Fox Drums Up Misplaced Outrage Over Possible Presidential Apology To Pakistan

Fox's Brian Kilmeade suggested that it was wrong for the Obama administration to have considered apologizing for an accidental deadly military strike against Pakistani troops by U.S-led forces. Fox is reporting that Obama will not apologize, but even if he were to do so, such an apology would hardly be the first time a U.S. president has apologized to a foreign nation.

Fox's Kilmeade Criticizes Obama For Considering Apologizing To Pakistan

Kilmeade: If Obama Apologized, “This Would Not Be The First Time President Obama Has Apologized To A Questionable Friend Of The United States.” During the May 18 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, Fox News correspondent Peter Doocy reported that the Obama administration will not apologize to Pakistan. Nevertheless, Fox & Friends co-hosts Brian Kilmeade and Steve Doocy suggested that it was problematic for the administration to have considered making such an apology, with Kilmeade saying, "[T]his would not be the first time President Obama has apologized to a questionable friend of the United States":

KILMEADE: We've learned there's a big push in the White House to apologize to Pakistan for the deadly air strike last year. And this would not be the first time President Obama has apologized to a questionable friend of the United States. It's been a live debate since that date. Live in Washington with more, Peter Doocy. Peter?

PETER DOOCY: And Brian, we've now learned that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was on a plane to London back in December to meet with the Pakistani foreign minister and say that we're sorry for accidentally killing 24 Pakistani soldiers back on November 26th. But mid-flight, she was told to stand down because President Obama had just apologized to the president of Pak -- of Afghanistan after our troops burned a Quran, and officials worried that two apologies in one day would make us look weak. But now a senior U.S. official tells us that Pakistan just isn't going to get an apology, telling us late last night that, quote, “There've been discussions over time, over whether to apologize and a decision has been made to express deep regret and try to move forward.”

After the incident, a Pakistan -- Pakistan did close a border crossing with Afghanistan and it now cost NATO $38 million a month to work around it. And this U.S. official says that because of that, the U.S. is disinclined to apologize and the source close to the Pakistani government is quoted in The Wall Street Journal saying that if the apology would have occurred in the first or second day as it should have, we could have moved on, with another U.S. official saying in The Wall Street Journal today: “This goes to the fact that we don't know how to deal with the Pakistanis.”

But White House National Security Advisor Tom Donilon said yesterday that we have made real progress moving towards resolving our issues with the Pakistanis. And he says that the key government groups in Islamabad have told us that they are ready to negotiate and that both sides, us and the Pakistanis, have determined that it's time to reach a conclusion. But remember that other U.S. official told us that there will not be an apology. Back to you.

KILMEADE: All right. Peter, thanks. They want to skyrocket the amount that we pay to get across the border to get supplies into Afghanistan, which is basically -- it seems like we're paying off a ransom.

STEVE DOOCY: It does. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 5/18/12]

U.S. Presidents Have Apologized To Friends And Non-Friends Alike

President George H.W. Bush Apologized To Nicaragua's Sandanista Government After U.S. Forces Searched Through Nicaraguan Diplomatic Residence. During the 1989 U.S. invasion of Panama, U.S. forces entered and searched through the residence of the Nicaraguan ambassador to Panama. After the Nicaraguan government complained that U.S. forces had violated international law by conducting the search, President Bush apologized for the incident, calling it a “screw up” that “shouldn't have happened” and saying that the U.S. had expressed its “regrets”. From The Washington Post:

President Bush said today that Friday's search of the residence of the Nicaraguan ambassador to Panama by U.S. troops was a “screw up” and “shouldn't have happened,” but he questioned “what the man is doing with rocket launchers and grenades and Uzis and automatic weapons up to his eyeballs in his house.”

The president, golfing here on vacation, and the State Department in Washington moved quickly to try to regain the high ground for the United States after the incident, which appeared to violate the internationally accepted principle of diplomatic immunity.


“When you find those kinds of weapons caches,” Bush said, “even though I think in retrospect we shouldn't have gone in there, it makes you wonder exactly what our young men are up against. I don't know what they need rocket launchers for in a man's house. But nevertheless, I said we shouldn't have gone in the Nicaraguan mission and we've expressed our regrets.” [The Washington Post, 12/31/89, via Nexis]

  • The Platform On Which Bush Ran In 1988 Called The Nicaraguan Government “A Soviet Client State” And Promised To Give “Military Aid” To Nicaraguan Rebels. [Republican Party Platform of 1988, 8/16/88, via University of California, Santa Barbara]

President Reagan Apologized To Japan For Sinking Of A Japanese Freighter. From United Press International:

President Reagan, in a letter to Prime Minister Zenko Suzuki, deplored the “extremely unfortunate” sinking of a Japanese freighter that was accidentally rammed by an American nuclear submarine, the Foreign Ministry said today.


“I want to tell you personally how much all of us in the United States regret the extremely unfortunate incident,” Reagan wrote to Suzuki.

“Particularly regrettable was the tragic loss of the lives of two crewman from the Japanese ship,” the president said. [UPI, 4/18/81, via Google News]

The Reagan Administration Apologized To France For Protecting Klaus Barbie. On August 16, 1983, Reagan's Justice Department issued a formal apology to France for protecting Klaus Barbie, a Nazi whom U.S. intelligence recruited and shielded in the aftermath of World War II. From The Economist:

American military intelligence officers recruited and later shielded from prosecution Mr Klaus Barbie, now awaiting trial in France for war crimes while head of the Gestapo in occupied Lyons. Evidence of their involvement has circulated for some time. Criticism has mounted, particularly in France. After an investigation, the justice department on August 16th acknowledged the charges in a long report and made a formal apology to France.

According to Mr Allan Ryan, the justice department's chief investigator of war crimes, army counter-intelligence officers recruited Mr Barbie in 1947 when he presented himself as a source of valuable information, especially about communists who had fought in the resistance.

As allegations of torture and other atrocities surfaced against Mr Barbie, the French sought him for trial. American officers not only concealed his whereabouts by lying to the American occupation authorities in Germany, but, late in 1950, they also helped him escape along the so-called ''ratline'' to South America used by other former Nazi officials. [The Economist, 8/20/83, via Nexis]

President George W. Bush Apologized To Iraq's Prime Minister After A U.S. Sniper Shot Up A Quran. From the Associated Press:

President Bush has apologized to Iraq's prime minister for an American sniper's shooting of a Quran, and the Iraqi government called on U.S. military commanders to educate their soldiers to respect local religious beliefs.

Bush's spokeswoman said Tuesday that the president apologized during a videoconference Monday with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who told the president that the shooting of Islam's holy book had disappointed and angered both the Iraqi people and their leaders.

“He apologized for that in the sense that he said that we take it very seriously,” White House press secretary Dana Perino said. “We are concerned about the reaction. We wanted them to know that the president knew that this was wrong.” [AP, 5/21/08, via Google News]

President George W. Bush Apologized For Abu Ghraib Abuse: “It's A Stain On Our Country's Honor And Our Country's Reputation.” From a May 6, 2004, USA Today article:

President Bush issued his first outright apology Thursday for the abuse of Iraqi prisoners by U.S. soldiers, saying photographs of the mistreatment made Americans “sick to our stomachs.”

In a White House briefing with Jordan's King Abdullah, Bush said he told Abdullah that “I was sorry for the humiliation suffered by the Iraqi prisoners and the humiliation suffered by their families.”

Bush's apology, which he stopped short of giving in two interviews with Arab television stations Wednesday, came as the administration continued frantic efforts to control the damage from the prisoner abuse scandal.

The president continued to insist that guilty parties will be brought to justice. In addition to probes of abuse at Abu Ghraib prison, investigations have been launched into the deaths of at least 10 Iraqi prisoners at U.S. prisons in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“It's a stain on our country's honor and our country's reputation,” Bush said. “I am sickened by what I saw and sickened that people got the wrong impression.” [USA Today, 5/6/04]

Bush Administration Said It Was “Very Sorry” For Surveillance Plane That Entered Chinese Air Space. From the Chicago Tribune:

China agreed to free 21 men and three women after days of intense negotiation over wording of a U.S. government letter of regret accepted by Beijing's foreign minister Wednesday.

The deal to free the Americans required the United States to compromise by using the phrase “very sorry” in acknowledging some of China's complaints over the incident, but it was Beijing that gave up its assertion that the U.S. accept full responsibility and apologize before the crew could be released.


“Please convey to the Chinese people and to the family of pilot Wang Wei that we are very sorry for their loss,” said the letter signed by Prueher.

Complaint acknowledged

Besides expressing sympathy, the letter acknowledged one Chinese complaint: that the damaged American plane entered China's airspace and landed at an airport without authorization.

But even this aspect of the letter came across more as an account of the event than as an apology. It said the U.S. was “very sorry” for entering Chinese airspace without “verbal clearance.” [Chicago Tribune, 4/12/01]

For more on previous presidential apologies, click here.

Fox Has Repeatedly Pushed The False Narrative That Obama Constantly Apologizes For America

Fox News Figures Have Relentlessly Pushed The Myth That Obama Routinely Apologizes For America. Fox News figures have stated with regularity that Obama has gone on so-called apology tours in which he apologizes for America. [Media Matters, 4/26/12, 2/28/12, 2/9/11, 8/31/11, 5/18/10, 7/10/09]

But Independent Fact-Checkers Say The Claim That Obama Regularly Apologizes For America Is A Myth. Fact-checkers from the Associated Press, PolitiFact, and The Washington Post have all debunked the claim that Obama has repeatedly apologized for America. Fox News' own Juan Williams has made the same point. [Media Matters, 4/26/12]