See, it’s stuff like this that helps explain why Afghans — and many others — are convinced that the United States doesn’t believe Afghan lives matter all that much:
To the German commander, it seemed to be a fortuitous target: More than 100 Taliban insurgents were gathering around two hijacked fuel tankers that had become stuck in the mud near this small farming village.
The grainy live video transmitted from an American F-15E fighter jet circling overhead, which was projected on a screen in a German tactical operations center four miles north of here, showed numerous black dots around the trucks — each of them a thermal image of a human but without enough detail to confirm whether they were carrying weapons. An Afghan informant was on the phone with an intelligence officer at the center, however, insisting that everybody at the site was an insurgent, according to an account that German officers here provided to NATO officials.
Based largely on that informant’s assessment, the commander ordered a 500-pound, satellite-guided bomb to be dropped on each truck early Friday. The vehicles exploded in a fireball that lit up the night sky for miles, incinerating many of those standing nearby.
A NATO fact-finding team estimated Saturday that about 125 people were killed in the bombing, at least two dozen of whom — but perhaps many more — were not insurgents. To the team, which is trying to sort out this complicated incident, mindful that the fallout could further sap public support in Afghanistan for NATO’s security mission here, the target appeared to be far less clear-cut than it had to the Germans.
If this were the first time Americans in Afghanistan had dropped bombs of 500 pounds on targets near civilian areas on the basis of only one source, or on the basis of questionable sources, it would be one thing. But it’s not the first time. And if the public support issue is of any interest to the military, why does it keep happening?