Photo: Flickr / boliston
On Wednesday two U.S. generals denied that they tried to stop an investigation into the “Auschwitz-like conditions” at the U.S.-funded Dawood National Military Hospital in Afghanistan.Lt. Gen. William Caldwell and Maj. Gen. Gary Patton countered allegations made by three colonels that they actively attempted to block formal inquiries into the horrific conditions that Afghan patients, including Afghan soldiers who fought with Americans, experienced.
Last month Buzzfeed posted extremely graphic pictures of the hospital’s conditions.
In July Colonel Gerald Corazza (Ret.) testified to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee that “the evidence is clear … Gen. Caldwell did not want the request,” adding that Gen. Patton said that he agreed with Caldwell that an investigation should be postponed until after the 2010 congressional elections.
Corazza noted that the request for an investigation eventually went forward as an “assistance request” but the inquiry “would not mention the Auschwitz-like conditions at the National Military Hospital.”
U.S. Army Colonel Mark Fassl testified that there was no hot water in the hospital, a lack of basic things like hygiene and soap, and that “family members were taking care of their loved ones” instead of hospital workers (who regularly demanded bribes for treatment).
Fassl testified that he was told by Caldwell to retract his recommendation to Deputy Inspector General Kenneth P. Moorefield for an investigation. He also testified that Caldwell’s claim that the president “calls him Bill” occurred during a conversation about waiting for an investigation
until after the elections. Caldwell denies this, saying the “He calls me Bill” statement came from a comment he made to his staff after a briefing with the president and not during any conversations about an investigation.
Lt. Gen. Caldwell and Maj. Gen. Patton told the same committee that there was not any attempt to impede the investigation, and that there were no political reasons for the delay.
Caldwell, then-commander of the $11.2 billion dollar a year Afghan training program testified that he postponed the requests because he had not yet informed General Petraeus or his Afghan partners about it.Caldwell added that he wanted to make sure they properly “set the conditions” for the investigation, and that he waited to speak with Gen. David Petraeus—commander of all international forces in Afghanistan at the time and Caldwell’s direct superior—because he “needed Petraeus’ help.”
Patton said that the commanding officers addressed the problems at the hospital in a timely manner as they “essentially cleaned house” in December 2010 and encouraged positive change in patient care with the new medical commanders.
Patton denied allegations made by colonel Corazza that he instructed Corazza to “reduce the documentary evidence” on then-Afghan Surgeon General Ahmen Yaftali, who Patton said was the “root of the problem.”
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