24. War Crimes of General Stanley McChrystal
Project Censored (Sonoma State University)
Student Researcher: Cristina Risso (Sonoma State University)
Faculty Evaluator: Elaine Wellin (Sonoma State University)
A little more than a year before he was fired on June 23, 2010, for making potentially insubordinate remarks in a Rolling Stone profile, General Stanley McChrystal was appointed by President Barack Obama as commander in charge of the war in Afghanistan. He had been formerly in charge of the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) headed by former Vice President Dick Cheney. Most of what General McChrystal has done over a thirty-three-year career remains classified, including service between 2003 and 2008 as commander of the JSOC, a special black operations commando unit of the Navy Seals and Delta Force so clandestine that the Pentagon for years refused to acknowledge its existence.
Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Seymour Hersh claims that the Bush administration ran an executive assassination ring that reported directly to former Vice President Dick Cheney, and that Congress had no oversight of it whatsoever. The JSOC team would go into countries, without talking to the ambassador or to the CIA station chief, find people on a to-be-killed list, execute them, and leave. There was an ongoing list of targeted people, cleared by Vice President Cheney’s office, who had committed acts of war or were suspected of planning operations of war against the United States. Hersh asserts that there have been assassinations in a dozen countries in the Middle East and Latin America. “There’s an executive order, signed by President Ford, in the ’70s, forbidding such action. It’s not only contrary—it’s illegal, it’s immoral, it’s counterproductive,” he added.
JSOC was also involved in war crimes, including the torture of prisoners in secret “ghost” detention sites. Camp Nama in Iraq was one such “ghost” facility hidden from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the international body charged under international law with monitoring compliance with the Geneva Conventions, and given the right to inspect all facilities where people are detained in a country that is at war or under military occupation. On July 22, 2006, Human Rights Watch issued a report, titled “No Blood, No Foul,” about American torture practices at three facilities in Iraq. One of them was Camp Nama, accused of some of the worst acts of torture, and operated by JSOC, under the direction of McChrystal. McChrystal, then a Major General, was officially based at Fort Bragg in North Carolina, but he was a frequent visitor to Camp Nama and other bases in Iraq and Afghanistan under his command.
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