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Report: U.S. Marine Unit Killed Hundreds of Afghan Civilians

Posted on May 16, 2009
Farah injury
AP photo / Abdul Malek

A wounded child from the Bala Boluk district of Afghanistan lies covered in bandages in a hospital in Farah province.

The Independent reported Saturday that a single group of American troops, the U.S. Marines Corps’ Special Operations Command, otherwise known as MarSOC—a creation of one Donald Rumsfeld—was responsible for “at least three of Afghanistan’s worst civilian casualty incidents” to date.

The Independent:

Troops from the US Marines Corps’ Special Operations Command, or MarSOC, were responsible for calling in air strikes in Bala Boluk, in Farah, last week—believed to have killed more than 140 men, women and children—as well as two other incidents in 2007 and 2008. News of MarSOC’s involvement in the three incidents comes just days after a Special Forces expert, Lieutenant-General Stanley McChrystal, was named to take over as the top commander of US and Nato troops in Afghanistan. His surprise appointment has prompted speculation that commando counterinsurgency missions will increase in the battle to beat the Taliban.

MarSOC was created three years ago on the express orders of Donald Rumsfeld, US defence secretary at the time, despite opposition from within the Marine Corps and the wider Special Forces community. An article in the Marine Corps Times described the MarSOC troops as “cowboys” who brought shame on the corps.

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By Max Shields, May 19, 2009 at 11:14 am Link to this comment


With all due respect, there is nothing “altruistic” about American/US foreign policy.

That’s a fairy-tale they teach US children. Howard Zinn’s “A People’s History of the United States” is becoming more widely read in public schools. It provides a much more “on the ground view” of American history and it’s expansionists/ exceptionalism.

The US has never been anywhere in the world for “altruistic” reasons. Those “reasons” are for public consumption. Some understand that it is pure propaganda and others continue to either delude themselves into buying it or not. In some cases,as is true with the Obama/Bush hand-off it’s all a question of Dem/Repub. When it’s a Repub doing the deed, it’s all lies and deceipt. The same policies when it’s a Dem, it’s all mis-taken alturism. Again it’s justa question of which partisan view you hold without any significan change in policy.

The US is killing babies in Afghanistan. This is what the US did in Vietnam killing 3 million, mostly civilian in Southeast Asia. They’re “yellow” or “brown” people who are “heathens” and so what’s a little “collateral damage”; after all our President is half black. Can’t be all that bad.

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By herewegoagain, May 19, 2009 at 8:58 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

jackpine, I guess my previous posts are based on the assumption that our current objective in Afghanistan is a somewhat altruistic one, if badly carried out. Sadly, I would not be surprised if I’m wrong.

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By meier jr, May 18, 2009 at 10:23 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

And then Americans wonder why people all over the world hate them…

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By thebeerdoctor, May 18, 2009 at 8:32 pm Link to this comment

re: ThaddeusStephens

Your sane logical assessment is what is totally lacking in this military venal world. Your analysis is correct, if only the misguided creators of destructive policies, could only see the fatal error of their ways.

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By ThaddeusStephens, May 18, 2009 at 6:36 pm Link to this comment

I will continue to take a stand.

A country that no longer knows right from wrong needs someone to speak up. The fact that our troops are harming others like that child in the photo commits me to see that this government goes down. We can take this government down in a peaceful manner piece by piece.

There is no reason for U. S. troops to be in Iraq or Afghanistan or Australia or West Germany or Italy or Great Britain or Algeria or Mali, or Senegal or Guinea or Ivory Coast or Nigeria, or Camroon or Angola or South Africa or Botswana or Zimbabwe or Tanzania or Kenya or India or Thailand or Cambodia or Vietnam or 200 other countries.

“In these difficult economic times, the Obama administration and Congress should initiate a major reassessment of our 1,000 overseas bases. Now is the time to ask if, as a nation and a world, we can really afford the 1,000 bases that are pushing the nation deeper into debt and making the United States and the planet less secure? With so many needs facing our nation, it’s unconscionable to have 1,000 overseas bases. It’s time to begin closing them.”
David Vine, Assistant Professor of Anthropology at American University in Washington, DC

There is only one reason for our military presence overseas to be so strong. So we may oppress others.

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By jackpine savage, May 18, 2009 at 5:08 am Link to this comment


True, but we were there the whole time.  We’ve long supported the most radical elements of South Asian society to further our own ends…and we certainly never tried to stop the Saudis and the Pakistanis from building the Taliban to further their own ends.

The last time Afghan women had a decent life was before and during the Soviet occupation.  Contrary to popular, American belief Afghan Islam was traditionally quite open and moderate.  Also contrary to popular American belief, the regime that we destabilized to draw the Soviets in was hardly a puppet of Moscow.

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By thebeerdoctor, May 18, 2009 at 3:46 am Link to this comment

Speaking of the Afghanistan war, here is something you might want to take a look at:’s_chief_assassin_is_now_obama’s_commander_in_afghanistan/

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By Ahimsa, May 17, 2009 at 4:01 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Obama’s “conciliatory” talk about “bipartisanship” finally looks like an admission that there is no difference between the 2 parties. Neither of which serves the needs of We The People.

Since we’re screwed for the next 3-1/2 years, maybe we should emulate Obama’s example and start looking TODAY for candidates selected, groomed and elected by WTP. If WTP start organising now, 2012 is not out of reach. Such a campaign would also serve as a Vote of No Confidence in the current administration.

Here’s a few names who may not all be my favourites, but who have proven themselves during and after the last campaign: Ron Paul, Dennis Kucinich, Cynthia McKinney.

THIS TIME: let’s consider working WITH these people through the campaign, rather than allow the well-renumerated corporate whores to manipulate yet another puppet charity case, trash dragged out from obscurity, to serve the insatiable few hundred billionaires.

If we don’t, by 2016 this country will become a fragmented collection of tin pot dictatorships. If we’re lucky.

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By herewegoagain, May 17, 2009 at 3:52 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Max, even before we arrived, the Taliban was fighting with the Northern Alliance, and they were horribly oppressive towards women. In fact, I believe that Afghanistan women had the highest rate of suicide in the world compared to women in any other country. Things were not hunky dory before we got there.

Yes, now there is even more bloodshed, because for the last eight years, the Bush administration could care less what was going on over there. It became an “anything goes,” chaotic war.

I do hope that changes. The Afghanistan people have been among the most luckless pawns in the world for decades now. That did not start with our presence there.

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By jackpine savage, May 17, 2009 at 1:35 pm Link to this comment

Oh the cognitive dissonance…

Just days ago, some (Cyrena) were applauding the promotion of McChyrstal as change we can believe in. They completely disregarded that McChrystal is of this very sort of warfare.  It was made clear by multiple military analysts that with McChrystal at the helm of the Afghan mission we’d be likely to see more, not less, of these “special operations”.

But again, Cyrena, the US is accepting all sorts of people - academics especially - to win the hearts and minds of the Afghans.  Shouldn’t your support of Obama and McChrystal go beyond internet comments?

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By Max Shields, May 17, 2009 at 10:50 am Link to this comment

Obama has changed nothing regarding foreign policy as he inherited it. He’s following the Rumsfeld playbook. Obama postures change and reverses every significant policy change back to Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld. That also includes much of his domestic policies (he’s continued with Bush’s bailout), closing Gitmo is becoming less and less certain, rendition is still continuing, as is various forms of torture.

This country will be in Iraq (unless total economic collapses forces us out) for decades. The same with Afgahanistan and now Pakistan. The Obama administration bought into a war on terror, reframed it as the “long war”. And who is this war against?

Apparently children. Obama’s My Lai moment with drones. What makes this all the more repugnant is the way he just brushes it off, like “being president, you got to do what you got to do and collateral damage is ashame, but a prez has got to do what he’s go to do….).

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By Max Shields, May 17, 2009 at 10:37 am Link to this comment


What you stated is the problem. The US has been in that region since 2001. It is the policies of the US which has created the havoc - just as the US has done in many sovereign nations.

The reason that your statements are particularly cruel is you can’t see the obvious facts for what they are: the Taliban is a small group, Al Qaeda - the reason Obama gives for being in AfPak, is so tiny as to be nothing but decentralized gang.

The US is killing hundreds, many children, as we wring our hands and say those psychopathic blank are the reason we need to stay. The US government and it’s military ARE the problem. Our imperial foreign policy IS the problem.

WE, through our negligence and tax dollars are paying the US military to kill children!!! The so-called “militants” killed are a tiny fraction of the numbers Obama and his military advisors are killing. The government doesn’t ask - they (Obama) tell us that they are protecting Americans in effect by killing Afghan children, and most here don’t really care.

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By nicole, May 17, 2009 at 10:01 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Honestly people…lets blame the MARSOC unit, when they were doing their job…The Taliban is nothing, but cowards!! that use their own people as human shields, to make us look bad…I find it offensive that the Marine Corps called them “cowboys” they are train to do their job, and do it well…it’s unfortune that civilian casualities happen…but it’s is war people…has there been any war since the founding of this Country that hasn’t been casualities?...Lets, face it it’s WAR, not a game…lives will be lost…it’s a shame that people are so quick to point a finger on things that they are not fully aware of what is going on or there to common…expect reporters may report…grow up people…we are doing the job they as us to do…is to help the afghans…even when we trying to help them they will pick the Taliban instead of us…I bring our guys home…let them fight their own battles…they been doing for centuries and will continue to do so…Obama said he would bring our troops home, but hes just transf them from Iraq to Afghanistan…Hmm sounds just like Bush…

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By herewegoagain, May 17, 2009 at 7:27 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The picture of this horrifically wounded CHILD that accompanies this article is utterly heartbreaking. I just don’t know what we should do about Afghanistan. Leave and the psychopathic Taliban takes over (and likely takes over Pakistan, too); stay and possibly more travesties like this occur.

Either way, the poor and the weak are in the crossfire.

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By thebeerdoctor, May 17, 2009 at 4:47 am Link to this comment

re: cyrena

“a perfect example of how much of the old apparatus is still left in the system.”

That is a curious comment. What “system” exactly is being spoken of here? I guess the reports being posted by Jeremy Scahill are simply part of that bitch and blame Obama crowd that you seem so tired of.

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By Outraged, May 17, 2009 at 3:22 am Link to this comment

Re: cyrena

Your comment:  “I don’t get why you all are surprised, but then again, I think I do. This has become the bitch and blame Obama for everything crowd, and it’s getting to be really boring…at least the comments.”

I fail to see how you make the determination that this is the “blame Obama first crowd”.  Is it that you are in the “business” of “the protect Obama at any cost crowd”?

There definitely has been a COST regarding Pres. Obama’s actions or INACTION, while he may not have paid these costs himself, someone HAS paid.  Pres. Obama needs to “buck up”!  What if these were his children….?  These children who “paid”, are ALL our children.  To disregard that, is without merit.  It is what ADULTS do.  We PROTECT children and their parents…. since inherent in protecting children, is protecting their PARENTS.

These CIVILIANS are dying and being maimed.  Qualify that.  I’ll go “a round with you” if need be.

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By godistwaddle, May 17, 2009 at 2:54 am Link to this comment

And we are different from al-Quaeda how?  Oh, yeah, we don’t “target civilians.”  Har-de-har-har.

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By cyrena, May 17, 2009 at 12:19 am Link to this comment

This cowboy unit creation of Donald Rumsfeld is a perfect example of how much of the old apparatus is still left in the system.

I’ve frequently recommended a book by Lawrence Weschler, “A Miracle a Universe: Settling Accounts with Torturers” just because it describes exactly what we’re living with right now.

We have a situation, (and we’ve known for at least 7 years that we would have this situation) of a country that has been subjected to the same abuse as any other authoritarian country. Chile is THE perfect example, because long after they were finally able to get Pinochet out, and he’d escaped to wherever he went until he was finally extradited to stand trial, there were still SO MANY of the same people from his Military Dictatorship/regime, still buried within the apparatus, and doing whatever the hell they wanted to, and getting away with it.

These guys are no different. Unless they are treated to a procedure at the Hague or some other international tribunal, they’ll just keep doing whatever the hell they want, as sanctioned by Dick Cheney, who has always been the person responsible for all of this shit anyway. This special ops units may have been Rummy’s baby, but the CIA Torture team was all Cheney’s.

And guess what? He’s still in the apparatus, and doing his best to maintain what he started long ago.

I don’t get why you all are surprised, but then again, I think I do. This has become the bitch and blame Obama for everything crowd, and it’s getting to be really boring…at least the comments.

The article is good, but it goes right over the heads of the readers at a time when people need to be a bit smarter than they have been for the past decade at least.

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By samosamo, May 16, 2009 at 9:33 pm Link to this comment

What? Already 120 days in office and obama is up to his ears in blood. Again, the only difference in the new president is that he is a democrat(no real difference) and he is black and he is the new messiah(definition-a: the expected king and deliverer for the jews).

Well, it’s past ‘too late’ so we have over 3 1/2 years of even more weakening and wrecking of america left of this cosmic charismatic charlatan, thus again we wait for maybe someone else to take the white house but I think that corporate america and the america izraeli public affairs committee will keep him in office no matter the flagrant voting fraud and violations, those laws just don’t matter or carry weight any more.

Another thing, it seems this obama’s promise breaking is increasing and at an increasing rate just as he appointed a gop governer as ambassador to china, who had served during reagan’s administration which shows more efforts to meld what everyone thought was a 2 party political system into that real existing one of the congressional electorate, any doubts left?

I believe govenor jon huntsman of utah will be very eagar to carry out the same agenda as his predessor without a hitch.

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By thebeerdoctor, May 16, 2009 at 8:51 pm Link to this comment

“A superpower never has allies. It only has agents.”

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By jimfromthefoothills, May 16, 2009 at 8:21 pm Link to this comment

Way to go Obama.  No different than Bush.

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