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Email drags Merkel into Kunduz affair

The Local · 25 Mar 2010, 17:20

Published: 25 Mar 2010 14:56 GMT+01:00
Updated: 25 Mar 2010 17:20 GMT+01:00

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Bringing Merkel under direct pressure for the first time in the affair, news magazine Der Spiegel has cited an email sent by the Federal Intelligence Service (BND) to the Chancellery that stated: “The devastating thing about this is that scores of civilians have died (counts vary from 50 to 100).”

The email, sent on September 4 at 8:06 am, about nine hours after the strike happened, was headlined: “Crowd killed in explosion in Afghanistan.”

Two days after the air strike ordered by German Col. Georg Klein on two hijacked fuel trucks, then Defence Minister Franz Josef Jung maintained that according to his information "only Taliban terrorists" were killed.

The issue created a political storm in Germany just a few weeks before a national election, with the question of civilian deaths central to the public anger over the air strike, now known to have killed 142 people, many of them civilians.

Jung resigned from his new portfolio as Labour Minister in November, acknowledging he had mishandled the affair. Two senior defence officials also resigned, one of whom, army chief General Wolfgang Schneiderhan, recently attacked new defence Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg in a parliamentary committee inquiry as the affair continues to deteriorate into recriminations and counter-claims.

The new email evidence appears to demonstrate that the government had early notice of the civilian deaths from one of its own agencies. In addition to the chancellor herself, the email will put pressure on Merkel’s then head of the Chancellery and now Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière, who ultimately would have been responsible for passing on the information about civilian deaths.

Jung faced the Bundestag inquiry into the Kunduz affair on Thursday afternoon, denying that there was a cover up in his former ministry, calling any such accusations “defamatory.”

The former defence minister insisted that during his time at the ministry there was no certain count of civilian victims in the bombardment. Initial reports said only that “Taliban and their allies” had been among 56 dead.

Col. Klein confirmed this to Jung via telephone, he told the inquiry.

Only two days later did it become clear that the reports might be inaccurate, he said.

Story continues below…

At this time the German government said that it regretted any civilian deaths resulting from the air strike, despite that fact that it still believed the “overwhelming majority” of victims had been Taliban.

Jung also defended Col. Klein’s orders, which some critics argue went against rules of engagement, saying that at the time the Bundeswehr was “in a combat situation almost daily.”

“The situation was heating up dramatically for our soldiers,” he said.

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

02:27 March 26, 2010 by pepsionice
In an average month, I probably send my commander at least twenty emails...which rests on top of at least 1,000 other emails. The news folks here assume that high ranking folks actually read emails....and the truth is that they rarely get through more than forty a day. Merkel? I'm guessing she gets around 250 emails a day as a minimum.

You have to grasp society today.....where we generate tons of typed "hype", and the vast majority are barely read if ever. I used to work for a guy who had a Microsoft rule established to automatic delete any email that had the word "sports" in it.....without being read....because he assumed it was worthless to read. So we had to always be careful never to use the word "sports" in any significant email.
11:23 March 26, 2010 by joesjungle
"shakes head" I agree with pepsionice!

However, why are we calling people who willfully accept stolen goods from the Taliban "civilians?"

I'm sorry for the loss of life, it is unfortuante. In the heat of battle this is going to happen.
14:32 March 26, 2010 by wenddiver
Send them one of the Gay Holocaust memorials to say your sorry, then forget about it. Ha, Ha.
22:01 March 26, 2010 by monkfish
@joesjungle: what would you call "people who willfully accept stolen goods from the Taliban"? soldiers? criminals? unworthy life? for taking a gallon of stolen gas? did they even realize it was stolen?

anyway, get a grip, man, this was not "in the heat of battle". this was entirely unnecessary.
03:05 March 28, 2010 by peschvogel
01:02 March 29, 2010 by Prufrock2010
I think I've come up with the answer to the question on everyone's lips: "who is peschvogel?"

Taliban. No doubt about it. Nothing else would explain his loathing for this society and his longing for an Islamist takeover of Europe as the euro implodes.
20:21 March 29, 2010 by xredfoxx
What a crock of poop. Don't lose any more sleep over a bunch of thugs that were stealing gas from one of our tankers. It was hijacked, people were in the process of stealing the fuel, then got caught and died.
13:52 April 2, 2010 by AirForceGuy
Hypothetically, what if the Taliban used these stolen full tanker trucks as a bombs against our forces, or better yet, our Embassy. There would have been such an outcry as why this couldn't have been prevented...

If the hijacked airliners on 9/11 were immediately shotdown, the World Trade Center would still be standing and the Pentagon would not have had to be repaired!
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