Wednesday, May 12, 2004

In Afghanistan, the CIA used to conduct some interrogations in a cluster of metal shipping containers at Bagram air base protected by three layers of concertina wire. It is unclear whether that center is still open, but the CIA's main interrogation center now appears to be in Kabul, at a location nicknamed "The Pit" by agency and Special Forces operators.
"Prisoner abuse is nothing new," said one military officer who has been working closely with CIA interrogators in Afghanistan. A dozen former and current national security officials interviewed by The Washington Post in 2002, including several who had witnessed interrogations, defended the use of stressful interrogation tactics and the use of violence against detainees as just and necessary.
President Bush formally asked Congress Wednesday for $25 billion for U.S. military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan early next year, requesting almost unfettered latitude in deciding how the money would be spent....
The $25 billion is just a first installment in paying for U.S. military activity in Iraq and Afghanistan next year and excludes any additional costs for rebuilding the two countries. Some lawmakers have said they expect the final amount to reach $75 billion for the Pentagon alone.
President Karzai was in Herat for just a few hours on Monday, but it was enough time to make clear he is not going to let any regional leaders keep their own armies.
Standing besides Ismail Khan, who controls one of the country's largest private militias, the Afghan leader said they had not even discussed the disarmament issue.
"We have not discussed these issues today because there is no need to discuss them. There is an agreement already, a decision on it already," he said. The president signalled that troops from Afghanistan's fledgling national army would remain in Herat despite opposition from Ismail Khan.
Sixteen hundred Afghan refugees were returned home from Quetta under the auspices of United Nations High Commission for Refugees(UNHCR), said a report on Wednesday. Atleast 1000 refugess were expatriated from Karachi,Hyderabad and Rahim yar Khan.
"The internet has become a virtual Afghanistan," says Clive Williams, director of terrorism studies at the Australian National University.
Sifton told RFE/RL that some allegations of mistreatment in Afghanistan have been made by U.S. military personnel themselves: "There are members of the U.S. military who are concerned about what the U.S. intelligence and military service is doing, and they have leaked information to us about those problems."
A three-day regional conference held this week in the Kyrgyz capital Bishkek looked at alternative ways to help Afghanistan. The forum, which ended today with the signing of a joint declaration, focused on ways that countries in the region could reduce trade barriers, enhance transport infrastructure, and streamline border systems.
A former Swiss climbing champion and photographer is believed to be one of two foreigners stoned to death in the Afghan capital, Kabul, at the weekend.
On Tuesday, the top U.S. general in Afghanistan said the military had made "significant changes" to the way it handles prisoners in Afghanistan after alleged abuse, including the deaths of three prisoners. Lt. Gen. David Barno said the military had investigated "challenges and problems" at outlying bases and decided to transfer suspects to Bagram more quickly.
A suspected Taliban assailant tossed a grenade into a Belgium-based aid group's office in eastern Afghanistan, shattering windows but causing no injuries, an Afghan police official said Wednesday. The attack on the office of Solidarity Afghanistan occurred Tuesday in Jalalabad, capital of Afghanistan's eastern Nangarhar province.
The dead man was a 17-year-old passenger and one of three people riding the motorbike — not an uncommon occurrence in Kabul....
Overall, it was the 360th road accident involving Canadian soldiers since they first deployed to Afghanistan to join the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force last August.
An investigation into alleged wrongdoing at the Kansas National Guard found no reason for the state to file charges, according to findings released Tuesday.
A new multimillion dollar collaborative effort that will remove land mines from Afghanistan and replace them with commercially productive grape and raisin vineyards will be announced.
A foreign peacekeeper was hurt on Tuesday in a suspected rocket attack on a base of NATO-led troops on the eastern outskirts of the Afghan capital. "We suspect it was a rocket because this has happened in the past," said Captain Bernard Dionne, a spokesman for the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). "One soldier was slightly injured and that soldier is doing just fine."
The commander of American forces in Afghanistan, Lt. Gen. David W. Barno, warned Tuesday of more attacks from Taliban and Al Qaeda guerrillas, but he promised a relentless military response.
The importance of the election has prompted Afghanistan's interim government to pay special attention to the clerics, or mullahs, who have a huge amount of influence over this Islamic nation. In a nation where televisions, radios and newspapers are scarce, Afghanistan's estimated 150,000 mosques are the only true "mass media."
"These Arab, Chechen and other foreign fighters are crazy about their cause. They never came to Pakistan to remain here. The last bunch to come numbered about a dozen, and they had 50 women and dozens of children. They divorced their women and handed them over them to our elders to remarry them as their husbands were only obsessed with their cause of fighting in Afghanistan. A few of them were Saudis, a few were Yemenis, Uzbek and Chinese. All were highly qualified people, like doctors, engineers and businessmen. They went to the mountains [he pointed towards Ghulam Khan] and never came back."
It was 8 a.m. when we arrived in Kabul today. Dr. Peter Jaggi, Swiss doctor and director of ADRA Afghanistan, picked us up, and we immediately went to view projects in progress.
What we have seen today will not be easy to describe. Devastation everywhere.
The U.S. military, facing a backlash across the Arab world for its treatment of Iraqi prisoners, says it
has launched an investigation into a complaint of abuse in Afghanistan.
U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Christina Rocca has arrived in Pakistan on two-day visit for talks on the war against terrorism and to visit U.S.-aided projects.
Tribesmen in Pakistan's Afghan border area say foreign militants have agreed for the first time to register with the government in return for amnesty. Nek Mohammad, a local militant pardoned under a similar deal last month, revealed the deal in Wana, the capital of South Waziristan region.
The United States has agreed to release about 20 Pakistanis from the Guantanamo Bay detention facility in Cuba, and the men will return home later this month, a senior Pakistani official said Wednesday.
From the weblog Eschaton (Atrios)

Sometimes it's so simple. Here's a message from Terry, who used to run the weblog Nitpicker until he got busy doing other things:

As many of you know, I am currently in the apolitical position of Army public affairs specialist in Afghanistan. I only recently arrived, after waiting for 2.5 months at Ft. Riley, Kansas, but that's another issue. I'm writing you all today because I'm going to take many of you up on your offers and rudely ask a favor of those who made no offer.

When I first mentioned on my blog, Nitpicker, that I was going to be deployed, a large number of you asked how you could help me, what I would need for Afghanistan. The truth is, there's not much. However, I just went on my first mission with a civil affairs group and found a way you might be able to help me out.

It seems that the children of Afghanistan want nothing more than they want a pen.

It was explained to me that the villages through which I traveled (near Kandahar, where I'm based) are so poor that a pen is like a scholarship to these children. They desperately want to learn but, without a pen, they simply won't. It's a long story. I won't bore you with it. Trust me, though, when I say that it would be a big deal if even a few of you could put up the call for pens for me. Anyone interested in helping out could either send some directly to me or go to these sites and send them, where you can find them for as cheap as $.89 a dozen.

You can send them to me at this address:

Terry L. Welch
105th MPAD
Kandahar Public Affairs Office
APO AE 09355

I edited out his site list - he linked to Officemax and Office Depot. Office Depot was making it very difficult to enter a military shipping address, so I went through Office Max. Spend a few bucks - send a few pens.

...Office Max does require a delivery address phone number, but I just put in my own. I put in "Armed Forces" rather than Armed Forces America or Armed Forces Pacific...

-Atrios 4:27 PM

Comment s (158) | Trackbacks (5) www.atrios.blogspot.com

Monday, May 10, 2004

"This is a very important document," says Bruce Hoffman, a terror expert at RAND Corp. in Washington. "It confirms that Zarqawi was running a parallel organization - not completely divorced from Al Qaeda, but separate. And that [Zarqawi] competes with Osama bin Laden and sees himself as somewhat of an emulator, or even a successor in the Muslim world."
Dozens of US soldiers crossed into Pakistan from Afghanistan while probing a shooting incident on their side, officials said on Sunday. The US soldiers in armoured vehicles entered the market town of Lwara, three kilometers from the Afghan border, around 7:45 pm on Saturday, a local administration official told AFP on condition of anonymity.
Hunkered down behind walls topped with razor wire built by the U.S. military, Afghan army Capt. Abdul Jabar boasts his less than 200 lightly armed soldiers could easily take on the warlords who hold sway across northern Afghanistan.
At least seven Afghans were killed when gunmen attacked a customs post in the southeast of the country, an official said yesterday. The gunmen were loyal to a regional warlord, Fateh Khan, who was among those killed in the weekend attack in the Orgun district of Paktika province, district chief Mohammad Ghaws Nasirwal said.
The Army is wearing out its equipment in Iraq and Afghanistan as much as 10 times as fast as in peacetime, straining the service's ability to repair battlefield weaponry, and accelerating the point at which entire fleets of costly trucks and aircraft need to be replaced, the Army's chief logistician warned this week.
Afghan Transitional Administration Chairman Hamid Karzai today traveled to the western city of Herat, where he met with the powerful regional leader and Herat governor, Ismail Khan. Ismail Khan has consistently resisted central government calls to disarm his militia.
Afghanistan is open for business. This remarkable fact, just two years after an interim government took office in Kabul, has provoked tremendous interest in South and Central Asia - so much interest, in fact, that government leaders from across the region have gathered in Kyrgyzstan this week to talk trade, investment, economic growth and regional stability.
If you think the U.S.-led troops fighting the "war on terror" in Afghanistan are all gun-slinging tough guys who kick down doors and blast Islamic militants out of mountain caves, think again.
Two foreign men, one Swiss, have been stabbed and stoned to death in the Afghan capital, government officials
Local residents informed police and led them to the bodies in Baghe Chilstone, an ancient garden not far from the city's centre, Interior
Ministry spokesman Lutfullah Mashal, told Reuters.
Mullah Roozi Khan, Taliban's high-ranking commander for Zabul province, was arrested in a military operation that involved several hundred U.S. and Afghan troops backed by U.S. helicopter gunships, said Zabul's governor Kheyal Mohammad Husseini.
US soldiers captured 13 suspected militants over the weekend in Zabul, a military spokeswoman said today. Local officials said the US troops had captured as many as 25 people including Arab and Pakistani nationals in Zabul's remote Naw Bahar district. But US military spokeswoman Cindy Beam could only confirm the arrest of 13 people, without identifying their nationality or background.
The U.N. vehicle was hit near Grabawa, a village in Khogyani district of Nangarhar province about 60 miles south of the capital, Kabul, U.N. spokesman Manoel de Almeida e Silva said. Four Afghan election staff traveling in the vehicle were unhurt, and the driver was released from a hospital later Saturday after treatment for minor injuries, Almeida e Silva said.
Radio Milli Paigham, a community radio station in Logar, Afghanistan, has created a new production unit for its female reporters. According to the Institute for Media, Policy and Civil Society (IMPACS), women in Logar are prohibited from traveling to the area of town where the station is located, and male journalists are often not allowed to interview women for their reports. As a result, women's voices were largely absent from the station's airwaves.
Journalist Edward Girardet's Essential Field Guide to Afghanistan was originally intended as a guide book for journalists, aid workers and soldiers. But since 2001, one of the guide's largest customers has been the U.S. government. Originally published in the 1990s, Girardet and a team of writers have updated the guide to 2004. Hear NPR's Cheryl Corley and Girardet.
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