In an editorial today, the New York Times backs General Stanley McChrystal to head US forces in Afghanistan. That is a horrible endorsement because McChrystal embodies everything that is wrong with the US war effort in Iraq and Afghanistan.

War criminal General Stanley McChrystal

In this Oxdown Diary, I presented this quote from an Esquire article:

Nama, it is said, stood for Nasty Ass Military Area. Jeff says there was a maverick, high-speed feeling to the place. Some of the interrogators had beards and long hair and everyone used only first names, even the officers. "When you ask somebody their name, they don’t offer up the last name," Jeff says. "When they gave you their name it probably wasn’t their real name anyway."

To this day, Jeff has no idea of the true names of his superior officers. His supervisor was a colonel who called himself Mike, although Jeff is sure that wasn’t his real name.

It was a point of pride that the Red Cross would never be allowed in the door, Jeff says. This is important because it defied the Geneva Conventions, which require that the Red Cross have access to military prisons. "Once, somebody brought it up with the colonel. ‘Will they ever be allowed in here?’ And he said absolutely not. He had this directly from General McChrystal and the Pentagon that there’s no way that the Red Cross could get in — they won’t have access and they never will. This facility was completely closed off to anybody investigating, even Army investigators."

Emphasis added.

That article provides additional extensive documentation that McChrystal, as an operative of Joint Special Operations Command, was at the heart of many of the worst abuses of prisoners and the worst offenses against innocent civilians in Iraq.

In this Oxdown Diary, I quoted interrogator Matthew Alexander on the effects of these practices, which include the detention and torture of innocent civilians:

I learned in Iraq that the No. 1 reason foreign fighters flocked there to fight were the abuses carried out at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo. Our policy of torture was directly and swiftly recruiting fighters for al-Qaeda in Iraq. The large majority of suicide bombings in Iraq are still carried out by these foreigners. They are also involved in most of the attacks on U.S. and coalition forces in Iraq. It’s no exaggeration to say that at least half of our losses and casualties in that country have come at the hands of foreigners who joined the fray because of our program of detainee abuse. The number of U.S. soldiers who have died because of our torture policy will never be definitively known, but it is fair to say that it is close to the number of lives lost on Sept. 11, 2001. How anyone can say that torture keeps Americans safe is beyond me — unless you don’t count American soldiers as Americans.

It can be seen that Stanley McChrystal stands for the worst abuses of civilians in Iraq, with documentation that he actively hid detention facilities from the ICRC. These practices place our troops at increased risk for suicide bombers and other insurgent activities. Despite that, the New York Times today endorses this war criminal to spread his crimes to Afghanistan from Iraq. In fact, the endorsement even includes an acknowledgment that he will imprison innocents in Afghanistan:

Reducing that toll will require tighter and more strictly enforced rules of engagement. That applies not just to airstrikes but to the search and detention operations that General McChrystal wants to expand this year with the help of 21,000 additional troops that President Obama ordered sent to Afghanistan. Ground operations are less likely to go astray than airstrikes. But as happened far too many times in Iraq, they can sweep up innocent civilians and turn local people against the American presence.

Emphasis added.

Just how low can the Gray Lady sink? Do they really think that McChrystal’s bland statement in his hearing last week:

the measure of effectiveness will not be the number of enemy killed. It will be the number of Afghans shielded from violence.

means that he will make any changes in his MO to reduce the impact on innocent civilians? He certainly didn’t convince me that anything will change. As McChrystal carries out his detention and torture of innocent civilians, look for the violence level in Afghanistan to increase dramatically. Then you can thank the Times for their role in putting McChrystal in charge of civilian torture.

Jim White

Jim White

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