The Pentagon has concluded its extensive internal review of the August drone strike in Kabul that killed ten civilians, including seven children, which US officials initially lied about - claiming it was against a carefully vetted ISIS-K target.
It should perhaps come as no surprise for those who have followed America's recent history of what US leaders have dubbed "collateral damage" on Middle East battlefields, but it's now been confirmed that no military personnel whatsoever will face any kind of punishment for the "botched" operation which wiped out a whole family.
The Afghan man driving the targeted white Toyota sedan, Zemari Ahmadi, had been working for a US humanitarian aid organization when he was killed. The Biden administration in the follow-up had spent weeks talking about "trusted" intelligence and various other forms of spin.
But now, even after the truth has been fully exposed, it appears no one will receive so much as a demotion or even a reprimand, as The New York Times reports:
A subsequent high-level investigation into the episode found no violations of law but stopped short of fully exonerating those involved, saying that was "commander business." Mr. Austin left the final word on any administrative action, such as reprimands or demotions, to two senior commanders — Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr., the head of the military’s Central Command, and Gen. Richard D. Clarke, head of the Special Operations Command. Both officers found no grounds for penalizing any of the military personnel involved in the episode, the Pentagon official said. The official spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss delicate personnel matters.
Previously one top US general involved in the investigation had cited the 'good intentions' and "genuine believe" of those carrying out the attack.
"They all had a genuine belief based on the information they had that that was a threat to US forces, an imminent threat to US forces," Lt. Gen. Sami Said had said at a November press briefing.
NEW -- Ten Aghan civilians, including seven children, were killed in a botched airstrike in Kabul in August. Pentagon chief now decides that no U.S. troops will be punished in any way for their roles https://t.co/XquQ2vUTJ9— Eric Schmitt (@EricSchmittNYT) December 13, 2021
The California-based non-profit that Ahmadi had worked for blasted the revelations this week that not a single individual will be held accountable. Steven Kwon, the president of Nutrition and Education International called the decision "shocking"...
"This decision is shocking. How can our military wrongly take the lives of 10 precious Afghan people, and hold no one accountable in any way? I've been beseeching the US government to evacuate directly-impacted family members and NEI employees for months because their security situation is so dire," he said in a statement. "When the Pentagon absolves itself of accountability, it sends a dangerous and misleading message that its actions were somehow justified, increasing security risks and making evacuation even more urgent."
But as Monday's New York Times report admits, recent years in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria have seen US military strikes kill thousands of civilians, most often with zero accountability on the US side. Studies such as from the monitoring group Airwars have suggested that over the course of the two decade long 'war on terror' - tens of thousands of civilians have likely been killed by US bombs and drone strikes.