Saturday, August 30, 2008

The Worldwide Network of US Military Bases

White means no troops or military bases.

Seems like they are taking over the planet, doesn't it?

US Military Expansion and Intervention

The Bush administration says it will carry its "war against terrorism" to many lands. Since September 11, 2001, the US has waged wars on Afghanistan and Iraq and deployed troops in many other countries to carry out special operations against alleged terrorists. In early 2002, the administration announced that it considered Iraq, Iran and North Korea as part of an “axis of evil.” By 2005, the "axis of evil" had become the "outposts of tyranny," and included Zimbabwe, Cuba, Belarus, Burma, Iran and North Korea. Threats against Syria have intensified, as Washington has heightened tensions with Iran and North Korea over nuclear programs. News of the "war on terrorism" fills the US mass media as political analysts, journalists and others speculate about who will be the next target for US regime change.
Well Russia I guess.

The total of America's military bases in other people's countries in 2005, according to official sources, was 737.

More than 1000 US Bases and/or Military Installations

There is more at both the sites on this.

The main sources of information on these military installations (e.g. C. Johnson, the NATO Watch Committee, the International Network for the Abolition of Foreign Military Bases) reveal that the US operates and/or controls between 700 and 800 military bases Worldwide.

In this regard, Hugh d’Andrade and Bob Wing's 2002 Map 1 entitled "U.S. Military Troops and Bases around the World, The Cost of 'Permanent War'", confirms the presence of US military personnel in 156 countries.

The US Military has bases in 63 countries. Brand new military bases have been built since September 11, 2001 in seven countries.

In total, there are 255,065 US military personnel deployed Worldwide.

These facilities include a total of 845,441 different buildings and equipments. The underlying land surface is of the order of 30 million acres. According to Gelman, who examined 2005 official Pentagon data, the US is thought to own a total of 737 bases in foreign lands. Adding to the bases inside U.S. territory, the total land area occupied by US military bases domestically within the US and internationally is of the order of 2,202,735 hectares, which makes the Pentagon one of the largest landowners worldwide (Gelman, J., 2007).

The Global Deployment of US Military Personnel

There are 6000 military bases and/ or military warehouses located in the U.S. (See Wikipedia, February 2007).

Total Military Personnel is of the order of 1,4 million of which 1,168,195 are in the U.S and US overseas territories.

Taking figures from the same source, there are 325,000 US military personnel in foreign countries:

800 in Africa,
97,000 in Asia (excluding the Middle East and Central Asia),
40,258 in South Korea,
40,045 in Japan,
491 at the Diego Garcia Base in the Indian Ocean,
100 in the Philippines, 196 in Singapore,
113 in Thailand,
200 in Australia,
and 16,601 Afloat.

In Europe, there are 116,000 US military personnel including 75,603 who are stationed in Germany.

In Central Asia about 1,000 are stationed at the Ganci (Manas) Air Base in Kyrgyzstan and 38 are located at Kritsanisi, in Georgia, with a mission to train Georgian soldiers.

In the Middle East (excludng the Iraq war theater) there are 6,000 US military personnel, 3,432 of whom are in Qatar and 1,496 in Bahrain.

In the Western Hemisphere, excluding the U.S. and US territories, there are 700 military personnel in Guantanamo, 413 in Honduras and 147 in Canada.

The total number of military personnel at home in the U.S. and/or in US Territories is 1,139,034. There are 1,825 in Europe 114, 660, 682 in Subsaharian Africa, 4, 274 in the Middle East and Southern Asia, 143 in the Ex-USSR, and 89,846 in the Pacific.

America's Empire of Bases

From 2004

by Chalmers Johnson

As distinct from other peoples, most Americans do not recognize -- or do not want to recognize -- that the United States dominates the world through its military power. Due to government secrecy, our citizens are often ignorant of the fact that our garrisons encircle the planet. This vast network of American bases on every continent except Antarctica actually constitutes a new form of empire -- an empire of bases with its own geography not likely to be taught in any high school geography class. Without grasping the dimensions of this globe-girdling Baseworld, one can't begin to understand the size and nature of our imperial aspirations or the degree to which a new kind of militarism is undermining our constitutional order.

Our military deploys well over half a million soldiers, spies, technicians, teachers, dependents, and civilian contractors in other nations. To dominate the oceans and seas of the world, we are creating some thirteen naval task forces built around aircraft carriers whose names sum up our martial heritage -- Kitty Hawk, Constellation, Enterprise, John F. Kennedy, Nimitz, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Carl Vinson, Theodore Roosevelt, Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, John C. Stennis, Harry S. Truman, and Ronald Reagan. We operate numerous secret bases outside our territory to monitor what the people of the world, including our own citizens, are saying, faxing, or e-mailing to one another.

Our installations abroad bring profits to civilian industries, which design and manufacture weapons for the armed forces or, like the now well-publicized Kellogg, Brown & Root company, a subsidiary of the Halliburton Corporation of Houston, undertake contract services to build and maintain our far-flung outposts. One task of such contractors is to keep uniformed members of the imperium housed in comfortable quarters, well fed, amused, and supplied with enjoyable, affordable vacation facilities. Whole sectors of the American economy have come to rely on the military for sales. On the eve of our second war on Iraq, for example, while the Defense Department was ordering up an extra ration of cruise missiles and depleted-uranium armor-piercing tank shells, it also acquired 273,000 bottles of Native Tan sunblock, almost triple its 1999 order and undoubtedly a boon to the supplier, Control Supply Company of Tulsa, Oklahoma, and its subcontractor, Sun Fun Products of Daytona Beach, Florida.

At Least Seven Hundred Foreign Bases

It's not easy to assess the size or exact value of our empire of bases. Official records on these subjects are misleading, although instructive. According to the Defense Department's annual "Base Structure Report" for fiscal year 2003, which itemizes foreign and domestic U.S. military real estate, the Pentagon currently owns or rents 702 overseas bases in about 130 countries and HAS another 6,000 bases in the United States and its territories. Pentagon bureaucrats calculate that it would require at least $113.2 billion to replace just the foreign bases -- surely far too low a figure but still larger than the gross domestic product of most countries -- and an estimated $591,519.8 million to replace all of them. The military high command deploys to our overseas bases some 253,288 uniformed personnel, plus an equal number of dependents and Department of Defense civilian officials, and employs an additional 44,446 locally hired foreigners. The Pentagon claims that these bases contain 44,870 barracks, hangars, hospitals, and other buildings, which it owns, and that it leases 4,844 more.

These numbers, although staggeringly large, do not begin to cover all the actual bases we occupy globally. The 2003 Base Status Report fails to mention, for instance, any garrisons in Kosovo -- even though it is the site of the huge Camp Bondsteel, built in 1999 and maintained ever since by Kellogg, Brown & Root. The Report similarly omits bases in Afghanistan, Iraq, Israel, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Qatar, and Uzbekistan, although the U.S. military has established colossal base structures throughout the so-called arc of instability in the two-and-a-half years since 9/11.

For Okinawa, the southernmost island of Japan, which has been an American military colony for the past 58 years, the report deceptively lists only one Marine base, Camp Butler, when in fact Okinawa "hosts" ten Marine Corps bases, including Marine Corps Air Station Futenma occupying 1,186 acres in the center of that modest-sized island's second largest city. (Manhattan's Central Park, by contrast, is only 843 acres.) The Pentagon similarly fails to note all of the $5-billion-worth of military and espionage installations in Britain, which have long been conveniently disguised as Royal Air Force bases. If there were an honest count, the actual size of our military empire would probably top 1,000 different bases in other people's countries, but no one -- possibly not even the Pentagon -- knows the exact number for sure, although it has been distinctly on the rise in recent years.

For their occupants, these are not unpleasant places to live and work. Military service today, which is voluntary, bears almost no relation to the duties of a soldier during World War II or the Korean or Vietnamese wars. Most chores like laundry, KP ("kitchen police"), mail call, and cleaning latrines have been subcontracted to private military companies like Kellogg, Brown & Root, DynCorp, and the Vinnell Corporation. Fully one-third of the funds recently appropriated for the war in Iraq (about $30 billion), for instance, are going into private American hands for exactly such services. Where possible everything is done to make daily existence seem like a Hollywood version of life at home. According to the Washington Post, in Fallujah, just west of Baghdad, waiters in white shirts, black pants, and black bow ties serve dinner to the officers of the 82nd Airborne Division in their heavily guarded compound, and the first Burger King has already gone up inside the enormous military base we've established at Baghdad International Airport.

Some of these bases are so gigantic they require as many as nine internal bus routes for soldiers and civilian contractors to get around inside the earthen berms and concertina wire. That's the case at Camp Anaconda, headquarters of the 3rd Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, whose job is to police some 1,500 square miles of Iraq north of Baghdad, from Samarra to Taji. Anaconda occupies 25 square kilometers and will ultimately house as many as 20,000 troops. Despite extensive security precautions, the base has frequently come under mortar attack, notably on the Fourth of July, 2003, just as Arnold Schwarzenegger was chatting up our wounded at the local field hospital.

The military prefers bases that resemble small fundamentalist towns in the Bible Belt rather than the big population centers of the United States. For example, even though more than 100,000 women live on our overseas bases -- including women in the services, spouses, and relatives of military personnel -- obtaining an abortion at a local military hospital is prohibited. Since there are some 14,000 sexual assaults or attempted sexual assaults each year in the military, women who become pregnant overseas and want an abortion have no choice but to try the local economy, which cannot be either easy or pleasant in Baghdad or other parts of our empire these days.

Our armed missionaries live in a closed-off, self-contained world serviced by its own airline -- the Air Mobility Command, with its fleet of long-range C-17 Globemasters, C-5 Galaxies, C-141 Starlifters, KC-135 Stratotankers, KC-10 Extenders, and C-9 Nightingales that link our far-flung outposts from Greenland to Australia. For generals and admirals, the military provides seventy-one Learjets, thirteen Gulfstream IIIs, and seventeen Cessna Citation luxury jets to fly them to such spots as the armed forces' ski and vacation center at Garmisch in the Bavarian Alps or to any of the 234 military golf courses the Pentagon operates worldwide. Defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld flies around in his own personal Boeing 757, called a C-32A in the Air Force.

Our "Footprint" on the World

Of all the insensitive, if graphic, metaphors we've allowed into our vocabulary, none quite equals "footprint" to describe the military impact of our empire. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Richard Myers and senior members of the Senate's Military Construction Subcommittee such as Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) are apparently incapable of completing a sentence without using it. Establishing a more impressive footprint has now become part of the new justification for a major enlargement of our empire -- and an announced repositioning of our bases and forces abroad -- in the wake of our conquest of Iraq. The man in charge of this project is Andy Hoehn, deputy assistant secretary of defense for strategy. He and his colleagues are supposed to draw up plans to implement President Bush's preventive war strategy against "rogue states," "bad guys," and "evil-doers." They have identified something they call the "arc of instability," which is said to run from the Andean region of South America (read: Colombia) through North Africa and then sweeps across the Middle East to the Philippines and Indonesia. This is, of course, more or less identical with what used to be called the Third World -- and perhaps no less crucially it covers the world's key oil reserves. Hoehn contends, "When you overlay our footprint onto that, we don't look particularly well-positioned to deal with the problems we're now going to confront."

Once upon a time, you could trace the spread of imperialism by counting up colonies. America's version of the colony is the military base. By following the changing politics of global basing, one can learn much about our ever larger imperial stance and the militarism that grows with it. Militarism and imperialism are Siamese twins joined at the hip. Each thrives off the other. Already highly advanced in our country, they are both on the verge of a quantum leap that will almost surely stretch our military beyond its capabilities, bringing about fiscal insolvency and very possibly doing mortal damage to our republican institutions. The only way this is discussed in our press is via reportage on highly arcane plans for changes in basing policy and the positioning of troops abroad -- and these plans, as reported in the media, cannot be taken at face value.

Marine Brig. Gen. Mastin Robeson, commanding our 1,800 troops occupying the old French Foreign Legion base at Camp Lemonier in Djibouti at the entrance to the Red Sea, claims that in order to put "preventive war" into action, we require a "global presence," by which he means gaining hegemony over any place that is not already under our thumb. According to the right-wing American Enterprise Institute, the idea is to create "a global cavalry" that can ride in from "frontier stockades" and shoot up the "bad guys" as soon as we get some intelligence on them.

"Lily Pads" in Australia, Romania, Mali, Algeria . . .

In order to put our forces close to every hot spot or danger area in this newly discovered arc of instability, the Pentagon has been proposing -- this is usually called "repositioning" -- many new bases, including at least four and perhaps as many as six permanent ones in Iraq. A number of these are already under construction -- at Baghdad International Airport, Tallil air base near Nasariyah, in the western desert near the Syrian border, and at Bashur air field in the Kurdish region of the north. (This does not count the previously mentioned Anaconda, which is currently being called an "operating base," though it may very well become permanent over time.) In addition, we plan to keep under our control the whole northern quarter of Kuwait -- 1,600 square miles out of Kuwait's 6,900 square miles -- that we now use to resupply our Iraq legions and as a place for Green Zone bureaucrats to relax.

Other countries mentioned as sites for what Colin Powell calls our new "family of bases" include: In the impoverished areas of the "new" Europe -- Romania, Poland, and Bulgaria; in Asia -- Pakistan (where we already have four bases), India, Australia, Singapore, Malaysia, the Philippines, and even, unbelievably, Vietnam; in North Africa -- Morocco, Tunisia, and especially Algeria (scene of the slaughter of some 100,00 civilians since 1992, when, to quash an election, the military took over, backed by our country and France); and in West Africa -- Senegal, Ghana, Mali, and Sierra Leone (even though it has been torn by civil war since 1991). The models for all these new installations, according to Pentagon sources, are the string of bases we have built around the Persian Gulf in the last two decades in such anti-democratic autocracies as Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman, and the United Arab Emirates.

Most of these new bases will be what the military, in a switch of metaphors, calls "lily pads" to which our troops could jump like so many well-armed frogs from the homeland, our remaining NATO bases, or bases in the docile satellites of Japan and Britain. To offset the expense involved in such expansion, the Pentagon leaks plans to close many of the huge Cold War military reservations in Germany, South Korea, and perhaps Okinawa as part of Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld's "rationalization" of our armed forces. In the wake of the Iraq victory, the U.S. has already withdrawn virtually all of its forces from Saudi Arabia and Turkey, partially as a way of punishing them for not supporting the war strongly enough. It wants to do the same thing to South Korea, perhaps the most anti-American democracy on Earth today, which would free up the 2nd Infantry Division on the demilitarized zone with North Korea for probable deployment to Iraq, where our forces are significantly overstretched.

In Europe, these plans include giving up several bases in Germany, also in part because of Chancellor Gerhard Schröder's domestically popular defiance of Bush over Iraq. But the degree to which we are capable of doing so may prove limited indeed. At the simplest level, the Pentagon's planners do not really seem to grasp just how many buildings the 71,702 soldiers and airmen in Germany alone occupy and how expensive it would be to reposition most of them and build even slightly comparable bases, together with the necessary infrastructure, in former Communist countries like Romania, one of Europe's poorest countries. Lt. Col. Amy Ehmann in Hanau, Germany, has said to the press "There's no place to put these people" in Romania, Bulgaria, or Djibouti, and she predicts that 80% of them will in the end stay in Germany. It's also certain that generals of the high command have no intention of living in backwaters like Constanta, Romania, and will keep the U.S. military headquarters in Stuttgart while holding on to Ramstein Air Force Base, Spangdahlem Air Force Base, and the Grafenwöhr Training Area.

One reason why the Pentagon is considering moving out of rich democracies like Germany and South Korea and looks covetously at military dictatorships and poverty-stricken dependencies is to take advantage of what the Pentagon calls their "more permissive environmental regulations." The Pentagon always imposes on countries in which it deploys our forces so-called Status of Forces Agreements, which usually exempt the United States from cleaning up or paying for the environmental damage it causes. This is a standing grievance in Okinawa, where the American environmental record has been nothing short of abominable. Part of this attitude is simply the desire of the Pentagon to put itself beyond any of the restraints that govern civilian life, an attitude increasingly at play in the "homeland" as well. For example, the 2004 defense authorization bill of $401.3 billion that President Bush signed into law in November 2003 exempts the military from abiding by the Endangered Species Act and the Marine Mammal Protection Act.

While there is every reason to believe that the impulse to create ever more lily pads in the Third World remains unchecked, there are several reasons to doubt that some of the more grandiose plans, for either expansion or downsizing, will ever be put into effect or, if they are, that they will do anything other than make the problem of terrorism worse than it is. For one thing, Russia is opposed to the expansion of U.S. military power on its borders and is already moving to checkmate American basing sorties into places like Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan. The first post-Soviet-era Russian airbase in Kyrgyzstan has just been completed forty miles from the U.S. base at Bishkek, and in December 2003, the dictator of Uzbekistan, Islam Karimov, declared that he would not permit a permanent deployment of U.S. forces in his country even though we already have a base there.

When it comes to downsizing, on the other hand, domestic politics may come into play. By law the Pentagon's Base Realignment and Closing Commission must submit its fifth and final list of domestic bases to be shut down to the White House by September 8, 2005. As an efficiency measure, Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld has said he'd like to be rid of at least one-third of domestic Army bases and one-quarter of domestic Air Force bases, which is sure to produce a political firestorm on Capitol Hill. In order to protect their respective states' bases, the two mother hens of the Senate's Military Construction Appropriations Subcommittee, Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) and Dianne Feinstein, are demanding that the Pentagon close overseas bases first and bring the troops now stationed there home to domestic bases, which could then remain open. Hutchison and Feinstein included in the Military Appropriations Act of 2004 money for an independent commission to investigate and report on overseas bases that are no longer needed. The Bush administration opposed this provision of the Act but it passed anyway and the president signed it into law on November 22, 2003. The Pentagon is probably adept enough to hamstring the commission, but a domestic base-closing furor clearly looms on the horizon.

By far the greatest defect in the "global cavalry" strategy, however, is that it accentuates Washington's impulse to apply irrelevant military remedies to terrorism. As the prominent British military historian, Correlli Barnett, has observed, the U.S. attacks on Afghanistan and Iraq only increased the threat of al-Qaeda. From 1993 through the 9/11 assaults of 2001, there were five major al-Qaeda attacks worldwide; in the two years since then there have been seventeen such bombings, including the Istanbul suicide assaults on the British consulate and an HSBC Bank. Military operations against terrorists are not the solution. As Barnett puts it, "Rather than kicking down front doors and barging into ancient and complex societies with simple nostrums of 'freedom and democracy,' we need tactics of cunning and subtlety, based on a profound understanding of the people and cultures we are dealing with -- an understanding up till now entirely lacking in the top-level policy-makers in Washington, especially in the Pentagon."

In his notorious "long, hard slog" memo on Iraq of October 16, 2003, Defense secretary Rumsfeld wrote, "Today, we lack metrics to know if we are winning or losing the global war on terror." Correlli-Barnett's "metrics" indicate otherwise. But the "war on terrorism" is at best only a small part of the reason for all our military strategizing. The real reason for constructing this new ring of American bases along the equator is to expand our empire and reinforce our military domination of the world.

It’s Pretty Clear That Europe Is Using 'Trade' Deals to Steal Food from Poor Countries

A new wave of food colonialism is taking food from the mouths of the poor.

In his book Late Victorian Holocausts, Mike Davis tells the story of the famines that sucked the guts out of India in the 1870s. The hunger began when a drought, caused by El Nino, killed the crops on the Deccan plateau. As starvation bit, the viceroy, Lord Lytton, oversaw the export to England of a record 6.4 million hundredweight of wheat. While Lytton lived in imperial splendour and commissioned, among other extravangances, "the most colossal and expensive meal in world history between 12 and 29 million people died. Only Stalin manufactured a comparable hunger.

Now a new Lord Lytton is seeking to engineer another brutal food grab. As Tony Blair's favoured courtier, Peter Mandelson often created the impression that he would do anything to please his master. Today he is the European trade commissioner. From his sumptuous offices in BrusselsStrasbourg, he hopes to impose a treaty which will permit Europe to snatch food from the mouths of some of the world's poorest people. and

Seventy per cent of the protein eaten by the people of Senegal comes from fish. Traditionally cheaper than other animal products, it sustains a population which ranks close to the bottom of the human development index. One in six of the working population is employed in the fishing industry; some two-thirds of these workers are women. Over the past three decades, their means of subsistence has started to collapse as other nations have plundered Senegal's stocks.

The European Union has two big fish problems. One is that, partly as a result of its failure to manage them properly, its own fisheries can no longer meet European demand. The other is that its governments won't confront their fishing lobbies and decommission all the surplus boats. The EU has tried to solve both problems by sending its fishermen to West Africa. Since 1979 it has struck agreements with the government of Senegal, granting our fleets access to its waters. As a result, Senegal's marine ecosystem has started to go the same way as ours. Between 1994 and 2005, the weight of fish taken from the country's waters fell from 95,000 tons to 45,000 tons. Muscled out by European trawlers, the indigenous fishery is crumpling: the number of boats run by local people has fallen by 48 percent since 1997.

In a recent report on this pillage, ActionAid shows that fishing families which once ate three times a day are now eating only once or twice. As the price of fish rises, their customers also go hungry. The same thing has happened in all the west African countries with which the EU has maintained fisheries agreements. In return for wretched amounts of foreign exchange, their primary source of protein has been looted.

The government of Senegal knows this, and in 2006 it refused to renew its fishing agreement with the EU. But European fishermen -- mostly from Spain and France -- have found ways round the ban. They have been registering their boats as Senegalese, buying up quotas from local fishermen and transferring catches at sea from local boats. These practices mean that they can continue to take the country's fish, and have no obligation to land them in Senegal. Their profits are kept on ice until the catch arrives in Europe.

Mandelson's office is trying to negotiate economic partnership agreements with African countries. They were supposed to have been concluded by the end of last year, but many countries, including Senegal, have refused to sign. The agreements insist that European companies have the right both to establish themselves freely on African soil, and to receive national treatment. This means that the host country is not allowed to discriminate between its own businesses and European companies. Senegal would be forbidden to ensure that its fish are used to sustain its own industry and to feed its own people. The dodges used by European trawlers would be legalised.

The UN's Economic Commission for Africa has described the EU's negotiations as "not sufficiently inclusive." They suffer from a "lack of transparency" and from the African countries' lack of capacity to handle the legal complexities. ActionAid shows that Mandelson's office has ignored these problems, raised the pressure on reluctant countries and "moved ahead in the negotiations at a pace much faster than the [African nations] could handle." If these agreements are forced on West Africa, Lord Mandelson will be responsible for another imperial famine.

This is one instance of the food colonialism which is again coming to govern the relations between rich counties and poor. As global food supplies tighten, rich consumers are pushed into competition with the hungry. Last week the environmental group WWF published a report on the UK's indirect consumption of water, purchased in the form of food. We buy much of our rice and cotton, for example, from the Indus Valley, which contains most of Pakistan's best farmland. To meet the demand for exports, the valley's aquifers are being pumped out faster than they can be recharged. At the same time, rain and snow in the Himalayan headwaters have decreased, probably as a result of climate change. In some places, salt and other crop poisons are being drawn through the diminishing water table, knocking out farmland for good. The crops we buy are, for the most part, freely traded, but the unaccounted costs all accrue to Pakistan.

Now we learn that Middle Eastern countries, led by Saudi Arabia, are securing their future food supplies by trying to buy land in poorer nations. The Financial Times reports that Saudi Arabia wants to set up a series of farms abroad, each of which could exceed 100,000 hectares. Their produce would not be traded: it would be shipped directly to the owners. The FT, which usually agitates for the sale of everything, frets over "the nightmare scenario of crops being transported out of fortified farms as hungry locals look on." Through "secretive bilateral agreements," the paper reports, "the investors hope to be able to bypass any potential trade restriction that the host country might impose during a crisis."

Both Ethiopia and Sudan have offered the oil states hundreds of thousands of hectares. This is easy for the corrupt governments of these countries: in Ethiopia the state claims to own most of the land; in Sudan an envelope passed across the right desk magically transforms other people's property into foreign exchange. But 5.6 million Sudanese and 10 million Ethiopians are currently in need of food aid. The deals their governments propose can only exacerbate such famines.

None of this is to suggest that the poor nations should not sell food to the rich. To escape from famine, countries must enhance their purchasing power. This often means selling farm products, and increasing their value by processing them locally. But there is nothing fair about the deals I have described. Where once they used gunboats and sepoys, the rich nations now use chequebooks and lawyers to seize food from the hungry. The scramble for resources has begun, but -- in the short term at any rate -- we will hardly notice. The rich world's governments will protect themselves from the political cost of shortages, even if it means that other people must starve

Friday, August 29, 2008

Why do we keep letting the politicians get away with lies?

Robert Fisk's World

Now there is a good question we all should think about. Why indeed. Why do we tolerate it and should they be punished for their lies. Absolutely. considering they start wars and promote corporate agendas which do not benefit ordinary people. Ordinary people pay for the wars and in the end everything else, like the good slaves they are being turned into.

Saturday, 30 August 2008

How on earth do they get away with it? Let's start with war between Hizbollah and Israel – past and future war, that is.

Back in 2006, Hizbollah captured two Israeli soldiers from their side of the Lebanese frontier and dragged them, mortally wounded, into Lebanon. The Israelis immediately launched a massive air bombardment against all of Lebanon, publicly declaring Beirut's democratically-elected and US-backed – but extremely weak – government must be held to account for what Hizbollah does. Taking the lives of more than 1,000 Lebanese, almost all civilians, Israel unleashed its air power against the entire infrastructure of the rebuilt Lebanon, smashing highways, viaducts, electric grids, factories, lighthouses, totally erasing dozens of villages and half-destroying hundreds more before bathing the south of the country in three million cluster bomblets.

After firing thousands of old but nonetheless lethal rockets into Israel – where the total death toll was less than 200, more than half of them soldiers – Sayed Hassan Nasrallah, Hizbollah's leader, told a lie: if he had known what Israel would do in revenge for the capture of two soldiers, he announced, he would never have agreed to Hizbollah's operation.

But now here comes Israel's environment minister, Gideon Ezra, with an equally huge whopper as he warns of an even bigger, more terrible war should Hizbollah attack Israel again. "During the (2006) war, we considered the possibility of attacking Lebanon's infrastructure but we never (sic) resorted to this option, because we thought at the time that not all the Lebanese were responsible for the Hizbollah attacks... At that time, we had Hizbollah in our sights and not the Lebanese state. But the Hizbollah do not live on the moon, and some (sic) infrastructure was hit." This was a brazen lie. Yet the Americans, who arm Israel, said nothing. The European Union said nothing. No journalistic column pointed out this absolute dishonesty.

Yet why should they when George Bush and Condoleezza Rice announced that there would be peace between Israelis and Palestinians by the end of 2007 – then rolled back the moment IsraelJerusalem. The moment Israeli foreign minister Tzipi Livni announced that "premature" efforts to bridge gaps in the "peace process" could lead to "clashes" (Palestinians, it should be remembered, die in "clashes", Israelis are always "murdered"), my friends in Beirut and I – along with a Jewish friend in London – took bets on when Condi would fall into line. Bingo, this was Her Holiness in Jerusalem last week: "It's extremely important just to keep making forward progress rather than trying prematurely to come to some set of conclusions." "Some set", of course, means "peace"'. Once more, USIsrael. And again, the world remained silent. decided it didn't like the timetable. Take this week's charade in foreign policy was dictated by

So when the world's press announced that Barack Obama's new running mate, the silver-haired Joe Biden, was "an expert in foreign policy", we all waited to be told what this meant. But all we got was a reminder that he had voted for the 2003 Iraq invasion but thought better about it later and was now against the war. Well, Goddam blow me down, that certainly shows experience. But "expertise"? No doubt in government he'll be teemed up with those old pro-Israeli has-beens, Madeleine Albright and Martin Indyk, whose new boss, Obama, virtually elected himself to the Israeli Knesset with his supine performance in Israel during his famous "international" tour.

As one of the Arab world's most prominent commentators put it to me this week, "Biden's being set up to protect Israel while Obama looks after the transportation system in Chicago." It was a cruel remark with just enough bitter reality to make it bite.

Not that we'll pay attention. And why should we when the Canadian department of national defence – in an effort to staunch the flow of Canadian blood in the sands of Afghanistan (93 servicemen and women "fallen" so far in their hopeless Nato war against the Taliban) – has brought in a Virginia-based US company called the Terrorism Research Centre to help. According to the DND, these "terrorism experts" are going, among other subjects, to teach Canadian troops – DO NOT LAUGH, READERS, I BEG YOU DO NOT LAUGH – "the history of Islam"! And yes, these "anti-terrorism" heroes are also going to lecture the lads on "radical (sic) Islam", "sensitivities" and "cultural and ideological issues that influence insurgent decision-making". It is a mystery to me why the Canadian brass should turn to the US for assistance – at a cost of almost a million dollars, I should add – when America is currently losing two huge wars in the Muslim world.

But wait. The counterinsurgency school, which claims links to the US government, is reported to be a branch of Total Intelligence Solutions, a company run by infamous Cofer Black, a former director of CIA counterterrorism, and Erik Prince, a former US navy seal. Both men are executives with the Prince Group, the holding company for Total Intelligence Solutions and – and here readers will not laugh – a certain company called Blackwater. Yes, the very same Blackwater whose mercenary thugs blithely gunned down all those civilians on the streets of Baghdad last year. So Canada's soldiers are now going to be contaminated by these mercenary killers before they head off to the Muslim world with their unique understanding of "the history of Islam". How do they get away with it?

On a quite separate matter, you might ask the same of Conrad Black, languishing in a Florida prison after his business convictions. Responding to an enquiry from Murdoch's grotty New York Post into body searches and other appalling humiliations at the jail, Uncle Conrad, as I like to call him – for he is among the rogues I would love to have interviewed (others include the younger Mussolini and the older Yeltsin) – responded that the Florida facility was not oppressive, that "many of the people here are quite (sic) interesting" but – AND HERE IT COMES, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN! – "if saintly men like Gandhi could choose to clean latrines, and Thomas More could voluntarily wear a hair shirt, this experience won't kill me".

Now when Uncle Conrad likens himself to the assassinated Mahatma, the apostle of India, that is mere hubris. But when he compares himself to England's greatest Catholic martyr, a man of saintly honour if ruthless conviction, this is truly weird. "I die the King's good servant but God's first," More reportedly said on 6 July 1535, before they chopped off his head on Tower Hill. And many are there among Uncle Conrad's enemies who might wish the same fate for the former owner of The Daily Telegraph. After all, Henry VIII didn't let Thomas get away with it.

Speaking of LIES

The Anatomy of a Deception: How The McCains Changed Their Baby Adoption Story Just Before 2008 Campaign Began

August 21, 2008

As was pointed out yesterday by the Christian Science Monitor, the McCain campaign was called out for lying about the purported urging of Cindy McCain by Mother Teresa herself to adopt two children at her orphanage back in 1991. Turns out, McCain never met or even spoke with Mother Teresa on that trip.

Once confronted by the Monitor about the deception, the campaign quickly erased such claims from the website, as it did with Cindy's family recipes, which were proved to be lifted from the Food Network.

But after doing some research, this deception was no careless accident, but rather another shameless and deliberate attempt by the campaign to reinvent and embellish the McCain family history in time for his 2008 presidential bid.

Here's how the McCain adoption was described by them prior to the 2008 presidential race:

I was working in Dhaka, and a friend of mine from Arizona had said to me, Look, while you're there, do me a favor. Mother Teresa has an orphanage in Dhaka. Would you mind seeing if they need any help? And I said, Sure. We finally found the orphanage, and we saw 150 newborns on one floor. And a lot of them were sick. And the nuns said, [This little girl with a cleft palate]--can't you take her and get her medical help? And I thought, well, sure I can, I can do that.

CNBC (Feb 12, 2000, Tim Russert Interview with the McCains):

Mrs. McCAIN: She's--our daughter Bridget is eight years old. I found her in Mother Teresa's orphanage when she was 10 weeks old in Bangladesh. She has a cleft palate; she had some other problems. And the nuns persuaded me to bring her home, and I did. I--I could do that. I was able to do that. And literally on board the flight home from Bangkok to Los Angeles, not having spoken to my husband, I decided I couldn't c--I had to--I couldn't let her go. I had--she chose me. So she's ours now. I came home and presented my husband with a new daughter that he didn't know he had.

Vanity Fair (November 2004, The Trashing of John McCain):

In 1991, when Cindy McCain was on a relief mission to Bangladesh, she was asked by one of Mother Teresa's nuns to help a young orphan with a cleft palate. Flying her to the U.S. for surgery, Cindy realized she couldn't give her up. At the Phoenix airport, she broke it to her husband, and they eventually adopted the child. But few people knew that story. In the words of McCain's national campaign manager, Rick Davis, a smear doesn't have "to be true to be effective."

Now see how the story changed at the beginning of 2008:

The Sunday Mail (Feb. 3, 2008, Dark past no barrier for Cindy):

``While working at Mother Teresa's orphanage in the early 1990s, I stumbled upon the most beautiful little girl I'd ever seen,'' she said. ``She had a terrible cleft palate. She had problems with her feet. She had problems with her hands. She had all kinds of problems.

``As only Mother Teresa can, she prevailed upon me to take this baby and another baby to the United States for medical care.''

The Sunday Telegraph (Feb. 3, 2008, Cindy McCain: pills, ills, beer and the White House)

It was on a trip to Bangladesh in 1991 that she adopted Bridget. On Friday she recounted to voters in Missouri and Illinois how Mother Teresa persuaded her to return home with the child. "I just could not let her go. The only thing was, I had not told my husband. When I got back, he asked me 'Where will she go?' and I said: 'I thought she could come to our house.'

Digital Journal (Jun 15, 2008, Can We Trust Cindy McCain to Represent American Women?):

Mrs. McCain has been involved in charity work from clearing landmines, to starting a charity to help children who need facial reconstruction. She has been inspired by her daughter she adopted from Bangladesh who needed extreme care after being born with a cleft palate. The adoption was prompted by Mother Teresa herself who implored Cindy to adopt the little girl. She did so without first consulting John McCain because of her compassion for the girl and her respect for Mother Teresa.

But the most damning evidence of a deliberate attempt to concoct this story comes from cached versions of the McCain campaign website.

Here's how Cindy's campaign bio reads on the website as late as November 9, 2004:

As an advocate for children's health care needs, Cindy H. McCain founded the American Voluntary Medical Team (AVMT) in 1988. The AVMT provided emergency medical and surgical care to impoverished children throughout the world. Cindy led 55 medical missions to third world and war-torn countries during AVMT's seven years of existence. During one of those missions, on a visit to Mother Teresa's Orphanage Cindy agreed to bring two babies in need of medical attention back to the United States. One of those babies is now a happy and healthy little girl named Bridget McCain.

Now compare that to the change made on the website on February 3, 2008 -- the same day the stories above by The Sunday Mail and The Sunday Telegraph were printed:

As an advocate for children's health care needs, Cindy founded and ran the American Voluntary Medical Team (AVMT) from 1988 to 1995. AVMT provided emergency medical and surgical care to impoverished children throughout the world. Cindy led 55 medical missions to third world and war-torn countries during AVMT's seven years of existence. On one of those missions, Mother Teresa convinced Cindy to take two babies in need of medical attention to the United States. One of those babies is now their adopted daughter, 15 year old Bridget McCain.

Notice the obvious change in the one sentence that depicts the circumstances of the adoption.

The instances of the dishonest efforts to create a McCain family portrait are growing. The campaign previously had to scrub its website of Cindy's family recipes when it was discovered in April that they were largely cut and paste from the Food Network.

At the time, they blamed an intern for the problem. I wonder who they will now blame for Cindy McCain's own words?

Are these indicative of the McCain family values?

UPDATE: Seems that Rick Warren told Larry King on Monday night that the Mother Teresa story was one of three times during Saturday's forum that McCain teared-up. They're liars and actors.

Mark Nickolas is the Managing Editor of Political Base, and this story was from his original post, "The Anatomy of a Deception: How The McCains Changed Their Baby Adoption Story Just Before 2008 Bid"

If they lie about that what else would they lie about? Probably anything.

Putin smells a US rat in Georgia crisis

AS RUSSIA struggled to rally international support for its military action in Georgia, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has lashed out at the US, contending that the White House may have orchestrated the conflict to benefit one of the candidates in the presidential election.

Putin's comments in a television interview, his most extensive to date on Russia's decision to send troops into Georgia earlier this month, sought to present the military operation as a response to brazen, Cold War-style provocations by the US.

In tones that seemed alternately angry and mischievous, Putin suggested the Bush administration may have tried to create a crisis that would influence American voters in the choice of a successor to President George W Bush.

"The suspicion would arise that someone in the United States created this conflict on purpose to stir up the situation and to create an advantage for one of the candidates in the competitive race for the presidency in the United States," Putin said in an interview with CNN.

Putin did not specify which candidate he had in mind, but there was no doubt that he was referring to Republican Senator John McCain.

McCain is loathed in the Kremlin because he has a close relationship with Georgia's president, Mikheil Saakashvili, and has called for imposing stiff penalties on Russia, including ejecting it from the Group of 8 industrialised nations.

Putin offered scant evidence to support his assertion, and the White House called his comments absurd.

But they underscored the depth of the rift between Moscow and Washington over the GeorgiaRussia. crisis, which flared three weeks ago when the Georgian military tried to reclaim a breakaway enclave allied with

They also suggested that the Russian leader was deeply concerned about the possibility McCain, widely viewed here as having a strong bias against Russia, could become president.

Russia has been struggling to persuade the outside world to back its action in Georgia.

On Thursday, China and four other countries meeting with Russia for the annual summit meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, a security alliance, declined to back Russia's military action in a joint communique.

Putin's interview came after his protege, President Dmitri Medvedev, had spoken to several foreign news media outlets this week as part of a concerted move by the Kremlin to counter Georgia's public relations offensive in the international media.

Medvedev's tone was less harsh, though he also criticised the West.

On Thursday, Putin also said Russian defence officials believed US citizens had been in the conflict area supporting the Georgian military when it attacked the separatist region of South Ossetia.

"Even during the Cold War, during the time of tough confrontation between the Soviet Union and the United States, we have always avoided direct clashes between our civilians, let alone our service men," Putin said.

"We have serious reasons to believe that directly, in the combat zone, citizens of the United States were present."

"If the facts are confirmed," he added, "that United States citizens were present in the combat zone, that means only one thing — that they could be there only on the direct instruction of their leadership. And if this is so, then it means that American citizens are in the combat zone, performing their duties, and they can only do that following a direct order from their leader, and not on their own initiative."

In Washington, White House spokesman Dana Perino dismissed Putin's remarks.

"To suggest that the United States orchestrated this on behalf of a political candidate just sounds not rational," she said.

Well you know he may be Right!
Cheney does Love War and the profits from it now doesn't he? Anything to take the Focus off Iraq. And what better way to frighten the American people into thinking they need another war president to defend them from yet another evil country? So how do you arrange another war and orchestrate the need for one? Cheney and company know how to do that all to well it seems.
Now where are those weapons of mass destruction Iraq had? Well they never had any at all and of course they were never found . So to start a war you lie and coerce of course. Feed the country loads of propaganda. Fear monger.

Why was Cheney’s top guy in Georgia just before the war?

James Gerstenzang, Countdown to Crawford – Los Angeles Times

What was a top national security aide to Vice President Dick Cheney doing in Georgia shortly before Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili's troops engaged in what became a disastrous fight with South Ossetian rebels – and then Russian troops?

Not, according to the vice president's office, what you might think – if your thinking takes you into the realm of Cheney giving his blessing to the Georgian's military operation.

To be sure, Cheney has been a leader of the hardliners in the administration when it comes to standing up to Russia – to the point that the man who ran the Pentagon as the Cold War came to an end during the administration of the first President Bush has been seen as ready to renew that face-off with Moscow.

It was Cheney who visited the Georgian embassy in Washington last week to sign a remembrance book as a demonstration of the administration's support.

And yes, Joseph R. Wood, Cheney's deputy assistant for national security affairs, was in Georgia

But, the vice president's office says, he was there as part of a team setting up the vice president's just-announced visit to Georgia. (It is common for the White House to send security, policy, communications and press aides to each site the president and vice president will visit ahead of the trip, to begin making arrangements and planning the agenda.)

The White House disclosed on Monday that Cheney would hurry over to Azerbaijan, Georgia, Ukraine and Italy next week, almost immediately after addressing the Republican National Convention on Labor Day.

And so it was that a team from the vice president's office, U.S. security officials and others were in Georgia several days before the war began.

It had nothing to do, the vice president's office said, with a military operation that some have said suggests a renewal of the Cold War.
shortly before the war began.

Cheney trip to Georgia planned before crisis

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Vice President Dick Cheney will travel to Georgia next week as part of a broader visit to "key partners" in Europe and Asia, the White House said Monday.

Vice President Dick Cheney signs a condolence book last week at the Georgian Embassy in Washington.

Cheney, who will depart on September 2, will meet with Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, whose country was invaded by Russian forces this month after a Georgian crackdown on separatists in the breakaway region of South Ossetia.

"The president felt it was important to have the vice president consult with allies in the region on our common security interests," White House deputy press secretary Tony Fratto said.

Cheney will "reiterate U.S. commitment" to Georgia during his visit, and he will consult with Saakashvili "on common security interests," an administration official said.

A senior administration official said Cheney's trip had been planned before the Russia-Georgia conflict.

Last week, President Bush telephoned Saakashvili and told him he expects Russia to withdraw its forces from the former Soviet republic and end "their siege of Georgia," a White House spokesman said.

Cheney also will visit the leaders of Azerbaijan, Ukraine and Italy during next week's trip. He also will address the annual Ambrosetti Forum in Lake Como in northern Italy.

U.S. Contractor in Iraq, KBR, Accused of Slavery

U.S. Contractor in Iraq, KBR, Accused of Slavery

Posted by Satyam, Think Progress August 29, 2008.

A Washington law firm filed a lawsuit yesterday against Iraq contractor KBR, "alleging that the company and its Jordanian subcontractor engaged in the human trafficking of Nepali workers," the Washington Post reported today. The suit states that 13 Nepali men were recruited for kitchen work in Jordan only to have their passports seized upon arrival and "told they were being sent to a military facility in Iraq." TPM Muckraker notes that the complaint calls these actions "slavery":

160. Defendants' actions as set forth above constitute the torts of trafficking in persons, involuntary servitude, forced labor, and slavery.

161. Trafficking in persons in a modern day form of slavery, and along with
involuntary servitude and forced labor constitutes a tort in violation of the law of nations and/or in violation of treaties of the United States.

Suit blames U.S. contractor KBR for deaths of 12 Nepalese in Iraq

U.S. military contractor KBR Inc. and a Jordanian subcontractor have been sued by the families of 12 Nepalese men who were captured and beheaded by Iraqi insurgents in 2004. The allegation: human trafficking.

The families claim the men had been promised jobs in a posh hotel in Jordan but instead were sent against their will to a U.S. air base. On the way, insurgents attacked their caravan and seized the 12 and killed them days later.

Another Nepalese worker, who survived the attack and escaped, also is a plaintiff. He maintains he was forced to work at Al Asad Air Base as a warehouse loader for 15 months.

The suit was filed yesterday in federal court, The Washington Post writes.

Heather Browne, a spokeswoman for Houston-based KBR, declined to comment, saying the company had not seen the lawsuit.

The plaintiffs' attorney, Agnieszka Fryszman, told the Associated Press the men came from poor families that went into debt to send them abroad to work. Their deaths pushed the families deeper into poverty.

"It seemed there were a number of different recruiters and different contractors, but they all seem to end at KBR's doorstep," Fryszman said.

In May, the U.S. Labor Department determined that the spouses and parents of the Nepalese were entitled to compensation. Each spouse and set of parents are to receive monthly payments of $233, plus $75 for victims who had children.

This has happened before

Pilipinos Kidnapped and
Forced to work on US Embassy in Iraq
The Oversight Committee holds a hearing, "Allegations of Waste, Fraud, and Abuse at the New U.S. Embassy in Iraq." The hearing examines the performance of the State Department and its contractors in the construction of the new $600 million U.S. embassy in Baghdad. The Committee reviews questions regarding the embassy compound construction as well as allegations of labor abuse through improper contracting practices. Rory Mayberry, a former subcontractor employee for First Kuwaiti Trading & Contracting Company, gives opening testimony.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Only a Two-Page 'Note' Governs U.S. Military in Afghanistan

By Karen DeYoung

Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, August 28, 2008; Page A07

For the past six years, military relations between the United States and Afghanistan have been governed by a two-page "diplomatic note" giving U.S. forces virtual carte blanche to conduct operations as they see fit.

Although President Bush pledged in a 2005 declaration signed with Afghan President Hamid Karzai to "develop appropriate arrangements and agreements" formally spelling out the terms of the U.S. troop presence and other bilateral ties, no such agreements were drawn up.

But after a U.S.-led airstrike last week that United Nations and Afghan officials have said killed up to 90 civilians -- most of them children -- Karzai has publicly called for a review of all foreign forces in Afghanistan and a formal "status of forces agreement," along the lines of an accord being negotiated between the United States and Iraq.

The prospect of codifying the ad hoc rules under which U.S. forces have operated in Afghanistan since late 2001 sends shudders through the Bush administration, which has struggled to finalize its agreement with Baghdad. "It's never been done because the issues have been too big to surmount," said one U.S. official who was not authorized to discuss the subject on the record. "The most diplomatic way of saying it is that there are just a lot of moving parts," the official said.

The Afghan government "is not the most streamlined and efficient system," he said. "So you'd have a multiplicity of players on that side." Less diplomatic U.S. officials frequently describe elements of Karzai's government as deeply corrupt and incompetent. Although most civilian war deaths in Afghanistan are caused by Taliban forces, those resulting from the highly visible airstrikes are a particular cause of public outrage that neither Karzai nor the administration can afford to ignore.

The other side of the equation is even more complicated. Of the 33,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan, 19,000 operate under U.S. Central Command, while 14,000 form the largest single component of a 40-nation force led by NATO under a U.N. resolution.

The disparate command structures have frustrated every government involved in the effort, but according to Afghan officials, they have also allowed diffused responsibility for civilian casualties, such as those of last week in the western part of the country. U.S. forces operate up to 90 percent of all strike aircraft in the country, and it is rarely clear whether an individual strike has been conducted as part of a NATO or U.S. operation.

The U.N. mandate for NATO serves as a de facto status-of-forces agreement. The protection and authority it gives, however, do not apply to the separate U.S. force, which is covered under the diplomatic note exchanged between the United States and a non-elected, interim Afghan government in the months after the Sept. 11, 2001, al-Qaeda attacks and the launch of U.S. counterterrorism operations in Afghanistan.

The note delves into arcane issues such as customs duties and driver's licenses. It devotes only a few sentences to "the conduct of ongoing military operations," giving U.S. troops "a status equivalent" to diplomatic immunity and exempting them from any Afghan "disciplinary authority" or legal jurisdiction.

Similar legal immunity is included in U.S. status-of-forces agreements with more than 80 countries. But it has become the biggest roadblock to the conclusion of an accord with Baghdad, and U.S. officials say Karzai has taken his cues from the Iraqi government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

Civilian casualties, long a recurring problem in Afghanistan, tripled last year as thinly spread U.S. and NATO forces grew more dependent on air power against a resurgent Taliban. Although the number of civilian deaths attributed to international forces during combat on the ground has remained relatively static at fewer than 100 each year, casualties due to airstrikes have reached more than 200 through the first eight months of this year, compared with 321 in 2007 and 116 in 2006.

According to the U.S. Air Forces Central Combined Air and Space Operations Center, the number of strikes this year in which munitions were dropped totaled 2,368 as of Aug. 4. The equivalent number for the same period in Iraq was 783. The statistics for Afghanistan do not distinguish between strikes on behalf of NATO and those part of separate U.S. operations, usually air support called in by Special Operations teams during engagements with Taliban forces.

U.S. military and intelligence officials have said that the Taliban has become adept at drawing U.S. fire to civilian areas as an increasingly effective propaganda move.

Although U.S. command headquarters on the ground and the Tampa-based Central Command normally respond to Afghan charges of civilian casualties by announcing an investigation, the results of their probes are rarely made public.

Last week's bombing, however, was the largest single incident of reported non-combatant casualties. An investigation by a U.N. human rights team found "convincing evidence" that 90 civilians, including 60 children, were killed in the Aug. 21 military operation led by U.S. Special Operations forces and the Afghan army in Herat province.

An initial U.S. military release acknowledged that five civilians and 25 militants had been killed in an operation the Pentagon later described as "a legitimate strike on a Taliban target."

The U.N. report, released Tuesday, added pressure for a U.S. investigation, which is underway. In a media briefing at the Pentagon yesterday, Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Conway said that, if the U.N. report is accurate, it would be a "truly unfortunate incident."

"We need to avoid that, certainly, at every cost," Conway said. Still, he said, air power remains a critical military tool, offering the ability to strike insurgents in hardened compounds and reducing the risk for U.S. troops. Still, he acknowledged, "you don't always know what's in the compound."

Staff writer Ann Scott Tyson contributed to this report.