Thursday, January 13, 2005
Peddling an old lie: Los Angeles Times columnist Margaret Carlson's response to the CBS News forged memos fiasco is to blame the Bush administration for lying and/or punishing people for telling the truth.
However, in her zeal to really stick it to Republicans, Carlson peddles a long-discredited lie.
In the Bush administration, you lose your job not for lying but for telling the truth, as the axing of Gen. Eric Shinseki and economic advisor Lawrence Lindsey shows.
Gen. Shinseki was not axed. From the nonpartisan Factcheck.org's analysis of the second presidential debate:
Kerry: General Shinseki, the Army chief of staff, told him he was going to need several hundred thousand. And guess what? They retired General Shinseki for telling him that.
Kerry: General Shinseki had the wisdom to say, "You're going to need several hundred thousand troops to win the peace." The military's job is to win the war.
Forced to Retire?
Kerry claimed, as he had in the first debate, that the Army's Chief of Staff, Gen. Eric K. Shinseki, was forced to retire for saying before the invasion of Iraq that many more troops were needed than the administration was planning to send.
It is true that Shinseki told the Senate Armed Services Committee on Feb. 25, 2003 that "something on the order of several hundred thousand soldiers" would be required for an occupation of Iraq. It is also true that Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz called that estimate "wildly off the mark" in testimony to the House Budget Committee on Feb. 27, 2003. And it is true that the general retired several months later on June 11, 2003.
But the administration didn't force General Shinseki to retire. In fact, The Washington Times reported Shinseki's plans to retire nearly a year before his Feb. 25, 2003 testimony. The Times article was published April 19, 2002:
Washington Times: He (Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld) and Army Secretary Thomas White have settled on Gen. John M. Keane, Army deputy chief of staff, to succeed the current chief, Gen. Eric Shinseki. Gen. Shinseki does not retire for more than a year. Sources offer differing reasons for the early selection.
(Update, Oct. 11: We originally quoted in this space an Oct. 9 Washington Post story saying Gen. Shinseki's pending retirement was leaked "in revenge" for his position on troop levels. Based on that, we said there was "some truth" to Kerry's statement. However, the Post withdrew their report in a correction published Oct. 11.)
I'm going to fire off an e-mail requesting a correction -- but I'm also not going to hold my breath.