In an extremely rare admission of fault, President Obama acknowledged during a news conference Thursday that U.S. drone strikes against al Qaeda in January killed two innocent hostages.
“It is a cruel and bitter truth that in the fog of war generally, and our fight against terrorists specifically, mistakes, sometimes deadly mistakes, can occur,” Obama said.
The deadly mistake took the lives of Warren Weinstein, an American hostage held by al Qaeda since 2011, and Italian Giovanni Lo Porto, a hostage held since 2012.
The U.S. operation was targeting an al Qaeda compound along the Afghanistan and Pakistan border. It is believed two American al Qaeda operatives were also killed during separate January attacks, according to CBS News.
Obama’s televised concern about dead American hostages isn’t normal White House practice. One of the more infamous moments of the Obama presidency, in fact, came last August, when the president announced the beheading death of photojournalist James Foley — then immediately went golfing on vacation in Martha’s Vineyard.
“As president and commander in chief I take full responsibility for all counterterrorism operations, including the one that inadvertently took the lives of Warren and Giovani,” Obama said Thursday.
“No words can fully express our regret over this terrible tragedy.”
Social media users had plenty of words about Obama’s admission and questioned the president’s authenticity and his timing:
Wait! Obama rushes to podium and breaks 4 month old terror op… just as media saturating with Clinton scandal news? pic.twitter.com/HHVZWp4NUP
— MATT DRUDGE (@DRUDGE) April 23, 2015
@DRUDGE Look, squirrel!
— Rob (@RMH2345) April 23, 2015
— hattipLEVIN (@hattiplevin) April 23, 2015
— Mitch Clay (@mitchclay1970) April 23, 2015
— Jerry Jay Carroll (@Jjc1Jerry) April 23, 2015
— LARRY JOHNSON (@JJJFLYER) April 23, 2015
@FoxNews so I took 3 vacations on your dime to console myself. ~An American President
— lisa | buck (@opbeachcottage) April 23, 2015
@nytimes Ok, I’ll buy that bullshit when Obama apologizes for the other thousands of civilians killed by US drone strikes.
— Arnau (@arnauVLC) April 23, 2015
@FoxNews wow he said Terrorists? Holy Shit!
— Southernkimmy (@southernkimmy) April 23, 2015
@FoxNews ESPECIALLY WHEN YOU PLAY GRAB ASS ON THE GOLF COURSE FOR MONTHS PUTTING OFF THE DECISION UNTIL YOUR INVOLVED IN ANOTHER SCANDAL…
— Paul M (@marcly034) April 23, 2015
@FoxNews It’s so easy to be cynical but why report a story taking place LAST JANUARY today, on top of the new Clinton scandal going nuclear.
— Douglas Griffeth (@USCAlumnus1) April 23, 2015
One person took Obama’s apology at face value:
@DRUDGE I think this is the 1st time Obama has taken responsibility for anything. Can anyone remember a time when Obama said, “my bad.”
— Peter (@PET3R_S) April 23, 2015
Nope. That’s why hardly anyone’s buying it.
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