by Stephen Lendman
America considers civilians legitimate targets in all its wars of aggression. Fundamental laws of war prohibit attacking them – ignored in all US combat operations.
CENTCOM lied, calling its October 3, 2015 bombing of the Kunduz, Afghanistan Doctors Without Borders (MSF) hospital a “tragic incident.”
It turned truth on its head, claiming “personnel involved did not know that they were striking a medical facility. The intended target was an insurgent-controlled site which was approximately 400 meters away…”
CENTCOM commander General Joseph Votel willfully lied, claiming US forces “had no idea” they were attacking a medical facility.
False! CENTCOM knew it was an MSF hospital, yet ordered the attack anyway, falsely claiming it was used as a Taliban command and control center – before acknowledging otherwise.
Dozens of doctors, other medical staff and patients were massacred in cold blood, many others injured, victims of US imperial viciousness.
MSF provided CENTCOM and Afghan authorities with precise hospital coordinates several times. While under attack, it informed their authorities about what was happening, the facility struck multiples times for over an hour with precision weapons – a war crime by any standard.
MSF called the attack an “abhorrent and a grave violation of international humanitarian law. (A) war crime (was) committed.”
The Pentagon denied MSF’s demand for an independent investigation into what happened – conducted its own to whitewash mass murder.
CENTCOM’s report acknowledged violations of rules of engagement and laws of war breaches, while at the same time denying culpability for an indisputable high crime.
Votel said more than a dozen US servicemen were disciplined for what happened, meaningless wrist slaps at most. None face criminal charges for deliberate mass murder. Coverup and denial reflect longstanding Pentagon practice.
CENTCOM’s commander willfully lied, saying “(t)he investigation found that the incident resulted from a combination of unintentional human errors, process errors and equipment failures, and that none of the personnel knew they were striking a hospital.”
“The trauma center was a protected facility but it was misidentified during this engagement.” It was on a “no strike” list, its precise location known, yet willfully attacked anyway without just cause.
In response to CENTCOM’s whitewash, MSF’s Meinie Nicolai called Votel’s briefing “an admission of an uncontrolled military operation in a densely populated urban area.”
“It is incomprehensible that, under the circumstances described by the US, the attack was not called off.”
“The threshold that must be crossed for this deadly incident to amount to a grave breach of international humanitarian law is not whether it was intentional or not.”
“(A)rmed groups cannot escape their responsibilities on the battlefield simply by ruling out the intent to attack a protected structure such as a hospital.”
“(V)ictims and their families have neither the option to pursue legal action (for justice) nor claim compensation for loss of life and livelihood.”
America commits war crimes with impunity in all its theaters of conflict. US warplanes destroyed or damaged several Syrian and Iraqi hospitals along with numerous nonmilitary related sites, these actions continuing on a regular basis.
Pentagon coverup and denial doesn’t wash. Repeated high crimes go unpunished – naked aggression without mercy most of all, attacking nonbelligerent nations threatening no one, raping and destroying them, the highest of high crimes.
NYT editors disgracefully called mass murdering and injuring dozens of MSF doctors, medical staff and patients a mistake, a catastrophe, “gross negligence,” and war zone blunder – failing to condemn a willful war crime and demand full accountability.
They ludicrously cited Pentagon officials claiming “they acted promptly to retrain all troops in Afghanistan about the rules for using deadly force and…have taken precautions” to avoid repeat incidents.
They continue on a regular basis in all US war theaters. Mass civilian casualties don’t matter, considered a small price to pay to advance America’s imperium – an agenda the NYT wholeheartedly endorses.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”
Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.
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