Was the Afghan massacre a conspiracy? The evidence is mounting...
From the beginning, we've heard reports that Staff Sergeant Robert Bales may not have been the sole shooter in the Afghan massacre. Now, a number of sources have put together a credible alternate theory of what really went down.
I'm not usually in the habit of citing Justin Raimondo -- regular readers know how I feel about libertarians -- but this piece is written to a very high standard. I'll give you the gist:
The semi-official story, as related by our compliant news media, is that a formerly model soldier went bananas under the pressure of war-related injuries, financial problems at home, and the all-purpose PTSD explanation for military misbehavior, whereupon he decided – at 3 am in the morning, after drinking with his army buddies – to walk the couple of miles to an Afghan village, shoot 16 people sleeping in their beds, pile the bodies atop a funeral pyre and set the whole thing alight.
How did he get out of the base at 3 am unchallenged and without anyone’s knowledge? How did he manage to do so much damage alone?
Raimondo suspects that the massacre was a committed by a group of soldiers acting out of revenge.
A few days before Bales went postal, there was a bomb attack on a US convoy in which a friend of Bales’s lost a leg: Bales’s lawyer has been detailing his client’s anger at this incident, implying it precipitated the murder spree. There are indications, however, that this is not the whole story. One local resident relates how the Americans paid a visit to the village where the killings took place and threatened residents with retaliation:
"Ghulam Rasool, a tribal elder from Panjwai district, gave an account of the bombing at a March 16 meeting in Kabul with Mr Karzai in the wake of the shootings. ‘After the incident, they took the wreckage of their destroyed tank and their wounded people from the area," Mr Rasool said. ‘After that, they came back to the village nearby the explosion site. The soldiers called all the people to come out of their houses and from the mosque,’ he said. ‘The Americans told the villagers ‘A bomb exploded on our vehicle. … We will get revenge for this incident by killing at least 20 of your people,’ Mr Rasool said."
The quote-within-a-quote comes from an article in The Australian, headlined: Afghan villagers told they would pay for bomb days ahead of massacre of 16. The editor of that periodical would not have allowed such a headline unless he too felt that Bales did not act alone.
Have any U.S. newspapers picked up The Australian's report? None that I know of, although this piece in the Christian Science Monitor is quite revealing:
One Mokhoyan resident, Ahmad Shah Khan, told The Associated Press that after the bombing, U.S. soldiers and their Afghan army counterparts arrived in his village and made many of the male villagers stand against a wall.
"It looked like they were going to shoot us, and I was very afraid," Khan said. "Then a NATO soldier said through his translator that even our children will pay for this. Now they have done it and taken their revenge."
Neighbors of Khan gave similar accounts to the AP, and several Afghan officials, including Kandahar lawmaker Abdul Rahim Ayubi, said people in the two villages that were attacked told them the same story.
Ghulam Rasool, a tribal elder from Panjwai district of Kandahar province, where the shootings occurred, gave an account of the bombing at a March 16 meeting in Kabul with President Hamid Karzai.
"After the incident, they took the wreckage of their destroyed tank and their wounded people from the area," Rasool said. "After that, they came back to the village nearby the explosion site.
"The soldiers called all the people to come out of their houses and from the mosque," he said.
"The Americans told the villagers, 'A bomb exploded on our vehicle. ... We will get revenge for this incident by killing at least 20 of your people,'" Rasool said. "These are the reasons why we say they took their revenge by killing women and children in the villages."
Naek Mohammad, who lives in Mokhoyan, told the AP that he heard an explosion March 8 and went outside. As he and a neighbor talked about what happened, he said, two Afghan soldiers ordered them to join other men from the village who had been told to stand against a wall.
"One of the villagers asked what was happening," he said. "The Afghan army soldier told him, 'Shut up and stand there.'"
Mohammad said a U.S. soldier, speaking through a translator, then said: "I know you are all involved and you support the insurgents. So now, you will pay for it — you and your children will pay for this.'"
Back to Raimondo:
The infamous "night raids" carried out by US troops have been a source of contention between Karzai and the Americans. As one commentator described them:
"The method employed is simple: Identify those who provide financial support or protection to the militants. And those who even have sympathies with them. Constitute teams which would go to the houses so identified, knock at the door and as soon as the wanted man appears, shoot him dead. At times a substitute is killed who may be a guest in the house but was unlucky to greet the intruders at the door. On an average about 50 night raids take place daily. And every night about 25 people are killed in cold blood in different parts of the country."
The quoted material comes from an article written by Rustam Shah Mohmand, who used to be Pakistan's ambassador to Afghanistan. Mohmand adds this:
The abominable practice of night raids was introduced by that much trumpeted and widely acclaimed head of the US forces Gen Stanley McChrystal. The idea was to save US ammunition and soldiers on the one hand and to eliminate all those who show any inclination to support the resistance. The assassination of targeted persons in cold blood is an insidious innovation in counterinsurgency. McChrystal’s successor Gen David Petraeus continued this cowardly programme that has become an entrenched tool of policy in counter-terrorism.
The Afghan parliamentary investigation team has reported that anywhere from 15 to 20 US troops could have taken part in the massacre.
The relatives of the victims told President Karzai that the counterinsurgency operation had received air support. They also claim the killers were brought in by military helicopters.
For more on these claims, see this piece by Bette Dam in Global Post.
While Sgt. Bales is in custody in the United States for the shooting, locals swear that multiple soldiers participated and that they communicated via walkie-talkies, indicating the attack might have been a more organized operation.
One witness, named Habibullah -- who lived next to the massacre scene in Alkozai -- did not hear helicopters, but did see "two or three Americans." The higher body count occurred in the neighboring village of Najiban, where helicopters were indeed reported:
Massouma, who lives in the neighboring village of Najiban, where 12 people were killed, said she heard helicopters fly overhead as a uniformed soldier entered her home. She said he flashed a “big, white light,” and yelled, “Taliban! Taliban! Taliban!”
Massouma said the soldier shouted “walkie-talkie, walkie-talkie.” The rules of engagement in hostile areas in Afghanistan permit US soldiers to shoot Afghans holding walkie-talkies because they could be Taliban spotters.
“He had a radio antenna on his shoulder. He had a walkie-talkie himself, and he was speaking into it,” she said.
After the soldier with the walkie-talkie killed her husband, she said he lingered in the doorway of her home.
“While he stood there, I secretly looked through the curtains and saw at least 20 Americans, with heavy weapons, searching all the rooms in our compound, as well as my bathroom,” she said.
Many Americans, motivated purely by bigotry and blinkered nationalism, will dismiss these reports out of hand. After all, the witnesses are all Muslims.
Personally, I think these stories have the ring of truth. They become all the more credible when we learn that the Americans are doing everything they can to keep journalists away from the witnesses.
So there is a strong likelihood that Bales was involved in a new type of night raid. On this occasion, the purpose was not to kill Taliban supporters but to exact vengeance. If this was the case, then the Americans followed the Nazi playbook.
The great problem with this theory is obvious: Why Bales? Why was he picked to play the role of scapegoat? And how can those who picked him be certain that he will never blab about what really happened?
Lawyer John Henry Browne said on Monday that Robert Bales remembers some details from before and after the killings, but very little or nothing from the time the military believes he went on a shooting spree through two Afghan villages.
"He has some memory of some things that happened that night. He has some memories of before the incident and he has some memories of after the incident. In between, very little," Browne told The Associated Press news agency by telephone from Fort Leavenworth, where Bales is being held since Friday.
Pressed on whether Bales can remember anything about the shooting, Browne said, "No," but added, "I haven't gotten that far with him yet." In an earlier interview with CBS News, Browne said unequivocally that Bales could not remember the shootings.
Drugs? It seems possible.
So just what is the case against Bales? What is the evidence against him? Why was he fingered? Is he just a patsy?
Why is the military allowed to conduct their own investigations?
Is there a History of objectivity and regard for the Law?
WTF is the FBI? Shite. What am I saying?
posted by Anonymous : 12:03 PM
Reuters -- The U.S. soldier accused of killing 16 civilians in Afghanistan left for war without paying a $1.5 million judgment for defrauding an elderly client in a stock scheme, and remains shielded from the obligation as long as he remains in the military, legal experts said.
Before beginning his military career in November, 2001, Robert Bales worked almost five-and-a-half years at a series of largely intertwined brokerages that received repeated regulatory censures, according to regulatory records.
"Many Americans, motivated purely by bigotry and blinkered nationalism, will dismiss these reports out of hand. After all, the witnesses are all Muslims."
When I read that the Romans wouldn't allow slaves to testify because they didn't believe they were capable of telling the truth I couldn't understand why people would hold that view. But after reading your comment I realize people still think that way. Then I remembered that Romans would only allow the testimony of slaves if they were tortured:
bmaz @emptywheel wants to know when you started blogging, again.
posted by Anonymous : 4:20 PM
This story is getting stranger and stranger. The story of 'more than one' was in the news feed at the very start, and then those details disappeared. Could it be a coverup? Of course, it could. Will the public get the full story? I wouldn't hold my breath. These wars have been an absolute disaster for everyone. There's a reason the saying goes: Afghanistan is where Empires go to die. What a frigging mess!
posted by Anonymous : 5:54 PM
Disturbing speculation surely but please no RT quoting or videos on Cannonfire. 25% psyops, 60% wacko/creative reality, and maybe 15% legitimate local angst. C'mon Alex Jones and Red Square! Of course no actual Russian content. I was hopeful for the channel but it is such a throwback it competes with our worst.
posted by Arbusto205 : 7:18 PM
Arbusto, I agree in large part. But RT does do some good stuff. They're like a bag of beans with LOTS of little stones that you have to pick out.
interesting article, if that's a policy it does reminds one of the phoenix program in south vietnam.
posted by Anonymous : 6:21 AM
Eric, you remember correctly...from at least the time of the ancient Greeks, slaves had to be tortured in order to testify. The slaves were considered vessels of their masters, holding the same information. Since their masters were considered crafty enough to lie, the truth was to be beaten out of the slaves.