The Pentagon wants America to believe Secretary Hagel was not fired, but the New York Times hit job breaking the news of his retirement is proof he was. The White House did not just throw Secretary Hagel under the bus, it rolled over him multiple times to ensure he is finished.

After two Secretaries of Defense leaving, then writing critical pieces about President Obama, the White House decided the third SecDef needed to be destroyed on the way out so any criticisms can immediately be cast as sour grapes by a compliant press.

But that’s not the most remarkable thing about Chuck Hagel’s firing. The most remarkable thing is toward the end of the New York Times story. Look at how the story explains his firing.

First, there is this:

In his two years in the job, Mr. Hagel’s national security views closely followed Mr. Obama’s, which made his dismissal more noteworthy. Mr. Hagel largely carried out Mr. Obama’s orders on matters like bringing back American troops from Afghanistan and trimming the Pentagon budget, without the pushback that characterized the tenure of Mr. Gates.

Then, there is this:

In the past few months he has been overshadowed by General Dempsey, who officials said had won the confidence of Mr. Obama with his recommendation of military action against the Islamic State.

Then there is nothing. Or at least, if you check right now, that is how the story abruptly ends.

But that is not how the story ended originally. Originally, the New York Times story ended this way:

He raised the ire of the White House in August as the administration was ramping up its strategy to fight the Islamic State, directly contradicting the president, who months before had likened the Sunni militant group to a junior varsity basketball squad. Mr. Hagel, facing reporters in his now-familiar role next to General Dempsey, called the Islamic State an “imminent threat to every interest we have,” adding, “This is beyond anything that we’ve seen.” White House officials later said they viewed those comments as unhelpful, although the administration still appears to be struggling to define just how large is the threat posed by the Islamic State.

Interestingly, the New York Times does not note that it altered its story. But if you put that last paragraph in the search bar at the New York Times, the revised story comes up without that paragraph.

And the paragraph is very telling in juxtaposition to the rest. Here is how it all flowed together:

Mr. Hagel, for his part, spent his time on the job largely carrying out Mr. Obama’s stated wishes on matters like bringing back American troops from Afghanistan and trimming the Pentagon budget, with little pushback. He did manage to inspire loyalty among enlisted soldiers and often seemed at his most confident when talking to troops or sharing wartime experiences as a Vietnam veteran.

But Mr. Hagel has often had problems articulating his thoughts — or administration policy — in an effective manner, and has sometimes left reporters struggling to describe what he has said in news conferences. In his side-by-side appearances with both General Dempsey and Secretary of State Sen. John Kerry (D-MA), Mr. Hagel, a decorated Vietnam veteran and the first former enlisted combat soldier to be defense secretary, has often been upstaged.

He raised the ire of the White House in August as the administration was ramping up its strategy to fight the Islamic State, directly contradicting the president, who months before had likened the Sunni militant group to a junior varsity basketball squad. Mr. Hagel, facing reporters in his now-familiar role next to General Dempsey, called the Islamic State an “imminent threat to every interest we have,” adding, “This is beyond anything that we’ve seen.” White House officials later said they viewed those comments as unhelpful, although the administration still appears to be struggling to define just how large is the threat posed by the Islamic State.

Also gone is this sentence:

Mr. Hagel, they said, in many ways was exactly the kind of defense secretary whom the president, after battling the military during his first term, wanted.

Taken as a whole, the original New York Times story paints a pretty damning picture of the White House’s national security policy setting. Mr. Hagel, so long as he was a loyal foot soldier for the President, was okay even if he was on the outside of the White House cool kidz team.

But the moment Hagel spoke up on ISIS, contradicting the White House, it was game over.

In other words, Chuck Hagel was not fired for incompetence. He was fired for telling the truth on ISIS — calling it an “imminent threat to every interest we have,” thereby forcing Barack Obama to deal with a threat he very much would like to ignore.

It’s only made more interesting by the New York Times’s decision to complete delete that bit explaining the motivation for his firing.