Skip to comments.Media Bias: The Press, the Prez and the Parent
Posted on 08/12/2005 7:27:00 PM PDT by Joe 6-pack
A young American soldier is killed in action in what some view as an ill conceived military action. A grieving parent holds the President of the United States personally responsible, and writes the president a letter to that effect. The parent is given a private audience with the Commander in Chief, and leaves disaffected and largely unsatisfied. The parent later relates that during the meeting the leader of the free world makes the implication that the soldiers death was largely his own fault for being too aggressive. The level of media coverage surrounding the story is entirely unprecedented largely by its absence. I of course, refer to James H. Smith. Captain (retired) James H. Smith, is a decorated Viet Nam veteran whose son, Jamie Smith was killed in action in Somalia in October 1993 as part of Task Force Ranger. Needless to say, most Americans remain largely unaware of his exchanges with then President, Bill Clinton.
The recent media lionization of Cindy Sheehan provides a stark contrast with the minimal coverage afforded to Captain Smith. If one has any doubts regarding the existence of a bias in the mainstream media, an intellectually honest comparison between the two cases will go far to eliminating them. Since the media insists on telling the story of Cindy Sheehan, it is only proper that an effort be made to tell the Story of Captain Smith:
October 7, 1993
Mr. and Mrs. James H. Smith
10 Mallard Lane
Long Valley, New Jersey 07853
Dear Mr. and Mrs. Smith:
Hillary and I were very sorry to learn of the loss of your son. Specialist James E. Smith's death is a great loss for our nation, as well as for us personally, and our hearts go out to you in your sorrow.
Our efforts in Somalia have helped bring security and stability where anarchy, famine, and suffering once prevailed. You should know that your son and his fellow service men and women have preserved the lives of hundreds of thousands of Somalis. Your son's courage, and his commitment to the ideals on which America was founded, will long be remembered with pride by his fellow citizens.
Our thoughts and prayers are with you.
Bill Clinton [signature]
President William Clinton
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, D.C., 20500
October 25, 1993
As a warrior who was disabled in the Vietnam War and as a father of a warrior killed in action in Somalia, I cannot accept your letter of condolence for the death of my son Ranger Corporal James E. Smith. To accept your letter would be contrary to all the beliefs I, my son and the Rangers hold so dear, including: loyalty, courage and tenacity.
During the battle for Anzio, in World War II, an inept indecisive field commander sent the Rangers into battle where they were slaughtered. Fifty years later the Rangers again were ordered into battle, where they were surrounded and outgunned. But this time it was not the fault of the field commanders. No - this time it was the fault of the Commander in Chief, the President of the United States. Your failure to provide the requested combat support reveals a lack of loyalty to the troops under your command and an extreme shortage of moral courage.
I had the honor to meet the Rangers who fought along side my son and were with Jamie when he died. I heard of magnificent acts of courage and sacrifice. I had Rangers, with tears in their eyes, apologize for letting my son die or their failure to break through and rescue the trapped Rangers. The failure is not theirs, it is yours. Trucks and Humvees cannot replace the requested tanks, armored personnel carriers and Spectre gunships.
As a combat veteran I know that there are no certainties on the battlefield; however, as an Infantry Officer I will always speculate that significantly less casualties would have resulted if you, as Commander in Chief, provided the Rangers with the requested combat support - equipment with which Rangers routinely train and for which approval should have been automatic. The Rangers were pinned down for twelve hours - long hours when the Rangers were fighting for their lives and a Delta Force medic fought to save my son. Jamie bled to death because the requested armor support was not there to break through to the Rangers.
Rangers pride themselves on the Ranger Creed. "Driving on to the Ranger objective", or "Surrender is not a Ranger word" are not hollow phrases to the men of the black beret. These soldiers understand the word tenacious and wanted to complete their mission. As Ranger after Ranger told me, they were hitting Aidid's forces and command structure hard. But, the United Nations was actually impeding Ranger missions by offering sanctuary to Aidid's supporters. Your willingness to allow this dangerous situation demonstrates a lack of resolve in supporting the men you sent into battle.
My son is no longer here to "Lead the Way"; however, I am. Until you as President and Commander in Chief are either willing or able to formulate a clear foreign policy, establish specific objectives and, most important, support the men and women in uniform, I will "Lead the Way" in insuring that you no longer send America's finest to a needless death. When you are capable of meeting these criteria, then I will accept your letter of condolence.
James H. Smith
On May 12, 1994, Captain Smith was called to provide congressional testimony, the full text of which has been archived online. The MSMs inattentiveness to Captain Smith is likewise, not the result of Captain Smith going away, and he apparently is willing to speak when asked. As recently as 2002, Newsmax.com provided the following account of an interview of Smith conducted by WABC Radios Steve Malzberg:
Disabled Vietnam vet retired Capt. James Smith, whose son James was killed during the disastrous raid in Somalia memorialized in the movie "Black Hawk Down," took exception Sunday to ex-President Clinton's recent attempt to blame President Bush's father for the 1993 debacle during a recent interview with Washington, D.C., TV station WJLA.
"He seems to forget that when Bush number one sent troops into Somalia he sent them in by the tens of thousands. And they had complete armor, mechanized infantry, artillery, air cover support," Smith told WABC Radio's Steve Malzberg.
While Bush the elder was president, the Somali warlords "decided to keep a low profile because they knew if they stuck their head up they were going to get it shot off," he insisted, adding, "So Bush number one did it correctly."
But things changed when President Clinton took over, the former soldier told WABC.
When his son's Ranger unit was sent to Mogadishu to capture notorious Somali warlord Mohamed Farah Adid, they didn't have the artillery, helicopter gunship or tactical air support they needed, he told Malzberg.
Smith's comments were prompted by Clinton's recent attempt to dodge responsibility for the episode, where he told WJLA, "Now, you know, I didn't blame [President Bush's] father for Somalia, when we had that awful day memorialized in 'Black Hawk Down.' I didn't do that."
Although then-Defense Secretary Les Aspin was forced to resign over the deadly blunder, Smith said he had no doubt that the decision to under-equip his son's unit came directly from the White House.
When he testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee on the episode, the former soldier said reporters privately agreed, telling him, "Les Aspin had nothing to do with this. This was a White House decision."
"They knew how the White House works. They knew there was no way Les Aspin made that decision on his own."
Smith recounted his trip to the White House to meet Clinton, an invitation he suspects was prompted by advanced word on his damaging Senate testimony.
Instead of taking responsibility, the Vietnam vet said, the president "blamed Les Aspin, he blamed the Defense Department, he blamed the Joint Chiefs ... he blamed everybody except himself."
At one point, Smith recalled, Clinton even attempted to blame the Rangers "for being too aggressive."
"There were three fathers there," he told Malzberg. "The three of us just leaned over instantaneously and he backed off of that one."
After the exchange, Smith refused to shake the commander in chief's hand, handing him instead a 3rd Ranger Battalion patch.
"Don't forget them," he remembered telling Clinton.
"I honestly believed that the Rangers had died in vain, that the failure to provide proper combat support would have made the difference," he lamented.
Capt. Smith also revealed that he has another soldier son now in Special Operations who recently served in Afghanistan.
During a recent conversation with his son's Special Ops commander, he asked, "Sgt. Major, are we doing this one right or is this just a knee-jerk reaction?"
After a moment's hesitation, Smith said the commander responded, "Sir, we've got a real commander in chief this time. This time we're doing it right." :
Needless to say, Captain Smiths remarks have nowhere the visibility as do those of Ms. Sheehan.
Both Jamie Smith and Casey Sheehan are American heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice. The parents of both have reacted in the manner they both no doubt see as appropriate, and while I believe that Ms. Sheehan is doing a disservice to the memory of her son by politicizing her reaction, those on the left could make a similar argument that Captain Smith has done the same. My conclusion then is not about either Captain Smith, Denise Sheehan, or for that matter about Bill Clinton or George W. Bush. My conclusion and final remarks are reserved for the mainstream media whose bias in regards to these events is blatant and utterly contemptible in scope. Our Founders saw fit to guarantee the press freedom to keep watch over our government, and generations of soldiers like both Smiths and Casey Sheehan have bled to preserve those freedoms which the press has abused, perverted and warped, and it is ultimately the media who spits on the graves of our fallen service members.
Well said. Thank you for posting. I am mad as hell right now. I have a brother serving in theatre as we speak. I know there are risks as there is a war on.
That said, though, what Ms. Sheehan is doing is nothing short of supporting the terrorist and emboldening our enemies. This puts our troops at risk.
Can you imagine if someone pulled this on FDR after Iwo Jima or the Battle of the Bulge?
bumped and bookmarked
Excellent job Joe, You nailed it!
Her own family thinks she's lost it.
Thank you for posting. Any attempt to discredit Bush will fail, especially the cheap shots like this.
Everyone knows what the MSM is capable of and they have no bottom, just like the Clinton's.
There is NO bias in the MSM.
They are political organizations and their "reporters" are political operatives.
And deserve to be treated as such.
You of course will clearly remember the soldier asking Rumsfeld the (scripted) question about vehicle armor, right? Do you recall Aspin or Clinton ever being asked by the media about armor and air support in Somalia? Did you know that doors for TF Ranger's HMMWV fleet arrived only one day before the events of 10/03/93?
I wouldn't put it past Mr. "Photographic Memory" to have made a special point of having his pet PC commanders sh*t all over Captain Smith's "black beret" by issuing it to EVERYONE, as was done on his way out of power (March, 2001).
What an evil little troll that former "president" is...
...Within less than a year of taking office clintler sold out our military in Somalia, and then had his encore with the beret issue on his way out. Many throughout the Army who had earned the privelege of wearing the black beret, and indeed, many who hadn't, vehemently opposed the uniform change. Fortunately, at the time COL Keen of the 75th Ranger Regt. issued a statement regarding the change. I hope clinton has had the opportunity to read it because his efforts on the way out may have had results quite contrary to his intent...some excerpts from COL Keen's statement:
The purpose in writing this note is to inform you that the 75th Ranger Regiment will exchange our traditional Black Beret for a Tan Beret...The Tan color of the new Ranger Beret reinvigorates the historical and spiritual linkage throughout the history of the American Ranger. It is the color of the buckskin uniforms and animal skin hats of Rogers' Rangers, the first significant Ranger unit to fight on the American continent, and the genesis of the American Ranger lineage. Tan is the one universal and unifying color that transcends all Ranger Operations. It reflects the Butternut uniforms of Mosby's Rangers during the American Civil War. It is reminiscent of the numerous beach assaults in the European Theater and the jungle fighting in the Pacific Theaters of World War II, where Rangers and Marauders spearheaded victory. It represents the khaki uniform worn by our Korean and Vietnam War era Rangers and the color of the sand of Grenada, Panama, Iraq, and Mogadishu, where modern day Rangers lead the way as they fought and, at times, valiantly died accomplishing the Ranger mission...Tan rekindles the legacy of Rangers from all eras...
The Ranger Tan Beret will distinguish Rangers in the 21st Century as the Black Beret recognized them as a cut above in the past...
...Rangers have never been measured by what they have worn in peace or combat, but by commitment, dedication, physical and mental toughness, and willingness to Lead the Way --- Anywhere, Anytime...
...I hope that when our Army dons the Black Beret and our Rangers put on the Tan Beret we will move forward and focus on what is ultimately the most important task in front of us --- ensuring the continued high state of Readiness of the Ranger Regiment...
RANGERS LEAD THE WAY!
Great post............thanks for sharing it.
Testimony of James H. Smith , May 12, 1994
Mr. Chairman and Committee Members, I wish to express my appreciation for the opportunity to testify at this committee hearing. I would also like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude for the committee's diligent work in investigating the events preceding, during and after the Mogadishu battle of October 3, 1993.
My name is James H. Smith . I am joined today by my wife Caroline. Immediately after graduating from high school in 1965, I enlisted in the Army. I was only 17 years old, but I wanted to be a Paratrooper. I responded to the challenge of military life and was fortunate to attend Officers Candidate School. I was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the Infantry and served in Vietnam with the 4th Infantry Division and the 25th Infantry Division. In July 1967, as member of the 3rd Brigade Task Force (Tropic Lightning), I was severely wounded in a firefight. I spent the next two years in an Army Hospital recovering. I survived, but my left leg was amputated just below the knee.
In the early evening of October 4, 1993, my wife Carol arrived home from work to be met by two Army officers. The officers performed their obligation with professionalism and compassion. Our son Jamie had been killed in action. Carol called me at work and I immediately left a business meeting to be with my family. That evening I met with the press. After the expected questions of: `How would you describe your son?', and, `What were his hobbies?' I was asked two very pointed questions: `Did my son's death serve a purpose?'--and--`Am I angry or do I blame anyone? My answer was also direct: `If my son's death can keep Somali children from starving, my son's death had a purpose', `No, I am not angry. My son was a Ranger. He knew the risks and so did I. I do not blame anyone!'
On October 12, 1993 Jamie was buried at Fort Benning. Immediately after the services I met with some of the veterans of the Mogadishu battle. They had bandaged arms, casts on their legs, walked with crutches and were in wheelchairs. We talked for several hours. I left that meeting with three firm beliefs:
First: My son's death served no purpose. His courage and sacrifice had been wasted.
Second: The Rangers had been betrayed. Denied proper combat support and unreliable U.N. allies, disaster was preordained. There must be accountability.
Third: I was angry. As a disabled Vietnam Veteran I had the responsibility, the obligation, to insure that my son's generation did not suffer the fate of his father's generation.
My meeting, on October 12th, with the veterans of the Mogadishu battle was to be the first of many meetings and conversations. These contacts would be in the barracks, hospital, headquarters, on the telephone and in our home. I have spoken with virtually every veteran of that battle and the entire command structure--from the squad leader to commanding general. Unknown to me at that time, Larry Joyce was proceeding on a parallel inquiry. When Larry and I met at the 3rd Ranger Battalion memorial service in November 1993, we compared our findings. We had independently come to the same conclusions.
I am in complete agreement with Larry's comments. However, I would add that beyond the failures of the White House leadership to supply proper combat support and mismanaging the Somalia policy; the unacceptable conditions that existed in Somalia with the United Nations officials and peacekeeping forces, as they negatively affected our troops, must be investigated.
Although the concept of a U.N. multinational peacekeeping force appears the appropriate direction for U.S. involvement in such conflict situations, the conditions in Somalia resulted in the Rangers being placed in a situation without reliable allies and, in certain cases, U.N. peacekeeping forces actually supporting the enemy. Specifically:
U.N. peacekeeping forces were fragmented by geographic areas of responsibility. Forces from one country routinely refused to come to the aid of another nation's military unit that was under attack if the battle was outside their geographic area of responsibility. For example: the Italians did not come to the aid of the Nigerians. Therefore, when the Americans required assistance the Malaysians had no desire to support the Americans--since the battle was not their concern.
Aidid's informers or sympathizers had completely infiltrated the U.N. bureaucracy, the peacekeeping forces and charitable organizations. Additionally there were numerous examples of U.N. officials and peacekeeping forces actively or tacitly supporting Aidid. Therefore, secrecy in military operations was impossible. For example: there were numerous reports of Aidid's forces using U.N. or charitable organization's radios and telephone as his military communications network.
Other than the U.S. forces, there was no effort on the part of other U.N. peacekeeping units to disarm the militia and maintain order. For example: Egyptian peacekeeping forces, rather than disarm the militia, would give receipts for weapons so that when the militia left their area the weapon could be returned.
Except for U.S. forces, the multinational peacekeeping units ignored their responsibilities to secure their areas and eliminate the flow of weapons into Mogadishu. Trucks would enter the Italian sector from outside the city and the Italian peacekeepers would only direct traffic and not inspect the trucks. The result was a buildup of weapons by Aidid's militia and the ability of this force to attack the Rangers with superior numbers and firepower.
These conditions could not be resolved by our military field commanders. These problems are strictly political in nature. Their resolution could only come from our political leaders demanding that the U.N. leadership correct the situation. This was never done, and to the best of my knowledge, correcting these conditions was never attempted. The result was my son's Commander-in-Chief allowed American troops into a combat situation that at best had unreliable allies, or at worse, allies that actively supported the man who had already killed American soldiers.
This condition is unacceptable. It is imperative that these issues be investigated and resolved. This resolution can only be satisfied by holding those in elected and appointed positions of authority accountable for their inaction or dereliction. This requires that additional hearings be held by the Armed Services Committee for these issues can only be answered by the White House staff members involved in the decision making process.
Specifically we must learn: What was the decision making process in the White House? Who was involved? When were they involved? To what extent was the President, Vice President, National Security Advisor, Secretary of Defense, Secretary of State and the Ambassador to the United Nations involved? Additionally, what input did U.N. Envoy Jonathan Howe and U.N. Secretary-General Boutros Boutros Ghali have on the deployment, combat support and rules of engagement decisions. To determine the cause of the Somalia fiasco these concerns must be clarified.
Our men and women in uniform deserve better than the `disaster waiting to happen conditions' that existed in Somalia . As a disabled Vietnam veteran, I do not want any young man or woman to experience my pain when wounded; nor as a parent of a soldier killed in action, do I want other loved ones to experience my grief--because of a flawed foreign policy or a failure to support our troops in battle.
Additional hearings must beheld. Not as a witch hunt to blame field commanders. The officers made no tactical errors and the troops perform magnificently. Nor as revenge or retribution for past mistakes by elected or appointed officials. But as a quest for the truth so that future Vietnams and Somalias are avoided.
Last weekend my wife and I visited Arlington National Cemetery, not as tourists, but to honor the grave of Sergeant James C. Joyce. I had prepared myself emotionally for this pilgrimage, but I was not prepared for the reality. As I stood saying a silent prayer at Casey's grave, I noticed that to the left of Casey's grave was the grave of MSG Timothy Martin, and to the left of his grave was the grave of PFC Richard Kowalewski. With tears streaming down my face I remembered my first visit to the Vietnam Memorial. Over 58,000 names carved in stone. Now I was gazing upon three more names carved in stone--soldiers who gave the last full measure. Sadly, like the generation before them, the sacrifice of these three brave soldiers had been wasted.
It is probably that America's military will be called to battle in the near future. However, our men and women in uniform must never again be placed in a `Somalia' situation. A quarter of a century ago my generation was ground up in the rice paddies and jungles of Vietnam. We must not allow the next generation to suffer the same fate. If additional hearings are not held, I fear that more Americans will suffer the fate of Vietnam and Somalia .
Your thread is mentioned at the American Daily site.
The media chose to ignore the objections of James H. Smith. The Freepers at Freerepublic.com have not. The story of James H. Smith reminds us all that media bias is not only real, but is determined to force its way into our lives. This link is a must-read.
And at the National Ledger
the Common Voice
You don't know how useful this is. I have an ongoing arguement with a Lib Bush hater who refuses to believe how badly Clinton screwed up the military.
I imagined it. And it frightened the hell out of me.
hey....what's it matter....there's a woman being led around by the leftist lunatic fringe helping the media do their work...what a crock the MSM is!