November 27, 2021

Too little, too late? Obama finally apologizes for hospital bombing

Too little, too late? Obama finally apologizes for hospital bombing

President Obama apologized on Wednesday to Doctors Without Borders for the accidental bombing of the group’s hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan, over the weekend.

Obama called Doctors Without Borders President Dr. Joanne Liu to “apologize and express his condolences for the [group’s] staff and patients who were killed when” the United States “accidentally struck” the facility, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said. Twenty-two people were killed.

“The president assured Dr. Liu that the Department of Defense investigation currently underway would provide a transparent, thorough and objective accounting of the facts and circumstances of the incident, and that if necessary, the president would implement changes that would make tragedies like this one less likely to occur in the future,” Earnest said.

“The United States, when we make a mistake, we’re honest about it, we own up to it, we apologize where necessary,” and make necessary changes going forward, Earnest said.

Liu has called for an independent investigation into the tragedy but Earnest said that Obama is confident that the Pentagon’s investigation will be objective, thorough and get to the bottom of the matter, which he promised Liu.

“In this instance there was a mistake, and it’s one the United States owns up to,” Earnest said in explaining why Obama called Liu.

Earnest said Obama also called Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, and indicated that there could be consequences for some in the military for the accidental bombing.

Doctors Without Borders wants an international investigation into the matter, claiming that the incident potentially constitutes a war crime.

Earnest said the term “war crime” has a very specific legal meaning that so far looks unwarranted. The Pentagon does everything it can to prevent loss of innocent lives in carrying out its operations. There is no indication that this has been anything other than a “terrible, tragic mistake,” he said.

Speaking earlier in Rome, Defense Secretary Ash Carter said the Pentagon investigation will leave no stone unturned.

“We’re conducting a full and transparent investigation, and we’ll make the findings of the investigation known as they are found,” Carter said. “And we’ll hold accountable any responsible for conduct that was improper in this connection.”

“But the main thing is… to the people of Afghanistan, and above all, to the families of innocent people who lost their lives in that incident, our sincere regret,” he said.

On Tuesday, Earnest referred questions about an apology to the State Department, but the State Department refused to offer an apology when asked.