March 11, 2012

Afghan Meadows Massacre - or Haditha Redux?

Hatched by Dafydd

An American staff sergeant has just been indicted, tried, convicted, and condemned for a horrific massacre in Afghanistan; the court was the mainstream media -- which also served as judge, jury, and sentencing panel. Such Obamic efficiency; such economy of deliberation!

The trouble is, we don't know what really happened there, because the investigation has barely begun. As the Brady Bunch might say, "here's the story..."

PANJWAI, Afghanistan -- Stalking from home to home, a United States Army sergeant methodically killed at least 16 civilians, 9 of them children, in a rural stretch of southern Afghanistan early on Sunday, igniting fears of a new wave of anti-American hostility, Afghan and American officials said.

First discordant note of skepticism: The sources for information about this alleged massacre were cited as "Afghan and American officials;" but in the entire rest of the Times story, the only information from an American source is that there is only one suspect and he is currently being held:

The officials said the main suspect was an Army staff sergeant who acted alone and then surrendered. "The initial reporting that we have at this time indicates there was one shooter, and we have one man in custody," said Lt. Col. Jimmie Cummings, a NATO spokesman.

All other details come from Afghan reports, both by officials and by supposed victims and alleged eyewitnesses in Panjwai -- a notorious Taliban stronghold. The information flow appears to be from Afghan sources to Americans, who simply parrot what they have been told. That is, "[r]esidents of three villages in the Panjwai district of Kandahar Province described a terrifying string of attacks," but "American officials in Kabul were scrambling to understand what had happened."

Now that certainly builds confidence.

The unilateral sourcing of the Times' story immediately raises my suspicions. Then, too, the Afghan-supplied details of the massacre sound even more bizarre:

Residents of three villages in the Panjwai district of Kandahar Province described a terrifying string of attacks in which the soldier, who had walked more than a mile from his base, tried door after door, eventually breaking in to kill within three separate houses. The man gathered 11 bodies, including those of 4 girls younger than 6, and set fire to them, villagers said....

In Panjwai, a reporter for The New York Times who inspected bodies that had been taken to the nearby American military base counted 16 dead, including five children with single gunshot wounds to the head, and saw burns on some of the children’s legs and heads. "All the family members were killed, the dead put in a room, and blankets were put over the corpses and they were burned," said Anar Gula, an elderly neighbor who rushed to the house after the soldier had left. "We put out the fire."

The villagers also brought some of the burned blankets on motorbikes to display at the base, Camp Belambay, in Kandahar, and show that the bodies had been set alight. Soon, more than 300 people had gathered outside to protest.

And while such staggering carnage was carried out -- evidently by a lone American soldier -- not a single resident could locate a weapon and shoot back at the man. Not one.

But in areas of Afghanistan like Panjwai, that are forever in a tug-of-war between Taliban and government forces, shouldn't we assume that every man would be armed, or nearly so? Shouldn't these three villages be awash with AK-47s, M-16s, and heavier weapons, and thick with Afghans boasting much recent experience using them?

Yet a single soldier can not only walk from house to house, trying doors and entering domiciles to butcher women and children at will, but even finds the time and leisure to pick up eleven dead bodies, convey them (presumably one at a time on his shoulders or tucked under his arms) from one place to another, and there burn them. A veritable Superman. (Didn't anybody think to fire upon him while his hands were thus occupied?)

I can't say it's impossible that such a massacre occured in the way that AP and its sock puppets described it... but boy howdy, what a series of unfortunate events must have occurred to prevent the local residents from doing anything, anything at all, to stop this one man death squad from devastating a village.

And what perfect timing! The alleged event occurs just as the Koran-burning riots are dying down. By a tragic coincidence, a lone American gunman goes nuts and commits a demonic act of mass human sacrifice just in time to reignite the rampage against Americans and NATO, just as withdrawal talks have finally resumed.

We don't know who actually reported what supposedly happened, but we sure know who benefits from those reports (true or false): the Taliban... in one of the home bases of the Taliban.

I'm sorry if I seem insufficiently convinced of the accuracy and veracity of this report; but I can't help remembering the "Haditha Massacre" in Iraq -- which turned out, after a lengthy investigation and multiple criminal trials, to be a complete fabrication in almost every particular reported in the first heady days of the story -- lurid "factoids" ginned up by the media, who have yet to apologize or even admit they were dead wrong.

And then there was the infamous "Wedding Party Massacre," with the mystery band instruments that appeared, undamaged and right on top of the blast site, hours after earlier photographs of the same area showed nothing of the sort. (An immaculate deception.)

And leave us not forget the "Jenin Massacre," where Israeli commandos (according to Palestinian "eyewitnesses" and government officials) obliterated the entire inner city of Jenin, on the West Bank... except that they in fact did no such thing, as later photographs and video footage conclusively proved. "Never mind!"

President Barack H. Obama has already apologized to Afghanistan, if not quite to the Taliban:

President Hamid Karzai condemned the attacks, calling them in a statement an “inhuman and intentional act” and demanding justice. Both President Obama and Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta called Mr. Karzai, expressing condolences and promising thorough investigations. "This incident is tragic and shocking, and does not represent the exceptional character of our military and the respect that the United States has for the people of Afghanistan," Mr. Obama said in a statement.

They could have added, "on the other hand, this incident might not even represent the truth;" but that would have spoiled the story.

Meanwhile, the Times managed to find a silver lining:

Another senior military official said the sergeant was 38 and married with two children. He had served three tours of duty in Iraq, this official said, and had been deployed to Afghanistan for the first time in December. Yet another military official said he has served in the Army for 11 years.

I.e., since enlisting in 2001; so it was George Bush's fault after all! Probably some soldier suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder due to repeated deployments forced upon him by the previous regime administration.

Maybe I'm jaded, but color me skeptical. It may well turn out to be every bit as horrific and shameful to America as the media gleefully report; accuracy is always a possibility, no matter how out of character that would be. But that's not how initial reports of similar incomprehensible, "American-caused" massacres have generally fared when exposed to the light of actual evidence dredged up by a thorough and complete investigation.

Let's sit tight and wait to see what the evidence actually shows before belly-flopping, yet again, upon the American military.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, March 11, 2012, at the time of 10:16 PM

Comments

The following hissed in response by: West

My thoughts exactly. The whole thing stinks to high heaven.

The one so-called 'eyewitness", says that the perp was stealthily manouvering around the house (in question). It's kinda hard to be stealthy when firing a gun.

The witness claims he saw a "NATO" uniform - but not the perp's face "Because it was dark'. If it was that dark, then just how was a NATO uniform actually identified? My guess is the kid saw camo - and therefore said it was a 'NATO" uniform.

I have three guesses about this:

1. It was a love triangle.

2. It was some really nasty Taliban who were killing our people, everyone knew who they were but were unable to go after them because of our ROE's, so this guy decided to do what needed to be done.

3. It didn't happen at all, or a variation on (1), this guy killed one person, and the Taliban sacrificed a couple of families to bulk up the story.

We'll see when the facts come out, if they ever do. Look at how long it took for the truth about Haditha to prevail.

The above hissed in response by: West [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 12, 2012 5:02 PM

The following hissed in response by: mdgiles

So. In a country where every wedding party fires any number of weapons into the air; no one could find a weapon to shot this guy sneaking through the night, in a village that should have been as familiar to the Afghans as the back of their hand. Until I hear more, I've got to call BULL on this one.

The above hissed in response by: mdgiles [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 14, 2012 8:41 AM

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