Thursday, November 26, 2015
US airstrike on a Doctors without Borders hospital in Afghanistan attributed to "human error"
According to a 3000-page investigative report on the Oct. 3rd attack on the medical charity Doctors Without Borders, the verdict was that the U.S air strike was a result of "human errors, failures in procedure and technical malfunctions" (NYT). Two other military officials said that the Air Force AC130 gunship that attacked the hospital was intended to target a different compound several hundred meters away that was believed to be a Taliban base of operations. Times reports, "the crew had been unable to rely on the aircraft's instruments to find the target. Instead, they relied on verbal descriptions of the location that were being relayed by troops on the ground, a mix of American and Afghan Special forces." 30 individuals were killed in the bombing, many being injured patients, and at least 37 more were injured.
Doctors Without Borders, known also by its French name, Medecins San Frontieres (MSF), is an international humanitarian NGO (non-governmental organization) and Nobel Peace Prize laureate. The organization is known for its projects in war-torn regions and developing countries. In a written statement issued by the organization's general director, he demands a call for an international investigation as to the root cause behind the attacks and the reason behind the US military's gross incompetence and failure: "The U.S version of events presented today leaves MSF with more questions than answers... it is shocking that an attack can be carried out when U.S forces have neither eyes on a target nor access to a non-strike list, and have malfunctioning communications system.. thousands of people were denied life-saving care simply because the MSF hospital was the closest large building to an open field and 'roughly matched' a description of an intended target."
The Pentagon has already concluded that the Doctors Without Borders group that ran the facility had properly followed all the necessary procedures in notifying the U.S of the location of the hospital. MSF "did everything right," according to a US official last month. The authorities are still determining potential disciplinary action, though it is still unclear at this point whether or not any action is even needed or the severity of the punishment.
How should the US be held accountable for their actions? Can they even be truly held accountable in any meaningful way for this gross miscarriage of justice and failure on the part of the US military? Being the world's largest and best-equipped military by far, how can something like this even be allowed to happen?