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The War Crime They Forgot to Mention

Reports that the Pentagon has already launched a criminal investigation into the burning and desecration of the bodies of two slain Taliban show just how worried this administration is about another torture and war crimes scandal further inflaming Muslim opinion against the U.S.

But those reports failed to mention that U.S. troops may have committed an additional war crime besides the desecration of enemy bodies. According to the transcript of the Australian TV news magazine Dateline report, U.S. soldiers interrogating an apparently-innocent Afghan villager threatened collective punishment against the whole village if he did not cooperate.

U.S. SOLDIER: I am trying to do what I can right now to find the bad guys because we don't want to end up having to punish everyone.

VILLAGER (Translation): I have no knowledge of the Taliban themselves. I do not know the person who reports to the Taliban in this village or who from the Taliban side is asking about the Americans.

U.S. SOLDIER: I'll say it again. What my commander wants to do is round up everyone in this town since no one is helping us and nobody is turning over the people in this village who actually are part of the attack. So this is going to be your last chance to try to help yourself.

Under the 1949 Geneva Conventions, collective punishments are a war crime. Article 33 states: "No protected person may be punished for an offense he or she has not personally committed," and "collective penalties and likewise all measures of intimidation or of terrorism are prohibited."

What strikes me about this entire incident -- besides the illegality and immorality of it -- is the utter stupidity and lack of cultural awareness of the U.S. Army Psychological Operations troops involved in this affair.

Baiting the Taliban by calling them "lady boys" in hopes they'll come out and fight? C'mon, that sort of thing barely works on 15-year-old boys, let alone hardened Taliban fighters. Can the U.S. Army really be this stupid?

Besides, Afghans (Taliban and otherwise) have had more than 25 years of constant war to learn how to emotionally adjust to the desecration of bodies. They are not going to be baited into exposing themselves just because some punk from Ohio or wherever pours gasoline on their comrades' corpses.

Once more, Don Rumsfeld's Pentagon proudly shoots America in the foot.


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Maybe we're reading to much into the soldiers 1st statement. Maybe he was just saying he would hate to have to round up the entire village and interrogate them such as what they were doing to this man. Maybe that could be termed punishment. Either wy we know we're in Afganistan for the longhaul unfortunatly. The US wants to cntrol that area to move oil easily through that country.

Oil has nothing to do with it, just as it had nothing to do with the USSR's advcenture in Afghanistan.

Sometimes geo-political advantage is more important than economic spoils.

Anyway, the stupidity of these psychological warfare operations is mind boggling. I spent many years in Afghanistan, and I know there's no way in hell the Afghans will stand for collective punishment or collective intimidation. Right now the majority of Afghans are glad we helped topple the Taliban, but incidents like this can change their mood overnight. I saw it happen to the Russians 27 years ago.

And as for blasting loud music at Afghans, puh-lease! The Taliban were an anomaly, filling a vacumn left by 20 years of war. The truth is, Afghans LOVE music. When I traveled with them, the first thing they did after capturing a Soviet tank was to outfit it with a tape deck and speakers.

Blasting music at Afghans is like throwing joints at hippies. They LOVE it!

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