Generals Confess That Pentagon Knew "Within Hours" Drone Strike Killed Afghan Civilians

Tyler Durden's Photo
by Tyler Durden
Wednesday, Sep 29, 2021 - 10:20 PM

It took a full week after a New York Times visual investigation for the Pentagon to very belatedly admit its "tragic mistake" in a drone strike which killed 10 civilians, including 7 children. In total this was three weeks after the attack itself. Prior to that, military leaders had held firmly to the narrative that the Aug.29 airstrike stopped an "ISIS-K terrorist" - despite the narrative fast unraveling, yet they continued to talk about "confidence" in the intelligence. 

A not so little detail emerged in Wednesday's Senate hearing of top commanders: the narrative has now dramatically shifted to the Pentagon having known "within hours" that innocent civilians had been taken out in the botched attack, which in the end targeted a local humanitarian aid worker. Yet a Pentagon statement on the day of the attack said, "We are assessing the possibilities of civilian casualties, though we have no indications at this time" - which clearly downplayed the possibility civilian deaths and left it in doubt. 

Getty Images

The confirmation (and contradiction) of just what US military leaders knew and when they knew it came after Mississippi Republican Rep. Trent Kelley pressed top brass on the issue during Wednesday's hearing. 

"Well, so, we knew the strike hit civilians within four or five hours after the strike occurred, and U.S. Central Command released a press release saying that," CENTCOM Commander Gen. Kenneth "Frank" McKenzie said. "We did not know, though, that the target of the strike was in fact in error, a mistake, until sometime later. It took us a few days to run that down." Joint Chiefs Chairman Mark Milley agreed it was the "same thing" for him. 

Recall that Milley had previously hailed the operation as a "righteous strike". But The Washington Examiner is now pointing out that the latest testimony confirms the Pentagon spin and outright falsehoods

But it is not true that CENTCOM issued a press release confirming the airstrike hit civilians.

CENTCOM spokesman Capt. Bill Urban released an initial statement on Aug. 29 saying, "U.S. military forces conducted a self-defense unmanned over-the-horizon airstrike today on a vehicle in Kabul, eliminating an imminent ISIS-K threat to Hamad Karzai International airport. We are confident we successfully hit the target.” Urban added, "We are assessing the possibilities of civilian casualties, though we have no indications at this time."

And more:

Later that day, the CENTCOM spokesman released an "UPDATE," in which he said, "We are aware of reports of civilian casualties following our strike on a vehicle in Kabul today," claiming that "a large amount of explosive material inside” the car "may have caused additional casualties." He added, "It is unclear what may have happened, and we are investigating further. We would be deeply saddened by any potential loss of innocent life." The statement did not confirm civilian injuries or deaths.

Again, the generals have now testified they knew within hours.

So the Pentagon knew about the confirmed deaths "within hours" but continued to keep casting doubt on civilian deaths and holding the possibility at a distance, likely hoping reports of the deaths would get buried, or would remain ambiguous accusations - as the language of their early press releases suggest (with words like "unclear" and "may have happened" and the "potential" of civilian deaths based on being "aware of reports"). 

It's easy to conclude that had The New York Times not conducted its own detailed investigation, which included photos and video from on the ground, the Pentagon and Biden administration never would have been "caught" - and never would have admitted anything.