Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Truth, lies, and NATO special ops

US-led forces in Afghanistan are committing atrocities, lying, and getting away with it
Nieman Watchdog: Jerome Starkey recently reported for The Times of London about a night raid on Feb. 12 in which US and Afghan gunmen opened fire on two pregnant women, a teenage girl and two local officials -- an atrocity which NATO's Afghanistan headquarters then tried to cover up... Starkey writes that the international forces led by US Gen. Stanley McChrystal are rarely called to account because most reporters are too dependent on access, security and the 'embed culture' to venture out and see what's happening for themselves...

Starkey: 'The only way I found out NATO had lied -- deliberately or otherwise -- was because I went to the scene of the raid, in Paktia province, and spent three days interviewing the survivors... It's not the first time I've found NATO lying, but this is perhaps the most harrowing instance, and every time I go through the same gamut of emotions. I am shocked and appalled that brave men in uniform misrepresent events. Then I feel naive.'

Times of London: Special forces and Western intelligence agencies that run covert operations in Afghanistan have been criticised for night raids based on dubious or false intelligence leading to civilian casualties... NATO said the troops were part of a joint 'Afghan-International' force, but, despite new rules requiring them to leave leaflets identifying their unit, the family said they left nothing... NATO's original statement said: 'Several insurgents engaged the joint firefight and were killed.' The family maintain that no one threw so much as a stone.

Times of London: 'Further allegations were also raised that US and Afghan forces refused to provide adequate and timely medical support to two people who sustained bullet injuries, resulting in their deaths hours later, the report added.'... Waheedullah, 22, one of the guests at the party [celebrating the birth of a baby] who works as an ambulance driver in Gardez, said... he saw a gunman with blond hair and a fair beard... The Americans were wearing 'wood yellow' clothes, he said, which were different from the regular army's green uniforms... 'The night raid was conducted by US Special Forces from Bagram, which arrived in Gardez says prior to the operation,' the report says.

The New York Times: Critics, including Afghan officials, human rights workers and some field commanders of conventional American forces, say that Special Operations forces have been responsible for a large number of civilian casualties in Afghanistan and operate by their own rules...

On Feb. 21 in Oruzgan Province... attack helicopters killed 27 civilians in three trucks... Military video appeared to show the victims were civilians, and no weapons were recovered from them. 'What I saw on that video would not have led me to pull the trigger,' one NATO official said... 'It was one of the worst things I've seen in awhile.'...

On Feb. 12 in a village near Gardez, in Paktia Province, Afghan police special forces paired with American Special Operations forces raided a house late at night and... killed a local police chief and a district prosecutor... Three women who came to their aid... were also killed.

On Dec 26 in Kunar Province, a night raid was launched on what authorities thought was a Taliban training facility; they later discovered that they had killed all nine religious students in a residential school... All three events, which took place outside of any larger battle, involved Special Operations forces.
Image source here.