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September 21, 2010

Did Dubie Disobey an Order on 9/11?

Brian_dubie The front page of today's Burlington Free Press asked gubernatorial candidates Peter Shumlin and Brian Dubie to describe, in their own words, the "hardest decision you've ever had to make."

Shumlin, the Democratic state Senate leader, says it was the choice over whether to get into politics or remain a private businessman.

Dubie writes that his toughest choice came on September 11, 2001, while serving double duty as a commercial pilot for American Airlines and as a lieutenant colonel in the Air Force Reserves.

Dubie was en route to Boston's Logan Airport, he writes, when he learned a friend and colleague, Capt. John Ogonowski, was in the cockpit of American Airlines Flight 11, which was hijacked and crashed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center. Dubie was asked by the airline to serve as "casualty notification" to his friend's wife and three young daughters.

As an Air Force officer, Dubie writes, he was also part of a Federal Emergency Management Agency team "responsible for airlifting rescue workers and supplies to disaster sites." While he was with his friend's family, Dubie writes, his supervisor called, "ordering me to FEMA headquarters immediately."

So what did Dubie do? In his own words:

It raised a dilemma: re­spond to my nation’s call to duty or continue serving the family of a friend at a time of tremendous need. I informed my commander that I was where I needed to be. I knew that was the right decision. I was grate­ful my commander sup­ported it.

Did Dubie disobey a direct order? On 9/11, of all days? I'm no military expert, but it certainly reads like that. I guess I always thought that when you're in the military, an "order" is, you know, an order. Maybe it was another misstatement?

Dubie certainly demonstrated intense compassion and loyalty by staying with his friend's family. It seems like highlighting this on the front page of Vermont's largest newspaper would open a candidate to questions he'd rather not get into — and not just by "alternative" news outlets like Seven Days.

In the Freeps piece, Dubie goes on to explain that he later connected with his FEMA team.

Later that day I reported to the FEMA Regional Cen­ter in Massachusetts. As soon as communications were reestablished at FEMA Operations Center in New York, I went there.

Dubie describes how he personally got badly needed radios into the hands of emergency workers at Ground Zero — with just a touch of Jack Bauer "ends-justify-the-means" rule-breaking bravado:

It was my responsibility to coordinate military air­lift and ground transporta­tion for urban search and rescue teams, and special­ized support equipment. To ensure that rescue workers at ground zero were able to communicate, a Motorola factory in Fort Lauderdale preprogrammed 2000 ra­dios, but were told to wait for the proper authority be­fore we could act. With a choice of waiting for ap­proval or bucking the chain of command, I decided to act. I called the aircraft commander of the Florida Air Guard, gave him my So­cial Security number and said, “I take full responsi­bility, just get those radios to the people in need right now." We got the radios to res­cue personnel working the wreckage of the Twin Tow­ers. The director of New York Emergency Manage­ment later said the timely delivery of those radios was one of the most critical tools rescue workers at ground zero had in their ef­fort to save lives.

"I was grateful my commander supported it."

I guess you missed that part.

It's amazing how shameless you guys are in acting as a propaganda arm for the D/P's.

Jimmy, I didn't miss that part at all. But you'll notice that comes after Dubie says, in his own words (not mine), that he was "ordered" to report for duty at FEMA "immediately." And he doesn't say he "asked" FEMA for permission to come later. He "told" him he wasn't coming immediately.

...which could also be interpreted as "we had a discussion about it, and the order was revised/retracted." Mostly because that's what he says happened.

You admit you're no military expert, so why didn't you ask one if a direct order is considered "disobeyed" if the superior officer modifies the order before the conversation is even finished? Because it wouldn't have allowed you to write a completely unsupported Dubie hit piece, perhaps?

One does have to wonder how this story would have been spun if Peter Shumlin had been in Brian Dubie's place...perhaps a more favorable account of a " who bucked the system for what is right and gets things done, no matter what the consequences. He didn't follow the rules, because the rules weren't right, not on that horrible day. Shumlin quickly realized that compassion was what was needed at that moment; a time for action was soon to come, and when it did, he again took the reins, and delivered much-needed equipment when his commanders had repeatedly tried their best to block his tireless efforts to save lives..." Blah, blah, blah.

I ain't a fan of Dubious, but yeah, this one seems a stretch.

The answer to the pernicious headline, "Did Dubie Disobey an Order on 9/11?", is obviously no. This is a non-story looking for an audience that simply doesn't exist. Move on.


I'm a regular reader and like this column. However, this "story" is such a stretch, that to me it's a ding in the credibility of the columnist.

But at least people know about the issue now and can debate it. I think the whole thing makes Dubie a more interesting character and more nuanced person that we otherwise might have thought. If you want to know what Shumlin might have done in the same situation, the press should ask him. That's their job.

There isn't an "issue." There was a decent story on both candidates by the Free Press, that's what provides an insight into Dubie's character, and Shumlin's as well. This blog post is a desperate attempt to find something in that article on which Dubie can be attacked; it's a headline based on a demonstrably false premise, so there's literally nothing to debate.

This does accomplish one thing, though - erases any lingering questions about 7D's bias. No point in even pretending to have any objectivity after publishing something like this.


I have admired your "fringe" interviews, esp. the one with Dumbbell Steele, because when the wingnuts don't answer your questions, you don't give up. I like a journalist with brains and good interrogation skills. It's rare to find them. Esp. in combination. And doubly esp. in Vermont.

But this??? C'mon. This is baaaaaaad.

Anything to slam Dubie?


I just read the Shumlin part of today's competing profiles in the Free Press.

Since you read both profiles and decided to write a blog entry questioning Dubie, I'm wondering: couldn't you just as easily have decided to write a blog entry about how a young politician -- one who has since become known for his brashness, his sharp elbows, his transparant ambition, and his ethics -- started his political career by using a local NIMBY issue in 1980 as the convenient launching pad for his political career? Was it really about the prison, or was it really all about Shumlin? My God, to read his self-congratulatory account of his NIMBYist campaign, you'd think that Shumlin singlehandedly saved Windham County! If it weren't for his heroic efforts and talents, those poor boobs in Windham County would be hosting a federal prison now! I think it is a fair and interesting question whether in this early episode one can see the seeds of the later Shumlin that some people now recognize: using an easy and unpopular target (can you say VY?) for personal political gain.

And by the way, isn't it also a fair question to ask whether the events described by Shumlin were not the political heroics that he makes them out to be, but rather an uncivic act of extreme selfishness? After all, his NIMBYist campaign meant that some OTHER community in the US got stuck with the prison, right? Tough for them, I guess. And isn't it fair to ask whether someone with this track record can ever really be expected to side with the difficult and unpopular siting of wind farms and solar farms in his home turf of Windham County, over local opposition, even though he claims to be a big supporter of renewable energy?

Frankly, THAT story seems a lot more realistic and interesting than the question of whether, on this incomplete information, Dubie disobeyed an order.

And, frankly, I gotta tell ya, a story about flying a plane during 9/11 vs. a story about "heroically" opposing a laughably easy target like a federal prison? Gimme a break.

So, one can ask why, given both of these pieces as your fodder, you chose to go after Dubie.

Points taken. Especially about Shumlin and the prison. I'll ask him about that.

Wow, you'd think Andy carved this one into stone, draped it with a scarlet "D" flag and dragged it in front of Dubie HQ.

It's a blog! This is *exactly* the forum for this kind of story. It's a place where one's thoughts are posted and sequentially vetted by people stealing the boss's internet access. One needs to look no further than Jimmy's rants to find evidence of word vomit.

Andy, you bring up good questions. I hope you will ask them of Dubie and his commanders. It's likely that Dubie used hyperbole when he says he was "ordered" in the first place (the guy is a nap waiting to happen), but that's why we look to you to vet it out.

The Shumlin retort is hardly on par. Rather than someone else "got stuck" with the prison, it is likely a different community embraced its arrival along with the jobs & tax incentives.

"It's likely that Dubie used hyperbole when he says he was "ordered" in the first place"

It's "likely"? Really? And you know this how? Do you hang out with Dubie such that you're familiar with his rhetorical habits? Do you know his supervisor? Is his supervisor not the kind of guy who would order Dubie to do something?

Unless you've got inside information, it seems it's only "likely" to you that Dubie engaged in hyperbole because you obviously don't like Dubie.

Do you share the same skepticism about the truth of what Shumlin says? Maybe we should compare their documented records for oratorical veracity. Which one of them actually has a reputation for hyperbole?

"Rather than someone else "got stuck" with the prison, it is likely a different community embraced its arrival along with the jobs & tax incentives."

Again with the "likely." You know this how? But in any event what the heck does the issue of whether another community may have wanted the prison have to do with the question of whether Shumlin engaged in NIMBYism in Windsor County? Nothing.

Speaking of word vomit . . . Try not to let your obvious political feelings cloud your critical thinking skills.

You're right. It's a blog. It's exactly the kind of forum for this kind of story. And also the kind of story about whether Shumlin used a NIMBYist platform to launch his political career, and whether the stuff he is saying now about the fight he supposedly led in 1980 is actually true. At least Andy recognizes that, to his credit.

"One needs to look no further than Jimmy's rants to find evidence of word vomit."

Cite one thing I said that's not true.

Your little rant might have resonated a little better before the author all but retracted it with his last comment.

"Speaking of word vomit . . . Try not to let your obvious political feelings cloud your critical thinking skills."

Didn't your mom ever teach you the dangers of living in a glass house? Your monologues were so biased that the comment board needed some balance. It's interesting that you find the need to admonish me for using speculative words while your own post treats a Shumlin NIMBY allegation like proven fact.

It's intriguing to discover your belief that Dubie should be protected from questions but Shumlin should be tarred and feathered due to your own speculation. Nice....

Here you go, Jimmer: "Because it wouldn't have allowed you to write a completely unsupported Dubie hit piece"

This unfounded piece of &%*$ statement is on par with the rest of your comments.

1) Andy presented valid questions SUPPORTED by Dubie's own words (you claimed it was unsupported);

2) You claim it was a hit piece. You offered no evidence of Andy's alleged attempt to "hit" Dubie - even though he is fair game as a GOOBERnatorial candidate. Andy's reasonability is proven through his own insights within the comments, thus rendering your statement inaccurate.

So what do I win? Fact remains that you produce word vomit.

1. He admitted it was unsupported. The conversation he cited ended with Dubie's commanding officer allowing him to stay where he was. Bromage admits that he doesn't understand military protocol, and it's clear that he didn't confer with anyone who does. If he had, he would have learned that the conversation that Dubie described could not, under any circumstances, have been considered "disobeying a direct order." He also didn't talk to Dubie about it. Not only is it pure speculation, it's speculation that can easily be disproved.

If I wrote a piece called "Does Shumlin Hate His Kids?", it would have been better supported than this ill-advised nonsense. Shumlin started his part of the BFP piece by stating that it was difficult to choose politics over spending time raising his kids, then never mentioned them again. I could reasonably say that someone who loved his kids would have taken the opportunity to say so, that's an opinion that can't be disproved.

2. A hit piece is an attempt to demonize someone using a sketchy, or outright fictitious, premise. This clearly meets that criteria. I have no idea why you think that an article about a candidate can't be a hit piece.

Sorry to hurt your brain, but you asked for it.

Jimmy, I hate to perpetuate this any further, but I will correct you on one thing. I did contact the Dubie campaign for clarification. I emailed Corry Bliss and Kate Duffy, neither of whom replied. Secondly, I never admitted my questions were "unsupported." I said "points taken," as in, I hear what y'all are saying.

Now I will correct both of your one correction.

Firstly, I said you never talked to Dubie, not that you never emailed his campaign staff and (understandably) never heard back. You do understand the difference, don't you?

Secondly, you admitted that your premise was unsupported by stating that you're not a military expert, and therefore had no basis whatsoever for the false speculation that underlies this Z-grade attempt at a hit piece.

"It's intriguing to discover your belief that Dubie should be protected from questions but Shumlin should be tarred and feathered due to your own speculation. Nice...."

Please, Mr. Overreaction, point out where I said Dubie should not be questioned.

That's what I thought.

What I said was that Shumlin's story might not be all that it's cracked up to be and that it was arguably one-sided for Andy to take Dubie's story out of the Free Press and question something in it, but not Shumlin's story on the same day. He seemed to think my question was a fair one.

Try getting out of your partisan mind-fog.

This is a blog, remember? For raising questions, posting thoughts, and vetting stuff, I think you said?

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