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The Daily Nightly began on May 31, 2005. As Brian wrote in his first post it aims to provide a narrative of the broadcast day and a window into the editorial process at NBC Nightly News. Brian weighs in every weekday and NBC News correspondents and producers post regularly.

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Taliban in our sights?

Editor's note: This story has evolved since this original posting. Click here for the latest and to see the photo in question.

KABUL, Afghanistan - In this country, just a tad smaller than President Bush’s home state of Texas, Taliban influence is on the rise. The U.S. military admits difficulty tracking their fighters in Afghanistan’s remote mountains. It’s why U.S. intelligence officers are so upset by a recent lost opportunity.

The picture above, declassified at NBC News' request, shows 190 members of the Taliban at a funeral. It’s believed by U.S. Army officers that several of those gathered were top Taliban leaders. But the U.S. was unable to take out the men standing in formation.

Why? Under the rules of engagement, the U.S. cannot bomb a cemetery.

One officer involved says, "We were so excited. I came rushing in with the picture." But in the end, that excitement turned to frustration. The unmanned Predator drone, flying undetected overhead, continued to feed back pictures as the Taliban dispersed, heading off in tiny groups, too small to effectively target.

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COMMENTS

What is also interesting is the story about UBL is now dead. Makes you say Hmmmmmmmmmm. Large funeral and a story about him dead http://msnbc.msn.com/id/15024223/

Makes me say hmmmmmm.

It's a bunch of propaganda.
i'm sure that our country does a lot of terrible things underneath it all; that things have to be done to accomplish whatever mystery goal we have for being there.
we've already been over there much too long. don't they want to reach their goal and bring everyone home? i'm sure it's possible for the government to have gotten rid of that group of people without letting it leak to the press- they strategically released that information to the media to make us think a certain way.
Not that killing a few random members will get rid of the frustration and contempt that those people overseas feel for us.

So we'll send in bombs that no doubt kill innocent civilians, but we refuse to drop bombs on people that are already dead. It seems our rationale is a litte screwed here.

We are a civilized nation. We are not barbaric like they are. We need to play by our rules of morality. If we do we will always come out ahead, if we don’t we are no better than they are. An eye for an eye does not apply here. Sometimes we have to turn the other cheek.

Ever think that the same surveillance used to take the video/pictures of a large formation of "suspected" Taliban could also be used to track the group(s) or individuals after the funeral? I wonder how expansive the projected target list is now?

Rules of engagement are in place for a reason. Military leaders establish these rules based upon the national security and political mission/goals established by the politicians appointed over them by you, the people.

Lessons have been learned. Having seen combat in Afghanistan and Iraq, I have formulated an opinion that this war will not be over during my career in your US Armed Forces, nor probably in the lifetime of my 2 year old daughter.

Restraint is necessary for winning battles and ultimately wars. Speculation is unwarranted.

Fellow Americans, be patient and have a little faith.

If this epitomizes the mindset of our military leaders, then it is all over except for the mushroom clouds on domestic soil. This "consideration" won't make us a single friend in the Middle East, au contrair, they despise us for our ethical weakness.

Instead of having our young men and women in uniform die over there, we should bring them home, so they can at least die with their families when bin Laden and Company set off half a dozen nuclear devices in as many American cities.

They've already won the war of will and philosophy. I guess the end will come for us like it did when Odoacer occupied Rome. He said "The Roman legions are obscured by the dust of my armies."

Thanks Jimmy, Bill, Michael, Ted and Jane. We really could not have arrived at this juncture without your help.

Signed,

Your (not) friend, ObL

If the Taliban indeed believe that it is the supreme act of holiness to give up their life for their religion, then why should we disagree with them? A few well placed missiles would send them to meet their maker, and, what a coincidence, they are already in the cemetary! With their friends! How could we be more thoughtfull and politically correct?
All seriousness aside, if the object of war is to kill your enemies, which I believe that it should be, then let's get the job done as quickly, efficiently and brutally as possible, and bring the troops back home.

"...I speak of our frustration in the terms of being second guessed by reporters with little to no understanding of ROE, military tactics, intelligence sources, or strategic goals." Andrew, Afghanistan.
As a current member of a predator squadron supporting the war on terror 24/7, I too would like to speak of my frustration. This story endangers those who I support (The guys on the ground doing the dirty work). This story hinders our capability to effectively track and target our enemy. I get frustrated when someone in the US Military releases classified information to the press, instead of practicing what we in the military call OPSEC, (Operational Security) a process to keep our operations and tactics unknown to our enemy. I am frustrated at reporters who drool over the opportunity to release classified information in order to get a story, or to further politicize the war on terror. Most of the questions coming from civilians and the media alike can be answered by classified information; but, as this story proves, keeping the military's operations and tactics classified should be of greater importance than getting a story or politicizing the war on terror. Once in my life, I would like to meet a member of the media who can think past the next big story and practice a little wisdom in helping to protect our troops on the ground.

I agree with most, since I pulled 3 tours in Vietnam I can only wonder what would have happened if we "overlooked" chances like this? Letting these people live means they are around the next day to kill our troops. How is that protecting our troops? Time to go back to kill or be killed.

I too am a veteran and somewhat of a military historian. We bombed Monte Cassino. We firebombed Dresden. We burned Tokyo to the ground. Our bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki doubtless destroyed many sacred shrines and historical buildings. We are in an existential fight for our survival. We are either at war or we are not. We are either going to do what is necessary for victory or by our inaction what will cause us to lose. Is it going to take an Armageddon before we stop being polite about reading our enemies' mail or attacking them wherever we find them massed like this? Was 9/11 not enough? How many Afghan soldiers and civilians will now die violently because of this horrific blunder?

Once again we bring a knife to a gun fight. Let's get down to business and fight these bastards with the guerilla tactics they use. Get the job done and bring our people home.

We do not know the full cercumstances, we are not the ones who make the call and we cannot become just like our enemy or we have lost the war.

I fully understand the "Rules of Engagement", however they blow up each others mosques, so what's the problem?

"Holy Ground"? Please. The mosques that the Islamofascists routinely use for weapons caches and hiding places are "holy ground" as well. But, it is alright for THEM to use them, because it is in the name of Islam. In fact, ANYTHING goes, including lying and murdering civilians is alright if it is in the name of Islam. You see, there are no "innocent civilians" to our enemy, because every devout Muslim is a soldier of the jihad, fighting for Islam. That is why they strap belts of C4 and ball bearings on their children, so they can go kill the infidels. All these animals want, is to control the entire world under the global caliphate, and institute Sharia law everywhere. Is that what you want? You want your wife and daughter fitted for a burka? Oh, that's providing you convert; if not, you might be given "dhimmi" status, and have to wear a special badge (Muslims started this practice; the Nazi's just borrowed from it later).

It is very simple: They want to kill us. So you want to just sit down and talk with them? Let the little dears express themselves?? They just might invite you in for a nice conversational dinner, then saw your head off with a dull knife for being an "infidel". We've see this happen with journalists over the past few years.

There can be no negotiating with them. It's time for us to stand up for ourselves.

August 10th ,1968 in Vietnam near Hue airport.Our 101st airbornne company was over ran by North Vietnam insurgants.We lost several good men that night after killing 128 of them. This was a 101st base camp that was hit with everything they had ,from behind the shelter of a large cemetary next our base. Given that same chance to shoot at 190 miltary men,women,and childeren during funneral at a cemitary in the United States,do you think for one mininte they wouldn't? It's time for everyone in this country to stop making political dissions to win the war over terrorist and just have some comon sense. If you run a fortune 500 company like this today , you'll go broke.If we don't fight the war on terrorisum at the same level as the eneny and countries that support them,it will cost us more lives and more economic stress.

Rules of Engagement?? Explain the Rules of Engagement to the family members of the soldiers these people kill in the future. Tell them how we had a chance to take out the person responsible for their son or daughters death but chose not to act because of our "Higher moral standard", I'm sure they'll understand completely. The whole thing disgusts me.

As a military Officer currently serving in Afghanistan who fully understands and apply the Rules of Engagement, I find this article very frustrating. Sure, there are circumstances like these that happen over here and the first emotion is frustration not knowing the full scope of the situation. But I speak of our frustration in the terms of being second guessed by reporters with little to no understanding of ROE, military tactics, intelligence sources, or strategic goals. I’ve met many reporters from several countries over here, been interviewed by some, and interacted with more than I would prefer, and they all come in with their own idea of what’s happening. Please hear this and remember what I say. We, the military, are the experts on warfare. The leaders in the US military are the most highly trained in the world, have been practicing their craft for 10 – 30 years, understand the theories of warfare, continue to study past warfare to glean insight, and have been fighting for several years. There are no reporters who can walk in for a week, gain full insight on life or happenings, and write a sound article on whether we are doing our job correctly. The same goes for politicians, retired military “Subject Matter Experts”, and the civilians out there. Everyone has their opinions, and they are the opinions of amateurs, not experts in warfare. To quote Sun Tzu, “He will win who has military capacity and is not interfered with by the sovereign.” Those of us currently serving are most at danger when the media and citizens of the world debate the way we wage war. Debate whether to send us or not, debate the politics of having us continue, and please cast your vote for the people who can make those decisions, but stay out of the way and keep your opinions on how we do business to yourselves. You sent us to do the dirty work while you sit at home, now let us wage the battles as we, the experts, see fit.

Morals....do you really believe this government has them. The only difference in the Taliban and US is the tactics.

So let me see if I get this...

A mockumentary comes out showing the Clintonites turning down the chance to "get bin Laden". Now we see our military decline the opportunity to rid this world of 190 Taliban. Just the day before a Taliban suicide bomber killed an Afghani governor and others as they attended tah dah A FUNERAL! I can't make this stuff up.

BTW...

Why do online poker players hate America?
"Online gambling to become part of defense bill?"
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/14824615/

All you stinkin online poker playin terrorist appeasers, don't support the troops!

We follow these silly rules, and the world despises us. So why are we following them? We refused to put the necessary ground troops in Afghanistan because we were afraid of how our image would be damaged, and bin Laden escaped. We pulled back from the first seige of Falluja because of world outrage, and al Qaeda was emboldened. We had the Sadr Militia cornered in a mosque in Baghdad, but heeded world opinion, and now this militia is threatening the democracy the majority of Iraqis clearly want (and our soldiers are dying for). If George W. doesn't get it, is there a politician out there who will? I agree with the statement above: we're doomed until we change our mentality. This is a dirty war requiring we get our hands dirty.

We did nothing as usual. All we did was follow rules no one else does. Bottom line, we're doomed.

We are Americans, not Taliban or Al-Quaida. We need to keep our moral standards in whatever we do. I do not agree with bombing a funeral based on the grainy drone photograph I am looking at. Continued "colaterall damage" in Afghanastan will only strengthen the resolve of the Taliban and give more civilians reasons to hate the US and join the Taliban's cause. I thought we were there to find Osama bin Laden, was he at the funeral ?

I wonder -- if we did bomb the Taliban shown in this picture, how would NBC and other media outlets report the attack. Would they report how horrible America is for bombing the Taliban while they were attending a funeral.

Since these Taliban are devout Muslims, I suggest we follow the example of Muhammad himself. Shortly after his momentous move from Mecca to Medina, Muhammad organized his followers into an armed band intent on raiding Meccan caravans. (While banditry is not a common occupation for founders of religions, it was common for Arab tribes to raid each other.) However, there was a special month of truce each year, which even the bandits respected. Muhammad chose that very month to launch his first attacks on the Meccan caravans (breaking the taboo being OK because it was after all "for Islam"). So following this example--or the more recent 1973 example in which Arab countries launched a war against Israel on a random day that just happened to be Yom Kippur--I don't think we should worry too much about holding fire because those Taliban appeared to be holding a ceremony. The photo looks like men in rank & file formation--no women or kids around. If we should kill them at all, what more appropriate occasion than a funeral?

These Taliban respect no laws, or rules of engagement. Having seen first hand, I can testify that they rationalize the torture and murder of anyone as necessary in the pursuit of their "jiihad". They often release propaganda videos showing the torture and mutilation of "infidels", "apostates", and "crusaders". Although the vast majority of their victims are innocent Afghan muslims, they use such labels to justify their crimes. I cannot imagine that any NATO servicemember would recieve any better treatment. I am not aware of any circumstance where they have followed any geneva conventions. I imagine that were they able, they would jump at the chance to attack NATO forces in a similair circumstances believing it is justifiable for the greater good of their jiihad.

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