By:The capertBagger report

Pentagon prevents Obama from visiting troops in Germany

“I can appreciate the fact that Republicans aren’t quite sure how to criticize Barack Obama’s international travel over the last week. It has, after all, been an usually successful trip, which the McCain campaign practically goaded Obama into taking.

They’ve tried out a few angles, but the attacks have either been foolish, contradictory, or both. Republicans said Obama shouldn’t campaign outside the U.S., but McCain did it first. They said Obama shouldn’t describe himself as a “citizen of the world,” but Reagan used the same line. They said Obama shouldn’t be so popular with people yearning to love America again, but no one’s sure what that actually means.

So, left with literally nothing else, Republicans have turned to an old stand-by: they’re making stuff up.

Obama had planned to visit with injured U.S. troops in Germany before he left the country this week. He scheduled a visit, he wanted to visit, and he arranged for the visit three weeks ago. And suddenly, the meeting was called off, and Obama left the country without having seen the troops.

“A ha!” said the unhinged right. “Obama was blowing off the troops!”

This, not surprisingly, is ridiculous. NBC News’ Andrea Mitchell had a good report yesterday knocking this nonsense down.

This was not, in other words, the fault of Obama or his campaign. The Pentagon called the shots, and the Pentagon prevented the visit. Far from snubbing the troops, Obama and his team were reportedly furious about the interference.

Now, as it turns out, some of the confusion started when Obama adviser Robert Gibbs initially announced why the visit had been called off. “The senator decided out of respect for these servicemen and women that it would be inappropriate to make a stop to visit troops at a U.S. military facility as part of a trip funded by the campaign,” Gibbs said on Thursday.

Gibbs, in retrospect, seemed to be taking the high ground — he knew the Pentagon had interfered, but didn’t want to blame the Pentagon for the cancellation.

But his statement was seized upon by the McCain campaign and the far-right in general. The unhinged attacks notwithstanding, the reality remains the same. Gibbs set the record straight yesterday.

Senior strategist Robert Gibbs said the visit to the military hospital in Germany had been in the works for about three weeks, with Gration serving as the campaign’s contact with the Pentagon.

The Pentagon cleared the Obama plan to land at the base on either July 15 or 16, Gibbs said. The plane needed the clearance because of restrictions on landing nonmilitary aircraft there, he said.

But then on Wednesday, Gration told Obama aides that the Pentagon had informed him that the visit could be viewed as a campaign stop.

“They cited a regulation,” Gibbs said of their point of contact, described as legislative affairs in the office of the secretary.

“We believed that based on the information we received that any presence, even his own and only his own, would get into a back and forth on whether his own presence was a campaign event,” Gibbs said.

Obama decided on the flight Wednesday from Tel Aviv to Berlin not to visit the hospital.

Asked why he believed the Pentagon would clear the visit, then raised questions about it, Gibbs declined to speculate: “I don’t know what to make of it.”

Asked whether he thought the Pentagon set up the campaign for a political embarrassment, Gibbs said no.

Greg Sargent added:

[I]t turns out that the Pentagon did in fact tell Obama that in this case, it was not only “inappropriate,” but against DOD rules, for him to conduct the visit with campaign staff.

“We have longstanding Department of Defense policy in regards to political campaigns and elections,” Pentagon spokesperson Elizabeth Hibner told me. “We informed the Obama staff that he was more than welcome to visit as Senator Obama, with Senate staff. However, he could not conduct the visit with campaign staff.”

‘Another bogus McCain campaign attack to add to the list.”

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