• May 23, 2024

Gen. Milley Changes Story about When He Knew Afghan Drone Strike Killed Innocents

(Ken Silva, Headline USA) Amidst the chaotic August 2021 withdrawal from Afghanistan, a botched U.S. military drone strike killed 10 civilians, seven of which were children—and no terrorists.

For days after that attack, Biden administration and Defense Department officials repeatedly portrayed the strike as a successful attack, even as family members of the deceased insisted they were innocent civilians. It wasn’t until Sept. 17 that Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Mark Milley admitted that the drone strike wasn’t “righteous”—as he first called it—but instead a child-killing catastrophe.

At a Tuesday congressional hearing, Milley, who is now retired, was questioned about the matter. When did he know that the drone strike killed innocent civilians, and did he try to suppress that information as the Biden administration insisted that the attack was against legitimate terrorists?

“When did I know drone strike was a failure? I probably knew day 4 or day 5, around that range,” Gen. Milley said in response to questions from Rep. Scott Perry, R-Pa. “I didn’t know right away.”

Milley’s answer, however, contradicts what he said in Congress on Sept. 29, 2021, when he told lawmakers that he knew about the dead civilians within hours of the botched drone strike. At that hearing, Milley expressed verbal agreement when his colleague, then-Central Command Commander Gen. Kenneth “Frank” McKenzie said that Pentagon officials “knew the strike hit civilians within four to five hours after the strike occurred.”

“Same thing,” Milley said after McKenzie’s statement.

Milley’s change of tune on Tuesday was the latest public contradiction U.S. military officials have made about the Aug. 29, 2021, drone strike.

For weeks after that attack, U.S. military leaders repeatedly portrayed the strike as successful.

“At this point, we think that the procedures were correctly followed and it was a righteous strike,” Milley said on Sept. 1, 2021, painting the strike as a proper course of action to retaliate against a suicide bombing at the airport in Kabul that killed 13 U.S. service members.

But after a Sept. 10, 2021, New York Times investigation raised doubts about the veracity of the military’s claims, the Department of Defense admitted that the drone strike killed innocents.

“We now assess that it is unlikely that the vehicle and those who died were associated with ISIS-K or were a direct threat to U.S. forces,” Milley said Sept. 17. “I offer my profound condolences to the family and friends of those who were killed. This strike was taken in the earnest belief that it would prevent an imminent threat to our forces and the evacuees at the airport.”

Ken Silva is a staff writer at Headline USA. Follow him at twitter.com/jd_cashless.


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