Murphy's Law: Entrepreneurial Justice In Afghanistan

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June 30, 2011: A major problem in Afghanistan is the failure of the Afghan justice system, and Afghan insistence that foreign troops use it anyway. Currently, only about ten percent of Islamic terror suspects captured by foreign troops are prosecuted, and only half of those are convicted. Those arrested who can afford to bribe their way out, or have someone who can intimidate the right people, never get convicted. When dealing with Afghan police and troops, the terrorists can often arrange a bribe, and freedom, on the spot.

There is also less opportunity for foreign troops to interrogate captured terror suspects. Since Obama replaced Bush as president, the U.S. has greatly reduced the interrogation of captured terrorists. Since then, these interrogations only get done, if at all, in Iraq and Afghanistan. The U.S. no longer captures Islamic terrorists in other countries, much less interrogates them. Instead, the U.S. has increased its use of missiles to kill Islamic terrorists wherever they are found. Even raids of suspected terrorist hideouts now result in more enemy deaths than in the past. It seems to be understood that, if you take them alive, you will not be able to get them to talk (or even an opportunity to try) and that the suspects will walk.

Other countries still capture major terrorists (often with the help of multimillion dollar U.S. rewards, which are still good) and torture useful information out of the bad guys. The U.S. quietly takes advantage of this information, although it's the official U.S. position that torture does not work. The historical record says otherwise, but that's an issue that is simply not discussed in the U.S. anymore.

All this is because Obama got elected, in part, by criticizing the Bush policy of using intense interrogation (called torture by Obama supporters), and Obama ordered that there be no more of that sort of thing. To further make the point, the U.S. government continues an investigation aimed at identifying CIA personnel who could be prosecuted for torture during the Bush years. Thus American intelligence personnel are reluctant to use torture unless they have written orders from very senior people to do so.

In addition, Afghanistan was ordered to take over the interrogation and prosecution of Islamic terrorists captured by American troops in Afghanistan. The rule was that these captured terrorists were now a police matter that the Afghan judicial system could handle. The Afghans have 96 hours to either indict and take custody of the suspect, or the suspect was set loose by the Americans. The U.S. had the option to take custody after 96 hours, but that meant sending the terrorists to an American prison at Baghram, and this was discouraged by the U.S. government except in extreme cases. Thus even a Taliban suicide bomber, captured after his bomb vest failed to go off, got cut loose after 96 hours. The basic problem is that the Afghan judicial system is very thin on the ground, and prosecutors and jailors are easily bribed or intimidated. This sort of thing has been bad for morale in Afghanistan, especially since troops are discouraged from just killing terrorists caught in the act, if there is any chance of taking them alive.

When questioned on these policies, U.S. government officials promise changes and insist they are monitoring the situation.

 


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