Monday, September 7, 2009

Did Swedish Doctors Lie About Alleged U.S. Military Misconduct In An Afghan Hospital?

We're now getting two completely different stories about the alleged invasion of a Swedish charity hospital in Afghanistan by members of the U.S. military. The hospital alleged abuses by soldiers. The military is now refuting the story.

There is reason, now, to bring into question the veracity of what the doctors originally said. The military was quick to acknowledge, for example, the number of civilian casualties during a recent NATO air strike. Given this degree of candor and transparency, one must give added weight to the military claim that the story is wrong.

Four days after the incident, the hospital issued a statement in which it was claimed that U.S. soldiers entered by force, kicked in doors, tied up patent's relatives, restrained staff and entered treatment centers in pursuit of members of the Taliban. That would be completely against regulations. And it caused me, and others, to comment negatively on the actions of members of the United States armed forces.

But now, I admit, I'm not so sure.

Military officials have told Fox News that they did enter the hospital, but only with the permission of hospital officials. And that they, Afghan soldier and Afghan police were in high pursuit of members of the Taliban who sought refuge there. Among those they sought was a high ranking Taliban commander.

The officials denied that any doors were kicked in, that any patient treatment was interrupted and, perhaps most importantly, that any relatives of patients were tied up.

That particular allegation leaves in the mind's eye a certain image, doesn't it? Pause here a second and try it on for size. Members of the U.S. armed forces tying up relatives of patients in a charity hospital in a war zone. If it's true, then obviously someone needs to be held to account. But if it isn't - then enemies of the United States have been handed on a silver platter propaganda to use against the U.S., its people and its interests. And that kind of propaganda can inspire some people to violence, can't it?

It's sad that the source of what is now a questionable accusation is a hospital. One would think that doctors would disseminate accurate information. Admittedly, we don't yet know what all the facts are. Perhaps time will tell who is telling the truth and who is not. Then again, perhaps not.

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