Investigation into the Beslan massacre suggests a much higher level of incompetence and total disregard for human life on the part of the Russian military than was previously appreciated. Of course this in no way excuses the monsters who created the situation in the first place, although some will probably see it that way.
Robert Mayer, over at Publius Pundit, reports the findings [here].
The upshot is that one of the command centers in Beslan set out to eliminate the terrorists, not to free the hostages. For this group, it would have been very convenient if the hostages were removed from the equation. Troops could then move in and wipe out the bad guys, and civilian deaths could be blamed on a miscue by the terrorists.
The simplest way to accomplish this would be to set off the terrorists’ own bomb. But here they ran into a little problem: The snipers couldn’t get a clear shot at the terrorist with his foot on the detonator.
This problem was resolved with the help of a grenade launcher. Did the feds have the plans for the school? Yes. Did the plans indicate where the basketball hoop was attached to the wall? Yes. Did they know the bomb was hung up in the hoop? Yes.
The snipers needed a clear shot. A soldier with a grenade launcher could fire from the roof of any nearby apartment building.
For a long time foreign policy "realists" and especially members of the intelligence services openly admired the brutality with which Soviet and Chinese governments dealt with opponents. The implication was that the West, with its elaborate concerns for human rights was too "soft" and therefore vulnerable to attacks. First Afghanistan, and now Chechnya has blown the lid off that assumption. A brutal response does not deter terrorists who seek a glorious martyrdom, but then, as we have also seen, neither does concern for human rights. The point is Islamic terrorists view their opponents' record on human rights with complete indifference.