The New York Times has a web headline today (4/5/10): “U.S. Admits Role in February Killing of Afghan Women.”
The story explains that the “role” the U.S. played in the killing of the three women was that it killed them.
When this story first broke, NATO officials denied the killings, and tried to blame the murders on others. The Times storyincludes this gruesome detail: “Special Operations forces dug bullets out of the bodies of the women to hide the true nature of their deaths.”
As is often the case, the piece includes discussion of the political problems for the U.S.:
The disclosure could not come at a worse moment for the American military: NATO officials are struggling to contain fallout from a series of tirades against the foreign military presence by the Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, who has also railed against the killing of civilians by Western forces.
Reporter Jerome Starkey of theTimes of London had written about this incident for the Nieman Watchdog on March 22, explaining howhis own investigation (3/13/10) suggested a NATO cover-up. Starkey’s Nieman piece criticized the self-censorshipin Afghanistan–and the fact that writing critically can get you in trouble with military handlers:
I was thrown off a trip with the Marines Special Operations Command troops (MarSOC) last year when they realized I had written a story many months earlier linking their colleagues to three of AfghanistanÃƒÆ’Â¢ÃƒÂ¢”Å¡Â¬ÃƒÂ¢”Å¾Â¢s worst civilian casualty incidents.The platoon commander boasted that his Special Forces were “a fusion of weapons and intelligence.” Two hours later he asked me what my name was. Then he booked me on the next flight out. At least we know the weapons work.
He adds: “NATO lies and unless we check them, they get away with it. If we check them, they attack us. It’s unpleasant but important.”