Fox News' attack on the honor and integrity of our war generals

Fox accuses the generals of "betraying" their own soldiers and putting their reputations and careers ahead of the lives of U.S. soldiers.

By Glenn Greenwald
Published September 29, 2007 4:02PM (UTC)
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(updated below)

As we learned from both our Senate and House last week, in the United States we must never "attack the honor and integrity . . . of members of the United States Armed Forces." All good patriots from both parties agree on this.

That is why I was so shocked and outraged -- and more than a little upset -- when I went to this morning and saw this:

I naturally assumed that the "disgraceful military leaders" attacked by the Fox headline must be those of another country, not those of the United States leading our Nation, putting themselves in harm's way, during a Time of War. Yet when I clicked on the item, this is the anti-military filth that I found:

And the text of the article -- by Fox News Contributor and frequent O'Reilly guest David Hunt -- is even more Despicable, as it repeatedly attacks the honor and integrity of members of the United States Armed Forces in one smearing paragraph after the next, beginning with this first sentence:

Our generals are betraying our soldiers . . . again.

To accuse a general of "betrayal" is, in military parlance, the equivalent of accusing him of treason to his country. Yet that is what this Fox News article does in the very first paragraph with regard to many of our brave Generals risking their lives for our country in a Time of War -- and it not only accuses Our Military Commanders of "betrayal," but betrayal of their own troops. It continues in this same Despicable vein:

Our generals in both the Army and Marine Corps have cared more about their precious careers and reputations than their soldiers and Marines under them. The Marines have actually prosecuted a Marine for shooting a terrorist too many times . . . .

In Iraq, the story is the same. The Army rediscovered a trick we used in 'Nam' called "baiting," where you leave ammunition and pieces of explosive devices out and shoot whoever takes them. We used to leave exploding ammo to put in your AK -- when you try to fire it, the gun blows up. It worked then and it works now . . . but guess what the Army is now putting on trial: Ranger Snipers for doing their jobs. The rules of engagement were once again being followed and once again our generals put their careers over their men's lives. The chilling effect that these actions have over our soldiers is dramatic; this distrust weakens the very foundations of our military. It causes soldiers to second-guess themselves and their chain of command. We cannot fight like this and hope to win.

We should be putting these generals on trial, first for going along with Rummy and just as important for not trusting their soldiers. . . .

These poor excuse for officers do not deserve the soldiers they dare claim they lead.

So to recap the Hunt/Fox argument: our Generals and other military commanders currently leading our Nation at War are "betraying our troops." They put their own selfish desire to advance their reputations and careers ahead of the welfare and lives of the soldiers they lead. The corruption and betrayal of these brave American Generals are preventing us from winning. These "poor excuses for officers" should be put on trial.

I don't recall seeing as vicious and personal an attack on the honor and integrity of the members of the United States Armed Forces -- perhaps ever, but certainly during a time when America is at War. As the great American patriot and defender of military honor Senator Mitch McConnell said when urging his colleagues to condemn the attacks on the honor and integrity of the Supreme General, David Petraeus:

It's been more than a week since the Junior Senator from Texas offered an amendment condemning an ad by MoveOn.Org that appeared last Monday in The New York Times.

The ad was, by any standard, abhorrent.

It accused a four star general who has the trust and respect of 160,000 men and women in Iraq of betraying that mission and those troops, of lying to them and to us.

Who would have ever expected anybody to go after a general in the field at a time of war, launch a smear campaign against a man we've entrusted with our mission in Iraq.

Any group that does this sort of thing ought to be condemned.

What a monumental day for the United States that was, when the U.S Senate set a new standard that "[a]ny group that does this sort of thing ought to be condemned." This Despicable attack on the honor and integrity of our military commanders by Fox News and former Col. Hunt -- like the similar one from Rush Limbaugh, which may be the topic of a critically important Congressional vote on Monday -- must not go unanswered by the Congress.

UPDATE: In Comments, several people express the unquestionably valid concern that it is inappropriate, even McCarthy-ite and dangerous, for Congress to start formally condemning private political speech. That is true, and if we had a healthy political system, that would not happen.

But, as the MoveOn vote demonstrated, we have the opposite of a healthy political system, and it is thus far preferable -- for reasons I set forth here -- to ensure that a corrupt standard is applied equally rather than allow it to be applied by one political faction against another. Taking the corrupt political tactics wielded by the war-hungry Right and applying those same tactics to them (rather than ineffectively protesting the unfairness of the tactics) is the only way to ensure they cease.

Glenn Greenwald

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