Friday, July 10, 2009

Bush Administration Covered Up War Crimes By Afghani Allies


James Risen's story in today's New York Times reveals that "[a]fter a mass killing of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of Taliban prisoners of war by the forces of an American-backed warlord during the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan, Bush administration officials repeatedly discouraged efforts to investigate the episode." While the United States was rounding up people in Afghanistan, some perfectly innocent, and holding them in Guantanamo Bay and elsewhere, it refused to prosecute known war crimes by its allies.

American officials had been reluctant to pursue an investigation — sought by officials from the F.B.I., the State Department, the Red Cross and human rights groups — because the warlord, Gen. Abdul Rashid Dostum, was on the payroll of the C.I.A. and his militia worked closely with United States Special Forces in 2001, several officials said. They said the United States also worried about undermining the American-supported government of President Hamid Karzai, in which General Dostum had served as a defense official.

The details of the killings are gruesome:
Survivors and witnesses told The New York Times and Newsweek in 2002 that, over a three-day period, Taliban prisoners were stuffed into closed metal shipping containers and given no food or water; many suffocated while being trucked to the prison. Other prisoners were killed when guards shot into the containers. The bodies were said to have been buried in a mass grave in Dasht-i-Laili, a stretch of desert just outside Shibarghan.

A recently declassified 2002 State Department intelligence report states that one source, whose identity is redacted, concluded that about 1,500 Taliban prisoners died. Estimates from other witnesses or human rights groups range from several hundred to several thousand. The report also said that several Afghan witnesses were later tortured or killed.

For more details about the killings visit this website run by Physicians for Human Rights.

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