Jasper Journal

Doctors Without Borders

by on Oct.06, 2015, under Intelligence / National Security, Politics

I am saddened to read the inflammatory attacks on our military regarding the incident at an Afghan hospital Saturday, used by Doctors without Borders. It was a tragedy of course, but to insinuate that it was deliberately targeted by US forces is a stretch. It is sad to say, but  accidents happen, especially in war. We dont know the facts, but that doesn’t stop some from saying this is a war crime.

Sme of our readers are well versed in the military targeting world. It is a science and we have extremely precise ordnance. Even so, accidents can happen. Additionally, people can call in precision strikes on the wrong coordinates. There are many variables here, so lets take a moment before we look for people to hang. I know this is asking a lot, but I suspect there is more to this story than meets the eye. What do you think?  An article on this is below.

Let’s get facts on Afghan hospital incident before declaring a war crime
By Charles J. Dunlap Jr., contributor

When tragic things happen in war, do the facts matter? If your answer is “of course,” consider the pronouncements of Doctors Without Borders (DWB) officials after the deadly aerial assault by U.S. forces last Saturday in the embattled Afghan city of Kunduz.

Before any investigation could get underway, DWB President Meinie Nicolai already pronounced her judgment: the incident was, she claims, “a grave violation of international humanitarian law.” One has to wonder, does DWB routinely declare a diagnosis before investigating the facts?

Moreover, in a statement that seems almost calculated to offend Americans’ sense of fairness, DWB General Director Christopher Stokes asserted that there is a “clear presumption that a war crime has been committed.” In the U.S. — and most rule-of-law countries around the planet — there is a “clear presumption” not of criminality, but of innocence.
In truth, DWB has some hard questions to answer. For example, did they mark their facility with a red cross or other internationally accepted distinctive symbol as provided by the Geneva Conventions, and is typical in war zones? If not, why not? Yes, it is great to provide the location coordinates as DWB claims, but in the fog and friction of combat, easily discernable visual markings can save lives.

CNN also reports that Stokes admits that while their main building “was repeatedly and very precisely hit,” the “rest of the compound was left mostly untouched.” If that is accurate, did the DWB staff make any effort during the 30 to 45 minutes the raid lasted to move themselves or their patients to the safety of the “mostly untouched” area?

Additionally, were armed Taliban ever in the compound? DWB seems to deny it, but The New York Times reports that Afghan police said that “Taliban fighters had entered the hospital and were using it as a firing position.” Similarly, the acting Afghan governor of the region told The Washington Post that the “hospital campus was 100 percent used by the Taliban,” insisting that it “has a vast garden, and the Taliban were there.” He added further that “We tolerated their firing for some time [before responding].”

Importantly, the “accuse first, investigate later” approach of DWB’s leadership doesn’t just undermine the group’s credibility; it will taint the testimony of DWB witnesses in any investigation (which DWB seems to concede is inevitable). We can now never be quite certain if they are being truthful or simply attempting to mimic and support the already on-the-record positions of their bosses.

U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein unfortunately added to the confusion by declaring, again without the benefit of any investigation, that the event was “utterly … inexcusable.” International law, however, concludes differently. There are a number of reasons that might excuse harm to civilians that may have occurred, particularly if the compound was used by the Taliban to conduct attacks or to the shield themselves from Afghan or U.S. forces.

Yes, a hospital can become a legitimate target if it is being used for military purposes. Protocol I to the Geneva Conventions indicates that when all or part of a civilian facility is being used for warfighting, it can be struck if the anticipated civilian casualties aren’t “excessive in relation to the concrete and direct military advantage expected.”

As to the “military advantage expected,” keep in mind that the U.N. has repeatedly found that the Taliban and other anti-government forces in Afghanistan are responsible for well more than 70 percent of all civilian casualties. This means that any decision not to attack an otherwise lawful target could result in Taliban fighters continuing to victimize innocent Afghans. Each minute the Taliban are in control of Kunduz, Afghans are in peril.

What is more is that under international law, war crime liability does not attach to mistakes — however tragic — when the attackers are making reasonable efforts under the circumstance to avoid harming civilians.

Given the chaos of the Kunduz battlespace and, particularly, the behavior of the Taliban, it is not surprising that The Washington Post writes that the “Afghan response to hospital bombing is muted, even sympathetic.” It quotes an Afghan legislator who observes that when “insurgents try to use civilians and public places to hide, it makes it very, very difficult, and we understand how this can happen.” He adds this melancholy truth:

You have two choices: either continue operations to clean up, and that might involve attacks in public places, or you just let the Taliban control. In this case, the [Afghan] public understands we went with the first choice, along with our international allies.

Obviously, much yet needs to learned about this heartbreaking event, but it doesn’t help anyone to make judgments before the facts are fully explored. If a war crime is proven to have occurred, by all means, punish the perpetrators. International law must be followed.

Still, even as we grieve for the losses, let’s avoid prejudging the incident. Yet-unproven accusations can operate to produce further political restrictions on the U.S.’s ability to aid its allies in resisting Taliban deprecations. If that happens, the most vulnerable Afghans could pay a terrible price, and that would compound what is already an awful tragedy.

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Who is Huma?

by on Oct.04, 2015, under Politics

I have been reading recently about the Romanovs, and the final years and months of the Czar and his family. There are many absolutely tragic stories, especially the brutal murder of the Czar, his wife, his four daughters and their son, and the grotesque way their bodies were treated by Lenin and the Bolsheviks. That will be for another day.

Today while reading the article below on Huma Abedin, Hillary’s closest associate,  I was reminded of the powerful almost hypnotic influence of the mystic Rasputin over the Czarina. What does Huma bring to Hillary? What is their tie? From a junior aide to the person who has the ear of a major presidential candidate and former Secretary of State is pretty impressive. You can hardly see a picture of Hillary without Huma or not see her peering through the curtains as Hillary speaks. It is very interesting to say the least. It is almost creepy.

The article below which is from the editorial board of the New York Post shows how deeply tied to the Clinton world Huma is. My question is , who is she? What is her background? Does she have a security clearance and a need to know? What do you think?

The Too many hats of Huma Abedin

That Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin had her fingers in multiple financial pots — even while still high up in the State Department — is no secret. But the full extent of Abedin’s blurring of roles is coming to light.
This summer, The Washington Post revealed that, at one point, Abedin — unusually granted “special government employee” status — was getting paid four different ways: from the taxpayers for her State work, from the Clinton Foundation, as political adviser to Hillary and by the Clinton-allied firm Teneo Holdings.
The Washington Times reported last week how Huma’s hats came together in September 2012, when she organized an upscale event with ex-Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair.
From summer 2012 to spring 2013, Abedin raked in $105,000 from Teneo while making another $126,000 as a State Department “consultant.”
Abedin wasn’t even the family breadwinner: Yes, hubby Anthony Weiner had quit Congress in the wake of his (first) sexting scandal — but was raking in big bucks as a “consultant,” too (no doubt in part from other Clinton allies).
And Stevie Wonder could’ve seen the level of conflicts of interest involved in the Bush-Clinton-Blair event — which fed almost immediately into an “official” State-sponsored trip to Ireland, in which Teneo had significant involvement.
Huma took point on the trip — supposedly on behalf of the World Ireland Fund and Secretary Clinton’s “farewell” tour. Yet it also notably featured at least one dinner with a longtime donor to the once and future presidential candidate.
Welcome to Clintonland, where there’s never a conflict between your “official” and “political” roles — as long as you all profit (financially and otherwise) from the outcome. It’s precisely the blueprint that ran the Clinton Foundation.
Don’t expect that to change just because someone moves into the White House.

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The Martian

by on Oct.01, 2015, under Entertainment

Okay, with the weekend coming up I thought would offer a suggestion for a movie to go see. I recommend “the Martian.” I read the book, and tonight my family and I went to the first showing here. In a word: inspiring.

The story in case you missed the previews is about an astronaut who is lost in a storm on Mars and presumed dead, so his crewmates leave. But he didn’t die, and as a botanist, is determined to survive with the rations left and lots of ingenuity. For the first few months, NASA doesnt even know he is alive. So the story is about his survival and efforts to retrieve him. The book is in diary form and was written by a scientist who knows his stuff. The movie is an excellent adaptation of the book.

It is inspiring because it emphasizes overcoming obstacles, not giving up, and having hope. The acting is excellent and it will have you on the edge of your seats. If you like science, and action, this is the movie for you .

Now it also brought to mind another issue for me. I have recently been doing a lot of security interviews with engineers and space technicians at Lockheed Martin and Boeing. What has struck me is their age. So many of these people are in their sixties and will be retiring in the next five to ten years.

I have read about the graying of the engineering community and from my limited observation it is true. There does not seem to be a push for American youth to go into STEM careers. Nor does there seem to be an interest. However if you look at the numbers of foreign students in astro and engineering fields they are significant. I will be encouraging young people to see this movie and recognize the talent involved and what a great career that would be. Perhaps you can too.

I have included a clip from the movie below. Have a great weekend.

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