Saturday, July 11, 2009

Obama administration: no reason to investigate reports of mass murders by US-backed force in Afghanistan


WASHINGTON -Obama administration officials said Friday they had no grounds to investigate the 2001 deaths of Taliban prisoners of war who human rights groups allege were killed by U.S.-backed forces.

The mass deaths were brought up anew Friday in a report by The New York Times on its Web site. It quoted government and human rights officials accusing the Bush administration of failing to investigate the executions of hundreds, and perhaps thousands, of prisoners.

U.S. officials said Friday they did not have legal grounds to investigate the deaths because only foreigners were involved and the alleged killings occurred in a foreign country.

The Times cited U.S. military and CIA ties to Afghan Gen. Abdul Rashid Dostum, whom human rights groups accuse of ordering the killings. The newspaper said the Defense Department and FBI never fully investigated the incident.

Asked about the report, Marine Corps Col. David Lapan, a Pentagon spokesman, said that since U.S. military forces were not involved in the killings, there is nothing the Defense Department could investigate.

"There is no indication that U.S. military forces were there, or involved, or had any knowledge of this," Lapan said. "So there was not a full investigation conducted because there was no evidence that there was anything from a DoD (Department of Defense) perspective to investigate."

Of course, Dostum has been connected with the CIA and US Special Forces since 2001:

In November 2001, with the beginning of the US invasion of Afghanistan, and against the wishes of the CIA who distrusted Dostum, a team including Johnny Micheal Spann landed to set up communications in the Dariya Suf. A few hours later 23 men of Operational Detatchment Alpha (ODA) 595 landed to begin the war....

There were allegations in 2001 that Dostum and his forces, who were fighting jointly with US Special Forces, suffocated as many as 2,000 prisoners in container trucks following the Taliban surrender of Kunduz in an incident that has become known as the Dasht-i-Leili massacre.

And--while basically resuming his career as an Afghan warlord--Dostum is technically a senior official in the government we are supporting:

[President] Karzai appointed him as a special adviser on security and military affairs, with effective control over security affairs in the northern Afghan provinces of Balkh, Jowzjan, Sar-e Pol, Samangan, and Faryab. Today he runs parts of the country's north as his own fiefdom, nominally serving as a deputy defense minister to the national government in Kabul but operating almost totally independent of the government. Dostum's force of some 20,000 militia fighters is composed mostly of ethnic Uzbeks who are members of his political group, Junbish-e Melli.

This time even the partisans at the Daily Kos are wondering WTF?:

My understanding of offical White House policy is justice must take a back seat to political expediency if we are to more forward. Would Obama or his lackey Eric Holder dare to initiate meaningful investigation of war crimes in Afghanistan while totally ignoring them in Gitmo or Bagram? Or would any investigation whatsoever indicate a lack of a certain, shall we say, bi-partisan spirititude?

But nothing will come of it.

As the Defense Department says, only foreigners were involved and the alleged killings occurred in a foreign country, which, translated into British Imperial Speak from the 19th Century attempt to occupy Afghanistan, read like this: Just wogs killing wogs, eh? No business of ours, except that they're saving us havin' to spend on the bullets.


Miko said...

I am glad to see the statist-left starting to object to these stances as well. I have a dim enough view of politicians that I wasn't too perplexed when Obama turned out to be Bush III; what hurt was seeing my allies on the statist-left suddenly forget about their opposition to imperalistic wars, torture, etc.

Also, who cares if the investigations aren't 'bipartisan?' That word is usually only thrown around to justify the most egregious policies; I'd rather the investigations be nonpartisan.

Anonymous said...

July 12, 2009
Obama orders review of alleged slayings of Taliban in Bush era vs. Horse Soliders

If you have read Horse Soldiers: The Extraordinary Story of a Band of US Soldiers Who Rode to Victory in Afghanistan you will be outraged by the statement that the President intends to investigate the actions of General Dostum in the death of 1,000 Taliban prisoners, while also investigating the Bush administrations unwillingness to press charges of some sort at the time.

You may not know, but Dostum is a colorful General in the Northern Alliance, working on various sides of various issues and often for himself, as warlords do. This event is with respect to the prison riot that erupted after the Taliban started to collapse in the fall of 2001. That is the prison riot where an American CIA agent was killed by the Taliban prisoners.

For background, a small team of US special forces and CIA agents went into Afghanistan in the fall of 2001, right after 9-11 and teamed with what was left of the northern alliance (Dostum and others) to take down the Taliban. They fought against the Taliban in some of the most unconventional ways - taking on Taliban Tanks while Dostum's guys and CIA were on horse back, calling in JDAM GPS guided weapons from B52s built in the 60's, using a satellite hand held radio. Special Forces, CIA, and the Northern Alliance did what the Russians had failed to do, take over Afghanistan. And they did it in months.

Franks and others had wanted to delay 6 months and deploy 50k-100k troops to do what these guys accomplished in a short time before winter came. Under the Franks plan thousands more would have died, on both sides.

The Horse Soldiers, as they were called, exhibited the best traits, true American spirit, working closely and respectfully with local leaders like Dostum to adapt to the regional realities. The book contrasts the success in Afghanistan to the difficulties in Iraq, where our policies were less integrated with regional politics and realities. Afghanistan and taught us that working with marginal characters like Dostum is a lesson in respecting others. Isn't it Obama that keeps telling us to think about other people and their cultures? I suspect the Bush team understood that, and that's why Bush did not investigate the deaths related to the prison riot in greater detail.

Anonymous said...

So the prison story goes a bit like this...

There are two types of Taliban, Afghan and non Afghan. When an Afghan Taliban gives up he pledges allegiance to the Northern Alliance, and won't switch sides unless there is some other lost battle. The non Afghan Taliban will never surrender. So, Dostum beat the hell out of a key Taliban leader on the battle field. The Taliban surrendered. So Dostum had to take the radicalized non-Afghan Taliban and stick them in a prison (Because its easy to find a prision for 1,000 people in the middle of a bombed out country). The Afghan Taliban were all let go after pledging allegiance to Dostum. Well it appears, this surrender was actually a ploy of sorts. The non-afghan Taliban prisioners all kept their weapons (long story, read the book). And after some time staged an uprising to take over the prision. Dostum was not fully prepared. His troops shot their machine guns from the prison turrets and killed hundreds of prisioners, but they kept coming. The Taliban had no intention of surrendeirng. The fight lasted several days. Ultimately they had the last of the Taliban cornered in a lower level, pooring kerosene in to burn them out. When that did not work they redirected an irrigation system to flood them out. Something like 35, of more than 1,000 killed, were still alive and surrendered. One of those was that jerk John Walker Lynn.

More importantly, if you listen to the guys who were in the book, you get a much better insight into what wars of the future might be like and how we need to work with local factions to achieve victory without putting 100k troops at risk. This is a dumb investigation. It works against the the lessons from the battle. Some things should just never be investigated. There is no way to judge the actions of someone in the battlefield 8 years after the fact. I suspect there are other reasons for the investigation, as a matter of fact all the new investigations (Dostum, CIA, unwarranted this or that). If your poll numbers start going down, take on the the other guy (Bush) and start blaming him. Economy not doing well, can't blame Bush its the Obama plan. But you can go after Bush about war Crimes