U. S. Signs Military "Partnership" with Afghanistan

May 29, 2005

On May 23, the U.S. signed a "memorandum of understanding" with Afghanistan, calling for a long-term U.S. military presence in the country.

Under the new "strategic partnership," the U.S. will keep its largescale military posts at Bagram airbase north of Kabul and at Kandahar airbase in the south, as well as other military facilities that "may be mutually determined." The U.S. will also continue training and equipping Afghan police and soldiers, and thousands of U. S. troops will maintain their occupation of Afghanistan under the agreement. Currently, the Pentagon commands a foreign force in Afghanistan of about 18,000 troops, most of them U.S. soldiers.

The treaty also states that :

* The U.S. will "continue to have the freedom of action required to conduct appropriate military operations."

* There will be consultations "with respect to taking appropriate measures in the event that Afghanistan perceives that its territorial integrity, independence, or security is threatened or at risk."

* The U.S. will assist the Afghan government with "counter-terrorism operations."

* The U.S. will continue "intelligence sharing, strengthen Afghanistan's ties with NATO, and support border security initiatives."

* The U.S. will encourage the development of "a legal and institutional framework for a thriving private sector and an environment favorable to international investment in Afghanistan."

During discussions with Afghan leader Karzai, President Bush also ruled out a request for Afghan sovereignty, stating that the U.S. would not hand over command of U.S. troops to Afghan military leaders. "Our troops will respond to U. S. commanders," Mr Bush told journalists.

Torture and Murder of Afghanistan Prisoners

The Afghan request for control over U.S. soldiers came amidst new revelations of torture and murder of prisoners at U.S. bases.

On May 20, the New York Times reported that an Army internal investigation (2,000 pages long) revealed that Afghan prisoners were tortured to death by American interrogators and prison guards at Bagram air base, outside Kabul. The investigation detailed how two prisoners were kept chained in excruciating positions and then kicked to death. According to the report, there existed "a culture of abuse at Bagram." Eight Afghan prisoners have so far died in U.S. custody in Afghanistan.

In sworn statements, U.S. soldiers tell of a woman interrogator "with a taste for humiliation" who stepped on the neck of one detainee and kicked another in the genitals. They also tell of one soldier, an interrogator called "Monster" -- he had the word tattooed in Italian across his chest -- who one sergeant praised as the "king of torture". Another prisoner was locked in an isolation cell with his hands shackled to the wire ceiling over his head and then kicked to death over several days.

In a joint news conference with Afghan President Karzai, Bush dismissed Karzai's demand that Afghan prisoners held by the U.S. be turned over to the Afghan government.