U.S. Ambassador Doesn't Rule Out 'Proceedings' Against U.S. Troops Who Burned Qurans
(CNSNews.com) - The U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan has not ruled out military proceedings against U.S. troops involved in the disposal of Qurans by burning them.
"If there are to be proceedings, they are going to be U.S. proceedings under the UCMJ (Uniform Code of Military Justice) -- and I don't think there is any question or doubt on the part of the Afghan government that that is exactly how it's going to go," Ryan Crocker told Fox News Wednesday night.
Fox anchor Bret Baier had asked Crocker if Afghan President Hamid Karzai's call for a public trial had raised some eyebrows at the U.S. Embassy.
As CNSNews.com reported, Karzai went on Afghan television and told his country he had discussed the Quran burning with "jihadi leaders," scholars and elected officials.
According to a BBC translation of his remarks, Karzai said: "Representing the Afghan nation and their pure sentiments, in fact the Islamic world, once again we call on the U.S. government to bring the perpetrators of the act to justice and put them on trial and punish them."
Karzai's statement came three days after President Obama apologized for the incident at Bargram Air Force Base that has resulted in days of murderous rioting.
On Wednesday, President Obama said his apology to Karzai had "calmed things down."
But on Thursday, gunmen -- including one believed to be an Afghan soldier -- killed two NATO troops in southern Afghanistan, the Associated Press reported.
At least six U.S. service members have now been killed in the violent backlash over the Quran burnings, including two U.S. military officers who were shot in the back of the head on Saturday in a secure area of the Afghan Interior Ministry.
The violence directed at Americans will not affect the timetable for withdrawing U.S. troops, Gen. John Allen, commander of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) – told Fox News.
Appearing with Crocker Wednesday night, Gen. Allen said the long-range plan has not changed -- the removal of 33,000 U.S. "surge" troops is about to begin, as ordered by President Obama.
"(Defense) Secretary Panetta was very clear that while in 2013, we anticipate that the Afghan National Security Forces will move into the lead for purposes of conducting this counterinsurgency campaign, ISAF forces will be in a support role. We fully anticipate that there will be combat operations continuing. The enemy gets a vote," he added.
Despite the rioting and continued fighting, "Morale is good," Gen. Allen said of the U.S. troops. "We remain dedicated to this mission and the campaign is on track -- the (Afghan National Security Forces) are on track. We are being successful in this campaign, and that success will buy the time for the maturation, the improvement, of the system of governance of this country, and it will create opportunities for economic development.
"And all Americans -- regardless of the political discussion back in the United States -- all Americans, they should be proud of the sacrifices and capabilities and war fighting skills of their sons and daughters who are serving so well out here in Afghanistan.
Ambassador Crocker said the ISAF has made "substantial progress," but the job isn't finished, he added: "And I just hope that the American people have the strategic patience to see this through..."