Sunday, December 25, 2005


Paul Reikhoff has taken me to task for "innacuracies" as well as being presumptuous. In the interests of fairness and friendship I am at his request printing his reply.


Just came across your blog entry referring to our recent organizational name change.

Sorry to read that you were so disturbed by the change. But honestly John, I expected better. Especially since we know each other, and you refer to me in your blog as a “friend.” Seeing you trashing me professionally and personally on your blog is pretty disappointing. It is a low level of discourse that I hope you can stay above in the future.

Now, to address of few of your blog’s inaccuracies:

-We are not an “anti-war” group. We do not even support an immediate pull-out of US forces. I urge you to review our founding principles here: If you want to attack an anti-war group, check out the folks over at Code Pink or IVAW.

-We are not a “left-wing” or “anti-Bush” group. We are a non-partisan organization that has criticized both parties. When we are in opposition with the President on issues, it is because he is the President, not because he is a Republican. Our membership of veterans in all 50 states is almost perfectly evenly split by republicans and democrats. Our group was the first recognized non-profit Iraq vets group to organize a trip to Washington. During that trip we met with both Republicans and Democrats—from Clinton to Hagel. Photos and details here: During that trip, we also met with Republicans like Cong. Steven Buyer, the head of the House VA committee. The work we have done in DC with members on both sides of the aisle has been significant, and our reputation on the hill is very solid—and includes our recent support for Republican Senator John McCain’s anti-torture amendment.

Next time you are writing a blog that refers to me or our group, why don’t you just request an interview? Since we’re friends, I’d be more than happy to oblige asap. Or in the very least do some better research.

I also would appreciate it if you would print this response on your blog. Of course I realize that is entirely your prerogative.

Thanks very much.

See you at drill next month.

Merry Christmas.


In my personal reply to this Email I mentioned to Paul that politics was about perception. He agreed, and stated that I knew less about the political world then him. Paul allow me to correct you there. You haven't been at the political game longer than I have. I worked on my first congressional campaign back in the 1980's while I was in high school. But he misssed my point. He is percieved by many, to be a left leaning, anti-war, anti- bush thinker. And that perception clouds at least my view of his attempt to create a mainstream veteran's issue group. In fairness I think he really believes in these veteran's issues and wants to focus on them. But to my thinking his personality and percieved politics are too closely identified with the organization. If that's changing that's fine. But some of his past statements make him seem like he's all those things I said. He gave the Democratic response to one of Bush's Saturday Radio speeches in 2004 during the campaign that strikes me as anti-Bush, and anti-war.

To quote a friend of mine. "I'm sorry sir, that's just not the way I see it."


Anonymous Anonymous said...

even if you disagree with Reickhoff's politics (as you perceive them) can't you at least acknowledge the positve things he is trying to do to help the veterans of these wars?

I see things reported through his organization that are not reported elsewhere. And the voices that he gives to veterans may not be otherwise heard.

Regardless of the politics associated, Operation Truth has been an extremely positive organization from a "troop support" standpoint.

Mon Dec 26, 01:36:00 PM 2005  
Blogger John Byrnes said...

Yes. I can and do. My issue, is that Paul's percieved politics, have created a sense that the organization is about politics, not about veteran's issues. In addition there are issues that Paul and the group have spoken critically about, where he at least should know better.

The body armor and vehicle armor issue is one example. Paul with his education and military experience should know that the military cannot modernize overnight. In fact the military has continually upgraded equipment to protect our service members and to give us the advantage over our foes.

There are cases where development or distribution have lagged. But Paul's criticism at times seems shrill as if he expects that as soon as a technology becomes possible, it should be immediately available to everyone.

This violates the laws of Physics, as well as Economics. So I'm left with two possibilities. Either Paul is so naive as to believe that the military leadership is intentionally obtuse on this, or he is using a shrill rhetorical style, criticizing these leaders in these terms to advance his point. Since I incline to the latter explanation, I believe that Paul's cool rational critic pose is somewhat facetious. Perhaps not intentionally, but he should hear the way it plays to some soldiers.

All that said some of the things that Paul has done have been worthwhile. I never said they weren't.

Mon Dec 26, 01:56:00 PM 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

no, but you seemed to say that the actions of Optruth are led by his political beliefs. I would disagree with that. It seems that his agenda focuses solely on veterans issues and concerns for soldiers in the field. arguably, it may be perceived as partisan because the party in office - holding the Presidency/House/Senate are all dominated by the GOP - hence, to get Congress to take action, you need to persuade that party to act. I don't imagine it would be quite different if it were Democrats in control.

Also, I think as a combat veteran, Paul has earned the right to speak out against the administration and the dept. of defense for flaws that he sees in how this war is being waged. The same right that you have to speak out regarding the positive aspects you feel are being ignored in Iraq and the war on terror in general.

While you may disagree with Paul on a personal level and your politcal stances might differ - it seems strange that as a combat veteran yourself you would take issue with any organization trying to raise the focus and support for the veterans of this war.

Mon Dec 26, 07:23:00 PM 2005  
Blogger John Byrnes said...

Once again, if the organization is moving to a broader veteran's advocacy, I stand corrected. On the other hand if they continue to be identified with Paul's previous public political stances then I think the name change maybe a bad thing. I respect Paul, but I am truly disturbed by the inherent assertion that he speaks for all recent war veteran's.

As to the right to speak out against the administration, and DOD policies, all American's have that right vet or no. But to much of the general public Paul's credentials seem to give him added gravitas. And this somewhat I find problematic. As a felow veteran of Iraq, I think it is my reponsibility to share the profoundly different experiences and the views that they engendered. I see a problem when Paul uses his "Military credentials" to convince people of thin gs like the government isn't doing enough to protect our troops.

Mon Dec 26, 07:34:00 PM 2005  

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