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April 20, 2009
"Subject: AH, now it comes out"By Greyhawk
Update: mystery 90% solved, see below.
That headline above (another version "Subject: The Behind the Scenes News on the Gulf of Aden Pirate Take-Down") is the subject line from an email that's making the rounds. So yes - I've seen it. If you haven't seen a copy yet you probably will. There's a version on a blog from 18 April here, Jerry Pournelle linked it that day, Glenn Reynolds linked Pournelle the day after.
As of this writing, there are 39 Google hits for one of the key quotes. A quick glance at a random sample reveals no morphs at this point in time, they appear to be the same story. (Update: there are subtle differences, see below.) However, the line "read the following accurate account" about midway through indicates two sources.
For what it's worth, I get the impression that everything after "Three rounds downrange later, all three brigands became enemy KIA and Philips was safe." was written by someone other than the person who wrote the "accurate account" - perhaps the person who wrote the part before the "accurate account".
The earliest version I've found online is here - although depending on time-zone this version from a free republic chat dated April 16 ("Posted on Thursday, April 16, 2009 10:09:51 PM by mrmargaritaville" With the credit "Pulled from a boating message board ") might be the first. The earliest email I've seen this far has the same date.
Snopes has nothing as of now.
For what it's worth - this has all the classic elements of an urban legend. I'd like to see it happen, but I doubt you'll find anyone stepping forward and taking credit for being the initial author(s). Such things have a tendency to be dismissed - and usually that's good. The downside is - as I wrote on April 12th and 13th - this is a pretty accurate description of what happened, though I remain convinced that Barack Obama had next to nothing to do with it. ("White House" would be a better term.)
Still, there's no better way to ensure the truth is destroyed then to turn it into an urban legend.
Update: ahh... much of the email (everything after "read the following accurate account" - guess I googled the wrong quote) is taken directly from this unsourced story from Jeff Emanuel (not to be confused with Rahm). That also contains the line about Phillip's "second" dive into the water.
More: and that story first appeared on Red State. It too contained a reference to the "second jump" - a detail that (like many) was first erroneously reported to have happened in the MSM coverage (then subsequently scrubbed). Repeat after me: Initial reports are always wrong.
Still Jeff has much of the story right regarding restrictive ROE - although the desired outcome was not "a peaceful resolution" , it was more specifically captured pirates face trial in America. And President Obama played a bit less of a role than he wants you to believe.
As for whoever wrote the rest of the email and turned it into an urban legend: they weren't military - but they are the sort of person who thinks military people use terms like "raggies." ("Skinnies" has been used, you have to appreciate the humor behind that - being skinny is harder to shoot.)
Still more: this comment from NS Webster gets bumped, because there's a distinction that needs to be made:
This effort to find fault with the response is getting somewhat desperate and grasping.He's right. But there is a potentially big problem.
The first time I posted about this I said it's not about Obama, and it isn't. We have dead pirates thanks to what I call the 21st Century Easter Miracle. I'm as glad as I am agnostic on this one.
I don't have a problem with Obama - he wasn't the player many (Right and Left, pro and con) think he was. Barack Obama is not that deep into military business. Even he hasn't claimed the honors or blame many want to bestow upon him for this.
The problem is next time, and restrictive ROE that can't be used successfully again and again just because this time an "on-scene commander" had the balls to act and an Admiral covered his back and presented the admin (meaning whatever legal counsel actually set this goatrope up) with "here's your story, heroes - whatcha gonna do now?"
There are similarities between this story and that of Captain Roger Hill - a man whose career ended as a result of Bush-era "ROE" in Afghanistan (ROE that continue). The main difference being that in Captain Hill's case no enemies were killed.
Here are the earliest examples I found of this urban legend email - and some additional observations.
The early "freep" version:
Having spoken to some SEAL pals here in Virginia Beach yesterday and asking why this thing dragged out for 4 days, I got the following:Early email version - for what it's worth there are spelling errors in the above post that don't appear in this. (Update - and more, this version changes "raggies" to "pirates". I suspect the version above actually reflects a more "pure" version of the original, this one has been spell checked.):
Having spoken to some SEAL pals here in Virginia Beach yesterday and asking why this thing dragged out for 4 days, I got the following:Odd note: the author (or a forwarder) defines "on scene commander" but leaves all other acronyms alone.
As for the superkewlkid word DEVGRU - their participation might seem like a degree of knowledge only an insider would have, but in reality the Obama admin (specifically, some untrained dipsy doodle dipstick working the Easter weekend shift in the PR department or else a payback for snuffing the pirates) blew COMSEC and released that datapoint into the wild almost immediately. Easy enough to guess, but still - bad form.
Finally - I think "Send this to 12 of your friends immediately or a SEAL sniper will shoot you in 5 minutes" should be added to all future forwards of this email.
And wait til you see what we're going to do about the pirates next! (Hint: Guess "grab their great big pirate assets".)
Posted by Greyhawk / April 20, 2009 6:30 PM | Permalink
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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