Seymour Hersh Describes “Battlefield Executions” in Afghanistan
May 11, 2010 — HERSH: The purpose of my [Abu Ghraib] stories was to take it out of the field and into the White House. It’s not that the President or the Secretary of Defense Mr. Rumsfeld, or Bush, or Cheney, it’s not that they knew what happened in Abu Ghraib. It’s that they had allowed this kind of activity to happen.
And I’ll tell you right now, one of the great tragedies of my country is that Mr. Obama is looking the other way, because equally horrible things are happening to prisoners, to those we capture in Afghanistan. They’re being executed on the battlefield. It’s unbelievable stuff going on there that doesn’t necessarily get reported. Things don’t change.
What they’ve done in the field now is, they tell the troops, you have to make a determination within a day or two or so whether or not the prisoners you have, the detainees, are Taliban. You must extract whatever tactical intelligence you can get, as opposed to strategic, long-range intelligence, immediately. And if you cannot conclude they’re Taliban, you must turn them free. What it means is, and I’ve been told this anecdotally by five or six different people, battlefield executions are taking place. Well, if they can’t prove they’re Taliban, bam. If we don’t do it ourselves, we turn them over to the nearby Afghan troops and by the time we walk three feet the bullets are flying. And that’s going on now.
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