Isn’t It About Time the Liberal Press Puts to Bed the Myth that General
Eric Shinseki Was Fired as Army Chief of Staff and Cashiered Out of the Army
for Confronting Defense Secretary Rumsfeld Over Post Invasion Troops Levels
that would be Required in
Since the day in December 2008 that President-elect Obama announced retired Army General Eric Shinseki to be his nominee to be the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, the Liberal Press with NPR in the vanguard has advanced the myth that the General had been fired from his job as Army Chief of Staff by then Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and “cashiered” out of the Service for disagreeing with him over the number of troops required to stabilize Iraq after the invasion – when NOTHING could be further from the truth. Although this false narrative might have enhanced the General’s bona fides with Liberal Democrats, NPR's natural constituency, it does not comport with the facts.
FACT: General Shinseki served as Army Chief of Staff for every minute of his entire four year tour. To be completely accurate, he served two terms as a term is two years but with few exceptions Army CSAs serve two terms. He did not leave one minute early and even he has repeatedly stated this.
This week as VA Secretary Shinseki was actually being cashiered by President Obama, NPR continued to perpetuated the Rumsfeld firing myth and I heard several NPR commentators describe the General’s Pentagon departure as “being fired,” “cashiered,” and “removed from his job.” Here are just a couple of examples:
On 30 May NPR Morning Edition Steve Inskeep: Can I just mention briefly, this is a difficult thing for a Democratic President to do because Shinseki as a general became a hero to many Democrats. He was a serving general who was perceived anyway as having lost his job because he spoke forthrightly about the pending cost of the
war that was on the way at the
On 30 May All Things Considered Quil Lawrence: That contradicted the George W. Bush administration's plans of a quick invasion with a much smaller force. His candor effectively ended a 38 year Army career, which included two combat tours in
two Purple Hearts - one from the landmine that caused most of Shinseki his foot. Vietnam
And now the Real Story:
I’ve known General Eric Shinseki since we were Fort Leavenworth CGSC Classmates back in 1978, and back in 2008 I blogged the truth when NPR and even the Washington Post tried to enhance his reputation among Liberals by broadcasting these outright falsehoods about his tenure as Army Chief – a post he served in until the last minute of his term and from which he was NOT Fired.
The best explanation of GEN Shinseki “relationship” with then Defense Secretary Rumsfeld and his now-famous February 2003 Senate Armed Services Committee testimony was contained in an 8 Dec 2008 article by Jamie McIntyre, the CNN Senior Pentagon Correspondent. In that article, Mr. McIntyre made the following points:
Shinseki told the Senate Armed Services Committee a month before the invasion that something on the order "several hundred thousand troops" would be necessary to keep order in a post-invasion
Shinseki wasn't advocating 300,000 troops be dispatched into Iraq… he said
specifically that the forces mobilized in the region to that point were
probably enough, and he made it clear he would have defer to the combatant
commander, Gen. Iraq Tommy
Franks…."I would have to rely on combatant commanders' exact
requirements," he said…. pressed by Sen. Carl Levin, D-Michigan, to make
an off-the-cuff guesstimate, Shinseki said "it would take a significant
ground force." …. At the time, that observation drew loud scoffs from
then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and from his deputy, Paul Wolfowitz, who
dismissed the prediction as "wildly off the mark."
Since that day, critics of the war have lauded Shinseki's prescience and his willingness to speak truth to power…. It's an appealing narrative, but the facts as we know them are not nearly so complimentary to the retired Army chief…. Shinseki never made any recommendation for more troops for
…. According to senior military
officers who were in the pre-war meetings, Shinseki never objected to the war
plans, and he didn't press for any changes…. When the joint chiefs were asked
point-blank by then-Chairman Gen. Richard Meyers if they had any concerns about
the plans before they went to the president, Shinseki kept silent. Iraq
myths like the popular misconception
that Shinseki was fired for standing up to Rumsfeld…. is so pervasive the
authoritative Associated Pres repeated it … saying "Shinseki was removed from [his]
post after challenging the Bush administration." …. He did not stand up to Rumsfeld, nor was he
There's no question that Shinseki was on the outs with his civilian bosses, especially Rumsfeld.
He retired after serving a full four years as chief at a ceremony in 2003 that neither Rumsfeld nor Wolfowitz attended.
To be fair, NPR and the Washington Post were not the only Liberal news outlets that perpetuated the Shinseki firing myth. As usual, NBC in general and
Tom Brokaw in particular fell right in line and on
Meet the Press on 7 December 2008, when President-elect Obama made the following
announcement: "I'm going to be
making announcement tomorrow about the head of our Veterans Administration,
General Eric Shinseki" -- BROKAW made the following comment: "He's the man who lost his job in the
Bush Administration because he said we will need more troops in Iraq than
Secretary of Defense Don Rumsfeld thought we would need at that time."
For the record, GEN Shinseki stepped up from Vice Chief to become the Chief of Staff of the Army (CSA) in June 1999 and served his entire COMPLETE four year term until June 2003. Characterizing this as "losing his job" is par for the course for "history revisionists" like Brokaw and NPR.
What is true is the General was treated very shabbily by Rumsfeld after his prophetic but controversial testimony with his replacement being identified earlier than usual and Rumsfeld not attending his retirement -- All inexcusable. As a retired 30-year Army Officer and CGSC Shinseki Classmate, I like most Soldiers was no Rumsfeld fan, but even GEN Shinseki has corrected interviewers when they mistakenly mention he was dismissed early.
I would also mention that GEN Shinseki did not counsel NOT to go into
only correctly that we needed more troops to maintain order after that
government was toppled. Iraq
Isn’t it about time the Liberal Press put that "firing" myth to bed?