Friday, December 1, 2017

Last Call For Black Hawk Down 2: Electric Mogadishu

One of the major problems of the Trump regime's constant stream of outrageous, immoral and illegal behavior is that is sucks all the oxygen out of the room when it comes to the debate over major international military incidents like last August's apparent massacre of ten civilians in Somalia by US special forces.

THE U.S.-LED OPERATION on Aug. 25 would result in the death of 10 civilians, including at least one child, and become the largest stain on U.S. ground operations in the country since the infamous Black Hawk Down incident in 1993. 
In the operation’s aftermath, hundreds of people in the nearby town Afgoye flooded the city’s streets demanding justice for those killed, and survivors on the farm refused to bury their dead until the Somali government recanted its allegations that they were members Al Shabaab, and offered an apology. 
The Daily Beast conducted an investigation into the Bariire operation and its aftermath, interviewing three of the operation’s survivors over the phone from Mogadishu and meeting in person with the Somali National Army Commander in charge of the Somali soldiers who assisted in the operation under the command of soldiers from U.S. Special Operations Forces. 
The Daily Beast also met in Mogadishu with over two dozen Somali intelligence officers, political analysts, local leaders, and former and current government officials familiar with the incident. Two of these individuals are also involved in an ongoing local, non-government-sponsored investigation into the incident. 
The Daily Beast also met in person with the commander of the Ugandan People’s Defense Forces whose purview under the mandate of the United Nations peacekeeping force includes Bariire, and who was approached by the Americans about their plan to re-capture and hold Bariire. 
The vast majority of these sources preferred to speak anonymously, either because they were not authorized to discuss the incident or because they feared possible retribution from either the Somali Federal Government or the Americans for doing so. 
The details that emerged paint a damning picture of at least one U.S. ground operation in the African nation. This includes U.S. Special Operators firing upon unarmed civilians, using human intelligence from sources widely considered untrustworthy to Somalis in the region as well as government officials, and instructing their Somali counterparts to collect weapons that were being stored inside a home—not displaced on the field in the course of the firefight—and placing them beside the bodies of those killed prior to photographing them. In the aftermath of the incident, according to our sources, American diplomats also pressured the Somali government to bury the unfavorable findings of a Somali Federal Government-led investigation. 
Hours after the operation, AFRICOM released a statement noting that it was aware of allegations of civilian casualties in the operation and that AFRICOM was “conducting an assessment into the situation to determine the facts on the ground.” The AFRICOM press release also stated that “the Somali National Army was conducting an operation in the area with U.S. forces in a supporting role.” 
Yet a majority of bullet casings collected from the farm that was attacked, which were seen by The Daily Beast, were from American—not Somali National Army—weapons. This appears to confirm that the Special Operations team did not command SNA while remaining behind during the operation, as the AFRICOM statement would have the public believe, but rather were responsible themselves for firing upon and killing unarmed civilians. 
According to Maj. Audricia Harris, a spokesperson for the Department of Defense, “this incident remains under investigation” and the DOD cannot comment on any specifics of the employment of U.S. Special Operations forces. She noted that U.S. Special Operations “take all measures during the targeting process to avoid or minimize civilian casualties or collateral damage and to comply with the principles of the Law of Armed Conflict.”

The details surrounding the planning of this incident collected by The Daily Beast suggest, however, that the Special Operations Forces involved in this mission did not sufficiently vet the information they were presented with prior to carrying out this operation. 

The Daily Beast's Christina Goldbaum does an excellent job of chasing this story down.  Not that this kind of thing didn't happen under Obama, Bush 43, or Clinton, because it most certainly did, from Bosnia to Iraq to Yemen. But it's still wrong when it happens, and it needs to investigated.  At bare minimum ten people are dead, and their deaths were systematically covered up trying to portray them as terrorists.  Hey, we're pretty good at planting guns here in America next to dead black people, why not export those valuable skills?

After all, we spent three, almost four years neck deep in House hearing on Benghazi. Surely Republicans will want to get to the bottom of this tragedy and apparent cover-up as well, right?


The Mask Slips Again...

...and Republicans accidentally tell the truth about their plans for America.

Advocates for seniors and the middle class have been warning for weeks that the Republican drive to cut taxes for the wealthy is the prelude to a larger attack on Social Security and Medicare. 
In a videotaped interview with two Politico reporters Wednesday, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said the quiet parts out loud. Asked by interviewers Anna Palmer and Jake Sherman how to address the federal deficit, he replied: “We have to do two things. We have to generate economic growth which generates revenue, while reducing spending. That will mean instituting structural changes to Social Security and Medicare for the future.” (A video of Rubio’s appearance is here, with his remarks on Social Security and Medicare beginning at the 21:45 mark.) 
The only thing that’s new here is the explicit admission by a Republican officeholder that this is the GOP’s master plan to eviscerate the welfare and retirement of American workers. Budget analysts have seen it coming with all the subtlety of a freight train. As we reported earlier this month, the damage begins with the so-called Paygo law (for “pay as you go”), which requires Congress to offset any increase in the federal deficit with spending cuts. The law limits Medicare cuts to 4% of its budget per year, or $25 billion of its $625-billion budget. 
But $25 billion a year is a drastic cut that “would undermine the delivery of care to the 57 million seniors and disabled Americans who depend on the program,” Max Richtman, head of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, said a couple of weeks ago. 
The progressive Center on Budget and Policy Priorities observed that the Senate’s plan, which would add $1.5 trillion to the deficit over 10 years, would “create pressure for future cuts.” That’s confirmed by Rubio’s remarks to Palmer and Sherman.

Following up the GOP tax bill with trillions in ugly, painful and racist austerity cuts was always going to be the plan, in what will be the biggest, most brazen robbery in human history.  Republicans are planning this in broad daylight, and most Republican voters still don't believe that the GOP would ever hurt them personally, and the ones that do know the cuts will hurt Obama coalition voters more.  They're all okay with what's coming.

We're running out of time.

BREAKING: It's Mueller Time, Con't

As largely expected, we now know the fruits of former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn's lawyers meeting with Special Counsel Robert Mueller: a plea deal where Flynn will cop to a single charge of lying to the FBI, in this case about his meetings with Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak.

President Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn, is expected to plead guilty on Friday to lying to the F.B.I. about two conversations with the Russian ambassador last December during the presidential transition. 
The charges were the latest indication that Mr. Flynn was cooperatingwith the investigation by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, into Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election. Mr. Flynn was scheduled to appear in federal court in Washington at 10:30 on Friday morning. 
A plea deal with Mr. Flynn brings Mr. Mueller’s investigation into Mr. Trump’s inner circle. A plea agreement suggests that Mr. Flynn provided information to prosecutors, which may help advance the inquiry. 
Mr. Flynn’s lawyers recently told the president’s legal team that they could no longer discuss the special counsel’s investigation as they had been — a sign that Mr. Flynn had decided to cooperate with the prosecution. 
Mr. Flynn was charged with making false statements to F.B.I. agents about two discussions with the Russian ambassador to the United States, Sergey I. Kislyak.

As I've long said, for Mueller to agree to a pleas deal given the sheer magnitude of potential charges Flynn (and his son Michael Jr.) were facing, Flynn would not only have to give up pretty much everything,  the quality of Flynn's information would have to be solid pure platinum and not just gold-plated rumor.

The single charge of lying the the FBI bears all that out.  Flynn has absolutely rolled on somebody big.  If I'm Donald Trump, I'm going to have a bad time.

[UPDATE] ABC News's Brian Ross is saying that Flynn is prepared to testify that Trump directed him to contact the Russians.

If that's true, that's the ball game.

Privatize The Spies, Guys

The Trump regime is more than happy to privatize pretty much every other government function so that corporations like the Trump Organization can ring up the profits, so why wouldn't we farm out the CIA's intel gathering services to private companies (who we can totally trust to keep our data safe)?

The White House and CIA have been considering a package of secret proposals to allow former US intelligence officers to run privatized covert actions, intelligence gathering, and propaganda missions, according to three sources who’ve been briefed on or have direct knowledge of the proposals. 
One of the proposals would involve hiring a private company, Amyntor Group, for millions of dollars to set up a large intelligence network and run counter terrorist propaganda efforts, according to the sources. Amyntor’s officials and employees include veterans of a variety of US covert operations, ranging from the Reagan-era Iran–Contra affair to more recent actions in Iraq and Afghanistan. 
Amyntor declined to discuss the proposals, but a lawyer for the company said in a statement to BuzzFeed News that the type of contract being contemplated would be legal “with direction and control by the proper government authority.” 
Another proposal presented to US officials would allow individuals affiliated with the company to help capture wanted terrorists on behalf of the United States. In keeping with that proposal, people close to the company are tracking two specific suspects in a Middle Eastern country, the sources said, for possible “rendition” to the United States.

A source speaking on behalf of the company stressed that while Amyntor officials are aware of and involved in the rendition plan, the company itself would not be involved.
People involved in the highly unusual project have asked BuzzFeed News not to name the country or the targets because of concerns about the safety of operatives who, they say, are on the ground. They say that the people involved have the information and capabilities to snatch the two suspects and transport them to the US or a third country. 
The proposals sound like a convoluted movie plot, but two of the sources familiar with the project say discussions have been held recently with top national security officials.
The CIA declined to comment, but a US government official downplayed the proposals' significance. “The idea they are pitching is absurd on its face,” he said, “and it is not going anywhere.” 
A spokesperson for the National Security Council said that Army Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, Trump's national security adviser, and other officials were not aware of the proposals
CIA Director Mike Pompeo has publicly promised that the agency would become “much more vicious” and aggressive. He said in one speech that the administration “is prepared to engage in activities that are different from what America has been doing these past few years.”

I'm sure this is going to be a great idea and nothing can possibly go wrong from having private companies doing CIA bag jobs in foreign countries in the Trump era.

The only thing that would make this better is if the Amyntor Group has financial ties to Putin.  I'm sure we'll find that out down the road.


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