Nothing to See Here, Folks: Covering Up a Massacre in Afghanistan
“I want to ask: What does apology mean? We apologize for our mistakes and repeat our mistakes again? What meaning does this have?” --Sayid Mohammed Mal, Vice Chancellor, Gardez University.
The video above shows a survivor of a brutal, botched special forces raid on February 12, 2010, in which U.S. and allied forces killed 5 civilians, including local Afghan officials and pregnant women. If that were the extent of the bad conduct in this incident, it would be devastating enough. Unfortunately, personnel under McChrystal’s command compounded the outrage by tampering with evidence at the scene and then attempted a propaganda job and cover-up of the massacre, which has now blown up in their faces.
Initially, ISAF claimed that "insurgents" “engaged the joint force in a fire fight and were killed.” The release states the special forces then made a “gruesome discovery,” finding “the bodies of three women who had been tied up, gagged and killed” and that the bodies had been “hidden.” They also claim that the “joint force immediately secured the area and requested expert medical support and will conduct a joint forensic investigation.”
Almost every piece of this initial description of the chain of events was later proved to be a lie.
Faced with the persistent, professional reporting of The Times’ (UK) Jerome Starkey, multiple witness accounts of the incident and the results of an Afghan investigation, McChrystal’s personnel finally admitted responsibility in an April 4 press release. ISAF wants to pass off their initial lies about the incident as the unfortunate result of “cultural misunderstandings” and “poor wording.” McChrystal has ordered a new investigation, but his personnel’s recent behavior shows exactly why they cannot be trusted to investigate themselves.