Dawood hospital abuses cover-up? Key generals to testify
Dawood Hospital treats wounded Afghan soldiers and is primarily funded with American tax dollars.
Four U.S. military advisers testified last July that they observed human suffering and corruption at Dawood Hospital in 2010 that was so serious, it warranted an urgent probe. However, they say the American officer in charge of the Afghan Training Mission, Lt. Gen. William Caldwell, admonished them for suggesting an outside investigation.
Sources familiar with the upcoming hearing say Lt. Gen. Caldwell is expected to testify. It's expected to be the first time he'll publicly tell his side of the story.
U.S. Army Col. Mark Fassl, who was then the NATO Training Mission Afghanistan Command Inspector General, testified that Caldwell was displeased when Fassl wanted hospital conditions investigated. "His first response to me was, 'How could we do this or make this request with elections coming?'" Fassl told the House Oversight Subcommittee in July.
Another adviser on site, U.S. Army Col. Gerald Carozza (now retired), testified that Caldwell's deputy, Maj. Gen. Gary Patton, delivered a similar message to him. Carozza was then the Chief of Legal Development for the Afghan National Army. He says Gen. Caldwell was upset they'd asked for an independent investigation "so close to the (2010 midterm) election."
"We were to consider postponing it until afterwards," Carozza testified. "It was a stunning moment for me."
Maj. Gen. Patton is also expected to testify next week.
The U.S. military observers on site said wounded patients at the hospital routinely starved to death, were operated on without sedatives, and died of simple infections. Col. Fassl reported seeing "open vats of blood draining out of soldiers' wounds" and "feces on the floor." Afghan doctors and nurses reportedly demanded bribes from patients for basic food and care. The advisers began documenting the horrors and eventually blew the whistle to the media and to Congress.
The Pentagon has said that since the Dawood Hospital conditions were exposed, it has taken strong actions to correct mismanagement, corruption and abuse. Pentagon officials also say that, by all accounts, things at Dawood Hospital are vastly improved today.
The Inspector General is now investigating the allegations against Lt. Gen. Caldwell. In July, a spokesman for the general said he would "welcome the opportunity to respond to any inquiry" and that "all allegations will be proven false."
The hearing is set for Wednesday before the House Oversight National Security Subcommittee.
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