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Brian Fogel

Bridging Oceans: Major media and U.S. government need to admit facts surrounding recent bombing in Kunduz, Afghanistan

This recent attack is only the latest in the long history of war crimes committed by the American military.


A hospital run by Doctors Without Borders (MSF) in Kunduz, Afghanistan, was bombed by a U.S. AC-130 gunship for more than 30 minutes on Oct. 3, killing more than 22 people and injuring 37. Al Jazeera reported that this was one of the hospitals, if not the only, in the region equipped to handle serious injuries.

Large media corporations like The New York Times and The Economist have all but skirted around the facts of the bombing, revealing continued bias for the U.S. government over innocent lives and the truth of the terrorism of their own nation.

The U.S. military in Afghanistan issued a news update admitting that the airstrike was made by their forces in Kunduz, but the important part of the report was that they said that it was “against individuals threatening the force. The strike may have resulted in collateral damage to a nearby medical facility.”

The Intercept reported that Jason Cone, the MSF’s executive director told them “all parties [to the] conflict, including in Kabul and Washington, were clearly informed of precise GPS Coordinates of MSF facilities in Kunduz. [The] precise location of MSF Kunduz hospital [was] communicated to all parties on multiple occasions over past months, including on 9/29.”

For the military to call the deaths of more than 20 people “collateral damage” is a disgusting mistruth and manipulation of the media. Not only have they been using rhetoric like this, but they have also changed their explanation four times since the bombing happened.

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The New York Times refuses to cite that the strike was undoubtedly committed by a U.S. bomber, saying it “appeared to have been carried out by American aircraft.” Even The Washington Post report said, “after a suspected U.S. airstrike killed 22 people at a Doctors Without Borders hospital in Kunduz,” instead of actually admitting that the strike was in no way an accident or committed by someone else.

There were several letters to the editor in The New York Times recently displaying mistrust and anger with the U.S. military’s involvement in Afghanistan. One woman from South Carolina said that “this outrage committed by the United States should enter history as the final stupidity of America’s ill-conceived and poorly executed ‘war on terror’ in Afghanistan.”

On Oct. 7 Dr. Joanne Liu, international president of MSF, demanded a formal and independent investigation into the Kunduz bombing. She was very clear to say that “this was just not an attack on our hospital. It was an attack on the Geneva Conventions. This cannot be tolerated.”

As Nick Turse reported for The Intercept, the general director of MSF, Christopher Stokes, said that “this amounts to an admission of a war crime.”

Though this is one of many incidents committed by the U.S. throughout this ongoing war on terror, the most egregious fact is that they bombed the hospital with a hunch that there may have been Taliban in or around the area. Even if there were members of the Taliban there, the MSF hospital is a non-partisan facility caring for anyone who needs help. Al Jazeera once more reported that the hospital took no sides in the conflict between the Afghan security forces and the Taliban.

In an interview with Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor Noam Chomsky, he makes it clear that the war on terror is a sham.

“The fact of the matter is that there is no War on Terror. It's a minor consideration," Chomsky said. "So invading Iraq and taking control of the world's energy resources was way more important than the threat of terror.”

In his book Understanding Power, Chomsky also drives the point that when the U.S. has been fighting for peace or democracy it has really been a matter of which political power benefits them or follows their rules.

“They're ‘democracies,’ because the right people are running them; if the right people aren't running them, then they're not ‘democracies,’ " Chomsky said.

In the context of the bombing, the U.S. could be seen to have done it because there was a possibility of there being Taliban members there, but also because the hospital was willing to provide aide for the people that the U.S. didn’t like.

There has even been a history of U.S. bombings of facilities like the one at the MSF, as The Intercept reports.

This rampant hyper-nationalism and “war on terror” must be ended altogether. The public is becoming less naive about why these wars are being fought, and if the military continues to cover up war crimes like those, the opposition forces are going to continue having a reason to fight.


Officially announced on Nov. 5, Doctors Without Borders (Medecins Sans Frontieres) conducted an independent study to determine what actually happened with the Kunduz bombing. The report chronologically documents the days the leading up to and throughout the Oct. 3 airstrike which took place from approximately 2 a.m. until 3:15 a.m. 

Most important to note is that all parties with any affiliation to MSF were aware of certain guidelines they had to abide by. “MSF activities in Kunduz were based on a thorough process to reach an agreement with all parties to the conflict to respect the neutrality of our medical facility,” the report said.

The agreements made direct reference to various aspects of International Human Rights Law that classifies the incident as one that has broken these laws. The agreement included reference to these:

-Guaranteeing the right to treat all wounded and sick without discrimination 

-Protection of patients and staff guaranteeing non-harassment whilst under medical care

-Immunity from prosecution for performing their medical duties for our staff 

-Respect for medical and patient confidentiality

-Respect of a ‘no-weapon’ policy within the hospital compound  

Between Sept. 28 and the night of the bombings, the hospital treated or was currently treating nearly a thousands different patients from various sides of the conflict. On Thursday Oct. 1, the hospital received inquiry from a US government official asking if any “locations had a large number of Taliban ‘holed up.’ ” 

Detailed medical data documents how many people were in and out of the hospital during the prior week, as well as how many people were members of the Taliban combatant force.

The airstrikes from an AC-130 airplane were witnessed by 255 people.

Despite various phone calls and text messages to all of the other parties involved with MSF, the bombing continued for more than an hour. The report says that some witnesses claim to have seen gunfire from the plane shoot at people on the grounds directly, following their running patterns. 

The initial conclusions and final statement of the MSF report indicate that they fully believe there was no error on their end and that they have every right to treat patients of any background without fear of attack. More investigations are expected to be made by MSF and hopefully by more non-partisan groups, but the facts in the report are compelling.

While the U.S. military has a lot of power, there cannot be an exemption of persecution. Based upon the International Humanitarian laws, these ill-intentioned airstrikes must be dealt with in international court. 

Brian Fogel is a freshman studying journalism and a photographer for The PostDid you already know about this bombing in Afghanistan? Tweet him @FrianBogel or email him at


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