Esaqzai, who said he saw the 16 bodies, provided the following account. About midnight, 11 people, including three women; four children whose ages ranged from 6 to 9; and four men were executed inside the home of a village elder.
“They entered the room where the women and children were sleeping, and they were all shot in the head,” Esaqzai said, adding that he was doubtful of the U.S. account suggesting the killings were the work of a lone gunman. “They were all shot in the head.”
The Senate bill, passed unanimously yesterday, would give the president the power starting July 1 to bar foreign financial institutions that do business with Iran’s central bank from having correspondent bank accounts in the U.S. If enacted, it could be much harder for foreign companies to pay for oil imports from Iran, the world’s third-largest crude exporter. The Obama administration opposes the legislation.
Iran faces tightening web of sanctions.
A tightening web of sanctions is squeezing Iran’s economy and placing a new burden
on foreign firms wary of incurring hefty fines for violating the complex regulations.
The European Union added 180 people and entities to its Iran sanctions list on Thursday and laid out plans for a possible embargo of Iranian oil in response to mounting concerns over the Opec producer’s nuclear programme.
Sanctions have had an impact on Iran’s economy, experts say, but they have not achieved their aim of stopping work that the West suspects is aimed at developing nuclear weapons. Tehran insists its nuclear activities are peaceful.
“The sanctions are certainly having an impact… The latest US sanctions against the oil industry may further squeeze the room for manoeuvre available to Iranian oil customers, notably India and China,” said Alan Fraser, Middle East analyst with security firm AKE.
So. Let me remind you of Irak and it's "massive destruction weapons" that never existed. Let me remind you which countries DO have nuclear programs and develop weapons of war without any international control whatsoever. Yes. USA is the most powerful of them.
Europol Report: All Terrorists are Muslims…Except the 99.6% that Aren’t
via: stealmyhorses here @ ontd_political Can we STOP PRETENDING THAT ALL TERRORISTS ARE MUSLIM NOW?????? OR that they are UNIQUELY VIOLENT???!!?!?? And considering that US news networks are apparently being atrociously bad in covering this event, whereas if a Muslim spits in someone's direction its 24hr fearmongering...GRRRRRRRRRRR!!!!!!!! No fuuckinG WONDER people aren't aware that there are terrorists who are not Muslim. The non-Muslims are pawned off as crazy and one-offs, while the Muslims are part of the great conspiracy to attack te West and destroy it to its foundations, or so your tv would tell ya.
As if we needed any more evidence that the United States is fast becoming a Corporate Police State (i.e., systematically deploying police power to protect narrow corporate interests), make sure to check out this jaw-dropping story that broke in Canada late Friday. It details how the British Columbia Supreme Court uncovered what it says is a massive collusion between computer giant Cisco and U.S. law enforcement -- a collusion that seems designed to use criminal prosecution to stop a whistle-blower's antitrust case against a powerful politically connected corporation.
The machinations in this case are complicated, but the basics go like this: Ex-Cisco exec Peter Alfred-Adekeye filed a whistle-blower suit against his former employer Cisco in civil court -- a suit that could compel the company to pay millions in damages for allegedly "forcing customers to buy maintenance contracts," according to the Vancouver Sun.MORE
Indeed, America. Indeed.
Perspective On 9/11 And The Invasions Of Iraq & Afghanistan.
Infographic: Casualties From The War On Terror, 9/11, And The Invasion of Iraq
The stats breakdown are as follows:
September 11th Victims: 0.28%
American Casualties in Afghanistan and Iraq: 0.55%
Afghan Civilian Casualties: 4.39%
Iraqi Civilian Casualties: 94.78%
Also, the comments are pretty... uhmazing.
[Stats were transcribed in TABW blog.]
In the hours after Bin Laden's death, US officials briefed that he had put up a fight and shot at the Seal 6 team that stormed the second and third floors of his hideout. Other details suggested he used one of his wives as a human shield.
The White House confirmed that neither was true. Bin Laden was unarmed, was shot in the head and chest, and his wife had been wounded in the leg while rushing towards the special forces before he was killed.
The administration was considering whether to release the photos of the Saudi fugitive's body to counter claims in the region that he had not been killed at all. "There are sensitivities about the appropriateness," said spokesman Jay Carney. "It is fair to say it is a gruesome photograph."MORE
UN human rights boss questions U.S. on legality of bin Laden killing
UNITED NATIONS — The UN's chief human rights official led calls by rights activist organizations on Tuesday for Washington to explain whether U.S. forces lawfully killed Osama bin Laden.
The request by Navi Pillay, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, came even as the world body continues to falter over its multi-year bid to define terrorism.
Pillay's bid also appeared to contradict the position held by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, who on Monday described the U.S. action as a "watershed moment in our common global fight against terrorism."
The mixed messages are likely to heighten critics' claims that the UN's human rights apparatus is frequently quick to probe for abuses by Western democracies — even as it appears to limit its criticism of some of the world's established human rights abuser states.
Amnesty International said it was seeking "greater clarification" about what went on, while New York-based Human Rights Watch said "law enforcement" principles should have applied.
"If he wasn't shooting at the soldiers, the killing should be investigated," Brad Adams, Human Rights Watch Asia director, said in Bangkok at the launch of a report on Thailand.
"People are saying that justice has been done, but justice has not been done. Justice is when you arrest someone and put them on trial."
I do not like this at all.
With his long grey beard and wistful expression, bin Laden became one of the most instantly recognisable people on the planet. His gaunt face stared out from propaganda videos and framed a US website offering a $25 million bounty. In 2007, that bounty was doubled.
Born in Saudi Arabia in 1957, one of more than 50 children of millionaire businessman Mohamed bin Laden, he lost his father while still a boy.
Osama's first marriage, to a Syrian cousin, came at the age of 17, and he is reported to have at least 23 children from at least five wives. Part of a family that made its fortune in the oil-funded Saudi construction boom, bin Laden was a shy boy and an average student, who took a degree in civil engineering. MORE
via Daily Kos:
Oct 15, 2001 Bush rejected Taliban offer to surrender Osama
Oct. 15, 2001....After a week of debilitating strikes at targets across Afghanistan, the Taliban repeated an offer to hand over Osama bin Laden, only to be rejected by President Bush.
The offer yesterday from Haji Abdul Kabir, the Taliban's deputy prime minister, to surrender Mr bin Laden if America would halt its bombing and provide evidence against the Saudi-born dissident was not new but it suggested the Taliban are increasingly weary of the air strikes, which have crippled much of their military and communications assets.
The move came as the Taliban granted foreign journalists unprecedented access to the interior for the first time. Reporters were escorted to the village of Karam in southern Afghanistan, where the Taliban said up to 200 civilians were killed in an American bombardment last Wednesday.
How many Americans were aware of this, I wonder?
Bush, March 2002: 'I really just don't spend that much time' on bin Laden
What was Bush spending time on in March, 2002, and if fact just a month after the 9/11 attacks? Surely you remember:
October 18, 2001 – The CIA writes a report titled, Iraq: Nuclear-Related Procurement Efforts. It quotes many of the Italian report's claims, but adds that the report of a completed deal is not corroborated by any other sources. (Senate Intelligence Cmte., Iraq 36-37, July 2004).
February 5, 2002 – The CIA's Directorate of Operations – the clandestine branch that employed Valerie Wilson – issues a second report including "verbatim text"of an agreement, supposedly signed July 5-6, 2000 for the sale of 500 tons of uranium yellowcake per year. (Senate Intelligence Cmte., Iraq 37, July 2004).MORE
IF CANTOR [and RUMSFELD] REALLY WANTS TO GO THERE
In July 2006, we learned that the Bush administration closed its unit that had been hunting bin Laden.
In September 2006, Bush told Fred Barnes, one of his most sycophantic media allies, that an "emphasis on bin Laden doesn't fit with the administration's strategy for combating terrorism."
And don't even get me started on Bush's failed strategy that allowed bin Laden to escape from Tora Bora.MORE
However I firmly disagree with the thrust of this postJohn McCain said he wouldn't go after Bin Laden in Pakistan
His reason was that Pakistan is a sovereign nation. And so it is, actually and just because we are the world's only superpower, doesn't mean we get to trample all over other people's sovereignty. When we finally lose that prestige years down the road, and some other superpower proceeds to violate our sovereignty, we are going to be selectively historically ignorant, aren't we?
Meantime they buried Mr. Osama's body at sea, supposedly in accordance with Islamic traditions. The reasoning given was to prevent enshrining of his remains.
Some Muslim clerics are disputing that characterization of the burial.
The Guardian says that it got the documents from the NYT, which claims that the document dump is not from Wikileaks. Everyone else is claiming its a Wiki dump. *shrugs* I have no idea.
Guantánamo leaks lift lid on world's most controversial prison
• Innocent people interrogated for years on slimmest pretexts
• Children, elderly and mentally ill among those wrongfully held
• 172 prisoners remain, some with no prospect of trial or release
• Interactive guide to all 779 detainees
( Read more... )
Digby points out re: the suicides that the American political and miliatry response... was to accuse the detainees of conducting asymetrical warfare. Yes, yes they did:Wiki Dump
( Read more... )
What are the Guantanomo Files
( Read more... )
The Guantanomo Files: Al Quadea assasin worked for MI-6
Anti-extremist author framed and whisked to CubaAbdul Badr Mannan was handed over to Americans who later came to believe Pakistani intelligence had set him up
Guantánamo Bay files: Casio wristwatch 'the sign of al-Qaida'Casio F-91W, a cheap digital watch sold around the world, was taken as evidence of detainees having bomb-making training
Guantánamo Bay files: Star informer freed after implicating 123 prisonersMohammed Basardah rewarded despite unsupported claims and interrogators' doubts about sheer number of names he gave up You can also view a PDF about two men who supposedly gave up a quarter of the detainees there.
President Obama speaks on Manning and the rule of law
Protesters yesterday interrupted President Obama's speech at a $5,000/ticket San Francisco fundraiser to demand improved treatment for Bradley Manning. After the speech, one of the protesters, Logan Price, approached Obama and questioned him. Obama's responses are revealing on multiple levels.( Read more... )
The Washington Post has an article: Guantanamo Bay: Why Obama hasn’t fulfilled his promise to close the facility
( Read more... )
( Read more... )
TALIBAN PRISON BREAK:
Taliban Help Hundreds Tunnel Out of Prison’s Political Wing
( Read more... )
So why IS Yemen so poor and thus easily manipulated to continue to be poor?
Yemen’s Useful Tyranny – The Forgotten History of Britain’s ‘Dirty War’: Part 2
( Read more... )
And in the present day:
Hundreds wounded in Yemen protests
( Read more... )
Fresh clashes in restive Yemeni city
( Read more... )
April 1 Thousands attend rival rallies in Yemen
( Read more... )
Gulf states ask Yemen sides to Riyadh talks: Kuwait
( Read more... )
Yemen toll rises as U.S. seen pressing Saleh to go
( Read more... )
Matt Swagler describes the attempts of Tunisia's elite to impose order--and the inspiring examples of direct democracy and workers' struggle since the fall of Ben Ali.
AN EVENTFUL two months have passed since mass protests toppled former Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali--largely out of the media spotlight once the revolution spread to Egypt, but with great importance for the struggle for democracy and justice, in Tunisia and beyond.
In December and January, a nationwide movement emerged in Tunisia, led by workers, students and the unemployed, calling for the hated autocrat to go. After just four weeks, the Tunisian people achieved what had seemed impossible: they challenged a 23-year dictatorship backed by a massive, brutal security force--and won. In doing so, they also exposed the complicity of the French and U.S. governments, which were both long-time allies and defenders of Ben Ali's corrupt regime right through his final days.
When Tunisians' nonviolent demonstrations forced Ben Ali to flee to Saudi Arabia on January 14, the victory immediately gave confidence to emerging protest movements across North Africa and the Middle East. In Egypt, where a struggle against President Hosni Mubarak had been brewing for over a decade, the lesson was clear: If Ben Ali and his security forces were not invincible, than Mubarak could be ousted as well.
But Tunisia provides important lessons for anyone who hopes to learn from the struggles, debates and conflicts within an unfolding revolutionary situation. In particular, Tunisia offer insights into what it means for hundreds of thousands of people, if not millions, to actively take part in trying to transform society from the bottom up.
The movement against Ben Ali was driven in large part by demands for democratic political reforms and an end to the country's oligarchic rule. But growing anger over soaring food prices, inadequate wages and widespread unemployment--especially in the interior of the country--fueled the struggle as well.
Thus far, the interim Tunisian government, which replaced Ben Ali's administration, has proven hostile to enacting reforms that would significantly alter Tunisia's economic inequality. New political freedoms have been won, but these incredible victories have only come about because the interim government has been faced with protests and workers' strikes--on an almost daily basis.
If anything, the toppling of Ben Ali has proven to be only the opening round in a revolution that is now involving even greater numbers of Tunisians, who are actively and collectively tackling larger questions about what to do next.MORE
Yemen, A tale of two protests: As demonstrations advance across Yemen, People&Power follows activist Tawakkol Karman.
For weeks activists there have been calling for political reform and for Ali Abdullah Saleh, Yemen's president, to step down. The regime, in power for more than 30 years, has responded with a typically heavy-handed crackdown and then apologies for the deaths that have occurred.
What is different is that President Saleh has been effective in getting his own supporters onto the streets.
Their presence is clearly intended to send a simple message: not all Yemenis want sweeping political changes, or at least not while the country faces long-standing rebellions in the north and south, and is fighting al-Qaeda elsewhere.
On the opposition side, the key departure from the norm is that its most prominent activist is a mother of three, an inspiring figure in a country not known for progressive attitudes towards women. But for Tawakkol Karman it is political change for all that matters right now.MORE
Analysis: Yemen, a revolution interrupted? Not bad though apparently the only protesters this reporter quoted were men. *sigh*
Who's Who in the Yemeni Opposition
UN condemns use of live ammunition in Yemen's protest crackdown
Opposition says no compromise possible with Yemen govt
Yemen declares a state of emergency
Bradley Manning could face Death. For what?
Soldier in Leaks Case Was Jailed Naked, Lawyer Says
Soldier in Leaks Case Will Be Made to Sleep Naked Nightly
Sexual Sadist Denise Barnes Strips Bradley Manning Naked Over Sarcastic Quip
How to force a false confession
The serial deceit of Geoff Morrell
Bradley Manning's forced nudity to occur daily
This is after the earlier abusive tactic of placing him on unjustifiable suicide watch two months ago and in the context of his continuing torture by the US army. Apparently the UN said it was investigating four months ago. Not a word on that since. I just...
Dear Obama and company. Is there no fucking depth to which you all will not sink? And seriously? Why the FUCK can't I have a political party that doesn't make me want to fucking VOMIT to vote for? It is PAST FUCKING TIME that we throw BOTH these fuckers out of power, bring them up on charges at the ICC and find some less greedy sadistic bastards to run the damn country. Jesus Christ I AM TIRED OF THIS SHIT.
ETA: Relatedly: Egyptian Activists Expose Torture Tools and Files, Tied to US Renditions
After yesterday’s information that the security forces were shredding secret files in Alexandria leading activists to storm that headquarters and today’s that another secret police hq suspiciously caught on fire – a fire activists point out that they do not want to see since they want the files protected, activists in Cairo took matters into their own hands. As the day went on, protesters converged on AmrDawla – here’s a sampling of reports as the day progressed from blogger Egyptocracy who has been a great source of information over the past weeks. Let’s let her tell the story: MORE
ETA 2 Manning was already under orders to sleep in his boxers
On Dec. 16 I will join Daniel Ellsberg, Medea Benjamin, Ray McGovern and several military veteran activists outside the White House to protest the futile and endless wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Many of us will, after our rally in Lafayette Park, attempt to chain ourselves to the fence outside the White House. It is a pretty good bet we will all spend a night in jail. Hope, from now on, will look like this.
First they came, the invisible whites, and dealt death from afar
“First they came, the invisible whites, and dealt death from afar.”The murderous rocket attacks by remote-controlled drones being carried out on a nearly daily basis in Pakistan (and Afghanistan and Yemen and Somaila) should be cause for mass revulsion, shame, protests in the streets. But no. Try hard to find a candidate for office from either party criticizing them. Even the scary crazy Tea Party people are down with Obama on this one!
—Joseph Conrad, An Outcast of the Islands
And, in a recent poll, only 3 percent even mention Afghanistan or “the war” (which war?)—at all— as one of America’s most important problems. So drone attacks are not exactly a red-button issue with the American voter. But … just imagine it happening to you, or to your family. Johann Hari puts it into perspective well with this simple little thought exercise:
Imagine if, an hour from now, a robot-plane swooped over your house and blasted it to pieces. The plane has no pilot. It is controlled with a joystick from 7,000 miles away, sent by the Pakistani military to kill you. It blows up all the houses in your street,( Read more. Somewhat disturbing imagery under the cut. )
What do you even say to this?
Scammed in Afghanistan
The announcement by the New York Times that one of the supposedly prominent Taliban with whom the Karzai government has been negotiating turns out to be an impostor is only the latest depressing indication that the whole Afghanistan boondoggle is shot through with flimflammery. ...The incident set me thinking about all the impostures of that war, which are legion. Let us begin with the frankly dishonest discourse about it of both our twenty-first century presidents, who maintain that the US is fighting “al-Qaeda” in Afghanistan. But there is no al-Qaeda to speak of in that country, if by the term one means the mainly Arab Pan-Islamic International that sees Usama Bin Laden as its leader. US forces in Afghanistan are fighting disgruntled Pashtuns, for the most part. Some are from Gulbuddin Hikmatyar’s Islamic Party. Others from the Haqqani family’s Haqqani Network. The Reagan administration and its Saudi allies once showered billions of dollars on Hikmatyar and Haqqani, so they aren’t exactly eternal adversaries of the US. Some insurgents are from the Old Taliban of Mullah Omar. Still others are not so much terrorist cartels as tribes and guerrilla groups who are just unhappy with poppy eradication campaigns, or with the foreign troop presence (they would say ‘occupation’), or with how Karzai has given out patronage unequally, favoring some tribes over others. The insurgency is almost exclusively drawn from the Pashtun ethnic group.
So the war is not about al-Qaeda.
So what IS the war about?
I am astonished. And I really see no reason WHY I should be so surprised at this 10,000th indication that my gov't is lying to me and using my tax money to do sorts of things that I am SO not happy with. But there it is. I am astonied. Again. But! There's more! Take a look at whats been happening to Afghani children:
This information vacuum is why a British diplomat even thought the public might buy as plausible his assertion that children in Kabul are safer than those in New York or London.
Aljazeera English has a report on the ensuing controversy:
Quite apart from the bombings in the Afghan capital, far beyond anything in Western capitals, some 1,795 children were killed or wounded in conflict-related violence from September 2008 to August 2010 (admittedly in the whole country and not just in Kabul). Moreover, there are powerful crime syndicates and kidnapping rings in the capital and drug addiction is spreading among even children and youth. He wasn’t speaking of infant mortality, so it isn’t fair to slam him on the grounds that a fifth of Afghan children die before reaching age five. But knowledge of the truly horrific health statistics of Afghan children might have instilled some caution about making Panglossian statements.
Aljazeera English has video on drug addiction even among the very young in Kabul:
Oh dear principles of peace and justice for all mankind. What is this shit I do not even. No. No. No. NO. Is there no hope for our policy leaders to get some kind of "road to damascus moment" and take a good look at their lives and choices? Cause this is all BS. How the HELL is it that these people think it best to spend money blowing the hell out of people on the other side of the world instead of putting that cash to use to fix our myriad problems right here in the US? I am so fucking TIRED of being cynical when it comes to american politics.
( Greek gods analogy to explain American military's murder of civilians )
Ceremonial EviscerationBoth incidents elicited shock and anger from critics of American war policies. And both incidents are shocking. Probably the most shocking aspect of them, however, is just how humdrum they actually are, even if the public release of video of such events isn't. Start with one detail in those Afghan murders, reported in most accounts but little emphasized: what the Americans descended on was a traditional family ceremony. More than 25 guests had gathered for the naming of a newborn child.
In fact, over these last nine-plus years, Afghan (and Iraqi) ceremonies of all sorts have regularly been blasted away. Keeping a partial tally of wedding parties eradicated by American air power at TomDispatch.com, I had counted  five such "incidents" between December 2001 and July 2008. (A sixth in July 2002  in which possibly 40 Afghan wedding celebrants died and many more were wounded has since come to my attention, as has a seventh  in August 2008.) Nor have other kinds of rites where significant numbers of Afghans gather been immune from attack, including funerals , and now, naming ceremonies. And keep in mind that these are only the reported incidents in a rural land where much undoubtedly goes unreported.
Similarly, General Stanley McChrystal, the commander of US forces in Afghanistan, recently expressed surprise at a tally since last summer of at least 30 Afghans killed and 80 wounded at checkpoints when US soldiers opened fire  on cars. He said : "We have shot an amazing number of people, but to my knowledge, none has ever proven to be a threat." Or consider 36-year-old Mohammed Yonus, a popular imam of a mosque on the outskirts of Kabul, who was killed in his car  this January by fire from a passing NATO convoy, which considered his vehicle "threatening." His seven-year-old son was in the back seat.
Or while on the subject of Reuters employees, recall  reporter Mazen Tomeizi, a Palestinian producer for the al-Arabiya satellite network of Dubai, who was killed on Haifa Street in central Baghdad in September 2004 by a US helicopter attack. He was on camera at the time and his blood spattered the lens. Seif Fouad, a Reuters cameraman, was wounded in the same incident, while a number of bystanders, including a girl, were killed. Or remember the 17 Iraqi civilians infamously murdered  when Blackwater employees in a convoy began firing in Nissour Square in Baghdad on September 16, 2007. Or the missiles regularly shot from US helicopters and unmanned aerial drones into the heavily populated Shiite slum of Sadr City back in 2007-08. Or the Iraqis regularly killed at checkpoints  in the years since the invasion of 2003. Or, for that matter, the first moments of that invasion on March 20, 2003, when, according to  Human Rights Watch, "dozens" of ordinary Iraqi civilians were killed by the 50 aerial "decapitation strikes" the Bush administration launched against Saddam Hussein and the rest of the Iraqi leadership, missing every one  of them.
( There's so much that it makes no sense to bold. )
Its a convincing analogy I must say, and dear GOD I had NO idea that so many people had been killed like this. I am feeling extremely sick at the moment and the fact that this is what my tax dollars are paying for, and all that the news is reporting on is PUBLIC EMPLOYEES ARE GETTING GOOD WAGES OMG OMG ALERT ALERT HOW DARE THEY NOT TAKE STARVATION WAGES OUR TAX DOLLARS!!!!!! But then as that asshole that Diane Sawyer put on to justify the Wikileaks video said, its just the Fog of War. eh? ANd aren't we Americans lucky that we are the ones creating that Fog from afar, instead of living smackdab in teh middle of it.
Should the US expect fallout at the death of cleric?
Confirmed: Obama authorizes assassination of U.S. citizen
A Spanish judge has decided to go ahead with the prosecution of six Bush administration lawyers — including former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales — who were the architects of the legal framework for President George W. Bush “enhanced interrogation” program, according to a report in the Spanish newspaper Publico. (Original article here; Google translation here.) The six Bush administration alumni targeted in the prosecution are former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales; John Yoo, author of the “torture memos”; Douglas Feith, then a deputy defense secretary; Pentagon lawyer William Haynes II; former assistant attorney general Jay Bybee; and David Addington, a former chief of staff to then-Vice President Dick Cheney.
According to Andy Worthington at AfterDowningStreet.org, Judge Baltasar Garzon has rejected prosecutors’ request, made last April, to throw the case out. Prosecutors had argued the case was politically motivated.MORE
This week on Fault Lines, we talk to people on all sides of the so-called "war on terror" - from human rights lawyers to former Bush administration officials; from a former US detainee who was rendered to torture to the CIA analyst who helped author his fate.
( Read more... )
Keith Olbermann: Blackwater - Murder, Inc. 08/05/2009 Part 2
Full Article here
Meantime: Hillary Clinton demands accountability for war crimes...in Kenya
( Read more... )
Quite. The above, of course, is not the only thing that Secretary Clinton has been ignoring:
More detainee victories and what a majority of Congress tried to do
( Read more... )
Do as we say, not as we do.
Lawmakers, echoing concerns voiced by Obama, said release of the photos would only inflame world opinion and endanger troops’ lives.
Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, a Texas Republican, had planned an amendment yesterday designed to force Chrysler to give its dealerships more time to shut down. She dropped her effort after winning assurances in a letter from Chrysler Vice Chairman and President James Press that the dealerships would receive “fair and equitable value for virtually all of their outstanding vehicle and parts inventory.”
Earlier this week, the Senate cut from the bill an Obama request for $80 million to begin shutting down the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Democrats joined Republicans, who had been pressing the case for weeks, in saying the White House hadn’t adequately explained what it intends to do with the 240 suspected terrorists held at the center.
Obama reiterated yesterday his commitment to close the prison. In a speech in Washington, he also said some of the detainees would be tried in federal courts and likely end up in U.S. prisons, which he said are secure enough to assure public safety. He said he would develop legal procedures to deal with prisoners who can’t be tried yet are too dangerous to release.
The bill would fund Obama’s plans announced earlier this year to send the additional troops to Afghanistan. His plan will bring the total number of troops there to 68,000 by year’s end.
It would also provide various types of economic and development aid to the nation, including $10 million to train Afghan women to become judges, prosecutors and police officers charged with investigating crimes there against women. Afghan authorities are investigating three suspected poison gas attacks on schoolgirls by Taliban militants who oppose female education.
“No female victim of violence will ever come forward if she believes she has no system in place or resources to help her,” said Senator Barbara Boxer, a California Democrat.
Other provisions would pay for pandemic flu programs, anti- piracy efforts at the Navy, and the Essential Air Service, which subsidizes flights to small towns. The bill would also provide the Senate Judiciary Committee with an additional $500,000 to cover expenses associated with confirmation hearings to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice David Souter.
Obama has called the decision to send more troops to Afghanistan the toughest of his presidency. Although the House’s debate on its version of the war-spending bill included criticism of his policies in the region, few senators addressed the issue. Senator Russ Feingold of Wisconsin was the only Democrat to oppose the war bill. Senators Tom Coburn, an Oklahoma Republican, and Vermont Independent Bernie Sanders also voted “no.”
“While the president clearly understands that the greatest security threat to our nation resides in Pakistan, I’m concerned about his strategy regarding Afghanistan and Pakistan,” Feingold said in a statement. “Sending 21,000 more U.S. troops to Afghanistan could actually push Taliban and other fighters across the border and end up further destabilizing Pakistan.”
( The 86-3 vote demonstrated widespread support for increased U.S. troop levels in Afghanistan. )