The charges of sexual harassment charges against Democratic Rep. John Conyers are serious enough that he stepped down from his leadership position on the House Judiciary Committee while the Ethics Committee investigates him. Although Rep. Nancy Pelosi called Conyers an “icon,” the Detroit Free Press thinks he should resign. Citing the mounting evidence of previous sexual harassment and the diversion of taxpayer dollars to hush up an earlier scandal, the Free Press’s editorial said, “…. whatever Conyers’ legacy will eventually be, his tenure as a member of Congress must end — now.”
Liberal icon or not, the underlying character of John Conyers was revealed nearly a decade ago when he led a personal attack by 40 Democratic colleagues, including Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. These high-and-mighties leveled a devastating charge: The Rumsfeld Pentagon had orchestrated a plot to manage news coverage of the war on terror. Their only source was an April, 2008 New York Times “expose” charging that the retired military officers often seen on network television after 9/11 were little more than paid stooges, faithfully repeating party lines crafted by E-Ring elites.
Then a military analyst for NBC News, I was among those headlined in the Times’s story. But my more distinguished colleagues included some of our greatest generals, authentic heroes like Barry McCaffrey, Robert Scales and the late Wayne Downing (father of American special forces).
John Conyers led his colleagues in an eruption of outrage against us, loudly demanding federal investigations. With exquisite coordination, a new narrative was launched just in time for the 2008 presidential campaign: strategic overreaction by the Bush-Cheney White House was worsened by Rumsfeld’s propaganda machine. Since Pelosi’s House majority was now in full cry, the Federal Communications Commission, the Government Accountability Office and the Pentagon’s inspector general obediently launched investigations, eventually costing taxpayers over $2 million. Each military analyst faced the possibility of indictment if the Times and their Democratic allies were proven correct.
But over the next three years, the truth emerged as those federal investigations proceeded, Barack Obama was elected president and the Times was awarded the Pulitzer prize for its increasingly isolated story. No other media outlet confirmed it and no wrongdoing was ever uncovered by those exhaustive federal investigations. With Pentagon string-pullers and their notional pawns conspicuously cleared of all charges, the Wall Street Journal acerbically noted in a December, 2011 editorial, “The (real) liars weren’t at the Pentagon.”
Because Congress never apologized for trashing our reputations, it was somewhat ironic that I finally met John Conyers face to face while testifying before the House Judiciary Committee in July 2012. The issue before the committee was national security leaks, which had now reached epidemic proportions. In a series of articles and a new book by their Washington correspondent, the New York Times detailed how the Stuxnet virus had been deployed to infect Iranian nuclear reactors. Athwart another presidential election cycle, the Times highlighted the macho aggressiveness of the Obama White House, not only in killing Osama Bin Laden but also in orchestrating a highly risky campaign of industrial espionage against Iran.
House Judiciary Chairman Rep. Lamar Smith wrote that news publications claimed to promote “greater government transparency.” Smith also wrote: “But I wonder if their real motivation is self-promotion and increased promotion.”
An even darker question beckoned: Was this the new strategic narrative really designed to win re-election for Barack Obama?
My prepared statement pointedly reviewed how the Times had lied in 2008, easily the most disgraceful case of media-military distortion since the Vietnam War. But my testimony to the committee stressed that the Times “had penetrated the Obama White House as effectively as a team of KGB moles – except that the newspaper was better organized and far more profitable.”
In retrospect, my reliance on mere facts suggests a shocking degree of naivete. Throughout the hearing, butter would not have melted in Mr. Conyers’ mouth. Instead, he calmly defended the Obama White House, ignored every reference to the libelous attack on the military analysts and dismissed every effort to strengthen the Espionage Laws.
But precisely two months after that hearing, most Americans learned a new name — Benghazi — even as a new era of disinformation began. Democrats from Capitol Hill to the deep-state swamp swore up and down that the Obama White House was innocent as the driven snow; that the Iranian nuclear agreement was a good idea; that Hillary Clinton’s email server had breached no laws or secrets worth worrying about.
John Conyers was right there with them. But the final irony in his checkered career may be this: That even his exquisite skills at dissembling finally proved inadequate when, like Rosa Parks, one humble woman at last decided that enough was enough.
Colonel Ken Allard, now retired from military and public life, lives happily in San Antonio, Texas. He enjoys his grandchildren, sings in his church choir and cheers on the Army football team (which begins every game by saluting the national anthem).