Afghan sex abuse coverup claims

From the AP 10/28/15: US defense officials said they were opening an investigation into allegations of child sex abuse by Afghan security forces and reports that US personnel deliberately overlooked it.

The probe by the Pentagon's inspector general comes on Tuesday, after The New York Times last month reported that US troops in Afghanistan had been instructed by their superiors to overlook cases of Afghan police or commanders sexually abusing teenage boys, even if it took place on military bases.
The practice is known as "bacha bazi," which means "boy play" in local languages.
"Is there -- or was there -- any guidance, informal or otherwise, to discourage reporting by DoD (Department of Defense) affiliated personnel?" a memo from the inspector general's office asks.
"What training on identifying and responding to alleged child sexual abuse... has been conducted or planned?"
The memo, sent to leaders across the US military, also asks for information on the number of cases of child sex abuse alleged against Afghan government officials that were reported to US or coalition forces.

The Times based its report on accounts from multiple soldiers and the father of a marine who was killed in 2012.

The report said a former US special forces captain beat up an Afghan militia commander for keeping a boy chained to his bed as a sex slave, and afterward was stripped of his command and withdrawn from Afghanistan.

The Afghan Interior Ministry has rejected reports that it was not addressing the practice of bacha bazi, which it called a "heinous and indecent act" that is illegal under Afghan laws.

The Afghan government has in the past tried to crack down on the ancient and outlawed practice of child abuse, which is prevalent across rural parts of the country.

Pretty gruesome stuff huh? Now, from Underground Newz 3/17/14:

Afghanistan detainee abuse scandal

More than five hundred men marched through the capital of Afghanistan's restive Wardak province in an outburst of anger against U.S. special forces accused of overseeing torture and killings in the area.

Shouting "Death to America", "Death to Obama" and "Death to special forces", the protesters called for the immediate withdrawal of the American soldiers and threatened to join the Taliban.

The New York Times reported that Bagram has an off-the-books, closed-to-the-Red-Cross detention center, there’s been continued suspicions that the U.S.’s legacy of torture has survived President Obama’s January 2009 executive order banning undisclosed “Black Site” prisons. Those suspicions accelerated after the BBC claimed to have confirmed with the International Committee of the Red Cross in May that the new Parwan center has a “Black Jail.” Human Rights Watch speculated that the military now calls it a “transit facility” to throw reporters and humanitarian monitors off the scent.

Red Cross Simon Schorno says that the group “is notified by the United States of persons arrested by its forces in the framework of the armed conflict in Afghanistan, regardless of the structures in which they are being held. This has been routine practice since August 2009 and helps us monitor the fate of persons detained until they leave U.S. custody.”

There’s a Special Housing Unit (SHU) in the Bravo bloc, a darkened hallway of interrogation booths. It’s dark in order to prevent detainees from seeing through the one-way glass, even as tiny cameras allow analysts to discreetly peer in. A table and three folding chairs are the only furniture.

Interrogations are suppose to comply with the 2005 Detainee Treatment Act, the Geneva Conventions and the updated 2006 Army field manual on interrogations (PDF) that’s supposed to prevent future Abu Ghraibs. But the 2006 manual has come under fire from human-rights critics and anti-torture military interrogators for embedding what they consider abuse into its pages.

Information regarding an Afghanistan detainee abuse scandal appears to be reaching sufficient critical mass for it to join that regarding allegations of acts of brutality, abuse, and torture at Enemy Prisoner of War Camps in Iraq at Abu Ghraib and Camp Bucca, among other locations.

Joint operations (CIA/Special Forces/Afghan militias) out of Camp Gecko have been the source of frequent torture allegations, from 2002 up to now.

Reuters interviewed dozens of residents of Wardak and Afghan government officials in Feb 2013, who allege that Afghan men working with a small unit of U.S. special forces illegally detained, tortured and killed suspected insurgents.


“People complain of being beaten, tortured by U.S. special forces on a daily basis,” Jalala told Reuters in his Kabul office.

Reuters spoke to the families of four of nine missing men, and all said their men folk were taken to the special forces outpost by Afghan men identified as translators, often in the presence of U.S. soldiers.

“My brother, Aziz-ul Rahman, was on his way to bring firewood to the mosque, when the Americans and Afghans forced him to stop, dragged him out of his car and started beating and kicking him,” Zabihullah, 22, from Nerkh village, told Reuters.

“Eventually they tossed him in an irrigation ditch near the village. He was badly injured, so we took him to the hospital and later to Kabul, but despite that he died,” said Zabihullah, who said his brother had three children.

Repeated complaints to the government, about the abuse by the joint U.S./Afghan operations, went nowhere.

Wardak: Tortured to death

In another incident a Swedish organization which runs health clinics across Afghanistan accused the U.S. military of occupying and damaging one of its facilities.

The incident occurred before dawn on February 11, 2013, the Swedish Committee for Afghanistan (SCA) said in a statement.

"Foreign soldiers entered the ... health facility by force, tied up and blindfolded the guard on duty, and occupied the facility," the statement said.

Doors and windows were broken and medical equipment was destroyed, SCA director Andreas Stefansson said.

Stefansson also said a group of Afghan special forces had bullied and threatened the lives of health workers at the Maidan Shar hospital several days earlier.

In Human Rights Watch's May 13, 2004, Open Files on Detainees Deaths: U.S.: Systemic Abuse of Afghan Prisoners, HRW writes that "Mistreatment of prisoners by U.S. military and intelligence personnel in Afghanistan is a systemic problem and not limited to a few isolated cases."

"Human Rights Watch called on the United States to immediately release the results of past investigations into misconduct by U.S. personnel in Afghanistan, including information about two Afghan detainees who were killed in U.S. custody in December 2002 and another detainee who died in June 2003.

"'Afghans have been telling us for well over a decade about mistreatment in U.S. custody,' said John Sifton, Afghanistan researcher for Human Rights Watch. 'We warned U.S. officials repeatedly about these problems. It's time now for the United States to publicize the results of its investigations of abuse, fully prosecute those responsible, and provide access to independent monitors.'"

"In a March 2004, report "Enduring Freedom": Abuses by U.S. Forces in Afghanistan, Human Rights Watch documented numerous cases of mistreatment of detainees at various detention sites in Afghanistan, including extreme sleep deprivation, exposure to freezing temperatures, and severe beatings. Detainees complained about being stripped of their clothing and photographed while naked.

Some of these abusive practices during interrogation were similar to those recently reported in Iraq.

Recent media reports have also documented new cases of mistreatment in Afghanistan. "The Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC)--an autonomous institution within the Afghan government--has also received numerous complaints about abuses by U.S. troops at its local offices in south and eastern Afghanistan, where U.S. military operations occur regularly. The commission repeatedly raised concerns about abuses with U.S. officials, as did local government representatives and officials with the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan." Human Rights Watch has also made several formal requests to visit U.S. detention sites in Afghanistan, none of which received any response. Human Rights Watch made a request asking for access to all detention sites maintained by the United States in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other undisclosed locations. "'The United States has shown that it can't police its own prisons,' Sifton said. 'Human rights monitoring groups should be given access to all detention facilities in Afghanistan.'"Human Rights Watch said that the United States has still not provided any adequate explanation for the three detainee deaths that took place in Afghanistan in 2002 and 2003. The first two deaths, which took place in December 2002, were specifically ruled homicides by U.S. military pathologists. (See "Deaths in U.S. Custody".)

It's time for them to tell the public what happened.' "Testimonies taken by Human Rights Watch in Afghanistan show that many detainees were beaten during the initial stages of detention. Detainees who were held in Kandahar airport reported being stripped naked, kicked and punched, and forced to endure freezing temperatures. "U.S. officials have told journalists and Human Rights Watch that U.S military and intelligence personnel in Afghanistan employ an interrogation system that includes the use of sleep deprivation, sensory deprivation, and forcing detainees to sit or stand in painful positions for extended periods of time. ... 'We know now that abuse of detainees is an established part of the interrogation process,' said Sifton."

Fatality Count

  • Mike Dorning reports in the May 22, 2004, issue of the Chicago Tribune that the Army disclosed on Friday, May 21st, "that it has investigated the deaths of at least 37 people in Iraq and Afghanistan who died while in custody of U.S. forces since August 2002.
"Death certificates also released Friday listed blunt force injuries or suffocation, sometimes in combination, as the cause of death for eight of the detainees--raising the possibility that some prisoners may have died due to beatings or other mistreatment."

Ultimate Responsibility

David Sirota, Christy Harvey and Judd Legum wrote in the May 7, 2004, "Hard to Say You're Sorry" published by The Progress Report:
"One thing to keep in mind: At the end of the day, ultimate responsibility lies with the Commander-in-Chief, George W. Bush.
Even after President Obama released the DOJ memos authorizing torture – along with a damning CIA Inspector General Report and a wide range of documents revealing bureaucratic discussions within the CIA about torture – the White House still fought the release of the phrase that would have made it clear that the CIA conducted this torture at the order of the president. And it did so with a classified declaration that would have remained secret had Judge Hellerstein not insisted it be made public.

Former CIA Acting General Counsel John Rizzo made clear, the finding authorizes not just torturing, but killing, senior al Qaeda figures. Bob Woodward even reported that that CIA would carry out that killing using Predator drones, a program the CIA still conducts. And in fact, when the Second Circuit ultimately ruled to let the White House to keep the authorization phrase secret, it did so because the phrase also relates to “a highly classified, active intelligence activity” and “pertains to intelligence activities unrelated to the [torture] program.” Given what we know about the September 17, 2001 finding, that may well refer to President Obama’s still active drone program.

By releasing the DOJ memos and other materials, the White House provided what seemed to be unprecedented transparency about what the CIA had done. But all the while it was secretly hiding language describing what the White House has done.

Since the Global War on Terror (GWOT) began, there has been a struggle for what is perhaps best described as the “soul” of our military. Are we going to remain the principled military we have been, at our best, since our founding? Or did the 9/11 terrorist attacks usher in a new age where, since we now fight non-state actors governed by different rules, Americans may employ any technically legal method—no matter how brutal—to achieve desired ends?

Many Americans would say, Get down and dirty and do whatever is necessary to get the information to protect our troops and defeat the enemy.

But when we get “down and dirty” to protect our troops, we are actually placing them in graver danger. We must not forget, for example, that outrage over U.S. atrocities was the main motivation for many, if not most, Muslim men to become suicide bombers in Iraq.

We must maintain our ethical standards if we are to defeat our armed enemies on today’s battlefields. Any other approach will, lead slowly but surely to our own defeat.

EDITORS NOTE: I have always hoped that if I continued to publish the truth that one day it would see the light of day. Unfortunately I am still along ways from my goal.

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