Washington’s Blog: U.S. Army Starts Targeting Children

pv30r2z6 U.S. Army Starts Targeting ChildrenImage by Anthony Freda: www.AnthonyFreda.com.


Obama and the American military label all young men – between the ages of say 15 and 35 – who happen to be in battle zones as suspected insurgents who they can target and kill.

Under the Bush administration, children were tortured.

Now, the U.S. military is starting to target children for assassination in battle zones. As the Nation reports:

In a despicable article in Military Times, the US military says that children are legitimate targets in the war in Afghanistan because sometimes the Taliban and other insurgents use kids.

In the original incident, which I cited in October, The New York Times reported it this way:

The…case of three children allegedly killed in a coalition strike was reported by local officials in Helmand Province’s Nawa district. The officials said that the children were killed in a NATO strike on Sunday afternoon as they were gathering dung to burn as fuel, a common practice in the desert reaches of southern Afghanistan where there are few trees.


The Marja governor said that NATO forces watched as improvised explosive devices were being planted, and targeted the insurgents planting them. “As a result two I.E.D. planters were killed and the shrapnel killed the three children who were wandering nearby,” he said. Other reports said that three insurgents had been killed.

A spokesman for the international forces, Maj. Adam Wojack, said that the coalition forces were aware of the allegations and that the episode was being investigated. “I.S.A.F. did conduct a precision airstrike on three insurgents in Nawa district, and the strike killed all three insurgents,” he said.

“None of our reporting shows any civilian casualties or any children.”

But on December 3 Gannett, which owns Military Times, ran an article headlined: “Some Afghan Kids Aren’t Bystanders.” It said:

When Marines in Helmand province sized up shadowy figures that appeared to be emplacing an improvised explosive device, it looked like a straightforward mission. They got clearance for an airstrike, a Marine official said, and took out the targets.

It wasn’t that simple, however. Three individuals hit were 12, 10 and 8 years old, leading the International Security Assistance Force in Kabul to say it may have “accidentally killed three innocent Afghan civilians.”

But a Marine official here raised questions about whether the children were “innocent.” Before calling for the M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System mission in mid-October, Marines observed the children digging a hole in a dirt road in Nawa district, the official said, and the Taliban may have recruited the children to carry out the mission.

Shockingly, the article quotes a senior officer saying that the military isn’t just out to bomb “military age males,” anymore, but kids, too:

It kind of opens our aperture,” said Army Lt. Col. Marion “Ced” Carrington, whose unit, 1st Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, was assisting the Afghan police. “In addition to looking for military-age males, it’s looking for children with potential hostile intent.”

War crimes?  It would appear so.

But the U.S. government exempts its own acts from the definition of terrorism, even as it labels others as terrorists for doing the exact same things.

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About George Washington

George Washington is the head writer at Washington’s Blog. A busy professional and former adjunct professor, George’s insatiable curiousity causes him to write on a wide variety of topics, including economics, finance, the environment and politics. For further details, ask Keith Alexander… http://www.washingtonsblog.com


    1. YouDon'tSay?

      Agreed. What’s new here? This is really Vietnam era stuff, which, incidentally, is now officially starting to look like the “good old days.”

      Houston, we have a problem. And the problem is… US!

      1. DANNYBOY

        Dear YDS,

        Thank you for your supportive comment, and the moving reference to Vietnam. That was the defining time of my life. More fear than anyone should feel.

        I believe that the problem resides in that range of people who fall within the range of purely selfish and evil.

        I’ve gotten pretty good at spotting them and their behaviours.

        Some day I hope to be a tracker.

        And fix them good.

        1. YouDon'tSay?

          I’m retired military, just barely post-Vietnam (1977-2003, ENLISTED). But the lessons were still well learned. I was amazed to watch my young cohorts in 2003 as I retired get all giddy about invading Iraq. DAMN! As I retire, as I began, I thought (and conveyed to many of them). Time has only proven my initial inclination correct.

        2. YouDon'tSay?

          I might add, tracking them’s not hard; they’re easy to spot. Fixing them is another matter altogether…

          1. DANNYBOY

            Dear YouDon’tSay,

            I should have been clearer. I did not intend “fix” to mean correct.

            I used “fix” to mean fix them once and For All.

  1. AvgJohn

    And this is what America has come to? Pitiful. Just gives you a dark, creepy feeling in the pit of your stomach. Bring our troops home NOW, for God’s sake (and our own).

      1. Ms G

        Yes, and facilitated by truly creepy phrases (spoken, no less, by our Lieutenant Colonels in the field) like:“It kind of opens our aperture […]” That is an interesting way to say “we’ve expanded our assassination program to include children with evil intents.”

        1. b.

          Intertubes – a memory prothesis for everybody.

          Let me help you with the phase shifts and apertures there…

          “How old are these people?” he asked, according to two officials present. “If they are starting to use children,” he said of Al Qaeda, “we are moving into a whole different phase.”

          Leadership we can believe in. I wonder, why is that people need their outrage to packaged new and different every day, when the old ones will serve just fine. The gerbil wheel of futile resistance – let us jump on today’s crime, because it makes so much easier moving beyond yesterday’s?

    1. YouDon'tSay?

      Umm… I really hate to break this to you, but “Our Troops” are nothing more than HIRED mercenaries to kill or otherwise fuck with “OUR enemies” as prescribed by OUR HIRED political appointees, appointed by OUR hired/”elected” political officials, who are ALL hired to do OUR bidding, lest OUR standard of living fail to live up to OUR expectations. Doubt it? Fail to pay for any extensive period of time ANY link in the above chain and see what happens. Wanna bet that WE won’t like the results one bit?

    2. dannyc

      Bring our troops home…Yes immediately! But that won’t stop the targeting of children.

      Predator Drones were introduced for just this sort of monstrous thing. Look at the name.

      The sick minds that form our foreign policy – and unfortunately a large segment of the public, with the help of the Media – think we can buy some technological dispensation – or some moral distance – between us and our own evil actions.

      Wait and see. Predator Drones will be the hero of Kathryn Bigelow’s next movie! And these inhuman machines will somehow absolve (justify/legalize) Cluster Bombs, White Phosphorous, Depleted Uranium…

      The only way to have peace is to uphold the rule of law.

    3. jrs

      Yea, the clear cut answer really is the only sane way back from this particular strain of madness. END THE WARS. END THE EMPIRE BUSINESS. The U.S. military has already become monsterous, and us who tolerate them those who tolerate such, and everyday some new development to make it worse.

      1. Kunst

        Hiroshima and Nagasaki were a tragic end to a tragic war. What would you have preferred:
        1. A US invasion of the Japanese homeland: 1 million dead Americans, 2 million Japanese.
        2. Less than total surrender. Continued military domination of the Japanese nation.
        I don’t think there were any other options available.

        Would Japan have used atomic bombs on US cities if they had the capability?

  2. J Sterling

    What’s that line from Full Metal Jacket? Anyone who runs is a VC, anyone who stands still is a well-disciplined VC.

    1. SufferinSuccotash

      Or that exchange from Mike Herr’s “Dispatches”:
      Outraged Observer: “how can you kill women and children?”
      Helicopter Door Gunner: “It’s easy, you just don’t lead ’em so much!”

  3. Lambert Strether

    I think we need to get clear on our disposition matrix, here. Are we looking for “children with potential hostile intent,” or children who should have had “far more responsible father[s]”?

    I mean, we don’t want to give the impression we’re just blowing away anything that moves.

    NOTE Does anybody remember why Afghanistan was the smart war or why we’re still there?

    1. YouDon'tSay?

      Trick question Alex. No one EVER knew why Afghanistan was a smart war in the first place, because it NEVER was in the first place! And as to why we’re still there? Why ask why? There IS no reason why! It’s a Zen koan thing.

      1. YouDon'tSay?

        The reasoning goes something like this:

        And why are we here to kill them? Because they are the enemy.

        And WHY are they the enemy? Because they want to kill us.

        And WHY do they want to kill us? Because WE are here to kill THEM.

        And so it goes. Only either NO ONE involved sees the circular logic involved, or subverts that knowledge in service of a “higher” agenda.

        And WE claim to be the SMART apes?

        This ain’t rocket science. Americans need to wake up to the fact that they’re being systematically LIED to in service of said “higher” agenda.

        1. digi_owl

          As long as there is no draft, and the employment rate is kept low, there will be plenty of volunteers…

          1. ambrit

            Dear owl;
            That is how Republics become Empires. Drones inside the US is a clear indication that the ‘Powers” view their own citizens as ‘potential evil doers.’ Who wants to bet that the first domestic drone strikes will be against “Terrorist ‘linked'” cannabis ‘smugglers’ in Washington state or Colorado?

          2. Wat Tyler

            Or “Eco-terrorists” , a term being repeated into the general knowledge to rationalize the coming environmental movement suppression.


    2. Ms G

      “I mean, we don’t want to give the impression we’re just blowing away anything that moves.”

      Well, no, of course not. Hence the description of killing anything that moves as “opening our aperture.”

      That is an aperture wide enough to accomodate pretty much … well, anything that moves.

      It is harder for a child not to be blown up through the Opened Aperture than for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle.

  4. OMF

    We’re talking about a military organisation that conducts helicopter drive-bys in foreign jurisdictions, and doesn’t even bother to deny doing so after the fact. An who even allows the President–the head of state–into the room to watch a live feed of the whole event with people being killed on screen.

    Frankly, I don’t know how some US officers are allowed to keep their commissions nowadays.

  5. wunsacon

    Is life starting to imitate the dark art of Terminator movies?

    How do the audience and on-screen characters know that remote human operators aren’t directing the Terminators? That could be part of the off-screen background story. Meanwhile, all Saladin Conners “knows” is that he’s fighting machines.

    1. Cynthia

      It won’t be long now before the robots are building more robots, which build more robots. And then some Bill Gates-like nerds come along and take control of Skynet. At that point, we’re all terminated.

      Then again, maybe some Anonymous hackers get control of enough drones and turn them against the elitist rat bastards.

      Speaking on drones, I’m more worried about us using robots in warfare than in the workplace. The primary reason we are using aerial drones to expand our war on Islamic terrorism to include countries like Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen is so that we can kill tens of thousands of Muslims, whether they are guilty of terrorism or not, without putting any of our soldiers in harm’s way. But the sad truth is that drone attacks have killed far more innocent civilians than Islamic terrorists.

      And I’m sure that the vast majority of people throughout the Muslim World will never, ever forget this. So what really worries me is that as soon as the friends and survivors of our attacks get their hands on these killing machines, which is only a matter of time, believe me, they won’t think twice about not flying them over to the US and dropping bombs on our innocent civilians.

      Blowback is looming large on the horizon, itching and ready to blow up in our face!

      1. wunsacon

        Have you heard about the “war against general computing”? (See: http://boingboing.net/2011/12/27/the-coming-war-on-general-purp.html)

        I only read the headline and imagined the content… ;-) … If that article thinks the government will only be concerned about consumers using computers as vectors for pirating intellectual property, it’s missing something more important. (Maybe it’s in there though…)

        In the future, artificially intelligent weapons will be buildable using off-the-shelf parts and general purpose computers. *Without* us expanding our “police state”, any group of individuals will eventually have the means to wipe out everyone else. And I’m concerned that some religious nuts (of any faith) might try. Indeed, if I think about that enough, then I’m likely to support expansion of the police state with “reforms”. (Of course, I doubt those reforms will ever happen. So…)

        Of course, *with* the (non-transparent, non-accountable, ruthless, inhumane) police state we’re expanding, won’t we create enough malcontents who steal/develop and use the very arms we’re worried about?

        In sum, I harbor some fear that your comment “we’re all terminated” might be an unavoidable end to our — the human — arms race.

        Maybe the intelligent weapons that replace us will find a way to make peace with themselves. But, I wouldn’t count on that either.

        1. wunsacon

          Sorta funny, OT:

          During mundane workplace conversations, my mind sometimes drifts to thinking about these grim potential fates for our entire species. I’m glad my coworkers can’t read my mind. ;-)

  6. minutes

    May 19, 2030: Inside of undisclosed hollow mountain; emergency meeting of the Brown Brothers Harriman partnership and the Booz, Allen and Hamilton advisory committee. No old business. New business: the current US puppet ruler is in deep, deep shit, deepest since UNGA Res. 3314 (XXIX). Profound diplomatic isolation of the US government, disintegration of the so-called NATO bloc. NSA just figured out what those extra gates in all the Chinese ICs are for. The key clients are very concerned. Carlyle is officially pissed off. The Bush twins just gave us their final warning. No more crimes against humanity. Got to turn over a new leaf – credibly, this time. We need to sacrifice a scapegoat. Moved: Ex-president Obama, reviled worldwide as a criminal aggressor, torturer, death-squad commandant, and baby killer. Recently switched from that irritating Martin Luther King shtik to this nauseating new Nelson Mandela act with benignant smiles and nods and shitty fake Xhosa accent. Who wouldn’t be amused to see him hanging from a lamppost upside down? Seconded. Discussion? Who better than Obama to be America’s first and only criminal head of state, our horrifying never-again aberration, repudiated like Hitler with Germanic sincerity of remorse? He’s kind of foreign, infuriatingly supercilious, and an empty suit from birth. This is the role he was born to play. Hear, hear! Thwack, thwack, Order. Remand him to the Hague: Ayes? Ayyyyayyayy. Nays? Hum of ventilation system. The motion passes. Move to adjourn? Let’s play some poker.

    1. GRavis Muchnik

      Wait a minute. Isn’t Bush the first war criminal head of state. Obama will have to be number 2. Seriously, this is all very sad.

      1. ambrit

        Dear GRM;
        EVERY Head of State ends up being a war criminal. It seems to be part of the job description nowadays.

    2. Ms G

      Minutes, more of these please. Great stuff. We need more of it since the Peter Pinguid Society and Lloyd Bankster seem to have disappeared on a sabbatical.

  7. RanDomino

    I read the headline and assumed this was about recruitment. Kill ’em with bombs or kill ’em with enlistment; they’ve been targeting kids for years.

    1. wunsacon

      We already have Transformers movies and other “PG-13” movies that similarly foster a love of militarism in kid-friendly fashion.

  8. psychohistorian

    America has become a malignant cancer of society and there are none to stop her or exorcise the sickness.

    All this to keep the rich in control and the religions relevant to a brainwashed populace.

    We need to find a way to stop the killing in our/MY name…..it is sickening.

  9. LAS

    This sort of thing happened in the Vietnam war (and is typical of war in general). Populations caught between two armed groups are suspected by both of being traitors. How exactly is the population to simply exist without offending one side or another? They try and it is just not possible. This “make friends with the population” policy may be in the army’s interest (and be good political propaganda at home) but it sure is bad for the population in the war zone. The appearance of friendship with one army makes you an enemy of the other. During the conflagration, the real predicament of the population is never publicized. You only hear the self-justifications of the armies and then occasional stories in the news about children killed. For every report that emerges, I promise you, there are hundreds more occuring unreported.

  10. Norman

    Anyone notice the similarities between what’s taking place today and that movie “The Termanator”? Dehumanizing the people who operate the controls, well, just look at the mindset of these people who play all those cimputor war games. Replace active duty in the war zone with make believe, instant heros, or so they believe. I wonder, do the operators also whoop & hollar when they kill those children, as do the players on the computor games? Probably.

  11. barrisj

    Wherever the US military shows up abroad, there will some or many of the local population objecting to its presence, and a “Red Dawn” scenario ensues, in an attempt to force its removal. That immediately necessitates “countermeasures”, aimed at a newly-consecrated “enemy”, and the military then imposes the docrine of “force protection”, which brings huge and disproportionate firepower against those who dare resist US military presence. And the outcome is so sadly familiar, as we have witnessed since Vietnam. Chemical warfare (e.g., Agent Orange), cluster-bombs, anti-personnel mines, “bunker-busting” bombs, “clearing” of urban areas by heavy weapon attacks and helicopter gunships…the list grows on and on.
    And the contemporary use of drones creates an ex post facto category of “enemy”: those who have the misfortune of being within range of an exploding missile. Barbarity by another name.

  12. Beppo

    If the US wants to win in Afghanistan, they’ll need to kill everyone. They’re just mounting up and riding to victory.

    1. wunsacon

      I keep thinking about how “Manifest Destiny” unfolded in waves of violence, until there are just a few reservations left and occasional hand-wringing over “what we did to the American Indians” as we still “celebrate” Columbus Day every year and visit satanic altars like Mount Rushmore.

  13. Peter T

    There seems only one way of avoiding targeting children. Withdraw! The faster, the better. We have failed in Afghanistan (maybe we had to), and we have no business of increasing their standard of living anymore.

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