Wednesday, November 19, 2008

With No Disrespect, Barbara

How can a reporter covering the Pentagon fail to understand the basic concept of civilian control of the American military?

Q Admiral, going back to Iraq, not the SOFA, which is perhaps a three-year withdrawal plan, but the president-elect has laid out a policy that he will, says he’ll pursue, of something more like a 16-month withdrawal from Iraq. You've led troops, for the last several months, on the basis of no mandatory withdrawal timetable; conditions only.

So on the question here of Iraq, how, with no disrespect, sir, how do you begin to support the president-elect's stated policy of a timetable for withdrawal, not the SOFA? How do you support his policy, stated policy of closing Gitmo, when that is something that you have led troops on for the last term of your office?

How do you, just to help people understand, how do you suddenly shift gears and say, okay, that's what my -- that's the strategy I was leading the troops on before; now I'll do this. Can you help people understand that?

ADM. MULLEN: Well, first of all, as I said in my opening comments, I serve the sitting president and certainly will until he turns it over to President-elect Obama. Should President-elect Obama give me direction, I would carry that out. I mean, that's what I do as a senior member of the military.

What has -- what President-elect Obama has also said is that he would seek the counsel of myself and the Joint Chiefs before he made any decisions. And so I look forward to that discussion, look forward to the engagement and certainly want to -- intend to give him, as I do the current, the current president, the best advice I can
with respect to, with respect to where he wants to go.

I know that much of our vaunted journalism school-trained press corps believes that President Bush has turned American into a dictatorship, despite inexplicably turning over the Congress to the opposition party in 2007 and failing to oppose the defeat of his own party's presidential nominee this month. But is this reporter truly this clueless to pursue this line of questioning? She really doesn't understand how an American officer can give the best advice he has and still salute and carry out their orders from their lawful civilian commander-in-chief?

Sigh. I never hoped for much change on this issue. Our press remains, with few exceptions, clueless about the military and warfare even after seven years of being at war.