Mar 15, 2010
Another night-time raid on a housing compound in Afghanistan. Another
bunch of innocent Afghans killed. Another round of lies by the US-led
forces of the so-called International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).
Only this time, among the dead are two pregnant mothers and a teenage
And once again the US media remain mute, accepting the official
story, which was of ISAF forces responding to an attack which in reality
appears never to have happened.
Before I started to write this piece, which once again was broken
by the intrepid Jerome Starkey, a reporter in Afghanistan who works
for the Times of London, I thought maybe I should read the
Sunday edition of the New York Times, to see whether America's
"paper of record" had reported on this latest atrocity. But the night
before we had suffered a heavy storm that knocked down three large trees
in my front yard, and there was currently a thunderstorm underway, with
rain pouring down, so I decided, what the hell, I'll just write it.
There's no way the Times would cover this story.
I was right, of course. When the rain let up, and I went
out and got the paper, and scoured it for word of this latest obscene
slaughter by US forces, I found nothing. The Times' reporters
in Afghanistan and the reporters in the paper's Washington bureau who
cover the Pentagon had ignored it. So, a Google search discloses, did
the rest of the servile US media.
So what actually happened?
According to Starkey, US and Afghan Army forces on February 12
launched a pre-dawn assault on the home of a prominent and popular
policeman's home just outside of Gardez, the capital of Paktia province
in eastern Afghanistan. The first person to die was reportedly the
policeman himself, Commander Dawood, who had stood in his doorway
protesting the innocence of his family. In the volley of fire directed
against him by the brave US-led team, his pregnant wife, another
pregnant woman and an 18-year-old girl were also slaughtered.
Commander Dawood had been hosting a party to celebrate the
naming of a newborn baby boy, Starkey reported. As he writes:
Sitting together along the walls of a guest room, the men had
taken turns dancing while musicians played. Mohammed Sediq Mahmoudi, 24,
the singer, said that at some time after 3am one of the musicians, Dur
Mohammed, went outside to go to the toilet. "Someone shone a light on
his face and he ran back inside and said the Taliban were outside," Mr
Also killed was Dawood's brother, Saranwal Zahir, a local
prosecutor, who had been shouting for soldiers not to shoot as women had
run outside to tend to the wounded.
A younger brother of the two men, Mohammed Sabir, was arrested by
the invading forces and brought to a US base, where he was held for
several days and interrogated by " an American in civilian clothes,"
before being released. Sabir said he was shown photos of a man who had
been at the party, a certain Shamsuddin. Sabir says he told the
interrogatyor, "Yes, he was at the party. Why didn't you arrest him?"
The man in question, Shamsuddin, later turned himself in and was, after
questioning, reportedly also released.
Raising the question, what was this raid, and all the
pointless killing, about in the first place?
As Starkey writes, the US and the ISAF initially, following
what appears to be standard operating procedure, concocted a lie about
the incident In a release immediately afterward, under the headline,
"Joint force operating in Gardez makes gruesome discovery," the NATO
release claimed that the US-led team had found the women's bodies "tied
up, gagged and killed" in a room. That statement went on to say:
"Several insurgents engaged the joint force in a firefight and were
As Starkey, who charges NATO with a "coverup," reports: "The family,
however, insists that no one threw so much as a stone."
He goes on:
Rear Admiral Greg Smith, NATO's director of communications in
Kabul, denied that there had been any attempt at a cover-up.
He said that both the men who were killed were armed and showing
"hostile intent" but admitted "they were not the targets of this
"I don't know if they fired any rounds," he said. "If you have
got an individual stepping out of a compound, and if your assault force
is there, that is often the trigger to neutralise the individual. You
don't have to be fired upon to fire back."
He admitted that the original statement had been "poorly worded"
but said "to people who see a lot of dead bodies" the women had appeared
at the time to have been dead for several hours.
Starkey reports that the Americans offered the distraught
family $2000 per victim of the botched raid. But as the mother of the
slain brothers, Bibi Sabsparie, told him bitterly, "There's no value on
human life. They killed our family, then they came and brought us money.
Money won't bring our family back."
So once again, we have a massacre (in a night-time raid that
occurred two weeks after the US commander in Afghanistan, Gen.
Stanley McChrystal, ordered an end to the practice because of the number
of errors and civilian deaths, and the bad public relations such raids
cause among Afghans), with no coverage by the US media.
Meanwhile, Starkey says that even in the UK, his stories have been
ignored by the rest of the British media, and that his own efforts to
get at the truth have begun causing problems with the US-led military
command in Afghanistan.
As he told one reader who had written him to congratulate him on his
Word in Kabul is that NATO are turning their wrath on me,
personally, and about to release a rebuttal. All of a sudden it's a
daunting prospect and more than ever I feel what it must be like to be
churned through the military machine. It's good to know people
appreciate it. I've also had emails from the victims' family, which is
It is not easy to be an honest reporter in wartime, where
sycophancy and blind patriotism are what is demanded. Sadly, the US
media are taking the easy way out, accepting the rules of being
embedded, which require them to submit articles for censorship, to avoid
being critical and to play the game, in return for getting easy human
interest stories to send back to the readers and viewers back home.
That's not journalism. It's PR. It ought to be labeled as such.
Extra! Also ignored by the Times and most of the
rest of the US corporate media was a historic
decision by a federal judge in Chicago on March 4 to compel former
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to respond to charges by to US torture
victims that Rumsfeld authorized their torture by US forces at Camp
Cropper in Iraq. The two men, David Vance and Nathan Ertel, were
whistleblowers against the private security (mercenary) firm that had
hired them, claiming it was secretly providing arms to insurgents.
Instead of getting the firm investigated, they were arrested by US
troops and held--and tortured, they claim--for three months, before
being released without charge and sent home to the US.
Their attorney, Mike Kanovitz of Chicago's Loevy & Loevy,
correctly calls the quashing of Rumsfeld's effort to have the suit
against him thrown out, "pretty historic"--a former secretary of defense
is being accused of authorizing the torture of American citizens and
will have to answer the charge in a federal court--but you wouldn't know
it from the response of the US mainstream media, which has
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