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The U.S. Denies it Killed an Afghan Family, Our Investigation Found Otherwise        Video        NYT        The New York Times        3 June 2019

 

A woman and 11 children were killed

in an airstrike on a home in Afghanistan last fall.

 

We spoke to the father

who was left to search for answers.

 

The United States initially said it was not involved,

but after our visual investigation, it changed its story.

NYT

https://www.youtube.com/
watch?v=cUNihuiCp3o

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Collateral Murder        Overview        5th April 2010

 

 

 

Collateral Murder

Overview

5th April 2010 10:44 EST

 

WikiLeaks has released a classified US military video

depicting the indiscriminate slaying of over a dozen people

in the Iraqi suburb of New Baghdad

-- including two Reuters news staff.

 

Reuters has been trying to obtain the video

through the Freedom of Information Act,

without success since the time of the attack.

 

The video, shot from an Apache helicopter gun-site,

clearly shows the unprovoked slaying

of a wounded Reuters employee and his rescuers.

 

Two young children involved in the rescue

were also seriously wounded.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5rXPrfnU3G0&feature=player_embedded

 

Related

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/06/world/middleeast/06baghdad.html

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/apr/05/wikileaks-us-army-iraq-attack

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

warning: graphic

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Asan Bibi, 9, (R) and her sister Salima,13, (L)

stand in the hallway of Mirwais hospital

October 13, 2009 Kandahar, Afghanistan.

 

Both were badly burned

when a helicopter fired into their tent

in the middle of the night

on October 3rd, according to their father.

 

Three members of the family

were killed in the incident.

 

The family belongs to the Kuchi ethnic tribe,

nomads living in tents out in the open desert

whom are very vulnerable to a war

they have little understanding of.

 

Paula Bronstein/Getty Images

 

Boston Globe > Big Picture

Afghanistan, October, 2009        October 26, 2009

http://www.boston.com/bigpicture/2009/10/afghanistan_october_2009.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bibi Adela, age 15, from Khost,

grimaces in pain getting her wound treated on her amputated leg

at the International Red Cross Orthopedic (ICRC) rehabilitation center

on November 23rd, 2009 in Kabul, Afghanistan.

 

Bibi lost her leg below the knee

from a rocket attack 5 months ago

that killed her sister and brother,

injuring her mother as well.

 

A recent U.N. report has described 2009

as the deadliest year

in terms of civilian casualties in Afghanistan

since the start of the U.S.-led war

against Taliban in the country.

 

Paula Bronstein/Getty Images

 

Boston Globe > Big Picture

Afghanistan, November, 2009        November 25, 2009

http://www.boston.com/bigpicture/2009/11/afghanistan_november_2009.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Children view the body of a six-year-old Afghan boy,

who was killed when a weapons cache exploded,

on the outskirts of Jalalabad,

the provincial capital of Nangarhar province

east of Kabul, Afghanistan

on Monday, June 22, 2009.

 

The explosion killed the boy in a nearby village

and wounded 20 others, police said.

 

AP Photo/Rahmat Gul

 

The Boston Globe > The Big Picture

In Afghanistan, Part Two        July 17, 2009

http://www.boston.com/bigpicture/2009/07/in_afghanistan_part_two.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An Iraqi girl [ Samar Hassan ]

after her parents were killed

by American gunfire in Tal Afar.

JAN. 18, 2005

Image source

http://dudelol.com/samar-hassan-cries-seconds-
after-us-troops-shot-and-killed-her-parents-in-an-incident-in-tal-afar-in-northern-iraq/

 

 

Chris Hondros (1970-2011)

of Getty Images

was with an army unit

in Tal Afar on January 18, 2005,

when its soldiers killed the parents

of this blood-spattered girl at a checkpoint,

and his photo was published around the world.

Mr. Hondros was kicked out of the unit,

though he soon became embedded

with a unit in another city.

 

Chris Hondros/Getty Images

http://www.nytimes.com/slideshow/2008/07/25/world/middleeast/20080726_CENSOR2_7.html

 

4,000 U.S. Combat Deaths, and Just a Handful of Images

NYT        26.7.2008

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/26/world/middleeast/26censor.html

 

Related

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2005/jan/19/
iraq.rorymccarthy 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Steve Bell

The Guardian        p. 39

13 October 2006

https://www.theguardian.com/cartoons/stevebell/0,,1921458,00.html

 

L to R: George W. Bush and Tony Blair.

 

The numbers do add up

Daniel Davies        The Guardian        October 12, 2006    02:00 PM

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2006/oct/12/
howtonotliewithstatistics

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Soldier details alleged killing for sport    September 27, 2010

 

Interrogation tapes show

a U.S. soldier describe

how he and others killed an unarmed man.

CNN

http://edition.cnn.com/video/?/video/world/2010/09/27/griffin.soldiers.afghanistan.cnn

Related

http://thelede.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/09/27/
soldier-describes-murder-of-afghan-for-sport-in-leaked-tape/?ref=us

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

civilians        UK / USA

 

https://www.youtube.com/
watch?v=cUNihuiCp3o - NYT - June 3, 2019

 

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/21/
obituaries/max-desfor-104-war-photographer-at-midcentury-is-dead.html

 

https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/11/30/
567440217/u-s-says-coalition-strikes-killed-more-than-800-civilians-in-fight-against-isis

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/19/
opinion/isis-syria-iraq-civilian-casualties.html

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/06/us/
sergeant-robert-bales-testimony.html

http://www.guardian.co.uk/artanddesign/2013/feb/10/
giles-duley-photography-amputee-afghanistan

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/16/world/middleeast/16military.html

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/20/us/20soldiers.html

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/13/world/asia/13afghan.html

 

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/oct/09/afghanistan.usa

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/21/world/middleeast/21sadr.html

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2008/jan/10/iraq.iraqtimeline 

 

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2007/jun/22/afghanistan.
peterwalker

 

 

 

 

civilian casualties        UK / USA

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/19/
opinion/isis-syria-iraq-civilian-casualties.html

 

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/18/
opinion/does-the-us-ignore-its-civilian-casualties-in-iraq-and-syria.html

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2016/jul/08/uk-
must-do-more-assess-civilian-casualties-wars-chilcot

 

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/oct/24/samarra-baton-rouge-civilian-deaths

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/oct/24/steel-curtain-air-strikes-husaybah

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/video/2010/oct/22/iraq-war-logs

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/01/opinion/01wed1.html

 

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/video/2008/dec/16/afghanistan-civilian-casualties

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/dec/16/afghanistan-taliban-us-foreign-policy

http://www.reuters.com/article/newsOne/idUSTRE4A80NJ20081109

http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/2008-02-17-afghanistan-violence_N.htm

 

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2006/oct/11/iraq.iraq 

http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/iraq/2006-05-31-iraq-shooting_x.htm

http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/iraq/2006-05-27-iraqallegations_x.htm

http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2006-05-26-marine-probe_x.htm

http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2006-05-19-marine-investigation_x.htm

 

 

 

 

targeted killings of civilians

http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/03/09/
us-afghanistan-civilians-idUSTRE7224WJ20110309

 

 

 

 

be killed

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2006/oct/11/iraq.iraq

 

 

 

 

child casualties / deaths

http://www.nytimes.com/reuters/2011/02/09/world/
international-us-afghanistan-casualties-children.html

 

 

 

 

civilian deaths

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/oct/22/
iraq-checkpoint-killings-american-troops

http://thelede.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/09/27/
soldier-describes-murder-of-afghan-for-sport-in-leaked-tape/

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/28/us/
28soldier.html

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/17/world/asia/
17afghan.html

 

 

 

 

civilian deaths in drone strikes

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/21/world/middleeast/
yemen-deaths-raise-questions-on-new-drone-policy.html

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/24/opinion/
the-deaths-of-innocents.html

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/22/world/asia/
civilian-deaths-in-drone-strikes-cited-in-report.html

 

 

 

 

civilian deaths in Iraq > pictures

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2010/10/22/world/middleeast/
22casualties.html

 

 

 

 

civilian death toll / civilan toll        UK / USA

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/18/world/africa/
scores-of-unintended-casualties-in-nato-war-in-libya.html

http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/iraq/2007-01-16-violence_x.htm

 

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2006/nov/22/
iraq.iraqtimeline 

 

 

 

 

the conflict's civilian toll

http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/03/09/
us-afghanistan-civilians-idUSTRE7224WJ20110309

 

 

 

 

war crime

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/06/us/
sergeant-robert-bales-testimony.html

 

 

 

 

checkpoint

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/oct/22/
iraq-checkpoint-killings-american-troops

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Afghan hearts and minds

John Cole

John Cole is the editorial cartoonist for

The Times-Tribune, and is syndicated nationally by Cagle Cartoons.

Cagle

March 14, 2012

http://www.cagle.com/news/afghan-shootings/page/7/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Robert Bales

 

is the Army sergeant

accused of killing 16 Afghan civilians,

including 9 children,

during a methodical rampage

on March 11, 2012,

that threatened to undermine

the American military mission

in Afghanistan.

 

Staff Sgt. Bales,

a 38-year-old Army veteran,

was said to have walked

more than a mile from his base

in a rural stretch of southern Afghanistan

before going from house to house,

firing at or stabbing unarmed civilians

he met.

 

Afterward,

he walked back to the base

and turned himself in.

 

He was charged

on March 23

with 17 counts

of premeditated murder

and six counts of assault

and attempted murder,

American forces in Afghanistan

said.

Updated: March 23, 2012

http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/b/robert_bales/index.html

 

https://www.nytimes.com/topic/person/robert-bales

 

 

 

 

cartoons > Cagle > Robnert Bales / Afghan shootings        March 2012

http://www.cagle.com/news/afghan-shootings/

 

 

 

 

massacre > Afghanistan        March 2012

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/14/us/
army-seeks-death-penalty-for-robert-bales-in-massacre.html

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/13/world/asia/
us-army-sergeant-suspected-in-afghanistan-shooting.html

 

 

 

 

massacre by Marines of Iraqi civilians

in the town of Haditha, Iraq        2005

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/15/world/middleeast/
united-states-marines-haditha-interviews-found-in-iraq-junkyard.html

 

http://www.reuters.com/article/newsOne/idUSN0426498320080605

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2007/oct/05/usa.iraq 

http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/iraq/2007-01-06-haditha-comments_x.htm

http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2007-01-06-haditha-probe_x.htm

 

http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/iraq/2006-08-02-haditha-report_x.htm

http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2006-06-10-marine-haditha_x.htm

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2006/jun/05/topstories3.usa 

http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2006-06-04-pace-haditha_x.htm

http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2006-05-29-pace_x.htm

http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/iraq/2006-05-29-haditha-background_x.htm

http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/iraq/2006-05-27-iraqallegations_x.htm

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2006/may/27/iraq.topstories3

 

 

 

 

massacre > Iraq > Haditha        2005

 

 

 

 

atrocity

 

 

 

 

collateral damage        UK / USA

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/04/world/asia/
afghanistan-bombing-hospital-doctors-without-borders-kunduz.html

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/25/us/
jailed-ex-army-officer-has-support-but-not-from-his-platoon.html

 

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/video/2009/jun/25/
afghanistan

 

 

 

 

human shield        USA

http://www.npr.org/sections/parallels/2016/11/18/
502575406/the-fight-for-mosul-underway-for-a-month-is-only-just-beginning

 

 

 

 

ethnic cleansing        UK

http://www.theguardian.com/society/2004/jun/25/
internationalaidanddevelopment.sudan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An Afghan refugee girl

waits for a truck before departing for Afghanistan

at a UNHCR repatriation terminal in Peshawar, Pakistan April 19.

A total of 1,757 Afghan refugees were repatriated in March

as part of the ongoing voluntary repatriation program.

 

Mohammad Sajjad/AP

 

Boston Globe > Big Picture

Afghanistan, April 2011        6 May 2011

http://www.boston.com/bigpicture/2011/05/afghanistan_april_2011.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

flee

 

 

 

 

evacuee

 

 

 

 

refugee

 

 

 

 

refugee camp

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pretrial Hearing Starts

for Soldier Accused of

Murdering 16 Afghan Civilians

 

November 5, 2012

The New York Times

By KIRK JOHNSON

 

JOINT BASE LEWIS-McCHORD, Wash. — A military prosecutor on Monday laid out a chillingly flat recitation of the government’s case against Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, the Army officer who is accused of murdering 16 civilians this year in Afghanistan, as a pretrial hearing began in one of the nation’s worst war crimes cases in decades.

“He was lucid, coherent and responsive,” Lt. Col. Joseph Morse, the Army prosecutor, told the court in describing Sergeant Bales’s demeanor on arriving back at an Army post in Kandahar Province with blood on his clothes that, the prosecutor said, had seeped all the way through to the sergeant’s underwear.

Local families in a poor area with no electricity, Colonel Morse said, awoke early on March 11 to find a figure cloaked in darkness inside their homes, firing a weapon with apparent intent to kill. Children were shot through the thighs or in the head, he said. In one place, 11 bodies — mostly women and children, the prosecutor said — were “put in a pile and put on fire.”

Sergeant Bales, 39, an 11-year-military veteran, could face the death penalty if found guilty of the most serious charges, and the decision is specifically made to advance the case as a capital crime.

The hearing that began Monday, here at the base where Sergeant Bales was stationed, about an hour south of Seattle, was the first step in the military justice process. An Article 32 Investigation, as it is called, is roughly the equivalent of a grand jury inquiry in civilian law, aimed at determining whether sufficient evidence exists to continue to a full court-martial.

At least 35 witnesses are expected to testify, some through live video uplink from Afghanistan, over the investigation, which could last two weeks or more. The presiding officer, Col. Lee Deneke, will then make his recommendation to superiors as to the next steps, including the question of whether the death penalty should be considered, as the prosecution has requested.

Sergeant Bales’s defense lawyers on Monday reserved their opening comment for later.

If the Kandahar killings sent a shudder through U.S.-Afghan relations and through the military itself this spring as the horror of the case emerged, it seemed clear from the day’s opening testimony — and the sharp cross-examination by Sergeant Bales’s defense team — that the Article 32 hearing itself could continue the aftershocks.

One of the first witnesses, for example, Cpl. David Godwin, testifying under immunity from prosecution, told the court he had violated Army rules on the night of the killings by drinking alcohol with Sergeant Bales and another soldier.

Under direct examination by prosecutors, Corporal Godwin said the three had a couple of drinks — Jack Daniel’s, concealed in a water bottle — in one of the soldier’s rooms while watching a movie, “Man on Fire,” about a former intelligence operative who seeks violent revenge after a girl’s kidnapping. Using a word that Colonel Morse had used in outlining the case, Corporal Godwin repeatedly said that Sergeant Bales was “coherent,” and that neither Sergeant Bales nor the other soldier, as far as Corporal Godwin could tell, was intoxicated.

One of Sergeant Bales’s defense lawyers, Emma Scanlan, suggested in her cross-examination that Corporal Godwin underestimated the alcohol use and misread Sergeant Bales’s state of mind when the sergeant returned to camp in bloody clothes just before 5 a.m. Under her questioning, Corporal Godwin admitted that he had exchanged perhaps five or six sentences with Sergeant Bales outside the camp gate at the sergeant’s return, as the unit hurried to respond to reports of civilian casualties and a missing soldier.

That brief exchange, she said, is the “basis of saying he was coherent.” Sergeant Bales was also wearing a cape when he returned to the unit, and Ms. Scanlan’s questions suggested that this also indicated something odd.

“Is that normal behavior?” she asked the witness.

“No,” Corporal Godwin said.

“Do you wear a cape?” she asked.

“No,” he said.

Another of Sergeant Bales’s lawyers, John Henry Browne, has said Sergeant Bales suffered post-traumatic stress. Mr. Browne, who was en route to Afghanistan to be there for witness testimony this week, said in an interview over the weekend that issues of Sergeant Bales’s hospitalizations, for a foot wound and a head wound, and his previous deployments — three in Iraq, the fourth in Afghanistan — would also be explored in the Article 32 inquiry.

In the charge sheet that is the basis for the hearing, Sergeant Bales faces 16 counts of murder with premeditation, six counts of attempted murder with premeditation, six counts of assault, as well as other charges of impeding the investigation, use and possession of steroids and the consumption of alcohol, which is forbidden to Army soldiers in Afghanistan.

Colonel Morse, the prosecutor, said in his remarks that the blood on Sergeant Bales’s clothes forensically matched the blood of some of the victims, and Sergeant Bales’s own words, documented at the time, would show a “chilling premeditation.”

But witnesses talked about the strangeness they saw that night.

One of them, a soldier in the unit, Sgt. First Class Clayton Blackshear, described Sergeant Bales at one point in the evening as “ghostlike.” Then he shrugged. “There’s no word in the English language,” he said.

Pretrial Hearing Starts for Soldier Accused of Murdering 16 Afghan Civilians,
NYT,
5.11.2012,
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/06/us/
hearing-begins-for-robert-bales-accused-in-afghan-murders.html

 

 

 

 

 

An Afghan Comes Home to a Massacre

 

March 12, 2012
The New York Times
By TAIMOOR SHAH
and GRAHAM BOWLEY

 

PANJWAI, Afghanistan — Displaced by the war, Abdul Samad finally moved his large family back home to this volatile district of southern Afghanistan last year. He feared the Taliban, but his new house was nestled near an American military base, where he considered himself safe.

But when Mr. Samad, 60, walked into his mud-walled dwelling here on Sunday morning and found 11 of his relatives sprawled in all directions, shot in the head, stabbed and burned, he learned the culprit was not a Taliban insurgent. The shooting suspect was a 38-year-old United States staff sergeant who had slipped out of the base to kill.

The American soldier is accused of killing 16 people in all in a bloody rampage that has further tarnished Afghan-American relations and devastated Mr. Samad, a respected village elder whose tired eyes poured forth tears one minute and glared ahead in anger the next.

Once a believer in the offensive against the Taliban, he is now insistent that the Americans get out. “I don’t know why they killed them,” said Mr. Samad, a short, feeble man with a white beard and white turban, as he struggled in an interview to come to terms with the loss of his wife, four daughters between the ages of 2 and 6, four sons between 8 and 12, and two other relatives.

“Our government told us to come back to the village, and then they let the Americans kill us,” Mr. Samad said outside the military base, known as Camp Belambay, with outraged villagers who came to support him. They transported the bodies of Mr. Samad’s family members, as well as the other victims, and the burned blankets that had covered them as proof of the awful crime that had occurred.

After years of war, Mr. Samad, a poor farmer, had been reluctant to return to his home in Panjwai, which was known in good times for its grapes and mulberries.

But unlike other displaced villagers who stayed in the city of Kandahar, about 15 miles away, and other places around the troubled province, Mr. Samad listened to the urgings of the provincial governor and the Afghan Army. They had encouraged residents to return and reassured them that American forces would protect them.

Back in his village, a collection of a few houses known as Najibian, Mr. Samad and his family moved into a neighbor’s house because his own had been destroyed by NATO bombardments in the years of fierce battles.

His home in Panjwai and the other districts around Kandahar city — long the Taliban’s heartland — had been a main hub of mujahedeen during the Soviet occupation. The districts became ground zero for the surge of force ordered at the end of 2009 by the Obama administration.

There had been little to no coalition presence in the area in the decade since the war began, and American soldiers fought hard over the past two years to clear Taliban fighters from the mud villages like Mr. Samad’s that dot the area.

At the same time, they struggled to win the trust of the Afghans who live in the district, many of whom have proved wary of foreigners and fearful that the Taliban — who were pushed to the margins in many areas but still remained a forceful presence — would eventually return and extract a heavy toll from those who cooperated with the Americans. Some American actions in the area also alienated villagers, like the wholesale destruction of villages that commanders decided were too riddled with booby traps to safely control.

While the Taliban were pushed back for a while, villagers like Mr. Samad say they are still active and describe what an intolerable life caught between the coalition forces and the Taliban while their meager vineyards and wheat fields are consumed.

“Taliban are attacking the bases, planting mines, and the bases are firing mortars and shooting indiscriminately toward the villages when they come under attack,” said Malak Muhammad Mama, 50, a villager who now lives in Kandahar. He said that a month ago, a mortar fired from the base killed a woman, and that last week a roadside bomb hit an American armored vehicle.

It was against this background that, United States officials said, the soldier left the American base and walked south about a mile to Mr. Samad’s village. Mr. Samad and his teenage son survived because they had been visiting the nearby town of Spinbaldak. When he reached his home, neighbors were putting out the fire set on his family. One of his neighbors, an elderly woman named Anar Gula, who had been cowering in her home, said she had heard an explosion, screaming and shooting as the soldier broke down the door of Mr. Samad’s house and chased his wife and two other female family members from room to room before he shot them.

Two of the women and some of the children had been stabbed, she and other villagers said, and blankets had been laid over them and set alight — to hide the stab wounds, she said.

Afterward, the soldier circled back north around the base to another village, where he attacked the home of Hajji-Sayed Jan, 45, a poor laborer who had fled to Kandahar city three times during the years of fighting but who had brought his family back because he could not afford to live in the city, villagers said.

He was in Kandahar for the evening and so survived, but his wife, nephew, grandson and brother were killed. Further on in the same village, the soldier entered a home and fatally shot Muhammad Dawoud, 55, a farmer, when he emerged from a room; his wife and children escaped to a neighbor’s house.

Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta said Monday that the staff sergeant returned to the base after the killings “and basically turned himself in, told individuals what had happened.” Asked if the soldier had confessed, Mr. Panetta replied, “I suspect that was the case.”

Mr. Panetta, who spoke to reporters on his plane en route to Kyrgyzstan, said that it was an Afghan soldier at the base who first noticed that the sergeant was missing. “He reported it, they did a bed check, they had prepared a search team to go out and try to find out where he was when they got news of what had happened, and this individual then turned himself in,” he said.

The military would bring “appropriate charges” against the soldier, Mr. Panetta said, and the death penalty “could be a consideration.”

He said the military was still struggling to understand a motive. “We’re not sure why, what the reasons were,” he said. But he called the killings “a criminal act” and said that he had assured President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan that the soldier “will be brought to justice and be held accountable.”

The soldier, who started his first tour in Afghanistan in December after three tours in Iraq, had been trained as a sniper and suffered a head injury in a noncombat-related vehicle accident during a recent tour of duty in Iraq, according to The Associated Press, which cited United States officials who spoke only on the condition of anonymity. One official said there was no information on whether the head injury could be linked to any later abnormal behavior, The A.P. reported.

A Congressional source told The A.P. that the soldier was attached to a village stability program in Belambi, a half-mile from where one attack took place.

Local elders and members of the provincial council gathered in Kandahar on Monday to condemn the attacks, denounce their poor living conditions and question the value of the American troop presence.

But while the mood in the south and in the capital, Kabul, was tense, there was less of the outright fury that brought thousands onto the streets after Koran burnings last month.

The Taliban posted some gory photographs from the attack on their Web site, and photographs of the charred children circulated on many Afghan blogs and social networks, along with enraged anti-American comments. In Kabul, Parliament issued a statement saying its patience with the coalition forces was wearing thin. About 10 deputies from Kandahar walked out in protest of the killings.

“We urge the United States government to punish the culprits and put them on trial in an open court so that the rest of those who want to shed our innocent people’s blood take a lesson from it,” the statement said.

Many Afghans, including Mr. Samad, continued to doubt that the attack was the work of a single gunman, as the military said. Several of the villagers in Panjwai said they had seen more than one soldier, as well as helicopters, suggesting that it was an intentional coordinated attack.

However, in Kabul, senior American diplomats said in private meetings with other allied officials what they have been insisting in public: that the shootings were carried out by a single assailant who was now in the custody of United States forces, according to American officials privy to the conversations. They said helicopters were sent out after the attack to ferry at least five wounded people from the villages to a NATO military hospital.

As for Mr. Samad, he said he was in too much despair to even think about how he would carry on with his life. But he said the lesson of the deadly shootings was clear: the Americans should leave. Mr. Karzai called Mr. Samad on Sunday after the killings, and Mr. Samad, barefoot as he spoke plaintively into a satellite phone with district officials gathered around, told the president: “Either finish us or get rid of the Americans.”

“We made you president, and what happens to our family?” he told Mr. Karzai. “The Americans kill us and then burn the dead bodies.”

 

Taimoor Shah reported from Panjwai,

and Graham Bowley from Kabul, Afghanistan.

Matthew Rosenberg and Sangar Rahimi

contributed reporting from Kabul,

and Elisabeth Bumiller en route to Kyrgyzstan.

An Afghan Comes Home to a Massacre,
NYT,
12.3.2012,
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/13/world/asia/us-
army-sergeant-suspected-in-afghanistan-shooting.html

 

 

 

 

 

Junkyard Gives Up

Secret Accounts of Massacre in Iraq

 

December 14, 2011
The New York Times
By MICHAEL S. SCHMIDT

 

BAGHDAD — One by one, the Marines sat down, swore to tell the truth and began to give secret interviews discussing one of the most horrific episodes of America’s time in Iraq: the 2005 massacre by Marines of Iraqi civilians in the town of Haditha.

“I mean, whether it’s a result of our action or other action, you know, discovering 20 bodies, throats slit, 20 bodies, you know, beheaded, 20 bodies here, 20 bodies there,” Col. Thomas Cariker, a commander in Anbar Province at the time, told investigators as he described the chaos of Iraq. At times, he said, deaths were caused by “grenade attacks on a checkpoint and, you know, collateral with civilians.”

The 400 pages of interrogations, once closely guarded as secrets of war, were supposed to have been destroyed as the last American troops prepare to leave Iraq. Instead, they were discovered along with reams of other classified documents, including military maps showing helicopter routes and radar capabilities, by a reporter for The New York Times at a junkyard outside Baghdad. An attendant was burning them as fuel to cook a dinner of smoked carp.

The documents — many marked secret — form part of the military’s internal investigation, and confirm much of what happened at Haditha, a Euphrates River town where Marines killed 24 Iraqis, including a 76-year-old man in a wheelchair, women and children, some just toddlers.

Haditha became a defining moment of the war, helping cement an enduring Iraqi distrust of the United States and a resentment that not one Marine has been convicted.

But the accounts are just as striking for what they reveal about the extraordinary strains on the soldiers who were assigned here, their frustrations and their frequently painful encounters with a population they did not understand. In their own words, the report documents the dehumanizing nature of this war, where Marines came to view 20 dead civilians as not “remarkable,” but as routine.

Iraqi civilians were being killed all the time. Maj. Gen. Steve Johnson, the commander of American forces in Anbar, in his own testimony, described it as “a cost of doing business.”

The stress of combat left some soldiers paralyzed, the testimony shows. Troops, traumatized by the rising violence and feeling constantly under siege, grew increasingly twitchy, killing more and more civilians in accidental encounters. Others became so desensitized and inured to the killing that they fired on Iraqi civilians deliberately while their fellow soldiers snapped pictures, and were court-martialed. The bodies piled up at a time when the war had gone horribly wrong.

Charges were dropped against six of the accused Marines in the Haditha episode, one was acquitted and the last remaining case against one Marine is scheduled to go to trial next year.

That sense of American impunity ultimately poisoned any chance for American forces to remain in Iraq, because the Iraqis would not let them stay without being subject to Iraqi laws and courts, a condition the White House could not accept.

Told about the documents that had been found, Col. Barry Johnson, a spokesman for the United States military in Iraq, said that many of the documents remained classified and should have been destroyed. “Despite the way in which they were improperly discarded and came into your possession, we are not at liberty to discuss classified information,” he said.

He added: “We take any breach of classified information as an extremely serious matter. In this case, the documents are being reviewed to determine whether an investigation is warranted.” The military said it did not know from which investigation the documents had come, but the papers appear to be from an inquiry by Maj. Gen. Eldon Bargewell into the events in Haditha. The documents ultimately led to a report that concluded that the Marine Corps’s chain of command engaged in “willful negligence” in failing to investigate the episode and that Marine commanders were far too willing to tolerate civilian casualties. That report, however, did not include the transcripts.

 

Under Pressure

Many of those testifying at bases in Iraq or the United States were clearly under scrutiny for not investigating an atrocity and may have tried to shape their statements to dispel any notion that they had sought to cover up the events. But the accounts also show the consternation of the Marines as they struggled to control an unfamiliar land and its people in what amounted to a constant state of siege from fighters who were nearly indistinguishable from noncombatants.

Some, feeling they were under attack constantly, decided to use force first and ask questions later. If Marines took fire from a building, they would often level it. Drivers who approached checkpoints without stopping were assumed to be suicide bombers.

“When a car doesn’t stop, it crosses the trigger line, Marines engage and, yes, sir, there are people inside the car that are killed that have nothing to do with it,” Sgt. Maj. Edward T. Sax, the battalion’s senior noncommissioned officer, testified.

He added, “I had Marines shoot children in cars and deal with the Marines individually one on one about it because they have a hard time dealing with that.”

Sergeant Major Sax said he would ask the Marines responsible if they had known there had been children in the car. When they said no, he said he would tell them they were not at fault. He said he felt for the Marines who had fired the shots, saying they would carry a lifelong burden.

“It is one thing to kill an insurgent in a head-on fight,” Sergeant Major Sax testified. “It is a whole different thing — and I hate to say it, the way we are raised in America — to injure a female or injure a child or in the worse case, kill a female or kill a child.”

They could not understand why so many Iraqis just did not stop at checkpoints and speculated that it was because of illiteracy or poor eyesight.

“They don’t have glasses and stuff,” Col. John Ledoux said. “It really makes you wonder because some of the things that they would do just to keep coming. You know, it’s hard to imagine they would just keep coming, but sometimes they do.”

Such was the environment in 2005, when the Marines from Company K of the Third Battalion, First Marine Regiment from Camp Pendleton, Calif., arrived in Anbar Province, where Haditha is located, many for their second or third tours in Iraq.

The province had become a stronghold for disenfranchised Sunnis and foreign fighters who wanted to expel the United States from Iraq, or just kill as many Americans as possible. Of the 4,483 American deaths in Iraq, 1,335 happened in Anbar.

In 2004, four Blackwater contractors were gunned down and dragged through the streets of Falluja, their bodies burned and hung on a bridge over the Euphrates. Days later, the United States military moved into the city, and chaos ensued in Anbar Province for the next two years as the Americans tried to fight off the insurgents.

The stress of combat soon bore down. A legal adviser to the Marine unit stopped taking his medication for obsessive-compulsive disorder and stopped functioning.

“We had the one where Marines had photographed themselves taking shots at people,” Col. R. Kelly testified, saying that they immediately called the Naval Criminal Investigative Service and “confiscated their little camera.” He said the soldiers involved received a court-martial.

All of this set the stage for what happened in Haditha on Nov. 19, 2005.

 

A Tragedy Ensues

That morning, a military convoy of four vehicles was heading to an outpost in Haditha when one of the vehicles was hit by a roadside bomb.

Several Marines got out to attend to the wounded, including one who eventually died, while others looked for insurgents who might have set off the bomb. Within a few hours 24 Iraqis — including a 76-year-old man and children between the ages of 3 and 15 — were killed, many inside their homes.

Townspeople contended that the Marines overreacted to the attack and shot civilians, only one of whom was armed. The Marines said they thought they were under attack.

When the initial reports arrived saying more than 20 civilians had been killed in Haditha, the Marines receiving them said they were not surprised by the high civilian death toll.

Chief Warrant Officer K. R. Norwood, who received reports from the field on the day of the killings and briefed commanders on them, testified that 20 dead civilians was not unusual.

“I meant, it wasn’t remarkable, based off of the area I wouldn’t say remarkable, sir,” Mr. Norwood said. “And that is just my definition. Not that I think one life is not remarkable, it’s just —”

An investigator asked the officer: “I mean remarkable or noteworthy in terms of something that would have caught your attention where you would have immediately said, ‘Got to have more information on that. That is a lot of casualties.’ ”

“Not at the time, sir,” the officer testified.

General Johnson, the commander of American forces in Anbar Province, said he did not feel compelled to go back and examine the events because they were part of a continuing pattern of civilian deaths.

“It happened all the time, not necessarily in MNF-West all the time, but throughout the whole country,” General Johnson testified, using a military abbreviation for allied forces in western Iraq.

“So, you know, maybe — I guess maybe if I was sitting here at Quantico and heard that 15 civilians were killed I would have been surprised and shocked and gone — done more to look into it,” he testified, referring to Marine Corps Base Quantico in Virginia. “But at that point in time, I felt that was — had been, for whatever reason, part of that engagement and felt that it was just a cost of doing business on that particular engagement.”

When Marines arrived on the scene to assess the number of dead bodies, at least one Marine thought it would be a good time to take pictures for his own keeping.

“I know I had one Marine who was taking pictures just to take pictures and I told him to delete all those pictures,” testified a first lieutenant identified as M. D. Frank.

The documents uncovered by The Times — which include handwritten notes from soldiers, waivers by Marines of their right against self-incrimination, diagrams of where dead women and children were found, and pictures of the site where the Marine was killed by a roadside bomb on the day of the massacre — remain classified.

In a meeting with journalists in October, before the military had been told about the discovery of the documents, the American commander in charge of the logistics of the withdrawal said that files from the bases were either transferred to other parts of the military or incinerated.

“We don’t put official paperwork in the trash,” said the commander, Maj. Gen. Thomas Richardson, at the meeting at the American Embassy in Baghdad.

The documents were piled in military trailers and hauled to the junkyard by an Iraqi contractor who was trying to sell off the surplus from American bases, the junkyard attendant said. The attendant said he had no idea what any of the documents were about, only that they were important to the Americans.

He said that over the course of several weeks he had burned dozens and dozens of binders, turning more untold stories about the war into ash.

“What can we do with them?” the attendant said. “These things are worthless to us, but we understand they are important and it is better to burn them to protect the Americans. If they are leaving, it must mean their work here is done.”

 

Yasir Ghazi contributed reporting.

    Junkyard Gives Up Secret Accounts of Massacre in Iraq, NYT, 14.12.2011,
    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/15/world/middleeast/
    united-states-marines-haditha-interviews-found-in-iraq-junkyard.html

 

 

 

 

 

NATO Apologizes

for Killing 9 Afghan Civilians

 

March 2, 2011
Filed at 8:14 a.m. EST
The New York Times
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

 

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — NATO has apologized for killing nine civilians in Kunar province, a hotbed of the insurgency in northeast Afghanistan.

In a statement Wednesday, the coalition said preliminary findings indicate that NATO forces accidentally killed nine civilians in the Pech district of Kunar province on Tuesday. Local officials say nine boys, ages 12 and under, were killed as they were gathering firewood.

The coalition says there apparently was miscommunication in passing information about the location of militants firing on a coalition base.

Top NATO commander Gen. David Petraeus said the coalition was "deeply sorry" for the tragedy and said the deaths should never have occurred. Petraeus says he will personally apologize to President Hamid Karzai when he returns from London.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — Several hundred villagers protested Wednesday against coalition strikes that they claim killed scores of civilians, including nine boys, in a hotbed of the insurgency in the northeast. NATO has contested the claims, saying armed insurgents, not civilians, were killed.

Civilian casualties have long been a source of friction between Afghan President Hamid Karzai and the U.S.-led international force fighting in Afghanistan.

Karzai's office issued a statement condemning the NATO strike.

"Innocent children who were collecting fire wood for their families during this cold winter were killed. Is this the way to fight terrorism and maintain stability in Afghanistan?" Karzai asked in the statement. He said NATO should focus more on "terrorist sanctuaries" — a phrase he typically uses when referring to Taliban refuges in neighboring Pakistan.

Noorullah Noori, a member of the local development council in Manogai district, said four of the nine boys killed were age 7, three were age 8, one was nine years old and one was 12. Also, one child was wounded, he said.

He said the children were gathering wood under a tree in the mountains on Tuesday about a half kilometer from a village in Manogai district.

"I myself was involved in the burial," he said. "Yesterday we buried them at 5 p.m."

He said that during the four-hour demonstration, protesters chanted "Death to America" and "Death to the spies," a reference to what they said was bad intelligence given to helicopter weapons teams.

The coalition said it was investigating the villagers' allegations. NATO said coalition forces returned fire after two rockets were fired at a coalition base, slightly wounding a local contractor.

Late last month, tribal elders in Kunar claimed that NATO forces killed more than 50 civilians in air and ground strikes. The international coalition denied that claim, saying video showed troops targeting and killing dozens of insurgents and a subsequent investigation yielded no evidence that civilians had been killed. An Afghan government investigation has said that 65 civilians were killed.

In Logar province on Tuesday, four Afghan soldiers and their interpreter were killed by a roadside bomb, according to Din Mohammad Darwesh, a spokesman for the province. He said Wednesday that the soldiers were on a joint patrol with U.S. forces when their vehicle hit the bomb planted in Charkh district.

    NATO Apologizes for Killing 9 Afghan Civilians, NYT, 2.3.2011,
    http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2011/03/02/world/asia/AP-AS-Afghanistan.html

 

 

 

 

 

Afghan War

Killed 2 Children Daily In 2010: Report

 

February 9, 2011
Filed at 3:16 a.m. ET
The New York Times
By REUTERS

 

KABUL (Reuters) - An average of two children per day were killed in Afghanistan last year, with areas of the once peaceful north now among the most dangerous, an independent Afghan rights watchdog said on Wednesday.

The Afghanistan Rights Monitor (ARM) said in a report that, of the 2,421 civilians the group registered as killed in conflict-related security incidents in 2010, some 739 were under the age of 18.

It attributed almost two thirds of the child deaths to "armed opposition groups" (AOGs), or insurgents, and blamed U.S. and NATO-led forces for 17 percent.

The ARM report said many of the reported child casualties occurred in the violent southern provinces of Kandahar and Helmand, the traditional strongholds of the Taliban insurgency.

But Kunar in the east and Kunduz in the north were also among the most dangerous provinces for children, it said, underlining how violence has spread from insurgent strongholds in the south and east to previously peaceful areas of the country.

Civilian and military casualties hit record levels in 2010, with violence at its worst since the Taliban were overthrown by U.S.-led Afghan forces in late 2001.

War-related child deaths in 2010 were down on 2009, when ARM said 1,050 were killed. However the watchdog warned: "Children were highly vulnerable to the harms of war but little was done by the combatant sides, particularly by the AOGs, to ensure child safety and security during military and security incidents."

A United Nations report late last year found that civilian casualties in Afghanistan rose 20 percent in the first 10 months of 2010 compared with 2009, with more than three-quarters killed or wounded by insurgents.

The report found that there were 6,215 civilian casualties, including 2,412 deaths, in that period. Those caused by Afghan and foreign "pro-government" forces accounting for 12 percent of the total, an 18 percent drop on the same period in 2009.

Civilian casualties in NATO-led military operations, often caused by air strikes and night raids, have long been a source of friction between the Afghan government and its Western partners.

Rules governing air strikes and night raids have been tightened significantly by NATO-led forces in the past two years.

On Monday, the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said a child had been killed inadvertently in an air strike during coalition operations in Helmand. The child was found dead in a compound near the target of the strike, it said.

The ARM report said most of the child deaths were caused by homemade bombs, followed by suicide attacks, air strikes and mortars.

 

(Editing by Paul Tait and Sanjeev Miglani)

Afghan War Killed 2 Children Daily In 2010: Report,
R,
9.2.2011,
http://www.nytimes.com/reuters/2011/02/09/world/
international-us-afghanistan-casualties-children.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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