“It appeared you had a lone gunman who acted on his own.” -Barack Obama
We have two very, very different stories coming out of Afghanistan, regarding the killing spree and nine murdered children out of 16 slayings in Kandahar. On the one hand we have the surrender and confession of Staff Sgt. Robert Bales dressed up in an Afghan robe and allegedly surrendering on videotape with the words “I did it” on his lips. No doubt he did.
“He acknowledged the killings, then asked for an attorney within minutes of being captured and isn’t cooperating with the investigation,” according to military spokespersons. Since then Bales has been spirited out of Afghanistan.
But, when exactly was this little surrender filmed, and after what negotiations or deals had been struck? It has the appearance of being a staged event.
The alleged “lone nut” Bales did not act alone, according to multiple eyewitnesses, family members of the slain, as well as an official Afghan parliamentary investigation. No, there were up to 20 participants at multiple locations. The assault looks a lot like a night raid, which is standard practice in the Afghanistan war theater, only this time with added “payback” inflicted on local families. Perhaps this payback was related to another soldier in their company who lost a leg the day before.
So when Obama uses imprecise language like “it appeared,” we have to wonder if there is more to this qualified assessment than meets the eye, and if Obama knows full well that he may need to backpedal some day into what “appears” in a week, or a month from now.
The lone-nut spree killer is an easy sell when non-white, non-American, non-English speaking witnesses can’t get their stories told in the US mainstream media. There is only the official version, the uniformed, English language version, the government approved thinking on the matter. All else is simply the dreaded “conspiracy theory” which we all know can’t possibly exist in the face of official “reports.”
An investigatory team, which included eight Afghan lawmakers, spent two days at the Panjwai district crime scene gathering evidence. “We closely examined the site of the incident, talked to the families who lost their beloved ones, the injured people and tribal elders,” one of the officials said. They reported that “their investigation showed there were 15 to 20 American soldiers, who executed the brutal killings.”
So why is this news not on the front page in the United States?
After going to the trouble of finding out the truth, the Afghan lawmaker Hamidzai Lali expressed his view of the matter: “If the international community does not play its role in punishing the perpetrators, the Wolesi Jirga would declare foreign troops as occupying forces, like the Russians.” This story seems newsworthy enough, given the grave implications of turning Afghanistan officially against the US/Nato occupation. Yet, it has not been what’s “trending” in the news feeds, not at all. There is only one version of the killing spree that is permitted in our “free” press. It’s the one that excludes the testimony of the eyewitness family members.
“Witnesses told Reuters they saw a group of US soldiers arrive at their village in Kandahar’s Panjwayi district at around 2am, enter homes and open fire.”
“Haji Samad said 11 of his relatives were killed in one house, including his children… ‘They (Americans) poured chemicals over their dead bodies and burned them.'”
A neighbor of the massacred family, Agha Lala, said, “They were all drunk and shooting all over the place… Their bodies were riddled with bullets.”
No My Lai this time. Sgt. Robert Bales will get the Lee Harvey Oswald storyline. In exchange for his cooperation and his taking the fall alone, it “appears” he will be handled with kid gloves.
Joe Giambrone is a filmmaker and author of Hell of a Deal: A Supernatural Satire. He edits The Political Film Blog, which welcomes submissions. polfilmblog at gmail.