Monday, April 10, 2006

canadian lives lost, and a claim of ruining a u.s. reputation ...

Pilot sues Air Force over bombing
April 9, 2006

A decorated pilot involved in a friendly-fire bombing that killed four Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan in 2002 is suing the U.S. air force, accusing it of ruining his reputation.

National Guard Maj. Harry Schmidt says military officials should not have released to the public the scathing letter of reprimand he was given for the bombing.

His lawsuit, filed Friday in federal court, alleges the military violated privacy laws. It seeks unspecified damages.

The disclosure in July 2004 also violated a settlement agreement that spared Schmidt from being court-martialled for the bombing, said his lawyer, Charles Gittins.

"The government flat-out failed to comply with their agreement," Gittins said.

Lt.-Col. Catherine Reardon, an air force spokeswoman, had not seen the lawsuit. "At this point, it would be inappropriate for me to comment on the case," she said Sunday.

On April 18, 2002, Schmidt and another pilot were flying F-16s when they spotted muzzle flashes near Kandahar airport. The Canadians were firing weapons on a training range but Schmidt mistook them for Taliban forces and dropped a 225-kilogram laser-guided bomb, killing Cpl. Ainsworth Dyer, Sgt. Marc Leger, Pte. Richard Green and Pte. Nathan Smith.

The four were the first Canadians to die in combat since the Korean War. Eight others were injured.

Schmidt has said his superiors never told him the Canadians would be conducting live-fire exercises that night.

The second pilot received a letter of reprimand and was allowed to retire. He is not a party to the lawsuit.