Translators may land Afghans in Guantanamo torture camp

This is a video from Britain about a peace demonstration, Time To Go – Manchester, 23rd September 2006.

Translated from Dutch daily NRC Handelsblad, about a TV news program which included a conversation of a United States soldier with an Afghan, through a translator:

Soldier: „How about security here?”. Afghan: „There is not any security here.” Translator: „There are no problems here.” Soldier: „Are there any Taliban here?” Afghan: „Behind that mountain. I want to tell them a story: we are growing wheat, but ants are coming. Many ants are coming, they are eating the wheat . We cannot harvest it. There are too many ants. You have to tell them that. Then they will understand the situation.” Translator: ,,If you want to bomb the Taliban, they are just behind that mountain.”

Soldier: „When was the last time you saw them?” Afghan: „They came and took the young men away.” Translator: „A year ago.”

With communication like this, many Afghan peasants who had nothing to do with Al Qaeda, have landed in Bagram, Guantanamo Bay, or other United States torture camps.

It reminds me somewhat of the Belgian story of three Dutch speakers who went to the French-speaking south of the country. They did not know any French, except for the words for “Yes sir”; “For a lot of money”; and “That’s OK, sir”.

They went into a courthouse, where a murder trial just happened to be going on. The judge asked them: “Did you murder the victim?” “Yes sir”, the Dutch speakers said. “Why?” the judge asked. “For a lot of money”, the Dutch speakers replied. “Then, you will get the death penalty”, the judge said. “That’s OK, sir”, the Flemings replied.

5 thoughts on “Translators may land Afghans in Guantanamo torture camp

  1. US deaths in Afghanistan makes 2008 deadliest year
    Thursday’s deaths brings to 113 the number of troops who have died in Afghanistan, surpassing last year’s record toll of 111.

    US at the ‘edge of historical defeat’: Taliban
    “Afghans have never surrendered to foreign interference and have always united against the infidel invasions and have defeated the invaders united.”

    What Americans must ask themselves
    [I]t is lamentable that even left-wing groups in America are talking about taking the war to Afghanistan. . . . [I]s it possible after all to mess up so much, destroy so many lives, and not expect pay back?


  2. Fort Campbell pilot from western Pa. killed in Afghanistan

    September 14, 2008

    GIBSONIA, Pa. (AP) — An Army helicopter pilot who grew up in western Pennsylvania was killed during a firefight in Afghanistan, his family said.

    Michael Slebodnik, 39, died Thursday after being shot near Jalalabad, according to his mother, Patricia Slebodnik, of Richland Township. She said the family was still waiting for more details on how he was killed.

    Slebodnik joined the Army after graduating from Richland High School in 1987, and had been a helicopter pilot almost the entire time since his enlistment, his mother said. The married father of four children, ages 3 to 18, he was assigned to Fort Campbell and lived in Clarksville.

    Slebodnik had been in Afghanistan since January and was scheduled to return to the U.S. next month. He had served five tours in Iraq since 2003 and was a veteran of Operation Desert Storm, according to his family.

    Michael Slebodnik was planing to retire from the military and wanted to return to western Pennsylvania, get his college degree and become a math teacher.

    “He was getting too old to be a pilot,” his mother said. “He would not have liked being a desk jockey.”


  3. Afghanistan: U.S. bombing killed civilians after false tip

    Monday 15th September, 06:55 AM JST

    KABUL, Afghanistan —

    An American bombing that killed up to 90 Afghan civilians last month was based on false information provided by a rival tribe and did not kill a single Taliban fighter, the president’s spokesman said Sunday.

    The claim contradicted a U.S. contention that the Aug 22 raid on the western village of Azizabad killed up to 35 Taliban fighters.

    “There was total misinformation fed to the coalition forces,” Humayun Hamidzada, the spokesman for President Hamid Karzai, told The Associated Press.

    Afghan police arrested three suspects accused of giving the U.S. military false intelligence that led to the bombardment, the Interior Ministry has said.

    An Afghan government commission found that up to 90 civilians were killed, including 60 children, a finding backed by a preliminary U.N. report.

    The bombing strained the U.S.-Afghan relationship but the countries remain committed allies, Hamidzada said.

    The operation, conducted by U.S. Special Forces and Afghan soldiers, targeted Afghan employees of a British security firm and their family members — the reason the U.S. military recovered weapons after the battle, Hamidzada said.

    The U.S. has said its forces were fired on first during a raid that targeted and killed a known militant commander named Mullah Sidiq. But villagers say their homes were targeted because of false information provided by a rival tribesman named Nader Tawakil.

    An Afghan parliamentarian has said Tawakil is in the protective custody of U.S. forces. The coalition has declined to comment.

    “How the information was gathered, how it was misfed, and their personal animosity led to trying to use the international forces for their own political disputes, which led to a disastrous event and caused a strain on the relationship of the Afghan government and international forces,” Hamidzada said.

    “Not a single Taliban was killed,” he added. “So it was a total disaster, and it made it even worse when there were denials, total denials.”

    The U.S. at first said that 30 militants and no civilians were killed. A formal military investigation found that the operation killed up to 35 militants and seven civilians.

    But after video images showing at least 10 dead children and up to 40 other dead villagers surfaced last week, the U.S. said it would send a one-star general from the United States to investigate the strike.

    Afghanistan’s Interior Ministry said Friday three suspects had been arrested for allegedly giving false information to the American military, but it did not say who they were. Hamidzada and the Interior Ministry spokesman have also declined to say who was arrested.

    Villagers had gathered for a memorial ceremony in Azizabad to honor a tribal leader named Timor Shah, who had allegedly been killed by Tawakil, the rival tribesman, about eight months ago. Villagers said families had traveled to Azizabad for the ceremony, one of the reasons so many children were killed.

    The top NATO spokesman in Afghanistan, Brig Gen Richard Blanchette, has said the U.S. coalition, U.N. and Afghan government would hold a joint investigation, but Hamidzada said the Afghan government would not take part.

    “The Afghan government did not agree to a three-way investigation, because we have already completed two investigations,” he said.

    “There is no need to go around to the village and actually harass people one more time and remind them of the terrible ordeal they went through. We have the facts straight, we have all the information.”

    Karzai has long pleaded with international forces to reduce the number of civilians killed in operations, and now the government is studying its “status of force” agreement governing U.S. and NATO operations in the country. Afghan officials are also reviewing the use of airstrikes by international forces.

    Hamidzada said Azizabad strained a relationship between friends.

    “We can be critical of one particular issue but we are still partners,” he said, adding there are ways of killing Taliban without hurting civilians.

    “If we only rely on air raids, we know these are not accurate, we know the potential for civilian casualties is extremely high,” he said. “So there has to be a combination of ground forces and the use of Afghan military forces. But you cannot just conduct operations from the air alone, because you hurt civilians.”

    In violence Sunday, a suicide car bomber attacked a convoy carrying Afghan doctors working for the United Nations in southern Afghanistan, killing two doctors and their driver, officials said.

    The U.N. said it was trying to determine whether the bombing was an explicit attack on the world body or if the doctors were a target of opportunity.

    Also in the Afghan south, a British soldier was killed in an explosion on Saturday, the Ministry of Defense said.

    Elsewhere, seven children died after ordnance they were playing with exploded, and militants ambushed and killed seven police, officials said.

    Copyright 2008/9 Associated Press


  4. Silence all round on Gitmo horrors

    Phillip Adams | September 16, 2008

    GUANO is birdshit. A few of our Pacific neighbours live on islands made of it and depended on the income it provided. Until it was all gone. Does Guantanamo have the same avian origin? Or was it made entirely of bullshit? The Bush administration lived on the political proceeds for a while. But now they’re long gone. Along with Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo is one of the horror stories of the war on terror. Along with a dozen human rights organisations, the UN insists that the detainees are subject to at least the equivalent of torture. Gitmo has been another monument to Bush era brutality and incompetence, and to Australian complicity.

    There are nine camps around Guantanamo Bay, named 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, Echo and Iguana. And if you’re into Iguanagates here’s one that dwarfs the embarrassments of the Della Boscas. Here’s what Donald Rumsfeld would call the known knowns. Between January 2002 and January 2008, the Gitmo concentration camp held 755 detainees behind the razor wire in conditions the UN described as equivalent to torture. Human rights groups and detainees reject mere equivalence and insist torture was widespread.

    In due course, but not after anything remotely resembling due process, 470 detainees were released without charge. The Australian Mamdouh Habib was one of them. Sometimes detainees were released on the insistence of their governments. While the Blair government demanded its detainees be sent home, the Howard government left two Australian citizens in that illegal hell-hole. David Hicks was a detainee for five years.

    Both Habib and Hicks claim to be victims of profoundly inhumane treatment at Gitmo. In Habib’s case there’s evidence of extraordinary rendition to Egypt to facilitate torture by third parties. But Guantanamo was bad enough. Four died in custody while there were any number of suicide attempts. Base Commander Rear Admiral Harry Harris Jr’s response was surreal: “They have no regard for human life, neither ours nor their own. I believe these were not acts of desperation, but acts of asymmetric warfare against us.”

    The overwhelming majority of detainees, including the two Australians, were rounded up in Afghanistan and Pakistan by bounty hunters. The US military dropped countless thousands of leaflets offering $25,000 for al-Qa’ida and Taliban suspects. This in a region of the world where the average wage is less than $500 a year.

    “Get wealth and power beyond your dreams”, one leaflet read. “You can receive millions of dollars. Enough money to take care of your family, your village, your tribe for the rest of your life. Pay for livestock and doctors and school books and housing for all your people.”

    Talk about an offer you couldn’t refuse. Little wonder that a staggering 86 per cent of detainees were rounded up by Afghan warlords or notoriously corrupt Pakistani police. Only 5 per cent were arrested as a result of US intelligence work. Which accounts for Gitmo being full of entirely innocent people.

    Some were children, one an 80-year-old paraplegic. US civil rights lawyer Mahvish Rukhsana Khan tells the paraplegic’s story in her book My Guantanamo Diary, published in Australia by Scribe. (Khan retold the story on my program, Late Night Live). Paralysed by strokes 15 years earlier, Haji Nusrat Khan was taken to Gitmo on a stretcher, but that didn’t save him from beatings, one of which broke his arm. Illiterate, with 10 children, he had lived in a small mountain village near Kabul. The excuse for his incarceration was a cache of weapons. He explained that his son worked for the US-backed Government of Hamid Karzai and had collected the weapons on the President’s orders as part of an official disarmament campaign. At Gitmo he would demand to face his accusers, but was told their names were classified and could not be released. But finally he was released, and back in Afghanistan, he’s been asking for a US visa. He wants medical help for an injury he’s had since fighting the Russians. But this time the US doesn’t want him.

    Other accounts of Mahvish Rukhsana Khan – based on interviews with detainees at Gitmo, and in Pakistan and Afghanistan since their release – are equally troubling. But the statistics, reluctantly released under Freedom of Information laws tell their own stories: 86 per cent of detainees rounded up in response to leaflet drops promising untold wealth; 755 detainees until January of this year; no trials in a system that even a US Supreme Court stacked with conservatives deplores. Yet John Howard and his attorney-general Philip Ruddock went along with it. Mice that didn’t squeak, let alone roar.

    Guantanamo remains a mountain of bullshit. Yet during the bidding war for the Republican nomination, presidential aspirants were saying the US needed Gitmos galore. It’s no surprise that neither John McCain nor Barack Obama are going near the issue and mainstream US media seem happy to avert their gaze from Gitmo’s ongoing existence and continuing injustices. In enforced retirement Ruddock expresses no regrets. And Gitmo eludes the memory of Peter Costello in his memoirs. Clearly, I should apologise for raising the embarrassing subject here today.,,24351151-7583,00.html?from=public_rss


  5. Pingback: Danish government punishes old lady for helping refugee baby | Dear Kitty. Some blog

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.