Tag Archives: Afghanistan

Unsealed CIA Memos Provide Shocking ‘Salt Pit’ Black Site Details, by Tyler Durden

The CIA paid two psychologists $81 million dollars to provide cover and conduct interrogations at a secret torture facility in Afghanistan. Read it and weep. From Tyler Durden at zerohedge.com:

A new batch of 274 CIA documents connected with Bush era torture have just been made public as a result of a lawsuit brought by families of victims. Contained in the documents are newly unearthed details on the CIA’s “black site” program which reached its peak under Bush’s ‘war on terror’ as well as shocking details revealing how the agency integrated its contract psychologists into its ‘enhanced interrogation’ program in order to give torture a veneer of legality. While much of this story of CIA torture has already slowly come to light over the past few years, especially with the 2014 Senate Intelligence Committee report, the just released documents capture internal high level agency discussions revealing a cover-up in action.

Many of the memos focus on the CIA’s infamous ‘Cobalt’ site in Afghanistan (also code named The Salt Pit), routinely described in headlines as the “sadistic dungeon” and “dark prison” for its full sensory deprivation darkness which detainees experienced round the clock, sometimes for years, as well as the two psychologists credited with designing the program of brutal interrogation techniques: John “Bruce” Jessen and James Mitchell.

Two surviving prisoners and the family of a detainee who died at the Colbalt site reached an out-of-court settlement with the CIA psychologists in August after a lawsuit was brought for their role in the torture. As was hoped, the CIA and Pentagon were forced to declassify the documents related to the case in pretrial discovery. 


Satellite image of Cobalt site, also called the Salt Pitt, from now public documents.

The documents show the psychologists had been directly involved in designing and implementing torture, and that the blurring of lines between CIA interrogators and the psychologists originally brought in for “research” and development of techniques had agency leadership worried over future legal ramifications. Jessen himself had spent 10 days at the Cobalt facility in November 2002 where he was involved in interrogating Gul Rahman – a suspected militant who died of hypothermia while chained naked from the waist down to a concrete floor. He died 5 days after Jessen left. 

To continue reading: Unsealed CIA Memos Provide Shocking ‘Salt Pit’ Black Site Details

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Endless Regional Chaos: American Presence in Afghanistan Explained, by Federico Pieraccini

According to Federico Pieraccini, the US deep state will not let Afghanistan fall into the hands of the Chinese-Russian axis. From Pieraccini at strategic-culture.org:

The geographic location of Afghanistan has always occupied a central role in many geopolitical studies. Donald Trump’s reasons for reinforcing US troops in the region are driven by the continuing US need to prevent a complete Eurasian integration among regional powers.

The April peace talks between Afghanistan, India, Pakistan, Russia and China seemed to have put an end to the persistent and dominant American presence in the country. In Washington, following fifteen years of war and a series of failures, many had come to the conclusion that the time had come for the United States to return home.

Trump had throughout his electoral campaign criticized the foreign policy of his predecessors, giving the indication that he would be looking to leave Afghanistan once he assumed the presidency.

The road plan for Afghanistan laid out by the April peace talks seemed to offer the prospect of national reconciliation between the Taliban and the central authority in Kabul, assisted by parties with great interest in the country like India and Pakistan, given their geographic proximity, as well as Russia, China and Turkey.

The first talks in April 2017 capitalized on America’s absence at the conference as well as on the will of the protagonists to reach an agreement after fifteen years of war and terror. Afghanistan is a key crossroad in the eastward expansion strategy that illustrates the special partnership between Russia and China, as seen with the steady progress of the Silk Road 2.0 initiative and the Eurasian Economic Union. Given Afghanistan’s geographic position, sharing boundaries with Pakistan, Turkmenistan, Iran, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, it is useful to emphasize the role the country could play as a commercial and energy hub in the not too distant future.

Due to incompetence or perhaps due to facing insurmountable pressures, Donald Trump is undergoing a gradual and inexorable diminution with the elimination of all the most representative members of his administration. At the same time, the appointment of military personnel to civilian roles has pushed the administration into unexplored directions not foreshadowed in the electoral campaign. Trump spoke of less US military presence in the internal affairs of other nations. But as we shall see, nothing could be further from the truth.

To continue reading: Endless Regional Chaos: American Presence in Afghanistan Explained

Money Well Spent, from The Burning Platform

https://www.theburningplatform.com/2017/09/02/money-well-spent/

Fool’s Errand: Time to End the War in Afghanistan, Justin Raimondo

Justin Raimondo reviews colleague Scott Horton’s new book on Afghanistan. From Raimondo at antiwar.com:

After 16 years of writing about it, I thought I knew a lot about the war in Afghanistan, but Scott Horton’s new book, Fool’s Errand: Time to End the War in Afghanistan, showed me how much I didn’t know – and that’s quite a bit.

Did you know that the Taliban tried desperately to surrender, offering to turn over Osama bin Laden to the country of Washington’s choice – but that George W. Bush would have none of it? I didn’t.

Sit down for this one: Even before the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the Taliban tasked their Foreign Minister, one Wakil Ahmed Muttawakil, to warn us that an attack on US soil was coming. Muttawakil’s journey to deliver the warning to the US embassy in Pershawar, Pakistan, in July of 2001, was to no avail. The Americans weren’t interested.

Although I had some idea of the extent of al-Qaeda’s operations in the Balkans in the 1990s, during the Bosnia war, I had no idea that 9/11 ringleader Khalid Sheikh Mohammed fought on “our” side – the Bosnian side – in that war. Nor did I realize the extent of US support for al-Qaeda during the Clinton administration in other areas of the world, such as Chechnya, and even the Western-most provinces of China. Horton gives us a comprehensive – and little noted – account.

It’s hard to shock me, but I did a double-take when I read that “for political reasons, the U.S. decided to blame the [1996] Khobar [Towers] attack on ‘Iranian-backed Saudi Hezbollah,’ thus letting the guilty” – al-Qaeda – “escape blame.” Nineteen US Air Force personnel were killed in that attack, along with one Saudi. Then Secretary of Defense William Perry now says he believes al-Qaeda was the perpetrator: bin Laden himself took credit for the attack. Yet the Saudi propaganda machine, in collaboration with their Washington allies, still perpetuate the myth of Iranian involvement.

So how did the “blind Sheikh,” Omar Abdel Rahman, leader of Egypt’s Islamic Jihad outfit, who masterminded the first attack on the World Trade Center, in 1993, even get into the country when he was a known terrorist? The CIA – “who considered him an old friend from the 1980s” — made sure he got a visa. Does Ann Coulter know about this?

To continue reading: Fool’s Errand: Time to End the War in Afghanistan

Afghanistan and the CIA Heroin Ratline, by Pepe Escobar

There have been substantiated allegations of CIA involvement in drug running and money laundering since Vietnam, although the CIA throws up its usual smokescreens. From Pepe Escobar at Sputnik News via lewrockwell.com:

The Persian Gulf harbors an array of extremely compromising secrets. Near the top is the Afghan heroin ratline – with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) positioned as the golden node of a transnational, trillion dollar heroin money laundering operation.

In this 21st century Opium War, crops harvested in Afghanistan are essentially feeding the heroin market not only in Russia and Iran but especially in the US. Up to 93% of the world’s opium comes from Afghanistan.

Contrary to predominant Western perception, this is not an Afghan Taliban operation. The key questions — never asked by Atlanticist circles — are who buys the opium harvests; refines them into heroin; controls the export routes; and then sell them for humongous profit compared to what the Taliban have locally imposed in taxes.

The hegemonic narrative rules that Washington bombed Afghanistan in 2001 in “self-defense” after 9/11; installed a “democratic” government; and after 16 years never de facto left because this is a key node in the Global War on Terror (GWOT), against al-Qaeda and the Taliban alike.

Washington spent over $100 billion in Afghan reconstruction. And, allegedly, $8.4 billion in “counternarcotics programs”. Operation Enduring Freedom — along with the “liberation” of Iraq — have cost an astonishing several trillion dollars. And still the heroin ratline, out of occupied Afghanistan, thrives. Cui bono?

Have a SIGAR

An exhaustive Afghanistan Opium Survey details the steady rise of Afghan opium production as well as the sprawl in production areas; “In 2016, opium production had increased by approximately 25 times in relation to its 2001 levels, from 185 tons in 2001 to 4800 tons in 2016.”

Another exhaustive report issued by the delightful acronym SIGAR (Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction) even hints — discreetly — at the crucial connection; Operation Enduring Freedom feeding America’s heroin epidemic.

Afghanistan is infested by contractors; numbers vary from 10,000 to tens of thousands. Military and ex-military alike can be reasonably pinpointed as players in the heroin ratline — in many cases for personal profit. But the clincher concerns the financing of US intel black ops that should not by any means come under scrutiny by the US Congress.

To continue reading: Afghanistan and the CIA Heroin Ratline

Korea, Afghanistan and the Never Ending War trap, by Pepe Escobar

War is not the answer for either North Korea or Afghanistan. From Pepe Escobar at atimes.com:

While the US-backed ‘Hunger Games’ in South Korea plow on, a ‘new strategy’ for Afghanistan is really all about business. But China is already there

There are more parallels between an unfinished 1950s war in Northeast Asia and an ongoing 16-year-old war in the crossroads between Central and South Asia than meet the eye. Let’s start with North Korea.

Once again the US/South Korea Hunger Games plow on. It didn’t have to be this way.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov explained how: “Russia together with China developed a plan which proposes ‘double freezing’: Kim Jong-un should freeze nuclear tests and stop launching any types of ballistic missiles, while US and South Korea should freeze large-scale drills which are used as a pretext for the North’s tests.”

Call it sound diplomacy. There’s no conclusive evidence the Russia-China strategic partnership floated this plan directly to the administration of US President Donald Trump. Even if they did, the proposal was shot down. The proverbial “military experts” lobbied hard against it, insisting on a lopsided advantage to Pyongyang. Worse, National Security Adviser H R McMaster consistently lobbies for preventative war – as if this is any sort of serious conflict “resolution”.

Meanwhile, that “plan for an enveloping fire” around Guam remains on Kim Jong-un’s table. It is essential to remember the plan was North Korea’s response to Trump’s “fire and fury” volley. Kim has stated that for diplomacy to work again, “it is necessary for the US to make a proper option first”. As in canceling the Ulchi-Freedom Guardian war games – featuring up to 30,000 US soldiers and more than 50,000 South Korean troops.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in dutifully repeats the Pentagon mantra that these Hunger Games, lasting until August 31, are “defensive”. Computer simulations gaming a – very unlikely – unilateral Pyongyang attack may qualify as defense. But Kim and the Korean Central News Agency interpret the war games in essence for what they are: rehearsal for a “decapitation”, a pre-emptive attack yielding regime change.

No wonder the KCNA insists on a possible “catastrophe”. And Beijing, crucially, concurs. The Global Times reasonably argued that “if South Korea really wants no war on the Korean Peninsula, it should try to stop this military exercise”.

To continue reading: Korea, Afghanistan and the Never Ending War trap

U.S. Pays $50 Mil for Luxury Cars, Weapons, Booze to Mentor Afghan Intel Officers, from Judicial Watch

Afghanistan has been a long-running welfare program for the military, the intelligence agencies, and their contractors. From Judicial Watch (an organization to which SLL donates) at judicialwatch.org:

A foreign company hired by the U.S. government to mentor and train Afghan intelligence officers billed Uncle Sam for more than $50 million in luxury cars — including Porsches, an Aston Martin, and a Bentley — and the lucrative salaries of executives and their spouses (who didn’t do any work). The firm also spent $1,500 on alcohol and $42,000 on automatic weapons prohibited under the terms of the contract, according to figures provided by a U.S. Senator from a federal audit that has not been released to the public. It marks the latest of many scandals involving the free-flow of American dollars to controversial causes in Afghanistan, where fraud and corruption are rampant in all sectors.

In this latest case, the Department of Defense (DOD) hired a British firm called New Century Consulting (NCC) to operate a program called “Legacy East” that was supposed to provide counterinsurgency intelligence experts to mentor and train Afghan National Security Forces. Instead, NCC billed the Pentagon millions of dollars in questionable or unallowable expenses, including seven luxury cars and exorbitant $400,000 average salaries for the “significant others” of corporate officers to serve as “executive assistants.” Other prohibited expenses include severance payments, rent, unnecessary licensing fees, extensive austerity pay, and the cost of personal air travel. The outrageous figures became public when the top-ranking Democrat on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, Claire McCaskill, wrote a letter to Defense Secretary James Mattis demanding answers. As a federal lawmaker McCaskill had access to the information after viewing a report from the Defense Contract Audit Agency (DCAA), which provides financial oversight of government contracts for the Pentagon and operates under the Secretary of Defense.

To continue reading: U.S. Pays $50 Mil for Luxury Cars, Weapons, Booze to Mentor Afghan Intel Officers