Explosive testimony today at the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee accused one of the most senior officers in the U.S. Army, General William Caldwell, of preventing an investigation into horrible conditions at an Afghan military hospital.
“Two retired colonels who worked with the training command also told the [committee] that Caldwell did not want an inspector general’s investigation of the Dawood National Military Hospital,” according to the AP, adding that one colonel described “Auschwitz-like conditions” at the hospital.
Statements from the witnesses said that Caldwell, who was running the Afghan army training program at the time, was worried about political ramifications of a Defense Department investigation before the 2010 mid-term elections.
“How could we make this request with elections coming?” Caldwell said, according to one military officer, referring to President Obama. “He calls me Bill.”
“The general did not want bad news to leave his command before the election or after the election,” another retired colonel, Gerald Carozza, said in a statement.
Military and diplomatic sources say Caldwell believed he had a close relationship with President Obama, and that Obama “liked” him.
Conditions at the Afghan hospital were grim: patients starving to death, widespread malnutrition, defective morphine, and “maggots feeding off patients’ open wounds,” according to Maria Abi-Habib of the Wall Street Journal, who first broke the story last September.
In 2010, a whistleblower accused Caldwell, who now runs the U.S. Army North Command, of improperly using a propaganda team to attempt to persuade visiting Congressional representatives and other officials to provide more funds for the $11 billion-a-year mission to train the Afghan army.
An internal Army investigation cleared Caldwell and his command of wrong doing, including retaliating against the whistleblower, Lt. Col. Michael Holmes.
(After Holmes had raised concerns about the misuse of the propaganda team, Caldwell’s staff ordered an investigation into his personal life, and removed Holmes from his post.)
Given these fresh allegations of corruption, Caldwell may be forced to testify before the committee at a later date.