White House: Bombing Afghan Hospital ‘Not a War Crime’

Legal Experts Say Unlikely International Court Will Probe Killings

A weekend US attack on a hospital full of civilians outside the Afghan city of Kunduz has sparked international condemnation, with the aid group that was operating the facility, Doctors Without Borders, urging an immediate independent investigation with the presumption that a war crime had been committed.

That’s unlikely to happen, however, as the White House insists bombing the hospital wasn’t “a war crime,” and Gen. Campbell dancing around the issue, claiming simultaneously that the attack was intention, and the result of an Afghan government request, but that the civilian deaths were “accidental.”

Huge civilian tolls in US attacks in Afghanistan have been a common occurrence throughout the 14-year occupation, and legal experts say it’s very unlikely that the International Criminal Court will look to step in on the incident, believing it would be too “politically sensitive” for the US.

The Afghan government has so far defended the attack, calling the hospital a “Taliban base” and claiming the slain civilians were “armed terrorists.” Though the US is stopping short of such an outrageous claim themselves, Pentagon investigations rarely end in any serious action against personnel for killing civilians.

Doctors Without Borders is an organization with some influence, however, and the UN Rights Council is similarly saying it’s likely that a war crime was committed in this attack. Ultimately, however, the Pentagon has a lot of recent experience with weaseling out of such incidents, and that means whatever the letter of the law, officials will be fighting hard to bury this situation like they have so many others.

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Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.