“Killing Club” in U.S. Army Symbolizes Occupation of Aghanistan


Nine years old this coming week, the U.S. occupation of Afghanistan is in the news for 1) Pakistan attacking NATO supply convoys crossing their border into Afghanistan because a NATO airstrike killed 3 of their soldiers; 2) a book by Bob Woodward reveals severe splits at the top of the U.S. government, and in the military, over what to do about the failing war, and 3) hearings at Ft. Lewis-McCord on charges that members of an Army Stryker Brigade engaged in killing Afghan civilians for sport.

Protests aimed at stopping war occupation are planned for this week, in New York City, for October 16 in Chicago, and elsewhere we’re urging people to show the Collateral Murder video.  One protest to be seen by millions is the ad signed by 2600+ to be published in The New York Times later this week.

More on the Killing Club:

Mark Benjamin wrote in Salon Friday that Adam Winfield, a member of the Brigade, wrote his father last February,”Theres (sic) no one in this platoon that agrees this is wrong.”

Winfield is one of five soldiers in an Army Stryker Brigade from Joint Base Lewis-McCord, near Tacoma, that the Army has accused of being involved in the murders of at least three civilians in Afghanistan between January and May. Details have emerged about rampant drug use in Winfield’s platoon of around 30 soldiers, and of troops posing for photos with corpses. Soldiers in the unit say the alleged ringleader in the murders, Staff Sgt. Calvin Gibbs, severed and collected body parts, including teeth and fingers, apparently to make a necklace. Members of the platoon allegedly used drop weapons to cover up their crimes.

It’s too early to blame what occurred in Winfield’s platoon on soldiers’ moral compasses spinning out of control after repeated, violent tours in Iraq and Afghanistan (Gibbs was on his third combat tour). But it is easy to imagine that seemingly endless wars contributed to the moral turpitude Winfield described to his father.

It’s no stretch to say that the pervasive climate created in this country after 9-11 that anyone living in the war zone was an “enemy” led to mass killings in Iraq, Afghanistan, and now is standard operating procedure for US/NATO conduct towards Pakistan. Army basic training where recruits were led in jodies of “kill the hajis” lead to killing Afghan civilians. Ethan McCord, who exposed and opposed his orders to return 360degree fire and many other returned vets tell us about what they were ordered to do.

Afghan civilian deaths are up; U.S. casualties are up, and no end in sight.

But hey, it’s really your problem, according to Barack Obama, campaigning for Democrats this fall.  At the end of an interview with Rolling Stone last month, he came back into the room, and pointedly went after “any Democrat or progressive” who is complaining about what he’s not gotten done.

We have to get folks off the sidelines. People need to shake off this lethargy, people need to buck up. Bringing about change is hard — that’s what I said during the campaign. It has been hard, and we’ve got some lumps to show for it. But if people now want to take their ball and go home, that tells me folks weren’t serious in the first place.

I feel insulted by Obama’s remarks, for all those progressives who, serious about change, voted for Obama, under the delusion that he represented real change.  Here you have a leader who’s dead serious about commanding the US empire, with all that implies, chastising his base because they allowed themselves to be bamboozled.  And they want you to go for it again.

World Can’t Wait ran into some of those folks yesterday at the One Nation rally for jobs, education and healthcare on the Mall.  They were brought by the unions and the NAACP to ask for the change they had voted for.  We decided to go right for one of the burning contradictions right now: the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize expanding a war, issuing an order to assassinate a US citizen, defending the Bush regime torture lawyers in court on the basis of “state secrets” and “national security.”

Wearing orange jumpsuits, World Can’t Wait activists held a banner saying “War Crimes Must Be Stopped – No Matter Who Does Them.”  That would have been widely accepted, except for the mugshots of Bush and Obama.  “How dare you say that about My President?”  “That’s not true!” said others.  Hundreds, or thousands, snapped photos, argued, put dollars in the bucket, came back for our flyers, threw the flyers down, patted us on the back.  Some said “you should have been here when Bush was around.”

Hmmmm.  We were here, against the crimes of the Bush regime.  It’s just that you have to be consistent if you really are serious about stopping these unjust, immoral wars.

I’m looking forward to seeing those outrageous mugshots side by side in The New York Times this week.  Imagine the discussion at breakfast tables across the country.

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