The New York Times released an article on Friday containing a half-complete document from US Central Command which investigated a failed drone strike in Afghanistan. 66 pages of the unclassified document were released to the New York Times, containing redactions, after a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit.
The investigation was instigated shortly after the drone strike, which killed ten civilians, but was never completed. The Department of Defense did not offer any further comments, having previously labelled it a “tragic mistake.” A previous military investigation found that the strike was caused by errors, not criminal negligence.
The investigation focused on the August 29, 2021, attack near the Kabul Airport, where the Department of Justice had received intel that a white Toyota Corolla held a package containing explosives. The Department of Defense had approved an American MQ-9 Reaper drone to shoot a Hellfire missile at the vehicle.
The immediate response from the Department of Defense was that they had successfully stoped an attack; however, it was later made evident that the drone strike was a tragedy. The report reveals that the US military knew of civilian casualties by 2 AM the following morning, and this was detailed in the report on page 222. Many of the sworn statements included throughout the document detail concerns for civilian casualties after the strike occurred. The Department of Defense did not issue an official statement recognizing the loss of civilian life until mid-September.
New articles from the New York Times explore the role of confirmation bias in the drone strike, and heavily criticize the Department of Defense and US military for not being more forthright with their information and findings. There are still a number of pages from the investigation which are not available to the general public.