In a Wall Street Journal op-ed, Iraq War veteran Pete Hegseth pushed the myths that Elena Kagan barred the military from Harvard and that Kagan is anti-military. Hegseth even digs up the falsehood that the military's policy of discriminating against gay men and lesbians was “imposed on the military” by Congress and President Clinton when, in fact, the military had an anti-gay policy well before Congress passed the “Don't Ask, Don't Tell” law.
These are all myths we have thoroughly debunked already. Indeed, Hegseth even acknowledges that other veterans disagree with him and have defended Kagan: “Her backers say Ms. Kagan supports the military because she has praised them publicly and hosted dinners for veterans. A handful of veterans have defended her, and I concede that she has had good things to say about our troops, which I appreciate.”
But one sentence of Hegseth's piece caught our attention in particular. Hegseth writes in the second sentence of his op-ed: “There are several reasons why [Kagan] does not belong on the Supreme Court.” Yet he doesn't list any reason besides Kagan's actions regarding military recruiters -- which he calls “the crucial” reason to oppose Kagan.
What are these unstated “other reasons” for opposing Kagan? There's no way to know for sure, but looking at Hegseth's background provides some clues: Hegseth is a former intern and fellow with the right-wing Family Research Council; he has taken vehement anti-gay rights and anti-abortion stances; and he has towed the line on many Republican pet issues, including the Iraq invasion.
The Family Research Council president Tony Perkins bragged about Hegseth's appearance during the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Kagan's nomination, describing Hegseth as a “former intern” for the organization:
At the invitation of Chairman Pat Leahy (D-Vt.) and ranking Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions (Ala.), I've agreed to appear as an official Senate witness on Thursday afternoon. Less than a dozen or so non-members are called upon to speak, so it is a distinct honor--and opportunity--for FRC as we work to highlight just how extreme this administration is in its policies and personnel. Stay tuned for more details about where and when to catch the proceedings, which also include former FRC intern-turned-Army Captain Pete Hegseth and FRC's former Vice President of Communications, Charmaine Yoest. In the meantime, please pray that God would use this time of testimony to accomplish His will for the courts--and our nation.
As a college student, Hegseth was publisher of the Princeton Tory, a conservative periodical. In one piece for the Tory, Hegseth wrote: “What educational principles are guiding our generation? Based on the topics addressed in this month's Tory, I am not encouraged. The issues of our day, and this campus, center on, among others, encouragement and support for pre-marital sex, homosexuality, abortion, and a general hostility towards faith and religion. Quite a line-up.” Another piece co-written by Hegseth stated:
Overwhelming majorities of Americans agree with the notion that homosexuality and heterosexuality are not moral equivalents. Only at Princeton and other college campuses is this considered a “minority” perspective. The 1996 Defense of Marriage Act - signed into law by President Clinton and endorsed by 85 members of the United States Senate - defines marriage for federal purposes as being between one man and one woman. Similar examples of “heterosexism” have been enacted in 33 states.
During Hegseth's time as publisher, the “rant,” a feature “compiled by the Tory editors” that was published in each edition, also attacked abortion rights, same-sex marriage and what the Tory editors called "the homosexual lifestyle."
According to Mother Jones, Hegseth also echoed former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's line that the United States would be greeted as liberators in Iraq. Mother Jones reports that Hegseth wrote in 2002:
I believe, if done correctly, eliminating Saddam and liberating Iraq could be the 'Normandy Invasion' or 'fall of the Berlin Wall' of our generation...the Iraqi people are eager to be rid of Saddam, and there is equally encouraging evidence that republican principles could thrive there.
Hegseth's current job is as executive director of the conservative Vets for Freedom. In that position, he attacked President Obama in the 2008 campaign by falsely claiming in May 2008 that Obama had “never met with General Petraeus.” Hegseth has also defended President Bush's interrogation and detention policies by suggesting that there have been no terrorist attacks on U.S. soil since the 9-11 attacks -- a clear falsehood. Hegseth wrote in 2009:
Laying aside the debate over what is and what isn't “torture,” it's hard to argue with 8+ years of safety since 9/11. Yet, somehow, the interrogations we used to get valuable intelligence have “undermined” our safety. President Obama should tell that to the special operators I served with overseas -- and who are still serving -- who killed and captured truckloads of so-called jihadists on the battlefield with the intelligence from American interrogations. Or tell that to the American's who were saved through intelligence we gathered that prevented attacks on our homeland.
So, the real story appears to be that Hegseth -- a right-wing activist -- is willing to spread falsehoods about Kagan's record in order to keep her off the Supreme Court.