside the Pentagon was sensitive. It was his job to deal with grievances — from small squabbles to major scandals — within the military apparatus. He was responsible for relations with Congress and, first and foremost, the US defense apparatus’ internal whistleblowing program — a kind of complaint box for the close to 3 million civilian and military employees of the Pentagon as well as for the NSA, which is subordinate to the Defense Department. He remained in the position until he began suspecting that his superiors had bent the rules in order to nullify one unwelcome whistleblower.

The conflict led Crane to question almost everything he had ever believed in or worked for. The man who, during his career, had attended to dozens of whistleblower cases decided to become one himself. In a new book,* and in several interviews with SPIEGEL, SPIEGEL TV and the Guardian, he has now told his story for the first time. It’s one that covers far more than just the fate of a single high-ranking Pentagon employee who was ousted from his job in 2013 as a result of a dispute with his superiors…….”

Two pages: http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/ex-us-official-reveals-risks-faced-by-internal-govt-critics-a-1093360.html

http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2016/05/12/making-what-you-eat-a-core-part-of-high-school-sports/

http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/ask/well/question/30823

http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/ask/well/question/30824

http://www.nbcnews.com/health/kids-health/could-diet-drinks-make-your-baby-fat-n570716

http://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/57807414

http://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/57807535

Snowden is a fairly easy target to criticize, his age coupled with inexperience can make it seem he was impetuous but he didn’t have many choices either

‘ The supreme irony? In their zeal to punish Drake, these Pentagon officials unwittingly taught Snowden how to evade their clutches when the 29-year-old NSA contract employee blew the whistle himself. Snowden was unaware of the hidden machinations inside the Pentagon that undid Drake, but the outcome of those machinations – Drake’s arrest, indictment and persecution – sent an unmistakable message: raising concerns within the system promised doom.

“Name one whistleblower from the intelligence community whose disclosures led to real change – overturning laws, ending policies – who didn’t face retaliation as a result. The protections just aren’t there,” Snowden told the Guardian this week. “The sad reality of today’s policies is that going to the inspector general with evidence of truly serious wrongdoing is often a mistake. Going to the press involves serious risks, but at least you’ve got a chance.

Two pages: http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/ex-us-official-reveals-risks-faced-by-internal-govt-critics-a-1093360.html

http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/may/22/how-pentagon-punished-nsa-whistleblowers

http://www.theguardian.com/world/video/2016/may/22/pentagon-government-whistleblower-thomas-drake-edward-snowden-video

http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/may/22/snowden-whistleblower-protections-john-crane

http://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/57805785


http://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/57807414

It has nothing to do with ignorance, it’s all about GREED. It has always been about GREED. You just have to look at what DuPont did in covering up PFOA toxicity and what Monsanto did with PCBs to realize that. They even let their own employees suffer just to save a few bucks. The fossil fuel industry does exactly the same thing. This is the problem with profit driven science that isn’t at all about science but more about corrupt capitalism.

In a sense he’s right- as a matter of fact we have a bill in Congress right now called the Chemical Reform Act that actually places the burden of proving synthetic chemicals as being safe rather than assuming so. It’s how the system works in Europe where the standards are much more stringent than they are here. There is also much research showing many of the chemicals banned in Europe and not banned here as being strongly linked to higher rates of cancer and birth defects, like BHT and BHA (among other things.) There’s been articles published in prestigious journals like Nature and Science about this and others. The picture isn’t all rosy; living longer is due to other factors, like better health care however the rates of cancer, heart disease, obesity, diabetes, food allergies, hypertension, heart disease, etc. etc., are all going way up.

In a recent 60 minutes episode it was shown by a fast food industry insider that the fast food industry has been employing chemists to put additives in “trash food” that makes people addicted to it- not surprising to anyone really.

A recent study showed that artificial sweeteners and HFCS used in diet sodas consumed by pregnant women results in overweight children. Processed food has been shown to lead to a much higher rate of cancer.

A breakthrough Stanford study a few years ago showed how air pollution and exposure to certain plastics can lead pregnant women to give birth to children more prone to autism and ADHD, and determined the environment vs genetic factor was .65 to .35

I don’t drink any soda, alcohol, smoke, or consume meat that comes from farms that contains antibiotics or growth hormones, and grow my own vegetables pesticide free. I have diabetes, heart disease and hypertension on both sides of my family and both my parents died young and my older sister has hypertension and now has early symptoms of diabetes also; I’m the only one in my family who hasn’t been on any meds whatsoever (knock on wood) and who hasn’t suffered from heart disease, high blood pressure or diabetes (once again knock on wood, haha.)

It has nothing to do with ignorance, it’s all about GREED. It has always been about GREED. You just have to look at what DuPont did in covering up PFOA toxicity and what Monsanto did with PCBs to realize that. They even let their own employees suffer just to save a few bucks. The fossil fuel industry does exactly the same thing. This is the problem with profit driven science that isn’t at all about science but more about corrupt capitalism.

In a sense he’s right- as a matter of fact we have a bill in Congress right now called the Chemical Reform Act that actually places the burden of proving synthetic chemicals as being safe rather than assuming so. It’s how the system works in Europe where the standards are much more stringent than they are here. There is also much research showing many of the chemicals banned in Europe and not banned here as being strongly linked to higher rates of cancer and birth defects, like BHT and BHA (among other things.) There’s been articles published in prestigious journals like Nature and Science about this and others. The picture isn’t all rosy; living longer is due to other factors, like better health care however the rates of cancer, heart disease, obesity, diabetes, food allergies, hypertension, heart disease, etc. etc., are all going way up.

In a recent 60 minutes episode it was shown by a fast food industry insider that the fast food industry has been employing chemists to put additives in “trash food” that makes people addicted to it- not surprising to anyone really.

A recent study showed that artificial sweeteners and HFCS used in diet sodas consumed by pregnant women results in overweight children. Processed food has been shown to lead to a much higher rate of cancer.

A breakthrough Stanford study a few years ago showed how air pollution and exposure to certain plastics can lead pregnant women to give birth to children more prone to autism and ADHD, and determined the environment vs genetic factor was .65 to .35

I don’t drink any soda, alcohol, smoke, or consume meat that comes from farms that contains antibiotics or growth hormones, and grow my own vegetables pesticide free. I have diabetes, heart disease and hypertension on both sides of my family and both my parents died young and my older sister has hypertension and now has early symptoms of diabetes also; I’m the only one in my family who hasn’t been on any meds whatsoever (knock on wood) and who hasn’t suffered from heart disease, high blood pressure or diabetes (once again knock on wood, haha.)
http://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/57807693

Michael Garibaldi wrote:

piet bel wrote:

The rise in gluten intolerance and the market conquest of the GMO seeds seem to have gone in lock step with each other.

Before the GMO seeds appeared on the market, gluten intolerance was hardly ever heard of and the reduction in varieties of grain in the name of efficiency and greater profits most likely plays an important role here.

The number of additives in just about everything we eat also plays a role and I wonder if the Agro witchcraft doctors and the medical professions are not partners in crime.
Gluten intolerance, something that was practically unheard of 50 years ago, is practically an epidemic now. My understanding is that it is related to the much higher protein, harder wheats that have been bred over the past half century.

There does appear to be an increase in cases of Celiac disease (4 times more prevalent than 50 years ago), although I don’t think the current estimated prevalence of 1 in 141 is necessarily an “epidemic”.

The speculation on cause, includes the hybridization that you mention as well as:

oxidizers
new methods of yeasting
other chemical processes
“hygiene hypothesis” (lack of stimulation of immune system caused by living in clean environment)
http://www.celiac.nih.gov/prevalence.aspx

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22850429

https://t.co/ut8gvkor1B

https://t.co/ut8gvkor1B

https://t.co/mpDvyYAGMG

In a 2015 interview with The New York Times, Oppenheimer stated that the West shares “a great deal” of responsibility for the mass killings in Indonesia, noting in particular that “the United States provided the special radio system so the Army could coordinate the killings over the vast archipelago. A man named Bob Martens, who worked at the United States Embassy in Jakarta, was compiling lists of thousands of names of Indonesian public figures who might be opposed to the new regime and handed these lists over to the Indonesian government.”[15] In 2014, after a screening of The Act of Killing for US Congress members, Oppenheimer called on the US to acknowledge its role in the killings.[16]

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-04-18/indonesia-breaks-silence-on-1965-massacre/7334296

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indonesian_killings_of_1965%E2%80%9366#Foreign_involvement
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joshua_Oppenheimer

http://www.democracynow.org/2016/5/4/headlines/report_less_than_1_of_clinton_fundraising_venture_goes_to_state_parties

The Bernie Sanders campaign has launched a petition urging the Hillary Clinton campaign to transfer money raised by her massive joint fundraising venture to state parties. This comes after a Politico investigation into the unprecedented fundraising vehicle Clinton formed with state parties found less than 1 percent of the $61 million raised by the venture has actually gone to the state parties. The Hillary Victory Fund is a joint venture between the Democratic National Committee, 32 state committees and Clinton’s campaign. It allows Clinton to collect massive donations at events like the recent dinner at George and Amal Clooney’s house. But it turns out that of the $3.8 million the victory fund has transferred to the state parties, 88 percent of it was quickly moved back to the DNC by the Clinton staffer who controls the committee.

https://twitter.com/GlimmerManz/status/728127828659601408

The Future of the Mind: The Scientific Quest to Understand, Enhance, and Empower the Mind (Paperback Edition)
Publisher: Anchor Books; February 17, 2015

Go to Book Detail Page.

Purchase from Amazon.
Purchase from Apple iBooks.

Physics of the Future: How Science Will Shape Human Destiny and Our Daily Lives by the Year 2100 (Paperback Edition)
Publisher: Anchor Books; February 21, 2012

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Physics of the Impossible: A Scientific Explorations into the World of Phasers, Force Fields, Teleportation, and Time Travel
Publisher: Doubleday; March 11, 2008

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Parallel Worlds: A Journey Through Creation, Higher Dimensions, and the Future of the Cosmos
Publisher: Anchor Books; February 14, 2006

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Hyperspace: A Scientific Odyssey Through Parallel Universes, Time Warps, and the Tenth Dimension
Publisher: Oxford University Press; October 1995

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Visions: How Science Will Revolutionize the 21st Century and Beyond
Publisher: Oxford Paperbacks; March 4, 1999

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Einstein’s Cosmos: How Albert Einstein’s Vision Transformed Our Understanding of Space and Time (Great Discoveries)
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; May 16, 2005

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Beyond Einstein: The Cosmic Quest for the Theory of the Universe
Publisher: Anchor Books; September 1, 1995

Purchase from Amazon.

https://theintercept.com/2015/11/06/u-s-journalists-who-instantly-exonerated-their-government-of-the-kunduz-hospital-attack-declaring-it-an-accident/

(updated below – Update II)

Shortly after the news broke of the U.S. attack on a Doctors without Borders (MSF) hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan, there was abundant evidence suggesting (not proving, but suggesting) that the attack was no accident: (1) MSF repeatedly told the U.S. military about the precise coordinates of its hospital, which had been operating for years; (2) the Pentagon’s story about what happened kept changing, radically, literally on a daily basis; (3) the exact same MSF hospital had been invaded by Afghan security forces three months earlier, demonstrating hostility toward the facility; (4) the attack lasted more than 30 minutes and involved multiple AC-130 gunship flyovers, even as MSF officials frantically pleaded with the U.S. military to stop; and, most compellingly of all, (5) Afghan officials from the start said explicitly that the hospital was a valid and intended target due to the presence of Taliban fighters as patients.

Since then, the evidence that the attack was intentional has only grown. Two weeks ago, AP reported that “the Army Green Berets who requested the Oct. 3 airstrike on the Doctors without Borders trauma center in Afghanistan were aware it was a functioning hospital but believed it was under Taliban control.” Last night, NBC News cited a new MSF report with this headline: “U.S. Plane Shot Victims Fleeing Doctors Without Borders Hospital: Charity.” As the New York Times put it yesterday, the “hospital was among the most brightly lit buildings in Kunduz on the night a circling American gunship destroyed it” and “spread across the hospital roof was a large white and red flag reading ‘Médecins Sans Frontières.’” For reasons that are increasingly understandable, the Obama administration is still adamantly refusing MSF’s demand for an independent investigation into what happened and why.
All of this led MSF’s general director, Christopher Stokes, to say this at a news conference yesterday in Kabul:
“A mistake is quite hard to understand and believe at this stage.”
As my colleague Murtaza Hussain reported yesterday, Stokes added: “From what we are seeing now, this action is illegal in the laws of war.”

This was not the first time top officials from the universally respected MSF have said this. Three weeks ago, Stokes said in an interview with AP that “the extensive, quite precise destruction of this hospital … doesn’t indicate a mistake. The hospital was repeatedly hit.” He added that “all indications point to a grave breach of international humanitarian law, and therefore a war crime.” That’s “all indications” point to a “war crime.”

The point here isn’t that it’s been definitively proven that the U.S. attack was deliberate. What exactly happened here and why won’t be known, as MSF itself has said, until there is a full-scale, truly independent investigation — precisely what the U.S. government is steadfastly blocking. But MSF’s Stokes is absolutely correct to say that all of the evidence that is known means that “mistake” is “quite hard to believe at this stage” as an explanation and that the compilation of all known evidence “points to … a war crime.”

Nonetheless, many U.S. journalists immediately, repeatedly and authoritatively declared this to have been an “accident” or a “mistake” despite not having the slightest idea whether that was true, and worse, in the face of substantial evidence that it was false.

What possible motivation would the U.S. government have for submitting to an independent investigation when — as usual — it has an army of super-patriotic, uber-nationalistic journalists eager to act as its lawyers and insist, despite the evidence, that Americans could not possibly be guilty of anything other than a terrible “mistake”? Indeed, the overriding sentiment among many U.S. journalists is that their country and government are so inherently Good that they could not possibly do anything so bad on purpose. Any bad acts are mindlessly presumed to be terrible, uintended mistakes tragically made by Good, Well-Intentioned People (Americans). Other Bad Countries do bad things on purpose. But Americans are good and do not.

They cling to this self-flattering belief so vehemently that they not only refused to entertain the possibility that the U.S. government might have done something bad on purpose, but they scornfully mock anyone who questions the official claim of “mistake.” When you’re lucky enough as a government and military to have hordes of journalists so subservient and nationalistic that they do and say this — to exonerate you fully — before knowing any facts, why would you ever feel the need to submit to someone else’s investigation?

https://theintercept.com/2015/10/05/the-radically-changing-story-of-the-u-s-airstrike-on-afghan-hospital-from-mistake-to-justification/
https://theintercept.com/2015/10/05/the-radically-changing-story-of-the-u-s-airstrike-on-afghan-hospital-from-mistake-to-justification/

http://www.vox.com/2015/10/5/9454575/kunduz-us-bombing

http://www.vox.com/2015/10/5/9454575/kunduz-us-bombing

Over the weekend, a United States AC-130 military aircraft targeted a Doctors Without Borders hospital in Afghanistan, killing 22 innocent people and forcing the humanitarian group to withdraw from the city.

The incident, on its face, was surely the result of some terrible human error, whether it was the Americans who launched the strike, the Afghans who reportedly called it in, or the many people involved who did not realize what they were doing, though Doctors Without Borders had alerted the US to their presence.

But regardless of any human error, there is a deeper and not-at-all accidental cause to blame, and it is the same thing that has contributed to the American bombing of so many wedding parties and innocent villages before: This is how a bombing war works. This is what a bombing war does. It is the war we’ve chosen in Afghanistan, the war we’ve chosen in Syria and Iraq, and the war that, if history is any guide, the United States will continue to choose over and over. When we treat it as mainly an accident or an aberration, we obfuscate that fact and ignore what makes this incident truly terrible.

What happened in Kunduz

In the twilight between Friday night and Saturday morning, in the northern Afghan town of Kunduz, Lajos Zoltan Jecs, a nurse with Doctors Without Borders, was shaken awake by an explosion. At first, as he wrote on his NGO’s website, all he knew was that the blast had been very close — much closer than the usual background noise of war.

Jecs stumbled into the hospital to look for survivors. He found one patient killed on the operating table and another six “burning in their beds” in the intensive care unit. “I cannot describe what was inside. There are no words for how terrible it was,” he wrote. The bombing continued for half an hour. By the end, at least 22 people were dead: 12 Doctors Without Borders staffers and 10 patients, three of them children.

The town of Kunduz had, just a few days earlier, been overrun by the Taliban. It was the group’s biggest military victory in 14 years and the beginning of what many Afghans fear will be the Taliban’s reconquest of their country, now that the American-led force is leaving. But this was not Doctors Without Borders’ first war, and the group had made sure all parties in the war knew their facility’s precise location.

Jecs could not know it at the time, but he and his colleagues were being bombed not by the Taliban or the Afghan military, but by the United States government. An American AC-130 ground-attack aircraft, which can function as a kind of flying artillery platform, had pounded the hospital from above.

The US-led NATO forces in Afghanistan at first said they were only returning fire against militants who’d shot at them first. When it became clear they had in fact destroyed a hospital, Afghan authorities insisted militants had been hiding out in the facility. On Monday, the top US commander in Afghanistan walked back the claim that Americans had been under fire, and said the strike had in fact been called in by Afghan forces. He did not apologize.

Kunduz isn’t an aberration: this is the war we’ve chosen in Afghanistan

What happened in Kunduz was, by all appearances, a terrible accident. But it is a kind of accident that, all the same, is an inevitable and entirely foreseeable consequence of America’s role in Afghanistan.

This is just what happens when you lead an air war against irregular forces like the Taliban: You bomb hospitals into dust, you burn patients in their beds, you kill 22 innocent people for nothing.

And indeed, such accidents have been happening for some time. The UN has documented 1,700 Afghan civilians killed by airstrikes just since 2008. While it does not differentiate based on who launched the strike, the US has dominated the air campaign in Afghanistan since 2002, and the stories of bombed civilians and wedding parties have been around just as long.

In July 2002, the US bombed a wedding party outside of Kandahar in error, killing at least 30. In July 2008, in Nangarhar province, as a group of mostly women and children escorted a bride to her wedding, US-led airstrikes rained down on them, killing 47. That November, another US-led airstrike on a wedding party killed 37. In May 2009, an American B-1 bomber leveled the village of Granai, just south of Herat, killing somewhere between 80 and 120-some people in what became known as the Granai massacre. On and on.

This is simply how these sorts of wars work. Whether American intentions are noble or cynical, whether the president is Barack Obama or George W. Bush, the Kunduz hospital bombing, or something like it, is going to happen.

That is not a case for shrugging it off, for obviating the United States of responsibility or guilt. Quite the opposite: It is a reminder that Kunduz is the war we’ve chosen, not just in Afghanistan, and that we go into this and other bombing campaigns knowing full well the consequences.

Kunduz will always happen in a bombing campaign

For all America’s advances in accuracy when it comes to airstrikes, there is one problem it cannot solve with technology: You need someone on the ground calling the targets. That invites human error when you have it. In its absence, it forces you to pick your targets based on some combination of guesswork (e.g., US “signature strikes” on armed young men standing around in militant-held areas) and local proxies, who may or may not be honest or even minimally competent.

As the US and its allies withdraw their ground troops but keep up the air campaign, they will be launching more airstrikes based on reports called in from Afghan proxies on the ground. There will be more accidents like Kunduz, more senseless death for which America is rightly seen as culpable.

War is never clean, never more than a menu of bad options. In Afghanistan, our choices, broadly, were to keep a ground force that had not won in a decade-plus of fighting, scale back to an air campaign that has a long record of killing civilians, or withdraw entirely and watch as the Taliban regains power. We chose the second bad option. We chose Kunduz.

It’s the same choice we’ve made many times before and will surely continue to make. The United States often seeks to use military force in faraway conflicts but is neither able nor willing to use ground troops in most cases, and so falls back to airstrikes.

That is not to say that this is a good choice, or even a defensible choice. But it is a reminder of a truth that Americans don’t like to acknowledge: This is what we resign ourselves to when we launch an air war, whether in Afghanistan or Iraq or Syria. No matter how evil the foe or how necessary the fight, on the red side of the pro-con ledger there will always be Kunduz and its victims, whether we admit it to ourselves or not.

http://www.doctorswithoutborders.org/article/unspeakable-msf-nurse-recounts-attack-msfs-kunduz-hospital

October 03, 2015
Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) nurse Lajos Zoltan Jecs was in Kunduz trauma hospital when the facility was struck by a series of aerial bombing raids in the early hours of Saturday morning. He describes his experience:

“It was absolutely terrifying.

I was sleeping in our safe room in the hospital. At around 2am, I was woken up by the sound of a big explosion nearby. At first I didn’t know what was going on. Over the past week we’d heard bombings and explosions before, but always further away. This one was different, close and loud.

At first there was confusion, and dust settling. As we were trying to work out what was happening, there was more bombing.

After 20 or 30 minutes, I heard someone calling my name. It was one of the Emergency Room nurses. He staggered in with massive trauma to his arm. He was covered in blood, with wounds all over his body.

At that point my brain just couldn’t understand what was happening. For a second I was just stood still, shocked.

He was calling for help. In the safe room, we have a limited supply of basic medical essentials, but there was no morphine to stop his pain. We did what we could.

I don’t know exactly how long, but it was maybe half an hour afterwards that they stopped bombing. I went out with the project coordinator to see what had happened.

What we saw was the hospital destroyed, burning. I don’t know what I felt, just shock again.

We went to look for survivors. A few had already made it to one of the safe rooms. One by one, people started appearing, wounded, including some of our colleagues and caretakers of patients.

We tried to take a look into one of the burning buildings. I cannot describe what was inside. There are no words for how terrible it was. In the Intensive Care Unit six patients were burning in their beds.

We looked for some staff that were supposed to be in the operating theater. It was awful. A patient there on the operating table, dead, in the middle of the destruction. We couldn’t find our staff. Thankfully we later found that they had run out from the operating theater and had found a safe place.

Just nearby, we had a look in the inpatient department. Luckily untouched by the bombing. We quickly checked that everyone was OK. And in a safe bunker next door, also everyone inside was OK.

And then back to the office. Full, patients, wounded, crying out, everywhere.

It was crazy. We had to organize a mass casualty plan in the office, seeing which doctors were alive and available to help. We did an urgent surgery for one of our doctors. Unfortunately he died there on the office table. We did our best, but it wasn’t enough.

The whole situation was very hard. We saw our colleagues dying. Our pharmacist…I was just talking to him last night and planning the stocks, and then he died there in our office.

The first moments were just chaos. Enough staff had survived, so we could help all the wounded with treatable wounds. But there were too many that we couldn’t help. Somehow, everything was very clear. We just treated the people that needed treatment, and didn’t make decisions. How could we make decisions in that sort of fear and chaos?

Some of my colleagues were in too much shock, crying and crying. I tried to encourage some of the staff to help, to give them something to concentrate on, to take their minds off the horror. But some were just too shocked to do anything. Seeing adult men, your friends, crying uncontrollably—that is not easy.

I have been working here since May, and I have seen a lot of heavy medical situations. But it is a totally different story when they are your colleagues, your friends.

These are people who had been working hard for months, non-stop for the past week. They had not gone home, they had not seen their families, they had just been working in the hospital to help people… and now they are dead. These people are friends, close friends. I have no words to express this. It is unspeakable.

The hospital, it has been my workplace and home for several months. Yes, it is just a building. But it is so much more than that. It is healthcare for Kunduz. Now it is gone.

What is in my heart since this morning is that this is completely unacceptable. How can this happen? What is the benefit of this? Destroying a hospital and so many lives, for nothing. I cannot find words for this.”

http://www.vox.com/2015/10/5/9454575/kunduz-us-bombing

http://www.vox.com/2015/10/5/9454575/kunduz-us-bombing

https://theintercept.com/2015/10/05/the-radically-changing-story-of-the-u-s-airstrike-on-afghan-hospital-from-mistake-to-justification/

When news first broke of the U.S. airstrike on the Doctors Without Borders hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan, the response from the U.S. military was predictable and familiar. It was all just a big, terrible mistake, the official statement suggested: An airstrike it carried out in Kunduz “may have resulted in collateral damage to a nearby medical facility.” Oops: our bad. Fog of war, errant bombs, and all that.

This obfuscation is the standard tactic the U.S. and Israel both use whenever they blow up civilian structures and slaughter large numbers of innocent people with airstrikes. Citizens of both countries are well-trained — like some tough, war-weary, cigar-chomping general — to reflexively spout the phrase “collateral damage,” which lets them forget about the whole thing and sleep soundly, telling themselves that these sorts of innocent little mistakes are inevitable even among the noblest and most well-intentioned war fighters, such as their own governments. The phrase itself is beautifully technocratic: It requires no awareness of how many lives get extinguished, let alone acceptance of culpability. Just invoke that phrase and throw enough doubt on what happened in the first 48 hours and the media will quickly lose interest.

But there’s something significantly different about this incident that has caused this “mistake” claim to fail. Usually, the only voices protesting or challenging the claims of the U.S. military are the foreign, non-Western victims who live in the cities and villages where the bombs fall. Those are easily ignored, or dismissed as either ignorant or dishonest. Those voices barely find their way into U.S. news stories, and when they do, they are steamrolled by the official and/or anonymous claims of the U.S. military, which are typically treated by U.S. media outlets as unassailable authority.

In this case, though, the U.S. military bombed the hospital of an organization — Doctors Without Borders (Médecins Sans Frontières, or MSF) — run by Western-based physicians and other medical care professionals. They are not so easily ignored. Doctors who travel to dangerous war zones to treat injured human beings are regarded as noble and trustworthy. They’re difficult to marginalize and demonize. They give compelling, articulate interviews in English to U.S. media outlets. They are heard, and listened to.

MSF has used this platform, unapologetically and aggressively. Its staff are clearly infuriated by the attack on their hospital and the deaths of their colleagues and patients. From the start, they have signaled an unwillingness to be shunted away with the usual “collateral damage” banalities and, more important, have refused to let the U.S. military and its allies get away with spouting obvious falsehoods. They want real answers. As The Guardian’s Spencer Ackerman put it last night: “MSF’s been going incredibly hard, challenging every US/Afgh claim made about hospital bombing.”

In particular, MSF quickly publicized numerous facts that cast serious doubt on the original U.S. claim that the strike on the hospital was just an accident. To begin with, the organization had repeatedly advised the U.S. military of the exact GPS coordinates of the hospital. It did so most recently on September 29, just five days before the strike. Beyond that, MSF personnel at the facility “frantically” called U.S. military officials during the strike to advise them that the hospital was being hit and to plead with them to stop, but the strikes continued in a “sustained” manner for 30 more minutes. Finally, MSF yesterday said this:
All of these facts make it extremely difficult — even for U.S. media outlets — to sell the “accident” story. At least as likely is that the hospital was deliberately targeted, chosen either by Afghan military officials who fed the coordinates to their U.S. military allies and/or by the U.S. military itself.

Even cynical critics of the U.S. have a hard time believing that the U.S. military would deliberately target a hospital with an airstrike (despite how many times the U.S. has destroyed hospitals with airstrikes). But in this case, there is long-standing tension between the Afghan military and this specific MSF hospital, grounded in the fact that MSF — true to its name — treats all wounded human beings without first determining on which side they fight. That it provides medical treatment to wounded civilians and Taliban fighters alike has made it a target before.

In July — just three months ago — Reuters reported that Afghan special forces “raided” this exact MSF hospital in Kunduz, claiming an al Qaeda member was a patient. This raid infuriated MSF staff:

The French aid group said its hospital was temporarily closed to new patients after armed soldiers had entered and behaved violently towards staff.

“This incident demonstrates a serious lack of respect for the medical mission, which is safeguarded under international humanitarian law,” MSF said in a statement.

A staff member who works for the aid group said, “The foreign doctors tried to stop the Afghan Special Operations guys, but they went in anyway, searching the hospital.”

The U.S. had previously targeted a hospital in a similar manner: “In 2009, a Swedish aid group accused U.S. forces of violating humanitarian principles by raiding a hospital in Wardak province, west of Kabul.”
News accounts of this weekend’s U.S. airstrike on that same hospital hinted cryptically at the hostility from the Afghan military. The first NYT story on the strike — while obscuring who carried it out — noted deep into the article that “the hospital treated the wounded from all sides of the conflict, a policy that has long irked Afghan security forces.” Al Jazeera similarly alluded to this tension, noting that “a caretaker at the hospital, who was severely injured in the airstrike, told Al Jazeera that [the] clinic’s medical staff did not favor any side of the conflict. ‘We are here to help and treat civilians,’ Abdul Manar said.”

As a result of all of this, there is now a radical shift in the story being told about this strike. No longer is it being depicted as some terrible accident of a wayward bomb. Instead, the predominant narrative from U.S. sources and their Afghan allies is that this attack was justified because the Taliban were using the hospital as a “base.”

Fox News yesterday, citing anonymous “defense officials,” said that while they “‘regret the loss’ of innocent life, they say the incident could have been avoided if the Taliban had not used the hospital as a base, and the civilians there as human shields.” In its first article on the attack, the Washington Post also previewed this defense, quoting a “spokesman for the Afghan army’s 209th Corps in northern Afghanistan” as saying that “Taliban fighters are now hiding in ‘people’s houses, mosques and hospitals using civilians as human shields.’” AP yesterday actually claimed that it looked at a video and saw weaponry in the hospital’s windows, only to delete that claim with this correction:
The New York Times today — in a story ostensibly about the impact of the hospital’s destruction on area residents — printed paragraphs from anonymous officials justifying this strike, saying that “there was heavy gunfire in the area around the hospital at the time of the airstrike, and that initial reports indicated that the Americans and Afghans on the ground near the hospital could not safely pull back without being dangerously exposed. American forces on the ground then called for air support, senior officials said.” The Times also claimed that “many residents of Kunduz, as well as people in Kabul, seemed willing to believe the accusations of some Afghan officials that there were Taliban fighters in the hospital shooting at American troops.” And this:

Still, some Afghan officials continued to suggest that the attack was justified. “I know that there were civilian casualties in the hospital, but a lot of senior Taliban were also killed,” said Abdul Wadud Paiman, a member of Parliament from Kunduz.

So now we’re into full-on justification mode: Yes, we did it; yes, we did it on purpose; and we’re not sorry because we were right to do so since we think some Taliban fighters were at the hospital, perhaps even shooting at us. In response to the emergence of this justification claim, MSF expressed the exact level of revulsion appropriate (emphasis added):

MSF is disgusted by the recent statements coming from some Afghanistan government authorities justifying the attack on its hospital in Kunduz. These statements imply that Afghan and U.S. forces working together decided to raze to the ground a fully functioning hospital with more than 180 staff and patients inside because they claim that members of the Taliban were present.

This amounts to an admission of a war crime. This utterly contradicts the initial attempts of the U.S. government to minimize the attack as ‘collateral damage.’

There can be no justification for this abhorrent attack on our hospital that resulted in the deaths of MSF staff as they worked and patients as they lay in their beds. MSF reiterates its demand for a full transparent and independent international investigation.

From the start, MSF made clear that none of its staff at the hospital heard or saw Taliban fighters engaging U.S. or Afghan forces:
But even if there were, only the most savage barbarians would decide that it’s justified to raze a hospital filled with doctors, nurses, and patients to the ground. Yet mounting evidence suggests that this is exactly what the U.S. military did — either because it chose to do so or because its Afghan allies fed the military the coordinates of this hospital, which they have long disliked. As a result, we now have U.S. and Afghan officials expressly justifying the consummate war crime: deliberately attacking a hospital filled with doctors, nurses, and wounded patients. And whatever else is true, the story of what happened here has been changing rapidly as facts emerge proving the initial claims to be false.

* * * * *

Just as this article was being published, NBC News published a report making clear that even the latest claims from the U.S. and Afghan governments are now falling apart. The Pentagon’s top four-star commander in Afghanistan, Army Gen. John Campbell, now claims that “local Afghans forces asked for air support and U.S. forces were not under direct fire just prior to the U.S. bombardment” of the hospital. As NBC notes, this directly contradicts prior claims: “The Pentagon had previously said U.S. troops were under direct fire.”

See also from today: CNN and the NYT Are Deliberately Obscuring Who Perpetrated the Afghan Hospital Attack

UPDATE: Responding to the above-referenced admission, MSF has issued this statement:

Today the U.S. government has admitted that it was their airstrike that hit our hospital in Kunduz and killed 22 patients and MSF staff. Their description of the attack keeps changing — from collateral damage, to a tragic incident, to now attempting to pass responsibility to the Afghanistan government. The reality is the U.S. dropped those bombs. The U.S. hit a huge hospital full of wounded patients and MSF staff. The U.S. military remains responsible for the targets it hits, even though it is part of a coalition. There can be no justification for this horrible attack. With such constant discrepancies in the U.S. and Afghan accounts of what happened, the need for a full transparent independent investigation is ever more critical.

The U.S. seems to have picked the wrong group this time to attack from the air.
https://theintercept.com/2015/10/05/cnn-and-the-nyt-are-deliberately-obscuring-who-perpetrated-the-afghan-hospital-attack/

Much of the world spent the last 48 hours expressing revulsion at the U.S. airstrike on a hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan. It was quite clear early on that the perpetrator of the attack was the U.S., and many media outlets and other organizations around the world have been stating this without any difficulties.

“U.S. Airstrike Kills 19 at Doctors Without Borders Hospital in Afghanistan,” states the straightforward Wall Street Journal headline, under which appears this equally clear lede: “A U.S. airstrike in the Afghan city of Kunduz killed at least 19 people at a hospital run by international medical-aid organization Doctors Without Borders early Saturday, prompting condemnation from humanitarian groups and the United Nations.”

Human Rights Watch chose this as its headline: “US Airstrike Hits Kunduz Hospital.” And so on. Even the media outlets that early on took a more cautious approach nonetheless prominently identified right from the start — in their headline and/or lede — the key fact: namely, who was the likely perpetrator. This Vice headline states: “19 Dead After Apparent US Airstrike Hits MSF Hospital in Afghanistan”; USA Today’s headline read: “19 killed after Afghan hospital hit in suspected U.S. airstrike”; while NPR in its first sentence definitively stated that the hospital was hit by “an aerial attack carried out by U.S. forces.”

But not CNN and the New York Times. For the last 36 hours, and up through this moment, this is the extraordinary opening paragraph in the featured article on the attack from the cable news network:

We’re bravely here to report that these two incidents perhaps coincidentally occurred at “about” the same time: There was a hospital that blew up, and then there was this other event where the U.S. carried out an airstrike. As the blogger Billmon wrote: “London 1940: Civilians throughout the city were killed at about the same time as a German air strike, CNN reports.”

The entire article is designed to obfuscate who carried out this atrocity. The headline states: “Air attacks kill at least 19 at Afghanistan hospital; U.S. investigating.” What’s the U.S. role in this incident? They’re the investigators: like Sherlock Holmes after an unsolved crime.

The article itself repeatedly suggests the same: “The United States said it was investigating what struck the hospital during the night.” It’s a fascinating whodunit and the U.S. is determined to get to the bottom of it. Offering a tantalizing clue, CNN notes that “the circumstances weren’t immediately clear, but the U.S. military was conducting an airstrike in Kunduz at the time the hospital was hit, U.S. Army Col. Brian Tibus said.” So the U.S. commits a repugnant atrocity that, at the very best, was reckless, and CNN can’t bring itself to state clearly who did it.

In its own special way, the New York Times has been even more craven. Its original article on the attack opted for this bizarrely agent-less formulation:
Some airstrike, traveling around on its own like a lost tourist, ran into a hospital in Afghanistan (admittedly, for sheer propagandistic obfuscation, nothing will ever top the repellent missile-tourism headline chosen by the NYT when Israel bombed a Gaza cafe in 2014 and killed 8 people: “Missile at Beachside Gaza Cafe Finds Patrons Poised for World Cup”).

The article in the NYT’s Sunday print edition illustrated the pains the paper was suffering to avoid framing the story as what it was: a U.S. airstrike on a hospital. This is what readers of that paper saw on Sunday morning:

In fairness, this is a modest improvement from the day before, as it at least constitutes an acknowledgment that there are some people in the world who are blaming the U.S. for what happened — but none who are at the New York Times of course! That led Kade Crockford, in exasperation, to offer this obvious editorial suggestion:
Even as of this morning, more than 48 hours later, the NYT continues to obscure who perpetrated this attack. In a long article about the effects on the region’s residents from the destruction of their only hospital capable of advanced care, one reads and reads some more without any mention of who actually did this:

Note the lovely claim in the first paragraph that things have become so very “precarious for residents caught between government troops and Taliban militants after the withdrawal Sunday of an aid group that was one of the last providers of medical services there.” In addition to “government troops and Taliban militants,” they’ve also sort of been “caught between” massive American firepower that destroyed the hospital in question, though this unpleasant fact has been vanished from the NYT’s narrative of this event.

It’s not as though these media outlets have any doubt about who did this. Both the NYT and CNN eventually get around to acknowledging that it was the U.S. who did it. In today’s NYT article, for instance, the paper generously acknowledges in the third paragraph that “the Pentagon … has said it may have inadvertently struck the hospital during a military operation”; grants anonymity to a “senior U.S. military official” in the fourth paragraph to justify why “American forces on the ground then called for air support”; and then, all the way down in the 10th paragraph, finally gets around to acknowledging that “the attack … appeared to have been carried out by American aircraft.”

The U.S. and its allies — in both the Afghan government and its own media — have now switched course from the “it was a collateral damage mistake” cliché to the proud “yes we did it and it was justified” boast (indeed, a large bulk of today’s NYT article, ostensibly about the effects of the hospital’s destruction, is actually devoted to giving voice to those who are justifying why the hospital was attacked, even as the framing of the article is designed to suppress the identity of the perpetrator). But from the start, not even the U.S. military had the audacity to try to obscure that they did this. They left that dirty work to their leading media outlets, which, as usual, are more than eager and happy to comply.

* * * * *

See also from today: The Radically Changing Story of the U.S. Airstrike on Afghan Hospital: From Mistake to Justification

https://theintercept.com/2015/10/05/the-radically-changing-story-of-the-u-s-airstrike-on-afghan-hospital-from-mistake-to-justification/

http://www.doctorswithoutborders.org/article/msf-response-spurious-claims-kunduz-hospital-was-taliban-base

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/3988433.stm

http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/07/02/us-afghanistan-hospital-idUSKCN0PC14Z20150702

https://theintercept.com/2015/10/03/one-day-after-warning-russia-of-civilian-casualties-the-u-s-bombs-a-hospital-in-the-war-obama-ended/

updated below – Update II – Update III – Update IV – Update V)

Yesterday afternoon, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power marched to Twitter to proclaim: “We call on Russia to immediately cease attacks on Syrian oppo[sition and] civilians.” Along with that decree, she posted a statement from the U.S. and several of its closest authoritarian allies — including Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the U.K. — warning Russia that civilian casualties “will only fuel more extremism and radicalization.”

Early this morning, in the Afghan city of Kunduz, the U.S. dropped bombs on a hospital run by Doctors Without Borders (Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)). The airstrike killed at least nine of the hospital’s medical staff, and seriously injured dozens of patients. “Among the dead was the Afghan head of the hospital, Abdul Sattar,” reported the New York Times.

Jason Cone, MSF’s executive director, said the medical charity “condemns in the strongest possible terms the horrific bombing of its hospital in Kunduz full of staff and patients.” He added that “all parties [to the] conflict, including in Kabul & Washington, were clearly informed of precise GPS Coordinates of MSF facilities in Kunduz,” and that the “precise location of MSF Kunduz hospital [was] communicated to all parties on multiple occasions over past months, including on 9/29.” Worst of all, from MSF itself:
For its part, the U.S. military in Afghanistan issued a statement acknowledging that it carried out airstrikes, claimed they were conducted “against individuals threatening the force,” and conceded that “the strike may have resulted in collateral damage to a nearby medical facility.” But the NYT reported: “From early on, the Taliban had respected the hospital’s request not to bring weapons inside, according to staff members, and the hospital had been a refuge in the shattered city of Kunduz. It was a place where the wounded from all sides were treated.”

The medical organization noted that “our hospital in Kunduz was the only one of its kind in NorthEastern Afghanistan.” It referenced a now-poignant tweet it posted earlier in the week:
Now, however, the Twitter accounts of various MSF branches are filled with horrific photographs of their staff traumatized and their hospital burning as a result of U.S. bombs:
MSF’s full, frequently updated, hard-to-read account of all of this is here.

This strike on a hospital in Afghanistan comes days after the Saudi-led coalition bombed a wedding in Yemen that killed more than 130 people. After days of silence from the U.S. government — which has actively participated from the start in the heinous bombing of Yemen — Ambassador Power finally acknowledged the wedding massacre, but treated it like some natural disaster that has nothing to do with the U.S.: “Terrible news from Yemen of killing of innocent civilians & aid workers. Urgently need pol solution to crisis,” she tweeted.

Her accompanying statement claimed that “the United States has no role in the targeting decisions made by the Coalition in Yemen,” but yesterday, the Saudi Foreign Minister told CBS News that “We work with our allies including the United States on these targets.” There’s no dispute that the U.S. has lavished Saudi Arabia with all sorts of weapons and intelligence as it carries out its civilian-massacring attacks on Yemen.

This last week has been a particularly gruesome illustration of continuous U.S. conduct under the War on Terror banner, including under the Nobel Peace Prize-winning president who celebrates himself for “ending two wars” (in the same two countries where the U.S. continues to drop bombs). The formula by now is clear: bombing whatever countries it wants, justifying it all by reflexively labeling their targets as “terrorists,” and then dishonestly denying or casually dismissing the civilians they slaughter as “collateral damage.” If one were to construct a list of all the countries in the world based on their credibility to condemn Russia for using this exact rhetorical template in Syria, the U.S. would literally be last on that list.

UPDATE: U.S. officials went to Time magazine yesterday to announce that Russia will be creating more terrorists than they kill as a result of misguided airstrikes in Syria. “We believe if you inadvertently kill innocent men, women and children, then there’s a backlash from that,” said Lt. Gen. Bob Otto, the Air Force’s deputy chief of staff for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance. “We might kill three and create 10 terrorists. It really goes back to the question of are we killing more than were making?”

It’s impossible to fathom what the U.S. media would be saying and doing if Russia did something like this in Syria. By contrast, the reaction to this airstrike by their own government will be muted and filled with apologia, ironically quite similar to the widely vilified caricature of Jeb Bush’s comments about the Oregon shooting spree: “stuff happens.”

UPDATE II: Al Jazeera reports that the hospital bombed by the U.S. “is the only medical facility in the region that can deal with major injuries.” Nonetheless, “officials of MSF … told Reuters that they ‘frantically phoned’ NATO and Washington DC, as bombs rained on the hospital for ‘nearly an hour.’”

UPDATE III: The latest casualty figures from MSF:
Speaking to the nation just three days ago about the Oregon shooting spree, Barack Obama said: “This is a political choice that we make, to allow this to happen every few months.” That applies to a lot more than that incident.

UPDATE IV: Several reports suggest that this hospital has been viewed with hostility because it treats all injured human beings, regardless of which side they’re on. “The hospital treated the wounded from all sides of the conflict, a policy that has long irked the Afghan security forces,” reports the NYT. Al Jazeera notes that “a caretaker at the hospital, who was severely injured in the air strike, told Al Jazeera that [the] clinic’s medical staff did not favor any side of the conflict. ‘We are here to help and treat civilians,’ Abdul Manar said.” That same caretaker added: “Several women and children are also killed in the strike. I could hear them screaming for help inside the hospital while it was set ablaze by the bombing. We are terrified and speechless.”

UPDATE V: The U.N. human rights chief has denounced the U.S. airstrike as “tragic, inexcusable, and possibly even criminal.”

This is not the first time this has happened. In 2004, U.S. airstrikes in Falluja, Iraq, hit a hospital and “razed it to the ground.”

Caption: A handout provided by Medecins Sans Frontieres shows MSF staff in shock in one of the remaining parts of the hospital in Kunduz in the aftermath of the bombings, Kunduz, Afghanistan, October 3, 2015.

http://bigstory.ap.org/article/fa50c8716cb146e99b5aae867439780d/latest-confusion-over-bombing-afghanistan-hospital

The Latest: Obama demands details on Afghan clinic airstrike
Oct. 4, 2015 12:15 AM EDT
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — The latest developments from Afghanistan, where the international charity Doctors Without Borders says that at least 19 people were killed when its clinic came under “sustained bombing” as government and international forces continue to battle Taliban fighters in the northern city of Kunduz (all times local):

___

4:30 a.m.

President Barack Obama says he expects a full accounting of the circumstances surrounding the deadly bombing of a hospital in Afghanistan that killed 19.

Obama says he’s asked the U.S. Defense Department to keep him informed about the full investigation into what happened. He says he’ll wait for those results before making a judgment about the circumstances.

It’s unclear exactly who bombed the hospital run by Doctors Without Borders in Kunduz. The group has said all indications point to the U.S.-led international coalition. Afghan forces backed by U.S. airstrikes have been battling the Taliban in Kunduz.

The president was sending his deepest condolences to the medical workers and civilians killed. He says the U.S. will continue working with Afghanistan’s government and its overseas partners to promote security in Afghanistan.

___

11:45 p.m.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon “strongly” condemned the airstrikes in Kunduz and said hospitals and medical personnel are “explicitly protected” under international humanitarian law, his spokesman’s office said in a statement Saturday.

___

11 p.m.

The commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan says the military is opening an investigation into the deadly bombing of a Doctors Without Borders facility in the northern Afghan city of Kunduz.

http://bigstory.ap.org/article/c82d21be40b6487fb4c46b20e57f9595/ap-source-clinton-aide-interviewed-email-investigation
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/news/ttip-could-cause-an-nhs-sell-off-and-parliament-would-be-powerless-to-stop-it-says-leading-union-a7006471.html

http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/ttip-leaks-shocking-what-are-they-eu-us-deal-a7010121.html

http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/what-is-ttip-and-six-reasons-why-the-answer-should-scare-you-9779688.html

https://t.co/O0pnZClJXc

Today’s shock leak of the text of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) marks the beginning of the end for the hated EU-US trade deal, and a key moment in the Brexit debate. The unelected negotiators have kept the talks going until now by means of a fanatical level of secrecy, with threats of criminal prosecution for anyone divulging the treaty’s contents.
money is his god, his religion is making more of it.

 

READ MORE
What is TTIP? And six reasons why the answer should scare you
Now, for the first time, the people of Europe can see for themselves what the European Commission has been doing under cover of darkness – and it is not pretty.

The leaked TTIP documents, published by Greenpeace this morning, run to 248 pages and cover 13 of the 17 chapters where the final agreement has begun to take shape. The texts include highly controversial subjects such as EU food safety standards, already known to be at risk from TTIP, as well as details of specific threats such as the US plan to end Europe’s ban on genetically modified foods.
The documents show that US corporations will be granted unprecedented powers over any new public health or safety regulations to be introduced in future. If any European government does dare to bring in laws to raise social or environmental standards, TTIP will grant US investors the right to sue for loss of profits in their own corporate court system that is unavailable to domestic firms, governments or anyone else.

For all those who said that we were scaremongering and that the EU would never allow this to happen, we were right and you were wrong.

The leaked texts also reveal how the European Commission is preparing to open up the European economy to unfair competition from giant US corporations, despite acknowledging the disastrous consequences this will bring to European producers, who have to meet far higher standards than pertain in the USA.

According to official statistics, at least one million jobs will be lost as a direct result of TTIP – and twice that many if the full deal is allowed to go through. Yet we can now see that EU negotiators are preparing to trade away whole sectors of our economies in TTIP, with no care for the human consequences.

The European Commission slapped a 30-year ban on public access to the TTIP negotiating texts at the beginning of the talks in 2013, in the full knowledge that they would not be able to survive the outcry if people were given sight of the deal. In response, campaigners called for a ‘Dracula strategy’ against the agreement: expose the vampire to sunlight and it will die. Today the door has been flung open and the first rays of sunlight shone on TTIP. The EU negotiators will never be able to crawl back into the shadows again.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/news/ttip-could-cause-an-nhs-sell-off-and-parliament-would-be-powerless-to-stop-it-says-leading-union-a7006471.html
READ MORE
UK Parliament ‘would not be able to stop NHS sell-off under TTIP’
The leak of the TTIP text comes at a time when senior politicians across Europe have already begun to distance themselves from the increasingly toxic deal. President Hollande announced this weekend that France will veto any TTIP agreement that could endanger the country’s agricultural sector. Germany’s economy minister Sigmar Gabriel has also spoken publicly of TTIP collapsing, and has pointed the finger at US intransigence as the cause. When politicians start playing the blame game in this way, you know they are already preparing their exit strategies. The writing is on the wall.

For those of us in the thick of the EU referendum debate, the contempt shown by the TTIP negotiators to the people of Europe is the most potent reminder of the democratic deficit at the heart of the EU institutions. Today’s leak of the TTIP text leaves the leaders of the European Union with a choice. Either they abandon the TTIP negotiations immediately or they risk seeing the entire European project come crashing down about their ears. They have until 23rd June to decide.

John Hilary is Executive Director of War on Want and author of ‘The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership: A Charter for Deregulation, An Attack on Jobs, An End to Democracy’, now available in 12 European languages
http://www.economist.com/node/21593309/comments#comments

The Bernie Sanders campaign has launched a petition urging the Hillary Clinton campaign to transfer money raised by her massive joint fundraising venture to state parties. This comes after a Politico investigation into the unprecedented fundraising vehicle Clinton formed with state parties found less than 1 percent of the $61 million raised by the venture has actually gone to the state parties. The Hillary Victory Fund is a joint venture between the Democratic National Committee, 32 state committees and Clinton’s campaign. It allows Clinton to collect massive donations at events like the recent dinner at George and Amal Clooney’s house. But it turns out that of the $3.8 million the victory fund has transferred to the state parties, 88 percent of it was quickly moved back to the DNC by the Clinton staffer who controls the committee.

http://www.thenation.com/article/indiana-tells-bernie-sanders-to-stay-in-the-race-and-keep-talking-about-trade/

http://www.thenation.com/article/rescuing-appalachia-from-coals-demise/

http://www.thenation.com/article/heres-why-we-cant-rely-on-shareholders-to-fix-ceo-pay/

http://www.thenation.com/article/is-war-with-russia-possible/

http://www.thenation.com/article/how-to-destroy-the-republican-party-in-three-easy-steps/

http://www.economist.com/blogs/democracyinamerica/2014/01/snowden-case-prosecution

http://www.economist.com/blogs/democracyinamerica/2014/01/whistleblowers-and-national-security

http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2014/01/clemency-for-edward-snowden-would-not-set-a-dangerous-precedent/282759/

Indeed, King did feel that he could decide what was legal and what was not. He felt that rules did not really matter, that he only had to obey what he chose to obey. J. Edgar Hoover, the former director of the FBI, described how King would break laws “to obey a higher law”— King’s laws: “Unfortunately, some civil rights leaders in the past have condoned what they describe as civil disobedience in civil rights demonstrations. “Martin Luther King, Jr., for example, after arriving in Chicago, Ill., early in 1966 in connection with the civil rights drive there, commented about the use of so-called civil disobedience in civil rights demonstrations and said: “‘It may be necessary to engage in such acts… Often, an individual has to break a particular law in order to obey a higher law.’ “Such a course of action is fraught with danger, for if everyone took it upon himself to break any law that he believed was morally unjust, it is readily apparent there would be complete chaos in this country.”

Well, that is our topic, that is our problem: civil obedience. Law is very important. We are talking about obedience to law-law, this marvelous invention of modern times, which we attribute to Western civilization, and which we talk about proudly. The rule of law, oh, how wonderful, all these courses in Western civilization all over the land. Remember those bad old days when people were exploited by feudalism? Everything was terrible in the Middle Ages-but now we have Western civilization, the rule of law. The rule of law has regularized and maximized the injustice that existed before the rule of law, that is what the rule of law has done. Let us start looking at the rule of law realistically, not with that metaphysical complacency with which we always examined it before.

When in all the nations of the world the rule of law is the darling of the leaders and the plague of the people, we ought to begin to recognize this. We have to transcend these national boundaries in our thinking. Nixon and Brezhnev have much more in common with one another than – we have with Nixon. J. Edgar Hoover has far more in common with the head of the Soviet secret police than he has with us. It’s the international dedication to law and order that binds the leaders of all countries in a comradely bond. That’s why we are always surprised when they get together — they smile, they shake hands, they smoke cigars, they really like one another no matter what they say. It’s like the Republican and Democratic parties, who claim that it’s going to make a terrible difference if one or the other wins, yet they are all the same. Basically, it is us against them.

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article36950.htm

http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:Qhk_n_mDbzMJ:www.martinlutherking.org/articles/the_king_holiday.pdf+&cd=9&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us

that’s from a pdf using Hoover’s words to argue for repealing the MLK holiday.

Indeed, King did feel that he could decide what was legal and what was not. He felt that rules did not really matter, that he only had to obey what he chose to obey. J. Edgar Hoover, the former director of the FBI, described how King would break laws “to obey a higher law”— King’s laws: “Unfortunately, some civil rights leaders in the past have condoned what they describe as civil disobedience in civil rights demonstrations. “Martin Luther King, Jr., for example, after arriving in Chicago, Ill., early in 1966 in connection with the civil rights drive there, commented about the use of so-called civil disobedience in civil rights demonstrations and said: “‘It may be necessary to engage in such acts… Often, an individual has to break a particular law in order to obey a higher law.’ “Such a course of action is fraught with danger, for if everyone took it upon himself to break any law that he believed was morally unjust, it is readily apparent there would be complete chaos in this country.”

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article36950.htm

Well, that is our topic, that is our problem: civil obedience. Law is very important. We are talking about obedience to law-law, this marvelous invention of modern times, which we attribute to Western civilization, and which we talk about proudly. The rule of law, oh, how wonderful, all these courses in Western civilization all over the land. Remember those bad old days when people were exploited by feudalism? Everything was terrible in the Middle Ages-but now we have Western civilization, the rule of law. The rule of law has regularized and maximized the injustice that existed before the rule of law, that is what the rule of law has done. Let us start looking at the rule of law realistically, not with that metaphysical complacency with which we always examined it before.

When in all the nations of the world the rule of law is the darling of the leaders and the plague of the people, we ought to begin to recognize this. We have to transcend these national boundaries in our thinking. Nixon and Brezhnev have much more in common with one another than – we have with Nixon. J. Edgar Hoover has far more in common with the head of the Soviet secret police than he has with us. It’s the international dedication to law and order that binds the leaders of all countries in a comradely bond. That’s why we are always surprised when they get together — they smile, they shake hands, they smoke cigars, they really like one another no matter what they say. It’s like the Republican and Democratic parties, who claim that it’s going to make a terrible difference if one or the other wins, yet they are all the same. Basically, it is us against them.

Funny, this was written in 1970- some things never change!
This debate, like so many political debates, is over who gets to decide what. Mr Barro happens to “trust the government to decide what needs to be secret” more than he trusts “rogue contractors with security clearances to decide what should be disclosed”, and this judgment is the beating heart of his argument. However, we are not in the Snowden case faced with the need to make a very general judgment about whom we should trust more, “the government” or “rogue contractors”. A very particular rogue contractor has presented us with very particular evidence that particular parties within the government have made decisions, which they are not duly authorised to make, about what to keep secret. Those decisions have in turn led to policies that violate fundamental American rights on a vast scale. Moreover, the reason this particular contractor went rogue is precisely to expose these illegitimate and likely unconstitutional practices.

Let’s ask this: Who decided that the NSA and a secret court should be trusted to interpret the meaning of the fourth amendment in a context shielded from either public scrutiny or congressional or judicial oversight? Public deliberation and the ordinary open procedures of representative democracy are precisely what lends the state’s decisions moral legitimacy. The upshot of Mr Snowden’s whistleblowing is that a lot people in the government have been wielding powers that no one ever gave them. The only way they can honestly enjoy these powers is if Americans are given precisely the sort of information that those officials have taken it upon themselves to decide that Americans must not get, and that Mr Snowden has taken it upon himself to provide. There’s a maddening, vertiginous, spiralling quality to this debate over discretion—about who gets to decide what, and under which circumstances—but it really is the heart of the issue.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/geoffrey-r-stone/is-the-nsas-bulk-telephon_b_4538173.html

https://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/yearzero-civil-rights-the-black-panthers-anarchism-and-today

It was 50 years ago today FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover made headlines by calling Dr. Martin Luther King, quote, “most notorious liar in the country.” Hoover made the comment in front of a group of female journalists ahead of King’s trip to Oslo, where he received the 1964 Nobel Peace Prize, becoming its youngest recipient.

While J. Edgar Hoover was trying to publicly discredit King, the agency was also taking covert action. The FBI sent King an anonymous letter threatening to expose his extramarital affairs. The unsigned, typed letter was written in the voice of a disillusioned civil rights activist, but it’s believed to have been written by one of Hoover’s deputies, William Sullivan. The letter concludes by saying, quote, “King, there is only one thing left for you to do. You know what it is. … You are done. There is but one way out for you. You better take it before your filthy, abnormal fraudulent self is bared to the nation.”

One paragraph of the letter hints an audiotape accompanied the letter. It reads, quote, “No person can overcome the facts, not even a fraud like yourself. … You will find yourself and in all your dirt, filth, evil and moronic talk exposed on the record for all time.”

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