Tag Archives: Afghanistan War

War On Terror Electric Boogaloo

Hey kids, let’s shoot a machine gun with the Navy Seal who killed Bin Laden! All it takes is a cool 50 grand:

Key contributors to a conservative group have received a special invitation: For $50,000, they can shoot guns and hang out this June with Robert O’Neill, the former Navy SEAL credited with killing al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

The offer was recently made by the ForAmerica organization. Those invited have until May 10 to RSVP for an event at the Amangani Resort Hotel in Jackson Hole, Wyo. The facility offers picturesque views of the Snake River, and is on the southern tip of Grand Teton National Park. A room there can cost more than $1,000 per night.

[…]

The ForAmerica group is run by America, Inc., of Reston, Va. It was founded in 2009 by Brent Bozell, a conservative commentator who also started the Media Research Center, which provides a conservative critique of the media. It received nearly $4.9 million in contributions in 2012, and $2.5 million in 2013, according to tax documents.

I am so sick of this jingoistic, pro-war, amygdala-tweaking, “wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross” bullshit fascism-disguised-as-patriotism we’ve come to expect from conservatives.

But hey, maybe I’m just being melodramatic, right? Silly woman. But nothing speaks — no screams — a morally bankrupt culture louder than this. Nothing screams that institutional conservatism is made up of a bunch of sick fucks louder than this.

War is not entertainment. Assassinating Osama bin Laden may have been necessary (I say may — because we never did have a national conversation about that, did we?) but for God’s sake, don’t turn it into a fucking fundraiser! Don’t cheapen this entire chapter of American history by monetizing it, for fuck’s sake.

What the hell is wrong with these people?

5 Comments

Filed under advertising, Afghanistan War, gun violence, rants

The Revolution Won’t Be Photographed

History is written (or recorded) by the victors, or so the saying goes. Today I saw an art installation from Chilean artist Alfredo Jaar which really illustrates that idea.

For some background, here’s what the BBC wrote about Jaar’s installation in 2014:

Jaar chose not to show us any pictures but instead blinded us with a blaze of projected light. Rather than a despairing nihilist gesture, Lament of the Images was integral to a strongly held argument that images mattered.

Jaar’s installation was a response to the increasing political control, erasure and suppression of images. Our encounter with Jaar’s field of light was preceded by three glowing panels of back-lit texts presented in a darkened room, all musing on different forms of blindness and erasure: beginning with Nelson Mandela being dazzled by the light on his release from prison and how prisoners were blinded by the glare of the sun on the limestone as they broke rocks in a quarry on the centre of Robben Island.

Texts two and three considered the loss and control of images in relationship to two significant events: the burial of 17 million photographic images from Bettmann and United Press International, purchased by Microsoft chairman, Bill Gates, in a limestone mine, and how before launching airstrikes against Afghanistan, the United States Defense Department had bought all rights to satellite imagery of Afghanistan and neighbouring countries, creating an “effective white-out of the operation”.

And here is the final panel, the one related to the “white out” of our bombing of Afghanistan:

IMG_1745 3

It’s powerful stuff. Presented in an art context, it was more than powerful: it was enraging. As a reasonably engaged American, I wanted to know why I hadn’t heard about either the Bill Gates or Afghanistan incidents of image suppression. Especially Afghanistan. I remember much uproar about the Bush Administration censoring photographs of coffins arriving home from Iraq and Afghanistan. I don’t remember anything about this.

Pictures are powerful, a picture is worth a thousand words, as the old saying goes. No wonder the Bush Administration wanted to make sure nobody saw the devastation our bombs wrought on Afghanistan.

Today if you Google this story, you find this, from the New York Times:

The Pentagon contract, concluded on Oct. 7, also means that news media and other organizations outside government will not be able to obtain independently their own high-resolution satellite images of the Afghanistan region.

In addition, the contract effectively allows the Pentagon to keep the images it bought out of the public eye forever. None can be released without Defense Department approval.

The old disputes between the military and news media centered on access for the media pool. The new dispute is about access to images collected in the nonsovereign territory of space.

The Pentagon has also taken a more subtle approach to the fight. Under the law, the Bush administration could have blocked news media’s access to the satellite on national security grounds by invoking a never-used provision, “shutter control.” Such a move would have quite likely set off legal challenges and heated protests. Instead, the Pentagon achieved its desired result through its contract.

For some reason, this story basically disappeared. And that’s exactly how the Bush Administration wanted it. By using economic power instead of legal power, they made sure there was little if any knowledge or protest about their actions.

The power of the pocketbook — be it the U.S. government’s or Bill Gates’ — is not new. That these are the people who can control our history by controlling what information the world sees is scary, indeed.

I recommend that someone in the news media petition the Obama Administration to release these images, much as President Obama allowed the photographing of coffins arriving home from war. We need to see what we have wrought. We bought this war, we need to see the damage we caused.

And let me add a final word of caution: we can petition the government to release these images. We can use FOIA requests, the news media can make an argument about the First Amendment. We have no such recourse with the Bill Gates images. None.

Next invasion, wait for Son of Dick Cheney to get Bill Gates to buy (and bury) satellite images on the government’s behalf.

1 Comment

Filed under Afghanistan War, media, media manipulation

Ugly Americans

From comments, it appears conservatives were for freeing Bowe Bergdahl before they were against it. Check out this June 2011 memory hole.

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Is this some new strain of Obama Derangement Syndrome or what? Republicans are actually going all-in on the “an American POW should rot in an Afghan prison for another 5 years” thing.

Meanwhile, our news media continues to spread misinformation, such as that the Bowe Bergdahl deal was in exchange for “the release” of five Gitmo detainees. Actually, they’re not being released, they’re going to Qatar, for a year at least. Potayto, potahto, perhaps — but it’s not like these guys are gonna show up with explosives strapped to their chests at JFK or anything. I’ve heard people say Qatar can’t be trusted, but if that’s the case why the hell do we have a military base there, from which we launched all of our Iraqi exploits of the past 20 years? Our US Air Force Central Command is located in Qatar. We invaded Iraq the first time to protect Qatar’s borders. Now we can’t trust them? Seriously? The idea that these guys are going to become leaders of terrorist cells seems like blatant, unfounded fearmongering. Some folks just aren’t happy unless we’re on a permanent war footing, I guess.

(BTW, speaking of people who negotiated with the Taliban, remember this? Unocal is now defunct, swallowed by the Chevron Corporation. People upset about negotiating with the Taliban might want to keep an eye on our multinational oil companies, too. Just sayin’.)

Maybe Obama should have brought in Seal Team 6 to rescue Bergdahl. Oh wait, conservatives didn’t like that, either.

While all of this is going on, we have CNN and CBS News starting the character-assassination of Bowe Bergdahl, calling him a deserter or at best an incompetent who walked away from his post and forced the U.S. to expend valuable resources and time trying to get him back. No ticker-tape parade for you, buddy. Saving Jessica Lynch this is not. There will be no movie-of-the week. This dude’s going straight to home video.

I bet you a million bucks that Regnery Publishing is readying its “The Truth About Bowe Bergdahl” smear books right now, in time for the 2016 Presidential Election. You know, Republicans have got nuthin’ if they can’t bang the “Democrats make you less safe” drum during a presidential election.

They are truly horrible people. Hard not to imagine how differently this whole thing might be playing out if the deal were negotiated by a President Romney.

I really don’t think conservatives recognize how repellant their constant criticisms of every single thing the Obama family does looks to reasonable people

18 Comments

Filed under Afghanistan War, Gitmo

A Tale Of Two Federal Budget Items

Wow, to hear House Republicans these days, the food stamp program called SNAP is rife with fraud and corruption, has grown too big and is adding to the budget deficit. It must die.

Meanwhile, the same people overwhelmingly supported a new defense bill which, while offering some good protections to victims of sexual assault, also was padded with lots of extra spending. Such as:

The bill also restricts the transfer of detainees from Guantánamo Bay, funds construction of a new East Coast missile defense site and gives the Pentagon $5 billion more than requested for the war in Afghanistan.

Well isn’t that peachy! Sequester, semeshter! Because we all know the Pentagon is never, ever corrupt, fraud never happens, and the Pentagon would never add to our budget deficit. Hey, empires are expensive, y’all! :

huffpo-20120208-militaryspendingUS

What a bunch of fiscal phonies. Guess they’re going to force Senate Democrats to vote against this, so they can run those lovely ads accusing such-and-such liberal of voting against helping sexual assault victims in the military. I can hear it now: “They accuse us of waging a war on women, but look what Senator McLefty CommieHippie did!”

Assholes. Two can play at that game. Look who took food out of the mouth of a hungry child so they can continue to fund wars and killing? And you call yourselves Christians? For shame.

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Filed under budget, Congress, defense, deficit, food, Pentagon, Republican Party

Pigs At The Trough, Etc.

A whistleblower lawsuit has been filed against private defense contractor Jorge Scientific, described in the link as a “billion dollar government contractor.” According to the lawsuit, Jorge’s Kabul, Afghanistan operation indulged in such flagrant and gross misconduct, it placed the U.S. mission in Afghanistan at risk.

What kind of misconduct? Take it away:

For example, they indiscriminately fired weapons and possessed grenades (legally prohibited for government contractors), and drunken Jorge supervisors tossed live ammunition into house party bonfires causing the bullets to explode and destroy property. In one case, an errant bullet struck a Jorge employee near his eye and exploding bullets regularly found their way into the nearby civilian community causing Afghani civilian and military neighbors to complain – Jorge ignored those complaints.

Oooh that’s bad. But you know, not that bad, right? Wrong:

According to court documents alcohol abuse at the Villa was so prevalent, that in an inebriated and oxycodone induced state, Sullivan once placed a loaded gun in the mouth of an Islamic Jorge employee and called him “my nigga.” Another documented incident shows a Jorge executive drunk with a firearm snagged in his waist belt and disparaging “f…ing Arabs.” In another incident, two Jorge employees driving home drunk from a bar ended up in a ditch, clearly violating local customs and Islamic codes which prohibit alcohol consumption and driving under the influence.

Naturally, these alcohol-and-oxy parties were paid for by the U.S. taxpayer. And then we have this alleged incident, which is so bad you almost want to laugh:

In yet another incident captured on video, Jorge’s security manager for the entire country of Afghanistan was so intoxicated he was choking on his own vomit. When one of the relators tried to retrieve the medic from his bedroom to provide treatment, the relator found the medic himself intoxicated and drugged on ketamine to the point of incoherence, unresponsive with a syringe and a bag of horse tranquilizer on the floor and blood trickling from the medic’s arm.

Man I hope some of that video ends up on YouTube.

If these were military personnel there would be courts-martial and the like. But they’re not. They’re private contractors, and they’re going to keep feeding at the trough. Any repercussions will be swept under the rug. The company will change its name and land itself another cushy security contract, while Republicans continue to sell the idea that cutting our defense budget puts the country at risk.

Your tax dollars at work.

7 Comments

Filed under Afghanistan War, defense, privatization, war economy