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They complained about 13 dead MARINES, but hid evidence they bombed dozens of women and children.


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How the U.S. hid an Airstrike That Killed Dozens of Civilians in Syria

In the last days of the battle against the Islamic State in Syria, when members of the once-fierce caliphate were cornered in a dirt field next to a town called Baghuz, a U.S. military drone circled high overhead, hunting for military targets. But it saw only a large crowd of women and children huddled against a river bank. 

Without warning, an American F-15E attack jet streaked across the drone’s high-definition field of vision and dropped a 500-pound bomb on the crowd, swallowing it in a shuddering blast. As the smoke cleared, a few people stumbled away in search of cover. Then a jet tracking them dropped one 2,000-pound bomb, then another, killing most of the survivors. 

It was March 18, 2019. At the U.S. military’s busy Combined Air Operations Center at Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar, uniformed personnel watching the live drone footage looked on in stunned disbelief, according to one officer who was there. 

“Who dropped that?” a confused analyst typed on a secure chat system being used by those monitoring the drone, two people who reviewed the chat log recalled. Another responded, “We just dropped on 50 women and children.” 



Read more: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/11/13/us/us-airstrikes-civilian-deaths.html 

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that's fkg disgusting. justice is nowhere to be found.

 

death to all pigs who profit from war, maybe fire-bomb their own worlds for starters.

 

 

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4 hours ago, Navig8tor said:

What gets me is the US has excluded itself from being answerable to an International Court on anything Wars Crimes related, seriously?

What seems unserious about it? The list of member countries reads like the D list for a DC dinner party.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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16 minutes ago, Blue Crab said:

What seems unserious about it? The list of member countries reads like the D list for a DC dinner party.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Current Members

 
President Joan E. DONOGHUE

President Joan E. DONOGHUE

United States of America

Member of the Court since 9 September 2010; re-elected as from 6 February 2015; President as from 8 February 2021
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I thought we were talking about the ICC. War crimes and stuff. Last I looked China, India, and Russia, among others hadn't given the ICC jurisdiction over their activities. The Brits have but the rest of the list is of a lesser wattage. 

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8 hours ago, badlatitude said:

 

How the U.S. hid an Airstrike That Killed Dozens of Civilians in Syria

In the last days of the battle against the Islamic State in Syria, when members of the once-fierce caliphate were cornered in a dirt field next to a town called Baghuz, a U.S. military drone circled high overhead, hunting for military targets. But it saw only a large crowd of women and children huddled against a river bank. 

Without warning, an American F-15E attack jet streaked across the drone’s high-definition field of vision and dropped a 500-pound bomb on the crowd, swallowing it in a shuddering blast. As the smoke cleared, a few people stumbled away in search of cover. Then a jet tracking them dropped one 2,000-pound bomb, then another, killing most of the survivors. 

It was March 18, 2019. At the U.S. military’s busy Combined Air Operations Center at Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar, uniformed personnel watching the live drone footage looked on in stunned disbelief, according to one officer who was there. 

“Who dropped that?” a confused analyst typed on a secure chat system being used by those monitoring the drone, two people who reviewed the chat log recalled. Another responded, “We just dropped on 50 women and children.” 



Read more: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/11/13/us/us-airstrikes-civilian-deaths.html 

That is pay-walled.

Did they ever say why this happened?

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3 minutes ago, Blue Crab said:

I thought we were talking about the ICC. War crimes and stuff. Last I looked China, India, and Russia, among others hadn't give the ICC jurisdiction over their activities. The Brits have but the rest of the list is of a lesser wattage. 

much as I abhor war , the idea of rules of is absolutely ridiculous .

ffs IF you can agree on rules of then surely you can avoid the actual conflict .

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14 minutes ago, kent_island_sailor said:

That is pay-walled.

Did they ever say why this happened?

The U.S. is not owning up to it. Here is more of the article.

 

An initial battle damage assessment quickly found that the number of dead was actually about 70.

The Baghuz strike was one of the largest civilian casualty incidents of the war against the Islamic State, but it has never been publicly acknowledged by the U.S. military. The details, reported here for the first time, show that the death toll was almost immediately apparent to military officials. A legal officer flagged the strike as a possible war crime that required an investigation. But at nearly every step, the military made moves that concealed the catastrophic strike. The death toll was downplayed. Reports were delayed, sanitized and classified. United States-led coalition forces bulldozed the blast site. And top leaders were not notified.

The Defense Department’s independent inspector general began an inquiry, but the report containing its findings was stalled and stripped of any mention of the strike.

“Leadership just seemed so set on burying this. No one wanted anything to do with it,” said Gene Tate, an evaluator who worked on the case for the inspector general’s office and agreed to discuss the aspects that were not classified. “It makes you lose faith in the system when people are trying to do what’s right but no one in positions of leadership wants to hear it.”

Mr. Tate, a former Navy officer who had worked for years as a civilian analyst with the Defense Intelligence Agency and the National Counterterrorism Center before moving to the inspector general’s office, said he criticized the lack of action and was eventually forced out of his job.

The details of the strikes were pieced together by The New York Times over months from confidential documents and descriptions of classified reports, as well as interviews with personnel directly involved, and officials with top secret security clearances who discussed the incident on the condition that they not be named.

The Times investigation found that the bombing had been called in by a classified American special operations unit, Task Force 9, which was in charge of ground operations in Syria. The task force operated in such secrecy that at times it did not inform even its own military partners of its actions. In the case of the Baghuz bombing, the American Air Force command in Qatar had no idea the strike was coming, an officer who served at the command center said.

In the minutes after the strike, an alarmed Air Force intelligence officer in the operations center called over an Air Force lawyer in charge of determining the legality of strikes. The lawyer ordered the F-15E squadron and the drone crew to preserve all video and other evidence, according to documents obtained by The Times. He went upstairs and reported the strike to his chain of command, saying it was a possible violation of the law of armed conflict — a war crime — and regulations required a thorough, independent investigation.

But a thorough, independent investigation never happened.

This week, after The New York Times sent its findings to U.S. Central Command, which oversaw the air war in Syria, the command acknowledged the strikes for the first time, saying 80 people were killed but the airstrikes were justified. It said the bombs killed 16 fighters and four civilians. As for the other 60 people killed, the statement said it was not clear that they were civilians, in part because women and children in the Islamic State sometimes took up arms.

“We abhor the loss of innocent life and take all possible measures to prevent them,” Capt. Bill Urban, the chief spokesman for the command, said in the statement. “In this case, we self-reported and investigated the strike according to our own evidence and take full responsibility for the unintended loss of life.”

The only assessment done immediately after the strike was performed by the same ground unit that ordered the strike. It determined that the bombing was lawful because it killed only a small number of civilians while targeting Islamic State fighters in an attempt to protect coalition forces, the command said. Therefore no formal war crime notification, criminal investigation or disciplinary action was warranted, it said, adding that the other deaths were accidental.

But the Air Force lawyer, Lt. Col. Dean W. Korsak, believed he had witnessed possible war crimes and repeatedly pressed his leadership and Air Force criminal investigators to act. When they did not, he alerted the Defense Department’s independent inspector general. Two years after the strike, seeing no evidence that the watchdog agency was taking action, Colonel Korsak emailed the Senate Armed Services Committee, telling its staff that he had top secret material to discuss and adding, “I’m putting myself at great risk of military retaliation for sending this.”

“Senior ranking U.S. military officials intentionally and systematically circumvented the deliberate strike process,” he wrote in the email, which was obtained by The Times. Much of the material was classified and would need to be discussed through secure communications, he said. He wrote that a unit had intentionally entered false strike log entries, “clearly seeking to cover up the incidents.” Calling the classified death toll “shockingly high,” he said the military did not follow its own requirements to report and investigate the strike.

There was a good chance, he wrote, that “the highest levels of government remained unaware of what was happening on the ground.”

Colonel Korsak did not respond to requests for comment.

Undercounted Tolls

The United States portrayed the air war against the Islamic State as the most precise and humane bombing campaign in its history. The military said every report of civilian casualties was investigated and the findings reported publicly, creating what the military called a model of accountability.

But the strikes on Baghuz tell a different story.

The details suggest that while the military put strict rules in place to protect civilians, the Special Operations task force repeatedly used other rules to skirt them. The military teams counting casualties rarely had the time, resources or incentive to do accurate work. And troops rarely faced repercussions when they caused civilian deaths.

Even in the extraordinary case of Baghuz — which would rank third on the military’s worst civilian casualty events in Syria if 64 civilian deaths were acknowledged — regulations for reporting and investigating the potential crime were not followed, and no one was held accountable.

The military recently admitted that a botched strike in Kabul, Afghanistan, in August killed 10 civilians, including seven children. But that kind of public reckoning is unusual, observers say. More often, civilian deaths are undercounted even in classified reports. Nearly 1,000 strikes hit targets in Syria and Iraq in 2019, using 4,729 bombs and missiles. The official military tally of civilian dead for that entire year is only 22, and the strikes from March 18 are nowhere on the list.

A Secret Task Force

The battle at Baghuz represented the end of a nearly five-year United States-led campaign to defeat the Islamic State in Syria and was a foreign policy triumph for President Donald J. Trump.

At the height of its rule in 2014, the Islamic State controlled an area of Syria and Iraq about the size of Tennessee. A fleet of coalition drones, jets, attack helicopters and heavy bombers hit enemy positions with about 35,000 strikes over the next five years, plowing a path for local Kurdish and Arab militias to reclaim ground.

At the end of the grinding fight, airstrikes corralled the last Islamic State fighters in a scrap of farmland against the Euphrates River near Baghuz. Coalition air power forced thousands to surrender, sparing the lives of untold numbers of Kurdish and Arab allies.

On the ground, Task Force 9 coordinated offensives and airstrikes. The unit included soldiers from the 5th Special Forces Group and the Army’s elite commando team Delta Force, several officials said.

Over time, some officials overseeing the air campaign began to believe that the task force was systematically circumventing the safeguards created to limit civilian deaths.

The process was supposed to run through several checks and balances. Drones with high-definition cameras studied potential targets, sometimes for days or weeks. Analysts pored over intelligence data to differentiate combatants from civilians. And military lawyers were embedded with strike teams to ensure that targeting complied with the law of armed conflict. In combat situations, the process might take only minutes, but even then the rules required teams to identify military targets and minimize civilian harm. At times, when the task force failed to meet those requirements, commanders in Qatar and elsewhere denied permission to strike.

But there was a quick and easy way to skip much of that oversight: claiming imminent danger.

The law of armed conflict — the rule book that lays out the military’s legal conduct in war — allows troops in life-threatening situations to sidestep the strike team lawyers, analysts and other bureaucracy and call in strikes directly from aircraft under what military regulations call an “inherent right of self-defense.”

Task Force 9 typically played only an advisory role in Syria, and its soldiers were usually well behind the front lines. Even so, by late 2018, about 80 percent of all airstrikes it was calling in claimed self-defense, according to an Air Force officer who reviewed the strikes.

The rules allowed U.S. troops and local allies to invoke it when facing not just direct enemy fire, but anyone displaying “hostile intent,” according to a former officer who deployed with the unit numerous times. Under that definition, something as mundane as a car driving miles from friendly forces could in some cases be targeted. The task force interpreted the rules broadly, the former officer said.

The aftermath of that approach was plain to see. A number of Syrian towns, including the regional capital, Raqqa, were reduced to little more than rubble. Human rights organizations reported that the coalition caused thousands of civilian deaths during the war. Hundreds of military assessment reports examined by The Times show the task force was implicated in nearly one in five coalition civilian casualty incidents in the region.

<snip>

A Failed Investigation

Defense Department regulations require any “possible, suspected or alleged” violation of the law of armed conflict to be reported immediately to the combatant commander in charge, as well as criminal investigators, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the secretary of defense and the secretary of the Army.

After viewing the footage, the Air Force lawyer, Colonel Korsak, ordered the units involved to preserve nine pieces of evidence, including video, and reported the strike to his chain of command, according to the email he later sent to the Senate Armed Services Committee staff. He also notified the command of concerns that the unit appeared to be covering up the alleged war crimes violations by adding details to the strike log that would justify a self-defense strike.

He told the committee staff that commanders did not take action.

Coalition forces overran the camp that day and defeated the Islamic State a few days later. The yearslong air war was hailed as a triumph. The commander of the operations center in Qatar authorized all personnel to have four drinks at the base bar, lifting the normal three-drink limit. 

Civilian observers who came to the area of the strike the next day found piles of dead women and children. The human rights organization Raqqa Is Being Slaughtered Silently posted photos of the bodies, calling it a “terrible massacre.”

Satellite images from four days later show the sheltered bank and area around it, which were in the control of the coalition, appeared to have been bulldozed.

David Eubank, a former U.S. Army Special Forces soldier who now runs the humanitarian organization Free Burma Rangers, walked through the area about a week later. “The place had been pulverized by airstrikes,” he said in an interview. “There was a lot of freshly bulldozed earth and the stink of bodies underneath, a lot of bodies.”

Concerned that details of the airstrike would be buried as well, Colonel Korsak alerted the Air Force’s version of the F.B.I., the Office of Special Investigations. In an email Colonel Korsak shared with the Senate Armed Services Committee, a major responded that agents probably would not look into it, saying the office typically investigated civilian casualty reports only when there was “potential for high media attention, concern with outcry from local community/government, concern sensitive images may get out.”

The Air Force Office of Special Investigations declined to comment.

Colonel Korsak again pressed his chain of command to act, informing his command’s chief legal officer in a memo in May 2019 that regulations required an investigation. He later told the Senate committee’s staff that his superiors did not open an investigation.

“The topic and incidents were dead on arrival,” he wrote. “My supervisor refused to discuss the matter with me.”

The chief legal officer, Colonel Matthew P. Stoffel, did not respond to requests for comment.

The task force finished up a civilian casualty report on the strike that month and determined that four civilians were killed. But two and a half years later, on the military’s website for its campaign against the Islamic State, known as Operation Inherent Resolve, the military still publicly lists the case as “open.”

The report is filled with photographs from civilians, it also has a video of the incident. The balance of the article comments on the various levels of obstruction.

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1 hour ago, Olsonist said:

Is this a good thing or a bad thing?

It's an inconsequential thing. It's 123 little countries playing grown up tea party in the back yard. Much like vaporous Vets 4 Peace marching around expecting the US to give up nukes in the face of apparent increased activity by the Norks, China, and who knows where else. Why waste effort and personpower pissing into a high speed fan? It's a feelgood move, full of sound and fury...

Israel and the US will be the last to turn in their nukes. It's literally an existential thing for them and us. Not gonna happen voluntarily.  

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1 minute ago, Blue Crab said:

It's an inconsequential thing. It's 123 little countries playing grown up tea party in the back yard. Much like vaporous Vets 4 Peace marching around expecting the US to give up nukes in the face of apparent increased activity by the Norks, China, and who knows where else. Why waste effort and personpower pissing into a high speed fan? It's a feelgood move, full of sound and fury...

Israel and the US will be the last to turn in their nukes. It's literally an existential thing for them and us. Not gonna happen voluntarily.  

I'm pretty sure the International Court has nothing to do with nukes. It has to do with international law which concerns treaties between sovereign states. We are signatories to the Geneva Conventions, aren't we?

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9 hours ago, Navig8tor said:

What gets me is the US has excluded itself from being answerable to an International Court on anything Wars Crimes related, seriously?

I was responding to this. I think it covers the ICC. Nav's post wouldn't have made to the interwebs in other countries. To suggest anyone with real power would give it up to a fancy tea party gathering of Trinidad and Tobago, Tajikistan, Tunisia, and Timor is to live in a universe ruled by lessor gods. 

ETA: I left out the Cook Islands and several others. https://asp.icc-cpi.int/en_menus/asp/states parties/pages/the states parties to the rome statute.aspx

 

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14 minutes ago, Blue Crab said:

I was responding to this. I think it covers the ICC. Nav's post wouldn't have made to the interwebs in other countries. To suggest anyone with real power would give it up to a fancy tea party gathering of Trinidad and Tobago, Tajikistan, Tunisia, and Timor is to live in a universe ruled by lessor gods. 

Obama, you know, the AA guy from Hawai'i, stated his intentions to cooperate with the ICC. Wikipedia has a good summary.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_and_the_International_Criminal_Court#Obama_Administration

What strikes me isn't the ICC. It's the coverup within the military. In fact, bringing nukes or the ICC into this is just a misdirection.

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It is unchanged in the sense that we are not a party of the Rome Statute. Shitstain canceled the visa of the ICC's chief prosecutor who was looking at Afghanistan war crimes, that is a change, but then between putting Bannon on the NSA and this, it's hard to keep track of all the stupid things he did. But I understand your insistence in making this something about which we are not a part of.

The Times article doesn't mention the ICC which we are not a part of. It does however mention war crimes which are covered in the UCMJ, Article 18(a).

https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/10/818

And a coverup of war crimes. It's always the coverup or in this case, dropping a 2000 lb bomb after a 500 lb and then bulldozing the site. You know, a literal coverup.

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27 minutes ago, Olsonist said:

he Times article doesn't mention the ICC which we are not a part of. It does however mention war crimes which are covered in the UCMJ, Article 18(a).

https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/10/818

And a coverup of war crimes. It's always the coverup or in this case, dropping a 2000 lb bomb after a 500 lb and then bulldozing the site. You know, a literal coverup.

Oh yeah, this is some bad juju and maybe it is covered by the UCMJ although I doubt it. But it's definitely covered by the bulldozers, which is the military's response. End of story probably and certainly if the Rs get back in. Meanwhile, dead is dead. Nutin's going to change that. The world just isn't a nice little section of gated community. Never was. You may as well post all the atrocities going on because that seems to quell the outrage for a bit. Sol's busy with the black archives, quelling his outrage. Here's a thought:

Meanwhile, right this instant, SJWs could expend some of their boundless enthusiasm for lost causes on the Chinese genocide of Uyghurs. They are not all dead yet and somebody who cares should do something. Maybe call the ICC. All their resources and self-styled authority and jurisdiction pooled together won't get you a coffee at Starbucks, but like V4P, I guess it makes folks feel useful.

Me? I like to work where I can see progress. Or a chance in hell for some small bit of progress. 

Taking on a perhaps compromised military at this time doesn't look like a winner. Keeping them out of conflict is where i'd put my energy.

 

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Seriously, I was responding to Nav. About war crimes. You jumped in but my only real thought is getting some of you focused on things that can change. Real things. Human nature isn't one of them. Nukes? Here til the bitter end. Racial injustice? Kill all the white supremacists and their spawn.

Pragmatism.

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15 hours ago, badlatitude said:

...the statement said it was not clear that they were civilians, in part because women and children in the Islamic State sometimes took up arms.

Sensational. We are no longer restricted to killing any male over the age of 15 with impunity. Women and children are now fair game too.

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6 minutes ago, Battlecheese said:

Sensational. We are no longer restricted to killing any male over the age of 15 with impunity. Women and children are now fair game too.

That's the way Trump wanted it, those Generals don't make those kind of decisions on their own. Now that we are out of any conflict, I hope this can be tackled.

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23 hours ago, Mid said:

much as I abhor war , the idea of rules of is absolutely ridiculous .

ffs IF you can agree on rules of then surely you can avoid the actual conflict .

War is just the worlds oldest team sport. Hence you have rules.

The older the game, the more often the rules change.

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8 hours ago, ShortForBob said:

War is just the worlds oldest team sport. Hence you have rules.

The older the game, the more often the rules change.

@Midis absolutely right.  If you are forced to fight and can't afford to lose, you can't afford rules.  If war is optional and you kill when you don't have to, does the moral blanket of rules really give you a better night's sleep?   

The allies fought with German unrestricted submarine warfare and wolfpack tactics during WW II, often operating out of Darwin.  The British relied on nighttime mass bombing, without even pretending to pick military targets.   The US were a shade better, in Europe (racism?).   The Christian nations of Europe had an intricate code of conduct during the middle ages...as long as they were killing other Christians.   If the guy they were trying to kill didn't claim to be a follower of Christ, they had no such ethics.  

 

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