“Because Steller was so determined to prove us all wrong, he quoted Barber as saying the A-10 was not in danger of being axed in the short-term. Now Steller’s drive to dismiss us is coming back to haunt,” James T. Harris told his listening audience on Friday.
Progressive Arizona Daily Star columnist Tim Steller, whose animus toward the conservative Harris is unmistakable, wrote a piece entitled, “I’M AN ISSUE IN CD2.” Apparently, according to Steller a column of his that ran on Sept. 1, 2013, “has become an issue in the congressional race between Democratic incumbent Ron Barber and Republican Martha McSally.”
Steller wrote, “key sentences that have become an issue. Asked Saturday if there are any short-term threats to the A-10 and D-M, U.S. Rep. Ron Barber said flatly, “No.”
Barber told Steller, what supporters of the A-10 have been arguing all through the fight, which by the way started long before Tim Steller or Martha McSally knew there was a fight. Steller wrote, that Barber pointed to the fact that the “A-10 fleet at D-M has had new wings and electronics packages installed, advancing their life spans by at least 15 years.”
Steller wrote the A-10 “nothing to see here – be calm” piece in order to dismiss the stream of articles that followed the revelation about the fight by Senator Jeff Flake during an appearance on Harris show on August 15, 2013.
“In a recent ad, McSally’s campaign has pointed to those sentences as showing that Barber was asleep at the switch as threats gathered around the A-10. Barber’s campaign contends I misunderstood what he was saying, and that his point was what I wrote in that second sentence — that the planes were ready and able to fly for years, not that there was no short-term threat,” writes Steller.
Harris told his audience on Friday, “Steller can’t really concede that he got the story wrong so in order not to fully accept responsibility for writing something that served his ego’s agenda, he claims now, “I don’t have my notes anymore, and neither of us recorded the conversation, but I understood Barber to be making the broader point in the first sentence, independent of the second sentence. Anyway, now he has an ad, coming up soon, that defends his record on the issue and attempts to refute McSally’s accusations.”
According to Harris, McSally wouldn’t have been able to make any accusations had Steller told the truth and had not been driven by his agenda in the first place. “Thousands of dollars will be spent to once again to refute a false narrative by McSally,” stated Harris. “The television stations owe Steller big time for this one, but the voters got screwed!”
“MCSally known to turn any tragedy, according to her fellow A-10 pilots, like the death of Amy Svaboda into a story to sell herself, used the behind the scenes fight by other A-10 pilots to beat up on one of the few guys even willing to listen to them,” read Harris’s show notes on Friday.
According to former A-10 pilot Tom “Chuck” Norris during his appearance on Harris’s show on Friday, McSally was nowhere to be found during the battle to save the plane. Norris, who has been a very active advocate for the plane on Capitol Hill and elswhere said that A-10 supporters reached out to Kelly Ayotte and Rob Barber with their concerns for the A-10. Both said that they respected the military and were assured that the A-10 would not go away. “Everything was pre-decisional,” or so they were told, according to Norris. They then told the supporters, bring us the proof the Service is lying and we will go to battle. The POM was brought to them, and their work began.
In response to Steller’s screwup, Harris, a staunch and vocal supporter of the A-10, began compiling a timeline which he has provided to the AZDI:
Using sequestration, which began January 1, 2013, as the perfect excuse to scrap the A-10, the Air Force begins to sell their plan. Supporters of the plane begin lobbying Congress behind the scenes.
On August 6, 2013, an article appeared in CQ Roll Call entitled “Plan to Replace A-10 Fighter Prompts Concerns About Gap in Close Air Support,” stating the Air Force was asked to conduct a study to determine whether the retirement of the A-10 ground-attack fighter and its replacement by the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter would lessen the service’s ability to provide close air support to ground troops. (AZDI August 21, 2013)
On August 15, after months of educating congressional staff, Tucson radio show host James T. Harris asks Arizona Senator Jeff Flake about the A-10, the Air Force’s plans, and what he is doing about it. Flake denies that the plane is at risk.
On August 16, the Arizona Daily Independent reports on the interview. Flakes’ staff immediately begins pressuring Harris and the AZDI to change the story or remove it altogether. They advise that they will get the mainstream media to present a different version and have already contacted the Arizona Daily Star and KVOA to tell a different story.
From August 16 through August 21, James T. Harris advises his audience of the pressure he is receiving and calls on the community to join the fight to save the plane. On August 18 (Tell Us Your A-10 Hero Story) August 21 (Flake hopes to clarify A-10 issue), and on August 20 (Warthog fans rally after Flake revelation) the AZDI publishes A-10 articles and op-eds.
On August 21, the AZDI reports:
“According to Arizona Senator Jeff Flake’s staff, they will begin “pushing back” in response to an article about the fate of the A-10. Staff member Julie Katsel indicated that the article published here, at The Arizona Daily Independent, was inaccurate in that it gave the appearance that Flake had given a timeline for the plane’s demise.
The ADI reported on an interview Flake gave on the James T. Harris radio show. In that interview, Flake admits to not knowing about the Program Objective Memorandum (POM), which is the source of the “worst fears,” but confirms that the A-10 will not merely experience a reduction in force, but will not be in force at all if the Air Force has its way. “We’ve known for a while that the F-35 is supposed to replace what we have, and that at some point,” said Flake, “we’re going to move away from the A-10.”
Flake issued a statement on Tuesday as part of his “push back” effort: “When Senator Flake was in Tucson recently, he was asked to comment on the future of the A-10 at Davis-Monthan AFB. Senator Flake did not comment on any timetable for the A-10, nor does he have information on any such timetable. He said that the Air Force wants to eventually phase out the A-10, which is no secret.
The article mentions that “one senior congressional aide suggested concerns about replacing the A-10 are overstated. The GOP aide argued that the fast-moving F-16 and its 20 mm cannon have performed admirably in the close air support mission, as has the B-1 bomber.” It is that sentiment, and recently developed POMs that are the foundation of the fears Flake confirmed in his radio interview. The political will to save the A-10 was not evident in Flake and not currently visible on Capitol Hill or in POMs.
Should an A-10 unfriendly POM be the prevailing choice, the A-10 will be mothballed and Davis Monthan will have a slow but certain death. Area residents feel the death is certain due to the area’s representatives who have shown little interest in saving the A-10 or Davis Monthan. Only Congressman Ron Barber has come to the defense and one of his potential rivals in the upcoming election, Ed Martin.
While Flake claims he is enlisting the assistance of groups such as the Southern Arizona Leadership Coalition, a small group of the area’s mostly corporate upper-middle managers, and the inept Tucson Chamber of Commerce (which has overseen the slow destruction of what was left of the business community due to its perpetual grab for corporate welfare rather than programs to benefit the small business owners), the grassroots are demanding to know the truth.”
On August 27, 2013 Martha McSally pens an op-ed piece for the Arizona Daily Star. She writes:
“The A-10 was originally scheduled to remain in the Air Force inventory until 2028 and be replaced by the F-35. But current fiscal constraints could result in the Warthog being phased out much sooner. The consequences of an early retirement are severe for national security as well as for Tucson’s economy and future. We need to pay attention.
Should the A-10 be phased out early, it would have a devastating effect on our community. In 2012, Davis-Monthan injected $1.6 billion into the local economy, employed 3,332 civilians and created 4,687 jobs. D-M is the third-largest employer in Southern Arizona (9,100, according to the Star 200), and including families, brings 19,000 personnel into our community. If neither the A-10 nor the F-35 is at D-M, it becomes vulnerable to shutdown in the next round of base closures.
Every September, the military services submit a Program Objective Memorandum (POM) to the secretary of defense proposing its resource requirements and programs for the next five years. In last year’s process, the Air Force tried to close five A-10 squadrons (102 aircraft) — 29 percent of the A-10 fleet. Congress intervened and saved three of the squadrons.
I reached out to the Pentagon this week to gauge the risk of the A-10 being phased out early as part of this year’s POM……”
On September 1, Arizona Daily Star crack reporter Tim Steller writes his piece of misinformation.
In October, in her last ditch effort to save her sinking campaign, McSally relies on Steller’s incompetence to sell herself as competent.