U.S. air strikes in the Afghan city of Kunduz killed 42 people in a Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders) hospital on Oct. 3.
The U.S. military officials knew perfectly well the site was a working medical facility and safe from Taliban but bombed it anyway. Patients reportedly “burned to death” and the bombardment went on for more than 30 minutes despite the charity organization's frantic calls to stop.
All of this is enough to suggest that what happened wasn’t only inexcusable but also criminal. But the Pentagon clearly doesn’t think so, considering 12 U.S. soldiers involved in the incident will not face any criminal charges.
The details of the “punishments” have not been made public yet but, according to the BBC, some have received formal reprimands while others have been suspended from duty. Oddly, none of the generals have been disciplined.
It’s not as if there were any hopes of true justice when the inquiry started. Despite MSF calling it a war crime, nobody was naïve enough to believe the U.S. military would ever come to the same conclusion since it was essentially investigating itself.
However, to not hand out a single criminal charge is an outrage. It is an injustice to the families of the innocent civilians who were killed for no reason at all.
Letters of reprimand, as noted by the Associated Press, “effectively end chances for further promotion,” But is this administrative punishment enough for someone who knowingly participated in the deadliest assaults on civilians in the 15-year war?
In October, Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter promised a full and transparent investigation and hold people accountable as necessary.
However, as it turns out, that certainly did not happen.