In recent weeks, I’ve shared many details about being stonewalled by officials within the U.S. Army as I continue to investigate the deaths of dozens of Americans in Afghanistan at the hands of their so-called “allies” in the Afghan National Security Force. Today, however, I share evidence that I’m not the only person who’s been stonewalled after asking questions about the “green-on-blue” attacks. Some people waited much, much longer for answers.
I came across news of a nine-month wait for an Army document this morning when a Google Alert for “green-on-blue attack” delivered a link to a Santa Clarita Valley, Calif., news site’s article, Army: Broken Vetting Process to Blame for SCV Soldier’s Death.
The article contains news about the death of Army SPC Rudy Acosta, a 19-year-old killed March 19, 2011, by an Afghan man who had been hired by the Canadian private security firm, Tundra, to work as a security guard at Forward Operating Base Frontenac in Afghanistan.
First to catch my eye in the article was the subhead that appeared immediately below the headline: McKeon to launch investigation as Pentagon withholds report for nine months despite inquiries.
Though I can’t imagine what it must have been like for Specialist Acosta’s parents, Dante and Carolyn Acosta, to wait nine months for a copy of the investigation report about their son’s death, I do know what it’s like to wait more than 90 days for a copy of an Army document — in my case, the unclassified Army handbook, “Inside the Wire Threats – Afghanistan.”
I requested the document via the Freedom of Information Act after suspecting it might shed some light on the root causes of the green-on-blue attacks. After all, it had been mentioned by Gen. John Allen, commander of the International Security Assistance Force and U.S. Forces in Afghanistan, during his March 22 testimony on the topic before the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Also catching my eye in the article was a question, “Who was responsible for vetting this guy?” It was followed by a quick answer: “Everyone and no one, according to the AR 15-6 investigation report completed by an Army major nine months ago on April 14.”
When asked via email April 4 about the process via which ANSF members were being vetted prior to working alongside U.S. and NATO forces, Army LTC Jimmie E. Cummings replied, “ISAF or U.S. are not responsible for vetting Afghans for either the Afghan National Army or Police. The Afghans use a 8-step process in vetting their candidates.”
An ISAF public affairs officer, Colonel Cummings went on to refer me and my questions about the ANSF vetting process to Sediq Sediqqi, a spokesperson for the Afghan Ministry of Interior. Unfortunately, Sediqqi acknowledged receipt of my questions via email April 13 but has yet to reply with answers despite repeated followup attempts.
As a result of Colonel Cummings passing the buck to Sediqqi and Sediqqi remaining silent, I was forced to turn to an excerpt (below) from a NATO Media Backgrounder, dated March 2011, for details of the ANSF’s eight-step vetting process:
Recruitment is now following an 8-step vetting process. Upon signing the enlistment contract agreement, the recruit must get two individuals (village elder, Mullah, or other local government representative) to sign and vouch for the recruit. These individuals are held responsible if any discrepancy in the contract is found. The recruit’s paperwork and government ID is reviewed and basic biometric information (retinal scan, fingerprints, height, age, and weight) is collected, added to the recruit’s personnel file and accompanies the recruit to training. The biometric data is then checked to see if the individual has any known criminal or insurgent links. Approximately 6% of applicants are screened out for either drug use or medical conditions.
In a country where record keeping can be described as “suspect” at best and where corruption runs rampant, it’s no surprise that ANSF’s approach — not to mention the approaches used by private security contractors — has, to date, done little to prevent the green-on-blue attacks.
Feel better yet about the process via which Afghans are being vetted before they can do more harm to Americans? Probably not. And you won’t feel much better after witnessing what members of Congress are doing in an effort to stem the green-on-blue attacks against brave Americans like Specialist Acosta.
The video of the hearing opens with House Armed Services Committee Chair Buck McKeon (CA-25) characterizing the attack during which Specialist Acosta died as a “case study to better understand the range of issues” involved. Then it drones on for 95 minutes. [DIRECTIONS: Consume at least two cups of coffee before viewing.]
FYI: I spoke with with Dante Acosta by phone this morning and expect to report more on his family’s recently-announced lawsuit against Tundra during the months and years ahead.
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In my soon-to-be-published second nonfiction book, THE CLAPPER MEMO, I’ll expose never-before-published details of my investigation into the “green-on-blue” attacks and other matters related to the interrogation technologies now being used — and, in some cases, not used — by U.S. military and intelligence officials around the world for things such as vetting detainees, enemy combatants and third-country nationals.
The product of more than three years of painstaking investigation, dozens of interviews and a whole lot of Freedom of Information Act requests, THE CLAPPER MEMO, goes so far as to connect the dots between a single memo signed by James R. Clapper Jr., the man now serving as our nation’s top intelligence official, and the green-on-blue deaths of dozens of Americans in Afghanistan since that memo was issued.
While you await the release of THE CLAPPER MEMO, be sure to order a copy of my first nonfiction book, Three Days In August: A U.S. Army Special Forces Soldier’s Fight For Military Justice. It’s available in paperback and ebook via most online booksellers, including Amazon.com. Thanks in advance!