Thursday, October 15, 2015

Paul Craig Roberts-- The Extraordinary Criminality Of The US Government And US Military

The Extraordinary Criminality Of The US Government And US Military

 The Doctors Without Borders trauma center is seen in flames after explosions near their hospital, in the northern Afghan city of Kunduz. Doctors Without Borders announced that the death toll from the bombing of the group's Kunduz hospital compound has risen to at least 16, including 3 children and that tens are missing after the explosions that may have been caused by a U.S. airstrike. In a statement, the international charity said the "sustained bombing" took place at 2:10 a.m. (21:40 GMT). Afghan forces backed by U.S. airstrikes have been fighting to dislodge Taliban insurgents who overran Kunduz on Monday. (Médecins Sans Frontières via AP)

 Doctors Without Borders
Doctors Without Borders closes Afghan hospital, says U.S. may have committed war crime

Doctors Without Borders
Injured Doctors Without Borders staff are seen after explosions near their hospital in the northern Afghan city of Kunduz.

(Associated Press)
Ali M. Latifi and W.J. HenniganContact Reporter

The medical charity Doctors Without Borders closed its hospital in the Afghan province of Kunduz on Sunday, and charged that a suspected U.S. airstrike that killed 22 people there appeared to have been a war crime.

The closure was a blow to the embattled northern province where more than 400 people have been injured in the last week in fighting between Afghan security forces and the Taliban. The group took control of the provincial capital briefly last week.

The Pentagon said there are three investigations into the airstrike, one by the Defense Department, one involving both the United States and Afghanistan, and one by NATO. 
Pentagon officials have thus far said only that a U.S. airstrike Saturday morning may have caused collateral damage.

Doctors Without Borders said it would be satisfied only with an investigation by an independent, outside authority.

The aid agency called the bombing, which went on for more than an hour, horrifying and said it had informed U.S. and Afghan officials of the hospital's GPS coordinates before the strike occurred.

Afghan forces hunt Taliban in Kunduz as militant leader claims 'symbolic victory'
Doctors Without Borders, also known as Medecins sans Frontieres (MSF) in French, said Sunday that the death toll had risen to 22 — 12 staff members and 10 patients, three of them children. The toll was an increase of three over the figure announced previously. In addition, dozens of people were injured.

“Under the clear presumption that a war crime has been committed, MSF demands that a full and transparent investigation into the event be conducted by an independent international body,” the organization said in a statement on its website. “Relying only on an internal investigation by a party to the conflict would be wholly insufficient.”

Senior Pentagon officials said the three investigations that have been launched are centered on whether the U.S. military knew the hospital was nearby when an AC-130 gunship opened fire and whether the clinic was being used by the Taliban to launch attacks.

Thus far, no U.S. or Afghan personnel have been able to gain access to the hospital because the area remains contested, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said Sunday. He called the situation “confused and complicated.”
The investigation “will be, and needs to be, full and transparent," Carter told reporters aboard the Pentagon's E-4B “Doomsday” plane en route to Madrid. “There will be accountability, as always in these incidents, if that is required.”

U.S. Defense officials said small teams of U.S. and Afghan special forces were pinned down by Taliban gunfire Saturday morning near the hospital and called in an AC-130 to pound the area with fire.

The AC-130 Spectre is a heavily armed ground-attack aircraft outfitted with turrets and mounted Gatling-gun style auto cannons that fire rounds powerful enough to rip apart tanks.

Defense officials said that because it was an intense fire exchange with the Taliban, it remains unclear whether the AC-130 was responsible for the hospital’s damage or if it came from elsewhere.

But victims inside the hospital said the strikes continued even after the agency contacted military officials and informed them of the hospital's position.

Gen. John Campbell, the top commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, has been in constant communication with Carter and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani about the incident. Carter said he said he has not instructed Campbell to halt airstrikes in Afghanistan.
“Gen. Campbell will take whatever actions he thinks are appropriate,” he said. “Right now, he is focused on the investigation and supporting the Afghan security forces.”

Campbell is set to appear in front of Congress to discuss the campaign in Afghanistan and is all but certain to discuss what happened at Kunduz.

Local and international bodies, including the International Committee of the Red Cross, the United Nations and the Ministry of Public Health, have condemned the hospital attack. Afghan forces say that Taliban fighters holed up in the facility were firing at government and U.S. forces, but Doctors Without Borders has disputed these claims.

"MSF is disgusted by the recent statements coming from some Afghanistan government authorities justifying the attack on its hospital in Kunduz," the organization's general director, Christopher Stokes, said in a statement issued late Sunday. "These statements imply that Afghan and U.S. forces working together decided to raze to the ground a fully functioning hospital – with more than 180 staff and patients inside – because they claim that members of the Taliban were present. This amounts to an admission of a war crime."
He added that the claim "utterly contradicts the initial attempts of the U.S. government to minimize the attack as 'collateral damage.'"

One hospital worker, who said he lost colleagues in the attack, said the Afghan government's claims are not possible.

“The doors were closed. It was late, no one could get in or out. The only people inside at the time were us — the staff — and the patients.”

For Kunduz residents, basic staples are still hard to come by and many people are afraid to leave their homes. The closure of the hospital is another setback in a week when fighting has left the people waiting for a return to normality.

Wahidullah Mayar, spokesman for the Ministry of Public Health, said the hospital helped reduce the strain on government hospitals, which saw dozens of patients over the last week.
“We have been able to deliver much-needed medical aid to Kunduz but the MSF hospital was an important medical site and its damage will have a major impact on the delivery of additional health services to the people of Kunduz,” Mayar said.

Since the trauma center opened in 2011, it has earned a reputation among the people of Kunduz and northern Afghanistan as the best facility in the region.

Mohammad Yar, 28, knew the hospital was the best choice when he was asked to transport two young men injured in the fighting.

“It's the name everyone in the north knows, so I thought they would be in good hands there,” he said.

Like much of the rest of Kunduz, Yar has spent the majority of the last week without power so he was unaware of the airstrike on the hospital.

“I only recently heard about it and I can't believe it,” he said. “They should have come out happy and healthy, that's why I sent them there.”

Yar has not received any word from the two men since Friday.

The trauma center has treated more than 394 wounded since fighting broke out last week, and its closure comes at one of the worst possible times for the province.

Safihullah, a member of the provincial council who goes by one name, said people in the province are still relegated to their homes despite government assurances that it had retaken the province Thursday.

“So far, 80 to 90% of the city is cleared of Taliban presence. In the next few days, once it's fully cleared, that's when we will know the full human toll and when we will need more hospitals” such as the one run by Doctors Without Borders, he said.

Special correspondent Latifi reported from Kabul and Times staff writer Hennigan from Madrid.

 OCTOBER 13, 2015

Killing Machine

The Air Force’s top killing machine, the AC-130J, was sent to attack the Doctors Without Borders hospital in Kunduz.

Evidence continues to mount that the US committed a monstrous war crime in attacking and destroying a fully operational hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan on the night of Oct. 3, killing at least 22 people including at least 12 members of the volunteer medical staff of Medicine Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders), the French based international aid organization that operated the hospital.

This even as the US desperately tries to bury the issue of its perfidy by offering “condolence payments” to victims of the attack, though without accepting blame beyond saying it was a “tragic mistake.”

The “mistake” claim looks increasingly shameless as it becomes clear that this was not, as the US corporate media continue to incorrectly report, a “bombing” gone wrong, but rather was a prolonged hour-long attack by an AC-130 gunship, the deadliest killing machine in the US Air Force’s weapons roster of mayhem. The aircraft, equipped with the latest night-vision sighting equipment, reportedly made five 15-minute assaults on the hospital’s main building housing the emergency operating room and recovery rooms, firing its array of howitzer cannons, 30-millimeter machine canons and other heavy weapons whose standard ammunition includes both high-explosive tips and anti-personnel rounds designed to scatter death in a wide pattern.

This is, in other words, not a precision targeting weapon, but a weapons system designed to spread death over a wide swath.

It explains why the building itself was not leveled, as happens when, for example, a drone first Hellfire missiles at a building or a plane drops a bomb. Rather, the hospital was deliberately set ablaze by incendiary weapons, and the people inside not incinerated were killed by a spray of bullets and anti-personnel flechettes.

Horrific enough to attack a hospital, but to attack it with a weapons system designed to slaughter as many people as possible is almost beyond comprehension.

The hospital in Kunduz was a well-known and long-established institution with a distinctive shape operating in a city that until recently was under full government control. That the US/NATO command did not clearly know the function of that structure is inconceivable, despite US government efforts to claim that a specific provision of the hospital’s coordinates to US forces by Medicine Sans Frontieres days before the attack “must have” gotten waylaid somewhere along the way. (see aerial photo of the hospital in Kunduz).


Here’s what a military website says about the plane sent to wreak this havoc:

“Boasting a lethal number of mini-guns, cannons and howitzers, the AC-130 Gunship has earned a reputation as one of the deadliest combat weapons on the planet.”

The website offers the added information that the AC-130’s 30–millimeter cannons fire “explosive anti-personnel rounds” as well as explosive ammunition.
If, as claimed by Pentagon officials and the top general in Afghanistan, Army Gen. John Campbell, there were Taliban fighters firing from some location in or near the hospital (a claim vigorously disputed by Medicine Sans Frontieres, which says there was no fighting going on near the hospital and that all people entering the hospital, Taliban victims included, had to surrender weapons at the door as a matter of policy) it still would not justify under any circumstances the use of a weapons system like the AC-130 with its array of industrial slaughter weaponry.

The US has a lot to answer for, which explains why the White House has refused Medicine Sans Frontieres’ demand for an independent investigation into this atrocity.

No independent investigation could possibly end up exonerating the US in this case.

As I wrote earlier, the US response to calls for an independent investigation stand in stark contrast to US complaints about Russia’s refusal to participate or cooperate with a so-called international investigation into the downing of Malaysian Flight MH-17 over Ukraine two years ago.

One thing is clear: Gen. Campbell’s assurance after this atrocity that in continuing operations in and around the embattled city of Kunduz “As always, we will take all reasonable steps to protect civilians from harm,” is utter bullshit.

As for his claim that his “thoughts and prayers are with those affected,” If he really is praying, I suspect his prayers are really pleas to his god to protect him from being tried someday for mass murder.

If the US can send an AC-130 to provide “air-support” in the middle of a heavily populated urban battle zone, and can use it to assault, for over an hour, a known hospital facility, nobody is safe from American military power.

This is a case that must not go away, that cannot be “paid off” by “condolence” money, and that should lead to some high-profile trials for war crimes.

The Kunduz murders must, as MSF is demanding, be investigated by a genuinely independent international body, not by the killers themselves in the US military or the US government.

Dave Lindorff is a founding member of ThisCantBeHappening!, an online newspaper collective, and is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press).

AFGHAN HOSPITAL AIRSTRIKE: Those killed by U.S. gunship’s attack included men dedicated to healing

Esanullah Osmani

Dr. Abdul Sattar Zaheer

The Doctors Without Borders trauma center is seen in flames after explosions near their hospital, in the northern Afghan city of Kunduz. Doctors Without Borders announced that the death toll from the bombing of the group's Kunduz hospital compound has risen to at least 16, including 3 children and that tens are missing after the explosions that may have been caused by a U.S. airstrike. In a statement, the international charity said the "sustained bombing" took place at 2:10 a.m. (21:40 GMT). Afghan forces backed by U.S. airstrikes have been fighting to dislodge Taliban insurgents who overran Kunduz on Monday. (Médecins Sans Frontières via AP)

Published: October 10, 2015, 10:34 PM

KABUL, Afghanistan — On Oct. 3, a U.S. AC-130 gunship — at the request of Afghan ground forces fighting the Taliban, according to the American commander in Afghanistan, Gen. John F. Campbell — mistakenly bombed a trauma hospital run by Doctors Without Borders in the northern Afghan city of Kunduz, killing at least 10 patients and a dozen Afghan staffers.

Many more were wounded, and many remain missing in the wreckage of the now-abandoned hospital. The aid group’s international staff members have been accounted for. President Barack Obama apologized and the U.S. military is investigating.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has appointed a team of investigators to look into the circumstances leading to the Taliban’s brief capture of Kunduz as well as the U.S. airstrike, his office said Saturday.

Family and friends of some of the victims spoke with The Associated Press.

Muhibullah Waheedi
Waheedi, known as Dr. Muhibullah, 35, grew up in Quetta, Pakistan, where his family took refuge when the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in the 1980s. He graduated in medicine from Kunduz University before returning to Quetta, where he worked for two years with Doctors Without Borders, known by its French initials MSF. He was married with five children — three girls and two boys, the youngest age 3. He had four brothers, three of them doctors.

“When Kunduz was overrun by the Taliban, we brothers were living together in a house close to the MSF hospital, but as things got worse, the others decided to leave for safer places — except Muhibullah. He stayed because he believed MSF was safe, as all sides in the war respected its neutrality,” said his brother Abdul Rahman.

“On the night of the bombing, he went to the hospital around 9 p.m., and we were in touch until about 11 p.m. when I went to bed. Around 1 p.m. on the following day, one of his friends called me and said Muhibullah’s body had been found and he was dreadfully burned. I tried to get to the hospital, but there was shooting and it took me some time.

“When I got there, I started looking for my brother among all the charred bodies but I couldn’t recognize him. Finally, I had to ask the man who had called me to show me where Muhibullah was. I could hardly tell it was him. It was inhuman. I will never forget that moment.

“I keep asking, why my innocent brother, who did nothing but help people no matter what side of the war they were on, was killed in this way?”

Aminullah Salarzai

Dr. Salarzai, 34, worked in the MSF hospital in Kunduz for more than three years, after running a Comprehensive Health Center in Dasht-e-Archi district. He was married with three children, the oldest a boy age 3, his cousin Hamdullah said.

When the Taliban seized Kunduz on Sept. 28, Salarzai took his wife and children to Chahar Dara, where he’d been born and where he believed they would be safe. With his family secure, Salarzai worked around the clock at the hospital, said Hamdullah, who worked at the hospital as a cleaner.

“We didn’t get any sleep for three days because more and more patients kept coming in,” he said. “The doctors didn’t get a wink.”

“On Friday, when I had finished my shift, I went to his room and suggested we go home and get some rest,” Hamdullah said. “He just looked at me and said ‘How can I possibly leave all my patients? I studied medicine to be of service to people who need my help, not to go home and sleep.’ ”

At 10 p.m. that night, Hamdullah found his cousin in the operating theater, and again urged him to get rest. Salarzai repeated that his duty was with those who needed him.
Hamdullah then slept for a few hours in a dormitory, until the first bombs fell around 2 a.m. “My father called me and said he’d heard that Aminullah had been wounded. I called him, asked him where he was and what was going on.”

Salarzai confirmed he was wounded, said he was surrounded by flames and smoke, and told him to stay away, that it was too dangerous.

Hamdullah ignored him.

“I found him outside the operating theatre, his right leg missing, the rest of him covered in blood,” he said. They carried Salarzai to a table in the hospital kitchen, where other doctors tried to save him. But he was bleeding into his abdomen, and he would die without blood and medicine.

“So I ran for half an hour to the regional hospital to get supplies. But by the time I got there, friends called me from the hospital to say Aminullah had died.

“Before I left to get help, while his leg was being operated on, Aminullah told me: ‘Listen, my son, I don’t think I will survive, so please take care of my children.’ He told me, ‘Don’t worry, it happens to everyone, life is short, one day we will all be gone.’
Zia Ul-Rahman

Rahman, 23, worked as a nurse in the hospital’s emergency ward. His uncle Mohammad Hassan described him as selfless. On Friday Oct. 2, Rahman returned to his home in Dasht-e-Archi, a rural district northeast of Kunduz city, to enjoy the weekly holiday with his family. “In the evening, he said he was going back to the hospital because it was so busy with wounded people coming in all the time,” Hassan said.

“I received a call around 1 p.m. on Saturday to tell me he was missing. On my way to the hospital, there was intense gunfire and it was difficult to get through the blocked streets. My cousin was injured in the shooting. It wasn’t until there was a lull in the shooting that I was able to get through. I checked the bodies one by one and just couldn’t find him. And we still have no word.
“I’ve been trying to find out which MSF staff were there at the time, if anyone can tell me where he was at the time of the bombing. But there were just so many dead bodies, it was impossible to identify anyone.”

Zabihullah Pashtoonyar
Pashtoonyar, 28, joined the staff of MSF as a security guard just three months before the U.S. airstrike. Previously he had worked for more than three years as a reporter and news anchor at Radio Kaihan, where his former boss spoke highly of him. He had left when the radio station’s financial problems forced layoffs.

“He was a quiet man, very kind, and loved journalism,” said Zarghoona Hassan, director of Radio Kaihan. “Even though he left the station, he never stopped loving radio and would come by on Fridays and whenever he had spare time,” she said. He also worked with youth organizations in Chahar Dara, directing cultural programs outside the city.

Pashtoonyar had 11 brothers and 4 sisters, and had been married for six years, but had no children.

“He spent a lot of money on treatment for his wife,” Hassan said. “I know his only wish in life was to have a son or a daughter, but his life ended before his dream could come true.”
The Afghan Journalists’ Safety Committee said he was severely wounded by shrapnel and reached the government-run Kunduz Hospital too late to be treated.

Abdul Sattar Zaheer
Dr. Zaheer, 49, graduated from Kabul Medical University in 1994 and had worked for health institutions around Afghanistan before joining the medical staff of MSF in Kunduz, more than two years ago. He was married with eight children — four girls and four boys.

His son Enayatullah Hamdard, a professor of agriculture at Kunduz University, said Zaheer worked in management, but with the influx of patients due to the Taliban attack, he took his place alongside the doctors at the trauma center who were almost overwhelmed with the influx of wounded.

“He told us that he was spending most of his time on patient care and that’s what he was doing when the bomb attack happened,” Hamdard said. At 6 a.m. on Oct. 3, other relatives went to the hospital to collect Zaheer’s body. “His corpse was completely burnt; I couldn’t bring myself to look at his face.”

Zaheer’s body was identified by Mohammad Ibrahim, his brother-in-law who also was a health professional at the hospital. Hamdard said Ibrahim recognized what was left of Zaheer’s face.

Esanullah Osmani
Dr. Osmani, 35, lost his father when he was 3 years old and grew up with an aunt and uncles in Parwan province, near Kabul. He graduated from Balkh University medical school in 2011 and soon afterward joined the staff as an emergency doctor at the MSF hospital in Kunduz. He had recently been offered a position at Kabul’s Noor Hospital and had given notice that he would be leaving, said his brother, Najibullah Osmani.

“He loved his job and during the emergency after the Taliban attack, he was spending most of his time at the hospital, in the emergency room,” Najibullah said. Esanullah was in the emergency room when it was bombed, he said. “He was very kind. All the staff, local and international, loved and respected him.”

Esanullah, who had four brothers and four sisters, was a stylish man and a proficient tailor, making fashionable clothes for himself as well as friends and relatives. “He also was a good swimmer, a good writer and public speaker,” Najibullah said. “He was fastidiously clean and liked to cook, holding dinner parties where he’d cook different foods from all over Afghanistan.”

Dr. Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy and associate editor of the Wall Street Journal. He was columnist for Business Week, Scripps Howard News Service, and Creators Syndicate. He has had many university appointments. His internet columns have attracted a worldwide following. Roberts' latest books areThe Failure of Laissez Faire Capitalism and Economic Dissolution of the West

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