A recent, but hardly noticed incident involving testimony in last week's Don't Ask, Don't Tell hearings gives a good impression on how religious right groups hold sway over their supporters. When it comes to certain issues, especially involving gay rights, they simply hold back information in order increase the strength of their arguments.
By now you all have heard of the testimony by retired General John Sheehan during the last week's DADT hearings in which he blamed gays being allowed to serve openly in the military for the Srebrenica genocide in 1995
And you have heard the rebukes he received from Dutch officials. Let me reiterate what they said:
Dutch officials, however, are forcefully rejecting Sheehan's outrageous claim. "It is astonishing that a man of his stature can utter such complete nonsense," said the Dutch defense ministry spokesman, pointing out that international investigations of the Srebrenica massacre found no evidence "that the sexual orientation of soldiers played a role." The Dutch ambassador to the United States said she "couldn't disagree more" with Sheehan's statement, and Dutch caretaker Defense Minister Eimert van Middelkoop called the claim "'damaging' and not worthy of a soldier. 'I don't want to waste any more words on it,' he said." Gen. Henk van den Breemen, Dutch Chief of Staff at the time of the Srebrenica genocide, added that Sheehan was spouting "total nonsense."
Now all of this was published on March 19th.
And on March 23rd in The Advocate came this:
During last week's hearing on the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy, former NATO commander Gen. John Sheehan told committee members that a former Dutch defense chief of staff, Gen. Henk van den Breemen, said the "liberalization" of the Dutch forces rendered them incapable of protecting the people of Srebrenica in 1995 during a battle in the Bosnian war when approximately 8,000 Muslim men and boys were executed.
Van den Breemen rejected Sheehan's account in a statement on the Dutch Ministry of Defense's website, calling it "complete nonsense," according to a translation provided the gay veterans group Servicemembers United.
The statement reads, "Sheehan based his claims on statements from then-chief of staff Gen. Henk van den Breemen. Van den Breemen, for his part, considers Sheehan's accusations 'complete nonsense.' Van den Breemen does not share Sheehan's opinion on the role of homosexuals in the fall of Srebrenica, and has never said anything that would imply he did."
However if you were to read this Wednesday's edition of the American Family Association's One News Now, you would read something along the lines of this:
General debunks repeal of military's 'gay' ban
A conservative military watchdog was impressed with the recent testimony of a former NATO commander who presented compelling evidence against President Obama's plans of repealing the military's ban on homosexual service.
Gen. John Sheehan testified before a recent hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee where he related a 1995 incident in which Dutch soldiers were detailed to protect some Bosnian Muslim civilians. In an exchange with committee chairman Carl Levin (D-Michigan), Sheehan claimed the Dutch battalion was under-strengthed and poorly led.
"The Serbs came into town and handcuffed the soldiers to the telephone poles, marched the Muslims off and executed them," Sheehan accounted. "That was the largest massacre in Europe since World War Two."
Levin replied by asking: "Did the Dutch leaders tell you it was because there were gay soldiers there?"
As the general began to answer, Levin cut him off and asked again, "Did they tell you that? That's my question" -- to which Sheehan replied, "Yes, they included that as part of the problem."
And you would also read about how Elaine Donnelly, head of the Center for Military Readiness and an outspoken opponent of gays serving openly in the military, voices how she was "impressed" by the retired general's testimony.
But what you won't read are the rebukes from Dutch officials because they are not included in the One News Now article.
Now some may argue that One News Now didn't mislead anyone by not reporting what Dutch officials said about Sheehan's testimony, but I beg to differ.
The Dutch rebukes are a very crucial part to this story and One News Now had plenty of opportunity to include them, that is if it wanted to.
But if I know One News Now's history (and I do), getting the story right was obviously the last thing on the publication's list of priorities.
Follow Alvin McEwen on Twitter: www.twitter.com/holybullies