This is an appalling story of soldiers gone amok, yet the fact that a Private Stoner is the lead character in this New York Times report is unintentionally hilarious. Sample quote: “Private Stoner told investigators, the hash-smoking in his room was ‘to the point where the smoke was lingering in the air and the smell was impossible to get rid of.’ And “In an interview, Private Stoner was described by Specialist Winfield’s lawyer, Eric Montalvo, as the platoon’s effective drug dealer. Private Stoner told investigators that he had never used illegal substances himself, a claim investigators discarded.”
Soldiers in an American Army platoon accused of murdering Afghan civilians for sport say they took orders from a ringleader who collected body parts as war trophies, were threatened with death if they spoke up and smoked hashish on their base almost daily.
Now family members and the military are asking a central question: How could their commanders not know what was going on?
“I just don’t understand how this went so far,” said Christopher Winfield, the father of Specialist Adam C. Winfield, one of the platoon members charged with murder. “I’ve been in management for 20 years; you know what your people are doing.”
But interviews in recent days and hundreds of pages of documents in the case offer a portrait of an isolated, out-of-control unit that operated in Kandahar Province in southern Afghanistan with limited supervision and little oversight from senior commanders.
There are indications of missed warnings among Army officers who saw trouble with some platoon leaders but did not dig deeper — let alone suspect the extent of the problem — until investigators began asking questions in early May, nearly four months after prosecutors say the first of three murders of Afghan civilians occurred…
[continues in the New York Times]