No prosecution for urinating on Afghan corpses, burning korans

This video from the USA is called No Criminal Charges for Marines in Afghan Urination Incident.

By Bill Van Auken in the USA:

No prosecution of US troops for defiling Afghan corpses, burning Korans

29 August 2012

Three US Marines and six soldiers have escaped criminal prosecution in connection with the videotaped urination on the corpses of slain Afghans and the burning of copies of the Koran in two separate incidents that provoked bloody unrest earlier this year.

Other Marines still face separate charges in connection with the videotape that surfaced last January, showing four members of a sniper unit laughing and making sarcastic comments while urinating on the battered corpses of three Afghan men.

Army and Marine officials announced separately on Monday that the nine soldiers had been given only administrative penalties, while refusing to name those involved.

This form of punishment normally includes measures such as forfeiture of rank or pay, confinement to base or the issuing of letters of reprimand. It is likely to be seen in Afghanistan as a slap on the wrist, potentially triggering a new round of attacks on US-led occupation forces. The Pentagon refused to comment on whether or not US installations in Afghanistan are being placed on heightened alert.

The Koran-burning incident, which took place in February, barely a month after the appearance of the video of the Marines desecrating Afghan corpses, sparked several days of popular upheavals, including attacks by crowds of Afghans on US and NATO bases. At least 41 people were killed in the violence, including six American troops.

At the time, US officials made statements accepting that the incidents involved serious offenses and would be treated as such. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stated publicly that the Marines who urinated on the dead Afghans could be guilty of a war crime, while the deputy commander of US forces in Afghanistan, Lt. Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti, issued a message to troops that “defiling, desecrating, mocking, photographing or filming for personal use insurgent dead constitutes a grave breach” of laws governing armed conflict.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta pronounced that those involved would be “held accountable to the fullest extent.”

Similarly, in the Koran-burning incident, President Barack Obama issued a written apology to the Afghan government vowing to take measures to avoid any repetition of this behavior that would “include holding accountable those responsible.” The puppet government of US-backed President Hamid Karzai issued its own statement saying that US officials had promised “bringing to justice, through an open trial, those responsible for the incident.”

The three Marines punished in the desecration case pleaded guilty to the administrative charges, avoiding a court martial.

The extent of the punishment in the Koran-burning episode consists of letters of reprimand issued to four Army officers and two enlisted soldiers.

An investigation led by Army Brig. Gen. Bryan G. Watson concluded that the personnel involved in the Koran burnings had chosen “the easy way instead of the right way” of dealing with a supposed problem inside the US-run prison at the Bagram air base. This involved suspicions that Afghan prisoners were using copies of the Koran and other religious texts to secretly communicate with each other.

The report acknowledged that the US soldiers attempted to burn 500 copies of the Koran, far more than the 100 that were acknowledged by the US military at the time. In addition, they had sought to incinerate nearly 1,500 other volumes from the prison library, including religious texts falsely identified as “extremist” literature and secular books. The operation was aborted when Afghan employees at the base incinerator noticed that the bags of trash brought to be burned included the Korans.

The Army probe rejected any charge that the actions of the soldiers involved was motivated by “malicious intent to disrespect the Koran or defame the faith of Islam.”

Perhaps the most revealing part of the investigation’s conclusions, however, was that the US soldiers who organized the Koran burnings had ignored the strenuous objections by Afghan soldiers and guards at the prison, who warned them that they were making a grievous mistake.

“That US service members did not heed the warnings of their ANA [Afghanistan National Army] partners is, perhaps, my biggest concern,” General Watson wrote. The report cited “mistrust” between the US and Afghan troops.

This “mistrust” has only deepened dramatically in the six months since the Koran burnings, taking the form of so-called “green-on-blue” attacks in which Afghan soldiers and police are killing US troops assigned to train them.

In the latest incident, an Afghan army soldier fired a rocket-propelled grenade at US personnel Monday in eastern Laghman province, killing two American soldiers before he himself was killed by return fire.

Since the beginning of this year, 42 US and other foreign occupation troops have died in such attacks, with 11 US troops having been killed in just the last week. There has been a sharp escalation in these insider attacks since 2011, when 35 US-led occupation troops were killed in such incidents during the entire year.

US commanders have routinely attempted to deny that these attacks are anything more than isolated incidents stemming from personal frictions. The top US commander in Afghanistan, Marine Gen. John Allen, even went so far as to attribute the recent spike in these killings to the effects of Ramadan fasting.

Last week, however, the deep-going concern within the Pentagon about the impact of the “green-on-blue” attacks was made clear when US Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey made an emergency trip to Kabul to press for both US forces and the ANA to take stricter precautions.

These measures include orders for American troops to keep their fully loaded weapons at hand at all times to respond to an attack by their Afghan “allies.” In addition troops have been assigned to act as “guardian angels,” keeping a constant armed watch over Afghan personnel. These actions only serve to deepen tensions, however, with US troops treating every Afghan soldier and policeman as a potential assassin.

Five Australian troops were killed in two separate incidents in Afghanistan in what Prime Minister Julia Gillard Thursday described as the nation’s deadliest day in combat since the Vietnam War: here.

Five Australian soldiers killed in “worst day” in Afghanistan: here.

“Green On Blue” Attacks & The Ugly American: here.

US Justice Department closes CIA probe with no charges in torture, murder of detainees: here.

US officials reluctantly handed over control of Bagram prison to Kabul today, although it insisted on retaining authority over several inmates.

11 thoughts on “No prosecution for urinating on Afghan corpses, burning korans

  1. Afghan minister accused of abuses to become new intelligence chief

    McClatchy Newspapers

    By Jon Stephenson

    KABUL — An Afghan Cabinet minister dogged by torture allegations is slated to become the new chief of Afghanistan’s notorious intelligence service, the National Directorate of Security.

    The appointment of Asadullah Khalid, the minister of border and tribal affairs, will be announced within days by Afghan President Hamid Karzai, said a man who knows Khalid. A former senior government official who’s close to Karzai told McClatchy that “Khalid’s appointment has been confirmed.”

    Both men spoke only on the condition of anonymity, as they weren’t authorized to speak publicly on the matter.

    Khalid was the governor of the restive southern province of Kandahar, where troops from Canada were based, from 2005 to 2008. He had a notorious reputation among many Kandaharis, who say he abducted and tortured personal and political opponents, but he’s consistently denied any involvement in such activity.

    In April 2010 the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. said suspicions had been widespread during Khalid’s tenure in Kandahar that “the feared governor kept a private dungeon for prisoners under his palace.” The CBC quoted top-level Canadian government documents that showed Canadian authorities had known in spring 2007 about claims of serious human-rights abuses by Khalid.

    “Allegations of human rights abuses by the governor are numerous and consistent,” said one document from spring 2007. “According to multiple sources, including the U.K. embassy, the private detention centre is located under the governor’s guest house.”

    Also in April 2010, Canada’s newspaper The Globe and Mail quoted a former official who’d served under Khalid at the governor’s palace in Kandahar as saying he’d seen a prisoner in a guard room hanging from the ceiling “trussed like a chicken.” The Globe and Mail quoted another man as saying he was among those detained at the palace and “endured weeks of beatings supervised by the governor himself.”

    Khalid was removed a few months later, but he’s remained a powerful figure in Afghanistan.

    If he’s confirmed as Karzai’s choice for National Directorate of Security director, and he survives a parliamentary vote of confidence, his appointment probably will spark concern among human rights groups in Afghanistan and abroad. The Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the United Nations have accused the National Directorate of Security of torturing detainees. The appointment of someone with Khalid’s reputation could suggest that Karzai isn’t serious about reforming the agency.

    The U.N. Assistance Mission in Afghanistan last October reported “compelling” evidence that 125 detainees – 46 percent of 273 detainees it interviewed who’d been in National Directorate of Security detention – had experienced torture. A number of countries in the U.S.-led coalition in Afghanistan, including Britain and New Zealand, have ordered their soldiers not to transfer detainees to some National Directorate of Security departments for fear of complicity in torture.

    The former senior Afghan government official who’s close to Karzai told McClatchy that the president’s choice of Khalid was a mistake. He suggested that Western nations wouldn’t support the decision and that it might not be welcomed by the United States, which had funded and worked closely with the National Directorate of Security.

    “I am not sure that the Americans will maintain their support for the NDS under Khalid,” the former official said. “He has many shortcomings, including that he is brutal.”

    Others have suggested that pressure from the United States to urgently tackle the Taliban-led insurgency is precisely the reason that Karzai has selected Khalid.

    A writer at the Kabul Politics blog claimed that Karzai had fired the former National Directorate of Security director, Rahmatullah Nabil, because of U.S. anger over the directorate’s apparent failure to stem the increasing number of “green on blue” attacks – in which Afghan security personnel turn their weapons on their coalition counterparts – and that the United States promoted Khalid as a suitable replacement.

    However, the former senior government official close to Karzai said Khalid and one of Karzai’s brothers, Abdul Qayum, had been involved in secret talks with Saudi Arabia in an effort to involve the Saudis in peace negotiations with the Taliban. He said that appointing Khalid to the directorate job “is just another step in this direction.”

    He said Karzai was well aware of Khalid’s background and the numerous allegations of criminality, and that he would have appointed Khalid thinking that the advantages of doing so outweighed the disadvantages.

    “The president must have done his calculations,” the former official said.

    Stephenson is a McClatchy special correspondent.


  2. Govt won’t bring charges over CIA interrogations

    Published: August 30, 2012

    By PETE YOST — Associated Press

    WASHINGTON — The Justice Department announced Thursday it has ended its investigation into CIA interrogations of terrorist detainees without bringing criminal charges.

    The decision in the probes of the deaths of two terrorist suspects marks the end of a wide-ranging criminal investigation by federal prosecutor John Durham into interrogation practices during the presidency of George W. Bush.

    Durham has looked into the treatment of 101 detainees in U.S. custody since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

    Durham’s probe into another episode involving the CIA began in January 2008 when the Justice Department chose him to conduct a criminal investigation into the agency’s destruction of videotapes it had made of its interrogations of terrorist suspects.

    In August 2009, Attorney General Eric Holder expanded Durham’s mandate to include a preliminary review of the CIA’s interrogation of specific detainees overseas. In June 2011, Holder approved Durham’s request to move into a full criminal investigation of the two deaths.

    The 2009 expansion followed the public release of an internal CIA inspector general’s report that revealed agency interrogators once threatened to kill a Sept. 11 suspect’s children and suggested another would be forced to watch his mother be sexually assaulted. The report said some CIA interrogators went beyond Bush administration restrictions that gave them wide latitude to use severe tactics such as waterboarding, a simulated drowning technique.

    In regard to the just-completed probe of the two detainees’ deaths, Holder said that “based on the fully developed factual record concerning the two deaths, the department has declined prosecution because the admissible evidence would not be sufficient to obtain and sustain a conviction beyond a reasonable doubt.”

    In a message to employees Thursday, CIA Director David Petraeus said that “as intelligence officers, our inclination, of course, is to look ahead to the challenges of the future rather than backwards at those of the past. Nonetheless, it was very important that we supported fully the Justice Department in its efforts” and “I would like to thank everyone who played a role” in doing so.

    Former CIA Director Michael Hayden said he was “heartened that the investigation is complete, and I’m heartened by the results. I had great confidence in Mr. Durham. I just regret that many CIA officers had to go through yet another review of these activities.”

    Jameel Jaffer, deputy legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union, called the outcome of the investigation “nothing short of a scandal.”

    “Continuing impunity threatens to undermine the universally recognized prohibition on torture and other abusive treatment,” Jaffer said.

    Durham’s review examined whether CIA interrogators used any unauthorized interrogation techniques, and if so, whether the techniques could constitute violations of the torture statute or any other laws. The approach taken in the probe was not to prosecute anyone who acted in good faith and within the scope of the legal guidance given by the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel regarding the interrogation of detainees.

    Thursday’s announcement came in the deaths of Gul Rahman and Manadel al-Jamadi.

    Rahman died in the early hours of Nov. 20, 2002, after being shackled to a cold concrete wall in a secret CIA prison in northern Kabul, Afghanistan, known as the Salt Pit. He was suspected of links to the terrorist group al-Qaida. Rahman is the only detainee known to have died in a CIA-run prison.

    Before Durham looked into Rahman’s death, two other federal prosecutors conducted separate reviews and could not prove the CIA officer running the Salt Pit had intended to harm the detainee – a point made in a government document that has been released publicly.

    Al-Jamadi died in 2003 at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. A military autopsy declared al-Jamadi’s death a homicide.

    At Abu Ghraib prison, instead of turning al-Jamadi over to the Army, CIA officers took him to a shower stall. They put a sandbag over his head, cuffed his hands behind his back and chained his arms to a barred window. When he leaned forward, his arms stretched painfully behind and above his back.

    Within an hour, he was dead.

    At least three CIA employees came under scrutiny, including a paramilitary officer who ran what was known as the detainee exploitation cell at Abu Ghraib.

    The officer was on the raid when a group of Navy SEALs captured al-Jamadi. He processed al-Jamadi into the prison but he was not in the shower room when al-Jamadi died.

    The officer failed to have a doctor supervise al-Jamadi before he was processed into the prison, violating agency procedures. The officer, who was reprimanded over the incident, now works for a defense contractor.

    Associated Press writers Matt Apuzzo and Adam Goldman contributed to this report.

    Read more here:


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  8. Corpse abuse marine charged

    US: A marine officer in charge of snipers shown in a 2011 video urinating on the corpses of Taliban fighters [in] Afghanistan will be court-martialled.

    The US Marine Corps announced on Monday that Captain James Clement will be tried for dereliction of duty, conduct unbecoming an officer and failure to stop misconduct by those under his command.


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