The shameful treatment of foreign children in U.S. custody

The shameful treatment of foreign children in U.S. custody
The government bars me from arguing on behalf of my client, a Pakistani boy seized when he was 14

By John J. Connolly
1:26 p.m. EST, December 20, 2012

The State Department revealed this month that the United States has detained more than 200 children at its military prison in Afghanistan. I represent one of them, a boy who left his parents' home in Karachi, Pakistan in July 2008, when he was 14, on a trip to his grandparents' house in western Pakistan. He was allegedly captured in Afghanistan a few weeks later and has been "detained" at Bagram Air Force Base ever since. What frustrates me about the State Department report is not the number of children detained, but that the U.S. won't let me or other lawyers make a case that these children should be released. According to the U.S., the children can make that case themselves — perhaps with the assistance of a military "personal representative" — but not with the help of a parent, guardian, friend or lawyer.

The detention of children during armed conflict is not new. It has occurred for many reasons, sometimes to protect the child from society and other times to protect society from the child. Since the end of World War II, however, a consensus has emerged that children caught up in armed conflict are usually victims. Over the last 60 years, civilized societies have adopted an array of principles, laws and treaties to protect children from war.

ISAF DRONE ATTACK - 5 family members killed in Nuristan airstrike

5 family members killed in Nuristan airstrike

ASADABAD (PAN): Five members of a family were killed in an air strike conducted by the International Security Assistance Force in Wanth Waigal district of eastern Nuristan on Wednesday, an official said.

Wanth Waigal District Chief Rehmatullah Rehmat told Pajhwok Afghan News that the incident took place in Kakigal area at about 11am.

The victims were residents of Nangalam area of Marogai district of Kunar province, he added.

They were travelling to Waigal district to welcome a friend who had returned from the Hajj and wanted to present him with a sheep in keeping with a local tradition.The sheep was wounded in the attack.

The victims’ elder brother said two of his siblings were teachers and were innocent people.

A resident of Marogai district said that among the victims were three brothers and two of their nieces.

Robert Bales trial opens as US sergeant charged with massacring 16 Afghans Soldier returned to camp in southern Afghanistan cove

Robert Bales trial opens as US sergeant charged with massacring 16 Afghans
Soldier returned to camp in southern Afghanistan covered in the blood of his victims, prosecutor says at preliminary hearing

Sickening attack on 14-year-old Malala used to justify more war and western intervention

Sickening attack on 14-year-old Malala used to justify more war and western intervention

We must cut through the noise and expose those who try to use Malala's suffering to rehabilitate a murderous occupation and a cruel and illegal drone war.

How Obama's drones bring to Pakistan the same horror as Hitler's rockets in World War II

How Obama's drones bring to Pakistan the same horror as Hitler's rockets in World War II

25 September 2012 Clive Stafford Smith USA and the War on Terror

If this report reminds us all what the US – with British support – is doing, maybe then there will be less surprise at the hatred the drone war is engendering in the Islamic world.

By Clive Stafford Smith
The Guardian
25 September 2012

LIVING UNDER DRONES, a new report from Stanford and New York universities, was a difficult piece of fieldwork – I was with the law students in Peshawar as they tried to interview victims of the CIA's drone war.

But it has made an important contribution to the drone debate by identifying the innocent victims of the CIA's reign of terror: the entire civilian population of Waziristan (roughly 800,000 people).

Until now, the most heated dispute has revolved around how many drone victims in the Pakistan border region are dangerous extremists, and how many children, women or men with no connection to any terrorist group.

I have been to the region, and have a strong opinion on this point – but until the area is opened up to media inspection, or the CIA releases the tapes of each hellfire missile strike, the controversy will rage on.

MP kicked out of parliament for saying the government is lying about the Afghanistan war

MP kicked out of parliament for saying the government is lying about the Afghanistan war
19 September 2012     Robin Beste     Afghanistan and Pakistan

MP Paul Flynn says government ministers are using British soldiers as human shields for ministers' reputations by sending them to die in vain in a war in Afghanistan which is lost.

By Robin Beste
Stop the War Coalition
19 September 2012

Paul Flynn MP is kicked out of parliament for calling defence minister Phillip Hammond a liar.

Paul Flynn MP, Jeremy Corbyn MP and Caroline Lucas MP deliver a Stop the War Coalition letter to David Cameron at 10 Downing Street, in March 2012, demanding the immediate withdrawal of British troops from Afghanistan.

IN THE HOUSE of Commons, on 18 September 2012, MP Paul Flynn was kicked out of the UK parliament for telling the defence secretary Phillip Hammond that he was using British soldiers as human shields for ministers' reputations by sending them to die in vain in a war which was lost.

He compared Hammond and other government ministers to politicians in the First World War "who lied and soldiers died." Paul Flynn refused to withdraw the accusation of lying and was banned from the House of Commons for five days.

Paul Flynn's accusation of lying came the day after a number of MPs called in parliament for British troops to be withdrawn immediately from Afghanistan, and not wait for the supposed exit date in 2014.

The former Labour minister Denis MacShane -- who had previously supported all the wars of the last eleven years -- asked why the government was allowing British soldiers to "be sacrificed without any purpose".

They were engaged in an unwinnable conflict to no strategic benefit to the UK, he said.

The former Conservative minister John Redwood said: "Bring our troops home for Christmas."

No let-up on the International Day of Peace - death remains America's top export

No let-up on the International Day of Peace - death remains America's top export
22 September 2012     Johnny Barber     Afghanistan and Pakistan
After attacking over 20 countries in the past 30 years, the US addiction for war shows no sign of abating, with Afghanistan still raging and Syria and Iran looming on the horizon.

By Johnny Barber
Common Dreams
21 September 2012

ON THIS International Day of Peace I am sitting in Kabul, Afghanistan with a handful of youth that want nothing but peaceful coexistence in their lives.

This in some respects is like a dream because their entire lives have been surrounded by war, death, corruption, and struggle. Peace has been in short supply.

For three years the Afghan Peace Volunteers have worked to develop friendships across ethnic lines in Kabul and various provinces throughout Afghanistan.

The work has been difficult, trust is hard to come by in this war torn land, but they are adamant that non-violence is the only way forward. I have sat with similar groups in the West Bank, Gaza, Lebanon, Iraq, America and Israel. Rarely are their voices heard over the drums of war.

Established in 1981, by the United Nations General Assembly, the International Day of Peace was to coincide with its opening session. The first Peace Day was observed on September 21st, 1982. In 1982 the Soviet Union was increasing its troop presence in Afghanistan and facing fierce fighting throughout the provinces.

Thirty years later Afghanistan is still at war. The opponents have changed, and the weaponry has changed. The War on Terror, Armored Humvees, IED’s, suicide bombers, night raids, smart bombs, and drones have all entered the American lexicon.

Six Nato troops and eight women killed in Afghanistan - IRISH TIMES / GUARDIAN

Six Nato troops and eight women killed in Afghanistan

EMMA GRAHAM-HARRISON in Kabul

IN A WEEKEND that highlighted the strains on the international mission in Afghanistan the Taliban mounted an audacious and deadly assault on the main British base in Helmand, six Nato troops were killed by Afghan allies, and an airstrike yesterday killed eight women who were out collecting pine nuts.

On Friday night an attack on Camp Bastion caught commanders by surprise, when a 15-strong suicide squad wearing US military uniforms and armed with suicide vests, rocket-propelled grenades and assault rifles punched through the wall of a base considered almost impregnable because of its isolated location and heavily fortified perimeter.

Inside, the attackers killed two US soldiers, destroyed six multi-million pound Harrier jets and three refuelling stations, “significantly damaged” two other jets, and hit six aircraft hangars.

Nato commanders often talk of the insurgency being weakened. In May, the top UK officer in Afghanistan, Lieut Gen Adrian Bradshaw, said the Taliban’s weapon supplies and financing were under pressure. “I would say that we have clear evidence that the momentum has been reversed,” he said.

But Friday’s sophisticated, destructive and high-profile assault served as a reminder of the resources and discipline of the Taliban, at a time when Nato troops are streaming home for good, sometimes at a rate of hundreds a day. The attack may even affect combat operations in the south, because there are now eight fewer aircraft to support troops spread out across Helmand.

“We couldn’t afford this loss,” a US marine aviation officer told the Long War Journal website.