Most recent atrocities here, here and here.
Friday, 30 April 2010
Tuesday, 27 April 2010
Sunday, 25 April 2010
They took the barefoot Rahman and a cousin to a helicopter some distance away and transported them to a small American base in a neighboring province for interrogation. After two days, US forces released Rahman's cousin. But Rahman has not been seen or heard from since.
"We've called his phone, but it doesn't answer," said his cousin Qarar, the agriculture minister's spokesman. Using his powerful connections, Qarar enlisted local police, parliamentarians, the governor and even the agriculture minister himself in the search for his cousin, but they turned up nothing. Government officials who independently investigated the scene in the aftermath of the raid and corroborated the claims of the family also pressed for an answer as to why two of Qarar's family members were killed. American forces issued a statement saying that the dead were "enemy militants [who] demonstrated hostile intent." LINK HERE
Tuesday, 20 April 2010
Monday, 19 April 2010
Human rights lawyers have assembled details of nine cases involving allegations of beatings, sleep deprivation, stress positions, electrocution, and whipping with rubber cables. They are arguing that Britain has breached the Human Rights Act by handing over prisoners to a country known to participate in torture.They say the Afghan National Directorate of Security (NDS), the domestic security service, had a reputation for mistreating prisoners and British officers should have known what was happening.The Ministry of Defence is opposing the application for judicial review and Bob Ainsworth, the Defence Secretary, has said that detention is an important and necessary ability for British forces operating in Afghanistan, and safeguards are in place to prevent mistreatment.
But Michael Fordham QC told the court that the Ministry of Defence and Foreign Office were seeking to protect their detainee transfer policy by adopting the approach "of seeing no evil, hearing no evil and speaking no evil".In legal documents put before the court he said there are many reputable reports that torture and ill-treatment is "endemic" in the NDS "even at a very high level", which has been described as a relic from the days of Soviet occupation.The NDS was said to have been created in the image of the KGB and allegedly still has a reputation for torturing and killing.
Mr Fordham said the British government had chosen to rely on a "manifestly unsafe" memorandum of understanding with the Afghan authorities that international human rights obligations would be observed by the NDS.But Britain adopted a "head in the sand" because it did not want to uncover evidence of human rights abuses and therefore refused to investigate thoroughly, he said, adding that the fact the NDS supplied intelligence to the UK was no secret.
Allegations were first raised in a report by Amnesty International in November 2007 and a judicial review case is being brought by Maya Evans, a prominent peace activist who was arrested for reading out the names of British soldiers killed in Iraq during a protest at the Cenotaph in London.She is backed by Public Interest Lawyers, who have brought a number of cases relating to the treatment of detainees in Iraq, notably that of Baha Mousa, who died in British custody.Officers from the Royal Military Police have visited Pol-e-Charki jail in Kabul where one prisoner claimed he was repeatedly punched and hit over the head, another said he was subjected to stress positions and sleep deprivation, and two others said they suffered electric shocks and were beaten with a rubber cable.Further concerns were raised over prisoners at an NDS facility in Sangin, in Helmand Province after British soldiers saw the condition of prisoners when they were transferred to another prison.In late 2008 and early 2009, military and Foreign Office officials were denied access to Afghan detention centres and British forces were told not to transfer any more captured Afghans to the NDS.
Sunday, 18 April 2010
Tuesday, 13 April 2010
War crimes, massacres, and, as Al Jazeera properly calls it, "collateral murder," are all part of the US involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2001.
The release last week of the Wikileaks video, thirty-eight grisly minutes long, of US airmen casually slaughtering a dozen Iraqis in 2007 -- including two Reuters newsmen -- puts it into focus not because it shows us something we didn't know, but because we can watch it unfold in real time. Real people, flesh and blood, gunned down from above in a hellish rain of fire.
The events in Iraq, nearly three years old, were repeated this week in Afghanistan, when trigger-happy US soldiers slaughtered five Afghans cruising along on a huge, comfortable civilian bus near Kandahar.
As the New York Times reports:
"American troops raked a large passenger bus with gunfire near Kandahar on Monday morning, killing and wounding civilians, and igniting angry anti-American demonstrations in a city where winning over Afghan support is pivotal to the war effort."
The Kandahar incident is only one of many, of course. Over the past year, dozens of Afghans have similarly died in checkpoint and roadside killings. Not one, not a single one, of these murders involved hostile forces. In other words, when the smoke and dust cleared, in all of the cases over the past year the bodies recovered were those of innocents.
As General McChrystal himself recently said:
"We really ask a lot of our young service people out on checkpoints because there's danger, they're asked to make very rapid decisions in often very unclear situations. However, to my knowledge, in the nine-plus months I've been here, not a single case where we have engaged in an escalation of force incident and hurt someone has it turned out that the vehicle had a suicide bomb or weapons in it and, in many cases, had families in it."
My question is: if so, then why aren't the rules of engagement altered? Why is it that US forces can fire wildly at an approaching vehicle, if in none of the cases that have happened thus far were there hostile forces involved?
In the Iraq case, as revealed in the stunning Wikileaks video, a group of eight men on a Baghdad street, in plain sunlight, is shot to pieces under withering fire from above. Then, when a van carrying four or five other men arrives to pick up a wounded man who is crawling painfully along the gutter, the van too is blasted to smithereens when the airmen request permission to "engage."
An analysis by Politifact takes apart Secretary of Defense Gates' callous assertion that the murders were "unfortunate" and "should not have any lasting consequences." We've already investigated this, he said, so what's the big deal?
The military's rationale for the slaughter is that US forces a few hundred yards away had taken small arms fire, and so the airmen in the copters circling above concluded that the men they'd seen carrying what they thought were weapons and RPGs -- although the "RPG" turned out to be a cameraman's telephoto lens -- were bad guys who could be shot to pieces at will. There was, of course, no evidence at all that the dozen or so Iraqis butchered were involved in what may or may not have been a shooting incident nearby. But, you know -- war is hell.
Politifact, to its discredit, defends Gates on these grounds, quoting David Finkel, aWashington Post reporter and author of The Good Soldiers, who writes in blase defense of the slaughter:
"What's helpful to understand is that, contrary to some interpretations that this was an attack on some people walking down the street on a nice day, the day was anything but that. It happened in the midst of a large operation to clear an area where U.S. soldiers had been getting shot at, injured, and killed with increasing frequency. What the Reuters guys walked into was the very worst part, where the morning had been a series of RPG attacks and running gun battles.
"More context. You're seeing an edited version of the video. The full video runs much longer. And it doesn't have the benefit of hindsight, in this case zooming in on the van and seeing those two children. The helicopters were perhaps a mile away. And as all of this unfolded, it was unclear to the soldiers involved whether the van was a van of good Samaritans or of insurgents showing up to rescue a wounded comrade. I bring these things up not to excuse the soldiers but to emphasize some of the real-time blurriness of those moments.
"If you were to see the full video, you would see a person carrying an RPG launcher as he walked down the street as part of the group. Another was armed as well, as I recall. Also, if you had the unfortunate luck to be on site afterwards, you would have seen that one of the dead in the group was lying on top of a launcher. Because of that and some other things, EOD -- the Hurt Locker guys, I guess -- had to come in and secure the site. And again, I'm not trying to excuse what happened. But there was more to it for you to consider than what was in the released video."
Finkel, who apparently is not going to write a sequel to his book called The Bad Soldiers, cavelierly dismisses the deaths of a dozen Iraqis as something that happens in the "real-time blurriness of those moments."
In Afghanistan, the repeated killings of innocent civilians has angered an embittered President Karzai, who has strongly and repeatedly condemned the killings of Afghan citizens by American troops. In a Washington Post story today, "Shooting by U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan fuels Karzai's anger," the paper reports:
"Twelve days before President Hamid Karzai denounced the behavior of Western countries in Afghanistan, he met a 4-year-old boy at the Tarin Kowt civilian hospital in the south.
"The boy had lost his legs in a February airstrike by U.S. Special Operations forces helicopters that killed more than 20 civilians. Karzai scooped him up from his mattress and walked out to the hospital courtyard, according to three witnesses. 'Who injured you?' the president asked as helicopters passed overhead. The boy, crying alongside his relatives, pointed at the sky.
"The tears and rage Karzai encountered in that hospital in Uruzgan province lingered with him, according to several aides. It was one provocation amid a string of recent political disappointments that they said has helped fuel the president's emotional outpouring against the West and prompted a brief crisis in his relations with the United States. It was also a reminder that civilian casualties in Afghanistan have political reverberations far beyond the sites of the killings."
But I suppose Finkel can justify that one, too.
By Robert Dreyfuss. H/T to Common Dreams.org.
Monday, 12 April 2010
Four Afghan civilians were killed when NATO troops opened fire today on a bus in the southern province of Kandahar, the province where coalition forces are preparing a new offensive.A patrol of ISAF soldiers fired on the vehicle when it 'failed to respond to hand signals' an old chestnut which was used all the time in the aftermath of similar massacres in Iraq. Hamid Karzai “strongly condemned” the shooting in his usual inept and feeble fashion. Eighteen people were wounded in the attack Fazl Ahmad Sherzay, an official with the local police force, said to French news agencies.
Thursday, 8 April 2010
Tuesday, 6 April 2010
Glen Greenwald of Salon.com reports that Americans are being fed false and misleading "news" about the U.S. war in Afghanistan because major American media outlets, like the New York Times and CNN, publish propagandized Pentagon accounts of the violence and killing occurring there, without questioning the information they are fed.
One egregious example of of this occurred on February 12, 2010, when NATO's joint international force issued a press release that bore the headline Joint Force Operating In Gardez Makes Gruesome Discovery. The release said that after "intelligence confirmed militant activity" in a compound near a village in Paktika province, an international security force entered the compound and engaged "several insurgents" in a fire fight. Two "insurgents" were killed, the report said, and after the joint forces entered the compound, they "found the bodies of three women who had been tied up, gagged and killed."
But an Afghan news report about the same incident differed wildly.
"The Latest Imprecise Operation"
Pajhwok Afghan News reported that U.S. Special Forces, acting on a misleading tip-off, mistakenly stormed the residence of the intelligence chief in the Zurmat district. His name was Daud, and he was inside the home celebrating the birth of his son with his family. Killed in the raid were Daud, his brother Zahir, and three women. The Afghan news further reported that "A gubernatorial spokesman ... verified the latest imprecise operation by NATO-led troops."
Despite this very different account of the incident, CNN repeated the Pentagon's fake version of the events, in an article titled Bodies found gagged, bound after Afghan "honor killing." In the article, CNN quoted an unnamed "senior U.S. military official" who speculated that the Taliban "could be" responsible for the women's deaths. The New York Times, too, published an article about the incident in which they admitted there were "differing accounts" of what had happened, but failed to describe these differing accounts beyond a mere mention, while reprinting NATO's version of the events in its entirety.
Pentagon Finally Admits Botched Raid
Almost two months later, the Pentagon was finally forced to admit that international forces had badly bungled the raid that night in Paktika, and that military troops had, in fact, killed the women during their assault on the residence. One of the women was a pregnant mother of ten, and the other was a pregnant mother of six children.
Reporters Who Tell the Truth are Intimidated
The Times of London's Afghanistan reporter, Jerome Starkey, wrote an article about the botched raid that was published at NiemanWatchdog.org. In his piece, he detailed how the U.S.-led forces had lied about the events at the February 12 raid, and speculated about why the American media mindlessly repeats lies advanced by the Pentagon about military events in Afghanistan. Starkey said he personally went to the scene of the raid and spent three days interviewing survivors -- something most news organizations won't do. He blamed news organizations' lack of resources, the danger of traveling around Afghanistan and the "embed culture" for the failure of news organizations the print the truth. But he also revealed that NATO tries to censor, intimidate and punish reporters who fail to report their official versions of events in Afghanistan. After Starkey wrote about whatreally happened at Paktika, NATO issued a press release titled ISAF Rejects Cover Up Allegation, which named Starkey personally and called his reports of the incident "categorically false." The release continued to claim that the women at Paktika were killed prior to the arrival of American and international troops, attributing their binding and gagging to a cultural pre-burial ritual.
Americans' Diet of Phony War News
In May, 2007, PRWatch published another blog listing over half a dozen other accounts of occasions on which the military fed false information to the media and soldiers' families. It seems the practice has not changed. This incident takes its place alongside a slew of other fictionalized "news" that the Pentagon has fed the media, like the myth of Jessica Lynch's "heroic firefight" and the circumstances surrounding the friendly-fire death of football star Pat Tillman.
Americans have been fed a diet of fictionalized accounts about the war in Afghanistan, thanks to our military which cannot be trusted to tell the public the truth about what they do. We can only wonder what might happen to support for the war if Americans got truthful accounts from its military about what happens in Afghanistan, instead of lies that have to be "outed" by the very few brave independent reporters who have the integrity to undertake that task, no matter the cost.