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Date: Wed, Nov 10, 2010 at 6:48 PM
Subject: JFP 11/10: Officials tell McClatchy Obama will walk away from Afghan drawdown
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November 10, 2010
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McClatchy: Obama to Renege on Afghan Drawdown
McClatchy reports: "The Obama administration has decided to begin publicly walking away from what it once touted as key deadlines in the war in Afghanistan in an effort to de-emphasize President Barack Obama's pledge that he'd begin withdrawing U.S. forces in July 2011, administration and military officials have told McClatchy." This report indicates not only that the "surge" failed militarily, but that the political policy in which it was embedded - that troops would be withdrawn whether the surge succeeded or not - has also failed. The White House rejected the report: "The White House vehemently denies that there is any change in policy. 'The president has been crystal clear that we will begin drawing down troops in July of 2011. There is absolutely no change to that policy,' said Tommy Vietor, a White House spokesman."
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1) Administration and military officials say the Obama administration has decided to begin publicly walking away from what it once touted as key deadlines in the war in Afghanistan in an effort to de-emphasize President Obama's pledge he'd begin withdrawing U.S. forces in July 2011, McClatchy reports. The White House vehemently denies that there is any change in policy. "The president has been crystal clear that we will begin drawing down troops in July of 2011. There is absolutely no change to that policy," said Tommy Vietor, a White House spokesman.
2) Palestinian leader Abbas is asking for a U.N. Security Council session to discuss Israeli settlement construction, a day after President Obama and Israel's premier exchanged harsh statements on the issue, AP reports. Israel's Interior Ministry announced this week that a plan to build 1,300 homes for Jews in disputed east Jerusalem would be made available for public comments - a procedural step preceding construction.
3) The National Council of Churches Governing Board adopted a resolution calling for an end to the war in Afghanistan, NCC reports. The resolution, "A Call to End the War in Afghanistan," calls upon President Obama to negotiate a withdrawal of U.S. and NATO forces from Afghanistan "to be completed as soon as possible without further endangerment to the lives and welfare of U.S. and NATO troops, Afghan troops and Afghan civilians." The resolution was adopted unanimously.
4) A coalition of religious, veterans and anti-war groups are calling on Congress to expand the definition of conscientious objection to allow opposition to a particular war, the New York Times reports. Rita N. Brock, one of the main organizers of the commission, said one of the commission's goals is to allow service members who oppose certain wars to remain in the military, serving either in noncombat roles or in conflicts they can support. "We want to forestall moral injury, which is a Veterans Administration category of treatment," Brock said. The report asserts "moral dilemmas" have contributed to the rising number of suicides among service members. The commission plans to recruit members of Congress to sponsor legislation to change the current rules; one draft bill would increase protections for service members who seek conscientious objector status, including the requirement that applicants not be required to deploy.
5) 120 former Peace Corps Volunteers wrote last month to Secretary of State Clinton, urging that the US not fund elections in Haiti that exclude major political parties, Truthout reports. Nonetheless, the exclusionary elections scheduled for November 28 appear to be proceeding as planned. Signers of the petition argue that the US should put more energy into promoting democracy and human rights in countries in the "US sphere of influence," like Haiti, Honduras, and Colombia.
6) Documents leaked from Indonesia's Kopassus security forces say they engage in "murder [and] abduction" and show that Kopassus targets churches in West Papua and defines civilian dissidents as the "enemy," writes Allan Nairn for Common Dreams. The Obama administration recently announced the restoration of US aid to Kopassus.
7) A special prosecutor cleared the CIA's former top clandestine officer and others of any charges for destroying agency videotapes showing waterboarding of terror suspects, but continued to investigate whether the harsh questioning went beyond legal boundaries, AP reports. The Bush Administration White House had ordered that the tapes not be destroyed without explicit White House permission, but the CIA destroyed them anyway.
8) Former President Bush said in his memoirs he had ordered - then shelved - Pentagon plans for a possible military strike on Iran over Iran's nuclear program, AFP reports. Bush said he shelved the plans over doubts about their effectiveness and impact in Iran and Iraq as well as a US intelligence report in November 2007 that said Iran had no active nuclear weapons program. The National Intelligence Estimate "tied my hands on the military side," Bush said. "After the NIE, how could I possibly explain using the military to destroy the nuclear facilities of a country the intelligence community said had no active nuclear weapons program?" Bush wrote.
9) Surveillance drones are unlikely to produce actionable intelligence on al Qaeda in Yemen under present circumstances that would justify drone strikes, Gareth Porter writes for Inter Press Service. But powerful bureaucratic forces will be continuing to make the case that they can justify the beginning of drone strikes there. A US cruise missile strike that killed 17 women and 23 children last December was a gift to militants, former US officials say.
10) Doctors and aid groups are rushing to set up cholera treatment centers across Haiti's capital, AP reports. Several cholera cases have now been confirmed as having originated in the capital.
1) Obama officials moving away from 2011 Afghan date
Nancy A. Youssef, McClatchy Newspapers, November 10, 2010
Washington - The Obama administration has decided to begin publicly walking away from what it once touted as key deadlines in the war in Afghanistan in an effort to de-emphasize President Barack Obama's pledge that he'd begin withdrawing U.S. forces in July 2011, administration and military officials have told McClatchy.
The new policy will be on display next week during a conference of NATO countries in Lisbon, Portugal, where the administration hopes to introduce a timeline that calls for the withdrawal of U.S. and NATO forces from Afghanistan by 2014, the year when Afghan President Hamid Karzai once said Afghan troops could provide their own security, three senior officials told McClatchy, along with others speaking anonymously as a matter of policy.
The Pentagon also has decided not to announce specific dates for handing security responsibility for several Afghan provinces to local officials and instead intends to work out a more vague definition of transition when it meets with its NATO allies.
What a year ago had been touted as an extensive December review of the strategy now also will be less expansive and will offer no major changes in strategy, the officials told McClatchy. So far, the U.S. Central Command, the military division that oversees Afghanistan operations, hasn't submitted any kind of withdrawal order for forces for the July deadline, two of those officials told McClatchy.
Last week's midterm elections also have eased pressure on the Obama administration to begin an early withdrawal. Earlier this year, some Democrats in Congress pressed to cut off funding for Afghanistan operations. With Republicans in control of the House of Representatives beginning in January, however, there'll be less push for a drawdown. The incoming House Armed Services chairman, Rep. Howard "Buck" McKeon, R-Calif., told Reuters last week that he opposed setting the date. [But McKeon also told Reuters he regarded the date as set and that he would not push to change it - JFP.]
The White House vehemently denies that there is any change in policy. "The president has been crystal clear that we will begin drawing down troops in July of 2011. There is absolutely no change to that policy," said Tommy Vietor, a White House spokesman.
2) Palestinians want UN session on Israel settlements
Mohammed Daraghmeh, Associated Press, Wednesday, November 10, 2010; 12:13 PM
Ramallah, West Bank - The Palestinian president wants a U.N. Security Council session to discuss Israeli settlement construction, the official Palestinian news agency said Wednesday, a day after President Barack Obama and Israel's premier exchanged harsh statements on the issue.
Israel's Interior Ministry announced this week that a plan to build 1,300 homes for Jews in disputed east Jerusalem would be made available for public comments - a procedural step preceding construction. That set off a round of condemnations, highlighted by Obama's remark that such plans are unhelpful to efforts to restart peace talks.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton reiterated Wednesday that U.S. was "deeply disappointed" by the Israeli step. "This announcement is counterproductive for efforts to resume negotiations between the parties," Clinton said during a video conference with Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad.
The Palestinians want to establish their future capital in east Jerusalem, captured by Israel in the 1967 Mideast War. Israel annexed east Jerusalem immediately after the war - a step not recognized by the international community - and has since built neighborhoods there for nearly 200,000 Jews in an attempt to tighten its hold over the area.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said he will not relinquish east Jerusalem.
On Tuesday, his office defended the decision to move forward with planning the 1,300 apartments, saying Israel had never agreed to freeze construction there and it would continue building.
The sharp exchange came during Netanyahu's trip to the U.S., where American officials are trying to find a formula to rescue the Mideast peace talks relaunched at the White House in September.
3) NCC Governing Board calls for end of Afghanistan War
National Council of Churches, November 10, 2010
New Orleans - In a brief meeting preceding the Centennial Gathering, the National Council of Churches Governing Board adopted a resolution calling for an end to the war in Afghanistan, and unanimously re-elected the Rev. Dr. Michael Kinnamon as NCC general secretary.
The resolution, "A Call to End the War in Afghanistan," calls upon President Obama to negotiate a withdrawal of U.S. and NATO forces from Afghanistan "to be completed as soon as possible without further endangerment to the lives and welfare of U.S. and NATO troops, Afghan troops and Afghan civilians."
The board urged the president "to monitor the human rights situation in Afghanistan in the context of the United Nations declaration to use all available diplomatic means to protect the population from crimes against humanity, and to employ military means of protection only as a last resort."
The board stated deep commitment "that we must reaffirm our witness to Christ's commandment to love our enemies," and called upon member communions "to articulate to one another and to government authorities the concept of a 'Just Peace' as a proactive strategy for avoiding premature or unnecessary decisions to employ military means of solving conflicts."
The resolution was adopted by a unanimous voice vote.
4) War and Conscience: Expanding the Definition of Conscientious Objection
James Dao, New York Times, November 10, 2010, 6:01 AM
Since Vietnam, the military's rules governing conscientious objector status have effectively required service members to declare themselves pacifists in order to qualify. Conscientious objection, as defined by military regulation is "a firm, fixed, and sincere objection to participation in war in any form or the bearing of arms."
That phrase, "war in any form," has meant that people who objected to war X, but not war Y, were almost certain not to receive objector status. In recent years, some service members filed for the status arguing that they were willing to serve in Afghanistan but not Iraq. Their applications failed.
Nidal Malik Hasan, the Army major charged with killing 13 people at Fort Hood last year, reportedly considered seeking conscientious objector status because he opposed fighting against other Muslims. But he was told he would not qualify because he was not against all wars.
But today, Nov. 10, a coalition of around 60 mostly left-leaning religious, veterans and anti-war groups are calling on Congress to expand the definition of conscientious objection to allow opposition to a particular war. Leaders of the coalition, the Truth Commission on Conscience in War, assert that broadening the definition would probably lead to more troops applying to become conscientious objectors. But it would also allow for greater religious freedom in the military and improve morale among the troops, they say.
"For many of us, it is a religious freedom issue," said Rita N. Brock, one of the main organizers of the commission. "The only religious conscience protected now is for pacifists. But the majority of people are not pacifists. I'm not a pacifist. We have a relative view of when violence is appropriate and not appropriate."
Ms. Brock, a former professor of religion and women's studies whose stepfather fought in World War II and Vietnam, said one of the commission's goals is to allow service members who oppose certain wars to remain in the military, serving either in noncombat roles or in conflicts they can support.
"We want to make it easier for them to follow their moral conscience and serve in the military," she said. "We want to forestall moral injury, which is a Veterans Administration category of treatment."
The report asserts that "moral dilemmas" have contributed to the rising number of suicides among service members, though scientific evidence for that is far from conclusive. And commission leaders argue that the number of active duty troops with "moral dilemmas" about one or both wars that the United States is currently fighting is much higher than the relatively small number of service members who apply for conscientious objector each year.
The commission next plans to recruit members of Congress to sponsor legislation to change the current rules. One draft bill includes provisions that would increase protections for service members who seek conscientious objector status, including the requirement that applicants not be required to deploy.
5) Returned Peace Corps Volunteers Urge US to Ensure Free, Fair and Inclusive Elections in Haiti as Condition for Funding
¡Reclama!, Truthout, Wednesday 10 November 2010
In the face of a cholera epidemic that has claimed the lives of over 500 people, infected many thousands and is feared to intensify due to widespread flooding in the wake of Hurricane Tomas, officials have stated that the elections scheduled for November 28 will go ahead as planned. While some candidates have questioned the wisdom of holding elections during such turmoil, a rising chorus of critics is disputing the elections' very legitimacy and is urging the US, a primary funder, to take responsibility in guaranteeing a truly democratic process.
In October, 120 Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCVs), who recently served in the Dominican Republic, argued for the need to ensure free, fair and inclusive elections in neighboring Haiti in a joint letter addressed to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Many of the petition's signers enjoyed close personal and working relationships with Haitians and Dominicans of Haitian descent during their service; some played an active role in coordinating medical attention and other relief services for Haitian survivors in the aftermath of January's earthquake.
The content of the petition, largely taken from an open letter sent to Clinton on behalf of over 20 NGOs in the US and Haiti in September, details the exclusionary nature of Haiti's upcoming elections and provides concrete recommendations for the US government, which has offered millions of dollars in funding and assistance for the Haitian elections. This letter was also signed by Kevin Quigley, president of the National Peace Corps Association, which is the leading organization of RPCVs and represents a network of 30,000 individuals. Quigley supports the former volunteers' petition, which urges that the US condition funding for the Haitian elections on the full participation of currently banned political parties and active engagement to ensure that voters among the 1.5 million internally displaced Haitians are not disenfranchised. RPCV Neil Ross ('62-'64), founding president of the NGO Friends of the Dominican Republic, an NPCA affiliate for the Dominican Republic, also signed the petition.
Haiti's Provisional Electoral Council (Conseil Electoral Provisoire, or CEP) is the governing body whose members are selected by President Rene Préval and is tasked with carrying out the elections. For the upcoming November elections, it has banned 14 political parties arbitrarily, including Fanmi Lavalas (or FL), the largest party in the country. Created by Jean-Bertrand Aristide, the former president who was deposed in a coup d'etat in 2004, FL has been banned since the April 2009 elections.
For the April 2009 elections, the CEP created a new requirement, demanding an original, nonfacsimiled signature from FL's leader Aristide, knowing this would be an impossible task. Aristide is currently exiled in South Africa under what Kurzban asserts to be "a tacit agreement between many governments [to keep] him there," while "the government of Haiti has refused to renew Aristide's passport to allow him to return to Haiti to register his party."
In response, the international community loudly denounced the summary exclusion of the 14 parties; the US embassy in Haiti voiced its view that "under the law, elections should involve all major parties and serve as a unifying force for democracy. An election based on the exclusion ... will inevitably question the credibility of elections in Haiti and among donors and friends of Haiti," and similar condemnations emanated from the OAS and Canada. However, when the CEP did not budge, the US along with other donor countries still went ahead and provided millions of dollars for the compromised elections, paying for 72 percent of the cost.
Following CEP's exclusion of the party for lack of Aristide's signature, FL initiated a boycott that contributed to an estimated voter turnout of between 3-10 percent in the April elections and again in the subsequent run-off round of June 2009. This consistently low turnout cast doubt on the legitimacy of the elections.
David Garfunkel, who served as a Peace Corps volunteer for three years ('07-'10), is one of the coordinators of this petition. Affected like many other volunteers by the devastation of the earthquake, he organized the collection and shipment of humanitarian supplies like food, water and tents from Santo Domingo.
"After all of the harm that US policies have done to Haiti - supporting the Duvalier dictatorships, funding death squad leaders, destroying agricultural self-sufficiency and advancing the 2004 coup d'etat, to name a few - the least we can do is come together to support its sovereignty and democracy. I talk to Haitians every day about the elections. They know that they are a sham and they'll show the world that when they don't show up to the polls in November."
He added that while concerns over democracy in China and Iran are pervasive among leaders in Washington, DC, at present, he believed that the US should focus its efforts on promoting human rights and democracy in places like Haiti, Honduras and Colombia, where the US wields enormous leverage. RPCV and signatory Neal Riemer ('06-'10) agrees. "Aside from the theater of shrill posturing, talk about Iran's democratic deficit doesn't accomplish much. In fact, American reprimands of such countries are sometimes accompanied by bellicose threats. When taking into account the use of blunt tools like economic sanctions and the unpredictable reactions from those governments, there can be unintended negative impacts for the citizens of those countries." Riemer called for a simpler and more principled stance: "If we care about promoting democracy, it's just much easier and more practical to not financially and logistically support fraudulent elections with our tax dollars," and "demand real democratic features in exchange for funding." This, in and of itself, would help "empower democratic governance in Haiti and set a precedent internationally," according to Riemer. Remarking on the fact that as UN Special Envoy, former President Bill Clinton plays a key role in formulating policy in Haiti, Riemer asserted, "we are especially obligated to promote American values like free elections in countries squarely within our sphere of influence."
6) Documents Leak from Notorious US-Backed Unit as Obama Lands in Indonesia
Secret Files Show Kopassus, Indonesia's Special Forces, Targets Papuan Churches, Civilians
Allan Nairn, Common Dreams, November 10, 2010
Jakarta - Secret documents have leaked from inside Kopassus, Indonesia's red berets, which say that Indonesia's US-backed security forces engage in "murder [and] abduction" and show that Kopassus targets churches in West Papua and defines civilian dissidents as the "enemy."
The documents include a Kopassus enemies list headed by Papua's top Baptist minister and describe a covert network of surveillance, infiltration and disruption of Papuan institutions
The disclosure comes as US President Barack Obama is touching down in Indonesia. His administration recently announced the restoration of US aid to Kopassus.
Kopassus is the most notorious unit of Indonesia's armed forces, TNI, which along with POLRI, the national police, have killed civilians by the hundreds of thousands.
The leaked cache of secret Kopassus documents includes operational, intelligence and field reports as well as personnel records which list the names and details of Kopassus "agents."
The documents are classified "SECRET" ("RAHASIA") and include extensive background reports on Kopassus civilian targets - reports that are apparently of uneven accuracy.
The authenticity of the documents has been verified by Kopassus personnel who have seen them and by external evidence regarding the authors and the internal characteristics of the documents.
7) No charges for destroying CIA interrogation videos
Pete Yost, Associated Press, Tue Nov 9, 7:12 pm ET
Washington - A special prosecutor cleared the CIA's former top clandestine officer and others Tuesday of any charges for destroying agency videotapes showing waterboarding of terror suspects, but he continued to investigate whether the harsh questioning went beyond legal boundaries.
The decision not to prosecute anyone in the videotape destruction came five years to the day after the CIA destroyed its cache of 92 videos of two al-Qaida operatives, Abu Zubaydah and Abd al-Nashiri, being subjected to waterboarding, which evokes the sensation of drowning. The deadline for prosecuting someone under most federal laws is five years.
The part of the nearly 3-year-old criminal investigation that examines whether U.S. interrogators went beyond the legal guidance given them on the rough treatment of suspects will continue, a Justice Department official said.
Despite standing orders from the Bush White House not to destroy the tapes without checking with administration officials, momentum for their destruction grew in late 2005 as the CIA Thailand station chief, Mike Winograd, prepared to retire, the current and former U.S. officials have said.
Winograd had the tapes in his safe and believed they should be destroyed, officials said.
On Nov. 4, 2005, as the CIA scrambled to quell a controversy from a Washington Post story revealing the existence of secret CIA prisons overseas, Rodriguez called two CIA lawyers. He asked Steven Hermes, his lawyer in the clandestine service, whether he had the authority to order the tapes destroyed. Hermes said Rodriguez did, according to documents and interviews.
Then Rodriguez asked Robert Eatinger, the top lawyer in the CIA's Counterterrorism Center, whether there was any legal requirement that the tapes be kept. Eatinger said no.
Eatinger and Hermes have told colleagues that they believed Rodriguez was merely teeing up a new round of discussions about the tapes and, because of previous orders not to destroy the tapes without White House approval, they were unaware that Rodriguez planned to move immediately, officials told The Associated Press.
8) Bush sought military options on Iran
AFP, November 9, 2010
Washington - Former US president George W. Bush said in memoirs out Tuesday that he had ordered - then shelved - Pentagon plans for a possible military strike on Iran over Tehran's suspect nuclear program.
"I directed the Pentagon to study what would be necessary for a strike. Military action would always be on the table, but it would be my last resort," Bush wrote in "Decision Points."
"The goal would be to stop the bomb clock, at least temporarily," said the former president, who worried about the possible impact on Iran's fledgling pro-democracy movement.
But Bush said he shelved the plans over doubts about their effectiveness and impact in Iran and Iraq as well as a bombshell US intelligence report in November 2007 that said Tehran had no active nuclear weapons program.
The National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) "tied my hands on the military side," said the former president.
"There were many reasons I was concerned about undertaking a military strike on Iran, including its uncertain effectiveness and the serious problems it would create for Iraq's fragile young democracy," he said.
"But after the NIE, how could I possibly explain using the military to destroy the nuclear facilities of a country the intelligence community said had no active nuclear weapons program?" Bush wrote.
9) Behind Drone Issue in Yemen, a Struggle to Control Covert Ops
Gareth Porter, Inter Press Service, Nov 10
Washington - The drone war that has been anticipated in Yemen for the last few months has been delayed by the failure of U.S. Special Operations Forces (SOF) to generate usable intelligence on al Qaeda there.
That failure has given the CIA a new argument for wresting control of the drone war in Yemen from the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) which now controls the drone assets in the country. But some key administration officials are resisting a CIA takeover of the war in Yemen, as reported by the Washington Post Nov. 7.
The struggle between the CIA's operations directorate and SOF officials over management of a drone war in Yemen has been a driving force in pushing the war against al Qaeda and affiliated organisations into many more countries - along with President Barack Obama's eagerness to show that he is doing more than his predecessor on terrorism.
Both the CIA covert operations directorate and SOF brass regard the outcome in Yemen as the key to the larger struggle over control of a series of covert wars that the Obama administration approved in principle last year.
The CIA directorate and the two major figures in the Iraq- Afghanistan wars, Gen. David Petraeus and Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, lobbied Obama in 2009 to expand covert operations against al Qaeda to a dozen countries in the Middle East, the Horn of Africa and Central Asia.
In spring 2009, McChrystal, then director of operations for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, persuaded the White House to give U.S. combatant commanders wider latitude to carry out covert military operations against al Qaeda or other organisations deemed to be terrorists, according to a May 25 report by Marc Ambinder of The Atlantic.
Based on the Obama decision, on Sep. 30, 2009, Petraeus issued an order creating a Joint Unconventional Warfare Task Force to plan and execute covert intelligence gathering in support of later covert military operations throughout the CENTCOM area.
The Petraeus order was followed within weeks by an influx of surveillance equipment and as many as 100 SOF trainers, as well as additional CIA personnel in Yemen, according to the Post Nov. 7 report.
With the support of McChrystal and Petraeus, who was then still CENTCOM chief, JSOC was given control of the covert operation in Yemen.
But JSOC stumbled badly and failed to generate usable intelligence on al Qaeda targets, as the Post reported Nov. 7.
On Dec. 17, less than three months after the Petraeus order, a cruise missile was launched against what was supposed to have been an al Qaeda training camp in Abyan province in south Yemen.
But the strike, which was supposed to have been attributed to Yemen's tiny air force, was based on faulty intelligence. The Yemeni parliament found that it had killed 41 members of two families, including 17 women and 23 children. It was known almost immediately to have been a U.S. strike.
By all accounts, it was major political gift to AQAP, which has its sights set on toppling the government of President Ali Abdullah Saleh. AQAP seized on videos of the carnage to step up its attack on Saleh as a U.S. stooge.
Al Qaeda has also been able to justify targeting the United States as revenge for the Dec. 17 attack. In June and July, the AQAP announced that it was planning a "catastrophe for the enemies of God" in response to the Abyan attack, according to Gregory Johnsen, a Princeton doctoral candidate who has done research in Yemen.
That may have been a reference to the two parcels from Yemen to an address in Chicago intercepted Oct. 29, one of which was discovered to have "explosive material".
On May 27, another cruise missile strike killed a popular deputy province chief who was apparently mediating between the Yemeni government and al Qaeda officials. Local tribesmen retaliated by attacking an oil pipeline in the vicinity.
The report suggests that key officials now realise that neither JSOC nor the CIA is going to be able to obtain actionable intelligence on al Qaeda under present circumstances.
Former DIA intelligence officer Lang agrees. He believes the Yemeni Intelligence Service, which is a "very effective secret police force" with "considerable penetration capability", is not fully sharing the intelligence it has on al Qaeda with U.S. officials.
"I'm sure Saleh is concerned about AQAP," Lang said, "but he can't allow himself to be seen as serving the United States." And Saleh may figure that AQAP has penetrated his intelligence service as well, according to Lang.
For the time being, it appears the drone war in Yemen is in abeyance. But powerful bureaucratic forces will be continuing to make the case that they can justify the beginning of drone strikes there.
AQAP leaders are hoping to see the U.S. use more military force in Yemen, according to Johnsen. "They would like nothing better than for the U.S. to invade Yemen," Johnsen told IPS. "The more they can show active U.S. intervention, the better it is for them."
10) Doctors set up cholera centers in Haiti's capital
Jonathan M. Katz, Associated Press, Wednesday, November 10, 2010; 6:37 AM
Port-au-Prince, Haiti - Doctors and aid groups are rushing to set up cholera treatment centers across Haiti's capital as officials warn that the disease's encroachment into the overcrowded city will bring a surge in cases.
Hundreds of people were already suspected of having cholera, suffering the disease's symptoms of fever and diarrhea while lying in hospital beds or inside shacks lining the putrid waste canals of Cite Soleil, Martissant and other slums.
"We expect transmission to be extensive and we have to be prepared for it, there's no question," Dr. Jon K. Andrus, deputy director of the Pan-American Health Organization, told reporters Tuesday. "We have to prepare for a large upsurge in numbers of cases and be prepared with supplies and human resources and everything that goes into a rapid response."
Following Monday's confirmation that a 3-year-old boy from a tent camp near Cite Soleil had contracted cholera before Oct. 31 without leaving the capital, the organization said the epidemic's spread from river towns in the countryside to the nation's primary urban center was a dangeorus development.
Two more capital-originated cases were confirmed Tuesday at the same hospital where the boy was treated.
Physicians with the aid group Doctors Without Borders reported seeing more than 200 city residents with severe symptoms at their facilities alone over the last three days.
More than 70 other cholera cases had been confirmed among people living in Port-au-Prince, but those became infected while outside the capital.
Damage to Port-au-Prince's already miserable pre-earthquake sanitation and drinking water systems make the city "ripe for the rapid spread of cholera," Andrus said.
Port-au-Prince is estimated to be home to between 2.5 million and 3 million people, about half of whom have been living in homeless encampments since the Jan. 12 earthquake ravaged the capital.
A confirmed case of cholera had never been seen in this Caribbean country before last month, when it suddenly killed several dozen people and spread across the agricultural heartland of the Artibonite Valley. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that the strain is most similar to those found in South Asia, but no formal investigations have been done to learn how the disease arrived in Haiti.
It has killed more than 580 people and hospitalized more than 9,500, with confirmed cases across the entire northern two-thirds of the country.
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