Kucinich Challenges Gates on Civilians Killed in Afghanistan

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Raw Story

Kucinich Challenges Gates on Civilians Killed in Afghanistan

by
Ron Brynaert

Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) wrote a letter to Defense Secretary Robert Gates on Monday "demanding information on the decision-making process and the underlying intelligence that led to a NATO attack on a civilian convoy." (Raw Story - File)

The buck doesn't appear to be stopping anywhere in Afghanistan.

"Two days after Afghanistan's deadliest attack on civilians in six months, many questions remain unanswered," The Canadian Press reports. "Perhaps the two most pressing are: Who called in the air strike? And on what grounds?"

The
article continues, "Dual investigations by NATO and the Afghan
government are underway to answer those questions. But the cabinet of
Afghan President Hamid Karzai has already made it clear the attack was,
in a word, 'unjustifiable.'"

Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH)
-- whose own press release notes that he remains "a vocal critic of the
war in Afghanistan" -- wrote a letter to Defense Secretary Robert Gates
on Monday (pdf link)
"demanding information on the decision-making process and the
underlying intelligence that led to a NATO attack on a civilian convoy."

"Media
reports indicate that 27 civilians were killed, including women and
children and many more were injured," Kucinich's press release notes,
adding, "The U.S. government has an obligation to protect civilians
under international law. As Secretary of Defense, you have an
obligation to ensure that all military operations conducted in
Afghanistan are conducted in accordance to such laws."

Kucinich
writes, "Please provide information about the events leading up to the
air strike, including the name of the person who granted authority to
US Special Forces helicopters to conduct the aforementioned airstrike,
the name of the person who ordered the airstrike, a detailed
description of how it was determined that the civilians traveling by
minibus were Taliban insurgents, and the protocol for ordering this
airstrike and all other airstrikes."

The press release adds:

Kucinich
demanded a response within two weeks, citing "the gravity of the
situation and the tragic loss of life." Kucinich added, "The United
States must demonstrate a clear commitment to protecting civilian lives
in Afghanistan, and the results of this investigation are vital to
ensure that an adequate system of oversight and accountability is in
place."

Kucinich warned, "If necessary, I will direct the request
for information via a Resolution of Inquiry in the House of
Representatives." A Resolution of Inquiry is a procedure to force a
House vote to force the release of documents from the Executive Branch.
Under House Rules, a Resolution of Inquiry must be referred to
committee and acted upon within 14 legislative days.

While
specifics about what happened hasn't really been adequately addressed
yet, the new Pentagon policy apparently believes in at least taking
responsibility for errant actions.

The Christian Science Monitor notes, "Another botched airstrike, another apology."

"In
a video distributed Tuesday in Dari and Pashto, the main languages
spoken in Afghanistan, the top NATO commander here Gen. Stanley
McChrystal said he was sorry to the nation for 27 civilian deaths,
after US special forces killed a convoy of Afghan civilians they had
mistaken for insurgents. It was the coalition's deadliest mistake in
six months," Julius Cavendish writes for CSM.

The article adds,
"While public apologies by NATO have become almost commonplace - this
was just one of half a dozen in the past 10 days, and the second by
McChrystal himself - the push to admit mistakes and say sorry is
unprecedented in NATO's nine-year intervention in Afghanistan. It fits
into McChyrstal's new strategy that prioritizes winning over the
population."

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