ACTION ALERT: Hold the Pentagon Accountable for
The Drone Strike that Killed 10 Innocent Afghan Civilians
(November 7, 2021) — On August 29, 10 members of the Ahmadi family, seven of them children, were killed by a US drone strike in Kabul, Afghanistan.
How was the Pentagon held accountable for this horrific crime?
They weren’t. The Pentagon investigated itself for killing 10 innocent civilians and found no negligence and no need for disciplinary action.
This cannot stand. The Ahmadi family and all innocent civilians who have been killed by US drone strikes need justice.
ACTION: Sign your name to call on Congressman Adam Smith, Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee and Senator Jack Reed, Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee to conduct an independent investigation into this horrific crime.
Dear Chairman Smith and Reed,
On August 29, 10 members of the Ahmadi family, seven of them children, were killed by a US drone strike in Kabul, Afghanistan.
The media has been reporting that a “watchdog” has concluded an “independent” investigation that the Pentagon did nothing wrong in a drone strike that killed 10 innocent civilians. What they fail to mention is that this “watchdog” was Air Force Lt. Gen. Sami Said. That’s not an independent investigation — the US Air Force is a branch of the US Military!
As Chairman of the House and Senate Armed Services Committees, you each have the power to call for a truly independent investigation into this horrific crime that killed 10 innocent civilians, seven of them children.
The Ahmadi family and the American public deserve to know how this happened and who will face consequences for killing 10 innocent people, especially given that whistleblower Daniel Hale was sent to Federal prison in July for releasing government documents that addressed the same faulty intelligence and other problems inherent to the US drone program that led to the August 29th attack.
The Pentagon must be called upon by people around the world and by the US Congress to make public all of the communications and logs, including communications with the White House, pertaining to the August 29, 2021 drone attack.
I’m calling on you, Congressman Adam Smith and Senator Jack Reed, to initiate a truly independent investigation into what many international human rights lawyers have said clearly violates international law.
Pentagon Investigates: Clears Itself in Murder of Afghan Family
Pentagon Fnds No Misconduct in Mistaken Afghan Airstrike
Lolita C. Baldor / Associated Press
An independent Pentagon review concludes
US drone strike that killed Kabul civilians and children
was not caused by misconduct or negligence.
WASHINGTON (November 3, 2021) — An independent Pentagon review has concluded that the US drone strike that killed innocent Kabul civilians and children in the final days of the Afghanistan war was not caused by misconduct or negligence, and it doesn’t recommend any disciplinary action.
The review, done by Air Force Lt. Gen. Sami Said, found there were breakdowns in communication and in the process of identifying and confirming the target of the bombing. Said concluded that the mistaken strike happened despite prudent measures to prevent civilian deaths.
“I found that given the information they had and the analysis that they did — I understand they reached the wrong conclusion, but … was it reasonable to conclude what they concluded based on what they had? It was not unreasonable. It just turned out to be incorrect,” Said said. He is the inspector general of the Air Force and is considered independent as he had no direct connection to Afghanistan operations.
His review said the drone strike must be considered in the context of the moment, as US forces under stress were being flooded by information about threats to troops and civilians at the Kabul airport, just days after a deadly suicide bombing. Thousands of Afghans were swarming the airport, trying to get out of the country following the Taliban takeover.
Said found that better communication between those making the strike decision and other support personnel might have raised more doubts about the bombing, but in the end may not have prevented it.
Said was asked to investigate the Aug. 29 drone strike on a white Toyota Corolla sedan, which killed Zemerai Ahmadi and nine family members, including seven children. Ahmadi, 37, was a longtime employee of an American humanitarian organization.
The intelligence about the car and its potential threat came just days after an Islamic State suicide bomber killed 13 US troops and 169 Afghans at a Kabul airport gate. The US was working to evacuate thousands of Americans, Afghans and other allies in the wake of the collapse of the country’s government.
Said concluded that US forces genuinely believed that the car they were following was an imminent threat and that they needed to strike it before it got closer to the airport.
“They all have a genuine belief based on the information they had and the interpretation, that that was a threat to US forces, an imminent threat to US forces,” he told reporters during a Pentagon briefing. “That’s a mistake. It’s a regrettable mistake. It’s an honest mistake. I understand the consequences, but it’s not criminal conduct, random conduct, negligence.”
He said repeated reviews of the video from that day showed that two minutes before the strike was launched, there was evidence that a child was in the strike zone.
Said, who said he watched the video himself, said troops in the strike cell did not see the child.
“I’m just saying it is 100% not obvious,” he said. “You have to be like, no kidding, looking for it. But when you’re looking for it, certainly after the fact, if you ask me, was there evidence of the presence? Yes, there was.”
Steven Kwon, president of Nutrition and Education International, which employed Ahmadi, said he was deeply disappointed in the review.
“According to the Inspector General, there was a mistake but no one acted wrongly, and I’m left wondering, how can that be?” Kwon said in a statement. “Clearly, good military intentions are not enough when the outcome is 10 precious Afghan civilian lives lost and reputations ruined.”
The report, which has been endorsed by Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, made several recommendations that have been passed on to commanders at US Central Command and US Special Operations Command. The review recommends that more be done to prevent what military officials call “confirmation bias” — the idea that troops making the strike decision were too quick to conclude that what they were seeing aligned with the intelligence and confirmed their conclusion to bomb what turned out to be the wrong car.
Specifically, the review said the military should have personnel present with a strike team, and their job should be to actively question such conclusions. The report says using a so-called “red-team” in such self-defense strikes that are being done quickly might help avoid errors.
Said also recommended that the military improve its procedures to ensure that children and other innocent civilians are not present before launching a time-sensitive strike.
Those changes, he said, could “go a long way to greatly mitigate the risk of this happening again” in these types of rapidly moving, self-defense strikes.
For days after the strike, Pentagon officials asserted that it had been conducted correctly, despite mounting reports that multiple civilians and children had died and growing doubts that the car contained explosives. Said’s review concluded that officials made their initial assessments too quickly and did not do enough analysis.
While Said’s report does not find individual fault or recommend discipline, he said commanders may decide to take administrative actions once they review his report. He said commanders may look at the report and determine that there was “subpar performance” and decide to decredential, retrain or fire personnel.
“You should not perceive the fact that I didn’t call any individual out with accountability that it does not mean that the chain of command won’t,” he said.
The US is working to pay financial reparations to the family, and potentially get them out of Afghanistan, but nothing has been finalized.
A second defense official said Austin has asked that Gen. Frank McKenzie, head of US Central Command, and Gen. Richard Clarke, head of US Special Operations Command, come back to him with recommendations for changes to address the gaps.
Said’s review mirrors many of the findings outlined by McKenzie several weeks after the investigation.
The Central Command review found that US forces tracked the car for about eight hours and launched the strike in an “earnest belief” — based on a standard of “reasonable certainty” — that it posed an imminent threat to American troops at Kabul airport. The car was believed to have been carrying explosives in its trunk.
The airstrike was the last in a US war that ended just days later, as the final American troops flew out of Kabul airport, leaving the Taliban in power.
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