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Archive for the ‘Osama bin Laden’ Category

The way we do business: genocidal African leader is a CIA/DIA asset

Posted by Charles II on January 22, 2012

Bryan Bender, Boston Globe:

When Charles G. Taylor tied bed sheets together to escape from a second-floor window at the Plymouth House of Correction on Sept. 15, 1985, he was more than a fugitive trying to avoid extradition. He was a sought-after source for American intelligence.

After a quarter-century of silence, the US government has confirmed what has long been rumored: Taylor, who would become president of Liberia and the first African leader tried for war crimes, worked with US spy agencies during his rise as one of the world’s most notorious dictators.

Former intelligence officials, who agreed to discuss the covert ties only on the condition of anonymity, and specialists including Farah believe Taylor probably was considered useful for gathering intelligence about the activities of Moammar Khadafy.

Bryan Bender, Boston Globe:

Breaking two and a half decades of silence, former Liberian president and accused war criminal Charles G. Taylor said today that his infamous prison break from the Plymouth County Correctional Facility in 1985 was aided by the US government…

In the second day of his testimony in his war crimes trial that could settle the long-standing mystery, Taylor said that on the night of Sept. 15, 1985, his maximum-security prison cell was unlocked by a guard and he was escorted to the minimum-security part of the facility.

According to news reports from The Hague, he said he then escaped by tying sheets together and climbing out a window and over a prison fence where he said a car with two men he assumed were agents of the US government drove him to New York, where his wife was waiting with money to get him out of the country.

Robtel Neajai Pailey, AllAfrica:

The bombshell news that he was indeed a CIA informant in the early years of his rise to notoriety calls into question America’s complicity in Taylor’s destruction of Liberia.

America’s facilitation of Taylor’s escape from a maximum security prison in Boston in 1985 – while he was facing extradition to Liberia for allegedly stealing US$1 million from the General Services Agency, which he headed during President Samuel Kanyon Doe’s regime – was always rumored but never corroborated. …

The Taylor-CIA connection has re-inscribed for Liberians an age-old dilemma, what to do with our so-called historical relationship with the United States, which has been fraught with betrayal after betrayal. Liberians who have been commenting on various notice boards are justifiably angry, upset and disappointed, but not surprised.

It’s no wonder that the U.S. didn’t intervene in the Liberian civil war, though Liberians begged and pleaded for its “father/mother” to stop us from killing each other. One U.S. diplomat at the time even said that “Liberia is of no strategic interest to the United States.” …

This should send a strong signal to Liberians and Liberia once and for all that America cannot be trusted. From Noriega, to Osama, to Saddam, to Samuel Doe, authoritarian leaders who end up in the U.S.’s good graces are never there for long.

Taylor presided over genocide and looting that garnered him hundreds of millions or billions of dollars while costing the lives of 250,000 human beings, including many child soldiers.

1985 would be Reagan. But the “intelligence community” that facilitated Taylor’s release is eternal and non-partisan. The same unelected government which released a man who had robbed the American people of a million dollars so that he could prey on descendants of Americans who chose to return to the country of their ethnic origin very likely participated in the kidnapping of the lawfully elected president of Honduras–indeed, probably presided over a host of criminal actions performed in the name of national security, but ending in innocent blood, public dishonor and the world’s distrust of us.

Apparently it’s just the way we do business.

Posted in Africa, international, Osama bin Laden, Ronald Reagan, totalitarianism | Tagged: , , , , , | 6 Comments »

The law on targeted killings. bin Laden v. al-Awlaki

Posted by Charles II on May 9, 2011

I don’t pretend to be a lawyer, but I have followed legal issues long enough to have a good layman’s sense of things. The killing of bin Laden has been met by claims that it was unlawful. I recently responded to those over at Avedon Carol’s Sideshow. I wish that there had been a lawyer familiar with US and international law to critique my posts, but unfortunately the response was simply that I was obviously wrong which, of course, doesn’t help to resolve the issue at all.

Targeted killings are an important issue. The US has asserted a right to kill anyone designated by the president as a terrorist when they are overseas, including US citizens. As bad as that is, there’s little to prevent the principle from being broadened to include anyone, anywhere under, say, a Bachmann presidency. Saggy pants? Boom! Cruise missile.

Now, the assertion clearly appears to violate the Fifth Amendment, which guarantees due process, including indictment by Grand Jury, for “a capital, or otherwise infamous crime.” There is an exception for “in actual service in time of war or public danger” which one wishes the Founders had been a little more explicit about, but the protections are very broad.

The case of Anwar al-Awlaki (or al-Aulaqi) highlights the issue. Detailed discussion is contained here and here. al-Awlaki is 1) a US citizen 2) presently in Yemen, a nation with which we are not at war. He is a cleric. To the best of my knowledge, 3) he has not personally engaged in acts of violence. Instead, as I understand it, he has been declared a terrorist based on having served as a religious leader to known terrorists. 4) He has not been indicted for any offense. And 5) there is no question that the US is trying to kill and not capture him, since they are using drone attacks. The courts ruled that his father, who brought the case, had no standing. Since it’s not really practicable for al-Awlaki to file the case, this has the effect of ending any chance of due process.

By contrast, in the bin Laden case, 1) he is not a US citizen. At the time of his death, he was in Pakistan, a nation with whom we are not at war. However, 2) he had gone there from Afghanistan, a nation on which the Congress authorized the use of military force precisely because of actions by bin Laden. 3) by his own admission, he had personally commanded the commission of acts of violence, and 4) has been indicted by US Grand Juries for some of those offenses (Anbar Towers and embassy bombings). Although the US has used drone strikes against al-Qaida members, in the raid on Abbotabad, they did not use drone strikes. So, however obvious it may seem to everyone, 5) it is at present ambiguous as to whether the order was to kill or to kill only in the event he could not be captured.

So, the elements of the bin Laden case are far different. Fifth Amendment protections do not apply, since he is out of the country. Nor does the government have any duty to him, since he’s not a US citizen. Unlike al-Awlaki, bin Laden (by indictment and by admission) personally directed and facilitated acts of violence. And (as implausible as it may seem) there’s some ambiguity around whether bin Laden was killed while resisting.

There’s an additional point. Al Qaeda was indisputably the target of the Congressional Authorization to Use Military Force. It’s less clear that groups separate from Al Qaeda, but may have been inspired by them, are covered by the AUMF.

There is a dispute as to whether someone constitutes an “imminent threat.” In the case of a cleric, that’s a pretty tough case to argue. Do we want to argue that chaplains are legitimate targets? But in the case of a commander of forces (and this bears on the targeted assassination attempt against Libya’s Moammar Gaddafi), it’s a far easier case to make. The attack on Rommel did materially affect the German war effort, for example, [added] and if the Laycock commando assassination attempt had succeeded, it would have had an even greater impact.

Well, is targeted assassination a violation of international law? Murphy and Radsan say:

From the technical stance of the law, much of the controversy over targeted killing stems from the fact that it does not fit comfortably into either of two models that generally control the state’s use of deadly force: human rights law and international humanitarian law (IHL). The human rights model controls law enforcement operations generally, and it permits the state to kill a person not in custody only if necessary to prevent him from posing a threat of death or serious injury to others. IHL is that part of the laws of war that enforces minimum standards of humane treatment of individuals.16 As part of the lexspecialis of war, IHL displaces the human rights model during armed conflicts, granting the state broad authority to kill opposing combatants as well as civilians who are directly taking part in hostilities. Under this two-model dichotomy, extra-judicial, targeted killing of a person who is not an imminent threat can be legal only as permitted under IHL. However, conceding that IHL—as part of the laws of war—can apply to targeted killing might seem to grant the executive too much power to categorize suspected terrorists as combatants and then kill them off without a shred of process.

As we will show, a reasonable construction of IHL grants the executive considerable power to kill the state’s enemies. So for the sake of argument, we accept that the substantive legality of targeted killing depends on its consistency
with IHL.

I should note that Murphy and Radsan do point out that Boumedienne did extend the reach of due process to Guantanamo, blurring a clear line that had been drawn to exclude aliens in Eisentrager. However, it’s pretty clear that this would not extend to a fugitive like bin Laden, unless he had surrendered himself, since the US does not control Abbotabad. They propose that if the Executive has a clear standard of deciding who is to be targeted and who not, then that satisfies any implication of Boumedienne.

Now, if bin Laden was targeted out of revenge, it would have been illegal under international law. However, since he was a fugitive from justice, this is impossible to prove or disprove.

The bottom line here is that the killing without due process of bin Laden–and any other person, US citizen or not, who is outside of territory controlled by the United States– is legal, and the State–using the so-called State Secrets privilege– does not have to answer for it. The lack of due process is dangerous and shocking. But no one should argue that the killing of bin Laden was illegal under either US or international law. For that matter, bin Laden received due process under the Clinton Administration. By failing to surrender himself, he made himself a dangerous fugitive from justice. Under American law, it is not at all unusual for dangerous fugitives to be shot and killed on the basis that they were resisting arrest. And it takes almost nothing at all for a court to conclude that they were resisting.

For what it’s worth, I believe that capturing and trying bin Laden would have been infinitely preferable to killing him. In the eyes of his comrades, he’s now a martyr, and that martyrdom will fuel even more revenge killing. But no one listens to me, not even the Sideshow regulars.
Added: Gareth Porter tells me that I should have no optimism that the death of bin Laden will promote peace.

The idea that U.S. policy is now on the road to an “endgame” in Afghanistan glosses over a central problem: the publicly expressed U.S. determination to keep a U.S. combat presence in Afghanistan indefinitely is not an acceptable condition to the Taliban as a basis for negotiations.

A shame, since the only thing to really celebrate about the death of bin Laden, aside from the fact that he won’t be able to plot any more attacks against Americans or brag about getting away with past attacks, is that it might lead the US to be willing to depart. Since no one has shown me how killing bin Laden will raise anyone from the dead, there is therefore very little to celebrate.
Added: For a contrary point of view, see Cohn (member of the faculty at Thomas Jefferson School of Law, and a prolific writer on international law and human rights). She says,

Osama bin Laden and the “suspected militants” targeted in drone attacks should have been arrested and tried in U.S. courts or an international tribunal. Obama cannot serve as judge, jury and executioner. These assassinations are not only illegal; they create a dangerous precedent, which could be used to justify the targeted killings of U.S. leaders.

I agree with the first sentence, disagree with the claim of illegality as it relates to bin Laden in the last, and would emphasize that the fear that a president might usurp judicial powers (as appears to have happened with al-Awlaki) is why targeted killings should be opposed.

Posted in judicial rulings, judiciary, Osama bin Laden | 6 Comments »

Obama rocks Campbell

Posted by Charles II on May 6, 2011

Obama’s speech at Ft. Campbell was noteworthy not for what it said, but for where and to whom it was said. Ft. Campbell has suffered enormous grief from men who took their own lives from the stress of war and, very recently, from four deaths due to a suicide bombing. The 101st Airborne and other Ft. Campbell units, including a battalion of the Nightstalkers (the organization on the bin Laden raid) represent 20% of the soldiers in Afghanistan. Perhaps the 101’s proudest moment, one that will endure when people ask “Osama who?”, was when it helped to liberate Little Rock Central High School from the dark forces of oppression.

Obama’s message was pretty simple. He did not boast about killing bin Laden, but connected it seamlessly to the actions of the 101 in Afghanistan in 2001-2. He made it clear that there will be no abrupt change in troop levels in Afghanistan. In effect, he promised the men that the US will have a military victory over the Taliban, although that may be by means of Aghan proxies. And he told the troops and their families that we have to tough it out through the deaths, the recession, and all the other sorrows. He told the inspiring story of a girl who was four years old when her father called her from the World Trade Center, where he was trapped. He told her that he was unlikely to make it out, and that he wanted her to remember always that he loved her and would be watching over her. Today, she is doing well in school, looking toward the future, and helping younger students.

There are some pretty tough people at Ft. Campbell–the soldiers, too. But one could see some tears in the eyes of the men, men who had been given hope that someday this will be over.

May it be so.

Posted in Afghanistan, Barack Obama, military, Osama bin Laden | 1 Comment »

So long and thanks for all the wars

Posted by Charles II on May 1, 2011

[corrected 11:51 PM Eastern] White House sources says that Osama bin Laden is dead.

President Obama has addressed the nation here. A small team of Americans attacked a compound in Abbotabad, Pakistan and killed bin Laden. There were no American casualties.

Maybe this will allow us to declare victory and stop the foolishness. The whole point of the September 11th attacks was to bait us into unwise, unjust, and extremely expensive action. Lured in by the deaths of 2,977 Americans at the World Trade Center, Pentagon, and Shanksville PA, we lost 5,885 American soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. Additional troops from other countries have died, as have first responders (and others) afflicted with lung disease and other disorders due to the pollution of the destruction of the World Trade Center. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and Afghans died as a consequence of war through the effects of malnutrition, disease, sectarian fighting, and combat with American forces. The costs of the wars will probably top 3 Trillion dollars. The damage to our civil liberties will never be undone.

Osama bin Laden was not worth any of this.

Obama says that justice has been done this night. While there was never any doubt that bin Laden had to suffer for ordering the attacks of 9/11, it’s hard to call it justice when the death of one man is supposed to pay for loss this enormous. But maybe we will start to wake up from our national nightmare.

Posted in Afghanistan, Iraq war, Osama bin Laden | 10 Comments »

How Bush lost bin Laden and opened the door to the Afghan insurgency

Posted by Charles II on September 12, 2010

National Security Archive Update, September 13, 2010

“No-Go” Tribal Areas Became Basis for Afghan Insurgency Documents Show

U.S. had “Absolutely No Inclination” to Negotiate with Taliban September 2001; Pakistan Disagreed, Claimed “Real Victory” Only Through Talks

Washington’s Immediate 9/11 Demands to Islamabad

For more information contact:
Barbara Elias – (202) 994-7000 /

Washington, DC, September 13, 2010 – Pakistani tribal areas where Osama bin Laden found refuge were momentarily open to the Pakistani Army when “the tribes were overawed by U.S. firepower” after 9/11, but quickly again became “no-go areas” where the Taliban could reorganize and plan their resurgence in Afghanistan, according to previously secret U.S. documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act by the National Security Archive and posted today at

According to U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Ronald E. Neumann, the 2005 Taliban resurgence in Afghanistan was a direct product of the “four years that the Taliban has had to reorganize and think about their approach in a sanctuary beyond the reach of either government.” This had exponentially increased casualties as the Taliban adopted insurgency tactics successful in Iraq, including suicide bombings and the use of IEDs. Ambassador Neumann warned Washington that if the sanctuary in Pakistan were not addressed it would “lead to the re-emergence of the same strategic threat to the United States that prompted our OEF [Operation Enduring Freedom] intervention” in 2001.

As current U.S. strategy increasingly pursues policies to reconcile or “flip” the Taliban, the document collection released today reveals Washington’s refusal to negotiate with Taliban leadership directly after 9/11. On September 13, 2001, U.S. Ambassador Wendy Chamberlin “bluntly” told Pakistani President Musharraf that there was “absolutely no inclination in Washington to enter into a dialogue with the Taliban. The time for dialog was finished as of September 11.” Pakistan, as the Taliban’s primary sponsor, disagreed. Pakistani Intelligence (ISI) Chief Mahmoud told the ambassador “not to act in anger. Real victory will come in negotiations… If the Taliban are eliminated… Afghanistan will revert to warlordism.”

The new materials also illustrate the importance of the bilateral alliance to leaders in both Islamabad and Washington. One cable described seven demands delivered to Pakistani Intelligence (ISI) Director Mahmoud by U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage two days after the attack, while another reported Pakistani President Musharraf’s acceptance of those requests “without conditions” the next day. However, the documents also reveal fundamental disagreements and distrust. While Pakistan denied that it was a safe haven for anti-American forces, a State Department Issue Paper for the Vice President claimed “some Taliban leaders operate with relative impunity in some Pakistani cities, and may still enjoy support from the lower echelons of Pakistan’s ISI.”

Posted in Afghanistan, BushCo malfeasance, Osama bin Laden, Pakistan | Comments Off on How Bush lost bin Laden and opened the door to the Afghan insurgency

Ancient history

Posted by Charles II on June 23, 2008

As Faulkner said, the past isn’t even past. But is Brendan Nyhan paying attention?

Eric Margolis says Bob Scheer was right:

Afghanistan just signed a major deal to launch a long-planned, 1,680-km pipeline project expected to cost $8 billion. If completed, the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India pipeline (TAPI) will export gas and later oil from the Caspian basin to Pakistan’s coast where tankers will transport it to the West….

In 1998, the Afghan anti-Communist movement Taliban and a western oil consortium led by the U.S. firm Unocal signed a major pipeline deal. Unocal lavished money and attention on the Taliban, flew a senior delegation to Texas, and hired a minor Afghan official, Hamid Karzai….

Enter Osama bin Laden. He advised the unworldly Taliban leaders to reject the U.S. deal and got them to accept a better offer from an Argentine consortium. Washington was furious and, according to some accounts, threatened the Taliban with war.

In early 2001, six or seven months before 9/11, Washington made the decision to invade Afghanistan, overthrow the Taliban, and install a client regime that would build the energy pipelines. But Washington still kept sending money to the Taliban until four months before 9/11 in an effort to keep it “on side” for possible use in a war against China. (emphasis added)

Scheer took a lot of grief for making this assertion back in 2001, although the NYT was pretty explicit in labeling the payments as a reward/bribe. However, I have seen no independent confirmation. I find it interesting that Margolis, who comes at things from the opposite end of the political spectrum than Scheer, agrees with him on this point.

Especially since we are now seeing the confirmation that the invasion of Iraq was indeed all about the oil.

Posted in Afghanistan, Oil, Osama bin Laden | 6 Comments »

Attack Of The Stupids

Posted by Phoenix Woman on December 29, 2007

I see that the “let’s use the death of Benazir Bhutto as an excuse to see all Muslims as subhuman” folks have started to arrive on cue in various places online.

As coathangrrr says, compare the death tolls of Islam versus The West over the last hundred years; nobody on the Muslim side comes close to (the decidedly non-Muslim) Uncle Adolf.

For example:

Let’s say you choose to count the secular Ba’athist Saddam as a full-blown Osama-style Islamofascist — which is wrong as Saddam, as did and do all the other Middle Eastern dictators we’ve propped up, hated and feared Osama and his Caliphate dreams — and thus count all the people he’s killed, even those killed in the course of the Iran-Iraq War (which Reagan and Cheney and Rummy encouraged, by the way, just as they turned a blind eye when Saddam was “gassing his own people”, i.e. the Iraqi Kurds). Saddam’s death toll, using the highest estimates known, those of Human Rights Watch, was 290,000 over the quarter-century he was in power (and there are indications that HRW inflated this figure). Meanwhile, over a million people have died in the last four years as a direct result of Bush’s invading and occupying Iraq.

I’m actually being nice to The (Non-Islamic) West here: I’m not counting the regimes of China under (the secular Communist) Mao and Stalin’s (secular Communist) Soviet Union, which together may well have offed far more people than Hitler, if you go by the highest estimates (but which are, to be sure, themselves subject to debate at the very least).

Posted in anti-Muslim, Bush, Bush Family Evil Empire, BushCo malfeasance, Iran, Iraq war, Osama bin Laden, Pakistan, Ronald Reagan, totalitarianism, wrong way to go about it | 3 Comments »

More good news from the front

Posted by Charles II on October 3, 2007

Unfortunately, the good news is for bin Laden.

Irshad Abdul Kadir, Dawn:

Al Qaeda has moved from a hitherto fringe existence in Sudan and Afghanistan to a substantial one in Pakistan. It may be referred to by a number of names — the Taliban, the jihadis and the militants — but the goals of all are identical.Conditions have never been so favourable for the promotion of the militants’ objectives….

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in international, Osama bin Laden, Pakistan | 2 Comments »

In Which Larry Johnson States What We Already Knew

Posted by Phoenix Woman on September 8, 2007


Yet another Blinding Flash of the Obvious for most of us, I’m afraid:

Sorry.  If you’re looking for some breathless analysis about another lame videotape, which allegedly contains the latest ramblings of the man behind the 9-11 attacks, this ain’t it.  It is meaningless bullshit.  Why?  Because the United States, and the Bush Administration in particular, is not serious about finding and eliminating Bin Laden.


For starters there is no one in charge of the effort.  I have continued to work with U.S. military units that have the terrorism mission.  I know for a fact–I’ve seen the reports and briefings–that there is not a fully coordinated, integrated, comprehensive effort to find Bin Laden.  The U.S. military is doing its thing, separate from the CIA, separate from FBI, and separate from DEA.  No single entity or person is in charge of the effort.  And some agencies that ought to be involved–DEA in particular–are not even at the table.

Then there is the problem of failing to work and play well with others.  The CIA is particularly at fault.  Six years after 9-11 the CIA is still pursuing its own tangents and persists in refusing to fully share intelligence with U.S. special operations forces.  And there is no one at the White House tasked with the job of forcing cooperation and focus.  One would think that Fran Townsend or her deputy, Juan Zarate, would be on top of this but they are not.  They are asleep at the switch.  Consequently the various agencies pursue their missions without any overarching direction while staying largely in their own lanes.

What is needed is a full up interagency task force that is empowered to call on and enlist any military, intelligence, or law enforcement asset believed necessary to accomplish the mission.  But that is not being done and no one is asking George Bush, “why not?”

Posted in abuse of power, Bush, Osama bin Laden, terrorism | 1 Comment »

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