Pentagon confirms NO military personnel will be punished for botched Kabul drone strike that killed 10 civilians instead of ISIS-K suicide bombers
- Pentagon on Friday said officers will not face action for botched drone strike
- 10 civilians – including 7 children – were killed by a Hellfire missile on Aug 29
- Officials initially said it targeted a vehicle being used by suicide bombers
- Senior officers said it was a ‘righteous strike’ before the truth emerged
- Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said it was a ‘breakdown in process and execution … not the result of negligence, not the result of misconduct’
The Pentagon said Monday that no action would be taken against military personnel involved in the botched drone strike that killed 10 civilians in Kabul as American forces withdrew in August.
Seven children were among the dead when a Hellfire missile hit a saloon car mistakenly identified as being packed with explosives in the Afghan capital.
U.S. nerves were on edge three days after an ISIS-K suicide bomber killed 170 Afghans and 13 American service members at Hamid Karzai International Airport.
At a briefing, Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said senior commanders had made recommendations to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin – none of which included holding any officers accountable.
‘What we saw here was a breakdown in process and execution in procedural events, not the result of negligence, not the result of misconduct, not the result of poor leadership,’ he said.
Last month, an independent military investigation led by the Air Force’s inspector general found no one criminally negligent.
10 civilians were killed when a U.S. drone strike mistakenly targeted a car driven by an Afghan employee of an American charity but no U.S. military personnel will be held accountable
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said the mistake was a ‘breakdown in process and execution in procedural events, not the result of negligence, not the result of misconduct’
Kirby said Defense Secretary acted on the recommendations he was given – but they covered processes rather than personnel
That left it left it to Gen. Frank McKenzie, the commander of U.S. Central Command, and Gen. Richard Clarke, the commander of U.S. Special Operations Command, to decide whether any disciplinary action was appropriate.
‘The recommendations were more about procedure and process and the secretary reviewed them and has accepted them,’ said Kirby.
‘And again, most of them are of a classified nature. … but there was no overt recommendation made by either specific to accountability and any punishment for anyone.’
Officials who authorized the strike believed they were attacking members of the local affiliate of Islamic State.
And in the immediate aftermath of the strike, officials claimed that secondary explosions showed that the car was crammed with explosives. They called it a ‘righteous strike.’
But an investigation by the New York Times revealed the white Toyota Corolla was in fact driven by Zemari Ahmadi, an Afghan employee of an American aid organization who had visited not an ISIS-K safe house but a compound used by the NGO.
And rather than being filled with explosives, it was filled with water tanks.
Ten civilians – including seven children – dried when a Hellfire missile hit a vehicle in Kabul
The Defense Department admitted in September that it had made a ‘tragic mistake.’
During the press briefing, Kirby said the heightened risk of attack on Kabul airport was important context.
‘This was a dynamic situation in which we were we believe we were dealing with a very active, tangible threat on that day to our people and to Afghans at the airport,’ he said.
But the decision horrified critics of the strike, who said it made so sense to acknowledge the mistake but not hold anyone accountable.
‘This decision is shocking,’ Steven Kwon, the founder of Nutrition & Education International that employed Ahmadi, told the New York Times.
‘How can our military wrongly take the lives of 10 precious Afghan people, and hold no one accountable in any way?’
The Department of Defense has previously said it will offer condolence payments to the relatives of the people killed and was also working with the State Department to help surviving family members relocate to the United States.
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