Sy Hersh: “Battlefield Executions” taking place under Obama, the Military is “Dominating” Obama

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    I am greatly saddened to report the following . . .

    Investigative journalist Seymour Hersh says that US forces in Afghanistan are carrying out what he referred to as “battlefield executions” of prisoners.

   “One of the great tragedies of my country is that Mr. Obama is looking the other way, because equally horrible things are happening to prisoners, to those we capture in Afghanistan,” Hersh said during a discussion at the Global Investigative Journalism Conference last month in Geneva, where he was also the keynote speaker. “They’re being executed on the battlefield.”

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    Video and more below the fold

Reminiscent of this moment from Vietnam, isn’t it?

(Geneva Convention) Art 13. Prisoners of war must at all times be humanely treated. Any unlawful act or omission by the Detaining Power causing death or seriously endangering the health of a prisoner of war in its custody is prohibited, and will be regarded as a serious breach of the present Convention.

   What they’ve done in the field now is, they tell the troops, you have to make a determination within a day or two or so whether or not the prisoners you have, the detainees, are Taliban. You must extract whatever tactical intelligence you can get, as opposed to strategic, long-range intelligence, immediately. And if you cannot conclude they’re Taliban, you must turn them free. What it means is, and I’ve been told this anecdotally by five or six different people, battlefield executions are taking place. Well, if they can’t prove they’re Taliban, bam. If we don’t do it ourselves, we turn them over to the nearby Afghan troops and by the time we walk three feet the bullets are flying. And that’s going on now.

Transcript courtesy of

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   If enemy combatants, as the Bush/Cheney Administration renamed them, are NOT able to prove they are Taliban they are often shot. One can only imagine if they ARE Taliban what might happen.

   Perhaps they are taken to Bagram Prison?


The need for transparency was illustrated late last month (back in March 2009)* when the UK government revealed that two individuals it handed over to the USA in Iraq in 2004 had subsequently been transferred to US custody in Afghanistan, where they remain five years later.

   Amnesty International has asked the US government to confirm whether the two are held in Bagram and to provide further information on their cases. The organization has raised the possibility that the USA’s transfer of these individuals to Afghanistan constituted a war crime.

    Amnesty International continues to call for the Bagram detainees to be granted access to an independent court to challenge the lawfulness of their detentions, to effective remedies in relation to their treatment and conditions of detention, and to meaningful access to legal counsel for such purposes. At present, the detainees have no access to lawyers or courts.

Bold text and some editorializing noted by * added by the diarist

   According to Seymour Hersh, the military is “Dominating” Obama and Obama is in real trouble. The important issues in the world, Iraq, Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan are decisions that are being made by the Military Industrial Complex. Though this has been true of America since 1941, one would have hoped that this kind of thing might have changed after the historic Presidential election of Barack Obama.

   To his credit, Sy Hersh states that Obama is “much brighter” than Bush/Cheney, but he is in “real trouble” and is following Bush/Cheney’s policies, and even going further in many cases. According to Hersh, Iraq is going to be another disaster where Muqtada al Sadr who had been attacking US Soldiers will be the next Ayatollah of Iraq after al Sistani, the Iranians have come out of our Iraq invasion stronger than ever, and Obama’s policies in Afghanistan can NOT succeed. All of this is very grim news from a very reliable source.

   Those words are startling, but worse yet is what has taken place under Obama. Hersh does not blame Obama directly, but he claims that he is “looking the other way”, which sounds eerily like “looking forward”

   Sun Tzu once said “If the army is exposed to a prolonged campaign, the nation’s resources will not suffice.” This sums up to well the position that the for profit war industry has put America in. We do not make war to win wars in America anymore, we make war to make war, so that Blackwater and Haliburton and Bechtel may make profits and “secure the principle”. Our nation, our American citizens, and the people of the nations we have occupied are suffering for no other reason than our military industrial complex seeks profit. This must CHANGE NOW, not incrementally, not later because we must “look forward”. NOW. Murder is a crime, and war for an unjust reason is the worst crime of all, but “Battlefield Executions” are horrific, and a symptom of a sick, Orwellian never ending war that has ceased to be about al Qaeda and 9/11 and has become a way for Blackwater and Boeing to make a profit no matter what the cost. This must end.

   Any decent person would be outraged by this. Many of us here on the left WERE outraged over things such as these when they took place under Bush/Cheney’s Administration. Is it not our duty then to be just as outraged now that such things are taking place under Democratic President Obama’s Administration?

   I am a human being first and foremost. Acts such as “Battlefield Executions” are inhuman and criminal. Politically I am a patriot first and a partisan second. Battlefield executions neither keep our nation safe, nor do they protect our citizens. This is the sign of a civilization collapsing. Torture is WRONG, but murder is worse, and that is exactly what this is.

It is time for it to stop. Bring our troops home NOW, end these damned wars NOW, close Bagram and Guantanamo NOW, and for the sake of our nation, reign in the Military Industrial Complex, cut our military budget as Defense Secretary Robert Gates has asked, and investigate and prosecute ALL of the war crimes that took place under Bush/Cheney, as well as the ones taking place under Obama/Biden. Anything less is not just hypocrisy, it is criminal.


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Crossposted at The Progressive


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  1. Bring our troops home

    Never think that war, no matter how necessary, nor how justified, is not a crime.  ~Ernest Hemingway

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  2. unless they surrender cuz they don’t want to be killed.

    The military is NOT for police actions – that is what police are for.

    The military is NOT for nation building – that is what KBR, Halliburton, Bechtel … Ooops! stupid me!

    When the military is done, send in the cops and send in the nation builders.

    IF you don’t want the military to kill everyone, don’t fucking send them in.

    I’ve ONLY been in a few fist fights, most before 3rd grade – fighting is goddam scary. Oh yeah – hand cuffs & jail sucks, too.

    MY gut tells me that HUNTING to kill another human is a VERY special game, with VERY special skills – it is NOT a job like barista or waiter or Jiffy Lube that you punch the clock on and walk away from. Don’t send in the military to do police work or nation building.

    And, so far, our USA military has done a decent job, relative to militaries in the rest of the world, about not killing the civilians of the USA to stay in charge of the USA. We gotta stop sending the military to do jobs it wasn’t designed for, OR, people will get killed.

    (NOTE – I did not address what a wonderful world it would be if we all solved our problems like the Cookie Monster and Big Bird do on Sesame Street – My interest in relying on the kindness of the Idi Amins, Pol Pots, Noriegas, Samozas and Shahs of the world is ZERO … although, how many were supported with our military … ugh.

    what a fucking mess.)


  3. According to Seymour Hersh, the military is “Dominating” Obama and Obama is in real trouble. The important issues in the world, Iraq, Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan are decisions that are being made by the Military Industrial Complex.

    for a long time now. McChrystal’s contempt for Obama was impossible to miss when McC leaked that memo and forced O to do his will re Afghan escalation. In true Banana Republic form, generals and war tycoons are governing this place.

    It’s really quite a Mess we’re in.

  4. Well said!

    I am so happy Hersch is shedding/exposing some light to the military dominance in all matters of war!

    We’ve had “secret death squad executions” going on in Pakistan and Afghanistan for quite some time now, which were unbeknownst not only to our military, but, supposedly, even to Obama.  But, whether it’s secret or otherwise, we’ve just been killing people right down the line, Iraq, etc.  See Blackwater’s Secret War in Pakistan Revealed (Operated by the JSOC, US Joint Special Operations Command, which was Cheney’s original execution squad, if I’m not mistaken) and Death Squads in Afghanistan.  Just a couple of other examples of our secretive behavior.

    I think it’s pretty clear that the Military Industrial Complex has and is getting away with pretty much whatever it damn well pleases — and why not?  Has anything ever been done to arrest any of our aggressions of national and international war crime behaviors?

    Who is the Commander in Chief?

    As to the military, Defense Secretary, Robert M. Gates, apparently, is a hugely powerful human being.

    From Francis A. Boyle, Professor of International Law, at the University of Champaign, Illinois,* notes:

    According to today’s New York Times, flying home on his way back from Pakistan, Secretary of “Defense” Gates “relaxed on the 14-hour trip home by watching ‘Seven Days in May,’ the cold war-era film about an attempted military coup in the United States.” Gosh, that’s really relaxing! All of a sudden out of nowhere Gates resurrects this ancient film and ostentatiously lets the New York Times and the other media know that he is watching it on his Pentagon plane home.

    Obviously, Gates is sending a threat to Obama and the civilian “leadership” in America: You risk a military coup if you do not do exactly what we in the Pentagon tell you to do. This is no idle threat. And it can happen here in America. . . . .  emphasis mine

    And, yet, another extremely interesting article by Michael Prysner, “Meet Your Boss:  Robert Gates”  Reading this article gives you a “gasp” at the phenominal power of Gates.

    But who is really in the chain of command? Who are these great and wise leaders who have, in the past eight years, ordered over 5,300 of us to our deaths?

    But . . . . . Obama chose (or so we’re led to believe) to have him remain — so what does that say about Obama?  


    More and related is an excerpt (of a Preface) from Michel Chossudousky (and Andrew Gavin Marshall), Editors, of interest.  The Global Economic Crisis

    War and the Economic Crisis.
     h/t dharmysyd

    War is inextricably linked to the impoverishment of people at home and around the world. Militarization and the economic crisis are intimately related. The provision of essential goods and services to meet basic human needs has been replaced by a profit-driven “killing machine” in support of America’s “Global War on Terror”. The poor are made to fight the poor. Yet war enriches the upper class, which controls industry, the military, oil and banking. In a war economy, death is good for business, poverty is good for society, and power is good for politics. Western nations, particularly the United States, spend hundreds of billions of dollars a year to murder innocent people in far-away impoverished nations, while the people at home suffer the disparities of poverty, class, gender and racial divides.

    *Francis A. Boyle, submitted the ICC Complaint Filed Against Bush, Cheney, et. al. by UIUC Prof. Francis Boyle and Lawyers Against the War, which was accepted.    

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