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.