… as if it were our own citizens

“The United States takes this as seriously as if it was our own citizens, and our children, who were murdered,” President Obama said today, referring to the 16 Afghan citizens who were apparently killed by a single American soldier before dawn on Sunday morning. “We’re heartbroken over the loss of innocent life.”

Yet more than two days after the shooting, the Pentagon has still not named the suspect.

Contrast this with the 2011 Tuscon shooting in which six people died and Jared Lee Loughner’s name and photo were being published by every mainstream media outlet within hours.

The unnamed soldier responsible for Sunday’s massacre will likely become the only American soldier whose name the people of Afghanistan never forget.

As much as the White House and the Pentagon work to present this turn of events as an aberration, it will for most Afghans and much of the world come to symbolize America’s involvement in a country few Americans knew anything about before 9/11 and just as few care much about now.

Once this soldier’s name is eventually made public it seems likely that whatever motivated him to go on a brutal yet systematic rampage, his actions will be portrayed as the product of the singular workings of his own mind or damaged brain. The Pentagon will present this as the story of soldier X — not the closing chapter in an ill-conceived war.

But there might be another reason the suspect has not already been named.

Two of the villagers who lost relatives insist that at least two soldiers took part in the shootings, according to the Associated Press.

One Afghan guard saw a U.S. soldier leave the base at 1.30am. This guard’s replacement also saw a soldier leave at 2.30am. It has yet to be determined whether this was the same soldier.

In the event that there was indeed more than one soldier involved in the shooting, the narrative of an aberrant possibly brain-damaged individual, falls apart.

This would not only be a mass murder but also a conspiracy and it could no longer be attributed to the cognitive or moral degeneration of one mind.

The more slowly the facts emerge, the more one has to wonder whether it is because they are so hard to determine or because there is looming fear about where the facts might lead.

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3 thoughts on “… as if it were our own citizens

  1. Garry Ladouceur

    I think the staff sgt. like all staff sgts. probably took the fall here. I suspect what may have happened is that a bunch of soldiers went on a drunken rampage and this guy, with a known head injury and a logical defence, took it in the neck for his guys.

  2. hquain

    “…looming fear about where the facts might lead.”

    Too gracious an interpretation, if the past is a guide. The first response is always to delay while getting the story together. This might as well be in the manual. We can be quite confident that by now the military knows what happened.

    Will Sergeant X (and whatever accomplices he had) be treated like Bradley Manning and John Walker Lindh? Why bother to ask ….

  3. Tom Hall

    Thank you, Paul, for raising the issue of the Pentagon’s refusal to name the accused. His present whereabouts and the conditions under which he is held also remain secret. There is also the matter of journalistic collusion to be addressed. In a situation in which the man’s service history and details of his personal life have become public knowledge, it beggars belief that his name cannot be ascertained. No doubt every American soldier in Khandahar province knows who he is by now- word travels fast. Yet no news agency seems interested in the question, deeming this minor detail irrelevant. Quite honestly, I don’t know why the media are withholding the sergeant’s identity. The possibility that more than one shooter took part may explain the military’s reluctance, but certainly doesn’t account for the lockstep behavior of the press and broadcast outlets. What exactly is going on?

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