Opinion from a Libertarian ViewPoint

The military keeps finding it did nothing wrong when it investigates itself

Posted by M. C. on November 16, 2021

“The only assessment done immediately after the strike was performed by the same ground unit that ordered the strike,” according to the New York Times.

By Jeff Schogol

In war, things inevitably go wrong and people die as a result. But as events in Syria, Kabul, Niger and elsewhere have shown, the military has a tendency to use its investigations to absolve itself rather than to hold senior leaders accountable for their mistakes.

The New York Times recently revealed that a U.S. airstrike in March 2019 may have killed dozens of civilians at Baghouz, Syria. However when an Air Force lawyer and an evaluator with the Defense Department Inspector General’s Office tried to get military leaders to investigate whether a war crime had occurred, they were reportedly thwarted at every turn.

The circumstances surrounding the incident are complicated. Making things even murkier, a secretive group known as Task Force 9 may have repeatedly bypassed the process for determining if U.S. airstrikes would kill civilians by claiming that American or allied forces were in imminent danger, New York Times reporters Dave Philipps and Eric Schmitt revealed.

On March 18, 2019, the Islamic State group was making its last stand at Baghouz, where tens of thousands of women and children were mixed in with ISIS fighters. That morning, America’s Syrian Kurdish allies reported they were under attack and a U.S. special forces officer ordered an airstrike, according to the New York Times. The officer was relying on video from a drone with a standard definition camera and he was unaware that another drone in the area with a high-definition camera revealed women and children were present.

In the resulting airstrike, an F-15E dropped three bombs that may have killed up to 64 women and children, but military officials repeatedly undermined efforts to determine if the incident rose to the level of a war crime, the New York Times reported.

The military keeps finding it did nothing wrong when it investigates itself
FILE PHOTO: Smoke after the shelling of Islamic State’s last holdout of Baghouz by Kurdish-led forces backed by US warplanes. (Getty Images.)

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