A Mistaken Pentagon Drone Attack? - WSJ
Category: News & PoliticsVia: vic-eldred • one week ago • 23 comments
By: The Editorial Board (WSJ)
Did the Biden Administration mistakenly kill 10 innocents, including seven children, as it rushed to the Afghanistan exits last month? That is what a growing body of evidence seems to show, and Congress ought to look for the truth.
On Aug. 29 a U.S. missile blew up a car the Pentagon had been following for hours, as the U.S. evacuation was nearing its end. Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, called it a "righteous strike" and President Biden mentioned drone strikes as evidence the U.S. was hitting back against ISIS-K for the suicide bomber who killed 13 Americans.
But reporting by the New York Times and Washington Post suggests the attack on the white Toyota Corolla may have been a terrible mistake. It killed Zemari Ahmadi, a longtime employee of the U.S. nonprofit Nutrition and Education International, who had wanted to emigrate to the U.S.
The media accounts are compelling in their detail that Ahmadi wasn’t collecting explosives that day. He had loaded water into the car to bring home because water to his neighborhood had stopped since the Taliban takeover. He stopped during the day at the nonprofit’s office, not an ISIS safe house. The missile that killed him exploded in a crowded neighborhood and the dead included children who approached the car when it backed into a courtyard.
Targeting terrorists is a fraught endeavor, and mistakes are inevitable. But the timing and details of this attack are troubling because the Biden Administration was looking to show it was taking action to protect Americans after the 13 airport deaths.
Mr. Biden had promised revenge, and the Pentagon quickly followed with a strike on two ISIS plotters outside Kabul. The Pentagon still hasn’t released the names of those two, which is odd. The drone attack in Kabul soon followed amid U.S. warnings that another attack on the airport was imminent.
The Pentagon says it is investigating, but that shouldn’t be the end of it. Gen. Milley has squandered much of his credibility by his hard sell of the Afghan evacuation, and he and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin bear some responsibility for its botched execution. The deaths of 10 Afghans won’t resonate with the U.S. public as much as the 13 dead Americans. But the possible mistake has added to the sense of U.S. incompetence and lack of concern for Afghan allies as it sprinted for the exits.
One question is whether anyone in the White House signed off on the strike against Ahmadi. Another is whether Mr. Biden demanded some show of force against ISIS-K. The point isn’t to blame the Reaper drone pilot. The goal is to get those at the top of the Administration to start telling the truth, and taking responsibility, for the calamitous Afghan withdrawal.