Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has urged senators to sign a letter calling on Rush Limbaugh’s syndicator to repudiate Rush for calling troops who speak out against the Iraq war “phony soldiers.”
But Rush counterattacked by pointing out that Reid took that comment drastically out of context.
In a statement prepared for delivery on the Senate floor Monday, Nevada Democrat Reid also asked Mark P. Mays, CEO of Clear Channel Communications, to ask Limbaugh to apologize for the remark.
Reid asserted that Limbaugh “crossed the line by calling our men and women in uniform who oppose the war in Iraq ‘phony soldiers.’ This comment was so beyond the pale of decency that it cannot be left alone…
“On Friday, many Democrats joined me in drafting a letter to the Chief Executive Officer of Clear Channel.”
That letter read in part: “Our troops are righting and dying to bring to others the freedoms that many take for granted. It is unconscionable that Mr. Limbaugh would criticize them for exercising the fundamentally American right to free speech…
“We call on you to publicly repudiate these comments … and ask Mr. Limbaugh to apologize for his comments.”
The fact is, Limbaugh pointed out on the air that the “phony soldiers” he referred to were just that – Americans who falsely claim they have been in the Armed Forces and in some cases say they have been to Iraq.
He was specifically referring to Jesse Macbeth, who appeared in a widely seen YouTube video in which he claimed he had been a corporal serving in Iraq and Afghanistan and was awarded a Purple Heart. He also described how he and other U.S. soldiers had killed innocent civilians there.
His comments were translated into Arabic and spread widely across the Internet.
But it was all a lie, Rush said. He had never served in Iraq or Afghanistan. In fact, he had been discharged from the Army after several weeks of basic training.
“I was talking about one soldier with that phony soldier comment, Jesse Macbeth,” Rush told his listeners.
“He was sentenced to five months in jail and three years probation for falsifying a Department of Veterans Affairs claim and his Army discharge record.
“Jesse Macbeth was in the Army, folks, briefly. Forty-four days before he washed out of boot camp. Jesse Macbeth isn’t an Army Ranger. Never was. He isn’t a corporal, never was. He never won a Purple Heart, and he was never in combat to witness the horrors he claimed to have seen.”
Rush’s Web site titled the transcript of one of the broadcasts in which he responded to the liberal outcry over his comment “The Anatomy of a Smear: ‘Phony Soldiers’ is a Phony Story.”
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