April 18, 2008

Lee Pitts: The Unsung Hero of Iraq

The uber-lefty Huffington Post has named their unsung heroes of Iraq, and on the list was Abu Muqawama's friend Lee Pitts. (Lee works for a prominent Republican senator in DC now. Abu Muqawama wonders if the Huffington Post knows that.) Anyway, Lee completely deserves credit for calling attention to this ridiculousness described below. (And for spending a year in Iraq, embedded with dem boys from Tennessee.)

Lee Pitts: Everyone remembers the uproar caused when, in early December 2004, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld admitted that vehicles carrying our soldiers in Iraq were poorly armored -- and his famous quote about going to war with the Army you have not the one you want. But did you know that the whole incident was sparked by a reporter for a local Tennessee paper?

Lee Pitts of the Chattanooga Times, embedded with a military unit based near that city, had learned in early December 2004 that Rumsfeld was slated to appear at a "town hall" gathering in Kuwait at which only soldiers would be allowed to ask questions. Already aware that the troops were angry about the lack of protection offered by their largely unarmored vehicles -- they were finding scrap metal and adding their own ad hoc armor to their trucks and Humvees -- he made sure Rumsfeld was challenged by arranging for a couple of soldiers whom he knew to be in a critical mood to get a chance at the microphone.

Specialist Thomas Wilson, a scout with the Tennessee National Guard, asked the key question at the gathering. (His picture would appear on the front page of the New York Times.) Pitts had previously written two stories about the lack of armored vehicles in Iraq to little effect and now, as he related in an email, "it felt good to hand it off to the national press... The soldier who asked the question said he felt good b/c he took his complaints to the top. When he got back to his unit most of the guys patted him on the back but a few of the officers were upset b/c they thought it would make them look bad."

Then, in an understatement, he added: "From what I understand this is all over the news back home."

Update: Lee Pitts to the rescue AGAIN! Incredible!