Obama Kills 140 Civilians For Every Alleged Al Qaeda Target

Bush killed 49 per target, comes to something when that becomes the good old days…

PESHAWAR: Of the 44 predator strikes carried out by US drones in the tribal areas of Pakistan over the past 12 months, only five were able to hit their actual targets, killing five key Al-Qaeda and Taliban leaders, but at the cost of over 700 innocent civilians.

Over 700 killed in 44 drone strikes in 2009

According to the statistics compiled by Pakistani authorities, the Afghanistan-based US drones killed 708 people in 44 predator attacks targeting the tribal areas between January 1 and December 31, 2009.

For each Al Qaeda and Taliban terrorist killed by US drones, 140 innocent Pakistanis also had to die.

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Same Shit, Different War

The Wall Street Journal reports on the return of the body count- Army Deploys Old Tactic in PR War– of course it’s the WSJ so it is from the perspective of what is best for US imperialism.

The practice has revealed deep divides in military circles over the value of keeping such a score in a war being waged not over turf, but over the allegiance of the Afghan people. Does it buck up the troops and the home front to let them know the enemy is suffering, too? Or does the focus on killing distract from the goals of generating legitimacy and economic development?

Old school imperialists are more reserved-

“Recording an ongoing body count is hardly going to endear us to the people of Afghanistan,” says British Royal Navy Capt. Mark Durkin, spokesman for the 42-nation, NATO-led International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, or ISAF.

But at least the WSJ is open about this being a tactic of the media war-

The Army began a rethink when the 101st Airborne Division took over Afghan media operations in April 2008. Commanders worried the U.S.-led coalition appeared to be losing ground. The U.S. military routinely releases information about Americans killed in action. Since Sept. 11, 2001, 618 Americans have died in and around Afghanistan, 456 killed in combat. Remaining silent about enemy deaths gave the false impression that the U.S. was losing, says Lt. Col. Nielson-Green, spokeswoman for the 101st and a proponent of the new approach.

But it repeats mythical versions of history which ensure the only lessons learned are- America, Fuck Yeah!

That changed when the U.S. found itself mired in a guerrilla war in Vietnam, where front lines were blurred and villages taken or lost didn’t indicate who was winning, says Dale Andrade, senior historian at the U.S. Army Center of Military History. “Vietnam was the first war in which the body count became the one and only statistic on which victory was measured,” he says.

Some battlefield commanders inflated body counts to appear more successful than they were. The American public “kept hearing these stories about how two of our soldiers were killed and 100 Viet Cong were killed,” says Mr. Andrade. He says that eventually Americans wondered: “If we’re killing so many people, why aren’t we winning?”

As well as fraud it led to the slaughter of civilians who were counted as combatants (a fungible fudge the WSJ also resurrects preferring US establishment sources on Afghanistan, so to correct the record here’s the list of victims of the Azizabad massacre from RAWA) and many dissenting Americans didn’t ask ‘why aren’t we winning?’ they instead exclaimed, we must stop massacring the Vietnamese. Oddly the anti war movement has no place in the WSJ article, imagine, corporate media acting as a propaganda arm for US foreign policy, good job they learned their lessons after Iraq. Although the modern opposition is fractured, some having been co-opted by the Obama campaign, some not questioning the [manifest destiny of exceptionalism]-ism so much as just preferring soft and smart power although, you do learn some history repeating facts though-

KATRINA VANDEN HEUVEL (yes she’s in caps!)- Holbrooke faced very few tough questions–not even on drone strikes. Rep. Lynn Woolsey did press Holbrooke on the fact that 90 percent of the administration’s war supplemental goes towards military expenses, while the counterinsurgency strategy calls for a ratio of 80 percent political and 20 percent military.

Then there is also this to ponder, why might so many people still live in the bubble of the imperial myth, hmmmm?

A Tiny Revolution

About 60,000 Americans died in Vietnam. No one knows exactly how many Vietnamese civilians died, but there is good reason to believe the number exceeds 3 million. And that would not count the destruction in Cambodia and Laos or the half-million children born with deformities caused by defoliants. Robert McNamara believes 3.4 million Vietnamese were slaughtered. Even an ardent supporter of the war like Michael Lind concedes that the number is in excess of 2 million — or, to go by a familiar metric, one third of the Holocaust.

 So let’s check the chapter on the Vietnam War in one of the leading textbooks used in US colleges, “American Foreign Policy,” authored by Bruce Jentleson, a Duke University professor of political science and former Al Gore advisor:

 American casualties in Vietnam numbered more than two hundred thousand, including almost sixty thousand deaths. Vietnamese casualties numbered in the hundreds of thousands as well.

That’s it for the whole book. It’s not that Jentleson is math-averse. The book gives you the precise body count for the Holocaust, Darfur, etc. The author only wants every American college student to know that the Vietnamese suffered almost as much as the Americans. Maybe some even died. There’s no way to know. But this is only the 3rd edition of the textbook, so perhaps new research will inform future editions about this matter.

Update: Privatisation

Jeremy Scahill

According to new statistics released by the Pentagon, with Barack Obama as commander in chief, there has been a 23% increase in the number of “Private Security Contractors” working for the Department of Defense in Iraq in the second quarter of 2009 and a 29% increase in Afghanistan…

Overall, contractors (armed and unarmed) now make up approximately 50% of the “total force in Centcom AOR [Area of Responsibility].” This means there are a whopping 242,657 contractors working on these two US wars.

The Iran-Pakistan Pipeline

Pepe Escobar writes@ Asia Times Online about the new deal between Pakistan and Iran, the Great Game thickens, excerpt-

The earth has been shaking for a few days now all across Pipelineistan – with massive repercussions for all the big players in the New Great Game in Eurasia. United States President Barack Obama’s AfPak strategists didn’t even see it coming. 

A silent, reptilian war had been going on for years between the US-favored Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) pipeline and its rival, the Iran-Pakistan-India (IPI) pipeline, also known as the “peace pipeline”. This past weekend, a winner emerged. And it’s none of the above: instead, it’s the 2,100-kilometer, US$7.5 billion IP (the Iran-Pakistan pipeline), with no India attached. 

Now, IP reveals Islamabad’s own interests seemed to have prevailed against Washington’s (unlike the virtually US-imposed Pakistan army offensive against the Taliban in the Swat Valley). The Barack Obama administration has been mum about IP so far. But it will be very enlightening to hear what former Bush pet Afghan Zalmay Khalilzad – who’s been infiltrating himself as the next CEO of Afghanistan – has to say about it. 

Sanaullah Baloch roundly denounces the “civil-military elites” of Pakistan as implicated in the systematic repression going on in Balochistan; “Without their consent, no political regime can undo their policy of continued suppression.” 

And his analysis of why Islamabad has made a deal with the Taliban in Swat but won’t do a deal with Balochis could not be more enlightening: “The establishment in Pakistan has always felt comfortable with religious groups as they do not challenge the centralized authority of the civil-military establishment. The demands of these groups are not political. They don’t demand economic parity. They demand centralized religious rule which is philosophically closer to the establishment’s version of totalitarianism. Islamabad’s elite are stubborn against genuine Baloch demands: governing Balochistan, having ownership of resources, and control over provincial security.” 

So Islamabad still has all it takes to royally mess up what it has accomplished by approving IP. For the moment, Iran, Pakistan, China and Russia win. The SCO wins. Washington and NATO lose, not to mention Afghanistan (no transit fees). But will Balochistan also win? If not, all hell will break loose, from desperate Balochis sabotaging IP to “foreign interference” manipulating them into creating an even greater, regional, ball of fire. 

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Castle Keep For Islamabad

Via Jeremy Scahill– 

The White House has asked Congress for — and seems likely to receive — $736 million to build a new U.S. embassy in Islamabad, along with permanent housing for U.S. government civilians and new office space in the Pakistani capital. The scale of the projects rivals the giant U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, which was completed last year after construction delays at a cost of $740 million.

The U.S. government also plans to revamp its consular buildings in the eastern city of Lahore and in Peshawar, the regional capital of the militancy plagued North West Frontier Province. The consulate in the southern megacity of Karachi has just been relocated into a new purpose-built accommodation. A senior State Department official confirmed that the U.S. plan for the consulate in Peshawar involves the purchase of the luxury Pearl Continental hotel. The official spoke on the condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to speak publicly.

The Pearl Contintental is the city’s only five-star hotel, set in its own expansive grounds, with a swimming pool. It’s owned by Pakistani tycoon Sadruddin Hashwani.

Also see Pulse on the amazing civic efforts to look after refugees that are being overwhelmed by the sheer scale -2.4 million refugees- and also the perception this is a war against Pukhtuns.

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It Could Be Worse, We Could Have Made a Loss

UK to Sri Lanka ArmsUK to Pakistan ArmsUK to Afghanistan ArmsUK to Israel Arms

Follow The Money

The cost of fighting the war in Afghanistan will overtake that of the Iraq conflict for the first time in 2010, Pentagon budget documents showed Thursday. On top of the basic defense budget of 533.7 billion dollars, the White House is requesting a further 130 billion dollars for overseas missions, including 65 billion for Afghanistan and 61 billion for Iraq. “This request is where you’re going to first see the swing of not only dollars or resources, but combat capability, from the Iraqi theater into the Afghan theater,”

I think the Pentagon is enjoying its increased budgetary importance (now over the halfway mark, so war now rules the nation) and will not let it drop back to the nominal (yet still huge) levels pre 911, so the terrifying nuclear Taliban are the latest brand to be rolled out to maintain their market share. Chris Floyd makes a great point, it must never be forgotten imperialism is fuelled in part on racism-

One of the largest empires the world has ever known – complete with second-largest nuclear arsenal in the world, capable of wiping out the planet several times over – disintegrated completely in the early 1990s, breaking into a myriad of different nations, and chaotic polities, some of which went to war with each other while others had internal wars that raged for years. Corruption was rampant, society collapsed, death rates climbed, birth rates plunged – all of this, again, with a vast nuclear arsenal looming over it all. Yet I don’t recall anyone recommending any U.S. military intervention to “preemptively mitigate the risks that might ensue from political chaos” in the break-up of the Soviet Union, to which I was eye-witness for a time. The only difference I can see in regard to Pakistan is that the scale of the risk and its possible global ramifications are actually much, much

Oh, I suppose there is one other difference, of course. The Pakistanis are Other – dark-skinned, Asian, Muslim, etc. – whereas most people perceived the Soviets to be like Us – white, European, etc. (Even though, in reality, many of the peoples of the Soviet Union were in fact dark-skinned, Asian and Muslim.) And thus, as Other, we must assume that a) they are so primitive, childish and incapable that they need real people like Us to step and save them from themselves and sort out their affairs; and b) they are so wild and crazed that they will seize the first possible opportunity to grab those nukes and blow up half the world. This is precisely the level of witless prejudice that underlies — or indeed, defines — any argument for “intervention” in Pakistan, of whatever degree. No matter how the argument is tricked out with think-tank speak and the savvy tropes of realpolitik, it actually goes no further than that.

PS. The Justin Raimondo piece going around about Jon Stewart, well duh, he’s ultimately a nice corporate liberal with vestiges of passion, a gift for comedy and a patriotic sentimentalist. He wouldn’t have gotten the gig if he was -stubbornly- radically dangerous and the US atomic attacks are still verboten in mainstream narrative of the ‘Good’ war. But the part about torture and US liberals focusing on that while letting Obama’s wars slide is only partially true (it’s mostly true of Dem partisan liberals) both can and should be done, oppose war and torture vocally. His attitude to the torture ‘debate’ I can understand in-so-much as I don’t have a badge saying ‘this blog is anti torture’, opposition to torture is normal, only abnormal cretins support torture (it is an aberrant phenomenon like paedophilia, think about that ’24’ fans). But it is still necessary to talk about it, because it is spread far and wide and the media now won’t even call torture torture and a key part of any apparatus of torture is intimidation of others. By speaking out we stem that intimidation. But then I suppose I am not in the ‘debate’ there is none, torture is wrong. Still his antiwar credibility is fine, just take his right wing libertarian roots under advisement (and yeah the Chavez bit was crap too).

Drone Attacks Kill 49 Civilians For Every 1 Al Qaeda Killed In Pakistan

And that’s the figures for Pakistan, apparently the Afghan Ambassador to the US commenting on drone attacks in his country thinks-

“This is a price that we have to pay if we want security and stability in Afghanistan, the region and the world, ” he said in Washington on Friday.

I would submit that any force/administration that is killing 49 civilians for every 1 enemy target is practising a very basic and obvious terrorism and is undeserving of support. There are no good possible ends from these means. (ht2 Chris Floyd)

Full report on the Pakistan deaths-

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Arundhati Roy on Mumbai Attacks

In the Guardian, Arundhati Roy: Mumbai was not our 9/11, excerpt-

There is a fierce, unforgiving fault-line that runs through the contemporary discourse on terrorism. On one side (let’s call it Side A) are those who see terrorism, especially “Islamist” terrorism, as a hateful, insane scourge that spins on its own axis, in its own orbit and has nothing to do with the world around it, nothing to do with history, geography or economics. Therefore, Side A says, to try and place it in a political context, or even try to understand it, amounts to justifying it and is a crime in itself.

Side B believes that though nothing can ever excuse or justify terrorism, it exists in a particular time, place and political context, and to refuse to see that will only aggravate the problem and put more and more people in harm’s way. Which is a crime in itself.

The sayings of Hafiz Saeed, who founded the Lashkar-e-Taiba (Army of the Pure) in 1990 and who belongs to the hardline Salafi tradition of Islam, certainly bolsters the case of Side A. Hafiz Saeed approves of suicide bombing, hates Jews, Shias and Democracy and believes that jihad should be waged until Islam, his Islam, rules the world. Among the things he said are: “There cannot be any peace while India remains intact. Cut them, cut them so much that they kneel before you and ask for mercy.”

And: “India has shown us this path. We would like to give India a tit-for-tat response and reciprocate in the same way by killing the Hindus, just like it is killing the Muslims in Kashmir.”

But where would Side A accommodate the sayings of Babu Bajrangi of Ahmedabad, India, who sees himself as a democrat, not a terrorist? He was one of the major lynchpins of the 2002 Gujarat genocide and has said (on camera): “We didn’t spare a single Muslim shop, we set everything on fire … we hacked, burned, set on fire … we believe in setting them on fire because these bastards don’t want to be cremated, they’re afraid of it … I have just one last wish … let me be sentenced to death … I don’t care if I’m hanged … just give me two days before my hanging and I will go and have a field day in Juhapura where seven or eight lakhs [seven or eight hundred thousand] of these people stay … I will finish them off … let a few more of them die … at least 25,000 to 50,000 should die.”

Slaughter

So according to the Pakistan Army they have killed ‘1,000 Islamist militants‘ this month… so the round number is obviously an estimate, as for the designation as the BBC report politely saysCorrespondents say that there is no way independently to verify the army’s claims.’ The army ‘said that 27 soldiers had been killed and 111 wounded in the operation‘. So 27 against 1,000 dead in a remote region with no independent verification. Yeah, nothing to see here, the war OF terror continues.

Posted in Militarism. Tags: . 2 Comments »

Tariq Ali On The Marriott Bombing

His piece is in the Guardian, the bits that stood out for me-

In my view, however, the expansion of the war relates far more to the Bush administration’s disastrous occupation in Afghanistan. It is hardly a secret that President Karzai’s regime is becoming more isolated each passing day, as Taliban guerrillas move ever closer to Kabul.

When in doubt, escalate the war, is an old imperial motto. The strikes against Pakistan represent – like the decisions of President Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger, to bomb and then invade Cambodia – a desperate bid to salvage a war that was never good, but has now gone badly wrong.

While there is much grieving for the Marriott hotel casualties, some ask why the lives of those killed by Predator drones or missile attacks are considered to be of less value. In recent weeks almost 100 innocent people have died in this fashion. No outrage and global media coverage for them.

Why was the Marriot targeted? Two explanations have surfaced in the media. The first is that there was a planned dinner for the president and his cabinet there that night, which was cancelled at the last moment.

The second, reported in the respected Pakistani English-language newspaper, Dawn, is that “a top secret operation of the US Marines [was] going on inside the Marriott when it was attacked”. According to the paper: “Well-equipped security officers from the US embassy were seen on the spot soon after the explosions. However, they left the scene shortly afterwards.”

The country’s largest newspaper, the News, also reported on Sunday that witnesses had seen US embassy steel boxes being carried into the Marriott at night on September 17. According to the paper, the steel boxes were permitted to circumvent security scanners stationed at the hotel entrance.

Mumtaz Alam, a member of parliament, witnessed this. He wanted to leave the hotel but, owing to the heavy security, he was not permitted to leave at the time and is threatening to raise the issue in parliament.

These may be the motivations for this particular attack, but behind it all is the shadow of an expanding war.

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America Wins Pakistan Election

NYT– ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Asif Ali Zardari, the widower of the assassinated former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto who has little experience in governing, was elected president of Pakistan on Saturday by a wide margin.

Supporters of the Pakistan Peoples Party celebrated the victory of Asif Ali Zardari, the widower of slain former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, in Islamabad on Saturday. Mr. Zardari, 53, who spent 11 years in jail on corruption charges that remain unproved, succeeds Pervez Musharraf, who resigned last month under the threat of impeachment. He is expected to be sworn in on Monday or Tuesday, officials said.

Mr. Zardari has the tacit approval of the United States, which views him as an ally in the campaign against terrorism. He has promised a tougher fight against members of the Taliban and Al Qaeda ensconced in the nation’s tribal areas, from where they mount assaults on American and NATO troops in Afghanistan.

Well that’s ok then Pakistan voted and America’s interests are secure, as for the actual people in Pakistan…erm, well they get the last few paragraphs in the New York Times, like they matter.

Fore!

Tariq Ali– The Army is in favour of him going quietly, but is against impeachment. Washington is prepared for him to go, but quietly. And last Friday the chief of Saudi intelligence agency, Prince Muqrin bin Abdul Aziz, had secretly arrived in Pakistan and held talks with coalition leaders and President Musharraf. He wants a ‘safe exit’ for the president. Sanctuaries in Manhattan, Texas and the Turkish island of Büyükada (Prinkipo) are being actively considered. The General would prefer a large estate in Pakistan, preferably near a golf course, but security considerations alone would make that infeasible.

Update: And more from Ali here.

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Britain’s Colonial Torture Program

First the reason why it is so important our spooks and the government deny this to their graves-

Under the Criminal Justice Act 1988 it is an offence for British officials to instigate or consent to the inflicting of “severe pain or suffering” on any person, anywhere in the world, or even to acquiesce in such treatment. Any such offence could be punished by life imprisonment.

And what John McDonnell and others are finding, more cases of our agents being at Pakistani torture centres-

MPs are calling for an investigation into allegations that British intelligence has “outsourced” the torture of British citizens to Pakistani security agencies after hearing accounts of people being abducted and subjected to mistreatment and, in some cases, released without charge.

John McDonnell, the Labour member for Hayes and Harlington, and Andrew Tyrie, Conservative member for Chichester, say the allegations should be examined by the Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC), the Westminster body that oversees the Security Service, MI5, and the Intelligence Service, MI6.

In a statement to the Guardian, released via the Home Office, the Security Service insisted it did “not participate in, solicit, encourage or condone the use of torture”. However, details of three new cases have raised concerns among MPs.

McDonnell says he wants to know whether British officials colluded in the abuse of one of his constituents.

The man, a medical student, said he was abducted at gunpoint in August 2005 and held for two months at the offices of Pakistan’s Intelligence Bureau opposite the British Deputy High Commission in Karachi. The student, who has not spoken out before, has described how he was whipped, beaten, deprived of sleep, threatened with execution and witnessed other inmates being tortured. He was questioned about the suicide attacks on London’s transport network in July of that year, and says that after being tortured by Pakistani agents he was questioned by British intelligence officers. He was released to his father, who says he received a personal apology from the director of the Intelligence Bureau.

The student returned to his London teaching hospital, qualified last year, and is now working in a hospital in the south-east of England. He remains terrified of both Pakistani and British intelligence agencies, however, and has asked not to be identified. A second Briton, Tariq Mahmood, 35, a taxi driver from Sparkhill, Birmingham, has said he was abducted in Rawalpindi in October 2003 and released without charge about five months later.

He is thought to have been held in a prison run by a different agency, Inter-Service Intelligence, where a number of other Britons have also been held and allegedly tortured before being flown to the UK to stand trial. Mahmood’s family say he was tortured, and that MI5 officers and American intelligence officers had a hand in his mistreatment. They have declined to issue any detailed allegation, however, apparently fearing for the safety of relatives in Pakistan.

A third Briton, Tahir Shah, 41, an author from London, was held for 16 days in 2005. He says he was interrogated about the July 7 bombings in what he describes as “a fully-equipped torture chamber”, with mangles, whips and electrical equipment.

He says he was hooded and shackled for long periods and deprived of sleep. He does not allege that British officials were involved, but believes it is unlikely they would not have been informed. He was eventually bundled aboard a scheduled flight to Heathrow, where his passport was returned by an unnamed official whom he believes to have been from MI5.

Allegations of collusion in torture could be examined by the Investigatory Powers Tribunal, established eight years ago with a remit to investigate complaints against MI5 and MI6. Another possibility is that the ISC could look into the claims.

McDonnell said of his constituent: “I believe that there is now sufficient evidence from this and other cases to demonstrate that British officials outsourced the torture of British nationals to a Pakistani intelligence agency.

“This warrants the fullest investigation by the ISC, which is best placed initially to undertake such an inquiry. I would expect the government to cooperate fully with such an investigation and eventually for the prime minister to make a statement to parliament on how this practice has been allowed to develop and what action is to be taken.”

Earlier this year representatives of Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch told another Commons body, the Foreign Affairs Committee, they believed British intelligence officers were colluding in torture.

Tom Porteous, London director of Human Rights Watch, told MPs: “It is pretty clear the US and the UK are relying rather heavily on the well-known abusive Pakistani intelligence agency, Inter-Services Intelligence, in the counter-terrorism operations. It is one of the most brutal intelligence agencies in the world.” He added that British interrogations of people being held by this agency “seem to amount to complicity and collusion in the mistreatment”.

In April the Guardian reported that four other British men, who had been detained in Pakistan during British-led counter-terrorism operations and held illegally for several months without access to a lawyer or court, had each alleged that British officials colluded in their torture. (ht2 Stephen Soldz @ Psyche, Science, and Society)

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Prisoner 650- The Grey Lady of Bagram

Via Iran Affairs

Respect National Council member Yvonne Ridley flew to Pakistan on a whirlwind trip this week to highlight the plight of a woman who has been held in US custody in Afghanistan for more than four years. She referred to the woman, known only by her prisoner number 650, as The Grey Lady of Bagram.

Details of Prisoner 650 are being kept secret by the US Military. Ridley, also a Cage Prisoner Patron, revealed how she first read about the woman in a book written by ex-Guantanamo detainee Moazzam Begg called Enemy Combatant.

“I remembered Moazzam telling me about the woman’s scream and how he first imagined they could be from his wife. In truth I thought may be he had just been listening to a tape recorder as part of a form of mental torture.

“However, we now know the screams came from a woman who has been held in Bagram for some years. And without compromising anyone, we can also reveal from impeccable sources that her prison number is 650.

“This information has been enough to scramble the Pakistan media into action by demanding the return of this woman to her homeland immediately,” added Ridley.

Joining her at the open air press conference in Islamabad at the HQ of Khan’s PTI party was Saghir Hussain, a lawyer and member of Cage. He handed over a dossier prepared by Cage which reveals the full extent of the Disappeared from Pakistan, individuals who have been literally kidnapped from the streets. “Prisoner 650 is just the tip of a very nasty iceberg of human rights abuses, illegal detentions and rendition flights. It is a shameful episode in Pakistan’s history which must be put right.”

Let’s Call It…A Police Action

U.S. trainers will travel to Pakistan this year to teach military officials counterinsurgency techniques to aid soldiers along the Afghan border in the fight against al-Qaida and Taliban militants, U.S. officials said Sunday.

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