A Pentagon investigation claims that the US drone strike that killed 10 civilians, including seven children, in Afghanistan’s capital city of Kabul in late August did not violate any laws, including the laws of war, and was not caused by misconduct or negligence.
Lieutenant General Sami Said, the inspector general of the US Air Force, said at a press conference on Wednesday that the review had concluded that the deadly attack had been the result of “execution errors combined with confirmation bias and communication breakdowns.”
“It was an honest mistake,” he said. “But it’s not criminal conduct, random conduct, negligence.”
Said said the people directly involved in the strike “genuinely” believed “that they were targeting an imminent threat.”
“The intended target of the strike, the vehicle, its contents and occupant, were genuinely assessed at the time as an imminent threat to US forces and mission at Hamid Karzai International Airport,” he said. But the interpretation of intelligence turned out to be “regrettably inaccurate,” Said said.
On August 29, a US missile targeted a home and a vehicle, killing an innocent Afghan aid worker along with the members of his family.
The Pentagon initially claimed that the strike had targeted a Daesh-K terrorist who posed an imminent threat to American troops at the Kabul airport and that those who were killed were terrorists. But some media outlets reported that the US drone strike had targeted civilians. Still, General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, described the attack as “righteous.”
After a preliminary investigation, the Pentagon admitted on September 17 that the strike had been a “tragic mistake” and pledged to provide compensation to the surviving family members.
Said further explained that there had not been one point of failure or a person to be blamed for the error, adding that it would be up to commanders to make a decision on what, if any, accountability action should be taken.
According to Said, the Pentagon review was delivered to US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin’s office two days ago.
As of yet, no one in the US military has been held publicly accountable for the deadly attack.
Later in the day, Democratic congressman Adam Schiff, chairman of the House’s Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, said he had been “unconvinced” that the summary of the Pentagon review “provides for real accountability,” adding that the Intelligence Committee would withhold judgment until it receives the classified report.
The actual report is not being made public because it allegedly contains secret information about the methods the US uses to conduct such drone strikes.
The US completed a chaotic withdrawal of its forces from Afghanistan in August, bringing to an end a futile military adventure that had lasted 20 years.