June 29, 2002



I'd link to the eight-page executive summary of the Canadian Forces board of inquiry on why 4 Canadian soldiers were killed by an F-16 pilot in Afghanistan, but there's really nothing we didn't know the first week there. The push within the U.S. Air Force to let the killer get off without any disciplinary action, however, is already in full swing. The air force official line... that it was the 101st Airborne's fault for creating a live fire range on the edge of their base:

"Never in the history of warfare do you have a live-fire range underneath active airplanes flying," [the anonymous Air Force officer] said. "You've got to be kidding me? That's a mistake. To enable that to happen, that's a mistake."

(The article never says the Airborne mind you, but one has to remember from previous reports that the Tarnak Farms firing range Maj. "Psycho" Schmidt decided to bomb that night was established by the local American brigade commander, from the 101st Airborne, for use by all the units in his command, Canadians included.)

The same unnamed Air Forcer also gives the line Maj. Psycho's lawyer has been spinning to anyone who will listen:

"If you feel threatened ... and you can eliminate that thing that is threatening you -- that's risking your life and others among you -- you use every means available to stop that," he said.

As I have been saying since the incident, given the pilot's flight profile, cruising at 23,000 feet over Kandahar, he cannot possibly have had a reasonable fear of being threatened. Not even shoulder-mounted SAMs, let alone any kind of ground fire, could have reached Maj. Psycho's plane at that altitude. There was no known weapon that possibly could have been in unfriendly hands in all of Afghanistan that was a threat to him at that height.

Revealing here, also, is Maj. Psycho's initial request, to go down to very low altitude and engage the muzzle flashes he saw at very close range with his 20mm cannon, rather than just use bombs... exactly the opposite response any level-headed fighter pilot would have if they thought there was any real groundfire threat (for that attack profile, unlike bombing, could conceivably have brought him within harm's way of the groundfire).

The flight leader, Major William Umbach, requested co-ordinates of the ground fire from a surveillance aircraft. His wingman, Major Harry Schmidt, requested permission to fire on the location with a 20-millimetre cannon, but he was told to stand by, and later, to "hold fire."

Moments later, Maj. Schmidt declared he was "rolling-in in self-defence" and released a 225-kilogram laser-guided bomb.

Translation: denied his request by higher command, Psycho decided to take the judgment into his own hands (not even consulting with his own squadron commander flying alongside him) and drop a bomb on those muzzle flashes he'd seen, anyway, figuring he could get away with calling it self-defense, 'cause it was probably only some ragheads down there anyway, right? You know that's what he was thinking, he knows it, and now the high command knows it. There is no reasonable doubt here. The Globe and Mail's account concurs:

After spotting the weapons firing, [squadron commander] Major Umbach immediately tried to determine the precise source of the shooting, while Major Schmidt requested, and was denied, permission to fire his 20-millimetre cannon in that direction.

Then, Major Schmidt was asked to describe the "fireworks" on the ground, and specifically told to "hold fire." But within a few minutes, flying at 23,000 feet, he declared that he was "rolling-in, in self-defence," swooping down to 10,000 feet and dropping a 250-kilogram laser-guided bomb on 100 soldiers with the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry.

Let's be clear: the claim of self-defense in this case is a palpable, unbelievable lie. For the Pentagon to let it ride is to say that U.S. Air Force pilots shall never be at fault, whatever they do or whoever they kill on the ground. Now the Americans are saying it will be nine months after the incident, if not more, before a decision is made whether disciplinary action is warranted... do you really think it would have taken so long if those had been American Airborne lives lost?

NB: Some bloggers have previously suggested Maj. Psycho acted out of panic. That was not ever really believable... never mind this man's high state of training, and long career as a Top Gun instructor, etc. His own words, as relayed by the Canadian inquiry, now rule that out... for his first response was not to drop a bomb because those muzzle flashes far below him looked threatening. No, his initial response was to actually ask his air controller to let him descend to ground level... where ground fire really could be dangerous to him... to do a little strafing. (Strafing successfully requires your plane be at most only a couple thousand feet from the ground.) That fact alone conclusively rules out the panic defence. He didn't want to avoid the flashes, or neutralize whatever it was on the ground and then get on with his mission... he wanted to finish it off... even if it was only a thousand yards from the Kandahar perimeter and so, if he'd allowed himself a few moments' deduction first, easily could have been U.S. Airborne, Special Forces, Afghan allies... or as it turned out, Canadians. Doesn't it look like he only ended up dropping a bomb 'cause those damn AWACS guys had vetoed his plans for a little nighttime 20-mil target practice? Those soldiers... they died out of pique, it seems.

Posted by BruceR at 11:38 PM

IS NOTHING SACRED? Seems Lebanese-Colombian


ShakiraSeems Lebanese-Colombian pop star Shakira just can't help being dragged into the world political crisis of the moment. First her engagement to an Argentine political heir contributed to that country's breakdown. Now apparently there's an email hoax out there alleging she hates Israel, one the JDL has now definitively debunked.

A Palestinian sympathizer who wanted to conscript this particularly attractive (but particularly un-Islamic) Levantine to their cause? Doubt it... more likely someone who hates those of Lebanese descent on principle that just wanted to sink her singing career by tying her to anti-Semitism. Not that we'll ever know.

Posted by BruceR at 10:48 PM



To start with... this woman should not be allowed to render judgment on toothpaste flavours, let alone criminal cases.

Posted by BruceR at 09:50 PM