14 May 2009

How much is an Afghani civilian's life worth?

Most of the time nothing: "a "significant number" of families receive no help from international forces and that anger is especially strong when no help is provided." But because this particuar case has reached the eyes and ears of the corporate press: $2,000.

"This was an accident, and we offer condolences," provincial Gov. Rosul Amin told the somber, ragged assemblage of villagers. Relatives received about $2,000 for family members killed and $1,000 for those injured."

Meanwhile, the US Occupation Forces are balking at paying out even that paltry sum, saying that the death toll is “extremely over-exaggated”:

"The investigators and the folks on the ground think that those numbers are extremely over-exaggerated," U.S. military spokeswoman Capt. Elizabeth Mathias said. "We are definitely nowhere near those estimates."

Of course, those 'folks on the ground' is US military newspeak for US occupation troops. Because every other folk on the ground is Afghan.

U.S. military spokesman Col. Greg Julian scoffed "there is no physical proof that can substantiate" the Afghan list of victims. "I can sit down and give you a list of names too, given some time, but the physical evidence doesn't compare," Julian added. "The locals couldn't decide among themselves whether it was 19 or 69 in that mass grave".

But Col. Julian is either a genius or has divine powers ( it could also be he's a bull-shitting liar) as he "added that the dirt displaced from the mass grave seemed to indicate far fewer than 69 bodies were buried there." The dirt displaced? Now that's US Military forensic science for you!
(And just check out the AP newspeak. They now call civilians: "people not involved in the fight")

To put this in perspective, let us remember that the US claimed the 'it was the Taliban that dun-it, honest guv' approach:

"the Taliban deliberately engineered a ground attack against Afghan and U.S. forces, expecting the United States would call in airstrikes. They said the Taliban were then prepared to kill the civilians.
(Well if its a ploy why do they fall for it every time? Because they don't give a damn.)

A senior U.S. military official said there was "very reliable intelligence" that Taliban fighters rounded up three families, including women and children, and killed them with grenades.

The official would not allow his name to be used because a preliminary investigation into the matter is ongoing and no conclusions have been reached.

Their bodies, shrapnel wounds visible, were then put into the backs of trucks and driven through the area in an effort to convince villagers that the U.S. military operation had killed them. The official said he did not know who drove the trucks -- other Taliban or local Afghans forced into duty.

"No one is disputing people died, it's how they died," the official said."

The un-named official is simply not credible. He would have had to give his name for that to be the case. In any case the US IS disputing how many died.

Meanwhile NATO has the nerve to claim that "Civilian casualties in Afghanistan were down 44 per cent in the first four months of this year...despite a 64 per cent rise in insurgency attacks". This is strange because only in March we were told by the AP "More Afghan civilians also are dying in U.S. and allied operations...In the first two months of this year, U.S., NATO or Afghan forces have killed 100 civilians, while militants have killed 60."

But only in February we were told by the UN that the civilian death toll in Afghanistan had risen by 40% in 2008, and that U.S., NATO and Afghan troops killed 31 percent more civilians in 2008 than the year before. According to the BBC "The UN report into civilian deaths said the death toll in 2008 civilian was "the highest of any year" since the Taleban were ousted in 2001."

Well what a coincidence, this massacre is also "the deadliest case of civilian casualties in Afghanistan since the 2001 US-led invasion that ousted the Taliban."

However, the UN tallies are lower than those of a Kabul-based group called the Afghanistan Rights Monitor (ARM) who found that 3,917 civilians were killed in insurgency-linked violence in Afghanistan last year: "The United Nations has much lower figures for civilian casualties in the Afghan conflict, saying roughly 2,000 civilians were killed in 2008, more than half of them in insurgent attacks and the remainder in military action...NATO's International Security Assistance Force has said meanwhile that just over 200 civilians were mistakenly killed by foreign troops last year. "

Meanwhile, back in the safety of the White House, Obama is aware that the figures will rise: "I think that because you are going to see that additional engagement, there is a risk of greater additional casualties in the short term," he told the Pentagon Channel on Friday from Camp Lejeune, N.C

What is a US soldier's life worth? $100,000. And a western civilian? How much is their life worth? If we take the Libyan payout for Lockerbie as a guide: $8 million....

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