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Exclusive: The Pentagon's Shocking Cover-Up Of The Afghan National Military Hospital Scandal

While Afghan patients at the U.S. military's "crown jewel" medical facility in Kabul lived in horrific conditions, American and Afghan commanders pushed a relentless public relations campaign to make it look like a success. Warning: Extremely graphic content.

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Top U.S. commanders in Afghanistan waged a sophisticated public relations campaign to obscure horrific conditions at the Afghan National Military Hospital, according to former U.S. military officials, Congressional investigators, and new photographic evidence obtained by BuzzFeed.

The revelation is just one of the new details uncovered in a probe that has already triggered two Department of Defense investigations and one hearing by the House's Government Oversight Committee.

BuzzFeed obtained more than 70 images and over 120 field reports and documents that further implicate the command of Gen. William Caldwell in the scandal.

At the time, Caldwell was in charge of NTM-A, or National Training Mission Afghanistan, the $11.2 billion a year program, which included the Dawood National Military Hospital.

"There were glowing stories on NTM-A’s public relations web site about the progress of the [Afghan National Army] medical system," Col. Gerald Carozza, a senior Army lawyer, testified. "With conditions not changing from 2005 to 2010, why did the assessment and public relations reporting show improvement though early 2010 when the reality was clearly different?"

The new information also reveals fresh evidence of neglect at the hospital, possible corruption perpetrated by private Pentagon contractor MPRI, and allegations that top Afghan general Ahmed Yaftali sold 4.5 tons of U.S-purchased medical supplies to Pakistan and embezzled some $20 million in U.S. taxpayer dollars provided to the hospital.

Other documents obtained by BuzzFeed include new details on the Pentagon's efforts to stonewall the investigation — including attempts to keep key details from Congress and efforts to make witnesses unavailable to testify.

Caldwell, now commander of U.S. Army North, has not yet been called before Congress, but a spokesperson for Caldwell has said "all allegations will be proven false."

The images below show the striking contrast between what the U.S. military command in Kabul wanted American audiences to know and the much darker reality of the Dawood National Military Hospital.

March 2010.

"Although the hospital is still undermanned, patient care has improved with the help of additional equipment and capabilities," reads the official U.S. military photo description from early 2010.

Gen. Ahmed Yaftali (left), Afghan surgeon general, with Gen. William Caldwell (right) at Dawood. February 2010.


But behind the "dog and pony show" were medical conditions that Gen. Caldwell and his command did not want public. For example, this patient was not getting proper care for a gangrenous foot.


Here is Gen. Caldwell at the hospital visiting with Gen. Yaftali. Yaftali provided at least 4.5 tons of U.S.-supplied pharmaceuticals to Pakistan as part of a "criminal patronage network."

According to testimony provided to the DoD by Col. Geller. Photo taken on Feb. 15, 2010, and distributed by the Defense Department.


The following photos were included in a presentation to Gen. Caldwell and his command in early November, 2010. After seeing the presentation, Caldwell's command ordered the documents to be sequestered."[Caldwell] didn't want this getting out to an


When his wounds were cleaned, it was in an unsterile environment, with the patient's family members touching the wound with ungloved hands. Doctors also re-used medical equipment, citing insufficient sterilization supplies.


At the end of Nov. 2010, U.S. medical personnel were still under command pressure to portray the hospital in a positive light. "We were always being asked to find the good news to report even in a terrible story," said Col. Geller of the presentation.


After U.S. medical personnel demanded an investigation of the hospital in the fall of 2010, Gen. Caldwell refused, saying: "There is nothing wrong in this command we can't fix ourselves."

Caldwell also said senior officers "should have known better" than to ask for the investigation.

Col. Gerald Carozza would later testify that Caldwell "was too concerned about the message, creating a stifling climate for those who had to deal with reality."

In October 2011, Congress opened an investigation into the hospital. They submitted a request to the DoD, asking for a detailed timeline of the events that took place at Dawood, among other documents.

Col. Geller provided this information to the DoD, but the DoD withheld key facts from Congress that Geller had given them. These included information about Caldwell's role, the role of private contractor MPRI, and Gen. Yaftali's involvement in a criminal patronage network.

When Congress called Col. Fassl and Capt. Steven Andersen to testify in the July 24 hearing, the DoD and Dept. of Homeland Security told investigators that neither officer would be able to appear. Congress then had to threaten both Col. Fassl and Capt. Andersen with a subpoena.

Fassl's subsequent testimony was damning. At the hospital, one could see "open baths of blood draining out of soldiers' wounds, the feces on the floor," Fassl said.

"It's destroyed," Col. Geller said in an August 1 television appearance, referring to evidence the whistleblowers compiled on a server for the DoD. "It suddenly does not exist."

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