Monday, April 28, 2008

Military Analysts Respond To New York Times Article

The April 20th edition of The New York Times dedicated much of its front page to a story by David Barstow entitled, “Behind TV Analysts, Pentagon’s Hidden Hand.” This long article maligned virtually all military analysts, accusing some of being tools of a Pentagon propaganda machine. That assertion is flatly wrong.

This article is just another part of the dubious New York Times narrative that the Iraq War is an unnecessary endeavor unworthy of U.S. blood and treasure. And it is also consistent with the Times’ practice of thwarting America’s ability to fight that war by any means available to the Times including publishing leaks of top-secret information, resulting in great damage to our national security. It is not inconsequential that the newspaper chose to target for criticism only those retired military members and others who are part of our group who believe victory over radical Islamic extremism in Iraq and elsewhere is the only outcome that will keep our country free and safe.

Contrary to the Times’ assertions, we have never stated anything about defense, foreign policy, or national security that we did not believe to be true. Equally important, we also have served – and will continue to serve – the essential wartime function of helping civilians be better informed about our military, our enemies, and how the war is being conducted.

Just as we have not served the Bush administration, we also did not serve the Clinton Administration. Those of us who had a similar arrangement with that administration are confident you are unaware that what you have been reporting is really old news. We have said and will continue to say what we truly believe after looking at all information and facts available to us through the prism of our extensive professional military experience. Suggesting we intentionally misled service members, their families, and the American people for partisan political purposes or some quid pro quo personal gain is an unconscionable libel of our honor and long service to this nation.

We participated in Pentagon briefings and television and radio network interviews chiefly because our hosts believed we had the credentials to do so as military professionals, many of us with hands-on combat experience and trained in the art of modern conventional and unconventional warfare. This was done during the Bosnia Campaign and after the 9/11 attacks, Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan and the run up to Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and finally OIF itself.

It was only after the fall of Baghdad and the very successful embed program did the Pentagon Public Affairs office approach us to supplement our very credible sources. After all, when it comes to discussing needs and tactics of the U.S. military, who is better suited to give advice and reliable commentary on war and peace issues than those who have spent so much of their lives in this profession? More than anyone else, the soldiers, airmen, sailors and Marines who are ordered by civilian leaders to fight and win our nation’s wars understand full well the bloody and costly consequences of war.

It does not shock us, but nevertheless disappoints us that The New York Times’ editorial approach to and reporting on the current terror war appears to be dominated by a moral equivalence which fails to distinguish between the United States and her enemies. We could not disagree more strongly. As active-duty military we proudly wore uniforms in defense of country and in combat always took utmost care to abide by the civilized world’s laws and customs of war just like the brave men and women who proudly serve our country today. In our collective judgment, it is shameful to impart a moral equivalency on terrorist enemies who do not carry weapons openly, disguise themselves as civilians, hide in civilian populations, and target civilians for death – and to the nation-states that sponsor this evil.

It is true that we collectively and individually believe it is imperative for the United States to confront and defeat evil forces which threaten our nation and the entire Free World. It is not true that we have or ever would betray or deceive the country that we spent careers serving. Disagreeing with anyone, including the New York Times, on the analysis of events should not subject us to being maligned for simply not sharing opinion on the war. When asked to do so, we will continue to speak out honestly to the American people about national security threats and if requested, provide our thoughts to senior Pentagon officials and others, regardless of personal risks and what our critics and terror enemies think of it. Like our military service, we consider it our duty.

Tom McInerney


Paul Vallely


Charles Nash


Bill Cowan


Wayne Simmons

Retired US Intelligence Officer

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