November 26, 2005

Burning Taliban bodies was 'poor judgment.'

About six weeks ago, we blogged about how US troops burned the bodies of Taliban dead outside a village in Afghanistan and, as the bodies burned, broadcasting taunts at Taliban fighters believed to be hiding in the village. [See Magpie posts here and here.]

As we noted at the time, Muslims believe that a body must be buried within 24 hours of death, so the burnings caused more than a bit of consternation in Islamic countries. The burnings also appeared to violate the Geneva Conventions, which require that the burial of people killed in a war 'should be honourable, and, if possible, according to the rites of the religion to which the deceased belonged.'

US soldiers watch Taliban bodies burn this past October. [Image: Stephen Dupont]

The US military has completed its investigation into the incident and, as we certainly expected, the findings are pretty much a whitewash. According to investigators, the troops committed no crime and the claims of the unit's officers that the bodies were burnt for hygienic reasons have been upheld.

Speaking at a news conference in Kandahar, the US-led coalition's operational commander, Maj-Gen Jason Kamiya, said the soldiers involved had not been aware that what they were doing was wrong.

"Our investigation found there was no intent to desecrate the remains, but only to dispose of them for hygienic reasons," he was quoted by AP news agency as saying.

Four soldiers are being reprimanded for their roles in the incident: The two officers who ordered the burnings for 'poor judgement and lack of knowledge and respect of Afghan culture and customs,' and two NCOs for making the taunting broadcasts in violation of military rules.

Can we say 'Sweep the incident under the rug'?

Via BBC.

Posted by Magpie at November 26, 2005 03:03 PM | War on Terrorism | Technorati links |

Technically, this administration can argue themselves out of a lot of things, but the damage they do by not taking responsibility is worse than the act itself.

For example, with the white phosphorous thing, if we had found a Baath-owned warehouse with thousands of canisters of white phosphorous in Tikrit, you better believe that we'd be considering it a chemical weapon. The Iraqi, the Afghanis and the rest of the world knows this, and this administration is still clueless enough to think that doesn't matter.

Posted by: thehim at November 26, 2005 08:47 PM