Wednesday, December 22, 2004

So Anybody Surprised at another bit of Right Wing Puffery over Nothing?

In the immediate aftermath of Rumsfeld's contemptible answer to a soldiers question about armored humvee's the only thing the right-wing bloggers could do is complain about how a reporter had facilitated the soldier's, Spc. Thomas Wilson, question. The gist of it was, "why this poor soldier would never have had such impertinance if a diabolical member of the liberal media had not put him up to it, America's soldiers would never show such disrespect to the Secretary of Defense as to actually ask him a difficult question." Therefore, in wingnutistan the whole question was illegitimate.

Here, for example, is the ponderous insight of Professor Jethro Bodine,

Drudge has reprinted an email from a reporter who says he planted the questions with the soldiers.

Well, if it's from Matt Drudge...

Here's the actual truth:

In his first public account of last week’s controversy, Spc. Thomas Wilson says that he came up with the now famous armor question for Pentagon chief Donald Rumsfeld on his own, without the help of oft-criticized reporter Edward Lee Pitts. And he adds, "If this is my 15 minutes of fame, I hope it saves a life."

The account appears in next week’s edition of Time magazine.

Wilson, who serves with Tennessee’s 278th Regiment in the National Guard, tells Time that he befriended Pitts, an embed for the Chattanooga Times Free Press, at California's Fort Irwin, where his unit trained. Later, in Kuwait, after Pitts learned that only soldiers could ask questions at the upcoming town hall meeting with Rumsfeld in Kuwait, he urged Wilson to come up with some "intelligent questions."

After his convoy arrived at Camp Arijan in Kuwait, Wilson found hundreds of fully armored vehicles promised to another unit months down the road. Wilson says he asked if the 278th could use them in the meantime, and was told no. That inspired his question about the shortage of armor, which he showed to Pitts.

The reporter, far from being the protagonist, suggested that he find “a less brash way of asking the question," but Wilson “told him no, that I wanted to make my point very clear."

Wilson says he also came up with three alternate questions on his own.

The Time account continues: “As for Rumsfeld's brusque response -- that even a fully armored vehicle ‘can be blown up’ -- Wilson says, ‘Personally, I didn't like that answer.’”

But he added, “I hope I didn't do any damage to Secretary Rumsfeld.”

Following the meeting, Wilson told Rumsfeld he did not intend to put him “on the spot” or show disrespect, and the two shook hands. Most soldiers were “overwhelmingly positive” afterward, Wilson says, but one officer suggested he should have asked the question in a more “proper forum.”

Wilson says he replied: “What would the proper forum be?” He adds: “If it costs me my career to save another soldier, I'll give it."

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