Tuesday, May 31, 2016
This op-ed originally appeared on The Daily Journal.
It was a day like any other: a father and son driving together, blasting their favorite music on the way to dinner. Jose Osuna, the director of External Affairs at Homeboy Industries, and his 17-year-old son, Moises Contreras, were pulled over by the police because “their music was too loud.” This kind of stop was common for Jose because he was on a local gang injunction. However, this stop was different because the cops decided to categorize Moises as a gang member because of his father. A few months later, Moises died when he was caught in the crossfire of a race-related shooting.
While Jose was involved with a gang at the time, Moises constantly berated his dad for being part of one. Moises had bigger dreams of joining the military or opening his own apparel store. But Moises’ wrongful inclusion on the gang injunction tarnished his memory, labeling him as something he never wanted to be. When Jose tried to apply for state assistance to pay for Moises’ funeral, he was turned away because his son was a named gang member. Two months later, after pleading to various agencies and political figures as to his son’s innocence, Jose was able to get Moises’ name removed from the injunction and receive aid.
Tuesday, May 24, 2016
This op-ed originally appeared on Just Security.
The military’s investigation of the October 2015 airstrike on the Médicins Sans Frontières (MSF) hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan was back in the news last week thanks to highly speculative accounts that unidentified Afghans might have manipulated US forces into attacking the facility. While there is little doubt many Afghan officials harbored substantial resentment over MSF’s willing treatment of Taliban fighters, to my reading, the investigation report logically discredits this conspiracy theory.
The facts show that Afghan personnel requested the attack by providing geographic coordinates corresponding to a legitimate military objective, an Afghan National Directorate of Security facility, under the control of Taliban forces. It was only due to a series of cascading, and wholly unforeseeable, breakdowns in US communications, equipment, and procedure, that the aircrew inadvertently selected the hospital — located approximately 1,500 feet away from the intended target — as the location to be struck. To conclude that one or more Afghan officials cunningly manipulated the aircrew into attacking the wrong target based on a deliberate misdescription in the fog of a multi-party (and presumably multi-lingual) relay of information at oh-dark thirty in the midst of a multi-day battle in order to have the MSF facility struck simply defies logic. Particularly given that they’d be diverting the fire away from the site that they were tasked to assault, significantly increasing the risk to their own lives by failing to “prepare the battlefield.”