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Entries in Osama bin Laden (38)


US Feature: Why is British Resident Shaker Aamer in Guantanamo Bay After 11 Years? 

Aamer's continuing incarceration is all the more mysterious, given that the Americans ruled almost six years ago that he could be freed from Guantánamo. In June 2007, he was officially cleared for release. A security assessment by the US government acknowledged it had no concrete evidence against him. Two years later, the Obama administration reiterated the lack of a case against him, underlining the fact that he could be released.

So why is Aamer the only one among the 16 detainees who possessed British citizenship and residency who is still being held in Guantánamo?

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US Audio & Analysis: Scott Lucas with BBC "The Politics Around the Bin Laden Documents"

Amidst the flutter today about the release of 17 of 6000 documents seized by US forces when they killed Osama bin Laden, I spoke with BBC television and radio about the information in the documents and --- far more importantly for me --- the politics behind their release.

Although the documents have juicy details such as Bin Laden's worry about the fraying influence of Al Qa'eda and his close attention to media strategy --- to the point of considering which US outlets would be useful (clue: not Fox) --- they only confirm a conclusion which could have been made years ago. Al Qa'eda, as a central organisation with global impact, was long gone; instead, there was a decentralised network of movements who were more often motivated by local concerns.

Meanwhile, the politics:

1. President Obama's domestic opponents will no doubt claim that the release is meant to burnish, in an election year, the polish of a Commander-in-Chief who killed The World's Most Wanted Terrorist;

2. I'm more interested, however, in how the gloss of the document supports Obama's presentation yesterday of a Mission Accomplished --- even if that is far from the truth --- in Afghanistan;

3. And I'm most interested in how the spin on the documents of success in covert and special operations comes only days after the White House authorised an expansion of target killings by drones --- from Pakistan to Yemen to possibly Somalia.

The BBC Radio 5 Live item starts at the 9:30 mark; my contribution is from about 16:35.

The BBC Radio Wales discussion begins at the 8:00 mark.


US and the World (Video and Transcript): President Obama to UN General Assembly "Peace is Hard"

Part 1 of 3

One year ago, I stood at this podium and called for an independent Palestine. I believed then --- and I believe now --- that the Palestinian people deserve a state of their own. But what I also said is that genuine peace can only be realized between Israelis and Palestinians themselves. One year later, despite extensive efforts by America and others, the parties have not bridged their differences. Faced with this stalemate, I put forward a new basis for negotiations in May. That basis is clear, and well known to all of us here. Israelis must know that any agreement provides assurances for their security. Palestinians deserve to know the territorial basis of their state.

I know that many are frustrated by the lack of progress. So am I. But the question isn’t the goal we seek --- the question is how to reach it. And I am convinced that there is no short cut to the end of a conflict that has endured for decades. Peace will not come through statements and resolutions at the UN --- if it were that easy, it would have been accomplished by now. Ultimately, it is Israelis and Palestinians who must live side by side. Ultimately, it is Israelis and Palestinians --- not us --- who must reach agreement on the issues that divide them: on borders and security; on refugees and Jerusalem.

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Libya Music Video Tribute: Qaddafi Has a Crush on Condi Rice (and So Do We)

There comes a "tipping point" in any removal of an International Dictator when coverage of the conflict turns to the shocking decadence of the ousted bad man. 

In Panama in 1989, toppled strongman Manuel Noriega had -- shock --- drugs and pornography in his desk. In Iraq in 2003, Saddam Hussein's transgression, shown by photos of US troops in his places, was gold-plated bath ornaments and really bad taste in art. In Pakistan in 2011, Osama bin Laden was outed for his stash of naughty magazines.

So it is an unexpected good news story to find that Muammar Qaddafi's sin is a massive "I Heart Condoleezza Rice". Insurgents who overran his Bab al-Aziziya compound this year found a photo album devoted to the former US Secretary of State (photo: Sergey Ponomarev of AP). 

And why not? Condi may have broken countries and broken hearts during her eight years in the George W. Bush Administration, but she knew the secret of "Treat 'Em Mean and Keep 'Em Keen". As Muammar said with love in his eyes in 2007 about "my darling black African woman": "I admire and am very proud of the way she leans back and gives orders to the Arab leaders."

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Afghanistan: "Deadliest Day" for US as 30 Troops Die When Copter Shot Down (Rivera/Rubin/Shanker)

In the deadliest day for American forces in the nearly decade-long war in Afghanistan, insurgents shot down a Chinook transport helicopter on Saturday, killing 30 Americans, including some Navy Seal commandos from the unit that killed Osama bin Laden, as well as 8 Afghans, American and Afghan officials said.

The helicopter, on a night-raid mission in the Tangi Valley of Wardak Province, to the west of Kabul, was most likely brought down by a rocket-propelled grenade, one coalition official said.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, and they could hardly have found a more valuable target: American officials said that 22 of the dead were Navy Seal commandos, including members of Seal Team 6. Other commandos from that team conducted the raid in Abbottabad, Pakistan, that killed Bin Laden in May. The officials said that those who were killed Saturday were not involved in the Pakistan mission.

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The Latest from Iran (29 July): And Now We Bring You This Diversion....

Atiyah Abd al-Rahman (0615 GMT)1905 GMT: Oil and Politics. Even though he has not been approved as Minister of Oil by Parliament, Rustam Qassemi --- Revolutionary Guards commander and head of its engineering branch, Khatam al-Anbia --- has called a Saturday meeting of the Ministry's staff and experts in the industry.

Why such a hurry? An EA correspondent observes that a Tehran conference has noted that Qatar is taking 450,000 barrels of oil per day from the South Pars field --- and Iran is taking 0.

Our correspondent mischievously follows up, "[Qassemi is] trying to save his assets after yesterday's conference."

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Terrorism Special: Osama bin Laden and the July 2005 London Bombings

News this week seemed to answer an on-going question since the terrorist attacks of 7 July 2005 that killed 52 people in London: according to the story, 7-7 was the late Osama bin Laden’s last successful attack. This judgement was gleaned from documents captured in the raid on the compound in Abbotobad, Pakistan, in which bin Laden was killed.

That’s it then. A definitive conclusion.

Well, not quite. Look closer at the story....

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Afghanistan Snapshot: Why the US Presence Will "Surge" As Troops "Withdraw"

US Contractor in IraqThe number of contractors in Afghanistan is likely to increase significantly in the next year as the Obama administration pulls back some of the extra 68,000 troops that it has dispatched there since January 2009.

Typically, the U.S. pays one contractor to support every soldier that has deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq. The ratio of contractors to troops increases dramatically during a military surge as well as during a drawdown, and often stays higher than troop levels when military numbers are low, i.e. down to 30,000-50,000.

The reason is simple — the military needs extra workers to build new bases as well as to shut them down. Just like a hotel or restaurant, a military base also needs a minimum number of people to do the basics like janitorial or food service work. And as troops withdraw, U.S. diplomats are likely to hire extra security contractors as they are doing now in Iraq.

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4-Point Guide to Obama and Afghanistan: "This is Not a Withdrawal, It is a Limit to Escalation"

1. This is not "a substantial withdrawal". It is a limit to the escalation in the US military presence begun by the Obama Administration soon after it took office.

2. This "withdrawal" is based on an Al Qa'eda puppet show.

3. This is not a Presidential victory over his military advisors, with a full US withdrawal as the eventual outcome.

4. This is a speech looking towards a domestic victory.

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Pakistan Latest: Taliban Revenge for bin Laden --- Attack on Naval Base Kills At Least 8 (Dawn)

Taliban militants assaulted the headquarters of Pakistan’s naval air force, battling on Monday security forces in the most brazen attack in the unstable, nuclear-armed country since the killing of Osama bin Laden, killing eight people, injuring 16 others and blowing up at least two military aircraft. 

The dead include seven navy officials and one Ranger.

Blasts rang out and helicopters hovered above the PNS Mehran base near Shahrah-e-Faisal almost 12 hours after more than 20 Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) militants stormed the heavily guarded building with guns and grenades, blowing up at least one aircraft and casting doubt on the military’s ability to protect its installations.

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