US War Crimes in Afghanistan and the Fucking MSM
A US-led NATO military coalition bombed a hospital run by international humanitarian aid organization Doctors Without Borders (known internationally as Medecins Sans Frontières, MSF) in Afghanistan, killing at least 22 people—12 staff members and 10 patients, including three children—and wounding 37 more. AFP, the first network to report the story, in the early hours of October 3, quoted NATO saying, “US forces conducted an air strike in Kunduz city…. The strike may have resulted in collateral damage to a nearby medical facility.” MSF promptly issued a statement (10/3/15), revealing that it had been “hit several times during sustained bombing and was very badly damaged.”
In an update hours later, MSF said it “condemns in the strongest possible terms the horrific bombing of its hospital in Kunduz, which was full of staff and patients.” The humanitarian organization also indicated multiple times—and in bold capital letters—that “all parties to the conflict, including in Kabul and Washington, were clearly informed of the precise location (GPS Coordinates) of the MSF facilities in Kunduz, including the hospital, guesthouse, office and an outreach stabilization unit.”
MSF says the US “repeatedly and precisely” hit the hospital. Morever, the aid group explained that the “bombing in Kunduz continued for more than 30 minutes after American and Afghan military officials in Kabul and Washington were first informed by MSF that its hospital was struck.” That is to say, the US persisted in bombing a hospital that it explicitly knew before and during the attack was a hospital.
If you read US corporate media coverage of this incident, however, US culpability would likely not be evident. Instead, readers would learn that a hospital was bombed in Afghanistan, and that people died. Who exactly carried out the bombing would not be clear.(snip)
The New York Times completely rewrote and changed the title of its report on the bombing seven times. Early on, the Times published an article headlined “Airstrike Hits Hospital in Afghanistan, Killing at Least 9.” Minutes later, it changed the headline to “Airstrike Hits Doctors Without Borders Hospital in Afghanistan.” Two hours after, it became “Afghan Hospital Hit by Airstrike, Pentagon Says.” Then “US Investigates After Bombs Hit Afghan Hospital,” before finalizing as “US Is Blamed After Bombs Hit Afghan Hospital.”
The New York Times completely rewrote and changed the title of its report on the bombing seven times. Early on October 3, the Times published an article headlined “Airstrike Hits Hospital in Afghanistan, Killing at Least 9.” Minutes later, it changed the headline to “Airstrike Hits Doctors Without Borders Hospital in Afghanistan.” Two hours after, it became “Afghan Hospital Hit by Airstrike, Pentagon Says.” Then “US Investigates After Bombs Hit Afghan Hospital,” before finalizing as “US Is Blamed After Bombs Hit Afghan Hospital.” The over 20 versions of the article published in the Times‘ website can be seen at the website NewsDiffs, which monitors edits to pieces published in large new outlets. Because the Times changed the web URL for the article when changing the headlines, there are three separate entries on NewsDiffs.
Striking, too, are the similarities to US reporting on Israeli airstrikes. In order to justify bombing hospitals in Gaza, the US-backed Israeli government often claims Palestinian militants use the medical facilities as bases. Israel’s military—which has itself used human shields many times—then says it is justified to bomb hospitals, UN shelters and other civilians areas. US ally and NATO member Turkey borrowed Israel’s hasbara (public relations) tactic and claimed the same about leftist Kurdish militants in order to justify its killing of Kurdish civilians. The Wall Street Journal (10/4/15) boldly steered clear of any posturing and openly justified the US bombing of the hospital. The unsigned editorial justified the mass killing of MSF aid workers by shifting the blame onto the Taliban insurgents. It even brought up the specter of Hamas, writing, “Like Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah in Lebanon, the terrorists hide near civilians. These Taliban tactics put the medical personnel and patients at risk.” The piece waxes poetic, and hagiographic; in a moment of undiluted American exceptionalism on blast, the Journal claimed that “no force in the history of warfare has done more to avoid civilian casualties than the American military.”
There isn’t actually any question that the U.S. military intentionally targeted what it knew to be a hospital. The only mystery is really how colorful, blood-thirsty, and racist the language was in the cockpit. Left in the dark, we will tend to assume the worst, since past revelations have usually measured up to that standard.
For those of you working to compel police officers in the United States to wear body cameras, it’s worth noting that the U.S. military already has them. The planes record their acts of murder. Even the unmanned planes, the drones, record video of their victims before, during, and after murdering them. These videos are not turned over to any grand juries or legislators or the people of the “democracy” for which so many people and places are being blown into little bits.
Law professors that measure up to the standards of Congressional hearings on kill lists never seem to ask for the videos; they always ask for the legal memos that make the drone murders around the world part of a war and therefore acceptable. Because in wars, they imply, all is fair. Doctors Without Borders, on the other hand, declares that even in wars there are rules. Actually, in life there are rules, and one of them is that war is a crime. It’s a crime under the U.N. Charter and under the Kellogg-Briand Pact, and when one mass-murder out of millions makes the news, we ought to seize that opportunity to draw attention, outrage, and criminal prosecution to all the others.
UPDATE 2 (10/16/15):
A US tank has forced its way into the shell of the Afghanistan hospital destroyed in an airstrike 11 days ago, prompting warnings that the US military may have destroyed evidence in a potential war crimes investigation.
Kunduz hospital patients 'burned in beds … even wars have rules', says MSF chief The 3 October attack on the Médécins sans Frontières (MSF) hospital in Kunduz killed 10 patients and 12 staff members of the group. In a statement on Thursday, the medical charity, also known as Doctors Without Borders, said they were informed after Thursday’s “intrusion” that the tank was carrying investigators from a US-Nato-Afghan team which is investigating the attack. “Their unannounced and forced entry damaged property, destroyed potential evidence and caused stress and fear,” MSF said.
The Pentagon did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the reported intrusion, which came as new evidence emerged that US forces operating in the area at the time of the attack knew that the facility was a hospital. US special operations analysts were gathering intelligence on the hospital days before the attack, because they believed a Pakistani operative was using it as his base, according to areport by the Associated Press citing an unnamed former intelligence official. The analysts had mapped the area and drawn a circle around the hospital, the official was quoted as saying. The Pakistani man, described both as a Taliban suspect and as a worker for the Pakistani Inter-Service Intelligence directorate, was killed in the attack, the official told the AP.
"The bombardment of a hospital is a too-frequent 'accident'. It's also a war crime"-- Bernard Kouchner
Of the nearly 200 patients and staff inside the hospital at the time of the attack, more than three dozen were wounded, said MSF, which has called the attack a violation of the Geneva Conventions and a war crime. The group has said some patients burned to death in their beds.
Several investigations of the attack are considering whether the separate American teams involved – special operations analysts, intelligence community officers, the military command that ordered the strike – knew the facility was a hospital, whether they gave warning of a strike and what was happening on the ground at the time.
It is unclear whether the analysts’ knowledge that the facility was a hospital was shared by the command that launched the attack. MSF said GPS coordinates identifying the hospital had been shared with US, coalition and Afghan military officers and civilian officials “as recently as Tuesday 29 September”.