Parsing the President’s Statement About the Kandahar Killings — Today’s Q’s for O’s WH — 3/13/2012

Mar 13, 2012 3:52pm

TAPPER: So if we can just parse the president’s statement on Africa — I mean, Afghanistan just a little bit more, the president used the term “murder,” which, as I’m sure you know, has a — has a legal meaning in terms of malaforethought. And are we to read anything into the first — this being the first time he’s used the word “murder” to describe what happened to those Afghans?

CARNEY: I think Afghan civilians — innocent Afghan civilians were killed. How that happened and why that happened is under investigation, so I wouldn’t go beyond that, and I think that he was not going beyond that. The — but it is a fact that these Afghan civilians — innocent civilians were killed, as I understand it. And this was a tragic event. And as the president said, it is not reflective of who we are. It is not reflective of the values of the American military. And he certainly believes, and I know that everyone in this administration and everyone over at the Pentagon believes that we need to make sure that this is fully investigated and that anyone involved will be held — will be held accountable.

TAPPER: Well, … Ben asked about this already, but the Pentagon seems fairly certain in their statement that there was only one person involved. Is the fact that the president is saying “anyone involved” a suggestion that there might be others in the chain of command who are held responsible for other reasons like –

CARNEY: No, I think — I think — and I understand that a lot of — a lot of things have been happening today, and briefings that might have happened, you know, or have happened across the river may not have been caught up to here.

But I think the Pentagon discussed this. And the — my understanding is that the — they’re simply saying that the investigation is — you know, will include discussions with a number of individuals, but that it is still our understanding that there was one shooter involved. But for these details, I think the Pentagon is the best place for information.

TAPPER: Right. But I’m just trying to –

CARNEY: I think the president –

TAPPER: — if the president was trying to convey –

CARNEY: I think the president was reflecting what the Defense Department has been saying on this issue.

TAPPER: So it’s just not to suggest that anybody else was involved, but not to preclude any conclusion that might come out of the Pentagon investigation?

CARNEY: I think that’s right. He is — he’s making clear that the investigation needs to take its course, that can’t make prejudgments about it and that anyone who might have information about it will be spoken to as part of the investigation. But beyond that, I think the Defense Department’s probably the best place to go.

TAPPER: And the only reason I ask is because obviously some of the initial reports from the villages involved were there that there were — and there might have been misunderstandings from seeing troops that were looking for this soldier or troops that were trying to find out what he had been doing — but there were initial reports — specifically, I think Reuters, in fact, from villagers — that there had been more than one soldier involved. I understand the military doesn’t think that’s true. But when the president gives an open-ended statement like that, it just — it –

CARNEY: Well, what he — the president’s statement was reflective of the fact that as the Pentagon is making clear, investigators continue to work closely with Army and Afghan authorities. They also continue to interview a range of individuals with potential knowledge of these attacks. And I don’t have further information about the nature of those interviews. Initial indications continue to indicate that there was one shooter. And so I’m not — you know, I want to be clear about that, but I also want to be clear that the investigation will include interviews of a range of individuals with potential knowledge.

– Jake Tapper

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