US special forces soldiers dug bullets out of their victims’ bodies in the bloody aftermath of a botched night raid, then washed the wounds with alcohol before lying to their superiors about what happened, Afghan investigators have told The Times.
Two pregnant women, a teenage girl, a police officer and his brother were shot on February 12 when US and Afghan special forces stormed their home in Khataba village, outside Gardez in eastern Afghanistan. The precise composition of the force has never been made public.
The claims were made as Nato admitted responsibility for all the deaths for the first time last night. It had initially claimed that the women had been dead for several hours when the assault force discovered their bodies.
“Despite earlier reports we have determined that the women were accidentally killed as a result of the joint force firing at the men,” said Lieutenant-Colonel Todd Breasseale, a Nato spokesman. The coalition continued to deny that there had been a cover-up and said that its legal investigation, which is ongoing, had found no evidence of inappropriate conduct.
In a statement yesterday, Brigadier-General Eric Tremblay, a Nato spokesman, said: “We deeply regret the outcome of this operation, accept responsibility for our actions that night, and know that this loss will be felt forever by the families.
“The force went to the compound based on reliable information in search of a Taleban insurgent, and believed that the two men posed a threat to their personal safety. We now understand that the men killed were only trying to protect their families.”
I smell a promotion. Going back to the scene of the crime to remove the bullets and clean up the bodies shows a high degree of initiative. Lying about it to their officers shows moxy. Surely the Pentagon can find more meaningful work for these energetic fellows higher up the trough? If not, I’m sure that Blackwater, now Xe, will be able to find a slot on the payroll for them.
I get a kick out of these perfunctory apologies that our military officials have to give. I can’t help thinking that there is a computer somewhere that randomly generates them and spits them out. Here General, this situation requires apology 3A, section 14, paragraph two: We deeply regret the outcome. We sympathize with the families. We accept responsibility for killing your relatives, but we were acting on reliable intelligence (of course, of course. Americans never intentionally sin). They’re as mechanical, cliched, and empty as an athlete’s post-game interview (I felt good going in; I gave it one-hundred and ten percent, et cetera.) It’s insulting to the extreme. If you’re wife and child were shot by foreign soldiers, would it comfort you to later hear some geeky military bureaucrat utter a few canned phrases about how sorry he is? And, of course, he’s also being insincere, because no matter how regretful the military is, it’s going to keep on doing this again and again until the whole disgusting war fizzles to its inevitable bad end.
I imagine the Taliban has a few new recruits today.