Former U.S. General John Sheehan has apologized to the Dutch military for remarks he made during testimony before the Senate Armed Services committee regarding "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" which blamed the 1995 Bosnian massacre at Srebrenica on the fact that the Dutch allow gays to serve openly in its military.
"John Sheehan, a retired former NATO commander and senior Marine officer, 'wrote a letter of apology,' ministry spokeswoman Anne van Pinxteren told AFP. In it, Mr. Sheehan said he was 'sorry'" for remarks made at a Senate hearing earlier this month where he argued against plans by President Barack Obama to end a ban on allowing gays to serve openly in the US military. 'The case in point that I'm referring to is when the Dutch were required to defend Srebrenica against the Serbs,' he said at the time, referring to the Dutch UN peacekeeping force deployed to protect Bosnian Muslim civilians...'To be clear, the failure on the ground in Srebrenica was in no way the fault of the individual soldiers,' states Mr. Sheehan's letter, dated Monday and addressed to the now retired Mr. Van den Breemen. 'I am sorry that my recent public recollection of those discussions of 15 years ago inaccurately reflected your thinking on some specific social issues in the military,' said the letter, a copy of which was given to AFP by the ministry. 'It is also regrettable that I allowed you to be pulled into a public debate.'"
Sheehan's remarks were condemned by the Dutch military, and Dutch gay rights group Pink Army threatened to sue Sheehan.
Pink Army expressed relief at the ex-General's apology. Writes the group:
"'The reactions and the publicity in the Netherlands and in the United States have obviously put so much pressure on him that he’s had to retract his words' says Peter Schouten, founder of Pink Army. ‘The way things developed around this incident shows that the fight for human rights not only is a cause for government but that interest groups and individual citizens have a role to play in it. This enhances the chance of success against injustice. We have to find a way of getting along with one another.’ says Schouten. The most important thing for Pink Army was to get the apology of Gen. Sheehan and that he acknowledge he had given a wrong statement. Now that he has expressed regret, the need to start legal proceedings has vanished. Tomorrow Pink Army will discuss this with the COC (the largest organization for gay rights in the Netherlands) and the Organization for homosexuals in the Dutch Military. As you know Pink Army had started preparations for a class action suit involving seven gay military personnel at the federal court in California. To progress it was necessary to obtain a deposition from [former commander and chief of the Dutch army] Gen. Van den Breemen . Pink Army had to first find out who was telling the truth in this case. Pink Army expresses the hope that the new statement from Sheehan will receive the same attention as his early remarks before the American Congress, because his words deeply offended gays in and out of the military. ‘With his letter Sheehan has, as far as we are concerned, confirmed that his earlier remarks were incorrect.’ said Schouten."
So what are the penalties Sheehan will have to endure for totally making something up in front of the Senate Armed Services Committee???
Sheehan's testimony, if you missed it, AFTER THE JUMP...