Shooting Handcuffed Children

David Swanson on the Recent Massacre of 8 Children in Kunar Province

SwansonThe occupied government of Afghanistan and the United Nations have both concluded that U.S.-led troops recently dragged eight sleeping children out of their beds, handcuffed some of them, and shot them all dead. While this apparently constitutes an everyday act of kindness, far less intriguing than the vicious singeing of his pubic hairs by Captain Underpants, it is at least a variation on the ordinary American technique of murdering men, women, and children by the dozens with unmanned drones.

Also this week in Afghanistan, eight CIA assassins (see if you can find a more appropriate name for them) were murdered by a suicide bombing that one of them apparently executed against the other seven. The Taliban in Pakistan claims credit and describes the mass-murder as revenge for the CIA’s drone killings. And we thought unmanned drones were War Perfected because none of the right people would have to risk their lives. Oops. Perhaps Detroit-bound passengers risked theirs unwittingly.

The CIA has declared its intention to seek revenge for the suicide strike. Who knows what the assassination of sleeping students was revenge for. Perhaps the next lunatic to try blowing up something in the United States will be seeking revenge for whatever Obama does to avenge the victims (television viewers?) of the Crotch Crusader. Certainly there will be numerous more acts of violence driven by longings for revenge against the drone pilots and the shooters of students.

In a civilized world, the alternative to vengeance is justice. Often we can even set aside feelings of revenge as long as we are able to act so as to deter more crime. But at the same time that the puppet president of Afghanistan is demanding the arrest of the troops who shot the handcuffed children, the puppet government of Iraq is facing up to the refusal of the United States to seriously prosecute the Blackwater assassins of innocent Iraqis. Justice will not be permitted as an alternative to vengeance — the mere idea is anti-American.

No one so much as blinks at the CIA’s avowal of vengeance for the recent suicide attack, never mind the illegality, because the entire illegal war on Afghanistan/Pakistan was launched and is still maintained as a pretended act of revenge for the crimes of 9-11. Of course, we’re not bombing the flight schools or the German and Spanish hotels. Of course , we admit that there are fewer than 100 members of Al Qaeda in Afghanistan. Of course we openly seek massive permanent bases and an oil pipeline. Of course, Obama’s decisions are all electoral calculations computed by the calculus of cowardice. Of course, we’re prosecuting the Butt Bomber as a criminal, just as we always used to prosecute criminals as criminals. Of course, revenge would not be a legal justification for war even if we could persuade ourselves it was a sane one. But the war is publicly understood as revenge, the resistance by its victims is understood as revenge, the escalation is understood as revenge for the resistance, and an eye for an eye slowly makes the whole world blind.

But here’s what we’ve forgotten: nothing is ever remotely as horrible as war. So, nothing can ever constitute a justification for launching or escalating or continuing a war. Dragging children out of bed and killing them is not a freak blip in the course of a war. It is war reduced to a comprehensible scale. It’s less war, not worse war. Everything we are spending our grandchildren’s unearned pay on, borrowed from China at great expense, all of it is for the murdering of human beings. And it will remain so for eternity, no matter how many times you chant “Support Duh Troops.”

I know many soldiers and mercenaries had few other options, given our failure to invest in any other industries. I know they’ve been lied to. I know they’re scared and tired. But they wouldn’t be there if we brought them home. And I support a full investment in their physical and mental and economic recovery. What I don’t support is anyone participating in these wars, and that includes every single American who is not putting every spare moment into demanding that Congress stop forking over the money.

It’s blood money. It’s payment for murder. It cannot be defended. It cannot be permitted. We must stop it now [1]. We must shut down [2] the place it comes from.

Not another dime. Not another dollar. Not another death. Not another thought of revenge.

UPDATE:

By David Swanson

Silly me. I thought I could comment on something that was in the news without proving that it was in the news. Maybe this will help:

UN says Afghans slain in troop raid were students

By DUSAN STOJANOVIC, Associated Press Writer, Thu Dec 31, 1:26 pm ET
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20091231/ap_on_re_as/as_afghanistan_un [3]

KABUL – The United Nations said Thursday that a weekend raid by foreign troops in a tense eastern Afghan province killed eight local students and warned against nighttime actions by coalition forces because they often cause civilian deaths.

The Afghan government said its investigation has established that all 10 people killed Sunday in a remote village in Kunar province were civilians. Its officials said that eight of those killed were schoolchildren aged 12-14. . . .

UN special representative in Afghanistan Kai Eide said in a statement that the preliminary UN investigation showed “strong indication” that there were insurgents in the area at the time of the attack.

But, he added, “based on our initial investigation, eight of those killed were students enrolled in local schools.” . . .

Eide said the UN remained concerned about nighttime raids by coalition troops “given that they often result in lethal outcomes for civilians, the dangerous confusion that frequently arises when a family compound is invaded.” . . .

A statement issued Thursday by the Afghan National Security Directorate said the government investigation showed no Afghan forces were involved and “international forces from an unknown address came to the area and without facing any armed resistance, put 10 youth in two rooms and killed them.

“They conducted this operation on their own without informing any security or local authorities of Afghanistan,” the statement said.

___

Associated Press writer Rahim Faiez in Kabul contributed to this report.

I’ve excerpted much of the above article, but not the military denials. Go read them at the link above. Here’s the Los Angeles Times:

Western troops killed civilians, Afghan investigators say

The government investigators say eight of those killed over the weekend in a remote eastern province were boys under 18. Western military officials say there is no evidence to back the claim.
By Laura King, Los Angeles Times, December 31, 2009

Reporting from Kabul, Afghanistan – Afghan government investigators asserted Wednesday that foreign troops had killed 10 civilians in a raid this week, including eight students younger than 18. Western military officials called the charge unsubstantiated and urged a joint investigation. . . .

A statement from the presidential palace said Karzai had offered condolences to the families of the dead, and endorsed the initial findings of an investigative panel that had traveled to Kunar at his behest.

The head of the Afghan delegation, Asadullah Wafa, said 10 males, all civilians, were taken from their homes in Ghazikhan village, in the Narang district, and then shot dead by foreign troops. The report cited the village schoolmaster as identifying eight of them as pupils between the ages of 12 and 17. . . .

Wafa, a close aide to Karzai, suggested that an informant had provided misleading information to Western forces, triggering the strike. Afghan villagers have sometimes tried to settle scores with rival clans or tribes by falsely reporting insurgent activity to the authorities. . . .

laura.king@latimes.com [4]
Copyright © 2010, The Los Angeles Times

The above article has been dismissed by commenters on progressive websites because it was posted by the progressive website Common Dreams. Never mind that Common Dreams has been right far more often than the Los Angeles Times. Below is a collection of sources put together (and presumably thereby tarnished) by Talking Points Memo:

Afghan Children Handcuffed, Then Killed By American Soldiers
January 1, 2010, 7:38AM
Talking Points Memo
http://tpmcafe.talkingpointsmemo.com/talk/blogs/r/u/rutabaga_ridgepole/2… [5]

TPM starts with the Times:

From the London Times, December 31, 2009…
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/Afghanistan/article6971638.ece [6]

President Karzai sent a team of investigators to Narang district, in eastern Kunar province, after reports of a massacre first surfaced on Monday.

“The delegation concluded that a unit of international forces descended from a plane Sunday night into Ghazi Khan village in Narang district of the eastern province of Kunar and took ten people from three homes, eight of them school students in grades six, nine and ten, one of them a guest, the rest from the same family, and shot them dead,” a statement on President Karzai’s website said.

Assadullah Wafa, who led the investigation, said that US soldiers flew to Kunar from Kabul, suggesting that they were part of a special forces unit.

Mr Wafa, a former governor of Helmand province, met President Karzai to discuss his findings yesterday. “I spoke to the local headmaster,” he said. “It’s impossible they were al-Qaeda. They were children, they were civilians, they were innocent. I condemn this attack.”

In a telephone interview last night, the headmaster said that the victims were asleep in three rooms when the troops arrived. “Seven students were in one room,” said Rahman Jan Ehsas. “A student and one guest were in another room, a guest room, and a farmer was asleep with his wife in a third building.

“First the foreign troops entered the guest room and shot two of them. Then they entered another room and handcuffed the seven students. Then they killed them.”

Directly from Karzai’s website…
http://president.gov.af/Contents/91/Documents/1124/phone_talks_kunar_eng… [7]

President Karzai in a telephone contact expressed condolences and shared grief with the families of the victims of the recent attack in Kunar province.

Following the attack, President Karzai tasked a delegation on Monday led by the Chief of Complaints Commission and composed of representatives from the ministries of Defense, Interior, National Directorate of Security and the Office of Administrative Affairs for an immediate investigation of the incident.

The findings by the delegation concluded that a unit of international forces descended from a plane Sunday night into Ghazi Khan Village in Narang district of the eastern province of Kunar and took 10 people from three homes, eight of them school students in grades six, nine and 10, one of them a guest, the rest from the same family, and shot them dead.

Eight of those shot dead were confirmed as school students by the village school principle.

From the New York Times…
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/29/world/asia/29afghan.html [8]

The governor of Kunar, Fazullah Wahidi, said that “the coalition claimed they were enemy fighters,” but that elders in the district and a delegation sent to the remote area had found that “10 people were killed and all of them were civilians.”

From the United Nations…
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/34644227/ns/world_news-south_and_central_asia/ [9]

The United Nations said Thursday that a weekend raid by foreign troops in a tense eastern Afghan province killed eight local students and that it warned against nighttime actions by coalition forces because they often cause civilian deaths.

That last quote is simply from the same AP story I quoted above, but posted on the MSNBC website. The UN special representative, you’ll recall, is named and quoted above.

This site is maintained by a union shop at MayFirst.org

<Links:
[1] http://defundwar.org
[2] http://peaceoftheaction.org
[3] http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20091231/ap_on_re_as/as_afghanistan_un
[4] mailto:laura.king@latimes.com
[5] http://tpmcafe.talkingpointsmemo.com/talk/blogs/r/u/rutabaga_ridgepole/2010/01/afghan-children-handcuffed-the.php
[6] http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/Afghanistan/article6971638.ece
[7] http://president.gov.af/Contents/91/Documents/1124/phone_talks_kunar_eng.html
[8] http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/29/world/asia/29afghan.html
[9] http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/34644227/ns/world_news-south_and_central_asia/

* This article has been published with direct permission from the author. The original publication site: http://www.davidswanson.org/node/2385

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Comments

  1. avatar theepitbull says:

    Go David!!!!

    E.X.C.E.L.L.E.N.T. Post

    (((3)))

  2. Ask yourself this; How much the government tells you about Afghanistan do you believe? How much of what the CIA tells you do you believe?

    Myself, both categories are under 10%. Not because I’m suspicious or paranoid, but because of both of their track records of deceit stretching over decades.

    So how do we know it was an Afghan Army dude, no, wait, that won’t fly… Let’s see, it was a Jordanian ‘double agent’ who set off the suicide vest… after getting thru THREE levels of security.

    Myself, I think the CIA/Blackwater thugs were arming a drugged out ‘suicide bomber’ with C4 when someone screwed up and accidentally detonated the explosive.
    So instead of turning that doped out assassin into a crowded marketplace full of women and children, their usual MO, they got blown up instead.

    What, you say that’s crazy?

    Not as crazy as US troops storming into a home, handcuffing children and taking them outside and executing them.

    [WORDPRESS HASHCASH] The poster sent us ’0 which is not a hashcash value.

  3. Well, lemme see. In the past three months, the Taliban/al Qaeda have successfully struck the Head of the Afghani government intelligence agency, the Pakistani Army general Headquarters and the CIA station at Khost, killing 7 high-ranking CIA officials and the King of Jordan’s cousin. That tells me thay control the tempo of this war and can strike targets of their choice at will. So who’s really winning this “intelligence war”? It sure ain’t us.

    In the last instance, how did they do it? They promised the CIA one of the two “Holy Grails”, Ayman al-Zuwahiri. It looks to this humble correspondent like they KNOW who their enemies are and we do not. There is a recurring character in many of the novels I have read I call “The Old Asia Hand”. This is the guy who has spent 20-30 years in country, knows the languages and all the major players. From what I’ve read, we have no corresponding characters like that in real life. Hell, we have a hard time finding people who even speak the languages. As long as that’s the case, we will continue to be blind to the intentions and actions of this enemy.

  4. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/07/world/asia/07intel.html?hpw has James Risen’s take on the story. What makes Americans want to work for the CIA? All sorts of incentives, I imagine. There were two women involved in this miscreant caper, and two Xe employees, Risen says.

  5. avatar Bill Bergman says:

    Thanks for the link to the Karzai website.

  6. avatar theepitbull says:

    FYI

    This just in: http://www.examiner.com/x-18425-LA-County-Nonpartisan-Examiner~y2010m1d7-Afghan-govt-demands-arrest-of-US-death-squad-who-handcuffed-executed-8-children-US-refuses

    Afghan govt. demands arrest of US “death squad” who handcuffed, executed 8 children. US refuses

    Kai Eide, UN Representative to Afghanistan confirmed the Afghan government’s investigative conclusions that US troops handcuffed and then executed eight students enrolled in grades 6 through 10 in a night raid on December 27, 2009. The US military and NATO responded the troops involved were non-official. The most likely source of para-military “non-official” troops in Afghanistan is Blackwater/Xe.

    President Hamid Karzai demanded arrest of the US troops engaged in the break-in and mafia-style execution of their children. The US responded to the Afghan demand of January 1 by rejecting the findings of the Afghan government and UN with a vague promise of their own self-investigation at some later date.

    (((3)))

  7. The torch of freedom burns dim this nite.
    carries its corruption a canker sore, its bare light,
    by which flickering shadow
    the execution of handcuffed children employed,
    the dog soldier of far distant lands satisfied its thirst,
    thanked the battlescar jesus for ‘hard won’ revenge exact.

    The broken hearts of home mourn beyond comprehension these renegade acts,
    filibustered pomposity,
    carrion heart . Lost soul of the great western LIE.

    Well. Now it lies still. A flag on the moon.

  8. This whole thing (along with others)makes me nauseated/sick. I’m still waiting for more insight/info/facts…Put it in an already thick file for when next time some one naively asks ‘why do they hate us?!’ Use it as a real life example when the subject is ‘terrorism.’…

  9. Jeremy Scahill reported tonight on the Rachel Maddow show that 2 of the dead and 1 of the wounded in the attack were, in fact, Blackwater/XE employees. This after the CIA denied it was using BW/XE people. Also, the three mercenaries were present for the “high-level” meeting with the asset/bomber.

    Jordanian intelligence denies that he was an AQ agent all along and had been giving actionable intelligence until…he realized that all those pesky civilian deaths were because of his info. This is their reasoning and they also stated they’ve penetrated AQ befoe and they can do it again.

  10. It’s odd how these two stories are juxtaposed. Which event occurred first?

  11. Slightly off-topic. But it concerns Obama and security.

    Now, it turns out that three people have slipped by the Secret Service and gotten close to Obama, Biden and others. Just like the Xmas Day Bombing; has anybody been publically sacked in either case yet?

    If no, yet again Obama wants to be Mr. Center Line.
    As for the partycrashers, he actually invited the first two to the Oval Office. Even if they’re not Al Quaeda and just part of the A-List-Inside-the-Beltway Crowd, at the time these people could have killed Obama. And yet you invite them into your office?

    Not exactly the best way to sell your “war on terrorism” (IMO).

  12. avatar Kingfisher says:

    “There is a recurring character in many of the novels I have read I call “The Old Asia Hand”. This is the guy who has spent 20-30 years in country, knows the languages and all the major players. From what I’ve read, we have no corresponding characters like that in real life. Hell, we have a hard time finding people who even speak the languages.”

    Ish, no need to remind you that this is of course a character. Closest thing we probably have are at DIA. But yes CIA is in sad, if not dire state of affairs; which makes what some of the nutters here say all the more ridiculous. It probably will not exist ten years from now.

    “As long as that’s the case, we will continue to be blind to the intentions and actions of this enemy.”

    Like you mentioned before of Sun Tzu’s maxim: know thy enemy. I would say the Michael Scheuer types in gov’t do; the politicians do not, and the public for the most part does not understand this enemy. There are reasons for this; bin Laden is incredibly plainspoken about the reasons why he does what he does, but this is lost on most – again there are reasons for this.

    Best,
    KF

  13. avatar Kingfisher says:

    I see a lot of rush to conclusion regarding this alleged “massacre”, when the facts are not sufficient enough to do so. It may indeed have happened as described, massacre’s do occur in such conflicts. However, I doubt it is as cut and dry as it is alleged, and would recommend people not rush to any conclusions. Should that be the case, do you think we are going to hear any apologies for these sensationalistic comments? I doubt it.

    Just because the boys were between 12-17 and in school doesn’t mean they couldn’t be combatants in the fire-fight. This is a warrior society, they learn how to handle weapons and fight at a young age.

  14. avatar Kingfisher says:

    “Myself, I think the CIA/Blackwater thugs were arming a drugged out ’suicide bomber’ with C4 when someone screwed up and accidentally detonated the explosive.
    So instead of turning that doped out assassin into a crowded marketplace full of women and children, their usual MO, they got blown up instead.”

    Mr. Bacon, what you’ve just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.

    Please mash your head against the keyboard. You are a cancer to this blog.

  15. Kingfisher,

    You have made a fundamental error. You think “we” are good and “they” are bad. Get a grip on reality, dude. We are there uninvited and killing them with wanton abandon for what? Oil? Geopolitical power? Force of habit?

  16. avatar Kingfisher says:

    “You have made a fundamental error. You think “we” are good and “they” are bad.”

    Geoff,
    Just where exactly did I do that in any of the above posts?

    Afghanistan is opaque to any sense of Western morality; and such clear cut instances of “good” and “bad” are infrequent in insurgency-counterinsurgency situations.

    What I didn’t do was assume that “we” are always “bad”. I loathe activists and progressives that do so, and neocons that do the opposite (we are always “good”). You are thinking Coke vs. Pepsi; I am talking about R.C. Cola.

  17. avatar JamesLaffrey says:

    David Swanson admirably says:
    “We must stop it now [1]. We must shut down [2] the place it comes from.
    Not another dime. Not another dollar. Not another death. Not another thought of revenge.”

    It’s a call to action.

    And I’m sure Sibel agrees.

    But what happens in the comment section? Nearly every commenter has nothing to say about supporting nor joining nor planning action.

    I think what I see on various websites that ought to be centers for organizing is actually a bunch of people who are ENTERTAINED by news about the crimes of our government. They enjoy (in a sick way) the rush of adrenaline over the latest horror, and they get a kick out of submitting an actionless comment about it. And then they move on the next horror-of-the-day, the next horror-of-the-week.

    On this website, when I say “WE” must force them to resign, and “WE” must prepare to govern, and “WE” must govern, I’m talking about the bravest and sanest among us on this website and related to this website. I think the best core group of people to govern our country is the whistle-blower group, and we grow it from there.

    Maybe I haven’t been clear before. I hope I’m being clear now.

    I want to form a group of intelligent citizens (who are not politicians) who fully intend to govern. We will take actions along the way that show we are capable and worthy of governing.

    If I see some credible and like-minded comments here, I’ll post my personal email address here.

  18. How surreal is this? I’m watching Democracy Now online talking about Blackwater and the CIA. And guess who’s on from Congress? Jan Schakowsky saying how “terrible” this is…

  19. i, for one, in no way feel “dumbed down by mr. bacon’s irrationality” as kingfisher so insultingly (to mr. bacon) assumes i must. as kf says, we must not rush to judgment.

    of course, we must acknowledge the existence of so-called “blackflag operations” that arouse the public, helping to “manufacture consent” in chomsky’s words, to all manner of barbarism, from racial profiling to “collateral damage”. “normalize the unthinkable”, as pilger says. explain how our nobel winning president is really waging peace, not war.

    Or, remember lecarre’s believable portrayal of unwitting suicide agent in “the little drummer girl”, for just one “fictional” scenario not far off the mark from mr. bacon’s.

    the front page of nyt, 1/1/10, headlines “the cia’s expanded role on front lines”, and refers to “the administration’s acceleration of the cia’s drone campaign” against “militants in Pakistan”, and explains how “cia personnel regularly take foreign agents onto the base before sending them on intelligence collection missions in eastern Afghanistan and across the border into pakistan”. (since when did cia acquire its own air force?) it all compounds the illegality simultaneously with the wickedness.

    the point? we don’t know, exactly how it happened, but i like john pilger’s use of quote:”never believe anything until it’s been officially denied.” double agents? sure, why not? would we be brave enough for that, witnessing drone attacks on civilians and occupation in our own country?

    kf: try to keep a civil discourse.

    and yes, mr laffrey. we wring our hands and plan what recourse? the crucial civic education of sharing blacklisted info and whistleblower experiences here is the best strategy yet. how about the following ideas:

    1. continue widening the knowledge of this website and sibel’s name in all the unlikely places, blogs, mainstream places people go (very politely) that we can think of. as my mom says, “when the student is ready, the teacher will appear”. problem: so many DON’T KNOW HOW READY THEY ARE//SHOULD BE! so we have to take that info to them, and it’s NOT EASY without alienation sometimes.

    2. we support/attend cindy sheehan’s planned march action on the mall in d.c.?

    3. if you have info the public NEEDS TO KNOW, risk jail, as ellsberg says, to get it to them/us. whoops, that reminds me!!!!! going to check if the podcast is on.

    4. in other words, do not be afraid. follow courage of sibel.

    and, sibel, ma’am, do you know whereabouts/well-being of indira singh (who read your letter aloud there when you could not speak)? would it be possible to have her on your show? i just listened to the 04-05? 911 citizen commission hearings and her explosive testimony re ptech and can’t find anything recent. is she ok?

    as a footnote, at codepink website, i “was not allowed”???? to access any of the suggested-in-pink links. got only “safari cannot find server” repeatedly, different days!

    DOES ANYONE ELSE GET THIS THERE or at other very liberal/activist sites?????? (please try and post results here or after ellsberg’s interview). many thanks.

    sibel; is that the procedure for continuing conversation or do folks keep going back to relevant podcast comments and adding there? sorry so many questions. lb

  20. what? do you think the boys DON’T dress in drag and fly a few false flags sometimes kf? next you’ll be telling me the buildings fell because of office furnishings fire.
    I’ll apologize any time a properly constituted investigation proves the case. How likely do you think thats to be?

  21. avatar 344thBrother says:

    Please pardon the cross post from The “Makings of a Police State” comments, The last post there was August 09 and this is relevant to the subject of police and military abuse of prisoners.

    “The Largest Street Gang in America – A Compilation About Police Brutality in America” 4 video clips

    Please forgive me if this is a repost, I searched but didn’t find it elsewhere on the site. These videos are attributed to “Boiling Frogs 101″.

    Regardless it definitely bears reposting. NOT for the faint of heart or easily infuriated with dangerously high blood pressure. NOT for children. NOT fun.

    Here’s a page with all 4 videos. It’s not easy to watch them all.

    http://video.google.com/videosearch?q=The%20Largest%20Street%20Gang%20in%20America%20-%20A%20Compilation%20About%20Police%20Brutality%20in%20America%20%20frogs&oe=utf-8&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a&um=1&ie=UTF-8&sa=N&hl=en&tab=wv#

    God Help Us
    peace
    Dave Short

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