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What needs to be said about Scott Thomas?
How far into The New Republic's fabricated war story did I have to get to recognize it was a fabricated story? Answer: Not very far. Here's the first line:
I saw her nearly every time I went to dinner in the chow hall at my base in Iraq.Here's a true war story. One late night near Baghdad, my unit's First Sergeant and I went to the local USAF passenger terminal to pick up a newly arrived troop. Because food is important to survival and morale, the first place we took our newbie was the DFAC - the Dining Facility. (Pronounced DEEFAK with emphasis on the first syllable.) AS I said, it was late, so as we pulled into the parking area Top asked a passing soldier "Hey, what time does the chow hall close?". His response was a blank stare, and a "huh?". He moved closer to the vehicle.
"What time does the Chow Hall close?" The First Sergeant repeated. The soldier began to appear confused, and was unable to respond. Something clicked in my head. "He doesn't know what a chow hall is" I said. The term is outdated, appearing now only in old war movies on TV, but Top and I are old school. "What time does the DFAC close?" Asked the First Sergeant.
"Twenty hundred hours" he replied smartly. He wasn't being a smart ass, he was completely unfamiliar with the term "chow hall". (By the way, it was closed, so we ate at Pizza Hut that night. I paid. War is hell.)
Anyhow, this hardly proves "Scott Thomas" is a liar, but it does trigger the Bullshit antennae. Not until the second sentence does his story completely and totally fall apart:
She wore an unrecognizable tan uniform, so I couldn't really tell whether she was a soldier or a civilian contractor.And that pretty much finishes that. Hint: military people wear military uniforms - the service uniform or the Physical Training uniform, AKA PT gear. and ALWAYS HAVE THEIR WEAPONS. Contractors wear civilian clothes and are rarely armed. (This has something to do with something called the Geneva Conventions, and also common sense.) Anyhow, this makes readily apparent who is military and who is not. In fact, it is the very reason MILITARY PEOPLE IN IRAQ ARE ONLY ALLOWED TO WEAR THEIR UNIFORMS AND NOTHING BUT THEIR UNIFORMS. Again, this doesn't prove Scott Thomas is a liar, only that if he is who New Republic claims he is, his ignorance exceeds that of any soldier of any rank I've ever met.
If he's to be believed, this maybe military maybe not individual who was eating at the "Chow Hall" was horribly disfigured - for reasons not stated - and ultimately fled the "chow hall" in tears after being humiliated by comments from Thomas: "“Yeah man,” I continued. “I love chicks that have been intimate—with IEDs. It really turns me on—melted skin, missing limbs, plastic noses ." The poor girl, to have courageously recovered enough from wounds so grievous, only to be reduced to tears and flight from a roomful of laughing soldiers who confront the reality of IEDs every day, and who have seen friends die from that cause.
Scott has many other stories of his buddies to share with eager readers of National Republic. In his version of Iraq, a Saddam-era children's mass grave is discovered. Rather than report their find, Scott and his buttholebuddies desecrate the corpses:
At first, we found only household objects like silverware and cups. Then we dug deeper and found children’s clothes: sandals, sweatpants, sweaters. Like a strange archeological dig of the recent past, the deeper we went, the more personal the objects we discovered. And, eventually, we reached the bones. All children’s bones: tiny cracked tibias and shoulder blades. We found pieces of hands and fingers. We found skull fragments. No one cared to speculate what, exactly, had happened here, but it was clearly a Saddam-era dumping ground of some sort.And no one at New Republic would stop to wonder exactly why this clown was prancing around Iraq without a helmet.
One private, infamous as a joker and troublemaker, found the top part of a human skull, which was almost perfectly preserved. It even had chunks of hair, which were stiff and matted down with dirt. He squealed as he placed it on his head like a crown. It was a perfect fit. As he marched around with the skull on his head, people dropped shovels and sandbags, folding in half with laughter. No one thought to tell him to stop. No one was disgusted. Me included.
Another of Scott's pals is the world's most accomplished driver of 30-ton fighting vehicles. He's honed his skills to the point that he can do this:
I know another private who really only enjoyed driving Bradley Fighting Vehicles... One particular day, he killed three dogs. He slowed the Bradley down to lure the first kill in, and, as the diesel engine grew quieter, the dog walked close enough for him to jerk the machine hard to the right and snag its leg under the tracks. The leg caught, and he dragged the dog for a little while, until it disengaged and lay twitching in the road. A roar of laughter broke out over the radio. Another notch for the book.Blackfive has a response from a soldier stationed at FOB Falcon - where The New Republic claims "Scott Thomas" and his pals are "serving".
In the 11 months I've been here I've never once seen a female contractor with a burned face. In a compact place like this with only one mess hall I or one of my guys would certainly have noticed someone like that. There are a few female contractors, I think maybe a dozen, but none fit the horrific description given in that article. Further, I've personally seen guys threatened with severe physical harm for making jokes of any kind about IED victims given the number of casualties all the units on this FOB have sustained. It is not a subject we take lightly. Gallows humor jokes do get told, but extremely seldom and never about anyone they actually know or are in the presence of.
Given the friends in the S-2 shop of my battalion and how often I talk to them about what's going on in our AO and AI I can also tell you no reports whatsoever have been sent up - or down from MNCI - about a mass grave of any kind. We find bodies all the time, sure, but graves? None.
So who the hell is "Scott Thomas"? Some possible answers:
Pretend for a minute his stories are true. He's not just reporting the actions of others, the Left's latest "war hero" is an active participant in the actions he describes. One wouldn't expect such a scumbag to take appropriate action within his chain of command to correct the numerous examples of "bad behavior" he reports, but I do concur with California Army National Guard Lieutenant Colonel Kurt A. Schlichter:
If this guy saw improper conduct, he needs to report it up his chain of command. No senior guy is going to look the other way and let his career go down the toilet protecting wounded-abusing, dog-killing kid corpse desecrators.If you believe leadership in his unit is perfectly willing to allow soldiers to run amok in this fashion then you are ignorant of the US military today. Case in point: a unit here in Iraq was using the radio call sign "Aggressive". They had to change it to something else. Reason: "Aggressive" presents the "wrong image". This isn't an Orwellian effort - it is much more exemplary of the mindset of military leadership today than the sort Thomas describes (or infers from his description of those they lead).
If he's actually in the military and he's lying, then words aren't sufficient to describe the sort of low life scumbag he is.
If he (or she) is not in the military and is simply demonizing U.S. Soldiers for fun and profit, then he (or she) is simply doing what so many reporters find irresistible these days - providing gullible Leftists with what they are eager to believe.
Regardless, I'm glad to read this from The Weekly Standard (a publication with a bit more journalistic integrity than The New Republic):
We have also contacted the Pentagon in the hopes of getting more information to either corroborate or disprove "Thomas"'s account.Let's hope they get a response. I for one would like to know whether "Scott Thomas" and his buddies are the sick little pieces of shit described in The New Republic or simply figments of some other sick little piece of shit's imagination.
UPDATE:Speaking of graveyards...
UPDATE:II Those down range express their thoughts here
UPDATE III: The New Republic responds:
NOTE TO READERS:
Several conservative blogs have raised questions about the Diarist "Shock Troops," written by a soldier in Iraq using the pseudonym Scott Thomas. Whenever anybody levels serious accusations against a piece published in our magazine, we take those charges seriously. Indeed, we're in the process of investigating them. I've spoken extensively with the author of the piece and have communicated with other soldiers who witnessed the events described in the diarist. Thus far, these conversations have done nothing to undermine--and much to corroborate--the author's descriptions. I will let you know more after we complete our investigation.
Case in point: a unit here in Iraq was using the radio call sign "Aggressive". They had to change it to something else. Reason: "Aggressive" presents the "wrong image".
Oh for crying out loud. "Presents the wrong image". The reason why Iraq is a monstrous mess is arguably because the effort has not been nearly 'aggressive' enough. Now even language must reflect the 'kinder-gentler' ROEs. Unbelievable.
That's just pathetic in the extreme. No wonder the countdown to ignoble 'repositioning' of forces is now begun in earnest.
As to the New Republic calumny --- they have a history of indulging in 'fiction' I do believe, and as the old saying relates, 'people who live in Glass houses', probably should keep well away from tendentious rocks.
Besides no-one reads that pseudo-progressive anachronism anyway. It is just stumbling along aimlessly hoping that someone will finally put it out of our misery. A vile (probably) mendacious article like this is likely why they are approaching zombie status.Posted by dougf at July 19, 2007 10:20 PM
Great analysis, Greyhawk.Posted by Dusty at July 19, 2007 11:32 PM
Here's a JAG officer with similar injuries, but I suspect she wouldn't be run out of the chow hall by a pair of jerks.Chuck Simmins at July 19, 2007 11:35 PM
This one is really easy to solve. What would your typical, degenerate, America-hating, 'Frag-the-Officer's first', Bush = Hitler scumbag leftist say to ANY American soldier that had been the victim of an IED. What they would say is exactly what 'Scott Thomas' claims he said in this piece of lefty wet-dream fiction. This has got to be some kind of typical 'Jesse MacBeth', 'too good to check' crapola that some hippie hallucinated up. I will say they are getting smarter about this garbage because this time, they framed their fantasy in a way that is going to be very difficult to absolutely verify one way or another.Posted by rc at July 19, 2007 11:38 PM
We need to slow down on this. The BS detectors are tingling, but we need to be careful not to go too far and call it a fraud without definitive proof (afraid that's too late for Dean Barnett, who has already done that on the Hewitt show as I type).
One thing - Greyhawk thinks the use of the term "chow hall" rather than DFAC is suspicious, but then quotes approvingly form one of Blackfive's e-mailers, who uses "mess hall" instead of DFAC.
So, let's slow down. I'd hate to see our side lose credibility before this is pinned down definitively. "Scott Thomas" has penned other pieces for TNR. Anyone tried picking them apart?Posted by Moqui at July 20, 2007 12:00 AM
Thank you, and well said.
The thing I noticed (extremely civilian) was the bit about the dog "cut cleanly in half", and from there, I figured The New Republic was suffering a recurrence of Stephen Glass, and they really ought to have known better.
Excellent entry, and well explained.Posted by Dianna at July 20, 2007 02:17 AM
BTW, Rod Graves, formerly of Bayosphere (currently of "Say Anything", and my Male of the Species) sends his regards.Posted by Dianna at July 20, 2007 02:19 AM
Thank you for taking the time to answer this.Posted by Adriane at July 20, 2007 08:38 AM
I haven't read the entire thing, just the excerpts. However, speaking as a lawyer, I can tell you one easy way to spot whether The New Republic's editors knew that what they were publishing was false or fabricated.
Look to see if there are any recognizable indidividuals or units who could fact-check them or could conceivably become plaintiffs in a libel suit.
If no one is named, or if the author does not narrow down the subject matter enough to create a recognizable class of plaintiffs, then every single word you are reading is a fabrication.
Period.Posted by Some Manatee at July 20, 2007 01:30 PM
Sir, I am neither a lawyer nor military, but what would happen if the Pentagon took this report at its word and launched a full-scale investigation? It almost sounds as if the New Republic thinks nothing will happen, and, of course, if nothing will, they've nothing to be afraid of.
Correct me if I'm wrong, but if a full-scale investigation is launched, won't the NR have to turn over all records of this? I don't think they can claim any right to "protecting their source" as I think a Military investigation should be enough to convince a judge to order the NR to turn over everything they have on this, especially if they say it's a War Crimes investigation. I'm sure the NR wouldn't want to be accused of covering up any War Crimes.
Also, this 'soldier', if he exists, is a soldier first and a 'reporter' second; he is obligated to the Military first.
The Military should call the New Republic's bluff.Posted by LCVRWC at July 20, 2007 02:06 PM
I wonder if we can figure out at which Combat Outpost near FOB Falcon all of this took place. Here's a hint, lots a dead dogs outside the wire, smells like rotten flesh inside the wire, and apparently it contains an interconnected series of tunnels as the solders did "a lot of digging" there. What exactly were they digging? Foxholes? Trenches? Latrines? Hey Scott, ever hear of a HESCO Concertainer before?Posted by BohicaTwentyTwo at July 20, 2007 02:26 PM
Someone mentioned that this "story" plays on the things that will outrage us most: Women or injured veterans, children and dogs.
Frankly, it's not the first time the anti-war left crowd used fake stories of attricities to smear the military. Think: Kerry.
This would be the first time the left has paid any attention to the mass graves found in Iraq. So far, over 600,000 bodies found... http://www.9neesan.com/massgraves/ and http://www.cpa-iraq.org/human_rights/Mass_Graves.htm Just put iraqi Mass Graves into any search engine.
As for dogs? I'm having a hard time finding the link on Live Leak, but there's 2 videos up of soem dogs that are puppies to the troops, and vicious towards Iraqis. 'Nuff said.
If this guy is even in Iraq (and that's doubtful), perhaps he's a contractor -- a soldier wannabe -- making all this crap up because he couldn't make the grade... or these are acts of the contractors (e.g., like hitting the dog with an SUV or pickup v. a Bradley)... all fits the profile of all the wannabes/ detractors/ fakers the anti-war element has so willingly and enthusiastically embraced and subjected the military community to these last few years: the more outrageous the claims, the more likely to get picked up by the MSM and spread around for the public to shake their heads and the debunking to be relegated to the classifieds if they carry it at all.Posted by Some Soldier's Mom at July 20, 2007 05:15 PM
I'm so disgusted by this story, that I can only respond with a snarky comment about Harry Reid's friend "Tommy" from the immigration debate.Posted by Wickedpinto at July 20, 2007 05:30 PM
The TNR story is a trap. Tread carefully.Posted by w3 at July 20, 2007 08:23 PM
Greyhawk, I am a Fisher House volunteer at BAMC, and spend copious hours with these guys. I am also a Soldiers Angel, and help out at the barracks at BAMC, home to many many wounded warriors. I've seen their cutting edge senses of humor (one double amputee told me he was getting tatoos on his "stumps"; "attach leg here ---->"). What I have NOT seen is the kind of cruel and sick humor exhibited in this guys' article. I do not believe it is legitimate for a second!Posted by DagneyT at July 20, 2007 08:52 PM
"No one thought to tell him to stop. No one was disgusted. Me included."
So Scott Thomas thought nothing of this incident. The same Scott Thomas who decided that it was worth writing up for TNR but not, it seems, worth reporting to the chain of command.
And TNR has no qualms about employing somebody who boasts of the fact that he was not disgusted by what he witnessed.
TNR comes off looking pretty sleazy whether the story is true or not.Posted by flenser at July 20, 2007 11:07 PM
Old farts like me knew it as a "Mess Hall" from the British Term Mess. I enlisted in 76 and never heard it called a 'chow' hall. It was quite a switch for me to go from Mess to D-Fac. Had a couple of Mess Sergeants correct me a couple of times as a CPT.
This guy is so a poser.
Regards,Posted by Mike at July 21, 2007 02:21 AM
Thank you for a very informative, readable, and believable rebuttal to the Scott Thomas "reports." What an outrageous new low in media integrity, or lack thereof, from the editor to the writer ... thinking about it on the assumption that this is complete hooey, it is just sickening to imagine who is really writing this, and their reasons for spreading such horrible untruths about the men and women of our military. I appreciate your article very much, and actually clicked through to it from TNR. Thanks again for your work on this, and for your service.Posted by Lori at July 21, 2007 02:43 AM
The entire article smacks of bullshit. How the hell could a soldier wear a child's skull on his head like a crown, and it be a "perfect fit"? The guy would have to have a head the size of a grapefruit.Posted by Frank at July 21, 2007 03:44 AM
No names. No ranks. No units. No dates. No specific locations.
Isn't that -technically speaking- "hearsay?"
Something else bothers me: only now is TNR "investigating" the charges? What, they didn't follow up before they published this tripe? And his "investigation" is asking Mr. Thomas and his buddies if they're telling the truth?
I'm a civilian (with family in the military) and even my BS detector went off in another section of the story where he says
...he and other soldiers were changing a tire on their HMMWV, "a short but unusually healthy-looking Iraqi kid approached out of my periphery wearing an Adidas hat and snowboarding t-shirt, his lower torso swallowed by one of Little Venice's excrement canals."
Correct me if I'm wrong, but HMMWV's have Central Tire Inflation Systems...right? There IS NO spare tire to change with...
At least that's what I found in 10-minutes of searching and finding GlobalSecurity.org.Posted by Greg Alan at July 21, 2007 03:30 PM
Casey is right on target. There is no specificity in any of this--if TNR had any evidence, there would be no danger in reporting details of what brigade, FOB, AO, etc. was allegedly involved here.
I'm reminded of a Marine reservist who returned from fighting in 2003 and let his war stories get a bit out of hand. When he was confronted by investigators, he admitted to making it all up.
I think that anyone who has served here in uniform can see through the BS. But we will need to keep the pressure on TNR to retract the story.Posted by Matt at July 21, 2007 04:14 PM
Shouldn't TNR have done its "investigation" prior to printing its fabricated crap?
FYI, in the Navy, it's still called a Chow Hall, same for the Marine Corps.
If these kinds of events occurred, why protect the sources? They didn't do that for the Abu Gharab whistleblowers.Posted by Gabriel at July 22, 2007 07:09 PM
My take on things is that "Scott Thomas" is actually an MFA writing student, or a recent graduate of such a program, probably with some military experience – he may be serving in some non-combat specialty in Iraq – probably from one of the elite MFA programs, the twenty or so from which college creative writing faculty and small-press staff come disproportionately. I also think I know how his piece came to be published in New Republic. I've got a lengthy (but I hope lively) explanation of why I think this, which you can find either in my Amazon blog (http://tinyurl.com/yoerxo ) or in the blog for people who collect my books and manuscripts(http://collectiblejohnbarnes.blogspot.com/ ). Thanks for letting me kibbitz in; I read here irregularly but my gargantuan ego will probably force me to drift back and see if any of you have said anything about this for at least a couple of weeks.Posted by John Barnes at July 24, 2007 09:53 PM
HUMVEES DONT HAVE CENTRAL TIRE INFLATION, AT LEAST THEY DIDNT WHEN I WAS IN THE ARMY. MAYBE THE UP-ARMORED ONES DO TODAY. BUT, CHANGING A TIRE IS NOT SOMETHING ANYBODY WOULD DO ON THE ROAD BECAUSE THE VEHICLE HAS RUN FLAT TIRES THAT HAVE A METAL RIM INSIDE THE TIRE. YOU CAN DRIVE SOMETHING LIKE 30MPH FOR I THINK 50 MILES ON THAT THING. THE HUMVEES WE USED NEVER HAD A SPARE OR LUG WRENCH AS EQUIPMENT. IF YOU GOT A FLAT YOU DROVE IT UNTIL YOU COULD GET TO MAINTENANCE AND THEY CHANGED IT. IF THE WHEEL WAS SO DAMAGED YOU COULDNT DRIVE ON THE RUN FLAT THEY WOULD YANK IT ONTO A WRECKER AND TAKE IT IN.
THE STORIES ABOUT RUNNING OVER THE DOGS SOUND LIKE BS. ILL RETRACT THAT IF SOMEONE CAN EXPLAIN TO ME HOW YOU COULD CATCH A DOG BY THE LEG IN THE TRACK OF A BRADLEY AND DRAG IT DOWN THE ROAD. FIRST IT WOULD BE A GOOD SHOT TO HIT JUST THE LEG. IF YOU WERE ABLE TO DO THIS THE LIMB WOULD BE PULVERIZED/AMPUTATED BENEATH THE TRACK OR BETWEEN THE ROAD WHEELS AND THE TRACK. IF SOMEHOW THE LEG GOT STUCK IN THE TINY SPACE BETWEEN THE TRACK PADS (UNLIKELY) THE DOG WOULD BE STUCK TO THE TRACK IN CONTACT WITH THE GROUND (THAT IS THE PART OF THE TRACK NOT MOVING IN RELATION TO THE GROUND) NOT DRAGGED NEXT TO THE VEHICLE. WHEN THAT PART OF THE TRACK REACHED THE BACK OF THE VEHICLE AND ASCENDED TO THE IDLER THE DOG WOULD BE FLUNG INTO THE AIR EITHER BY THE CENTRIFUGAL FORCE OR THE IDLER OR THE TRACK SKIRT AMPUTATING THE LIMB. CUTTING A DOG IN HALF BY CLEANLY BY RUNNING OVER IT IS ALSO BS. THE TRACK ON A BRADLEY IS LIKE 14 INCHES WIDE. IT WOULD HAVE TO BE ONE BIG DOG TO GET RUN OVER, CUT IN HALF AND STILL BE ABLE TO SEE TWO DISTINCT HALVES OF THE DOG HAVING PULVERIZED 14 INCHES OF THE LENGTH OF THE DOG BENEATH THE TRACKS.
I CANT FATHOM ANY US SOLDIER BEING ALLOWED TO WALK AROUND WITH A CHUNK OF HUMAN REMAINS ON HIS HEAD WITHOUT GETTING SERIOUSLY JACKED UP BY HIS OFFICERS OR NCO'S OR MAYBE GETTING SENT TO MENTAL HEALTH.
THIS GUY SOUNDS LIKE A WANNABEE. WAR STORIES CAN USUALLY STAND MINIMAL SCRUTINY OF OTHER SOLDIERS BETTER THAN THIS.Posted by CHRIS at July 24, 2007 11:51 PM
So the same staff that originally took a story from what they knew was a biased source are the ones investigating it's authenticity?
Does any one believe they will admit wrongdoing? Come on! They will make sure one of Thomas's "buddies" collaborates the story and that will be that.
Journalistic integrity has already been compromised here. What's a bit more CYA?Posted by Rightwingsparkle at July 26, 2007 10:02 PM
Since I think it was primarily the Mudville readers who were annoyed by one of my comments in the posts in my Amazon blog about who I thought "Scott Thomas" must be, I thought I'd drop by and mention that I have posted an apology about that over there. ( http://tinyurl.com/yoerxo ) You'll also find a certain amount of unseemly preening since I turned out to be right about much of it all. And thanks to all of you for coming by, reading, thinking, straightening me out where I needed straightening, and providing a great deal of fascinating discussion.Posted by John Barnes at July 26, 2007 11:50 PM Hide Comments | Show/Add Comments in Popup Window(5) | (Note: You must refresh main page to view newly posted comments here)