- By Thomas E. RicksThomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military for the Washington Post from 2000 through 2008. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Last week some of you may have noticed that I posted an item criticizing Proceedings, the journal of the U.S. Naval Institute, for running an article by an admiral about how great carriers are, without taking note of all the arguments made recently by others about how carriers may be the battleships of the 21st century — that is, looking quite powerful but actually being quite vulnerable, and incredibly expensive to build, equip, and operate.
On the day the item ran, Tuesday, I gave Proceedings‘s editor a heads-up about the item. Since then, I have received a series of complaints and accusations from the journal’s publisher and from a retired admiral who is on the USNI board. I invited them to send along a response that I promised to post promptly. Instead, they escalated and started complaining to my editors. "Admiral Timothy J. Keating, USN (Ret.) is a director of the U.S. Naval Institute, and asked that we forward his letter to the editor based on his reaction to a recent Tom Ricks post on Best Defense," wrote Bill Miller, the publisher. "He submitted a comment to the original post that was not published, quite astonishing considering that Ricks railed about one-sided debates in that post."
Two points here that long-time readers know are true:
- I welcome dissenting responses, and run lots of them. Indeed, last week I repeatedly asked the USNI people to send me a response. They did not.
- I have no control over comments on this blog, and don’t want to. As I have said before, I am a First Amendment fundamentalist, and I also think that editing out offensive material only helps the offending parties look better. Thus I don’t see comments before they are posted. I see them when you do.
Yet the USNI guys persist in believing and asserting that I somehow suppressed Admiral Keating’s comment. Indeed, Admiral Keating this morning sent me an e-mail that seems to me to accuse me of quashing it and then lying about it: "We had no opportunity to respond in a timely fashion. I submitted my post within a day, as is reflected in the blog comment queue. You say you didn’t receive my post. I would say that bears a closer look."
Normally I wouldn’t mention all this behind the scenes wrangling, but Keating’s questioning of my integrity pissed me off. I think he probably screwed up posting his comment and is now are trying to pin that on me. But even if he is technologically challenged, that shouldn’t have been a problem, because last week I repeatedly asked Miller and his editor, Paul Merzlak, to send me Keating’s comment. If Keating couldn’t post it, I told them, I would. But they didn’t send it.
Given this experience, my opinion of Proceedings continues to decline. And yes, they are welcome to respond to this. They have my e-mail address if they need help.