December 1, 2009

From the Front: 12/01/2009

News and Personal dispatches from the front and the home front. (New complete posts come in below)

The Burn Pit: Of SEALS and Terrorists… - “They are not police officers nor should they be political pawns.” After reading the articles on the Navy Seals abusing a terrorist that they had captured I had to write this article. Are these killers wearing a military uniform-NO. Do they subscribe to the Geneva and Hague conventions-NO. Do they treat captured combatants humanely-NO. Do they look to the welfare of captured combatants, looking after their safety and any needed medical treatments-NO. The fact is that they slaughter people who are taken captive and drag their bodies through the streets and hang their burned bodies from a bridge. They have murdered people while videoing the act and mutilated both military and noncombatants. They target schools, hospitals, place of worship and kill people who are teachers, those offering support and a safe place to gather. They murder the police and leaders of their nation and do not care about how many are killed in the collateral damage they inflect. (READ MORE)

Adrian MacNair: Who Really “Supports The Troops”? - The whole detainee affair, which I’ve largely ignored until now because as far as I’m concerned Canada has done more than it’s fair share of diligence, has spilled over into a partisan fighting match between the Liberals and Conservatives. It wouldn’t make much difference to me, except that the two have now taken to smear attacks on each other involving our military. The Liberals accuse the Conservatives of using the troops as “props” in the blame game. The Prime Minister’s Office issued an email to the press slamming the Liberals for playing politics with the troops: “In another Liberal blunder, Michael Ignatieff has issued a statement denouncing the Prime Minister for supporting the men and women of Canada’s Armed Forces.” But that isn’t really accurate, is it? The Liberals haven’t been denouncing the Prime Minister for supporting the troops, a ridiculous statement to make, but for downplaying the detainee issue. (READ MORE)

Blackfive: On Afghanistan Victory - I've been saying for the last two months (sometimes with the media so it's documented) that President Obama will deploy more troops to Afghanistan. After all, he made it his fight, picked McChrystal to run it, and appeared to be working to find a solution. Due to General Jones insistence, he will send less than General McChrystal has requested (there are reports that the request was 80k) - the news reports that the request was for 40k more. Most likely it will be tens of thousands of US troops and thousands of NATO troops (reports coming in that the UK will send one more battalion than scheduled). With regards to NATO and COIN, more work needs to be done. We have heard about the good work of the Canadians, the Brits, the Lithuanians, the Poles and even the French (yes, the French - I had a good friend who worked with them tell me he could use hundreds more like the men he worked with). And we need more of them. (READ MORE)

Noah Shachtman: Army Researchers Warn Against Tribal War in Afghanistan - The Obama administration is ready to reveal its new strategy for Afghanistan. And speculation is running high that this new approach can and should use local, often tribal, militias to help combat the Taliban. But the U.S. Army’s own specialists in Afghanistan’s culture and society are warning that relying on the tribes there may be a waste of time. “Most of Afghanistan has not been ‘tribal’ in the last few centuries,” notes a recent report from the Army’s Human Terrain System at Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas. “In fact, many scholars are reluctant to use the word ‘tribe’ at all for describing groups in Afghanistan.” As part of the ‘Surge’ in 2007, the American military famously worked with Iraq’s tribes to combat Sunni insurgents. Now, the hope is that U.S. forces can pull off the same trick in Afghanistan. American officers have begun to support local militias that have sprung up to fight the Taliban. (READ MORE)

David Axe on Jason Reich: The “Biggest Headache”: In Afghanistan, Helicopters Represent NATO’s Biggest Strength, Greatest Weakness - Everyone knew election day was going to be hot. In the weeks before Afghanistan’s August 20 presidential election — only the second for the country’s current government — the terror group Al Qaeda and the extremist Taliban insurgent group had vowed to ratchet up their attacks on the Afghan people, the government and the U.S.-led NATO military coalition. The dushman – that’s Dari for “bad guys” — made good on their promises. Violence spiked all over the country, especially in outlying provinces where NATO’s presence is thinnest. The bitter fighting on election day was a window into the eight-year-old Afghanistan war. Among the biggest lessons underscored by the election violence is the vital importance of helicopters to NATO’s far-flung operations. (READ MORE)

The Torch: "It’s a crass political game being waged by two parties" - Further in particular to this post, but also more broadly this one, the start and conclusion of a post by Raphael Alexander: Who Really “Supports The Troops”? - The whole detainee affair, which I’ve largely ignored until now because as far as I’m concerned Canada has done more than it’s fair share of diligence, has spilled over into a partisan fighting match between the Liberals and Conservatives. It wouldn’t make much difference to me, except that the two have now taken to smear attacks on each other involving our military...In this current imbroglio, you can be sure that nobody really has the troops at heart here. It’s a crass political game being waged by two parties who should instead be united in the defeat of a common enemy. The Taliban must be enjoying this from their caves, waiting out our self-destruction as western army after western army retreats in their own self-inflicted defeat. (READ MORE)

Bruce R: The most important piece on the Afghan army you'll ever read - The same day I ding his blog, Dave Anderson at Newshoggers points me to something absolutely brilliant. I cannot recommend this piece, by USMC Col (retd.) Haynes on how to fix Afghan army mentoring, highly enough. It's a brilliant recap of everything the good mentors have been saying in public and in private about the ANA. Everything he says, pro and con, could have been said about the Afghans I worked with in a different corps in a different part of the country. It's pieces like this that keep my hope alive for this mission: for we really are learning how to do this right, bit by precious bit. I sincerely hope that when people are looking at operationalizing the President's undoubtedly fine words to come tomorrow night about building up Afghan military capacity, in order that the West can leave, they think of this piece. (READ MORE)

Nathan Hamm: Always On The Brink - This week has seen the production of a lot of straight-up BS on Central Asia. Christian has posts going after things reported about Tajikistan and Uzbekistan that don’t pass the whiff test. In both cases, stereotypes of Central Asia as a mysterious land of danger offer the tiny gloss of plausibility needed to get downright ridiculous stories to press. (That’s probably overly fair to LWJ, which has never seen a “Some dude joined Al Qaeda and WE’RE ALL GONNA DIE” story it won’t print.) Over at GlobalPost, Turkmenistan gets added to the “potentially super scary and really dangerous” list with a story questioning whether or not the country’s seeming stability is a myth. Two, maybe three diplomats offer a few scare-quotes throughout, there’s a mention that people don’t have jobs, the government’s not-so-mild dislike for activists and the independent-minded religious, and stuck in there too is a mention of last year’s bizarre shoot-out in Ashgabat. Oh, also, there are tons of cops. (READ MORE)

Sailani: McChrystal method - As outsiders we are for the most part unable to penetrate the complex layers of power and society in Afghanistan. Our reality is filtered through our various interlocutors, translators, advisors, officials, tribal leaders, etc. and it often feels like I am stumbling around in the dark feeling the walls and trying to move forwards. Assuming that this is a general handicap of Western interventionists in the country, and not a weakness particular to myself, it presents the single largest obstacle to having a positive impact and undermining the long-term drivers of the insurgency. Using a similar logic, COIN doctrine recognizes that the counterinsurgent requires effective local partnerships in order to operate effectively and to eventually take over the fight entirely as a tipping point towards sustainable stability (I hesitate to speak of “victory”) is reached. (READ MORE)

Bill Roggio: Pakistani military says Khyber operation successful - A Pakistani military commander said the current operation in the Khyber tribal agency has succeeded in clearing the Taliban from a vital area. Brigadier Fayyaz, the commandant of Pakistan's paramilitary Frontier Corps, told journalists that the operation in the Bara region in Khyber has been successful in driving out the Lashkar-e-Islam and other allied terrorists, and that most of the region has been cleared. Sixty-one Lashkar-e-Islam fighters were killed and 87 fighters as well as Uzbeks and Afghans, have been detained, Fayyaz told the media. Enemy bases, bunkers, and vehicles have been destroyed in the six-day long operation. Fayyaz also claimed the the military found evidence that India was providing weapons to the Lashkar-e-Islam. The Lashkar-e-Islam is commanded by Mangal Bagh Afridi, who has established a Taliban-like state in regions of Khyber. (READ MORE)

The Kitchen Dispatch: Obama's Tuesday Evening: What It Will Mean - President Obama is preparing to give a speech to the nation about his plans to send more troops into Afghanistan. No doubt, many of us will be watching. Those who will not will be the ones who disagree with him altogether. Nothing he says, and nothing the milbloggers (from BabaTim to BlackFive) have been continuously saying will sway them from their isolationist opinion. Certainly, I realize that a commitment will mean more deployments for my husband. But I always knew this is how we'd be spending the next decade or two of our lives. Helping those with medical needs be it soldiers or locals was always a given of a lifetime's work. Personally, I think building hospitals in the towns (not on the FOB's), and providing clinical services is a great way to make inroads with the local populations. Providing medical training --be it nurses or for doctors to care for their injured or sick is the right thing to do. (READ MORE)

IraqPundit: Are the Baathists Coming? - There are a couple of different ways to interpret the latest news out of Iraq. There is the panicked the fight will be between Sunnis and Shiites. There is the Saudis are fighting the Iranians on Iraqi turf. And there is Iraqis are practicing democracy and sorting out their problems through the electoral process. The vice president who has vetoed the election law says he will announce his membership in the Iraqi National Movement coalition. That group, which includes Ayad Allawi and Saleh Mutlak, will gladly welcome Tareq Al Hashimi. Al Hashimi and Osama Al Nujaifi of the National Assembly of Iraqis will announce their joining the INA right after the Eid holiday, which ends tomorrow. On the surface, it looks like the Baathists are working hard to return to power via the ballot box. Ayad Allawi is an ex-Baathist. Al Mutlak doesn't even hide his Baathist past, and the Baathists (not the INA) just launched a Saddam TV channel. (READ MORE)

Dan Cnossen: From Alice - As many of you know, our mom had to fly back home to Kansas on Sunday. It will be tough adjusting to life without her here. She will never accept the credit, but she worked so hard and did so much for the both of us over these past months. Dan couldn't have made all the amazing progress he's made, and I just couldn't have functioned without here here. Dan can handle all the recovery stuff - we've seen him fly off the charts in that area. I can handle the hospital stuff. But our mom definitely didn't pass on her cooking/cleaning/organizing genes to her children, so wish us luck! All hell is really gonna break loose now! Before she left, she wrote a message that she wanted me to share with everyone. I'll try and write more about what's going on with Dan this week (it's a very exciting week for us!) within the next few days. Things just got real busy around here without Alice to pick up the slack! But I promise to update soon. (READ MORE)

The Canada-Afghanistan Blog: The Cavalry - Obama will "address the nation" on Tuesday night to announce at least 30,000 more soldiers for Afghanistan. So finally, finally, we'll get to see what happens when the Americans focus the brunt of their attention and resources on Afghanistan. The people who say nation-building there has failed don't know what they're talking about: until recently, we've barely tried. In the big picture, Canadian soldiers and the rest of ISAF have essentially been holding down the fort, particularly in Kandahar. This is mostly due to the fact that the Yanks decided to run off to Iraq, but also because the other NATO and UN countries participating in this mission have been either unwilling or incapable of deploying the number of soldiers necessary to do this job right. It's been a frustrating few years, but better late than never to correct course. (READ MORE)

Army Household6: Update on SGT Daddy - Several of the events of the last week revolved around SGT Daddy.. Thursday was not only Thanksgiving – but it was also SGT Daddy’s birthday! I was a little worried that he wasn’t going to receive his present on time… but he got it the day before! WHEW! It was a special day for another reason.. you see SGT Daddy received a coin from Dr. Joseph Westphal, Under Secretary of the Army – and Major General Scapriotti, Commander of the Combined Joint Task Force 82- Afghanistan. Here are some pics– (MORE)

Thomas Ruttig: Afghan militias: the sorcerer’s apprentice’s genies - The case of Abdul Razeq's police-unit-cum-militia (see here) should send a stark warning to those envisaging a new version of ‘community-based' defense forces. It is not clear yet how this exactly will look like but it seems to be sure that it will come. A few titles, names and concepts swirl around in Kabul and the provinces again. The lynchpin for a new militia system seems to be the new ‘Independent Directorate for the Protection of Public Spaces and Highways by Tribal Support' led by former Minister for Tribal and Border Affairs and former deputy speaker of the Wolesi Jirga, Aref Nurzai. It was established by presidential decree already in April, opened an office and hired staff in summer and -- before the elections that can change things like this -- recruited twenty provincial directors (for provinces along the major highways), some of whom have started activities already identifying possible members of ‘community forces'. (READ MORE)

Katherine Tiedemann: Daily brief - In what is being hailed as "the boldest strategic move of his presidency," U.S. President Barack Obama is set to announce an increase of between 30,000 and 35,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan tomorrow at 8:00pm EST at West Point military academy, along with a preliminary time frame for winding down U.S. involvement in the country. Obama is likely to talk about a plan for handing over authority to Kabul, including some broad benchmarks for the Afghan government, though the White House appears poised to reject top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan Gen. Stanley McChrystal's request to double the size of the Afghan security forces over the next few years. Shortly after Obama's much-anticipated speech, coming after some three months of deliberations, as many as 9,000 Marines will begin final preparations to deploy to the insurgency-riddled southern Afghan province of Helmand, reportedly the first place Obama will look for results. (READ MORE)

Afghanistan My Last Tour: Will he make it? - This morning we all sat in the office in anticipation wondering if our teammate would be able to board the helo from FOB Shank. Due to the large turnover Replacement in Place/Transfer of Accountability (RIP/TOA) taken place, helo flights are at a premium. In layman’s terms when your replacement arrives, you get to go home. Anyways, if he didn’t make this flight, we were prepared for a several hour drive to retrieve him. Yesterday we were busy prepping the MRAPs for this voyage. Around 0940 hrs I heard the thumping of chopper blades and scurried up a ladder leaning on the Hesco barriers to see our teammate get off the helicopter. So instead of a road trip, we went to ANA land to do some mentoring. Well this was a good plan, but most of the ANA leadership was still enjoying an extended Eid Al Adha holiday. It’s rather ironic, because right before the holiday, the Brigade commander stood in front of all his troops and expressed concern about everyone taking off. (READ MORE)

Katherine Tiedemann: Daily brief: Obama orders fast troop deployment to Afghanistan - After more than three months of deliberations, U.S. President Barack Obama has reportedly issued the orders to send some 34,000 additional U.S. troops to Afghanistan and is preparing to address the nation tonight at 8:00pm EST from West Point. Eight U.S. allies have agreed to send some 5,000 additional troops as well, including 500 just announced yesterday from the U.K. to bring the British total in Afghanistan, including special forces, to sround 10,000. Obama has spent the last day and a half informing top military officials and world leaders about his decision, including heads of government in France, Britain, Germany, Russia, China, India, Denmark, and Poland. Obama also reportedly spent an hour this morning in a videoconference with Afghan President Hamid Karzai discussing the expected troop increase, and also placed a call to Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari. A briefing for dozens of lawmakers is scheduled for this afternoon. (READ MORE)


News from the Front:
Iraq:

Iraq resumes full crude oil exports via Turkey: NOC - Iraq resumed full crude oil exports through its northern pipeline to Turkey on Monday after reported sabotage of the link halted flows last week, an official at the state-run North Oil Company said. In the Turkish port of Ceyhan, meanwhile, one ship was now loading at the pipeline's terminus and three others were waiting, said a Turkish shipping agent who declined to be identified. (READ MORE)

Iraqi Police arrest AQI IED-cell members near Baghdad, Kirkuk - Iraqi Police arrested four suspected members of IED-cells belonging to al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) today during two joint security operations near Baghdad and Kirkuk. During a joint security operation conducted in Karmah, west of Baghdad, Iraqi Police arrested an alleged associate of a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device cell believed to be responsible for attacks targeting government buildings and civilians in Baghdad. (READ MORE)

Officials Investigate Concrete Wall Collapse - Some soldiers at a base in Basra, Iraq, awoke, Nov. 28, to find that concrete barriers had tipped over during the night and had come to rest upon containerized housing units. "No one was injured," said Lt. Col. Steve Hanson, the mayor of Contingency Operating Base Basra. The incident is under investigation. (READ MORE)

Oil Companies Look to the Future in Iraq - More than six and a half years after the United States-led invasion here that many believed was about oil, the major oil companies are finally gaining access to Iraq’s petroleum reserves. But they are doing so at far less advantageous terms than they once envisioned. The companies seem to have calculated that it is worth their while to accept deals with limited profit opportunities now, in order to cash in on more lucrative development deals in the future, oil industry analysts say. (READ MORE)

Program Aims to Improve Iraqi Women’s Lives - As Iraq rebuilds its economy, many Iraqi women are looking to be recognized as working equals, according to a U.S. military officer posted in Iraq. "As far as a glass ceiling, that idea is very much a Western process. That doesn't exist here yet due to the cultural differences of Iraq and their religion,” Army Maj. Elba D'asaro, Multinational Forces-Iraq Chief of Women's Initiatives Program, told bloggers during a DoDLive Bloggers Roundtable Nov. 25. (READ MORE)


Afghanistan:
Remains of U.S. Paratrooper Found in Afghanistan - The remains of a U.S. paratrooper reported missing since early this month in western Afghanistan were recovered yesterday, military officials said. The body of Army Sgt. Brandon Islip was recovered from the Bala Murgahab River in Badghis province after a local Afghan resident provided information on his whereabouts, officials said. Islip, a paratrooper with the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division, went missing with another paratrooper Nov. 4 after being swept away by a fast-moving current while on an airdrop re-supply mission in western Afghanistan. (READ MORE)

US Opts for Limited Surge - President Barack Obama has ordered a revamped war plan for Afghanistan that appears to endorse the military strategy of his top generals but will set limits on US involvement in terms of duration, manpower and money, White House officials said Monday. After a three-month review, the president delivers a televised prime-time address at the US Military Academy at West Point, NY, Tuesday to publicly define his plan for the war. (READ MORE)

Barack Obama to Order 34,000 Troops to Afghanistan - President Obama will today announce the deployment of an extra 34,000 American troops to Afghanistan, according to sources briefed since the President issued new orders to his top military commanders. The precise figure, reported last night by the Washington Post, was close to previous estimates and enough to bring the total US troop strength in Afghanistan to more than 100,000. (READ MORE)

Obama Launches Afghanistan War Strategy Ahead of National Address - President Barack Obama has initiated a new US strategy for Afghanistan ahead of a Tuesday night speech to the nation on the future of US efforts in the strife-torn nation. White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs says President Obama informed his national security team of his strategy decision for Afghanistan late Sunday, and issued orders for its implementation. (READ MORE)

A Test for the Blocks Needed to Rebuild a Nation - The revised strategy for Afghanistan that President Obama will announce Tuesday is expected to focus new resources on training Afghan security forces and shoring up the central government, an approach certain to revive a debate about the possibilities and the limits of nation-building. From Somalia, Cambodia, East Timor and the Balkans in the 1990s to Iraq today, world powers have at best a mixed record when it comes to establishing functional, stable governments in countries devastated by war. (READ MORE)

Obama Issues Order for More Troops in Afghanistan - President Obama issued orders to send about 30,000 additional American troops to Afghanistan as he prepared to address the nation Tuesday night to explain what may be one of the most defining decisions of his presidency. Mr. Obama conveyed his decision to military leaders late Sunday afternoon during a meeting in the Oval Office and then spent Monday phoning foreign counterparts, including the leaders of Britain, France and Russia. (READ MORE)

34,000 Troops Will be Sent to Afghanistan - President Obama will outline Tuesday his intention to send an additional 34,000 US troops to Afghanistan, according to US officials and diplomatic sources briefed Monday as Obama began informing allies of his plan. The new deployments, along with 22,000 troops he authorized early this year, would bring the total US force in Afghanistan to more than 100,000, more than half of which will have been sent to the war zone by Obama. (READ MORE)

Obama Plans to Send 30,000 to 35,000 More Troops to Afghanistan - President Obama plans to send 30,000 to 35,000 additional soldiers and Marines to Afghanistan, US officials said Monday, the largest single US deployment since the 2003 invasion of Iraq. The additional troops, Obama's second major escalation of the conflict this year, will bring the number of US forces in Afghanistan to about 100,000. (READ MORE)

Obama Set to Sell Afghan War Strategy - President Obama gave the orders to begin his new strategy for victory in Afghanistan and spent Monday preparing to sell that plan to the American people in a prime-time address, even as members of his own party emerged as the most persistent skeptics about the wisdom of sinking more money and lives into the 8-year-old conflict. (READ MORE)

Paying for War - If President Obama proposes a troop increase for Afghanistan, one of the first objections raised will be that of cost. Liberal Democrats not usually known as deficit hawks have been decrying any escalation of the war as unaffordable. Rep. David R. Obey (D-Wis.) recently claimed that the Afghan war would cost as much over the next decade as the House's health-care bill - about $900 billion - and proposed paying for it with an income tax surcharge. (READ MORE)

John Kerry's Tora Bora Campaign - President Obama unveils his new Afghanistan strategy today, and in the nick of time Senator John Kerry has arrived with a report claiming that none of this would be necessary if former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld had only deployed more troops eight years ago. Yes, he really said more troops. In a 43-page report issued yesterday by his Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Mr. Kerry says bin Laden and deputy Ayman Zawahiri were poised for capture at the Tora Bora cave complex in late 2001. (READ MORE)

Clear, Hold and Duct Tape - The administration seems to have spent the past few months trying to pare back the COIN strategy and adjust it to real world constraints. As it has done so, there has been less talk in the informed policy community about paving the way for a new, transformed Afghanistan. There has been more talk of finding cheap ways to arrange the current pieces of Afghanistan into a contraption that will stay together and allow us to go home. (READ MORE)

What the US Can Achieve in Afghanistan, Despite Karzai - Although the White House thoroughly examined the Afghan government before choosing the strategy that it will unveil tonight, the composition of that government -- and hence its character -- remains highly uncertain. We know the reelection of Hamid Karzai has left Afghanistan with five more years of a president who lacks leadership attributes essential for the job. (READ MORE)

A Tragic Mistake - “I hate war,” said Dwight Eisenhower, “as only a soldier who has lived it can, as one who has seen its brutality, its futility, its stupidity.” He also said, “Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and not clothed.” I suppose we’ll never learn. (READ MORE)

Air strike kills 30 Taliban in Khost, say police - About 30 Taliban insurgents were killed in a NATO-led air strike in eastern Afghanistan after they attacked an Afghan police post, a police official and the alliance said. Afghan border police commander Sayed Nabi Mullahkhil said a police checkpoint in eastern Khost province was attacked by militants overnight. The privately owned Tolo TV station said 26 insurgents were killed, including one fighter from Chechnya. (READ MORE)

UN wants $7.1b for humanitarian work - The United Nations asked Monday for $7.1 billion to pay for its humanitarian work around the world next year, with Sudan and its troubled Darfur region most in need and Afghanistan rising to second. The money will go toward providing 48 million people in 25 countries with urgent aid such as tents, water and medicines, said U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who urged countries not to cut back on humanitarian donations as they struggle with economic turmoil at home. (READ MORE)

US seeks overhaul of Bagram prison - A US military review has called for overhauling the notorious American-run Bagram prison in Afghanistan because American officials are concerned that abuses and militant recruiting within local prisons are helping strengthen the Taliban, The New York Times reported on Monday. Citing unnamed officials, the newspaper said that Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has sent a confidential message to all of the military service chiefs asking them to redouble their efforts to alert troops to the importance of treating detainees properly. (READ MORE)

12 inmates escape from prison - Afghan Police said that the inmates broke out of the prison in Farah province by digging a tunnel from their cell to the outside. Police said 12 prisoners have escaped from a prison in western Afghanistan. Officials captured a 13th prisoner as he tried to escape, Voice of America reported. In the northern province of Takhar, police say gunmen attacked and killed the provincial head of the Red Crescent organization. (READ MORE)

Brown commits 500 more UK troops to Afghanistan - The UK’s military commitment in Afghanistan is set to rise above the 10,000 mark, Gordon Brown announced last night. The Prime Minister confirmed that all the conditions had been met to allow an extra 500 troops to be deployed next month — taking the regular level to 9,500. (READ MORE)

Rudd sending more Aussies to Afghanistan - Kevin Rudd has thrown his support behind US President Barack Obama's new Afghanistan strategy but the prime minister reaffirmed his position that Australia would not boost troop numbers in the war-torn country. The two leaders met in the White House Oval Office on Monday with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to discuss a "wide range of issues" from Afghanistan to the upcoming United Nations climate change summit in Copenhagen, Denmark. (READ MORE)

Pakistani Christian on the Run, Disguised after Taliban Death Threat- A young Christian man is in hiding in Pakistan from Taliban militants who seek to kill him for "blasphemy" because he defended his faith. In February Jehanzaib Asher, 22, was working in a barbershop his family jointly owns with his cousin in Wana, South Waziristan - a Taliban stronghold in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas in Pakistan's northwest - when the Islamic militants showed up to try to convert him to Islam. (READ MORE)

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