U.S. soldiers stationed in Afghanistan often witnessed acts of sexual abuse committed by US allied commanders against local children. As the Free Thought Project reported at the time, it was later revealed that the soldiers were told to look the other way and keep quiet about it — or face punishment. Now, according to a bombshell report, it appears that the Pentagon was complicit in the cover up too.
According to the NY Times, the Pentagon tried to block an independent assessment of child sex abuse crimes committed by Afghan soldiers and police, instead insisting on the creation of its own report offering a far less authoritative review of human rights violations perpetrated by U.S. allies, according to an aide to Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.).
On November 16, 2017, the DoD Inspector General released a report to evaluate the implementation of the DoD Leahy Law regarding child sexual abuse as it applies to DoD interaction with, and Title 10 support of, the Afghan Security Ministries and the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF).
However, a parallel investigation by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) is thought to contain a much more detailed accounting of the problem’s severity, according to the Times. And, it was requested by 93 members of Congress in 2015. However, at the direction of the Pentagon, the report remains classified.
According to the Times:
The Pentagon responded with “resistance” when Congress tapped SIGAR to conduct the probe, said Tim Rieser, an aide to Leahy, vice chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee whose namesake legislation, known as the Leahy Law, requires the U.S. military to halt assistance to foreign military units found to have committed gross human rights violations.
Instead, senior Pentagon officials argued that SIGAR, which since 2009 has produced dozens of reports exposing corruption within the Afghan government and incompetence among Afghan security forces, lacked the jurisdiction for this particular task, Rieser said.
“It’s fair to say there was an effort to discourage the investigation” by SIGAR, he said, adding that eventually the two agencies agreed to coordinate and release complementary reports, but that the Pentagon’s investigators did not fulfill promises to fully cooperate.
In spite of the 93 Congressional requests for the information, the Kathie Scarrah, a spokeswoman for the Defense Department Inspector General’s office, said that its investigators “heard no complaints throughout the evaluation about coordination” with SIGAR.
When asked why the information is being withheld on the sexual abuse of children by US allies — and condoned by the Pentagon — the Office of the Secretary of Defense declined to comment.
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As TFTP reported at the time, scores of witnesses have come forward to report the rampant sexual abuse committed by their Afghan allies. One of these soldiers, Lance Cpl. Gregory Buckley could hear Afghan boys being sexually abused by Afghan police officers at night on his military base in southern Afghanistan.
“At night we can hear them [Afghan boys] screaming, but we’re not allowed to do anything about it,” Lance Corporal Gregory Buckley Jr. reportedly told his father prior to his death in 2012.
Gregory Buckley Sr. told his son to report the depraved sexual violence to his commanders, to which his son told him that due to cultural considerations he was told to ignore the abuse.
“My son said that his officers told him to look the other way because it’s their culture,” Buckley Sr. told the Times.
Another U.S. solider spoke to the NYT on the condition of anonymity.
“I’m not a hundred percent sure what was happening under the sheet, but I have a pretty good idea of what was going on,” the former Lance Corporal said.
Former Special Forces Captain Dan Quinn bluntly questioned the credibility of the entire U.S. mission in Afghanistan in light of the character of those we put into positions of power.
“The reason we were here is because we heard the terrible things the Taliban were doing to people, how they were taking away human rights…But we were putting people into power who would do things that were worse than the Taliban did — that was something village elders voiced to me,” Quinn told the Times.
He raised extremely poignant realities of the American legacy being left in Afghanistan in light of these horrific abuse stories. He claimed to have witnessed numerous cases of local boys and girls being abused by Afghan militia forces aligned with the U.S. government.
Quinn was relieved of his command after a fight with a U.S. backed militia leader that had been keeping a young boy chained to his bed as a sex slave.
According to the exclusive report in 2015 by the New York Times:
Rampant sexual abuse of children has long been a problem in Afghanistan, particularly among armed commanders who dominate much of the rural landscape and can bully the population. The practice is called bacha bazi, literally “boy play,” and American soldiers and Marines have been instructed not to intervene — in some cases, not even when their Afghan allies have abused boys on military bases, according to interviews and court records.
The policy has endured as American forces have recruited and organized Afghan militias to help hold territory against the Taliban. But soldiers and Marines have been increasingly troubled that instead of weeding out pedophiles, the American military was arming them in some cases and placing them as the commanders of villages — and doing little when they began abusing children.
As Jay Syrmopolous pointed out, regardless of the cultural history the U.S cannot tacitly approve of pedophilia and sexual slavery. Some actions cannot be allowed to continue to exist in the modern world.
While some would argue that this is Western cultural imperialism, the reality is that stopping violent authoritarian aggression against defenseless children takes moral precedence over some archaic cultural tradition.