By Joe Wright
Apparently any time something happens that calls into question the nobility of the U.S. mission to protect the planet, you can chalk it up to a coincidental intelligence “systems failure” … 9/11, no WMDs in Iraq, ISIS appearing out of nowhere….
It’s an old tactic that dates back much further, but continues to be recycled nonetheless.
The latest is the bombing of the Kunduz hospital in Afghanistan. An act so outrageous that it’s being called a war crime by anyone remotely affected by the event. And that wasn’t even the worst of it. As an imminent investigation was about to take place, the U.S. ran a military vehicle through the hospital, possibly destroying key evidence. They called that “inspecting damage.”
The U.S. is now claiming that their $5 billion intelligence computer system just happened to be offline the day of the bombing, effectively making the hospital a blind spot to the bombing campaign. The Associated Press states:
The U.S. Army’s $5 billion intelligence network, which is designed to give commanders battlefield awareness but has been criticized for years as a boondoggle, was not working in Afghanistan during the recent American air attack on a hospital, according to a member of Congress who has been in touch with military whistleblowers.
Significant elements of the Distributed Common Ground System, a network of computers and sensors designed to knit together disparate strands of intelligence, were off line in Afghanistan when U.S. commanders approved an air strike Oct. 3 that killed 22 staff, patients and others at a Doctors without Borders hospital in Kunduz, Rep. Duncan Hunter wrote Tuesday to Defense Secretary Ash Carter.
“The purpose of DCGS is to enable commanders and service members to ‘see and know’ the battlefield and prevent incidents like the airstrike on the hospital in Kunduz,” wrote Hunter, a California Republican, combat veteran and armed services committee member who has been a persistent DCGS critic.
It isn’t clear why a system that was “criticized for years” was relied upon as the primary source for giving a go-ahead to kill people. But that is merely the surface logic; deeper than that is the convenient fog of war that it attempts to cast over a clearly avoidable atrocity. It is further damning that the sources cited by the AP are not exactly transparent. A few examples:
Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
It’s unclear whether the breakdown of key DCGS systems contributed to the decision to approve the air attack, which Pentagon officials say was a mistake. But the coordinates of the hospital were entered into an intelligence database that is part of the DCGS intelligence network, according to a U.S. official who would not be quoted because he was not authorized to discuss the matter.
Some of those analysts were using a commercial software system made by Palantir, a Silicon Valley company that competes with DCGS, according to an Army official who would not be quoted because he was not authorized to speak publicly.
To their credit, the Associated Press already has established the great likelihood that the U.S. military had physically been at the hospital for days prior to the incident, so would not have needed a $5 billion dollar apparatus to make a decision to strike or not. Further, the Guardian reported that hospital representatives had already notified the US military of the exact GPS coordinates. Naturally, U.S. officials also have claimed that it was an enemy base of operations, but this strongly conflicts with reports by the doctors and witnesses from the hospital.
Now, instead of war crime investigations, the latest round of propaganda seeks to divert attention to a failed computer system that will be exposed by “whistleblowers:”
Among the elements of DCGS that were not working, service members told Hunter, were the intelligence fusion server, which is supposed to allow seamless information sharing across various Army elements, and the cloud, which is supposed to offer connectivity to units in the field.
Hunter told Carter that his sources say they fear for their careers if they speak out publicly, because “members of Army leadership have previously gone to great lengths to protect this system and its proponents.”
“Army Brigade commanders have told me of intimidation and threats after saying in writing that DCGS ‘translates into operational opportunities missed and lives lost,’ Hunter wrote to Carter. “Such actions are indicative of a climate that is contradictory to a transparent and objective assessment of the facts with respect to this system.
The story about the bombing has already changed at least four times, and the best excuse they have decided upon is that yet another massive intelligence failure has occurred (to the tune of billions of taxpayer dollars, and many more to fix the issue of course). At best we have a complete waste of money, a stunning level of incompetence, and a callous acceptance of 22 dead to be nothing but a collateral damage mistake. At worst, it shows just how naive the people of the United States are believed to be by those directing the instruments of war in their name.
Image Credit: TheFreeThoughtProject.com
Joe Wright’s articles can be found on ActivistPost.com