Pentagon Finally Declassifies Drone Strike Footage To The Public

( Last week, through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against US Central Command, the New York Times obtained the Pentagon’s drone footage from the August 29 strike in Kabul that killed ten civilians.

The videos include over 20 minutes of footage from the two MQ-9 Reaper drones, showing the scene of the strike before, during, and after the missiles struck.

After the deadly terror attack outside the Kabul airport in August that killed thirteen US service members, the Biden administration vowed a swift and decisive response to those responsible. And in its haste, it targeted and killed Zemari Ahmadi, an aide worker for a US-based organization, and nine members of his family, including seven children.

Drone operators had been tracking Ahmadi’s car for nearly eight hours, mistakenly believing he was a member of ISIS-K.

Pentagon officials had initially claimed the secondary explosion that occurred after the missiles struck supported their suspicion that the car contained explosives. Later, however, they said the second explosion was likely caused by a propane tank.

At first, the Pentagon defended the attack, with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin calling it a “righteous strike.” It wasn’t until reports came out that the targets were not terrorists, that the Pentagon admitted the error.

An inspector general investigation last year determined that the strike was an “honest” mistake and no legal or disciplinary action was recommended. This prompted outrage both in Congress and among human rights groups.

Lt. Gen. Sami D. Said, US Air Force Inspector General concluded that the drone operators had mistaken Ahmadi’s white Toyota Corolla for a car allegedly linked to a terrorist group then failed to spot a child visible on the drone footage two minutes before the missiles were launched. However, he found no violation of law, “including the law of war.”

Lt. Gen. Sami D. Said told reporters that the strike was an “honest mistake,” not a criminal act or negligence. He attributed the mistake to “confirmation bias” which warped the operators’ interpretation of what they saw from the footage.