Army cites poor planning in mission that killed River Forest's Anne Smedinghoff

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Deb Kadin

Contributing reporter

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.

Deb@oakpark.com

Reader Comments

23 Comments - Add Your Comment

Comment Policy

Bill Dwyer  

Posted: April 28th, 2014 2:24 PM

You've rather addled thinking, Violet. There most certainly is death. I've personally witnessed its painful reality rather recently. And I can tell you she is GONE, not living in this world. If what you mean is that physical death isn't the end of our consciousness (which I agree with) you should say so. But to say there is no death just makes you sound ridiculous, as it's observably not true.

Violet Aura  

Posted: April 28th, 2014 12:45 PM

OPer: Don't use that tired excuse to shut me up. I didn't say anything at the time because I knew that it was so recent that it wouldn't be appropriate. There is nothing anyone could say that would matter either way to them now. And for the record, I believe there is no death so it's surely not senseless when we leave here. But they are still reptiles and people like you just want to shut us up because it's all a lie.

Bill Dwyer  

Posted: April 28th, 2014 12:21 PM

I also believe Cheney, Wolfowitz, Pearle, Bush and others are reptiles, as you do, Violet. But that opinion does not excuse me making the unfounded, speculative assertions, as you do about a tragic event. Your entitled to express your opinion here, but your assertions are goofy and unfounded. And it's my right to point that out.

Oak Parker  

Posted: April 28th, 2014 12:14 PM

For the love of god, just stop. I would feel awful if the Smedinghoff family and friends saw this comment thread.

Violet Aura  

Posted: April 28th, 2014 11:17 AM

That was a rhetorical question, by the way. I already know the answer. It's due to war profiteering. But I am obscene, right? Thinking of this young woman just starting adulthood and these scumbags with ulterior motives is enough to make me pull out my hair. Why didn't they just have a campaign to send used books and have soldiers distribute them? I don't trust these demons as far as I can throw them. Hope I've helped answer your questions.

Violet Aura  

Posted: April 28th, 2014 11:14 AM

@Bill: You don't win the debate because I can't "prove" anything. All I know is that I think these people are reptiles. As for Oak Parker, it's amazing that if I would even hint that Anne died in vain, I am beyond the pale but if our government and its mouthpiece media tout our "triumphs" in these illegal wars, that's fine and dandy. If they encourage people to go into the military, that's okay. I'm the bad one, right? They're great. And why is Scholastic getting their grimy paws all over this?

joe from south oak park  

Posted: April 28th, 2014 9:57 AM

lets not forget that three soldiers and an interpreter also died as a result of the attacks that day. a correct address for the school, vests and helmets for the aid workers, etc. would not have prevented pelvis and leg injuries from happening. This attack happened because it turned into a political dog and pony show that afghan officials leaked to militants and which afforded a prime opportunity for an an attack. My sympathy goes out to all those impacted by the attacks that day.

Lucy Bates  

Posted: April 28th, 2014 8:25 AM

I am not here to defend the Army's handling of the case, but to provide the killed diplomat's family a little comfort in her local paper that she did not die in vain. It's called grace. Maybe you should look into it. I agree with your point, but the forum is all wrong. Violet, did Anne did in vain? Would you tell her parents that to their faces? I hope not.

Oak Park  

Posted: April 28th, 2014 1:19 AM

Cont... At this point it would be most appropriate to stop taking advantage of the loss of selfless Americans to propagate one's bulls*** "political" ideas (and yes, that means you Violet).

Oak Parker  

Posted: April 28th, 2014 1:13 AM

It seems like a lot of people are talking out of their rumps on this one and trying to discuss a topic they have very little understanding of. The degenerates who murdered Anne Smedinghoff and the American service members she was with could have originated anywhere from Afghanistan, to Chechnya, to Yemen, to North Africa. But at this point, I think that irrelevant as far as most people should be concerned.

Bill Dwyer  

Posted: April 27th, 2014 9:29 PM

And, no- I don't believe everything my government tells me. Buy I demand the same thing from both it and you- prove. What proof do you have of your allegations? Just blathers and speculation? I don't accept that from the US government, and I damn sure don't accept it from you. Got something to show us? Let's see it.

Bill Dwyer  

Posted: April 27th, 2014 9:26 PM

"Whatever mercenaries they can get. Or Special Forces. Does it matter?"---- Yes, Violet. It matters, whether you believe it does or not.

Violet Aura  

Posted: April 27th, 2014 7:10 PM

@Bill: Whatever mercenaries they can get. Or Special Forces. Does it matter? The point is that I believe a lot of this "war" is a big fat LIE. "They" try to present it as some fair fight and we're dealing with people whose way of life hasn't changed in thousands of years. We went in there with state-of-the-art weaponry and they don't even have an airforce or proper army. Despicable really. Lemme guess--you believe everything your gobermint tells you...How adorable...

Bill Dwyer  

Posted: April 27th, 2014 7:01 PM

"I don't even necessarily believe that a lot of the attacks were done by Afghans." Really, Violet. Oh, please, by all means, enlighten us- who else DID attacks American troops? That is, in your opinion. And while you're at it, what exactly informs that opinion?

Violet Aura  

Posted: April 27th, 2014 6:27 PM

Cont. but when it happens in your own family, I am sure you expect to have your questions answered. And some of these parents are probably very unimpressed with what they were told. Remember Pat Tillman and his brother? 'Nuff said.

Violet Aura  

Posted: April 27th, 2014 6:26 PM

I don't even necessarily believe that a lot of the attacks were done by Afghans. If you need to justify being somewhere and have someone be the "bad guys" then all you have to do is pretend you're getting attacked. Remember that we have all these contractors there...Paid to do what? Work for corporations? And our soldiers protect them at a fraction of the pay that the contractors get--with OUR money! It's easy for people to get sucked into believing that the military is a great entity...Cont.

Bill Dwyer  

Posted: April 27th, 2014 6:22 PM

And Lucy Bates? The reason fingers are being pointed at the Army "in hindsight" is that the Army apparently did not have the foresight to prepared properly to protected unarmed state department personnel and other individuals. That's their job. I spent two years in the military at a low level, but I understand that no operation proceeded- or at least should proceed- without careful planning. Lack planning gets well-armed soldiers killed. What chance do unarmed people have in such a case?

Bill Dwyer  

Posted: April 27th, 2014 6:17 PM

You both can Google this for accurate details, but Foggy Bottom was not a nickname, but the name of an area in Wash. D.C. where the State Dept. was housed in near post-WWII years. A low lying area that was often fogged over, if I recall correctly. Washington in the years immediately after WWII was little like what we see today. Numerous unimpressive buildings housing some key agencies, buildings which have since been torn down.

Chris from OP  

Posted: April 27th, 2014 5:31 PM

VA: Foggy Bottom is a nickname for the State Dept. I'm not sure I'd call it an inside joke as I knew it and I'm not even close to being an insider.

Violet Aura  

Posted: April 27th, 2014 4:21 PM

Cont. makes me wonder a bit. WTF is foggy bottom anyway? You sure know the lingo! Are we a Green Beret or what? :/

Violet Aura  

Posted: April 27th, 2014 4:20 PM

@Lucy, no, I think everything is pretty disgusting. The fact that the father said: "I don't know what to say" speaks volumes to me. I think that there are many parents whose children were lost to this Military Industrial Complex that now think much differently about it all. I don't want to assume anything based upon his statement and my sympathies go out to him. But for you to dismiss it as her doing "good work" with no acknowledgement that these young people are used for others' dark aims...

Lucy Bates  

Posted: April 26th, 2014 6:41 PM

Not everything was disgusting. Certainly the young diplomat's death is a tragedy, but her family should be comforted that she was doing good work. It seems entirely possible that they eased security to make the humanitarian mission more "human." Only in hindsight are fingers pointed by an Army paid to keep security. Foggy Bottom points the finger at the killers. Hopefully, there is no real coverup. Seems not.

Violet Aura  

Posted: April 26th, 2014 3:46 PM

Disgusting. Everything about it. The spokesman claims that "extremists" are responsible. Who are these extremists, Jen Psaki? How would you view outsiders invading America and shooting it up? How would you feel if another country started droning innocent people? We should have never been in Afghanistan in the first place. And then to have Scholastic get on the gravy train is really too much. All those contractors making $$$$ on human suffering: may God have mercy on their souls...

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