The story is nominally “embargoed” until Thursday morning, but the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) is preparing to release letters from the State and Defense Departments detailing a $7.2 million waste on communications towers built in Afghanistan which nobody wanted or used.

The plan initially started in 2010 as an effort to enhance cell phone and TV broadcast reception in southern Afghanistan, and the initial limit set for the cost was $2 million. The plan was delayed when all the bids came in dramatically higher, and in August of 2011, the State Department cancelled the project. It was immediately uncancelled and they were eventually built in 2012 for $7.2 million.

By then, however, Afghan companies had already built a bunch of smaller, but perfectly servicable, towers and had no need for the US ones, which the State Department quickly dumped on the Pentagon as “surplus” equipment. The Pentagon didn’t really want them either, and complained about the costs of fuel to power the generators if the towers were ever used.

Not that they were. The six towers, four in Helmand, one in Kandahar, and one in Ghazni have effectively just sat there ever since, and the only time any of them “did” anything was in May, when a US helicopter careened into one and crashed, killing a NATO soldier and wounding three US soldiers.

In what may well be the single most tactless comments he’s made yet, Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey, in open testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee, said he believed the parents of slain US hostages James Foley and Steven Sotloff should feel more grateful to the Pentagon for its botched rescue attempt.

Dempsey declared the failed mission “the most complex, highest risk mission we’ve ever undertaken,” and that the attempt “should give the family some solace.”

Though Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel had referred to the mission as a “flawless operation” in previous comments, the reality is that it was an unmitigated disaster from the word go, with US officials wandering around Antakya, Turkey, just across the border from the ISIS capital, asking random people if they knew where the hostages were being held.

By the time the military was ready to go in, ISIS knew they were coming and had plenty of time to relocate the hostages. When the ground troops got to the jail and found no one inside, they attacked some ISIS forces elsewhere in town, then set the jail on fire and left.

From Just Foreign Policy:

Congress is expected to vote in the next few days on a controversial proposal to arm and train Syrian rebels. Both Democratic and Republican lawmakers have expressed opposition. With recent reports that some so-called “moderate” Syrian rebels this proposal seeks to arm have signed non-aggression pacts with ISIS, as in the past, now is not the time to rush into a policy whose consequences remain so unknown.

Meanwhile, the Congressional Progressive Caucus has introduced H. Con. Res. 114, demanding a robust debate and an authorization vote on any use of force. Sponsors so far include Reps. Grijalva, Ellison, Lee, McGovern, Defazio, Grayson, and Welch., MoveOn, Win Without War, Peace Action, and many other groups have called for a National Day of Action TODAY to say: stop the rush to war in Iraq & Syria!

Call your Representative NOW at (202) 224-3121 . When you speak to a staffer (or leave a message), you can use the talking points below:

Hi, my name is ______, and I’m a constituent from _______.??

I urge you to vote “NO” on expanding military aid to rebel groups in Syria. More weapons to groups we don’t know, who may use them against us or our allies in the future, will only make the situation worse.

I also urge you to co-sponsor H. Con. Res. 114, demanding a debate and an authorization vote on any use of force and the prohibition of the use of ground troops.

When you’ve made your call, you can report it here.

Susan Rice has just completed her visit to Beijing to prepare for Obama’s November visit. She arrived as the envoy of the President of the Indispensable Nation and was greeted at the very highest level by Xi Jinping himself, president of one of the many Dispensable Nations.

Susan probably conceives this as an advance visit in more ways than one since Beijing is the final scheduled stop on the U.S. Empire’s march through Eurasia – after sacking Iraq, Libya, Syria, Iran and Russia. Or so the plan goes.

But Rice might surely was given considerable pause on her visit. Just as she arrived China Daily, the English version of which was surely dropped outside her door in the morning, carried a front-page story, headlined: "China ‘largest economy’ by 2024." And with it was carried the striking graphic:

Reader, take note of the phrase "Nominal GDP." This means GDP in real dollars. The alternative measure and the one more often used is given in terms of PPP (Purchasing Power Parity), which corrects the value of the dollar for purchasing power from country to country. By the PPP measure China is already the equal of the US or will be so within a year’s time according to the World Bank.



A Washington Post-ABC News poll conducted Sept. 4-7 among 1,001 adults nationwide revealed that 59% of Americans believe ISIS (or ISIL or the Islamic State) is a "very serious threat to US vital interests." Another 31% view ISIS as a "somewhat serious" threat.

So, 90% of Americans believe ISIS is a threat to US interests. And only 2% think ISIS is not a threat. I’ve never belonged to the "1 percent" but now I’m part of the "2 percent" who don’t think ISIS is a threat to the US.

I live down the street from the US Capitol. If ISIS struck in the belly of the beast, my family and I would likely be negatively impacted. But I’ve never lost a minute of sleep worrying about it, and I never will. Not because I’m "tough" but because I’m not a pawn of the government controlled media that misleads Americans into accepting Obama’s propaganda to "scare" us into more war.

There’s a better chance that Santa Claus comes down my chimney than there is for "Muslim terrorists" to invade the US.


When I tuned in to US president Barack Obama’s televised speech on his plans for war against the so-called “Islamic State,” I expected exactly what we got — a bland sundae of pseudo-patriotic drivel topped off with some whipped cream of big bucks for the military-industrial complex and the cherry of regime change in Syria. What I didn’t expect was a bon mot homage to a previous era:

“[W]e are not about to send American boys 9 or 10,000 miles away from home to do what Asian boys ought to be doing for themselves.” — US president Lyndon Johnson, October 21, 1964

“[W]e cannot do for Iraqis what they must do for themselves …” US president Barack Obama, September 10, 2014

A curious inversion: LBJ’s remark came near the end of the “advisor” era in Vietnam and prior to the massive, direct US military intervention there. Obama’s reprise comes after nearly a quarter century of massive, direct US military interventions in Iraq and proposes to make history run backward into an “advisor” scenario. Curious, but clearly not accidental.

We all remember how Vietnam ended. After two lost ground wars in Asia in the last 12 years, after recourse to the history book accounts of the post-WWII era, you might expect Obama to have learned a lesson by now. And you’d be right.