Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
July 23, 2008

Human Rights Watch on Bombing Civilians

When a Palestinian goes on a rampage with a backhoe that must be bulldozing.

When the U.S. Air Force bombs civilians they really, really do it only when they are sure that they do not hit civilians. That is at least what the NYT is telling us in: Civilian Risks Curbing Strikes in Afghan War

In June alone, 646 bombs and missiles were used in Afghanistan, the second highest monthly total since the end of major combat operations in 2002.

Air Force lawyers vet all the airstrikes approved by the operational air commanders. Senior Pentagon officials said the more stringent rules of engagement now in effect for Afghanistan specified the acceptable levels of risk to civilians for a priority attack. They said these more stringent rules required a significantly lower risk of civilian casualties than was acceptable in Iraq.

I am sure the Iraqis are happy to hear so.

The piece is a sorry excuse for indiscriminate bombing: "We really care before we kill ..." The author does not even mention the 47 people on their way to a wedding killed by an air attack earlier this month. He instead includes this choice quote:

“In their deliberate targeting, the Air Force has all but eliminated civilian casualties in Afghanistan,” said Marc Garlasco, senior military analyst with Human Rights Watch. “They have very effective collateral damage mitigation procedures.”

Do they really Mr. Garlasco? Yesterday the news was this:

In Farah province, four Afghan police and five civilians were killed in an apparent mistaken airstrike by Nato forces early this morning.

Human Rights Watch is defending the U.S. Air Force's killer mentality. But that is of course one of their main tasks. Consider the experts HRW hires like the above quoted Marc Garlasco:

Before coming to HRW, Marc spent seven years in the Pentagon as a senior intelligence analyst covering Iraq. His last position there was chief of high-value targeting during the Iraq War in 2003. Marc was on the Operation Desert Fox (Iraq) Battle Damage Assessment team in 1998, led a Pentagon Battle Damage Assessment team to Kosovo in 1999, and recommended thousands of aimpoints on hundreds of targets during operations in Iraq and Serbia. He also participated in over 50 interrogations as a subject matter expert.

Now that is certainly the person one would ask for a critical view on bombing of civilians by the Above All maniacs ... he is one of them.

Posted by b on July 23, 2008 at 6:13 UTC | Permalink


did marc recommmended this high value target ?
just wondering.

Posted by: denk | Jul 23 2008 8:58 utc | 1

Delighted to see you taking the NYT and Garlasco over the coals. You can find detailed analyses of hundreds (actually over 1,000) cases in Afghanistan where US/NATO forces killed Afghan civilians at my web data base, The Afghan Victim Memorial Project, at Just click on List of Individual Victims bar(the bottom entries are the latest). During July 1-18, 2008 alone, some 111-131 innocent Afghans were slaughtered.
Marc W. Herold
University of New Hampshire

Posted by: Marc Herold | Jul 24 2008 0:54 utc | 2

Thanks Marc. That is a good project.

Posted by: b | Jul 24 2008 4:59 utc | 3

This is a particularly bizarre quote from Garlasco, considering that HRW has a forthcoming report documenting the jump in civilians killed by NATO/U.S. forces in Afghanistan this year, half of them in aerial bombings.

That news is from today's Washington Post story on the high levels on civilian deaths. That story does focus on the recent incidents including the wedding party massacre, though there's plenty of propagandistic crap in it too.

Posted by: Nell | Jul 25 2008 20:33 utc | 4

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