Sunday, December 13, 2015

Much evidence counts against official account of US attack on Kunduz hospital

The official account of the October 3 bombing of a hospital in Kunduz by a U.S. gunship claims it was a mistake. Through a series of unlikely mishaps the hospital was attacked rather than a compound some distance away held by the Taliban.

General John Campbell explained that the "tragic but avoidable accident was caused primarily by human error." The attack killed 13 Doctors Without Borders(MSF) staff members, 10 patients and seven others not yet indentified, 30 in all. More than three dozen MSF staff members and patients were injured as well. The hospital was destroyed leaving several hundred thousand in the area without any access to emergency care.
As long ago as October 11, I argued that the evidence pointed to the attack being an error in intelligence rather than in the targeting. The recent official explanation is contradicted by much of the evidence and simply ignores factors important in understanding what happened making itdifficult to believe. A critical view was also taken by many analysts.
From the first, MSF has called for an independent investigation through the International Humanitarian Fact-Finding Commission(IHFFC) and began the process of initiating the investigation, but any such investigation needs to be approved by both the Afghans and the U.S.:Now that the call to mobilize the IHFFC has been answered, we are calling for the United States and the Obama administration to consent to the IHFFC investigation into the Kunduz hospital bombing, as it must before a truly impartial truth-seeking investigation can be launched.So far both the U.S. and Afghans have resisted this independent inquiry. MSF recently delivered a petition signed by 547,000 to the White House. The petition demands an independent investigation into the deadly U.S. strike on the Kunduz hospital in Afghanistan.
The petition is particularly apt now that there is new evidence against the official story. In a letter to Defense Secretary Ashton Carter, California Republican Duncan Hunter, who serves on the House Armed Services Committee, has quoted two U.S. servicemen as saying U.S. Special Forces called in the air strike because they believed the Taliban were using it as a command center, directly contradicting the official narrative that the attack was intended to be on a different building. Hunter claimed this new account, if true, shows the U.S. was manipulated by its partners. A Pentagon spokesperson acknowledged receipt of the letter but the department had no comment. The two servicemen said they were not aware that the building was still being used as a hospital and claimed the Afghans forces told them it was being used as a command post by the Taliban. One of the servicemen is quoted as saying: "There were enemy in there. They had already removed and ransomed the foreign doctors, and they had fired on partnered personnel from there." This account resembles an early account that was soon denied by NATO officials after MSF and independent witnesses refuted it. Hunter in his letter wrote that he worried "inaccurate information and poor intelligence was provided by Afghan forces--including information that was both incorrect and unverified by US intelligence and personnel." Hunter's letter ignores the fact that U.S. intelligence had been itself investigating the hospital for come time. It was not just the Afghans who thought that the hospital was being used by the enemy. The US thought that a top Pakistani intelligence operative was inside and had been monitoring the hospital days before the raid. One report claims:The special operations analysts had assembled a dossier that included maps with the hospital circled, along with indications that intelligence agencies were tracking the location of the Pakistani operative and activity reports based on overhead surveillance, according to a former intelligence official who is familiar with some of the documents describing the site. The intelligence suggested the hospital was being used as a Taliban command and control center and may have housed heavy weapons.
No wonder that the Afghans and U.S. do not want an independent investigation but will stay with their own concoction even in the face of its many critics.


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