cultural clash

Hiding Report on Fratricide in Afghanistan Doesn’t Make It Go Away

On January 20, the New York Times carried what they at first thought was a scoop on a “classified” report (pdf) on Afghan military and police personnel killing NATO forces. After they were told that the Wall Street Journal had written on the report back in June, they admitted as much in a correction. They later added another correction after I pointed out that a version of the report clearly marked “unclassified” could be found easily even though the Times referred to the report as classified. It turns out that the report had indeed been published first as unclassified but then was retroactively classified while the Wall Street Journal article was being prepared.

Events over the last few days serve to demonstrate the folly of trying to hide damaging information rather than openly reviewing it and trying to learn lessons from it. The report in question went into great detail to document the cultural misunderstandings that exist between NATO forces and their “partner” Afghan forces, and how these misunderstandings escalate to the point that Afghan personnel end up killing NATO personnel. In the executive summary of the report, we learn that “ANSF members identified numerous social, cultural and operational grievances they have with U.S. soldiers.” Arrogance on the part of U.S. soldiers often was cited, as well.

This clash of social values is at the heart of the newest wave of anti-US and anti-NATO violence in Afghanistan which erupted after an Afghan employee found Korans among materials being burned last week at a NATO base. A part of the response to the Koran burning is that on Saturday, two NATO personnel were killed inside Afghanistan’s interior ministry building. BBC reports that an Afghan police officer is suspected in the shootings:

Afghanistan’s interior ministry has said one of its own employees is suspected of the killing of two senior US Nato officers inside the ministry.

Officials earlier named police intelligence officer Abdul Saboor from Parwan province as the main suspect behind Saturday’s attack.

The NATO response to the killing was swift:

Nato withdrew all its personnel from Afghan ministries after the shooting.

The importance of this move cannot be overstated. Continue reading

Emptywheel Twitterverse
bmaz @MasaccioFDL Despite what clients and many outside forces always want to portray, it is truly almost never a sound idea.
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bmaz @TyreJim I was trying to be kind, i.e. without going the Belgian Ale reference.
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bmaz Seriously, living in a Mark Geragos world is maddening. You do NOT help your client by "keeping media abreast" or yakking at CNN. #JustStop
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bmaz @TeekeeMon Worked for 30-40 years; far more than it should have. That is not a good counter.
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bmaz Both the clients and otherwise decent crim defense attorneys are idiots. Silence, from the client AND attorney are ALWAYS the smartest play.
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bmaz Criminal clients THINK they need to "fight back" against the "media". Idiot criminal defense attys think they MUST fight back against media.
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bmaz .@LegallyErin Criminal lawyers earn my respect by shutting the fuck up, and staying shut the fuck up. Always. That's how you do it.
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bmaz @cody_k That is not "may have", that is "did". I knew that variation from MO law when the GJ started, and I am in AZ.
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bmaz @TyreJim Flat Tyre
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bmaz @LegallyErin These pricks HAD DONE SO AWESOMELY WELL by sitting the fuck up until now. Hubris overtook the fools. This just shoot me stupid
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bmaz @McBlondeLand @CNN ANY good lawyer would have told him to do so; however, that doesn't mean he gets pension or his job back.
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