Tuesday 24th of May 2022

failing the course .....

‘Determining strategic
objectives, and ensuring that those objectives are not contradictory, is the
job of the most senior level of command, in this case the White House. By
demanding that U.S. and allied troops pursue two conflicting objectives
simultaneously, the Bush administration has created a no-win situation. Efforts
to defeat the Taliban only work if they can gain the support of the rural
population, but poppy eradication pushes the rural population toward the
Taliban and its allies. (One could add a third incompatible objective,
promoting women’s rights in a conservative Islamic culture.) 

President George W. Bush likes to
say, "I’m the decider; I decide." The role of being the
"decider" includes making sure that decisions are logically
consistent. Mr. Bush is, from that perspective, a failed "decider" in
Afghanistan. He failed similarly in deciding to invade Iraq as part of a global
war against "terrorism," when the destruction of the Iraqi state proved,
predictably, to work in favor of the "terrorists." He is failing yet
again in picking quarrels with Russia and China when we need an all-states
alliance against anti-state forces.’ 

The Other War

the usual suspects .....

‘A highway that begins crumbling
before it is finished. A school with a collapsed roof. A clinic with faulty
plumbing. A farmers’ cooperative that farmers can’t use. 

Afghan police and military that,
after training, are incapable of providing the most basic security. 

And contractors walking away with
millions of dollars in aid money for the work. 

The Bush Administration touts the
reconstruction effort in Afghanistan as a success story. Perhaps, in comparison
to the violence-plagued efforts in Iraq and the incompetence-riddled efforts on
the American Gulf Coast, everything is relative. 

A new report “Afghanistan, Inc.,”
issued by the non-profit organization CorpWatch, details the bungled
reconstruction effort in Afghanistan. 

Massive open-ended contracts have
been granted without competitive bidding or with limited competition to many of
the same politically connected corporations which are doing similar work in
Iraq: Kellogg, Brown & Root (a subsidiary of Halliburton),
DynCorp, Blackwater, The Louis Berger Group, The Rendon Group and many more.
Engineers, consultants, and mercenaries make as much as $1,000 a day, while the
Afghans they employ make $5 per day. 

These companies are pocketing
millions, and leaving behind a people increasingly frustrated and angry with
the results. 

Afghanistan,
Inc.

Redressing the balance

The cynic in the household responded, like lightning, to the story about Indonesia's intimacy with Iran, with "Indonesia - 250 million; Australia - 20 million; so why should anyone care about Australia's sensitivities?" A good point, a clincher.

So, in order to refresh our self-acclaimed importance to the global configuration, Pravda helped out with a prominent mention, in Iran and the New World Order:

The New World Order we see today is based more and more upon a belligerent and bullying Anglo-Saxon Alliance forged between the axis Canberra-London-Washington and its foundations stand upon one simple precept: to have an “us” you need a “them.” ...

We may wish John Howard the best, as he tootles off to renew his intimate relationship with the junior Bush. Perhaps he will come back reinvigorated by his President's ebullience, as in this interview:

...And so --the other thing I want you to know about me is that no matter how pressurized it may seem, I'm not changing what I believe. Now, I may change tactics, but I'm not going to change my core beliefs -- a belief that freedom is universal, or the belief that private markets work, a belief in ownership -- when p own something, society is better off; a belief that there's a role for government, but it's limited in nature. And I'm not changing. I don't care whether they like me at the cocktail parties, or not. I want to be able to leave this office with my integrity intact. ...

On 29% and dropping, it's probably best to hang on that miscontrued optimism.

 

Maureen Dowd's Six Degrees of Bacon will turn up somewhere else, but here is a preview:

 May 13, 2006

Op-Ed Columnist Six Degrees of Bacon By MAUREEN DOWD

WASHINGTON

I bet you're wondering how someone like Dusty Foggo, who had his C.I.A. badge deactivated yesterday because of his role in a scandal ripe with poker parties, Dominican cigars, prostitutes, Scotch, luxury suites, bribed congressmen, defense contracts and even a rumored Teutonic dominatrix, was ever chosen to run day-to-day C.I.A. operations at such a parlous moment in American history.

It's because of Bacon Guy.

That would be Michael Kostiw, a conservative darling who was Porter Goss's first choice to be the third-ranking official at the C.I.A. He was derailed in 2004 after fellow spooks leaked word to The Washington Post that Mr. Kostiw had left the agency under a hickory-smoked cloud two decades earlier, after being caught shoplifting a $2.13 package of bacon from a supermarket in Langley, Va., near C.I.A. headquarters.

Not the pork you usually associate with Washington.

Mr. Goss, W.'s absurd choice to lead our inept intelligence agency in the battle against Islamic terrorists, was so loony he wanted to put a man in charge of C.I.A. discipline who had to be disciplined for slipping chazerai into his pants, or wherever he put the package to bring home the bacon.

Mr. Goss's departure, after a season spent sulking about losing the president's ear to John Negroponte, has opened the window on a whole new level of incompetence, turf wars, corruption and wackiness. Now we see that the C.I.A. was mired not only in professional mistakes, but also in a complete lack of personal and personnel judgment. The more you know about the people Mr. Goss put in top positions, the scarier it gets.

When he was caught in 1981, Mr. Kostiw had been a C.I.A. case officer for a decade. But his answers on a C.I.A. polygraph test and psych exam about the purloined bacon were so sketchy that he was placed on administrative leave and forced to get counseling, Walter Pincus wrote in The Post. Mr. Kostiw wound up resigning.

Like Brownie, Bacon Guy found his comeback path greased by cronyism. He worked on Porter Goss's terrorism subcommittee when Mr. Goss led the House Intelligence Committee, after working as a lobbyist for ChevronTexaco. (All roads lead back to oil.)

After Bacon Guy was forced to withdraw, Mr. Goss and his chief of staff, Patrick Murray, were not moved to look for a sterling choice for the No. 3 post. They were moved to go on a rampage to ferret out and get rid of the libs in the agency whom they suspected of leaking the news of Bacon Guy's carnivorous crime.

With a Nixonesque sense of paranoia and vendetta, the Bush dominatrixes never seem to worry about the nefarious activity itself — from shoplifting to gathering data on all Americans' phone records. They just resent it when the nefarious activity is revealed. When word got out that the government was snooping on domestic calls, the administration rushed into action, not to investigate the violation of the Constitution but to punish any government employees who might have leaked it to The Times.

Despite rumors and complaints about Dusty, Porter Goss once more went for a bad choice, installing Dusty in the inner circle of Gosslings, as the C.I.A. director's cronies were known.

No doubt trying to save himself, Mr. Goss asked Dusty to step down once he became publicly ensnared in a bribery scandal that includes a wild cast of poker-playing characters, like Duke Cunningham and the retired C.I.A. official Brant Bassett, a k a "Nine Fingers." He's said to have a prosthetic 10th finger to hide his identity during cloak-and-dagger operations.

Dusty's childhood friend Brent Wilkes, a defense contractor who has racked up almost $100 million in government contracts, is reported to have given Dusty's other pal, Nine Fingers, a $5,000 fee to go to Germany for a few days as a consultant on a business deal in 2000.

Investigators are looking into whether Mr. Foggo gave a contract to deliver bottled water to a C.I.A. office in Iraq to a relative of Mr. Wilkes, and whether Mr. Wilkes treated him to posh vacations in Hawaii and Florida.

In a scene that would impress even the "Law and Order" impresario Dick Wolf, investigators from the F.B.I., the I.R.S., the Defense Criminal Investigative Service and the C.I.A.'s inspector general showed up yesterday for the searches. Dusty's C.I.A. office and his house in a nearby Virginia suburb were examined.

The dolts at F.B.I. headquarters could not get it together to search Zacarias Moussaoui's computer before 9/11, but now we have the F.B.I. searching the C.I.A.

That's not progress.

 

If that kind of deep-seated corruption and incompetence requires a metaphysical solution, we could do worse than listen to Bill ('Neuromancer') Gibson - NSA PATTERN RECOG RADIO

making more progress .....

‘Two French special forces troops and a US soldier were
among 34 combatants killed in Afghanistan in a fresh upsurge of the deadliest
fighting since the removal of the Taliban in 2001. In the worst clash,
militants hiding in a vineyard ambushed an Afghan army convoy, shooting dead
four soldiers but losing 15 of their own. 

Fears of a resurgence of the
Taliban have been fuelled by a sharp rise in violence during recent weeks, much
of it in Helmand province, where 3,300 British troops are deploying. Some 120
people died in 24 hours last week before a brief respite, but attacks resumed
on Friday, claiming another 34 lives by Saturday afternoon.’ 

Afghanistan
Gripped By Worst Fighting Since 2001

precision targetting .....

US warplanes attacked an Afghan village, killing an
estimated 50 Taliban fighters. Villagers claim another “50
civilians had been killed
and dozens more wounded in the attack.”

losing the shine .....

‘While the Iraq war drags on, there is precious little
discussion of the other active theatre of operations: Afghanistan. 

Afghanistan is frequently touted as the
"un-Iraq," in the sense that the U.S. invasion of the country clearly
was linked to fighting al Qaeda, and the United States has fought as part of a
coalition. To drive that point home on Thursday, Canada voted (albeit by a
margin of only four votes) to extend its mission in Afghanistan. Others have
been indicating willingness to go on with their commitments there also. 

At the same time, a major Taliban
offensive is under way in Afghanistan. There was heavy fighting on Thursday
when Taliban forces attacked the town of Mosa Qala, 300 miles southwest of
Kabul. A suicide bomber attacked a convoy outside the city of Herat. Another
suicide bomber struck near the town of Ghazni. 

All told, Afghan government
reports set the death toll for the day at about 100. This does not count action
elsewhere that was not widely reported.’ 

The Other
Theatre Of Operations

an unfortunate accident .....

‘Sixty Taliban and five Afghan
security forces members were killed in a new clash in Afghanistan on Wednesday
as the US-led coalition defended itself against mounting criticism of civilian
deaths. 

Afghanistan’s main human rights
group said that witnesses and villagers claimed between 25 and 30 civilians
were killed in the strike, which it condemned as a “clear” violation of human
rights. Villagers have said the toll included children, with several homes
destroyed by bombs and scores of animals killed. 

A coalition spokesman defended
the force against intensive questioning from journalists, saying US warplanes
had used only “precision fire” from aircraft cannon and not bombs, adding that
its troops were being fired on and they had the right to defend themselves.’ 

65
Killed In Afghan Fighting
 

Meanwhile, Canadian Prime
Meanster, Stephen Harper, claimed that the death of the Afghan civilians was an
“unfortunate accident”. 

Attack
On Civilians In Afghanistan 'Unfortunate'

out of control .....

As a postscript to Gus' earlier report .....

‘Increasingly, there is the
perception in Afghanistan that the US military is out of control. That it
shoots first and cares little about the Afghani people. A teenager who works in
a copy store told me, "We want your help, we need your money and knowledge
to remake Afghanistan, but we don't want your military. 

An Afghani who just came back
from the streets tells me that hundreds of protesters marched on the palace of
US-backed President Hamid Karzai, shouting "Death to Karzai! Death to
America!" That reminds me that several weeks ago, one Afghani told me:
"Karzai is not our president, he is your puppet."’ 

Kabul Erupts In Gunfire

bushit nation-building .....

‘Something has gone alarmingly wrong in Afghanistan,
previously touted as the Bush administration's one quasi-successful venture in
nation-building. Afghanistan's rising carnage still has not reached Iraq-like
levels. But the trend is running in decidedly the wrong direction. Poorly
thought-out American policies are at least partly to blame. 

Unless Washington starts
correcting its mistakes, parts of Afghanistan could start tumbling back toward
the kind of anarchic chaos that once made such areas an attractive sanctuary
for international terrorists like Osama bin Laden.’ 

Afghanistan Unravelling

along the silk road .....

‘As fighting in Afghanistan has intensified over the past
three months, the U.S. military has conducted 340 airstrikes there, more than
twice the 160 carried out in the much higher-profile war in Iraq, according to
data from the Central Command, the U.S. military headquarters for the Middle
East. 

The airstrikes appear to have
increased in recent days as the United States and its allies have launched
counteroffensives against the Taliban in the south and southeast, strafing and
bombing a stronghold in Uruzgan province and pounding an area near Khost with
500-pound bombs. 

U.S. officials say the activity
is a response to an increasingly aggressive Taliban, whose leaders realize that
long-term trends are against them as the power of the Afghan central government
grows.’ 

U.S.
Airstrikes Rise In Afghanistan As Fighting Intensifies

so many bushit victories .....

“In their biggest show of
strength in nearly five years, pro-Taliban fighters are terrorising southern
Afghanistan - ambushing military patrols, assassinating opponents and even
enforcing the law in remote villages where they operate with near impunity.” 

Pakistani journalist Ahmed Rashid said about the
violence: “We are faced with a full-blown
insurgency
.”

defining freedom .....

Not
exactly a free press in Afghanistan:
“In a coordinated action this week," Afghan
intelligence operatives delivered an "unsigned letter" to TV stations
and newspapers "ordering
journalists to report more favorable news
about the government."

it's not looking good .....

‘Perhaps it’s time to offer a
short refresher course in Guerrilla War 101: 

- Air power works against you,
not for you. It kills lots of people who weren’t your enemy, recruiting their
relatives, friends and fellow tribesmen to become your enemies. In this kind of
war, bombers are as useful as 42 cm. siege mortars.

- Big, noisy offensives, launched
with lots of warning, achieve nothing. The enemy just goes to ground while you
pass on through, and he’s still there when you leave.

- Big Pushes are the opposite of
the "ink blot" strategy, which is the only thing that works, when
anything can. Putting the Big Push together with lots of bombing in
Afghanistan’s Pashtun country means we end up fighting most if not all of the
Pashtun. In Afghan wars, the Pashtun always win in the end.

- Quisling governments fail
because they cannot achieve legitimacy.

- You need closure, but your
guerilla enemy doesn’t. He not only can fight until Doomsday, he intends to do
just that – if not you, then someone else.

- The bigger the operations you
have to undertake, the more surely your enemy is winning.’

Aaugh!

career limiting moves .....

‘One of America's closest allies
says the war on terrorism fails to address its root causes.

Experts agreed with Afghan
President Hamid Karzai, saying Friday the major military offensive against the
Taliban will not fix Afghanistan's larger crises - a lack of reconstruction and
jobs, a booming drug trade, and a weak government.    

"You won't win unless you
can convince people that progress is being made," said Marvin Weinbaum, a
former State Department analyst now a scholar at the Washington-based Middle
East Institute.

"One of the things we
recognize is that we have failed to improve on the development side, especially
in the south. In the areas with the greatest need, we have not gotten the
reconstruction that was necessary." 

On Thursday, a clearly frustrated
Karzai criticized the coalition's anti-terror campaign, deploring the deaths of
hundreds of Afghans and appealing for more help for his government. The
coalition has killed hundreds, mostly Taliban militants, since May.

Karzai spokesman Khaleeq Ahmad
said Friday the president wanted the international community to reevaluate its
approach. 

"We want to fight
(terrorism) in a way that we fight the roots of it: where they get trained,
where they get equipment, where they get money, where the recruitment centers
are," he said.’

War Not Getting At
Terrorism Cause

the rodent is out of favour …..

Secretary of State, Condoleezza
Rice, met with Afghan President, Hamid Karzai, & declared: “I don't know
anyone who is more
admired and respected
in the international community than President
Karzai.”

Earlier this week, the Washington
Post reported: “Many Afghans & some foreign supporters say they are losing
faith in President Hamid Karzai's government
.

Heaven only knows how many "blue ones" cunning, conning Condoleezza is taking a day ..... but they sure seem to be effective in keeping her mind in a constant "altered state".

The Rodent is out of favour

Condeleezza better be careful with her daily dosage of "blue ones" because Michael Jackson had a lot of trouble after taking "white ones " for a prolonged period . John Howard is "one" , pill that is!

Puppet on a string

After all the hard, knee-scrubbing work for the White House, where's the equity?

From White House Memo: Bush's Farewell to Koizumi Is Also a Reward:

... Now that Mr. Koizumi, a huge Elvis Presley fan, is on his way out of office, Mr. Bush is giving him the ultimate going-away gift: a private presidential tour of Graceland. ...

Just for glorifying war criminals, too, and thereby needling China and Korea. Where was Our Leader's trip to Disneyland? Couldn't Rupert have put in a kind word? After all, Murdoch hints at election backing for Cameron

... "But for no reason other than the dynamics of British politics, we would like to see at least a year to 18 months stand-off between Gordon Brown and David Cameron so we can decide which of those most coincides with our views. ... "

Ah, the Westminster system at its best. Accountability ... to a newpaper proprietor! And Blair gets an invitation to the News knees-up.

Rupert's mouthpiece Greg Sheridan (our very own Krauthammer), in US sees us as a global ally, a vision well worth sharing:

... The redoubtable neo-conservative commentator Charles Krauthammer wrote a wonderful column in The Washington Post titled "Why I Love Australia". It was excerpted here on Monday and lavishly praised Australians for our political culture, especially forthrightness and courage in the war on terror. ...

Where Krauthammer-Murdoch sees a giant on the world stage, a mighty man of valour and steel, others see a termite, a pissant on a dunghill.

so much for "mission accomplished" .....

‘A report by a Paris-based international security and
policy advisory group, the Senlis Council, says that the US-led mission in
Afghanistan is failing because US policies on eradicating the Afghan poppy crop
aren't working. 

The Independent reports that the
group, which specializes in drug policies, predicts violence in the south of
the country will escalate because the Taliban has been so effective at
exploiting the anger "felt by farmers at the destruction of opium crops
and by civilians who have suffered in US-led operations."

Lt-Gen David Richards, the
British officer who is due to take over all NATO operations in Afghanistan with
US troops under his command, warned the crop eradication program was driving
farmers into the hands of the Taliban and the Western forces are creating new
enemies.

Last week Hamid Karzai, the
[Afghan] president, levelled unprecedented criticism at the US-led coalition's
tactics, deploring the deaths of hundreds of his countrymen and women while the
Taliban grows in strength. About 600 people have been killed this year.

The United Nations says more than
90 percent of the world's heroin supply comes from Afghanistan.’

US-Led Afghan
Mission Is Failing

the "value" of history .....

‘British troops are facing a
"worrying" deterioration in the security situation across two fronts
in their fight against international terrorism, MPs warned yesterday.

The cross-party Commons foreign affairs
committee said conditions in both Afghanistan and Iraq had worsened in recent
weeks.

In a gloomy assessment of the international
"war on terrorism", the committee said Iraqi forces were "a long
way" from being able to take over responsibility for security in their
country.

At the same time, it warned that the British
mission in Afghanistan was in danger of "blurring" its twin
objectives of fighting insurgents and tackling the drugs barons.’

Mistakes Of Iraq Are
Being Replicated In Afghan Battle

For those too young to remember

A fall guy takes the wrap for the "policies" of the President, but obviously his deeds were designed to promote US foreign policies of the time... At the time of the deeds, Iran and Iraq were ar war, with Iraq being overtly supported by the US and other western nations... This no more than 20 years ago

Nothing much has changed with Dubya's present policies, except the extra contemptuous sauce on the populace...

From the BBC archives (anniversary of the judgement)

1989: Irangate colonel avoids prison
Former White House aide Oliver North has escaped jail for his part in the Iran-Contra affair.
The decorated Vietnam veteran was convicted of three - out of 12 - charges relating to illegal United States' support for the Contra rebels in Nicaragua in the mid-1980s.
He received a three-year suspended prison sentence, two years on probation, 1,200 hours' community service with inner city drugs projects and a $150,000 (£94,000) fine.

read more at the BBC

The story from Wikipedia...

Background
In the late 1970s and early 1980s, the Middle East faced frequent hostage-taking incidents by militant organizations. In 1979, Iranian students took hostage sixty-six employees of the United States embassy in Iran. On January 20, 1981, the same day Ronald Reagan became President, the hostages were freed when several demands were met. Hostage taking in the Middle East did not end there, however. [5]

In 1983, members of Al-Dawa ("The Call"), a pro-Iranian militant organization, were imprisoned for their part in a series of truck bombs in Kuwait. In response to the imprisonment, an ally of Al-Dawa, Hezbollah took thirty hostages, [6] six of whom were American. Hezbollah demanded the release of the prisoners for these hostages. Members of the Reagan Administration believed that by selling arms to Iran, Iran would influence the Hezbollah kidnappers in Lebanon to release their hostages. At the time, Iran was in the midst of the Iran-Iraq War and could find few nations willing to supply it with weapons. [7] It would also, according to National Security Adviser Robert McFarlane, improve strained relations with Iran. For that reason, President Reagan authorized the transfer of weapons to Iran.

In summer 1985, [8] Michael Ledeen, a consultant of Robert McFarlane, asked Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres for help in the sale of arms to Iran. The Israel government required that the sale of arms meet the approval of the United States government, and when it was convinced that the U.S. government approved the sale by Robert McFarlane, Israel obliged by agreeing to sell the arms. [9] In July 1985, Israel sent American-made BGM-71 TOW (Tube-launched, Optically-tracked, Wire-guided) anti-tank missiles to Iran for the release of Reverend Benjamin Weir; Weir was released. Despite the fact that arms were being sold to Iran, only Weir was released. This resulted in the failure of Ledeen's plan [5] with only three shipments through Israel. [9]

Robert McFarlane resigned in December 1985[10]. He was replaced by Admiral John Poindexter. On the day of McFarlane's resignation, Oliver North, a military aide to the United States National Security Council (NSC), proposed a new plan for selling arms to Iran. This time, there were two new ideas. Instead of selling arms through Israel, the sale was to be direct. Second, the proceeds from the sale would go to the Contras at a markup. Oliver North wanted a $15 million markup, and Manucher Ghorbanifar added a 41% markup of his own. [11] Other members of the NSC were in favor of North's plan, though none of them decided to let the President know of the plan. John Poindexter authorized the plan, and it went into effect. [8]

At first, the Iranians refused to buy the arms at the inflated price because of the excessive markup imposed by Oliver North and Manucher Ghorbanifar, but the arms were eventually sold in February with the shipment of 1000 TOW missiles to Iran. From May to November 1986, there were additional shipments of miscellaneous weapons and parts.[citation needed] The total of all arms sales was less than a planeload[4].

The plan went ahead, and proceeds from the arms sales went to the Contras, a group engaged in an insurgency against the Marxist Sandinista government of Nicaragua that came to power in a revolution against the dictator Somoza. The diversion was coordinated by Oliver North of the National Security Council. The sale of arms to the Iranians resulted in large amounts of cash for this purpose. Supporting the Contras financially was an effort to assist them in their fight against the Nicaraguan government.

Both the sale of weapons to Iran and the funding of the Contras violated stated Administration policy and legislation passed by the Congress, known as the "Boland Amendment," enacted by Congress over concerns of widespread human rights abuses by the Contras.[12]

Lieutenant-Colonel Oliver North testifying at the Iran-Contra hearings.
While not accomplishing the intended purpose of releasing the hostages in Lebanon, the aborted deal caused political strife in the United States when the details became public knowledge.

The Lebanese magazine Ash-Shiraa exposed the arrangement on November 3, 1986. This was the first public reporting of the weapons-for-hostages deal. The operation was discovered only after an airlift of guns was downed over Nicaragua. The Iranian government confirmed the story, and ten days after the story was first published, President Ronald Reagan affirmed the truth of the matter. In a televised speech, on November 13, Reagan confirmed the sale of weapons to Iran, but denied it was in exchange for hostages. Reagan maintained his Administration would never conduct such deals. "Our government has a firm policy not to capitulate to terrorist demands.... We did not—repeat, did not—trade weapons or anything else for hostages, nor will we" remarked Reagan in his speech.

The scandal was compounded when on November 21, Oliver North and his secretary Fawn Hall shredded pertinent documents. US Attorney General Edwin Meese admitted on November 25 that profits from weapons sales to Iran were made available to assist the Contra rebels in Nicaragua. On the same day, John Poindexter resigned, and Oliver North was fired. Poindexter was replaced by Frank Carlucci on December 2, 1986. [13

Tower Commission

On December 1, 1986, President Reagan, faced with mounting pressure from Congressional Democrats and the media, announced that former Senator John Tower, former Secretary of State Edmund Muskie, and former National Security Adviser Brent Scowcroft would serve as members of a Special Review Board looking into the matter; this Presidential Commission became known as the Tower Commission. The commission was the first presidential commission to review and evaluate the National Security Council. The objectives of the Tower Commission were to inquire into "the circumstances surrounding the Iran-Contra matter, other case studies that might reveal strengths and weaknesses in the operation of the National Security Council system under stress, and the manner in which that system has served eight different Presidents since its inception in 1947." [14]

President Reagan appeared before the Tower Commission on December 2, 1986, to answer questions. His answers were not entirely consistent, and he was plagued with poor memory, because the questions were regarding details that occurred months and years prior. [13]

The report published by the Tower Commission, known as the Tower Commission Report, was delivered to the President on February 26, 1987. It criticized the actions of Oliver North, John Poindexter, Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger and others. It did not determine that the President had knowledge of the extent of the program, although it argued that the President ought to have had better control of the National Security Council staff. The wording of the report surprised some since it was expected to have been weak in its criticism of the President. Instead, it heavily criticized President Reagan for not properly supervising his subordinates. The U.S. Congress issued its own report on November 18, 1987, which stated that the President bore "ultimate responsibility" for wrongdoing by his aides, and his Administration exhibited "secrecy, deception and disdain for the law." A major result of the Tower Commission was the consensus that Reagan should have listened to his National Security Advisor more, thereby placing more power in the hands of that chair. The National Security Advisor was to be seen as an "honest broker" and not someone who would use their position to further their political agenda.

Some doubted the intentions of the Tower Commission and believed that it was a political stunt.[citation needed] The commission limited its criticism of Vice President George Bush.[citation needed] Subsequently, the head of the commission, John Tower, was nominated to the position of Secretary of Defense by Bush when he became President. He was not confirmed by the Senate. Brent Scowcroft was named National Security Advisor. [15]

Aftermath

Oliver North and John Poindexter were indicted on multiple charges on March 16, 1988. North, indicted on twelve counts, was found guilty by a jury of three minor counts. The convictions were vacated on appeal on the grounds that North's Fifth Amendment rights may have been violated by the indirect use of his testimony to Congress which had been given under a grant of immunity. In 1990, Poindexter was convicted on several felony counts of lying to Congress, obstruction of justice, conspiracy, and altering and destroying documents pertinent to the investigation. His convictions were also overturned on appeal on similar grounds. The Independent Counsel, Lawrence E. Walsh, chose not to re-try North or Poindexter. Weinberger was indicted for allegedly lying to the Independent Counsel but was later pardoned by President George H.W. Bush.

Faced with undeniable evidence of his involvement in the scandal, Reagan expressed regret regarding the situation at a nationally televised White House press conference on March 4, 1987. Responding to questions, Reagan stated that his previous assertions that the U.S. did not trade arms for hostages were incorrect. He also stated that the Vice President knew of the plan.

Reagan survived the scandal, and his approval ratings returned to previous levels; as the scandal broke in 1986, "Reagan's approval rating plummeted to 46%", but he later "finished strong with a December 1988 Gallup poll recording a 63% approval rating".[1]

Separation of powers

The Iran-Contra Affair is significant because it brought many questions into public view that continue to resonate today:

Does the President have unconditional authority to conduct foreign policy over the objection of Congress and the laws it passes?
Can the President approve selling arms to a foreign nation without congressional approval?
What information does the President have to provide to Congress and when should that information be supplied?
What information does the President have to provide the American people?
Can the President present factually incorrect information to the American people about key foreign policy initiatives if he believes his motives are just?
What authority does Congress have to oversee functions of the executive branch?
Does funding for foreign policy initiatives have to be approved by Congress?
Who defines the entire spending budget and who regulates it?
Is the provision of the 1978 Ethics in Government Act that creates the position of independent counsel answering to the Attorney General, constitutional?
What role does the Supreme Court have in deciding conflicts between the legislative branch and executive branch?
How much support is America entitled to provide to armed opposition forces seeking to replace governments with ones more sympathetic to the United States?
Most, if not all, of the constitutional and ethical questions are still unresolved. On one view, it appears that if the legislative and executive branches do not wish to work together, there are no legal remedies.

These unresolved issues were again in the public eye during the Presidency of George W. Bush, who selected some individuals implicated in the Iran-Contra scandal for high-level posts. These include:

Elliott Abrams: under Bush the Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director on the National Security Council for Near East and North African Affairs; in Iran Contra, pleaded guilty on two counts of unlawfully withholding information, pardoned
Otto Reich: head of the Office of Public Diplomacy under Reagan
John Negroponte: under Bush, the National Intelligence Director
Admiral John Poindexter: under Bush Director of the Information Awareness Office; in Iran Contra found guilty of multiple felony counts for conspiracy, obstruction of justice, lying to Congress, defrauding the government, and the alteration and destruction of evidence, convictions reversed
Contra drug links

Senator John Kerry's 1988 U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations report on Contra-drug links concluded that "senior U.S. policy makers were not immune to the idea that drug money was a perfect solution to the Contras' funding problems." [2] Kerry was suspicious of North's connection with Manuel Noriega, Panama's drug-baron. According to the National Security Archive, Oliver North had been in contact with Noriega who had previously worked for the CIA from 1950 to 1986, and had met him personally.

side order salad

One of the premises also underlying the tragic outrageous events mentioned in the blog above, was to actually "weaken" both Iran and Iraq... By losing soldiers hand over fist (more than one million on each side), that war "fought with full approval of western nations for Iraq" against Iran, was good for business as well. On one hand weapons, tactical intelligence were provided to BOTH sides and it placed both countries at disadvantage when negotiating the sell price of petrol since they were becoming weaker in the process... Very smart, the old Yankee... In the meantime blood got spilled by the gallon in the trenches... but what's the heck... a buck is a buck is a buck...

ooooops .....

‘Something has gone terribly
wrong in Afghanistan. The heaviest fighting there since the 2001 U.S. invasion
has recently erupted. Many Americans, who were then assured by neocons and
their media trumpets that their nation had triumphantly won the war in
Afghanistan and crushed the Taliban, are dismayed and bewildered.

In 2001, unable to withstand
high-tech U.S. forces, Taliban’s leader, Mullah Omar, ordered his men, who had
been fighting the Afghan Communists and pro-Russian Tajiks, to disband,
exchange their black turbans for white ones, and blend into the civilian
population.

At the time, this writer, who
covered the 1980’s Great Jihad in Afghanistan and ensuing birth of Taliban,
warned war would resume in about four years, just as it did after the 1979
Soviet invasion. This prediction was greeted with jeers, and accusations of
idiocy and lack of patriotism.

Now, as predicted, Taliban forces
have taken the offensive against U.S. and NATO troops, often employing deadly
new tactics, like roadside and suicide bombs, learned from Iraq’s resistance.
Casualties are mounting on both sides.’

The War In
Afghanistan Is Only The Beginning

the meaning of winning .....

US-led troops are facing intense resistance in Southern Afghanistan, where the Taliban has recently captured two towns & is now believed to operate freely. The violence forced police and government officials to flee.

another bushit joke .....

‘Opium cultivation in Afghanistan has hit record levels - up by more than 40 percent from 2005 - despite hundreds of millions in counter narcotics money, Western officials told The Associated Press.

The increase could have serious repercussions for an already grave security situation, with drug lords joining the Taliban-led fight against Afghan and international forces.

A Western anti-narcotics official in Kabul said about 370,650 acres of opium poppy was cultivated this season - up from 257,000 acres in 2005 - citing their preliminary crop projections. The previous record was 323,700 acres in 2004, according to the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime.

"It is a significant increase from last year ... unfortunately, it is a record year," said a senior U.S. government official based in Kabul, who like the other Western officials would speak only on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive topic.

Final figures, and an estimate of the yield of opium resin from the poppies, will be clear only when the U.N. agency completes its assessment of the crop, based on satellite imagery and ground surveys. Its report is due in September.

The U.N. reported last year that Afghanistan produced an estimated 4,500 tons of opium - enough to make 450 tons of heroin - nearly 90 percent of world supply.

This year's preliminary findings indicate a failure in attempts to eradicate poppy cultivation and continuing corruption among provincial officials and police - problems acknowledged by President Hamid Karzai.

Karzai told Fortune magazine in a recent interview that "lots of people" in his administration profited from the narcotics trade and that he had underestimated the difficulty of eradicating opium production.

The U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime estimate that opium accounted for 52 percent of Afghanistan's gross domestic product in 2005.

Afghan Opium Cultivation Hits A Record

Booming economy

From the New York Times

Opium Harvest at Record Level in Afghanistan

By CARLOTTA GALL
Published: September 3, 2006
KABUL, Afghanistan, Sept. 2 — Afghanistan’s opium harvest this year has reached the [http://www.nytimes.com/2006/09/03/world/asia/03afghan.html?ei=5094&en=e4c4803388ba1e0d&hp=&ex=1157256000&partner=homepage&pagewanted=all|highest levels ever] recorded, showing an increase of almost 50 percent from last year, the executive director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Antonio Maria Costa, said Saturday in Kabul.
He described the figures as “alarming” and “very bad news” for the Afghan government and international donors who have poured millions of dollars into programs to reduce the poppy crop since 2001.
--------------------
Gus: Other news reports indicate that the production of opium in Afghanistan is somewhat bigger than the entire world consumption... who knows, with so much of this crap on the market, the price will fall below the floor boards thus making it unprofitable and too dicey considering the successes of the "War against drugs"...
Just joking... The drugs lords seem be the good teachers to the oil barons. They know a trick or two and will make sure the supply on the street is scarce while the production costs plummet, thus maximising profits...
Now, to the weapon's trade...

scarcier poppies before 2001

Strange... During the Taliban control of Afghanistan, this bunch of fundamentalist loonies managed to reduce the growing of poppies in that country... But since the glorious intervention of the West, despite the millions of dollars spend trying to contain the resurgence of the crop (it's a free market, isn't it?), poppy growing represents a staggering 35 per cent of the GDP (counting the black market) of Afghanistan... today more than 6100 tonnes of opium has been produce compared to 2500 tonnes before the US led war... an increase of 250 per cent... but then the economy was not so good...

From [http://www.afghan-web.com/economy/econstate.html|Afghanistan Online]
Source: Afghanistan Outlook (1999)
Office of the UN Coordinator for Afghanistan
General overview
The extent of destruction: Afghanistan’s economy has seen widespread destruction over the past two decades of war. Most of the major formal social, administrative and economic institutions of the country have fallen apart due to the Soviet occupation, population displacement, and continued heavy fighting among various mujahidden factions in 1992. The nation’s transportation and communication systems, heavy and small-scale industries, education and agricultural infrastructure are among the most seriously damaged sectors that need a tremendous amount of investment when peace and stability return to the country. At present, it would be difficult to expect significant improvement in the economic situation of the country.
Deterioration of the situation: This economic decline has exacerbated the level of poverty and economic hardship throughout the country. Largely dependent on subsistence agriculture, the country has witnessed diminishing income levels, declining food security, reduced access to urgently needed services and an increasing population.
Regional disparities: A wide range of disparities exists between different regions and within each region. While Herat, Jalalabad and Kandahar have largely benefited from cross-border trading with neighbouring countries, the northern provinces, in particular the isolated and chronic food deficit provinces of Badakhshan and Bamyan, have been badly affected by natural disasters and heavy fighting that took place in August and September 1998. The Taliban authorities reportedly blockade the provinces of Parwan and Kapisa, which has caused a tremendous increase in prices of essential items.
The changing state of the economy: Previously, the Government of Afghanistan controlled the economy and major investments were made in the public sector. The private sector was active in agriculture and trade activities. During the course of the past two decades, the reduced role of the central government has encouraged the private sector to play a prime role in the nation’s traditional economic activities. The potential for further improvement of the private sector is still high and a large number of Afghan businessmen and traders might be interested in investing in small-scale industries provided that security and stability exist. However, this depends on the decision of the future governments of the country and the economic policy they may chalk out.
Vulnerability to outside forces: The Afghan economy has always remained vulnerable to policy decisions adopted by its neighbouring countries. In the past, even when peace and stability were in place, the country’s economy depended on economic relations with the former USSR. In recent years, the country has become vulnerable to policy decisions made in Pakistan. An obvious example of such a change can be seen in the markets: an increase in prices of essential commodities in Pakistan led to further increase in prices in Kabul, Jalalabad and Kandahar. (See table 2 and figure 2 below.) Also, the unofficial devaluation of the Pakistani currency during 1998 further reduced the value of the Afghan currency. Establishment of a central authority: The Taliban movement has established a nominal government in most parts of the country, which is not yet recognised by the international community except Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and UAE. At present, no reliable information is available on economic indicators such as national income, the government budget, foreign trade, inflation rate, income distribution, employment, current level of GDP, GNP, or balance of payments.

The current status of the economy[1999]
Despite continued destruction, blockades of some of the supply routes and fighting in various parts of the country, trade and agriculture remained active. The section below provides a more elaborate study of agriculture and trade activities and their role in sustaining the Afghan economy.
Agriculture
Increase in cereal production: Agriculture forms the largest sector of the economy and the source of livelihood for over 85% of the population. With the return of security to most parts of the country, following the Taliban's control over 75-80 percent of the territory, agricultural production has increased over the past few years. The Crop and Food Supply Assessment carried out by a FAO/WFP mission in 1997 and in May 1998 estimated the last two years’ cereal production to be the highest in the past several years. The total 1998 cereal production was estimated to be 3.85 million tonnes, which is 5 percent higher than 1997, and perhaps the largest since 1978. The farmers' response to high cereal prices of the year before (US$ 300 per tonne), favourable precipitation during winter and spring, and enhanced security are cited as the main factors for the increase. In the north, surplus cereal could not be moved to Kabul, Bamyan or Badakhshan provinces where food scarcity and high prices for grain prevailed due to the blockade of the supply routes. This led to a reduction in the price of wheat and other major cereals in the northern provinces.
Food imports/dependency: A large segment of the Afghan population still depends on food imported from abroad or that distributed by the aid community. The total import requirement for the period of June 1998 to July 1999 is estimated by FAO at 740,000 tonnes, of which an estimated 140,000 tonnes of wheat would be food assistance provided by the international community. The bulk of the remaining imported food comes from Pakistan via Torkham in the east and Chaman in the south, as well as through a few small border points in the southeast. Table 1 in Annex 1 shows the yield and production of main crops for 1997/98 and 1998/99.
Increase in livestock production: Livestock forms a main source of the household economy in rural areas. Many families in rural areas sell their livestock to purchase wheat during the spring months when they run out of stocks. While this sector has sustained enormous loss due to prolonged hostilities, there are indications that livestock production has improved over the past few years, especially in areas under the control of the Taliban. Table 2 in Annex 1 shows the estimated number and type of major livestock produced in Afghanistan during 1998.
Decrease in poppy yields: While cereal production has increased there seems to be a significant decrease in poppy yields during 1998. According to UNDCP Annual Opium Poppy Survey of 1998, although there was a 9 percent increase in poppy cultivation, UNDCP estimated a 25 percent reduction in poppy yields when compared to 1997. The total opium production for 1998 was estimated at 2,102 tonnes against a total of 2,804 tonnes in 1997. This reduction in the level of poppy production was reported to be due to unusual climatic conditions such as heavy and continuous rains and hailstorms in some of the major poppy producing provinces.

From the same site different [http://www.afghan-web.com/economy/|section]
Afghanistan is one of the world's poorest countries. Many years of war and political instability have left the country in ruins, and dependent on foreign aid. The main source of income in the country is agriculture, and during its good years, Afghanistan produces enough food and food products to provide for the people, as well as to create a surplus for export. The major food crops produced are: corn, rice, barley, wheat, vegetables, fruits and nuts. In Afghanistan, industry is also based on agriculture, and pastoral raw materials. The major industrial crops are: cotton, tobacco, madder, castor beans, and sugar beets. Sheep farming is also extremely valuable. The major sheep product exports are wool, and highly prized Karakul skins. Afghanistan is a land that is rich in natural resources. There are numerous mineral and precious stone deposits, as well as natural gas and yet untapped petroleum stores. Some of these resources have been exploited, while others have remained relatively unexploited. [Gus' bold]

Other Facts
The unit of money in Afghanistan is the Afghani (AFA), divided into 100 puls.
The fiscal year is from 21 March—20 March.
Export Partners: US, France, India, Pakistan
Import Partners: Pakistan, South Korea, Japan, Germany, Turkmenistan, Kenya, US, Russia
External debt: $8 billion
GDP: $4 billion (2002-03 est.).
Per capita GDP: $180-$190 (based on 22 million population estimate).
Purchasing parity power: $19 billion (2002 est.)
GDP growth: 28.6% (2002-03 est.)

Current figures from the CIA fact book ([https://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/geos/af.html)
Afghanistan's economic outlook has improved significantly since the fall of the Taliban regime in 2001 because of the infusion of over $8 billion in international assistance, recovery of the agricultural sector and growth of the service sector, and the reestablishment of market institutions. Real GDP growth is estimated to have slowed in the last fiscal year primarily because adverse weather conditions cut agricultural production, but is expected to rebound over 2005-06 because of foreign donor reconstruction and service sector growth. Despite the progress of the past few years, Afghanistan remains extremely poor, landlocked, and highly dependent on foreign aid, farming, and trade with neighboring countries. It will probably take the remainder of the decade and continuing donor aid and attention to significantly raise Afghanistan's living standards from its current status, among the lowest in the world. Much of the population continues to suffer from shortages of housing, clean water, electricity, medical care, and jobs, but the Afghan government and international donors remain committed to improving access to these basic necessities by prioritizing infrastructure development, education, housing development, jobs programs, and economic reform over the next year. Growing political stability and continued international commitment to Afghan reconstruction create an optimistic outlook for continuing improvements in the Afghan economy in 2006. Expanding poppy cultivation and a growing opium trade may account for one-third of GDP and looms as one of Kabul's most serious policy challenges. Other long-term challenges include: boosting the supply of skilled labor, reducing vulnerability to severe natural disasters, expanding health services, and rebuilding a war torn infrastructure.
------------------------
Gus: Hopefully, things will improve but with the war still going on, with the West immersed in meddling, one can only regret we (US-CIA) fought with the Taliban to stop the communists win...
A) it would have reduced the fundamentalist problem
B) We would not have to try and play cops in a region where few people respect cops
C) We could deal with a legitimate government rather than deal with a non-respected puppet outside of Kabul...

But then we (the US, etc.) want to control everythink, don't we?

Now who controls these informal financial networks?:
(Still from the CIA fact book..) world's largest producer of opium; cultivation dropped 48% to 107,400 hectares in 2005; better weather and lack of widespread disease returned opium yields to normal levels, meaning potential opium production declined by only 10% to 4,475 metric tons; if the entire poppy crop were processed, it is estimated that 526 metric tons of heroin could be processed; source of hashish; many narcotics-processing labs throughout the country; drug trade source of instability and some antigovernment groups profit from the trade; 80-90% of the heroin consumed in Europe comes from Afghan opium; vulnerable to narcotics money laundering through informal financial networks.

-----------------
Gus: hum... Pipelines, oil, minerals, goodies... This Afghanistan looks like an old fashioned store with lots of treasures buried in it...
Is this why were fiddling with it... How come with the presence of troops, are poppy fields popping everywhere? So many questions, so little answers... and more meddle... Yep times have changed a lot since the 1830s when the Brits were the traders of opium...

From Wikipedia
Opium was used for treating asthma, stomach illnesses, and bad eye sight. The Opium Wars between China and imperialist Britain took place in the late 1830s when the Chinese attempted to stop the sale of opium by Britain, in China.