Afghan Blogger Films Survivors of Massacre, NATO Continues to Deny
In the ongoing disconnect between what the Pentagon reports and what actually is happening in Afghanistan, last week NATO strenuously denied reports that 52 civilians had been killed five miles away from a fight with insurgents, as Afghan President Karzai had alleged. ABC:
NATO forces have rejected Afghan president Hamid Karzai's claim that 52 people were killed in a NATO rocket attack last week. NATO says there is no evidence of civilian casualties at the site of the alleged incident in the Sangin district of Helmand province last Friday.
In a statement NATO International Security Assistance Force Rear Admiral Greg Smith said the speculation is "completely unfounded." Col. Wayne Shanks, a spokesman for NATO and U.S. forces, said NATO forces were battling insurgents about four or five miles away, and that helicopters were called in that fired rockets in support of ground forces.
Work from a new project initiated by filmmaker Robert Greenwald tells a different story, however.
In an experiment in citizen journalism, Greenwald, of RethinkAfghanistan, has trained dozens of intrepid local Afghan interns in film reporting and armed them with simple camcorders. One of these brave souls entered the area and and has released footage of interviews with the survivors.
One villager says on-camera that the U.S. is now worse than the Russians. Russia and Russians still occupy a particularly hated place in Afghan lore, as brutal occupiers who killed civilians wantonly, and slaughtered unarmed civilians in direct retaliation for attacks on Soviet troops. The villager states, "In all of my experiences not the Russians or the Taliban ever did what they (N.A.T.O.) did."
This comes at a time when the Pentagon is under scrutiny for apparently covering up important details of the war in Afghanistan, such as the possession by insurgents of heat-seeking missiles. The information is revealed in assorted documents made available by Wikileaks. An AP report on a Chinook helicopter crash in 2007 which killed 7 serviceman stated:
A U.S. military official, who insisted on speaking anonymously because the crash was still under investigation, said initial reports suggested the helicopter was hit with a rocket-propelled grenade.
The Wikileaks incident report reveals the military knew the aircraft was brought down by a surface-to-air missile, weapons which played a crucial role in defeating the Soviet occupation. The leaked document states:
Flipper 75 (CH-47D) was engaged and struck with a Missile at 41S PR 919 727 shortly after crossing over the Helmand River. Suspected POO site is 41S PR 92801 71833. A/C was traveling at approx. 70-80 Knots, 200-250ft AGL on an easterly heading when it was hit from the rear. The missile struck the aircraft in the left engine. The impact of the missile projected the aft end of the aircraft up as it burst into flames followed immediately by a nose dive into the crash site with no survivors.
Greenwald has linked the report on the civilian casualties with an advance online tool which makes sending a message to your congressmen on the incident as easy as entering your name and your zip code. Please click here to see and send message.