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March 10, 2005
Murder, She WroteBy Greyhawk
Ahem - that was me, and my non-participation brought the total number of military members involved in Easongate to zero. Now let's review: "Jordan... was brought down not by outraged citizen-bloggers but by a mix of GOP operatives and military conservatives." I suppose in some minds "former military = military", but in that sense we could likely refer to a lot of Prospect writers as McDonalds fry chefs. A correct statement would be "Eason's charges brought quick response from a small group of veterans who were eager to discover the truth."
My reason for declining to participate is simple: as the project was ramping up I was returning from Iraq and wouldn't have time. But I confess this excuse also released me from having to make a real decision whether or not to get involved. Honestly I still wouldn't have joined in, and my reasons should be obvious. One, as a military guy it's hardly surprising that I'd respond "no we don't" when I'm being accused of murdering journalists. It's more effective to let others with a less obvious personal stake fight the battle. Two, my involvement would open the project to specious charges that it was being run by the military.
Which is basically what the author of this poorly executed bit of tripe has done any way. In essence she's leveled yet another unfounded charge against the military, and a correction and retraction would be appropriate.
I was recently interviewed by a reporter for another national magazine (that project is still in the works, so I won't reveal names) who asked me "Do you take any personal credit for the demise of Eason Jordan at CNN?"
I didn't take the bait. I told him that "credit would be the wrong word. The whole bloggers 'got' Jordan thing is media spin, most bloggers didn't want Jordan, they wanted the truth, and didn't get it. But the spin facilitated a round of media stories about the "climate of fear" that blogs are imposing on mainstream media." I stated that prior to hearing about this Prospect piece, which coincidentally contains the most flagrant example of climate of fear reporting yet:
But there's another a key difference between the effort against Gannon and conservative blog firestorms: The targets of the liberal blogosphere are conservative activists; the target of the conservative blogosphere is the free and independent press itself, just as it has been for conservative activists since the '60s
Ahhh the '60s - that halcyon heyday of conservative activism...
Actually, the truth is that based on eyewitness accounts Jordan got away with making an unfounded accusation of murder. All any blogger wanted was the truth, if no left wing blogs joined in the demands, then that is to their discredit - if not an indication that they endorse Jordan's position.
Here's a good comparison - an example of a blog-related investigation into a crime. Last year an Iraqi blogger told a story on his site about a distant relative his family had told him was thrown into a river by US troops. According to his story the guy drowned and no one was investigating. Glenn Reynolds linked the post and a huge uproar followed. But the story sounded so outlandish, so implausible, that a lot of bloggers were waving red flags on their sites. But the result of all the attention was a military investigation, and it found that this seemingly outrageous story was true. They had dumped the guy into the river. When that was discovered the same bloggers who previously cried foul immediately posted things to the effect of "I was wrong and I admit it". Both Glenn Reynolds and I followed this story to it's conclusion. I could provide a lot more links than these; but the bottom line is that this is a story where justice was served, in large part due to blogs. (For the record Instapundit, Healing Iraq, and Chief Wiggles much more so than Mudville).
And that's what was sought in the Jordan affair. What did he really say? Can he support it? Are troops targeting and killing journalists? Or is this the sort of thing that a major American news organization's executives routinely utter without expecting anything but nods and winks in response? Murder is a damned serious charge, but instead of an investigation we got a resignation.
The moral? CNN doesn't put the same emphasis on truth and justice that the US military does.
But this brings us to part three, and let's see how many can make it through this tough lesson.
Turning our attention to a different case - I received this email today:
It's part of a growing web swarm supporting Lt Pantano. On the surface a noble cause, but I'll decline to get involved, thanks, other than to pass on these facts.
Ilario Pantano had everything going for him, great career, wife, friends.. then on 9/11 he gave it up to rejoin the Corps.
Sgt. Daniel Coburn, a 10-year veteran with service in Panama, Haiti, Bosnia and Kosovo - says Pantano shot two detainees in the back.
The individual who sent me that email wasn't there.
There's an effort to mobilize blogs to support Pantano, but those who rush to defend one of the two men are by default accusing the other of a rather heinous crime - murder, or the false accusation thereof. Sound familiar? Here are elements of the Jordan case and the Healing Iraq case all rolled together. Once again, I'm glad I'm not the judge. But this story has differences from the previous two. In this case the wheels of justice are already turning. A mob will not resolve it, the military justice system will.
Trial-by-blog will not replace the rule of law. Blogs will ensure that.
Blogs can do positive things. More information is good - and people now have a tremendous number of ideas at their fingertips. But the reality is that bad ideas are out there with the good (see the TAP article above for one example, or the email that calls for actions that would reaffirm the paranoid delusions of it's author for another), and often many people are willing to embrace them without much second thought.
Thankfully, we bloggers have blogs to point out our mistakes.
Posted by Greyhawk / March 10, 2005 9:50 PM | Permalink
GreyHawk is taking aim at The American Prospect over their hack job on on Veteran bloggers and how they relate the the Easongate affair. The piece contends that Eason was "brought down not by outraged citizen-bloggers but by a mix of GOP operatives and... Read More
Greyhawk talks about the involvement of bloggers in a number of different events throughout the last year. Read More
November 26, 2010
I think anyone who's ever pondered the "comment" option - once only available on blogs and bulletin boards, now ubiquitous on almost any web site - will appreciate this:
The so-called faculty of writing is not so much a faculty of writing as it is a faculty of thinking. When a man says, "I have an idea but I can't express it"; that man hasn't an idea but merely a vague feeling. If a man has a feeling of that kind, and will sit down for a half an hour and persistently try to put into writing what he feels, the probabilities are at least 90 percent that he will either be able to record it, or else realize that he has no idea at all. In either case, he will do himself a benefit.
That's wisdom from the past, captured for posterity at the US Naval Institute, shared via the web on the institute's 137th anniversary.
From their about page:
"The Naval Institute has three core activities," among them, History and Preservation:
The Naval Institute also has recently introduced Americans at War, a living history of Americans at war in their own words and from their own experiences. These 90-second vignettes convey powerful stories of inspiration, pride, and patriotism.
Take a look at the collection, and you'll see it's not limited to accounts from those who served on ships at sea, members of the other branches are well-represented.
I'm fortunate to have met USNI's Mary Ripley, she's responsible for the institute's oral history program (and she's the daughter of the late John Ripley, whose story is told here). She also deserves much credit for their blog. ("We're not the Navy nor any government agency. Blog and comment freely.") We met at a milblog conference - Mary knew (and I would come to realize) that milbloggers are the 21st-century version of exactly what the US Naval Institute is all about. Once that light bulb came on in my head, I mentioned a vague idea for a project to her - milblogs as the 21st century oral history that they are.
"Put that in writing," she said (of course - see first paragraph above!) - and here's part of the result.
Shortly after the first tent was pitched by the American military in Iraq a wire was connected to a computer therein, and the internet was available to a generation of Americans at war - many of whom had grown up online. From that point on, at any given moment, somewhere in Iraq a Soldier, Sailor, Airman or Marine was at a keyboard sharing the events of his or her day with the folks back home. While most would simply fire off an email, others took advantage of the (then) relatively new online blogging platforms to post their thoughts and experiences for the entire world to see. The milblog was born - and from that moment to this stories detailing everything from the most mundane aspects of camp life to intense combat action (often described within hours of the event) have been available on the web...
And et cetera - but since you're reading this on a milblog, you probably knew that. And you know that milblogs aren't just blogs written by troops at war, that many friends, family members, and supporters likewise documented their story of America at war online in near-real time, as those stories developed.
The diversity in membership of that group is broad, the one thing we all have in common is the impulse to make sense of the seemingly senseless, and communicate the tale - for each of us that impulse was strong enough to overcome whatever barriers prevent the vast majority of people from doing the same. Everyone at some point has some vague idea they believe should be shared - we were the people who, from some combination of internal and external urging, found and spent those many half hours persistently trying to write it down.
But where will all that be in another 137 years? Or five or ten, for that matter. That's something I've asked myself since at least 2004 - when I wrote this:
Membership in the ghost battalion has grown in the years since, and an ever growing majority of those abandoned-but-still-standing sites are vanishing. Have you checked out Lt Smash's site lately? How about Sgt Hook's? If you're a long-time milblog reader you know the first widely-read milblog from Operation Iraq Freedom and the first widely-read milblog from Afghanistan are both gone from the web. If you're a relative newcomer to this world you may never even have heard of them - or the dozens upon dozens of others who carried forth the standard they set down.
If you have a vague notion that something should be done about that, (a notion I've heard expressed more than once...) then you and I and the good folks at the US Naval Institute are in agreement. Preserving the history documented by the milbloggers is just one of the goals of the milblog project, the once-vague idea that we're now making real.
And it's a big idea, if I say so myself - too big to explain in one simple blog post, so stand by for more. Likewise, it's too big a task to be accomplished by just one person. So if you're a milblogger (and exactly what is a milblogger? is a topic for much further discussion on its own) I'm asking for your help. All I'll really need is just a little bit (maybe just one or two of those half hours...) of your time, and your willingness to tell the tale.
We've already made history, it's time to save it.
(More to follow...)
The Mudville Gazette is the on-line voice of an American warrior and his wife who stands by him. They prefer to see peaceful change render force of arms unnecessary. Until that day they stand fast with those who struggle for freedom, strike for reason, and pray for a better tomorrow.
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