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Statement on Inadvertent Bombing of Chinese Embassy

Statement by Bill Harlow, Director of Public Affairs, on the Inadvertent Bombing of the Chinese Embassy

April 10, 2000

Director of Central Intelligence George J. Tenet recently took a number of actions as a result of an Agency Accountability Board Review of the actions and performance of Agency personnel involved in the target selection process which inadvertently led to the bombing of the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade on May 7, 1999.

One of the key findings of the Inspector General's investigation of this matter was that the CIA lacked formal procedures for preparing and forwarding target nomination packages to the U.S. military. We have taken several steps to address the systemic organizational problems that contributed to the accidental bombing of the Chinese Embassy. These steps are classified and we cannot discuss them further.

With regard to individual officers involved in the process that led to the bombing, the principal shortcoming the IG investigation identified was the fact that numerous CIA officers at all levels of responsibility failed to ensure that the intended bombing target—the Yugoslav Federal Directorate of Supply and Procurement headquarters—had been properly identified and precisely located before CIA passed a target nomination package to the U.S. military for action.

The evidence shows that this was clearly a tragic accident. There is no indication that the Chinese Embassy was intentionally targeted or that anyone involved in proposing or reviewing the target nomination package was aware that the site was actually an Embassy.

Subsequent to the recommendations of the Accountability Board, the DCI took a number of personnel actions. For reasons of security and privacy, we will not publicly detail those actions.

While we can never undo the mistakes that led to the bombing, we are satisfied that the CIA has stood up—both organizationally and individually—and taken appropriate responsibility for our mistakes.

Historical Document
Posted: Apr 12, 2007 07:55 AM
Last Updated: Jun 17, 2008 01:06 PM