News service: Bell’s transcript correct
Stars and Stripes March 21, 2008
SEOUL — An official with the company that provided a written transcript of U.S. Forces Korea commander Gen. B.B. Bell’s congressional testimony last week said the document contained no transcription errors, though USFK officials said his statements were “mischaracterized.”
Bell, in a March 12 appearance before the House Appropriations Committee, told representatives that South Korea had agreed to pay $10 billion to move U.S. troops south of Seoul, according to a copy of the transcript.
South Korea has agreed to pay only about $4.5 billion of the overall $10 billion relocation cost.
Bell’s comments caused an uproar in South Korea, prompting a demonstration Tuesday in front of the Ministry of National Defense and some South Koreans to call for his resignation.
Kirk Hanneman, vice president of news operations for the Federal News Service, said in an e-mail Wednesday to Stars and Stripes that he and transcribers at FNS had verified that the transcript reflected Bell’s statements.
“Of course, as we are merely transcribing what is said, we can make no claims other than this is what was said at the hearing in question,” the e-mail stated.
Bell issued a statement Monday saying the $10 billion figure was “either a misstatement or a misquotation in the transcript.” He said he intended to correct the official record of the meeting to say that South Korea and the U.S. will share the costs of the relocation.
USFK spokesman Col. Franklin Childress said Wednesday that the FNS transcript contains a mischaracterization of what Bell intended to say.
“We don’t want to get into whose fault it was. We want to get it corrected,” he said. “The bottom line is he has acknowledged it in public in his press release and that is the appropriate thing to do.”