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20 October 2015


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Greetings to you, Willy.

This is interesting and undoubtedly they are not being truthful here. The only surprise I have is that the building is still standing after being attacked by an AC-130.

A theory I read about this attack has to do with the Trans Pacific Partnership agreement. The article said that MSF is lobbying against it because of a provision that extends the patent on drugs. MSF supposedly is against this extension as it prevents generic versions from being manufactured sooner.

For those who possess a black sense of humor here is a song for you, courtesy of "Charlie and his orchestra", from years gone by:


Odin's Raven

Stockholm Syndrome? Maybe they've learned from the perpetrators of the attack on the USS Liberty?

Patrick Bahzad

A war crime probably, but until proven so through the appropriate ways in international law, it won't be.

I don't think the US armed services committed this atrocity willingly. More likely, in this case, they've been mislead by their local allies. And by local I mean Kunduz local.

Why would they do that ? simple scorched earth tactic ... Kunduz is gone and will soon be under total Taleban control. Destroying the only real hospital for hundreds of miles around, prompting MSF to leave the country, will make it more difficult for the Taleban to get their wounded treated properly.

Where will the buck stop, that is the only question that remains to be answered. Most probably, some local warlord will take the fall. The US armed forces will modify their CAS procedures and rules. Families will be compensated. President Obama or a senior member of the administration will convene an investigation commisssion. And that will be the end of it.

When a previous airstrike in the same area killed 140 civilians based on some German Colonel not respecting the ROE, there wasn't such an outcry.

Maybe it is different now that a Western NGO has been hit. Sticto sensu, war crimes in Afghanistan have probably been legion. Shit happens, nobody cared up until now ...

Johnny Reims

Hey Willy
Thanks for this info and look forward to reading more. If possible, sure would like to know more about the following quote from your fascinating first posting:

" Anonymous sources within the Pentagon, meanwhile, confirmed to CNN, that MSF did, indeed, do everything right. The US government was well aware that the facility was a hospital but, according to CNN's sources, that information did not get to the correct military personnel."
Does that mean incorrect military personnel potentially exists within chain of command?

And who be that there military lawyer? Seems like he/she could answer a few questions and hopefully correctly.

Can any possible motivation be assigned here and, if so, where on chain of command? Mens rea and all of that.



Welcome aboard Willy!

My primary interest in this issue is why it was bombed (not so much the war crimes part). As a longtime fan of murder mysteries, I'm always curious about the human motives behind awful events. Whodunit, whydunit, and who benefits.

Why did the US bomb this hospital?
(a) some hidden agenda against MSF
(b) bureaucratic ineptness
(c) sabotage

My gut instinct when I first read about this was (c) sabotage. Although I considered (b), there are many who would enjoy seeing the US screw up in such a massive fashion and desire additional damage to the US reputation internationally (though it really doesn't need the help). The money quote above is IMO:

"The intelligence suggested the hospital was being used as a Taliban command and control center and may have housed heavy weapons."

Who is this intelligence source? What country or what faction within what country is behind this source, and what did they hope to gain (in addition to making the US look like an idiot)? The possible guilty parties, at a minimum, include the intelligence services of: Afghanistan, Iraq, Turkey, Syria, Iran, Russia, China.


Welcome WB.

Thinking through what might be gained from an 'investigation' that includes blowing through the gate in whatever vehicle they used. If you already know it was an AC-130 and the major damage was done by weapons on board, what are you looking for? That would seem to me to be any sign to support your claim there was Taliban present and they were using weapons, of which you might be able to find proof of some sort. Spent shell casings, signs of secondary explosions, packing crates for RPGs, etc. Thus, the crisis is over and fingers can once again be pointed at the brutal and savage bad guys.


That was my first thought too "another USS Liberty type of attack". Or also like the Chinese Embassy attack.

Most likely there will be some murky and horrible reasons for it, explained away as a 'mistake' and all that. Some poor schmuck down the food chain will later get a kicking.

The only other option is that the US forces showed an astonishing level of incompetence, always possible I suppose, but I'd go for the 'quite deliberate' explanation.



Most people do not understand how easy it is to make a mistake involving friendly fire. I await more info before making a judgment. I was very nearly killed once by a flight (two) of US fighters who got the wrong idea of the alignment of friendly troops on the ground. pl


"Whether or not Taliban forces were in the hospital, attacking such a facility is totally contrary to internationally accepted war practices, and in fact constitutes a war crime, as MSF and others have rightly stated."

Neo-con foreign policy antedates Western ideas of just war theory (Ss. Augustine and Aquinas). It's Old Testament foreign policy (everyone's an enemy you must slaughter in war). Hey, despite its name no one said "Clean Break" wouldn't be messy. Now for the neo-con position which says MSF is a terrorist organization and enemy of America:


October 4, 2015
Daniel Greenfield

"Doctors Without Borders has a long history of collaborating with and defending terrorists. And even being terrorists. The issue came up just last month in relation to Hamas.

Its current attacks on America and collaboration with the Taliban are completely unacceptable. Doctors Without Borders' personnel are once again lying through their teeth, denying the facts put forward by US and Afghan personnel and covering up the use of medical facilities by the Taliban Jihadists as human shields.

This is the same tactic that we've seen with Hamas."


Reading this neocon BS from Daniel Greenfield and the other claims made by Front Page/"David Horowitz Freedom Center" just about causes me to go to my default position when it comes to these people. Whatever they say the rest of us should do it should be ignored or perhaps better yet, the exact opposite done. Long term strategic thinking isn't their forte. Washington, DC insider fighting is.

He makes three recommendations. With some creative rewording I could create something that would work quite well in dealing with (AIPAC and other satelites of the Israel lobby.


What most news accounts forget: There was an incident in July when Afghan Special Forces raided the hospital and roughed up some staff. They hated the clinic because it tended to everyone.

There was a motive. Now - did the U.S. guy who ordered the strike followed that same motive?


If there were armed Taliban present then, no, bombing the hospital is not per se a war crime. It is permissible as long as civilan casualties are not wildly disproportionate to the military objective sought.


So much for "surgical strikes" (no pun intended), GPS, precision weapons and the entire raft of C3I technologies.

This was a coldly deliberate act, in my opinion designed to destroy health infrastructure in a region of Afghanistan that the Government was losing control of.


Col. Lang,

I'm with you. It's very inside the realm of possibility that plain old human error is to blame here. Not as fun to speculate about, but true.

Willy B

Good questions that need answers. Between the AP and the CNN stories I get the sense that there were different parts of the organization that weren't talking to each other, but there could be other explanations that I don't know about. Ryan commented, above, on motivation and I had seen that same theory somewhere suggested about a week or ten days ago. MSF's opposition to the TPP is real and they're up against the giant pharmaceuticals who, of course, support the deal. Does one have anything to do with the other? That I don't know.

Willy B

Remember, MSF has denied that there were any weapons in the facility and no evidence has publicly surfaced contradicting them.

Willy B

Foreign Policy posted a photo essay of the wrecked hospital last week (sorry I don't have the link) and there was no evidence in the photos they published of the kinds of things you indicate.



"More likely, in this case, they've been mislead by their local allies..."

That is my thought too.


Two points.

First, it appears probable from what we know that the decision to bomb was taken by US commanders in Afghanistan in response to a request from Special Forces operatives on the ground. This is what Gen Campbell said explicitly in his first comments on the incident. That request likely was a relay from their Afghan Special Forces partners - as FB Ali has hypothesized. The latter's motivation? Various possibilities; but we have no evidence whatsoever of the hospital being used as a fire base by the Taliban.

Question: we have been told innumerable times by American authorities that decisions to use lethal force in Afghanistan, via drones or manned aircraft, where there is a risk of civilian casualties must be approved further up the chain of command that evidently occurred in this case. That appears to be the usual BS that we hear all the time from the Pentagon, the CIA and the White House. Moreover, the continuation of the assault for a period of 30 - 60 minutes despite repeated communications from MSF means that US commanders knew exactly what they were doing.

Two, the latest statements from the Afghan government and military in Kabul is that the attack was justified because the hospital was a Taliban command headquarters AND that ISI officers also were present. This is from the new, enlightened, savior of Afghanistan government of Mr. Ghani from Columbia University who is desperate to use the American supplied Gorilla Glue to hold together his unraveling regime. (B.O.: Sure, the Pentagon brass agree that is essential to the security of the Republic). For generations now, Washington has been discovering and installing a cast of incompetents and losers in out-of-the-way places that we wished to make politically subordinate. From Vietnam to Lon Nol to Kasavubu to Mobuto to Savimbi to Alawi to a series of Central American dictators trained at our dedicated school at Ft. Bragg - the latest being the clowns whose junta we backed in Honduras who have made it the drug/murder capital of the Western Hemisphere.

When it comes to these maladroit American interventions in the "Third World," there is no learning curve. Just flat-line bone headedness. Please excuse the blunt language. Forbearance in face of this serial misjudgment is no virtue.


I understand that. I'm talking about someone lying to US intelligence for purposes unknown, aka purposefully bad intelligence.

Thanks for the very thorough overview!



This has little to do with "US Intelligence." This is all in the operations side, not the intelligence side. Here is how it works - MSF reports its hospital's location to the US authorities. That registration is lodged in the data base of the operations people and the commander (never an intelligence guy)approves the exception of this place from permitted targets. then someone in the field in the course of the Kunduz battle requests air against this target. This person could be Afghan or US. Who this was is unknown to me as yet. The OPERATIONAL chain of command orders the AC-130 attack on the building with all the many cannons on the aircraft. "US Intelligence" does not appear in this scenario for me. A lot of you oh so sensitive people do not comprehend the savagery and confusion of something like the battle to re-take Kunduz. I do. pl



"approves the exception of this place from permitted targets. then someone in the field in the course of the Kunduz battle requests air against this target."

Do you mean to say that the MSF WAS on the list of permitted targets? OR that it was on a protected list and someone asked for an exceptional strike against it nonetheless?


Which does not surprise me. I very much doubt anything was there.

If one did not know how much vetting usually takes place prior to weapons being free, you could imagine the Afghan Army simply requesting support and someone not being real careful about checking their target request as being appropriate.

I do remember that, regardless of appropriate safeguards, a general flying in an AWACS ordered two F-15s to shoot down what turned out to be Blackhawks full of US servicemen. The procedures aren't always followed or are not always adequate enough for the situation that is encountered.


PL, thanks for the explanation of how US intelligence works in a situation like this versus the operational chain of command.

If there was no US intelligence directly involved then what is meant by "the intelligence suggested"? Is this intelligence that went directly to the operations people or commander that made the exception? It is the source of this intelligence that I am suspicious of.

Patrick and Fred seem to think the US may have been 'misled by local allies' and I was thinking along similar lines.

Ex-PFC Chuck


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