Bob Franken


By Bob Franken


During the chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan late last month, the Biden administration had a tragic humiliation on its hands: 13 U.S. servicemen and -women killed, along with nearly 200 Afghans, as well as a large number wounded. All were victims of a suicide bomber sent by an organization that is an enemy of both the United States and the Taliban.
“We will not forgive. We will not forget.” President Joe Biden ratcheted up his sternest face and told the terrorists on worldwide television, “We will hunt you down and make you pay.”
A few days later, a U.S. drone fired a missile into a car driving near Kabul’s airport, an attack which Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley at the time described as a “righteous strike.” The U.S. initially claimed the car had been part of a second attempt to bomb evacuees.
But a New York Times analysis challenged that, and finally Gen. Frank McKenzie, commander of the U.S. Central Command, which covers Afghanistan, admitted the strike was “a tragic mistake.”
“I am here today,” Gen. McKenzie said, “to set the record straight and acknowledge our mistakes.”
It ended up being that 10 civilians were killed, including seven children and the adult driver of the harmless car. He turned out to be an employee of an international aid group.
Whether the newspaper forced the Pentagon’s disclosure or whether an independent investigation did, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin ordered his own probe:
“I have asked for this review to consider the degree to which the investigation considered all available context and information.” It was clearly digging further into a series of tragic mistakes.

The mistakes of Jan. 6 of this year are also well-documented. Rioters objecting to election results based on Donald Trump’s lying claim that he had the election stolen from him, swamped security forces at the Capitol, which were grossly unprepared. In the aftermath, 600 people were arrested. They were not fully accused of treason, but with a variety of charges that are only now being adjudicated.
In response, pro-Trump organizers who want to blur stark evidence and change history arranged a rally — the gimmicky “Justice for J6” demonstration — to support those they were now calling “political prisoners.”
And what do you know? Law enforcement overprepared. Up went 8-foot-high fences, and a massive wall of security was erected this time to be both visible and not visible.
New Capitol Police Chief J. Thomas Manger, who recently replaced the chief who had been driven out by second-guessing, said before the event that he would not make the same mistake:
“I think we would be foolish not to take seriously the intelligence that we have at our disposal. How credible it is, how likely it is — people can make those judgments. But the fact of the matter is that we are hearing, we are hearing some chatter that I think would be responsible for us to plan the way we’ve been planning and put the precautions in place.”
Altogether a couple hundred people turned out to rally for the J6 on Sept. 18. They had their excuses handy. Even the event’s ultimate godfather, Donald Trump, had called the event “for suckers”: “If people don’t show up, they’ll say, ‘Oh, it’s a lack of spirit.’ And if people do show up, they’ll be harassed.” So he and his organizers had it both ways. This time, the law enforcement cats had too little to do with the insurrectionist mice scampering around, but at least they weren’t overrun.
In spite of Trump’s continuing con, a new president has taken over, and Joe Biden has his own set of problems. With Afghanistan, COVID and its variants, migration at our borders, dealing with a Congress of sound bite politicians, no matter where you turn among all the factions and misinformation spewed both intentionally and unintentionally, our people have long learned that our government and institutions are not infallible. Mistakes can be made, and almost certainly will be made.

© 2021 Bob Franken
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

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