Last week the White House announced a U.S. aircraft carrier was heading toward the Sea of Japan, when it was really moving away from the location.
The White House explained that the Carl Vinson Strike Group skipping a trip to Australia and instead heading toward the Sea of Japan was meant as a deterrent signal to North Korea’s recent provocations. The expected arrival of the ships flashed across front pages in East Asia, where many were concerned of a preemptive U.S. military strike on North Korea, the New York Times reported.
One week later, however, the Navy released a photo of the force off the coast of Indonesia, nowhere near North Korea, as the White House had said.
White House officials said Thursday they were relying on guidance from the Defense Department.
In a press briefing last week, Press Secretary Sean Spicer explained the move to send the ships to North Korea.
“A carrier group is several things. The forward deployment is deterrence, presence. It’s prudent. But it does a lot of things. It ensures our—we have the strategic capabilities, and it gives the president options in the region,” he said.
But during a press briefing that same day, Defense Secretary James Mattis contradicted Spicer by advising against reading into any “specific reason” for the move.
The New York Times reported the administration officials’ conflicting reports as “glitch-ridden sequence of events … [that] perpetuated the false narrative that an American armada was racing toward the waters off North Korea.”
According to Defense Department officials, the Carl Vinson is now on its way to the Korean Peninsula and is expected to arrive next week.
The White House declined to comment to the Times. Officials directed all questions to the Pentagon.
H/T the Hill