Is the U.S. Abandoning Afghan Interpreters to Certain Death?


Earlier this year, military translator Sakhidad Afghan, age 26, was kidnapped, tortured, and killed by Taliban militants. Afghan had been waiting for years for the U.S. government to make due on its promise to issue him a visa to the United States.

The Washington Free Beacon reports:

Sakhidad Afghan worked as a translator for the U.S. Marines and Air Force since around 2008. Four years ago, he applied for a U.S. visa under a program for at-risk military translators. He was still on the waiting list when the Taliban reportedly kidnapped him from a bazaar this spring and executed him in the back of a trailer truck.

…"This horrifying incident is unfortunately just one example of how each passing day is another mortal threat to our Iraqi and Afghan allies," said Katherine Reisner, national policy director at [the Iraqi Refugee Assistance Project].

"It shows our veterans' dedication to their allies overseas, and how much hope they place in the SIV program," she added. "We fail our veterans when the SIV program fails. And it is a call to action for the Departments of State and Homeland Security to act justly and expeditiously on all SIV applications."

Last year, Reason TV producer Amanda Winkler spoke to former translator Janis Shinwari on how the slow visa process is putting translators from Afghanistan and Iraq at risk.  

Watch below:

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  1. Afghan had been waiting for years for the U.S. government to make due on its promise…

    “make due”? Is that anything like making do do?

    1. Unfortunately, yes.

  2. Over there, he’s an integral part of the team. But once on American soil, he’d be the I word, stealing jobs or using resources.

    1. Incumbent?

      1. +1 peter principal

    2. That’s a lower-case “L”, for “lesbian”. Lesbians are taking all the jobs.

      1. Well then we’ve got to lick this problem.

    3. This was a guy who had extensive interaction with the Taliban. Do we really want to import someone like that!??!

    4. Over there, he’s an integral part of the team. But once on American soil, he’d be the I word, stealing jobs or using resources.

      You know, it’s funny, had he just said “fuck it” and entered the U.S. illegally, he’d still be alive.

  3. Shafting our in-country “assets” seems to have become our signature move. The south Vietnamese learned that at great cost as well..

    1. Its not just us – the Brits have similar scandals about leaving their former colonial allies in the dirt when they’ve served their purpose.

      1. Agammamon|6.6.15 @ 3:13PM|#
        “Its not just us -”

        Ask some folks in Algeria regarding the French.

        1. I suspect there’s a few French asset mass graves in Vietnam as well..

    2. And who is next to have to learn it the hard way?

  4. This is a fucking travesty. How much work/how long does it take to find out if he was in the employ of our armed forces? Get em the fuck out of there!

    1. “How much work/how long does it take to find out if he was in the employ of our armed forces?”

      Exactly. Why would it take more than a week? Or a month? But years? That’s evidence of willful delay.

      1. It’s exactly what a Taliban sleeper agent in the US embassy would do: drag his feet on issuing visas to Afghans who helped the US military until they get captured and murdered.


        1. And the video makes it clear that the problem was at its worst during 2009-2013. I wonder if there is anyone who maybe was heading the state Dept who might be responsible.

  5. “Certain Death”

    valar morghulis

    Obama i’m sure will send his condolences when he’s done with the temple-building in Beau Biden’s honor

  6. From the POV of those in the bureaucracy this is a problem that just solved itself.

  7. “Certain death?”

    More sensationalist so-called journalism.

    It’s just very probable death.

    1. Well its certainly not cake.

    2. Let’s not jump to brash conclusions.. “Likely death, with misguided yet guarded optimism” is a more conservative estimate..

  8. So the US went to war in Afghanistan and Iraq so it could give out US visas?

    I thought the reason given was to build a stable western style government, how can you do that if you give out US visas to what are suppose to be he most western of US employees in those countries? And who is the US suppose to turn over to if all the Afghanisti US employees are on the first plane out of the country?

    As to breaking promises, the US military has no authority to promise anything when it comes to US visas. And US government breaks promises to the US public all the time, so why should I care they are breaking promises to other people?

    But I do have a fix for this problem in the future, Stop Invading Other Countries.

    1. OK, sure, let’s not invade other countries, but if we do, and it doesn’t fully work out, let’s abandon the people who worked with us, that will certainly enhance our international standing.

      1. I don’t care what our international standing is, worrying about that has gotten the US into too many stupid wars. Actually the worse US international standing the better, hopefully nobody will believe in the US government, I don’t.

        And how do we pull out our troops if we don’t leave Afgans behind, someone has to hold the line. Maybe on their own they will win, who knows?

          1. I never trusted the US govenment when they first went into Afganistan to find Osama, and I did not trust them when they changed the goal to Nation Building.

        1. “..someone has to hold the line. Maybe on their own they will win, who knows?”

          Yeah.. Imagine the possibilities..

          1. Well to be fair, the North Vietnames had entire armies with tanks and artillery while the Taliban have bands of fighters with rifles and machineguns. China, Russia, Iran don’t support them and only the Pakistanis do and they are limited on what they can do

            1. Well, the Najibullah regime would tell you that what the Taliban lacked in resources, they made up for with ambition.. but, they’re all dead..

        2. “Actually the worse US international standing the better, hopefully nobody will believe in the US government, I don’t.”

          Those Afghanistanis had to die so that people would know not to trust us in the future!

    2. When did Reasonoids start opposing immigration?

      1. *Net* we don’t have an opinion either way.

        But half are for it and half don’t want any of it.

      2. There’s a diversity of opinion.

        1. I meant to say everyone gets their talking points from Koch Industries.

          1. “I meant to say everyone gets their talking points from Koch Industries.”

            I need to go check the mail. My check should be in by now.

        2. You Know Who Else….

          1. had a diversity of opinions?

            Someone with multiple personality disorder?

            1. Someone with multiple personality disorder?

              So Tulpa then?

          2. Hitler?

    3. So Tulpa, I never got an answer from you. How long have you been devoting your life to trolling this place? And how many handles have you used? Hundreds? And do you ever feel ashamed of what a pathetic piece of shit you are? No, of course you don’t.

  9. I’m still disappointed at the lack of a “What Republicans Can Learn from Wade MacLauchlan” article.

  10. How about this: Generals get to issue visas to people they believe to be in danger for helping the U.S.

    This is wrong because…

    1. Because Generals shouldn’t have authority over civil matters. This properly belongs to State, whom I’m guessing are in a state of bureaucratic paralysis over the thought that they might accidentally import the next terrorist and thus end their own careers.

      1. OK, how about this: If a field general cosigns your visa application under this program, you get to stay in the U.S. until the civilian bureaucrats get around to deciding your case. If they turn you down they can always deport you, just like they deport all other illegal immigrants. /sarc

        1. We don’t have field generals, just the normal variety. I’d be fine with Generals being able to move these guys to a domestic military facility on their own say-so and keep them safe until State can pull its head out of its ass.

          1. That could work.

            1. It could, although it does over-look the fact that military bureaucratic paralysis and ass-covering can be every bit as bad as the civilian variety, particularly at the top.

              1. Absolutely, but the current system seems to involve *two* layers – civilian and military – who have to sign off before it gets done.

          2. “Until the state department can pull its head out of its ass” – so like, a permanent visa?

      2. Yes, some terrorists may be able to bamboozle the government into letting them in, but why would they bother when they could always waltz across the border illegally, enter on a tourist or student visa, file a fake refugee application, etc?

        1. I didn’t say it made any sense.

    2. This is wrong because who is suppose to run Afganistan if all the Afgan people who worked for the US government are driving taxis in NYC?

      And without those people in Afganistan to run the place the US will keep US troops there to fight.

      Lets bring US troops home and leave Afganis in their home.

      1. Fuck you.

        1. Already have been fucked by the US government, why should Afganis miss out?

          1. You sound.. Bitter.. Jaded..

            1. I like to call it experenced.

            2. …Tulpical.

  11. What a fuckin’ mess.

    I can’t decide who deserves the most blame for the gigantic clusterfuck; All the pols that got us into it in the first place or the shitwits who took over since 2009. The middle east could not be more fucked up if we set out to deliberately screw things up.

    Our political class is completely incompetent. That, of course, is the nature of a political class and why we should be rid of them.

    1. “The middle east could not be more fucked up if we set out to deliberately screw things up.

      Who says they didn’t? It seems to me that our entire post 9/11 security/police state, and executive war power ethos is entirely predicated on eternal turmoil on the most oil rich region of the world. It’s not like we don’t have a long, sordid history of keeping our dirty little fingers in that pie..

      1. I know a Syrian dude. He scoffs at American’s attitude towards the ME. According to him things there are no different than they have ever been and aren’t going to change anytime soon. He sees ISIS as just the latest gang of thugs.

        If we pulled every soldier and diplomat out of the ME monday morning there would be no noticeable difference.

        I say bring every one of them home.

        1. The way I understand it, the upper echelon of ISIS is primarily composed of Baathist powerbrokers, and disgruntled military officers that got canned when we disbanded the Iraqi army. These Baathists and soldiers are using foreign/domestic jihadis the same way we used the mujahidin in Afghanistan during the Soviet occupation. Northern alliance warlords carving out fiefdoms in the mountains was the end result for “our team”. Nothing new under the sun..

          “I say bring every one of them home.”

          You and I are on the same page right there..

          1. when we disbanded

            Who’s this we?

            1. Well, if you are an American or a Brit.. then, “we” is your/my military..

              1. It’s cute that you think the British had a say in any of it.

          2. “the upper echelon of ISIS is primarily composed of Baathist powerbrokers, and disgruntled military officers that got canned when we disbanded the Iraqi army.”

            I do not believe this is accurate.

            The Baathists and the AQI sunni radicals were not on the same page or aligned in any organizational way during the Iraq War (e.g. up until 2011);

            after the US left, during the Syrian rebellion, the gradual buildup of ISIS was not around former Iraqi Baathist leaders, who are both mostly secular and nationalistic, but rather extremist religious groups who were more closely affiliated with Islamic, pan-arab groups like the Muslim Brotherhood, Egyptian Islamic Group, etc.

            Since ISIS made serious inroads into Iraq, the former Baathist types are certainly aligned with them in an attempt to undermine the shiite regime in baghdad, but i would not consider them the “leadership” of the entire organization.

            1. I draw my conclusions from a couple of sources, such as WaPo, and FP. Your faith in the credibility of their articles may vary. I been told that true power rests behind the throne.. I never believed that an army of somewhat tech savvy soldiers, capable of effective intelligence gathering and effective logistical prowess appeared out of thin air. They appear skilled in the use of NATO weaponry, and seem to have a grasp of tactics that appear more professional military, than rag-tag free-for-all seen previously in Syria. The use of foreign/domestic jihadis seems to me to be a means to an end, rather than an end in and of itself.. Perhaps I’m mistaken.

              1. Both your sources suggest the same point i made = that the Iraqi Baathist influence over ISIS has a) been fairly recent (since 2013 or so), and b) is focused on their role in Iraq rather than representing broad, regional leadership.

                “The group of ex-Hussein loyalists, known alternatively as the Naqshbandi Army or by the acronym JRTN ? the initials of its Arabic name ? helped the Islamic State, formerly known as ISIS, win some of its most important military victories, including its conquest of Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city.”

                “”The Baathists and ISIS had a marriage of convenience at the start of the takeover of Mosul,” said Letta Tayler, a senior researcher with Human Rights Watch and a former journalist”

                emphasis on the point “help” there, and its relative recent influence

                My point is simply that ISIS is a regional movement whose leadership is explicitly connected to fundamentalist Islamic movements – Iraqi baathists are secular nationalists whose interests are primarily in Iraq.

                Much of this may simply be quibbling about an Org-chart when that’s not necessarily relevant to what ISIS really is, which seems more a franchise operation that has a variety of wings with varied interests.

                If anything I suspect the baathists have grown in significance because they have the technocratic capabilities to actually implement the “State” part of Islamic State goals.

                1. Many former Baathists were among the primary insurgency in 2006-2007, and we causing far more havoc than AQI. But then they were bought off, at a cost of $440 million. Which was actually a stroke of genius. The U.S. then applied pressure to Maliki to integrate them back into the govt (Bremer’s debaathification was easily the biggest single blunder in the early Iraq stages, without doubt).

                  But then 2009 rolled around and Obama did the dipshit idiot move of completely washing his hands of the place and no longer making a priority of managing the political situation. He didn’t meet with or instruct or advise Maliki, who proceeded to deSunnify the military and govt all over again.

          3. The way I understand it, the upper echelon of ISIS is primarily composed of Baathist powerbrokers, and disgruntled military officers that got canned when we disbanded the Iraqi army.

            You have it a bit wrong. That’s a good diagnosis for the sectarian strife that occurred in 2006-2007. But something happened after that: the U.S. bought off the reconcilable Sunni insurgency and forced Maliki to bring these Sunni professional soldiers and officers back into the Iraqi army.

            What lead to the current fucked up ISIS state of affairs was that the Obama Administration washed its hands completely of Iraq upon taking office. Whereas Bush used to have regular video conferences with Maliki and seek to actively instruct him on how to manage the political situation, Obama all but abandoned the country (except for keeping forces in for an additional three years, though having announced his timetable). So for the three years that US forces were still there, Maliki was purging Sunnis from the military and reversing the gains that the US had made (at the cost of $440 million in bribes to Sunni) in bringing both Sunni and Shia into a a hodgepodge but relatively cohesive force.

            1. So once Maliki no longer had a partner in the US willing to advise, he sought Iranian advice. They told him to purge Sunni. So all these Sunni military officers and soldiers found themselves with $440 million, plenty of free time, and a Shia govt that showed hostility towards them.

              Watch the PBS Frontline documentary “Losing Iraq”. I watched it recently, going in fully under the belief that the rise of ISIS was inevitable upon the withdrawal of US forces and ergo Bush’s fault. I left it astounded at how colossal of a fuck up Obama is. And it’s not like I went in thinking the guy even remotely competent.

    2. Recommended reading: Thieves of State, Sarah Chayes.
      She gets the problem right, but then figures we need the right people to fix it. Read it for the problem, ignore her ‘scrip.

      1. I have Thieves of State on the list. I’ll get to it after summer session is over.

  12. Is the U.S. Abandoning Afghan Interpreters to Certain Death?


  13. They fucked up. They trusted us.

    1. On the bright side, maybe the lack of volunteer interpreters means we abandon our efforts at nation-building earlier in the next country we invade.

      I’m really reaching for some kind of silver-lining in this shitty story.

  14. Apparently some pharaoh was crowned three times by some guy named Victor. That makes him the… king of Belmont? Or is he still pharaoh? These are confusing times.

  15. Anti-nut punch: Women fleeing ISIS throw off their black burqas on reaching Kurdish territory.

    1. They’re running from a regime opposed to U.S. forces to a regime friendly to the U.S.? Don’t they realize one in five women are raped on college campuses here? And those who survive to make it into the jobs market are paid 73 cents on the dollar? Why are these women so self-loathing?

      1. They are so thoroughly indoctrinated and oppressed by the cis-normitive white patriarchy that they willingly commit themselves to chattel slavery via the American immigration system. ISIS offered them an alternative..

    2. Related:
      Kurdish women fighters wage war on Islamic State in Iraq [Photo report]

      Women fighters are thought to make up around one-third of all Kurdish resistance.

      In the political doctrine of the imprisoned leader of the PKK, Abdullah Ocalan, women and men play an equal role in society and no society can be free without the freedom of women.

      more: http://widerimage.reuters.com/…..amic-state

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