So furious was the Afghanistan Interior Ministry with a brewing U.S. media story about an American contractor hiring “dancing boys, its chief tried getting the American embassy (and thus the State Department) to crush the story. As if the U.S. government has the power to silence the media. Oh dear!
One of the leaked State Department cables shows then-Ministor of Interior Hanif Atmar (pictured, top) requested the help of the U.S. embassy in Afghanistan to quash a story about DynCorp, which was under a U.S. government contract to train Afghan police. Certainly a story that claimed DynCorp employeers were buying drugs and little boys wouldn’t be good for international relations. And, according to the June 2009 cable quoting Atmar’s conversation with American Ambassador Joseph Adamo Mussomeli, such a report would “endanger lives.”
Those “dancing boys,” of course, are the bacha bazi, which we told you about in April. Boys ages 8-16 (and younger; disgusting old men like ‘em wee) are hired away from their poor families for the entertainment of wealthier men. Officially they simply dress in up girls’ clothing and dance; unofficially they are bought and sold to be raped. (Video of the “official,” albeit still illegal version is below.) That an American contractor would be engaging in such activity is horrific.
And you know what happened to Blackwater Worldwide (now called Xe Services) after being accused by Middle East officials of killing innocent civilians: They get rewarded with new $120 million contracts. Uhhhh. Maybe a little bacha bazi scandal wouldn’t have been do bad for DynCorp?
Atmar told the ambassador he had arrested two police officers and nine civilians in connection with “purchasing a service from a child” — a crime that even members of President Hamid Karzai’s have been tied to (by unsubstantiated rumor, thus far).
So why was Atmar so bent on keeping DynCorp’s wrongdoings from being reported? The cable says,
Atmar said there was a larger issue to consider. He understood that within DynCorp there were many “wonderful” people working hard, and he was keen to see proper action taken to protect them; but, these contractor companies do not have many friends. He was aware that many questions about them go to SRAP Holbrooke and, in Afghanistan, there is increasing public skepticism about contractors. On the other hand, the conduct of the Combined Security Transition Command-Afghanistan (CSTC-A) is disciplined. Looking at these facts, he said, he wanted CSTC-A in charge. He wanted the ANP to become a model security institution just like the Afghan National Army (ANA) and National Directorate for Security (NDS), and the contractors were not producing what was desired. He suggested that the U.S. establish and independent commission to review the mentor situation, an idea he said Ambassador Eikenberry had first raised. Atmar added that he also wanted tighter control over Afghan employees. He was convinced that the Kunduz incident, and other events where mentors had obtained drugs, could not have happened without Afghan participation.
Raw Story points us to a Washington Post July 2009 article that very briefly mentioned the scandal: “One effort to train Afghan civilian police has drawn attention from the State Department’s inspector general following incidents of questionable management oversight, including one instance in which expatriate DynCorp employees in Afghanistan hired a teenage boy to perform a tribal dance at a company farewell party and videotaped the event.”
Who needs Wikileaks when you’ve got State Department sources leaking info directly to reporters?
Missing from the story is whether the State Department did intervene — and speak to the WaPo reporter, which turned what could (and should) have been a much bigger story into a brief aside. No matter what you think about the Wikileaks scandal, and whether it’s good or bad for democracy and/or national security, stories like these should be made public. Our money should not be going to U.S. corporations that use tax dollars to rape children. I don’t think it gets simpler than that.