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Garance Franke-Ruta in The American Prospect
...Jordan... was brought down not by outraged citizen-bloggers but by a mix of GOP operatives and military conservatives.
Certainly there were some citizen-bloggers involved in the anti-Jordan effort. Easongate founder Bill Roggio, 35, is a computer-software analyst in Medford, New Jersey. His blog, The Fourth Rail, demanded that CNN release the video- or audiotape of Jordan?s comments in Davos. Roggio started Easongate.com on Saturday, February 5, with a couple of right-wing and military blogosphere buddies, Michigan-based Brian Scott (of The Blue State Conservatives) and Josh Manchester (of TheAdventuresofChester.com). Like Roggio, Manchester served in the military, leaving active duty as a U.S. Marine only recently. Scott, a Republican and member of Right to Life of Michigan, started his blog to further his dreams of becoming a conservative talk-radio personality.
As Easongate got cooking, the trio quickly reached out to ?BlackFive,? a former paratrooper and prominent military blogger in Chicago who declined, in an e-mail interview, to reveal his surname (his first name is Matt). Blackfive brought in Cheryl, a 48-year-old advertising sales representative from southern California who asked me not to use her last name; she gave the group pro bono marketing services and helped to set up a database of CNN advertisers to be contacted. The team even tried to get an active-duty military officer to join their clique. The officer declined.
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:
Subj: Letter to Pres. Bush, Armed Services Senators & the U.S. Marines
Since it is too late for Due Process to be applied to the 1500 plus deaths of U.S. Marines in Iraq, it certainly is not too late to apply same to Lt Ilario Pantano who, under the UCMJ, is likely to be charged with the murder of 2 suspected Iraqi insurgents.
Lt. Pantano is a combat veteran of both the 1st Iraqi war and the present one, including spending 8 months in the Sunni Triangle and the battle of Fallujah. He gave up a lucrative career to fight for America and the family he left behind, twice.
The prisoners he was overseeing during an SUV stop, adjacent to an arms cached house, turned into an attempted flight by the 2 insurgents, who has been talking to each other in arabic. When ordered to STOP, they continued to move in front of him. Not knowing whether his life was in danger Lt. Pantano shot both insurgents dead.
There is no such thing as an unarmed Iraqi insurgent. When someone is willing to give up their own life to kill you, at any cost, the description of unarmed becomes a negligible factor.
Due Process must be forthcoming; however, the benefit of any doubt must also be given to Lt. Pantano, with the regard to be given anyone in a combat zone, that has been under fire for months.
The charges against Lt. Pantano should be dropped, both for his sake and for the sake of all American military personnel that dedicate themselves to both repaying and repelling any and all, both past and present, dangers to America s and the worlds FREEDOM.
President Bush, although you have not spoken directly to this matter, it is my hope you will make your wishes known and, if necessary, based on the events described above, and your rank as THE COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF of the Armed Forces choose to have any upcoming charges against Lt. Pantano dropped, and or he be pardoned.
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.
Your comments about Garance Francke-Ruta are wildly off the mark. I was an Active Duty 1LT that met her while conducting Relief/Recovery efforts at the World Trade Center in September of 2001. I and many of the military personnel at our triage base (Guard and Active Duty) found her to be intelligent, knowledgable and fair. I had the privilige of escorting Ms. Francke-Ruta in one of our FLAs (ambulances) through lower Manhattan and ran for my life with her and my driver when the NYPD thought that 1 Liberty Plaza would collapse across the street from us.
Her article that later appeared in the Washington City Paper was fair, balanced and gave due credit to the soldiers she spent time with there.
As for your description of "military", that is hard to iron out. Is "BlackFive" in the IRR anymore? If he is, he most certainly is "military" and has the ID card to prove it. I've asked him repeatedly to sign an SF 180 allowing me to request his records but he always declines (too bad he spends so much time criticizing other vets that don't sign them either).Posted by IRR Soldier at March 10, 2005 10:54 PM
She could have sprouted wings and flown on 9/11 - what does that have to do with the ridiculous article she wrote? This thing's been lambasted throughout the blogosphere. What comments here are off the mark?Posted by Marty at March 10, 2005 10:56 PM
Why do you need Blackfive's records?Posted by GI at March 10, 2005 11:15 PM
I thought by now that everyone knew that I was Karl Rove.
And the only one that I know of that remotely suggested that I sign an SF 180 was Kevin O'Meara who blogs/comments as "IRR Soldier" but was a Captain in 1992. I should know. I served with Kevin in the 3rd ID. His criticism was in response to my post about Kerry saying that he would sign one but hadn't signed one for the last month or two. Which happens to be the only time that I critized anyone for not signing an SF 180 - not vet(s) as the Rocket Scientist above claims.
Am I in the IRR? No.Posted by Blackfive at March 10, 2005 11:45 PM
So... will you sign the SF 180 or won't you? You proudly pimp your "paratrooper" qualifications. How many jumps do you have or are you just a "five jump chump" that seeks to create a more exciting internet alter ego?
I ask these questions quite seriously.Posted by IRR Soldier... at March 11, 2005 07:21 AM
How can you not support Lt. Pantano? Military justice may be getting politicized or in this case being used to show how "fair" we are in America. Your pontios pilot routine is uncalled for. Get behind Pantano during these crucial days.
The Left has learned that if they simply refuse to join in any quest for truth, that endeavor can be written off as a quixotic rightwing crusade by the MSM. Is it any wonder why so few Leftwing bloggers practice objective scrutiny? That would make them Rightwing Bloggers.Posted by Mr.Atos at March 11, 2005 02:51 PM
No... I'm Karl Rove!Posted by Mr.Atos at March 11, 2005 02:54 PM
The case with Lt. Pantano does need to be looked at. If the information the Sgt. gave is true, he violated the codes of conduct, and the geneva convention. If this is the case, he is also in violation of the UCMJ regarding care of prisoners. However, if there is no evidence that what this Sgt. says is true, he also is in violation of the code of conduct and UCMJ, and should then be prosecuted for those violations. As he did not come forth with his accusations in a timely manner, and unless other witnesses can be gathered, there is no evidence, just testimony. If the Navy Corpsman can verify either account, or shed light on the investigation, he or any other troops on the scene, need to be brought in as witnesses. I'm not about to second guess Lt. Pantano, but if he broke THE RULES, he needs to be held accountable for it. Same for the Sgt. that's accused him of this. If it comes out that he is just a disgruntled soldier trying to get back at the marine that replaced him, well, he needs to be punished accordingly. Let the investigation bear out the truth.Posted by Chad at March 11, 2005 03:53 PM
When BlackFive runs for public office on his military record, I'll be the first to call for him signing a 180 (not that my call means diddly.) Has IRR Soldier signed one? Do I care if he does NOPE, not unless he's using his military record to gain political support.
As far as Pantano goes, I hope he receives a fair hearing. I certainly don't know what happened. And it is possible that the eyewitness accounts don't match what happened, this happens frequently in criminal cases.Posted by Keith, Indianapolis at March 11, 2005 05:17 PM
It doesn't matter what Garance Francke-Ruta did at the WTC on 9/11 (an interesting red herring, though - want some tartar sauce?). She still erred in her piece about bloggers.
Eason Jordan was brought down by people who heard with their own ears what Jordan said. Jordan's comments were first introduced to the blogosphere by an outraged citizen-blogger who attended the meeting in which Jordan made his controversial remarks.
Easongate remained just a blogosphere phenomenon until professional journalists began investigating just what Eason Jordan said.
Professional journalist Michelle Malkin interviewed Democrat Congressman Barney Frank, who heard with his own ears what Eason Jordan said. Congressman Frank verified that indeed Eason Jordan made an accusation against the American military.
Would Ms. Franke-Ruta deny that Michelle Malkin is a real journalist?
Would Ms. Franke-Ruta claim that Congressman Frank is a GOP operative?
Here is a summary of the message in Ms. Franke-Ruta's article:
Liberal bloggers good; conservative bloggers bad.
Conservative bloggers have their own message:
Mainstream journalists who promote a liberal agenda shall be exposed.
If such journalists can't stand the blogging heat, then perhaps they need to get out of the journalistic kitchen.
What Keith said. On both counts.
Unless, that is, IRR fella wants my form 180 as well, which is just about as silly.
And it doesn't make a lot of sense to decide, one way or the other, about Lt. Pantano since none of us have all the facts. No matter what our individual hopes.
And Francke-Ruta may be a wonderful person, but even wonderful people can write stupid stuff.Posted by Julie at March 11, 2005 06:42 PM
thanks Julie - I was thinking WOW an org for PASCAL (the computer lang.), but not :)
I always give our troops in combat the benefit of the doubt. Since this is troop vs troop it makes the situation a little murkier.
That NY Daily News article about Coburn answered a few questions I had. Why did he wait to report? An acceptable answer was given, unit cohesion. He also gave an acceptable answer to the "disgruntled subordinate" charge.
So we have 2 soldiers with equal credability to me (a non-veteran and non-soldier.) I'll have to let the courts decide this for me. Unless someone has a video of the incident to show me.Posted by Keith, Indianapolis at March 11, 2005 07:04 PM
Good grief, how long does it take to make up your mind to report MURDER. Seems to me, not being military and no immediate family being military since WW1, that a person who has to mull over reporting seeing two men shot in the back is pretty sicko. Murder is murder regardless of whether you are civilian or military. If a civilian witnesses a murder and does nothing about it for a couple of weeks, you have to ask yourself why. Now if you're an 80-year old grandmother who listens to gunfire every night in an inner city hellhole, I can understand your reluctance to turn anyone in--just self-preservation. But a 10-year vet who's a sergeant and assumed to be a mature grown-up with heavy ability to defend himself? His motivation has to be suspect. Unless the military has other witnesses, then Pantano must be believed.Posted by Lynda Calhoun at March 11, 2005 07:23 PM
I'll high five Keith too. But I'm not positve he's from Indianapolis, that could be an attempt to gain some of that famous Hoosier credibility. And if Blackfive has jumped from a plane once that's once more than I have. Other than the title of his blog he doesn't flaunt that issue anyhow - it's not like he HALO'd into the Democratic National Convention with a band of brothers. The beauty of blogs is that who you are doesn't matter - your ideas do.Posted by Greyhawk at March 11, 2005 07:24 PM
For those who demand I support Lt Pantano, why don't you support Sgt Coburn?
How can you so casually accuse a career
Marine of falsely accusing an officer of murder?
I'm not calling it either way. Like I said - I'm glad I'm not the judge. (Though I'm confident that once the panel hears the evidence the proper verdict will be returned.)Posted by Greyhawk at March 11, 2005 07:31 PM
The issue with the SF 180 is that BlackFive wants it both ways.
He bashes the supposed "MSM" yet is unwilling to give either his name or provide information on what he did in the Army. How can you bash journalists, whose records are accessible, when you won't even tell us who you are? You expect to be taken seriously when you offer no context of who you are or what you've done. Then, when someone calls you out as a disingenuous ideologue you take offense. Am I the only one that sees this hypocrisy?
Further, releasing what exactly he did in the Army, would provide a swell context to evaluate the way he reports things. Until recently, he made a big deal about being a "Paratrooper." Well, were you in the 82nd? SETAF? the 173rd? the 1/501st? Or, are you just some guy that went to the BAC in ROTC and never jumped again?Posted by IRR Soldier... at March 11, 2005 07:33 PM
Well, let's see, so far it seems Blackfive asked once for Kerry to sign his 180. A reasonable request considering that:
1) Kerry and the Democrats were making a big stink about Bushs record in the ANG, even though Bush barely mentioned it if at all in his campaigning.
2) Bush signed his 180, and made all his records available to the public. And as previously unknown records were discovered they to were released to the public.
3) Kerry was making a big deal about his record in Vietnam while not allowing unrestricted access to his actual records.
4) Kerry did not, and still has not signed his 180.
So, since I've never been in the service, and have asked the same thing of Kerry, you can call me whatever names you want, IRR Soldier.Posted by Keith, Indianapolis at March 11, 2005 08:17 PM
Who he is doesn't matter - what he says does. Evaluate his ideas on their own merit, I do.
And you're posting here under the name IRR Soldier but demanding transparency? Puh-leeese...Posted by IRA Soldier 2 at March 11, 2005 08:18 PM
By the way this is my real name.Posted by France Greece - Russia at March 11, 2005 08:20 PM
1) I'm not the operator of a heavily travelled blog that spouts a former officer's view of the world.
2) I'm not gunning to destroy the careers of distinguished journalists. Balckfive is and is unwilling to reaveal anything about who he is orwhat he has done. He created a larger than life persona as "The Paratrooper of Love" but won't let anyone verify the truth in his web-based-persona.
3) I'm more than happy to evaluate ideas, but don't expect to be taken seriously or take offense when criticized as a partisan hack if you won't reveal who you are.
4) Regarding the Kerry Records Controversy, there is a LOT of personal stuff in an individuals records. If Blackfive is too timid to realease his own, why does he demand that another veteran (with a more distinguished service record) do the same. At least I know who John Kerry is and saw all of his Evaluation reports, Academic Evaluations and medal/decoration documentation. More than I can say about the "Paratrooper of Love."Posted by IRR Soldier... at March 11, 2005 08:35 PM
You just don see this do you.
If I am bambi, and I report a story, you can verify the facts of the story independent of who I am and were I come from. If I start to offer opinion, it may certainly help if I provide my background but opinion on Eason Jordan's words is not the question. Nor is the opinion of Garance Franke-Ruta words being give, but rather her words are being reported, questions are being asked (and going un-answered).
Facts are a fickle thing, the cut both ways in an argument.
Fact is, you are not dealing with the content, you are focused on credentials.
Timothy S. BurnsPosted by Timothy at March 11, 2005 09:04 PM
I respect your decision not to join us, we understood the reasons for this and they made perfect sense. Perhaps we can fight side by side another day. Of course we will be right-wing-conservative-partisan-hacks no matter how it is sliced....
As to Garance Franke-Ruta,
I spoke to her on the phone and had a long running email conversation over her portrail of Easongate, which I will keep the specifics private out of respect to her.
She is a highly intelligent woman who is very interested in the military blogger community. However this does not take away from the fact that she misrepresnted the nature of our site and who was really behind it. I spend $30 out of my own pocket for 2 URLs, no one worked "pro-bono" as there was no money to be had, and all of the decisions were made by Chester, Brian, Blackfive and me. TAPPED wanted to find a political angle to the Easongate website and hammered a square peg into a round hole to get it. It's that simple. It is a shame because the truth was much more interesting.
Do I need to sign my Form 180 so you to read these comments or my blog?
But let's keep throwing accusations at Blackfive to avoid discussing the issue at hand.
I.R. Reservist appears to be the one seeking to destroy someone. I recall Blackfive posting that he was disappointed at Jordan resigning. Oh darn, there go those facts again.Posted by Patrick Chester at March 12, 2005 12:25 AM
I'm Blackfive!Posted by Spartacus at March 12, 2005 04:31 AM
Dear IRR Soldier,
You could easily check out Blackfive's biography, which is available on his blog, to verify his military credentials. Actually, if you had done that before writing what you wrote, you would look like less of an idiot.
Just out of curiosity, where did you get your commission from? Were you enlisted first?
fPosted by Fred Schoeneman at March 15, 2005 02:32 AM
To Ilario's supporters --
I support Lieutenant Pantaro's right to a fair trial, but Greyhawk is right -- his accuser may be telling the truth. The Marines won't let this tun into a show-trial, so I'm not worried about that. But I am worried that so many of you are willing to dismiss an NCO with 10 years of experience as a liar so quickly.
fPosted by Fred Schoeneman at March 15, 2005 02:41 AM
I am a "five-jump chump" and I take offense at your characterization, both of those of us who were only able to take the BAC and of Blackfive.
First, while I did not go to Airborne School during ROTC, but immediately after IOBC (that would be Infantry Officer Basic School) on my way to my first job as a mechanized infantry platoon leader. After serving as a platoon leader for over 18 months, I was on orders to Ranger School (that would be the little curved tab over your unit patch, had I been able to get one, just in case you don't know), I blew my knees out and received a medical discharge with a 20% disability. At the time (1987), I didn't fight the discharge as hard as I should have since I figured that if I couldn't be infantry (or SF), I didn't really want to stay in. So, I am a five-jump chump who is extremely proud of both my service and my airborne (blood) wings. Had I not blown my knees, I also had an interview scheduled with the SF recruiters to branch transfer to the new 18 series. I don't know if I would have gotten in, nor do I know if I would have been able to complete Ranger School. Sometimes even today I wonder, but I am still proud of what I did, five-jump chump though I may be. Nowhere do you say if you even went to Airborne or Air Assault or any other skills qualification school in the army, nor do you say what you did.
I read B5's blog on a regular basis and I can tell you that, judging from his comments and viewpoints, I am pretty sure he is who he says he is - a veteran with whose viewpoints I usually agree. THAT is the important thing. Who really cares whether or not he jumped while perfectly sober more than 5 times out of a perfectly working aircraft? That does not matter. What matters is that he is simply giving information out so that other people can look at the facts and decide for themselves. That's the issue, not whether or not he ever broke his jump cherry.
I also don't necessarily agree that Kerry needed to sign a 180, nor do I really care - the election is over. Having said that though, I understand the reason that so many people asked for him to do so. Bush should have done the same and allowed people to look at all of his records (Before I get flamed, I know he released the records he claimed he had, I'm simply saying that both sides should do it so that the records themselves don't become the issue.)Posted by JJR at March 15, 2005 08:34 PM Hide Comments | Show/Add Comments in Popup Window(28) | (Note: You must refresh main page to view newly posted comments here)