U.S. Soldiers Told to Ignore Sexual Abuse of Boys by Afghan Allies
By JOSEPH GOLDSTEIN SEPT. 20, 2015
KABUL, Afghanistan — In his last phone call home, Lance Cpl. Gregory Buckley Jr. told his father what was troubling him: From his bunk in southern Afghanistan, he could hear Afghan police officers sexually abusing boys they had brought to the base.
“At night we can hear them screaming, but we’re not allowed to do anything about it,” the Marine’s father, Gregory Buckley Sr., recalled his son telling him before he was shot to death at the base in 2012. He urged his son to tell his superiors. “My son said that his officers told him to look the other way because it’s their culture.”
Rampant sexual abuse of children has long been a problem in Afghanistan, particularly among armed commanders who dominate much of the rural landscape and can bully the population. The practice is called bacha bazi, literally “boy play,” and American soldiers and Marines have been instructed not to intervene — in some cases, not even when their Afghan allies have abused boys on military bases, according to interviews and court records.
The policy has endured as American forces have recruited and organized Afghan militias to help hold territory against the Taliban. But soldiers and Marines have been increasingly troubled that instead of weeding out pedophiles, the American military was arming them in some cases and placing them as the commanders of villages — and doing little when they began abusing children.
“The reason we were here is because we heard the terrible things the Taliban were doing to people, how they were taking away human rights,” said Dan Quinn, a former Special Forces captain who beat up an American-backed militia commander for keeping a boy chained to his bed as a sex slave. “But we were putting people into power who would do things that were worse than the Taliban did — that was something village elders voiced to me.”
The policy of instructing soldiers to ignore child sexual abuse by their Afghan allies is coming under new scrutiny, particularly as it emerges that service members like Captain Quinn have faced discipline, even career ruin, for disobeying it.
After the beating, the Army relieved Captain Quinn of his command and pulled him from Afghanistan. He has since left the military....
Ignoring Sexual Abuse in Afghanistan
By THE EDITORIAL BOARD SEPT. 21, 2015
The incidents of sexual assault on children described by American service members who served in Afghanistan are sickening. Boys screaming in the night as Afghan police officers attacked them. Three or four Afghan men found lying on the floor of a room at a military base with children between them, presumably for sex play.
No less offensive is that American soldiers and Marines who wanted to intervene could not. According to an account in The Times by Joseph Goldstein, they were ordered by their superiors to ignore abusive behavior by their Afghan allies and “to look the other way because it’s their culture.”
The Pentagon’s indulgent, even complicit, attitude toward pedophiles among the Afghan militias that it funded and trained is indefensible, at odds with American values and with international laws Washington has taken the lead in promoting.
Pervasive sexual abuse of children has long been a problem in Afghanistan. It is especially pronounced among armed commanders who control rural regions and hold sway over the population there. The practice is known as bacha bazi, or boy play; powerful Afghan men often surround themselves with young teenagers as a mark of social status.
By instructing American soldiers and Marines not to interfere, even if the incidents occurred on American bases, the Pentagon has chosen — reprehensibly — to sacrifice vulnerable children in order to maintain good relations with the Afghan police and militias it needs to fight the Taliban.
Some American service members who opposed the policy have been disciplined or seen their careers ruined because they fought it.....