Monday, March 05, 2007

Compounding Mistakes In Afghanistan?

On the tail of reports from Afghanistan of American soldiers shooting civilians after a suicide bomb attempt against the soldiers, we now have a report in the New York Times that American soldiers forced media cameramen to delete footage shot in the aftermath.

The soldiers claim the civilians were inadvertently shot in a crossfire while some Afghanis are claiming the civilians were deliberately targeted. I suspect the truth is somewhere in the middle, i.e. soldiers scarred because of a bomber attack mistakenly shoot others out of fear of who may be carrying a second bomb. Unfortunately, suicide bombers create these scary and ambiguous situations that by design can lead to mistakes or overreactions by troops defending themselves.

That said ... if the military did, in fact, censor the journalists covering the incident, they, unfortunately and inadvertently, will have assisted the terrorist message. People will naturally ask, "Why a coverup if there was no wrongdoing?"

To add to the tense situation, reports are now coming out of an errant airstrike today that killed a number of civilians, including 5 women and three children.

We are on a precipe in Afghanistan and it will slip away if we don't refocus on securing and rebuilding that country immediately.


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