Orbital Matters

Saturn Smith
Editor’s Pick
APRIL 5, 2010 2:30PM

U.S. Forces Admit to Killing Three Women, Two Men at Party

Rate: 15 Flag

Wow. On February 11, a U.S.-led NATO force visited a house near the village of Khatabeh in Paktiya Province to investigate possible Taliban or militant activity. The next day, NATO's International Security Assistance Force Public Affairs Office released a statement saying that the force had "found the bound and gagged bodies of two women and dead bodies of two men in a compound during an operation last night." A joint investigation was initiated.

Rod Nordland wrote a brief about this for The New York Times that day, too, including an interview with the Paktia Province police chief, who said there were two men and three women killed, and that the killings -- which he blamed on Taliban militants -- were carried out during the celebration of a baby's birth.

If it seems both horrible and likely that the troops mistook a birthday celebration for a gathering of militants, you've been keeping score. If you're wondering how, exactly, there was a party going on around a couple of bodies, you're also asking the right questions. You may suspect that this is about to take a turn from "awful" to "extremely awful."

It does: Yesterday, the ISAF released a statement claiming oops, they were wrong, no one was dead when they got there -- they did that. Emphasis mine:

A thorough joint investigation into the events that occurred in the Gardez district of Paktiya Province Feb. 12, has determined that international forces were responsible for the deaths of three women who were in the same compound where two men were killed by the joint Afghan-international patrol searching for a Taliban insurgent.

The two men, who were later determined not to be insurgents, were shot and killed by the joint patrol after they showed what appeared to be hostile intent by being armed. While investigators could not conclusively determine how or when the women died, due to lack of forensic evidence, they concluded that the women were accidentally killed as a result of the joint force firing at the men.

"We deeply regret the outcome of this operation, accept responsibility for our actions that night, and know that this loss will be felt forever by the families," said Brig Gen. Eric Tremblay, ISAF Spokesperson. "The force went to the compound based on reliable information in search of a Taliban insurgent and believed that the two men posed a threat to their personal safety. We now understand that the men killed were only trying to protect their families."

This is the "wow" part. Jerome Starkey in the London Times reports that the lack of forensic evidence that's discussed above is because the team dug the bullets out of the compound walls and possibly out of the women's bodies in an attempt to hide what had happened:

US special forces soldiers dug bullets out of their victims’ bodies in the bloody aftermath of a botched night raid, then washed the wounds with alcohol before lying to their superiors about what happened, Afghan investigators have told The Times.
Two pregnant women, a teenage girl, a police officer and his brother were shot on February 12 when US and Afghan special forces stormed their home in Khataba village, outside Gardez in eastern Afghanistan. The precise composition of the force has never been made public.

This was denied by the ISAF in March. The first stand -- and still partly the stand -- of the ISAF is that a man came to the yard carrying a weapon -- an AK-47, possibly -- and that the special forces unit felt threatened by him and shot him. This man, by the way, was a police office. Another man then rushed into the yard, also with a weapon; three women followed him, possibly trying to hold him back from charging toward the troops, possibly to see what had happened. One of the American forces opened fire and killed all four. The man who'd rushed the yard was the police officer's brother.

Then, apparently, the terrible effort at a cover-up began.

It doesn't matter how many schools you build or community tea ceremonies you participate in; if the default position of any group of U.S. forces is not only to shoot first, ask questions later but also to eliminate evidence, there's no one in Afghanistan who's going to welcome the presence of any troops from any country. The two pregnant women who were killed were mothers of, between them, 16 children. Do you think they'll grow up grateful for the U.S. intervention into their country?

Beyond that, there were at least a dozen local witnesses to the crime -- those who were attending the party inside the house. Did U.S. troops and their NATO overseers (also mostly American) really believe that news of what actually happened wouldn't spread?

I can't believe they didn't think the word would get out in Afghanistan. I also think they didn't perhaps care that much -- that the real audience for NATO and for all U.S.-led efforts remains the Western, not the Middle Eastern, world. That's the strategic tragedy of this story: We have never appropriately absorbed the lesson that our interests aren't superior to Afghani interests. They are in fact one and the same, and the continued, inexcusable, and unpunished killing of civilians is exactly the fuel that Hamid Karzai needs to continue his "it's all their fault!" campaign.

Because, this time, it is all our fault. Our troops did this; our troops tried to cover it up; and now our troops have been caught doing exactly that. I hope we'll now see General McChrystal make a statement, and I hope we'll see investigation continue. Though a system has encouraged this kind of killing, a person pulled the trigger, and justice demands he be named and held accountable.

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the only difference here though saturn seems to be that it was soldiers in person, instead of bombs dropped on wedding parties etc.

I doubt that these are the first innocent civilians killed in that war. Far more civilian Afghans have already died since we've been at war there than died in 9-11.

(This is an egregious instance though...)
I read Glenn Greenwald's account of the coverup and I was appalled, but sadly, not surprised. Afghanistan is rapidly becoming Obama's Iraq, without the protests.
I'd like to see a study of the number of successful coverups to the overall number of coverups. I know this is impossible, but stories like this make me question just how many more unreported atrocities are there?
Something most of us learned in grade school - the only friends a bully ever makes is other bullies who are afraid of him, and first chance they get, they turn. We are not winning friends and I sincerely doubt we ever will in that part of the world. You can only keep your foot on a wriggling snake so long before it turns and bites.
Only just saw the Wikileaks bit, BBE, and yeah -- that's horrifying.
This is like the rogue soldiers shooting up bungalows in Vietnam. What happens when you convince a trained war participant with a gun that the people around them are evil enemies? Well...this. The military needs a new method of defense. Not sure we should go back to the time of gentlemanly lines of Redcoats for warfare, but there's gotta be something that keeps our soldiers civilized.
let's hear it for america's defenders. keeping america safe, by shooting first.

this is not a new thing, it is sop. soldiers are not eager to die for the grand dreams of politicians. they are frightened, and should be: the locals don't want them there. some of the locals will press the point.

stop wringing your hands 'liberals,' 'progressives:' there is no clean war. either get your troops off other people's land, or shrug your shoulders at reports like this, and say "we need to be masters of afghanistan, lest some gang hiding in the mountains express their rage for our past thuggery in a way that makes re-election difficult."
You don't live in the real world.
and I agree with your call for justice and accountability.....
Thanks for this.
The wake up call. REmember The Vietnam Phenix Program? That was the hushed-up.
It was door to door.
Knock-down the peasant rice patty farmer family's door. It happened. Some did!
sad. I saw aftermaths.
I researched post-war.
The 60,000 died then.
Phoenix? I never saw.
But they did de`killing.
Knock knock.
peasants were scared.
And Who would not be?

Today in Afghanistan?
Iraq? It happens again.
A door to door murder.

I never saw this but ...
I saw the aftermath...
It's sadder than any hell?

O knock knock knock

"Who there?"
The most rogue,
a recruited
Jag lawyer,
pro-warmongering incarnations ... same-same ... thanks.

I was Drafted into a First Air Calvary infantry unit. I never knew or saw barbaric Massacre ... as in 'our' drafted, ground-ponder grunt infantry unit, NEVER participated in the burning of straw thatch rice-farmers, straw roofs,
we did not massacre civilians. We were out-in the beautiful three-canopy jungle. Monsanto?
`Um sprayed Agent Orange

The 1st of the 12th Calvary,
refused to check dead bodies.
After the choppers sent us to those devastated, B- 52 aerial bombing missions (sigh-sadly), where the NVA North Vietnamese soldiers, and women nurses came down along the Ho Chi Minh Trail to try to rid American invaders from killing via mercenary SOCIOPATHS ... YOU KNOW.
The American government was bombing the North mercilessly then, and DRONES NOW?

Wall Street war-arms-merchants ... PROFITEERS, those who had stock-investments in M- 16 (Mattel Toy CEO made the M- 16 plastic stock-part components to the M-16 - by the way - that rifle is scattered far - worldwide)

(.,.,.) sad.
Is there a language?

Pope bobbleheads FOX pro-war pundits, Karl Roves's, Bush weasel-wastrels, Rumsfeld, Pelosi, Reid, and the whole profiteering batch of foul critters at Capital Hill?

on and on and on. UT. Ugh!
Glenn Greenwald has a Wiki!
Respectfully, see a You Tube!
GG did a great LIES exposure!
See todays. Glenn Greenwald?
It will reveal the type of ilk that are recruited by the Pentagon's modern, barbarian savages, Yes!

You may not sleep well - an abyss.
I'd suggest to go visit GG ref Iraq.
I will say`I was drafted. I am alive.

The First Calvary did not operate in civilian sectors. The mercenary recruits were volunteer killer-murderous. My Cav Unit aimed to survive. The grunt infantry units were primarily Drafted youth who opposed the war.

War is sad as hell
Today was so sad
Read GG etc., and
Chris Floyd. Truth

Get a gimpse into the warmonger militant psyche? Thanks Saturn.

'We' are murdering
Afghans Iraqi baby
but not in my name

Read the Southeast Asian history? The North civilian populated sector CITIES North of the border, dividing North and South Vietnam. SAME SAME Ilk reign in the Pentagon. OIl. Profits. GREED. SAME-SAME today. The NVA came South of the 17-th parallel dividing border,
between North/South,
because the civilians --
Up North, were bombed!
Check out Glenn Greenwald?
The real world? Walk through war?
Walk in a red blood-bath -puddles?

Imagine? What IF, if, Ya backyards?
Bombs on Ya tulips and kale greens?

rant banter my reality my experience.
Yes. noble soldiers warriors Truth ay!
It is our judgement that defeats us. We have no role there. Let us be gone.
nice story, but you might be barking up the wrong tree. McChrystal was probably involved in the Tillman coverup, according to journalist/writer jon krakauer. look it up. maybe McChrystal is just as much a master or artist of whitewashed, undetectable propaganda and coverup and snow-jobs that Rumsfield was.
I think you should have to read this story, and watch the wikileaks video about the shootings in Iraq too before you can talk with a ROTC recruiter. All you dispicable warmongers out there... as you sit in your arm chairs is this what you wanted? becuase it is what you will reap. Dispicable! I have said it before I eill say it again, my child can do whatever she wants, but the only way she could truely dissapoint me is if she joins the military.
See Dennis Loo's most recent for a video of US forces killing a Reuters reporter in Iraq. Same difference. Same bullshit.
You have to wonder how many incidents like this occur that never get uncovered. Winning the hearts and minds of Afghan's one dead pregnant woman at a time. Remind me again, who are the terrorists?
It is simple war is now sanitized for network viewing. War is brutal, destructive and the longer it continues the more human nature (especially frustration) from a conflict that will never end displaces the moral conscience and results in greater and greater acts of violence towards the general population. When a army becomes the occupying force in time every citizen becomes the enemy.

The original objective was to capture and punish the group or groups responsible for the 911 attacks not free or rebuild Afghanistan. Our military should be for defense only. We should not be the world police and our young men and women should not be put in harms way for the sake of other countries. The longer we stay the more such events will increase.

It is time to bring our troops home. And a strong message should go out to the world that the United States will work with any country in peace and mutual beneficial trade. But, if you attack us we will unleash the dogs of war and level your country. We will not rebuild it, we will not restore order and we will not sacrifice our young for your freedoms. Forget the noble idea that war is anything less than what it is, it is hell.
I hope that all 'western powers' would bring their military out of Afganistan. The problem is not only with Americans, but with all of them.
For news and entertainment, the Media scrutiny of modern warfare has brought battle onto our laptop and into our living room. War has always caused death and injury to non-combatants. It's a tragic occurrence that cannot always be avoided by those who command. To defeat an enemy who fights among civilians, a soldier must risk making casualties of innocent people. That is the sad fact.
Your all encompasing insult of everything military is disappointing and disgusting.
Not all of us who join the service do so to 'kill", etc.
I would bet you never ever met, let alone discussed what a hospital corpsman goes through or why they have selected that particular rating.
I had been in the reserves when Vietnam came home to ME in the form of some buddies coming home all shot up, in pieces and/or dead.
I fucking VOLUNTEERED to go back in and specificaly to Nam.
I didn't got there to kill/shoot/main/cripple, etc.
Ask someone esle why we HMs go and what we do.
I selected YOU for this post because of what you said about your ignorant and mean spirited comment about being disappointed if she joins the military.
Some of us are pretty fucking decent people who have chosen to do more than just safely sit home and whine.
Goddamnit, you and people like you piss me off.
Things happen in war. Things especially happen in a war where the enemy is part of the population. Our soldiers are not just walking around enjoying the sunshine only to be surprised when an enemy combatant comes out from behind his wife's or mother's skirts who was intentionally trying to hide him. Our soldiers have their fingers nervously on the trigger ready to prevent themselves or, worse yet, their fellow soldiers from being killed. When an unidentifiable, but potential enemy, comes from out of the shadows with a gun, they should expect to be killed and when you're in the midst of soldiers fighting a war, you do not want to make any sudden moves because that movement might be mistaken as someone pulling the pin on a grenade. In the end, better them than us and the entire Afghan population is not worth the life of one American soldier.

That's war, baby, and if you don't have the stomach for it, don't send the soldiers. You also can't be so naive as to expect to get the true facts from the enemy.
thank you for this story Saturn. it's poignant and horrific and a terrible indictment of US policy in Afghanistan. rated.
What no one wants to acknowledge is that this war was illegitimate to begin with and remains so today. The Taliban were never a part of 911 and had no control over Osama bin Laden, if indeed, he was ever present in Afghanistan (the US hasn't found him so maybe he was never there). The Taliban are a grass roots organization of extremist Muslims who had at the time no influence outside of the boundaries of the state of Afghanistan. Today because of American intervention, the Taliban are now located in various countries in the Middle East. Talk about foolishness on the part of Bush and Co. There was only one reason for the invasion of that poor benighted country and it had nothing whatsoever to do with either the Taliban or bin Laden. It was in fact a means of securing a potential oil pipeline through Afghani territory.
o. o.

thank you Saturn for this concise and important post. You are fierce and correct: if we do not rein in our soldiers and our policies over there, nothing good will come.
@ banterrific- You can say what you say here BECAUSE of the military. You wouldn't have the guts to say that to a veterans face. @ XJS and me, I totally back up everything that you posted here. I don't blame you for being pissed off. Thank you for your service.
XJS & Me - You are part of the problem. You may not have joined the military to kill, but you helped enable the machine to continue its murderous ways. So quit patting yourself on the back. If you wanted to help, you could have joined the Peace Corp. Read Gen Smedley Butler 'War Is A Racket.' It ain't about freedom and democracy, its about profit for corporations. That is who you helped, like it or not. You wrote: "Some of us are pretty fucking decent people who have chosen to do more than just safely sit home and whine." How many guys did you patch up so they could get back out into the jungle to kill more "gooks" as you and your buddies liked to dehumanizingly called them. How many young men did you patch up so they could witness and participate in atrocities and end up with PTSD destroying the rest of their lives. At least there was a draft with Vietnam so many didn't have a choice. People in the military now don't have that excuse. They willingly signed up for the slaughter. I am with Banterrific on this one. And don't tell me they volunteered. Last time I checked, they are getting paid. Do teachers volunteer, no they get paid, just like the military, they just don't murder people for a living.

Out West - You aren't fighting for my freedom of speech. Get off your high horse. If anything, you are helping to limit it. Wikileaks and other journalists are targeted and sometimes killed because they are trying to get to the truth, because that is the last thing the military wants. All this deference to the military is bullshit. More people need to speak out against them. Maybe more people within the military need to speak out and refuse to fight and kill people for their corporate overlords.
@XJS and me @ Out west

My Grandfather served proudly in WWII, he fought for our country...
Soldiers in Iraq are fighting for our Government, not our country. That is the crucual difference. It is a war of choice, a war of faulty intellegence, a war of George Bush and his chickenhawks. I am no peacenick, I realize that we need a military to defend our country. If that was its purpose, I would be proud to go myself or send my child, but alas defense is not its purpose.
I would be clinically insane to let my child join an organization that routinely does what I saw on that video. If you would let your child turn into that kind of animal, one that shoots civilians... one that errs on the side of killing a family vs. erring on not pulling the trigger. yeah, go ahead put your kids in that situation, not mine.

Why would you object to this being shown at an ROTC station? Is it not their job to kill? Isnt this what really happens in war? Shouldnt we show recruits what war is really like.. unlike the kick ass music videos you will be shown at the recruiting station. I never ever said all military people are bad, or are all killers. I am simply saying I will never let my child have the opportunity to turn into that THING I heard on that video.
alaska progressive,
YOU are nothing more than a cowardly piece of shit.
If you have any relatives who served in the military, I hope they see your petty hate filled drivel and tell you exactly what sort of chicken shit chicken hearted garbage you are.
Unlike the less than shit like YOU, those of us who jhave been TRULY responsible Americans and served with legitimate and decent motivations for that service, hate war more than you could know.
You, and the other trash ought to live in one of those countries you love rather than America which you hate so much.
Fucking anti-Americans like you do not deserve what we, the REAL Americans have preserved for you.
It is clear that
alaska progressive,
YOU are nothing more than a cowardly piece of shit.
If you have any relatives who served in the military, I hope they see your petty hate filled drivel and tell you exactly what sort of chicken shit chicken hearted garbage you are.
Unlike the less than shit like YOU, those of us who jhave been TRULY responsible Americans and served with legitimate and decent motivations for that service, hate war more than you could know.
You, and the other trash ought to live in one of those countries you love rather than America which you hate so much.
Fucking anti-Americans like you do not deserve what we, the REAL Americans have preserved for you.
It is clear that
Finishing my coments to the leech who lives off the lives of good Americans, alaska denegenrate,
It is clear that YOU hate all of us who have helped bring you the opportunity to post your hateful goddamn drivel against all of us who did serve.
You are the worst sort of lousy fucking leech who lives off of the efforts of all others.
Go away from my America.
XJS - You are wrong, I love America, that is why it is so disheartening to see it corrupted by a corporate owned government and its henchmen in the military. You say I am a coward, when it is our cowardly military armed to the teeth slaughtering pregnant women, murdering children, and reveling in the deaths of unarmed wounded men who are void of moral courage. They fly their drones from Nevada to drop instruments of death on wedding parties in far away lands. I am the coward. Why because I refuse to engage in that kind of immoral behavior. Because I speak out against an out of control murderous immoral military. Those who are silent, enable the killing to go on. They are the cowards, along with those doing the butchering.

With so called responsible Americans like you and the rest of the military goon squad you so proudly hail, is it any wonder why so much of the rest of the world sees us as imperialist, torturing, murderous, heartless, heathens.

How is dissent, anti-American. How is not following the accepted line of nationalism, anti-American. Our founding fathers believed in dissent and were against a standing army because of the tyranny that came with it. They would call you anti-American. It seems like you would like me to just be quiet and support our troops as they continue to murder innocent people throughout the world. How un-American of you. Advocating people being kicked out of their own country seems like something Hitler would like. You sound like you would have done well in Nazi era German. Can you goose-step?

Please tell me, what were we fighting for in Vietnam. Were we afraid a bunch of peasant rice farmers were going to invade America? Don't give me the domino theory bullshit. So what if a bunch of poor farmers want to be communist. Of course our government can't allow another sovereign country to follow a path other than the American way of so called free markets, because if another way actually worked for a country, then other countries may follow, and the U.S. and its business interests would no longer be able to profit on the backs of poor people in far away lands. The military enables the corporate rape of other peoples resources. Like it or not, that is what you enabled with your gallant service.

What freedom is our military preserving for me with their illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq. The freedom to drive an SUV? Its about oil and war profiteering. A hand full of people are getting rich, while a lot of other people die. The men and women in the military should be appalled at what our government has done and leadership in the military allows. The lies that have been told and continue to be told should cause outrage within the ranks, but they continue to follow orders as they have been programed to do. After all, war is a drug as Chris Hedges writes in his eloquent book ' War Is A Force That Gives Us Meaning.'

Tell me, what freedoms of mine are the military defending when they invaded and now occupy Afghanistan? Those who supposedly perpetrated 911 were primarily Saudis. Can't invade them, they are our ally. They planned it in Germany. Can't invade them, they are our ally. They trained for it in the U.S. Can't invade your own country. Let's pick a country that is weak and has something we want (geopolitical importance for pipeline and trade routes and access to resources).

I suspect you will respond with a bunch of empty name calling. How sad for you that you have been brainwashed from your military service and years of indoctrination to be unable to think critically.
a progressive,
Have someone look up naval personael with an HM rating.
We are also called corpsman.
Have someone read to you what it is that we do and where.
In the meantime, you are absolutely ignorant and worthless so, I won't respond to your drivel ever again.
XJS - I addressed what enablers corpsman are in my other post to you. They enable the military machine to continue its wanton slaughter. I assume by drivel, you mean truth. Yeah, it does sting doesn't it.
You should maybe when your available go to Afghanistan and ask to go with some Special Operation Specialists at night in the freezing cold and monitor their activities, hopefully if you come out alive you can thank them. It's very easy sitting in your home or office in the US to be judgmental when you read news reports and determine they are fact.
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