Incident at Camp Bastion: the larger question

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By Douglas J. Hagmann

15 March 2012: It appears that much of the information that comes from the Afghanistan theater of operation of late changes with each media report. The unsuccessful vehicle attack at Camp Bastion yesterday is a clear example of multiple accounts stemming from a single incident. Camp Bastion is home to a large contingent of military forces from the U.S. and the U.K., with a significant presence of Afghan Muslims embedded with coalition personnel.

As reported, an Afghan translator stole a vehicle and broke onto the runway at Camp Bastion at the same time that the military aircraft carrying U.S. Defense Secretary was landing. The vehicle contained at least one gasoline canister and reportedly erupted into flames, although subsequent  details become murky and even contradictory, depending on what version of events one chooses to accept.

Regardless of those details, this is a case where everyone seems to be missing the larger part of this story.

Standard operating protocol dictates that the itinerary pertaining to the arrival of high ranking military officials be extremely limited for the safety and security of the visiting official as well as those being visited.

Therefore, the question people should be asking is how this attacker, an Afghani national, knew which unmarked C-17 aircraft that was landing carried the secretary of Defense, which ramp the aircraft was designated for use, and the time of the aircraft’s arrival.

The media appears to be missing this very critical aspect of this incident or worse, accepting the standard fare offered by the top military brass. While the attempted attack failed, the incident itself should be raising some serious red flags.

Who is paying attention?