Wednesday, June 29, 2005

New York Times op-ed makes false claims

(Reader Note: On July 6, 2005, the New York Times' acknowledged that one of its editors had inserted false information into an op-ed that ran that day in some editions.

My post below also deals with false information in another Times' op-ed.

For clarity's sake, I'll refer to the op-eds by their author's last names: Carter, the op-ed about which the Times has made an acknowledgment; and Truscott, the op-ed about which it has yet to acknowledge and correct the false information it contained.)
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Lucian K. Truscott IV is a novelist, screenwriter and West Point grad (’69) who resigned his commission at the time of the Vietnam War.

In a June 28 New York Times op-ed, The Not-So-Long Gray Line, Truscott argues the Army is about to have trouble retaining recent West Point grads for the same reason it had trouble retaining them at the time of Vietnam: The Army lies.

Here's how Truscott puts it:

“The mistake the Army made then is the same mistake it is making now: how can you educate a group of handpicked students at one of the best universities in the world and then treat them as if they are too stupid to know when they have been told a lie?”

He ends with this sentence:

But if you peddle cleverly manipulated talking points to people who trust you not to lie, you won't merely lose them, you'll break their hearts.

With one exception, Truscott seeks to sustain his charge with a mix of impressions and incidents that can't be checked because no names are used.

The exception comes near the end of his op-ed.

There was a time when the Army did not have a problem retaining young leaders - men like Dwight Eisenhower, George Patton, George Marshall, Omar Bradley and my grandfather, Lucian K. Truscott Jr. Having endured the horrors of World War I trenches, these men did not run headlong out of the Army in the 1920's and 30's when nobody wanted to think of the military, much less pay for it. They had made a pact with each other and with their country, and all sides were going to keep it."

Truscott’s claims that the five future generals “endured the horrors of World War I trenches” and “made a pact with each other” are false, something he, as a West Point grad and grandson of one of the officers who was a friend of the other four, surely knows.

Eisenhower, Bradley and Lucian K. Truscott Jr., one of World War II's great corps commanders, never went overseas during World War I.

Eisenhower's lack of combat experience is well-known. Historians who have discussed it include Steve Ambrose in Eisenhower.

Bradley and Truscott’s services during World War I are described in many sources including an Army publication, U. S.Army World War II Corps Commanders: A Composite Biography, which states: "To their dismay… Truscott served in Texas and Arizona along the Mexican border, while Bradley trained troops in Washington state."

Marshall served overseas as a staff officer with the American Expeditionary Force, but did not fight in the trenches. Forest Pogue’s George C. Marshall: Education of a General is an excellent reference.

Patton was the only one of the five to see World War I combat, but it was almost entirely as a tank officer, not in the trenches. Carlo D'Este's Patton: A Genius for War details Patton's World War I service including his being wounded and earning the Distinguished Service Cross.

As for the five having "made a pact with each other," I know of no historian who has ever made that claim. The three generals whose careers I know best - Eisenhower, Patton, and Marshall - were certainly never part of such a pact, formal or informal.

I'm surprised Truscott would make false claims, especially when he's accusing the Army of lying.

And why did the New York Times publish claims that a summer intern with a decent knowledge of U. S. History would immediately question; and then with an hour or so of Internet searching prove false?

I plan to e-mail this post to the Times' public editor, and invite him to respond here.

I'll keep you informed.

UPDATE July 7, 2005: When I wrote the above post on June 29, I obviously didn't consider the possibility that a New York Times' editor would insert false information into an op-ed, as happened with the Carter op-ed.

Now that I know a Times' editor can do such a thing, I acknowledge that the statements in Truscott's op-ed, while still false, may not have been his.

The Times' has a responsibility to tell the public whether the false statements in Truscott's op-ed are his or someone else's.

And if someone else's, whose?

And why were they made?

Since sending my initial post with a request for response to NYT public editor Byron Calame, I've heard nothing from him or the Times' other than a formal acknowledgment.

I'm sending this post with note added to Calame with another request that the Times' respond, now not only to the false information in the Truscott op-ed but to the questions of who put it there, and why.

I'll keep you posted

26 comments:

Anonymous said...

Good luck with that! This Lucien guy must have a heck of a PR agent b/c he was on National Communist Radio, er, NPR today peddling the same outrageous and slanderous claims about the military.

No offence, but I somethimes think that the country will be a lot better off when the "vietnam generation" is no longer controlling the airwaves and yapping anti-American propoganda at us.

-Anon

Anonymous said...

Lucien Truscott goes back a long ways with anti-war articles in the Village Voice. During the trashing of Vietnam vets, the Voice got a special thrill that Truscott was an anti-war grandson of a famous general.

I'd advise to just keep moving, and ignore Mr. Truscott.

Uncle BigBad

Anonymous said...

And of course George Marshall was a VMI grad not a West Point Grad.

TJ said...

Given that MacArthur left the U.S. Army in 1937, one might conclude the Army had trouble retaining him.

Anonymous said...

And, of course, this whole line of reasoning is fallacious. Truscott selects a set of famous generals of the WWII era whose service can be traced back to the WWI timeframe. In reality, however, thousands of WWI officers did leave the service between the wars resulting in a severe shortage of experience when WWII came along. The whole thing is just dumb. It is interesting in one respect however. It's the beginning of the avalanche of upcoming lefty editorials that no longer seek to prove that anyone is lying to anyone, but simply take that as a given and proceed from there. This is the third stage by which they manufacture history: 1) create the meme (e.g. "Bush lied"); 2) repeat it loudly and continuously - brooking no counter-argument, and; 3)begin to treat it as a fact upon which new memes can be constructed.

Anonymous said...

A couple of thoughts:
1. You think the great depression had something to do with army officers not opting out during the 1930's?
2. The military academies now market themselves as a slightly different but fully expense paid alternative to other colleges. Given that approach, they are seeing more and more enrollees viewing the military as just a temporary stop on the way to a civilian life.

Ed said...

It is increasingly difficult to grant the left good motives in this round of the culture wars. Consistently we are seeing MSM organs, as well as lefty leaders caught in gratuitous lies they refuse to correct, much less acknowledge. When Sen. Keenedy was confronted with hiw own words regarding the threat of Saddam pre-911, he simply ignored the comments and continuesd his slander of the Administration. When the CBS woman's own book contains objective fabrications regarding what their own document experts said, and even when those same experts point out her untruth, the woman just continues her lie. When the NYT is caught, as it is now, in telling historical untruths, they simply ignore it.
These are not the actions of parties with good motives. These are the actions with malicous intents.

Where this is going, I doubt if they care and I am sure I don't know.
But it will not be a good outcome unless they are defeated.

Ed said...

It is increasingly difficult to grant the left good motives in this round of the culture wars. Consistently we are seeing MSM organs, as well as lefty leaders caught in gratuitous lies they refuse to correct, much less acknowledge. When Sen. Keenedy was confronted with hiw own words regarding the threat of Saddam pre-911, he simply ignored the comments and continuesd his slander of the Administration. When the CBS woman's own book contains objective fabrications regarding what their own document experts said, and even when those same experts point out her untruth, the woman just continues her lie. When the NYT is caught, as it is now, in telling historical untruths, they simply ignore it.
These are not the actions of parties with good motives. These are the actions with malicous intents.

Where this is going, I doubt if they care and I am sure I don't know.
But it will not be a good outcome unless they are defeated.

Anonymous said...

This particular version of the Truscott military legacy left the service because he was failure as an officer. He expected to be one of the "fair-haired boys" that are on the fast track to General Officer rank, but found that he would actually have to earn it. So he quit. His book on West Point is awful.

Ashley said...

Nice catch! It's amazing how often facts get conveniently shifted and context lost just to fit the MSM storyline of the moment.

Casey Klahn said...

Gen. Truscott ended the war in command of the US 5th Army, not as a corp commander. When you complain about factual errors of another writer, it helps to make as few of your own as possible...

The Ugly American said...

don't hold your breath John.

I sent an email to Mr. Calame regarding the NYT lack of coverage of the "Chuck Schumer DSCC scandal" where employees of the DSCC illegally attempted to obtain the credit report of Michael Steel.

See our email exchange here:

http://therealuglyamerican.blogspot.com/2005_11_01_therealuglyamerican_archive.html

Anonymous said...

The same NYT article contains the following charge: "By the time we [the Class of 1969] were seniors, honor court verdicts could be fixed." This is a serious, and so far unsupported, allegation.

Any cadet who "fixed" an "honor court verdict" or tolerated such conduct on the part of another would be guilty of a serious offense, punishable under the USMA Honor Code and under the Uniform Code of Military Justice that governs all members of the US military.

Moreover, the individuals from the Class of 1969 (and other USMA classes) who made up such "honor courts" were - and still are – well known, not only to their classmates who elected them to this permanent position, but also to a larger group, which includes friends and families.

Notwitstanding the seriousness of its allegation, the NYT article does not cite names, dates or other supporting facts that would permit the reader to assess its credibility.

It is incumbent on the NYT to provide all facts relating to the credibility of its charge that "honor court verdicts could be fixed" by members of the USMA Class of 1969, in order to rebut the presumption that the charge made by the NYT was manufactured and is defamatory and libelous on its face.

Best Regards,

RPD said...

Also worth noting, is that prior to WW2 armies were generally disbanded after a war. After Pearl Harbor the US had to do a panic mode rebuilding of the military. It wasn't until after that war that the US maintained a large standing army.

Anonymous said...

I walked punishment tours on the area with Lucian. He wasn't a very good cadet, so it was no surprise that he took a dive and resigned from the Army as soon as he had a chance to do so. The real professionals stayed and rebuilt the Army, like Marshall and others had done after WWI. Lucian, as a washout cadet and officer, has no right to speak about the Army as he does. He left the Army because he was a flake and lied to the Army long before he thought the Army lied to him. LTC J, USA (ret), USMA 71

Anonymous said...

Lucian Truscott III was the WWII general, and commanded 3rd Infantry Division in Sicily and Italy, 6th Corps in Italy and Southern France, 3rd Army after Patton, and 15th Army Group after Patton. T3's "Command Missions" is the best memoir of the war, for my money.

Lucian Truscott Jr was his father.

Lucian Truscott IV is the sniveling brat who claimed that some of Thomas Jefferson's decendents were black decendents of Sally, the half sister of Jefferson's wife, for which there is no evidence. (DNA only shows that some mail in the Jefferson line fathers her later children, not with her first born. Other people suggest it might have been Randolph Jefferson, who was known to frequent the slave cabins for recreation.

The good news is the family honor is intact, through now guarded by other members of the family.

Anonymous said...

gee whiz, twenty one years after graduating, and they wait until now to tell me that i was being lied to the whole time???!!!

guess i'll just have to quit!

MajMike

Robert Arnold said...

Well, gee. My grandfather outranked his Daddy and, somehow, I stand with the Iraq Mission! Mine was a Five Star General, Hap Arnold, and I imagine he would have been impatient and asking for better and faster results in Iraq, not whining for a cut and run. For what it is worth. What tripe. My Father and his two brothers were West Point Grads as well. I can well imagine one of them tossing a glass of wine in this dude's face at the earliest opportunity. None of them viewed the US Army through rose colored glasses, but this nonsense….

TCO said...

Go Navy. Beat Army!

Casey Klahn said...

First of all, greetings to Mr. Arnold. You have every right to be proud of Gen. of the Army Air Force Arnold, as I am proud of my 10th Mountain Div. veteran father (North Italy).
Secondly, to Anonymous: you are fixing to give me an enormous COTA. You list Gen. Truscott's WWII resume, and completely leave out his command of the 5th US Army, in No. Italy. Truscott, with his trademark gravelly voice, was truly a great WWII commander.

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Anonymous said...

I'm pretty amazed that so many had such a negative response to Truscott's comments. I think he has a very marked point. As amazing a career as the Army can be, it can't be ignored that many fine officers leave because they get DO get sick of being lied to. For every West Point officer I met when I was in who loved and believed in the Army, I met ten more who felt they had been treated like shit - and left military service as soon as they could - with their hearts broken, just as Truscott says. The sad part is, most of those officers were excellent at what they did. But they felt they were living a politicized lie - and didn't want to do it anymore.

Capt. U.S.A. said...

Nothing says U.S. Army like french berets,Italian pistols & Nazi combat helmets

Capt. U.S.A. said...

Nothing says U.S. Army like french berets,Italian pistols & Nazi combat helmets