When president Obama talks about torture practiced by the US, and excuses the actions of the torturers, he gives the impression that they occurred under the Bush-Cheney regime. But a new Amnesty International report says that torture continued well into the Obama presidency even as recently as a year ago. Nico Hines and Sami Yousafzai describe some of its contents.
The U.S. military has systematically covered up or disregarded “abundant and compelling evidence” of war crimes, torture, and unlawful killings in Afghanistan as recently as last year, according to a report by Amnesty International published today in Kabul.
The human rights organization alleges that the U.S. military has routinely failed to properly investigate reports of criminal behavior and, in some instances, tampered with evidence to conceal wrongdoing. On the rare occasions when servicemen are held to account, the report found that the compromised military justice system seldom secured justice for the victims of enforced disappearances, killings, and abuse that included torture.
“President Obama has admitted that ‘we tortured’ people in the past—but this is not the Bush administration, this is torture happening under Obama,” said Joanne Mariner, the author of the report.
A survivor of one of the most egregious assaults on civilians detailed in the report told The Daily Beast he had been forced to listen to the last gasps and sobs of his dying daughter, who was seven months pregnant, while the Americans threatened to kill anyone who moved. “She was calling out for help, maybe she wanted to share her last words before she left us forever,” said Muhammad Tahir, a civil servant.
Four years after two pregnant women, two criminal justice officials, and a teenage girl were shot dead during a party to mark the birth of a grandson in Khataba Village, Paktia Province, Tahir and his family are still waiting to be interviewed as part of an investigation the U.S. military promised to carry out.
“There is a shocking lack of accountability for the killing of Afghan civilians by U.S. forces, including civilians killed in circumstances that raise concerns about war crimes,” said Mariner. “There is very strong evidence that war crimes were carried out.”
But no doubt Obama will continue to say that torturers are ‘patriots’.