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If the China Story Is True, Milley Has to Go

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Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Army General Mark Milley at a news briefing at the Pentagon in Arlington, Va. August 18, 2021 (Yuri Gripas/Reuters) At the very least, we must stop the corrosive politicization of institutions that we need to keep nonpolitical — including the military.

I agree with our editorial that General Mark Milley should be aggressively investigated and, if the Washington Post reporting is verified, removed from office. In fact, I think he ought to be pressed, as a preliminary matter, about whether the reporting is substantially accurate; if he concedes that it is, he should be suspended immediately pending an investigation.

But we need a real investigation. I carry no brief for Milley, who personifies the politicization of institutions that must be apolitical in a properly functioning republic. Nevertheless, conclusions about his alleged behavior have gotten way out in front of the evidence.

As our editorial notes, Bob Woodward has a dubious history. As a foundation for admissible evidence, his reporting methods — particularly, encouraging sources to speak without attribution — would be laughed out of a courtroom.

To be sure, the Woodward MO of portraying the most voluble leakers as his story’s most valuable players would strongly suggest that Milley is one of his main sources. On this occasion, that would add credibility to Woodward’s account, on the legal theory of declarations against interest. That is, in touting himself as the commander who bravely reined in an unhinged commander in chief, Milley would have (however inadvertently) admitted misconduct that could subject him to discipline. (Statements against interest, though hearsay, are generally admissible in court because they are presumptively reliable: When people acknowledge actions that put them at risk, they are usually not lying.)

So, I’m entirely open to believing that the fashionably woke general is a chatty mainstream-media source, particularly as to Trump, whom they mutually loathe. But call me old-fashioned: I think we ought to get some relevant players under oath before we oust the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on the strength of a hearsay story based on

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