Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Spring Fund Drive:Keep CounterPunch Afloat!

CounterPunch is a lifeboat of sanity in today’s turbulent political seas. Please make a tax-deductible donation and help us continue to fight Trump and his enablers on both sides of the aisle. Every dollar counts!

FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

US Dispatched a Murderous AC-130 Airborne Gunship to Attack a Hospital

by

Evidence continues to mount that the US committed a monstrous war crime in attacking and destroying a fully operational hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan on the night of Oct. 3, killing at least 22 people including at least 12 members of the volunteer medical staff of Medicine Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders), the French based international aid organization that operated the hospital.

This even as the US desperately tries to bury the issue of its perfidy by offering “condolence payments” to victims of the attack, though without accepting blame beyond saying it was a “tragic mistake.”

The “mistake” claim looks increasingly shameless as it becomes clear that this was not, as the US corporate media continue to incorrectly report, a “bombing” gone wrong, but rather was a prolonged hour-long attack by an AC-130 gunship, the deadliest killing machine in the US Air Force’s weapons roster of mayhem. The aircraft, equipped with the latest night-vision sighting equipment, reportedly made five 15-minute assaults on the hospital’s main building housing the emergency operating room and recovery rooms, firing its array of howitzer cannons, 30-millimeter machine canons and other heavy weapons whose standard ammunition includes both high-explosive tips and anti-personnel rounds designed to scatter death in a wide pattern.

This is, in other words, not a precision targeting weapon, but a weapons system designed to spread death over a wide swath.

It explains why the building itself was not leveled, as happens when, for example, a drone first Hellfire missiles at a building or a plane drops a bomb. Rather, the hospital was deliberately set ablaze by incendiary weapons, and the people inside not incinerated were killed by a spray of bullets and anti-personnel flechettes.

Horrific enough to attack a hospital, but to attack it with a weapons system designed to slaughter as many people as possible is almost beyond comprehension.

The hospital in Kunduz was a well-known and long-established institution with a distinctive shape operating in a city that until recently was under full government control. That the US/NATO command did not clearly know the function of that structure is inconceivable, despite US government efforts to claim that a specific provision of the hospital’s coordinates to US forces by Medicine Sans Frontieres days before the attack “must have” gotten waylaid somewhere along the way. (see aerial photo of the hospital in Kunduz).

KundusHospitalAerialView.preview

Here’s what a military website says about the plane sent to wreak this havoc:

“Boasting a lethal number of mini-guns, cannons and howitzers, the AC-130 Gunship has earned a reputation as one of the deadliest combat weapons on the planet.”

The website Strategypage.com offers the added information that the AC-130’s 30–millimeter cannons fire “explosive anti-personnel rounds” as well as explosive ammunition.

If, as claimed by Pentagon officials and the top general in Afghanistan, Army Gen. John Campbell, there were Taliban fighters firing from some location in or near the hospital (a claim vigorously disputed by Medicine Sans Frontieres, which says there was no fighting going on near the hospital and that all people entering the hospital, Taliban victims included, had to surrender weapons at the door as a matter of policy) it still would not justify under any circumstances the use of a weapons system like the AC-130 with its array of industrial slaughter weaponry.

The US has a lot to answer for, which explains why the White House has refused Medicine Sans Frontieres’ demand for an independent investigation into this atrocity.

No independent investigation could possibly end up exonerating the US in this case.

As I wrote earlier, the US response to calls for an independent investigation stand in stark contrast to US complaints about Russia’s refusal to participate or cooperate with a so-called international investigation into the downing of Malaysian Flight MH-17 over Ukraine two years ago.

One thing is clear: Gen. Campbell’s assurance after this atrocity that in continuing operations in and around the embattled city of Kunduz “As always, we will take all reasonable steps to protect civilians from harm,” is utter bullshit.

As for his claim that his “thoughts and prayers are with those affected,” If he really is praying, I suspect his prayers are really pleas to his god to protect him from being tried someday for mass murder.

If the US can send an AC-130 to provide “air-support” in the middle of a heavily populated urban battle zone, and can use it to assault, for over an hour, a known hospital facility, nobody is safe from American military power.

This is a case that must not go away, that cannot be “paid off” by “condolence” money, and that should lead to some high-profile trials for war crimes.

The Kunduz murders must, as MSF is demanding, be investigated by a genuinely independent international body, not by the killers themselves in the US military or the US government.

Dave Lindorff is a founding member of ThisCantBeHappening!, an online newspaper collective, and is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press).

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

Weekend Edition
April 28, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Slandering Populism: a Chilling Media Habit
Andrew Levine
Why I Fear and Loathe Trump Even More Now Than On Election Day
Jeffrey St. Clair
Mountain of Tears: the Vanishing Glaciers of the Pacific Northwest
Philippe Marlière
The Neoliberal or the Fascist? What Should French Progressives Do?
Conn Hallinan
America’s New Nuclear Missile Endangers the World
Peter Linebaugh
Omnia Sunt Communia: May Day 2017
Vijay Prashad
Reckless in the White House
Brian Cloughley
Who Benefits From Prolonged Warfare?
Kathy Kelly
The Shame of Killing Innocent People
Ron Jacobs
Hate Speech as Free Speech: How Does That Work, Exactly?
Andre Vltchek
Middle Eastern Surgeon Speaks About “Ecology of War”
Matt Rubenstein
Which Witch Hunt? Liberal Disanalogies
Sami Awad - Yoav Litvin - Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb
Never Give Up: Nonviolent Civilian Resistance, Healing and Active Hope in the Holyland
Pete Dolack
Tribunal Finds Monsanto an Abuser of Human Rights and Environment
Christopher Ketcham
The Coyote Hunt
Mike Whitney
Putin’s New World Order
Ramzy Baroud
Palestinian, Jewish Voices Must Jointly Challenge Israel’s Past
Ralph Nader
Trump’s 100 Days of Rage and Rapacity
Harvey Wasserman
Marine Le Pen Is a Fascist—Not a ‘Right-Wing Populist,’ Which Is a Contradiction in Terms
William Hawes
World War Whatever
John Stanton
War With North Korea: No Joke
Jim Goodman
NAFTA Needs to be Replaced, Not Renegotiated
Murray Dobbin
What is the Antidote to Trumpism?
Louis Proyect
Left Power in an Age of Capitalist Decay
Medea Benjamin
Women Beware: Saudi Arabia Charged with Shaping Global Standards for Women’s Equality
Rev. William Alberts
Selling Spiritual Care
Peter Lee
Invasion of the Pretty People, Kamala Harris Edition
Cal Winslow
A Special Obscenity: “Guernica” Today
Binoy Kampmark
Turkey’s Kurdish Agenda
Guillermo R. Gil
The Senator Visits Río Piedras
Jeff Mackler
Mumia Abu-Jamal Fights for a New Trial and Freedom 
Cesar Chelala
The Responsibility of Rich Countries in Yemen’s Crisis
Leslie Watson Malachi
Women’s Health is on the Chopping Block, Again
Basav Sen
The Coal Industry is a Job Killer
Judith Bello
Rojava, a Popular Imperial Project
Robert Koehler
A Public Plan for Peace
Sam Pizzigati
The Insider Who Blew the Whistle on Corporate Greed
Nyla Ali Khan
There Has to be a Way Out of the Labyrinth
Michael J. Sainato
Trump Scales Back Antiquities Act, Which Helped to Create National Parks
Stu Harrison
Under Duterte, Filipino Youth Struggle for Real Change
Martin Billheimer
Balm for Goat’s Milk
Stephen Martin
Spooky Cookies and Algorithmic Steps Dystopian
Michael Doliner
Thank You Note
Charles R. Larson
Review: Gregor Hens’ “Nicotine”
David Yearsley
Handel’s Executioner
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail