Two months ago, U.S. Special Operations forces led an assault on what they claimed to be a militant hideout in Paktiya Province, Afghanistan. Three civilian women were killed in the raid, two of them pregnant, along with two civilian men.
NATO's International Security Assistance Force admitted later that the two men were non-combatants. As for the women, ISAF claimed that they were killed hours before the assault. Who killed the women? Their bound and gagged corpses, NATO stated, indicated an "honor killing" by other members of the family.
Last weekend, we learned the truth. No such "honor killing" was responsible for the three women's death. The women were, in fact, killed by US troops, along with the two men.
Nor was the raid was on a militant compound. It was, in fact, a fatal assault on a family celebrating the birth of a newborn child.
That revelation would be alarming enough on its own. But it gets worse - far worse.
NATO now acknowledges that an Afghan forensics team found possible signs of evidence-tampering at the location of the raid. Bullets had been removed from walls following the assault, as well as from the corpses of the women themselves.
This bears repeating: In order to sustain the fabricated story that the three women were killed by their own relatives and not by U.S. troops, Special Operations personnel may have dug bullets out of walls and bodies, washing the wounds of the latter out with alcohol, to remove evidence of the truth from the scene.
In other words, U.S. troops may have engaged in a cover-up.
How did we come to learn the truth of what happened in Paktiya Province? Only because a single, intrepid reporter from the Times of London, Jerome Starkey, stubbornly refused to take NATO's and the Pentagon's version of events as fact, engaged in real investigative reporting, and refused to yield even when the Pentagon publicly smeared him for doing his job.
Had there been no Jerome Starkey, NATO's account of the three women having been killed by their own relatives would have gone down in the history books as fact. Nothing would have been known of the troops having engaged in evidence tampering for the purpose of concealing a crime - a charge that in the U.S. can land you in prison for up to 20 years.
We need more reporters like Jerome Starkey. We need more organizations like WikiLeaks. We need more independent media to reveal the truth, as the mainstream media becomes more and more co-opted with every passing year.