It would appear that we have another case where the Bush Pentagon, particularly the Office of Public Affairs is forcefully inserting itself into the civilian election process. Earlier today I referenced Barack Obama’s anecdote from Thursday night’s Democratic debate about an Army Captain in Afghanistan who said his unit had had to get from captured Taliban ammunition they weren’t able to get quickly enough through standard Army supply channels. ABCNews’ Jake Tapper talked to the soldier in question, who confirmed the story he’d told Obama. Now NBC News also appears to have confirmed the story by talking to the Army Captain in question.
But Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman is telling reporters he doesn’t think it’s true and that of course they can’t confirm it unless the soldier — still on active duty — comes forward to discuss the issue with the Pentagon brass, a step that would surely do wonders for his future in the Army.
I don’t know how far this is going to go. Phillip Carter, the military affairs writer who’s in the reserves and did a tour in Iraq, says that from his own experience in Iraq and discussions with Afghanistan vets who report doing the same thing as the anonymous captain, he finds the story “eminently believable.” But this is becoming a pattern in which political appointees at the Bush Pentagon volubly insert themselves into domestic political debate or even election campaigns.
Expect this to be a major factor in this year’s election campaign.