The Daily Rundown | March 12, 2012
>> well, u.s. troops are bracing for a backlash, as word of sunday's massacre spreads across afghanistan . afghan president karzai called it an assassination and intentional killing of innocents that cannot be forgiven. the taliban has vowed revenge. atia bowie is live for us. i know your weekend reporting indicated this news has actually been traveling very slowly across afghanistan . and so far, there hasn't been this same type of rioting essentially that we had seen before after the quran incident. what can you report this morning? this.
>> reporter: hi there, chuck. that's a good observation you made, even with the quran burnings, it did take a day or two until the word spread throughout the country and the crowds came out protesting against it. we are waiting to see what happens here. the american government , the other embassies throughout afghanistan on edge right now. a notice went out to u.s. citizens within the country to be careful of the backlash that may come from these shootings and these killings. and i'm telling you, chuck, i've seen some of the pictures. when these pictures get out of these young children with bullet holes through their heads going out to different parts of afghanistan , it's not going to bode well to the westerners and the americans throughout afghanistan . we do expect to see protests. we do expect people to step up and speak up. and unfortunately, we expect some violence, as well. already, the parliament in afghanistan decided toel call the day off today and instead they have demanded that a delegation head down to the district where these killings occurred to investigate exactly what happened, because right now, the news is that there was one shooter. but there are afghans who are saying there was more than one shooter, which is obviously going to cause more uproar throughout the afghan communities.
>> and atia , i know it was president karzai that started bringing up this conspiracy that it may have been more than one shooter in his initial reaction. has he backed off of that?
>> reporter: well, the initial report said it was more than one shooter came from afghans within the villages that were attacked. some say there was one shooter, others say there are other soldiers they saw. there is a bit of confusion, were there soldiers that came out to look for this one soldier? right now it's a situation we're not -- neither nato or the afghan government can confirm what happened. but president karzai in his release yesterday referred that possibly more than one shooter, but then reminded that it was an individual act. although he did say it was an unforgivable and intentional act. chuck?
>> all right, atia abawi, thanks very much. i want to bring in msnbc news military analyst retired army colonel jack jacobs . there seems to be a number of questions here.
>> . the first thing obviously is this appears to be one madman inside the u.s. military . at the same time, when you look at an incident like this, the impact that it has on everybody else serving. give me your reaction.
>> well, when you have a large number of americans in one place like afghanistan , anything any of -- any of them does is going to affect, a., the mission, and b., in which the american mission there is viewed. so clearly, this is going to have repercussions. i think it's moving slowly across afghanistan , at least partially because this happened in a very remote area. unlike the burnings of the qurans. so i think you can anticipate a lot of problems going forward. especially in small regions where there's a large concentration of americans trying to convince the afghans to defend themselves.
>> colonel, from what you've heard about this incident, and from what you understand, i guess another question i have, how does a soldier like this, this staff sergeant, make it off of -- make it off-base like this by himself?
>> well, very easy. he just leaves. but that brings up a really, really significant question that's going to require a great deal of explanation. when you have people who are living together 100% of the time, as troops do, and you are supervised by somebody who is with you 100% of the time, there is no way you're going to avoid picking up signals that somebody has a problem. a good comparison is a major hasan who killed 13 people at ft. hood in 2009 . his supervisors had known for a long time, and even committed to paper the fact that the guy was irresponsible, that there were some problems. he couldn't be trusted and so on. when you're close to somebody, and when you're charged with the responsibility of supervising somebody, there is no way that something like this is going to come as a big surprise. so --
>> you know --
>> they're going to look at the supervisors, too.
>> right. this morning general mccaffrey brought up another point. he said -- and, again, he was speculating here a little bit, because we don't know exactly how the staff sergeant was recruited into the military. but he said if there was a point about ten years ago when the requirements -- the mental checks, the mental stability checks that were put into place for some of these soldiers were lower, essentially. the standards were lowered, and there were a lot of folks let in that maybe in hindsight shouldn't have been let in. do you buy this?
>> yes, i do. some years ago, about 100% of our soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines have high school diplomas and now fewer do. general mccaffrey makes a good point and that is when you have a country of over 300 million people with worldwide responsibilities, you cannot possibly defend it with the very small number of brave young americans who volunteer for services. it's just not going to work. and as a result, you're going to have to lower standards, even though we're lowering the requirement of people, the number of people who we want on active duty for budgetary reasons. it's still extremely difficult to recruit top-grade people in this kind of environment. he's absolutely right. and i think you're liable to see more difficulties of this type, because we don't have adequate supervision and the requisite quality of people in the service. having said that, we've got lots of good people. but some people are not properly supervised.
>> and let me ask you about one more piece of information that's come out of this, which the idea that this is -- this gentleman's fourth tour of duty , and not to make an excuse, this is a rampage, there is no excuse for what he did. four tours of duty in the last ten years. this is -- there have been military experts that have been warning that maybe the military just wasn't properly preparing these soldiers for the type of long-term mental -- the mental toughness you need to withstand four tours of duty like this.
>> well, it does sound like an excuse. and there is no excuse for this kind of behavior. but there is a strain that's put on both individuals in units, particularly families, when you send people overseas for extended periods of time for multiple tours. having said that, those of us who are close to people in the military know rangers and s.e.a.l.s and lots of other people who had many more tours and much more time away from home than this guy has had. you're right, it's not an excuse, but you're not going to be able to defend the country, like i said, of this size, with so few people.
>> colonel jack jacobs , thanks for coming on and providing your expertise and experience.