CNN News Group Chairman Tom Johnson's statement on CNN's Tailwind coverage On June 7, CNN's NewsStand broadcast a report that in Laos, during the Vietnam war, the U.S. used nerve gas in an operation aimed mainly at American defectors. CNN Interactive also carried that report. Critics disputed those conclusions, and CNN asked attorney Floyd Abrams to invesigate. His report has just been released ... and CNN News Group Chairman Tom Johnson is releasing this statement: "Nothing is more important to a news organization than its reputation for accuracy, fairness and responsibility. "Building and maintaining high standards of journalistic excellence have been critical to the success of CNN since its launch 18 years ago. "As chairman of the CNN News Group, I am responsible for assuring our staff and viewers that we get the story right. "CNN NewsStand's recent coverage of Operation Tailwind, a covert action conducted by U.S. servicemen in Loas more than 28 years ago, reported that a deadly nerve gas was used and that American defectors were a primary target of the military action. "The original report came to us from personnel involved in the Tailwind Operation and was supported by individuals who were in a position to know about the operation. Since the first NewsStand Tailwind broadcast, hundreds of veterans and other former government officials have denied the reports. "As a result, CNN commissioned an independent investigation of NewsStand's reporting on Operation Tailwind, led by a highly respected outside media attorney, Floyd Abrams. The report concludes that NewsStand's broadcast on Operation Tailwind cannot be supported. "There is insufficient evidence that sarin or any other deadly gas was used. "Furthermore, CNN can not confirm that American defectors were targeted or at the camp as NewsStand reported. "CNN alone bears responsibility for both the television reports and for the printed article in the June 15 issue of Time magazine. "We acknowledge serious faults in the use of sources who provided NewsStand with the original reports and therefore retract the Tailwind story. "We apologize to our viewers and to our colleagues at Time for this mistake. "CNN owes a special apology to the personnel involved in Operation Tailwind, both the soldiers on the ground and the U.S. Air Force pilots and U.S. Marine Corps helicopter pilots who were involved in this action. "CNN's system of journalistic checks and balances, which has served CNN exceptionally well int the past, failed in this case. "The fault lies with the editors, producers and reporters and executives responsible for the report, the program and its contents. "We are taking vigorous steps to strengthen our internal procedures to assure that mistakes of this type do not occur in the future."
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