The diplomatic mission that led to the death of Anne Smedinghoff and several others one year ago in Afghanistan was hampered by "poor planning that failed at all levels," according to a US Army report that was the focus of a recent article in the Chicago Tribune.
The Army report offered new details into the incident, in which Smedinghoff and four others were killed April 6, 2013 as a result of a suicide bombing while delivering books to a school in Southern Afghanistan. The report was obtained under a Freedom of Information Act request by the Tribune.
The Army report for the first time criticizes civilian and military leaders for not following security protocols in the lead-up to the mission, the Tribune article stated.
Jen Psaki, a State Department spokesman, in a statement sent to Wednesday Journal, said the attack that took the life of River Forest native Anne Smedinghoff "was a terrible tragedy and the only people responsible for this tragedy were the extremists opposed to the mission of Anne and so many brave Americans who have invested more than a decade in Afghanistan."
Psaki continued, "This group was in Zabul to bring attention to the progress Afghans are making in areas like literacy and to bring books to children who would use them to learn how to read…. Public diplomacy on efforts like these is critical to our diplomatic, development, and military efforts. We cannot escape the basic fact that Mission Afghanistan—in Kabul and the field—operates in a war zone. As we have done for years, we continually review our security posture in light of the threat conditions and adapt as necessary," she said.
In an email, Kyle Good, a spokesman for Scholastic, which provided the books, commented: "As part of our mission to provide children worldwide with access to books, 46 locations in Afghanistan received My Afghan Library, a project developed with the U.S. State Department…. The tragic death of Anne Smedinghoff on April 6, 2013 was devastating for everyone involved in the project."
After receiving the report, Tom Smedinghoff, Anne's father, told the Tribune, "I'm not sure what to say." Tom Smedinghoff was unavailable for additional comment.