The Pentagon is reversing course and now says it killed 10 civilians in a drone strike in Afghanistan last month.
During a press briefing on Friday, U.S. Central Command head Gen. Frank McKenzie said, “I am now convinced that as many as 10 civilians, including up to seven children were tragically killed in that strike.”
“Moreover, we analyzed that it is unlikely that the vehicle and those who died or associated with ISIS-K or were a direct threat to US forces,” he continued. “Our investigation now concludes that the strike was a tragic mistake.”
Finally, he said, “This strike was taken in the earnest belief that it would prevent an imminent threat to our forces in the evacuees at the airport, but it was a mistake. And I offer my sincere apology. As the combatant commander. I am fully responsible for the strike in this tragic outcome.”
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Paul asked Blinken during a Senate hearing on Tuesday, “The guy the Biden administration droned: was he an aid worker or an ISIS-K operative?”
“The administration is of course reviewing that strike and I’m sure that a full assessment will be forthcoming,” Blinken said.
When the Kentucky senator asked again, Blinken said he could not share that information in a public setting.
He asked, “So you don’t know or won’t tell us?”
“I don’t know because we’re reviewing it,” Blinken
Paul fired back, “Well, see you think you’d kind of know before you off somebody with a predator drone whether he’s an aid worker or he is an ISIS-K [operative.]”
He continued, “I don’t know if it’s true, but I see these pictures of these beautiful children that were killed in the attack. If that’s true, and not propaganda. If that’s true, guess what, maybe you created hundreds or thousands of new potential terrorists from bombing the wrong people.”
“So you gotta know who you’re…we can’t sorta have an investigation after we kill people. We have an investigation before we kill [people],” he added.
Paul’s line of questioning appeared to refer to an investigation by The New York Times into an Aug. 29 drone strike in Afghanistan against a vehicle that officials believed was carrying a bomb.
U.S. officials deemed the driver of the car suspicious “because of how they interpreted his activities that day.”
But the Times identified the driver as Zemari Ahmadi, a longtime worker for a U.S. aid group, and said that his “travels that day actually involved transporting colleagues to and from work.” Additionally, video showed Ahmadi putting a canister of water into the trunk of his car.
Pentagon officials previously said the strike was “righteous” and based on intelligence that suggested there could be another attack at the Hamid Karzai International Airport.
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