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New York Times Admits NATO Slaughtered Civilians in Libya and Lied About It
From New York Times:
SOMETIME late last Aug. 8, NATO warplanes flying from Europe arrived over the Libyan farming village of Majer, where forces loyal to Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi were withdrawing and anti-Qaddafi forces were claiming ground. Civilians were in motion, too — seeking pockets of safety away from the roaming sides, neither of which fought with precision or clear rules. This is the type of situation in which air support can be especially risky and in which, even with a careful calculus of modern target planning, mistakes are likely.
The aircraft that night have never been publicly identified by NATO, which has treated their origins and nationalities as strict military secrets.
From the standpoint of public accountability and civilian control of the military, this position serves as a kind of case study in the costs of withholding unpleasant facts, effectively denying civilians and taxpayers of NATO’s member nations their responsibility to assess their military services’ performance — a task that is difficult enough in an allied operation, under which the roles and responsibilities of each nation’s forces can be hard to map.
Shortly before midnight, those as yet unidentified aviators released several laser-guided 500-pound bombs. The first bombs destroyed a house crowded with families. The next bombs destroyed two more. Then the aircraft struck again, survivors and local doctors say, dropping high-explosive ordnance on Libyans who had rushed to the victims’ aid.
The results, by the available evidence, were a horror. By the time NATO’s planes departed, at least 34 people had been killed, many of them women and small children, according to investigations by journalists, human-rights organizations and the United Nations. At least three dozen more people were wounded.
IN a report quietly made public early this month, a United Nations commission pointedly noted that after examining the destruction in Majer, interviewing survivors, reviewing documents and conducting an analysis of satellite imagery from before and after the attack, it found no evidence that “the site had a military purpose.”
It added that “it seems clear that those killed were all civilians.”
The commission recommended that NATO investigate this bloody occurrence (and several others that have been ferreted out in the face of repeated official denials) and follow its own practices in Afghanistan for taking responsibility for civilian casualties and making compensation payments.
Then a well-established pattern repeated itself. NATO’s secretary general, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, said the alliance had examined the allegations of civilian casualties and, essentially, had nothing to account for. “This review process has confirmed that the targets we struck were legitimate military targets,” he said.
NATO presented no evidence supporting this claim. Instead, it has declined repeated requests — including from survivors — to release weapons-systems video or other material demonstrating that anyone but civilians was present where and when the bombs struck.