'Intelligent discontent is the mainspring of civilization.' -- Eugene V. Debs

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Free Fire Zone Afghanistan (Part 11) 

You may have seen this elsewhere already, but I think it is important to acknowledge these atrocities. From Mark Boal's article in Rolling Stone, The Kill Team:

The morning of May 2nd, the platoon was on a routine patrol in a village called Qualaday, a few miles from base. Following standard procedure, the unit's leaders entered a house to talk with a man who had previously been arrested for having an IED. That inadvertently left the rest of the platoon free to roam the village looking for targets, without having to worry about an officer's supervision.

Outside the house, Morlock was overheard instructing Winfield in how a grenade explodes, cautioning him to remain on the ground during the blast. Then the two soldiers moved off with Gibbs. Nearby, in a compound filled with children, they picked out a man with a white beard and escorted him outside. He seemed friendly, Winfield recalled. He didn't seem to have any sort of animosity toward us.

Gibbs turned to his men. You guys want to wax this guy or what? he asked. Morlock and Winfield agreed that the man seemed perfect.

Gibbs walked the Afghan to a nearby ditch and forced him to his knees, ordering him to stay that way. Then he positioned Morlock and Winfield in a prone position behind a small berm no more than 10 feet away. To be honest, Morlock later told investigators, me and Winfield thought we were going to frag ourselves, 'cause we were so fucking close.

With everyone in position, Gibbs took cover behind a low wall and chucked a grenade toward the Afghan. All right, dude, wax this guy! he shouted. Kill this guy, kill this guy!

As the grenade went off, Morlock and Winfield opened fire. Morlock got off several rounds with his M4. Winfield, who was armed with the more powerful SAW machine gun, squeezed off a burst that lasted for three to five seconds.

Gibbs shouted for Morlock to proceed with the next stage of the plan. Get up there and plant that fucking grenade!

The man lay where he had fallen. One of his feet had been blown off by the blast; his other leg was missing below the knee. Morlock ran up and dropped the Russian pineapple grenade near the dead man's hand. Gibbs walked up to the body, stood directly over it, and fired twice into the man's head, shattering the jaw.

Later, when the scene had calmed down – after soldiers had pushed away the dead man's wife and children, who were screaming, hysterical with grief, and Morlock had spun the story to the higher-ups – Gibbs took out a pair of medical shears and cut off the corpse's left pinky finger, which he kept for himself. Then, wearing a surgical glove, he reached into the dead man's mouth, pulled out a tooth and handed it to Winfield.

No wonder the US tried to prevent Malalai Joya from entering the country. As I observed when the allegations about the kill team were first publicized: If anything, the conduct of these troops, if substantiated, brings to mind attacks upon homeless people by young males. But Boal goes beyond the brutality of the kill team members, as grotesque as it is, and exposes the unwillingness of higher ranking officers to stop them.

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