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A military jury cleared Air Force Captain Jim Wang in last year's friendly fire attack on two U.S. Army helicopters over Iraq. The verdict means that no one has been held criminally responsible for the deaths of 26 people. Wang, whomTIME's Mark Thompsondescribes as "a bit player" in the tragedy, was the radar officer in charge of monitoring the no-fly zone over northern Iraq when two F-15 fighter pilots mistakenly downed the Black Hawk helicopters. No other officer was tried in the April 14, 1994 shootdown. "Plainly the Air Force was hoping that a conviction for Wang would translate into shutting the door on this terrible tragedy," Thompson says. Defense Secretary William Perry today defended the military's handling of the attack, noting that "many officers' careers were very adversely affected by this." But Thompson says today's decision, combined with a report last month detailing a skyrocketing mishap rate in the service, may trigger a backlash in Congress. "Family members of the dead are already screaming about the lack of accountability in today's Air Force," he says. "What congressman is going to turn down an Air Force widow when the military hasn't done the job?"