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Congressman protests punishment of soldiers who confronted alleged child rapist

Congressman protests punishment of soldiers who confronted alleged child rapist
Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Alpine), a former Marine officer, has blasted the Army for its treatment of two soldiers after they confronted an Afghan police commander suspected of raping a boy. (Carolyn Kaster / Associated Press)

Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Alpine) is demanding that the Army overturn the punishment meted out to two Special Forces soldiers after they stood up to an Afghan commander who kept a young boy as a "sex slave."

Hunter, who served in Iraq and Afghanistan as a Marine officer, has blasted the treatment of Sgt. 1st Class Charles Martland and Capt. Danny Quinn after they had an angry confrontation with an Afghan police commander.

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Martland admits hitting the commander after he found that the commander had repeatedly raped an 11-year-old boy and beaten the boy's mother, Hunter said in letters to Defense Secy. Ashton Carter and the inspector general of the Department of Defense, Jon Rymer.

Martland concedes his conduct was wrong, Hunter said.

Martland is being forced out of the Army, effective Nov. 1, after 11 years. Quinn lost his command and resigned.

"To intervene was a moral decision," Hunter wrote Carter, "and Martland and his Special Forces team felt they had no choice but to respond."

Carter has not answered Hunter's letter, a spokesman for the congressman said.

But an Army colonel this week was quoted in the Daily Beast news website saying of Martland and Quinn, "They put their team's life at risk by doing what they did, by risking catastrophic loss of rapport" with local Afghan officials.

Hunter responded: "To say that you've got to be nice to the child rapist because otherwise the other child rapists might not like you is one of the stupidest things I've ever heard — totally insane and wrong."

The issue of Afghan men exploiting boys is not new. There is a crass joke about it in the 2007 movie "Charlie Wilson's War," about covert U.S. military efforts in Afghanistan during the Soviet occupation.

A recent story in the New York Times asserted that U.S. military personnel in Afghanistan have been ordered to ignore instances of children being molested by adults. The top U.S. general in Afghanistan said that no such order exists.

The practice of men sexually abusing young boys is known as "bacha bazi," which translates to "boy play," the paper said.

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