Cockpit Crew Questioned Legality of Orders to Bomb Afghan Doctors Without Borders Hospital

Source: Getty Images
Source: Getty Images

The world is calling into question the legality of an Oct. 3 United States airstrike against a Doctors Without Borders hospital in Kunduz, northern Afghanistan, which killed at least 22 staff and patients. 

To make matters worse for the U.S., the cockpit crew tasked with carrying out the airstrike actually questioned the legality of the order, according to NBC Nightly News on Thursday.

"A defense official said today, it may in fact amount to a war crime," the NBC Nightly News report said.

Médecins Sans Frontières (the French name for the medical organization) called for an independent investigation by the International Humanitarian Fact-Finding Commission, a product of the Geneva Conventions, tasked with investigating war criminals. A number of major aid agencies have supported MSF's request.

Accusations the U.S. "destroyed potential evidence" before an IHFFC investigation could commence came the same day as NBC's report on the cockpit recordings.

A tank containing U.S., Afghan and NATO investigators invaded the targeted MSF compound "unannounced ... and caused stress and fear," MSF said in a statement, the Guardian reports.

MSF general director Christopher Stokes stands with his colleagues as an Afghan military vehicle surveys the entrance of the MSF hospital after American investigators leave on Thursday.
Source: 
Mic/AP

The story had yet another development on Thursday: Some U.S. intelligence analysts knew the site was a hospital before it was bombed, as a Pakistani intelligence agent was suspected of organizing Taliban activity from the site, the Associated Press reported. 

It is yet to be confirmed if those ordering and executing the attack had the same information and were cognizant it was hospital at the time of the airstrike. Furthermore, no Pakistani deaths as a consequence of the attack have been publicly confirmed.

There has been inconsistency from within the U.S. intelligence community as to the legitimacy of the attack. Gen. John Campbell, the U.S. commander for Afghanistan, said it was a mistake, while other analysts have said said it was justified.

"There's somebody in some part of the force that knows that's a prohibited target," Michael Newton, an international justice, accountability and hostilities conduct expert at Vanderbilt Law School, told the Guardian.

How likely are you to make Mic your go-to news source?

Natasha Noman

Natasha is a News Staff Writer covering global affairs. She previously reported on regional affairs from Pakistan. Natasha is based in New York and can be reached at natasha@mic.com.

MORE FROM

Will Justice Anthony Kennedy retire at end of Supreme Court term? Here's what we know.

Rumors that the 80-year-old swing justice may leave the bench are fueling fear of a second Trump pick on the nation's high court.

3 states and D.C. allow same flammable building materials behind Grenfell Tower fire

The causes of London's Grenfell Tower are similar to the justifications used to waive fire regulations in the U.S.

New Jersey bill would require kids to be taught how to interact with police

Students from kindergarten through 12th grade would receive the education.

UK Parliament hit with cyberattack

Members of Parliament had difficulty accessing their emails Saturday in the wake of the attack.

Istanbul LGBT pride march banned by government for safety concerns

A right-wing nationalist group has vowed to stop the protest.

Compounds seized by US in December reportedly contained material useful in Russia probe

The Trump administration has reportedly been considering returning the New York and Maryland compounds to Russia.

Will Justice Anthony Kennedy retire at end of Supreme Court term? Here's what we know.

Rumors that the 80-year-old swing justice may leave the bench are fueling fear of a second Trump pick on the nation's high court.

3 states and D.C. allow same flammable building materials behind Grenfell Tower fire

The causes of London's Grenfell Tower are similar to the justifications used to waive fire regulations in the U.S.

New Jersey bill would require kids to be taught how to interact with police

Students from kindergarten through 12th grade would receive the education.

UK Parliament hit with cyberattack

Members of Parliament had difficulty accessing their emails Saturday in the wake of the attack.

Istanbul LGBT pride march banned by government for safety concerns

A right-wing nationalist group has vowed to stop the protest.

Compounds seized by US in December reportedly contained material useful in Russia probe

The Trump administration has reportedly been considering returning the New York and Maryland compounds to Russia.