Taliban tapping British troops’ mobiles to taunt soldiers’ families

Taliban tapping British troops’ mobiles to taunt soldiers’ families

“Keep up the dawah and the psychological warfare,” an Islamic jihadist in the U.S. Navy was told by one of his handlers a few years back. The jihadists know well the value of psychological warfare — they know this is a way they can destroy their enemies, and they don’t hesitate.

By Matthew Hickley for the Daily Mail (thanks to Jeffrey Imm):

Taliban fanatics have been making “hate calls” to the UK homes and relatives of soldiers serving in Afghanistan.Senior commanders believe they get the numbers either by monitoring troops’ mobile phone calls or from staff at Afghan phone companies.

The wife of one RAF officer was told: “You’ll never see your husband alive – we have just killed him.”

It was some hours before officials could confirm that her husband was still safe and well. All troops serving in southern Afghanistan have now been banned from carrying mobile phones.

Soldiers in Iraq can keep their phones but have been warned to keep their use to a minimum.

A senior Army source said the use of mobile phones by troops presented “a huge security problem”.

It was feared the Taliban had access to both telephone numbers and the content of conversations.

Taliban in Afghanistan taking hostages and killing them, and other world news

Afghan girls traded, sold to settle debt

Afghan girls traded, sold to settle debt

In a culture that relegates women to a status of being possessions of men, it’s not at all surprising to see them traded as such. By Alisa Tang for the Associated Press:

JALALABAD, Afghanistan – Unable to scrounge together the $165 he needed to repay a loan to buy sheep, Nazir Ahmad made good on his debt by selling his 16-year-old daughter to marry the lender’s son.

“He gave me nine sheep,” Ahmad said, describing his family’s woes since taking the loan. “Because of nine sheep, I gave away my daughter.”

Seated beside him in the cramped compound, his daughter Malia’s eyes filled with tears. She used a black scarf to wipe them away.

Despite advances in women’s rights and at least one tribe’s move to outlaw the practice, girls are traded like currency in Afghanistan and forced marriages are common. Antiquated tribal laws authorize the practice known as “bad” in the Afghan language Dari — and girls are used to settle disputes ranging from debts to murder.

Diyya, or blood money, as compensation offered as an alternative to exact retribution (qisas, i.e., “an eye for an eye”) is enshrined in Islamic law. Where cash is short or non-existent, economies revert to bartering.

Such exchanges bypass the hefty bride price of a traditional betrothal, which can cost upward of $1,000. Roughly two out of five Afghan marriages are forced, says the country’s Ministry of Women’s Affairs.

“It’s really sad to do this in this day and age, exchange women,” said Manizha Naderi, the director of the aid organization Women for Afghan Women. “They’re treated as commodities.”

Though violence against women remains widespread, Afghanistan has taken significant strides in women’s rights since the hard-line Taliban years, when women were virtual prisoners — banned from work, school or leaving home unaccompanied by a male relative. Millions of girls now attend school and women fill jobs in government and media.

There are also signs of change for the better inside the largest tribe in eastern Afghanistan — the deeply conservative Shinwaris.

Shinwari elders from several districts signed a resolution this year outlawing several practices that harm girls and women. These included a ban on using girls to settle so-called blood feuds — when a man commits murder, he must hand over his daughter or sister as a bride for a man in the victim’s family. The marriage ostensibly “mixes blood to end the bloodshed.” Otherwise, revenge killings often continue between the families for generations.

Jan Shinwari, a businessman and provincial council member, said a BBC radio report by a female journalist from the Shinwari tribe, Malalai Shinwari, had exposed the trade of girls and shamed the elders into passing the resolution to end the practice.

“I did this work not because of human rights, but for Afghan women, for Afghan girls not to be exchanged for stupid things,” Jan Shinwari said. “When Malalai Shinwari reported this story about exchanging girls for animals, when I heard this BBC report, I said, ‘Let’s make a change.'”

Now a lawmaker in Parliament, Malalai Shinwari said her report had the impact she intended. She called the changes to tribal laws a “big victory for me.”

About 600 elders from the Shinwar district put their purple thumbprint “signatures” on the handwritten resolution.

More than 20 Shinwari leaders gathered in the eastern city of Jalalabad, nodding earnestly and muttering their consent as the changes were discussed last week.

They insisted that women given away for such marriages — including those to settle blood feuds — were treated well in their new families. But the elders declined requests to meet any of the women or their families.

“Nobody treats them badly,” Malik Niaz said confidently, stroking his long white beard. “Everyone respects women.”

But Afghan women say this could not be further from the truth.

“By establishing a family relationship, we want to bring peace. But in reality, that is not the case,” said Hangama Anwari, an independent human rights commissioner and founder of the Women and Children Legal Research Foundation.

Read it all.

Absolutely Must See Video

Absolutely Must See Video

Marcus Luttrell and his three buddies had to make an impossible decision. Afghani goat herds disrupted their secret mission to track a Taliban leader. Killing them would be a violation of the ROE (Rules of Engagement). Holding them would reveal their position. Letting them go would likely bring the Taliban upon them.

“It was hard for me to understand how someone thousands of miles away, sitting behind a desk, could tell me how to fight a war. Grab a gun. Come over here with me, and I guarantee you, that you’re gonna change your mind in a second.”

To understand the heart, mind, soul, sacrifices and experiences of the frontline American warrior, you are unlikely to find much better video. A prieceless gem from the great new video site, Breitbart.tv. A site I suggest you make one of your daily destinations, just as I suggest you watch this video, and spread the word.

Luttrell, who’s riveting new book ‘Lone Survivor: The Eyewitness Account of Operation Redwing and the Lost Heroes of SEAL Team 10’ is fast top seller, talks to Breitbart.tv in front of the U.S. Capitol

Posted by Pat Dollard 0 Comments

China arming terrorists New intelligence reveals China is covertly supplying large quantities of small arms and weapons to insurgents in Iraq and the Taliban militia in Afghanistan, through Iran.

Rumsfeld faces personal suit by detainees

Rumsfeld faces personal suit by detainees

Former prisoners accuse him of torture techniques in Iraq, Afghanistan

By Joel Seidman


NBC News

Updated: 9:59 p.m. ET Dec 7, 2006

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On Friday, the U.S. District Court in Washington will be the scene of a parting shot at outgoing Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld.

Former detainees represented by human rights groups accuse him — along with a top general of the Iraq war, a former commander of the infamous Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq and a commander of U.S. military intelligence and police forces — with “derelictions of duty and command” and promoting the practice of inflicting “physical and psychological injuries” on civilians held by the U.S. military in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The case of Ali v. Rumsfeld, to be heard before Chief Judge Thomas Hogan, pits lawyers from two human rights organizations representing nine former detainees at Abu Ghraib and the Bagram military base in Afghanistan, with attorneys representing Rumsfeld, Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, former Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski and Col. Thomas Pappas.

The case is an attempt to have U.S. officials held accountable for alleged abuse of Iraqi and Afghan civilians who were never held as enemy combatants or charged with any crime.

The former detainees accuse Rumsfeld and others of being personally responsible for approving torture techniques and violating the U.S. Constitution. Rumsfeld argues that they are all immune from liability.

Rumsfeld, to be replaced later this month by Robert Gates, who was confirmed by the Senate this week, argues “that alien military detainees held outside the United States are not generally entitled to constitutional protections.”

Rumsfeld’s lawyers claim qualified immunity
His lawyers contend that under the qualified immunity doctrine, “federal officials are immune from suit” unless they violate a clearly established constitutional right. They say that aliens held in a military detention facility in the field of battle abroad simply do not have established constitutional rights during their alleged detention and abuse.

The former detainees who filed the lawsuit say they were all eventually released from detention and never charged with any crime or wrongdoing.

The detainees — five were held at Abu Ghraib and four at Bagram — accuse Rumsfeld and the others of subjecting them to “torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, including severe and repeated beatings, cutting with knives, sexual humiliation and assault, confinement in a wooden box, forcible sleep and sensory deprivation, mock executions, death threats, and restraint in contorted and excruciating positions,” according to court documents.

Lawyers for the American Civil Liberties Union and Human Rights First argue that Rumsfeld “authorized an abandonment of our nation’s inviolable and deep-rooted prohibition against torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment of detainees in U.S. military custody.” They say these acts precipitated “further violations of law and directly led to the abuse of Plaintiffs and other detainees in Afghanistan and Iraq.”

Pattern of rights abuse alleged
The human rights attorneys will also argue Friday that high-ranking commanders “permitted and implemented” an unlawful policy, pattern or practice of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment of detainees.

The suit seeks compensatory damages and a judicial declaration that the legal rights of the prisoners were violated under the Constitution, the Geneva accords and other international law.

Although allegations in the suit are the equivalent of war crimes, it is a civil case, not a criminal one. Only the U.S. government is empowered to prosecute war crimes in criminal court or before a military court.

The Real Difference Between the Parties


Thursday, October 05, 2006

The Real Difference Between the Parties

Claims and Counterclaims

October 5, 2006; Page A20

Tocqueville’s trenchant observation, that sooner or later all political issues in America are “resolved” into legal questions, has certainly withstood the test of time. Our policy disputes are regularly fought out on “legal” or “constitutional” grounds, both in and out of the courts, and nowhere is this more evident than in the debates over the war against al Qaeda.

The national “dialogue” over how the U.S. should respond to the threat of radical Islam is replete with claims and counterclaims about whether the Bush administration has violated the law by holding captured jihadist prisoners without trial, by intercepting al Qaeda communications without judicial warrants, by subjecting detainees to stressful interrogations, and so forth. In fact, almost all of this clamor arises from a basic dispute over whether the U.S. is — or should be considered — at war with al Qaeda and its allies, or whether it should address the threat of transnational terrorism as a law-enforcement matter — as most of its
European allies have done.

There is little doubt that the Democratic Party leadership, and no small portion of the rank-and-file, find the president’s rhetoric of war distasteful — and more than a little embarrassing — and reject the underlying notion that the U.S. is, or could be, engaged in a legally cognizable armed conflict with al Qaeda and other jihadists. Nowhere was this better displayed than in Bill Clinton’s recent meltdown during his interview with Chris Wallace of Fox News. Mr. Clinton protested (rather too much) that he really had been committed to killing Osama bin Laden, and insisted that he did his best to accomplish this goal.

That may well be true. But then as now, Mr. Clinton views the relevant policy choices through a law-enforcement prism. Granting the former president’s ardent desire to see off bin Laden, his administration was mired for years in arguments over whether, consistent with a Cold War executive order forbidding “assassinations,” the CIA could kill bin Laden, or whether U.S. agents would instead have to attempt a practically impossible capture — i.e., an arrest.

Paralyzing concerns were also expressed by Clinton administration officials that any attempt to kill bin Laden might cause civilian casualties, even though wartime collateral damage is permissible, provided it is not disproportionate to the military advantage being gained. This rejection of the laws-of-war model continued even after bin Laden proved his belligerent intentions in a series of attacks on American citizens and U.S. military assets overseas.

In the aftermath of 9/11 — and despite the fact that congressional Democrats joined Republicans in passing an “authorization for the use of military force” against those responsible for the attacks — most continued to operate in a “law enforcement” mode. Democratic critics of the Bush administration have opposed virtually every measure the president has taken to guard against new attacks on American soil, including the USA Patriot Act, the National Security Agency’s warrantless electronic surveillance program, data mining, access to international banking data, and the use of traditional military commissions to try and punish captured terrorists. During the 2004 presidential campaign, John Kerry made clear his belief that al Qaeda was a law-enforcement problem.

The Democratic message was, and remains, that the peacetime balance of individual rights and community interests is sufficient to meet the threat — along with additional passive, and uncontroversial, defenses such as hardening cockpit doors and giving more monies to first responders. There have, of course, been notable exceptions to this rule — such as Sen. Joe Lieberman — but his steadfast support for both the war on terror in Afghanistan and in Iraq cost him the Democratic nomination for re-election to his seat.

By contrast, President Bush immediately recognized that al Qaeda, and the larger jihadist movement it represents, is not simply a new and especially violent street gang or drug cartel that could be handled by more and better policing. Only the government’s full complement of war powers would be sufficient to meet the immediate threat to American lives and interests, and to take the fight to the enemy. He sought and obtained Congress’s express authorization for military action, and has not looked back. For his pains, the president has been ruthlessly vilified by his political opponents and maligned as everything from the idiot tool of big-oil interests (and his own vice president), to a devious crypto-autocrat determined to transform the presidency into some kind of late Roman emperorship.

The president’s critics, and especially those in Congress now running for re-election, should honestly admit that their differences are, by and large, matters of policy which can and should be debated as such. The question is not whether the president has broken the law, whether domestic or international, but which legal paradigm — war or law enforcement — makes the most sense in meeting the threat.

Those who believe that captured al Qaeda operatives should be treated as ordinary criminal defendants (rather than unlawful enemy combatants), entitled to all of rights enjoyed by civilians in the federal and state courts, should stop pretending that this result is compelled by the Geneva Conventions or the U.S. Constitution. Instead, they should acknowledge making a policy choice that advantages jihadists beyond the legally required level, explain why they believe this to be right and just, and how they think it will checkmate al Qaeda.

In particular, they must answer key questions, such as how a law enforcement system designed to punish and deter, rather than prevent, criminal conduct can hope to discover and pre-empt future suicide attacks before they take place — especially after 50 years during which progressives have demanded, and achieved, increasingly greater protections for criminal defendants.

Since the Democrats are certainly not suggesting our criminal justice system return to the pre-Warren Court’s days, the pros and cons of the law-enforcement model need to be laid out explicitly, and with particulars, before the American people.

Similarly, supporters of the law-enforcement model must explain on what legal basis
American forces could attack al Qaeda bases overseas, and any “criminal suspects” who may be present at those sites, if the U.S. is not engaged in a war. It was, of course, that very dilemma that prevented President Clinton from killing Osama bin Laden when he may well have had the opportunity.

Sadly, the Democratic voices in Congress, like Talleyrand’s Bourbons, have learned nothing. They continue to attack President Bush’s policies at every turn and have never answered these questions. They rightly fear that the American people will not agree that jihadists, who recognize no law but their own religious convictions, should be granted the due-process rights of ordinary citizens accused of criminal conduct, or that our own civilian population must accept greater risk of attack to vindicate a vision of personal privacy and individual autonomy that may be laudable in peacetime, but which no state could preserve during war — and hope to win.

Messrs. Rivkin and Casey, lawyers in Washington, served in the Department of Justice under Presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush.


Rumsfeld: Venezuela build-up is concern

Rumsfeld: Venezuela build-up is concern

By LOLITA C. BALDOR, Associated Press Writer 4 minutes ago

The recent military build-up in Venezuela by U.S. nemesis President Hugo Chavez has other countries in the region worried that the weapons could end up in the hands of terrorists, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said Monday.

“I can understand neighbors being concerned,” said Rumsfeld, who is attending a meeting of Western hemisphere military leaders here this week.

Asked whether he believes Venezuelan officials’ contention that the weapon buys are strictly for defense and not a threat to the region, Rumsfeld said, “I don’t know of anyone threatening Venezuela — anyone in this hemisphere.”

Venezuela’s defense minister Gen. Raul Isaias Baduel, who is also attending the meeting, said Monday that his country’s recent military spending spree wasn’t “an arms race,” despite Washington’s protests.

Chavez, however, has repeatedly charged that United States is planning to invade his country, a claim American officials dismiss as preposterous. And he said Sunday that he’s heard the Bush administration is plotting to assassinate him or topple his regime.

U.S. Army Gen. Bantz J. Craddock, chief of U.S. Southern Command, called the accusation “mindless” and “way over the top.” But he also agreed that Venezuela’s recent deal to buy roughly $3 billion worth of arms from Russia — including rifles, jet fighters and helicopters — is triggering “more concern from more countries.”

Rumsfeld did not meet privately with Baduel, but did briefly exchanged pleasantries with him.

“I have spoken to Mr. Rumsfeld to convince him that he should try smoking Venezuela’s good tobacco,” Baduel told the Associated Press. “He said he doesn’t smoke, that his wife wouldn’t let him.”

Meanwhile, Craddock and other officials said Monday that they don’t see a credible threat in Venezuela’s call for the creation of an anti-U.S. military coalition with other leftist countries in the region. Craddock said Brazil’s defense minister told the gathering he doesn’t see a need for a regional military organization.

Gen. Moises Omar Hallesleven, the commander of the Nicaraguan military, told U.S. reporters he is not concerned about the Chavez effort.

Venezuela, he said through an interpreter, has very weak influence in the region. Hallesleven also vowed that as long as he is its leader, the Nicaraguan military will remain apolitical and professional — even if Sandinista leader Daniel Ortega wins the upcoming presidential election.

Chavez grabbed headlines recently when he called Bush “the devil” and slammed U.S. leaders for trying to block his country from taking a seat on the U.N. Security Council.

U.S. officials have long considered Chavez a destabilizing force. And they have suggested that Venezuela would make the Security Council unworkable if the nation were to win its bid against U.S.-backed Guatemala for a rotating council seat.

Rumsfeld, in his formal remarks to the gathering, also made a reference to the other main U.S. antagonist in the region: Cuba.

He said he hoped that one day soon “the final holdout in our hemisphere against the democratic sweep of history will give its citizens the right to choose their own destiny and will participate in our conference.”

Rumsfeld also called for more regional cooperation in the fight against terrorism.

“These new challenges can be solved only if we work together to protect our free democratic institutions and to provide economic opportunities for our people,” Rumsfeld said.

The military conference, along with a NATO defense ministers meeting and other military visits in the Balkans last week, have largely kept Rumsfeld out of Washington for the past week, where there is renewed debate on his stewardship of the Iraq war.

He said he will not resign, and openly questioned why reporters were so focused on a new book, “State of Denial” by Washington Post assistant managing editor Bob Woodward, that is critical of the defense chief.

Clearly frustrated with repeated questions about his job security, Rumsfeld told reporters he has not read Woodward’s book and is not likely to.


Associated Press Writer Julie Watson contributed to this report.


On the Net:

Defense Department: http://www.defenselink.mil