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CNN airs interviews with Afghan witnesses: "Were others involved in the killings?"

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This is an excellent must-watch report, with witness interviews, of the Kandahar massacre story (h/t Steve Hynd via Twitter for the link).

I suspect this is CNN's international feed, the highly respected one you can't get at home. The British accent of the anchor suggests as much, as does the content.

From the CNN page describing this video:

Reporter Yalda Hakim of Australia’s SBS network has become the first western journalist to visit the villages where a U.S. soldier allegedly killed 17 people.

In a remarkable report she talks with some of the survivors and some Afghan guards on duty at the military camp from where Staff Sgt. Robert Bales left on his alleged killing spree. The video at the top of this story is Hakim’s account of her journey to the remote villages near Kandahar and what she was told.
A short rundown:

▪ Starting at 4:05, there's an excellent recreation of the events of that night, begnning with the layout — the relative locations of Camp Belambai and the two villages, Alkozai and Najiban. This provides an excellent sense of place, what those villages look like, what the houses feel like inside, how barren the countryside. An excellent job by this reporter and her team.

▪ The discussion of the number of shooters starts at 5:55. Note that it's the U.S. military that initially blocks interview (7:15). Interviews themselves start at 7:45.

▪ At 8:50, there is a clear eyewitness who saw more than one soldier performing the killings, in what an Afghan official said earlier looked like a helicopter-supported operation.

▪ Near the end of the CNN wrapper to the SBS segment, you'll see an interview with John Henry Browne, the accused lone gunman's attorney. That's a name to remember and watch for.

This is a terrific watch. Please do if you have the time. Ms. Hakim, the reporter, is the one in the green hijab, or headscarf.

(To see this report larger and in a new tab, click here.)

One final note: When Ms. Hakim describes Sgt. Bales' movements, she's taking the American view of events ("lone shooter") since she has no witnesses to his movements in or near the base to the contrary. (In other words, no one is saying "A group of men left the base at this or that time that night.")

When she describes the events in the villages, she lets the witnesses speak for themselves. Thus the apparent discrepancy.

In our three-legged stool on the Afghan massacre story, this is the first break in the media side of the story — some acknowledgement that the U.S. military's explanation is not the only one with credibility.

And on the U.S. side of the story, this attorney's public appearance means the pre-trial dance has begun.

It's interesting, by the way, how closely this comports with Marcy Wheeler's smart speculation. More as it develops.


(To follow on Twitter or to send links: @Gaius_Publius)

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