Today we revisit another unpublished Bob Lang TOON from the Fall when the Pentagon suppressed a congressionally mandated independent report—the Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction, known as SIGAR— on Afghan allies who allegedly engaged in systemic child sexual abuse.
Afghanistan, it seemed had revived an old and long-outlawed practice of men buying young boys and dressing them as dancing girls to be used as sex slaves for American-armed Afghan security forces. The boys are regularly raped by these American allies, engaging in what is called “bacha bazi,” or “boy play.”
Analysis suggested that the U.S. military prevented the report’s release to avoid in-country blowback and consequential congressional action that could cut-off U.S. military assistance to Afghanistan. On 5,753 occasions from 2010 to 2016, the U.S. military reported accusations of “gross human rights abuses” by the Afghan military, including many examples of child sexual abuse. If true, U.S. law required military aid to be cut off to the offending unit but it did not happen in even one case.
The SIGAR report was finally released in late January 2018, heavily redacted, and at least in the public portions did little to answer questions about how prevalent child sexual abuse was in the Afghan military and police, and how commonly the U.S. military looked the other way.
But not all US service members were willing to turn their heads and do nothing. A former Special Forces officer, Capt. Dan Quinn, who assaulted an Afghan commander for keeping a boy chained to his bed as a sex slave, claimed at the time he had been relieved of his command as a result. “We were putting people into power who would do things that were worse than the Taliban did,” said Quinn, who has since left the military.
Sgt. 1st Class Charles Martland, a highly decorated Green Beret, was forced out of the military after beating up an Afghan local police commander in Kunduz who was a child rapist. Martland became incensed after the Afghan commander abducted the boy, raped him, then beat up the boy’s mother when she tried to rescue him. Congressional inquiries apparently led to Martland’s reinstatement.
New York Times report from 2015 also noted the suspicious death of Lance Cpl. Gregory Buckley Jr., a U.S. Marine who was killed at a checkpoint where he was posted with a notorious commander known for keeping a large group of bacha bazi boys. Buckley had complained about that commander and was killed, along with two other Marines, by one of the commander’s boys.
The SIGAR report made no mention of the cases of Buckley, Quinn or Martland, and it appeared to have interviewed only three unnamed U.S. soldiers who reported being aware of the practice, which many soldiers and Afghan officials have told journalists they know to be widespread.
Are we sacrificing decency and our humanity for the sake of pleasing those we call allies?
What say your SOFREP? Sound off in the comments.