Saturday 23rd of October 2021

more dangerous than the taliban...

trumptrump                                                The Washington Post has come under fire after publishing an article insinuating that the Taliban hasn’t been banned from Twitter like former President Donald Trump because it incites less violence in its carefully worded posts.  

The headline hails the Taliban’s “sophisticated social media practices that rarely violate the rules.” In the article, reporters Craig Timberg and Cristiano Lima wrote that the Taliban has “used strikingly sophisticated social media tactics to build political momentum” and “make a public case that they’re ready to lead a modern nation state after nearly 20 years of war.”

The reporters also argue that the Taliban – who they described as “a group that espouses ancient” and “traditional moral codes” – has been using messaging on social networks such as Facebook and Twitter that “challenges the West’s dominant image of the group as intolerant, vicious and bent on revenge, while staying within the evolving boundaries of taste” – a tone that some found oddly sympathetic to the terrorist group.


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twits on twitter...

CNN correspondent Donie O’Sullivan has criticized Twitter’s policy on deplatforming, arguing there are “clearly some big holes” if the Taliban is allowed to use the social network but former President Donald Trump cannot.  

After the Taliban took over Afghanistan’s capital city of Kabul, O’Sullivan pointed out that “the former President of the United States is banned from Twitter but the Taliban is not.”

“Whether you agree with deplatforming or not, there’s clearly some big holes in the company’s policy,” he observed.

Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid has been active on Twitter since April 2017 and has nearly 300,000 followers. On Monday, after the Taliban took Kabul, he tweeted that “the general public is happy with the arrival of the Mujahideen and satisfied with the security.”


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The Biden administration’s incompetence has created the conditions for a modern Dien Bin Phu in Kabul


BY Scott Ritter — a former US Marine Corps intelligence officer and author of 'SCORPION KING: America's Suicidal Embrace of Nuclear Weapons from FDR to Trump.' He served in the Soviet Union as an inspector implementing the INF Treaty, in General Schwarzkopf’s staff during the Gulf War, and from 1991-1998 as a UN weapons inspector. Follow him on Twitter @RealScottRitter


As thousands of US troops surged back into Afghanistan to secure Kabul International Airport for the evacuation of US and allied nationals, little thought seems to have been given to the fact that they are flying into a trap.  

Hamid Karzai International Airport (HKIA) is one of the least defensible spaces in all of Afghanistan. It is surrounded by dense urban areas and commanding terrain features, which in the hands of anyone possessing ill intent and the means to manifest it means that the airport would cease to function as a place where lumbering transport and passenger aircraft could safely take off and land. Put simply, anyone armed with a heavy machine gun or rocket-propelled grenade could shoot down an aircraft operating out of HKIA at will. As luck would have it, Kabul is now filled to the brim with hostile people who are armed with heavy machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades.

Military aviators will tell you that there are ways to enter and exit facilities like HKIA that minimize exposure to threats such as those outlined above. For years these procedures, known as ‘corkscrewing’, were practiced regularly at Baghdad International Airport (I have personally experienced this procedure, aboard a C-130 aircraft landing and taking off from Arar airfield in northern Saudi Arabia during the Gulf War. It’s not for the faint of heart.) Given the loads that are being carried in and out of HKIA, however, radical flight maneuvers are not an option. Instead, the lumbering aircraft approach and depart while flying low and slow over terrain that friendly forces simply do not control.

Moreover, while on the ground, the aircraft are at the mercy of anyone possessing a mortar. Any combat veteran of Afghanistan can tell you that the Taliban not only possess a prodigious quantity of mortars of various calibers but are also extremely proficient in their use. There is nothing more vulnerable to the indirect fire from a mortar than parked aircraft – except perhaps the fuel storage areas from which the highly volatile aviation-grade fuel used to power these aircraft are kept.


The situation doesn’t get better for the thousands of military personnel who have been deployed into HKIA for the ostensible purpose of securing that facility to evacuate designated personnel. These troops are either located inside buildings that have not been hardened to protect against indirect attack (i.e., mortar fire), or are deployed outdoors in unimproved locations (i.e., not dug in) where any well-aimed mortar fire would cause havoc.

I am not privy to the force-protection planning that has gone into the projection of military force into HKIA. Imagery coming out of HKIA indicates that the US forces have a number of armed utility vehicles, and at least two AH-64 Apache helicopters, on-hand to assist in any self-defense operations that might be required. Media reports indicate that B-52 bombers, AC-130 gunships, and FA-18 fighters have been deployed into the region to support the evacuation. While this accumulation of airpower is noteworthy, it is limited by time-on-station issues (any aircraft orbiting near Kabul would be flying in from bases located many hundreds of miles away, and as such require refueling from aerial tankers; reports that C-17 transports are taking off nearly empty of fuel to maximize their load-carrying capacity suggest that aerial refueling capability does, in fact, exist in the skies over Afghanistan.)

Moreover, the tactical utility of employing combat aircraft in an environment like HKIA is limited by the knowledge that any such employment would result in horrific civilian casualties, which most democratically elected leaders would find politically intolerable. Of course, when confronted with the possibility of 6,000 US troops and tens of thousands of US citizens being slaughtered or captured, the issue of collateral damage becomes moot.

There is no way to spin this reality away. True, if necessary, the US commanders on the ground would be able to rapidly expand their area of control by simply assaulting out of the airfield and seizing the designated terrain. The second battle of Fallujah in Iraq was fought with a similar number of allied forces against an enemy similar in capability to the Taliban. Six thousand Marines and Paratroopers can seize a lot of territory. But starting a battle, and finishing it, are two different concepts. If the Taliban were able to close operations at HKIA, then the issue of resupply becomes a concern. While 6,000 battle-hardened US troops can inflict a lot of damage, they need food, water and ammunition to do so, all of which are in limited supply at HKIA. Now add in the requirement to care for tens of thousands of civilians, and one is looking at a logistical nightmare.

Simply put, no military commander in their right mind would have picked the current situation faced by US forces on the ground in HKIA as a desirable option when it came to carrying out the evacuation of civilians from Afghanistan. The fact that this is the plan is proof positive that a) there was no meaningful contingency planning for the large-scale evacuation of US and allied civilians from Afghanistan, and b) the speed of the Taliban victory caught everyone by surprise – so much so that the current HKIA death trap emerged as the most viable option available.

Anyone with a modicum of military planning experience could have sketched out alternatives that would not have hazarded US forces in such a manner. Simply holding onto the large, fortified air bases at Bagram and Kandahar, while securing the approaches to Kabul, would have allowed civilians authorized for evacuation to have been gathered in an orderly fashion, processed securely and evacuated in a timely manner. Instead, the Biden administration has created the potential for a modern-day Dien Bin Phu, the infamous battle during the French war in Indochina that saw thousands of French troops surrounded by hostile Viet Minh forces and eventually compelled to surrender in humiliating fashion.

The likelihood of such an outcome at HKIA is remote, if for no other reason that the Taliban does not want to give either the US or its allies any excuse for continuing their military presence in Afghanistan. The Taliban is looking forward to a future free from foreign occupation and interference in the affairs of Afghanistan. The fact that the Biden administration has placed the fate of tens of thousands of US citizens, military and civilian alike in the hands of the Taliban is, however, an unacceptable situation. There is not much that US military planners can do now without unduly hazarding the security of forces already on the ground.

However, the fact that it has come to this is a politically disqualifying event, one that demands the resignation of those civilian and military officials who advised the president, and a Congressional inquiry into the performance of Joe Biden himself. Donald Trump was impeached based on a single phone call that was conflated into a threat to the national security of the US. The question is, now that Congress is presented with an actual threat to the national security of America, what will it do? 






Note: The "retreat" alla Joe Biden chaos WAS NOT WHAT TRUMP HAD NEGOTIATED...


FREE JULIAN ASSANGE NOW !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

let's blame trump...

Many people are blaming Trump for the crap in Afghanistan... Yes he made a deal with the Taliban and no one else... The Kabul government could have fought. The warlords could have fought. They had more firepower and army than the Taliban. The Afghan army (trained by us, NATO and the USA) outnumbered the Taliban nearly 6 to one. Why did they cave in? Was our training that bad? Trump? Please read: more hidden history... and the teleprompter lied... Another 20 years of "occupation" by the Western troops would have only delayed the same outcome. Here is an article blaming Trump for the crap... Please stop it...




When the Taliban made its way into Afghanistan's capital on Sunday, their decades-long war to return to power was won.


Despite being outnumbered by Afghan troops — soldiers who had been trained by the world's strongest military organisation — the militants were able to march into Kabul and claim their prize.


Taliban members poured into the abandoned palace, taking a seat behind the presidential desk, while panic gripped the city and the world was left reeling over the speed of the advance.


Only nine days ago, United States intelligence said Kabul could fall in three months. Even then, the analysis came with the disclaimer that it wasn't a 'foregone conclusion' Afghan forces would lose control of the capital.


The proof of that miscalculation was soon evident as the government collapsed, the president having fled the country to "avoid bloodshed".


Kabul's last stand may have been short, but the Taliban has been playing a very long game.


The group has had one objective: to establish an Islamic emirate of Afghanistan. That was their goal in 1996, it was their goal last Thursday and it's their accomplishment today.


Yet, one of the big questions many are left asking is: how exactly did we get here?


According to several analysts, the answer lies somewhere between the Taliban's refusal to accept any other outcome and America's desperation to get out of Afghanistan.


The 'smoke and mirrors' peace deal


Like the rest of the world, the Taliban was watching Donald Trump's America and ultimately what they saw was an opportunity, according to counter-terrorism expert Professor Greg Barton.

"When Donald Trump signed a peace agreement with the Taliban back in February last year … they [the US] were sucked in by a smoke and mirrors trick," he told the ABC.

Dr Barton likened the Taliban's participation in the peace deal to magicians' craft.

"You're so busy looking at what they're doing with their left hand, you don't see what they're doing with their right," he said.

"This whole peace treaty, largely conducted in Doha, was a deliberate distraction designed to lower the guard and to see what they could get out of Trump's America."

The Taliban knew America wanted out, and fast.



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ErrrrYes, Trump is evilllllll and DumbBBBBBB... The whollllllle fiascoooooo of Afghanistan is due to the Donalddddd... Wake up people... The only sad thing is that people have died, are dying and will die because of this war from which no American president could get out of... Trump's deal would have given time for an orderly "retreat" of whom wanted to leave. Biden muffed it because the Yanks left like thieves in the night while being busy chasing their own "white terrorists" in the USA (basically Trump supporters)... Biden (if he can remember anything) and Blinken (and their advisors including the son of Zbigniew Brzezinski) bear the full responsibility of the mess. Full stop.

mistakes of the past....


Fron DemocracyNow!


As thousands of Afghans try to flee Afghanistan after the Taliban seized control, we look at the roots of the longest U.S. war in history and spend the hour with Pulitzer Prize-winning national security reporter Spencer Ackerman. “This is not the alternative to fighting in Afghanistan; this is the result of fighting in Afghanistan,” says Ackerman, whose new book, “Reign of Terror: How the 9/11 Era Destabilized America and Produced Trump,” is based in part on his reporting from Afghanistan, Iraq and Guantánamo.






This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.   

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!,, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman.


The United Nations is urging countries to keep their borders open with Afghanistan as thousands of Afghans try to flee by land or air, after the Taliban seized control of the country Sunday ahead of the withdrawal of U.S. troops. Earlier this week, President Biden defended his decision to pull troops out as part of a deal the Trump administration made with the Taliban.

PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: How many more generations of America’s daughters and sons would you have me send to fight Afghanistan’s civil war, when Afghan troops will not? How many more lives, American lives, is it worth? How many endless rows of headstones at Arlington National Cemetery? I’m clear on my answer: I will not repeat the mistakes we’ve made in the past.


AMY GOODMAN: We turn now to look at the roots of what’s become America’s longest war. The U.S. invaded Afghanistan October 7, 2001, less than a month after the al-Qaeda attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Within days of the U.S. bombing of Afghanistan, the Taliban offered to hand over Osama bin Laden, the al-Qaeda leader, but the Bush administration rejected any negotiations with the Taliban. This is Bush’s press secretary, Ari Fleischer, responding to a question in October 2001.

REPORTER: Would you go so far as to say that no matter what the Taliban might say at this point, it may not make any difference? Are you ignoring whatever they may say?

PRESS SECRETARY ARI FLEISCHER: The president could not have made it any clearer two weeks ago when he said that there will be no discussions and no negotiations. So, what they say is not as important as what they do. And it’s time for them to act. It’s been time for them to act.

AMY GOODMAN: In December of 2001, just a month or two later, the Taliban offered to surrender control of Kandahar, if its leader, Mullah Mohammed Omar, would be allowed to, quote, “live in dignity” in opposition custody. U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld rejected the offer.

DEFENSE SECRETARY DONALD RUMSFELD: If you’re asking would an arrangement with Omar where he could, quote, “live in dignity” in the Kandahar area or some place in Afghanistan be consistent with what I have said, the answer is, no, it would not be consistent with what I have said.

AMY GOODMAN: That’s Donald Rumsfeld speaking December 6, 2001. The U.S. War in Afghanistan would continue for almost 20 more years, through to now. According to the Costs of War Project, the U.S. has spent over $2.2 trillion in Afghanistan and Pakistan. By one count, at least 71,000 Afghan and Pakistani civilians have died in the fighting. Afghanistan is now facing a massive humanitarian crisis, and the Taliban is back in power. While Mullah Mohammed Omar died in 2013, his brother-in-law, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, now appears set to become Afghanistan’s next president.

Well, today we’re spending the hour with the Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Spencer Ackerman, author of the new book Reign of Terror: How the 9/11 Era Destabilized America and Produced Trump. The book is based in part on his reporting from Afghanistan, Iraq and Guantánamo.

Spencer, it’s great to have you back. Congratulations on your book. So, we’re talking to you in the midst of this chaos in Kabul right now as thousands of Afghans, Americans and other nationals are attempting to flee Afghanistan. The Taliban have taken over. But we chose to begin back 20 years ago — I’m not going to say “at the beginning,” because it goes far back from there. But talk about this moment as the U.S. began bombing and occupying Afghanistan, when the Taliban basically said they would surrender and also give Osama bin Laden over. The U.S. rejected. President Bush rejected both.

SPENCER ACKERMAN: This was a central aspect of the war on terror at its inception and a foreshadowing of what its implications would be. Once we accept the frame that Bush offered — war on terror — we were then locked into a struggle not just against al-Qaeda, the entity culpable for the 9/11 attacks, but a much broader struggle against an enemy that a president could redefine at will and leave in the popular imagination with something along the lines of a civilizational challenge to America for the future, one in which America itself was in the balance.

Now, let’s look, in particular, at that moment in Kandahar. The United States’s Northern Alliance allies had routed the Taliban from Kabul. The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan had fallen, after about five, six years in power, and they recognized, after a last stand they tried to put on in Kandahar didn’t go the way they expected, that the end was near for them. And then they offered to Hamid Karzai, the U.S.’s appointed leader for a post-Taliban Afghanistan, that as long as Mullah Omar could live in some kind of house arrest, basically not be killed, not be put up on trial, they were prepared to entertain negotiations for what their role might be in a post-Taliban Afghanistan — basically, a political settlement at that point.

Karzai, for all his flaws that the United States would both contribute to and then criticize him for over the coming years, nevertheless knew Afghan history and recognized that unless there was some kind of political future for the Taliban, the Taliban would opt for a violent future. And they had a proven capacity not just to wage an insurgency, but to triumph in one. And Karzai took the deal.

It was the Bush administration, the United States, that said such a deal was unacceptable — not to the Afghans, but unacceptable to the United States, that now took it on itself, as it has so often throughout its history in so many parts of the world, to tell Afghans the way their country was about to be. And everything that happened since, the 20 years of war since, has contributed on, if not quite a straight line, a kind of nausea-inducing glide path to the abject horror we’re seeing at the Kabul airport with people desperate to flee, desperate to — so desperate as to grab onto C-17 cargo planes and fall to their deaths. This is not the alternative to fighting in Afghanistan; this is the result of fighting in Afghanistan.

AMY GOODMAN: So, if you could take it back even farther, to the U.S.-backed mujahideen, to the U.S.-backed Osama bin Laden, and talk about what happened when the U.S. decided to fund the mujahideen in fighting against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, and then the mujahideen turning their — setting, literally, their gun sights, their U.S. weapons, on the United States, and how the Taliban came out of that?

SPENCER ACKERMAN: Yeah, it’s important, because, like, an objection to this is always going to be that we, you know, portrayed, like, the 1980s Afghan mujahideen as the Taliban. They weren’t the Taliban. They were the precursors of the Taliban.

What happened in the 1980s is the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan, and the United States saw an opportunity. It saw an opportunity to inflict upon the Soviet Union, its great geopolitical adversary, a defeat as humiliating and as psychologically devastating as the one the United States suffered in Vietnam for its own imperial hubris. Over the course of the next 10 years, the United States, the Pakistani ISI and the Saudi intelligence services funded and equipped Islamic extremists, rebels who would come in from Pakistan — among them, a figure who would become intimately familiar as a Taliban ally, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, a particularly brutal person. And over the course of the 1980s, they inflicted tremendous damage on the Soviets, made the occupation, which was a brutal occupation by the Soviet Union, ever more violent and ever more protracted, to the point where the Soviets withdrew and, a couple years later, the regime the Soviets installed collapsed, much as like we’re seeing the one that the United States installed collapsed.

The ensuing chaos and civil war was devastating for Afghanistan. Out of the ashes emerged the Taliban, an extreme group, a group that, you know, used mechanisms of extreme suffering and repression on the long-suffering Afghan people. And something that the United States never recognized throughout this entire period was that it had destabilized Afghanistan, not simply as a pawn of — not simply as a consequence of fighting the Soviet Union, but that was what the cost of fighting the Soviet Union was, that an entire country, millions of people, suffered tremendously, that they were treated as tools by the United States, that their aspirations, their desires for freedom, their desires for security ultimately didn’t matter to the United States, much as they didn’t matter to the Soviet Union. And in the chaos that resulted, the Taliban took power. They sheltered Osama bin Laden.

But they weren’t the same thing as al-Qaeda. And the United States, after 9/11, decided that there was no relevant distinction between al-Qaeda, between the Taliban and between what it called “terrorist groups of global reach,” which ultimately washes out to saying that while the respectable version of the Bush administration’s policies were already an extremely expansive conception of who could be targeted, moving from terror groups like al-Qaeda to, ultimately, entire regimes — the deputy defense secretary, Paul Wolfowitz, spoke in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 about “ending states” — but in the broader political, journalistic and then popular conception, the enemy could be all of Islam, or it could be something just short of all of Islam. And from there, it was an extremely short, rather immediate, transition to fearing American Muslims, fearing your neighbors, thinking your neighbors posed a threat to you — not that this apparatus of war and repression posed a threat to you.

AMY GOODMAN: You know, Spencer, one of the things that hasn’t gotten reported very much is that as the Taliban seized control in these last weeks of Afghanistan, a key person that they executed — he was imprisoned, and they executed him — was Abu Omar Khorasani, the former head of the Islamic State in South Asia. The significance of this?

SPENCER ACKERMAN: Yeah, this is an extreme complication that has come up in the last couple years of particularly U.S.-Taliban negotiations, by which I mostly mean back-channel negotiations. I shouldn’t say “back-channel.” To be a little bit more specific, they weren’t authorized before they were authorized. It was somewhat of a freelance effort by a retired U.S. Army colonel named Chris Kolenda and a retired U.S. ambassador to Pakistan named Robin Raphel.

What they discovered in their talks with Taliban figures in Doha was that the Taliban were rather concerned about the rising presence of a so-called Islamic State branch in Afghanistan, what called itself, or the U.S. also called it, ISIS Khorasan, or IS Khorasan. Essentially, the Taliban feared a kind of next generation of extremist entity insurgency using Islamic justification inside Afghanistan — and with somewhat, I think it’s fair to say, good reason, given the way that ISIS fought and displaced al-Qaeda, the organization and entity that it emerged out of, as well. And so, you even saw, over the last couple years, there was an excellent reporting that Wesley — oh man — that Wesley Morgan has done, where the Taliban has even been the beneficiary of U.S. airstrikes on ISIS Khorasan, to the point where it seemed like — you know, they never got as far as some kind of modus vivendi where they said, “You know what? We, in fact, have an enemy in common.” But it was a dynamic that both the Taliban and the U.S. side, particularly the more pragmatic elements of the U.S. military, were attentive to, that the Taliban viewed ISIS not as the next so-called al-Qaeda entity to sponsor and permit a staging ground to attack either the United States or its allies or its interests, or so on and so forth, but, in fact, an enemy to be confronted, an enemy to be dominated, an enemy to be defeated. And when we hear all of the kind of loose talk about the necessity of returning to war in Afghanistan so it doesn’t become a staging ground for further attacks on the United States, it’s not quite sunk in yet, or it’s not quite penetrated, it’s not quite been grappled with, that the Taliban are showing like very early signs of seeing ISIS as a threat.

AMY GOODMAN: And again, they killed him. They executed him, took him out of a prison in Kabul on that final day, Sunday, as they took control of the country. Spencer Ackerman, talk about the role the U.S. war and occupation, the brutality of the U.S. airstrikes, the torture at Bagram, the night raids played in gaining new recruits for the Taliban.

SPENCER ACKERMAN: The United States tends not to attribute its brutality to any of the circumstances that it comes to bemoan when they manifest in the world. And Afghanistan is certainly a tragic example of that. The fact that, after 9/11, the United States, in its political and journalistic and intellectual elites, generally speaking, refused to accept that there was a direct and tragic and awful historic consequence of its destabilization of Afghanistan in the 1980s, to the degree that Taliban facilitation of Osama bin Laden in the country helped the execution of the 9/11 plot — which, it’s important to note, did not involve Afghans and was not staged from Afghanistan, nor was it even planned in Afghanistan; it was far more planned in Germany. Nevertheless, that was an early foreboding of what we would see over the next 20 years, not just in Afghanistan, but throughout the war on terror: a disconnection, an unwillingness to face that America’s violent and imperial actions breed their own next generation of enemies. That was on display once the United States went back into Afghanistan.

And throughout the Afghanistan War, even during periods where counterinsurgency campaigns, at least on paper, paid lip service to the idea that protecting Afghan lives and property and so forth was going to ultimately be decisive in the war, it never acted that way. It never acted as if what the point of the war was was the protection of Afghan lives. It more often acted in such a way that it did not draw distinctions between Afghan lives and Afghan enemies. And amongst the major reasons for this is not necessarily like a specific decision to target Afghan civilians, but an inability to understand the country, understand its dynamics and understand the rather complicated relationships, in many ways, between people who fight for the Taliban and the Taliban itself, or people who aid the Taliban under threat to their own life or threat to their family, or simply seek to endure the war, as so many people throughout so many wars simply aspire to, simply by not taking action that harmed the Taliban, because they understood the consequences that could — that they could experience. Over time, all of these things strengthened the Taliban, made the Taliban seem like, once again, a viable alternative to the United States.

And then, on a different level, the United States’s contribution — and not just the United States alone’s contribution — to the misery in Afghanistan came through the corruption that it always blamed on the Afghans but was a significant driver of itself, so-called development experts. Development aid and development money poured into Afghanistan far beyond a consideration of what a devastated Afghan economy could in fact absorb. And some of this money was very deliberately flooded in from the CIA to pay off warlords to ensure that they would ultimately be responsive to American interests, which would often be violent interests, which would often be things like, as the Joint Special Operations Command would perform throughout the Afghanistan War, Army Special Forces, in particular, throughout the Afghanistan War, raids on people’s houses suspected of being, aiding or facilitating the Taliban — and again, the Taliban, not even al-Qaeda, not the thing that attacked the United States, certainly not the core of al-Qaeda that plotted, planned and executed 9/11. The United States was now in extended war with a one-time harborer, ally of al-Qaeda rather than the thing itself, responsible for all of Afghanistan, but never acting responsibly toward the Afghan people.

AMY GOODMAN: I want to go to January 2015. This is the Obama years. Two hostages — one American, one Italian man — were accidentally killed by a U.S. drone strike along the Afghan-Pakistani border. Here’s then-President Obama later apologizing for the killings.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: This morning, I want to express our grief and condolences to the families of two hostages: one American, Dr. Warren Weinstein, and an Italian, Giovanni Lo Porto, who were tragically killed in a U.S. counterterrorism operation. … Since 9/11, our counterterrorism efforts have prevented terrorist attacks and saved innocent lives, both here in America and around the world. And that determination to protect innocent life only makes the loss of these two men especially painful for all of us.

AMY GOODMAN: So, there you have President Obama apologizing. Spencer, you have spent a good amount of time in Afghanistan. You were embedded there, and then you also reported independently there. Can you talk about the significance of this moment?

SPENCER ACKERMAN: This was a profound moment. This is the only time that the United States, particularly the president of the United States, has not only acknowledged drone strikes that killed civilians, but apologized for it. And the reason why it’s such a significant moment in its singularity is — both in the book and for an earlier series that I did for The Guardian in 2016, I interviewed people, Pakistanis and Yemenis principally, who were survivors of drone strikes or whose relatives were killed in drone strikes. And one of the stories I tell in Reign of Terror is from a young Pakistani man named Faheem Qureshi.

Faheem Qureshi was 13 years old when Obama launched his first drone strike. And it blew up Faheem’s compound, where he lived with his family. And they were gathering for a celebration of one of his relatives who had just returned from a successful business trip to the United Arab Emirates. Forty days later, Faheem woke from his coma. He had burns over most of his body. He was missing an eye. And he had learned that most of his family’s breadwinners had been killed in the strike, so that when he left the hospital, his responsibilities would immediately be providing for his family, however it was that his mangled body would perform.

And I talked to him about the difficulties he experienced throughout the, you know, next, at that point, about seven years. And among the things he discussed was that he had tried, through Pakistani authorities and through the U.S. Embassy, to get some kind of acknowledgment that what had happened to him had in fact happened, and that it didn’t just happen as an act of God, it happened as an act by the United States of America. And none of that ever came. What did come was a supply of blood money, essentially, a payoff essentially to say, like, “OK, this is what will count for restitution, and your account is settled, and you’re not going to get any public acknowledgment, let alone an apology.”

And I kept hearing, when I interviewed people — not just Faheem, but other people whose lives were changed irrevocably by drone strikes — about how Obama had apologized when he had killed white people, and never when he had killed people like them, never when he had killed their loved ones, never when the consequences of his actions had left someone maimed, had left someone in a position where he had to give up his dream of being a chemist and work however he could in the hope that, as he had put it to me, some of his younger cousins and his brothers would be able to live happy and prosperous lives. And I asked him, “What do you think of Barack Obama?” And he said, “If there’s a list of tyrants somewhere, Barack Obama’s name is on it because of his drone strikes.”

AMY GOODMAN: Spencer Ackerman, we’re going to break and then come back. Spencer is author of Reign of Terror: How the 9/11 Era Destabilized America and Produced Trump. He’s a national security reporter who publishes the Forever Wars newsletter on Substack.


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