WASHINGTON -- The Clinton administration has decided not to issue a formal apology to South Korea for the U.S. Army's role in the shooting of civilians at No Gun Ri early in the Korean War, nor will it offer financial compensation to the survivors or families of the victims, two senior administration officials said.
No apology or money
for No Gun Ri
However, a monument may
be erected and a scholarship fund begun
The administration is, however, considering more modest gestures, including erecting a monument in honor of all civilians killed in the 1950-53 war and establishing a scholarship fund in memory of the No Gun Ri victims, the officials said.
The officials, interviewed separately, spoke on condition they not be identified.
Pentagon spokesman Kenneth Bacon said today that it was premature to say what actions the administration would take in response to the findings of a recently completed U.S. Army investigation into No Gun Ri.
"It's not over until it's over," Bacon said, noting that Pentagon officials were meeting today with a South Korean government delegation to discuss details of the investigation and possible responses.
On Tuesday, No Gun Ri survivors and their lawyer held a news conference in Washington to state their belief that the Army investigation -- the results of which have not yet been released publicly -- was a "whitewash."
In his first public comments on the results of the investigation, Army Secretary Louis Caldera said last week he no longer doubted that "there was loss of life" at No Gun Ri.
Caldera said it is clear there were many civilian casualties in the Korean War and that "some of those civilian casualties were at the hand of American soldiers."
"That conclusion is very different from the allegation that was made that this was a massacre in the classic sense that we lined up innocent people and gunned them down," he said, adding that the Army investigation found no definitive evidence that the U.S. soldiers at No Gun Ri fired on direct orders.
Former Rep. Pete McCloskey, R-Calif., a member of a civilian advisory panel monitoring the Army probe, said earlier this month that he disagreed with the reported conclusion of Army investigators. McCloskey said the Pentagon had been too quick to dismiss the testimony of ex-GIs, and he would ask for a revision of the Army's report. "There is no question that there were orders," McCloskey told The Washington Post.
In a Pulitzer Prize-winning series of reports on No Gun Ri, the AP quoted ex-GIs and Korean survivors as saying a large number of refugees were killed by U.S. troops over a three-day period in July 1950. Ex-GIs spoke of 100, 200 or simply hundreds killed. The Koreans say 300 were shot to death and 100 died in a preceding air attack.
Survivors 'don't forget'