A U.S. Black Hawk chopper went down off the Yemen coast in a reported training accident on August 25.
Although five service members were rescued, one is still missing. The incident is being investigated by Central Command, under the leadership of General Joseph Votel. Votel reportedly visited the Saudi Arabian-Yemeni border just days before.
The U.S. military maintains a small special operations base near Yemen’s port of Mukalla to facilitate an ongoing campaign targeting al-Qaeda loyalists there. The Pentagon has conducted more than 80 airstrikes in Yemen this year, officials say.
Also, Stars and Stripes indicates this is the same Special Ops outfit that conducted the disastrous Yemen raid in January, leaving two Americans (usually cited as one because the Federal Government doesn’t want to emphasize we fatally shot Obama-executed Anwar al-Awlaki‘s eight-year old daughter in the neck), multiple civilian women and children, and an American MV-22 Osprey helicopter destroyed:
Stars and Stripes reports our Horn of Africa operations are primarily waged against al-Qaeda.
al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, or AQAP, is reportedly the second-largest branch of al-Qaeda. According to Wikipedia, the branch is the most dangerous al-Qaeda arm currently, and emerged as central leadership of the terrorist organization weakened.
AQAP claimed responsibility for the fatal 2009 Little Rock, AR recruiting office shooting perpetrated by Abdulhakim Muhammad.
Washington Post identified the full list of sailors lost in the crash. All remains have been recovered.
Nathan Findley, 31:
Abraham Lopez, 39:
Kevin Sayer Bushell, 26:
Jacob Daniel Drake, 21:
Timothy Thomas Eckels Jr., 23:
Corey George Ingram, 28;
Dustin Louis Doyon, 26:
John Henry Hoagland III, 20:
Logan Stephen Palmer, 23:
and Kenneth Aaron Smith, 22:
Vice Admiral Joseph Aucoin, commander of the 7th Fleet, was relieved of duties in the wake of the USS John S. McCain collision.
Aucoin speaks following the USS Fitzgerald collision in June.
Aucoin was scheduled to retire next month, and his slated replacement, Rear Admiral Phillip Sawyer, took command.
“Some remains” of the ten missing sailors have been recovered by Navy divers, but no identifications have been made.
Three sailors’ families were informed their sons were missing: Logan Palmer, Ken Smith and Jacob Drake.
CNN and Wall Street Journal had details on the third and fourth 2017 Naval accidents in the Asian area. According to WSJ:
Two other accidents within U.S. Seventh Fleet’s area of responsibility occurred earlier this year. In May, the guided missile cruiser USS Lake Champlain collided with a South Korean fishing vessel, and in January, another cruiser, the USS Antietam, ran aground near its port in Yokosuka.
Original post continues below.
America’s Navy reported the evening of August 20 that the guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain collided with a merchant ship in the South China Sea, specifically in Singapore‘s Strait of Malacca (6:24 AM on August 21 in Japan time.)
Five sailors are injured, with ten missing.
John S. McCain, pre-collision.
The other party was Alnic MC, an “oil and chemical tanker” out of Liberia.
The John S. McCain, damaged, made it to Changi Naval Base in Singapore.
Damaged John S. McCain pulling into Singapore.
CNN reported on the port side damage of the John S. McCain (above).
When reporters asked President Trump about the collision, he reportedly responded, “That’s too bad.” The remark will likely be lambasted for the next few days.
The John S. McCain is named for Senator John McCain’s father and grandfather, both Navy Admirals.
According to CNN, this is the fourth U.S. Navy accident in Asian waters for 2017.
CNN “military analyst” Rick Francona predicted the 7th Fleet of the U.S. Navy will undergo a leadership change.
“How does a state-of-the-art Navy destroyer — equipped with multiple radar systems and communications gear with a full bridge watch — not see, detect and evade a 30,000-ton slow-moving (10 knots) behemoth?” Francona asked.
The 7th Fleet is based in Yokosuka, Japan; its objectives include defense of the Korean peninsula, according to Wikipedia. According to America’s Navy, “At any given time there are 70-80 ships and submarines, 140 aircraft and approximately 40,000 Sailors and Marines in [the 48 million square mile area of operation].”
The 505-foot Alnic MC, which reported no injuries and denies any oil was spilled. (“Merchant maritime websites” tout the length at 600 feet, however, according to CNN. Because size matters.)
A Navy official told CNN the John S. McCain briefly lost steering before the collision, but it was regained.
Of the Asian accidents made possible this year by the world’s largest, most expensive and intrusive military of all time attempting to micromanage the affairs of all other countries, the USS Fitzgerald‘sdisastrous collision with Filipino merchant ship MVACX Crystal outside Tokyo, Japan on June 17 resulted in perhaps the most scathing indictment of leadership.
Seven U.S. sailors (below, thanks New York Times: Xavier Martin, 24; Shingo Douglass, 25; Dakota Rigsby, 19; Carlos Sibayan, 23; Ngoc T. Truong Huynh, 25; Noe Hernandez, 26; and Gary Rehm Jr., 37) perished, apparently drowning in a breached berthing compartment.
The Fitzgerald (two pictures below, thanks to Washington Post) is also a guided missile destroyer.
Three leaders of the Fitzgerald at the time were removed from duty on August 17. Unfortunately, they all have very similar names (from left to right, above, thanks to USNI News): Commander Bryce Benson, executive officer Commander Sean Babbitt and command master chief (CMC) Brice Baldwin.
None of the three were on the Fitzgerald‘s bridge at the time of collision. In fact, the crash crush[ed] and warp[ed] Benson’s stateroom […] leaving him hanging to the side of the hull in the open air for 15 minutes.
Several subordinate officers had to pop the stateroom door with a sledgehammer and their own bodies, then form a human chain to retrieve Benson, who was medically evacuated by Japanese helicopter.
[VCNO Admiral Bill] Moran singled out the actions of Gary Leo Rehm Jr., who was advanced to Chief Petty Officer posthumously this week. Rehm helped get several sailors out to the exits while Berthing 2 was flooding and was one of the seven who died.
Moran reportedly acknowledged “serious mistakes were made by members of the crew” and that sailors “lost situational awareness.”
New York Times wondered,
[W]hy did [lookouts] not see the 728-foot freighter, the ACX Crystal, stacked with more than 1,000 containers, bearing on the destroyer?
According to USNI News, repair costs “could easily rise above $500 million.”
New York Times reports the Fitzgerald cost $1.5 billion and, like the John S. McCain, is much smaller than its collision partner. [And sustained much more damage. And was supposed to be more maneuverable and able to avoid collisions.]
In fact, Heavy reported back in June that the Crystal was chartered by a Japanese company, and its crew–much smaller than that of the 300-plus Fitzgerald–sustained no injuries.
[T]he ACX Crystal is being investigated for possibly making a sharp turn before the collision. However, that turn might have come after the collision, and ACX Crystal could have been operating on autopilot, one expert said.
Several additional sailors, on duty the night of June 17, were also removed. The Navy, citing “inadequate leadership,” commented that about twelve sailors in all will be disciplined.
Benson, Babbitt and Baldwin’s Naval careers are likely finished.
America proceeded with ten days of joint military exercises with South Korea beginning today. North Korea (recently engaged in a verbal spat with Trump over who gets to actually trigger the destruction of all mankind) commented yesterday these drills signified “reckless behavior driving the situation into the uncontrollable phase of a nuclear war.”
However, BREAKING UPDATE 12:00 PM Chief of Naval Operations Admiral John Richardson on August 21ordered a one-day pause in operations “to ensure we are taking all appropriate immediate measures to enhance the Navy’s safe and effective operation around the world.”
Because American raids, bombs and special operations have not hurt the world enough this year, the big-military warmongers went to bat for Pentagon budget increases beyond those Trump proposed by redistributing from domestic programs such as EPA.
Senator John McCain (R-AZ), Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, eviscerated the budget as [our emphasis]: “inadequate to the challenges we face, illegal under current law and part of an overall budget proposal that is dead on arrival in Congress.”
The irony of the phrase “dead on arrival” to characterize the Trump budget by a Republican reputed to have a hard-on for making things hard on the people crawling out of the smoldering wreckage we create in the name of freedom was, sadly, overlooked.
House Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-TX) also declared the Trump proposal “basically dead on arrival.”
McCain and other “defense hawks” are reportedly determined to seize a full $640 billion from the American people this year to destroy non-American people.
The Pentagon has said this budget proposal is about fixing the readiness of the force it currently has and that Congress can expect the buildup to start in fiscal year 2019. But defense hawks say that’s an unnecessary and potentially harmful delay.
Todd Harrison, a defense budget analyst at Center for Strategic and International Studies, opined the Armed Services committee would look foolish if spending were authorized and not subsequently appropriated.
“It undermines some of the authority of the authorizers when they authorize things that don’t ultimately get appropriated,” he said. “You can’t spend an authorization.”
Harrison also noted the 2011 Budget Control Act capped defense spending at $549 billion per year (as we will see soon, that don’t mean shit):
“You might have to reprioritize, maybe delay a few weapons systems. But Congress is always good at sweeping up money that hasn’t been spent. You know, shake couch cushions and a few dollars fall out.”
Jumping to non-military spending momentarily, while addressing her alma mater Wellesley College on May 26, Hillary Clintonhad strong words on Trump’s proposal to marginally secure the crumbling financial future of the day’s graduates by cutting a paltry $3.6 billion in Federal Government bloat over the next ten years.
“Look at the budget that was just proposed in Washington. It is an attack of unimaginable cruelty on the most vulnerable among us.
“It grossly underfunds public education, mental health and even efforts to combat the opioid epidemic.”
Above: academic people always wear special costumes so we take them seriously. Photo from Quartz, who kindly compiled Hillary’s entire speech.
“You are graduating a time when there is a full-fledged assault on truth and reason. Just log on to social media for 10 seconds, it will hit you right in the face,” she said, citing hoax online reports that her campaign was tied to a Washington pizzeria that operated a child sex ring.
Interestingly, Hillary seemed to address the all-female institution’s track record of suppressing disagreeable speech, which we have previously noted:
[Clinton] urged graduates of the liberal-leaning school […] not to retreat into their own partisan echo chambers, saying, “your learning, listening and serving should include people who don’t agree with you politically.”
Back to the defense budget. As we have previously reported, concealing waste at the Pentagon is a way of life for paper-pushers whose livelihood hinges on destroying strangers on the other side of the world:
Forbes reported on July 14 that the House had overwhelmingly passed a $696,500,000,000 defense bill, which, for those keeping score, was even larger than the monstrous amount McCain & Company insisted was necessary for the military’s survival:
Army Spc. Etienne J. Murphy, 22, (below) was killed in Syria, reportedly due to a non-tactical vehicular rollover, according to Good Morning America.
Murphy’s death was under investigation at the time of the GMA report. We have not found further details.
Murphy, with his mother Sheila, was dubbed “a true American hero” by Boston Herald.
We are not at war with Syria, but put our troops there in early 2016 anyway. In addition to Murphy, we have lost U.S. Navy Senior Chief Petty Officer Scott C. Dayton (IED), and U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Austin L. Bieren (“non-combat related incident”).
Additionally, America dropped over 12,000 bombs on Syria in 2016.
The United Kingdom’s Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported America killed 470 civilians (137 of them children) from May 23 to June 23. This was the highest one-month toll since raids began in September 2014.
In February the U.S. and allies were cited by watchdog groups for now killing more civilians than Russia by bomb.
“For the first time, US-led strikes appeared to be killing more non-combatants than Russia’s notoriously brutal air campaign,” Airwars […] report[ed]. “Though that pattern may be reversed, for the moment the Coalition is out-killing Russia.”
British terrorist Salman Abedi (below) detonated himself with a suicide vest following a concert by has-been U.S. pop star Ariana Grande at Manchester Arena, England on May 22.
Besides Abedi, 22 adults and children were killed, with hundreds injured.
Britain and France were sitting on information that Abedi had recently traveled to Syria and was linked to ISIS. He also stopped in Libya during the month prior to the attack. (Abedi’s parents apparently fled Gaddafi’s Libya in the 1990s.)
According to telegraph.co.uk,
Abedi’s sister, Jomana, suggested he carried out the attack for revenge on US air strikes in Syria.
“I think he saw children—Muslim children—dying everywhere, and wanted revenge,” she told the Wall Street Journal. “He saw the explosives America drops on children in Syria, and he wanted revenge. Whether he got that is between him and God.”
Libyan authorities told BBC2 that Abedi’s younger brother Hashim, currently under investigation for ties to ISIS, had known Salman was planning an attack:
“[W]hen we arrested and we asked him, [Hashim] told us, ‘I have ideology with my brother. I know everything about my brother, what he was doing there in Manchester’.”
It was suggested that since Salman Abedi lived in Whalley Range, Manchester near “expert bomb-maker” Abd al-Baset Azzouz, 51, terrorist leader of a Libyan faction of ISIS’ rival group, al-Qaeda, Abedi’s bomb may have been manufactured locally.
This all hit closer stateside because British police briefly (for about one day) suspended intelligence sharing with U.S. security. Leaks, they said.
A diplomatic tiff broke out after the New York Times published photos on Wednesday appearing to show debris from the crime scene, including bloodstained fragments from the bomb.
The move outraged British police and government officials, and prompted Mr Trump to address the matter during a visit to Brussels.
Reuters also noted in wake of the Manchester attack:
With the official threat level raised to “critical”, meaning a further attack could be imminent, troops have been deployed to free up police, and armed officers patrolled trains for the first time in Britain.
Another Trump leak was noted by the Washington Post:
In a New York Times article, Trump is quoted as saying, “I just fired the head of the FBI. He was crazy, a real nut job.” Aside from the irony of the statement itself, it is appalling that an American president should be caught boasting about obstructing justice to the representative of a power that is so expert on the topic.
“I faced great pressure because of Russia,” Trump went on. “That’s taken off.” So the president is delusional as well as dishonorable.
And yet. How in God’s name did the reporter gain access to a discussion in the Oval Office? According to the article, the “memcon” — the memorandum of conversation — was “read to The New York Times by an American official” […] [This document] typically would not have even been given to the director of the CIA.
The three families that sheltered Edward Snowden in Hong Kong as he fled the U.S. national security machine were officially denied asylum status.
“[T]here are no substantial grounds for believing that the claimants, if returned to their country of origin, will be subject to real and substantial risk of danger,” the Hong Kong government told CNN.
Supun Kellapatha and Nadeeka Nonis with their son Dinath.
In February, BBC reported Sri Lanka’s Criminal Investigation Department officers in fact traveled to Hong Kong and approached the asylum seekers last December.
Kellapatha and Nonis are “bookended” by Debagma Kankanalamage Ajith Pushpa Kumara (far left) and Vanessa Rodel.
Rodel and her daughter are from the Philippines, while the other two families are Sri Lankan.
CNN reports that just 0.5% of applicants receive protected status to remain in Hong Kong, one of the lowest rates in the developed world. Unlike in America (well, sort of), asylum seekers are forbidden from seeking employment and relegated to government welfare. The refugees told Vice News in March that the welfare office had cut the families’ benefits and interrogated them on Snowden.
The families are reportedly now seeking refugee status in Canada, the country of their lawyer Robert Tibbo, who assisted Snowden before he fled Hong Kong for Russia.
President Trump allowed the check to clear, according to Business Insider. Multiple sources reported earlier this year that Trump recognized the Congressional “holds” on the highly controversial payment, would review it and was poised to overturn the deal.
The money was reported to go to hospitals and West Bank “infrastructure,” not the Palestinian Authority.
So it’s not really clear if the money went to Palestinian citizens, the Palestinian Authority, or if Palestine is even actually a country. The United Nations recognizes it as a non-member UN observer state, whatever that means.
[According to Wikipedia, that means:
Observer status is a privilege granted by some organizations to non-members to give them an ability to participate in the organization’s activities. Observer status is often granted by intergovernmental organizations (IGO) to non-member parties and international nongovernmental organizations (INGO) that have an interest in the IGO’s activities. Observers generally have a limited ability to participate in the IGO, lacking the ability to vote or propose resolutions.]
[F]ar from being a slight to Israel, experts say the funds released by Obama, and later approved by Trump, actually promote stability in the region.
“The Israeli Defense Forces and the Israeli government are the biggest lobbyists of Congress in favor of continuing Palestinian aid,” Michael Koplow, a Middle East analyst at the Israel Policy Forum, told Business Insider in January.
Koplow credits the US and Israel’s aid to the West Bank for keeping it from becoming “a haven for terrorism and a launching ground for rocket attacks,” as is the case with Gaza, another territory occupied by Palestinians.
As we reported in our previous post, Israel (and America) fund Palestinian authority because it is the most stable alternative, or something. Fortunately, America has no debt and plenty of cash to throw at foreigners.
According to Washington Post on May 2:
The Palestinians are saying they think Trump might be the one — with the right mix of bombast and unpredictability — to restart peace negotiations with Israel with the aim of securing Palestinian borders, a capital and a state.
In an interview with Reuters on [April 27], Trump said: “I want to see peace with Israel and the Palestinians. There is no reason there’s not peace between Israel and the Palestinians — none whatsoever.”
[Israeli prime minister Benjamin] Netanyahu often says he is prepared to meet [Palestinian President Mahmoud] Abbas anywhere, anytime, without preconditions — before listing his preconditions: that Abbas must recognize not only Israel, which Abbas has done, but Israel as “the Jewish state.” Abbas has been reluctant to do so, in part because more than 20 percent of the Israeli population consists of Palestinian Muslims and Christians.
Today, Israel and its congressional supporters are urging Trump to push Abbas to stop social welfare payments that the Palestinian Authority makes to the families of Palestinian prisoners and assailants either wounded or killed by Israeli forces during terrorist attacks.
This post has been updated 5/7/17 at 8:00 AM, including its title. The previous title, “Fighting Death with More Death,” was inaccurate because there were reportedly no casualties at the airfield from some sources; Syrian officials reported 15 dead.
Time to play war! U.S. President Donald Trump, after what had to be at least 15 minutes of careful consideration, reacted to Syrian president Bashar al-Assad reportedly gassing citizens in Khan Shaykhun with sarin (this is poisonous) on April 4 by hitting the al-Shayrat airfield in Khan Shaykhun that we think was used to launch the sarin gas. Well, sort of hitting it. ABC of Australia reported at the time:
The base was where US officials say the Syrian military planes that dropped the chemicals had taken off.
The Russian Defence Ministry said the attack destroyed six planes in repair hangers, but said only 23 of the rockets hit the target and it was not clear where the other 36 landed, according to Russian news agencies.
Sometimes we have to get shown up by Russia on an international stage because they will call out American failures to score political points. See later in this article.
In a statement, the office of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad called the attack “reckless” and “irresponsible”, saying it showed Washington was “naively pulled behind a false propaganda campaign”.
According to CNN, Assad’s original sarin spray on a rebel-held town killed more than 80 people and injured more than 500, according to a Syrian Civil Defense report on the attacks.
[Of note, the August 2013 sarin gas attack on Ghouta, Syria civilians, believed to be perpetrated by Assad, killed 1,429 people […] including at least 426 children according to a preliminary U.S. intelligence report. That attack led to America and Russia removing Syria’s chemical weapons. Or did it? See later in this article.]
Regarding the U.S. actions this time around, Russia was pissed:
Russian President Vladimir Putin [said] the US strike broke international law and seriously hurt US-Russia relations.
News agencies citing Mr Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said he regarded the US action as “aggression against a sovereign nation” on a “made-up pretext” and as a cynical attempt to distract the world from civilian deaths in Iraq.
Mr Peskov was quoted as saying Russia did not believe that Syria possessed chemical weapons and the US move would inevitably create a serious obstacle to creating an international coalition to fight terrorism, an idea Mr Putin has repeatedly pushed.
Russia said it would now suspend a deal with the US to help prevent mid-air collisions over Syria.
The deal meant Russia and the US would exchange information about their flights to avoid incidents in the crowded skies over Syria.
[Next time, we should just blindfold all our pilots voluntarily. Same danger, but Russia–our ally???–won’t be unnecessarily antagonized.]
Trump supporters were pissed:
In France, National Front leader [and presidential candidate] Marine Le Pen […] appeared to distance herself from Trump, saying on Twitter that she “strongly condemned” the “horrible” strike on the Syrian airbase.
Right-wing commentator Ann Coulter, who campaigned for Trump, wrote on Twitter: “Those who wanted us meddling in the Middle East voted for other candidates.” […] “Trump campaigned on not getting involved in Mideast,” she wrote. “Said it always helps our enemies & creates more refugees. Then he saw a picture on TV.”
And Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) called on Trump to consult on Congress. “While we all condemn the atrocities in Syria, the United States was not attacked,” Paul said. “The President needs congressional authorization for military action as required by the Constitution, and I call on him to come to Congress for a proper debate.”
Fortunately, some of our allies with nukes appeared to take America’s side:
[Current] French President Francois Hollande and German Chancellor Angela Merkel — with whom Trump has had particularly chilly relations — said that Syrian President Bashar al “Assad is entirely responsible for the development of the situation.”
Stateside, conservative leaders were split. Hugh Hewitt and Mark Levin, conservative radio hosts, applauded Trump’s decision, according to New York Times.
But Richard Spencer, a “far-right activist and white nationalist…who coined the term ‘alt-right'” condemned the attack.
In fact, the Times noted the most vocal in their outrage were leaders from the small but vocal white nationalist movement.
Brian Williams Babbles
Disgraced “journalist” Brian Williams, who endured a six-month suspension as lead anchor for NBC Nightly News in 2015 after making multiple on-air references to his daring jaunt in 2003 Iraq that turned out to be fabricated, called the American weapons launch “beautiful“:
“We see these beautiful pictures at night from the decks of these two U.S. Navy vessels in the eastern Mediterranean,” said Williams Thursday night. “I am tempted to quote the great Leonard Cohen: ‘I am guided by the beauty of our weapons.’”
CNN had some great excerpts of Hillary Clinton urging Trump from a New York City “Women in the World” summit in the hours before the strike to pursue that particular violent option.
“Assad has an air force, and that air force is the cause of most of these civilian deaths as we have seen over the years and as we saw again in the last few days. And I really believe that we should have and still should take out his air fields and prevent him from being able to use them to bomb innocent people and drop sarin gas on them.”
“I wish, obviously I wish that the international community writ large had been able to rein this in.”
[“writ large” is a fancy term for “I’m more rich and powerful than you little people, so I will make up a phrase.”]
She then talked about “the Comey letter,” “Wikileaks,” and “misogyny.” The full transcript was not available, but we assume she was reflecting on her election loss to Donald Trump.
Hillary also mentioned the Republicans had talked about “repeal and replace[ment]” of Obamacare for seven years, but “I don’t know that any of them had ever read the bill!”
On Friday April 7, as the legal community began to examine Trump’s unilateral decision to assault Syria, Hillary doubled down on her support of the strikes, this time with a more “it’s the world’s responsibility” tone and less of a “that’s somewhere I could have bombed as Secretary of State but I had to resign and run for president” admission.
“Look, Syria’s been a wicked problem for a very long time. And the images of innocent people, of parents and especially of children suffering in the aftermath of that most recent deadly gas attack were more appalling than I certainly can put into words. As I said yesterday afternoon, it is essential that the world does more to deter Assad from committing future murderous atrocities. But the action taken last night needs to be followed by a broader strategy to end Syria’s civil war and to eliminate ISIS strongholds on both sides of the border. So I hope this administration will move forward in a way that is both strategic and consistent with our values. And I also hope that they will recognize that we cannot in one breath speak of protecting Syrian babies and in the next close America’s doors to them.”
We do not have the most stellar record for slaughtering Syrians.
America dropped thousands of bombs in seven countries last year. Our executive branch has operated behind a 2001 Authorization of Military Force instead of declaring war on any country for the past 16 years.
The vast majority of the 26,171 American bombs detonated in 2016 were dropped in Iraq and Syria. Syria received 12,192. It’s okay because the candidates pandered to taxpayers during the campaign about our responsibility to shelter the refugees we helped create.
On September 17, 2016, America led 37 airstrikes in Deir al-Zour, Syria. While they were reportedly trying to hit ISIS, about 100 friendly Syrian army troops were killed instead. Oops. New York Times got this intelligence from Russia because the American military likes to sweep its utterly unconstitutional destruction sessions under the rug whenever possible.
New York Times:
The United States acknowledged on Saturday that its warplanes had carried out an airstrike in Syria that resulted in the deaths of Syrian government troops. American military officials said the pilots in the attack, in the eastern province of Deir al-Zour, believed they were targeting the Islamic State.
A partial cease-fire that started on Monday continues to steadily unravel after it was declared with much fanfare by the United States and Russia.
We’re like that guy no one invited to the party who ends up accidentally burning down the bar.
At least we didn’t get put in our place by Russia, our global rival, right?
A statement by United States Central Command said that the planes stopped the attack after a warning from Russia that the strikes could be hitting Syrian troops.
A senior Obama administration official, speaking on the condition of anonymity because the strike was still being investigated, said the United States had relayed its regrets to the Syrian government through the Russians for the “unintentional loss of life of Syrian forces” fighting the Islamic State.
Syria’s government labeled the disaster “a very serious and flagrant aggression” that aided the Islamic State and proved its long-held assertion that the United States supports the jihadist group as part of an effort to oust President Bashar al-Assad.
“These attacks confirmed that the U.S. clearly supports the terrorism of Daesh,” SAMA television, a state-run news outlet, said, using an Arabic acronym for the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL. The channel quoted a statement issued by the Syrian military’s general command, which said the attack exposed “false claims of fighting terrorism” by the United States.
[U.S.] Central Command, known as Centcom, denied it would carry out such an airstrike on purpose.
New York Times spoke with “a Centcom [U.S. Central Command] official who requested anonymity because the episode was still being investigated”:
The attack went on for about 20 minutes, with the planes destroying the vehicles and gunning down dozens of people in the open desert, the official said. Shortly after this, an urgent call came into the American military command center in Qatar, the outpost in the Persian Gulf that coordinates the aerial campaign in Syria and Iraq.
The call was from a Russian official who said that the American planes were bombing Syrian troops and that the strike should immediately be called off. The Centcom official said the attack was halted within minutes, but not until dozens had been killed.
NYT confirmed with the perpetrators:
“Coalition forces believed they were striking a Daesh fighting position that they had been tracking for a significant amount of time before the strike,” the Centcom statement said. “The coalition airstrike was halted immediately when coalition officials were informed by Russian officials that it was possible the personnel and vehicles targeted were part of the Syrian military.”
Our bumbling UN ambassador at the time:
Samantha Power, the United States ambassador to the United Nations, accused Russia of pulling a “stunt” by calling for an emergency Security Council meeting over the episode.
But wait. So we killed some innocent people. The enemy [ISIS, we think] were not otherwise helped by hundreds of millions of dollars of unconstitutional American bombing accidentally hitting the wrong target. Were they?
The Syrian Army Command said that American warplanes had bombed an army base on Al-Tharda mountain at 5 p.m., allowing “a wide terrorist offensive” by the Islamic State that allowed it to seize the base.
Interestingly, hawk Hillary may have missed her chance to bomb Syria as she did Libya (total success, that operation) as she prepared to resign the Secretary position.
According to CNN:
The Obama administration asked Congress in August 2013 for authorization to launch a military strike on Syria [six months after Hillary resigned as Secretary of State]. That vote never happened after a preliminary agreement was struck to remove chemical weapons from Syria.
Of the chemical weapons removal America supervised at that time because we are the world’s security force, Hillary said,
“Who knows whether they hid some or they bought more. We don’t know. We just know the impact.”
All emphasis is ours.
It is unclear how many casualties resulted from Trump’s strike on the airfield. According to Wikipedia: zero. But just as only some of the missiles actually hit the airfield, the Syrian capabilities to launch sarin gas were reportedly only weakened. Guardian:
Observers had reported the base had been badly destroyed by the 1,000lb warheads and that several planes and a runway had been put out of service. However it is thought that an advance warning given by the US to Russia allowed Syria enough time to remove many of its aircraft before the raid.
“Although the strike will further weaken the overall air defense and ground attack capabilities of the (Syrian air force), it will not significantly diminish the ability of the Assad regime to conduct further chemical weapons attacks,” wrote analyst Reed Foster of the defense and intelligence publication Jane’s.
In addition to Assad’s possession of 20 additional airbases,
Syrian government officials said the [al-Shayrat] base has played an instrumental role in the fight against the Islamic State group, which until recently controlled the historic town of Palmyra in Homs province.
“This very airport that was attacked by the United States has been fighting against terrorists for the last six years,” Buthaina Shaaban, an adviser to Mr Assad, said.
Dmitry Medvedev, the Russian prime minister, said the attacks had fatally undermined Moscow’s initial trust in the new US administration and brought the countries to the “the verge of a military clash.”
March 20: Business Insider reported that 1,100 American soldiers would deploy to Poland starting in April.
“This is a mission, not a cycle of training events,” U.S. Army Lt. Colonel Steven Gventer, who heads the battlegroup, told a news conference. “The purpose is to deter aggression in the Baltics and in Poland … We are fully ready to be lethal.”
The Americans are part of a NATO force of about 4,000, which will reportedly prevent, if necessary, Vladimir Putin from further invading Poland. Putin “annexed” the Crimea in 2014. The peninsula, according to Wikipedia, is currently run by Russia as Republic of Crimea and a separate “Russian federal city” of Sevastopol.
British, Canadian and German forces will be stationed alongside America.
Undeterred from his disastrous Yemen strike that killed one American Navy Seal, one American girl (age eight) and many innocent people (estimates vary; Politifact reports “dozens”), President Trump reportedly gave the CIA authority on March 20 to conduct drone strikes (beyond whatever they’re already doing covertly).
This seems unwise, given the CIA’s vast web of paramilitary activities in the name of America. And the fact that they personally have already droned at least one American (Warren Weinstein) by accident in January 2015. Italian Giovanni Lo Porto, a fellow hostage of al Qaeda (not ISIS…different terror group we’re bumbling to bomb indiscriminately with hordes of collateral damage) was also destroyed. President Obama said he was sorry.
In expanding the George W. Bush policy of killing from the air, Obama admitted to over 100 civilian casualties outside war zones, and doubled down on the necessity of drones.
Meanwhile on March 25, the United States admitted they were behind a March 17 assault on ISIS in Mosul that may or may not have destroyed 100 or so citizens accidentally. Oops.
Altaf Musani of the World Health Organization in Iraq said of the wounded referred to hospitals:
“When you take a better look at what those numbers mean, what is worrying for the WHO and aid actors is that roughly 30 percent of the total numbers are women. Roughly 30 percent of that large number are children under 15, and that is deeply concerning because of the capacities needed to treat those wounded coming out of the front lines.”
Iraqi Vice President Osama al-Nujaifi was not pleased. According to Yahoo!, he described the incident as a “humanitarian catastrophe,” blaming the U.S.-led coalition airstrikes and excessive use of force by militarized Federal Police forces. Al-Nujaifi put the number of civilians killed at “hundreds.” He called for an emergency parliament session and an immediate investigation into the incident.
NPR, who provided the above photo of the wreckage, noted that [United States] Central Command said that an initial review of strike data from March 16-23 indicates that “the Coalition struck ISIS fighters and equipment, March 17, in West Mosul at the location corresponding to allegations of civilian casualties.”
Part of the difficulty inherent in policing the world (our prerogative because Americans and their military always know what is best for everyone) is that ISIS hides in residential areas, essentially using “human shields” to bait U.S. airstrikes that then kill innocent people, as we have previously reported.
The Department of Defense tried to spin recent operations as a success, reporting to Fox News that Qari Yasin was killed in a “counter-terrorism airstrike” on March 19.
Image from dailymail.co.uk.
“The death of Qari Yasin is evidence that terrorists who defame Islam and deliberately target innocent people will not escape justice,” said Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis.
According to New York Times, Yasin planned the 2008 Islamabad, Pakistan hotel bombing that killed 50 people including two Americans:
More than 50 people were killed when a six-wheel dump truck carrying explosives blew up at the entrance of the hotel, which was a prominent meeting place for foreigners and leading Pakistanis. Among the dead were Maj. Rodolfo I. Rodriguez of the United States Air Force and Matthew J. O’Bryant, a cryptologic technician and a third class petty officer in the Navy. More than 260 people were wounded.
Mr. Yasin was also linked to a 2009 attack in which gunmen using rifles, grenades and rockets assaulted a bus that was transporting the Sri Lanka cricket team in Lahore, Pakistan. Six Pakistani police officers and two civilians were killed, and half a dozen members of the cricket team were wounded, including a British coach. Since then, Pakistan has been forced to play most of its home matches in the United Arab Emirates.
UPDATE: March 27:
BuzzFeed reported the Pentagon was still combing through 700 videos of the bombing:
“We look through those videos initially” to determine if it achieved the mission, Air Force Col. John Thomas, a CENTCOM spokesman explained, and there was no indication internally that civilians may have died. The videos were taken over the 10-day period before and after the strike, whose exact date still has yet to be determined but took place sometime between March 17-23.
The American military-industrial complex, reigning from the sky, is in complete control and knows exactly what they’re doing. Except when exactly they did it. And what they actually did. Like a hungover frat boy rummaging through his GoPro footage the next morning. “Let’s see how many deaths I was able to cause with my hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars.”
[R]eporters from Rudaw arrived at the strike site and alleged there more than 200 deaths had resulted from the attack [sic].
The US’s inability to determine the massive damage its strike caused during a key battle against ISIS is the latest example that, short of independent observers on the ground, there is no way to know how many civilians have died because of coalition strikes in the war against the militant group.
Local reports put the death toll Monday at 260, which if determined to be caused by a coalition strike, would be the deadliest civilian casualty incident in Iraq since the US invasion of 2003. It is also the third accusation US officials said they were investigating in the past 10 days. The Pentagon is also is trying to determine if civilians died in two strikes in Syria in the last two weeks — at a potential mosque in Jinah, Syria, targeting al Qaeda and a second strike at a school outside of Raqqa that local officials said was being used as a shelter for displaced civilians. In all, the strikes are alleged to have killed more than 350 people.
Never has the US been accused of killing so many in such a short period of time. According to Airwars.org, there have been 1,000 alleged civilian deaths in Iraq and Syria by coalition airstrikes in the month of March alone, a record high since the US-led coalition’s strikes began.
In addition to the growing accusations of civilian casualties, in recent weeks, the US military has been increasingly opaque about its effort in Iraq and Syria.Last month, the US military moved Marines into Syria as part of a staging effort for the upcoming battle for the Syrian city of Raqqa, the de facto ISIS capital. The move took place without a public announcement beforehand. On Monday, CENTCOM said it would no longer give figures for future troop deployments in Iraq and Syria, saying it will instead provide rough unit sizes.
“It’s about capabilities not numbers,” Thomas explained.
You just keep the checks flowing, taxpayers in whose name we shed unconstitutional blood. Don’t worry your pretty little heads over the details.
[T]he alleged deaths have not sparked any outrage in Washington or demands for clarity on how the US deals with civilians in the midst of dense urban spaces. There have been no questions from Capitol Hill about the strike, nor has the White House mentioned it. That may change Tuesday when Army Gen. Joseph Votel, commander of US Central Command, testifies before the House Armed Services Committee.
On March 29, the Pentagon began a “formal investigation” into the Mosul civilian deaths.
On April 30, the Pentagon announced American strikes in Syria and Iraq against ISIS have killed 352 civilians since 2014, including 45 between last November and March 2017.
But, Reuters notes:
The military’s official tally is far below those of other outside groups. Monitoring group Airwars said more than 3,000 civilians have been killed by coalition air strikes.
“We regret the unintentional loss of civilian lives … and express our deepest sympathies to the families and others affected by these strikes,” the Pentagon said in a statement.
The Sardar Mohammad Daud Khan hospital in Kabul, Afghanistan suffered at least 30 civilian deaths with 50 wounded when ISIS militants apparently infiltrated disguised as doctors and started shooting.
ISIS claimed responsibility through their propaganda news agency Aamaq.
According to Washington Post, SMDK hospital is close to the U.S. embassy in Afghanistan:
The assault Wednesday began when a vehicle bomb detonated outside the front gates […]
Almost immediately afterward, witnesses and officials said, gunmen already inside the hospital, wearing white medical coats, pulled out concealed assault rifles and began shooting. At least four attackers were involved, some of whom took cover on the second floor.
The Independent provided this image that ISIS propaganda claims to show one of their militants disguised as medical personnel.
This was not quite as efficient as the Afghan government reportedly deceiving the U.S. into razing a hospital from the air to get revenge on Taliban, but ISIS has much less military budget than the overgrown American military.
In other violent American control of the planet news, General Joseph Votel on March 9 assumed responsibility for Trump’s disastrous January Yemen raid that killed a Navy Seal, a young American girl and approximately 30 civilians:
“First and foremost I am responsible for this mission. I am the CENTCOM commander and I am responsible for what’s done in my region and what’s not done in my region. So I accept the responsibility for this. We lost a lot on this operation.”
Votel had said of the December 2015 Doctors Without Borders hospital massacre by the United States: “They were absolutely trying to do the right thing.”