Friday, August 12, 2005

USA Today: Gen. Byrnes dismissed over "romance"

Looks like everyone's having a go at the General Byrnes situation. Speculation is rampant. I've seen suggestions ranging from "maybe the affair wasn't with a woman" to "he was part of a coup."

Here's USA Today's latest treatment:

WASHINGTON -- The four-star Army general who was fired this week had been romantically involved with a civilian woman while separated from his wife, his attorney said Wednesday.

Lt. Col. Dave Robertson, the attorney for Gen. Kevin Byrnes, said the woman was not connected to the military and the relationship has ended. He challenged the severity of the punishment for Byrnes, 52, who was three months from retirement when he was fired as head of the Training and Doctrine Command. He had served for 36 years.
One thing you may notice in many of the stories on this subject -- lots of people are writing almost the exact same lede:

"In a rare move, the Army said..." USA Today
"The Army has abruptly relieved the four-star general..." New York Times
"In a rare move, the Army relieved a four-star general of his command..." Washington Post
"In an extraordinary move, the Army sacked a four-star general..." CBS News, Associated Press
"In an unusual move, the Army relieves Gen. Kevin P. Byrnes..." Daily Press
"In a bold move, the US Army has fired a four-star general..." Capital News 9

James Joyner of Outside the Beltway thinks there could be more afoot than simply an affair:
"I can't imagine that a separated man having a consensual relationship with someone not under his command would be cause for relief, let alone at the 4-star level. I suspect something else is going on here, although I have no idea what.

One possibility--and this is pure speculation--is that the relationship in question was not with a woman. I note that his attorney's language was gender neutral as was the reporter's."
However, language used in other releases seems to make it clear that the alleged (a wonderful journalistic butt-covering word) affair was with a civilian woman, and that the general had been seperated from his wife for nearly a year and a half.

"Socialite" and non-native English-speaker Arianna Huffington is certain that it's a moralistic message from the Bush White House that "bad sex" will not be tolerated among top officers, and uses the occasion to point out that it's more fun to refer to top administration officials with a "long-E" sound at the end, as in "Bushie" and "Rummy." Maybe it's the several semesters and Army training in editing in me, but I find use of such weird, familiar terms in a "news" item to be grating.

And of course there's this theory:
Russian Intelligence Analysts are reporting this evening that an apparent coup is taking place in the United States and that both Russian and Chinese Forces have been ordered to their highest non-nuclear defense status...

One of the Coup Leaders in the United States, General Kevin P. Byrnes, and who is also one of their top Military Generals, has been arrested and taken prisoner by US Counter-Coup Forces, and as we can read as reported by the Newsday News Service in their article titled "
Senior general is relieved of duties as commander of key Army training organization."
The best part of this whole story is that Byrnes was scheduled to retire (after 36 years of unblemished service, it's said) just two months from now. I'm sure he'll still get to appear on the cable news networks as a "military expert" even if he did engage in some indiscretion, and he'll still be getting boatloads more in retirement pay than I'm making right now.


UPDATE: Open Post at the Mudville Gazette.