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Sep 5th, 2009


The Washington Post reports in its Sunday edition that a NATO fact-finding team estimates that about 125 people, many of them civilians, were killed in a U.S. airstrike called in by German forces in Afghanistan, guided by a lone informant. Excerpts from that report will be posted here when it becomes available.

Image: Mass grave in Afghanistan
Afghans bury some of the victims of an airstrike in a mass grave near Kunduz, Afghanistan, on Friday, Sept. 4, 2009. (Photo credit: Reuters)

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UPDATE

Sole Informant Guided Decision on Afghan Strike

From left, Col. Georg Klein, left, commander of the German base in Kunduz, Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, and Rear Adm. Gregory J. Smith, NATO's chief of communications in Kabul, visit the site.
From left, Col. Georg Klein, left, commander of the German base in Kunduz, Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, and Rear Adm. Gregory J. Smith, NATO’s chief of communications in Kabul, visit the site. (Photo credit: Anja Niedringhaus / AP — Washington Post)

By Rajiv Chandrasekaran
The Washington Post
September 6, 2009

Excerpts

HAJI SAKHI DEDBY, Afghanistan — To the German commander, it seemed to be a fortuitous target: More than 100 Taliban insurgents were gathering around two hijacked fuel tankers that had become stuck in the mud near this small farming village.

The grainy live video transmitted from an American F-15E fighter jet circling overhead, which was projected on a screen in a German tactical operations center four miles north of here, showed numerous black dots around the trucks — each of them a thermal image of a human but without enough detail to confirm whether they were carrying weapons.

An Afghan informant was on the phone with an intelligence officer at the center, however, insisting that everybody at the site was an insurgent, according to an account that German officers here provided to NATO officials.

Based largely on that informant’s assessment, the commander ordered a 500-pound, satellite-guided bomb to be dropped on each truck early Friday. The vehicles exploded in a fireball that lit up the night sky for miles, incinerating many of those standing nearby.

A NATO fact-finding team estimated Saturday that about 125 people were killed in the bombing, at least two dozen of whom — but perhaps many more — were not insurgents. To the team, which is trying to sort out this complicated incident, mindful that the fallout could further sap public support in Afghanistan for NATO’s security mission here, the target appeared to be far less clear-cut than it had to the Germans. […]

In Kabul, the Afghan capital, relatives of two severely burned survivors being treated at an intensive-care unit said Taliban fighters forced dozens of villagers to assist in moving the bogged-down tankers.

“They came to everyone’s house asking for help,” said Mirajuddin, a shopkeeper who lost six of his cousins in the bombing — none of whom, he said, was an insurgent. “They started beating people and pointing guns. They said, ‘Bring your tractors and help us.’ What could we do?” […]

The decision to bomb the tankers based largely on a single human intelligence source appears to violate the spirit of a tactical directive aimed at reducing civilian casualties that was recently issued by U.S. Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, the new commander of the NATO mission in Afghanistan.

The directive states that NATO forces cannot bomb residential buildings based on a sole source of information and that troops must establish a “pattern of life” to ensure that no civilians are in the target area. Although the directive does not apply to airstrikes in the open, NATO officials said it is McChrystal’s intent for those standards to apply to all uses of air power, except when troops are in imminent danger. […]

The incident has generated intense disquiet among Afghans, many of whom say military operations since the fall of the Taliban government in late 2001 have resulted in an unacceptably high number of civilian casualties. Local media reports have been filled with people alleging — some with little proof — that scores of civilians were killed in the airstrike. […]

Full story

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9/6/09 Update

U.S.-German rift over Afghan deaths case (AP, Sept. 6, 2009) — An airstrike by U.S. fighter jets that appears to have killed Afghan civilians could turn into a major dispute between NATO allies Germany and the United States, as tensions began rising Sunday over Germany’s role in ordering the attack. … The German Defense Ministry, meanwhile, pushed back against a story published in the Washington Post that German officials said painted their commander in a poor light and played up the U.S. version of events. … More

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11/26/09 Update

German military chief removed over airstrike (AP, Nov. 26, 2009) — The German military’s top official has been removed for failing to properly pass on information to political leaders about a September airstrike in Afghanistan that killed civilians. The new defense minister, Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, told parliament that the military’s inspector general, Gen. Wolfgang Schneiderhan — the equivalent of chief of staff — had asked to be relieved of his duties. … More

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FROM THE ARCHIVES: One Year Ago Today — September 5, 2008

On the Campaign Trail: Day 53

With two young supporters in Memorial Park, Forest Lake, Sept. 4, 2008.
With two young supporters, Michael (6) and Steven (10), at Lakeside Memorial Park, Forest Lake.

One-year retrospective: One year ago today, on the 53rd day of my campaign against U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann for the Republican nomination as House of Representatives candidate in Minnesota’s 6th Congressional District, I reported on my campaign stops the previous day north of the St. Paul metro in the cities of Wyoming and Forest Lake in Washington County on my way to the final night of the Republican National Convention, where I observed the action outside the convention hall. I also featured information from the St. Paul Pioneer Press voter guide regarding my campaign platform and issue positions.

The Campaign SUV -- my trusty old 1989 Jeep Cherokee Laredo 4.0 liter 4 x 4 -- in Wyoming, Minn., Sept. 4, 2008.
Campaign SUV — my 1989 Jeep Cherokee in Wyoming, Minn.

On the Sidelines of the Republican National Convention


John McCain and George W. Bush impersonators in Rice Park, St. Paul, outside the Xcel Energy Center, venue for the 2008 Republican National Convention, Sept. 4, 2008.


The MSNBC outdoor set in Rice Park outside the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, venue for the 2008 Republican National Convention, Sept. 4, 2008.

Pioneer Press Voter Guide

Aubrey Immelman
U.S. House
Party: Republican
Age: 52
Incumbent: No
Occupation: Psychology professor, military/security consultant
Address: P.O. Box 117
Sartell, MN 56377
KEY ISSUES
Key Issue 1: U.S. national security/Iraq war
Key Issue 2: Securing U.S. borders/enforcing immigration law
Key Issue 3: Ensuring that local law enforcement agencies and first responders are adequately funded to maintain public safety
Q&A
Why are you running for office?
I’m challenging the incumbent for the Republican nomination, because in my opinion she’s been an uncritical mouthpiece for the policies that led to the invasion of Iraq, instead of standing up and speaking out about the serious consequences of the Iraq war, which has further destabilized the Middle East, empowered Iran, facilitated the spread of al-Qaida and Muslim fundamentalist extremism, damaged the stature of the United States, and exacted a high cost in American lives and taxpayer dollars.
If you are an incumbent, what are your accomplishments in office? If you are a challenger, what accomplishments can voters expect?
Voters can expect me to be in touch with ordinary citizens, not beholden to special interests, and to spend time in the district meeting voters face to face — for example, in town hall meetings. In my campaign, I have walked the length of the Sixth District, 100 miles from Freeport in the north to Stillwater in the east; and the breadth of the District, 50 miles from Foley in the east to Paynesville in the west. With my feet firmly on the ground, my loyalties are clear. I have not taken any money to run for office and have no strings attached. My first responsibility will be to Sixth District residents. If elected, my goal will be to use my background and experience in the areas of intelligence, homeland security, armed services, and foreign affairs to help keep America safe.I’m disdainful of the deplorable level of divisive partisanship in Washington. Voters can expect me to be collegial, to reach across the aisle where possible to accomplish my legislative goals, and to strive to work productively with all reasonable people. Despite our ideological differences, we’re all American.
Why are you the best candidate?
I’m neither highly partisan nor an ideologue, which equips me well to be responsive to the concerns of all reasonable people — Republican, Democrat, and independent. The people of the Sixth District, like most Americans, are tired of partisan bickering and political extremism on both sides of the aisle. Furthermore, I believe I’m best qualified to help keep America safe in a post-9/11 world. I offer strong national security credentials, with military training as an airborne soldier in counterinsurgency and anti-terrorist operations and professional experience as a military consultant on nuclear counterproliferation, threat assessment, deterrence, and psychological operations.




4 Responses to “One Informant, Many Dead”
  1. Immelman for Congress » Blog Archive » Afghanistan Fog of War Says:

    […] One Informant, Many Dead (Sept. 5, 2009) […]

  2. Immelman for Congress » Blog Archive » $1,000 Bounty for Dead Americans Says:

    […] One Informant, Many Dead […]

  3. Immelman for Congress » Blog Archive » Americans Die in Hellfire Strike Says:

    […] One Informant, Many Dead (Sept. 5, 2009) […]

  4. Immelman for Congress » Blog Archive » September 5, 2011 Says:

    […] One Informant, Many Dead […]

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