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January 25, 2010
Before the floodBy Greyhawk
Wow - growing evidence that multiple identical letters appearing in multiple different newspapers under multiple names implies some sort of astroturf campaign. I'm shocked, shocked I tell you, at this development.
The story of "Ellie Light" was exposed in the Cleveland Plain-Dealer and Politico, but from there it has really taken off in the blogosphere and Facebook - with the numbers of "Ellie Light" sightings now above 60, and new examples of similar campaigns being identified fast and furiously.
Just wait 'til the even bigger news sites discover this story. I don't have to wonder what will happen - I know - and whoever launched these various letter-writing campaigns should be well aware of what's coming, too. After all, it's happened before, and not long ago... (screen wavers, fades out... and...)
...back in, to 2003:
Here's a surviving copy of the infamous letter. It was huge news in October, 2003. That quote above is from ABC News, but here's coverage from CBS, the New York Times, and even the BBC (and we could go on).
The story (remarkably identical in original numbers to our news of today) of this earth shattering fraud was blown open in USA Today, when a sharp-eyed reporter "found identical letters in 11 newspapers."
It's not clear who wrote the letter or organized sending it to soldiers' hometown papers. If they are part of an organized effort to sway public opinion, it could raise ethical questions for the military, whose officers are trained to refrain from partisan politics.
Ultimately in an e-mail to ABC news a battalion commander in Iraq confessed that the letter-writing initiative was all his idea, but claimed he just wanted to give his soldiers "an opportunity to let their respective hometowns know what they are accomplishing here in Kirkuk." Fortunately the real plan in which he was participating (willingly or not) - to destroy the very foundation of American democracy - failed as a result of the heroic efforts of the global mainstream media watchdog.
The commander was unapologetic, ABC reported, "saying that the letter perfectly reflects what each of these brave soldiers has and continues to accomplish on the ground." In fact, in their story ABC even acknowledged that "Kirkuk has seen improvement over the past several months, and is far less violent than other areas of Iraq" - and even the original USA Today story acknowledged that the soldiers they contacted "directly or through their families said they agreed with the letter's thrust." But the evil intent behind the campaign was made clear - and it went far beyond the level of a lowly battalion commander: "The Bush administration is engaged in a broad campaign to boost what polls show is sagging public support for the occupation in Iraq" - and obviously they were willing to stoop so low as to use the troops in Iraq to do their dirty work for them.
"Firm endorsements of the letter's description of the situation in Kirkuk have since been re-registered by most of the soldiers who were supposed to have written letters," explained the editors of the New York Times, "but that matters little to anyone who ever marched in the military command system." I shudder at the thought of what we owe those courageous reporters, of how close we came to the end of freedom as we know it, and the complete destruction of all that we hold dear.
And I'm sure that soon enough we're going to see a similar response to this latest outrage. With over 60 "Ellie Light" letters identified, multiple "Mark Spiveys," and who knows how many additional discoveries over the past week I'm certain the dam is ready to break - the identical letter from 11 GIs in their hometown papers seems to pale in comparison. For now the only further "mainstream media" coverage is in a blog on the website of the LA Times. But hell hath no fury as a news reporter who discovers he - and his entire profession - has been duped - used even, by the evil machinations of the powers that be. And I'm certain that the explosion is coming.
Any minute now.
Posted by Greyhawk / January 25, 2010 6:36 PM | Permalink
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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...)
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