They Hate Us for Our Freedoms

Or, more likely, they hate us because stuff like this happens:

About midnight, 11 people, including three women; four children whose ages ranged from 6 to 9; and four men were executed inside the home of a village elder.

“They entered the room where the women and children were sleeping and they were all shot in the head,” [Fazal Mohammad Esaqzai, the deputy chief of the provincial council] said, adding that he was doubtful of the U.S. account suggesting the killings were the work of a lone gunman. “They were all shot in the head.”

After roughly an hour, residents in a nearby village heard gunshots, and they later discovered the corpses of five men inside two nearby houses, Esaqzai said.

Details about the attack are still coming out (though the US insists the massacre was done by just one US soldier). But for the moment, I can’t forget about the lengths to which the government went to bury this report showing how much animosity there is now between US forces and those we’re supposed to be working with and protecting.

Update: Here’s the very different story offered by a family member of those who were killed:

Haji Samad said 11 of his relatives were killed in one house, including his children. Pictures showed blood-splattered walls where the children were killed.

“They (Americans) poured chemicals over their dead bodies and burned them,” a weeping Samad told Reuters at the scene.

“I saw that all 11 of my relatives were killed, including my children and grandchildren,” said Samad, who had left the home a day earlier.

Neighbors said they awoke to crackling gunfire from American soldiers, whom they described as laughing and drunk.

“They were all drunk and shooting all over the place,” said neighbor Agha Lala, who visited one of the homes where the incident took place. “Their bodies were riddled with bullets.”

Update: Meanwhile, in polling done yesterday, before this killing, ABC found 60% of Americans say the Afghan War has not been worth fighting. While I’m not surprised by those numbers, I do wonder whether people have totally dissociated the war from 9/11?

Marcy has been blogging full time since 2007. She’s known for her live-blogging of the Scooter Libby trial, her discovery of the number of times Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded, and generally for her weedy analysis of document dumps.

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including the Guardian, Salon, and the Progressive, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse and dog in Grand Rapids, MI.

35 replies
  1. spanishinquisition says:

    Details about the attack are still coming out (though the US insists the massacre was done by just one US soldier)

    It has the whiff of the Pat Tillman report

  2. bmaz says:

    Is the lone rogue gunman still the story from the US? Doesn’t seem to make sense, but I suppose is technically physically possible.

  3. Roman Berry says:

    Disassociate the Afghan war from 9/11? I hope so. No Afghans were part of the 9/11 attacks. The attacks were mostly planned in Germany. The training mostly took place in Florida. The hijackers were Saudis and Egyptians. And the Taliban in Afghanistan offered repeatedly to turn OBL over if the US would just show them some actual proof (which popular myth based on truly terrible news reports notwithstanding is still essentially non-extant) that OBL was involved in the 9/11 attacks. (The US of course refused.)

    The Afghan was was not worth fighting. It’s the “good war” that wasn’t good.

  4. P J Evans says:

    I do wonder whether people have totally dissociated the war from 9/11?

    Yes. It’s now just another purposeless war, to most people. I think people are more likely to associate Iraq with 9/11, even though that’s a lie.

  5. bmaz says:

    @Roman Berry: No evidence of bin-Laden/al-Qaida involvement in 9-11? Seriously? For one thing, say what you will about al-Qaida, one thing they have always been is pretty honest about what they have done and whether their people are alive or dead etc.

  6. emptywheel says:

    @bmaz: That’s not what he said. He said there were no Afghans involved in 9/11.

    That’s true. The mostly-Saudi operatives who committed the attack were trained there, but no Afghans were part of the attack. Not even in the planning.

  7. bmaz says:

    @emptywheel: That is the first part of what was said, the second was:

    And the Taliban in Afghanistan offered repeatedly to turn OBL over if the US would just show them some actual proof (which popular myth based on truly terrible news reports notwithstanding is still essentially non-extant) that OBL was involved in the 9/11 attacks.

    I read that to stand for the proposition that evidence OBL was involved in the attacks is non-existent. If I misinterpreted, I apologize.

  8. MadDog says:

    @bmaz: From ABC News:

    “…After the alleged shooting spree, it’s believed the soldier returned to the base on his own, and calmly turned himself in. He remains in NATO custody. It’s unclear whether the soldier knew the victims or whether the alleged attack was spontaneous and unprovoked. It’s also unknown whether he had any accomplices.

    The soldier’s name has not been released, but a U.S. official told ABC News he is a staff sergeant who is married with two children, and served three tours in Iraq. This was his first tour in Afghanistan, where he has been since early December, the official said…”

    Update: During ABC News this evening, they also mentioned that the alleged US soldier was 38 years old. Clearly not merely a youth who lacked some level of maturity.

    How is it that a lone US soldier could leave a tightly guarded US base in the middle of a particularly dangerous corner of Afghanistan at 3:00 AM in the morning without somebody stopping him and asking where the fook he thought he was going by himself?

    This ain’t like you go off base to hang out at the local bars. There are no fookin’ bars! This is Afghanistan! This is a fookin’ war zone!

    What were the base guards thinking?

  9. bmaz says:

    @MadDog: Yeah, dunno, good question. You know, if the victims were all grouped together in a couple of discreet locations and sleeping, I guess it is possible for a well trained soldier with modern weaponry to kill 16 all by himself. But, as you say, I cannot imagine soldiers leave base by themselves, and the logistics would sure make you think more than one perpetrator. Who knows?

  10. orionATL says:

    – mass killings

    – urinating on dead bodies

    – killing for pleasure over time

    – burning korans

    – torturing prisoners

    – killing civilians in road-checks

    tells me one thing for dead certain:

    our american military in afghanistan (and iraq) has shown itself to be an extraordinarily poorly disciplined military force.

    which needs must reflect the quality of officer leadership from the generals right on down to the lieutenants.

  11. MadDog says:

    @bmaz: To expand my thoughts here, various news reports describe this as FOB (Forward Operating Base) Camp Belambay mostly staffed with Green Berets engaged in village stability operations in the midst of a heavy Taliban part of Kandahar.

    Let’s be clear what that means. This FOB is likely so heavily secured with barbed wire, mines on the perimeter, and automatic weapons emplacements that no one can approach or get inside the “wire” without getting blown away.

    The same is true for someone trying to exit the FOB. It is not as if somebody can head out of the FOB for a stroll at 3 AM without having to go through a multi-layered control point.

    Even if, as some news reports indicate that the FOB perimeter guards were Afghan, that still doesn’t explain how this US soldier could get through a multi-layered control point with an automatic rifle at 3 AM in the morning for a stroll through enemy territory without questions being asked or alarms being raised.

    I can’t even imagine how the US soldier wasn’t stopped immediately before leaving the FOB.

    I guess time will tell, but right now it surely beggars the imagination.

  12. orionATL says:

    during the vietnam war, the american military learned the value and necessity of lying to the american people. they also learned they were not as competent as they needed be at this lying.

    from the 1980’s on, the military has increased its facility at lying in all ways it is possible to lie to a citizenry,

    including such sophisticated stunts as insisting on reporters being embedded with military units and sending retired generals to talk up the military’s viewpoint on television news and opinion shows.

    what really happened? who knows?

    whatever actually happened, would you trust the current military leadership to tell the truth?

    i wouldn’t.

  13. MadDog says:

    At least Lindsey Graham isn’t throwing a hissy fit /s:

    “…Appearing on ABC’s “This Week,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said it was unfortunate that “these things happen in war…”

    …Graham said he is not worried that the war in Afghanistan is becoming unsustainable.

    “You just have to push through these things,” Graham said, adding that the surge of forces into Afghanistan under Obama has put “the Taliban on the defensive.”

    “My recommendation to the public is, listen to General (John) Allen, who comes back in two weeks. . . We can win this thing. We can get it right. I will support the president when he does the right thing,” Graham said…”

    (My Bold)

    I’m just gobsmacked.

  14. matt carmody says:

    They think Americans have been sufficiently dumbed-down in the past generation to buy the old standby – the lone gunman a la Oswald, Ray, Sihan, Chapman, etc. Nothing to see here, folks.

  15. Twilight of the Bombs says:

    USA military unveils non-lethal heat ray weapon

    To be used in mob dispersal, checkpoint security, perimeter security, area denial, infrastructure protection, the USA military envisions a wide array of uses.

    let me be very clear here – if this is used against the American Public / People / Citizenry for any reason whatsover by usa government / usa military / usa paramilitary / usa contracted mercenary force, the user(s) should be immediately arrested and executed as Treasonous War Criminals.

    if i have to fight this ever increasingly Evil fascist usa government and its corporate fascist minions and the 1% singlehandedly then i will gladly do so.

    i am so gd sick and tired of the constant state of War and Threats and War Profiteering and Fearmongering and Scaremongering and Warmongering and Corruption that i would gladly leave this existence in a fight against this Evil force in a flash.

  16. guest says:

    @bmaz: I read that to mean the US arrogantly blew off the Taliban. I don’t think our attitude that charges of terrorism need evidence before summary execution happened overnight on 9/11.

  17. Bob Schacht says:

    @Roman Berry: So, then, what do you make of the video with OBL bragging about 9/11 and taking credit for it? And to say that the Taliban gov’t of Afghanistan would just turn OBL over to us if only we’d prove his complicity, that’s not how I remember it. Now, admittedly, Bush was in charge of that operation, and he wasn’t particularly interested in using the International Court to resolve such disputes.

    Bob in AZ

  18. Bob Schacht says:

    @MadDog: There are also rumors that someone attempted to burn the bodies, and that the victims were mostly shot in the head, execution-style. Also reports that more than one individual was involved. Our government will undoubtedly try to cover everything up, and stick to their public posture, like they did in the Tillman case. I think there will be more about this case coming out.

    Bob in AZ

  19. emptywheel says:

    @orionATL: Gotta say, the Quran-burning and the massacre of sleeping civilians sure makes the pissing on dead Talibans look tame by comparison.

    Maybe this madness is all part of a plot to make the LAST terrible thing we’ve done look minor by comparison?

  20. John Casper says:

    This will undoubtedly remind Americans of My Lai and other massacres led by U.S. forces. It was from Mary Beth Perdue that I learned of the guy at My Lai whose really heroic actions prevented an even greater slaughter: Hugh Thompson,Jr.

  21. John Casper says:

    This is from Sarah (RIP) at TNH back in 2006. Sorting out the Generals

    Among a variety of terrific points, she referenced the “Hunt Report,” which is still taught at West Point. As far back as the 1920’s the US military knew not to use “blooded” units in occupations.

  22. orionATL says:

    @John Casper:

    i have often recalled that comment. i believe it was in the context of talking about general george marshall’s experiences in ww i that led to the view that fighting troops should never be allowed to be occupying troops. the tendency to retaliate would prove too great.

    a wonderfully wise and well-informed person, sarah.

  23. Bob Schacht says:

    @28, @29: Good points!
    Another way to frame this is that fighting troops and peace-keeping troops have very different functions and different training requirements. Indeed, the requirements of peace-keepers are probably incompatible with the training requirements of combat troops.

    One of my pet peeves is that the National Guard should never ever be used in a war of choice invasion overseas: It just makes a mockery of the Guard’s design and purpose. National Guard troops stationed overseas should be redeployed back home ASAP. However, the National Guard is better suited to peace-keeping than the regular combat troops, and should not be “blooded.” It is another perversion of this war that National Guard troops have become blooded.

    Bob in AZ

  24. orionATL says:

    @Bob Schacht:

    “the national guard should never be used in a war of choice invasion overseas”

    i whole-heartedly agree, bob.

    in my view, the national guard should be for domestic use only.

    using the national guard in iraq was just one of a long list of initiatives from the rumsfeld dod that have been exceptionally damaging to the functioning and pride of the american military.

    it was intended, i believe, as a penny-pinching way of conducting an invasion and war without greatly increasing active duty personnel or military equipment costs.

  25. Roman Berry says:

    @guest: Bob, first on the Taliban offer to turn over Bin Laden, what you remember and what actually was are likely not the same thing. The Taliban’s offer was not given extensive coverage in the US media (which was doing its part to beat the drums of war.) Google is your friend: taliban offers to turn over laden

    Second, on the supposed video “with OBL bragging about 9/11 and taking credit for it”, I’ll ask you to look further into what OBL actually said on that tape as opposed to what the US media reported. The translations you and I were fed were…problematic. In fact, the authenticity of the tape itself is problematic.

    Do you trust the US government to tell you the truth? The US media?

  26. P J Evans says:

    @Bob Schacht:
    Apparently some of the other people who lived there are talking. The government is still saying (AFAIK) that it was ‘only’ one guy, and ‘he turned himself in’ – both of which are setting off my ‘yeah, right’ reaction. (Also, this is another unit from Lewis-McChord. Which may, this time, finally get a real investigation.)

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