An explosive Congressional investigation revealed horrific new details this week about a U.S. funded military hospital in Afghanistan that kept patients in “Auschwitz-like” conditions.
The investigation also revealed that Lt. General William B. Caldwell, then commander of the $11.2 billion dollar a year Afghan training program, tried to block the probe and ordered a cover-up.
There are currently two ongoing investigations looking into the Dawood Military Hospital abuses: one centered around the Military Whistleblower Protection Act, the other concerned with Caldwell’s politically-motivated decision to delay investigations into the hospital until after the 2010 elections.
What follows is a very disturbing look inside the Dawood National Military Hospital. It was compiled with sworn eye-witness testimony from the three U.S. Army colonels who blew the whistle on the scandal, as well as never-before published photos obtained by BuzzFeed.
The photos and corresponding descriptions were collected by U.S. military personnel in Afghanistan.
The images are extremely graphic.
2. Colonel Gerald Nicholas Carozza: “Patients were lying in filth, in some cases starving and with grotesque bed sores. One patient was on the brink of starving to death.”
3. A patient’s untreated wound.
4. “The Patients’ Bill of Rights posters were found ripped off the walls lying on the ground torn to pieces ‘to allow for painting of the walls.’”
This patient was not treated for three days, given no wound checks, and his dressings were soiled. He was not given any analgesics prior to his surgery, and remained conscious. U.S. military personnel in Afghanistan at the time described his surgery taking place in “semi-sterile conditions.” This patient died 4 days later of paritonitis related sepsis without ever going back to operating room for care.
5. “The Auschwitz like conditions at the National Military Hospital.”
6. Maggots began falling out of this patient’s wounds. He died a week later.
7. Colonel Schuyler K. Geller: “Afghan soldiers’ families have sold their farms and indentured themselves for healthcare in the US- and coalition-supported Daoud Khan Hospital.”
Gangrene set in, making this patient a candidate for amputation. The surgeon refused to “address the issue for days,” according to the investigation.
Investigators described this as “a sacral decubitus lesion with high grade tunneling.” There were no plans for surgery for this patient.
9. Colonel Mark Fassl: “Open baths of blood draining out of soldiers’ wounds, the feces on the floor.”
All testimony was filmed at Tuesday’s House Oversight Committee hearing.
“External Fixation device. Bandages unattended for > 1 week, soiled, malodorous. Wound management team summoned on insistence of mentor(s). Maggots found among purulent draining fixation sites.”
11. Col. Fassl: “How could we be allowing this type of suffering to go on?”
13. Col. Geller: “Today, not just in 2010 or 2011, individuals…who perpetrated…unspeakable abuses upon Afghan soldiers, civilians and family members walk the halls of the Daoud Khan hospital unrepentant, unscathed, enriched, and still unprosecuted.”
“Necrotic non-viable extremity, no clear management plan for this extremity.”
“Purulent material actively draining from external fixation site(s): no clear plan for
emperic or target Abx therapy, no cultures, no antibiotics.”
15. Rep. John Tierney: “How many people went through that hospital and saw those conditions and said nothing?”
“Drain insertion through and through sinus track. No pre-procedure pain Rx, non-sterile technique done in ‘wound care room.’”
18. Col. Carozza: “The evidence is clear to me that this was politics with a small p - personal career driven politics.”
“Beginning stage of pressure ulceration.”
20. Col. Geller: “When Col Pagel, accompanied by a young USMC Capt. attorney, asked me if there was any reason to believe LTG Caldwell delayed the investigations into the NMH I replied: ‘Any reason to believe? I know it for a fact.’”
22. Col. Carozza: “Lt. Gen. Caldwell screamed at these three officers, waving his finger at them for trying to bring in the DOD IG.” Caldwell responded: “There is nothing wrong in this command that we can’t fix ourselves.”
24. Col. Carozza: “General Caldwell had the request withdrawn and postponed until after the election and then, after the election, tried to intimidate his subordinates into a consensus that it need not move forward at all.”
25. “How could we make this request with elections coming?” Caldwell reportedly said, referring to President Obama. “He calls me Bill.”
Throughout the scandal and ensuing cover-up, the majority of the Dawood hospital staff has remained in place.
Caldwell is now running the U.S. Army North Command and is the senior commander of Texas’ Fort Sam Houston.
Of the above photos of patients, only 3 have been previously published. U.S. military personnel in Afghanistan have submitted approximately 70 photos of the abuses for investigation.