HTS “Contractor” Who Murdered Afghan, Now in Custody, Awaiting Trial (plus Stanton’s sixth article on the Human Terrain System)

UPDATED Nov. 21-22, 2008:

See the formal indictment here.

and see

Contractor who shot Afghan stands trial
November 20, 2008

DOD contractor charged in death of Afghan man
Jeff Schogol
Stars and Stripes, November 22, 2008

U.S. charges defense contractor with Afghan killing
Matthew Barakat
Associated Press, November 20, 2008

Contractor Charged With Murder in Afghan’s Death
By Jerry Markon
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, November 20, 2008; Page B05

U.S. Contractor Charged with Slaying
UPI, November 20, 2008

U.S. contractor charged in Afghan’s death
Adam Levine
CNN, November 20, 2008

Army ‘Human Terrain’ Contractor Charged with Murder
November 20, 2008


This is the newest and sixth article on the Human Terrain System by John Stanton. Previous articles by John Stanton on the Human Terrain System can be found here, here, here, here, and here. It is reproduced on this blog with the permission of the author.

My question arising from this article is this: Why has Ayala, a foreign civilian charged with murdering an Afghan, not been turned over to the allegedly sovereign government of Afghanistan? Has the government of Afghanistan agreed to have foreign civilians who can be armed and who can pursue local targets? In fact, how is the government of Afghanistan involved in any way with this case?

Stanton seems to be sympathetic to the plight of Ayala. I can certainly understand the irrational rage that would have overcome Ayala having seen his colleague set on fire. I can certainly understand the rage of the Afghan who set Paula Loyd on fire. While the latter appears to have been a premeditated attack (possibly by a child if one believes Taliban claims), I doubt that Ayala engaged in cold-blooded calculation, although there appears to now be reason to believe that. Ayala was clearly wrong to act, and the soldiers that presumably were in the company of this Human Terrain Team were wrong not to stop him, assuming that they did nothing to impede him. Ayala has murdered an Afghan civilian, in what may in fact be a war crime, and there is no way that he can be released until justice is served.


17 November, 2008

Guantanamo Treatment for US Civilian Human Terrain Team Member

by John Stanton

Don Ayala of Human Terrain Team AF‐4 Blue is being held in detention at Bagram AB in Afghanistan under excruciating circumstances. The Commanding General, Major General Jeffrey Schloesser, 101st Airborne Division and Lieutenant Colonel Roger Neil reportedly control Ayala’s legal fate and are responsible for the quality of Ayala’s treatment while incarcerated. According to sources, Ayala is receiving treatment akin to that of Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, enemy combatants. He is apparently being denied limited or any form of due process under US military or US civilian law.

Ayala is imprisoned, according to sources, for allegedly tracking down, shooting and killing an Afghani national that doused fellow Human Terrain Team member Paula Loyd with flammable liquid and set her to flames. They report that Ayala is being kept in solitary confinement in a cage, not a cell, that does not meet US military or US federal government standards. Ayala is reportedly in leg irons and is harassed nightly by non‐military police personnel assigned by 101st Airborne Command.

Ayala was allegedly held for four days before being allowed to talk to his lawyer or anyone in his chain of command. He has not been allowed to use shower facilities on a consistent basis, sometimes as long as a three day period. He is not allowed any exercise, socialization or entertainment privileges and remains under a 24‐hour‐a‐day watch.

Sources allege that the fair hearing to determine confinement or protective custody was pure theater. They also indicate that the US military may have no legal jurisdiction over Ayala due to details involved in deployment and chain‐of‐command orders.

Reportedly the US Department of Justice (USDOJ) has the ability to assert jurisdiction. USDOJ has thirty days from incident report date in order to do so or the case will remain in the lap of the US military. Sources indicate that Ayala has not been assigned military counsel (due to venue matters) and the cognizant military magistrate determined that he should remain incarcerated at Bagram AB.

Human Terrain System management has derailed and wrecked the train. When will they be held accountable?

John Stanton is a Virginia based writer specializing in political in national security matters. Reach him at

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15 thoughts on “HTS “Contractor” Who Murdered Afghan, Now in Custody, Awaiting Trial (plus Stanton’s sixth article on the Human Terrain System)

  1. Sam

    I hadn’t read the previous entries until this post. I’ve been vaguely following your blog for a couple of months now, but now I’m going to stop. I actually generally agree with your takes on imperialism, etc., but was pretty bothered by your treatment of your commenters. As someone who has had REAL trolls, I was pretty unimpressed by your judgment of them. While they clearly disagreed with you, they didn’t call you names as you did them (who’s the troll?), and I would LOVE to have such people comment on my blog with the sort of opportunity for discussion that brings with it. It is, I think, one of the coolest things ABOUT the internet medium.

    So, given that I’ve said that I was bothered, you probably don’t want me reading or commenting either (given what you said about Mary), and you’re more than welcome to delete this. It’s more to you personally than intended as a public statement.

    I could, of course, keep reading you anyway, but feeling like any dissenting opinion is unwelcome really poisoned my experience of your posts, so I’ve decided not to. I’m telling you because, were I in your place, I’d want to know. I hope this isn’t too unwelcome, but that’s what the delete button is for.

  2. Maximilian Forte

    “While they clearly disagreed with you, they didn’t call you names as you did them”

    Well, you’re wrong, so you have not been reading closely. When someone calls me an “asshole” I can react as I please, and if that displeases you then so be it.

    I think you expect that dissent will be more than just welcomed, it will be applauded. I am not required to agree with anyone who posts on this blog, and I am absolutely not here to please any and everyone.


  3. Mark Johnson

    Hi Max

    This is the first comment I am posting here because I was prompted by what “Sam” said. I actually do read your blog and I mean I really read it. Sam has ADD or just can’t read, because your treatment of guests has almost always been very positive, respectful, and gentlemanly.

    Guests who abuse this blog or try to shut down opposing views, like they did with Mary, or who disrespect you personally don’t win the right to any respect in return. It’s simple, Sam should have figured this out on his own but was too lazy and one sided to bother.

    Sam can go. I’m staying. Thanks for this blog and all the great posts.

  4. Maximilian Forte

    Thanks very much Mark and it’s a pleasure to know you are “out there.” Sam of course meant his message to be a public statement (or he would have sent it to me by email), and I am happy to oblige. He might have noticed that this blog allows anyone to comment freely, and that he was treated with respect. What he wanted to do was to jump right in without having done his homework first, so his comment was unwarranted and his allegation baseless. Frankly, I can do very well without that kind of “attention”, I am not in this as part of some numbers game.

    I am glad that you appreciate this blog. Those who don’t can go elsewhere, right?

    Anyway Mark, thanks again, and now that you have posted your first comment please feel very free to post again.

  5. Mark Johnson

    It’s funny that you said in a post yesterday that the trolls would do a vanishing trick. They actually did. You would think they decided to show up as soon as they figured nobody was around to mind the store, lol.

  6. Maximilian Forte

    Thanks again Mark,

    because I can see Sam’s little attempt at what some might call conversational terrorism, and what I would normally call the hypocrisy of the conservative (he pretends that he appreciates my “take” on imperialism in the meantime, which if it were true would mean that he understood the responses, which he did not).

    The hypocrisy is this:
    He could have taken my own responses as if they had been feedback that he had received on his own blog. His approach is to say: enough, I am going, I hate this. He obviously does not practice himself what he preaches so freely to others. Otherwise, by his own standards, he should have been cherishing, welcoming, and supporting my reply. Instead, he ran away, the equivalent of hitting delete. So much for his principles.

    Don’t worry though, I don’t cater to those types, ever. This is not a classroom, this is not a meeting in a university, this is my blog, this is my time. Some of these dopes figure that all academics are some variety of eunuch, at all times and in all situations, and that even if not castrated then we must have some parent or legal guardian to hold our dicks while we piss.

  7. Mark Johnson

    those guys were probably surprised they would get opposition. They’re probably not used to it so they decide to find a way to shut you up somehow. Which is kinda dumb considering you wouldn’t even have a blog if you didn’t have something to say.

    Can I reach you by email? I want to chat about setting up a blog.

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  11. Scoobage

    A contractor avenges the murder of liberal left social scientist (by person she is trying to help) Loyd (who criticized bad contractor behavior/demanded action in defense of target muslim population), for which he is held in a cage in shackles, faces a federal life sentence while victim Loyd’s fellow liberals excoriate him as a murderer…we are so dekcuf as a nation: one step forward, two steps back.

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