Time Mag Misleads About USMC Alleged Assault on Hospital

#1
Note the headline states as fact what the article terms allegations:

Monday, Sep. 07, 2009
U.S. Troops 'Storm Through Afghan Hospital'
By AP / KAY JOHNSON

(KABUL) — A Swedish charity accused American troops Monday of storming through a hospital in central Afghanistan, breaking down doors and tying up staff in a search for militants. The U.S. military said it was investigating.

The allegation that soldiers violated the neutrality of a medical facility follows the reported deaths of Afghan civilians in a U.S. airstrike in the country's north last week. An Afghan human rights group said Monday the strike on two hijacked fuel tankers may have killed as many as 70 civilians in Kunduz province. (See pictures of the U.S. Marines new offensive in Afghanistan.)

Civilian deaths and intrusive searches have bred resentment among the Afghan population nearly eight years after the U.S.-led coalition invaded to oust the Taliban's hard-line Islamist regime for sheltering al-Qaeda terrorist leaders.

Foreign forces are working to persuade the population to support the Afghan government after last month's presidential election, which has yet to be decided amid allegations of vote-rigging.

On Monday, the Swedish Committee for Afghanistan said the U.S. Army's 10th Mountain Division entered the charity's hospital without permission to look for insurgents in Wardak province, southwest of Kabul.

"This is simply not acceptable," said Anders Fange, the charity's country director.

The U.S. troops came to the hospital looking for Taliban insurgents late at night last Wednesday. Fange said they kicked in doors, tied up four hospital employees and two family members of patients, and forced patients out of beds during their search.

When they left two hours later, the unit ordered hospital staff to inform coalition forces if any wounded militants were admitted, and the military would decide if they could be treated, Fange said.

The staff refused, he said. "That would put our staff at risk and make the hospital a target."

The charity said on its Web site that the troops' actions were not only a violation of humanitarian principles but also went against an agreement between NATO forces and charities working in the area.

"We demand guarantees ... that such violations will not be repeated and that this is made clear to commanders in the field," a statement said.

U.S. military spokeswoman Lt. Cmdr. Christine Sidenstricker confirmed that the hospital was searched last week but had no other details. She said the military was looking into the incident.

"We are investigating and we take allegations like this seriously," she said. "Complaints like this are rare."

Violence has surged across much of Afghanistan since President Barack Obama ordered 21,000 more U.S. troops to the country this year. Two foreign troops were killed Sunday when their patrol hit a roadside bomb in the country's south, NATO said without giving their nationalities.

NATO was also investigating last week's U.S. airstrike. The strike came despite new rules for foreign forces limiting use of airpower to avoid civilian casualties.

The provincial government said most of the dead were militants, but on Monday, the Afghan Rights Monitor said interviews with 15 villagers indicate that only a dozen gunmen died and 60-70 villagers were killed. The group called for further investigations.

"Even if all the victims were supporters of the Taliban, the fact that most of them were unarmed and were not engaged in any combat activity does not warrant their mass killing," said Ajmal Samadi, the rights group's director.

A spokesman for the provincial government, Ahmad Sami Yawar, said Monday that only five of the estimated 70 killed were civilians.

The increasingly violent insurgents have killed more civilians in bombings and other attacks. On Monday, the government said three militant rockets landed overnight in the capital, Kabul, hitting a house and killing three people. In central Uruzgan province, a remote-controlled bomb targeting a police vehicle exploded in a busy market, killing two children and wounding 16 other people, according to local police official Gulab Khan.

A United Nations report in July said the number of civilians killed in conflict in Afghanistan has jumped 24 percent this year, with bombings by insurgents and airstrikes by international forces the biggest killers. The report said 1,013 civilians were killed in the first half of 2009, 59% in insurgent attacks and 30.5% by foreign and Afghan government forces. The rest were undetermined.
http://www.time.com/time/printout/0,8816,1920870,00.html
 

Andy_S

LE
Book Reviewer
#2
USMC? Article says 10th Mtn Div...

FYI, reporters do not write their own headlines: That is done 'back at the office.' Many a journalist has cursed to see a misleading/flippant/inaccurate/wrong headline headlining their story.

Intersting point in the story, though it is further down. Are wounded enemy in hospital not a legitimate military target? My understanding is that installations such as neutral hospital ships moored offshore are NOT targets, but hospitals on the battlefield are, if not military targets, military objectives; ie their occupants CAN be captured. Where this leaves an NGO-run hospital in a COIN warzone I am not sure....?

Can anyone shed light?
 
#3
Wah.
 
#4
Andy_S said:
USMC? Article says 10th Mtn Div...

FYI, reporters do not write their own headlines: That is done 'back at the office.' Many a journalist has cursed to see a misleading/flippant/inaccurate/wrong headline headlining their story.

Intersting point in the story, though it is further down. Are wounded enemy in hospital not a legitimate military target? My understanding is that installations such as neutral hospital ships moored offshore are NOT targets, but hospitals on the battlefield are, if not military targets, military objectives; ie their occupants CAN be captured. Where this leaves an NGO-run hospital in a COIN warzone I am not sure....?

Can anyone shed light?
My main point in posting was to show how sloppy our journalists are getting and possibly how politicized the editorial staffs since I do not think the choice of headline was inadvertent.

To answer your law of armed conflict question, enemy combatants who are wounded are protected by the 1949 Geneva Convention for the Protection of the Wounded and Sick. If hors de combat (wounded to the point they are "out of the fight"), they become noncombatants and cannot be targeted. They must be treated medically (standard triage rules apply without regard to nationality) and if they recover are then considered prisoners of war, subject to the companion POW convention.
 

Andy_S

LE
Book Reviewer
#5
Well in this case I would say the sloppiness of the hacks was less in putting out a misleading headling, more in not adding the context that you have done above, re rights of enemy wounded. The US troops may well have been within their rights to search the hospital for enemy casualties, who - after treatment - will then be taken as prisoners, and shipped to, er....?

Though now you mention it, 'storm through hospital' is in inverted commas, which suggests a quote. I didn't see any source quoted as saying that in the article.
 
#6
Andy_S said:
USMC? Article says 10th Mtn Div...

FYI, reporters do not write their own headlines: That is done 'back at the office.' Many a journalist has cursed to see a misleading/flippant/inaccurate/wrong headline headlining their story.

Intersting point in the story, though it is further down. Are wounded enemy in hospital not a legitimate military target? My understanding is that installations such as neutral hospital ships moored offshore are NOT targets, but hospitals on the battlefield are, if not military targets, military objectives; ie their occupants CAN be captured. Where this leaves an NGO-run hospital in a COIN warzone I am not sure....?

Can anyone shed light?
Taliban and AQ are not lawful combatants, they are terrorists in every meaning of the word.


This is no different from police arresting and charging let us say, a failed suicide bomber from an NHS Hospital.
 
#7
When did the Tallys sign the Geneva convention
 
#9
ringdoby said:
Just because the Taliban haven't signed the Geneva Convention doesn't mean that we aren't legally and morally bound by it.
They are CRIMINALS and can be arrested, do any other murderers have immunity from arrest because they are skulking in a hospital?

If Peter Sutcliffe escaped from prison and ended up hiding in a hospital, you'd want the authorities to go in and search for him wouldn't you?

No difference especially as Terry and AQ claim to be doing Gods work too.
 
#10
tropper66 said:
When did the Tallys sign the Geneva convention
You don't have to sign it to be protected by it.

Concerning the hospital search, nobody in his right mind can claim that it was a violation of humanitarian law. Indeed 'targeting' a hospital means just that* and nobody did - it was searched and no harm done to civilians - so legal. Was it prudent? Was it within the guidelines of CIMIC? And most importantly, was it effective? Probably not.


*hospitals etc are not to be targeted ie bombed unless the enemy uses the hospital for military purposes - then it becomes a military target. You may then 'target' that hospital but still only if the danger of civilian casualties is proportionate to the military significance of the target.
I think :D
 
#11
I think they are in a tiz about ISAF bringing weapons in to a hospital.

There was an incident in the north of the country a week or so ago where Taliban brought an injured commander in for treatment.

An ANP patrol trundled past and saw the scooters parked up outside with a couple of raggedy arssed guys with AKs stagging on.

Their interest aroused they dismounted and were engaged. More Taliban were inside and there ended up being firefights through the corridors and wards.

Something like 15 dead TB, 6 arrests and 2 ANP wounded.

Just another day at the office...
 
#12
The_Coming_Man said:
ringdoby said:
Just because the Taliban haven't signed the Geneva Convention doesn't mean that we aren't legally and morally bound by it.
They are CRIMINALS and can be arrested, do any other murderers have immunity from arrest because they are skulking in a hospital?

If Peter Sutcliffe escaped from prison and ended up hiding in a hospital, you'd want the authorities to go in and search for him wouldn't you?

No difference especially as Terry and AQ claim to be doing Gods work too.
Don't put words in my mouth to support your obnoxious right wing viewpoint.
 
#13
tearsbeforebedtime said:
I think they are in a tiz about ISAF bringing weapons in to a hospital.

There was an incident in the north of the country a week or so ago where Taliban brought an injured commander in for treatment.

An ANP patrol trundled past and saw the scooters parked up outside with a couple of raggedy arssed guys with AKs stagging on.

Their interest aroused they dismounted and were engaged. More Taliban were inside and there ended up being firefights through the corridors and wards.

Something like 15 dead TB, 6 arrests and 2 ANP wounded.

Just another day at the office...
In light of that, the (legal) search might have been completely justifiable (as in considering the fallout and adverse effects on hearts and minds). Again, we don't know anything on why it was conducted specifically on that day and based on what intel.
What frustrates me is that journalists tend to frame news in such a way that it becomes 'clearer' - here by reminding us of the tankers and thus alleged hard handedness of ISAF - instead of giving the real picture that, more often than not in war, constitutes a dilemma for the commanders and troops on the ground.
 
#14
A terrorist is a criminal not a soldier, and is therefore covered by the laws of the country so if the troops involved are under the laws of the said country hospitals are not out of bounds
 
#16
tropper66 said:
A terrorist is a criminal not a soldier, and is therefore covered by the laws of the country so if the troops involved are under the laws of the said country hospitals are not out of bounds
Just out of interest, where does this notion come from that you are somehow not allowed to take prisoners of war in a hospital?
I think its irrelevant in this case, from a legal point of view, if they are terrorists, insurgents or members of opposing armed forces.
 
#17
This seems to be another crap jorno talking BS to get a headline
 
#18
ringdoby said:
The_Coming_Man said:
ringdoby said:
Just because the Taliban haven't signed the Geneva Convention doesn't mean that we aren't legally and morally bound by it.
They are CRIMINALS and can be arrested, do any other murderers have immunity from arrest because they are skulking in a hospital?

If Peter Sutcliffe escaped from prison and ended up hiding in a hospital, you'd want the authorities to go in and search for him wouldn't you?

No difference especially as Terry and AQ claim to be doing Gods work too.
Don't put words in my mouth to support your obnoxious right wing viewpoint.
As long as you stop boring us all with your obnoxious hand wringing liberal viewpoint.

:roll:
 
#19
jumpinjarhead said:
Note the headline states as fact what the article terms allegations:

Monday, Sep. 07, 2009
U.S. Troops 'Storm Through Afghan Hospital'
By AP / KAY JOHNSON

(KABUL) — A Swedish charity accused American troops Monday of storming through a hospital in central Afghanistan, breaking down doors and tying up staff in a search for militants. The U.S. military said it was investigating.

The allegation that soldiers violated the neutrality of a medical facility follows the reported deaths of Afghan civilians in a U.S. airstrike in the country's north last week. An Afghan human rights group said Monday the strike on two hijacked fuel tankers may have killed as many as 70 civilians in Kunduz province. (See pictures of the U.S. Marines new offensive in Afghanistan.)

Civilian deaths and intrusive searches have bred resentment among the Afghan population nearly eight years after the U.S.-led coalition invaded to oust the Taliban's hard-line Islamist regime for sheltering al-Qaeda terrorist leaders.

Foreign forces are working to persuade the population to support the Afghan government after last month's presidential election, which has yet to be decided amid allegations of vote-rigging.

On Monday, the Swedish Committee for Afghanistan said the U.S. Army's 10th Mountain Division entered the charity's hospital without permission to look for insurgents in Wardak province, southwest of Kabul.

"This is simply not acceptable," said Anders Fange, the charity's country director.

The U.S. troops came to the hospital looking for Taliban insurgents late at night last Wednesday. Fange said they kicked in doors, tied up four hospital employees and two family members of patients, and forced patients out of beds during their search.

When they left two hours later, the unit ordered hospital staff to inform coalition forces if any wounded militants were admitted, and the military would decide if they could be treated, Fange said.

The staff refused, he said. "That would put our staff at risk and make the hospital a target."

The charity said on its Web site that the troops' actions were not only a violation of humanitarian principles but also went against an agreement between NATO forces and charities working in the area.

"We demand guarantees ... that such violations will not be repeated and that this is made clear to commanders in the field," a statement said.

U.S. military spokeswoman Lt. Cmdr. Christine Sidenstricker confirmed that the hospital was searched last week but had no other details. She said the military was looking into the incident.

"We are investigating and we take allegations like this seriously," she said. "Complaints like this are rare."

Violence has surged across much of Afghanistan since President Barack Obama ordered 21,000 more U.S. troops to the country this year. Two foreign troops were killed Sunday when their patrol hit a roadside bomb in the country's south, NATO said without giving their nationalities.

NATO was also investigating last week's U.S. airstrike. The strike came despite new rules for foreign forces limiting use of airpower to avoid civilian casualties.

The provincial government said most of the dead were militants, but on Monday, the Afghan Rights Monitor said interviews with 15 villagers indicate that only a dozen gunmen died and 60-70 villagers were killed. The group called for further investigations.

"Even if all the victims were supporters of the Taliban, the fact that most of them were unarmed and were not engaged in any combat activity does not warrant their mass killing," said Ajmal Samadi, the rights group's director.

A spokesman for the provincial government, Ahmad Sami Yawar, said Monday that only five of the estimated 70 killed were civilians.

The increasingly violent insurgents have killed more civilians in bombings and other attacks. On Monday, the government said three militant rockets landed overnight in the capital, Kabul, hitting a house and killing three people. In central Uruzgan province, a remote-controlled bomb targeting a police vehicle exploded in a busy market, killing two children and wounding 16 other people, according to local police official Gulab Khan.

A United Nations report in July said the number of civilians killed in conflict in Afghanistan has jumped 24 percent this year, with bombings by insurgents and airstrikes by international forces the biggest killers. The report said 1,013 civilians were killed in the first half of 2009, 59% in insurgent attacks and 30.5% by foreign and Afghan government forces. The rest were undetermined.
http://www.time.com/time/printout/0,8816,1920870,00.html
jumpinjarhead,

Don't really have a view on the main article given that there are relatively few "facts" on show - most of which have been dissected by other posters. What seemed interesting was the figures at the bottom from the UN. Although I am naturally suspicious about UN figures I wonder why we are not putting our side across to highlight the fact that the vast majority (59% to 30%) of civilians die as a result of insurgent attacks. We (the coalition, NGOs and Afghan government) should make far more of this disparity as we try to persuade the Afghan (and our own) population that we are not the bad guys.

whf
 
#20
PsyWar.Org said:
jumpinjarhead said:
Note the headline states as fact what the article terms allegations:

Monday, Sep. 07, 2009
U.S. Troops 'Storm Through Afghan Hospital'
By AP / KAY JOHNSON
...
http://www.time.com/time/printout/0,8816,1920870,00.html
To be fair the "Storm Through Afghan Hospital" is in quotes in the headline, so not a statement of fact but one of opinion.

But who's opinion is not clear.
I now teach at a uni and spoke to a journalism professor about it who said this is now a common technique--using quotes on headlines to abide by the technical niceties, knowing that the great unwashed do not notice them such that they instead are both "grabbed" as intended by the headline and predisposed in the direction desired by the editor.
 

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