Last week the German paper Der Spiegel published very disturbing images of American military ‘Kill Team’ members posing next to Afghanis they had killed.
Turns out the images were leaked from a Rolling Stone article published today that includes 17 more.
The accompanying article is penned by Mark Boal, who won the Academy Award last year for his Hurt Locker screenplay.
In it Boal describes how “U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan murdered innocent civilians and mutilated their corpses – and how their officers failed to stop them.”
Eric Bates, executive editor of Rolling Stone, was on Morning Joe this morning discussing the piece
. The short version, if there can be a short version of such terrible and complicated subject matter, is that the teams were charged with finding and eliminating the Taliban, and when they failed to do so they ended up targeting civilians. In one case, detailed in Boal’s article, an unarmed 15-year-old boy.
The images, meanwhile, are alternately terrible and graphic, and totally normal…some depict soldiers posing with children and families. There are also videos. Again: very graphic.
According to Boal the Pentagon went to extraordinary measures to suppress the photos worried that they may result in another Abu Ghraib: “Gen. Stanley McChrystal and President Hamid Karzai were reportedly briefed on the photos as early as May, and the military launched a massive effort to find every file and pull the pictures out of circulation before they could touch off a scandal on the scale of Abu Ghraib.”
Boal suggests the motivation to suppress the photos may go deeper: “By suppressing the photos, however, the Army may also have been trying to keep secret evidence that the killings of civilians went beyond a few men in 3rd Platoon.”
Twelve men are currently on trial in Seattle, with five facing pre-meditated murder charges that could result in the death penalty or life in prison.
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