Watch Highly Disturbing Footage of Detainee Abuses in Afghanistan

Information Clearinghouse – by Matthieu Aikins

During the course of my investigation for Rolling Stone into allegations of war crimes committed by U.S. Special Forces in Afghanistan, I obtained this video, which appears to show unidentified American soldiers watching as Afghans — likely a mix of Afghan National Army personnel and interpreters — torture and interrogate a prisoner. The video was floating around on Afghan social media pages, but has since apparently been removed. The Americans are visible around the one-minute mark.

These are not the same soldiers from ODA 3124 that I wrote about for the investigation. We don’t know who they are. However, based on their facial hair and appearance they are probably from a U.S. Army Special Forces team. Moreover, the uniform pattern that they seem to be wearing did not see general use in Afghanistan until 2010. (I showed the video to a former Green Beret, who concurred with that assessment.)

Not much is said in the video. The Afghans discuss how to hold down the prisoner in Pashto-accented Dari; the man screams, in Kandahari-accented Pashto, “oh my father” as he is whipped, and pleads with his captors that he will tell them whatever they want to know. Afterward, the uniformed Afghan leans over and asks him if he has any weapons, which the prisoner denies. (A spokeswoman says that ISAF is aware of the video, and has referred it to the Army’s Criminal Investigation Command, which also confirmed an ongoing investigation.)

The scene depicted in the video, and similar allegations of torture that were made to Rolling Stone in the investigation, fit with a general pattern of recurring abuse in U.S. and Afghan custody that has been documented by the UNCongress, and human rights groups in Afghanistan since 2001. While the main detention facilities in Afghanistan have technically been transferred to Afghan control, American military units are allowed to hold detainees for “tactical questioning” for up to two weeks. On an isolated firebase occupied by a tightly-knit special forces team, that means the detainees are at the mercy of their enemies. “If an ODA member was killed or critically injured then I can see tactical questioning getting way out of hand,” the former Green Beret tells me. For special forces and the interpreters, there is little sympathy for the men who want kill them. “Unless you’ve been in combat and had people who want to shoot you in the face, you can’t understand what it’s like,” one special forces officer told me. “There’s a reason that they say that war is hell. Because it is hell.”

An even bigger problem is U.S. complicity in the abusive methods used by its Afghan allies. As one military intelligence soldier told me in Kandahar in 2011, they would often take a “smoke break” when interrogating recalcitrant detainees, stepping outside and leaving the prisoner alone with Afghan police or soldiers. And despite over a decade and billions of dollars spent training the Afghan security forces, torture and abuse remain endemic in Afghan prisons. As I reported in the investigation, ISAF has halted transferring detainees to some of the worst locations, but the CIA has not — a discrepancy that led to a temporary breakdown in joint military operations under the OMEGA program last year.

These are the dark corners of the war in Afghanistan, made more apparent with ebb of American idealism in the region. As the bulk of U.S. and NATO forces are pulled out of the country in 2014, we may be leaving the people of Afghanistan to the ruthless men who will wage that war long after it is officially over.

Torture on Tape:  Disturbing Video Shows U.S. Special Forces Observing Brutal Afghan Interrogation

Video – Democracy Now!

A video just posted online by Rolling Stone shows a hogtied prisoner being whipped by Afghan security forces, as what appears to be two unidentified American military officers look on. According to investigative reporter Matthieu Aikins, the Army’s Criminal Investigation Command confirmed an ongoing investigation into the incident. Aikins says the video fits with a general pattern of recurring abuse of detainees in U.S. and Afghan custody.

13 thoughts on “Watch Highly Disturbing Footage of Detainee Abuses in Afghanistan

  1. YeaYeaYea, when I had to do my time in a state prison here in WI. the other inmates said that you do not want to go the the greenhouse. You go to the Greenhouse and they will bring you back out on a f`n streatcher and then you go to the GD hole, and if you snitched or ratted on them f`eras you would end up dead. That is what the inmates had happen to them at ” Waupon State Prison ” here in wisconsin back in the early 70`s. People focus on places like Guantamano Bay, but they forget just what is going on right here in the good ole us of a at our own prisons. Talk about abuse?, there are people being murdered by prison guards right here in the us of a and most people say nothing about it. I have been there years ago and I do know about that crap and I cannot believe that anything has changed in the prison system here in the usa.

    1. I think your marbles may have dropped down into your mouth digger, gettin’ a little mealy-mouthed on the keyboard.

      1. Millard, you know I have spelling prob.s but besides that, I did experience first hand what american prisons do to people do and that is that dg truth – at least it was in the early 70`s anyway. every one is crying about human rights violations this and that as well they should but lets not forget for one second how they beat and torture us guys that they illegaly encarcerate right here in the land of the free.

    2. diggerdan……….you’re correct about our own US prisons….and the goings on there.
      Any one doubting that, just take a look at the scholarly studies done over the past decades. Studies done on the local jail level, state prison level and federal prison level…You would find exactly what diggerdan is saying, with footnotes to go with….Our prison system if anything, may have gotten worse in some area’s of the country during the last 100 years…and now with the privatization for profit….of sentenced felons i can’t imagine it improving without a hell of a lot of effort from public reformers, pushing and pushing the state legislators to correct the abuse……..Don’t know where this millard’s comment is coming from i do know its not from the reality of daily life in many US Prisons….

      1. Yes rbeason however there are a lot of people that have never experienced that kind of thing and all thatt hey know about it is what they see, hear, and read about but they have never been there. Millard was just getting on my spelling I think 🙂 . Yea guy`s, I may have dropped a quite a few marbles in my day but the ones that I still got left would blow most mensa people away, guarenteed.

        1. Digger, I referred to the marbles in your mouth like I was listening to you go on a rant. I did not imply that you lost your marbles. You didn’t lose your marbles did you?

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