SOME OF YOU MAY NOT BELIEVE THIS BUT I AM GLAD TO BE HERE. WHEN SIG ASKED ME IF I WOULD CONSIDER ADDRESSING YOU THERE WAS NO DOUBT THAT I SHOULD COME INTO THE LION'S DEN. THIS WAS IMPORTANT BECAUSE I HAVE FIRMLY BELIEVED SINCE DESERT SHIELD THAT IT IS NECESSARY FOR THE STRENGTH OF OUR DEMOCRACY THAT THE MILITARY AND THE PRESS CORPS MAINTAIN A STRONG, MUTUALLY RESPECTFUL AND ENABLING RELATIONSHIP. THIS CONTINUES TO BE PROBLEMATIC FOR OUR COUNTRY, ESPECIALLY DURING TIMES OF WAR. ONE OF THE GREATEST MILITARY CORRESPONDENTS OF OUR TIME, JOE GALLOWAY, MADE ME A BELIEVER WHEN HE JOINED THE 24TH INFANTRY DIVISION DURING DESERT STORM.
TODAY, I WILL ATTEMPT TO DO TWO THINGS - FIRST I WILL GIVE YOU MY ASSESSMENT OF THE MILITARY AND PRESS RELATIONSHIP AND THEN I WILL PROVIDE YOU SOME THOUGHTS ON THE CURRENT STATE OF OUR WAR EFFORT. AS ALL OF YOU KNOW I HAVE A WIDE RANGE OF RELATIONSHIPS AND EXPERIENCES WITH OUR NATIONS MILITARY WRITERS AND EDITORS. THERE ARE SOME IN YOUR RANKS WHO I CONSIDER TO BE THE EPITOME OF JOURNALISTIC PROFESSIONALISM - JOE GALLOWAY, THOM SHANKER, SIG CHRISTENSEN, AND JOHN BURNS IMMEDIATELY COME TO MIND. THEY EXEMPLIFY WHAT AMERICA SHOULD DEMAND OF OUR JOURNALISTS - TOUGH REPORTING THAT RELIES UPON INTEGRITY, OBJECTIVITY AND FAIRNESS TO GIVE ACCURATE AND THOROUGH ACCOUNTS THAT STRENGTHEN OUR FREEDOM OF THE PRESS AND IN TURN OUR DEMOCRACY. ON THE OTHER HAND, UNFORTUNATELY, I HAVE ISSUED ULTIMATUMS TO SOME OF YOU FOR UNSCRUPULOUS REPORTING THAT WAS SOLELY FOCUSED ON SUPPORTING YOUR AGENDA AND PRECONCIEVED NOTIONS OF WHAT OUR MILITARY HAD DONE. I ALSO REFUSED TO TALK TO THE EUROPEAN STARS AND STRIPES FOR THE LAST TWO YEARS OF MY COMMAND IN GERMANY FOR THEIR EXTREME BIAS AND SINGLE MINDED FOCUS ON ABU GHARAIB.
LET ME REVIEW SOME OF THE DESCRIPTIVE PHRASES THAT HAVE BEEN USED BY SOME
OF YOU THAT HAVE MADE MY PERSONAL INTERFACES WITH THE PRESS CORPS DIFFICULT:
"DICTATORIAL AND SOMEWHAT DENSE",
"NOT A STRATEGIC THOUGHT",
"DOES NOT GET IT"
AND THE MOST INEXPERIENCED LTG.
IN SOME CASES I HAVE NEVER EVEN MET YOU, YET YOU FEEL QUALIFIED TO MAKE
CHARACTER JUDGMENTS THAT ARE COMMUNICATED TO THE WORLD. MY EXPERIENCE IS NOT
UNIQUE AND WE CAN FIND OTHER EXAMPLES SUCH AS THE TREATMENT OF SECRETARY BROWN DURING KATRINA. THIS IS THE WORST DISPLAY OF JOURNALISM IMAGINABLE BY THOSE OF US THAT ARE BOUND BY A STRICT VALUE SYSTEM OF SELFLESS SERVICE, HONOR AND INTEGRITY. ALMOST INVARIABLY, MY PERCEPTION IS THAT THE SENSATIONALISTIC VALUE OF THESE ASSESSMENTS IS WHAT PROVIDED THE EDGE THAT YOU SEEK FOR SELF
AGRANDIZEMENT OR TO ADVANCE YOUR INDIVIDUAL QUEST FOR GETTING ON THE FRONT PAGE WITH YOUR STORIES! AS I UNDERSTAND IT, YOUR MEASURE OF WORTH IS HOW MANY FRONT PAGE STORIES YOU HAVE WRITTEN AND UNFORTUNATELY SOME OF YOU WILL COMPROMISE YOUR INTEGRITY AND DISPLAY QUESTIONABLE ETHICS AS YOU SEEK TO KEEP AMERICA INFORMED. THIS IS MUCH LIKE THE INTELLIGENCE ANALYSTS WHOSE EFFECTIVENESS WAS MEASURED BY THE NUMBER OF INTELLIGENCE REPORTS HE PRODUCED. FOR SOME, IT SEEMS THAT AS LONG AS YOU GET A FRONT PAGE STORY THERE IS LITTLE OR NO REGARD FOR THE "COLLATERAL DAMAGE" YOU WILL CAUSE. PERSONAL REPUTATIONS HAVE NO VALUE AND YOU REPORT WITH TOTAL IMPUNITY AND ARE RARELY HELD ACCOUNTABLE FOR UNETHICAL CONDUCT.
Now, reading this part of the address at least, it appears to be a scathing attack on the media itself. Well, how did the MSM respond to this attack? The way they always do. Here is the headline from the Washington Post
Ex-Commander In Iraq Faults War Strategy' No End in Sight,' Says Retired General Sanchezand some of the piece...
Of course, one has to search deep within his speech to find this part. That isn't it though. The Post has taken his words out of context and spun them to mean something he never intended. Here is the part of the speech the post took his words from.
Retired Lt. Gen. Ricardo S. Sanchez, who led U.S. forces in Iraq for a year after the March 2003 invasion, accused the Bush administration yesterday of going to war with a "catastrophically flawed" plan and said the United States is "living a nightmare with no end in sight."
Sanchez also bluntly criticized the current troop increase in Iraq, describing it as "a desperate attempt by the administration that has not accepted the political and economic realities of this war."
"The administration, Congress and the entire interagency, especially the State Department, must shoulder the responsibility for this catastrophic failure, and the American people must hold them accountable,"
Sanchez told military reporters and editors. "There has been a glaring unfortunate display of incompetent strategic leadership within our national leaders."
THERE HAS BEEN A GLARING, UNFORTUNATE, DISPLAY OF INCOMPETENT STRATEGIC
LEADERSHIP WITHIN OUR NATIONAL LEADERS. AS A JAPANESE PROVERB SAYS, “ACTION
WITHOUT VISION IS A NIGHTMARE.” THERE IS NO QUESTION THAT AMERICA IS LIVING A
NIGHTMARE WITH NO END IN SIGHT.SINCE 2003, THE POLITICS OF WAR HAVE BEEN CHARACTERIZED BY PARTISANSHIP AS THE REPUBLICAN AND DEMOCRATIC PARTIES STRUGGLED FOR POWER IN WASHINGTON. NATIONAL EFFORTS TO DATE HAVE BEEN
CORRUPTED BY PARTISAN POLITICS THAT HAVE PREVENTED US FROM DEVISING EFFECTIVE, EXECUTABLE, SUPPORTABLE SOLUTIONS. AT TIMES, THESE PARTISAN STRUGGLES HAVE LED TO POLITICAL DECISIONS THAT ENDANGERED THE LIVES OF OUR SONS AND DAUGHTERS ON THE BATTLEFIELD. THE UNMISTAKABLE MESSAGE WAS THAT POLITICAL POWER HAD GREATER PRIORITY THAN OUR NATIONAL SECURITY OBJECTIVES. OVERCOMING THIS STRATEGIC FAILURE IS THE FIRST STEP TOWARD ACHIEVING VICTORY IN IRAQ - WITHOUT BIPARTISAN COOPERATION WE ARE DOOMED TO FAIL.
This is not new. Anyone who reads these pages knows just how much the post has been known to to spin coverage of the war effort. Well folks, they apparently didn't hear you last time. Thus, please go here and let the ombudsmen know that you know what they are doing and you are tired of it.