How US Paid for Death, Damage in Afghanistan

How US Paid for Death, Damage in Afghanistan

An armored vehicle ran over a six-year-old boy’s legs: $11,000. A jingle truck was “blown up by mistake”: $15,000. A controlled detonation broke eight windows in a mosque: $106. A boy drowned in an anti-tank ditch: $1,916. A 10-ton truck ran over a cucumber crop: $180. A helicopter “shot bullets hitting and killing seven cows”: $2,253. Destruction of 200 grape vines, 30 mulberry trees and one well: $1,317. A wheelbarrow full of broken mirrors: $4,057.

Some data gather by The Intercept details the price that United States military bureaucrats are willing to pay for killing, maiming and injuring innocent people.

Based on The Foreign Claims Act, passed in 1942, the payment amounts can be confusing.  The act gives foreign citizens the ability to request payment for damages caused by U.S. military activities, but the law only covers incidents that happen outside of combat situations. This means that innocent civilians killed during actual battles are not covered.

In 2007, the American Civil Liberties Union obtained documents detailing about 500 claims made under the Foreign Claims Act, mainly in Iraq. These were the original, often hand-written records of incidents, their investigations, and the military’s ultimate decision to pay or deny the claim. Jonathan Tracy, a former judge advocate who handled thousands of claims in Iraq and then devoted years to studying the system, analyzed the entire dataset and found that the decisions often relied on over-broad or arbitrary definitions of combat situations, and that people who were denied claims were only sometimes awarded condolence payment. Yale law professor John Fabian Witt also noted that “relatively minor property awards for damages to automobiles and other personal property often rivaled the death payments in dollar value.”

This interactive graphic goes into detail regarding payments and the nature of the damage: