Rolling Stone published horrific photos reportedly taken by members of the U.S. Military who allegedly were part of what is being called the “Kill Team.” These individuals have been described by the Army, according to Rolling Stone, as a “rogue unit” operating completely on its own, “without the knowledge of its superiors.”
Rolling Stone’s Mark Boal reports:
Indeed, it would have been hard not to know about the murders, given that the soldiers of 3rd Platoon took scores of photographs chronicling their kills and their time in Afghanistan. The photos, obtained by Rolling Stone, portray a front-line culture among U.S. troops in which killing Afghan civilians is less a reason for concern than a cause for celebration. “Most people within the unit disliked the Afghan people, whether it was the Afghan National Police, the Afghan National Army or locals,” one soldier explained to investigators. “Everyone would say they’re savages.” One photo shows a hand missing a finger. Another depicts a severed head being maneuvered with a stick, and still more show bloody body parts, blown-apart legs, mutilated torsos. Several show dead Afghans, lying on the ground or on Stryker vehicles, with no weapons in view.
In an interview with the Washington Times on Tuesday, Donald Rumsfeld, former Secretary of Defense for President George W. Bush, gave his thoughts on the recent Afghanistan “kill team” photos and described the alleged incident as “much worse” than the photos taken of U.S. soldiers posing with detainees and putting the prisoners in humiliating positions at Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison.
TWT: What are your thoughts on the latest kill team photos out of Afghanistan?
DONALD RUMSFELD: If they’re the ones that I’m thinking of it’s where some… there are some allegations that some soldiers killed some people. You know, I feel such a responsibility as an American that when people are in our custody, we treat them properly. It is always heartbreaking when we see that there are allegations and photographs or suggestions that people have mismanaged that process. And of course the courts will decide in this case. But it is interesting, in the case of Abhu Ghraib, that it was such an important press event and nobody was killed. And in this case, it looks like there are allegations that some people were actually killed.
TWT: How does this stack up against the Abu Ghraib photos, for example?
RUMSFELD: The situation, of course, is much worse if someone dies, but it’s a sad thing. It’s unfortunate. The overwhelming majority of men and women in uniform are professional. They handle themselves well. They treat people properly in our custody. And no question but that they are punished in the event that the courts and the military commissions under the uniform code of military justice decide that they’ve done something wrong. They get punished.
Following the release of the Abu Ghraib photos between 2004 and 2006, eleven soldiers were all convicted on a number of charges in a court martial, dishonorably discharged and sent to prison. However, numerous left wing web sites like Move On and Antiwar.com, media outlets, and politicians on various levels, like both Democratic California Senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein, called for not only President Bush to fire Mr. Rumsfeld but also called for Congress to impeach Mr. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney over Abu Ghraib. Even Senator John McCain, Arizona Republican, spoke out against Secretary Rumsfeld in 2004 (h/t Media Research Center)
Mr. Rumsfeld finally resigned from his post as Defense Secretary in 2006 after President Bush refused to accept his resignation two times before.
While President Obama’s Defense Secretary Robert Gates, a hold over from the Bush administration, was never a big favorite among liberals since the beginning of Mr. Obama’s term, nevertheless. Compared to the calls for a Bush impeachment and a Rumsfeld firing over Abu Ghraib, few (if any) major media or politicians are currently calling for Secretary Gates’ resignation or firing and an impeachment of President Obama over the alleged crimes of the Afghanistan “Kill Team.” In fact, Congressman Dennis Kucinich, Ohio Democrat, known for calling on Congress to impeach President Bush, recently pulled away from his call on Congress to impeach President Obama over U.S. airstrikes over Libya, Capitol Hill Blue reported on Tuesday.
Secretary Rumsfeld steered clear of making any suggestions about whether or not his successor, Robert Gates, should resign.
TWT: You spend a lot of time in your book talking about the Abu Ghraib photos and you offered your resignation to President Bush and he didn’t accept it. I believe the quote in the book was: “Don, sometimes heads have to roll over this.” Do you think that Sec. Gates should resign immediately over this?
RUMSFELD: I’m not going to give anyone else any advice over this. I don’t know the facts well I know. I know what I felt and I wrote about it in my book, my memoir: Known and Unknown.
Finally, Mr. Rumsfeld gave the Washington Times insight on what he thinks the biggest threat to the United States is presently.
TWT:What do you think the biggest threat to the country is?
RUMSFELD: I think the biggest problem we face is our intelligence. The weapons are so lethal today, that simply intelligence has to be able to teach us and help us understand the kinds of surprises that could ever occur. It’s a big world. It’s a complicated world. There are people out there determined to kill innocent men women and children…particularly Americans. The need to improve our intelligence gathering capability is the single most critical thing.