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Joint Statement by Secretary Cohen and DCI Tenet

Joint Statement by Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen and CIA Director George J. Tenet

May 8, 1999

We deeply regret the loss of life and injuries from the bombing of the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade last night. The bombing was an error. Those involved in targeting mistakenly believed that the Federal Directorate of Supply and Procurement was at the location that was hit. That military supply facility was the intended target, certainly not the Chinese Embassy.

NATO has conducted thousands of strikes against specific air campaign to date, with a degree of precision and professionalism unparalleled in military history. We regret any loss of civilian life or other unintended damage, but there is no such thing as risk free military operations.

We have been jointly examining this mistake over the intervening hours. It was the result of neither pilot nor mechanical error. Clearly, faulty information led to a mistake in the initial targeting of this facility. In addition, the extensive process in place used to select and validate targets did not correct this original error. A review of our procedures has convinced us that this was an anomaly that is unlikely to occur again. Therefore, NATO authorities intend to continue and intensify the air campaign.

Secretary Cohen added:

At the NATO Summit two weeks ago, the 19 leaders of the Alliance reaffirmed that Milosevic must stop the killing in Kosovo, must remove his military and security forces, all the refugees must be allowed to return to their homes, and he must accept an international force with NATO at its core to guarantee security and self government to the Kosovars. He has not met these conditions. In light of the continuing atrocities against the Kosovar Albanians, we are determined to strike military and related targets until he complies with NATO demands.

Historical Document
Posted: Apr 12, 2007 07:54 AM
Last Updated: Jun 17, 2008 12:54 PM