President Obama Orders National Security Team to Review 2001 Afghanistan Massacre

By Caitlin Taylor

Jul 13, 2009 8:25am

In an interview with CNN over the weekend, President Obama said that he'd just learned that a November 2001 incident in Afghanistan — where hundreds if not thousands of Taliban prisoners were killed by an Afghan warlord and buried in a mass grave — may not have been properly investigated.

"So what I’ve asked my national security team to do is to collect the facts for me that are known," the president said. "And we’ll probably make a decision in terms of how to approach it once we have all the facts gathered up….There are responsibilities that all nations have even in war. And if it appears that our conduct in some way supported violations of the laws of war, then I think that, you know, we have to know about that."

A Saturday New York Times story reported that Bush administration officials obstructed requests for an investigation into the incident from the FBI, State Department, and other groups "because the warlord, Gen. Abdul Rashid Dostum, was on the payroll of the C.I.A. and his militia worked closely with United States Special Forces in 2001, several officials said. They said the United States also worried about undermining the American-supported government of President Hamid Karzai, in which General Dostum had served as a defense official."

Human rights groups applauded President Obama's remarks.

"Physicians for Human Rights praises President Obama for ordering his national security team to collect all the facts in the Dasht-e-Leili massacre and apparent US cover-up," said Susannah Sirkin, deputy director of Physicians for Human Rights, which discovered the mass grave in January 2002 and alleges a cover-up by the Bush administration:

Click HERE for photos from Physicians for Human Rights' forensic investigation of the mass grave. The NYT first reported on the incident in May 2002 and Newsweek followed up in August 2002 with a more comprehensive story.

- jpt

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