A BuzzFlash Editorial
July 9, 2002
"Why are they shooting our women and children?"
A BUZZFLASH EDITORIAL
"Why are they shooting our women and children?" asked Abdul Kaliq, a 25-year-old farmer from Kakarak, in Afghanistan.
"The Americans should make peace in Afghanistan and rebuild Afghanistan," he said, wincing as he moved in the hospital bed. Shrapnel lacerated his back and both arms during the raid. (see http://www.latimes.com/la-fg-wounded5jul05005058.story)
Abdul Kaliq was one of more than 120 survivors as U.S. planes mistakenly attacked an Afghan wedding party on July 1st. More than 40 civilians were killed. Most of them were women and children.
BuzzFlash may have the answer to Abdul Kaliq's question, "Why are they shooting our women and children?"
Here is an interview with an Ithaca, New York, U.S. Army soldier that we linked to in May that may explain it all:
"In an April interview with The Ithaca Journal at his family's Cayuga Heights home, Guckenheimer, 22, shared his experiences during Operation Anaconda. He was sent on March 6 in a company of more than 100 soldiers to participate in the largest U.S.-led ground engagement in Eastern Afghanistan.
"We were told there were no friendly forces," said Guckenheimer, an assistant gunner with the 10th Mountain Division at Fort Drum. "If there was anybody there, they were the enemy. We were told specifically that if there were women and children to kill them."
The interview was conducted by "The Ithaca Journal." (On June 4th, "The Ithaca Journal" ran a "clarification" from Guckenheimer at http://www.theithacajournal.com/news/stories/20020604/opinion/440857.html We are also posting it below this BuzzFlash Editorial.)
"The celebrations were in full swing," writes The Times of London,"with hundreds of guests preparing for a wedding singing and dancing in the beam of a tractor's headlights. Out of the darkness a warplane descended, sending rockets exploding through the crowd.
Survivors of the party in Kakarak, southern Afghanistan, yesterday described the events after they came under fire in the early hours of Monday from American gunships. They told of a sustained attack from the air, with wedding guests being chased and shot dead as they tried to escape." (see http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,3-346161,00.html)
It wasn't the first time a wedding was bombed by U.S. military planes either. One article documents at least three wedding bombings by American forces (http://www.spiked-online.com/Articles/00000006D95F.htm).
"With the festivities, some people said they didn't even hear the AC-130 gunship as it approached the compound. Sadiqa, 15, was in the women's section listening to music when the firing started.
The first fire hit among the women, she said. Terrified, she and others ran out of the courtyard and into surrounding fields. Sadiqa said she searched for a dry stream bed where she could hide. She was shot as she ran, the shrapnel shearing into both legs.
Days later, she still wore the salmon-colored dress she had put on for the party. Her injuries will heal, doctors say; far harder is the loss of her entire family, 15 people who died in the raid.
On a neighboring bed, Sabor Gul, 11, stared out in distress. She looked terrified as two reporters asked what had happened. A nurse explained that the girl was scared because the visitors were Americans.
"The American people bombed us," Sabor said softly. "The airplane was very big. When the bombing started, every woman was scared; other women were killed in the river.""(see http://www.latimes.com/la-fg-wounded5jul05005058.story)
Of course, it is hard to believe that the Bush administration is intentionally bombing women and children, but it's not hard to believe that they don't care a whole lot if women and children get bombed as part of the process of "mopping up the Taliban."
If that sounds lake a radical charge, that American forces are instructed not to worry about women and children being killed, just ask Army Private Guckenheimer. Those were the orders he received.
In response to this BuzzFlash Editorial, were they to read it, the Bush Administration would send Dick Cheney or John Ashcroft out with fulminating indignation to charge BuzzFlash with treasonous talk that endangers our armed forces.
Let's be perfectly and unimpeachably clear: BuzzFlash is 100% in favor of protecting the lives of our armed forces. So is every decent American. The Bush administration, however, has successfully intimidated the Democrats into silence by bullying them with the notion that any questioning of the Bush administration's "war on terrorism" strategy is akin to putting America in harm's way.
Of course, that begs the question of what to do when the Bush administration strategy is inept and largely politically motivated.
BuzzFlash, for one, is against terrorism. We are against murder, rape and domestic violence, too. Does that mean we should live in the White House and run America like a feudal kingdom? Of course not.
But this administration has somehow made it seem like being against terrorism is what qualifies them to be in the White House. In that case, all but about 256 deranged right wing Timothy-McVeigh-type militia men who think black helicopters are circling over their heads qualify to be in the White House.
Bush's stance is akin to declaring, "I am against murder, but if you question how I utilize the police department or make budget allocations, you are aiding murderers. If you question why I need to give the Carlyle Group billions of dollars to build tanks to combat car thieves, you are treasonous."
Sorry, Mr. Bush, what we expect are actions and overall policies that are effective and reflect well upon the values of this nation.
When billions of dollars are going toward a Heritage-Foundation-Rube-Goldberg-Missile Defense-System, is the Bush administration squandering funds best spent on fighting terrorism? Any BuzzFlash reader knows that there are hundreds more examples of how the Bush administration's "war on terrorism" is two parts real, 6 parts political, and 4 parts financial pay-off to the arms-industry-GOP-campaign supporters -- including the Carlyle Group and Haliburton. We know about the White House's "war on terrorism" political strategy because Karl Rove told us so.
The Bush administration's conduct of the war on terrorism, including its bungled advance knowledge of a major threat heading our way, its opposition to an investigation of its pre- and post-September 11th activity, begs the question of competence and efficacy, not patriotism.
The Bush administration's highly suspicious investigation of the anthrax terrorist attacks begs the question of why the administration appears to be covering up for the perpetrator of a high crime because it might "embarrass" America's military bioterrorism program, not leveling with the American people and pursuing justice against a terrorist murderer.
So don't get us wrong. We applaud Private Guckenheimer for his service to America, for protecting us, for putting his life on the line. We thank every member of the military who fights to keep us safe from terrorism. They deserve our sincere and unstinting gratitude. It's the Bush administration, however, that is giving them their orders to shoot down women and children, if necessary -- or just to sort out the bodies later.
It's the Bush administration who doesn't seem to have many, if any, offspring or grandchildren in the military putting their lives on the line. They are fighting a war with a proxy army that doesn't put their own kin at risk.
"Around her in the orchard, there was unspeakable gore. A woman's torso had landed in one of the small almond trees. Human flesh was still hanging on the tree five days after the attack, and more putrefying remains were tangled in the branches of a pomegranate tree, its bright scarlet flowers still blooming.
"They were collecting body parts in a bucket," said the governor of Oruzgan Province, Jan Muhammad, who arrived the day after the attack." (see http://www.nytimes.com/2002/07/08/international/asia/08VILL.html)
It's the Bush administration that is led by four men -- Bush, Cheney, Rove and Ashcroft -- who evaded service in Vietnam and let other young men die in their places.
It's the Bush administration who used scare tactics, as admitted by a White House official, to blunt the efforts of some Democrats to hold Bush responsible for ignoring warnings of terrorism in an August 2001 memo. As a result, for nearly two weeks fear was used as an admitted political strategy. The citizens of this great democracy were frightened half to death to save the political butt of George W. Bush.
But America is not about saving the butt of George W. Bush, and it is not about bombing weddings in Afghanistan and blowing women and children to bits.
America is about a great democracy, built upon cherished principles of fairness, decency and equality.
Tell that to the villagers of Kakarak, Afghanistan.
A BUZZFLASH EDITORIAL
* * *
Clarification of Statement by Army Private Matt Guckenheimer
June 4, 2002
Recently your paper [The Ithaca Journal] quoted me as saying that my unit was ordered to kill women and children.
I would like to clarify this quote and provide more context.
Prior to the operation, we were made aware of the fact that the hostile forces of the Whaleback might include women and children. In that event, if those women and children showed hostile intent, we were ordered to kill them as hostile forces, just like any other hostile force we encountered. However, this does not mean that we were ordered to slaughter noncombatants such as babies.
We were further informed that some of these children are trained starting at a very young age to be soldiers. Knowing this, we could not afford to just dismiss them as noncombatants.
However, I do not want anyone to get the idea that we were ever sent out to kill anyone and anything that moves. We are better than that, both as a military unit and as a society.
* * *
A BuzzFlash Note: As reported in Tom Paine.com last month, there is a film being screened around Europe called "Massacre in Mazar."
"A documentary film, Massacre in Mazar, by Irish director Jamie Doran, is currently being shown in capitals around Europe. The film alleges that American troops collaborated in the torture and killing of thousands of captured Taliban troops near the town of Mazar-i-Shariff, following the fall of the city of Kunduz in November of 2001. Kunduz was the Taliban's last strong hold in northern Afghanistan, where a total of 8,000 troops surrendered to Northern Alliance forces.
The film has been shown around Europe, first in Berlin, where members of the German parliament viewed it on June 12. The following day it was viewed by members of the EU parliament, where a number of deputies called for an independent investigation by the International Committee of the Red Cross. Andrew McEntee, a leading human rights lawyer and former chairman of Amnesty International, who was present at the Berlin screening of the film, has stated that there is "clear prima facie evidence of serious war crimes committed not just under international law, but also under the laws of the United States itself."
The Pentagon issued a statement on June 13 denying the allegations of U.S. complicity, and the State Department followed suit with a similar statement on June 14. None of the major U.S. dailies -- The New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune -- have made any mention of the allegations or the existence of the film. Meanwhile, major newspapers in Europe -- The Guardian in England, Le Monde in France, Suddeustsche and Die Welt in Germany -- have all carried numerous stories reporting on the massacre."
Believable? Unfortunately, yes. But we won't know the truth, because the American press is pretty much ignoring all such charges, as are our elected officials of both parties.
In regards to the wedding massacre on July 1st, the White House and Defense Department have followed the standard Bush operating procedure after each wedding bombing and accidental killing of civilians. At first, we hear a complete denial of injury to any "civilians." Then we hear, a day or two later, that there were Taliban members shooting at the American planes and the response was appropriate, but an investigation would be launched. In the latest case, the Defense Department alluded to an apparently non-existent anti-aircraft gun. Finally, 5-7 days later, there is a Defense Department and White House acknowledgement that civilians were probably killed and that an "investigation" will proceed. Of course, by the time "the investigation" is completed, the press has lost interest in the raid.
We didn't learn much from My Lai, did we?
But Bush, Cheney, Ashcroft and Rove wouldn't know. They let others serve and die in Vietnam for them.
* * *
For more information about the Bush Administration Chickenhawks, visit The Chickenhawk Database, http://www.nhgazette.com/chickenhawks.html.
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