Wash. Times headline asserted “Military fears 'unknown quantity' ” of Obama, but quote came from “scare[d]” defense “industry executive”

A February 26 article in The Washington Times was headlined “Military fears 'unknown quantity' ” and contained criticism of Sen. Barack Obama's “commander-in-chief qualifications,” but did not quote a single military official asserting that Obama is an “unknown quantity.” Rather, the article quoted a defense “industry executive” who asserted of other industry executives' feelings on Obama: “We've got some trepidation. There is no track record.” The industry executive added, “He's an unknown quantity and that scares us a little bit.”

Washington Times

From the February 26 article in The Washington Times:

Questions about Mr. Obama's commander-in-chief qualifications have reached the campaign trail. The Obama camp Wednesday sent out one of its advisers, former State Department official Susan Rice, to respond to charges from Sen. John McCain, the likely Republican nominee.


Gen. McPeak, who is an Obama campaign co-chairman, said the senator's intelligence will dazzle the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

“I think Obama is going to be an outstanding commander in chief, not just an ordinary commander in chief,” he told The Washington Times. “He has the potential to be one of the all-time greats. I think the senior military will learn that about him starting from the first minute he occupies the Oval Office. ... There's no question that he is kind of scary smart. I think just plain intelligence is a very good quality to have in a commander in chief.”

Gen. McPeak said it is a “fair comment” that Mr. Obama is viewed skeptically by senior officers. The general, who led the Air Force during the historic Desert Storm bombing of Iraq in 1991, believes the second war was unnecessary. He switched from Republican to Democrat in protest.

“I think that's undoubtedly true that the surge has reduced the violence there,” he said. “But at the strategic level they did not set the initial conditions properly and therefore we can never be a success.”

Defense industry executives worry that Mr. Obama will end six years of defense budget increases and, as he has repeatedly said on the campaign trail and in debates, tap into war and military funds to support his plan for universal health care.

“We've got some trepidation. There is no track record,” said an industry executive of the first-term senator. “He's an unknown quantity and that scares us a little bit.”