Skip to main content
CNN.com /TRANSCRIPTS

CNN TV
EDITIONS





CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

Canadian President Speaks Before House of Commons About Friendly Fire Incident

Aired April 18, 2002 - 10:05   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: Well, John, we want to cut away now from the U.S. president and now go to the Canadian president. He is now speaking before the House of Commons in Ottawa. You see Jean Chretien there -- let's listen now.

(IN PROGRESS)

JEAN CHRETIEN, CANADIAN PRIME MINISTER (through translator): ... near Kandahar, Afghanistan has resulted in casualties among Canadian troops. Four of our soldiers, all of those members (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Canadian light infantry have been killed, and eight others were wounded.

Mr. Speaker, we still don't know all of the facts, but it seems clear that the fire caught our soldiers came from a fighter aircraft belonging to our American allies. When we found out this news, President George Bush telephoned me to express his profound sadness, and he offered his most sincere to the families of our soldiers.

(In English): Mr. Speaker, at times like these, we grasp for words of comfort and consolation, but they are just words. They can never do justice to the pain and loss that is being felt this morning in Edmonton by mothers and fathers, wives and children, who have received the worst news we can imagine. All we have in our power today is to tell them as a nation that they are in our thoughts and prayers.

The campaign against terrorism is the first great struggle for justice of the 21st century, and as in all such conflicts of the past, Canada has been on the front lines. The Canadian armed forces has set itself apart with their valor, daring and skill. And if words cannot console this loss, Mr. Speaker, they also cannot fully express the pride that all Canadians have felt at the exemplary way in which they have carried their duty.

We have so many questions this morning. Extensive training for combat is meant to save lives. How is this (UNINTELLIGIBLE) that in this awful case, it took so many lives? And I want to assure the families and the people of Canada that these questions will be answered.

Indeed, President Bush has pledged the full cooperation of the Americans with us in the investigation that is already under way. For this moment, Mr. Speaker, we must give over our hearts and prayers to the loved and the lost, and to the families to whom our nation holds the debt of gratitude that is beyond mortal calculation. Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Leader of the opposition.

HARRIS: We have been listening to the prime minister of Canada, Jean Chretien. They are speaking before the House of Commons in Ottawa there, offering words of condolences for the families of those Canadian soldiers -- Canadian troops who were lost in that friendly fire incident that happened overnight. He also says that those words that he offered were just no words of comfort. They were just words. Words cannot fully express the pride that Canadians have in the way those troops carried out their duty.

Let's go back to the White House and our John King, who is standing by there -- John.

KING: Leon, expect to hear directly from the president today on this as well. We are told is he likely to make a brief statement. He has several public events today, a meeting with the Colombian president under way at the White House, Secretary Powell due here in a little while, other events on the president's schedule as well. We are told he is looking for an opportunity to say in public what you just heard the prime minister say.

The president did call the prime minister this morning to voice his regret at this tragic loss of life of those four Canadian soldiers. The president also promising, even as he voiced condolences, that the Canadian government would be deeply involved and kept up-to-speed as the investigation continues.

So a tragedy in the ongoing military campaign in Afghanistan. Obviously President Bush relaying the condolences of the United States military, and we are told on the ground in Afghanistan, U.S. military commanders promising as well to keep their Canadian counterparts up- to-speed on the investigation as it is now just beginning and as it continues -- Leon.

HARRIS: Thanks, John -- John King at White House. Let's go now to Daryn Kagan in New York -- Daryn.

DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: Leon, I want it get our latest now from the Pentagon on that incident involving the Canadian soldiers and the friendly fire in Afghanistan. And for that, we go to our Barbara Starr who is standing by -- Barbara, good morning.

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Daryn. Well, in the last several hours since this incident occurred overnight, we have learned a great deal more information. It was a single U.S. F-16 that dropped a 500-pound laser-guided bomb on Canadian troops conducting that live-fire nighttime training exercise south of Kandahar. Eight Canadians were injured, some seriously, four Canadians were killed. And as we just saw from the prime minister, the Canadian government was clearly stunned by the accident.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GEN. RAY HENAULT, CAN. CHIEF OF DEFENSE STAFF: This exercise was taking place in the middle of the night, so there is no way to visually identify from the altitudes that fighters operate. If the American fighter had acknowledged and identified these troops as Canadian or other coalition troops, I can assure you that he would not have dropped his bomb into their location. So it can only be a misidentification that caused this to occur. What the details were surrounding it and how this occurred will need to the object of an investigation.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STARR: Now, U.S. officials say that the U.S. F-16 pilot had reported taking enemy ground fire. He was given permission to then fly over what he thought was the target and to mark the target. As he flew over that target again, he reported taking ground fire again. He invoked the right of self-defense and dropped that 500-pound laser- guided weapon.

In Kandahar today, U.S. military officials expressed their condolences.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

COL. FRANK WIERINSKI, U.S. ARMY: As we grieve through this time, let us be sure of one thing and let us have no doubt, our commitment remains strong. We will not fail, and as our president said, President Bush, and although our eyes are filled with tears, we will fight on. This fight was not of our choosing, but it will be finished on our terms. The cost of this fight has been great, but our commitment remains greater.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STARR: And we are also learning this morning that U.S. military officials say, yes, the Canadians were operating in a marked-off, restricted training area, a zone that extended several thousand feet into the sky. It is not at all clear why the U.S. planes were in the same exact area. So that's what the investigation is now going to be looking at -- Daryn.

KAGAN: And, Barbara, just so I understand how this works, this pilot couldn't make that decision on his own. Didn't he have to ask for and then receive permission to drop that bomb?

STARR: Well, normally what does happen is a pilot will request permission from a controller element to go ahead and drop his weapon, but this pilot reported, according to the reports he filed, he thought he was under enemy fire. At the time, he thought he was in imminent danger. So he went ahead, invoked that right of self-defense and dropped his weapon.

At least that's the preliminary report. The investigation is certain to find out more in the weeks ahead -- Daryn.

KAGAN: Barbara Starr at the Pentagon -- Barbara, thank you very much.

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com



Friendly Fire Incident>


 
 
 
 


 Search   

Back to the top