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Enabling Armageddon

The Air Force’s Strange Love for the New B-21 Bomber

By William J. Astore | TomDispatch | June 3, 2018

Did you know the U.S. Air Force is working on a new stealth bomber? Don’t blame yourself if you didn’t, since the project is so secret that most members of Congress aren’t privy to the details. (Talk about stealthy!) Known as the B-21 Raider, after General Doolittle’s Raiders of World War II fame, it’s designed to carry thermonuclear weapons as well as conventional missiles and bombs. In conceptual drawings, it looks much like its predecessor, the B-2 Spirit stealth bomber, all wing and no fuselage, a shape that should help it to penetrate and survive the most hostile air defense systems on Earth for the purposes of a “global strike.” (Think: nuclear Armageddon.)

As the Air Force acquires those future B-21s, the B-2s will be retired along with the older B-1B bomber, although the venerable B-52 (of the Cold War era), much modified, will remain in service for the foreseeable future. At $550 million per plane (before the inevitable cost overruns even kick in), the Air Force plans to buy as many as 200 B-21s. That’s more than $100 billion in procurement costs alone, a boon for Northrop Grumman, the plane’s primary contractor.

If history is any judge, however, a boon for Northrop Grumman is likely to prove a bust for the American taxpayer. As a start, the United States has no real need for a new, stealthy, super-expensive, nuclear-capable, deep-penetrating strategic bomber for use against “peer” rivals China and Russia. But before tackling that issue, a little history is in order.

Déjà Vu All Over Again

A long time ago (1977, to be exact), in a country far, far away, President Jimmy Carter did a brave thing: he cancelled a major Pentagon weapons system just before it was due to start production. That was the B-1 bomber, a plane with sophisticated — that is, expensive — avionics designed to allow it to penetrate Soviet airspace in the event of a nuclear war and survive. Carter cancelled it for the most sensible of reasons: it wasn’t needed.

The Air Force had already developed air-launched cruise missiles that allowed bombers like the B-52 to strike enemy targets with precision from hundreds of miles away. It was also, like all modern weapons systems, outrageously expensive. Why spend vast sums on a new bomber, Carter reasoned, when the plane added little to the nation’s nuclear deterrent? In addition, that cancellation was meant to send a message to the military-industrial complex — that he would neither be beholden to nor intimidated by defense hawks who touted each and every new weapons system, no matter how expensive or redundant, as “essential.”

I was then a teenager with a yen for American warplanes. I’d even made a model of the B-1, complete with “variable geometry” wings that could be extended forward for low-speed flight and swept backward for high-speed, supersonic flight. In my mind’s eye, I can still see it, almost all white like the prototype that Rockwell International, its primary contractor, actually built. In a symbolic act of protest against Carter’s action, I took my model, taped a couple of firecrackers to it, and dropped it from the top floor of our house, blowing it up in a most satisfying way. So much for the B-1, I thought.

I was too young to know better. When Ronald Reagan became president in 1981, as part of a massive defense buildup (that Carter, ironically enough, had actually begun), he revived the B-1. The Air Force soon committed itself to buying 100 of them at a then-astronomical $280 million each. The B-1B Lancer (as it became known) has served in the Air Force for the last three decades, never (thankfully) fulfilling the purpose for which it was built: a nuclear attack. Plagued by accidents, high operating costs, and maintenance issues, the B-1 has been a disappointment to an Air Force now eager to replace it with an entirely new bomber, more or less guaranteed to have a similar history.

However much I loved the prospective plane as a teenager, I felt quite differently once I was myself in the Air Force. As a young lieutenant in 1986, I even wrote a paper for a contest within the service in which I argued that the concept of a manned, “penetrating,” strategic nuclear bomber was deeply flawed. In essence, I took the Carter position, suggesting that the other “legs” of America’s nuclear triad (ballistic missiles launched from silos and similar missiles on nuclear submarines) were more than enough to deter and defeat enemies (no less destroy the world), and that new “precision” technologies like cruise missiles rendered risky manned bombing missions deep into enemy airspace not just obsolete but antediluvian.

Not surprisingly, my paper didn’t win and the B-1B did. But it was an absurd addition, even by Air Force standards, given that the U.S. had an overwhelming arsenal of missiles at its command, together with a fleet of B-52s that, though lacking in speed and stealth, was aging rather well. In fact, B-52s are still flying today, which isn’t that surprising when you consider the development of highly accurate missiles that allow such a plane to “standoff” from targets and so limit its exposure to enemy air defenses.

Meanwhile, the Air Force, never a service to say no to expensive, high-tech weapons systems, no matter how redundant, was hard at work on a stealthy bomber that would achieve its vision of “global reach, global power, and global strike.” What emerged was the B-2 Spirit, a stealth bomber so expensive ($2.1 billion a pop) that only 21 were ever built. It was also pricier than the B-1 to operate and less reliable thanks to its fragile “stealth” coatings, which required lengthy, high-cost maintenance. In other words, both planes proved expensive disappointments that, fortunately, were never tested on the primary mission for which they were built: incinerating millions of people in a nuclear war.

Enter the B-21, whose very name is supposed to indicate its cutting-edge nature, as the first bomber of a new century. It’s already being readied to reprise the grim, predictable histories of its predecessors.

Will the Bomber Go the Way of the Dodo?

Old ideas and hallowed traditions die hard, especially when they’re so lucrative for the military-industrial-congressional complex. Just look at the staying power of the disastrously overpriced F-35 stealth fighter, projected to cost $1.45 trillion over the life of the program. Put bluntly, today’s future-driven Air Force still wants to be capable of taking the fight to the enemy in a manned bomber, just as in the past. It still wants its air crews to put bombs on target. At a time when remotely piloted drones like the Predators and Reapers are rendering redundant so many human fighter pilots sitting in real cockpits, the Air Force has no intention of allowing its strategic bombing force to go the way of the dodo. Its leaders will always fight for manned strategic bombers because it fits their image of themselves: dodging enemy fighters, missiles, and flak, and taking the fight to the enemy’s doorstep.

In fact, not only does the Air Force want the B-21 as its “fifth generation” bomber, it also wants a new fighter jet to escort it on deep penetrating missions into China, Russia, or other countries. Think here of the legendary P-51 Mustangs, which accompanied U.S. strategic bombers deep into Nazi Germany during World War II. In other words, the Air Force’s vision of future aerial war bears an eerie resemblance to the action scenes in the classic 1949 war movie Twelve O’Clock High, except instead of the B-17s and P-51s of World War II, fifth generation bombers will join with sixth-generation fighters to claw their way through enemy airspace.

Of course, Pentagon officials have an array of talking points to support their case for the B-21. These include: maintaining parity, if not supremacy, vis-à-vis China or Russia or some future, ill-defined enemy and the need of our heroic troops for the latest and best in weaponry. They emphasize that canceling a major weapons system like the B-21 is tantamount to unilateral disarmament, that it would betray weakness to rivals and foes, and that manned bombers provide maximum flexibility since, unlike missiles, they can be recalled or redirected after being launched.

In truth, however, Twelve O’Clock High scenarios look increasingly ridiculous and outmoded in the twenty-first century. But don’t tell that to the U.S. Air Force. When its strategists visualize bombers, all they see is potential, promise, and even fulfillment. But history shows us something else: the potential for widespread and indiscriminant destruction and massive casualties. If anything, since World War II, America’s arsenal of bombers has emboldened the U.S. to strike in places and in ways clearly counterproductive to just about any definition of national security, even as untold numbers of innocents have perished from the ordnance fired or dropped from those planes. The Vietnam War — during which the U.S. dropped seven million tons of bombs — is a perfect example of this.

Here’s the nightmarish reality of actually bringing such weapons systems online: when the U.S. military develops a capability, it seeks to use it, even in cases where it’s wildly inappropriate. (Again, think of the massive B-52 bombings in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia in a counterinsurgency campaign classically meant to win “hearts and minds.”) Fielding a new strategic bomber for global strike, including potential thermonuclear attacks, will not so much enhance national security as potentially embolden future presidents to strike whenever and wherever they want in a fashion devastating to human life. The B-21 isn’t a force-multiplier. It’s an Armageddon-enabler.

Flying High in our B-21s

Having marketed himself as a savvy military critic, is there any possibility that Donald Trump will have the smarts of Jimmy Carter when it comes to the B-21 program? Will he save America at least $100 billion (and probably far more) while eliminating yet another redundant weapons system within the Department of Defense? Fat chance. Even if he wanted to, The Donald doesn’t stand a chance against the Pentagon these days.

Flush with billions and billions of new taxpayer dollars, including funds for those F-35s and for new nukes from a bipartisan coalition in an otherwise riven Congress, America’s military services will fight for any and all major weapons systems, the B-21 included. So, too, will Congress, especially if Northrop Grumman follows the production strategy first employed by Rockwell International with the B-1: spreading the plane’s subcontractors and parts suppliers to as many states and Congressional districts as possible. This would, of course, ensure that cuts to the B-21 program would impact jobs and so drive votes in Congress in its favor. After all, what congressional representative would be willing to vote against high-paying jobs in his or her own state or district in the name of American security?

So here’s my advice to young model-builders everywhere: don’t blow up your B-21s anytime soon. Rest assured that the real thing is coming. If the Air Force wants to ensure that it has a new bomber, in the name of blasting America’s enemies to oblivion, so be it. It worked (partially and at tremendous cost) in 1943 in the flak- and fighter-filled skies of Nazi Germany, so why shouldn’t it work in 2043 over the skies of who-knows-where-istan?

Why does “your” Air Force think this way? Not just because it loves big bombers, but also because its biggest rivals aren’t in Russia or China or some “rogue” state like Iran. They’re right here in “the homeland.” I’m talking, of course, about the other military services. Yes, interservice rivalries remain alive and well at the Pentagon. If the U.S. Navy can continue to build breathtakingly expensive nuclear-powered aircraft carriers (like the much-troubled USS Gerald R. Ford) and submarines, and if the Army can have all its tanks, helicopters, and associated toys, then, dammit, the Air Force can have what truly makes it special and unique: a new stealthy strategic bomber escorted by an even newer long-range stealthy fighter.

And don’t just blame the Air Force for such retrograde thinking. Its leaders know what’s easiest to sell Congress: big, splashy projects that entail decades of funding and create tens of thousands of jobs. As congressional representatives line up to push for their pieces of the action, military contractors are only too happy to oblige. As the lead contractor for the B-21, Northrop Grumman of Falls Church, Virginia, has the most to gain, but other winners will include United Technologies of East Hartford, Connecticut; BAE Systems of Nashua, New Hampshire; Spirit Aerosystems of Wichita, Kansas; Orbital ATK of Clearfield, Utah, and Dayton, Ohio; Rockwell Collins of Cedar Rapids, Iowa; GKN Aerospace of St Louis, Missouri; and Janicki Industries of Sedro-Woolley, Washington. And these are just the major suppliers for that aircraft; dozens of other parts suppliers will be needed, and they’ll be carefully allocated to as many Congressional districts as possible. Final assembly of the plane will likely take place in Palmdale, California, integrating components supplied from sea to shining sea. Who says America’s coastal enclaves can’t join with the heartland to get things done?

Even if President Trump wanted to cancel the B-21 — and given his recent speech to graduates of the Naval Academy, the odds are that there isn’t a weapons system anywhere he doesn’t want to bring to fruition — chances are that in today’s climate of militarism he would face enormous push-back. As a colleague who’s still on active duty in the Air Force puts it, “What makes today worse than the Carter days is our flag-humping, military-slobbering culture. We can’t even have a discussion of what the country’s needs are for fear of ‘offending’ or ‘disrespecting’ the troops. Today, Carter would be painted as disloyal to those troops he was consigning to an early death because every procurement decision centers on a ‘grave’ or ‘existential’ threat to national security with immediate and deadly consequences.”

And so the Air Force and its flyboy generals will win the fight for the B-21 and take the American taxpayer along for the ride — unless, that is, we somehow have the courage to pry the control sticks from the cold, dead hands of hidebound military tradition and lobbying firepower. Until we do, it’s off we go (yet again), into the wild blue yonder, flying high in our B-21s.

A TomDispatch regular and retired Air Force lieutenant colonel, William Astore taught history for 15 years at the Air Force Academy, the Naval Postgraduate School, and in Pennsylvania at a technical college.

Copyright 2018 William J. Astore

June 3, 2018 Posted by | Corruption, Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , | Leave a comment

‘Weaponizing viruses’? US Air Force places ad for bio samples from Russians

RT | July 28, 2017

The US Air Force is looking to acquire samples of ribonucleic acid (RNA) and synovial fluid from Russians, according to a government website used to place tenders. The reason behind the order hasn’t been specified.

The Air Force’s Air Education and Training Command has placed a listing on the Federal Business Opportunities website asking for at least 12 RNA samples from Russian people of a European ancestry, as well as 27 samples of synovial fluid.

Suppliers of the samples must meet a number of requirements.

“All Normal Human Fresh Frozen (FF) Synovial Tissue and Normal Human Ribonucleic Acid (RNA) samples must be Russian / Caucasian origin,” reads the contract’s technical specifications. “All FF Synovial tissue and RNA samples must come from normal donors, who have no musculoskeletal injuries. This shall be confirmed by pathology. All FF synovial tissue must have a weight greater than or at a minimum of 0.25 grams.

“All RNA samples must be frozen. Synovial Tissues and RNA samples can be unmatched, meaning from different donors. All Synovial Tissue and RNA samples must be HIV, HBV, HCV and syphilis negative.”

In addition, information on donors must be provided with the samples, including their sex, age, ethnicity, smoking history, medical history, height, weight and Body Mass Index (BMI). The samples must be delivered to the Lackland Air Force Base near San Antonio, Texas, within 10 days after the contractor receives the money.

All samples must “be collected from Russia and must be Caucasian. The Government will not consider tissue samples from Ukraine,” the contract added.

It was not immediately apparent what the Air Force needed the samples for. One reason could be purely medical research. RNA is found in all living cells and is needed to translate genetic information into proteins.

“The more you know about the genetic diversity of people, the more opportunities you have, in particular, to treat and diagnose diseases,” Professor Konstantin Severinov from Rutgers University told RT.

“All people are different from one another. That is, the genetic background and the reasons why genetic differences are responsible for some other differences between people are still not understood and are the subject of active study.”

But Igor Nikulin, a former member of the UN commission on biological weapons, noted that the RNA samples can be used to develop viruses.

“New types of biological weapons are being developed. There’s nothing else that could possibly interest the military department. Most likely, they are weaponized viruses,” Nikulin told RT. “The US is trying to develop various types of biological weapons specifically for specific carriers of this gene pool, and Caucasoids are needed since they constitute the majority of the population of our country.

“This is the same focus group for which they are trying to find the samples. It’s necessary for the viruses to act selectively on one or another ethnic group.”

July 28, 2017 Posted by | Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , | Leave a comment

US Air Force reveals $3bn drone expansion plan

RT | December 11, 2015

Doubling the number of pilots and support staff and expanding to more bases around the US are two parts of the Air Force’s plan to meet the Pentagon’s goal of expanding drone operations. The $3 billion wish list still needs congressional approval.

The plan was announced on Thursday, after months of soliciting feedback from the USAF’s drone pilots and support staff, who have complained about being overworked and under-appreciated. It envisions adding 75 MQ-9 Reaper drones to the current fleet of 175 Reapers and 150 MQ-1 Predators, increasing the number of squadrons from eight to 17, and adding up to 3,500 new pilots and support staff, reported the Los Angeles Times.

Currently, most of the USAF drone operations are flown out of Creech Air Force Base in Nevada. The base, about an hour’s drive from Las Vegas, has no housing facilities, so the 3,325 military personnel and civilian contractors working round-the-clock shifts must commute.

Another reason for the expansion is the rising need for surveillance flights, according to General Herbert “Hawk” Carlisle, head of USAF’s Air Combat Command (ACC), which oversees drone operations.

“Right now, 100% of the time, when a MQ-1 or MQ-9 crew goes in, all they do is combat,” said Carlisle. “So we really have to build the capacity.”

Another part of the plan would see the command structure in the largely improvised drone program brought in line with the more traditional chain of command within the USAF.

Of the planned 3,500 additional airmen, 600 to 700 will be officers and the rest will be enlisted, ACC spokeswoman Major Genieve David told Defense News. The expansion will include pilots, sensor operators, maintenance crews and intelligence analysts.

Rather than concentrating all drone operations at Creech AFB, the Air Force is considering splitting the program to multiple facilities around the US and maybe even overseas. Matching shifts to time zones would reduce the stress on the operators, USAF officials have told reporters.

The bases currently considered for the drone program expansion are Beale AFB near Sacramento, California; Davis-Monahan AFB near Tucson, Arizona; Langley AFB near Newport News, Virginia and the joint base Pearl Harbor-Hickam near Honolulu, Hawaii. The Pentagon is also considering placing a drone operations center at Lakenheath, a Royal Air Force base in Suffolk, England, the LA Times reported. However, that would require a basing agreement with the UK authorities.

In August, the Pentagon revealed plans to significantly expand its drone operations by 2019, going from 61 flights a day to around 90. The USAF would fly 60 flights a day by itself, with the Army flying up to 16 flights. The Special Operations Command would be responsible for four flights and contractors for as many as ten. These numbers do not include the drone flights operated by the CIA.

In October, a whistleblower from inside the drone program revealed the tactics and targeting methods used by the US military in Afghanistan, Somalia and Yemen, protesting the reliance on unreliable signal intelligence and the civilian death tolls. During one five-month period of operations in Afghanistan, for example, nearly 90 percent of people killed were not the intended targets – but the Pentagon would still classify them as “enemy killed in action (EKIA),” unless there was specific proof that the male casualties were not terrorists.

“Anyone caught in the vicinity is guilty by association,” the whistleblower said.

December 12, 2015 Posted by | Militarism, War Crimes | , , , , | Leave a comment

Afghan Doctor Slaughter Pulls Back Curtain

By Nicolas J S Davies | Consortium News | October 4, 2015

On Dec. 26, 2009, a U.S. Special Operations team flew from Kabul to Ghazi Khan village in the Narang district of Kunar province. They attacked three houses, where they killed two adults and eight children. Seven of the children were handcuffed before they were shot. The youngest was 11 or 12, three more were 12, and one was 15. Both the United Nations and the Afghan government conducted investigations and confirmed all the details of the attack.

U.S. officials conducted their own inquiry, but no report was published and no U.S. military or civilian officials were held accountable. Finally, more than five years later, a New York Times report on Joint Special Operations Command’s (JSOC) Seal Team 6 named it as the U.S. force involved. But JSOC operations are officially secret and, to all practical purposes, immune from accountability. As a senior U.S. officer told the Times, “JSOC investigates JSOC, that’s part of the problem.”

Accountability for the U.S. attack on the Doctors Without Borders hospital in Kunduz on Saturday, killing at least 22 people, is likely to be just as elusive. The bilateral security agreement that President Karzai refused to sign, but which President Ghani signed in September 2014, provides total immunity from Afghan law for U.S. forces and officials. So whoever should be held legally responsible for the massacre at the hospital will only be subject to accountability under U.S. military and civilian legal systems, which routinely fail to prosecute anyone for similar war crimes.

What makes this attack unique is not that U.S.-led forces attacked a hospital or killed civilians, but that, for the first time in many years, a Western NGO found itself operating behind enemy lines in territory controlled by Anti-Coalition Forces (ACF) or Taliban. Doctors Without Borders (or MSF for its French initials) thus found itself subject to U.S. rules of engagement under which Afghans have lived and died in their thousands for the past 14 years, effectively excluded from the protections formally guaranteed to civilians, the wounded and medical facilities by the Geneva Conventions.

While UN officials have condemned the attack on MSF in Kunduz, the UN itself has been complicit in the under-reporting of civilian casualties in ACF-held territory in Afghanistan. The UN has issued reports on civilian casualties based only on the small number of civilian deaths that it has fully investigated. When Western officials and media have cited these numbers as estimates of total civilian deaths in Afghanistan, the UN has failed to correct that misleading and dangerous impression.

For instance, when the UN documented 80 civilian killings in U.S. night raids in 2010, this was based on completed investigations of only 13 of the 73 incidents reported to the UN that year. Nader Nadery of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission, who worked on the UN report, estimated that 420 civilians were killed in all 73 incidents.

But Nadery still failed to make it clear that these 73 incidents were only the ones reported to the UN, which had little or no access to ACF-held areas that were targeted by thousands of U.S. night raids and the bulk of 5,100 U.S. air strikes in 2010. U.S. officials and the Western media have used these absurdly low estimates of civilian casualties in Afghanistan to whitewash the deadly effects of 60,000 U.S. air strikes and thousands of special forces night raids over the past 14 years.

‘War Is Not Pretty’

As a former U.S. Navy Seal told the New York Times, “War is not this pretty thing the United States has come to believe it to be.” But it is not really “the United States” that has come to see war as a “pretty thing.” Rather it is our leaders who have targeted the American public with propaganda or “Stratcom” – “strategic communications” — to disguise the horrific reality of war, while providing JSOC and other U.S. forces with secrecy and legal cover to systematically violate the Geneva Conventions.

As retired Admiral James Stavridis told the Times, “If you want these forces to do things that occasionally bend the rules of international law, you certainly don’t want that out in public.”

While U.S. forces feel free to disregard the Geneva Conventions and international humanitarian law, the People On War survey conducted by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) found that ordinary people in war-torn countries like Afghanistan hold strongly to the international legal conventions that are supposed to protect them.

This ICRC report did find the United States exceptional, not in believing war to be “pretty,” but in its failure to educate its people and its soldiers about the Geneva Conventions and the protections they guarantee to civilians in wartime.

While three-quarters of people in other developed countries knew that soldiers in war “must attack only other combatants and leave civilians alone,” only 52 percent of Americans were aware of this basic principle of military law. Twice as many Americans as people in other countries subscribed to an erroneous and lower legal standard that military operations should only “avoid civilians as much as possible.”

The ICRC concluded that, “Across a wide range of questions, in fact, American attitudes towards attacks on civilians were much more lax.”

U.S. officials claim that their air strikes are carefully designed and vetted by military lawyers and planners to ensure minimum “collateral damage,” but William Arkin discovered a dirty little secret about this process when he was invited to observe an attack on an alleged ACF leader in Afghanistan from the safety of the U.S. Combined Air and Space Operations Center in Qatar.

Arkin watched on a large TV screen as A-10 Warthog planes dropped two 500-pound bombs on a convoy of vehicles. U.S. officials explained that 1,000-pound bombs would have caused more casualties, while 150-pound Hellfire missiles might have missed their target, so the 500-pound bombs were carefully chosen to kill the target without causing unnecessary casualties.

But then one of the planes did something unexpected. It turned to make a second pass and blanketed the whole area with 30mm armor-piercing shells from its Gatling gun, which fires 65 shells per second. A “precision strike” had just turned into an indiscriminate massacre. A U.S. official quickly told Arkin that this was “not unauthorized.”

The dirty little secret Arkin had discovered was that, once such an operation is under way, special forces ground controllers in the area take full control, and the plans drawn up by lawyers and controllers far from the action no longer apply. Similar rules may have applied to the U.S. air strikes on the MSF hospital in Kunduz, making it difficult for anyone in Washington or Kabul to stop them once they were under way.

Erroneous Raids

Senior U.S. military officers have told Dana Priest of the Washington Post that more than 50 percent of U.S. special forces night raids target the wrong person or house. But that didn’t stop President Obama making them a central tactic in his escalation of the war in Afghanistan, boosting the number of night raids from 20 raids in May 2009 to 1,000 per month a year later.

There is no reason to believe that U.S. air strikes are more accurate or based on better intelligence than night raids by special operations forces. British military adviser Kamal Alam explained to the BBC last Friday that Russian air strikes in Syria are likely to be more accurate than U.S. ones because they have the critical advantage of being guided by Syrian military intelligence on the ground.

Alam noted that even the Iraqi government depends on Syrian military intelligence in its campaign against the Islamic State, and added that this is a source of embarrassment to U.S. officials, who have no such human intelligence capabilities in Syria or Iraq.

Maybe the attack on the MSF hospital in Kunduz will force more Americans to confront the ugly reality of the devastating air war our country has waged across half a dozen countries for 14 years. [See Consortiumnews.com’sAmerica’s Endless Air Wars.”]

Whether any institution can succeed in holding U.S. officials legally accountable for the bombing of the MSF hospital or not, it may finally bring home the horrors and the indiscriminate nature of our country’s endless air war to millions of Americans. U.S. propaganda will try to portray this as a tragic isolated incident. It is not. It is a war crime, and only the latest in a 14-year-long policy of systematic war crimes.


Nicolas J S Davies is the author of Blood On Our Hands: the American Invasion and Destruction of Iraq.  He also wrote the chapters on “Obama at War” in Grading the 44th President: a Report Card on Barack Obama’s First Term as a Progressive Leader.

October 5, 2015 Posted by | Deception, Militarism, Progressive Hypocrite, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , , | Leave a comment

No militants at MSF hospital in Kunduz during US strike

Press TV – October 4, 2015

Doctors Without Borders has dismissed claims that members of the Taliban militant group were firing against Afghan and US forces from the clinic run by the charity group in Kunduz, northern Afghanistan, before a US airstrike on the medical facility.

The group, known by its French acronym as the MSF (Medecins Sans Frontieres), in a statement issued on Sunday rejected the claim about the presence of the militants at its facility, saying, “The gates of the hospital compound were closed all night so no one that is not staff, a patient or a caretaker was inside the hospital when the bombing happened.”

The Afghan Defense Ministry earlier said Taliban militants had attacked the hospital and were using the building “as a human shield.”

The militants had entered the compound of the medical center and used “the buildings and the people inside as a shield” while firing on security forces, said Brigadier General Dawlat Waziri, the Defense Ministry’s deputy spokesman.

Afghanistan’s Interior Ministry spokesman, Sediq Sediqqi, said 10 to 15 “terrorists” had been hiding in the clinic at the time of the US strike, adding, “All of the terrorists were killed but we also lost doctors.”

The US military said it conducted an airstrike “in the vicinity” of the hospital, as it targeted Taliban militants who were directly firing on US military personnel.

“US forces conducted an airstrike in Kunduz city at 2.15 a.m. (local), Oct 3, against insurgents who were directly firing upon US service members advising and assisting Afghan Security Forces in the city of Kunduz. The strike was conducted in the vicinity of a Doctors Without Borders medical facility,” said General John F Campbell, the commander of the US forces in Afghanistan.

The MSF said in a statement that at 2:10 a.m. local time on Saturday (2040 GMT) its trauma center in Kunduz was hit several times. It added that the aerial assault continued for more than half an hour after US and Afghan military officials in Kabul and Washington were first informed.

According to the statement, the Saturday attack left 19 people dead and dozens more seriously injured.

The survivors of the US airstrike on the clinic say those patients unable to move were burned to death during the assault.

The MSF facility is the only one in the northeastern region of Afghanistan capable of taking care of major injuries.

According to the MSF, over 100 patients and their caregivers, as well as more than 80 international and local MSF staff were in the hospital when the airstrike took place.

On September 28, Taliban militants overran Afghanistan’s northern city of Kunduz, but were later forced to withdraw from much of the city in the face of a government counterattack. Sporadic clashes continue as Afghan troops struggle to clear remaining pockets of the militants.

Kunduz is strategic as it is located on a crossroad that connects key regions of the country. It is also along the country’s border with Tajikistan and could offer the militants the opportunity to establish a base in the country’s north.


Patients were burned to death in US airstrike on clinic in Kunduz, survivors say

Press TV – October 4, 2015

The survivors of a US airstrike on a clinic run by Doctors Without Borders in Kunduz, northern Afghanistan, say those patients unable to move were burned to death during the assault.

“Those people that could, had moved quickly to the building’s two bunkers to seek safety. But patients who were unable to escape burned to death as they lay in their beds,” recalled Heman Nagarathnam, the head of programs by the charity group, known by its French acronym, MSF (Medecins Sans Frontieres).

It was also said that a patient was left in the operating room on the table “dead, in the middle of the destruction.”

“The bombs hit and then we heard the plane circle round,” Nagarathnam said, adding, “There was a pause, and then more bombs hit. This happened again and again.”

The MSF said in a statement that at 2:10 a.m. local time on Saturday (2040 GMT) its trauma center in Kunduz was hit several times. It added that the aerial assault continued for more than half an hour after US and Afghan military officials in Kabul and Washington were first informed.

According to the statement, the Saturday attack left 19 people dead and dozens more seriously injured.

Lajos Zoltan Jecs, an MSF nurse and a survivor of the horrific bombardment, described the US airstrike as “absolutely terrifying.”

The nurse, who was inside the facility during the strike, said, “We tried to take a look into one of the burning buildings. I cannot describe what was inside. There are no words for how terrible it was.”

“In the intensive care unit six patients were burning in their beds,” Jecs added. … Full article

October 4, 2015 Posted by | Deception, Subjugation - Torture, War Crimes | , , , | 1 Comment

NATO Admits US May Have Hit MSF Hospital in Kunduz

Sputnik | 03.10.2015

NATO does not rule out the possibility that a hospital of Doctors Without Borders in Afghan city of Kunduz was bombed by US air forces.

A Doctors Without Borders (Medecins Sans Frontieres, or MSF) hospital in the Afghan city of Kunduz was bombed early on Saturday, leading to the death of at least three people, with dozens missing, the international aid agency said in a statement.

There were around 200 people in the hospital building when it was bombed, according to MSF.

NATO said in a statement that US forces conducted an airstrike in Kunduz at around the same time — just after 02:00 am on Saturday (after 22:00 GMT Sunday).

The medical team is working around the clock to do everything possible for the safety of patients and hospital staff.

‘We are deeply shocked by the attack, the killing of our staff and patients and the heavy toll it has inflicted on healthcare in Kunduz,” Bart Janssens, MSF Director of Operations commented on the bombing.

“We do not yet have the final casualty figures, but our medical team are providing first aid and treating the injured patients and MSF personnel and accounting for the deceased. We urge all parties to respect the safety of health facilities and staff.”

According to MSF, at the time of the aerial attack 105 patients and their caretakers were in the hospital and over 80 MSF international and national staff.

MSF’s hospital is the only facility of its kind in the Northeast of Afghanistan, providing free life- and limb-saving trauma care.

Kunduz, a city of 300,000 in northern Afghanistan, was recaptured by Afghan government forces on Thursday.

October 3, 2015 Posted by | Video, War Crimes | , , , , , | 1 Comment

US Air Force Clashes with California over Radioactive Waste Dump

By Ken Broder | AllGov | September 22, 2013

The U.S. Air Force has spent years cleaning up toxic and nuclear materials at McClellan Air Force Base outside Sacramento since it was decommissioned in 2011, unsuccessfully trying to ship radioactive waste to a California dump and successfully sending a bunch of it to Utah under suspicious circumstances.

But now, as it bears down on a 2019 deadline for finishing the job of scraping potentially dangerous materials from 326 waste areas before delivering what’s left of the base-turned-industrial-hub into nonmilitary hands, the Air Force wants to bury the last of the radioactive waste on the property, close to residential neighborhoods.

State regulators and the city are not happy.

California has stricter rules governing waste disposal than the federal government and the California Department of Public Health says the plans for entombing the radium-226, a substance known to cause cancer, do not meet its standards, according to Katherine Mieszkowski and Matt Smith of the Center for Investigative Reporting.

The department has the power to block transfer of the property. California law requires that only facilities with special permits can accept soil contaminated with radium, and the state doesn’t have any.

But Steve Mayer, the Air Force remediation project manager at McClellan, told Center reporters that he was prepared to wait out the city and state because by 2019, “There will be a different governor then, too, and (regulators) all work for the governor.”

Actions at McClellan could serve as a template for federal behavior at other bases in California facing similar transitions from military to civilian use. Instead of paying costly expenses to ship the material to dumps, the Air Force could simply bury it on-site and walk away. There are reportedly seven bases in California that could face similar situations.

State regulators rebuffed the Air Force in 2011 when it lobbied hard to classify its McClellan radioactive waste as “naturally occurring” so it could qualify for shipment to Clean Harbors’ Buttonwillow landfill. Instead, it sent 43,000 tons of soil to an Idaho dump.

The 3,452-acre base was named a Superfund site in 1987 owing to years of maintaining aircraft that involved the “use, storage and disposal of hazardous materials including industrial solvents, caustic cleansers, paints, metal plating wastes, low-level radioactive wastes, and a variety of fuel oils and lubricants,” according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Much of the residue is believed to be from cleanup efforts related to radioactive paint used more than 50 years ago on glow-in-the-dark dials and gauges.

The property is being transferred to private hands piecemeal. In 2007, 62 acres were moved to the McClellan Business Park and another 35 acres was sold in 2011 to U.S. Foods, a national food distribution company. In 2010, 545 acres were transferred to the business park and California Governor Jerry Brown approved the transfer of another 528 acres in January of this year.

To Learn More:

Air Force Hopes to Stick California City with Radioactive Waste Dump (by Katherine Mieszkowski and Matt Smith, Center for Investigative Reporting)

Air Force Sends Radioactive Material Too Hot for California Landfills to Idaho (by Ken Broder, AllGov California)

McClellan Air Force Base (U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission)

McClellan Air Force Base (Groundwater Contamination) (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency)

September 22, 2013 Posted by | Environmentalism, Militarism | , , , , , , , | Comments Off on US Air Force Clashes with California over Radioactive Waste Dump