Wednesday, March 04, 2015





February 19th, "CENTCOM whispers about an upcoming assault on Mosul which may involve US troops."  That's when an official with CENTCOM spoke on 'background' with the US press about the then-planned upcoming attack on Mosul which has been held by the Islamic State (also known as ISIS and ISIL) since June.  As we noted then:

This was not a private conversation.
It was a background briefing. 
Here's how that works, the Pentagon is the john insisting on his fantasies being played out and the press are the whores working to make the fantasy come true.

While we emphasized the aspect that US troops would be utilized -- despite US President Barack Obama insisting last June that US troops would not be sent back into Iraq to be ground troops in combat -- most went with the official declaring the assault would begin in March, April or May . . .

This has resulted in a large amount of criticisms.

Strangely, Barack hasn't been asked about it.

Strangely, he's not offered an opinion.

For once in his time as President, Mr. Know It All hasn't had an opinion to share -- this from the man who's weighed in on everything from reality TV to Kanye West.

At today's Senate Armed Services Committee hearing, the background briefing to the press was raised and the new Secretary of Defense Ash Carter labeled the briefing an error and a mistake.

Senator Tom Cotton: I have to go back to something that we were discussing a few series ago about the leak of our plans to Mosul.  I believe, Secretary Carter, you said you were looking into it.  I know General Dempsey that you said you were looking into it.  I-I-I don't understand what would take so long to get to the bottom of. I mean, this was not a leak.  I mean it was a planned conference call with members of the media, if I understand the reporting correctly.  Do I misunderstand something here?

Secretary Ash Carter: No, that's my understanding as well.  And I just say two things about this whole incident.  The first is, Senator, that when a-a-a operation is mounted against Mosul or anywhere else, uh, it needs to be a success and it needs to be Iraqi-led and supported by us and it needs to be successful.  And that -- It's a little bit like the conditions-based point that Senator --

Senator Tom Cotton:  Mr. Secretary, I agree fully.  I agree fully.  I don't -- I don't understand why announcing any timeline would have contributed to any idea it would have been a success nor do I understand why it would take so long to understand why an organized conference call with the media was held. 

Secretary Ash Carter: I'll say something about that and let the Chairman who's also spoken about that to General [Lloyd] Austin [CENTCOM Commander] about that.  That clearly was not neither accurate information nor had it been accurate would it have been information that should be blurted out to the press.  So it's wrong on both fronts -- on both scores.  And the only thing I'll say is that we try as aaaaaaaaaaaa [he stretched "a" out and we're noting it that way to capture it correctly] -- as the Department of Defense  of  a democracy to be as open as we can.  So there are lots of people out there talking all the time about what we're doing and every once in a while somebody gets out in front of their skis but I also even as we make sure that this particular incident doesn't happen again, uhm, I-I-I think that it's important that we be open as a Department -- not with military secrets and not with war plans -- which is the mistake made in this case -- but we do try to keep the country informed about what we're doing. It's about protecting them, it is a democracy, and so openess is important but it has to have limits when it comes to security matters and those limits obviously weren't respected in this case.

Robert Burns (AP) observes, "The episode is remarkable in at least two respects. It was unusual for the U.S. military to disclose in advance the expected timing of an offensive as well as details about the makeup of the Iraqi force that would undertake it. And it was curious that a secretary of defense would wait nearly two weeks after such a briefing to denounce it publicly for having spilled military secrets."

If the briefing was wrong, maybe it's equally wrong to inaccurately portray Carter's remarks.  This outlet did just that.  Above is what was said.

If you're going to put words in between quotation marks, you need to make sure they're accurate.  And while mishearing a word or two is always possible for anyone, recreating and restructuring public remarks is not reporting.

With the Secretary of Defense now calling out the briefing, it's probably past time that the White House was asked for a formal comment.

RECOMMENDED: "Iraq snapshot"