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Cooking the Books: The Federal Bureau of Narcotics, the China Lobby and Cold War Propaganda, 1950-1962 [Asia-Pacific Journal / Sweet & Sour Socialism Essential Archives]

Posted in "War on Drugs" pretext, Afghanistan, Anti-China propaganda exposure, Anti-communism, Black propaganda, China, China-bashing, CIA, Colombia, Connection to drugs and narcotics, Cuba, Hong Kong, Iran, Japan, Karzai puppet regime corruption, Korean War, Law enforcement, Media smear campaign, Myanmar, Nicaragua, Panama, PLA, Sweet and Sour Socialism Essential Archives, Syria, Taiwan, Thailand, US Government Cover-up, US imperialism, USA, Venezuela on April 20, 2014 by Zuo Shou / 左手

The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol. 11, Issue 37, No. 1, September 14, 2013.

Jonathan Marshall

As influential contributors to national policy, intelligence professionals inevitably face strong political and bureaucratic pressures to shape their assessments to fit official or factional policy. In the modern era, such pressures have contributed to costly, even disastrous, escalations of the Vietnam War, the arms race, and, most notoriously, Washington’s conflict with Saddam Hussein’s Iraq.2

Intelligence on the international narcotics menace has been particularly subject to such pressures ever since U.S. leaders vowed to wage “war” on the illicit drug trade more than a half century ago.3 In recent years, influential interest groups and policy makers have leveled epithets like “narco-terrorism” and “narco-communism” against targets such as Cuba, Nicaragua, Iran, Panama, Syria, the Taliban, and Venezuela to justify harsh policies ranging from economic sanctions to armed invasion, while ignoring or downplaying evidence implicating U.S. allies (the Nicaraguan Contras, the Afghan mujahedeen and Karzai administration, the Colombian military, and so forth).4 Given the stakes, critical scrutiny of such claims, and rigorous attention to de-politicizing intelligence on international narcotics matters, may be as vital to preventing foreign policy disasters as is ensuring sound intelligence on more traditional matters of national security.

To shed historical light on the dangers of turning international drug enforcement into a political weapon, this paper re-examines a classic case of alleged manipulation of narcotics intelligence: the vilification of Communist China by U.S. Commissioner of Narcotics Harry J. Anslinger at the height of the Cold War. His inflammatory rhetoric denouncing the People’s Republic of China (PRC) as an evil purveyor of narcotics went largely unchallenged in the Western media during the 1950s and early 1960s, when Anslinger acted as America’s leading drug enforcement official and its official representative to the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND). As we shall see, his charges strongly reinforced Washington’s case for diplomatic isolation of China, including its exclusion from the United Nations.

In 1971, as relations between Washington and Beijing began to thaw, the official U.S. line on China’s responsibility for drug trafficking abruptly reversed. At about the same time, a young scholar named Alfred McCoy published an authoritative volume on the modern history of the international heroin trade, contesting Anslinger’s claims and pinning blame for much of the traffic on U.S. military allies in Southeast Asia.5 Since then a number of historians have endorsed McCoy’s conclusions and characterized Anslinger’s conduct as the work of a master bureaucrat (or ideologue) bent on augmenting his agency’s prestige and power by inflating Cold War stereotypes of the PRC.6

This paper reexamines and extends their work by asking the question made famous by Tennessee Sen. Howard Baker during the Watergate hearings: What did he know, and when did he know it? As Kevin F. Ryan has observed, “it is unclear how much the FBN actually knew about [China’s involvement in] the international narcotics trade (and how much was simply convenient rhetoric) . . .”7 McCoy and most subsequent historians have relied on ex post rejections of Anslinger’s claims by U.S. and foreign law enforcement officials in the aftermath of the opening to China. But can we be sure Anslinger had no evidence to support his charges? If so, did Anslinger simply invent his claims, or did other interested parties feed him misleading or false information? And, equally important, what did Anslinger know but choose to ignore about drug trafficking by American allies, including those covertly backed by the Central Intelligence Agency?

New evidence, including recently declassified files of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics and Central Intelligence Agency, along with overlooked public materials from that period, sheds important new light on the state of Anslinger’s knowledge and probable motives. The records, unavailable to or unused by previous historians, provide strong new confirmation of Anslinger’s manipulation of intelligence to serve both his agency’s bureaucratic interests and a militantly anti-Communist foreign policy agenda at the expense of genuine narcotics enforcement. They leave open the possibility that Chinese traffickers continued to smuggle opiates out of the mainland into the 1950s, but do not challenge what is widely accepted today about the communist government’s attempt to suppress cultivation and trafficking…

— Anslinger’s Questionable Sources: the SCAP Connection —

…In reassessing the credibility of Anslinger’s claims, one of the most striking facts to note is that Anslinger had no full-time agents stationed in the Far East until 1962.37 (The U.S. Customs service had jurisdiction over narcotics investigations in the region, with offices in Hong Kong and Japan.)38 He thus depended heavily on agents of friendly governments — and particularly on partisan intelligence sources connected with U.S. occupation forces in Japan (SCAP) and Nationalist China.

Anslinger acknowledged that SCAP intelligence provided among “the first reports we received about the Communist narcotic smuggling in the Far East.”39 He made a SCAP account of heroin trafficking in Japan the centerpiece of his first all-out assault against Communist China before the CND in May 1952.40 The report declared that “Investigations, arrests, and seizures in Japan during 1951 proved conclusively that communists are smuggling heroin from China to Japan, and are using the proceeds from the sale thereof to finance party activities and to obtain strategic materials for China.” In support of that strong claim, it [among other allegations] cited one seizure of heroin that carried the seals of a pharmaceutical laboratory in northern China. But more than a half dozen other cases cited in the document simply involved heroin smuggled into Japan from Hong Kong — typically by Chinese from Taiwan (“Formosans”). Evidently, for Anslinger, heroin carried from British-controlled Hong Kong by smugglers from Nationalist-controlled Taiwan was proof of a Communist conspiracy…

…neither SCAP intelligence nor its sources could ever be considered “reliable,” except politically…42

–Anslinger and the China Lobby–

Many of Anslinger’s detailed allegations about large opium-growing regions in China, heroin laboratories in Chinese cities, and smuggling directives by Chinese government agencies originated from Nationalist China, whose representative to the CND issued grandiose allegations against the mainland’s new Communist masters.55 In 1951 Nationalist China provided the CND laboratory with its only “authenticated” samples of opium from the mainland. These samples were in turn used to implicate the PRC whenever the lab found a chemical match with opium seized by a member nation, including the United States. This stunning conflict of interest — perhaps fraud is not too strong a word — was uncovered only in 1963 following an inquiry by the Polish representative to the CND.56

Anslinger’s uncritical reliance on intelligence from Nationalist China was all the more irresponsible because he knew all about that regime’s own sordid history of profiting from the drug trade. Throughout much of the 1930s, a senior Treasury agent based in China sent Anslinger voluminous, detailed reports implicating senior government officials in opium trafficking. Indeed, history Chiang Kai-shek rise to power was smoothed by the muscle and financial support of China’s most infamous criminal syndicate, the Green Gang.57

In the 1950s, Anslinger collaborated closely with the “China Lobby,” a network of Nationalist Chinese officials and American supporters who sought to maintain high levels of aid to Taiwan while denying diplomatic recognition to the PRC…

…Anslinger helped the China Lobby in another key respect — by delegitimizing serious charges that some of its own personnel were tainted by the illegal drug trade. In 1960, Anslinger helped the Taiwan regime suppress publication of the first scholarly study of the China Lobby, because it contained the sensational claim:

There is . . . considerable evidence that a number of [Nationalist] Chinese officials engaged in the illegal smuggling of narcotics into the United States with the full knowledge and connivance of the Nationalist Chinese Government. The evidence indicates that several prominent Americans have participated in and profited from these transactions. It indicates further that the narcotics business has been an important factor in the activities and permutations of the China Lobby…61

–The FBI, Customs and CIA v. Anslinger–

Most Americans were in no position to question Anslinger’s assertions about China. Out of public view, however, many official experts in the U.S. and allied governments rejected his claims—including some in his own bureau.

The British Foreign Office, for example, dismissed his sources, which included Nationalist Chinese press accounts and claims by arrested traffickers in Japan, as “very dubious.” British Home Office official John Henry Walker privately derided Anslinger’s “annual onslaughts on Red China” as largely unsubstantiated and speculated that Anslinger sought to grab headlines because he was “under pressure in Washington and having to fight to keep his job…”70

–What the FBN Knew about the CIA and the Golden Triangle Drug Trade–

[I’ve excerpted this particularly sensational section which is quite long, but highly recommend reading it in its entirely – Zuo Shou]

It is notable that the single biggest redaction from the 1956 CIA study, when it was quietly declassified several decades later, concerns Thailand. For it was the CIA’s assets in Thailand who bore more responsibility than any other group in the “Golden Triangle” for the resurgence of the opium trade after the Communist victory in China in 1949. It is thus critical to explore what Anslinger must have known but chose not to disclose about the CIA’s drug-trafficking allies in the region.

Several excellent studies of the Golden Triangle in the 1950s provide rich background — without necessarily answering the question of what Anslinger knew.79 In brief, by January 1950, the People’s Liberation Army had driven thousands of Chinese Nationalist soldiers from the Eighth and Twenty-Sixth armies out of Yunnan province into Burma and French Indochina. In northeast Burma, more than 10,000 men under the command of General Li Mi found sanctuary in the wild hill country settled by minority peoples, many of whom cultivated opium as a traditional cash crop. Having themselves profited from opium for many years in Yunnan, the KMT forces — named for the Kuomintang party that ruled Nationalist China — began trafficking once again from Burma, both to make ends meet and to finance their schemes to reconquer China.

Washington’s interest in using Li Mi’s forces to contain the Chinese Communists soared after the start of the Korean War. By direction from President Truman in December 1950, the CIA secretly began supplying the KMT by air and with ground caravans through Thailand.80 Security was provided by the CIA-backed Thai national police, who in turn were eager to market the KMT’s opium to the legal Thai national opium monopoly and to international traffickers.

After several hapless forays by the KMT into southern China in 1951 and early 1952, Washington gave up serious hope of using them to roll back Communism in China. Meanwhile, as the CIA’s “covert” mission became widely known, U.S. relations with Burma worsened and Washington grew alarmed at the possibility of a retaliatory invasion by Communist China.81 The United States tried in vain to persuade the KMT forces to decamp for Taiwan, but the Chinese insisted on staying put — and in the words of one U.S. ambassador, “continuing nefarious operations in Burma and Thailand including opium smuggling racket.”82 Tabling preparations for war, they focused instead on building a drug empire that helped boost the region’s opium exports from an estimated 40 tons before World War II to more than three hundred tons by 1962.

Washington’s role in this trade was much more than incidental.83 As U.S. officials understood early on,84 the Thai national police, under the ruthless and brutal General Phao Sriyanon, “had become the largest opium-trafficking syndicate in Thailand,” in McCoy’s words. He adds:

CIA support for Phao and the KMT seems to have sparked . . . a ‘takeoff’ in the Burma-Thailand opium trade during the 1950s: modern aircraft replaced mules, naval vessels replaced sampans, and well-trained military organizations expropriated the traffic from bands of illiterate mountain traders.

Never before had [Burma’s] Shan States encountered smugglers with the discipline, technology, and ruthlessness of the KMT. Under General Phao’s leadership Thailand had changed from an opium-consuming nation to the world’s most important opium distribution center. The Golden Triangle’s opium production approached its present scale . . .85

The Golden Triangle would remain the world’s largest exporter of opiates until supplanted in the 1980s by a new set of CIA allies in South Asia, the Afghan mujahedeen and Pakistani military intelligence.86

All of this was top secret—so much so that the very existence of the operation to support the KMT guerrillas was kept from the CIA’s deputy director for intelligence, most or all top State Department officials, and the U.S. ambassadors to Burma and Thailand.87 The CIA went to especially great lengths to hush up the drug-related murder of one agent and widespread opium trafficking under its auspices.88 So is it fair in retrospect to hold Anslinger responsible for ignoring or underplaying the U.S.-Thailand drug connection?

Washington’s lies fooled no one on the scene and could not have fooled Anslinger. A review of the often-overlooked public record shows that Anslinger must have known more than to sound the alarm about the emergence of the KMT and its U.S.-supported Thai allies as one of the world’s largest narcotics-trafficking syndicates. Ignorance was simply not a credible excuse.

As early as May 1950, the New York Times reported on the presence in Northeast Burma of “an aggregation of refugee Nationalist troops” who “operate pretty much as a law unto themselves” and “have been engaging extensively in opium dealing.” The story noted that the United States planned to open a consulate “at the little northern Thailand city of Chiangmai to watch American interests in an area of increasing importance in Southeast Asia,” a tip that U.S. authorities were in touch with the KMT.89

Less than two years later, the respected London Observer accused “certain Americans” of joining Thai officials and KMT officers in “making large profits” from the “guns for opium trade.” The story pointed to the large quantities of American-made weapons and ammunition flown to General Li Mi “from a certain trading company in Bangkok in which Americans have an interest.” (As we will see, that was a reference to the CIA’s Sea Supply Company.) Amazingly, the American embassy in Bangkok confirmed the allegation. “It cannot be denied that we are in the opium trade,” one U.S. diplomat told the reporter.90 In case Anslinger missed the story, the Washington Post made it the subject of an editorial: “It is somewhat startling to read the allegation that in supporting the Chinese Nationalist effort in northeastern Burma to harass the Chinese Communists, Americans have gone into the opium business!…”91

…Anslinger could hardly deny the obvious any more. The narcotics commissioner now acknowledged publicly that, “More opium moves to and around Chiengrai in northern Thailand than any other place in the world in illicit traffic.” But he still blamed Red China, choosing not to draw attention to the pro-American parties responsible for bringing the drugs to the world market.101 “By an accident of history,” wrote one journalist friendly with Anslinger who nonetheless appreciated the irony, “the middlemen between Yunnan and Thailand are anticommunist Chinese. . . . They grow opium and add it to the supplies they get from China and neighboring tribal villages of Laos and Burma…”102


Anslinger’s sweeping rhetoric against “Red China” today strikes most historians—rightly so—as an anachronistic product of the McCarthy era. But the long litany of arrests, interrogation reports and statistics that Anslinger cited to back up his claims sounded authoritative and proved persuasive to Westerners all through the 1950s and into the 1960s…

…Anslinger, however, went far beyond…limited claims [of PRC involvement in illegal narcotics trade] to condemn the Beijing regime as a uniquely grand and evil purveyor of narcotics. Such strong charges demanded equally strong evidence. Anslinger never provided it and almost certainly never had it. With the opening of FBN records, we now know that its Communist China files hold no credible reports implicating the Maoist regime in drug smuggling. Furthermore, other U.S. and British officials privately called Anslinger on the matter at the time, savaging the credibility of his sources. The CIA’s definitive study of the question in 1956 demonstrates that Anslinger pushed his incendiary charges at the United Nations and in the media despite clear intelligence to the contrary. At the same time, Anslinger ignored or downplayed readily available public and private evidence that America’s allies — and its own officials — were contributing far more than Communist China to the growth of the Far East drug trade and the expansion of the world heroin market.

Clearly, the FBN chief chose to put anti-communism, national security [sic], and bureaucratic self-interest ahead of his agency’s declared mission. These disparate values meshed seamlessly. By serving up a steady supply of lurid claims to feed the propaganda mills of professional Cold Warriors and China Lobbyists, Anslinger bought protection against budget cuts, premature retirement, loss of authority to rival agencies, and any weakening of the nation’s drug laws. Today one must agree with the British Home Office official who concluded disparagingly in 1954 that Anslinger had “strong motives for emphasizing the responsibilities of other countries for illicit traffic in the United States and for attributing this traffic to Communist sources.”129 Anslinger’s deplorable record should remind us today of the need for critical scrutiny of claims related to drug trafficking to avoid letting our own era’s propaganda warriors generate fear and revulsion to escalate international conflicts.

Excerpted; full article (with notes) link:

“Afghanistan: Atrocity after atrocity, lie after lie” – Karzai’s ‘orders’ repeatedly ignored [Liberation News]

Posted in Afghan quagmire, Afghanistan, Iran, Karzai puppet regime corruption, NATO, NATO invasion, Pakistan, Pentagon, Sweden, Torture, US imperialism, USA, War crimes on March 9, 2013 by Zuo Shou / 左手

By Richard Becker
March 4, 2013

On March 1, a U.S./NATO helicopter gunship killed two Afghan brothers, seven and eight years of age, as they tended cattle in Uruzgan province. According to reports from residents, the boys were listening to a radio, which the helicopter crew interpreted as “radio signals” from Afghan resistance fighters.

The latest killing comes amidst a series of atrocities against civilians that has further enflamed opposition to the ongoing occupation.

On. Feb. 24, Hamid Karzai, the U.S.-installed “president” of Afghanistan, announced that he was demanding the withdrawal of all U.S. Special Forces troops from Wardak province within two weeks. Wardak is a key strategic region and an area of active resistance to the U.S./NATO occupation.

Will NATO commanders pay any more attention to Karzai’s latest “order” than the many earlier ones that NATO forces ignored and Karzai quietly dropped? Not likely.

What prompted Karzai’s latest proclamation was explained in a statement from his office, which read in part: “After a thorough discussion, it became clear that armed individuals named as US special force[s] stationed in Wardak province engage in harassing, annoying, torturing and even murdering innocent people.

“A recent example in the province is an incident in which nine people were disappeared in an operation by this suspicious force and in a separate incident a student was taken away at night from his home, whose tortured body with throat cut was found two days later under a bridge.”

While U.S. commanders predictably denied the accusations, the level of popular anger in Wardak was made clear by street protests and threats by civilian groups to join the armed resistance if U.S. forces were not withdrawn.

On Feb. 26, 500 people marched in protest of the killings. “If the situation remains like this, this province will collapse very soon,” protester Haji Abdul Qadim told the Reuters news service. “People will join the insurgency very soon because of the abuses of these forces.”

In another recent incident brought to international attention on Feb. 26, a Swedish organization that operates health clinics in Afghanistan said that U.S. military forces occupied and damaged one of their clinics in Wardak on Feb. 11.

The Swedish Committee for Afghanistan said in a statement: “Foreign soldiers entered the health facility by force, tied up and blindfolded the guard on duty, and occupied the facility.”

Andreas Stefansson, director of SCA, said that it was the second time one of SCA’s clinics had been occupied by NATO troops. The previous occupation lasted three days. Stefansson said that NATO has promised that such an occupation would not happen again.

“What we are seeking is that they actually live up to what they say,” Stefansson said. (Reuters, Feb. 26)

On Feb. 13, 10 people, including women and children, were killed in a NATO air strike in Kunar province. On June 6, 2012, 18 civilians were killed in a strike in Logar province. The grisly list of “accidental” killings stretches back a decade.

– A ‘president’ in name only –

These atrocities and the daily abuses that inevitably accompany imperialist occupation are the source of burning anger among the Afghan people. In the eyes of the population, Karzai shares blame with the occupiers for these outrages. Thus, Karzai’s repeated “orders” forbidding Afghan army units from calling in U.S./NATO air support and for U.S. troops to withdraw from Wardak and stop the hated “night raids” on people’s homes.

But his proclamations continue to be disregarded by the occupation forces, exposing the actual power relationship in the country. In reality, the lowest level U.S. commander has greater military authority than does the “president” of the country.

Further illuminating both this relationship and the U.S. intention to maintain a dominant role in Afghanistan was a Feb. 3 joint interview with then-Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey. Panetta and Dempsey reaffirmed that the United States would sustain a “strategic partnership” with Afghanistan, citing a decision by the NATO heads of state during a 2012 summit meeting in Chicago to maintain a long-term presence in the country despite a drawdown in the number of U.S. ground troops in the country.

“We’re committing to an enduring presence,” Mr. Panetta said on Feb. 3.

“Strategic partnership” and “enduring presence” are more Washington weasel words for continuing colonial domination over Afghanistan.

On Feb. 26, it was revealed that claims of resistance attacks inside the country declining by 7 percent in 2012 were just one more Pentagon lie. The 7 percent figure was posted on the International Security Assistance Force (the official name of the U.S./NATO force in Afghanistan) website in January, to bolster the administration’s “positive track” line about the war.

When the Associated Press made inquiries about the statistics, NATO officials in Kabul immediately backtracked, stated that they had “erred,” and admitted that in fact, there was no decline at all.

– Costs of war –

Eleven and a half years of U.S./NATO war and occupation have been a disaster for all but a tiny sliver of the Afghan population.

Despite tens of billions of dollars in U.S.-funded “reconstruction aid,” Afghanistan remains one of the very poorest countries on the face of the Earth. The total U.S. budget for the Afghanistan war is over $640 billion and counting. (Center for Strategic and International Studies)

While U.S. and other NATO-country contractors, and elements of the Afghan elite, have become incredibly rich from this “aid,” the Afghan government presently spends a miniscule $46 per year on health care per person. (

Afghanistan ranks as the worst country in the world for infant mortality, with a shocking 122 infant deaths per 1,000 live births. (CIA World Factbook 2013) By way of comparison, the infant mortality rate is 6 per 1,000 in the U.S. and 4.8 per 1,000 in Cuba. Life expectancy is just 49 years. Afghanistan is listed as 172nd out of 187 countries in the Human Development Index, with the average adult having 3.3 years of schooling.

In addition to the tens of thousands killed and hundreds of thousands wounded in the war, more than 2.7 million Afghans remain external refugees, most in Pakistan and Iran, and 425,000 are internally displaced. (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees 2012

No amount of lying Pentagon propaganda can hide the reality that the war has been an unmitigated disaster for the Afghan people and for the thousands of dead and tens of thousands of maimed troops sent to kill and die there in the interests of empire.

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Army major’s despair at our ‘pointless war’: Senior officer’s damning emails reveal plummeting morale at heart of Afghan campaign [Daily Mail]

Posted in Afghan quagmire, Afghanistan, Karzai puppet regime corruption, NATO invasion, U.K., US "War on Terror" on April 26, 2012 by Zuo Shou / 左手

By Glen Owen

PUBLISHED: 21:10 GMT, 21 April 2012

They are stark words that reveal the despair of our [sic] forces fighting in Afghanistan.

Emails sent to a former military chaplain paint a damning picture of sinking morale among Servicemen who feel the human cost of the conflict can no longer be justified.

Dr Peter Lee, a university lecturer who spent seven years as an RAF padre, has released the emails to highlight the extent of disillusionment within the ranks.

The correspondence includes two emails sent by a major on the brink of a fresh deployment to the region. He likens the prospect to ‘being put on for the last two minutes of a lost game’ of rugby.

In an accompanying article for The Mail on Sunday – published below – Dr Lee describes this as ‘enough time to get hurt, badly, and perhaps enough time to make the defeat fractionally less embarrassing. But there is no chance that defeat can be turned into victory’…

…Polls have shown that a majority of British people are confused about the purpose of our mission and want the troops to be pulled out immediately. Barely one in ten think the conflict is winnable…

…‘John’ writes: ‘Because we are civvie private security and get paid well we are seen as mercenaries. So unlike when a soldier gets IEDd, when we get killed or injured nobody gives a s***.’

He adds that the bulk of the casualties are locals working for the British, adding: ‘If anything happens to us we might get lucky and be shipped back home in a box or on a stretcher but the media don’t want to hear about it so nobody else hears about it…

Excerpted by Zuo Shou

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Massacre in Afghanistan: Pentagon scrambles to elude blame [Workers World]

Posted in Afghan quagmire, Afghanistan, Corporate Media Critique, Iraq, Karzai puppet regime corruption, NATO invasion, Obama, Pentagon, US foreign occupation, US Government Cover-up, US imperialism, USA, War crimes on March 21, 2012 by Zuo Shou / 左手

By Gene Clancy
Published Mar 20, 2012

On the morning of March 11, Abdul Samad returned to his home after visiting a nearby village in Kandahar, Afghanistan, to find a horrific scene. Sixteen villagers, most of them women and children, had been murdered by U.S./NATO personnel. The Pentagon says one U.S. soldier went berserk. However, Afghan authorities say as many as 20 soldiers could have been involved.

Samad lost four daughters between the ages of two and six and four sons between the ages of eight and 12. The victims had been shot, stabbed and partially burned. The perpetrator(s) had presumably walked about a mile from a nearby U.S. military base and methodically gone door to door in two separate villages, killing as he/they went. Of the 16 dead, nine were children and three were women. Five more people were seriously injured.

This is not the first time these villagers were attacked by NATO forces. New York Times reporter Graham Bowley reported from the scene shortly after the massacre:

“During the surge in 2009, the coalition forces swept through this area and destroyed many of the villages. … [Displaced residents] didn’t want to come back, but they were drawn back under the urging of the Afghan government. … Abdul Samad and other people came back to this town. … It was only just over a mile from the camp where the American soldier was stationed. And he thought it was going to be safe.” (Democracy Now transcript, March 14)

“Our government told us to come back to the village,” said Samad, “and then they let the Americans kill us.”

On March 17, U.S. officials released the name of the person they claim was the sole shooter, Sgt. Robert Bales — but only after they had spirited him out of Afghanistan and deposited him in Fort Leavenworth, Kan. His wife and family in the United States were also seized and taken to a military base “for their own safety.”

There has been a great deal of discussion about Bales and his possible motives. Depending on the source, he has been portrayed as suffering from post traumatic stress disorder, having personal financial problems, suffering from two injuries sustained in his three tours of duty in Iraq, as an upstanding decorated “patriot,” a fine family man and/or a depraved killer.

The attention paid to Bales seems to all add up to the same thing: an attempt to hermetically seal off the U.S. government and the Pentagon from absolutely any responsibility for the massacre. At the same time, the U.S. occupiers of Afghanistan are refusing to allow any hint of Afghan sovereignty over the case, even from the puppet government there.

When President Hamid Karzai suggested that because of the incident the pullout of U.S. troops should be accelerated to next year, he quickly received a phone call from President Barack Obama, who reaffirmed the 2014 target date for withdrawal. (New York Times, March 17)

Some parts of the Afghan government are disputing the U.S. theory of “a lone, crazed killer.” An Afghan parliamentary probe team said on March 15 that up to 20 U.S. troops were involved in the massacre.

The team spent two days in the province, interviewing the bereaved families, tribal elders and survivors and collecting evidence at the site in Panjwai district.

Team member Hamizai Lali said, “We closely examined the site of the incident, talked to the families who lost their beloved ones, the injured people and tribal elders.” (Pajwok Afghan News, March 15) He added that the attack lasted one hour in the middle of the night and involved two groups of U.S. soldiers.

“The villages are one and a half kilometers from the American military base. We are convinced that one soldier cannot kill so many people in two villages within one hour at the same time, and the 16 civilians, most of them children and women, have been killed by the two groups.”

Most Afghans, including the puppet government, have called for Bales to be tried in Afghanistan. The U.S., of course, does not even consider this as a possibility. Ever since the middle of the 19th century, legal immunity for the nationals of an occupying force, known as extraterritoriality, has been a hallmark of colonialism and imperialism.

It also exposes the lie that the U.S. is in Afghanistan to help the Afghan people.

Ever since the massacre, U.S. officials have been working overtime to control the damage to their war policy, with the usual complicity of the corporate media. Indeed, the main concern of the media has been not for the victims but rather about the effect that the incident may have on the U.S. image.

They may have reason to worry. Sixty-one percent of people in the U.S. surveyed in a March 12-13 online poll by Reuters/Ipsos said the U.S. troops in Afghanistan should be brought home immediately . Forty percent said the killings in Afghanistan had weakened their support for the war. (Reuters, March 14) Across the U.S. there have been numerous demonstrations calling for an end to the war.

Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta attempted to pass off the gruesome event as just part of the “horrors of war.”

“War is hell. These kinds of events and incidents are going to take place, they’ve taken place in any war. They’re terrible events. And this is not the first of those events, and it probably won’t be the last,” said Panetta. “I do not believe that there is any reason at this point to make any changes with regards to our strategy and for the process of drawing down.” (Reuters, March 13)

Contrast this with the treatment by the Pentagon of Pfc. Bradley Manning, who is accused of, among other things, releasing documents and videos showing U.S. war crimes in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Manning was kept in solitary confinement for a year, stripped naked and chained to his bunk. Still behind bars, he faces a sentence of life imprisonment.

Demonstrators in Afghanistan were not buying the secretary’s ominous pronouncement.

Dadullah Khan, a student, made it very clear: “We don’t want any strategic partnership with the foreign troops. Afghans are independent people. We want to live independently, and we don’t want to live under any country’s colonization. So, once again, we condemn the Kandahar incident with the strongest words and urge the authorities to put the criminal to trial.” (Democracy Now transcript, March 14)

Articles copyright 1995-2012 Workers World. Verbatim copying and distribution of this entire article is permitted in any medium without royalty provided this notice is preserved.

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Massacre in Afghanistan: US soldier kills 16 villagers, including 9 children [World Socialist Website]

Posted in Afghan quagmire, Afghanistan, CIA, George W. Bush, Karzai puppet regime corruption, NATO invasion, Obama, Pentagon, US foreign occupation, US imperialism, USA, War crimes on March 12, 2012 by Zuo Shou / 左手

By Patrick Martin
12 March 2012

In a massacre that expresses the brutality and horror of the entire American war in Afghanistan, an Army staff sergeant walked into a village in rural Kandahar province early Sunday morning and murdered 16 people, nine of them children.

Eleven members of a single family were gunned down in their home, their bodies then piled in a heap and set on fire. The victims included four girls six years old or younger. Only the father, Samid Khan, and one child survived, because they were away from the village at the time.

The gunman then went on to shoot the inhabitants of two more dwellings before he returned to his base and turned himself in. At least five villagers were wounded, some of them critically, and the death toll could rise.

Samid Khan, a poor farmer, returned to the village to find his entire family shot to death and their bodies burned inside his home. “This is an anti-human and anti-Islamic act,” he told the press. “Nobody is allowed in any religion in the world to kill children and women.” He and his neighbors demanded that the killer be handed over to the Afghan government for punishment.

According to one local Afghan official, villagers loaded the bodies of the victims into cars and drove to the entrance of the nearby American base to demand justice. “They were very angry,” he said. “They wanted to do something to take revenge.”

The identity of the mass murderer was being kept secret by US and Afghan authorities and by the American media late Sunday night, but the British Broadcasting Corporation reported that he was a staff sergeant and a member of the US special operations forces engaged in training the Afghan police.

There are conflicting reports about many details of the massacre. Some survivors contend that more than one American soldier was involved, and Taliban spokesmen claimed that the attack was one of the notorious night raids conducted by US special forces that have become a focal point for popular hostility to the US occupation.

The initial statement by Afghan President Hamid Karzai condemned the massacre as an action by “American forces,” but later statements from Karzai and US military authorities denied that there was any authorized military operation in the village and claimed that, despite the huge death toll, only a single gunman was involved.

The base in Panjwai district of Kandahar province is manned by US troops from Ft. Lewis-McChord, Washington, the same facility where members of the Stryker Brigade have been tried and convicted of murdering three Afghan civilians, then cutting off their finger and other body parts as trophies. Those killings took place in Maiwand district, which is just northwest of Panjwai.

The Obama administration and the American military command in Afghanistan reacted to the atrocity as a problem in public relations and damage control. Obama and defense secretary Leon Panetta both made official condolence phone calls to Karzai, and the White House issued a public statement declaring, “This incident is tragic and shocking, and does not represent the exceptional character of our military and the respect that the United States has for the people of Afghanistan.”

Tragic and shocking it certainly is, but this atrocity, far from being an aberration, speaks volumes about what the American military has done to Afghanistan, as well as what the experience of 11 years of colonial war against an oppressed population has done to the American military.

Year after year, American and NATO troops have patrolled the same villages, districts and provinces, fighting an insurgency that is continually nourished by fresh recruits from among the destitute rural farmers and urban poor of a country whose economy has effectively ceased to function, except for those in the Afghan elite profiteering from the US-NATO gravy train.

The soldiers come to regard the entire population of the country as the enemy—a sentiment that has a powerful basis in reality, since the vast majority the Afghan people hate the foreign occupation and domination of their country. Racist sentiments towards the native population are the hallmark of any colonial occupation force, and among the more backward and unstable individuals this can easily escalate into homicidal violence.

But this is far from an individual question. Obama’s statement vowed punishment for “all those responsible” for Sunday’s atrocity. If those words had any meaning, Obama, Panetta, Joseph Biden, Hillary Clinton, and CIA Director David Petraeus would be sitting in the dock at a war crimes tribunal, along with all their predecessors in the Bush administration.

American military forces have perpetrated countless such atrocities in Afghanistan, although until recently these were categorized (and essentially dismissed) as unintentional errors: the incineration of an entire wedding party of dozens of people, “mistaken” as a Taliban convoy on the move; the killing of nine children gathering firewood, hit by a drone strike, “misidentified” as guerrilla infiltrators; dozens of bombing raids on Afghan villages where entire families have been exterminated, due to “poor targeting.”

In one such incident, only two days before the massacre in Kandahar province, NATO helicopters supposedly hunting insurgents fired on a group of civilians in Kapisa province, in eastern Afghanistan, killing four and wounding three. Some 1,200 people marched in protest in Kapisa on Saturday.

The US press coverage of the massacre reflected official concerns that a wave of anti-American violence could erupt as news of the deaths spread through Afghanistan. The Washington Post described it as “perhaps the grisliest act by a US soldier in the decade-long war and seemed all but certain to stoke anti-American anger in a crucial battleground.” The “perhaps” is remarkable — are there other such atrocities, comparable in scale, that the Post reporters are aware of?

Late Sunday, more than 1,000 people assembled in protest outside the US military base. Meanwhile, the bodies were prepared for burial. The US embassy in Kabul issued a warning of “a risk of anti-American feelings and protests in coming days, especially in eastern and southern provinces.”

The atrocity came only a few weeks after the eruption of mass anti-American protests over the burning of Korans by US soldiers at Bagram, the huge US airbase and supply facility outside Kabul.

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Afghans besiege US bases in Koran protests [World Socialist Website]

Posted in Afghanistan, Anti-USA protest, Islamophobia, Karzai puppet regime corruption, NATO, NATO invasion, Obama, US foreign occupation, US imperialism, USA, War crimes on February 26, 2012 by Zuo Shou / 左手

Oh please, let this be the hastening of the “Fall of Saigon moment” for the US and its NATO puppets in Afghanistan – Zuo Shou

By Bill Van Auken
24 February 2012

Two American soldiers and at least 15 Afghans have been killed as crowds besieged US and NATO bases for a third day Thursday, in an escalating protest over US troops burning copies of the Koran.

The three days of protests have seen violent clashes across Afghanistan, with crowds in a number of areas blocking highways and attacking and burning government facilities and, in the eastern city of Jalalabad, NATO fuel trucks.

The two American soldiers were shot to death Thursday — and four others were wounded — in eastern Nangarhar province, at a military base that crowds of outraged Afghans had attempted to storm. A uniformed Afghan soldier reportedly opened fire on the American troops and then fled, disappearing into the mass of protesters.

At least two Afghan civilians were killed outside the same base when security forces fired upon protesters to keep them from forcing their way into the facility. Two others, including a 12-year-old Afghan boy, were killed in the Batikot district of the same province, Afghanistan’s Pajhwok news service reported.

The killing of the US troops came on the heels of a public appeal by the Afghan Taliban to Afghan troops and police to attack foreign occupation forces. The statement called on “all the youth present in the security apparatus of the Kabul regime to fulfill their religious and national duty… by turning their guns on the foreign infidel invaders.”

In neighboring Laghman province, at least one civilian was shot dead when Afghan troops opened fire to keep stone-throwing protesters from overrunning their base.

In the central Afghan province of Uruzgan, at least three protesters were killed and 12 others wounded in what Afghan authorities described as “crossfire” between security forces and armed resistance fighters who had joined the demonstration.

And in northern Baghlan province, a policeman was killed after demonstrators were fired upon and responded by attacking the police with stones and sticks.

At these and other locations, demonstrators took up the slogans of “Death to America” and “Down with Karzai,” referring to the president of the US-backed regime in Kabul, Hamid Karzai.

At least eight Afghans were killed during demonstrations that swept the country on Wednesday. Scores of others were wounded or injured on both days.

There are fears within the occupation forces and the Karzai regime that Friday will see even greater eruptions after prayer services in the country’s mosques. The US Embassy in Kabul and other US bases and facilities have been placed on lockdown, with no one allowed in or out.

The spark that ignited this nationwide conflagration was the report that Afghan workers at an incinerator pit at the US Bagram Air Base found American troops dumping copies of the Koran and other Islamic religious materials in a pile of debris for burning.

The material had been seized from a library at the Bagram prison, where the American occupation forces hold Afghans suspected of being members of the Taliban and other resistance forces. A military official told CNN that they were taken for burning because they were believed to contain “extremist inscriptions” and supposedly had been used to “facilitate extremist communications.”

The Obama administration and the Pentagon have attempted to defuse the crisis, with a presidential apology and an announcement by a top military commander that all US forces in Afghanistan will undergo training in the proper handling of Korans and other religious material.

“I wish to express my deep regret for the reported incident. I extend to you and the Afghan people my sincere apologies,” Obama wrote in a letter presented to Karzai Thursday by US Ambassador Ryan Crocker. “The error was inadvertent; I assure you that we will take the appropriate steps to avoid any recurrence, to include holding accountable those responsible.”

For masses of ordinary Afghans, however, such apologies are worse than meaningless. The latest Koran burning is seen only as one more episode in the country’s oppression and humiliation at the hands of the US-led occupation. It follows the release just last month of a video showing American Marines urinating on the corpses of slain Afghans, which also provoked protests. Reports of desecrations of the Koran have provoked at least two previous waves of deadly protests.

“This is not just about dishonoring the Koran, it is about disrespecting our dead and killing our children,” Maruf Hotak, 60, who joined a protest on the outskirts of Kabul, told the New York Times. “They always admit their mistakes. They burn our Koran and then they apologize. You can’t just disrespect our holy book and kill our innocent children and make a small apology.”

On Wednesday, in the midst of the spreading protests, officials in Nangarhar province reported that a NATO helicopter attacked a school. “This morning a school was attacked by a NATO helicopter. Nine children, all girls, and the school’s janitor have been injured,” a spokesman for the provincial government said. At least five of the schoolgirls remained hospitalized.

The attack followed the admission by NATO last week that a February 8 air strike had killed eight children in northeastern Kapisa province.

In addition to these constant killings, deteriorating social conditions in Afghanistan are also fueling the mass resentment and anger that have exploded in the Koran demonstrations.

On Thursday, Amnesty International issued a report detailing the abysmal situation confronting some half million Afghans who have been forced from their homes by the US-led war and are struggling to survive in urban slums…

[Excerpted by Zuo Shou]

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Ahmed Walid Karzai, Assassinated Brother of Afghan Puppet Leader, Said to Have Been on C.I.A. Payroll while Profiting from Opium Trade [New York Times]

Posted in "War on Drugs" pretext, Afghan quagmire, Afghanistan, CIA, Connection to drugs and narcotics, DEA, Karzai puppet regime corruption, Obama, US foreign occupation, US Government Cover-up, US imperialism, USA on July 13, 2011 by Zuo Shou / 左手

I try to avoid “anonymous source” articles, but at least this one’s not 100% anonymous. The assassination makes the question of the deceased’s level of corruption and collaboration with the US/NATO aggressors quite compelling. Also I attribute integrity to reporter James Risen, as the no-integrity Obama administration has seen fit to prosecute him for whistle-blowing. – Zuo Shou

Published: October 27, 2009

KABUL, Afghanistan — Ahmed Wali Karzai, the brother of the Afghan president and a suspected player in the country’s booming illegal opium trade, gets regular payments from the Central Intelligence Agency, and has for much of the past eight years, according to current and former American officials.

The agency pays Mr. Karzai for a variety of services, including helping to recruit an Afghan paramilitary force that operates at the C.I.A.’s direction in and around the southern city of Kandahar, Mr. Karzai’s home.

The financial ties and close working relationship between the intelligence agency and Mr. Karzai raise significant questions about America’s war strategy…

…critics say the [CIA – Karzai brother] ties complicate America’s increasingly tense relationship with President Hamid Karzai, who has struggled to build sustained popularity among Afghans and has long been portrayed by the Taliban as an American puppet. The C.I.A.’s practices also suggest that the United States is not doing everything in its power to stamp out the lucrative Afghan drug trade, a major source of revenue for the Taliban.

“If…we are perceived as backing thugs, then we are just undermining ourselves,” said Maj. Gen. Michael T. Flynn, the senior American military intelligence official in Afghanistan.

Ahmed Wali Karzai said in an interview that he cooperated with American civilian and military officials, but did not engage in the drug trade and did not receive payments from the C.I.A.

The relationship between Mr. Karzai and the C.I.A. is wide ranging, several American officials said. He helps the C.I.A. operate a paramilitary group, the Kandahar Strike Force, that is used for raids against suspected insurgents and terrorists. On at least one occasion, the strike force has been accused of mounting an unauthorized operation against an official of the Afghan government, the officials said.

Mr. Karzai is also paid for allowing the C.I.A. and American Special Operations troops to rent a large compound outside the city — the former home of Mullah Mohammed Omar, the Taliban’s founder. The same compound is also the base of the Kandahar Strike Force. “He’s our landlord,” a senior American official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

Mr. Karzai also helps the C.I.A. communicate with and sometimes meet with Afghans loyal to the Taliban. Mr. Karzai’s role as a go-between between the Americans and the Taliban is now regarded as valuable by those who support working with Mr. Karzai, as the Obama administration is placing a greater focus on encouraging Taliban leaders to change sides.

A C.I.A. spokesman declined to comment for this article…

Some American officials said that the allegations of Mr. Karzai’s role in the drug trade were not conclusive…[however,] the relationship with Mr. Karzai is setting off anger and frustration among American military officers and other officials in the Obama administration. They say that Mr. Karzai’s suspected role in the drug trade, as well as what they describe as the mafialike way that he lords over southern Afghanistan, makes him a malevolent force.

These military and political officials say the evidence, though largely circumstantial, suggests strongly that Mr. Karzai has enriched himself by helping the illegal trade in poppy and opium to flourish. The assessment of these military and senior officials in the Obama administration dovetails with that of senior officials in the Bush administration.

“Hundreds of millions of dollars in drug money are flowing through the southern region, and nothing happens in southern Afghanistan without the regional leadership knowing about it,” a senior American military officer in Kabul said. Like most of the officials in this article, he spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the secrecy of the information.

“If it looks like a duck, and it quacks like a duck, it’s probably a duck,” the American officer said of Mr. Karzai. “Our assumption is that he’s benefiting from the drug trade.”

American officials say that Afghanistan’s opium trade, the largest in the world, directly threatens the stability of the Afghan state…by corrupting Afghan public officials to help the trade flourish.

The Obama administration has repeatedly vowed to crack down on the drug lords who are believed to permeate the highest levels of President Karzai’s administration. They have pressed him to move his brother out of southern Afghanistan, but he has so far refused to do so.

Other Western officials pointed to evidence that Ahmed Wali Karzai orchestrated the manufacture of hundreds of thousands of phony ballots for his brother’s re-election effort in August. He is also believed to have been responsible for setting up dozens of so-called ghost polling stations — existing only on paper — that were used to manufacture tens of thousands of phony ballots.

“The only way to clean up Chicago is to get rid of Capone,” General Flynn said.

In the interview in which he denied a role in the drug trade or taking money from the C.I.A., Ahmed Wali Karzai said he received regular payments from his brother, the president, for “expenses,” but said he did not know where the money came from. He has, among other things, introduced Americans to insurgents considering changing sides. And he has given the Americans intelligence, he said. But he said he was not compensated for that assistance.

“I don’t know anyone under the name of the C.I.A.,” Mr. Karzai said. “I have never received any money from any organization. I help, definitely. I help other Americans wherever I can. This is my duty as an Afghan.”

Mr. Karzai acknowledged that the C.I.A. and Special Operations troops stayed at Mullah Omar’s old compound. And he acknowledged that the Kandahar Strike Force was based there. But he said he had no involvement with them.

A former C.I.A. officer with experience in Afghanistan said the agency relied heavily on Ahmed Wali Karzai, and often based covert operatives at compounds he owned. Any connections Mr. Karzai might have had to the drug trade mattered little to C.I.A. officers focused on counterterrorism missions, the officer said.

“Virtually every significant Afghan figure has had brushes with the drug trade,” he said. “If you are looking for Mother Teresa, she doesn’t live in Afghanistan.”

The debate over Ahmed Wali Karzai, which began when President Obama took office in January, intensified in June, when the C.I.A.’s local paramilitary group, the Kandahar Strike Force, shot and killed Kandahar’s provincial police chief, Matiullah Qati, in a still-unexplained shootout at the office of a local prosecutor.

The circumstances surrounding Mr. Qati’s death remain shrouded in mystery. It is unclear, for instance, if any agency operatives were present — but officials say the firefight broke out when Mr. Qati tried to block the strike force from freeing the brother of a task force member who was being held in custody.

“Matiullah was in the wrong place at the wrong time,” Mr. Karzai said in the interview.

Counternarcotics officials have repeatedly expressed frustration over the unwillingness of senior policy makers in Washington to take action against Mr. Karzai — or even begin a serious investigation of the allegations against him. In fact, they say that while other Afghans accused of drug involvement are investigated and singled out for raids or even rendition to the United States, Mr. Karzai has seemed immune from similar scrutiny…

…Senior Afghan investigators say they know plenty about Mr. Karzai’s involvement in the drug business. In an interview in Kabul this year, a top former Afghan Interior Ministry official familiar with Afghan counternarcotics operations said that a major source of Mr. Karzai’s influence over the drug trade was his control over key bridges crossing the Helmand River on the route between the opium growing regions of Helmand Province and Kandahar.

The former Interior Ministry official said that Mr. Karzai was able to charge huge fees to drug traffickers to allow their drug-laden trucks to cross the bridges.

But the former officials said it was impossible for Afghan counternarcotics officials to investigate Mr. Karzai. “This government has become a factory for the production of Talibs because of corruption and injustice,” the former official said.

Some American counternarcotics officials have said they believe that Mr. Karzai has expanded his influence over the drug trade, thanks in part to American efforts to single out other drug lords.

In debriefing notes from Drug Enforcement Administration interviews in 2006 of Afghan informants obtained by The New York Times, one key informant said that Ahmed Wali Karzai had benefited from the American operation that lured Hajji Bashir Noorzai, a major Afghan drug lord during the time that the Taliban ruled Afghanistan, to New York in 2005. Mr. Noorzai was convicted on drug and conspiracy charges in New York in 2008, and was sentenced to life in prison this year.

Habibullah Jan, a local military commander and later a member of Parliament from Kandahar, told the D.E.A. in 2006 that Mr. Karzai had teamed with Haji Juma Khan to take over a portion of the Noorzai drug business after Mr. Noorzai’s arrest.

Edited / Excerpted by Zuo Shou – Original article title: “Brother of Afghan Leader Said to Be Paid by C.I.A.”

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