Thursday, August 11, 2011

Jonathan Landay Follows Up for McClatchy

A picture of a Chinook crash in Vietnam in 1968; the story of what happened in that incident is here and it's fascinating.

He's actually written quite a few stories on the Chinook Down in Talibanistan, some of them quite good.

A selection of Afghanistan and other stories at this link: Jonathan Landay stories for McClatchy Note, the first listed story is about the Jessica Lynch capture and rescue fraud.

The one I want to focus on here is this one that appeared yesterday:

Airstrike reportedly kills insurgent who downed U.S. chopper

Read more:

Of course, it was all over the news yesterday, most of which reported this enemy liquidation sparely, shall we say, though without much editorial comment.

Landay seems to be arching his brow through the whole thing. Of course he knows full well what kind of lies and damned lies of omission and commission the Pentagon is notorious for. And he no doubt knows that this story of tracking for miles the single Taliban insurgent who fired the RPG that brought down the Chinook, killing all on board, stinks to high heaven.

Oh they did, did they? Well, how about that.

"No civilians were harmed in the extermination of the foe."

Yes, well.

KABUL, Afghanistan — A “precision airstrike” has killed the insurgent who fired the rocket-propelled grenade that downed an American helicopter last weekend, killing 30 U.S. troops in the American military’s worst loss of the Afghan war, the U.S.-led international coalition said Wednesday.

A midlevel commander of Taliban fighters operating in the insurgent-controlled area where the helicopter crashed also died in the airstrike Tuesday, an International Security Assistance Force statement said.

I see. Given all the "mistakes" the Coalition has made in tracking down and exterminating rebels in the Hindu Kush, my first question to the Coalition would be:

"How do you know any such thing is the case? Can you prove it?"

The answer is self-evident: "Of course not, you rotten traitor."

All right.... Let's go for this, then:

The airstrike ended a three-day hunt for the insurgents involved in downing the CH-47 Chinook helicopter as it prepared to land early Saturday in the remote Tangi Valley in Wardak province, about 60 miles southwest of Kabul.

The crash killed 30 U.S. servicemen — many of them elite Navy SEALs — the largest number of American soldiers killed in a single incident in Afghanistan since the 2001 U.S.-led invasion. Their Afghan interpreter and seven Afghan commandos also died.

To which I say, "Oh, really?
And what about the dog?"

The dog hasn't been mentioned since soon after the crash was reported. It was speculated for a time that the dog had taken part in the Osama assassination -- as was thought to be the case regarding many of the troops that were killed. There's been no confirmation, of course. Only Mystery.

Quoting directly from the Coalition Press Release, Landay goes on:

Using “multiple intelligence leads and tips from citizens,” U.S.-led special forces tracked the insurgents’ leader, Mullah Muhibullah, and the fighter who fired the rocket-propelled grenade, locating them in the Chak district, about 40 miles north of the Tangi Valley.

“The two men were attempting to flee the country in order to avoid capture,” the ISAF said. The border with Pakistan’s tribal area, where the Taliban and allied groups maintain sanctuaries, is about 75 miles east of Chak.

“The security forces . . . followed the insurgents to a wooded area in Chak district. After ensuring no civilians were in the area, the force called for the airstrike, which resulted in the deaths of . . . Mullah Muhibullah, the shooter and several of their Taliban associates,” ISAF said.

By now, Landay is clearly scratching his head. This is an awful lot of detail for an operation that has supposedly just concluded, detail so complete, they even know the name of Mullah just killed in the airstrike, supposedly the #2 to the Taliban commander the original, apparently failed, operation was supposed to kill or capture.

It's like a movie script. Landay goes on (I've skipped the part about bringing the remains back to Dover):

Questions persisted about why the lumbering, twin-rotor Chinook was called to assist a team of American soldiers that had become embroiled in a firefight while hunting another Taliban leader.

That leader wasn't killed, officials said, but the American team reportedly suffered no casualties and immediately left the battle for the scene of the crash after the Chinook went down, raising questions about the intensity of the firefight.

Those aren't the only questions, my friend, but they're a start. Why, indeed, was a Chinook filled with elite SEALS, Afghan Rangers, an interpreter and a dog being brought in for a landing in proximity to a supposed "firefight" in which none of the troops engaging the enemy were harmed, and those troops immediately disengaged with the enemy to go to the scene of the crashed Chinook, a scene they promptly secured and where they apparently stayed until... what?

Landay again:

In a news briefing, Gen. John Allen, the coalition commander, rejected suggestions that the Chinook was the wrong aircraft for the mission.

"We've run more than a couple of thousand of these night operations over the last year, and this is the only occasion where this has occurred," Allen said.

Two defense officials told McClatchy earlier this week that a Pentagon investigation into the crash would probe whether Chinooks should be sent into firefights, where their slow landings can make them targets for insurgents.

I've seen other reports that indicate the Chinooks are well known for their vulnerabilities in Afghanistan and that dozens have crashed (whether shot down, who can say) over the course of hostilities there.

The ISAF withheld further details of Tuesday's airstrike, including the type and nationality of the aircraft involved. U.S. planes usually carry out such operations.

Or drones are operated from a game console at Groom Lake, NV, among other sites.

Shahidullah Shahid, a spokesman for the Wardak governor, said that 13 Taliban fighters had died in the airstrike near the village of Seaab. “These guys had fled the Tangi area,” he said. “Usually when they’ve done an operation, they leave the area and go to another location.”

And where might Shahidullah have gotten this information? From a Coalition Talking Points Communiqué perhaps? How credulous are we thought to be, hm?

But this is the kicker:

The ISAF didn’t disclose how it had confirmed that the fighter responsible for shooting down the helicopter was killed, but the U.S.-led force has extensive intelligence-gathering capabilities, including an ability to monitor insurgents’ radio and cellular telephone traffic.

In other words, he doesn't know whether to believe any of this cock and bull story or not, but if it's true, well, they might have been listening to cell phone calls in the area to pin point their target. Don't you think? Hm? Couldn't they?

One throws up ones hands at the obviousness of the propaganda. As a retired Air Force friend said to me as we discussed this incident: "What the hell are we doing there?"

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