Weekly Standard executive editor and FOX News Channel co-host Fred Barnes falsely claimed that President George W. Bush never proposed withdrawing some 12,000 troops from Korea -- after Barnes himself admitted that he thought the withdrawal was a bad idea.
"I would prefer to keep the 12,000 troops there, but I don't know that the Bush administration has announced that it is taking 12,000 troops out of Korea," Barnes said on the August 18 edition of FOX News Channel's Special Report with Brit Hume. Moments later, he made the assertion more forcefully, saying that Bush "hasn't announced the 12,000 troops are coming out of Korea." His claim contradicted reports by the Associated Press, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Boston Globe.
When Roll Call executive editor (and Barnes's FOX News Channel co-host) Morton M. Kondracke criticized Bush's plan, saying, "for Bush to announce it [troop withdrawal from Korea] in a campaign speech without a lot of predicate about it, or justification or anything else, at the very time of negotiations [with North Korea] does indicate weakness," Barnes rushed to Bush's defense:
BARNES: He hasn't announced the 12,000 troops are coming out of Korea.
KONDRACKE: OK. Well, that's what's understood.
BARNES: No. No. You said he announced it! He has not announced that! That is just not true.
KONDRACKE: The Pentagon has background to that effect.
While Bush himself did not identify specific numbers of troops in his August 16 speech at the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) annual National Convention -- in which he outlined the redeployment proposal in broad terms -- administration officials have confirmed this figure in more detailed discussions of the proposal, including an August 16 background briefing by military and Defense Department officials. In fact, as far back as June 9, an Armed Forces Press Service article cited a statement by Deputy Defense Undersecretary for Asian and Pacific Affairs Richard Lawless confirming the same figure.