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Incomprehensible Incompetence: U.S. Bombs the Same Clearly-Marked Red Cross Warehouse A Second Time

October 29, 2001

You may have heard something about this incident, but the details are what make it really outrageous.

About two weeks ago, U.S. warplanes bombed a Red Cross warehouse in Kabul, despite the fact that the warehouse roof was painted with a big red cross inside a white circle.

After expressing the customary hollow "regrets" for U.S. bombs going astray, officials said they hadn't known the buildings were used to store food and relief supplies.

To avoid a similar occurrence, the Red Cross met with the Pentagon to give them details concerning where that organization has facilities in Afghanistan.

So what happens?

Shortly thereafter, two Navy fighter bombers and two B-52's drop eight 2,000-pound, laser-guided bombs onto that same Red Cross installation.

Thankfully there were no casualties, but for 55,000 disabled Afghans in Kabul, it was a disaster: this was the Red Cross's sole facility for their food and blankets, and these supplies were all but destroyed.

Heads should roll for this unbelievable level of incompetence.  The official U.S. excuse is that there was "a human error in the targeting process," that somewhere in the decision chain, someone forgot to take the Red Cross warehouse off the target list.

"Someone forgot?"  This isn't an error where a food item is left off a banquet table.  This is a life-and-death type of decision.

Lest anyone try to make the "heated conditions of combat" excuse, such is decidedly not the case here: an officer at an air operations center in Saudi Arabia, and then officials at Central Command in Tampa, Florida are the ones involved in drawing up the target lists.

Haven't these military personnel ever heard of double-checking things?  Especially after the warehouse was hit the first time, you would think that those involved in the "targeting process" would be triple- and quadruple-checking to make sure no more Red Cross targets are hit.  And no one entering the coordinates for the laser-guided bombs noticed they were the same numbers as were in error before?

But wait, it gets better.

On one of the first days of bombing, U.S. warplanes mistakenly hit a UN-associated mine-clearing organization, killing four people.  It turns that out that late last week, another U.N. office for removing land mines was hit, destroying two vehicles there.

Why do our bombs keep "accidentally" hitting U.N. facilities?

Finally, the topper: even when the military royally screwed up by targeting that Red Cross warehouse a second time, they couldn't even screw up accurately: some of the bombs missed the Red Cross installation and hit a residential neighborhood instead.

Is this Keystone Kops type stuff, or what?

But I shouldn't be flippant.  Targeting errors and errant bombs have killed -- at the least -- dozens of innocent civilians, possibly many times that. 

What's really almost too horrible to contemplate is what must be happening all the rest of the time when the military is not even trying as "hard" to be accurate as they supposedly were when they bombed the Red Cross warehouse a second time.

A good indication is provided by this Reuters report of a bombing atrocity yesterday:

A U.S. bomb flattened a flimsy mud-brick home in Kabul Sunday blowing apart seven children as they ate breakfast with their father

The blast shattered a neighbor's house killing another two children in one of the most gruesome scenes of Washington's three-week-old bombing of the Afghan capital.

Why doesn't our military concentrate on attacking Taliban troops in the field, so this war can be more rapidly concluded?

Or are they just trying to drag things out in order to squeeze in some more "live-fire," "live-target" training?

This was a selection from The Daily Diatribe

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