& Nadja Drost /Global Post Dispatch – 2010-10-02 14:23:20
Obama Secretly Deploys US Special Forces to
75 Countries Across World
Tim Reid and Michael Evans / The Times Online
LONDON & WASHINGTO (June 5, 2010) — American troops now operating in 75 countries. President Obama has secretly sanctioned a huge increase in the number of US special forces carrying out search-and-destroy missions against al-Qaeda around the world.
The dramatic expansion in the use of special forces, which in their global span go far beyond the covert missions authorized by George W. Bush, reflects how aggressively Obama is pursuing al-Qaeda behind his public rhetoric of global engagement and diplomacy.
When Obama took office US special forces were operating in fewer than 60 countries. In the past 18 months he has ordered a big expansion in Yemen and the Horn of Africa — known areas of strong al-Qaeda activity — and elsewhere in the Middle East, central Asia and Africa.
Obama has also approved preemptive special force strikes to disrupt terror plots, and has given the units powers and authority beyond that of former President Bush. The aggressive secret war against al-Qaeda and other radical groups has coincided with a surge in the number of US drone attacks in the lawless border region between Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Obama has asked for a 5.7 percent increase in the Special Operations budget for the 2011 fiscal year — a total of $6.3 billion — on top of an additional $3.5 billion he requested this year.
Of about 13,000 US special forces deployed overseas, about 9,000 are evenly divided between Afghanistan and Pakistan. Their use, and the increase in drone attacks, is a strategy that has been strongly advocated by Joe Biden, the Vice-President, but criticized by the governments of Pakistan and Afghanistan. Hundreds of civilians have died as a result of these special operations.
The order also allowed for US special forces to enter Iran to gather intelligence for a possible future military strike if tensions over its alleged nuclear weapons program escalate dramatically.
Colombia: US Aid May Have Sparked Civilian Killings
Nadja Drost /Global Post Dispatch
(July 31, 2010) — When Colombian military units receive an increase in US aid, they allegedly kill more civilians and frame the deaths as combat kills, according to a new report.
The report, released Thursday by two American human rights organizations, raises serious questions about the implications of US military aid to Colombia. The United States has provided more than $7 billion in mostly military aid to Colombia since 2000 for fighting drugs and counterinsurgency — making it the largest recipient of US military aid after Israel.
The army is accused of killing civilians and presenting them as guerrillas killed in combat to pump body counts. The Colombian military faces significant political pressure to produce concrete results in its war against the FARC (Revolutionary Armed Force
The report was based on a two-year study using records of 3,000 reported extrajudicial killings since 2002 and lists of 500 military units approved to receive US assistance.
It found that in regions that received the largest increases in US aid, the number of reported extrajudicial killings surged 56 percent on average in the four years surrounding the aid boost. When US assistance was withdrawn or reduced, the number of army killings of civilians dropped.
The Fellowship of Reconciliation and the US Office on Colombia published the report. The US Embassy declined to comment.The report’s authors argue that their findings demonstrate a violation of the Leahy Law, which requires the US government to vet foreign forces before receiving aid to ensure they are not guilty of severe human rights abuses.
Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.