Thursday, July 22, 2004

Bush dirty war: So-called vigilantes in Afghanistan embarass the Army 

Thank heavens there's at least one institution under the Bush administration that's still capable of being embarassed:

The U.S. military acknowledged Thursday it held an Afghan man for a month after taking custody of him from a trio of American counterterror vigilantes who have since been arrested on charges of torturing prisoners at a private jail they ran in the Afghan capital.

The American military has tried to distance itself from the group, led by a former American soldier named Jonathan Idema, insisting they were freelancers working outside the law. But spokesman Maj. Jon Siepmann acknowledged that the military had received a detainee from Idema's group at Bagram Air Base, north of Kabul, on May 3.

Siepmann said officials were looking into whether Idema had other contact with U.S.-led forces here, but insisted he was in Afghanistan "entirely of his own volition."

Officials in Washington have also denied the trio were employed or sponsored by any arm of the U.S. government.

"We did not commission him to go out and look for terrorists," Siepmann said.

Well, who did? Are these guys, like, premature Afhgan War Re-enactors who went over there as some kind of hobby? Who funded them?

The seven defendants went on trial in Kabul on Wednesday, charged with hostage-taking and torture.

Idema, of Fayetteville, N.C., and codefendants Edward Caraballo of New York City and Brett Bennett could be jailed for up to 20 years if convicted. Afghan and U.S. officials have left open whether they will be sent to the United States to face more charges.

The Americans didn't testify. But in court Wednesday, Idema told reporters that the group had tacit support from senior U.S. Defense Department officials and that they once offered to put his team under contract.

Gee, it couldn't be, could it, that Bush is using private contractors in his Middle Eastern dirty war (back) to do jobs that are too dirty for the constitutional chain of command?

Idema said he was in daily telephone and e-mail contact with officials "at the highest level," including in Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld's office.

"The American authorities absolutely condoned what we did. They absolutely supported what we did," Idema said. "We have extensive evidence of that."
(via AP)

Well, then life becomes very simple! Idema releases the emails in open court. Wonder if he'll be able to plea-bargain so Bush can cover this up?

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