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More trouble in Afghanistan

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More trouble in Afghanistan

Post  Panda on Sun 26 Feb - 11:14




9:31am UK, Sunday February 26, 2012

Britain is pulling out civilian advisers from buildings in Kabul after two American officers were shot dead amid protests over Koran burning.
The Afghan Taliban has claimed responsibility for the killing of the Nato officers at the interior ministry in the capital - an attack condemned as "unacceptable" by US defence secretary Leon Panetta.

It was in retaliation for the burning of copies of the Koran at a Nato base in the country, the group said.

A Foreign Office spokesman said: "As a temporary measure the British Embassy has withdrawn civilian mentors and advisors from institutions within Kabul. We will keep the situation under review."

The commander of Nato and US forces has also recalled all Nato personnel from Afghan ministries in Kabul.

America's top commander in Afghanistan, General John Allen, said Nato was investigating Saturday's shooting and would pursue all leads to find the person responsible for the attack.



Anti-US protesters throw rocks at Bagram Airbase in Afghanistan

The heavily-barricaded ministry in the centre of the Afghan capital has been sealed off.

The attack comes as more people died in a fifth day of violent mass protests over the controversy.

One person was shot dead and two were also wounded in a shooting that took place in Logar province south of Kabul after violent clashes between hundreds of protesters and security forces.

In northern Kunduz, three protesters were shot dead and 50 wounded when demonstrators tried to overrun a UN compound.

Protests also flared in Nangarhar, Logar and Paktia provinces with 1,000 demonstrators attacking police and attempting to storm the governor's house in Laghman province.

The latest fatalities come after 12 people were killed and dozens wounded in demonstrations on Friday.

At least 25 people have been killed and hundreds wounded since Tuesday when it first emerged that Korans and other religious items had been incinerated at Bagram Airbase, north of Kabul.

US President Barack Obama was forced to apologise saying the incident was a terrible mistake, and Afghan leader Hamid Karzai called for restraint.

But Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich attacked the President for apologising, saying it was "astonishing" and undeserved.

The incident will have setback Nato's efforts to leave the country peacefully when combat troops pull out in 2014.

The desecration of the Koran is considered one of the worst forms of blasphemy for Muslims.


===================================

Gingrich is an a***hole, of course it was a stupid thing for the Soldiers to do.

What is worrying though is the way the Taliban was able to gain entry to the Building which is heavily guarded. It is thought an Afghan insider passed
on information to the Taliban and helped them gain entrance into the building.

I think Britain should leave Afghanistan NOW, our purpose there has not acheived ,a stable Government, Karzai is a weak Leader and will never acheive Democratic rule. If fact get all the British soldiers in the Middle East and our young soldiers are dying in vain.




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Re: More trouble in Afghanistan

Post  Panda on Sun 26 Feb - 23:43


Koran Protests: Deaths As US Base Attacked
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The Afghan president pleas for calm after violent demos leave dozens dead
10:26pm UK, Sunday February 26, 2012

Two Afghans have been killed and seven US soldiers wounded in a grenade attack in Afghanistan just hours after the nation's president appealed for calm over the burning of Korans at a US military base.
Nato's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) confirmed there had been an explosion outside one of its bases in northern Afghanistan.

A Kunduz police spokesman said: "The demonstrators hurled a hand grenade at US special forces base in Imam Sahib city of Kunduz province, as a result seven US special forces were wounded."

As the violent protests continued for a sixth day it is being reported that both France and Germany are temporarily withdrawing all civilian mentors and advisors from Afghan government ministries.



The Kabul killer is still at large according to Afghan authorities

Earlier on Sunday, in a televised address, President Hamid Karzai "condemned with the strongest words" the treatment of Islam's holy book and said the people who did it should be punished.

But he also called for an end to the violence saying: "Now that we have shown our feelings, it is time to be calm and peaceful."

Mr Karzai said he respected the feelings of Afghans incensed by the Koran burning, but called on them not to "let the enemies of Afghanistan misuse their feelings".

He continued: "The demonstrations unfortunately had casualties, some 29 persons were martyred and around 200 wounded.

"We have ordered the security forces to be careful and protect people's lives and property."

The burning of the Korans had sparked five days of violent protests.

The Afghan Taliban have called on Afghans to kill foreign troops in revenge for the Koran burning, and claimed to have been behind the shooting deaths of two US officers within the heavily-fortified interior ministry in Kabul on Saturday.

Saturday's killings led the commander of US-led Nato forces, General John Allen, to withdraw foreign advisers from government ministries.

Afghan authorities said they were searching for a 25-year-old Afghan police intelligence officer, Abdul Saboor, who was the main suspect behind the murders.

Saboor had access to the Command and Control Centre where the dead American officers were found.

Republican presidential hopeful Rick Santorum has criticised President Barack Obama's earlier apology for the burnings by saying Afghanistan should apologise to the US for the deaths of soldiers.




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Re: More trouble in Afghanistan

Post  Panda on Wed 7 Mar - 10:14



News »







Six British soldiers killed as Afghanistan death toll exceeds 400



Six British soldiers have been killed when their armoured vehicle was caught in an explosion in the single biggest British loss of life in the Afghan campaign for six years.

35 Comments



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Re: More trouble in Afghanistan

Post  Panda on Thu 8 Mar - 17:55



Intractable Afghan Graft Hampering U.S. Strategy


S. Sabawoon/European Pressphoto Agency

Kabul Bank is at the center of a corruption scandal that could cost the Afghan government — and by extension, Western nations — hundreds of millions of dollars.

By MATTHEW ROSENBERG and GRAHAM BOWLEY

Published: March 7, 2012








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KABUL, Afghanistan — For the past few months, possibly the most intriguing poker game in Kabul has been taking place in the sprawling pink sitting room of the man at the center of one of the most public corruption scandals in the world, the near collapse of Kabul Bank.






Enlarge This Image

Ahmad Masood/Reuters

Sherkhan Farnood, left, the chairman of Kabul Bank, spoke at a news conference with Khalilullah Frozi, right, the bank's CEO, in September 2010, in the wake of allegations of corruption.


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The players include people tied to President Hamid Karzai’s inner circle, many of whom have profited from the crony capitalism that has come to define Afghanistan’s economic order, and nearly brought down Kabul Bank. The game’s stakes “aren’t too big — a few thousand dollars up or down,” one of the participants said.

Betting thousands of dollars a night in a country where most families live off a few hundred dollars a year would seem like a bad play for Sherkhan Farnood, the founder and former chairman of Kabul Bank, the country’s biggest. His assets are supposed to be frozen, and he is still facing the threat of prosecution over a scandal that could end up costing the Afghan government — and, by extension, the Western countries that pay most of its expenses — almost $900 million, a sum that nearly equals the government’s total annual revenues.

But Mr. Farnood, who in 2008 won about $143,000 at a World Series of Poker event in Europe, appears to know a good wager when he sees one. Despite years of urging and oversight by American advisers, Mr. Karzai’s government has yet to prosecute a high-level corruption case. And now many American officials say that they have little expectation that Mr. Farnood’s case will prove to be the exception — or that Washington will try to do much about it, especially after violent anti-American protests in recent weeks have sowed fresh doubts in the Obama administration over the viability of the mission in Afghanistan.

As Americans pull back from Afghanistan, Mr. Farnood’s case exemplifies how the United States is leaving behind a problem it underwrote over the past decade with tens of billions of dollars of aid and logistical support: a narrow business and political elite defined by its corruption, and despised by most Afghans for it.

The Americans and Afghans blame each other for the problem’s seeming intractability, contributing to the deterioration in relations that now threatens to scuttle talks on the shape of ties between the countries after the NATO combat mission ends in 2014. What is clear is that the pervasive graft has badly undercut the American war strategy, which hinged on building the Karzai administration into a credible alternative to the Taliban.

Still, the Obama administration has concluded that pressing the fight against corruption, as many American officials tried to do in recent years, could further alienate Mr. Karzai and others around him whom Washington is relying on as it tries to manage a graceful drawdown.

“It’s a little late in the game to worry about anticorruption measures because what in the world is the alternative going to be?” said Anthony H. Cordesman, a military analyst at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. “If you find people who aren’t corrupt, it is largely because they haven’t had the opportunity.”

Some of the corruption will fade organically, as America and its allies cut back on their aid to Afghanistan, which is likely to have a harsh impact on the Afghan economy, Mr. Cordesman said. Efforts by the American-led coalition to better monitor the billions it spends each year in Afghanistan continue and are having an effect, although it remains slight largely because billions of dollars keep pouring in and are likely to do so for years to come.

The limits of the coalition’s efforts to police its own spending — and the newfound reluctance of top American officials to push back against Afghan intransigence over prosecuting corruption — were laid bare in December when Mr. Karzai’s office demanded that the coalition provide evidence if it wanted the government to prosecute the Afghan Army’s former surgeon general, Gen. Ahmad Zia Yaftali.

Coalition officials had in fact provided the evidence a full year earlier. General Yaftali was suspended in December 2010 after Gen. David H. Petraeus, then the coalition commander, told Mr. Karzai that NATO investigators had found that the Afghan officer had stolen tens of millions of dollars’ worth of drugs from the country’s main military hospital, an institution he ran and where Afghan soldiers regularly died from simple infections because they could not afford to bribe nurses or doctors to treat them.

The running of the hospital, like much of the Afghan Army, is financed by the United States, which last year spent $11.2 billion to pay, train and equip Afghanistan’s security force.

Sharifullah Sahak and Sangar Rahimi contributed reporting.

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Re: More trouble in Afghanistan

Post  Panda on Mon 12 Mar - 17:12


Kabul, Afghanistan (CNN) -- The Afghan Taliban vowed Monday to exact revenge for the killing of 16 civilians, allegedly by an American soldier who went on a house-to-house shooting rampage Sunday in two villages near his base.

Afghanistan's parliament, meanwhile, demanded a public trial for the suspect, who is accused of killing nine children, three women and four men.

"We strongly request the government of America to punish this wild act and have a public trial in front of the people of Afghanistan," lawmakers said in a statement Monday.

The Taliban called U.S. forces "sick-minded American savages," warning in an online statement that the group would mete out punishment for the "barbaric actions."

U.S. officials have expressed shock and sadness over the attack. Afghan leaders have angrily condemned it. President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan called the attack an "unforgivable" crime.



U.S. service member detained in Kandahar

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Public trial for Afghan killing spree? People in the area of the killings are angry at both Americans and Afghan security forces, whom they accuse of failing to protect them, villager Muhammad Wali said.

"Villagers were cursing at them," Wali said. He asserted that Afghan security was "here to protect us, but (they) are protecting the Americans only."

"The people in these villages are scared, and we don't know what is going to happen next. ... They saw nothing except the Americans going and killing them in their homes," he said.

The killings could intensify the rage that sparked deadly riots directed at international forces last month over the burning of Qurans by U.S. troops.

The soldier, an Army staff sergeant, acted alone and turned himself in after shooting the civilians, according to officials from NATO's International Security Assistance Force, or ISAF. He is in U.S. custody as investigators try to establish what motivated him.

He is in his mid-30s and has served several tours in Iraq, but he is on his first deployment to Afghanistan, said a U.S. military official, who asked not to be named talking about an ongoing investigation.

He arrived in Afghanistan in January, the source said.

The suspect is from Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington state, a military official said. He worked in force protection at his outpost, and is a conventional army soldier supporting the Green Berets, according to a second military official who asked not to be named because of the investigation.

The probe is now being led by the Army's Criminal Investigation Command. The suspect was moved Monday from the outpost where he served to detention in a larger U.S. location in Afghanistan, said the second official, who declined to name the new location.

The attacker's mental stability and medical history are among "the things the investigators are looking at," said Capt. John Kirby, a spokesman for the NATO-led force.

"This was a soldier who had been in the Army some time, had deployed before." Kirby said. "This wasn't his first deployment. But with respect to specific motives, we just can't say right now."



PTSD related to Afghan massacre?

War stress to blame for alleged rampage?

Solis: Heavy strain on U.S. soldiers

Map: Afghanistan


Map: Afghanistan
U.S. President Barack Obama called the killings "tragic and shocking" and offered his condolences to the Afghan people in a phone call to Karzai, the White House said.

But his comments appeared unlikely to soothe the outrage among Afghans.

"The Afghan people can withstand a lot of pain," said Prince Ali Seraj, the head of the National Coalition for Dialogue with the Tribes of Afghanistan. "They can withstand collateral damage. They can withstand night raids. But murder is something that they totally abhor, and when that happens, they really want justice."

The killings took place in the district of Panjwai, about 25 kilometers (15 miles) southwest of Kandahar, southern Afghanistan's major city, according to Karzai's office. The dead included four men, three women and nine children, it said, while five people were wounded.

"This is a very negative act in relations between the Afghans and the Americans," said a tribal elder in Panjwai who asked not to be named out of fears for his safety. "All Afghans have been hurt by this act and I don't think people will trust the Americans anymore."

"The Americans were telling the local people in Panjwai they should remain in their villages, and that 'we will help you and construct your schools, clinics and roads.' But in return the Americans went in and killed them," the elder said, adding he believes more than one soldier was involved.

The wounded Afghans were being treated in one of the NATO-led force's facilities. The allied command did not give its estimate of casualties.

There were no military operations in the area, either on the ground or in the air, at the time of the incident, according to two senior coalition officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation.

Afghan troops spotted the soldier leaving his combat outpost around 3 a.m. Sunday and notified their American counterparts, according to the NATO-led force. The U.S. military did an immediate headcount, found the soldier was missing and dispatched a patrol to go look for him. The patrol met him as he returned and took him into custody.

Obama released a statement saying the U.S. military will work to "get the facts as quickly as possible and to hold accountable anyone responsible."

White House response to shooting spree

He said the attack "does not represent the exceptional character of our military and the respect that the United States has for the people of Afghanistan."

In a separate statement, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said he was "shocked and saddened" by the attack and said the suspect was "clearly acting outside his chain of command."

Kandahar and the surrounding region is the home of the Taliban, and eight of the 69 coalition troops killed in Afghanistan so far this year died in the province.

Kirby said that although the attack Sunday was "very, very tragic," it wasn't "having a major effect across the country with respect to the mission our troops are doing every day."

Taliban link attack to Quran burning

Officials within the Obama administration said the incident also will not derail talks on the role of U.S. troops beyond 2014, when foreign combat troops are scheduled to withdraw.

"This was a horrific and shocking incident," a senior administration official said. "But it does not change the strategic imperative for us to continue implementing our strategy -- defeating al Qaeda and strengthening the Afghan state so that groups like al Qaeda can never find a home there again."

The suspect will not face punishment under the Afghan justice system, said Pentagon spokesman George Little. "The U.S. military has strong means to address wrongdoing," he said. "There is an agreement in place with the government of Afghanistan, so that the investigation -- and when appropriate, prosecution -- will be done through U.S. military channels."

The United States and its allies invaded Afghanistan in 2001, following al Qaeda's attacks on New York and Washington that killed nearly 3,000 people. The invasion quickly toppled the Taliban, an Islamic fundamentalist movement that ruled most of Afghanistan and had allowed al Qaeda to operate from its territory. But the militia soon regrouped and launched an insurgent campaign against the allied forces and a new government led by Karzai.

The No. 1 U.S. target in the conflict, al Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden, was killed in a commando raid in neighboring Pakistan in May 2011. American and allied combat troops are scheduled to leave Afghanistan by 2014, and Karzai has been increasingly critical of the allied force.

Tensions ramped up dramatically in February after a group of U.S. soldiers burned copies of the Quran, Islam's holy book, that had been seized from inmates at the American-run prison at Bagram Air Base because they allegedly contained extremist communications.

American officials from Obama down called the burning an accident and apologized for it, but riots left dozens dead, including six American troops. Hundreds more Afghans were wounded.

CNN's Sara Sidner, John Dear, Jethro Mullen, Barbara Starr, Chris Lawrence, Brianna Keilar, Diana Magnay and journalist Ruhullah Khapalwak contributed to this report.




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Re: More trouble in Afghanistan

Post  Panda on Tue 13 Mar - 5:56



The American soldier accused of killing 16 villagers in Afghanistan had suffered a traumatic brain injury on an earlier tour in Iraq, according to a US official.
The 38-year-old army staff sergeant, who has been in the military for 11 years, was seriously injured when he was in a vehicle that rolled during a tour of duty in 2010, the official said.

The vehicle accident was not a combat-related event.

The official revealed the soldier had trouble reintegrating following medical treatment ahead of his first tour of Afghanistan.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, the source said it was too early to say whether there was any link between the injury and the shooting in Afghanistan.

Fresh information about the alleged gunman emerged as US defence secretary Leon Panetta said the soldier could face the death penalty if convicted.


Afghans Horrified By Massacre
The Pentagon chief told journalists that the suspect would be brought to justice under the US military legal code, which allows for capital punishment in some cases.

Asked if he could be sentenced to death, Mr Panetta said: "My understanding is in these instances, that could be a consideration."

Mr Panetta went on to say the US must resist pressure from Washington and Kabul to change course in Afghanistan because of anti-American outrage over the shooting.

"We seem to get tested almost every other day with challenges that test our leadership and our commitment to the mission that we're involved in," he said.

"War is hell."


President Hamid Karzai will now put massive pressure on Nato forces to end night raids across the country.

Sky News foreign affairs editor Tim Marshall on the Afghan response
His comments were earlier echoed by US President Barack Obama who insisted the incident should not be allowed to overshadow the wider Afghan mission.

"Obviously what happened this weekend was absolutely tragic and heartbreaking but when you look at what hundreds of thousands of our military personnel have achieved under enormous strain, you cannot help but be proud generally," he said.

"I think it is important for us just to make sure that we are not in Afghanistan longer than we need to be."

The alleged gunman, who apparently returned to the base and turned himself in following the shooting, is married with two children, a US official told ABC News.

He is believed to have deployed to Afghanistan for what was his first tour in the country from the US army and air force's Joint Base Lewis-McChord near Tacoma in Washington state and had previously served on three tours of Iraq.

Sky's chief correspondent Stuart Ramsay said he was involved in "village stabilisation operations", in which army personnel support special forces Green Berets.

Ramsay said: "Their job is to create, in effect, an armed neighbourhood watch that work with trusted village elders."


FOOTAGE FROM THE VILLAGE AFTER THE INCIDENT
The Pentagon has said it will not identify the soldier until charges are filed.

The Afghan parliament has demanded that he face a public trial over the shootings.

In a statement on Sunday, the lower house of parliament called the killings "brutal and inhuman" and declared "people are running out of patience over the ignorance of foreign forces".

"We seriously demand and expect that the government of the United States punish the culprits and try them in a public trial before the people of Afghanistan," it said.

The soldier allegedly opened fire on civilians during a rampage in two villages around 500m from a US base in the southern province of Kandahar.

The dead included nine children and three women. It has been claimed 11 were shot down in one house and included four girls under the age of six.

Taliban militants have already vowed to hit back against "the invaders and the savage murderers for every single martyr" in a statement posted on their website.

It said: "A large number from among the victims are innocent children, women and the elderly, martyred by the American barbarians who mercilessly robbed them of their precious lives and drenched their hands with their innocent blood."

Sky's foreign affairs editor Tim Marshall added: "The Americans are on high alert for reprisals and there will be reprisals, and the Afghan government will now use this as leverage ahead of the planned troop withdrawal."


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Re: More trouble in Afghanistan

Post  Panda on Wed 14 Mar - 17:46

Article history



Leon Panetta with the Afghan interior minister Besmullah Mahammadi in Kabul: it is not yet known whether the incident at Helmand province was an attack. Photograph: Massoud Hossaini/AFP/Getty Images


A car burst into flames within 100 metres of the US defence secretary today at Nato's massive military base in the heart of Afghanistan.

Leon Panetta had flown into Camp Bastion in Helmand province on Wednesday morning to pay an official visit to American forces.

Shortly after his plane landed, a car drove onto the runway and burst into flames.

Panetta, who was under the protection of US Marines, was unhurt and in no danger, sources said.

A man was taken from the burning car and is now being treated at the military hospital in Camp Bastion.

An investigation has been launched by the International Security and Assistance Force (ISAF), to determine exactly what happened.

In a statement, ISAF said the vehicle was stolen and that one soldier from the coalition had been injured in the incident.

Although investigators cannot say for certain this was a terrorist attack, it is one option that cannot be discounted, particularly with tensions running high because of recent atrocities involving US forces.

Today's incident comes amid widespread protests and unrest provoked by the killing of 16 civilians by an American soldier over the weekend.

Just weeks ago, the White House was forced to apologise after American soldiers were caught burning copies of the Koran.

If the incident at Camp Bastion proves to be a terrorist incident, it will raise huge concerns about the security at the base. The size of a small city, most of the base has rigorous security. However, the airfield is more vulnerable because it is outside the main part of the camp. Local workers allowed onto the base are security vetted to try to weed out insurgent infiltrators, though that remains a constant concern for those living at the base.








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Re: More trouble in Afghanistan

Post  Panda on Thu 15 Mar - 11:25

9:32am UK, Thursday March 15, 2012

A US soldier accused of shooting dead 16 Afghan civilians is reported to have been flown out of Afghanistan to Kuwait, as around 1,000 protesters have reportedly taken to the streets near Kandahar.
The staff sergeant, who has not been named or charged, left Afghanistan last night to what US officials describe as a pre-trial confinement facility.

The New York Times, citing an unidentified senior US official, said the soldier had been flown to Kuwait.

The commander of US and Afghan forces in Afghanistan, General John Allen, made the decision based on a legal recommendation, the official said.

The sergeant was allowed to leave after Afghan President Hamid Karzai accepted that the suspect could be tried in a US court, providing the process was transparent.

The official said the transfer did not preclude the possibility of trying the case in Afghanistan.

The US military has detention facilities in Kuwait that have been used for other troops.

Army PFC Bradley Manning was detained in Kuwait after he was taken into custody in Baghdad in 2010 for allegedly leaking government documents in the WikiLeaks case.



The apparent attack at Camp Bastion came as the US defence secretary arrived

Since the killings on Sunday, tensions have risen sharply across Afghanistan.

A police spokesman reported that around 1,000 demonstrators shouting anti-American slogans poured into the town of Qalat in Zabul province which neighbours Kandahar, where the shooting rampage took place on Sunday.

Meanwhile, the Afghan who drove a stolen truck onto the runway ramp as US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta arrived at a military airfield has died of severe burn wounds, the US military said.

The driver, who emerged from the vehicle ablaze after the crash, had a container of fuel in the car and "had the intent to harm", US General Mike Scaparotti said.

But he said he did not think the incident was related to Panetta's arrival because it would have been difficult to know which plane the defense secretary was aboard.

Camp Bastion in Helmand province is on lockdown following the incident, with all movement apart from that necessary to carry out troops' missions halted.

During his visit to southern Afghanistan, Mr Panetta told troops they must never lose sight of their mission in the war.

He said: "We'll be challenged by our enemy. We'll be challenged by ourselves. We'll be challenged by the hell of war itself. But none of that, none of that, must ever deter us from the mission that we must achieve."


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Re: More trouble in Afghanistan

Post  Panda on Sat 17 Mar - 14:00


(CNN) -- The attorney representing the U.S. soldier suspected in the Afghanistan massacre of 16 villagers, including nine children, is a flamboyant, pugnacious trial lawyer who doesn't shy from the hardest of hard-core cases.

As commanding in physical stature as he is in the courtroom, the 6 1/2-foot-tall John Henry Browne has defended serial killer Ted Bundy, who confessed to more than 30 murders before he was executed in Florida in 1989.

The Seattle attorney also defended Benjamin Ng, convicted for his 1983 role in 13 murders in the Wah Mee massacre, described then as Washington state's worst mass killing.

On a less grisly scale, Browne recently represented the so-called "Barefoot Bandit" -- Colton Harris-Moore -- the iPod-loving and occasionally barefoot 20-year-old man who gained a cult status among the Facebook generation for a string of audacious thefts and burglaries. He has pleaded guilty to federal and state charges.

Now, Browne returns to his element, drawing international cameras as an attorney defending a suspect in one of mankind's most heinous offenses -- an alleged war atrocity.

The suspect is Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, a military source and a senior defense official told CNN. Browne said his client, whom he wouldn't name, was expected to arrive in the United States Friday evening, in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.

Even without any formal military charges being filed in the Afghanistan mass killings, Browne is demonstrating his prowess as a confident provocateur -- his trademark mien -- by publicly formulating before news cameras possible defenses for the soldier. His office receptionist said Friday that Browne is now receiving media requests from "all over the world."

Browne's willingness to openly advance defense strategies, however, has already drawn criticism from legal experts, especially those in military justice.

Browne has suggested that the soldier, who had earlier suffered a concussion in Iraq, could have been suffering post-traumatic stress syndrome, and Browne wondered why the military deployed the soldier to Afghanistan. In criticizing the military for repeated war deployments of weary soldiers, he even singled out one military base in Washington state for "not treating those illnesses," referring to PTSD.

"There's been a big problem with soldiers who have been previously deployed to both Iraq and Afghanistan, with concussive head injuries and post-traumatic stress disorder," Browne said.

"We do know he had a concussive head injury. We know he was injured in his leg severely, and I am somewhat confused to why they would send him back to Afghanistan," he said.

In another CNN interview, Browne momentarily suggested that he may put the war itself on trial -- if his client is ever charged in military court. Browne has tried more than 250 cases since graduating from American University School of Law in 1971.

"You know, I'm old enough to remember the My Lai massacre in Vietnam and how that hastened the end of that war. Maybe a tragic incident such as this will get people to rethink the war in general," Browne said.

Then he added: "I certainly don't want to put the war on trial, but I think that people should start thinking more about why we're there and how long we're going to stay there."

When pressed in a CNN interview about putting the war on trial, Browne stated: "We'll see."

Thomas Kenniff, an attorney who represented soldiers in military court in Iraq in 2005, took exception with Browne's comments.

"With all due respect, I think it's ill advised," Kenniff told CNN. "You don't want to say anything at this point where you'll over-commit" to a defense.

"Maybe alcohol is going to play a big part in this case as part of establishing a defense, as part of establishing a contributing factor to (post-traumatic stress) or the command environment in theater that condoned these sort of excesses that may have contributed to this tragic offense," he said.

Browne said he was asked by the soldier's family to represent him. He said he had reservations about taking on the case, given security concerns.

In describing his client, Browne painted a picture of a decorated career soldier who joined the military after the 2001 terrorist attacks and had spent his Army life at Joint Base Lewis-McChord near Tacoma, Washington. Browne called him a devoted husband and father to his two young children who never made any derogatory remarks about Muslims or Afghans.

Browne said he was offended by media reports that marital discord played a role in the events that unfolded in Kandahar province villages near the small combat outpost where the soldier was stationed. He said those reports were "nonsense."

He said he did not know whether alcohol may have been involved, which investigators are looking into, but imagined that stress was a factor. "For God's sake, who is not going to be under stress in Afghanistan in a small camp where there is 20 people in the middle of nowhere?" Browne asked.

He also said that, the day before the slayings, another soldier on that base had his leg shot off in front of the suspect.

"That affected the whole base," Browne said.

Charges against his client could come within weeks in what Browne called more of a political case than a legal one.

"This is an international event, and it's a very touchy event for our government and for other governments," he said.

"It's not just a normal criminal case that we deal with, and we understand that. We understand our government's concern about it, and we certainly understand the concern of Afghanistan and its people. This (is) a pretty huge case from the standpoint of ramifications."

The soldier is accused of leaving the remote outpost of Camp Belambay on foot early Sunday and heading to neighboring villages in the Panjwai district of Kandahar province.

In the villages, a U.S. soldier opened fire, killing nine children, three women and four men, witnesses and Afghan authorities said. The U.S. military has not confirmed the number of casualties.

The soldier's family has been moved to Lewis-McChord because of safety concerns, Browne said.

Browne also confirmed reports that the soldier could face the death penalty.

"There is a discussion of the death penalty, understandably, I think, in this situation, which makes us very nervous," he said. "It's certainly not off the table at this point. Our hope is that maybe it will be.

"We don't know anything about (his) state of mind. We don't know anything about the facts of the case, and whether they can prove what he's accused of," Browne said.

In a 1998 profile of Browne, the Seattle Times described the high-profile attorney as "a blend of charm and arrogance, spirituality and bravado" and "a gifted storyteller who can be glib and funny or somber and dramatic" who has a "combative style and robust ego."

A Washington state Supreme Court justice once remarked that Browne needed to be spanked, the newspaper reported.

Browne's home at the time featured Far Eastern motifs, built in Japanese style with Buddhist prayer stones. He meditated and read the poetry of Mevlana Jalaluddin Rumi, a 13th-century spiritual writer.

"People take their freedom for granted," Browne told the newspaper in 1998. "They don't teach civics anymore. They don't realize how delicate the system is. It is a simple equation: The more power you give to government, the less power you give to individuals."

CNN's Casey Wian, Moni Basu and Chelsea J. Carter contributed to this report.



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Re: More trouble in Afghanistan

Post  Panda on Sun 18 Mar - 9:22

CNN) -- The man identified Friday by sources as the U.S. soldier accused of killing 16 Afghan civilians betrayed no animosity toward civilians in a different war zone, according to an account posted on the U.S. Army's website that describes a firefight in Iraq in January 2007.

"I've never been more proud to be a part of this unit than that day, for the simple fact that we discriminated between the bad guys and the noncombatants and then afterward we ended up helping the people that three or four hours before were trying to kill us," says Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, who was then a team leader in 1st Platoon, C Company. "I think that's the real difference between being an American as opposed to being a bad guy, someone who puts his family in harm's way like that."

In the February 2009 article, Bales was described as a participant in an attempt by the 2nd Battalion, 3rd Infantry Regiment to recover a helicopter that had been shot down in Iraq, killing both pilots.

The ensuing battle -- which succeeded -- left 250 Iraqis dead, 81 wounded and 410 detained; none of the 2-3 Infantry's soldiers was hurt or killed, the article says.

A number of the Iraqi casualties were civilians, and the battle's clearing operation turned into a humanitarian one, the article adds, again quoting Bales: "We'd go in, find some people that we could help, because there were a bunch of dead people we couldn't, throw them on a litter and bring them out to the casualty collection point," he is quoted as saying.

Bales, who is in his late 30s, was flown Friday to a prison in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. He has not been identified officially, but a senior military official and a defense source both identified him to CNN. The military's policy is not to identify suspects until they have been charged.

He is accused in a weekend shooting spree in two villages in Afghanistan in which nine children, three women and four men were killed.

The circumstances regarding the incident remain unclear.

The military is investigating whether alcohol may have been a factor, senior military officials said. One of the officials said alcohol was found on the base in the area where the suspect lived. It was not clear whether the alcohol belonged to the soldier; a toxicology screening was conducted but the results have not been returned, the official said.

Prior to his deployment to Afghanistan, the soldier had lost part of a foot in Iraq and suffered a traumatic brain injury, according to his lawyer, John Henry Browne. The Seattle attorney said the screening for the concussion was minimal.

The soldier had not wanted to deploy to Afghanistan on what ultimately became his fourth combat tour, Browne said, citing conversations with the soldier's family. Bales had served three times in Iraq.

"He was told that he was not going to be redeployed," Browne said. "The family was counting on him not being redeployed. I think it would be fair to say he and the family were not happy that he was going back."

Browne painted a picture of a decorated, career soldier who joined the military after the 2001 terrorist attacks and had spent his Army life at Joint Base Lewis-McChord near Tacoma, Washington. Browne called him a devoted husband and father to his two young children who never made any derogatory remarks about Muslims or Afghans.

Browne said he was offended by media reports that marital discord may have played a role in the events that unfolded in Kandahar province villages near the small combat outpost where the soldier was stationed. He said those reports were "nonsense."

He also said that, the day before the slayings, another soldier on that base had his leg shot off in front of the suspect.

"That affected the whole base," Browne said.

The soldier is accused of leaving the remote outpost of Camp Belambay on foot early Sunday and heading to neighboring villages in the Panjwai district of Kandahar province, where he allegedly carried out the rampage.

CNN's Casey Wian, Moni Basu and Chelsea J. Carter contributed to this report.

**** This soldier was sent to Afghanistan 3 times and I think he just snapped and although what he did was dreadful, I believe he too was a victim of War. America and Britain has been uick to sent Troops to all these Middle East Countries , killing and maiming thousands of these young men , and for
what, are any of them better off????


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Re: More trouble in Afghanistan

Post  Panda on Mon 19 Mar - 18:03

A month ago, the one sure thing about Afghanistan was that the U.S. would not withdraw troops before November 2012, staving off potential disaster until after the elections.

Now that assumption is no longer certain.



About Noah Feldman

Noah Feldman is a professor of constitutional and international law at Harvard and the author of five books, most recently "Scorpions: The Battles and Triumphs of FDRs Great Supreme Court Justices."
More about Noah Feldman .
In the last month, the American effort in Afghanistan hit a grim trifecta: inadvertent Koran burning; the killings of Americans inside the heavily fortified Interior Ministry in Kabul; and the horrific Columbine-comes-to-Kandahar murder of 16 civilians, allegedly by an Army sergeant. The Pentagon will probably still be able to hold on for while. But let there be no mistake: America’s hold on Afghanistan is unraveling, and the troops may come home as quickly as military logistics will allow.

The basic logic for keeping large numbers of U.S. troops in Afghanistan began with the surge in 2010. The idea was that a technique that had worked for General David Petraeus and President George W. Bush in Iraq might work in Afghanistan as well. The odds were never good -- much worse than they had been in Iraq, partly because unlike Iraq’s Sunni Muslim insurgents, who are a minority, the Taliban belong to Afghanistan’s dominant Pashtun ethnic group.

Trying a Surge

But for President Barack Obama, it was worth a try. A withdrawal then would have been perceived as a victory not only for the Taliban but also for al-Qaeda and a still-living Osama bin Laden. And on the campaign trail, Obama had committed himself to the “right war” in Afghanistan. This had locked him into trying to win that struggle at a time when it was possible for his rivals to argue that the surge had made the Iraq war winnable.

Once it became clear to the Obama administration that the Afghan surge would not generate a clear victory over the Taliban, however, it moved to a fallback position: The continued offensive pressure by the U.S. would give the Taliban incentive to come to the negotiating table. No one would dream of describing that goal as “peace with honor,” but the strategic aim closely matched that of the U.S. in the later phases of the war in Vietnam.

Indeed, much of President Richard Nixon’s expansion of that conflict reflected Henry Kissinger’s judgment that although the war certainly could not be won, it would be impossible to negotiate meaningfully with the North Vietnamese in Paris unless the U.S. had some leverage. Increased force, then as now, was supposed to provide the incentive for the enemy to come to the table.

Yet, by last summer, that fallback position had itself fallen away, and little was left to keep the U.S. in Afghanistan except domestic politics. The Obama administration announced a speeded up withdrawal process, complete with target dates.

Strikingly, that final withdrawal date was planned for 2014, not this year. Clearly, the Obama administration did not want to risk a Saigon-like collapse and the rapid return of the Taliban before the election. Eventually, President Obama might have to confront the reality that the right war was ending even more disastrously than the “wrong” one. So the plan was to put off that historical re-evaluation until at least after the votes were cast and counted, when he had already been re-elected -- or when he had lost, and had nothing to worry about except his legacy.

There was nothing especially unusual about this caution. During the Iraq war, the Bush administration regularly made crucial strategic decisions informed by the timing of U.S. elections. The Iraqis took it in stride -- and themselves have been happy to subordinate American interests to their own domestic political concerns.

Chain of Tragedies

Yet we are now faced with another possibility entirely: a scenario in which, despite wanting to keep Afghanistan in check for a while longer, the Obama administration decides it cannot wait any longer and must begin to withdraw major numbers of U.S. forces ahead of time, no matter the consequences.

We have reached this point thanks to a staccato chain of events, any one of which was predictable individually, but which mean something vastly more significant taken as a group.

Any war gamer worth his salt would have modeled Afghan popular reaction after the desecration of the Koran by U.S. personnel. After all, the U.S. faced serious retaliation in Afghanistan and elsewhere when a minister in Florida simply announced plans for a book burning. A similar event, in-country, was sure to have worse results, even if the burning reflected gross negligence rather than intent.

Slightly less predictable was the breaching of security in the fortress of the Interior Ministry -- not by an attack from the outside but from within, by a ministry employee. The message was not simply that the Taliban could infiltrate the innermost chambers of government. Worse, it suggested that people who might originally have taken jobs out of loyalty to the government were now potential killers. The response, also predictable, was to withdraw all NATO personnel from ministries -- in effect ending the governance aspects of the U.S.-led mission before the military ones could be wound down.

Most predictable of all was the horrific spectacle of an American soldier gone rogue, killing women and children in a door-to-door massacre. Hundreds more people died at My Lai in Vietnam in 1968. And 24 died at Haditha, Iraq. But both of those tragedies arose from routine operations gone haywire. Kandahar was truly an example of the lone gunman, both totally deviant from the goals of military discipline and also symptomatic of what can happen when a body of men is under unimaginable pressure and looking defeat in the face.

Calm After Massacre

It is notable that the Kandahar massacre didn’t have anywhere near the public reaction of the Koran burnings. From the standpoint of many Afghans, it would seem, innocent civilians are killed all the time in their country. The moral distinction between collateral damage and intentional murder seems stark to us, who must bear the responsibilities of the use of force on a large scale and from the air. But for the person whose family is killed, the difference may seem less salient.

Nevertheless, the American position in Afghanistan becomes more tenuous each day. Large crowds of angry Afghan civilians would make a sustained presence harder and harder. President Hamid Karzai last week called for coalition troops to end patrols in villages and retreat to bases, while the Taliban, who have known since last summer that it was all over but the waiting, shut down nascent negotiations with the U.S.

In terms of U.S. politics, concern with losing American lives is coming to outweigh desire for salvaging some sort of victory. Should the Obama administration decide to abandon ship this year, it is not even clear who will object. Yes, it will be a black day for Afghanistan women, human-rights advocates and all those who bravely and perhaps a little foolishly took the side of democracy and hope. But it is hard to imagine any very great criticism of Obama, even from a Republican candidate in a heated election.

The American public knows the war is over. The Afghan public knows it. The tragedy, unfortunately, is just beginning.

(Noah Feldman, a law professor at Harvard University and the author of “Scorpions: The Battles and Triumphs of FDR’s Great Supreme Court Justices,” is a Bloomberg View columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.)
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To contact the writer of this article: Noah Feldman in Cambridge, Massachusetts, at noah_feldman@harvard.edu.
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Re: More trouble in Afghanistan

Post  Panda on Wed 21 Mar - 8:08


20 March 2012 Last updated at 23:40 Share this pageEmail Print Share this page



The lawyer representing a US soldier accused of killing 16 Afghan civilians in their homes has said there is little proof of his client's guilt.

John Henry Browne said there was "no forensic evidence" against Staff Sgt Robert Bales and "no confession".

He also dismissed reports suggesting Sgt Bales, 38, was having financial troubles as irrelevant to the case.

Sgt Bales is being held a military detention centre awaiting charges, which are expected this week.

The killings have undermined US relations with Kabul and led to calls for Nato to speed up their planned withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan.

After meeting with Sgt Bales at a US army base in Kansas, Mr Browne told reporters: "We've all heard the allegations. I don't know that the government has proved much."

Continue reading the main story
Staff Sgt Robert Bales
Aged 38
Two children
Enlisted in 2001
Three previous tours to Iraq
Injured twice
Profile: Staff Sgt Robert Bales

Sgt Bales is the only known suspect in the killings - despite repeated Afghan assertions that more than one American was involved.

Mr Browne said he now plans to travel to Afghanistan to gather his own evidence.

Money troubles

The lawyer also responded to questions about Sgt Bales' financial history.

He and his wife had reportedly struggled to make the payments on two properties they had bought.

It has now also emerged that - along with another man and his company - Sgt Bales owed a reported $1.5m (£950,000) from an arbitration ruling nearly a decade ago which found him guilty of securities fraud while he was working as a stockbroker.

Mr Browne told Associated Press "that doesn't mean anything".

Sgt Bales and his wife were reportedly having trouble making their mortgage payments
"Sure, there are financial problems. I have financial problems. Ninety-nine percent of America has financial problems," he said.

"You don't go kill women and children because you have financial problems."

His wife, Karilyn, has issued a statement expressing her condolences to the victims and their families and saying what reportedly took place is "completely out of character of the man I know and admire".

Mr Browne first met his client at Fort Leavenworth on Monday to begin preparing his defence.

The Pentagon has previously said that Sgt Bales could face charges that carry a possible death penalty.

Such a trial could take years, contrasting with Afghan demands for swift and decisive justice.

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Re: More trouble in Afghanistan

Post  Panda on Fri 23 Mar - 22:24


U.S. Sergeant Charged with 17 Counts of Murder in Afghan Killings

By MATTHEW ROSENBERG and WILLIAM YARDLEY

Published: March 23, 2012






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KABUL, Afghanistan — Staff Sgt. Robert Bales was charged on Friday with 17 counts of premeditated murder and six counts of assault and attempted murder in connection with a March 11 attack on Afghan civilians, American forces in Afghanistan said.




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If convicted of premeditated murder, Sergeant Bales could face the death penalty, according to the announcement, which also stated that a minimum penalty on the charge is a life sentence with the possibility of parole.

Afghan and American officials have said that Sergeant Bales, who is 38 and had been serving his fourth combat tour overseas, walked away from his remote base in southern Afghanistan and shot and stabbed members of several families in a nighttime ambush.

Afghan officials initially announced that 16 people were killed in the rampage; at least nine were children and some others were women. The Army has not suggested a motive. But the charges, which were announced in a six-paragraph statement Friday from United States forces, said Sergeant Bales was accused of killing 17 Afghan civilians. The statement did not include details of the crimes, and it did not account for the larger number of dead.

Afghan officials on Friday stuck to the initial death toll. None of the six people whom Sergeant Bales is accused of assaulting and attempting to murder had died from wounds sustained in the attack, though three remain hospitalized, said Zalmai Ayoubi, a spokesman for the government of Kandahar Province, where the killings took place.

Mr. Ayoubi spoke before the charges were formally announced — though after word had begun to spread that the charges were likely to include 17 counts of murder — and he could not say why the Americans had added another victim to the death toll.

Sergeant Bales is being held at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., though the statement saying he had been formally charged was released in Kabul. The statement said that was because American forces in Afghanistan had authority over the case until Friday, when the case formally entered the American military justice system.

Many in Afghanistan, including President Hamid Karzai, had called for Sergeant Bales to be tried by an Afghan court and were sharply critical of the American decision to spirit the soldier from the country and back to the United States in the days after the killings.

American officials have said that the United States, like all members of the coalition fighting in Afghanistan, has a deal with the Afghan government that stipulates its service members accused of crimes are to be tried by their own militaries.

There was no widespread Afghan reaction to the news that Sergeant Bales had been charged. Friday is a day off in Afghanistan, and the statement from American forces came around 11 p.m.. Much of Afghanistan had also been shut down since Tuesday for the celebration of Nowruz, the Persian new year holiday.

But Aimal Faizi, a spokesman for Mr. Karzai, said when reached by phone shortly after the announcement from American forces that “the people of Afghanistan want justice as soon as possible.” He declined to answer questions about whether the Afghan government still wanted Sergeant Bales tried in Afghanistan.

Coalition officials said the American statement had to be timed with legal procedures in the United States. They did not elaborate.

John Henry Browne, a lawyer for the soldier, has said that Sergeant Bales did not remember some events at the time of the attack. Mr. Browne said in interviews this week that the sergeant had not sought or received treatment for a concussion he apparently suffered during a vehicle rollover in Iraq in a previous deployment.

“There’s definitely brain injury, no question about it,” Mr. Browne said.

Mr. Browne said Thursday that he expected the charges.

“I’m not persuaded by many facts,” he said. “There’s no crime scene. There’s no DNA. There’s no confession, although they’re leaking something, which I don’t believe until I see it. This is going to be a hard case for the government to prove. And my client can’t help me a lot with some of the things because he has mental problems and I believe they’re totally legitimate.”

The attack, most likely the deadliest war crime by a single American soldier in the decade of war that has followed the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, has further frayed the relationship between the American and Afghan governments. Earlier this year United States military personnel burned Korans at an Afghan base, an act that prompted widespread public protests and a series of killings.

John R. Allen of the Marines, who commands the American-led allied forces in Afghanistan, told Congress this week that there would be an administrative investigation into the headquarters organization and the command of the sergeant’s unit.

Sergeant Bales’s legal proceedings could last years. He next faces an Article 32 hearing, in which the Army formally decides whether to press charges. If he is charged in an Article 32 hearing, he will most likely face a court-martial.

The sergeant has been based at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, south of Tacoma, Wash., when he was not deployed overseas. Although Sergeant Bales is being held in Kansas, Mr. Browne said Thursday that he believed there was a strong chance legal proceedings in the future could take place at Lewis-McChord.


Matthew Rosenberg reported from Kabul and William Yardley from Seattle. Jawad Sukhanyar contributed reporting from Kabul and Eric Schmitt from Washington.






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Re: More trouble in Afghanistan

Post  mara thon on Sat 24 Mar - 23:11

Woman says Afghan shooting suspect was "obnoxious drunk"

http://uk.news.yahoo.com/woman-says-afghan-shooting-suspect-obnoxious-drunk-012114285.html

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - A woman living near the U.S. base of a soldier accused of killing 17 Afghan civilians remembered him on Friday as an "obnoxious drunk" who pressed her hand into his crotch and picked a fight with her boyfriend.

Staff Sergeant Robert Bales, 38, was charged on Friday with murdering 17 civilians and trying to kill six more on the night of March 11 near his army base in Afghanistan. His lawyer has admitted that Bales had had something to drink on that night but played it down as a factor.

Washington state police reports show that Bales had three brushes with the law over the last decade, all of which mention alcohol. The first was in 2002 and the last two were in 2008, in between his second and third tours in Iraq. He went to war a fourth time in December, to Afghanistan.

"He was an obnoxious drunk," Myra Jo Irish said by telephone on Friday, describing the night of April 5, 2008, at the Paradise Village Bowl bowling alley in Tacoma, near Bales' U.S. base, Lewis-McChord, in Washington state.

She made a report to police that night but never pressed charges.

She said Bales followed her outside when she went for a smoke. "He said 'you are beautiful' and grabbed my hand and put it on his crotch," she said. Her boyfriend asked for an apology, she remembered.

"Next thing I knew, he had my boyfriend on the ground and started wailing on him," she said. "His friends told me, 'please don't report this, cause he's married, he's drunk, and he's in the service, and that would just devastate his life.'"

Bales received several military commendations during three tours in Iraq, where he was wounded at least twice.

Since his name was released a week ago, evidence of financial trouble at home, a $1.5 million fraud judgment against him and a brokerage where he worked, and the police reports have created a complex picture of the man.

His lawyer, John Henry Browne, did not respond to a request for comment.

Mark Lindquist, the prosecutor for Washington's Pierce County, said his office did not press charges over the bowling alley brawl, because there was alcohol involved on all sides, it was a 'mutual scuffle' and there were no injuries.

Irish said on Friday that she and her boyfriend were not drunk, contradicting the police description in the 2008 report.

According to the police record, later in 2008, Bales flipped over his Ford Mustang after driving off the road and hitting a tree. One witness told police the driver smelled of alcohol. Bales ran into the woods when deputies approached him.

He later told an officer he had fallen asleep at the wheel and been "out of it" after the trauma of the accident. The Tacoma News Tribune newspaper said he received a deferred 12-month sentence.

The first police incident was in 2002, the year before his first combat tour.

He was charged with assault after becoming intoxicated at a local casino, according to a police report. Bales threatened another patron and then security guards escorted him outside and put him into a cab, the report describes the guards as saying. But Bales got back out, picked up a trash can lid and came at the guards, punching one in the chest before they tackled him.

Bales agreed to take anger-management classes, the Tacoma News has said, and the charges were dismissed.

(Reporting by Peter Henderson; Editing by David Brunnstrom)

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Re: More trouble in Afghanistan

Post  Panda on Sun 25 Mar - 10:07


25 March 2012 Last updated at 09:29 Share this pageEmail Print Share this page
Afghan families who lost relatives in the Kandahar massacre have been paid compensation, the BBC has learnt.

The US military gave $46,000 (£29,000) for each person killed, and $10,000 (£6,300) for each person injured, Afghan officials and tribal elders say.

US staff sergeant Robert Bales was charged on Friday with 17 counts of premeditated murder.

Meanwhile, eight Afghan police officers and an Isaf foreign soldier have been killed by a bomb in Kandahar province.

They were on patrol when they were hit by an improvised explosive device late on Saturday, officials said.

"Four Afghan local police and three national police, one Isaf soldier and one Afghan interpreter were killed," Shah Mohammad, administrator for Arghandab district, said.

'No confession' over massacre

Family members attended a private meeting with personnel from the US military and the Nato-led ISAF forces at the offices of Kandahar's governor, the BBC has learnt.

The families were told that some witnesses would be flown to the US to give evidence - and others would be able to participate by videolink - when Staff Sgt Bales stands trial over the deadly night-time rampage in Panjwai district on 11 March.

The US army said on Friday that Sgt Bales had been formally charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder - nine Afghan children and eight adults.

Afghan officials and villagers say 16 died - 12 in Balandi and four in Alkozai - and the US military has not explained the discrepancy.

Continue reading the main story
Staff Sgt Robert Bales


Sgt Bales, 38, was also charged with six counts of attempted murder over attacks on a man, a woman and four children.

The soldier is currently being held at a military jail in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, where he is being held in solitary confinement after being flown out of Afghanistan last week.

His lawyer, who has played down reports that his client was drunk on the night of the killings, has said Sgt Bales remembers "very little" of the incident.

John Henry Browne said there was "no forensic evidence" against him and "no confession".

Sgt Bales is the only known suspect in the killings - despite repeated Afghan assertions that more than one American was involved.

His trial could take years, contrasting with Afghan demands for swift and decisive justice, and he could face the death penalty if convicted.

The shooting spree has further undermined relations between Kabul and Washington. The Taliban called off peace talks in the wake of the deadly rampage.

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Re: More trouble in Afghanistan

Post  Panda on Mon 26 Mar - 9:31



26 March 2012 Last updated at 09:17 Share this pageEmail Print Share this page

A man wearing an Afghan army uniform has shot and killed two international service members, according to Nato.

The attack happened at a military base in the south of the country, a statement by the International Security Assistance Force (Isaf) said.

The attacker was killed by coalition troops, Isaf said. The nationalities of the soldiers have not be released.

The incident comes after several Afghan civilians were killed in an attack for which a US soldier has been charged.

An official in the Afghan defence ministry has told the BBC that the attack happened in Helmand province, and that the attacker was an Afghan soldier.

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Re: More trouble in Afghanistan

Post  Panda on Tue 27 Mar - 15:32



27 March 2012 Last updated at 13:08 Share this pageEmail Print Share this page


The Afghan authorities have arrested 18 people in Kabul after foiling plans for an apparent mass suicide attack, intelligence officials say.

They told the BBC that 11 suicide jackets had been seized inside the ministry of defence.

The officials say the attacks would have caused significant loss of life. Some of those arrested are reported to Afghan National Army soldiers.

The Afghan Ministry of Defence dismissed the report as "rumours".

Dawlat Wazeri, the ministry's deputy spokesman, told the BBC that no would-be bombers had been detained or suicide vests seized inside the ministry.

"These are just rumours and now we are working on finding the men who have provided these rumours to the media," he said.

The BBC's Bilal Sarwary in Kabul says it appears that, officially, the Afghan authorities want to play down a major security lapse that is highly embarrassing for the government.

The reliability of Afghan security personnel is in the spotlight after a string of deadly attacks by gunmen wearing Afghan National Army dress on their Nato counterparts in recent weeks.



Bilal Sarwary

Kabul

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
The Afghan government has simply failed for the last year or year-and-a-half to prevent rogue soldiers and Taliban infiltration.

Last year we had a very high-profile case of Taliban infiltration into the ministry of defence when a senior ministry official helped a suicide attacker in army uniform get all the way to the minister's office. That official was later sacked and jailed, but it just shows you how much infiltration there has been, both at a high level and at other levels, in Kabul and across the country.

We understand from Afghan intelligence officials now that the issue of infiltration is systematic - it's a strategy not a tactic.

Rogue soldiers

Intelligence officials told our correspondent that the jackets had been seized on Monday afternoon from three separate rooms around a ministry car park, less than a kilometre from the presidential palace. Several people were arrested inside the ministry's first security belt, they said.

Six soldiers were arrested at the time - initial reports suggested they were armed and prepared to attack.

It appears the jackets were intended to be detonated on buses transporting staff to and from work. Eleven buses carrying 1,100 personnel were due to set off just 45 minutes after the arrests were made, our correspondent reports.

Another 12 people were arrested on Tuesday and more arrests could follow, intelligence and security officials told the BBC.

Our correspondent says the problem of attacks by rogue soldiers and Taliban infiltrators has plagued the Afghan police and army for several years.

The arrests came as people wearing the uniforms of Afghan security forces killed one US and two British soldiers in separate incidents on Monday, in Paktika province and Lashkar Gah in Helmand respectively.

Attacks on US and Nato forces have increased since the inadvertent burning of Korans by US troops in February and the massacre of Afghan civilians by a US a soldier on 11 March.

Nato is due to withdraw combat forces from the country by 2014. Meanwhile efforts are being made to negotiate with the Taliban and to build up the Afghan security forces so they can assume full security control once Nato combat troops depart.

The Taliban pulled out of the talks earlier this month, accusing the US of being "erratic and vague" in its dealings with them.

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Re: More trouble in Afghanistan

Post  Panda on Fri 30 Mar - 17:14


30 March 2012 Last updated at 10:46 Share this pageEmail Print Share this page


Nine Afghan police officers have been shot dead by a colleague in the eastern Paktika province, Afghan police sources have said.

The provincial police chief Dawlat Khan said the incident occurred on Friday, in Yayakhil district.

The gunman, who had been assigned to a small command post, shot dead nine of his colleagues as they slept.

Among those killed was his commander and two sons. He then seized their weapons and a police vehicle and fled.

Police said that the motive for the killings was not known, but they said they suspected the Taliban were behind the attack.

"This man is a coward. What he did is part of the Taliban conspiracy," Mr Khan said, according to AP news agency.

The region is a stronghold of the Haqqani network, a Pakistani-based group with ties to the Taliban and al-Qaeda.

The group mostly attack US-led coalition forces, but they have often also carried out assaults and bombings against the Afghan army and police.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said that the group were linked to the attack.

"Last night, a mujahid fighter attacked a security check post. As a result, he killed nine puppet local policemen," he said in a text message reportedly sent to AFP news agency.

The spokesman for the governor of Paktika province said that two other policemen had been arrested, AFP reports.

The police officers were all part of the village police, also known as the Afghan Local Police, a local force that provides security in areas where the Afghan army and police cannot operate.

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Re: More trouble in Afghanistan

Post  Panda on Wed 4 Apr - 8:07


Not for the first time , the Afghan's claim Bales was not alone when the 16 civilians were killed. Several villagers say there was more than one Soldier
and an 8 yr old girl who was shot in the leg and suffered a knee injury said she watched a U.S. Soldier shoot dead her father but he was not the only one there.

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Re: More trouble in Afghanistan

Post  Panda on Wed 4 Apr - 17:43



4 April 2012 Last updated at 12:15 Share this pageEmail Print Share this page

175ShareFacebookTwitter.Afghanistan suicide bomber 'kills 10' in Faryab The attack in Faryab took place close to the main market, which was packed with shoppers Continue reading the main story
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A suicide bomb attack in northern Afghanistan has left at least 10 people dead, officials say.

Sources told the BBC the bomber had targeted a meeting of officials in Maymana, capital of Faryab province.

More than 20 people were hurt, a number critically. Nato said three service members were killed in a blast in the north on Wednesday but has not linked it to the Faryab incident.

Attacks in northern Afghanistan are far less common than in the south and east.

Nato's Isaf force said it was aware of "reported civilian/military casualties" in Faryab but was still investigating and stressed it had not yet made any announcement related to victims there.

Strategic partnership

The BBC's Bilal Sarwary in Kabul says a suicide attacker on a motorbike approached the meeting near the main vegetable market, which was packed with shoppers as well as Afghan and Western security forces.

A former MP, Haji Ahmad Khan, told the BBC: ''There was a big function in Maymana. The suicide attacker got inside the meeting and attacked. There is blood everywhere. There are body parts scattered.''

A senior police official in Maymana added: ''Most of those killed and injured are local shopkeepers."


A spokesman for the regional Afghan command said two women and two children were among the dead. Four policemen are also reported to have been killed.

The Taliban said they carried out the attack.

Most of the foreign forces in Faryab are Norwegians but a spokesman for the country's army told AFP none of its troops were nearby.

Norway currently contributes some 400 soldiers to the 130,000-strong Isaf that is fighting the Taliban-led insurgency. Norway has lost 10 personnel since the Nato-led invasion took place in 2001.

Most of the Isaf force is due to be withdrawn from Afghanistan by the end of 2014.

Nato and the government of President Hamid Karzai are still working on a strategic partnership agreement on Nato involvement after 2014.

In a separate incident, the police chief of Chardara district in Kunduz province told the BBC that a local police official had turned his gun on his commander and two of the commander's bodyguards, killing all three before fleeing.

The commander was a former Taliban member who joined the government last year.

The Taliban have continued their campaign of gun and bomb attacks on Nato forces this year, with almost 100 service members killed.

The number of incidents rose after the burning of Korans by US troops at base in February.

Tensions were further inflamed by the killing of 17 Afghan civilians, including nine children on 11 March by US Staff Sgt Robert Bales, 38, in their homes in Kandahar province.

Taliban attacks traditionally increase further at this time of year following a winter lull, when bad weather restricts the movement of fighters.


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Re: More trouble in Afghanistan

Post  Panda on Thu 5 Apr - 14:07

5 April 2012 Last updated at 12:30



A prominent anti-Taliban commander in the Afghan province of Badakhshan has been killed in a suspected Taliban suicide attack, police say.

They say that Nazik Mir was killed in Kisham district. At least 16 civilians were injured.

Mr Mir was one of the biggest enemies of the Taliban in Badakhshan, stopping them from operating in the area.

Separately, gunmen in Farah province killed eight people late on Wednesday in a checkpoint attack.

They say that the checkpoint was manned by a government-sponsored militia.

Officials say both attacks show how the Taliban is targeting its Afghan enemies as well as Nato forces.

'Carefully planned'

Farah Deputy Governor Younas Rasuli told the BBC that the Taliban first strangled a guard and later shot dead seven local policemen.

Earlier on Wednesday a Taliban suicide bomber in the north killed at least 10 people, including three US soldiers.

A security official in Farah told the BBC that the Taliban attacked the commander of the checkpoint because he had switched sides and joined the government.

"This was a carefully planned assassination. After the attack, the Taliban took away weapons, radios and ammunition with them,'' he said.

The BBC's Bilal Sarwary in Kabul says that members of government-sponsored militias - know as arbakis - are often former members of the Taliban and other insurgent groups.

Our correspondent says that they are usually recruited locally and are considered by Afghan and western military officials to be an effective force against Taliban insurgents.

But they have also been accused of human rights violations and abuses in their efforts to curtail the activities of the Taliban.

Insurgents are also known to be active in Badakhshan, along with members of the militant Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan.

Drug dealers and smugglers often clash with police and Afghan security forces in the area.

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Re: More trouble in Afghanistan

Post  Panda on Sun 8 Apr - 13:00



Kabul, Afghanistan (CNN) -- The United States and Afghanistan say they have reached a landmark deal to be signed Sunday that affords Afghan authorities an effective veto over controversial special operations raids.

A bid to end visceral Afghan anger over raids on private residences, the deal prevents NATO's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) troops from conducting such operations without the explicit permission of Afghan officials, said a senior NATO official.

An Afghan review group would have to authorize an operation before it goes ahead, the official said.

Special operations forces would operate under Afghan law, said a statement from the presidential palace.

The agreement was to go into effect at a signing Sunday afternoon, said Afghan presidential spokesman Aimal Faizi. ISAF commander, Gen. John Allen, and Afghan Defense Minister Gen. Abdul Rahim Wardak were scheduled to take part in the signing.

The key deal comes after months of angry recriminations against special operations raids, particularly at night, that deeply offend Afghans as they involve foreigners entering their homes. U.S. officials say the raids are vital to NATO's operation against insurgents.

The complex system would fully "Afghanize" the operations, putting Afghan commandos in the lead and giving American special forces a "training and support role," a senior Afghan official said.

The senior Afghan official said the deal would involve a joint committee of U.S. and Afghan officials reviewing U.S. intelligence on a target before a raid.

If that target were approved, a warrant would then be issued by Afghan authorities for the raid to occur, the official said.

It remained unclear how or when the warrant would be issued.

One western official confirmed the committee mechanism but would not comment on any warrant procedure.

Afghan officials have insisted the raids be conducted in compliance with Afghan law, meaning any warrant or legal authority for a raid would have to occur before the operation.

Talks have been going on for weeks now on this key memorandum of understanding to address what is perhaps the most difficult issue in the partnership between Kabul and Washington.

The agreement would remove one of the obstacles in the way of a highly symbolic Strategic Partnership Document, outlining the basis for U.S.-Afghan cooperation for the years after NATO's 2014 drawdown.

Night raids also present a particular challenge to Afghan President Hamid Karzai. Their strong unpopularity has forced the president to demand they stop, or at least no longer involve foreign troops, despite their operational significance to NATO.

Allen told Congress last month how vital and frequent those raids are.

In 2011, 83% of the raids succeeded in detaining or striking either their primary target or an associated insurgent, he said.

"This last year, we had about 2,200 night operations," Allen told the Senate Armed Services Committee.

"Of those 2,200 or so night operations, on 90% of them we didn't fire a shot. On more than 50% of them we got the targeted individual, and (in) 30% more we got the next associate of that individual as well."

As for civilian casualties, in the 10% of the night raids where shots were fired, "less than 1.5 % civilian casualties" resulted, Allen said.

Pentagon spokesman George Little told reporters Wednesday that over 97% of the night raids are combined U.S.-Afghan operations, and almost 40% of the night raids are now Afghan-led.

Karzai says Afghanistan's homes and villages need to be safe and protected.

"What we are asking for, in very specific and clear terms, (is that) no foreign forces should enter Afghan homes," he said last year.



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Re: More trouble in Afghanistan

Post  Panda on Mon 9 Apr - 10:48



U.S. Transfers Control of Night Raids to Afghanistan


Tyler Hicks/The New York Times

A woman with her child in the Afghan village of Darbart cowered in a doorway during a night raid in April 2009.

By ALISSA J. RUBIN

Published: April 8, 2012









.



KABUL, Afghanistan — Accelerating the transition of military responsibility to the Afghan government, the United States agreed Sunday to hand control of special operations missions to Afghan forces, including night raids, relegating American troops to a supporting role and bringing the raids under Afghan judicial authority.








Massoud Hossaini/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Defense Minister Abdul Rahim Wardak shook hands with General John R. Allen, the American commander in Afghanistan, after the signing ceremony in Kabul.

The deal clears the way for the two countries to move ahead with a more comprehensive partnership agreement that will establish the shape of American support to Afghanistan after the 2014 troop withdrawal deadline. And it resolves one of the most contentious issues for President Hamid Karzai, who faced intense domestic political pressure because of night raids’ deep unpopularity here, even as American commanders had insisted they were the linchpin of the military mission in Afghanistan.

As recently as a year ago, American commanders expressed reservations about giving up nearly any measure of control over the raids. Since then, the relationship between the two countries has been reconfigured by a series of diplomatic crises and the American public’s growing fatigue for the war, lending an increasing sense of imminence to the troop withdrawal.

At the same time, the United States has mounted an intense effort to move Afghan special operations forces to the fore, even as questions remain about the overall readiness of Afghan troops.

At a signing ceremony in the capital, Abdul Rahim Wardak, the Afghan defense minister, and Gen. John R. Allen, the American commander here, hailed the agreement as a positive sign of Afghanistan’s sovereignty and the growing abilities of its special operations forces.

“This is an important step in strengthening the sovereignty of Afghanistan,” Mr. Wardak said, adding that it was “a national goal” and “a wish of the Afghan people” that raids be conducted and controlled by Afghans.

The memorandum of understanding signed on Sunday gives Afghan forces the lead role in night raid operations against suspected insurgents, and also requires an Afghan court warrant within 72 hours of a raid. A warrant can be issued after a raid only in cases where the intelligence needed to be acted on immediately, otherwise it must be executed in advance, according to Afghan officials.

Under the terms of the agreement, Afghan forces can still call on American troops for help and authorize them to enter Afghan residences and private compounds. The agreement covers all night raids carried out by special operations forces. However, a small number of night operations are conducted under other auspices, including special C.I.A.-trained units, that are not covered by the agreement, military and civilian officials said.

American officials close to the negotiations said that under the agreement, an interministry Afghan command center with representatives of the Defense and Interior Ministries, as well as the National Directorate of Security — the Afghan intelligence agency — would review or develop information about potential targets in consultation with Americans, who would continue to provide extensive intelligence support.

The interministry group would then decide whether to go after a target and send Afghan special operations forces to carry out the raid. The Afghans can request American assistance at any point in the operation — for intelligence, for backup military support, air support, medical evacuation and post-operation intelligence gathering.

Afghan officials said that the Americans would not have the right to question detainees. Currently, they can question detainees and hold them indefinitely without trial. In practice, however, Americans might well be called on “to assist in an investigation,” said a United States official. The official emphasized that the relationship between Afghan and American troops was “not an adversarial one,” and United States officials did not appear to be worried that Americans would be denied access to detainees.

Several diplomats said that the most important aspect of the agreement, which goes into effect immediately, was that the two countries could take the next steps to complete the transition to Afghan control and allow foreign forces to leave the country.

“There’s still work to be done, but clearly we have some critical momentum now,” Ryan C. Crocker, the United States ambassador to Afghanistan, said as he left the signing ceremony.

Shanker contributed reporting from Washington.

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Re: More trouble in Afghanistan

Post  Badboy on Sun 15 Apr - 14:18

THE TALIBAN HAS ATTACKED EMBASSIES AND THE PARLIAMENT IN KABUL AS WELL AS JALALABAD AIRPORT,METHINKS.

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Re: More trouble in Afghanistan

Post  Panda on Sun 15 Apr - 14:47



2:38pm UK, Sunday April 15, 2012

There has been a series of attacks across the Afghan capital Kabul, with insurgents targeting Western embassies and the parliament building.
The Taliban has claimed responsibility for the co-ordinated strikes - adding that a group of armed suicide bombers had launched attacks on Nato's headquarters, the parliament and a number of diplomatic residences.

"These attacks are the beginning of the spring offensive and we planned them for months," Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid was quoted as saying.

Some fighting was still ongoing between militants and Afghan police across the city, but hours after the initial explosions and gunfire, reports said only two attackers were dead and five others injured.

Several explosions rocked the US, British and German embassies and a Nato military base in a central neighbourhood of the capital.

One report said a rocket-propelled grenade had hit the residence of the British diplomat in Kabul.

The Foreign Office confirmed in a statement: "There is an ongoing incident in the diplomatic area of Kabul.We are in close contact with the embassy, all staff are accounted for."

A spokesman for the US embassy said it was in lockdown, but staff there were also safe, while the German foreign ministry said there was some damage in the grounds of its embassy.

A US defence official, who did not want to be named, said the attackers were using mostly small arms and rocket-propelled grenades, and "perhaps even suicide bombers".

Afghan security forces, who are responsible for the safety of the capital, have been scrambling to reinforce areas around the diplomatic enclave of the city centre.



A spokesman for Nato's International Security Assistance Force (Isaf) said via Twitter there had been attacks in up to seven locations around Kabul.

More than 10 explosions in all shook the capital, and heavy gunfire continued in various places after the initial blast.

Reports said several gunmen had tried to enter the parliament building, but were driven back by security forces and forced to take cover in a nearby building.

Reports said MPs were helping the Afghan forces fire back at the insurgents.

"I'm the representative of my people and I have to defend them," Kandahar MP Naeem Hameedzai was quoted as saying.

Afghan media said the Kabul Star Hotel, which is located near the presidential palace, was also on fire following an attack there.

Amid the confusion, US army convoys could be seen coming into the city, accompanied by Afghan police.

The Taliban said the group was also behind assaults in two provinces outside the capital.

In the eastern city of Jalalabad, two sucide bombers targeted the airport while a police station was attacked in the town of Gardez.



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Re: More trouble in Afghanistan

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