Navy SEALs in Afghanistan: War Crimes by U.S. “Heroes”

December 21, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


This past week, the New York Times published details of deadly atrocities that were committed by members of the U.S. Navy SEAL Team 2 in Afghanistan in 2012. The Times also reported how Navy commanders conspired to cover up the crimes and dismiss the accusations against the SEALs. The Navy SEALs are an elite “special operations unit” with the explicit mission to carry out covert assassinations of “America’s enemies.”

What happened was this: a bomb exploded at a local Afghan police station in the village of Kalach, killing one policeman. Afghan police then rounded up alleged “suspects” at the local marketplace. They arrested three out-of-town junk merchants, beat them severely, then marched them to the nearby U.S. base and handed them over to the SEAL team.

According to testimony from U.S. Army enlisted men at the base, three SEALs proceeded to torture the Afghan prisoners. They dropped heavy rocks on the men’s groins and chests, stood with their boots on the men’s heads, knee-bashed them in the stomach, fired handguns next to their ears, and inflicted a form of waterboarding. One of the men in custody later died from his mistreatment.

Afterwards, the Army soldiers reported the abuse, but in the course of a Navy investigation, the soldiers were put under pressure to change their report, and their motives were attacked.

Eventually, in an internal U.S. Navy “Captain’s Mast,” which is the least serious form of Navy disciplinary procedure, even a reprimand for failing to report an incident was dismissed. Two of the SEALs involved have since been promoted.

The Times also reported that the SEALs at this base had continually abused Afghans that they had contact with: “According to the soldiers and Afghan villagers, they had amused themselves by tossing grenades over the walls of their base, firing high-caliber weapons at passing vehicles and even aiming slingshots at children, striking them in the face with hard candy.”

Mullah Muhammadzai, a village elder, said that he and other elders were afraid to be called to meetings at the U.S. base because they often were beaten there and they never knew if they would emerge alive.

These atrocities shed light on the real nature of the U.S. Navy SEALs, who have been raised to the level of pop culture icons and great “heroes” of the nation on the level of the fictional Marvel Comics Avengers. They are portrayed as being able to do no wrong, bringing glory to the USA—from the sensationalized accounts of their assassination of Osama bin Laden to their immortalization in the video game “Call of Duty.” This in a country where genocide—the near wiping out of the indigenous populations of North America—had long ago been turned into a child’s game of “cowboys and Indians.”

The war crimes carried out by the SEALs are part of the enormous devastation, death, and destruction that U.S. has caused in Afghanistan. From the very start, the U.S. invasion and occupation of Afghanistan was carried out with terrible brutality and vengeful murder. Immediately after the September 11, 2001 attacks, then Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld issued the guidelines for the U.S. response: “Go massive. Sweep it all up. Things related and not.” Through 2014, the number of people killed in Afghanistan due to the war is estimated on the low end to be nearly 400,000. According to the United Nations refugee agency UNHCR, over a quarter-million Afghans are living as refugees outside the country and there are nearly a million internally displaced people, all lives that have been torn apart by the U.S. war and occupation.



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