The Pentagon’s Inspector General is investigating US Central Command’s (CENTCOM) and US Special Operations Command’s (SOCOM) handling of potential war-crimes cases within their operational jurisdiction or by their units.
CENTCOM is one of the more important unified combatant commands in the US military, as it is responsible for the Middle East and parts of Africa. SOCOM is responsible for developing, equipping, and employing most US special-operations units.
According to the Inspector General, the objective of the investigation is two-fold: First, to evaluate and determine the extent to which CENTCOM and SOCOM developed programs compliant with the Defense Department’s Law of War requirements and aimed at preventing or reducing potential war crimes, and second, to determine whether CENTCOM and SOCOM properly investigated allegations of potential war crimes.
Video allegedly showing a “rogue” SAS unit committing war crimes in Afghanistan has supposedly disappeared, as an investigation into the squad’s alleged “massacres” has been plagued by missing evidence and silence from witnesses.
Saifullah Yar was just 19 when his family were shot dead in an SAS raid on their Afghan village in 2011. When British military investigators flew to Kabul in 2017 to investigate the raid, he told them he was handcuffed and led away from his father, brother and two male cousins. He heard two sustained bursts of gunfire, and when the Brits departed, his relatives were dead, their bodies riddled with bullets.
Ever since the 9/11 attacks, Republicans and Democrats have conspired to keep Americans increasingly ignorant of what the federal government does. The number of secret federal documents skyrocketed, and any information that was classified supposedly cannot be exposed without dooming the nation.
Politicians and federal agencies recognize that “what people don’t know won’t hurt the government.” James Madison, the father of the Constitution, declared in 1798 that “the right of freely examining public characters and measures, and of free communication among the people thereon … has ever been justly deemed, the only effectual guardian of every other right.” But this right has faded badly in recent decades. During the 2020 Senate impeachment trial of Donald Trump, Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer warned that if the Senate did not vote to hear witnesses, “this country is headed towards the greatest cover-up since Watergate.”
Actually, “conventional wisdom” in the nation’s capital is often the result of cover-ups, ignorance, and servility. Daniel Ellsberg, who risked life in prison to leak the Pentagon Papers, observed in 2002, “It is a commonplace that ‘you can’t keep secrets in Washington’ or ‘in a democracy.’ … These truisms are flatly false…. The overwhelming majority of secrets do not leak to the American public.”