Brig. Gen. Neil Tolley says that he has reviewed his presentation at a Special Forces Industry Conference and has come to the conclusion that he was "accurately quoted" by a reporter from the The Diplomat.
As we reported yesterday, a short, four-paragraph story in the Japan-based foreign affairs magazine caused a diplomatic row because it quoted Tolley saying that United States had parachuted special forces to spy on Pyongyang's underground military facilities.
That would have been a big deal because it would have violated the armistice agreement signed at the end of the Korean war.
In a statement yesterday, the Pentagon said Tolley's talk had been distorted and without naming David Axe, it said he had fabricated quotes attributed to Tolley.
In a statement sent to reporters today, Tolley, commander of special operations for U.S. Forces Korea, said his remarks left "opportunities for attendees to draw the wrong conclusion from what he said."
Essentially, he said, he was talking hypothetically but it could have been construed as fact.
The statement continued:
"My intent was to provide some context for potential technical solutions to our unique requirements in Korea. The discussion was meant to address how technology could help us in the future. After further review of the reporting, I feel I was accurately quoted.
"I should have been clearer.
"In my attempt to explain where technology could help us, I spoke in the present tense. I realize I wasn't clear in how I presented my remarks, leaving the opportunity for some in the audience to draw the wrong conclusions.
"To be clear, at no time have we sent special operations forces into North Korea."