Limbaugh admitted to airing call from phony liberal-bashing Lt. Col. in Iraq but continued to hold out hope officer was real

››› ››› BEN FISHEL

On his radio show, Rush Limbaugh admitted he had aired a phone call from a purported Air Force officer in Iraq who the military says "[d]oes not exist." The apparently phony officer, who Limbaugh said identified himself as "Lieutenant Colonel Luke Fitzpatrick" of the "336th Tactical Air Wing," delivered what Limbaugh described as a "profound" and "mov[ing]" message. But despite acknowledging that Pentagon officials and the Air Force told him they have no record of a "Luke Fitzpatrick" or a "336th Tactical Air Wing," Limbaugh nonetheless continued to float the possibility that the caller was in fact an officer in Iraq.

On the June 2 edition of his nationally syndicated radio program, Rush Limbaugh admitted that, two days earlier, he had aired a phone call from a purported Air Force officer in Iraq who the military says "[d]oes not exist." The apparently phony officer, who Limbaugh said identified himself as "Lieutenant Colonel Luke Fitzpatrick" of the "336th Tactical Air Wing" at "Tallil Air Force Base" in Iraq, delivered what Limbaugh described as a "profound" and "mov[ing]" message -- among other things, the caller stated that Limbaugh and fellow conservative Sean Hannity are the "only two" radio hosts who "are allowed to get broadcasts across" to the troops in his unit and declared that former President Bill Clinton "castrated" the military.

Despite acknowledging that Pentagon officials, as well as the Air Force, told him they have no record of a "Luke Fitzpatrick" or a "336th Tactical Air Wing," and that the Air Force "asked us to stop airing or put up any information about him," Limbaugh nonetheless continued to float the possibility that the caller was in fact an officer in Iraq. First, he suggested the possibility that the caller "genuinely is a member of the Air Force and was trying to hide his identity and using a fake name and giving some incorrect information just to protect" himself from retribution for speaking openly. He then appeared to question whether the military was being truthful in denying that they had any record of a "Luke Fitzgerald":

LIMBAUGH: Then, the other option we have is: Do we believe the military? The man did have some very pointed things to say. The man was very -- whatever. I mean, whoever he is, he had some very, very pointed -- like, "Let us go. Turn us loose. Let us out of the cages and do what we came here to do." So, who do we believe here? Who do we believe? Do we believe the military? Do we believe the caller?

From the June 2 edition of The Rush Limbaugh Show:

LIMBAUGH: All right, kill the music. Before we get going with the rest of the program, ladies and gentlemen, I need to inform you of something. Two days ago, we had a caller on this program, the last caller of the day, claiming to be Lieutenant Colonel Luke Fitzpatrick of the 336th Tactical Air Wing based out of Tallil Air Force Base in Baghdad. He had called in earlier and dropped off and then called back. The screener did not bother to get his phone number in an effort to possibly call him back because he claimed he was calling from Baghdad.

Nevertheless, we received a call from a public affairs officer for Seymour Johnson Air Force Base right after the program, where the 336th Tactical Air Wing was said by the caller to be based. The public affairs officer for Seymour Johnson Air Force Base said that Lieutenant Colonel Luke Fitzpatrick didn't exist. Does not exist. And asked us to stop airing or put up any information about him, because they were getting calls -- this man's call was very powerful -- and they were getting calls about his appearance and people were wanting more information on Lieutenant Colonel Luke Fitzpatrick.

After all this, we got hold of the Pentagon. We called the press office of the Air Force at the Pentagon and we -- we -- we spoke to Sergeant de Leon. Said there was no one with the name Luke Fitzpatrick, though it might be a nickname for him. However, he said there is no 336th Tactical Air Wing in theatre in Iraq. In fact, the word tactical has been dropped altogether from current vernacular. The only -- the only one he showed based at Tallil Air Force Base now was the 407th Air Expeditionary, per his latest information.

So, the caller identifying himself as Luke Fitzpatrick, Lieutenant Colonel, 336th Tactical Air Wing, cannot be identified by anybody in the United States military.

Now, there's a number of ways to play this, ladies and gentlemen. What, Mr. Snerdly? What? Now, the way to play -- we could go the Dan Rather route. We could go the Dan Rather route and say, well, nobody's proved that what he said was wrong and so, we're going to stand by what he said. Nobody can -- nobody can find fault with what the man identifying himself as Luke Fitzpatrick said, so, we're going to stick with it. Nobody's been able to challenge the veracity of his comments. They say he doesn't exist, but clearly, he was somebody.

We don't -- seriously, we don't know if he genuinely is a member of the Air Force and was trying to hide his identity and using a fake name and giving some incorrect information just to protect -- we have no clue. All we can tell you is that the Air Force says, and the military says, he doesn't -- there's nobody by that name and -- and that the 336th Tactical Air Wing based out of Tallil is not called tactical. In fact, they're not even there. It's the 407th Air Expeditionary, per the military.

Then, the other option we have is: Do we believe the military? The man did have some very pointed things to say. The man was very -- whatever. I mean, whoever he is, he had some very, very pointed -- like let us go. Turn us loose. Let us out of the cages and do what we came here to do.

So, who do we believe here? Who do we believe? Do we believe the military? Do we believe the caller? And what do we do with the message? I mean, the message that the caller had was profound. Everybody was moved by it. So, in this case, folks, we -- we -- we just passing on the information that -- that we're getting.

It's -- one of the things I've always said when I have callers on the air that I don't trust -- I think I'm being scammed one way or the other, or even if I do believe somebody -- you know, anybody can call a talk show and say anything, and despite the best screening techniques that exist in modern-era broadcasting -- and they are here on this program -- a number of people, if you want, can get through and scam. So, you have to be dubious about it and just in a normal -- well, not dubious. But you have to be constantly on alert.

But I, you know, I wanted to pass this information on to you because we did get calls from the military 'cause they were getting calls from a lot of you in this audience. So, just to repeat what they said: There is no Lieutenant Colonel Luke Fitzpatrick anywhere in the records of the United States Air Force, at the Pentagon, and the identifiers he gave do not hold up with deployments that are actually taking place in Iraq and at Tallil Air Force Base.

Now, we move on to the rest of the program.

From the May 31 edition of The Rush Limbaugh Show:

LIMBAUGH: Anyway, we have a call from Iraq from Tallil Air Force Base. Lieutenant Colonel Luke Fitzpatrick somehow got through. Lieutenant Colonel, this is an honor to have you on the phone with us while you're in Iraq -- at any time, actually. Thank you for calling.

FITZPATRICK: Good afternoon, I believe it is, your time, Rush, and major dittos here from the sandbox.

LIMBAUGH: Well, thank you, sir. Appreciate that.

FITZPATRICK: I wanted to let you know that you and your cohort, Mr. Hannity, are the only two that are allowed to get broadcasts across our (inaudible) room. The rest of the liberals -- they can go listen on their Walkmans if they so choose.

LIMBAUGH: Wait, you are -- are you, are you free to say all this? That's cool.

FITZPATRICK: Yes, I am. Well, what are they going to do, Rush? Send me to Iraq?

I mean, honestly. I -- I'm here. I do want to take the time, though, to thank you and everybody else who's back behind us for the support you have given us. We -- this is, let me stress, an all-volunteer military, so, when you take that into account all the across-the-aisle bickering as to whether or not we need to be here or not be here, whether we should go home or we should stay in more force, it really is irrelevant. Every one of us -- when we signed the papers -- we knew what was going to be asked of us in the worst case scenario. We are here. We are the best-trained standing military force in the world, and I only ask one of two things: Either unlock our cage and let us do what we are trained to do better than anyone else in the world or send us home.

LIMBAUGH: You think you're being --

FITZPATRICK: I'm -- I'm -- I'm a single father, Rush. I lost my wife about 15 years ago. I have two children, and I volunteered to come back here because I -- I live and breathe our country. It is not "land of the free and home of the brave." It is "land of the free because of the brave."

LIMBAUGH: A profound --

FITZPATRICK: And I think --

LIMBAUGH: -- that is -- that is a profundicy [sic], Luke.

FITZPATRICK: And -- and that is something that I think a majority of our listeners, whether or not you sit on the left side or the right side of the aisle -- you could pass me in the supermarket, at the gas station paying $3 a gallon and not know whom [sic] I was, the sacrifices I've made, nor do I want accolades for that, nor do any of my brethren -- brothers and sisters. And this is the first major conflict where there are women in combat fighting roles -- and you can talk all you want about Jessica Lynch and that was not a combat role -- there are women in combat here today in Baghdad, in Kut, in Mosul, in Basra, in Yusufia that hold the same responsibilities and the heavy burden on our shoulders, and -- and I -- it -- it's hard to say, Rush, but I think -- it starts to feel like Vietnamization when we can key in to our mainstream media -- I happen to be from northern Minnesota --

LIMBAUGH: Say, Lieutenant Colonel Fitzpatrick, do you -- can you hang on? I'm really late on a commercial break and I have to take --

FITZPATRICK: Absolutely, Rush. Take your time, please, sir.

LIMBAUGH: You can hang on. I'll be right back to you right after this. Don't lose your train of thought there.

[commercial break]

LIMBAUGH: And we are back with Lieutenant Colonel Luke Fitzpatrick from Tallil Air Force Base in Iraq. You were talking about the Vietnamization when you key in to your -- the drive-by media here and watch their reports on what you're doing.

FITZPATRICK: Absolutely, sir. We just -- we're a little concerned as to the fallout, for lack of a better term, of the extended nature of the conflict here, and we hate to call it a conflict because, Rush, somebody shoots at me every night. Every night on combat air patrol, regardless, we get shot at. And you know --

LIMBAUGH: Let me tell you something, Lieutenant Colonel. We -- we know what happened when we left Mogadishu. When we left Somalia with victory in our hands and Clinton decided to pull out --

FITZPATRICK: He castrated us, Rush.

LIMBAUGH: If we quit in Iraq, we cannot imagine the -- and so, a lot of us are sensitive to your concerns of the drive-by media. We battle it every day here.

FITZPATRICK: As terms of the drive-by, Rush, I was here from -- I was here originally from [Operation Desert] Shield. I was the second unit deployed here from Shield from Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, the 4th Fighter Wing. I was here from Shield through [Operation Desert] Storm through [Operation] Enduring Freedom, now Operation OIF -- Iraqi Freedom. The reason I came back is because I felt that the job was not finished. And it's not finished. Yes, we have a standing government, but I get shot at every night. I come home with holes in my airplane, Rush. Granted, they're not critical, but one --

LIMBAUGH: What do you fly?

FITZPATRICK: -- one day, it may be and you will read about me on CNN and I will be that blurb and I will show up in that 2600-some-odd casualty figure that the -- the drive-by media is obsessed with of how many people have died over here because we are an all-volunteer force. And that is the main reason that we called in today. I'm calling in. I just so happened to be the mouthpiece for the squadron here, the 336th Tactical Fighter Wing from Seymour Johnson -- the Rocketeers. We're an F15E Strike Eagle Squadron. We fly by night. Our motto is "Raining fire from above for the freedom that we love."

LIMBAUGH: Wow. Wow. Wow.

FITZPATRICK: And, you know, it -- it's a little-short-of-the-death-from-above syndrome but we're here to do a job and I'm tired of being handcuffed, and the guys I command and constantly send into battle every day -- knowing that they could not come back and I'll have to write that letter to their significant others, to their moms, to their dads.

LIMBAUGH: Lieutenant Colonel, I -- I hate to have to -- I have to stop you because I'm just -- I'm out of time here but let me just --

FITZPATRICK: That's fine, Rush.

LIMBAUGH: Thank you so much. You have made the program today. You have brought tears to people's eyes. I've been reading email from them about it, and just know that everybody in this audience, and the vast majority of the American people, love you and support what you're doing and wish you the best and thank you.

[commercial break]

LIMBAUGH: "Land of the free because of the brave." We gotta get a t-shirt made with that in honor of Lieutenant Colonel Fitzpatrick. We'll work on that. See you tomorrow, folks. Have a great day.

Posted In
National Security & Foreign Policy, War in Iraq
Person
Rush Limbaugh
Show/Publication
The Rush Limbaugh Show
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