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Right Turn
Posted at 10:40 AM ET, 03/22/2011

Photos released by German newspaper will harm our troops

The Post reported over the weekend:

The German newsmagazine Der Spiegel has published two photographs depicting U.S. Army soldiers posing next to the corpse of an Afghan civilian moments after he was killed in an incident the Army has classified as a murder. The photos are among several hundred the Army has sought to keep under wraps as it prosecutes five members of the 5th Stryker Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, for the alleged murders of three unarmed Afghan civilians last year. The photographs published by Der Spiegel were among those covered by a judicial protective order issued by a military judge, prohibiting their public release.

The seriousness of this incident and of the photos’ release yesterday can not be overstated. UPI reports:

NATO officials in Afghanistan said they are on alert after a German news magazine uncovered images of U.S. soldiers posing with dead Afghan civilians.

German news magazine Der Spiegel said it found roughly 4,000 photographs and videos showing U.S. soldiers posing next to the bodies of civilians killed during coalition strikes.

Officials with NATO’s International Security Assistance Force in Kabul said the pictures could spark a reaction similar to the international uproar that followed the publication of pictures showing abuses at Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison, The Guardian newspaper in London reports.

Officials with NATO’s International Security Assistance Force in Kabul said the pictures could spark a reaction similar to the international uproar that followed the publication of pictures showing abuses at Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison, The Guardian newspaper in London reports.

There are 12 soldiers on trial for their alleged role in the deaths of three Afghan civilians. Five of them are on trial for murder after allegedly making the victims look like they were killed during a Taliban attack.

The United Nations and other international groups ordered their foreign staff on “lockdown” in the wake of the Der Spiegel publication.

This could well spark anti-American demonstrations and riots. It sets back the hard work of Marines in Helmand and Kandahar provinces. And worst of all, it will only encourage Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai to hedge his bets, increasing his reliance on local warlords, striking deals with outside powers and dragging his heels on governance reforms the United States is pushing. How can he appear joined at the hip with the Americans as his own people recoil in horror and the Taliban makes full use of this in propagandizing the Afghan people? He can’t.

A final note: Conservatives should avoid the unseemly appearance of taunting the president for his own “Abu Ghraib.” For starters, the U.S. military is trying the soldiers and doing everything possible to demonstrate that this is an aberration. Second, this is America’s war, and those who think it a very bad thing indeed for the United States to lose should take no glee in this episode, which very well may spark new rounds of terrorist bombings and aid the enemy’s recruitment. There are grounds enough for critiquing Obama’s war management (specifically, the fixation with deadlines). There is no need to revel in this setback.

By  |  10:40 AM ET, 03/22/2011

Tags:  foreign policy

 
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