Measuring Blood on Hands in the Wikileaks Controversy
Tom Englehardt questions Joint Chief of Staff Chair Mike Mullen's accusations that Wikileaks has blood on their hands because info they leaked could lead people to kill Afghan informants or American soliders. Some excerpts on why Mullen might not be the best spokesman for that position of scrupulous moral responsibility for deaths possibly caused because of command decisions you made:
[Mullen] was, for example, chairman in July 2008, when an American plane or planes took out an Afghan bridal party — 70 to 90 strong and made up mostly of women — on a road near the Pakistani border. They were "escorting the bride to meet her groom as local tradition dictates." The bride, whose name we don't know, died, as did at least 27 other members of the party, including children. Mullen was similarly chairman in August 2008 when a memorial service for a tribal leader in the village of Azizabad in Afghanistan's Herat Province was hit by repeated U.S. air strikes that killed at least 90 civilians, including perhaps 15 women and up to 60 children. Among the dead were 76 members of one extended family….
Mullen was still chairman in April 2009 when members of the family of Awal Khan, an Afghan army artillery commander on duty elsewhere, were killed in a U.S.-led raid in Khost province in eastern Afghanistan. Among them were his "schoolteacher wife, a 17-year-old daughter named Nadia, a 15-year-old son, Aimal, and his brother, employed by a government department."….
Mullen remained chairman when, in November 2009, two relatives of Majidullah Qarar, the spokesman for the Minister of Agriculture, were shot down in cold blood in Ghazni City in a Special Operations night raid; as he was — and here we move beyond the WikiLeaks time frame — when, in February 2010, U.S. Special Forces troops in helicopters struck a convoy of mini-buses, killing up to 27 civilians, including women and children; as he also was when, in that same month, in a special operations night raid, two pregnant women and a teenage girl, as well as a police officer and his brother, were shot to death in their home in a village near Gardez, the capital of Paktia province….
And this represents only a grim, minimalist highlight reel among rafts of such incidents, including enough repeated killings or woundings of innocent civilians at checkpoints that previous Afghan war commander General Stanley McChrystal commented: "We've shot an amazing number of people and killed a number and, to my knowledge, none has proven to have been a real threat to the force." In other words, if your basic Martian visitor were to take the concept of command responsibility at all seriously, he might reasonably weigh actual blood (those hundreds of unreported civilian casualties of the American war the Guardian highlighted, for example) against prospective blood (possible Afghan informers killed by the Taliban via names combed from the WikiLeaks documents) and arrive at quite a different conclusion from Chairman Mullen.