Category: Black Ops

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Fort Russ

Cassad News
November 26, 2015Translated from Russian by Tom Winter
With additional photos supplied by Fort Russ

Last night (November 25) the first photos and video came up of the destroyed Turkish convoy that arrived in the militant-controlled city of Azaz. First, some photos:

Well, all in the same spirit, some information about what kind of city is this, and why is this news you need to focus on. The town Azaz is located in the north of Syria, almost on the border with Turkey. The city is a hub, where Turkish aid (weapons, ammunition, drugs, rations etc.) are dumped off. Then with all his “help” they begin to disperse it to other cities under militant control, as well as camps and fortified places.
Map. Azaz is circled in red:
As you can see, it’s about five km from the Turkish border. Speaking of buffer zones, Turkey was expecting to make this city an absolute springboard, out of reach of Syrian army strikes. It did not happen. But until today, due to the remoteness of the Syrian army from it, as well as a number of geopolitical reasons, attacks were not mounted on this city.

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25.11.2015 Author: F. William Engdahl

Israeli Colonel Caught with IS Pants Down




This was definitely not supposed to happen. It seems that an Israeli military man with the rank of colonel was “caught with IS pants down.” By that I mean he was captured amid a gaggle of so-called IS–or Islamic State or ISIS or DAESH depending on your preference–terrorists, by soldiers of the Iraqi army. Under interrogation by the Iraqi intelligence he apparently said a lot regarding the role of Netanyahu’s IDF in supporting IS.

In late October an Iranian news agency, quoting a senior Iraqi intelligence officer, reported the capture of an Israeli army colonel, named Yusi Oulen Shahak, reportedly related to the ISIS Golani Battalion operating in Iraq in the Salahuddin front. In a statement to Iran’s semi-official Fars News Agency a Commander of the Iraqi Army stated, “The security and popular forces have held captive an Israeli colonel.” He added that the IDF colonel “had participated in the Takfiri ISIL group’s terrorist operations.” He said the colonel was arrested together with a number of ISIL or IS terrorists, giving the details: “The Israeli colonel’s name is Yusi Oulen Shahak and is ranked colonel in Golani Brigade… with the security and military code of Re34356578765az231434.”

Why Israel?

Ever since the beginning of Russia’s very effective IS bombing of select targets in Syria on September 30, details of the very dirty role of not only Washington, but also NATO member Turkey under President Erdogan, Qatar and other states has come into the sunlight for the first time.

It’s becoming increasingly clear that at least a faction in the Obama Administration has played a very dirty behind-the-scenes role in supporting IS in order to advance the removal of Syrian President Bashar al Assad and pave the way for what inevitably would be a Libya-style chaos and destruction which would make the present Syrian refugee crisis in Europe a mere warmup by comparison.

The “pro-IS faction” in Washington includes the so-called neo-conservatives centered around disgraced former CIA head and executioner of the Iraqi “surge” General David Petraeus. It also includes US General John R. Allen, who since September 2014 had served as President Obama’s Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) and, until she resigned in February 2013, it included Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Significantly, General John Allen, an unceasing advocate of a US-led “No Fly Zone” inside Syria along the border to Turkey, something President Obama refused, was relieved of his post on 23 October, 2015. That was shortly after launch of the highly-effective Russian strikes on Syrian IS and Al Qaeda’s Al Nusra Front terrorist sites changed the entire situation in the geopolitical picture of Syria and the entire Middle East.

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Consortium News

Obama Keeps Pentagon Spigot Open


President Barack Obama on the campaign trail. (Photo credit:

Though he ran for the White House as a “change” candidate, President Obama has mostly favored continuity, including bending to the usual pressure from the Military-Industrial Complex to keep the Pentagon spending flowing, as budget watchdog Chuck Spinney explains.

By Chuck Spinney

The Pentagon just won another small skirmish in its long war with Social Security and Medicare. That is the unstated message of the budget deal just announced gleefully by congressional leaders and President Barack Obama. To understand why, let’s take a quick trip down memory lane.

Last January, President Obama submitted Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 budget to Congress, and he proposed to break the spending limits on both defense and domestic programs.  These limits are set by the long-term sequester provisions of the Budget Control Act of 2011  (BCA), which, for better or worse, is the law of the land, and Obama was asking Congress to change the law.

Mr. Obama wanted to finance his ramped up spending proposals by increasing taxes.  Of course, he knew that the Republican-controlled Congress lusted for defense increases but hated domestic spending, particularly entitlements, such as Social Security and Medicare.

Moreover, he knew increasing taxes was like waving the red cape in front of the Republican budget bulls. So, he knew his budget would be dead on arrival. Obama’s budget, nevertheless, had one virtue: it was up-front about the intractable nature of the budget problem. In effect, whether deliberately or not, Obama laid a trap that the Republicans merrily walked into during the ensuing spring and summer.


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A real cell tower. (Image: Flickr, Carl Lender via Bus. Insider)

A real cell tower. (Image: Flickr, Carl Lender via Bus. Insider)



The federal government has been fighting hard for years hide details about its use of so-called stingray surveillance technology from the public.

The surveillance devices simulate cell phone towers in order to trick nearby mobile phones into connecting to them and revealing the phones’ locations.

Now newly released documents confirm long-held suspicions that the controversial devices are also capable of recording numbers for a mobile phone’s incoming and outgoing calls, as well as intercepting the content of voice and text communications. The documents also discuss the possibility of flashing a phone’s firmware “so that you can intercept conversations using a suspect’s cell phone as a bug.”

The information appears in a 2008 guideline prepared by the Justice Department to advise law enforcement agents on when and how the equipment can be legally used.

The Department of Justice ironically acknowledges in the documents that the use of the surveillance technology to locate cellular phones ‘is an issue of some controversy.’

The American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California obtained the documents (.pdf) after a protracted legal battle involving a two-year-old public records request. The documents include not only policy guidelines, but also templates for submitting requests to courts to obtain permission to use the technology.



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ISIS rooted in Arab Spring, gained momentum due to double standards – Russian Security Service head

© Stringer
Islamic State evolved from the Arab Spring and gained momentum due to the duplicity of certain world powers, the head of Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) has told a meeting of top security heads of ex-Soviet states (CIS) in Moscow on Wednesday.

There are world powers that are using Islamic State (IS, former ISIL/ISIS) as a kind of “terror battering ram” to ensure their interests in Asia and Africa, said FSB director Aleksandr Bortnikov. In pursuing their goals with IS, these countries have put the world on the verge of a global religious and civilizational crisis, he added.

The outcome of this global conflict could be disastrous, Bortnikov stressed

READ MORE: FSB chief urges international campaign to discredit ISIS ideology and leaders

Russia’s security agency chief also said that with parts of the Taliban movement in Afghanistan joining Islamic State, there is an imminent threat of the terrorists invading Central Asia.



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Lavrov: Unclear what exactly US is doing in Syria & why results so insignificant

Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov © Maxim Shemetov
The Russian Foreign Ministry has questioned the effectiveness of the US-led year-long air campaign in Syria, saying it’s unclear “why the results of so many combat sorties are so insignificant.” Failing to curb ISIS, the US has now “adjusted” its program.

“We have very few specifics which could explain what the US is exactly doing in Syria and why the results of so many combat sorties are so insignificant,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told Russian channel NTV. “With, as far as I know, 25,000 sorties they [US-led air campaign] could have smashed the entire [country of] Syria into smithereens,” the minister noted.

Moscow claims lost most of its ammunition & heavy vehicles in Russian airstrikes 



‘We forgot what peace is’: Everyday life in war-torn Damascus revealed in touching photo report

Syria’s capital Damascus has been blighted by the same civil war which has gripped the whole country for more than four years. Residents say that they don’t remember what peace is. Many hope that Russia’s military operation will finally stop the violence.


Damascus residents told Russian journalists Nigina Beroeva and Ksenia Bolshakova, who report for the blog, that people in the capital welcomed the start of Russia’s anti-terrorist operation, launched on September 30, with enthusiasm.

In Damascus [people] remember this day. Locals say all people were watching TV, following the news, rejoicing. During peaceful times maybe only football was watched with such interest,” the reporters wrote.


In conversation, some have said that there are people who do not support Russia’s operation. However, it was difficult to find opposition activists in Damascus, the report said. It added that those who said that they are pleased with Russian support questioned why it took Moscow so long to provide it. However, both sides – supporters and those who opposed the airstrikes – said that the war should be stopped, and that at the moment it can only be done with Russia’s help, according t the journalists.


The Old City area is still being shelled from time to time, but fortunately there has been no severe damage inflicted to sites of cultural heritage within Damascus, according to the report. Among the latest incidents was one targeting the Russian embassy on Tuesday. Luckily no one was injured.

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Yahoo News

US draws a line on protecting CIA-backed rebels in Syria

Associated Press

By KEN DILANIAN October 13, 2015 4:17 PM
FILE - In this June 17, 2015 file photo, smoke and explosions from fighting between forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad and rebels in the Quneitra area of Syria are seen from the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. The Russian military intervention to prop up the Syrian government has put new scrutiny on the CIA’s secret support to Syrian rebels fighting Bashar Assad, raising questions about how far the U.S. is willing to go in empowering its proxies to take on Vladimir Putin’s allies. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit, File)


View photo

FILE – In this June 17, 2015 file photo, smoke and explosions from fighting between forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad and rebels in the Quneitra area of Syria are seen from the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. The Russian military intervention to prop up the Syrian government has put new scrutiny on the CIA’s secret support to Syrian rebels fighting Bashar Assad, raising questions about how far the U.S. is willing to go in empowering its proxies to take on Vladimir Putin’s allies. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Russian military intervention to prop up Syria’s government has brought new scrutiny of the CIA’s secret support to Syrian rebels fighting President Bashar Assad. But how far is the U.S. willing to go to empower its proxies to take on Vladimir Putin’s allies?

The answer seems to be: Not very far.

“Countering Russia’s involvement in Syria doesn’t rate nearly as high on the scale” as battling the Islamic State, which has declared a caliphate across parts of Syria and Iraq, White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters Tuesday.

After the CIA spent more than two years secretly working with Arab allies to arm, train and fund thousands of so-called moderate rebels to oppose Assad, American officials have watched in recent days as Russian bombs and missiles have targeted those groups.

U.S. officials and outside experts say the Obama administration is unlikely to protect CIA-backed rebels from Russian air strikes — by providing them with surface-to-air missiles, for example — for fear they could fall into the wrong hands and be used against passenger jets in a terrorist attack. There is also little appetite in the White House for a U.S.-enforced no-fly zone in Syria, officials say.

Instead, the U.S. has been continuing its delivery to rebels of American-made TOW anti-tank missiles. Rebels have deployed the missiles to great effect over the last six months, and even more so in the last week, destroying dozens of Russian-made Syrian armored vehicles.


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 Yahoo News

Russia’s air war in Syria a game-changer for US: experts


A rebel fighter stands in a building overlooking the damage from fighting in the city of Aleppo on December 16, 2013

Washington (AFP) – Two weeks into Russia’s air war in Syria, some observers say the narrow scope of the US-led mission in Syria — to conduct drone and plane strikes against Islamic State jihadists — needs an urgent rethink.

The Pentagon insists Moscow’s bombing campaign in support of President Bashar al-Assad will not alter the US-coalition’s own military mission in the devastated nation.

But the stubborn fact remains: Russia’s presence has forced the US military to adapt to a suddenly much more complex battle space.

Patrick Skinner, director of special projects for The Soufan Group intelligence consultancy, said it is a game-changer.

“Things are coming into focus and people are choosing sides in a way that they haven’t had to before,” he said.

President Barack Obama has until now adopted a cautious line on Syria, bombing IS jihadists and calling for Assad’s departure but taking no official part in the country’s four-and-a-half-year civil war.


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Yahoo News

Islamic State urges jihad against Russians, Americans: audio


Militant Islamist fighters hold the flag of Islamic State (IS) while taking part in a military parade along the streets of northern Raqqa province in this June 30, 2014 file photo.


View photo

Militant Islamist fighters hold the flag of Islamic State (IS) while taking part in a military parade …

BEIRUT (Reuters) – Islamic State called on Muslims to launch a “holy war” against Russians and Americans over what it called their “crusaders’ war” in the Middle East, an audio message distributed by supporters of the ultra hardline group said on Tuesday.

“Islamic youth everywhere, ignite jihad against the Russians and the Americans in their crusaders’ war against Muslims,” the speech by Islamic State spokesman Abu Mohammad al-Adnani said.

The United States and Russia are carrying separate airstrike campaigns in Syria, which they say are targeting Islamic State.

Washington says Moscow’s campaign has mainly targeted other insurgent groups including those that have fought Islamic State, a charge Russia denies.

The United States is also carrying out airstrikes in Iraq, where Russia has also become separately involved. A senior Iraqi parliamentarian said on Tuesday that Russian officials were part of a new Iraq-based intelligence center with staff from Iran and Syria.

The audio message also confirmed the death of Abu Mutaz Qurashi, which the SITE monitoring service said was a reference to a senior Islamic State official killed in an airstrike in Iraq in August and referred to then as Fadhil Ahmad al-Hayali.

The White House said at the time that a U.S. air strike in Iraq had killed Hayali, whom it described as the second-in-command of the group which has seized swathes of territory in Syria and Iraq.


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Truthdig: Drilling Beneath the Headlines

Why the U.S. Owns the Rise of Islamic State and the Syria Disaster

Posted on Oct 8, 2015

By Gareth Porter

An Islamic State militant waves his group’s flag as he and another celebrate in Fallujah, Iraq. (AP)

Pundits and politicians are already looking for a convenient explanation for the twin Middle East disasters of the rise of Islamic State and the humanitarian catastrophe in Syria. The genuine answer is politically unpalatable, because the primary cause of both calamities is U.S. war and covert operations in the Middle East, followed by the abdication of U.S. power and responsibility for Syria policy to Saudi Arabia and other Sunni allies.

The emergence of a new state always involves a complex of factors. But over the past three decades, U.S. covert operations and war have entered repeatedly and powerfully into the chain of causality leading to Islamic State’s present position.

The causal chain begins with the role of the U.S. in creating a mujahedeen force to fight the Soviets in Afghanistan in the 1980s. Osama bin Laden was a key facilitator in training that force in Afghanistan. Without that reckless U.S. policy, the blowback of the later creation of al-Qaida would very likely not have occurred. But it was the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq that made al-Qaida a significant political-military force for the first time. The war drew Islamists to Iraq from all over the Middle East, and their war of terrorism against Iraqi Shiites was a precursor to the sectarian wars to follow.

The actual creation of Islamic State is also directly linked to the Iraq War. The former U.S. commander at Camp Bucca in Iraq has acknowledged that the detention of 24,000 prisoners, including hard-core al-Qaida cadres, Baathist officers and innocent civilians, created a “pressure cooker for extremism.” It was during their confinement in that camp during the U.S. troop surge in Iraq 2007 and 2008 that nine senior al-Qaida military cadres planned the details of how they would create Islamic State.


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WWIII – Syria, Russia & Iran – The New Equation





The Six Most Disastrous Interventions of the 21st Century


On October 2 President Barack Obama, alluding to Russia’s decision to launch air strikes in Syria, told reporters at the White House that for Russia to view the forces targeted “from the perspective they’re all terrorists [is] a recipe for disaster, and it’s one that I reject.”

In other words, he was saying that Moscow is not (as it claims) really focusing on ISIL and the al-Nusra Front but on the anti-regime opposition in general, which supposedly includes “moderates.”

Never mind that Obama himself as well as Joseph Biden have on occasion pooh-poohed the existence of a moderate armed opposition that controls territory in Syria. Didn’t Biden say last year at Harvard that “there was no moderate middle [in Syria] because the moderate middle are made up of shop-keepers, not soldiers”?

And hasn’t it been shown that maps showing territory in the hands of the “Free Syrian Army” are the figments of propagandists’ imagination? The FSA has no coordinated command structure and its networks overlap those of groups that Washington would not normally define as “moderate” (unless it wanted to rehabilitate al-Qaeda, which having attacked the U.S. on 9/11 and supposedly the cause of all the—disastrous—post-9/11 U.S. military actions in the Middle East), has gradually become my-enemy-against-my-enemy and hence a new found friend.


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by , October 09, 2015

We have just observed the 14th anniversary of “Operation Enduring Freedom,” otherwise known as the war in Afghanistan. It is the longest war in US history, a conflict that never even came close to achieving its stated goal of stabilizing the area and eradicating the Taliban. The US-backed central government in Kabul today has no more control of the country than it did when first established, and the Taliban is on the march, retaking city after city and inching toward the capital with the inevitability of high tide at the beach. And while the pretext for this costly adventure – the capture of Osama bin Laden – has long since been rendered moot, his heirs and legatees not only persist, but they prosper – with our help.

For a long time that help arrived by indirection: the jihadists prospered in reaction to our intervention. As we lurched around Afghanistan, and then Iraq, kicking down doors, slaughtering civilians, and setting up torture chambers from Bagram to Abu Ghraib, we created the conditions for a global insurgency that had once been relatively localized. The classic theory of “blowback” operated with relentless predictability.

But then something else occurred: the so-called “Arab Spring.” You’ll recall that the War Party, in selling the invasion of Iraq to the American public, promised that our intervention would provoke a wave of sympathy throughout the Muslim world, and the Middle East would witness the arising of a movement demanding their version of “democracy” on a regional scale. President George W. Bush made a speech declaring that the US was leading a “global democratic revolution” that would incite a “fire in the mind” of the populace and soon put an end to the Bad Guys.


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cnn – george w bush “either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists”

Obama Brags “Al-Qaeda Is Defeated” on Same Day US Death Toll Reaches 2,000 Deaths

Media Are Blamed as US Bombing of Afghan Hospital Is Covered Up

New York Times headline corrected

A US-led NATO military coalition bombed a hospital run by international humanitarian aid organization Doctors Without Borders (known internationally as Medecins Sans Frontières, MSF) in Afghanistan, killing at least 22 people—12 staff members and 10 patients, including three children—and wounding 37 more.

AFP, the first network to report the story, in the early hours of October 3, quoted NATO saying, “US forces conducted an air strike in Kunduz city…. The strike may have resulted in collateral damage to a nearby medical facility.”

MSF promptly issued a statement (10/3/15), revealing that it had been “hit several times during sustained bombing and was very badly damaged.” In an update hours later, MSF said it “condemns in the strongest possible terms the horrific bombing of its hospital in Kunduz, which was full of staff and patients.”

The humanitarian organization also indicated multiple times—and in bold capital letters—that “all parties to the conflict, including in Kabul and Washington, were clearly informed of the precise location (GPS Coordinates) of the MSF facilities in Kunduz, including the hospital, guesthouse, office and an outreach stabilization unit.” MSF says the US “repeatedly and precisely” hit the hospital.

Morever, the aid group explained that the “bombing in Kunduz continued for more than 30 minutes after American and Afghan military officials in Kabul and Washington were first informed by MSF that its hospital was struck.” That is to say, the US persisted in bombing a hospital that it explicitly knew before and during the attack was a hospital.

If you read US corporate media coverage of this incident, however, US culpability would likely not be evident. Instead, readers would learn that a hospital was bombed in Afghanistan, and that people died. Who exactly carried out the bombing would not be clear.

cnn us air attack

“Air Attacks Kill at Least 19 at Afghanistan Hospital; US Investigating,” wrote CNN (9/3/15). Who carried out those attacks? Never asked is who else could possibly have bombed the hospital. What other air forces are attacking Kunduz? Did the bombs magically fall from the sky? CNN provides no answer.

“Aerial bombardments blew apart a Doctors Without Borders hospital in the battleground Afghan city of Kunduz about the time of a US airstrike” CNN said. The blowing apart of the hospital just appears to be a temporal coincidence.

fox us investigate airstrike

Fox News‘ headline (10/3/15) reads “US Officials Investigate Airstrike in Afghanistan That Killed at Least 19 at Doctors Without Borders Hospital.”

The New York Times completely rewrote and changed the title of its report on the bombing seven times. Early on October 3, the Times published an article headlined “Airstrike Hits Hospital in Afghanistan, Killing at Least 9.” Minutes later, it changed the headline to “Airstrike Hits Doctors Without Borders Hospital in Afghanistan.” Two hours after, it became “Afghan Hospital Hit by Airstrike, Pentagon Says.” Then “US Investigates After Bombs Hit Afghan Hospital,” before finalizing as “US Is Blamed After Bombs Hit Afghan Hospital.”

The over 20 versions of the article published in the Times‘ website can be seen at the website NewsDiffs, which monitors edits to pieces published in large new outlets. Because the Times changed the web URL for the article when changing the headlines, there are three separate entries on NewsDiffs.

newsdiffs nyt us bombs afghan hospital

Not one of the five New York Times headlines indicated that the US was responsible for the bombing. The final title, “US Is Blamed After Bombs Hit Afghan Hospital,” which was published in print, fails to acknowledge that it was the US who dropped those bombs, which explains why it is blamed.

The New York Times‘ other story (10/4/15), “Doctors Without Borders Says It Is Leaving Kunduz After Strike on Hospital,” was also substantially edited and rewritten numerous times. It’s likewise full of weasel words and quotes from the US government.

The Washington Post (10/4/15) also changed headlines and URLs for its reporting, making it difficult to track. It did choose a title acknowledging the US role in the attack, but attributed it to MSF, writing, “Doctors Without Borders Says US Airstrike Hit Hospital in Afghanistan; at Least 19 Dead.”

AP headlined an article (10/4/15) updating the death toll, “Doctors Without Borders Leaves Afghan City After Airstrike.” The piece says, “A deadly airstrike destroyed its hospital and killed 22 people, as the US and Afghan governments vowed to get to the bottom of the carnage.” Not mentioned is that the US government is responsible for the carnage.

Ambiguous, misleading and even downright dishonest language abounds throughout the coverage. US media spin the story to reflect positively on the culprit; they report that the US is investigating the atrocity, while failing to acknowledge that the US itself is responsible for the atrocity.

This technique is very reminiscent of the loaded language police departments use to downplay police brutality—language that is often repeated verbatim by journalists who just uncritically quote government press releases.

Not all media were as biased in the interest of the Pentagon, however. Even some US news outlets were clear and honest in their reporting.

slate us airstrike

Slate (10/3/15) was one of the few publications to report without the equivocation. “US Airstrike on Doctors Without Borders Hospital in Afghanistan Kills at Least 19,” it said. The next day, Slate (10/4/15) followed up with the piece “Doctors Without Borders Says US May Have Committed War Crime.”

US: We Accidentally Bombed Hospital to Kill Taliban

After the attack, MSF released a statement saying “All indications currently point to the bombing being carried out by international Coalition forces”—that is to say, NATO.

As details became clearer, the media narrative began to shift from one of obfuscation or even denial of the US bombing to one of apologism and justification. When it was obvious that the US and NATO were responsible for killing and wounding scores of people at a hospital, the US and Afghan governments began to fall back on the “human shields” excuse.

A Washington Post article (10/4/15) first titled “Afghan Official: Hospital in Airstrike Was ‘a Taliban Base,’” and subsequently changed to “Afghan Response to Hospital Bombing Is Muted, Even Sympathetic,” quotes Afghan government officials who claimed the “hospital has a vast garden, and the Taliban were there.” Yet MSF’s aforementioned statement makes it clear that the US “repeatedly and precisely” bombed the hospital, not the surrounding areas, which were “left mostly untouched.”

The aid organization also explicitly denied fighters ever being anywhere inside the hospital compound.

In a statement titled “MSF Response to Spurious Claims That Kunduz Hospital Was ‘A Taliban Base,’” the aid organization wrote:

MSF is disgusted by the recent statements coming from some Afghanistan government authorities justifying the attack on its hospital in Kunduz. These statements imply that Afghan and US forces working together decided to raze to the ground a fully functioning hospital with more than 180 staff and patients inside because they claim that members of the Taliban were present.

This amounts to an admission of a war crime. This utterly contradicts the initial attempts of the US government to minimize the attack as “collateral damage.”

There can be no justification for this abhorrent attack on our hospital that resulted in the deaths of MSF staff as they worked and patients as they lay in their beds. MSF reiterates its demand for a full transparent and independent international investigation.

MSF also made it clear that its hospital “is the only facility of its kind in the whole northeastern region of Afghanistan,” and that its “doctors treat all people according to their medical needs and do not make distinctions based on a patient’s ethnicity, religious beliefs or political affiliation.”

Despite MSF’s explicit denial of the allegations, US media continued to reiterate the claims of US and Afghan government officials.

Anonymous US military officials told Fox News (10/3/15) they “regret the loss” of scores of innocent lives, but “say the incident could have been avoided if the Taliban had not used the hospital as a base, and the civilians there as human shields.”

But wait, which was it? Was the bombing an accidental incident of “collateral damage,” as the government claimed at first, and as the media reverberated? Or was it a deliberate attack on the Taliban, who were supposedly firing from the hospital? It can’t be both; the two explanations contradict each other.

The fact that, when MSF’s points—and not just those of the US and Afghan governments—are considered, the human shields argument does not withstand close scrutiny aside, a blatant contradiction emerges in this narrative. The answer to this critical question remains unknown; the government, and the media that so obediently echoes it, do not clarify.

MSF's Kunduz hospital on fire, after being bombed by the US/NATO Photo: MSF

Striking, too, are the similarities to US reporting on Israeli airstrikes. In order to justify bombing hospitals in Gaza, the US-backed Israeli government often claims Palestinian militants use the medical facilities as bases. Israel’s military—which has itself used human shields many times—then says it is justified to bomb hospitals, UN shelters and other civilians areas.

US ally and NATO member Turkey borrowed Israel’s hasbara (public relations) tactic and claimed the same about leftist Kurdish militants in order to justify its killing of Kurdish civilians.

The Wall Street Journal (10/4/15) boldly steered clear of any posturing and openly justified the US bombing of the hospital. The unsigned editorial justified the mass killing of MSF aid workers by shifting the blame onto the Taliban insurgents. It even brought up the specter of Hamas, writing, “Like Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah in Lebanon, the terrorists hide near civilians. These Taliban tactics put the medical personnel and patients at risk.” The piece waxes poetic, and hagiographic; in a moment of undiluted American exceptionalism on blast, the Journal claimed that “no force in the history of warfare has done more to avoid civilian casualties than the American military.”

Remove references to the US and the Taliban in such media coverage, replace it with blanks, and you have a template media can use any time a US ally bombs civilians—A Guide to Defending War Crimes Committed by US Allies: “[Ally] did not actually want to bomb [civilian area], but [enemy] forced it to.”

Double Standards

When US enemies like Russia carry out airstrikes, all nuance is thrown out the window; US media drop their standards and gleefully accuse the enemies of war crimes. Yet when the US and NATO carry out airstrikes, journalists suddenly have a newfound skepticism. Their language immediately becomes ambiguous, their writing unclear; murky passages written in the passive voice are ubiquitous.

Official international bodies have not minced words about the bombing, nevertheless. The UN says the US attack on the Kunduz hospital was “inexcusable and possibly even criminal” (Australia’s ABC, 10/4/15). UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein remarked, “If established as deliberate in a court of law, an airstrike on a hospital may amount to a war crime.”

Wounded MSF staff after the US/NATO bombing of its Kunduz hospital Photo: MSF

MSF said the attack “constitutes a grave violation of international humanitarian law.” The aid group called the bombing a “war crime” and “a grave violation of International Humanitarian Law.”

The humanitarian organization is demanding an investigation “by an independent international body,” not by the US, noting that “relying only on an internal investigation by a party to the conflict would be wholly insufficient.”

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Glenn Greenwald (Intercept, 10/3/15) pointed out the hypocrisy of the US warning about civilian casualties of Russian airstrikes while it bombs scores of doctors and patients in Afghanistan, a country it has militarily occupied for close to 15 years.

When Russia denies killing civilians in its airstrikes on Syria, US media are suddenly skeptical and thorough; yet when the US government makes the same claims, journalists just recycle its press releases.

Is the job of the media to just uncritically report what favored governments say? Or is it supposed to examine the truth of official claims? If it is supposed to be the latter, US media have abysmally failed in their duties in reporting on the US bombing of MSF’s Kunduz hospital.

Ben Norton is a freelance journalist and writer. His website can be found at and he tweets at @BenjaminNorton.

Consortium News

Seen through a night-vision device, U.S. Marines conduct a combat logistics patrol in Helmand province, Afghanistan, April 21, 2013. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Anthony L. Ortiz)

The apparent U.S. slaughter of at least 22 people at an Afghan hospital, including Doctors Without Borders medical staff, is part of the grim reality of indiscriminate death when U.S. Special Forces undertake their secret raids and often toss aside the rules of warfare, reports Nicolas J S Davies.

By Nicolas J S Davies

On Dec. 26, 2009, a U.S. Special Operations team flew from Kabul to Ghazi Khan village in the Narang district of Kunar province. They attacked three houses, where they killed two adults and eight children. Seven of the children were handcuffed before they were shot. The youngest was 11 or 12, three more were 12, and one was 15. Both the United Nations and the Afghan government conducted investigations and confirmed all the details of the attack.

U.S. officials conducted their own inquiry, but no report was published and no U.S. military or civilian officials were held accountable. Finally, more than five years later, a New York Times report on Joint Special Operations Command’s (JSOC) Seal Team 6 named it as the U.S. force involved. But JSOC operations are officially secret and, to all practical purposes, immune from accountability. As a senior U.S. officer told the Times, “JSOC investigates JSOC, that’s part of the problem.”

Accountability for the U.S. attack on the Doctors Without Borders hospital in Kunduz on Saturday, killing at least 22 people, is likely to be just as elusive. The bilateral security agreement that President Karzai refused to sign, but which President Ghani signed in September 2014, provides total immunity from Afghan law for U.S. forces and officials. So whoever should be held legally responsible for the massacre at the hospital will only be subject to accountability under U.S. military and civilian legal systems, which routinely fail to prosecute anyone for similar war crimes.


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Doctors Without Borders pulls out of Kunduz after apparent U.S. airstrike

Humanitarian group calls bombing that killed 22 a war crime

CBC News Posted: Oct 04, 2015 9:29 AM ETLast Updated: Oct 05, 2015 8:50 AM ET

  • A hospital run by Médecins Sans Frontières in the Afghan city of Kunduz is seen in flames, after explosions in the city on Saturday, Oct. 3, 2015.
  • A hospital run by Médecins Sans Frontières in the Afghan city of Kunduz is seen in flames, after explosions in the city on Saturday, Oct. 3, 2015. (Médecins Sans Frontières/AP)

The international humanitarian group Médecins Sans Frontières said Sunday it had withdrawn from the northern Afghan city of Kunduz after a deadly airstrike destroyed its hospital and killed 22 people.

The humanitarian crisis in the city, which briefly fell to the Taliban last week before the government launched a counteroffensive, has grown increasingly dire, with shops shuttered because of ongoing fighting and roads made impassable by mines planted by insurgents.

The medical group, also known by its English name Doctors Without Borders, blames the 22 deaths on a U.S. airstrike. Afghan officials said helicopter gunships were returning fire from Taliban fighters who were hiding in the hospital.

But the organization is calling the bombing a war crime, with the executive director of its Canadian division telling CBC News that staff contacted both the U.S. and Afghan forces throughout, but the airstrike continued for another 35 minutes.

“Such attacks against medical facilities are grave breaches of humanitarian law,” Stephen Cornish told CBC News on Sunday. “At the time of this attack our surgery team were operating on a patient on the operating table who [then] died on that operating table.


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