Sunday, October 18, 2015

PNN 10/18/15 Rising Up and the Response

Our Guests and Stories
Brook Hines - 7:12pm
Merrilee Malwitz-Jipson 7:30
Prof. Wendy Lynn Lee 8pm
Luis Cuevas 8:17pm
Edwin Enciso 8:46pm

1. Apes asks a child for help  - please free me… in sign language

2. Special Forces had been onsite for several days knew it was a hospital

3. Republican Uncivil War

REP. CHARLIE DENT: The next Speaker should not appease those who make unreasonable demands. There are a number of members of our conference. You cannot get the yes on anything. For them the end will be the good.
In my view it's come time to marginalize those members who don't want to be part of the governing majority.
I've said for some time that in order to pass anything out of the House we need to assemble a bipartisan coalition whether it's on the continuing resolution, the debt ceiling, we will have to assemble a bipartisan coalition. That's the reality of this place and I don't think that any of our leaders should make accommodations to those who are going to make unreasonable demands...
I don't know what will happen. Anything is possible now. It's pretty clear to me that a number of us are not going to simply appease or accede to those who will make unreasonable demands. And so I suspect in order to govern around here we need a bipartisan coalition on all major bills.
If we can't get 218 Republican votes for a speaker, then we'll have to try other options. I don't know what those options are, but I certainly don't want to put somebody in the speaker's job who is going to appease those who are making unreasonable demands.

4. bombing peace rally in Turkey
Twin bombs kill 86 at pro-Kurdish rally in Turkish capital
Reuters, Oct 10, 2015 (with video reports, and with additional recommended reading listed below)
This was the fourth deadly bomb attack in recent months in Turkey targeting antiwar and Kurdish political forces. The Oct 10 antiwar rally in Ankara was organized by the country’s public sector workers’ trade union and other civic society groups, calling for an end to the renewed military conflict between Kurdish rebels and Turkish security forces.
5. Knew it All along
American special operations analysts were gathering intelligence on an Afghan hospital days before it was destroyed by a US military attack because they believed it was being used by a Pakistani operative to coordinate Taliban activity, the Associated Press has learned.
It’s unclear whether commanders who unleashed the AC-130 gunship on the hospital — killing at least 22 patients and hospital staff — were aware that the site was a hospital or knew about the allegations of possible enemy activity. The Pentagon initially said the attack was to protect US troops engaged in a firefight and has since said it was a mistake.
The special operations analysts had assembled a dossier that included maps with the hospital circled, along with indications that intelligence agencies were tracking the location of the Pakistani operative and activity reports based on overhead surveillance, according to a former intelligence official who is familiar with some of the documents describing the site. The intelligence suggested the hospital was being used as a Taliban command and control center and may have housed heavy weapons.
After the attack — which came amid a battle to retake the northern Afghan city of Kunduz from the Taliban — some US analysts assessed that the strike had been justified, the former officer says. They concluded that the Pakistani, believed to have been working for his country’s Inter-Service Intelligence directorate, had been killed.
No evidence has surfaced publicly suggesting a Pakistani died in the attack, and Doctors Without Borders, the international organization that ran the hospital, says none of its staff was Pakistani. The former intelligence official was not authorized to comment publicly and spoke only on condition of anonymity.
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Army Gen. John Campbell, commander of US and coalition forces in Afghanistan, testifies before the House Armed Services Committee on Oct. 8.Photo: Reuters
The top US officer in Afghanistan, Gen. John Campbell, has said the strike was a mistake, but he has not explained exactly how it happened or who granted final approval. He also told Congress he was ordering all personnel in Afghanistan to be retrained on the rules governing the circumstances under which strikes are acceptable.
The new details about the military’s suspicions that the hospital was being misused complicate an already murky picture and add to the unanswered questions about one of the worst civilian casualty incidents of the Afghan war. They also raise the possibility of a breakdown in intelligence sharing and communication across the military chain of command.
White House spokesman Josh Earnest said questions about what the Defense Department knew about the clinic and whether it was communicated to personnel operating the gunship would be part of the Pentagon’s investigation. He said President Barack Obama was expecting a “full accounting.”
“As Gen. Campbell has said, we would never intentionally target a protected medical facility,” Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook said in a statement. “We have confidence that the ongoing investigations into this tragic incident will uncover exactly what happened and why this hospital was mistakenly struck.”
Doctors Without Borders has condemned the bombing as a war crime. The organization says the strike killed 12 hospital staff and 10 patients, and that death toll may rise. It insists that no gunmen, weapons or ammunition were in the building. The US and Afghan governments have launched three separate investigations. Obama has apologized, but Doctors Without Borders is calling for an international probe.
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The charred remains of the hospital in Kunduz.Photo: AP
Doctors Without Borders officials say the US airplane made five separate strafing runs over an hour, directing heavy fire on the main hospital building, which contained the emergency room and intensive care unit. Surrounding buildings were not struck, they said.
Typically, pilots flying air support missions would have maps showing protected sites such as hospitals and mosques. If commanders concluded that enemies were operating from a protected site, they would follow procedures designed to minimize civilian casualties. That would generally mean surrounding a building with troops, not blowing it to bits from the air.
What the new details suggest “is that the hospital was intentionally targeted, killing at least 22 patients and MSF staff,” said Meinie Nicolai, president of the operational directorate of Doctors Without Borders, which is also known by its French initials, MSF. “This would amount to a premeditated massacre. … Reports like this underscore how critical it is for the Obama administration to immediately give consent to an independent and impartial investigation by the International Humanitarian Fact-Finding Commission to find out how and why US forces attacked our hospital.”
By one US account from the scene, American and Afghan troops were under fire in the area.
Nicolai said in an email exchange that the group’s staff “reported a calm night and that there were no armed combatants, nor active fighting in or from the compound prior to the airstrikes.”
Doctors Without Borders has acknowledged that it treated wounded Taliban fighters at the Kunduz hospital, but it insists no weapons were allowed in. Afghans who worked at the hospital have told the AP that no one was firing from within.
The airstrike came as US advisers were helping Afghan forces take Kunduz back from the Taliban, which had seized the city.
The US military’s cursory description of what transpired has changed over time.
Initially, the military portrayed the incident as an accident stemming from the fog of war. American forces in the vicinity were under attack, a US military spokesperson in Afghanistan said in a statement, and called in an airstrike “against individuals threatening the force. The strike may have resulted in collateral damage to a nearby medical facility.”
Two days later, Campbell told reporters that “Afghan forces advised that they were taking fire from enemy positions and asked for air support from US forces.”
He added, “An airstrike was then called to eliminate the Taliban threat and several civilians were accidentally struck.”
The following day, however, Campbell told the Senate Armed Services Committee, “To be clear, the decision … was a US decision made within the US chain of command. A hospital was mistakenly struck. We would never intentionally target a protected medical facility.”
Asked about the location of any US troops on the ground, Campbell said, “We had a special operations unit that was in close vicinity that was talking to the aircraft that delivered those fires.”
His remark did not make clear whether any American on the ground had a direct view of the hospital. Military officials declined to answer questions, citing the investigation.
According to the former intelligence officer, the commander on the ground has told superiors he was in the worst firefight of his career while taking fire from the building, which he said he did not know was a hospital. He requested the gunship strike. In that scenario, it’s not readily apparent why his unit couldn’t have retreated. The hospital is within a compound surrounded by a 12-foot wall that could have offered cover from fire emanating from one building.
The intelligence analysts who were gathering information about suspected Taliban activity at the hospital were located in various bases around Afghanistan, and were exchanging information over classified military intelligence systems. Typically, a decision to order a strike in a populated area would require many layers of approval and intelligence analysis of the potential impacts and civilian casualties.
It would be significant if US intelligence had concluded that Pakistani spies were continuing to play an active role helping the Taliban. The US and Afghan governments have long accused Pakistan of aiding the Taliban, but US rhetoric on the issue has cooled over the past year as American-Pakistani counterterrorism cooperation has improved.
Yet it’s theoretically possible that a staffer at a hospital in Afghanistan was working for Pakistan’s intelligence service. Two days before the strike, Afghan defense officials accused Pakistan’s intelligence service of playing a key role in the Taliban’s seizure of Kunduz.
Nicolai said, “There were only Afghan staff and nine international staff, none of whom were from Pakistan, working in the hospital. There was absolutely nothing that indicated at any level, including at senior management, that any of our staff was working for Pakistani intelligence.”
Disputes within the US government about airstrikes have played out before. In December 2013, the US military’s Joint Special Operations Command bombed a group of people it considered militants, but who outside groups claimed were civilians attending a wedding. Even after the CIA assessed that some civilians were killed in the strike, Pentagon officials continued to insist that all those hit were combatants.
The incident added an argument for some members of Congress who were resisting Obama’s proposal to shift the CIA’s drone killing program to the military.

6. Only Conservatives get to Question Candidates
At the CNN-sponsored Republican Party debate last month at the Reagan Library, one of the three panelistsCNN selected to question the candidates was conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt, affiliated with the proudly right-wing Salem Radio Network.
But at Tuesday’s upcoming Democratic Party debate,CNN is not planning to include a single progressive advocate among its panel of four questioners.
It’s clear that who gets to pose questions has impact on the tenor of the debate. For example, Hewitt used September’s Republican debate to declare that President Obama’s “knees buckled” over Syria and that every Republican candidate was “more qualified than” Hillary Clinton. Hewitt pressed Jeb Bush from the right over his comment about making sure guns are not in the hands of the mentally ill: “Where does it go from what you said last week, how far into people’s lives to take guns away from them?” (Hewitt’s appearance on the CNNpanel is reportedly part of an agreement by which CNN and the right-wingSalem Media company are teaming up on three GOP presidential debates.)
At CNN‘s Republican debate last month, along with Hewitt, the panel was composed of two journalists CNN presents as neutral or objective: CNN anchorJake Tapper and CNN correspondent Dana Bash.
At CNN‘s upcoming Democratic debate, the panel is to be composed of four journalists CNN presents as neutral: CNN‘s Bash and three CNN anchors (Anderson Cooper, Don Lemon, and Juan Carlos Lopez of CNN en Espanol.)
Glaringly missing from this proposed lineup is an unabashed progressive advocate.
There are many qualified journalists for this seat—from respected progressive media institutions that haven’t taken sides in the Democratic primaries (likeThe Nation or Mother Jones, to name just two).
For the sake of basic fairness and balance, CNN should add to its panel an unapologetic progressive for Tuesday’s debate.
Please call on CNN to bring in a progressive perspective to its Democratic debate, just as its Republican debates include a conservative.
You can send messages to CNN here (or on Twitter @CNN). Feel free to leave a copy of your message to CNN in comments. Remember that respectful communication is the most effective.
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