From the moment I heard about the case involving a U.S. soldier allegedly shooting civilians in Afghanistan, things just didn’t feel right.
I knew there was a lot of insider killing going on, but that had been Afghans killing International Security Assistance Force soldiers.
In weeks prior to the alleged shootings by the U.S soldier, there’d been a number of those attacks on our troops and as Chris Carter, associate editor at The US Report, wrote, ISAF hasn’t been eager to specify the countries those fallen soldiers came from.
Something struck me about one story I read in The New York Times shortly after the news broke about the U.S. soldier’s alleged actions towards Afghan civilians. Like other media, the NYT had talked to local citizens and officials for information and that’s what most accounts were based on. Here’s what the paper disclosed (boldface is added):
“One of the survivors from the attacks, Abdul Hadi, 40, said he was at home when a soldier broke down the door… ‘I was trying to go out and find out about the shooting, but someone told me not to move, and I was covered by the women in my family in my room, so that is why I survived.’”
Some of the dead in the shootings in Panjwai were reported to be women and children.
That raises a question—were women and children trying to shield men? That isn’t out of the question, because a man is crucial to a woman’s life and wellbeing in that area of the world where women's rights are severely restricted.
Numerous reports claim the Taliban have used women and children as shields, but it stands to reason the women at least might be willing shields. Would women and children instinctively move to protect a man in harm's way?
The area where the shooting took place has a history closely associated with Taliban who want troops out of rural areas where substances for drug production are grown. The government of Afghanistan has yet to exert legal influence in many outlying areas essentially existing in a formal state of lawlessness.
In 2010 Agence France-Presse ran a story reporting the Taliban were manipulating U.S. rules of engagement for their own benefit.
Did any of these events come about as part of the Taliban process for seeking revenge against U.S. troops for destroying drug substances or disrupting the drug trade?
The most perplexing question is: Why would a suspect target those particular dwellings?
I also read on Friday something reported by CNN who talked with the suspect’s attorney:
“He also said that the day before the slayings, another soldier on that base had his leg shot off in front of the suspect…’That affected the whole base,’ Browne said.”
The military justice blog CAAFLOG suggested there was little chance the soldier would have been handed over to any government other than the U.S. for trial.
U.S. Defense Sec. Leon Panetta played down the incident involving a car that burst into flames on the runway as his plane arrived at Camp Bastion. Panetta implied to media he didn’t think he was targeted. Considering disruptions to the drug trade by ISAF troops, however, Taliban and their sympathizers might disagree with Panetta’s opinion on that matter.
A week after the deaths that implicate the U.S. soldier, few facts are still known about the actual shootings. Western media should bear that in mind in their reportage and refrain from convicting a soldier who has not yet faced formal charges or a trial.
(Analysis by Kay B. Day/March 18, 2012)
At The US Report
On the Web
Afghanistan: Let’s Get Out (Powerline Blog)