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Photo: Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times

An independent Pentagon investigation into the U.S. drone strike that mistakenly killed 10 Afghan civilians on Aug. 29 did not find evidence of criminal negligence or violation of law, according to the official tapped to lead the review.

The big picture: The botched operation was the result of "execution errors combined with confirmation bias and communication breakdowns," Lt. Gen. Sami Said, the inspector general of the Air Force, said at a press conference Wednesday. The full report is classified to protect sources and methods, according to Said.

Details: 29 individuals were interviewed under oath in the course of the investigation, including 22 directly involved in the strike.

  • Said said that officials involved in the strike "truly believed at the time that they were targeting an imminent threat," but that their assessment was "regrettably inaccurate."
  • He stressed that the drone strike should be viewed in the context of the environment, in which intelligence showed a "very high" threat to U.S. forces in the wake of an ISIS-K bombing that killed 13 U.S. service members and 170 Afghan civilians at Kabul's airport on Aug. 26.

The big picture: Pentagon officials initially said they were "confident" the operation "disrupted an imminent ISIS-K threat" to Kabul's airport, with Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Mark Milley referring to it at the time as a "righteous strike."

  • Weeks later, after the New York Times and Washington Post published in-depth forensic investigations into strike, the Pentagon acknowledged that it had mistakenly killed an Afghan aid worker and nine members of his family, including children.
  • The U.S. government has said it will make undisclosed "ex gratia condolence payments" to family members of those killed in the strike.

What to watch: Said issued three recommendations along with the report, including procedures to mitigate the risks of confirmation bias, enhanced intelligence sharing, and a review of pre-strike procedures used to assess the presence of civilians.

  • The report and its recommendations have been transmitted to senior Pentagon officials, who will determine whether to take disciplinary action.

Go deeper

Updated Nov 30, 2021 - World

Over 100 former Afghan security members dead or missing under Taliban rule

Members of the Taliban movement patrol Kabul's airport in September. Photo: Valery Sharifulin/TASS via Getty Images

The Taliban have "killed or forcibly disappeared" over 100 former members of Afghanistan's security forces since the group took power in August, a Human Rights Watch report published Tuesday found.

Why it matters: Former military members and officials from the ousted government, activists and other Taliban critics are facing peril amid executions driven by revenge — despite Taliban promises of an "amnesty" with no retributions, notes the New York Times, which first reported the news.

Movie theaters go out of style

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Vaccination rates are going up, people are going out to restaurants again — although the new COVID variant may get in the way — but they still aren't rushing back to the movies.

By the numbers: Some 49% of pre-pandemic moviegoers are no longer hitting theaters, according to a study from the film research company The Quorum, as reported by the New York Times.

2 hours ago - Health

Vaccine mandates lose steam in the U.S. while Europe doubles down

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

European countries are doubling down on pressure campaigns to get people vaccinated just as Republicans continue to wage war — often successfully — against vaccine mandates in the U.S.

Why it matters: The starkly different approaches create a sharp contrast between the regions' approaches to vaccination, even as the Omicron variant rapidly spreads around the world.