The Media’s Coverup of the Afghan Massacre
Afghans want US occupiers out of their country immediately
In all US war theaters, troops commit unspeakable atrocities. Trained to dehumanize enemies, their mission involves killing, destruction, and much more.
Local treasures are looted. Women are raped. Civilians are treated like combatants. Children are indiscriminately harmed like adults. Prisoners are tortured. Mutilations are common. Crimes of war and against humanity are institutionalized.
Viciousness defines US wars. No crime’s too great to commit. Human lives are valueless. Only winning matters, then on to the next war. Lies, deception, unspeakable brutality, and cover-up define them.
The media are directly complicit, including claiming one soldier murdered 16 Afgans on March 11. Credible evidence suggests up to 20 soldiers involved. Claiming a lone gunman defiles the atrocity’s affect on living family members, friends, and other Afghans victimized by numerous similar incidents.
Cover-up prevents information coming out and prosecutions. Rarely are US forces held accountable. Commanders routinely get off scot-free, including ones ordering troops to kill all Iraqi and Afghan men on sight, combatants and civilians.
According to US Major General James Mattis, “It’s fun to shoot some people. I’ll be up-front with you. I like brawling.” Murdered civilians are repulsively called “collateral damage.” Mattis isn’t alone. Commanders and enlisted troops are involved.
Afghan combatant bodies are burned in violation of international law and US military code. Culpable troops aren’t punished. Civilians are killed for sport. At times, their fingers and other body parts are kept as trophies. Photos are taken as souveniers. Similar abuses are common in all US wars. Lies and cover-up suppress them.
“Kill teams” are deployed. Indiscriminate murder, sadism, and other atrocities are committed, most often with impunity. It’s done for sport and lust. Celebratory high-fives follow.
Rarely ever are soldiers like Jeremy Morlock punished. Others guilty like him get off scot-free, especially commanders. His 5th Stryker Brigade committed countless murders and atrocities. Cover-up involved staging incidents to look like defensive actions against attacks. Pentagon apologies ring hollow. Soldiers are trained to kill reflexively.
America’s Tortured Past
US history reflects atrocities. Native Americans were slaughtered, starved, neglected, exposed to deadly pathogens, and virtually exterminated.
In the antebellum South, slaves were tortured by whipping, painful restraints, prolonged isolation in sealed sheds with choking tobacco smoke, and other punishments. Theodore Roosevelt defended water torture (today’s waterboarding) called the “water cure” to extract confessions from Filipinos because “nobody was seriously damaged.”
In 1995, Bill Clinton issued Presidential Decision Directive 39 (PDD-39). It authorized extraordinary rendition for interrogations and torture.
In his book, “War Without Mercy,” John Dower documented Pacific War atrocities by both sides. American forces “mutilat(ed) Japanese war dead for souvenirs, attack(ed) and (sank) hospital ships, sho(t) sailers who had abandoned ship and pilots who had bailed out, kill(ed) wounded soldiers on the battlefield, and tortur(ed) and execut(ed) prisoners.”
Atrocities included torturing and buying combatants alive. In the Korean War, mass indiscriminate killings of civilians were commonplace. Entire towns and villages were incinerated and their populations exterminated, including women and children.
Combatants and civilians were buried alive, burned, drowned, shot, stabbed, or beaten to death. Women had their breasts, legs, and arms cut off. Others were beheaded. Thousands of civilians were brutally tortured. One family of six was hanged upside down from a tree and burned alive. Another civilian was skinned alive, then burned to death.
Others were murdered with bats, spears, stones, sticks, clubs, flails, and pickaxes. Women were assaulted and raped. US forces massacred tens of thousands of civilians systematically, ruthlessly, and brutally. Some were disemboweled alive.
Vietnam was similar. Atrocities were widespread and commonplace. They included massacres, rapes, torture, mutilations, wanton mass destruction, use of chemical and biological weapons, and much more.
US forces got carte blanche to carpet bomb, incinerate entire villages, burn people alive, fire freely on civilians, murder wounded prisoners, beat them to death, throw them out of helicopters, torture sadistically, gang rape young girls, and commit every other imaginable atrocity to people General William Westmoreland called “worthless termites.”
Operation Phoenix death squads murdered thousands of Vietnamese. Some were alleged high-value targets, others noncombatant civilians. Foreign Service officer Wayne Cooper called the operation a “disreputable, CIA-inspired effort, often deplored as a bloody-handed assassination program (and) a failure.” Before it ended, 80,000 or more died.
Throughout the Iraq and Afghan wars, Special Forces death squads murdered thousands of targeted subjects and others indiscriminately. Daily killing field slaughter continues.
Bush authorized them. So did Obama. Both approved global covert operations. Obama OK’d killing US civilians. Sociologist Emile Durkheim once said, “The immorality of war depends entirely on the leaders who willed it.”
Nuremberg prosecutor Justice Robert Jackson denounced “men who possess themselves of great power and make deliberative and concerted use of it to set in motion evils which leave no home in the world untouched.”
International and US laws are clear and unequivocal. So are US military standards, including Army Field Manual 27-10. It incorporates Nuremberg and Law of Land Warfare (1956) principles.
It prohibits any military or civilian personnel to the highest levels from committing crimes under international and US laws. It also requires disobeying illegal orders.
Nonetheless, mass murder, torture, and other atrocities are committed like sport virtually daily. They define all US wars.
Richard Nixon once told Henry Kissinger, “We’re gonna level that goddam country. We’re gonna hit ‘em, bomb the livin’ bejusus out of ‘em.” Kissinger approved, saying, “Mr. President, I will enthusiastically support that, and I think it’s the right thing to do.” After all they’re just “worthless termites.”
Major Media Scoundrels: Guilt by Complicity
Compared to America’s bloodstained history, killing 16 Afghan civilians on March 11 was a drop in the ocean. Yet it was too much for major media scoundrels to provide truth and full disclosure.
Various reports, including Russia Today, said up to 20 US troops were involved in the incident, not a lone sergeant. He’s been hung out to dry to absolve others, including commanders who deploy them on missions, as well as top US military and civilian officials who approve America waging lawless wars of aggression.
An Afghan parliamentary investigation team contradicts Pentagon lies. Two days were spent collecting eyewitness accounts, including from survivors. Investigator Hamizai Lali told Afghan News:
“We are convinced that one soldier cannot kill so many people in two villages within one hour at the same time, and the 16 civilians, most have been killed by the two groups.”
He believes up to 20 soldiers were involved. Half their victims were children aged two through 12. He appealed for international help to disclose the truth and assure those responsible are punished in Afghan, not US, courts.
Investigatory team head Sayed Ishaq Gillani said witnesses reported seeing helicopters dropping chaff during the attack to hide targets from ground attacks.
Villagers said victims offered no resistance. Nonetheless, they were gunned down in cold-blood. Night raids like this are commonplace. Despite public outrage, US commanders said they’ll continue. Innocent civilians are murdered repeatedly.
One surviving family member said:
“I don’t want any compensation. I don’t want money. I don’t want a trip to Mecca. I don’t want a house. I want nothing. But what I absolutely want is the punishment of the Americans. This is my demand, my demand, my demand and my demand.”
His brother died in the slaughter. The Pentagon named one gunman, now identified as Staff Sergeant Robert Bales. He was whisked out of Afghanistan, flown to Kwait, then to army prison at Fort Leavenworth, KS Friday.
Afghan army head General Sher Mohammad Karimi said US military officials “ignored and blocked” his attempt to investigate the incident. They also prevented Afghan officials from interrogating Bales.
In lockstep, US media scoundrels regurgitated Pentagon lies. Outrageously, the Washington Post quoted Captain Chris Alexander, Bales’ platoon commander, saying he’s “hands down, one of the best soldiers I ever worked with.”
In fact, he like other death squad members are cold-blooded killers. The Post also quoted Bales commenting on his participation in a 2007 Iraq battle, saying:
“We discriminated between the bad guys and the noncombatants and then afterward we ended up helping the people that three or four hours before were trying to kill us. I think that’s the real difference between being an American as opposed to being a bad guy, someone who puts his family in harm’s way like that.”
The quote’s so deplorable it sounds like someone made it up, but Post scoundrels made it look legitimate to portray Bales more as hero than cold-blooded killer.
A Pentagon statement said Bales received over a dozen medals and badges for combat service and good conduct. His wife Karilyn was quoted, saying “all of the work Bob has done and all the sacrifices he has made for his love of his country, family and friends.”
The Post suppressed evidence that up to 20 US soldiers were involved, or that numerous other atrocities like this occur regularly.
The New York Times was just as shameless. Cover-up and denial suppressed vital truths. Bales alone was mentioned. The article said he was injured twice in previous deployments and cited his lawyer calling his military record exemplary.
How much more blood has he on his hands? For sure plenty, but this was the first time he got caught. Moreover, The Times, like the Post, characterizes him as heroic, not villainous.
In medium security confinement, he’s yet to be charged a week after the incident. The Times said Pentagon officials found no clues explaining what “motivated the killings.”
They lied, saying:
“When it all comes out, it will be a combination of stress, alcohol and domestic issues. He just snapped.”
Bales’ lawyer, John Henry Browne, dismissed allegations of family problems and drinking. He said his family hoped he’d avoid this deployment after three previous ones. He also called him “mild-mannered.”
In lockstep with other US media scoundrels, The Times article suppressed what readers most deserve to know – the full truth about death squad killings as policy, and the many thousands of noncombatant Afghans, Iraqis, and earlier victims affected.
Blaming this incident on a lone gunman suppresses the gravity of what goes on routinely and the responsibility up the chain of command to Joint Chief heads, Defense Secretary Panetta, and Obama.
It also defiles the pain and suffering of surviving family members, relatives, friends, and others victimized by similar incidents.
Nothing compensates for their loss. Afghans want US occupiers out of their country immediately. After over a decade of daily atrocities, they want what no one should endure finally ended.
It’s their country, their lives, and their right. It’s true everywhere America shows up. Death, destruction, and vicious occupation follows. Iraqis and Libyans feel the same way. Can you blame them?
Awar-winning author Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at [email protected].
Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.