AIR FORCE ERRORS HELP ESCALATE VERMONT'S FIGHT OVER F-35 BASING
By William Boardman Email address removed"> Email address removed
The Pentagon has admitted it was wrong about basic facts relating to basing the F-35 stealth fighter-bomber in Vermont, so of course the announcement was made late last week in a story spun to be about public participation. While most Vermont media missed the story entirely, the Burlington Free Press got the scoop and missed its significance, focusing instead on the extension of the public comment period on the Air Force's environmental impact statement. Mission accomplished?
The environmental impact statement has been sharply criticized for weeks by retired Air Force Col. Rosanne Greco, whose critique pointed out false information on the scoring sheets on which the statement's conclusions were based. In a locution worthy of Watergate, Pentagon spokesman Col. Frank Freeman explained that those erroneous score sheets and "no longer applicable."
The Air Force refuses to make them public.
The significance of this news began to appear yesterday, in a lengthy commentary by attorney James Leas on the blog "F-35 in South Burlington." Leas points out that the interview with Col. Freeman is entirely consistent with Greco's critique, and rebuts none of it, even though the Pentagon had flatly denied Greco's assertions up until now. Greco is also chair of the South Burlington city council, which is concerned that the city will suffer significant environmental, economic, and human damage if the advanced F-35 fighter is based in Burlington.
In similarly inept reporting, WCAX-TV reported that the public comment period was extended, but omitted any hint Pentagon error, never mind admission of error, in its report. Greco's principled and now confirmed criticism has earned her considerable public hostility in recent weeks, mostly along the lines of this one that accompanied the incomplete WCAX story: " Why do they have to make so much noise and can't they just stay up there all the time flying high. I am talking about the loud mouth protesters and not our defense."