Brave New Foundation’s Rethink Afghanistan project has been following the story about a night raid in Gardez by U.S. and Afghan forces (see the video above), and today those forces made a major admission about their responsibility for civilian deaths. In a press release issued on Easter (gee, I wonder if they hoped people would be distracted today), the U.S. and allied forces under General McChrystal’s command, International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), admitted they killed two innocent civilians and three women, two of them pregnant.
KABUL, Afghanistan (Apr. 4) – 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.
"The women, I’m not sure anyone will ever know how they died." He added, however, "I don’t know that there are any forensics that show bullet penetrations of the women or blood from the women." He said they showed signs of puncture and slashing wounds from a knife, and appeared to have died several hours before the arrival of the assault force. In respect for Afghan customs, autopsies are not carried out on civilian victims, he said.
Now wait just a minute. NATO has strenuously denied any cover-up in this incident while smearing journalists who challenged their initial, untrue story. Yet somehow, we’ve gone from knowing enough about the condition of the bodies to say that there were puncture and slashing wounds from a knife to conclusions "that the women were accidentally killed as a result of the joint force firing at the men." NATO then expects you to believe that all the bad information in this story was due to "a lack of cultural understanding by the joint force and the chain of command."
Someone please explain to me the cultural misunderstanding responsible for Smith’s implication that women were killed by knife wounds when they were in fact killed by gunfire.
These are not errors of cultural understanding. They are intentional lies meant to allow someone to escape responsibility for killing three women, two of them pregnant. Smith was lying before when describing the bodies or repeating lies he was told. ISAF was perpetrating a cover-up, and Smith participated in it, either willingly or unwillingly. Until ISAF admits that they did, in fact, attempt to perpetrate a cover-up, they are still lying to you.
Starkey’s reporting and ISAF’s reaction to it shows that their natural inclination to escape accountability remains strong and operative when they think they can get away with violent mistakes under the cover of darkness.
This incident shows why it’s important to push back against the ISAF/Pentagon message machine. If you want to help, a good way to start is to become a fan of Rethink Afghanistan on Facebook.