PERMISSION to speak FREELY, sir?

Yesterday, the FBI recommended that felony charges be brought against former General David Petraeus. Since the story broke, I’ve received 15-emails blaming it on President Obama, and comparing it to his firing of former General Stanley McChrystal back in 2010.

U. S. Attorney General Holder will be the one to decide whether or not to charge Petraeus, not the President. But it’s immaterial; comparing these two cases is ridiculous; it like trying to equate grand larceny to picking pockets.

Allegedly, Petraeus is being accused of giving secret data to a person unauthorized. And quite frankly, I don’t know any more about the matter than anyone else who has read it. Here’s just one of the news reports.

On the other hand, Barack Obama fired former General Stanley McChrystal back in 2010 for conduct unbecoming and for public insubordination. And I did, indeed write a piece about it in which I defended the President’s actions. The Right-wingers digitally crucified me for it.

I was not a career military man. However, I did spend some quality combat time during Viet Nam as a commissioned officer (three 6-month tours in a little over two and a half years with a chest wound thrown in for good measure).

So I know the conduct rules for officers. McChrystal deserved what he received. Here’s a rehash of that piece for clarification. And for all of the Right-wingers who dinged me the first time, you should know that I lean Right myself.

History has shown that it’s a rarity for a U. S. President to fire a general, especially one with 4-stars in the midst of fighting a war. But the President did it, and here’s why.

He fired him for the two reasons I stated above. And what aggravated those charges was the fact that he did it in front of the entire country, during an interview with Rolling Stones Magazine. And don’t think for a second that the good general wouldn’t have ended a subordinate’s career for doing the same things to him.

He knew that he was speaking to a Rolling Stone reporter. He also knew the magazine’s huge circulation numbers, both nationally and internationally. He was told by both the interviewer and the magazine’s editor-in-chief that he would have a chance to review the piece and to edit it before it went to publication. He not only declined to do either, he went on to verify the piece.

After the fecal matter hit the fan, he tried his best to imply that he was victimized, and that he thought that parts of the interview were “off the record.” BALONEY! Here’s how “off the record” works.

If you’re being interviewed by a reporter, and during the interview you tell the reporter that something’s “off the record” BEFORE you say it,” the reporter may agree or not. If the reporter says NO, you don’t say it.

But if you say something first and THEN say it’s “off the record,” it’s too late. Reporters may honor such requests, but they’re not obligated to do so. And not only are they perfectly free to include whatever you said, it’s not at all journalistically unethical for them to publish it.

Deciding to go to war is a policy decision, and in this country that decision is made by civilians. The generals and Admirals may advise, but they don’t DECIDE. And once the civilians decide to go to war, the military brass has no business running around spouting their opinions about it in public.

Their job is to figure out how to implement the policy and get the job done. And not only are they free to disagree on tactics, they’re encouraged to do so . . . PRIVATELY and RESPECTFULLY.

The man implied that he was fired for telling the “truth.” No, he wasn’t; he was fired for PUBLICLY disagreeing tactically with his bosses, the President and Vice President. The General asked for 40,000 troops, and the President gave him 30,000, and in no other way did the President restrict him.

Political discourse in this country has become nothing more than one loud, perpetual, and mindless hissy fit. It takes about the length of two sentences for something nowadays to devolve into a Lefty/Righty brew-ha-ha. But the General’s firing wasn’t Obama’s fault.

General Eric Shinseki had to take early retirement thanks to the Bush Administration because he disagreed with initial troop levels needed for an efficient and timelier success in Iraq. I served in Vietnam with Eric Shinseki. Of course, he wasn’t a general then.

And Shinseki didn’t disrespect the President, either. The man, having been subpoenaed, testified UNDER OATH that he had recommended going into Iraq with a much larger force than Dick Chaney and Paul Wolfowitz had advised. He didn’t go to the press with his tactical beef, either. And, if people wish to recall it, his recommended troop numbers ultimately proved to be accurate.

During my time in the military, I witnessed generals obliterate subordinate officers’ careers, and not just for PUBLIC insubordination, either; I vividly recall one general who censured a colonel for doing it in PRIVATE, simply because he had not requested and received permission to speak FREELY.

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