On Wednesday, Pentagon Spokesman John Kirby appeared on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” and was asked by co-host Willie Geist about the drone strike in Afghanistan that killed ten civilians, including seven children.

After noting that 13 American troops were killed in an ISIS attack at Hamid Karzai International Airport during the Biden administration’s withdrawal from Afghanistan, Geist laid out the details of the drone strike.

“A couple of days later, in an act of retribution … a group of civilians were killed. We were told that it was an attack on ISIS. It turns out they were not,” Geist said. “On Monday, the Pentagon announced that there would be no punishment of any kind in the military.”

The co-host explained that according to the Pentagon, the improper strike was the result of “a breakdown in process and execution and procedural events, not the result of negligence, not the result of misconduct, not the result of poor leadership.”

“Civilians killed by an American drone. How can no one be held accountable for that?” Geist asked.

Kirby replied, saying that he understood the concern, but an independent investigation didn’t indicate “negligence” or “misconduct.”

“Nobody wants to see civilian harm, and we work very hard to avoid that — but we’re not perfect,” Kirby stated before reiterating that it was a procedural breakdown over which an individual or group of people shouldn’t necessarily be held to account.

Following a back and forth between Kirby and co-host Joe Scarborough about intel, Geist pushed back on Kirby regarding punishments.

“But how does it strike you that no one is held accountable?” Geist asked. “Because I know how it strikes a lot of people around the world, that you can get away with murder and nobody’s punished for it.”

Kirby again pointed to “procedural breakdowns,” and added that they appreciate that not everyone will agree with the outcome.

Geist pressed: “Is there discipline inside the Pentagon at all? I mean, maybe there are no charges brought up, but is anyone demoted or disciplined for what happened that day?”

Kirby replied, saying that there won’t be individual accountability, but that lessons will be learned for the future:

…there’s not going to be individual discipline as a result of this … but what we are going to do is learn from this, and we’re going to enact and improve our procedures and our processes to try to make sure this doesn’t happen again.

TRANSCRIPT:

GEIST: Late August, 13 American troops were killed at the airport, Karzai Airport, 18 of them were wounded. A couple of days later, in an act of retribution that General Milley called a “righteous attack,” a group of civilians were killed. We were told that it was an attack on ISIS. It turns out they were not. On Monday, the Pentagon announced that there would be no punishment of any kind in the military. What we saw “was a breakdown in process and execution and procedural events, not the result of negligence, not the result of misconduct, not the result of poor leadership.” Civilians killed by an American drone. How can no one be held accountable for that?

KIRBY: I understand there’s concerns about this decision, but it was — the investigation was independent that we did into the strike, done by the Air Force IG who had the authority if he saw negligence and misconduct to conduct another investigation into that conduct. He didn’t find that. Then, the two commanders involved, Central Command, Special Operations Command down in Tampa, they also reviewed the investigation and the strike itself and determined that these were really procedural problems. Nobody wants to see civilian harm, and we work very hard to avoid that — but we’re not perfect. And I think it’s important to keep in context what was happening on the 29th of August. We had just lost, as you said, 13 members to a real ISIS threat, a real ISIS attack, and just a few days after that, we were going to leave Afghanistan forever. And we were getting tangible, credible threats from ISIS to attack our troops at the airport, as well as innocent Afghans. So, there was a crunch of time, there were procedural breakdowns, not everything went the way it was supposed to go. And we’ve acknowledged that quite publicly. But just because the procedures broke down doesn’t mean that there was misconduct or a reason to hold one person in particular, or some people in particular, responsible for that.

SCARBOROUGH: Where did the bad intel come from?

KIRBY: It wasn’t bad intelligence, Joe. It was the way the intelligence was processed in the moment. They were following his car — which they believed and had intelligence to indicate would be involved in a strike against the airport — so they were following it over the course of eight hours, and that intelligence was not bad; it was just the way it was assessed and acted upon.

GEIST: But how does it strike you that no one is held accountable? Because I know how it strikes a lot of people around the world, that you can get away with murder and nobody’s punished for it.

KIRBY: I do understand that. We appreciate that not everybody’s gonna support this decision. What I can tell you is we looked at this thing very, very comprehensively. And again, we acknowledge that there were procedural breakdowns, processes were not executed the way they should have been, but it doesn’t necessarily indicate that an individual or individuals have to be held to account for that…

GEIST: Is there discipline inside the Pentagon at all? I mean, maybe there are no charges brought up, but is anyone demoted or disciplined for what happened that day?

KIRBY: What we are going to do — there’s not going to be individual discipline as a result of this … but what we are going to do is learn from this, and we’re going to enact and improve our procedures and our processes to try to make sure this doesn’t happen again.

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