Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Afghanistan war logs: Secret CIA paramilitaries’ role in civilian deaths

Innocent Afghan men, women and children have paid the price of the Americans’ rules of engagement

David Leigh, The Guardian/UK, July 25, 2010

An Afghan girl in Helmand after being injured in an air strike by coalition forces in June 2007

An Afghan girl lies on a hospital bed in Helmand after being injured in an airstrike by coalition forces in June 2007. Photograph: Abdul Qodus/Reuters

Shum Khan, a man both deaf and unable to speak, lived in the remote border hamlet of Malekshay, 7,000ft up in the mountains. When a heavily armed squad from the CIA barrelled into his village in March 2007, the war logs record that he “ran at the sight of the approaching coalition forces … out of fear and confusion”.

The secret CIA paramilitaries, (the euphemism here is OGA, for “other government agency”) shouted at him to stop. Khan could not hear them. He carried on running. So they shot him, saying they were entitled to do so under the carefully graded “escalation of force” provisions of the US rules of engagement.

Khan was wounded but survived. The Americans’ error was explained to them by village elders, so they fetched out what they term “solatia”, or compensation. The classified intelligence report ends briskly: “Solatia was made in the form of supplies and the Element mission progressed”.

Behind the military jargon, the war logs are littered with accounts of civilian tragedies. The 144 entries in the logs recording some of these so-called “blue on white” events, cover a wide spectrum of day-by-day assaults on Afghans, with hundreds of casualties.

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