Obama Backtracks on Promised Investigation of Afghanistan Massacres

Tuesday, June 11, 2013
Abdul Rashid Dostum (photo: The Telegraph)

If President Barack Obama is serious about investigating the massacre of Taliban prisoners a dozen years ago in Afghanistan, there is nothing to show yet for whatever probing his administration might be conducting.


After taking office in 2009, Obama promised to look into the killing of hundreds, and maybe thousands, of Taliban fighters in late 2001 by local forces allied with the U.S.


The deaths occurred after thousands of Taliban warriors had surrendered to the forces of Abdul Rashid Dostum, a U.S.-supported warlord.


Prisoners who survived claimed they were crammed into shipping containers without food or water. Some died of suffocation, while others may have been shot when Dostum’s men opened fire at the containers. A mass grave was uncovered nearby in Dasht-i-Leili, lending credence to the allegations.


The New York Times reported in 2009 that the George W. Bush administration avoided looking into massacre, so as to not harm its alliance with Dostum.


But in July 2009 Obama told CNN that “if it appears that our conduct in some way supported violations of the laws of war, I think that we have to know about that.”


When asked recently by ProPublica about the state of the investigation, the White House said it was still “looking into” the ordeal.


“Yet no facts have been released and it’s far from clear what, if any, facts have been collected,” wrote ProPublica’s Cora Currier.


Susannah Sirkin, director of international policy at Physicians for Human Rights, told ProPublica that the Obama administration’s effort was “half-hearted and cynical.”


As for Dostum, he supported Afghan President Hamid Karzai in the 2009 presidential election, and is currently considered Afghanistan’s most powerful warlord, commander of an army estimated to be 25,000-strong. He reportedly receives $100,000 in cash each month from Karzai’s government…money provided to Karzai by the CIA.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

Four Years Ago Obama Promised to Investigate Afghan Massacre. Has Anything Happened Since? (by Cora Currier, ProPublica)

Two Afghan Vice Presidents Accused of Atrocities (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

Accused of War Crimes, Warlord Returns to Afghanistan…to Campaign for Karzai (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

U.S. Inaction Seen After Taliban P.O.W.’s Died (by James Risen, New York Times)


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