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Guest LeVeL

3 Americans on trial for torturing Afghans

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Guest LeVeL

040721_afghan_trial_hmed_4a.hmedium.jpgThe leader of three Americans arrested in Afghanistan for illegally detaining suspected Islamic militants, Jonathan Keith, center, speaks in court, in Kabul, on Wednesday, flanked by U.S. suspects Edward Caraballo, left, and Brent Bennett, right.

Three Americans accused of torturing Afghans in a private jail during a freelance counterterror mission went on trial Wednesday, with their ringleader denying any wrongdoing and claiming active U.S. government support.

Jonathan K. Idema, Brett Bennett and Edward Caraballo were arrested when Afghan security forces raided a house in Kabul on July 5. American and Afghan officials say they were vigilantes posing as U.S. special forces and had no official backing.

Appearing before a three-judge panel in a national security court, the three listened quietly to the charges including hostage-taking and torture, and as three of their ex-detainees described how they were beaten, doused with boiling water and deprived of food.

The Americans didn't testify. But Idema said afterward that the abuse allegations were invented. He also said he was in regular phone and e-mail contact with Pentagon officials "at the highest level."

Speaking to reporters crowding round the dock, Idema named a Pentagon official who allegedly asked the group to go "under contract" -- an offer they refused.

"The American authorities absolutely condoned what we did, they absolutely supported what we did," he said.

The trial comes at an awkward time for American officials trying to contain a widening scandal over abuse in official U.S. military prisons in Afghanistan and Iraq.

An official from the U.S. Embassy observed the trial but declined to comment on the proceedings, where only one of the Americans was represented by a lawyer.

Presiding Judge Abdul Baset Bakhtyari adjourned the case for at least two weeks to give the Americans and four Afghans accused of helping them more time to prepare their defense.

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Guest saintjohn

it was only a matter of time before karma kicked keith idema's ass. i hope some of the other paramilitary parasites in the region pay attention.

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Guest pod

There's a lot of private contractors going nuts in Afghanistan and Iraq right now.

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Guest saintjohn

there are a lot of good people working as security contractors in the region (i'm acquainted with several, actually), but there are some bad apples, too. these particular creeps have always posed as secret squirrel super soldiers, but, despite his outlandish claims, idema was never more than a rigger attached to an army special forces support unit. he left the service, started his own tactical gear business, and was eventually convicted of various fraud-related felonies. the real warriors in the special operations community have rightfully scorned him and his various scams for years. i'm delighted that he's in serious trouble.

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