Latest US War Crime is the Murderous Destruction of a Hospit

Latest US War Crime is the Murderous Destruction of a Hospit

Postby admin » Fri Oct 09, 2015 11:14 pm

Latest US War Crime is the Murderous Destruction of a Hospital in Afghanistan
by Dave Lindorff
October 9, 2015

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The best statement President Obama could come up with after the U.S. bombed and destroyed a hospital in Afghanistan, killing innocent civilians and volunteer doctors from Doctors Without Borders, was “We’re sorry”? This is why the rest of the world hates the U.S.

Really? The best that Nobel Peace Laureate President Obama can do after the US bombs and destroys a hospital in Afghanistan, killing 22 people, including 12 volunteer doctors from Doctors Without Borders, is to say, “We’re sorry”?

No wonder people around the globe hate the US.

A decent human being in the White House would be calling for an independent international investigation into the incident and would be insisting that heads would roll! After all, the initial reports out of the Pentagon were that the strike had been called in to protect threatened American troops — an action that would be a clear war crime since hospitals have special protected status under the internationally accepted laws of war. Only later did the Pentagon backpedal and claim that the strike was a “mistake” that had been called-in by Afghan government forces. But that alibi founders on reports from Doctors Without Borders that days before the assault on their facility in the Taliban-held city of Kunduz, their organization had provided the US with clear coordinates of the hospital, so as to avoid any such “accident.”

But hey, this is America. We don’t do justice. We don’t have to because, as “the exceptional nation,” we are always just in our actions. We kill and maim and then we say we’re sorry (but only if Westerners get killed and maimed as in this instance). And then we move on.

Hospitals? The US always claims it’s an accident, or “collateral damage,” when they get hit. It’s never a matter of deliberate targeting.

But people on the ground where the bombs and rockets fall know better: That the American military has been targeting hospitals and ambulances deliberately for decades. The US bombed hospitals in North Korea in the 1950s. And it bombed them in North Vietnam with a regularity that made a joke of claims to the contrary.

In fact, painting a red cross or a red crescent on the roof of a hospital in an area where the US is conducting one of its many illegal wars is simply an invitation to be bombed.

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What’s left of the Doctors Without Borders hospital in Kunduz following a 20-minute US bombing and gunship attack that killed 22, including 12 medical personnel and three children.

In the all-out assault on the Iraqi city of Fallujah in November/December 2004, hospitals were deliberately bombed, as well as raided by US troops, ambulances were shot up and hit with bombs and rockets, and fleeing civilians were mowed down as they swam a river to escape. No apologies were offered — presumably because no volunteer Western medical personnel were killed.

In Kunduz, the assault on the hospital in question lasted over an hour, from 2:08 until 3:15 am with sorties coming in and dropping more bombs every 15 minutes. And this attack involved not just bombs and rockets, but also a deadly spraying of intense fire by a gunship designed to kill everything within the area of the target. Those who weren’t hit by direct fire or exploding bombs died (including three children) in the ensuing raging fire. The hospital was destroyed totally. If this was a “mistake” it was a long and repetitive one.

Doctors Without Borders isn’t mincing words. Its president, Dr. Joanne Liu, has called the attack a war crime, and she wants it investigated not by the US military, which is like asking the Mafia to investigate its own hit, or for that matter, for a police department to investigate a police officer’s killing of an unarmed civilian, but rather by the International Humanitarian Fact-Finding Commission, a body established precisely for that purpose, and recognized by 76 nations (but not by the US).

Incidentally, it’s worth point out that the US has been lambasting Russia now for over a year for not agreeing to support an international inquiry into the downing of Malaysian Flight MH-17 over Ukraine (Russia has said that the commission was stacked and not unbiased, which is correct, as Russia was not allowed to participate, and even the Malaysian government has criticized its work). Meanwhile, there is no sign that the US would accept an international investigation into this hospital bombing by its planes conducted by an organization that has long been in place to do just that — investigate war crimes. How do you spell hypocrisy?

This latest atrocity occurred in Afghanistan, a country where the president claims the 14-year US invasion is over. Clearly it’s not.

War crimes, under international law, must be investigated, and the perpetrators punished. When a country responsible for a war crime by its military refuses to do that, those in authority, up to and including the top leadership in the military chain of command, are considered to be guilty of the same war crime. That would include a president and commander-in-chief who refuses to investigate and punish war criminals under his command.

Of course, this president is already guilty of not prosecuting the war criminals who preceded him in the White House, President George W. Bush and Vice-President Dick Cheney, who launched the criminal wars against Iraq and Afghanistan. So what does he have to fear in committing yet another war crime by covering up this latest atrocity by US forces?

The sad reality is: nothing.

As much as the Republicans who control Congress hate America’s first black president, and as much as they’d like to punish him, it won’t be for war crimes, because the members of Congress, Democrats and Republicans alike, are all war lovers, and nearly all of them, for having backed America’s criminal wars, are really war criminals themselves.

As for the American people, we are just the latest incarnation of those long-pilloried “good Germans” — the silent majority in Weimar Germany who by their support or their silence in the early 1930s enabled or supported the rise of Adolph Hitler.

Evolution of a lie: The sequence of US explanations for the attack on the hospital in Kunduz

On Saturday, October 3 (day of the attack), Col. Brian Tribus, spokesman for U.S. Forces in Afghanistan said:

“U.S. forces conducted an airstrike in Kunduz city at 2:15am (local), Oct 3, against individuals threatening the force. The strike may have resulted in collateral damage to a nearby medical facility. This incident is under investigation.”


On Sunday, October 4, Gen. John Campbell, U.S. military chief in Afghanistan, said:

“U.S. forces conducted an airstrike in Kunduz city at 2:15am (local), Oct 3, against insurgents who were directly firing upon U.S. service members advising and assisting Afghan Security Forces in the city of Kunduz. The strike was conducted in the vicinity of a Doctors Without Borders medical facility.”


On Monday, October 5, Gen. John Campbell, U.S. military chief in Afghanistan said,

“We have now learned that on October 3, Afghan forces advised that they were taking fire from enemy positions and asked for air support from U.S. forces. An airstrike was then called to eliminate the Taliban threat and several civilians were accidentally struck. This is different from the initial reports, which indicated that U.S. forces were threatened and that the airstrike was called on their behalf.”


On Tuesday, October 6, Gen. John Campbell told the Senate Armed Services Committee:

“On Saturday morning our forces provided close air support to Afghan forces at their request. To be clear, the decision to provide aerial fires was a U.S. decision, made within the U.S. chain of command. A hospital was mistakenly struck. We would never intentionally target a protected medical facility … I assure you that the investigation will be thorough, objective and transparent.”


Analysis: The initial explanation seeks to claim the hospital was not targeted. When the level of destruction proved that it was in fact the target, the fall back a day later seeks to continue that claim, less explicitly, but ends up almost admitting to the war crime of targeting a hospital. The third explanation one more day later seeks to pass the buck by claiming Afghan forces called in the strike. On day four, the US has to admit it made the decision to attack on its own and hit the hospital on purpose but “by mistake.” Never addressed is the claim by Doctors Without Borders that they provided clear coordinates of the hospital the the military days before precisely to avoid any mistaken attack on the compound.
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Re: Latest US War Crime is the Murderous Destruction of a Ho

Postby admin » Tue Dec 29, 2015 4:19 am

Even War Has Rules
by Amy Goodman
November 19, 2015

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Hospital attacks in Yemen and Kunduz have not been mentioned in any of the U.S. presidential debates or forums so far. We need a full investigation of these crimes, to hold those responsible accountable.

No one disputes that the United States military attacked a hospital in the city of Kunduz, Afghanistan, in the pre-dawn hours of Saturday, Oct. 3. The airstrike on the Doctors Without Borders facility, the Kunduz Trauma Center, was devastating, with at least 30 people killed. Patients in the only intensive-care unit in the region were burned to death in their beds. Medical staffers were killed by shrapnel bombs that tore off their limbs. At least one person was decapitated. As people fled the burning building, the U.S. AC-130 gunship slaughtered them from above with automatic fire. Doctors and other medical staff were shot while running to reach safety in a different part of the compound.

The Kunduz Trauma Center had been in the same place, performing thousands of surgeries and treating tens of thousands of people in the emergency room, for four years. Doctors Without Borders, known internationally by its French name, Medecins Sans Frontieres, or MSF, had repeatedly provided the exact GPS coordinates of the hospital complex to U.S. and Afghan government officials. “As a precondition of opening the hospital, we negotiated with both the U.S., Afghan, NATO, as well as opposition forces, with the Taliban. We received the support of all of those groups to operate this hospital,” Jason Cone, the executive director of Doctors Without Borders USA, told us on the “Democracy Now!” news hour. “Part of that was sharing our GPS coordinates with the various parties. We shared them as recently as September 29th.”

Sept. 29 was an important day in Kunduz. Battles for control of the city had been raging since April. On Sept. 28, a Taliban force reported to be only 500 strong routed 7,000 Afghan National Army troops, capturing Kunduz. This was the first major city that the Taliban had taken since the U.S invasion and occupation began in October 2001, when the Taliban were driven from power. MSF knew that the front line of the conflict had come to their door, and that there would be many more casualties flooding the hospital. “It was probably the most well-lit structure in the entire city of Kunduz, which has about 300,000 people in it, because we were running generators that night,” Cone said.

When asked if the attack constituted a war crime, Cone employed the precise language of the humanitarian-aid worker: “There’s been a lot of discussion about whether or not this was a mistake. This is not necessarily the threshold that has to be crossed for this to constitute a grave breach of international humanitarian law. If the military fails to distinguish between military and civilian targets, as is in this case, from our standpoint, from everything we know, then they’re guilty.”

MSF conducted an extensive internal review and shared it with the U.S. government, NATO and the Afghan government. The next day, they released it to the public. “It’s part of our efforts to cooperate with the investigation. There needs to be an independent and impartial investigation conducted into the bombing,” Cone explained. MSF has asked the U.S. government to accept the services of a Swiss-based group, the International Humanitarian Fact-Finding Commission, which was founded 24 years ago specifically to investigate possible war-crimes violations. To date, the commission has never been put to use on an investigation. Meanwhile, the perpetrators of the attack — the U.S. government, NATO and the Afghan government — are conducting their own investigations. MSF’s public demand for an independent investigation is being supported by a global petition that has so far garnered more than 500,000 signatures.

Three weeks after the attack in Kunduz, another MSF hospital was struck, this time in Yemen. The hospital was hit multiple times over a two-hour period last week, even though the roof was marked with the MSF logo and its GPS coordinates had been shared multiple times with the Saudi-led coalition. Every indication is that the Saudi Arabian military, using U.S.-provided bombers and arms, launched the strike.

“It certainly is a breach of humanitarian law,” Cone said of the Yemen attack. “For us, this is about just reinforcing the fact that there are the Geneva Conventions that govern the laws of war … we need to understand that governments still respect these rules, because it’s the rules that allow us to send people into these war zones and treat the victims.”

The horror of the Kunduz hospital attack will never leave MSF nurse Lajos Zoltan Jecs. She was sleeping in the hospital safe room when the bombs hit: “We tried to take a look into one of the burning buildings. I cannot describe what was inside. There are no words for how terrible it was. In the Intensive Care Unit six patients were burning in their beds. … We saw our colleagues dying. Our pharmacist … I was just talking to him last night and planning the stocks, and then he died there in our office.”

Neither hospital attack has been mentioned in any of the U.S. presidential debates or forums so far. We need a full investigation of these crimes, to hold those responsible accountable. And we need a full debate, in this presidential year, to determine whether attacks like these, that only perpetuate terror, will be allowed to continue.

(c) 2015 Amy Goodman and Denis Moynihan
Distributed by King Features Syndicate
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Re: Latest US War Crime is the Murderous Destruction of a Ho

Postby admin » Tue May 10, 2016 2:16 am

No More Fig Leafs: Doctors Without Borders Rejects World Aid Summit, Rips U.N. For Ongoing War Crimes
by Abby Zimet, staff writer
CommonDreams
May 9, 2016

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MSF hospital in Kunduz after the airstrike. Photo by Najim Rahim/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

Having watched in aggrieved horror the last year as over 75 of its hospitals were bombed and hundreds of its patients and health workers were killed "in violation of the most fundamental rules of war," Doctors Without Borders, or Médecins Sans Frontières, has withdrawn from the World Humanitarian Summit slated for later this month in Turkey. The action comes just days after an MSF-supported hospital in Aleppo, Syria was attacked, killing at least 50 people, including one of the city's last pediatricians. It also follows last week's almost entirely redacted, predictably egregious Pentagon report finding that 16 U.S. military personnel involved in the grisly bombing of a MSF hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan in October 2015 -- killing 42 and injuring many more -- committed "errors" worthy of “disciplinary measures,” but no war or any other kind of crime. The bombings have led many to charge that U.S. so-called policy in those countries is a murky "recipe leading to disaster" born of massive political confusion, and that in the wake of its inevitable disasters, "the Pentagon shouldn't get to absolve itself for bombing a hospital."

Citing these atrocities and many more connected to them -- from civilians wounded and killed in Syria, Yemen, South Sudan, Afghanistan to mistreatment of some of the world's nearly 60 million refugees in Turkey, Greece and elsewhere -- MSF acknowledged that an international humanitarian summit seeking solutions has never been more needed. But even after spending months preparing for the Turkey summit, and after the U.N. urged global attendance by proclaiming, “We will not accept the erosion of humanity which we see in the world today,” MSF has regretfully withdrawn.

“We no longer have any hope that the WHS will address the weaknesses in humanitarian action and emergency response, particularly in conflict areas or epidemic situations,” it said in a statement last week. “As shocking violations of international humanitarian law and refugee rights continue on a daily basis, WHS participants will be pressed to a consensus on non-specific, good intentions to ‘uphold norms’ and ‘end needs.’ The summit has become a fig-leaf of good intentions, allowing these systematic violations, by states above all, to be ignored."

In a blistering speech before the U.N. Security Council last week, MSF president Dr. Joanne Liu further voiced the group's anger over the world's persistent failure to act to "stop the carnage." Citing last week's "murderous airstrike" in Aleppo that "blew apart at least 50 men, women and children" and the almost 300 airstrikes there over the last 10 days, she furiously asked, “What are individuals in wars today? Expendable commodities, dead or alive.” She went on, “Hospitals are routinely bombed, raided, looted or burned to the ground. Medical personnel are threatened. Patients are shot in their beds. Broad attacks on communities and precise attacks on health facilities are described as mistakes, are denied outright, or are simply met with silence. In reality, they amount to massive, indiscriminate and disproportionate civilian targeting in urban settings, and, in the worst cases, they are acts of terror.” Noting that four of five permanent members of the Council have ties to coalitions connected to these attacks -- including the US-and-NATO coalition in Afghanistan -- she insisted, "Medicine must not be a deadly occupation" and states must live up to their "extraordinary responsibilities." "You will be judged not on your words today, but on your actions," she said. "Your work has only begun."

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MSF photo after airstrike

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Joanne Liu blasts UN security council. Photo by Paulo Filgueiras/MSF
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