The White House recently considered Gen. Jack Sheehan to fill the post of ‘war czar.’ Sheehan refused the position, explaining that the “residue” of war hawks like Dick Cheney is preventing “pragmatists” from producing the policy change that is needed. Sheehan wrote a Washington Post op-ed explaining his position:
We cannot “shorthand” this issue with concepts such as the “democratization of the region” or the constant refrain by a small but powerful group that we are going to “win,” even as “victory” is not defined or is frequently redefined. … These huge shortcomings are not going to be resolved by the assignment of an additional individual to the White House staff. They need to be addressed before an implementation manager is brought on board.
For taking on Cheney, the right-wing Washington Times published a smear screed against Sheehan on Friday. The Times’ military reporter Bill Gertz — who frequently propagates information that comes from Cheney’s office — wrote that Sheehan is a “liberal military officer” and a “defeatist” opposing the Iraq war.
Gertz goes on to claim there have been many “shortcomings” in Sheehan’s career. Engaging in guilt-by-association tactics, the Times tries to link Sheehan to convicted spy Ana Belen Montes. He also writes that Sheehan walked out of a speech by neoconservative James Woolsey on Wahhabist terrorism.
Sheehan pushed back on what he called “character defamation,” noting the White House would not have considered him if his reputation were so tarnished:
Gen. Sheehan, in an e-mail, dismissed both claims about his candidacy for the czar post and past ties to Montes as “incorrect.”
Before being asked by the White House, “I am sure they checked my credentials and the record indicated I was an American who had served both Republicans and Democrats,” Gen. Sheehan said. “Deal with the issue at hand on an objective basis, not character defamation.”
The Washington Times’ selection smear job against Sheehan conveniently omits the fact that a key administration ally and escalation proponent, Gen. Jack Keane, also turned down the post.
Is it possible that Dick Cheney — who has a history of smearing people who speak out against him — was peddling information to the Washington Times as vindictive payback against Sheehan?