25 May

United States Wars, News and Casualties

United States Wars, News and Casualties

Damn The War Criminals,

Bush,Cheney,Rice,Rumsfeld,Wolfowitz, Powell and Blair from England

War News

NYT: Opinion What Message Is Trump Sending to Soldiers?

Having experienced combat, we know pardons for war crimes would be a disservice to our military and undermine our moral standing in the world.

By Lawrence D. Nicholson and J. Kael Weston

Mr. Nicholson is a retired lieutenant general. Mr. Weston is a former State Department official.

President Trump’s consideration of pardons for several service members convicted or accused of war crimes is disturbing. It would send the wrong signal to United States troops under his command, undercut the country’s well-established military justice system and call into question America’s longstanding commitment to human rights and the rule of law.

Horrific if not illegal conduct would be condoned at the highest level, setting a new and very dark precedent and detracting attention from the honorable actions of millions of United States service members.

Over many years of service leading and advising Marines in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan, we worked closely together to ensure everyone in the command understood not just the legal aspects of the law of armed conflict but also the reasoning behind them. We also stressed how, especially in a counterinsurgency environment, our daily actions, not just our words, made an impact for good or bad with the local population.

As a rifle company commander in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, stated, “Every day, we are hunting and helping” — hunting the enemy, and helping the people who ultimately will determine the success or failure of our campaign.

Combat — grueling, exhausting and deadly — demands extraordinary teamwork, exacting discipline and a bedrock of ethical and moral clarity. Leaders’ solemn obligation is to equip their teams with tools and training to win the fight while never losing their moral compass. The most successful combat units we witnessed were fierce on the battlefield but also well trained and highly disciplined in carrying out their responsibilities with prisoners of war, detainees and civilians.

We spent a lot time making sure that was adhered to during occasions as violent as epic battles in Falluja, Iraq, and in Helmand. Holding our troops to a high standard is not an easy task. It requires a thorough approach at the tactical level and small-unit combat leadership dedicated to upholding strict rules of engagement. If abuses or crimes take place, the Uniform Code of Military Justice provides defendants with representation and due process. That system, established in 1950, has been tested over many decades — and it works.

Presidential pardons for service members accused or convicted of war crimes could erode confidence in this well-documented legal process and lead to an atmosphere where battlefield criminal conduct might become more common. The result of this presidential prerogative would not easily be corrected in the near term, and it would be in direct conflict with the military chains of command. Junior ranks across the services could interpret these pardons as a commander in chief’s indifference toward illegal actions, including the reported killings by a SEAL operator of a young Iraqi girl and an unarmed old Iraqi man.

We write from extensive personal experience — over a decade between us in specific and complex combat zone leadership roles. During our time in Falluja, a Marine was ordered to confinement in Anbar Province after a civilian had been killed at nighttime in questionable circumstances. In Helmand, the governor of the province and other provincial religious and tribal leaders would press us on incidents in which United States military operations resulted in civilian deaths. These Iraqis and Afghans wanted to believe the Americans could be trusted to follow up, especially behind closed doors and in courtrooms.

Maintaining our moral standing in war is among the greatest challenges for any service member, particularly for those who see friends die. It is the adherence to law in wartime that defines us as Americans and keeps civilians and our own troops safe.

Presidential pardons for military members accused of war crimes would be a tremendous disservice to these troops who remain our best unofficial ambassadors in outposts around the world. If the current commander in chief pardons service members accused or convicted of war crimes, we risk having our own citizens, and perhaps even our most trusted allies around the world, note the lowering of standards on the explicit order of the American president himself. Governments with questionable records on human rights will undoubtedly, if quietly, applaud the man seated in the Oval Office — let us not forget the murder of Jamal Khashoggi.

In emails, Iraqis and Afghans have offered us their own views. Their important voices are too often missing in our public discourse about our wars in their neighborhoods, let alone incorporated into our legal proceedings.

A former high school physics teacher and Iraqi policeman from Falluja recently wrote, “It raises the prospect in the minds of the troops that says, ‘whatever we do, if we can get the folks back home behind us, maybe we can get off.’”

An Afghan law graduate from Kunar Province, now living with his family in Kabul, echoed this theme and warned that pardons “will give strength to insurgents’ propaganda that every American serviceman is a war criminal.”

On this Memorial Day weekend, as we remember and honor the lives and service of our fallen warriors, we should listen to these Iraqis and Afghans; we should insist on justice for the war dead with foreign names buried far from Washington. And for the sake of the armed forces of the United States, the military justice system should be allowed to move forward unimpeded and in keeping with the highest standards of our great nation.

REU: Defying Congress, Trump sets $8 billion-plus in weapons sales to Saudi Arabia, UAE

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump, declaring a national emergency because of tensions with Iran, swept aside objections from Congress on Friday to complete the sale of over $8 billion worth of weapons to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Jordan.

The Trump administration informed congressional committees that it will go ahead with 22 military sales to the Saudis, United Arab Emirates and Jordan, infuriating lawmakers by circumventing a long-standing precedent for congressional review of major weapons sales.

Members of Congress had been blocking sales of offensive military equipment to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates for months, angry about the huge civilian toll from their air campaign in Yemen, as well as human rights abuses such as the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi at a Saudi consulate in Turkey.

Lawmakers and congressional aides warned earlier this week that Trump, frustrated with Congress holding up weapons deals including the sale of bombs to Saudi Arabia, was considering using a loophole in arms control law to go ahead by declaring a national emergency.

“President Trump is only using this loophole because he knows Congress would disapprove … There is no new ‘emergency’ reason to sell bombs to the Saudis to drop in Yemen, and doing so only perpetuates the humanitarian crisis there,” said Senator Chris Murphy.

Murphy, a Democrat, made public on Twitter on Wednesday that Trump was considering the loophole in the Arms Control Export Act to clear the sales.

Several of Trump’s fellow Republicans, as well as Democrats, said they would object to such a plan, fearing that blowing through the “holds” process would eliminate Congress’ ability to check not just Trump but future presidents from selling weapons where they liked.

Representative Mike McCaul, the top Republican on the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee, said the administration’s action was “unfortunate” and likely to damage future White House interactions with Congress.

“I would have strongly preferred for the administration to utilize the long-established and codified arms sale review process,” McCaul said in a statement.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement that U.S. partners in the Middle East needed the contracts to be completed to help deter Iran, and that the decision to circumvent Congress was meant to be a “one-time event.”

It is not the first time Congress and Trump have clashed over policy in the region, or the division of powers between the White House and Capitol Hill. The House and Senate voted to end U.S. military support for the campaign in Yemen earlier this year, but Trump vetoed the resolution.

BOON TO DEFENSE INDUSTRYIn documents sent to Congress, Pompeo listed a wide range of products and services that would be provided to the countries.

Read Full Article>>

REU: U.S. arms sales to Saudis, UAE, Jordan needed to deter Iran: Pompeo

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Friday the Trump administration had decided to proceed with arms sales to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Jordan in a move bypassing Congress because any delay could increase risk for U.S. partners at a time of instability caused by Iran.

“These sales will support our allies, enhance Middle East stability, and help these nations to deter and defend themselves from the Islamic Republic of Iran,” Pompeo said in a statement, adding the decision to circumvent Congress was meant to be a “one-time event.”

GUARD: Trump says considering pardons for some U.S. soldiers accused of war crimes

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump said on Friday he was considering pardons for “two or three” American soldiers charged with war crimes, a move he also said would be controversial but justified because they had been treated “unfairly.”

Trump told reporters at the White House that he had not decided yet on the cases but may wait until the accused stood trial before deciding whether to grant them pardons.

“Some of these soldiers are people that have fought hard, long. You know, we teach them how to be great fighters, and then when they fight sometime, they get really treated very unfairly,” Trump said.

He did not identify which cases he was reviewing.

The New York Times on May 18 reported Trump had asked the Justice Department for paperwork on several high-profile war crimes cases in preparation for possible pardons to be announced on or around the U.S. Memorial Day holiday honoring fallen troops. This year’s holiday is to be observed on May 27.

One request, according to the Times report, was for Special Operations Chief Edward Gallagher, a decorated U.S. Navy SEAL court-martialed on charges he fatally stabbed a helpless, wounded Islamic State fighter in his custody, and shot two unarmed civilians from a sniper’s perch during his 2017 deployment to Iraq.

The 39-year-old combat veteran and platoon leader has pleaded not guilty to all charges. Defense lawyers say the allegations against him were fabricated by subordinate SEAL team members disgruntled with his leadership style and seeking to force him out.

Gallagher’s trial was delayed this week until June 10 at the earliest. His lawyer told Reuters he had not asked for a pardon, and Gallagher declined to comment on the possibility of presidential clemency when asked by reporters in court.


The prospect of Trump offering Gallagher a pardon seemed heightened by this week’s appointment to his defense team of former federal prosecutor Marc Mukasey, one of Trump’s personal lawyers and an associate of fellow Trump attorney Rudolph Giuliani, the former New York City mayor.

Another Giuliani associate, ex-New York Police Commissioner Bernie Kerik – who served three years in prison in a federal corruption case – is an investigator on Gallagher’s defense team.

Mukasey, in an interview with Reuters on Thursday, dismissed the notion of seeking a pardon for Gallagher.

Read Full Article>>

REU: Yemen president slams U.N. envoy’s handling of war in letter to secretary-general

ADEN (Reuters) – Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi criticized the U.N.’s special envoy to the country in a sharply-worded letter to the U.N. chief, describing him as legitimizing Houthi rebels his Saudi-backed coalition is locked in a four-year war with.

The Iran-aligned Houthis, who ousted Hadi from power in the capital Sanaa in 2014, have stepped up missile and drone attacks on Saudi Arabia in recent days in a resurgence of tactics that had largely subsided since late last year amid United Nations-led peace efforts.

The attacks come the same month that U.N. special envoy Martin Griffiths appeared to have achieved a diplomatic breakthrough, getting the Iranian-aligned Houthis to agree a unilateral withdrawal of their forces from Hodeidah and two other ports.

Saudi Arabia and the UAE head a Western-backed coalition of Sunni Muslim states that back Hadi and intervened in Yemen in 2015 to try to restore the internationally recognized government ousted from power.

The five-page letter, addressed to U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and dated May 22, outlines a litany of grievances directed at Griffiths, criticizing “his insistence on dealing with the rebels as a de-facto government,” referring to the Houthis.

The letter states that Griffiths has failed to properly oversee an agreement struck last year in Stockholm for a ceasefire and withdrawal plan for the port city of Hodeidah, and has not dealt with issues surrounding detainees and hostages.

“It is clear the envoy has a weak understanding of the nature of Yemen’s ongoing conflict, especially the ideological, intellectual, and political elements of the Houthi militias and their fundamental rejection of the principles of democracy and the peaceful rotation of power,” stated the letter.

A UN spokesman said on Friday that Guterres reiterated his confidence in Griffiths after receiving the letter, and said the special envoy would double down on efforts to support both sides in the conflict and ensure that the Stockholm agreement is fulfilled, a U.N. statement said.

REU: Iraqi protesters urge Baghdad to stay out of U.S.-Iran showdown

BAGHDAD (Reuters) – Thousands of supporters of a populist Iraqi Shi’ite Muslim cleric urged political and factional leaders on Friday to stay out of any conflict between Baghdad’s two biggest allies, Iran and the United States.

Supporters of Iraqi Shi’ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr gather during a protest calling for neutrality during the ongoing tensions between neighbouring Iran and the USA, in Baghdad, Iraq May 24, 2019. REUTERS/Alaa Al-Marjani

Protesters from the movement of Moqtada al-Sadr, who once led Shi’ite militiamen against U.S. forces and is also vocally critical of Iranian influence in Iraq, chanted “no to war” and “yes to Iraq” in central Baghdad and the southern city of Basra.

Iraqis worry that their country will be caught up in any escalation of U.S.-Iranian tensions, which spiked earlier this month when President Donald Trump’s administration said it had sent additional forces to the Middle East to counter alleged threats including from Iranian-backed militias in Iraq.

Politicians and Shi’ite paramilitary leaders have called for calm and the Iraqi government has tried to position itself as a mediator between the two sides.

“We’ve just recovered from Islamic State. Iraq must not be used as a base to try to harm any country. America doesn’t want Iraq to be stable,” said protester Abu Ali Darraji.

There was speculation that Sadr would speak to demonstrators in Baghdad but he did not appear. The firebrand leader, whose political bloc came first in Iraq’s parliamentary election last year, is a friend of neither Washington nor Shi’ite Iran.

The United States once described Sadr as the most dangerous man in Iraq, and designated his militia at the time, the Mehdi Army, a bigger threat to its forces than al Qaeda during an insurgency against U.S. troops after their 2003 invasion.

Sadr campaigned last year on a platform of Iraqi nationalism, opposed to both U.S. and Iranian influence in the country.

Amid rising U.S.-Iran tension, a rocket was fired last week into Baghdad’s fortified Green Zone which houses government buildings and diplomatic missions, but caused no casualties. No group claimed responsibility; U.S. officials say they strongly suspect Iran’s local allies.

The attack came after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned Iraqi leaders that if they failed to keep in check powerful Iran-backed militias, Washington would respond with force.

U.S. intelligence had showed militias positioning rockets near bases housing U.S. forces, according to Iraqi security sources.

After pulling out of Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, Trump restored U.S. sanctions on Iran last year and tightened them this month, ordering all countries to halt imports of Iranian oil or face sanctions themselves.

Read Full Article>>

AP: Afghan police official says blast at Kabul mosque kills 2

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — A bomb exploded during weekly prayers Friday at a mosque in an eastern part of Kabul, killing two people, including the prayer leader, and wounding 16, officials said.

According to Kabul police chief’s spokesman, Basir Mujahid, the bomb was concealed in the microphone used to deliver the sermon. The prayer leader, Maulvi Samiullah Rayan, was the intended target, the spokesman added.

No militant group immediately claimed responsibility but both the Taliban and the Islamic State group regularly stage attacks in the country’s capital.

The Kabul neighborhood where the bombing took place is dominated by ethnic Pashtuns, most of whom are Sunni Muslims and who make up the backbone of the Taliban movement.

U.S. Army spokesman Lt. Ubon Mendie confirmed that five Romanian NATO soldiers were injured in southern Kandahar late on Friday but offered no details. Kandahar was the former heartland of the Taliban, who ruled Afghanistan until their ouster in December 2001 by U.S.-led coalition forces.

Meanwhile, a car bombing wounded 12 people late on Thursday also in the southern city of Kandahar. Provincial council member Yousaf Younasi said the bombing targeted insurgents from neighboring Pakistan’s secessionist Baluchistan Liberation Army.

It was the second attack in recent years to target the group in Kandahar’s posh Aino Mina residential area, he said. Last year, a suicide bomber blew himself up there, killing five Baluch separatists, including the mastermind behind the attack last November on the Chinese Consulate in Pakistan’s port city of Karachi that killed four people — two police officials and two civilians.

Pakistan has struggled with the years-long insurgency in Baluchistan where the separatists demand a greater share of the region’s wealth and autonomy from Islamabad. The separatist group also claimed responsibility for an attack earlier this month on a luxury hotel in the Pakistani port city of Gwadar on the Arabian Sea. Most of the residents in the hotel were Chinese nationals involved in the development of the port.

Kandahar’s provincial police chief, Tadin Khan, said there was no evidence that Baluch insurgents were the target of the explosion, which he said also wounded four children.

Bush’s Five Big Lies That Led to the Iraq Quagmire

These are the five lies Bush told that Ralph Nader documented to impeach him.

  • Weapons of Mass Destruction. The weapons have still not been found. Nader emphasized, “Until the 1991 Gulf War, Saddam Hussein was our government’s anti-communist ally in the Middle East. We also used him to keep Iran at bay. In so doing, in the 1980s under Reagan and the first Bush, corporations were licensed by the Department of Commerce to export the materials for chemical and biological weapons that President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney later accused him of having.” Those weapons were destroyed after the Gulf War. George W. Bush’s favorite chief weapons inspector, David Kay, after returning from Iraq and leading a large team of inspectors and spending nearly half a billion dollars told the president We were wrong. See: David Kay testimony before Senate Armed Services Committee, 2004-01-28.Tyler Drumheller, the former chief of the CIA (Central Intelligence Agency) ’s Europe division, revealed that in the fall of 2002, George W. Bush, Vice President Cheney, then-National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice and others were told by CIA Director George Tenet that Iraq’s foreign minister — who agreed to act as a spy for the United States — had reported that Iraq had no active weapons of mass destruction program.

  • Iraq Ties to Al Qaeda. The White House made this claim even though the CIA and FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) repeatedly told the Administration that there was no tie between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda. They were mortal enemies — one secular, the other fundamentalist.

  • Saddam Hussein was a Threat to the United States. In fact, Saddam was a tottering dictator, with an antiquated, fractured army of low morale and with Kurdish enemies in Northern Iraq and Shiite adversaries in the South of Iraq. He did not even control the air space over most of Iraq.

  • Saddam Hussein was a Threat to his Neighbors. In fact, Iraq was surrounded by countries with far superior military forces. Turkey, Iran and Israel were all capable of obliterating any aggressive move by the Iraqi dictator.

  • The Liberation of the Iraqi People. There are brutal dictators throughout the world, many supported over the years by Washington, whose people need liberation from their leaders. This is not a persuasive argument since for Iraq, it’s about oil. In fact, the occupation of Iraq by the United States is a magnet for increasing violence, anarchy and insurrection

Recent Casualties:

Color Denotes Today’s Confirmation

DOD Identifies Army Casualty

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Freedom’s Sentinel.

Spc. Miguel L. Holmes, 22, from Hinesville, Georgia, died May 6, 2019, in Nangarhar Province, Afghanistan, of wounds sustained from a non-combat incident. The incident is under investigation.

Holmes was assigned to 1st Battalion, 118th Field Artillery Regiment, 48th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, Savannah, Georgia.

DOD Identifies Army Casualty

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Inherent Resolve.

Pfc. Michael A. Thomason, 28, from Lincoln Park, Michigan, died April 29, 2019, in Kobani, Syria, of wounds sustained from a non-combat incident.

Thomason was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 327th Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), Fort Campbell, Kentucky.

DOD Identifies Army Casualty

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Inherent Resolve.

Spc. Michael T. Osorio, 20, from Horseshoe Bend, Idaho, died April 23, 2019, in Taji, Iraq, in a non combat related incident. The incident is under investigation.

Osorio was assigned to 4th Squadron, 10th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Carson, Colorado.

Save The Children Organization

Save the Children is the world’s leading independent organisation for children and has been working with families, communities and local authorities in Iraq since 1991, leading NGOs in general relief and development programs.Save the Children is currently responding to the needs of internally displaced persons (IDP) and the Syrian refugees in Iraq, in camps and non-camp settings. Our goal is for children in Iraq to be supported in raising their voices and attaining their rights, especially the right to participate in decisions affecting their lives. They should have access to quality education, health and protection services. We are increasing access to community based services that protect, educate and improve quality of life for children. We are ensuring that there is an increased participation of boys and girls in age appropriate activities and services. We are ensuring that children benefit from government actions that create an environment of awareness and accountability to uphold child rights. We are also developing new resources and innovative practices that support our work for children and youth.In Iraq, Save the Children’s interventions include Child Protection, Education, Food Security and Livelihoods, Shelter and Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH), reaching vulnerble children and families in northern and central Iraq. Save the Children’s programs are implemented through field offices in Erbil, Dohuk, Sulaymaniyah, Kirkuk and Kalar, with a country office located in Erbil.

Visit Save The Children Organization>>

Syria  War Child

Please Never Forget.

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