US/NATO murders in Afghanistan continue

35

March 9, 2010 by The Mormon Worker

Nato admits that deaths of 8 boys were a mistake
From the Times Online (UK)

By Jerome Starkey,
February 25, 2010

A night-time raid in eastern Afghanistan in which eight schoolboys from one family were killed was carried out on the basis of faulty intelligence and should never have been authorised, a Times investigation has found.

Ten children and teenagers died when troops stormed a remote mountain compound near the border with Pakistan in December.

At the time, Nato claimed that the assault force was targeting a “known insurgent group responsible for a series of violent attacks”. Officials said that the victims were involved in making and smuggling improvised explosive devices. But Western sources close to the case now agree that the victims were all aged 12 to 18 and were not involved in insurgent activity.

Nato sources say that the raid should never have been authorised. “Knowing what we know now, it would probably not have been a justifiable attack,” an official in Kabul told The Times. “We don’t now believe that we busted a major ring.”

Read the rest of the article here.

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35 thoughts on “US/NATO murders in Afghanistan continue

  1. todrobbins says:

    Is it sad that this isn’t surprising to me?

  2. SUNNofaB.C.Rich says:

    if anybody bothers to read the whole article, it suggests the troops carrying out the attack were Afghan. Probably acting on Afghan intelligence too.

  3. James says:

    Tell me you guys heard Glenn Beck: http://www.politicsdaily.com/2010/03/08/glenn-beck-urges-listeners-to-leave-churches-that-preach-social/

    “I’m begging you, your right to religion and freedom to exercise religion and read all of the passages of the Bible as you want to read them and as your church wants to preach them . . . are going to come under the ropes in the next year. If it lasts that long it will be the next year. I beg you, look for the words ‘social justice’ or ‘economic justice’ on your church Web site. If you find it, run as fast as you can. Social justice and economic justice, they are code words. Now, am I advising people to leave their church? Yes!”

  4. SUNNofaB.C.Rich, the article states, “Colonel Gross said that US forces were present but did not lead the operation.”
    Even if you US forces didn’t pull the trigger, they were involved, and I doubt US forces are taking orders from Afghans.

  5. Joseph says:

    Sounds like everyone is trying to blame everyone else, so I do have a tough time believing U.S. forces weren’t involved in the killings. Anytime there are too many fingers pointing too many directions, it seems usually everyone’s ultimately to blame.

  6. SUNNofaB.C.Rich says:

    Mormon Worker, present in what form and exactly where… inside the compound, outside… one of those links above implies that there actually were IED smuggling activities going on at that location. So if the intelligence was good and Afghan troops did the raid with some minimal SF supervision, then it’s on the Afghans.

  7. Tariq says:

    Notice that NATO officials called the murders of these innocent children a “mistake”. Accidentally stepping on some bugs is a mistake. Killing innocent people is murder. If a NATO commander’s children were killed by some witless soldiers following the orders of some witless officers, do you think he’d just brush it aside as a “mistake”? These military invaders have no respect for life and have no respect for the Afghan people. They shouldn’t be there in the first place, and the longer they stay there, the more there will be of this kind of callous behavior. Knowing what I do about the way miltaries have perfected the art of dodging responsibility for their own actions, I don’t expect to see anyone get in any kind of trouble for this. After all, “it’s a really stressful job”, and blah blah blah.

  8. SUNNofaB.C.Rich says:

    What if it was Afghan troops doing the killing and the dead were implicated in IED smuggling activities? That would cloud up the “innocent” claim a bit and Afghan troops pulling the triggers is a situation that would likely be there without US/Nato having any involvement.

    Maybe Afghans figure if youre old enough to plant booby traps, youre old enough to get shot.

  9. Tariq says:

    It would make no difference if it were Afghan troops doing the killing. It’s still murder. It’s still unjustified. It did happen under US/Nato command, however, and ultimately they are the ones who need to take responsiblity for their own boneheaded, uninformed decisions.
    According to NATO commanders, the murdered children were innocent, and NATO has no evidence that the dead had anything to do with IED smuggling. It’s very sleazy that you are trying to suggest that the children who were murdered were somehow at fault, especially when US/NATO officials have already said that the children were innocent. I don’t understand why you right wingers would rather make yourselves look sleazy than simply admit that your beloved troops do wrong.

  10. SUNNofaB.C.Rich says:

    if it was false Afghan intelligence and Afghan troops doing the shooting then it’s not as “US/NATO murders in Afghanistan continue”

  11. SUNNofaB.C.Rich says:

    not as simple as…

  12. Tariq says:

    Who armed and trained them, and who do they take orders from? Who are they working for? If US/NATO had nothing to do with it, then why are US/NATO officials apologizing for it? What’s the problem with just facing the facts? Would your entire world shatter if you had to admit that the US military has been involved in human rights violations? The right wing in this country is far too prideful and lives in denial. A US soldier could cold-bloodedly stomp a cute little puppy to death right in front of your eyes, and your brain would quickly go to work trying to come up with reasons why the puppy deserved it, because what is unconceivable to you, is that the soldier could be in the wrong. Eight innocent children were killed, and your first reaction isn’t to condemn the attack; rather, your first reaction is to try to come up with excuses for it.

  13. SUNNofaB.C.Rich says:

    It’s reasonable that a raid would occur if there was good intelligence that insurgent activity was originating from this “compound” like how big was the compound how many houses etc etc all unknown to us… if it was a shoot first ask questions later type of thing then it would probably slide if it was right targets/wrong tactics, wrong targets/wrong tactics big mistake sure. I’m more inclined to point the finger at who exactly shot them and who pointed the finger at the wrong house. In the context of this site I don’t mind taking the opposing view to most stuff that shows up here.

  14. Tariq says:

    By “opposing view” you mean that you take the “view” that it is justified for soldiers to murder innocent children; the view that soldiers are never in the wrong, no matter what they do. That’s not a “view”, it’s a self-imposed state of denial. As long as soldiers are marching around with guns in places they shouldn’t be, there will always be someone pointing the finger at the wrong house.

    The really angering thing about this incident is how unextraordinary it is. I wish I could say that this is an isolated incident, but it is not. This kind of thing happens often, and it will continue to happen because militaries don’t care about the people they decide to dominate and control. It’s all just collateral damage to them. The only extraordinary thing about this incident is that it actually got mainstream media attention.

    Mormons know (or at least should know) that “it is the nature and disposition of almost all men, as soon as they get a little authority, as they suppose, they will immediately begin to excercise unrighteous dominion”. Give those same men who have a little authority some uniforms and guns, and then you have yourself a seriously screwed up situation.

  15. SUNNofaB.C.Rich says:

    I’m simply taking the position that there are no doubt a lot of different factors, circumstances and players in this situation that light hasn’t been shed on. I seriously doubt a joint forces operation was launched just for the purpose of killing kids.

    Interesting example, so would you apply that “unrighteous dominion” stuff to the mountain meadows massacre? How far up the mormon chain of command would you take that one?

  16. todrobbins says:

    Brigham didn’t order it SUNN. That’s been established pretty well as of late.

  17. SUNNofaB.C.Rich says:

    and NATO no doubt didn’t order these kids to be killed Tod….

  18. SunnofBCrich, i agree that the operation wasn’t planned to kill kids on purpose. the disturbing thing is the incredibly low thresh hold of evidence required before going in and killing a bunch of people. This happens in house raids like this, but more often than not it happens in US airstrikes. US officials say they take all kinds of care to avoid killing civilians, but it has been happening regularly since 2001. Even our puppet Karzai endlessly complains about the civilian deaths.

    The other disturbing thing about this article comes from the last paragraph:

    “Senior Western officers have hinted that the “trigger pullers” were Afghan; the Afghan Defence Ministry said its troops were not involved. Mohammed Afzal, Narang’s district police chief, insisted that US special forces were involved.

    It seems like everyone is kind of denying knowing exactly who these guys are. It reminds me of the the death squads the US was organizing in Iraq out of the Iraqi ministry of interior in 2005 (ie the Wolf Brigades). James Steele, veteran of the dirty war in El Salvador in the eighties was sent to oversee these deaths squads. The new york times magazine reported about this. anyway, this incident reminds me somewhat of what was happening in Iraq at the time. Purely speculation on my part, but that’s what this incident reminds me of.

  19. Forest Simmons says:

    When this incident was first reported, as I remember, the US forces took responsibility for the kills but denied that they were innocent people. Now they have changed their tune; the people were innocent after all, but somebody else must have done it.

  20. Forest Simmons says:

    Here’s a link to a recent counterpunch article:

    http://www.counterpunch.org/lindorff03042010.html

    Here’s a more contemporary account (before it was verified that these innocent kids were handcuffed and shot execution style):

    http://www.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/asiapcf/12/29/afghanistan.deaths/index.html

    Note the admission …

    ‘The U.S. military source said it was “a joint operation with Afghan and U.S. forces.” ‘

    It sounds like even then they want to spread the blame around.

  21. Tariq says:

    Sunn,
    It’s a bit off topic, but yes, I do apply that unrighteous dominion “stuff” to the mountain meadows massacre.

  22. SUNNofaB.C.Rich says:

    The MMM isn’t really off topic, it’s an example you mormons can relate to… for you the buck stops at the people that physically carried out the massacre… Not a sanctioned tactic from the very top of the hierarchy… implicating your entire religion in being cold blooded murders.

    The CNN article puts insurgent caused civilian deaths at 3 times what nato/us civilian deaths are. My money is on minimally supervised Afghan troops doing the killing. Joint operations don’t necessarily mean every Afghan soldier was supervised and baby sat through the entire operation.

    • Stephen says:

      You are right to needle the authors for hypocrisy, but the MMM is a relatively innocent event in the history of Mormon settlement in Utah. Upon arriving in Utah (especially Utah Valley) Mormons immediately removed Utes from the only land that could sustain Ute subsistence patterns. In the 1840s and 50s Utes would kill livestock belonging to Mormons if that livestock strayed onto remaining Ute land; Mormons responded by killing innocent Utes (see esp. Battle Creek). During the Walker War (1853) Mormons captured Ute children and forced them to work as slaves in Mormon households, and Mormons frequently executed Utes who came to Mormon camps seeking protection. In 1861, Brigham Young petitioned the US government to have all Utah Utes moved to the Uintah Basin, which Young knew was not capable of permanently sustaining life (He conducted a survey of the land in 1860 to make sure of it). Countless Utes have starved as a result. Unlike the MMM, these events are well documented and uncontested. Many Mormons like to claim that Mormons have always been relatively progressive in their dealings with Native Americans, but this claim is simply false. If Mormons are outraged by civilian deaths, murders, and human trafficking, those same Mormons should either be outraged at themselves for accepting Brigham Young as a former prophet of the church, or, on the other hand, they should leave their church. Those are the only non-hypocritical possible responses.

      I can’t believe I’ve posted so much on this blog. I think I’m done.

      • J. Madson says:

        Stephen

        He is actually wrong to needle the authors for hypocisy because I don’t know of one person who blogs here who would defend the Mormons behavior in this regard. To the extent that brigham aided such massacres, institutionalized a racist policy, or any other wrong then of course we would condem those actions. This is just the wrong crowd if you’re looking for such hypocrisy

  23. Tariq says:

    Are you replying to me? Because your comment makes no sense regarding anything I’ve said.

  24. Joseph says:

    This really isn’t an apologist site, and the issue this post deals with is a bit more recent than a hundred years. If we want to go into history, good ol’ Protestant America has more blood on her hands than Mormonism could ever hope to be responsible for, except by doing what Mormons have done by buying into the lies of Americanism.

    Brigham Young did not order the Mountain Meadows Massacre. The killing of the Utes was done largely against Brigham Young’s counsel. The accusation that Brigham Young was somehow responsible for every death west of the Mississippi (and some to the east of it) seem to be based primarily on the idea that everyone had cell phones in the 1800’s and that Mormons were as tight-knit a group then as they are now. They didn’t, and they weren’t. I’ve read plenty, so no one is going to introduce me to history I wasn’t aware of before. There were mistakes made. I certainly regard the Saints’ treatment of the indigenous people here as the most shameful (and yes I know some was under the direction of Brigham Young).

    I will admit that the Mountain Meadows Massacre came to my mind as I read this even before SUNN brought it up. I was thinking of it mainly because of SUNN’s claim that it was the Afghanistan troops that did the massacres, not U.S. led NATO troops. In the Mountain Meadows Massacre the people who carried the massacre out claimed it was the Paiutes. Those who carried out the massacre were Mormon (though not under Brigham’s orders).

    Relating this to the present, I don’t believe the killing of civilians in Afghanistan is being done solely by Afghanistan troops. It seems pretty clear that while U.S. troops may be trying to blame the killings in the above incident on Afghanistan troops, U.S. troops were involved and they killed innocent civilians. I don’t believe that a soldier killing a civilian can blame it on chain of command any more than I believe those who carried out the Mountain Meadows Massacre can blame anyone but themselves.

    If you are going to bring up the past, show how it relates to the present, not the other way around. It’s a waste of time trying to show how the present relates to the past. It might be an interesting intellectual exercise, but it accomplishes nothing.

    And I am not going to be “needled” for hypocrisy. Judging what has happened in the past is a dangerous thing, because those people lived in circumstances and had understandings different from our time. I am more concerned about what is going on today.

    Also, I am not going to accept a shred of blame for the Mountain Meadows Massacre just because I believe in the Book of Mormon.

    I am concerned about the Afghanistan killings, however, because they are being carried out during my lifetime by a nation that I happen to live in and am a citizen of. There’s no excuse for it.

    • Stephen says:

      I only have the time and energy to make a couple of points here and one more a couple of comments below. First, your only two historical assertions regarding Ute/Mormon relations (i.e., that they happened against Brigham Young’s counsel and that the early Mormon communities in Utah were not tightly-knit so Brigham Young must not have ordered the Ute murders), are both enormously false. On January 1, 1850, Brigham Young met with the Salt Lake City High Council in the home of Parley P. Pratt. Isaac Higbee, Parley Pratt, and Willard Richards informed Brigham Young that Uintah Utes had stolen more cattle, and they argued that the church militia should exterminate all adult male Utes in Utah Valley. (Keep in mind, this is before any Utes had harmed any Mormons. This is retribution for killing cattle that were grazing on Ute land.) Pratt told Brigham Young that he and all the settlers of Fort Utah (Pratt says there was a unanimous vote) wanted to start exterminating the Utes in Utah Valley, but they were afraid to start killing Utes before they had permission from Brigham Young. (From 1849 to 1861, when Brigham Young did the majority of his Indian killing, no mass murders of Utes happened without Young’s explicit orders. This is extremely well documented.) So Pratt told Young that they were waiting for the prophet’s order to exterminate all adult male Utes in Utah Valley in response to the theft of a couple dozen cattle and horses. This was Brigham Young’s response:

      Young: Tell D. Huntington to go kill them–also Barney Ward. let the women and children live if they will behave themselves

      Pratt: I wod take the women & children & cloth them & dictate them & make them do what we want & don’t prowl about

      Young: we shall have no peace until the men are killed off.–never treat an Indian as your equal there was a company of 50 men–get them take them up with you–they strengthened up the past year they gather men from other tribes to come steal our cattle and horses.

      Source: General Church Minutes, January 31, 1850, LDS Church Archives. You can also find this exchange quoted in The Ute Indians by Virginia McConnell Simmons and Founding Fort Utah by Robert Carter and other sources not published by Deseret Book or Bonneville Communications.

      For twice ordering the extermination of male adult Utes in 1850 and 1853, and for sending the Utah Utes to the Uintah Basin where he knew they would slowly die of starvation, Brigham Young was a mass murderer. The fact that Young was a mass murderer is only controversial in the sense that President Obama’s birth place is controversial: people can always choose to remain willfully ignorant of proven facts. That’s my first point. See a couple of comments down for relevance to this thread.

      This is my second point. “I’ve read plenty, so no one is going to introduce me to history I wasn’t aware of before.” Is that what you really meant to say? This is a very unhealthy intellectual space for any reasonable, thinking person to inhabit. I spent years working on the Uintah and Ouray Reservation. I had access to copious archival materials and to intellectual, political, and spiritual leaders. I had access to LDS Archives to verify material I found on the reservation. I studied historical documents of which you are not even dimly aware. And I have met a great number of people whose knowledge of Ute/Mormon history absolutely dwarfs my own. I can assure you, from what you have said, that you are far, very far down the list of authorities on this area of history. The insane thing is that this is not the first time a Mormon Worker writer has told me that no one else can introduce him to anything more about a particular topic. This laughable attitude, apparently shared by Mormon Worker staff, is why I will no longer bother to read either the Mormon Worker or its blog.

      • Joseph says:

        I was going to try and keep quiet for a while, but I do have to admit to standing corrected. I’m just tired of anti-Mormon literature and people (both liberal and conservative) that assume I have read only LDS Church approved materials (I’ve read more than that). This does add to my knowledge and understanding of how things have gone wrong culturally in the Inter-Mountain West area of the LDS Church. I did not mean to offend, and I am sad that you may not read this apology. But I did want to publicly apologize and admit to being wrong. I did overstate my knowledge of Utah history. I already stated that I have always seen the treatment of indigenous people here by the LDS settlers as wrong, and I continue to feel that way.

        However, this still does not destroy my belief in Joseph Smith or the truths he revealed. It does not destroy my belief in what is good at the core of the teachings and the church Joseph Smith and Brigham Young were instrumental in forming. See below for more on that.

        Further, this still doesn’t change the fact that this is all a distraction from the concern that the U.S. is brutally killing innocent people in Afghanistan. My own family’s history in the LDS Church doesn’t quite go back far enough to have been involved in any of this (except maybe one line, and that would have been just barely in time). On the other hand, I have plenty of non-Mormon ancestors who did worse things than what you are describing here. I’m not responsible for their sins. Again, I’m more concerned about killings that are going on right now, and the killings that could be prevented by bring our troops home.

        I do appreciate the information, though. As I mentioned earlier, it does add to my understanding of things that have gone wrong.

  25. Joseph says:

    “Also, I am not going to accept a shred of blame for the Mountain Meadows Massacre just because I believe in the Book of Mormon”*

    Let me rephrase that:

    Believing in the Book of Mormon does not make me or anyone else responsible for the Mountain Meadows Massacre. I will not accept a shred of blame for it. I also believe that Brigham Young was a prophet with keys to carry out certain ordinances. That does not make me responsible for everything he said and did, or everything the Mormon people said and did back in 1800’s.

  26. Joseph says:

    “I will not accept a shred of blame for it.”* Again, I need to clarify:

    I will not accept a shred of blame for the Mountain Meadows Massacre. I do believe in the Book of Mormon, and am happy to accept any consequences relating to that belief.

    • Stephen says:

      I’m really not up for this now, but I won’t be back, so I’ll do this quickly even though it might not be completely clear. I don’t have anything to say about the Mountain Meadows Massacre. I haven’t studied it. However, in the context of this thread, one immediate consequence of belief in the Book of Mormon is that you accept a mass murderer as a latter-day prophet of God. A major selling point of the BoM is that if you accept it then you must accept that all the Mormon church is uniquely true. So I assume you also believe that Brigham Young was a prophet of God. I’m not sure you can be a member of the Mormon church or believe the BoM is true without believing that Brigham Young was a prophet. I believe the case of the Utes is relevant because if you believe that Brigham Young was a prophet of God then you have to excuse his many, many, many cold-blooded murders in some way. You hinted that maybe he’s excused becuase he lived in a different time and culture. But there were many people who lived in Brigham Young’s time who knew killing Indians was wrong. One of those people was my wife’s ancestor. He was one of the original settlers of Fort Utah, and when Brigham Young issued his first extermination order of adult male Utah Valley Utes, he left the church because he didn’t approve of cold-blooded murder. A copy of his journal from the time is one of our most cherished possessions. (What did you say about already being aware of all historical material?) The claim that there is any significance at all in whether murders happened one week ago or one hundred and fifty years ago is a desperate fallacy. You think it is worthy to condemn murders by US/NATO military and call for an end to war. So do I. I think it is worthy to remember Utes who were killed and who killed them and why. You seem to resist. At least hundreds of Utes were shot and intentionally starved by the orders of Brigham Young. He was a cold-blooded mass murderer, and if you condemn civilian deaths in Afghanistan while accepting that Young was a prophet of God then you are a hypocrite.

      • Joseph says:

        Again, I apologize and admit I was wrong in overstating my knowledge of Utah history.

        However, I never stated that Brigham was justified, I just urged caution in judging people who lived in different times and circumstances. That is not they same as trying to justify anything.

        “The claim that there is any significance at all in whether murders happened one week ago or one hundred and fifty years ago is a desperate fallacy.”

        What kind of fallacy? I have taught English classes at a community college where I have covered logical fallacies in great detail, I currently have a book with those fallacies in front of me, and you are guilty of a Non sequitur fallacy (“it does not follow”). There are murders going on today, it does not necessarily follow that those murders relate to murders that happened a hundred years ago. I agree that it is worthy to remember the Utes who died, and why they died, and who killed them. But it does not follow that it relates to what is going on in Afghanistan. The LDS settlers were in Utah because they had been violently driven from their homes in the eastern and mid-western United States. That does not justify further violence on the part of the LDS settlers, but it does make it a very different situation from soldiers who are in a country solely for the economic and imperialistic interests of a nation that has no business being in that country at all.

        Another fallacy is ad hominem (“attacking the person”). Just because Brigham Young or anyone else in the LDS Church was imperfect does not negate everything about the LDS faith.

        Another fallacy is false dichotomy. It is a false dichotomy to state that one must reject the LDS Faith in order to condemn atrocities in Afghanistan. It also should be understood that accepting someone as a prophet means I have to view them as infallible and perfect. So to state that I have to view Brigham as perfect and agree with all of his decisions or reject him as a prophet is a false dichotomy, or false dilemma.

        So I have clarified which logical fallacies have been violated in accusing me of being a hypocrite. So what fallacy have I violated in not seeing a direct link between two situations separated by circumstance and 150 years? I need specifics.

        The Book of Mormon condemns invading the lands of others and institutionalized racism. Even taking at face value the concern that a people are described as being cursed with a dark skin for their wickedness in the book, a Book of Mormon prophet also states that “…their skins will be whiter than yours” (Jacob 3:8) to a group of self-righteous racists. The Book of Mormon also contains wars, but only direct self-defense is justified. They never invade anyone else’s lands because “the Lord forbid; for if we should go up against them the Lord would deliver us into their hands” (3 Nephi 3:21). Believing that these words were translated by divine power does not make me responsible for the sins of others who believed the same things. It does not even make me responsible for the sins of the person the Lord called to translate those words. To accuse of me of hypocrisy for believing those things would violate not only the logical fallacies I listed above, but the circular reasoning fallacy, hasty conclusion fallacy, and sweeping generalization fallacy.

        J. Madsen doesn’t know me or my beliefs, and he certainly isn’t responsible for them, but I do echo his claim that you are going after the wrong crowd.

        I am not trying to offend. I apologize again for doing so before. But I am going to defend myself against your accusations. I hope that Stephen hasn’t really left, because I do appreciate different viewpoints. I am not offended by someone disagreeing with me. Try not to judge me, and I am always happy to try and offer the same in return.

        I should also clarify that I have never been invited to speak on behalf of the Mormon Worker. I have been drawn here because I do share a similar interest in radical politics found within the Mormon faith, and I have often felt alone and ostracized for maintaining a testimony of the LDS faith, but not going along with the right wing politics of some of the members I have been around. So don’t leave because of me. I do not represent the Mormon Worker. I am not staff. I am just an interested participant.

  27. Forest Simmons says:

    When you put sparks and dry tinder next to each other, flames will break out. Troops over-react because they want to avenge their buddies that were maimed or killed, or becuase they honestly believe in the heat of the moment that they have to kill or be killed. That doesn’t justify shooting handcuffed prisoners in the head, but such things will continue to happen as long as the sparks and tinder are held in close proximity. The solution is to separate the sparks and the tinder. In other words, let’s bring our troops home.

  28. Joseph says:

    “It also should be understood that accepting someone as a prophet means I have to view them as infallible and perfect.”* Another typo. I meant to say “accepting someone as a prophet does NOT mean I have to view them as infallible and perfect.”

  29. Carl says:

    It’s all just so sad.

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