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September 20, 2021

Biden’s AFG Drone Strike Distraction — 10 Innocents Dead

Political posturing pulled this trigger and the terrible consequences, again, demonstrate Biden’s ineptitude.

As if Joe Biden’s disgraceful and deadly surrender and retreat from Afghanistan could not have been worse, it actually was. We now know, as we posited at the time, that Biden’s politically motivated diversionary drone strike in Kabul did NOT kill an ISK “high value” terrorist, or anyone affiliated with ISK. Biden’s strike did kill Zemari Ahmadi, a longtime U.S. aid worker, and nine other civilians, seven of whom were children. Ahmadi, who was among the Afghan people hoping to immigrate to safety, was bringing water to his family and neighbors.

News of this “mistake” was intentionally timed for a Friday afternoon news dump, when it would miss the week’s primary news cycle.

The 29 August strike that killed Ahmadi was the second high-profile drone strike against what Biden assured were high-value terrorist targets associated after the 26 August murder of 13 American military Patriots and more than 100 Afghan citizens. Their blood was already on Biden’s hands, the consequence of his abject ineptitude.

On 28 August, after Biden authorized the first strike against undisclosed targets in Nangarhar Province a day earlier in an “over-the-horizon counterterrorism operation … against an ISIS-K planner,” he declared in George W. Bush-ease: “We will not forgive. We will not forget. We will hunt you down and make you pay.” Biden, endeavoring to look presidential, added: “I said we would go after the group responsible for the attack on our troops and innocent civilians in Kabul, and we have. This strike was not the last. We will continue to hunt down any person involved in that heinous attack and make them pay.”

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby insisted, “The fact that these individuals are no longer walking on the face of the Earth [is] a good thing for the people of Afghanistan, and it’s a good thing for our troops and our forces at that airfield.”

At the time, because the Department of Defense refused to identify these terrorist “planners and facilitators” of the attack on our forces, we speculated that some goat herders paid a heavy price for being on a hillside in Nangarhar region where he had some association with ISK adherents.

After the 29 August drone strike Biden authorized in an urban section of Kabul, where civilian casualties were guaranteed, Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley declared: “We know from the variety of other means that at least one of those people that were killed was a ISIS facilitator. Were there others killed? Yes, there are others killed. Who they are, we don’t know. We’ll try to sort through all that.” He concluded that it was “a righteous strike.”

The same day, I noted that I am aware of the complexities of these operations and the potential for collateral civilian deaths. However, given our concern that these targets were not high-value ISK terrorists, particularly since DoD has refused to release their identity, it is likely that these strikes were political fireworks to distract from Biden’s surrender and retreat disaster. I also noted that if the Kabul target was not high value, the civilian casualties are inexcusable.

On 31 August, two days after the Kabul drone strike, Biden celebrated the final flight out from Afghanistan — despite leaving Americans and thousands of our Afghan allies behind, the latter to be systematically sought and slaughtered by the Taliban. Still hoping to salvage his chances for a 20th anniversary 9/11 victory lap for having ended “America’s longest war,” the political photo op upon which Biden’s whole compressed AFG retreat timeline was predicated, he had the boldfaced audacity to call that exit “an extraordinary success.”

Biden then declared: “We will maintain the fight against terrorism in Afghanistan. … We just don’t need to fight a ground war to do it. We have what’s called over-the-horizon capabilities, which means we can strike terrorists and targets without American boots on the ground. … We’ve shown that capacity just in the last week. We struck ISIS-K remotely, days after they murdered 13 of our servicemembers and dozens of innocent Afghans. And to ISIS-K: We are not done with you yet.”

I bet the Taliban and ISK are shaking in their boots…

His mouthpiece, Jen Psaki, echoed that message: “And what we’ve seen over the past week is that our over-the-horizon capacity can work and has worked in going after ISIS targets and killing people who went after our troops. So, that’s where our resources and our focus is going to be on at this point in time.”

Then, last Friday afternoon, after Biden left for the beach, Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, commander of United States Central Command, offered an apology: “I am now convinced that as many as 10 civilians, including up to seven children, were tragically killed in that strike. We now assess that it is unlikely that the vehicle and those who died were associated with ISIS-K or a direct threat to U.S. forces. I offer my profound condolences to the family and friends of those who were killed.” McKenzie then pledged that the Biden administration would examine ex gratia payments to the relatives of the deceased killed by the Kabul strike.

Asked if anyone would be held responsible, McKenzie responded, “We are in the process right now of continuing that line of investigation, and I have nothing for you now because that involves personnel issues.”

For his part, Milley now says of the “righteous strike”: “In a dynamic high threat environment, the commanders on the ground had appropriate authority and had reasonable certainty that the target was valid, but after deeper post-strike analysis, our conclusion is that innocent civilians were killed. This is a horrible tragedy of war and it’s heart-wrenching and we are committed to being fully transparent about this incident.” But again, as I noted previously, there was no question that “innocent civilians” would be killed in an urban airstrike. The fact is that the “high-value target” was a civilian.

So, who will be held responsible?

Perhaps when Milley testifies before Congress on 28 September about a laundry list of his failures — his emphasis on “diversity and equity” rather than military readiness, his role in the catastrophic AFG exfil, the deaths of our military personnel in Kabul, the political drone strikes, and his alleged offer of advance notice to the ChiComs — he will show up with resignation in hand.

But I doubt it. I expect that this once-loyal and honorable warrior — before he contracted “Potomac Fever” — will pass the buck.

I should note that somewhere there is an Air Force remotely piloted aircraft controller who is feeling the weight of the world on his or her shoulders right now, even though drone operations are based on “intel” from higher up. This is not the fault of that RPAS operator — that trigger pull was ordered as a result of political pressure from the Biden administration to save face with some retaliatory strikes.

As our national security analyst, Gen. B.B. Bell (USA, Ret.), declared before these strikes, based on Biden’s “shameful presidential dereliction of duty” regarding the surrender to the Taliban and retreat from Afghanistan, not only should Biden’s military leaders resign, starting with Milley, but “he should be impeached and removed from office immediately, and criminal charges should be considered.” That clarion call should be louder now — but it will be suppressed.

Maybe Biden can claim there were depending on the Taliban to identify these targets, much as they depended on the Taliban to secure the airport gates the 28 August bomber walked through.

Finally, make no mistake, Biden’s retreat from AFG may be complete, but the war is not over.

Semper Vigilans Fortis Paratus et Fidelis
Pro Deo et Libertate — 1776

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