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The August 26 deadly bombing outside Kabul airport that killed 13 US service members was carried out by a single suicide bomber, a Pentagon investigation has found.
We’ll detail the investigation and what officials found, as well as the latest in the saga about a former Pentagon chief and his trial with the Pentagon.
Suicide bomber behind attack that killed 13 US soldiers
The August 26 deadly bombing outside Kabul airport that killed 13 US service members was carried out by a single bomber and was not a “complex” attack as US officials first thoughtaccording to a Pentagon investigation into the explosion.
Officials found the bomber detonated an explosive containing ball bearings, killing at least 170 Afghan civilians in addition to service members, as they approached the Abbey gate at the international airport Hamid Karzai, U.S. Central Command chief Marine Corps Gen. Kenneth McKenzie told reporters on Friday.
Different discoveries: McKenzie acknowledged that the findings were different from what officials initially thought, which was that the attack used two bombs and gunmen.
“At the time, the best information we had in the aftermath of the attack indicated that it was a complex attack carried out by both a suicide bomber and an ISIS-K gunman,” said said McKenzie. “We now know that explosive-firing ball bearings cause wounds that resemble gunshots and when combined with a small number of warning shots, this has led many to speculate that a complex attack s was produced.”
He added: “The battlefield is a confusing and contradictory place and it gets more confusing the closer you get to the real action.”
Reconstruction of events: Eleven Marines, one Army soldier and one Navy sailor were killed in the explosion claimed by Islamic State in Khorasan and took place in the chaotic final days of the US evacuation from Afghanistan.
Investigators pieced together the day’s events after interviewing more than 100 American and British witnesses, reviewing the findings and analysis of forensic scientists and explosives experts, and reviewing all available video evidence, including a drone that started to observe the scene about three minutes after the attack, McKenzie said.
‘Not avoidable’: Upon their conclusion, investigators found that the bombing was “not preventable,” according to the Army Brig. General Lance Curtis, who assisted in the investigation and briefed reporters after McKenzie’s remarks.
“Based on our investigation at the tactical level, this was not preventable. And leaders on the ground followed appropriate action,” Curtis said.
How did it happen?: Investigators told reporters it was “very likely” the suicide bomber was able to reach Abbey Gate using an alternate route and was not arrested as he bypassed Taliban checkpoints.
Afghans trying to flee the country increasingly used these alternate routes in the final days of the evacuation, as the Taliban turned away or beat civilians trying to pass through their checkpoints.
As the August 31 deadline for the US Army approached and people grew increasingly desperate to leave, Abbey Gate became much more crowded. The problem was exacerbated by the closing of other doors, investigators said.
Instant Chaos: An investigator said several factors contributed to the initial belief that the attack was complex, including “the fog of war and disorientation due to blast effects”, and the warning shots which created an “effect of echo”.
Additionally, service members were carrying tear gas in canisters which were punctured by the ball bearings during the explosion, releasing the chemical into the air.
“Clearly, the explosion created instant chaos and sensory overload,” they said.
Read the full story here.
Esper drops lawsuit against Pentagon over memoir dispute
Esper’s attorney, Mark Zaid, on Friday filed a petition for voluntary dismissal of the case, indicating that the parties “stipulated to dismiss” the action. The motion did not provide further information about the decision.
A few moves: But Zaid suggested the Pentagon reacted to some of Esper’s requests.
In an emailed statement to The Hill, Zaid said that due to the “success” of the litigation, the memoirs will be published as planned with “minimal redactions” that “will not disrupt the flow of book reading.”
“The state of the law is clear: the US government has absolutely no authority to prevent anyone from publishing unclassified information. It is an indisputable constitutional right and established by binding precedent,” Zaid said in an emailed statement.
Esper Mandate: Esper served as Secretary of Defense from June 2019 until then-President TrumpDonald TrumpOhio Republican Bernie Moreno suspends Senate campaign RNC committee proposes resolution to censure Cheney and Kinzinger New revelations pressure Barr to testify Jan. 6 MORE pulled sharply him in November 2020, days after the 2020 presidential election. He was replaced by Christopher Miller, who served as acting secretary for the remainder of Trump’s term.
Hourly: The decision to dismiss the case comes about four months after the former defense chief originally filed the complaint End of november alleging that the Pentagon was illegally blocking portions of his forthcoming book “A Sacred Oath”.
The book, to be published in Maydetails his time as Secretary of Defense in what he describes as a “tumultuous second half of the Trump administration”.
What the Pentagon wanted: Zaid said the Pentagon wanted to redact “significant swaths” of content on more than 50 pages of his book, which “absolutely drains substantial content and important storylines.”
In his lawsuit, Esper said he submitted the book manuscript around May 24, 2021 for a mandatory pre-publication review. On Oct. 7, the agency’s Office of Prepublication and Security Review (DoDOPSR) sent Esper pages that needed to be edited for his book to receive full approval.
A broken system? : Zaid added that the pre-publication classification review system is “clearly broken”, particularly when “the existence of litigation forces the defendant to reconsider its position on an overwhelming majority of classification decisions that she had previously claimed to be so vital to the national security interests of the United States, when in reality they never were.
Read the full story here.
- Secretary of State Antoine BlinkenAntony BlinkenLawmakers walk out of Russia-Ukraine briefings bracing for invasion US reveals Russia may consider creating false pretext for invading Ukraine Pelosi calls on Moscow and Putin to ‘feel the pain’ if Russia hits Ukraine MORE departs for the Indo-Pacific and will travel to Australia, Fiji and Hawaii from February 7-13 “to engage with Indo-Pacific allies and partners to advance peace, resilience and prosperity in the region and demonstrate that these partnerships are effective”, by the Department of State.
- State Department Advisor Derek Chollet is leaving for Europe to lead an interagency delegation to Bulgaria, Romania, and Belgium Feb. 7-11 “to engage with our partners in Europe on a range of issues and to consult NATO allies and European Union partners on Russian aggression against Ukraine,” according to the State Department.
- The German Marshall Fund of the United States will host a conversation with the Latvian Minister of Defense, HE Artis Pabriks on the implications for NATOat 9 am
- The Center for Strategic and International Studies will hold a conference on “Complex air defence: countering the threat of hypersonic missiles » at 10 o’clock
- The Hudson Institute will host a discussion on “Righting the Ship: Restoring American Sea Power in Difficult Times“, with Rep. Elaine LuriaElaine Goodman LuriaNew revelations pressure Barr to testify on Jan. 6 Vulnerable House Democrat announces re-election bid on Jan. 6 anniversary Virginia Supreme Court approves new lines for the main swing districts MORE (D-Va.), at 12 p.m.
- The Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University will discuss “New challenges for transatlantic and European security“, at 12:30 p.m.
- Exchange Monitor will host its “Nuclear Deterrence Summit“, from 1 p.m.
- The Center for Strategic and International Studies will have experts preview the defense budget request for fiscal year 2023 at 2 o’clock in the afternoon
WHAT WE READ
Well, that’s all for today! Check out The Hill’s defense and national security pages for the latest coverage. See you Monday.