Army Sends 'Dear John Doe' Letters to Families of Fallen Troops
The Army mistakenly sent letters addressed "Dear John Doe" to 7,000 family members of soldiers who died in Iraq and Afghanistan, unleashing calls from troubled relatives and prompting a formal apology yesterday from the Army's top general.
Yeah, it's bad. But I'm going to take a different angle than most. Rather than criticize with a knee jerk, I'm looking at it this way: So the Army fucked up. Everybody knows it. I'm sure some witty person, somewhere has already designed the appropriate "FAIL" graphic to go along with the situation. I got it. But what makes this case different from most, is that as soon as it happened, the Army's senior leadership came out and not only publicly apologized, but they flat out took responsibility for the mistake.
Just look at some of these responses:
"There are no words to adequately apologize for this mistake or for the hurt it may have caused," Brig. Gen. Reuben D. Jones, the Army's adjutant general, said in a statement.
In addition to the apology, Gen. George W. Casey Jr., the Army's chief of staff, is sending the families a new letter explaining the error.
The Army declined to release the name of the California company that printed the letters, insisting the responsibility for preventing the error was the military's alone.
"We take full responsibility," Boyce said.
And not even a single person was killed in the incident. Now, imagine for a moment if the Bush administration had ever had the guts to show such leadership. Take the obvious example: Everybody knows that diverting from Afghanistan to Iraq was a massive bolo. Even the neo-cons who still publicly argue it was the right decision are aware of that. They know the deal. It's not a big secret. But you will never -- for the rest of your life -- ever hear a George Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Condoleezza Rice, Paul Wolfowitz, Bill Kristol, Frank Gaffney, or Fred Kagan say, "There are no words to adequately apologize for this mistake or for the hurt it may have caused." Or, "we take full responsibility." In fact, you will see me managing the Palin/Wurzelbacher ticket in 2012 before you see anything close to the above people sending the families of the fallen a personal letter "explaining the error." You could say the same for Abu Ghraib, Hurricane Katrina, or any number of other catastrophes over which this administration has presided.
But then, that's simply their hallmark. No accountability. No responsibility. They're cowards to the end.
So, given that contrast, my hat's off to the Army today. They screwed up -- bad -- and then they did what leaders and professionals do: They stepped up and took total responsibility. And that doesn't excuse anything. But it's heartening all the same.
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