US Military Secures Afghan Opium Harvest

The biggest lie  of the Afghanistan War  and   the War on Terror . According to the Pentagon, Operation Moshtarak was to be an offensive against Marja — a city of 80,000 people; a city covering more than 80 square miles; a city, according to ABC news, “more heavily populated, urban and dense than other places the Marines have so far been able to clear and hold.” Before and during the offensive, almost every major US news outlet reported similar stories. An expected 400 to 1,000 insurgents were reportedly “holed up” in the southern Afghan town. Operation Moshtarak involved 15,000 US, Afghan and British troops and is the biggest joint operation since the 2001 US-led invasion of Afghanistan.” The only problem: There is no city of Marja.

Marja is in Helmand Province and a quick look on Google Earth will show small homes with their farms; it clearly is not a city of 80,000 people. If you look at Lashkar Gah, the capital of Helmand Province, on Google Earth you can easily see it is a city with neighborhoods and surrounded by farmland. lists 117 Afghan cities by population, from Kabul with 2,272,000 to Jurm with 2100; Marja is not listed.

Investigative journalist, Gareth Porter, reporting for Inter Press News Service (IPS) reports that “Marja is not a city or even a real town, but either a few clusters of farmers’ homes or a large agricultural area covering much of the southern Helmand River Valley.” According to an official of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) “The only population numbering tens of thousands associated with Marja is spread across many villages and almost 125 square miles.” (Gareth Porter, “Fiction of Marja as City Was US Information War,” IPS, March 8, 2010). The only “city” within a hundred miles is the capital of the province, Lashkar Gah with a population of 36,600.

Porter interviewed Richard B. Scott, who worked in Marja as recently as 2005 as an adviser on irrigation for the US Agency for International Development; Scott claims that “Marja has nothing that could be mistaken as being urban. Marja is an ‘agricultural district’ with a ‘scattered series of farmers’ markets.’”

According to Porter this idea that Marja is a city began with a briefing given February 2 by officials at Camp Leatherneck, the US Marine base there. Articles began to be published and news stories aired claiming, among other things, that Marja was a city, “the biggest town under Taliban Control”, and “the linchpin of the militants’ logistical and opium-smuggling network.” ABC news cited a population of 125,000 people living in the “town and surrounding villages.” The Associated Press (AP) referred to Marja as having “three markets in town — which covers 80 square miles…” Porter points out that a city covering 80 square miles would be bigger than such cities as Washington, DC, Pittsburgh or Cleveland.

This is not a mistake in demographics or a mistake in the briefing at Camp Letherneck. This is, as Porter contends, a “…decision to hype up Marja as the objective of Operation Moshtarak by planting the false impression that it is a good-sized city.”

Porter goes on to say, “A central task of ‘information operations’ in counterinsurgency wars is ‘establishing the COIN[counterinsurgency] narrative’, according to the Army Counterinsurgency Field Manual as revised under Gen. David Petraeus in 2006.

“The COIN manual asserts that news media ‘directly influence the attitude of key audiences toward counterinsurgents, their operations and the opposing insurgency.’ The manual refers to ‘a war of perceptions…conducted continuously using the news media.’”

“Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, commander of ISAF, was clearly preparing to wage such a war in advance of the Marja operation. In remarks made just before the offensive began, McChrystal invoked the language of the counterinsurgency manual, saying, “This is all a war of perceptions.”

“The Washington Post reported February 22 that the decision to launch the offensive against Marja was intended largely to impress US public opinion with the effectiveness of the US military in Afghanistan by showing that it could achieve a ‘large and loud victory’.”

And large and loud it was. According to Wikipedia, “On February 13, two hours before dawn at 4 am local time the first of 90 Chinook and Cobra helicopters disgorged a force of British, Afghan and French troops.” The offensive ended 5 days later on February 18th. According to an AP report, “Marines uncovered dozens of Taliban-issued ID cards, official Taliban letterhead stationery and government stamps. They also found graduation diplomas from an insurgent training camp in Baluchistan … along with photos of fighters posing with their AK-47 assault rifles.” (Alfred de Montesquiou, “US Marines seize Taliban headquarters, IDs, photos”, AP Feb. 19, 2010).

All of this seems a little much just to show the American people how well the war in Afghanistan is going. If you look a little closer at the history of Helmand Province it is interesting to note that Marja is in the area referred to as the “opium belt” and Helmand Province is the world’s largest opium-producing region, responsible for 42% of the world’s supply. Marja is also a part of the Helmand-Arghandab Valley (HVA) irrigation system.. The HVA has strong connections with George H. W. “Poppy” Bush going back to the 1970s when opium production reached all-time yields (see the Wayne Madsen article on page 6). Also, we are heading into poppy harvesting time. With the historical connections between the Bush family, the CIA and the poppy fields of Afghanistan, it seems that the large deployment of troops to Marja wasn’t to secure the region from the Taliban, but to secure the poppy fields for the US drug trade.

US intelligence sources estimated at least 120 Taliban fighters were killed and 6 coalition troops. An assessment by the Afghan Red Cross Society claims the conflict left 35 civilians dead, 37 injured and 55 houses destroyed. Also a casualty: The Truth.

By Elaine Sullivan / RCFPOne of the Biggest lies

Elaine Sullivan is the health editor for the Rock Creek Free Press and a homeschooling mom.

Note with the picture:

These photos have been released by the Department of Defense and ISAF over the last few years. Some of the photos discuss instances of troops helping with the destruction of poppy fields. Many of the photos do not mention anything related to destruction or removal of poppies. Instead, they describe how troops “patrol” through and around the fields. In one instance, a US soldier even seems to be even helping with cultivation. In a recent report from Geraldo Rivera which aired in late April on Fox News, a USMC Lt. Col. indicated that US forces encourage the Aghans to grow different crops, however, out of fear of losing stability poppy cultivation is tolerated and even supported. In November 2009, the Afghan Minister of Counter Narcotics General Khodaidad Khodaidad stated that the majority of drugs are stockpiled in two provinces controlled by troops from the US, the UK, and Canada. He also said that NATO forces are taxing the production of opium in the regions under their control and that foreign troops are earning money from drug production in Afghanistan.