Political correctness undermines the War on Terror once again:
September 13, 2006 — WASHINGTON – Taliban terror leaders who had gathered for a funeral – and were secretly being watched by an eye-in-the-sky American drone – dodged assassination because U.S. rules of engagement bar attacks in cemeteries, according to a shocking report.
U.S. intelligence officers in Afghanistan are still fuming about the recent lost opportunity for an easy kill of Taliban honchos packed in tight formation for the burial, NBC News reported.
The unmanned airplane, circling undetected high overhead, fed a continuous satellite feed of the juicy target to officers on the ground.
“We were so excited. I came rushing in with the picture,” one U.S. Army officer told NBC.
But that excitement quickly turned to gut-wrenching frustration because the rules of engagement on the ground in Afghanistan blocked the U.S. from mounting a missile or bomb strike in a cemetery, according to the report.
Pentagon officials declined comment and referred The Post to Central Command officers in Afghanistan, who did not respond to a request for comment or explanation.
Agonizingly, Army officers could do nothing but watch the pictures being fed back from the drone as the Taliban splintered into tiny groups – too small to effectively target with the drone – and headed back to their mountainside hideouts.
What a disaster. We had leaders from the Taliban in our crosshairs, only to learn that we could do nothing. Actually, that’s not true. We could have bombed them, meaning we had the capability to blow these terrorists to Kingdom Come and back again, but we didn’t because the military implemented rules of engagement that say we can’t bomb cemeteries. Political correctness has gotten so far out of hand that we allowed some of the worst terrorist scum to ever walk the face of the earth to, literally, walk away.
What if, some day, one of these Taliban leaders is involved in another 9/11-like event? How would the American people react if it was revealed that we had the chance to kill him but didn’t because he was in a cemetery and our rules of engagement said no bombing of cemeteries? Would the American people accept that? Not a chance.
Confederate Yankee is equally ticked and offers some great commentary and analysis:
This is the single most mind-numbingly stupid “shoot/no shoot” determinations I have heard of in this entire war. This was not a situation where that was significant risk of there being collateral damage to nearby civilians. The only people present were Taliban leaders that we want dead, and those in the cemetery that were already dead.
If this story is accurate and there are no mitigating circumstances we are unaware of, then we’re looking at two levels of incompetence.
The higher level incompetence of placing cemeteries off limits in the rules of engagement was most likely the decision of senior military officers, perhaps with State Department input. Whoever made such a determination should be stripped of these duties. War is not to be fought politely, and the enemy should not be give a “timeout” from the war unless civilian lives are at risk.
On the direct tactical level, the officer directly in charge of this flight should have taken the initiative and made the determination that attacking such a concentration of Taliban leaders was more important to the success of the mission that was “going by the book.”
Update: Judge Napolitano on Fox News researched this and said that the reason the request to fire on the group of Taliban leaders was denied was not because of the Geneva Conventions or the rule of law. It was due to an agreement the US has with the government of Hamid Karzai because cemeteries and funerals have particular importance in Afghan culture.
I understand that we don’t want to alienate the Afghan population, but let’s not forget something here. The Taliban was a tyrannical, Islamofascist regime that murdered Afghanis if they violated its strict Sharia law, including for something as innocuous as educating their daughters. Even kite flying was illegal.
And now the Taliban is trying to undermine the new Afghan government in an attempt to take the country back to where it was. I have a hard time believing that taking out 190 of the Taliban’s leaders, even if it happened at a cemetery, would alienate the Afghan population that much. The Afghan people hate them as much as we do.