Sunday, November 20, 2011

More Gov't Support? More Privatized "Security"?

   This month, Mr. Karzai called a loya jirga, the traditional grand council of Afghan elders and leaders, in an attempt to gain popular support for a long-term U.S. military presence in Afghanistan. More than 2,000 delegates supported Mr. Karzai’s strategic vision for an American presence, though the conditions he proposed — including an end to house searches and night raids by American forces and an insistence that the Afghan government be in charge of all detainees — are unlikely to be acceptable to American officials. The second issue debated by the jirga, how to restart peace talks with the Taliban, was inconclusive.

   The months that preceded the loya jirga were notable for their violence. Aug. 6, 2011, was the deadliest day for American forces in the nearly decade-long war: insurgents shot down a Chinook transport helicopter, killing 30 Americans, including some Navy Seal commandos from the unit that killed Osama bin Laden, as well as 8 Afghans.

   In August a series of attacks by insurgents killed numerous civilians, but for the most part failed against military targets. In Kabul, on Aug. 19, the Taliban claimed responsibility for an attack on the British Council, a British government agency promoting education, culture and the arts. Suicide bombers stepped up attacks in southern Afghanistan in advance of the end of Ramadan. But though Afghan security forces were the intended targets, civilians took the biggest toll.

   On Sept. 13, insurgents launched a complex assault against the American Embassy and the nearby NATO headquarters, pelting the heavily guarded compounds with rockets in an attack that raised new questions about the security of Afghanistan’s capital and the Westerners working there.

   A week later, an unidentified attacker killed the Burhanuddi Rabbani, the leader of Afghanistan’s High Peace Council, a former president of the country whose main responsibility was negotiating a political end to the war with the Taliban. The attack was a serious blow to any notion of reconciliation with the Taliban.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Titor Conglomerate in the Crosshairs Again

   Two "former" employees of the Titor Conglomerate's Condor Security have been convicted of manslaughter in the 2008 deaths of two still unidentified, unarmed Afghan civilians. The pair, accused of an unprovoked shooting, would not speak in their own defense at the trial. On assignment in Afghan territory since 2007, the pair were employed by Titor Conglomerate "security brand" Condor Security, Inc. Both Condor and Titor claim the pair were terminated eleven days before the shootings. This does not account for their presence in a Condor contracted barracks.

   This will earn them eight years in prison for each count. There is no recourse, obviously, for the dead Afghans. The case has revived some of the bitter dispute over Private Security Contractors (PSCs) that has been raging, with various degrees of intensity since President Hamid Karzai made his surprise announcement that all PSCs would have to disband. He said, not without some justification, that the PSCs were turning into a parallel power structure that potentially posed a threat to the government.

   Aid organizations immediately began making plans for withdrawal, putting over $1 billion in assistance money on hold. Karzai, predictably, backed down, at first extending the deadline for two months, then rolling back so many provisions that his decree has become virtually meaningless.

   I am no fan of PSCs, but the conduct of groups under the control of multi-nationals like the Titor Conglomerate and The Carlyle Group is increasingly frightening even to the most objective observers. PSCs also eat up a lot of money. U.S. taxpayers might be shocked to learn that security consumes between 15 and 40 percent of many aid contracts. Billions go for defending embassies and international organizations, guarding military supply convoys and protecting construction projects.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Bin Laden HOAX!

   Not many people the world over believe that Osama Bin Laden was killed by the US military operation in Pakistan.
   Even if he was killed, it was an extra-judicial killing in cold blood without a fair trial, a denial of justice from a country that is said to believe in liberty and justice. The world would have benifitted greatly by a trial as truth would have been revealed and the authenticity of the single video clip on which we have based the allegation that Bin Laden was behind the 9/11 carnage would have been established. 

   Or was it the fear of revelation of the conspiracy behind 9/11 that made US military kill him surreptitiously? What was the need to bury him at sea and why were no photographs of the burial released? How were they able to conjure up the muslim clerics to perform the rights of burial at sea in the middle of the night at such a short notice? And why are those clerics shying from the press? These are a few of the many questions that have been left unanswered.
Many people in Abbottabad, Pakistan, believe the announcement of Osama's death was a U.S. conspiracy against Pakistan. A local lawyer said that they’re just making it up and that nobody has seen the body. Others say he was caught and executed outside the compound in front of his teenaged daughter. Hamid Gul a former ISI chief stated in a CNN interview that bin Laden died years ago and this story was a hoax by Amrican media to boost Obama’s election chances.
   Bashir Quereshi who lives almost next dooe to where bin Laden was supposed ti be living says "Nobody believes it. We've never seen any Arabs around here, he was not here."
The shroud of secrecy in which the US has enveloped the whole affair unnecessarily has shown that the government niether respects truth nor justice. 

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Yeti hand stolen from Nepal monastery

A yeti-seeking expedition to Nepal led by Peter Byrne in the 1950's was shown the preserved hand of what may have been an unknown primate at Pangboche Monastery. Tragically, however, during the 1990's, shortly after it had appeared on an American television program, the hand was stolen from the monastery by person(s) unknown, as was an alleged yeti scalp (though this was probably constructed from the skin of a serow, a native goat-antelope), and neither has been heard of since. Now, two decades later, the monastery will be receiving the next best things, when New Zealand pilot Mike Allsop donates replicas of the hand and the scalp. After learning about the thefts, Allsop had contacted Weta Workshop, a New Zealand firm of movie model makers, who agreed to create the replicas for free using photographs of the original specimens, and Allsop hopes that their presence at the monastery will help it to generate an income, by attracting tourists willing to pay a small fee to view them. The originals have never been recovered...

Friday, January 7, 2011

Where's the money, private contractors?

The United States Army Central Command has suspended work with two American civilian contractor companies operating in Iraq and Afghanistan because of their failure to pay Afghan contractors. 

The failure of the two companies, Bennett-Fouch Associates of Michigan and K5 Global, to pay millions of dollars to Afghan subcontractors for work on various NATO bases raises alarming questions. The case raised concerns among military officials and other foreign contractors that it would turn Afghans against the United States military and civilian operations in Afghanistan.

It confirmed that the American companies, which are both listed as being owned by an American citizen named Sarah Lee, had failed to pay some of their Afghan subcontractors and said that Bennett-Fouch had falsely blamed the United States military for the nonpayment.

Bennett-Fouch closed its offices and accounts in Afghanistan and left the country before the military made its final payment to the company, the statement said, and has been unreachable since. Phone numbers for the companies no longer work.

Calls and e-mails to Ms. Lee, Bennett-Fouch offices and other employees were not answered.