When I first saw this headline from Jim Hoft, I’ll confess it was certainly more than a little off putting.

Outrageous… Obama Has Top Admiral Tell Troops in Afghanistan They May Not Get Paid

Nice… Obama’s scaring the hell out of our troops.
Barack Obama had Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen fly to Afghanistan this weekend to tell the troops serving there that their families may not get paid if a debt agreement is not reached. Admiral Mullen was meeting with US troops serving in southern Afghanistan.

Obama plays politics with the troops serving in harm’s way.

A pretty serious breach, if true. But is that what happened? Jim provides the video of the incident in question (which we’re including below) and there are a few data points missing if you want to prove the stated premise. First of all, Mullen was there on an “unannounced visit” for inspections and to address the troops. There isn’t any indication given – at least that I’ve been able to find thus far – that he was sent by Obama with the specific purpose of delivering this particular message.

Second, as the video shows, Mullen didn’t just deliver that bombshell out of the blue as part of his prepared remarks. The question was asked by one of the soldiers during the Q&A. And Mullen didn’t tell him he was or wasn’t going to be paid. He said, “I don’t know.”

On the one hand, that’s probably an accurate and appropriate response. The head of the Joint Chiefs is not part of the wonk team that works out all the intricacies of domestic economic policy, so it’s not really his business to know. But it was still a horrible answer in terms of the politics and representing the administration, and I imagine somebody is going to be having a chat with Mullen about it. Particularly knowing that there were cameras rolling, you’d think he would know better than to give such a potentially inflammatory answer.

In any event, I’ll leave it up to you to judge what lies beneath this mess. Here’s the video.