President Obama apologized to Doctors Without Borders on Wednesday for the American air attack that killed at least 22 people at a medical clinic in Afghanistan, and said the US would examine military procedures to look for better ways to prevent such incidents. Obama's phone call to the group's international president came just a day after the White House stopped short of an apology, waiting to learn more while acknowledging that the attack was a US mistake. White House spokesperson Josh Earnest says Obama offered condolences to the group's staff and pledged a "transparent, thorough, and objective accounting of the facts." "When the United States makes a mistake, we own up to it, we apologize where appropriate, and we are honest about what transpired," Earnest says.
Emerging details about the erroneous strike have only fueled growing condemnation by Doctors Without Borders and other aid groups in the four days since the clinic in the city of Kunduz came under fire, killing civilian workers and patients. After initial confusion, officials determined the US had carried out the strike. Obama told Doctors Without Borders that the US would review the attack to determine whether changes to military procedures could reduce the chances of a similar incident. Investigations by the US, NATO, and the Afghan government are underway, but Doctors Without Borders has called them insufficient and demanded an independent fact-finding mission. The group has also said the strike may have been a war crime and has described it as an attack on the Geneva Conventions governing humanitarian treatment during war. (Read more Afghanistan stories.)