• Are US Forces Executing Kids in Afghanistan? Americans Don't Even Know to Ask

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    by David Lindorff:
    The Shame and Folly of Obama’s AfghanWar



    The Taliban
    suicide attack that killed a group of CIA agents in Afghanistan
    on a base that was directing US drone aircraft used to attack Taliban
    leaders was big news in the US over the past week, with the airwaves
    and front pages filled with sympathetic stories referring to the
    fact that the female station chief, who was among those killed,
    was the “mother of three children.”

    But the apparent
    mass murder of Afghan school children, including one as young as
    11-years-old, by a US-led group of troops, was pretty much blacked
    out in the American media. Especially blacked out was word from
    UN investigators that the students had not just been killed but
    executed, many of them after having first been rousted from their
    bedroom and handcuffed.

    Here is the
    excellent report on the incident that ran in the Times
    of London
    (like Fox News, a Rupert Murdoch-owned publication)
    on Dec. 31:

    troops accused of executing 10 Afghan civilians, including children

    By Jerome
    Starkey in Kabul

    troops were accused yesterday of dragging innocent children from
    their beds and shooting them during a night raid that left ten
    people dead.

    Afghan government
    investigators said that eight schoolchildren were killed, all
    but one of them from the same family. Locals said that some victims
    were handcuffed before being killed.

    Western military
    sources said that the dead were all part of an Afghan terrorist
    cell responsible for manufacturing improvised explosive devices
    (IEDs), which have claimed the lives of countless soldiers and

    was a joint operation that was conducted against an IED cell that
    Afghan and US officials had been developing information against
    for some time,” said a senior Nato insider. But he admitted
    that “the facts about what actually went down are in dispute”.

    The article
    goes on to say:

    In a telephone
    interview last night, the headmaster [of the local school] said
    that the victims were asleep in three rooms when the troops arrived.
    “Seven students were in one room,” said Rahman Jan Ehsas.
    “A student and one guest were in another room, a guest room,
    and a farmer was asleep with his wife in a third building.

    the foreign troops entered the guest room and shot two of them.
    Then they entered another room and handcuffed the seven students.
    Then they killed them. Abdul Khaliq [the farmer] heard shooting
    and came outside. When they saw him they shot him as well. He
    was outside. That’s why his wife wasn’t killed.”

    A local elder,
    Jan Mohammed, said that three boys were killed in one room and
    five were handcuffed before they were shot. “I saw their
    school books covered in blood,” he said.

    The investigation
    found that eight of the victims were aged from 11 to 17. The guest
    was a shepherd boy, 12, called Samar Gul, the headmaster said.
    He said that six of the students were at high school and two were
    at primary school. He said that all the students were his nephews.

    Compare this
    article to the one mention of the incident which appeared in the

    New York Times
    , one of the few American news outlets
    to even mention the incident. The Times, on Dec. 28, focusing entirely
    on the difficulty civilian killings cause for the US war effort,
    and not on the allegation of a serious war crime having been committed,

    Puts Afghan Leader and NATO at Odds

    By Alissa
    J. Rubin and Abdul Waheed Wafa

    KABUL, Afghanistan
    – The killing of at least nine men in a remote valley of
    eastern Afghanistan by a joint operation of Afghan and American
    forces put President Hamid Karzai and senior NATO officials at
    odds on Monday over whether those killed had been civilians or
    Taliban insurgents.

    In a statement
    e-mailed to the news media, Mr. Karzai condemned the weekend attack
    and said the dead had been civilians, eight of them schoolboys.
    He called for an investigation.

    Local officials,
    including the governor and members of Parliament from Kunar Province,
    where the deaths occurred, confirmed the reports. But the Kunar
    police chief, Khalilullah Ziayee, cautioned that his office was
    still investigating the killings and that outstanding questions
    remained, including why the eight young men had been in the same
    house at the time.

    are still questions to be answered, like why these students were
    together and what they were doing on that night,” Mr. Ziayee

    A senior
    NATO official with knowledge of the operation said that the raid
    had been carried out by a joint Afghan-American force and that
    its target was a group of men who were known Taliban members and
    smugglers of homemade bombs, which the American and NATO forces
    call improvised explosive devices, or I.E.D.’s.

    to the NATO official, nine men were killed. “These were people
    who had a well-established network, they were I.E.D. smugglers
    and also were responsible for direct attacks on Afghan security
    and coalition forces in those areas,” said the official,
    who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the delicacy
    of the issue.

    the raid took place they were armed and had material for making
    I.E.D.’s,” the official added.

    While the
    article in the New York Times eventually mentions the allegation
    that the victims were children, not u201Cmen,u201D it nonetheless begins
    with the unchallenged assertion in the lead that they were u201Cmen.u201D
    There is no mention of the equally serious allegation that the victims
    had been handcuffed before being executed, and the story leaves
    the impression, made by NATO sources, that they were armed and had
    died fighting. There is no indication in the Times story that the
    reporters made any effort, as the more enterprising and skeptical
    London Times reporter did, to get local, non-official, sources of
    information. Moreover, the information claiming that the victims
    had been making bombs was attributed by Rubin and Wafa, with no
    objections from their editors in New York, to an anonymous NATO
    source, though there was no legitimate reason for the anonymity
    (u201Cbecause of the delicacy of the situationu201D was the lame excuse
    offered) – indeed the use of an anonymous source here would
    appear to violate the Times' own standards.

    the rest of the article

    4, 2010

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