Cowlix Wearing my mind on my sleeve

Monday, February 04, 2002
Rumsfeld on Iran on botched U.S. attack

In an interview with ABC on Sunday, Rumsfeld accused Iran of harboring al-Qaeda members who have crossed the border from Afghanistan, as well as supplying arms to factions in Afghanistan (I'm sure at this point it would be crass to mention the relative color of pots and kettles, so I won't). Today, Iran denied that any al-Qaeda was in its territory and warned the U.S. against an attack.

Less widely reported was this interesting exchange later in the interview, regarding an attack in the town of Hazar Kadam (or Hasam Quedam):

Rumsfeld: Exactly. And therefore, our soldiers don't go around killing innocent people. Nor do our soldiers go around pretending they are civilians and blurring that distinction between a combatant and a non-combatant. That's what puts civilians at risk.

Q: Well, you're examining right now the case of Hasam Quedam in which it is said that our Special Forces went in and through a horrible mistake killed 15-21 people who were not Taliban, but in fact supporters of the new government.

Rumsfeld: Is that a question?

Q: Yes, because you just said we don't go around killing innocent people. I take your point --

Rumsfeld: Well, we don't.

Q: -- except you've launched that investigation to see whether we, in fact, did.

Rumsfeld: Of course, we do. We always launch an investigation. I don't -- the commander and the command does. If there are legitimate questions raised about some action, it's perfectly appropriate for them to do exactly what they did and say "stop for a minute, we're going to go take a look. We're going to see what actually happened."

Now, is it possible that everyone's accurate? That is to say, that in that attack there might have been some people who were Taliban, there might have been some people who were al-Qaeda, and there might have also been some people that weren't? And in the same room. Because this is Afghanistan.

Q: Well, sir, we're out of time, but will you pledge that whatever the investigation shows, you will release that information to the American people and the world?

Rumsfeld: Why, of course.

Meanwhile both ABC News and NPR are reporting that military officials have admitted that the raid was a mistake, that one of the targets was actually the headquarters of a disarmament commission loyal to the new government and the other was a local government office.

The second target was a former school building. Armed men were living there, and the U.S. military believed the building had become an al Qaeda hideout. But according to local residents and officials, the building was actually the headquarters of a disarmament commission, where officials were collecting weapons from the countryside. The officials had been appointed by the new anti-Taliban governor, Jan Mohammed Khan. -- NPR report

Families of the 18 or so villagers that were killed have reportedly been compensated in U.S. dollars:

U.S. officials claim the Pentagon did not pay the money, indicating it was provided instead by Hamid Karzai's interim Afghan government, which they say got the money from the CIA. The CIA denies providing the money. Afghan officials say the death toll was 21; the U.S. military puts the figure at 15. -- ABC News report

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