Please Support the International Day of Action for Bradley Manning on Saturday June 1, 2013

29.5.13

On Monday (June 3), three years and one week since he was first arrested in Kuwait, the trial by court-martial begins, at Fort Meade in Maryland, of Pfc. Bradley Manning, the alleged whistleblower responsible for making available — to the campaigning organization WikiLeaks — the largest collection of classified documents ever leaked to the public, including the “Collateral Murder” video, featuring US personnel indiscriminately killing civilians and two Reuters reporters in Iraq, 500,000 army reports (the Afghan War logs and the Iraq War logs), 250,000 US diplomatic cables, and the classified military files relating to the Guantánamo prisoners, which were released in April 2011, and on which I worked as a media partner (see here for the first 34 parts of my 70-part, million-word series analyzing the Guantánamo files).

To highlight what the Bradley Manning Support Network describes as a trial that “will determine whether a conscience-driven 25-year-old WikiLeaks whistle-blower spends the rest of his life in prison,” an international day of action is taking place on Saturday, June 1. See here for a full list of events worldwide.

At Fort Meade, the day of action will begin at 1pm — see the website here, and sign up on the Facebook page. There will be speakers at 1.30pm, a march at 2pm, and more speakers at 3pm. Speakers “include Daniel Ellsberg, Pentagon Papers whistleblower; Ethan McCord, the soldier who saved the children attacked in the ‘Collateral Murder’ video released by WikiLeaks; Col. Ann Wright, the most senior State Department official to resign in protest of the Iraq war; Sarah Shourd, hiker imprisoned by Iran turned prisoner rights activist; and Lt. Dan Choi, prominent anti-Don’t Ask Don’t Tell activist featured on the Rachel Maddow show.”

In London, there will be a protest outside the US Embassy, beginning at 2pm, which I will be attending. Speakers include: Ben Griffin, a former SAS soldier, who became a conscientious objector and is now a spokesperson for Veterans for Peace UK; Michael Lyons, an Afghan War resister who served nine months in prison as a conscientious objector for refusing to deploy to Afghanistan after reading Bradley’s WikiLeaks releases; the great singer-songwriter David Rovics (whose song for Bradley is here); former UK ambassador Craig Murray; veteran human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell; and photo-journalist Guy Smallman.

Three weeks ago, I was honored to be asked to attend an event for Bradley Manning in central London, with Chase Madar, a US attorney, and the author of The Passion of Bradley Manning, and Ben Griffin, at which Julian Assange also spoke, via video link from the Ecuadorian Embassy. I spoke about the importance of the classified military files relating to the Guantánamo prisoners, and I praised Bradley Manning for making them available, and helping to add to the weight of evidence that most of what constitutes the so-called evidence in Guantánamo is profoundly unreliable, produced in statements made by prisoners who were tortured, abused or bribed, and put together by analysts who were incompetent.

However, the description of Bradley Manning that stuck with me the most was Ben Griffin’s description of him as the greatest anti-war activist ever.

As Chris Hedges wrote, describing the significance of Bradley Manning’s actions:

This trial is not simply the prosecution of a 25-year-old soldier who had the temerity to report to the outside world the indiscriminate slaughter, war crimes, torture and abuse that are carried out by our government and our occupation forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. It is a concerted effort by the security and surveillance state to extinguish what is left of a free press, one that has the constitutional right to expose crimes by those in power. The lonely individuals who take personal risks so that the public can know the truth — the Daniel Ellsbergs, the Ron Ridenhours, the Deep Throats and the Bradley Mannings — are from now on to be charged with “aiding the enemy.” All those within the system who publicly reveal facts that challenge the official narrative will be imprisoned, as was John Kiriakou, the former CIA analyst who for exposing the US government’s use of torture began serving a 30-month prison term the day Manning read his statement. There is a word for states that create these kinds of information vacuums: totalitarian.

Below are excerpts from the 70-minute statement that Bradley Manning made in a pre-trial hearing at Fort Meade on February 28, accepting responsibility for the leaks.

On “Collateral Murder,” the 2007 video from Iraq, Bradley was horrified by the callousness and blood lust of the US military personnel involved. As he explained:

The video depicted several individuals being engaged by an aerial weapons team. At first I did not consider the video very special, as I have viewed countless other “war porn”-type videos depicting combat. However, the recording and audio comments by the aerial weapons team and the second engagement in the video of an unarmed bongo truck troubled me. [...]

It was clear to me that the event happened because the aerial weapons team mistakenly identified Reuters employees as a potential threat and that the people in the bongo truck were merely attempting to assist the wounded. The people in the van were not a threat but merely “good Samaritans.” The most alarming aspect of the video to me, however, was the seemingly delightful blood-lust the Aerial Weapons Team seemed to have.

They dehumanized the individuals they were engaging and seemed to not value human life, and referred to them as, quote unquote, “dead bastards,” and congratulated each other on their ability to kill in large numbers. At one point in the video there is an individual on the ground attempting to crawl to safety. The individual is seriously wounded. Instead of calling for medical attention to the location, one of the aerial weapons team crew members verbally asks for the wounded person to pick up a weapon so that he can have a reason to engage. For me, this seemed similar to a child torturing ants with a magnifying glass.

While saddened by the Aerial Weapons Team crew’s lack of concern about human life, I was disturbed by the response of the discovery of injured children at the scene. In the video, you can see a bongo truck driving up to assist the wounded individual. In response the aerial weapons team crew assumes the individuals are a threat. They repeatedly request for authorization to fire on the bongo truck, and once granted, they engage the vehicle at least six times.

Shortly after the second engagement, a mechanized infantry unit arrives at the scene. Within minutes, the aerial weapons team crew learns that children were in the van. Despite the injuries the crew exhibits no remorse. Instead, they downplay the significance of their actions, saying, quote, “Well, it’s their fault for bringing their kids into a battle.”

On finding the Guantánamo files (the DABs, or “Detainee Assessment Briefs”), Bradley said:

The DABs were written in standard DoD memorandum format and addressed the commander of US SOUTHCOM. Each memorandum gave basic background information about detainees held at some point by Joint Task Force Guantánamo. I have always been interested in the issue of the moral efficacy of our actions surrounding Joint Task Force Guantánamo. On the one hand, I have always understood the need to detain and interrogate individuals who might wish to harm the United States and our allies, however, the more I became educated on the topic, it seemed that we found ourselves holding an increasing number of individuals indefinitely that we believed or knew to be innocent, low-level foot soldiers that did not have useful intelligence and would’ve been released if they were held in theater.

I also recall that in early 2009 the then newly elected president, Barack Obama, stated he would close Joint Task Force Guantanamo, and that the facility compromised our standing over all, and diminished our, quote unquote, “moral authority.” After familiarizing myself with the DABs, I agreed.

Reading through the Detainee Assessment Briefs, I noticed they were not analytical products. Instead they contained summaries of [unavailable] versions of interim intelligence reports that were old or unclassified. None of the DABs contained names of sources or quotes from tactical interrogation reports or TIRs. Since the DABs were being sent to the US SOUTHCOM commander, I assessed they were intended to provide general background information on each detainee — not a detailed assessment.

Bradley’s key statement on the Guantánamo files is when he says, “the more I became educated on the topic, it seemed that we found ourselves holding an increasing number of individuals indefinitely that we believed or knew to be innocent, low-level foot soldiers that did not have useful intelligence and would’ve been released if they were held in theater.” This is absolutely the case, and I can only take exception to his belief that they were “not a detailed assessment.”

They were indeed only a round-up of the available information from a variety of military sources, but, crucially, they provide the names of the men making the statements about their fellow prisoners, which were not available previously, providing a compelling insight into the full range of unreliable witnesses, to the extent that pages and pages of information that, on the surface, might look acceptable, are revealed under scrutiny to be completely worthless.

My project to analyze all the files stalled about halfway through, when I ran out of funding, and was, to be honest, exhausted, but I fully intend to engage in further research in the near future, as the material will, I believe, be extremely useful for the 80 prisoners at (out of 166 in total) who have not already been cleared for release by an inter-agency task force that President Obama established when he took office in January 2009.

I believe that the information in the files will help to ascertain that, contrary to what the US government believes, there is very little reliable information that can be used to justify the detention of the 46 prisoners still in Guantánamo who were designated for indefinite detention without charge or trial in an executive order that President Obama issued two years ago.

Nor, for that matter, can the information relied upon by the US government justify, in general, the detention of the 34 other men who were recommended for trial by the inter-agency task force, established by the President, which also made the recommendations about the 46 others in a report in January 2010. Since then, the tattered credibility of the trials at Guantánamo — the military commissions — has been thoroughly undermined by Conservative judges in the court of appeals in Washington D.C., so that, with the exception of the seven men already charged, it is possible that none of the others will be charged, and their detention too will be supposedly justified on the basis of information that is, for the most part, equally unreliable.

As people around the world campaign for Bradley Manning on Saturday, I hope I will not be alone in realizing that his release of the files relating to the Guantánamo prisoners is not just something of historical significance, because the information in the files is still playing a part in the ongoing campaign to close Guantánamo.

Andy Worthington is a freelance investigative journalist, activist, author, photographer and film-maker. He is the co-founder of the “Close Guantánamo” campaign, and the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press, distributed by Macmillan in the US, and available from Amazon — click on the following for the US and the UK) and of two other books: Stonehenge: Celebration and Subversion and The Battle of the Beanfield. He is also the co-director (with Polly Nash) of the documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (available on DVD here — or here for the US).

To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to Andy’s RSS feed — and he can also be found on Facebook (and here), Twitter, Flickr and YouTube. Also see the four-part definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, “The Complete Guantánamo Files,” an ongoing, 70-part, million-word series drawing on files released by WikiLeaks in April 2011. Also see the definitive Guantánamo habeas list and the chronological list of all Andy’s articles.

Please also consider joining the “Close Guantánamo” campaign, and, if you appreciate Andy’s work, feel free to make a donation.

23 Responses

  1. Andy Worthington says...

    On Facebook, Pauline Kiernan wrote:

    Sharing. Px

  2. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Pauline. Hopefully there’ll be a great turnout around the world. People need to support whistleblowers – and to be aware that the mainstream media, for the most part, has abandoned WikiLeaks and Julian Assange and is ignoring Bradley Manning, even though, for a while, they all kept their businesses going because of them.

  3. #FreeBrad#wikileaks#Anonymous | Let Your Mind Run Free says...

    [...] Andy Worthington writes about the importance of the Guantanamo Files. http://www.andyworthington.co.uk/2013/05/29/please-support-the-international-day-of-action-for-bradl… [...]

  4. Thomas says...

    Strictly speaking Bradley Manning *did* leak classified information, although he certainly does not deserve anywhere near the amount of prison time the US want to give him. But unlike almost all of the Gitmo prisoners, he is guilty of something.

  5. Andy Worthington says...

    Technically, if he did it, he committed a crime, Thomas. However, should revealing the dirty secrets of a nation at war be a crime? Should it be a crime to reveal details about the vile prison at Guantanamo Bay that were being kept secret? I think not.

  6. arcticredriver says...

    Thanks Andy!

    I think some people’s approach to Manning’s trial is that he deserves mercy. But I think you and I agree he deserves commendation.

    There is no question in my mind that Manning’s action had, and will continue to have, a very positive effect on public safety.

    The military, and security services, abuse their power to classify information as secret, or top secret — in order to hide their embarrassing failures.

    When I was a teenager I saw a politcal cartoon, that showed two generals leaning over a map table in an otherwise abandoned map room. One general says to the other “Well, we sure screwed up Operation Beet-root. Should we classify it as ‘Secret’ or ‘Top Secret’?”

    In addition, Manning’s role in triggering the “Arab Spring” goes uncredited. My reading of the “Arab Spring” is that the intelligentsia in the totalitarian nations in the Arab world were both outraged and emboldened when they read the diplomatic cables that touched on their leaders, that exposed their leaders’ corruption and incompetence. I predict we will see many PhD theses written on Manning’s role in the Arab Spring, and I hope those students are able to send him copies of their theses.

  7. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, arcticredriver. Yes, I believe you’re right about the Arab Spring. I think the diplomatic cables helped people in many countries ruled by repressive regimes to see what their governments were up to, and to embolden them, as you say. That’s incredibly powerful.

  8. Thomas says...

    It depends. If revealing secrets gets soldiers killed or maimed, then it’s very bad. If it’s just embarrassing for the government, it serves the government right. There are some secrets that protect life and limb (ie witness protection or the names of spies deep undercover), nuclear codes, and the like, that should always stay secret. And there are others that are just there to cover up embarrassment or worse, that should be uncovered.

  9. Andy Worthington says...

    I agree that its nuanced, Thomas, although some people believe governments should have no secrets. I tend to think it would be better if they were less violent and corrupt, as then there’d be less secrets to hide.

  10. Andy Worthington says...

    Hamja Ahsan wrote:

    And event: Prison Voices : Talha, Shaker Aamer, Bradley Manning Testimony at London Festival
    https://www.facebook.com/events/111150115760572/

  11. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Hamja. To make it clear, this is today (May 31) at Lumen URC Church, 88 Tavistock Place, London WC1H 9RS. More info here: http://wiseupaction.info/2013/05/30/bradley-manning-shaker-aamer-talha-ahsan-prison-voices/

  12. Andy Worthington says...

    Hamja Ahsan wrote:

    Why isn’t anyone writing on Jeremy Hammond though? His plea-bargain was just this week

  13. Andy Worthington says...

  14. arcticredriver says...

    I think respondent Thomas was responding to suggestions that Bradley Manning was a hero, because the US military and US security services had a long tradition of using classification to hide their failures and incompetence, while claiming they only kept secrets to protect public safety, when he wrote:


    It depends. If revealing secrets gets soldiers killed or maimed, then it’s very bad. If it’s just embarrassing for the government, it serves the government right. There are some secrets that protect life and limb (ie witness protection or the names of spies deep undercover), nuclear codes, and the like, that should always stay secret.

    Thomas, protecting soldiers from being killed or wounded should not be the only criteria. I suggest protecting the lives of innocent civilians is also important. In fact I suggest protecting the lives of innocent civilians should be more important than protecting soldiers.

    Early in the Iraq war, I think it was during the second assault on Fallujah, an embedded journalist was following right behind a squad of Marines. He entered a building about 15 seconds after there had been a burst gunfire. The audio on the recording you can hear a Marine say “This guy is still alive.”. He then shoots the Iraqi, at point blank range.

    This clip was widely rebroadcast, for the next few days, as well it should have been, as it showed this Marine committing a war crime.

    The reason I bring it up as your comment reminded me of the excuses made for the young Marine’s act of murder. I am calling it murder as the Iraqi was unarmed. I will provide a few more details at the end that make this story much worse.

    Although the young Marine was never identified, apologists offered various excuses for him. Some apologists said his best friend had recently been killed by an “insurgent” who was wearing civilian clothes, who suddenly pulled out a hidden weapon to blast away. Other apologists said it was the young Marine himself who had recently been wounded by a sneaky insurgent who had lulled him into inattention, by concealing his weapon under civilian clothes.

    Many commentators presumed that the young Marine’s gut instincts had led him to the realization that the Iraqi before him, wearing civilian clothes, was an insurgent, who was about to attack him a hidden weapon, and that he had only a “split second” to take him out first. These apologists defended brave GIs to act on this kind of split second gut instinct. Otherwise, we could see the “tragic deaths” of GIs.

    Accepting, for the moment, that the Marine’s decision to shoot was due to a split second fear the Iraqi was about to pull a hidden weapon on him, and he shouldn’t take the time to confirm this before shooting — the apologists comments imply that the death of volunteer GI is a tragedy, but the death of an innocent Iraqi, shot because a panicked GI thought he had a weapon, wasn’t a tragedy.

    American soldiers are all volunteers. They chose to take a job that would put their lives at risk. Further they have weapons, body armour, training, that helps keep them safe in gunfights.

    Has no one spelled out to these American volunteers that becoming a soldier may require them to put their lives at risk by not succumbing to a split second panic, and holding fire long enough to try to confirm whether someone in civilian clothes really was packing a hidden weapon.

    Okay, that vastly under-reported part of this incident was that the young Marine and his buddies never thought any of the men in that mosque had a weapon. They knew they didn’t have weapons because they made sure none of them had weapons when they had captured the mosque a few days earlier.

    When the Marines occupied the mosque they had obligations under the Geneva Conventions and the US military’s AR-190-8, to take the wounded men they found there into custody, protect their lives, and make sure they got adequate medical care. Not doing so was that squad of Marines’ first serious war crime.

    What they did was interrogate these wounded men, and then leave them in the mosque, and keep the mosque under observation. Apparently they thought they had been fired upon from this mosque a few days earlier. Fired upon it, captured it, only to find all the men in it were unarmed. They assumed that they were wounded insurgents, and that unwounded insurgents had gotten away with all the weapons, without being observed. They thought the unwounded men would eventually try to sneak back in.

    After waiting a few days they concluded no actual armed insurgents were going to appear, so they decided, or had been ordered, to go back to the mosque, and kill any of the wounded men who were still alive. This was also a very serious war crime.

    One heartbreaking detail — that last man to be shot didn’t die right away. He said, “Why did you shoot me? I cooperated when you asked me questions when you were here a few days ago!”

    So, what national security justification would there have been to keep the details of the inquiry into this incident secret? None.

    The US fielded green troops. There may never have been any firing from that mosque. Or the insurgents may have taken any wounded insurgents with them, leaving only the innocent mosque staff and patrons.

  15. arcticredriver says...

    Andy, I would like to tell your readers, particularly Thomas, the story of David Parnass, and how it illustrates how claiming information had to be classified as a secret.

    In 1983 President Reagan announced the “Strategic Defense Initiative”. It was to be a “layered defense” that included computer controlled fry-in-the-sky super-laser-beam weapons, and other secret technologies, to shoot down Soviet missiles.

    Proponents kept repeating: “We’ll have layers! Even if each layer was only 90 percent effective, why if we have three layers, only 0.1 percent of the missiles will get through! Why we can live with that!”

    I’d worked in the field of real-time process control. I knew the whole project was wildly over ambitious, was unlikely to ever be remotely as successful as its fans claimed, and might turn out to be an expensive total failure.

    I found the online discussions very frustrating, as I would read someone make the same counter-arguments I would have made. Trust me, to anyone in the know the counter-arguments were very strong. Guess what I found? Fans of the project included individuals who claimed to have high security clearances. Some of those proponents did in fact have high security clearances. And they kept responding: “You made some good points — to which I have excellent counter-points. Unfortunately, those counter-points are all top-secret. I am positive that if you too had a high security clearance you would agree with me.”

    Enter David Parnass. Parnass was a senior computer scientist. He had worked on earlier military projects that harnessed computers to control weapons. He had been given security clearances to do that work. He had been in charge of some of these projects. And he had the same concerns I had.

    Well Parnass, with his well-deserved reputation as one of the top men in the field, was invited to sit on an oversight committee. As a member of this committee he would have access to all the secrets, so no one would be able to tell him, “if only you had the same security clearance I have all your objections would dissolve.”

    Parnass spent a year or so on the oversight committee — long enough so he could definitely say there was no secret that would make this unworkable project workable.

    He wrote a dozen papers, each one detailing a different technical reason why the project was unworkable.

    He pointed out that a layered defense was no silver bullet if all the layers were vulnerable to the same subset of incoming missiles.

    I had an opportunity hear him speak. He is a funny, gifted speaker.

    I remember him describing the senior General response to every technical objection — “Oh yeah? But we will be using ‘expert systems’.”

    I remember him describing his search for the claim that each layer was going to be “90 percent effective”. Within the classified documents there was no technical justification for this 90 percent claim. But those speaking to the public about the project kept implying there was a technical justification for this 90 percent claim. He described how he finally figured out who was responsible for the 90 percent claim. If you guessed it did not come from a scientist, or anyone else with the technical expertise to claim any credibility for this claim you would be correct. It was a cynical, ambitious, totally amoral, public affairs officer. When Parnass cornered him, knowing he couldn’t claim secrecy, he admitted it.

    He had made that 90 percent effective claim up out of thin air.

    Thomas, I am going to suggest that the use and abuse of secrecy exposed by Parnass is typical of the cynical abuse of secrecy by incompetent careerists, with no genuine concern for public safety is more typical of how secrecy is used than the occasional use to protect genuine secrets by competent officials who genuinely have public safety as their sole priority.

  16. Alan Kurtz says...

    I find it stunning that during his 34-page, hour-long statement read aloud in court on February 28, 2013, Manning confessed that he uploaded the Guantanamo Detainee Assessment Briefs AFTER his WikiLeaks contact told him “that the DABs might be helpful to the legal counsel” of past and current Gitmo detainees.

    Considering that the most serious charge he faces is aiding the enemy—and that Gitmo detainees could plausibly be described as at least suspected enemies of the USA—this voluntary admission in open court by PFC Manning was unnecessary and potentially damning. WTF! Were Manning’s lawyers asleep at the wheel?

  17. Andy Worthington says...

    That’s a very powerful piece of commentary, arcticredriver. Thank you.

  18. Andy Worthington says...

    And another excellent piece of commentary and analysis in the case of David Parnass, arcticredriver. Thank you again.

  19. Andy Worthington says...

    I don’t agree that the majority of the Guantanamo prisoners could be described as “at least suspected enemies of the USA,” Alan. Very few were motivated by anti-US sentiment. They were either Afghans (30 percent of the total), aid workers, missionaries etc. in the wrong place at the wrong time when bounty payments were being offered by the US, or soldiers, or support personnel for the Taliban in their conflict against the US. Only a few dozen were allegedly involved in international terrorism aimed at the US.
    I think two things in particular abut Bradley Manning’s statement – 1) that it seems to be what he wanted to say, unmediated by lawyers interventions, and 2) that the advice from WL was naive. There was no way that lawyers would be allowed by the DoJ to use leaked classified information. What surprised me was how the WL representative – and Manning – apparently failed to realize how significant the files are – not just historically, but as an active resource.

  20. Alan Kurtz says...

    Mr. Worthington, thank you for publishing and replying to my comment. However, I think you’re splitting hairs. Among the Gitmo detainees you contend cannot plausibly be described as at least suspected enemies of the USA, you include “support personnel for the Taliban in their conflict against the US.” Moreover, you seem to believe that only those who were “allegedly involved in international terrorism aimed at the US” can rightly be deemed suspected enemies.

    Sir, your exceedingly narrow definition is out of place in any discussion of the government’s attempt to prove that Bradley Manning, while serving in the U.S. Army, violated UCMJ Sub Chapter 10, Article 104, which prohibits aiding the enemy and proscribes any soldier who “without proper authority, knowingly … gives intelligence to or communicates or corresponds with or holds any intercourse with the enemy, either directly or indirectly.”

    For military purposes, case law (United States v. Monday, 36 CMR 711) defines Enemy as “any hostile body, including civilians, that may oppose U.S. forces.”

    Please bear in mind that PFC Manning has waived his right to trial by a panel of officers and senior enlisted members, and has opted instead to be tried by judge only—in this instance Colonel Denise Lind, who has served as an active duty officer for 25 years, including overseas assignments in Iraq and Afghanistan, and is now chief judge, 1st Judicial Circuit, U.S. Army Trial Judiciary.

    Do you honestly think Col. Lind will abide by your concept of Enemy—or the Army’s?

  21. Andy Worthington says...

    I dont know how the trial will go, Alan, and I defer to your knowledge of the rules and regulations. However, I stand by my analysis of the Guantanamo prisoners. Military law may not see it that way, but nothing has been fair or just regarding prisoners detained by the US since the Bush administration tore up all domestic and international laws and treaties after 9/11 and decided to hold men without any rights whatsoever, without any distinction between al-Qaeda and the Taliban, and without any genuine attempt to ascertain whether those being detained were who the US said they were. Exposing anything that helps to expose this isn’t a crime to me; it’s a leak that is in the public good.
    And by the way, by your definition the Guantanamo files leaked by Bradley Manning don’t aid the enemy; they aid those trying to close the prison down, and to establish that those held are and were, for the most part, not who the Bush administration liked to pretend they were.

  22. arcticredriver says...

    Andy, it has been a couple of months, but I would like to respond to Alan Kurtz.

    Mr Kurtz, among the Afghans held in Guantanamo, on the grounds they were enemy combatants, there were a handful of men who were mere civil servants.

    In one Afghan’s story he acknowledged he had — briefly — served as a Taliban Provincial Governor’s secretary. His story, if true, revealed something very telling about how the Taliban governed Afghanistan.

    This Afghan’s story was that he was not a member of the Taliban, that he was a simple civilian shop-keeper who was unlucky enough to be known to be literate — to be known to be able to read and write.

    This governor, like most members of the Taliban, was illiterate. He had one member of his staff who was literate, and he served as his secretary. The governor’s secretary wanted to take two months leave. The governor, realizing that there would be some times when he would need someone to write stuff down, told his secretary that he could take that leave — if he could supply him with a literate individual to fill in for him.

    This is how this individual said he ended up being the governor’s secretary.

    This involuntary association with the Taliban preceded 9-11, so, even if he had been a soldier, the Geneva Conventions would have considered him a civilian — because he had been demobilized.

    Even if this individual had been serving as the Governor’s secretary, during the US invasion, as a civil servant, wasn’t he a civilian — by definition — not a combatant?

    Another captive was accused of being the President of Afghanistan’s central bank — this was a civilian role.

    Another captive was accused of heading Ariana airlines, Afghanistan’s airline — this too was a civilian role.

    If I am not mistaken, neither one of those individuals who held senior civil servant positions held that position in 2001, when the Taliban prompted the invasion when it declined to promptly surrender Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda.

  23. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, arcticredriver. Always good to hear from you.

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