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

Monday, March 12, 2012

Free Fire Zone Afghanistan (Part 11.5) 

UPDATE: Publicly, at least, the Pentagon has already figured it out:

A similar line came from the Pentagon, where a spokesman described the killings as a deplorable but isolated incident and said that the indications were that they were perpetrated by a single individual acting on his own.

Of course, there are a lot of important questions to ask. Did the perpetrator tell anyone else in the unit of his plans? Did anyone notice him departing the base in full gear and night goggles by himself? Did he really act alone, or did anyone provide him with assistance? If so, what did they do? Did he display any behavior in the days and weeks prior to the killings that alarmed anyone? If so, did they act upon what they observed? The Pentagon will probably ask all of these questions, and more, but don't expect it to tell us the answers because they would contradict the specious humanist explanation for the occupation.

INITIAL POST: A witness recounts how the soldier went about killing his victims:

One survivor recounted how the US soldier, reportedly a father himself, had hunted down an Afghan family like military targets through their modest home, set among vineyards and pomegranate orchards just south of the US base.

He was walking around taking up positions in the house in two or three places like he was searching, said 26-year-old Muhammad Zahir, who from a hiding place in another room recognised the man's Nato uniform but was unable to see his face.

He was on his knees when he shot my father, Zahir said. His father had been carrying only a cup of tea when he came out of his room to meet the shooter; he was wounded in the thigh, but survived.

After the gunman left, Zahir said he heard gunshots near the house again. He stayed in hiding for a few minutes to make sure the killer was gone.

Some of the bodies had single, execution-style bullet wounds in their heads, and those from a home where he killed 11 people were charred and wrapped in burned coverings, although Dastagiri and villagers were unsure whether they had been set deliberately on fire or a blaze had been started by munitions.

And, another, similar account:

In Panjwai, a reporter for The New York Times who inspected bodies that had been taken to the nearby American military base on Sunday counted 16 dead, including five children with single gunshot wounds to the head, and saw burns on some of the children’s legs and heads. All the family members were killed, the dead put in a room, and blankets were put over the corpses and they were burned, said Anar Gula, an elderly neighbor who rushed to the house after the soldier had left. We put out the fire.

Relatives said the bodies of two women showed stab wounds and that some of the women were shot as they ran from room to room to try to avoid the gunman. Among the dead at the base, a man aged about 50 had a single gunshot wound to his chest.

The villagers also brought some of the burned blankets on motorbikes to display at the base, Camp Belambay, in Kandahar, and show that the bodies had been set alight. Soon, more than 300 people had gathered outside to protest.

Meanwhile, the process of personalizing the perpetrator while preserving the anonymity of the victims has already begun:

An official told ABC News that the soldier has suffered a mild traumatic brain injury (TBI) in the past, either from hitting his head on the hatch of a vehicle or in a car accident. He went through the advanced TBI treatment at Fort Lewis and was deemed to be fine.

He also underwent mental health screening necessary to become a sniper and passed in 2008. He had routine behavioral health screening after that and was cleared, the official said.

When the soldier returned from his last deployment in Iraq he had difficulty reintegrating, including marital problems, the source told ABC News. But officials concluded that he had worked through those issues before deploying to Afghanistan.

For more background as to how this humanization, this selective individualization, serves the purpose of rationalizing the killings of civilians by US troops, please consider reading my post from August 2008, People in White. Consistent with this, John Glaser enumerates numerous incidents in which US troops killed Afghan and Iraqi civilians and received minimal or no punishment. I wonder whether investigators will look into whether there were any warning signs that should have been recognized. I also wonder whether the other troops in the unit will adopt the well known code of silence utilized by the police when investigated for misconduct. The military has a strong motivation to characterize the killings as something that happened in isolation. The personalization of the perpetrator assists in the attainment of this objective as well.

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