After Airstrike on Afghan Hospital, a Look at U.S. 'Condolence Payments'
The New York Times
The Pentagon said on Saturday that it would make “condolence payments” to the survivors of the American airstrike earlier this month on a hospital run by Doctors Without Borders in Kunduz, Afghanistan, as well as to the next of kin of those who died in the attack.
Condolence payments are a way for the United States, without admitting any wrongdoing, to compensate civilians who have been injured, lost a loved one or suffered property damage at the hands of the military. This is not the first time the United States has made a condolence payment after causing civilian casualties, but there has been no public, systematic account of how frequently it has made them or how much money it has spent on them.A number of cases in Iraq and Afghanistan have been documented by journalists and advocacy organizations, in particular the American Civil Liberties Union, which obtained records of almost 500 civilian casualty incidents under the Freedom of Information Act. Some payments were made after highly publicized incidents such as the killings in Haditha, Iraq, in 2005 or the airstrike in Kunduz. But most civilians who received condolence payments were caught up in smaller-scale incidents, most of which never made the news. Here are a few examples.