Category Archives: Pakistan

Jon Stewart Realizes Glenn Beck Is More Reasonable Than John McCain

Posted by: BuellBoy

TPM~Jon Stewart was upset last night when he heard that John McCain is opposed to reading Miranda rights to the man who allegedly attempted to bomb Times Square.

He choked up a little bit as he addressed McCain: “This next clip’s gonna hurt me as much as it’s gonna hurt you,” before showing Glenn Beck saying he supports reading the man his Miranda rights.

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Filed under Glenn Beck, Humor, John McCain, Jon Stewart, Jon Stewart's The Daily Show, New York, NY, Pakistan, Uncategorized

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Speaks At US-Pakistan Strategic Dialogue Meeting

Posted by: Audiegrl

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (L) and Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi (R) shake hands during a discussion at the State Department on March 24, 2010 in Washington, DC. Secretary Clinton hosted a forum that focused on U.S.- Pakistan strategic dialogue. Pakistan is seeking U.S. involvement in dealing with a peaceful resolution in conflicts with Kashmir. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images North America)

CNN~Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is promising “a new day” in U.S.-Pakistan relations and new efforts to move beyond previous mistrust and misunderstandings. And Pakistan is hoping improved relations will generate new American help with civilian nuclear power. Clinton started two days of high-level talks with Pakistani leaders Wednesday morning at the State Department. She was joined by Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and officials from both countries, including U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen.

The meeting, formally known as the United States-Pakistan Strategic Dialogue, is the latest recognition of Pakistan’s importance to the United States in the fight against extremism.

We know that in recent years misperceptions and mistrust have grown between our countries, on both sides of the relationship. Foreign Minister Qureshi and I have worked hard to overcome that,” Clinton said at the opening event of two days of meetings.

She spoke in the ornate Benjamin Franklin room on the eighth floor of the State Department building. She and Qureshi sat at the head of a large U-shaped table, flanked by dozens of officials and aides from both countries.

I am aware some skepticism remains. So I want to say a word directly to the people of Pakistan,” Clinton said. “Our countries have had our misunderstandings and disagreements in the past and there are sure to be more disagreements in the future, as there are sure to be between any friends or, frankly, between any family members. But this is a new day — for the past year the Obama administration has shown in our words and our deeds a different approach and a different attitude toward Pakistan.”

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Secretary of State Clinton’s full remarks

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Filed under Hillary Rodham Clinton (Sec of State), Obama Administration, Pakistan, Uncategorized

Taliban’s top military commander captured

ISLAMABAD – The Taliban’s top military commander has been arrested in a joint CIA-Pakistani operation in Pakistan in a major victory against the insurgents as U.S. troops push into their heartland in southern Afghanistan, officials said Tuesday.

Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the group’s No. 2 leader behind Afghan Taliban founder Mullah Mohammad Omar and a close associate of Osama bin Laden, was captured in the southern Pakistani port city of Karachi, two Pakistani intelligence officers and a senior U.S. official said.

They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to release such sensitive information.

One Pakistani officer said Baradar was arrested 10 days ago with the assistance of the United States and “was talking” to his interrogators.

Baradar is the most senior Afghan Taliban leader arrested since the beginning of the Afghan war in 2001 following the Sept. 11 terror attacks in the United States.

His capture represents a significant success for the administration of President Barack Obama, which has vowed to kill or seize Taliban and al-Qaida leaders in Afghanistan and Pakistan. It follows the ramping up of CIA missile strikes against militant targets along the border between the two countries that have reportedly killed many midlevel commanders.

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In-depth: Who Is Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar?

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Filed under 9/11, Afghanistan, Al-Qaeda, Military, Obama Administration, Pakistan, Pres. Barack Obama, Terrorism

BBC Airing Guantánamo Guard/Detainee Reunion

Posted by: Audiegrl

“He would say, ‘you ever listen to Eminem or Dr Dre’ and… I thought how could it be somebody is here who’s doing the same stuff that I do when I’m back home”~~Former Guard Brandon Neely

Brandon Neely, center, was a Guantánamo Bay guard, and Ruhal Ahmed, left, and Shafiq Rasul were prisoners.

Brandon Neely, center, was a Guantánamo Bay guard, and Ruhal Ahmed, left, and Shafiq Rasul were prisoners.

Why would a former Guantanamo Bay prison guard track down two of his former captives – two British men – and agree to fly to London to meet them?

BBC News/Gavin Lee~~”You look different without a cap.”

You look different without the jump suits.”

With those words, an extraordinary reunion gets under way.

The journey of reconciliation began almost a year ago in Huntsville, Texas. Mr Neely, 29, had left the US military in 2005 to become a police officer and was still struggling to come to terms with his time as a guard at Guantanamo.

He felt anger at a number of incidents of abuse he says he witnessed, and guilt over one in particular.

Highly controversial since it opened in 2002, Guantanamo prison was set up by President George Bush in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks to house suspected “terrorists“. But it has been heavily divisive and President Barack Obama has said it has “damaged [America’s] national security interests and become a tremendous recruiting tool for al Qaeda“.

Mr Neely recalls only the good publicity in the US media.

The news would always try to make Guantanamo into this great place,” he says, “like ‘they [prisoners] were treated so great’. No it wasn’t. You know here I was basically just putting innocent people in cages.”

The prisoners arriving on planes, in goggles and jump suits, from Afghanistan were termed by then US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld as the “worst of the worst“. But after getting to know some of the English-speaking detainees, Mr Neely started to have doubts all of them were fanatical terrorists.

Mr Neely was 22 when he worked at the camp and left after six months to serve in Iraq. But after quitting the military his doubts about Guantanamo began to crystallize. This led to a spontaneous decision last year to reach out to his former prisoners on Facebook.

Released in 2004, after being held for two years, Mr Rasul and Mr Ahmed and another friend from Tipton had been captured in Afghanistan on suspicion of links to the Taliban. The three said they were beaten by US troops although this was disputed by the US government at the time.

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But what were the pair doing in Afghanistan in 2001?

They explain that, being in their late teens and early twenties at the time, they had made a naive, spontaneous decision to travel for free with an aid convoy weeks before a friend’s wedding, due to take place in Pakistan.

Mr Ahmed admits they had a secret agenda for entering Afghanistan, but it wasn’t to join al-Qaeda.

Aid work was like probably 5% of it. Our main reason was just to go and sightsee really and smoke some dope“.

Does their former prison guard believe them? Yes, says Mr Neely, who says he thinks it was a case of “wrong place, wrong time“.

Both sides are beginning to bond, yet towards the end, Mr Neely has a confession of his own. It threatens to destroy the mood of reconciliation.

He is deeply ashamed of an incident in which he “slammed” an elderly prisoner’s head against the floor.

Mr Neely recalls that he thought he had been under attack because the man kept trying to rise to his feet. But weeks later he discovered the prisoner thought he was being placed on his knees to be executed and believed he was fighting for his life.

Mr Ahmed is speechless, then evidently conflicted as he wrestles in his mind with whether or not he can forgive. Eventually, he says he can.

But should Mr Neely be prosecuted for his actions? Mr Ahmed pauses again.

He’s realized what he did was wrong and he’s living with it and suffering with it and as long as that he knows what he did was wrong. That’s the main thing.”

Afterwards, each say they had genuinely found some sort of closure from meeting. The sense of relief in all their faces speaks volumes, and they leave the meeting closer to one another.

Their story will be featured on the documentary Guantanamo Reunited on BBC Radio 5 live on Thursday 14 January at 2200 BST.

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NYT-Guantánamo Reunion, by Way of BBC

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Filed under 9/11, Al-Qaeda, Barack Obama, BBC, Countries, Culture, England, Entertainment, Europe, George W. Bush, Iraq, Islam/Muslim, Law, Media and Entertainment, Middle East, Military, Networks, News, Obama Administration, Pakistan, Politics, Pres. Barack Obama, Presidents, Religion, Television, Terrorism, Uncategorized, United States, Video/YouTube, War

President Obama’s Saturday YouTube Address 01/02/10

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WhiteHouse.govThe Fight Against Al Qaeda~~The President discusses the recent attempted act of terrorism on the Christmas day flight to Detroit, and his broader strategy to fight Al Qaeda.

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Filed under Afghanistan, Al-Qaeda, Barack Obama, Change, Media and Entertainment, Middle East, Military, Pakistan, Politics, Pres. Barack Obama, Presidents, Terrorism, United States, Video/YouTube, War, Weekly YouTube Address

Replay: President Obama Speaks on Afghanistan Policy


President Obama outlines his strategy on Afghanistan and Pakistan from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y. December 1, 2009

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Filed under Afghanistan, Al-Qaeda, Live Stream Video, Military, News, Obama Administration, Pakistan, Pres. Barack Obama, Terrorism, Uncategorized, War

Obama’s Afghanistan surge: building an exit ramp–

“This can’t be nation-building. It can’t be an open-ended commitment.”— Obama wants Afghan war over in 3 years


Update:
Overall goal in war is defeat of al-Qaida

WEST POINT, N.Y. (AP) — President Barack Obama says the core U.S. goal in Afghanistan remains the defeat of al-Qaida’s terror network.

Speaking Tuesday night at the U.S. Military Academy, Obama laid out several objectives that he says are part of that overall goal.

Obama says U.S. forces and allies want to deny al-Qaida safe haven in Afghanistan, while reversing the momentum of the Taliban insurgency.

The president says the U.S. will also seek to strengthen Afghanistan’s own security forces to eventually take over the fight.

Obama says the military strategy he presented Tuesday is aimed at breaking the Taliban’s momentum over the next 18 months

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8 U.S. allies committing 5,000 additional troops
WASHINGTON (AP) – President Barack Obama plans to send 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan, the first as early as Christmas, on an accelerated timetable with an endgame in sight, The Associated Press has learned. In his prime-time speech to the nation Tuesday night at West Point, Obama also will lay out a rough timeframe, including some dates, for when the main U.S. military mission will end, said a senior administration official who spoke on grounds of anonymity.

The main role of the new troops will be to reverse Taliban gains and secure population centers in the volatile south and east parts of the country.

The 30,000 new troops will bring the total in Afghanistan to more than 100,000 U.S. forces.

New infusions of U.S. Marines will begin moving into Afghanistan almost as soon as President Barack Obama announces a redrawn battle strategy. All of the new troops are expected to be in place by next summer.
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Gibbs on New Afghan Strategy
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From CNN: Where will the new troops go?
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On Obama’s War in Afghanistan: — More Loans, Fewer Drones

blogpost by Ogenec

I am looking forward to hearing Obama’s speech tonight. I do hope, however, that we don’t get the kind of speech he is so adept at giving: the one where he impresses us with his mastery of nuance and ability to understand all sides of a multi-faceted issue. At this point, even his detractors are prepared to concede him that point. The question is not his capacity for reflection, but his capacity for conviction. If he believes the war is worth fighting, he must convince us of that. More to the point, he must convince us we need to sacrifice for the effort. If, however, he does not believe this war is worth fighting in the long term, then he must also convince us of that.

And here I’ll digress to state my own opinion. I think that the term “war” is not the right one, and it just distorts the analysis to look at it from that perspective. We are not at “war” with Afghanistan. But we should do whatever it takes to deny the Taliban and Al Qaeda sanctuary. Not just because of Af-Pak, although Pakistan is tremendously important: ISI, nukes, Kashmir, and all that. In my own opinion, the problem is what a time series would show: that Islamic fundamentalism is spreading and metastizing, from the Middle East into Asia, Europe, and even sub-Saharan Africa. It will take a concerted, global effort to reverse this trend, and it behooves all countries to get involved, and to stop playing geo-political games with the issue.  Russia is learning that lesson the hard way.   They imagined that they could use Iran as a pawn in their geopolitical chess match with the  United States.   But the recent terrorist attack in Russia demonstrates the limits of that strategy: Russia can make nice with the Iranian theocrats all it wants, but that will not deter the fundamentalists from their vision of a Caliphate that spans Asia, Europe and Africa. By whatever means necessary.

Similarly, pacifists, progressives, liberals (or whatever they want to call themselves) should recognize the limits of their strategy.  Repudiating Bush’s silly pre-emptive war doctrine does not mean that we should end the effort in Afghanistan, and “just bring the troops home.”  Again, that view severely misapprehends the existential nature of the threat. That said, I do agree that there is something to the “Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle” argument: that by intervening militarily in Afghanistan, we perpetuate the disaffection that leads to the very fundamentalism we are trying to prevent.  I get that.  But that does not mean we abandon the endeavor: it means that we transform it. We should not make the mistake with Karzai that Bush made with Musharraf, and prop up a corrupt administration with divided loyalties. Rather, we should help the local populace with economic alternatives: more micro loans, less drones, to coin a phrase. So the focus on troop numbers misses the point in my view. The question is, what is the purpose of the troops? This is what I want to hear from Obama tonight. Tell me that the troops are a means to an end, not the end in and of themselves.

And, while you’re at it, tell me how we are going to pay for it. Make this a national call to action, and Americans will be happy to do their share. But you’ve gotta make the case.  My vote: WaPo’s prescription of a gasoline tax.

Related discussion:
Tom Ricks C-span interview: What’s next in Afghanistan? 12/1/2009

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Filed under Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Military, Opinions, Pakistan, Russia, Uncategorized, United States

An Open Letter to President Obama— the lessons of History

posted by GeoT
“I see an opportunity to accomplish American objectives while avoiding a course of action that could derail plans for your presidency, just as the Vietnam War ruined the presidency of Lyndon Johnson.”

By William R. Polk

Although we were separated by more than a decade, we lived a few steps apart in Hyde Park and were both professors at the University of Chicago. There I established the Center for Middle Eastern Studies and was also president of the Adlai Stevenson Institute of International Affairs. Before going to Chicago, during the Kennedy administration I was the member of the Policy Planning Council responsible for the Middle East and Central Asia. A Democrat, I was an early supporter of yours. So I hope you will accept the following analysis and proposals as being from a friend as well as a person with considerable experience on Afghanistan and Pakistan.

In recent events I see an opportunity to accomplish American objectives while avoiding a course of action that could derail plans for your presidency, just as the Vietnam War ruined the presidency of Lyndon Johnson.

What actually brought all the insurgencies, including the one in Vietnam, to a halt was the withdrawal of the foreigners. Some foreigners left in defeat, but others left in ways that achieved their most important objectives. I believe you have an opportunity to achieve America’s important objectives in Afghanistan.

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Official: Obama won’t take any current war options

By BEN FELLER and ANNE GEARAN (AP) –

President Barack Obama meets with his national security team to discuss Afghanistan in Situation Room of the White House in Washington, Tuesday, Nov. 11, 2009

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama does not plan to accept any of the Afghanistan war options presented by his national security team, pushing instead for revisions to clarify how and when U.S. troops would turn over responsibility to the Afghan government, a senior administration official said Wednesday.

Obama is still close to announcing his revamped war strategy — most likely shortly after he returns from a trip to Asia that ends on Nov. 19.

But the president raised questions at a war council meeting Wednesday that could alter the dynamic of both how many additional troops are sent to Afghanistan and what the timeline would be for their presence in the war zone, according to the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss Obama’s thinking.

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Related Story:

Weak allies limit Obama’s options
WAR PLANS HINDERED
Afghanistan, Pakistan may prove unreliable

In the final stages of its deliberations over a new war strategy, the administration’s attention has shifted to the two governments whose cooperation and competence are considered essential to success — Afghanistan and Pakistan.

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Filed under Afghanistan, Military, Pakistan, Uncategorized, War