Posts filed under “Really, really bad calls”

Who Are We Killing with Drones?

West Uses Anti-Terror Laws to Murder Farmers, Small-Time Drug Dealers and Low-Level Taliban Members – Poppy Farmers, Drug Couriers and Drug Dealers

Spiegel reported yesterday that drug dealers and low-level Taliban members were targeted for death by drone:

NATO didn’t just target the Taliban leadership, but also eliminated mid- and lower-level members of the group on a large scale. Some Afghans were only on the list because, as drug dealers, they were allegedly supporting the insurgents.

***

The operations were based on the lists maintained by the CIA and NATO — Obama’s lists. The White House dubbed the strategy “escalate and exit.”

McChrystal’s successor, General David Petraeus, documented the strategy in “Field Manual 3-24″ on fighting insurgencies, which remains a standard work today. Petraeus outlined three stages in fighting guerilla organizations like the Taliban. The first was a cleansing phase …. Behind closed doors, Petraeus and his staff explained exactly what was meant by “cleansing.” German politicians recall something that Michael T. Flynn, the head of ISAF intelligence in Afghanistan, once said during a briefing: “The only good Talib is a dead Talib.”

Under Petraeus, a merciless campaign began to hunt down the so-called shadow governors and local supporters aligned with the Islamists.

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According to the NSA document, in October 2008 the NATO defense ministers made the momentous decision that drug networks would now be “legitimate targets” for ISAF troops. “Narcotics traffickers were added to the Joint Prioritized Effects List (JPEL) list for the first time,” the report reads.

In the opinion of American commanders like Bantz John Craddock, there was no need to prove that drug money was being funneled to the Taliban to declare farmers, couriers and dealers as legitimate targets of NATO strikes.

In early 2009, Craddock, NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander for Europe at the time, issued an order to expand the targeted killings of Taliban officials to drug producers.

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The documents, [attorney Jennifer Gibson] notes, also show that the “war on terror” was virtually conflated with the “war on drugs.”

We’ve previously noted that even the architect of America’s drone assassination program says it’s gone too far … creating terrorists rather than eliminating them.

And that drone attacks are a  war crime (more here and here).

And that there is widespread murder of innocent civilians as “collateral damage”.  For example, American University Professor Jeff Bachman reports:

Strikes focused on the Kill List “killed on average 28 other people before they actually succeeded in killing their target.”

Indeed, even the process for deciding who to put on the “kill list” is flawed.     People are often targeted by the metadata on their phones, a process which a former top NSA official called the drone assassination program “undisciplined slaughter.”

And people are targeted for insanely loose reasons.  As the New York Times reported in 2012:

Mr. Obama had approved not only “personality” strikes aimed at named, high-value terrorists, but “signature” strikes that targeted training camps and suspicious compounds in areas controlled by militants.

But some State Department officials have complained to the White House that the criteria used by the C.I.A. for identifying a terrorist “signature” were too lax. The joke was that when the C.I.A. sees “three guys doing jumping jacks,” the agency thinks it is a terrorist training camp, said one senior official. Men loading a truck with fertilizer could be bombmakers — but they might also be farmers, skeptics argued.

And then there are “double taps” … where the family members, friends or neighbors who try to rescue someone hit by a drone missile are themselves targeted for assassination.

The bigger picture is that anti-terror laws are being used for all sorts of purposes besides stopping terrorists:

Category: Legal, Really, really bad calls, Technology, War/Defense

Josh Brown: Investment Fads and Themes, 1996-2014

Another year in the books and I’ve updated my Investing Fads and Themes by Year guide accordingly. It begins with 1996 because that was my first summer working on The Street and my earliest exposure to the market. I do this every December because I agree with the eminent philosopher Bob Marley in that “If you know your history,…Read More

Category: Investing, Psychology, Really, really bad calls

Kim Jong-un Meets the Streisand Effect

Since its Christmas Day release on digital networks and in certain independent movie theaters, “The Interview” has pulled in $18 million. More than 2 million people have downloaded the movie about a nonsensical plot to assassinate North Korea’s leader — and that’s before Apple’s iTunes adds the film to its streaming and download catalogs today….Read More

Category: Film, Really, really bad calls, War/Defense, Web/Tech

The Real Wolves of Wall Street

Source: Master’s in Accounting Degrees

Category: Digital Media, Finance, Really, really bad calls, Wages & Income

How U.S. Torture Led to the Rise of ISIS

  Nice Job Creating Terrorists, You Morons … We’ve previously noted that many members of ISIS were members of Saddam Hussein’s secular Baath Party who converted to radical Islam in American prisons. And we’ve documented that torture creates more terrorists.   Indeed, Salon notes: Among the most notable victims of torture was Sayeed Qutb, the founding…Read More

Category: Really, really bad calls, Think Tank, War/Defense

Wall Street Economists = Consistently Wrong on 10-year Rate

Torsten Sløk of Deutsche Bank Securities calls out Wall Street’s bad forecasts on the 10 year bonds:   As we leave 2014 behind, professional forecasters are once again predicting that long rates will go up next year. As the chart below shows, this has been a pattern for the past decade. The latest Fed Survey…Read More

Category: Fixed Income/Interest Rates, Really, really bad calls

Torture Architect Torturously Tries to Justify Program

Torture and 9/11 One of the 2 main architects of the American torture program – Air Force psychologist James Mitchell (who personally waterboarded detainees) – still claims that torture produced actionable intelligence: Mitchell, who admitted he is “biased,” said valuable intelligence was obtained, particularly in the case of Abu Zubaydah, who Mitchell said provided interrogators…Read More

Category: Really, really bad calls, Think Tank, War/Defense

Evolution Less Accepted in U.S. Than Other Western Countries

Wedged between Cyprus and Turkey — Go America!   Source: National Geographic

Category: Digital Media, Really, really bad calls, Science

CUBA Herzfield Caribbean Basin

In the announcement of US potentially normalizing relations with Cuba, the $33 million dollar closed end fund “Herzfield Caribbean Basin” — stock symbol CUBA — popped 40%:   click for ginormous chart   Here are its main holdings:   So much for those theories that investors are rational and markets are efficient . . ….Read More

Category: Markets, Psychology, Really, really bad calls

Beware Anecdotal Sentiment Readings!

It’s the time of year when predictions are in order. Not by us, but by other people. We have spilled plenty of pixels on why forecasts are folly (see this, this, this, this and this); we won’t revisit that well-trod ground, at least not today. Instead, I wanted to discuss the rather annoying tendency of…Read More

Category: Really, really bad calls, Sentiment