Is U.S. military blocking an inquiry into Afghan hospital’s ‘Auschwitz-like’ conditions?

Updated
U.S. Lt. Gen. William Caldwell speaks during an interview with The Associated Press in Kabul, Afghanistan, Saturday, Feb, 12, 2011.
U.S. Lt. Gen. William Caldwell speaks during an interview with The Associated Press in Kabul, Afghanistan, Saturday, Feb, 12, 2011.
Dar Yasin / AP

In September, 2011, the Wall Street Journal reported that a U.S.-funded military hospital in Afghanistan’s capital had been letting its patients die of starvation, malnutrition and treatable infections. Whistleblowers now claim that the Pentagon is obstructing a Congressional investigation.

“Maggots fed off patients’ open wounds,” the Journal’s Maria Abi-Habib reported in her exposé on Kabul’s Dawood National Military Hospital, subsequently dubbed “Horror Hospital.” “Nurses and doctors refused to help amputees to the bathroom, and they soiled their beds for days. Several patients died of simple infections because their bandages would go unchanged for weeks, while at least four died of complications related to malnourishment, according to mentors and internal documents.”

Fast forward to late July of this year. On July 24, active duty and retired military officers gave sworn testimony to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, alleging that a top U.S. general had blocked an investigation of the hospital. One of the witnesses, a retired colonel, described the conditions at Dawood as “Auschwitz-like.”

According to the witnesses’ testimony, Army Lieutenant General William Caldwell—then stationed in Afghanistan as commander of the NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan—prevented an investigation of the hospital because he thought it could damage the White House politically in the months leading up to the 2010 elections.

Colonel Mark Fassl, an inspector general for the training mission, said that Caldwell forced him to retract a request for an investigation. ”How could we … make this request with elections coming?” Fassl said Caldwell asked him. “[President Obama] calls me Bill.”

But if there is a cover-up, it might not stop with General Caldwell.

Colonel Schuyler Geller, the training mission’s former Command Surgeon, told Buzzfeed’s Michael Hastings and Rebecca Elliot that the Pentagon “excluded the vast majority of documents from the get-go that would have related to the Dawood Khan Hospital” when turning over material to the House Oversight Committee.

A Committee spokesman told Lean Forward the investigation is ongoing, though no more hearings have been scheduled yet. For the strong of stomach, Buzzfeed has some grisly photos of conditions at the hospital.

Defense

Is U.S. military blocking an inquiry into Afghan hospital's 'Auschwitz-like' conditions?

Updated