May 4, 2016

OPINION - Obama press secretary Josh Earnest insults American killed in combat

This is a personal opinion piece.

I was offended and insulted by statements made by President Obama's press secretary Josh Earnest concerning the death of U.S. Navy SEAL Charles Keating IV. Petty Officer Keating died in combat in Iraq on May 3 - he was one of a group of SEALs assisting Kurdish peshmerga troops in their defense of an Assyrian Christian town north of Mosul against an assault by more than a hundred fighters of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

The SEALs were in the area as part of their mission to "advise and assist" Iraqi security forces in their fight against ISIS. According to the Obama Administration, the deployment of members of the U.S. armed forces to "advise and assist" does not constitute a combat mission, despite the fact that the units being provided advice and assistance are engaged in combat operations, and much of that assistance comes in the form of direct control of U.S. Air Force and U.S. Navy airstrikes.

The Administration can spin that as it likes, but anyone with a modicum of common sense realizes that this is nothing more than political drivel to fit a narrative that American troops are not involved in combat operations. It fails the common sense test.

You can listen to Earnest's pitiful attempts to parse the difference between "combat" and "combat mission" in this video clip. I wonder if he actually believes his own words - then again, how would he know the difference? He, nor virtually anyone else on the White House staff, has ever worn a uniform.

"What I am trying to do though is to be as precise as possible with you and the American public about what exactly our Commander in Chief has asked our service members to do. Secretary Carter earlier today described this death as a combat death – that’s accurate. This is an individual who was not in a combat mission but he was in a dangerous place…and his position came under attack. He was armed, trained and prepared to defend himself. Unfortunately, he was killed…and he was killed in combat, but that was not part of his mission. His mission was specifically to offer advice and assistance to those Iraqi forces fighting for their own country."

Mr. Earnest, I realize your job is to spin reality into a form that fits a narrative dictated by your political masters at the White House, but the more you speak the less believable the words are. I suppose you have a tight definition that somehow explains that our pilots - of all services - flying over Iraq and Syria, many of them dropping ordnance on ISIS personnel and positions - are not "in a combat mission." How do you spin delivering ordnance as an "advise and assist" mission.

Additionally, on the day the Petty Officer Keating was killed, you began the daily press briefing with a detailed litany of the President's scheduled visit to Flint, Michigan, adding your remarks on the the death of an American sailor killed in action in Iraq only when specifically asked by members of the press. Your canned remarks appeared to be an afterthought. One has to wonder if you would have mentioned it at all had you not been prodded by a reporter.

“I can tell you the president has been briefed on this incident, and everyone here at the White House, including the First Family, extends our condolences to the family of the service member that was killed today in northern Iraq. This individual was the third U.S. service member killed in action since the beginning of Operation Inherent Resolve, and this service member’s death reminds us of the risks our brave men and women in uniform face every single day."

Rings hollow, doesn't it?

ADDENDUM: In memoriam.