Allison Kilkenny: Unreported

SCOTUS and Obama broadly define ‘material support’ of ‘terrorist organizations’

Posted in Barack Obama, Supreme Court, terrorism, United States, war crimes by allisonkilkenny on June 26, 2010

Jesus, take the wheel. SCOTUS recently handed down a decision — reenforcing an Obama administration policy — that is so dumb it rivals John Roberts’s “what is this ’email’ you speak of?” moment of shame.

The court, and Obama, broadly defined “material support” of so-called terrorist organizations.

While the relevant statute defines “material support” to include a long list of items that are clearly connected to the violent activities of terrorists, it also includes more ambiguous terms such as “any…service,…training, expert advice or assistance.”

Basically, this decision means peacekeepers like Jimmy Carter could be accused of offering “material support,” meaning any service, which could include counsel or mediation, to groups like the democratically elected Hamas.

Also, notice the term “terrorist group” is a completely arbitrary label. Hamas, though they came to power in a democratic election, is a terrorist group, while Israel, which receives billions of dollars in aid from the US, and uses illegal weapons like white phosphorous against a civilian population, and continues to exercise collective punishment unabated by western bystanders, is an “important ally.”

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The soft media coup: McChrystal talks shit to Rolling Stone

Posted in Afghanistan, Barack Obama, war, world by allisonkilkenny on June 22, 2010

It's my war, and I'll kill civilians how I want to!

If you asked me what publication General McChrystal, the highest ranking US military official in Afghanistan, would chose to meet with for the purpose of discrediting his Commander-in-chief, I probably wouldn’t have said the same magazine that once featured the fabulous Adam Lambert on its cover.

An article in this week’s Rolling Stone magazine depicts McChrystal as a lone wolf on the outs with many important figures in the Obama administration and unable to persuade even some of his own soldiers that his strategy can win the war.

Are we talking about the same lone wolf, who admitted to war crimes in March? I can’t imagine why people are refusing to listen to a man who admitted that the US military has “shot an amazing number of people, but to [his] knowledge, none has ever proven to be a threat.”

This weird story reminded me of Sy Hersh’s statement last year that the military was “waging a war against the White House.”

“A lot of people in the Pentagon would like to see him get into trouble,” he said. By leaking information that the commanding officer in Afghanistan, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, says the war would be lost without an additional 40,000 American troops, top brass have put Obama in a no-win situation, Hersh contended.

“If he gives them the extra troops they’re asking for, he loses politically,” Hersh said. “And if he doesn’t give them the troops, he also loses politically.”

McChrystal’s, of course, playing innocent now, and he’s apologized to the White House, but it’s hard to believe a man who spends his every waking hour plotting strategy would “accidentally” leak these kinds of whopping gaffs to the press.

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Win-Hold-Lose: How the Pentagon is Already Planning the Next Wars

Posted in Afghanistan, media, politics, war by allisonkilkenny on March 15, 2009

banksy-soldiers-painting-peace-signIn 1947, President Truman signed the National Security Act, which formed the National Military Establishment, a department with the unfortunate acronym “NME,” (pronounced “enemy”). Wise men realized a name change was in order, so they rebranded NME as the “Department of Defense.” In its new role, the DoD would oversee the duties formerly handled by the Department of War and the Department of the Navy. 

Department of War and “enemy”  are more suitable nomenclatures for our modern wartime Chimera, the Department of Defense.  

As Thom Shanker details with the cool, detached demeanor of a serial killer, the “protracted wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are forcing the Obama administration to rethink what for more than two decades has been a central premise of American strategy: that the nation need only prepare to fight two major wars at a time.”

Of course, “only two wars at a time, boys” isn’t written anywhere in our Constitution. That may be because our forefathers were sort of wary about that whole empirical conquest thing. They’d just escaped being ruled over by a tyrannical king and were in no rush to impose their own authoritarian regime upon anyone else, though that didn’t stop them from wiping out the Native Americans and pesky Mexicans.

Shanker continues:

A senior Defense Department official involved in a strategy review now under way said the Pentagon was absorbing the lesson that the kinds of counterinsurgency campaigns likely to be part of some future wars would require more staying power than in past conflicts, like the first Iraq war in 1991 or the invasions of Grenada and Panama.

I know what you’re thinking: Surely, the only lesson to be taken out of the Iraq and Afghanistan quagmires is to NOT invade countries that pose no threat to the United States. Well, that’s why you’re not in charge of leading young men and women to their deaths. The problem isn’t ideological. It’s strategical. 

Among the refinements to the two-wars strategy the Pentagon has incorporated in recent years is one known as “win-hold-win” — an assumption that if two wars broke out simultaneously, the more threatening conflict would get the bulk of American forces while the military would have to defend along a second front until reinforcements could arrive to finish the job.

Another formulation envisioned the United States defending its territory, deterring hostility in four critical areas of the world and then defeating two adversaries in major combat operations, but not at exactly the same time.

For anyone of you weak, pathetic peace-lovers out there, who thought maybe (just maybe) the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan (and sometimes Pakistan) were winding down, stick this Pentagon memo in your pipe and smoke it. This is the long-vision, people. This is perpetual war. 

An inconvenient truth is that Americans get worked up at the thought of an extended, massive ground invasion of foreign lands. That’s why the future of war is small, scattered, air-oriented, and covert. Whether it’s Dick Cheney’s implementation of a secret assassination ring, or Pakistan-stationed US drones killing civilians, war no longer has to receive the blessing of Congress, or – pause for laughter – the American people.

War is an inevitability, so a public debate about whether war should be is never an option. It’s not a matter of should we be planning for multiple, simultaneous, small invasions, but a debate over technicalities and strategies for when it happens. And the media usually walks hand-in-hand with the Pentagon, somehow managing to keep a straight face on the matter, when generals and bureaucrats start spouting rhetoric about preserving freedom and democracy via cluster bombs.

The war debate (if it can be called a debate) is completely off-kilter. Even in the “liberal” New York Times, the article isn’t balanced with a pro-war participant and a serious anti-war participant. Yet again, we get a photocopied Pentagon memo crammed within a major newspaper’s margins, without analysis or journalistic insight into the consequences of perpetual war. Including an anti-war voice isn’t partisan. It’s actually doing real journalistic work, which is representing all sides of a story, and not just the loudest opinions resonating from the state.

The closest the Times comes to representing an anti-war voice is in the confusing interjection from Michael E. O’Hanlon, a senior follow from the Brookings Institution, a think tank that the Times tells me is center-left, though I wouldn’t have guessed that from O’Hanlon’s comment:

“We have Gates and others saying that other parts of the government are underresourced and that the DoD should not be called on to do everything. That’s a good starting point for this — to ask and at least begin answering where it might be better to have other parts of the government get stronger and do a bigger share, rather than the Department of Defense.”

This sounds like O’Hanlon wants to outsource killing to other departments. Maybe we can arm teachers and parachute them into Pakistan. 

Yet again, the debate over our larger war policies goes unexamined by the mainstream media. The media remains compliant in the imperial conquests of our government, and then acts dumbfounded when popular support for their institution wanes, and they find themselves antiquated and bankrupted.

(VIDEO) Israel’s Young Conscientious Objectors

Posted in politics, war by allisonkilkenny on January 24, 2009

December18.org

topic_antiwarThe Shministim are Israeli high school students who have been imprisoned for refusing to serve in an army that occupies the Palestinian Territories. December 18 marks the launch date of a global campaign to release them from jail. Join over 20,000 people including American conscientious objectors,Ronnie Gilbert, Adrienne Rich, Robert Meeropol, Adam Hochschild, Rabbi Lynn Gottleib, Howard Zinn, Rela Mazali, Debra Chasnoff, Ed Asner and Aurora Levins-Morales and show your support by contacting the Israeli Minister of Defense using the form below. 

40,000 LETTERS AND COUNTING!

Click here to send a letter to Israel

Click here to watch a video message from The Shministim

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Howard Zinn on War and Social Justice

Posted in Barack Obama, politics by allisonkilkenny on January 4, 2009

Democracy Now

zinn-1Howard Zinn is one of this country’s most celebrated historians. His classic work A People’s History of the United States changed the way we look at history in America. First published a quarter of a century ago, the book has sold over a million copies and is a phenomenon in the world of publishing—selling more copies each successive year. After serving as a bombardier in World War II, Howard Zinn went on to become a lifelong dissident and peace activist. He was active in the civil rights movement and many of the struggles for social justice over the past forty years. He taught at Spelman College, the historically black college for women, and was fired for insubordination for standing up for the students. He was recently invited back to give the commencement address. Howard Zinn has written numerous books and is professor emeritus at Boston University. He recently spoke at Binghamton University a few days after the 2008 presidential election. His speech was called “War and Social Justice.” 

WATCH VIDEO HERE

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Help Is On The Way

Posted in Uncategorized by allisonkilkenny on November 22, 2008

ivaw-1Bob Herbert, New York Times

With so much attention understandably focused on the economy and the incoming administration, the struggles being faced by G.I.’s coming home from combat overseas are receding even further from the public’s consciousness.

If you’re in your late teens or early 20s and your energies have been directed for a year or more toward dodging roadside bombs and ambushes, caring for horribly wounded comrades and, in general, killing before being killed, it can be difficult to readjust to a world of shopping malls, speed limits and polite conversation.

Bryan Adams is the face of a sophisticated new advertising campaign that is trying to get troubled veterans to come in from the cold and piercingly lonely environment of post-wartime stress.

Bryan, now 24, was an Army sniper in Iraq from February 2004 to February 2005. At an age when many youngsters go to college or line up that first significant job, he and his squad-mates were prowling Tikrit with high-powered weapons, looking for bad guys.

He was shot in the leg and hand during a firefight, and he saw and did things that he was less than anxious to talk about when he came home.

“I wanted to go to college,” he told me. “I had all these plans, but I couldn’t seem to make them happen. I couldn’t focus. I would get, like, depressive thoughts.”

He said that he would party a lot. “Party” was a euphemism for drinking.

The drinking made him more depressed, and then he would get angry that he was “partying but not having a good time.”

Bryan said he would “flip out,” and friends began to shun him. “I just didn’t care what I did or who I affected with my actions. I would break stuff. I’d break, like appliances. It was bad.”

Returning to civilian life from combat is almost always a hard road to run. Studies have shown that a third or more of G.I.’s returning from the combat zones of Iraq and Afghanistan — more than 300,000 men and women — have endured mental health difficulties.

Many have experienced the agony of deep depression, and alarming numbers have tried or succeeded in committing suicide.

A CBS News study found that veterans aged 20 to 24 were two to four times as likely to commit suicide as non-veterans the same age.

The advertising campaign, initiated by the advocacy group Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, was designed to increase the number of veterans seeking treatment for their mental health difficulties. Many are embarrassed to speak about their problems or are unaware that help is available, or even that they need help.

As Bryan Adams told me, “I didn’t know anything about these symptoms. I didn’t know what post-traumatic stress disorder was.”

To get the word out, IAVA hooked up with the advertising giant BBDO and the nonprofit Ad Council, which is famous for such public service slogans as, “Only you can prevent forest fires,” “A mind is a terrible thing to waste” and “Friends don’t let friends drive drunk.”

This campaign is titled, “Alone,” and focuses on the sense of isolation so many veterans feel when they come home. The television and print ads encourage the veterans to visit a Web site,CommunityOfVeterans.org, as a place where they can share their experiences with other vets.

IAVA tells veterans in its promotional material: “Just listen in or share your experiences in a judgment-free environment.”

The site is filled with features and news updates on many topics and information on a wide range of mental health resources.

The ads are powerful.

In one, a somber Bryan Adams is shown, in camouflage fatigues, standing alone in an airport, then riding an otherwise passenger-less subway train, and then walking through empty streets in Manhattan. He is eerily and absolutely alone. There is not another soul in sight, until a marine in civilian clothes walks up to him, extends his hand, and says: “Welcome home, man.”

The ad then flashes the message: “If you’re a veteran of Iraq or Afghanistan, you’re not alone.”

Bryan, who lives in Palmyra, N.J., is a real-life example of what the timely intervention of mental health counseling and treatment can do. At his family’s urging, he enrolled in a treatment program at a V.A. hospital in Boston. It turned his life around, and he is now back in college.

This ad campaign, if disseminated widely enough (it is depending on donated media), will reduce the heartache of G.I.’s and their families, and will save lives.

The need for more attention to this issue is tremendous. Combat does terrible things to people. As Paul Reickhoff, IAVA’s executive director, put it:

“Nobody can cross this river without getting wet.”

—-

 
If you are a veteran, or know someone who is, send them to Communityofveterans.org.

Watch the Community of Veterans ad here.

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Drunken Politics on Breakthru Radio

Posted in Barack Obama by allisonkilkenny on November 7, 2008
myspace.com/drunkenpoliticsradio

myspace.com/drunkenpoliticsradio

Drunken Politics is now on Breakthru Radio every Wednesday! This is in addition to our regular shows on Blogtalk Radio, which will return every Wednesday @ 11pm EST and Sunday @ 3pm EST starting November 26. When we come back from hiatus, we’ll have Noam Chomsky on our show.

In the meantime, this is the new site where Drunken Politics will air:  http://www.breakthruradio.com/index.php?show=5302. There will be a couple NEW episodes airing here to tide you over during the hiatus. 

This show is MUCH better quality, which will come as a relief to those of your sick of hearing Jamie get disconnected and Allison swear profusely.

If we get a ton of traffic on this new site, we’ll get to increase the number of shows we do every week. Basically, we need to show that Drunken Politics is in demand.

A new episode will be up every Wednesday at noon. The current episode has clips from Jamie’s new standup CD, a final fuck you to George Bush, Allison’s new political ad, and Independent vice-presidential candidate Matt Gonzalez, and former presidential candidate, Ralph Nader.

And next Wednesday we spend the hour with Eugene Jerecki, who won the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance for his film Why We  Fight. We talk about his new book The American Way of War, Barack Obama, and what we can do to stop the brutal Military-Industrial complex. We taped the interview today and trust us, you want to listen to it. He was fucking brilliant.  

Finally, as you probably know, it is very easy to get swept up in the Obama craze, assume we won and stop paying attention to anything political, but California’s ban on gay marriage passed. Not only did it pass, but it passed in a state where Obama housed! Which means people we know, Democrats, voted to take rights AWAY from people in 2008. 

We need to get the word out about the damage this is doing. We are not a free society unless all of our citizens have equal rights. Go to http://www.couragecampaign.org/page/s/repealprop8 to sign a petition to undo this miscarriage of justice. 

Also there are a few limited edition CDs of Jamie’s stand-up left at myspace.com/jamiekilsein.

US Special Forces Launch Rare Attack Inside Syria

Posted in Uncategorized by allisonkilkenny on October 26, 2008

DAMASCUS, Syria — U.S. military helicopters launched an extremely rare attack Sunday on Syrian territory close to the border with Iraq, killing eight people in a strike the government in Damascus condemned as “serious aggression.”

A U.S. military official said the raid by special forces targeted the foreign fighter network that travels through Syria into Iraq. The Americans have been unable to shut the network down in the area because Syria was out of the military’s reach.

“We are taking matters into our own hands,” the official told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because of the political sensitivity of cross-border raids.

The attack came just days after the commander of U.S. forces in western Iraq said American troops were redoubling efforts to secure the Syrian border, which he called an “uncontrolled” gateway for fighters entering Iraq.

A Syrian government statement said the helicopters attacked the Sukkariyeh Farm near the town of Abu Kamal, five miles inside the Syrian border. Four helicopters attacked a civilian building under construction shortly before sundown and fired on workers inside, the statement said.

The government said civilians were among the dead, including four children.

A resident of the nearby village of Hwijeh said some of the helicopters landed and troops exited the aircraft and fired on a building. He said the aircraft flew along the Euphrates River into the area of farms and several brick factories. The witness spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the information,

Syria’s Foreign Ministry said it summoned the charges d’affaires of the United States and Iraq to protest against the strike.

“Syria condemns this aggression and holds the American forces responsible for this aggression and all its repercussions. Syria also calls on the Iraqi government to shoulder its responsibilities and launch and immediate investigation into this serious violation and prevent the use of Iraqi territory for aggression against Syria,” the government statement said.

The area targeted is near the Iraqi border city of Qaim, which had been a major crossing point for fighters, weapons and money coming into Iraq to fuel the Sunni insurgency.

Iraqi travelers making their way home across the border reported hearing many explosions, said Farhan al-Mahalawi, mayor of Qaim.

On Thursday, U.S. Maj. Gen. John Kelly said Iraq’s western borders with Saudi Arabia and Jordan were fairly tight as a result of good policing by security forces in those countries but that Syria was a “different story.”

“The Syrian side is, I guess, uncontrolled by their side,” Kelly said. “We still have a certain level of foreign fighter movement.”

He added that the U.S. was helping construct a sand berm and ditches along the border.

“There hasn’t been much, in the way of a physical barrier, along that border for years,” Kelly said.

The foreign fighters network sends militants from North Africa and elsewhere in the Middle East to Syria, where elements of the Syrian military are in league with al-Qaida and loyalists of Saddam Hussein’s Baath party, the U.S. military official said.

He said that while American forces have had considerable success, with Iraqi help, in shutting down the “rat lines” in Iraq, and with foreign government help in North Africa, the Syrian node has been out of reach.

“The one piece of the puzzle we have not been showing success on is the nexus in Syria,” the official said.

The White House in August approved similar special forces raids from Afghanistan across the border of Pakistan to target al-Qaida and Taliban operatives. At least one has been carried out.

The flow of foreign fighters into Iraq has been cut to an estimated 20 a month, a senior U.S. military intelligence official told the Associated Press in July. That’s a 50 percent decline from six months ago, and just a fifth of the estimated 100 foreign fighters who were infiltrating Iraq a year ago, according to the official.

Ninety percent of the foreign fighters enter through Syria, according to U.S. intelligence. Foreigners are some of the most deadly fighters in Iraq, trained in bomb-making and with small-arms expertise and more likely to be willing suicide bombers than Iraqis.

Foreign fighters toting cash have been al-Qaida in Iraq’s chief source of income. They contributed more than 70 percent of operating budgets in one sector in Iraq, according to documents captured in September 2007 on the Syrian border. Most of the fighters were conveyed through professional smuggling networks, according to the report.

Iraqi insurgents seized Qaim in April 2005, forcing U.S. Marines to recapture the town the following month in heavy fighting. The area became secure only after Sunni tribes in Anbar turned against al-Qaida in late 2006 and joined forces with the Americans.

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem accused the United States earlier this year of not giving his country the equipment needed to prevent foreign fighters from crossing into Iraq. He said Washington feared Syria could use such equipment against Israel.

Though Syria has long been viewed by the U.S. as a destabilizing country in the Middle East, in recent months, Damascus has been trying to change its image and end years of global seclusion.

Its president, Bashar Assad, has pursued indirect peace talks with Israel, mediated by Turkey, and says he wants direct talks next year. Syria also has agreed to establish diplomatic ties with Lebanon, a country it used to dominate both politically and militarily, and has worked harder at stemming the flow of militants into Iraq.

The U.S. military in Baghdad did not immediately respond to a request for comment after Sunday’s raid.

_____

Associated Press reporter Pamela Hess in Washington and Sam F. Ghattas in Beirut contributed to this report.