Prev | List | Random | Next
- Former suicide bomber Ahmed Abdullah al-Shaya,
Al-Shayea says his change of heart began when he was visited by a cleric at al-Ha’ir Prison in Riyadh following his repatriation from Iraq.Few people progress as far as he did in their "suicide" bomber career before seeing the error of their ways - and live to tell the story. We first met Ahmed here, in January, 2005:
He says he put two questions to the cleric: Was the jihad for which he traveled to Iraq religiously sanctioned? And were the edicts inciting such action correct in saying the militants should not inform their parents or government of their intentions?
No and no, came the reply.
“I realized that all along I was wrong,” al-Shayea told The Associated Press in a two-hour interview at a Riyadh hotel before returning to an Interior Ministry compound that serves as a sort of halfway house for ex-jihadists rejoining Saudi society.
“There is no jihad. We are just instruments of death,” he said.
His head and hands were wrapped in bandages and his uncovered face looked like bubbled tar.One could be excused for displaying little sympathy for someone who thought he was merely being a muderous thug and now expresses outrage at the discovery that he was to be among the victims, not merely the instrument of their demise. (While Ahmed survived his attack, his truck bomb killed killed nine people, including a family of seven in their house nearby.) But his "blinding flash of insight" was probably authentic, and was reinforced in his discussion with the cleric referenced above.
The young Saudi man told investigators this month that he wants revenge against the Iraqi terrorist network that sent him on the deadly mission that he survived.
Ahmed Abdullah al-Shaya, 18, told Iraqi investigators during an interrogation early this month that he was recruited to drive a car rigged with explosives to Baghdad and blow it up.
He said the objective was "to kill the Americans, policemen, national guards and the American collaborators."
But Shaya said he was injured even before he went on the mission when insurgents detonated a truck bomb he was supposed to leave at a target site.
Shaya's video statement describes the journey of a young man ready to die in his zeal to drive Americans from Arab lands.
Shaya says he left Saudi Arabia for Syria in late October, right after the start of the holy month of Ramadan. A smuggler he knew as Abu Mohammed took him over the border into Iraq and into the hands of other Islamic extremists who call themselves mujahedin, or holy warriors.
In Iraq, he traveled first to Qaim, then Rawa, and finally to the insurgent stronghold of Ramadi, west of Baghdad, where he spent 1? months with like-minded Muslims from Morocco, Jordan, Syria, Tunisia, Yemen and Macedonia. Most, however, were Iraqis, he says, gesturing with his gauze-wrapped arms.
Shaya moved to Baghdad in December to prepare for his final mission, which he expected to be as the suicide pilot of a bomb-laden car.
But on Dec. 24, he was given a preliminary job of driving a butane-gas delivery truck that was rigged with bombs. It wasn't supposed to be a suicide mission.
"They asked me to take the truck near a concrete block barrier before turning to the right and leaving it there," he says. "There, somebody will pick up the truck from you," they told him.
"But they blew me up in the truck," he says.
Shaya told the interrogators that he regretted his mission now.
"I want the Iraqi people to live in peace," he says, and he can no longer support Osama bin Laden because "he is killing Muslims."
As for the Zarqawi network that sent him on the mission that left him permanently disfigured and in prison, he says, "I want revenge for what they have done to me."
Can a man of such unique experience be redeemed? Back to today's story:
At the time he was first approached to join the insurgency, al-Shayea was already becoming a devout Muslim in his ultraconservative town of Buraida. He grew a beard, prayed five times a day and stopped listening to Arabic love songs he used to enjoy. He was 19 and jobless.Al-Shayea now participates in a Saudi government-run program designed to convince young Saudis to follow other paths:
Then he was contacted by a school friend whom he doesn’t identify.
“My friend started telling me about Iraq, how Muslims are getting killed there and how we should go there for jihad,” said al-Shayea. “He told me there were fatwas (edicts) and DVDs issued by Saudi and Iraqi clergymen that called for jihad.”
“We didn’t think of jihad as something that would lead to our death. It was a fight against occupiers,” said al-Shayea.
Finally the friend told him he was going to Iraq, and invited al-Shayea to join him.
He was told to shave his beard and pack Western clothes to avoid looking like a would-be jihadist. He got a passport and an airline ticket to Syria. And he managed to save $1,600 — travel fees, he was told, that would go to smugglers, weapons training and al-Qaida’s coffers.
On a cool November night toward the end of the holy month of Ramadan, he donned a black T-shirt and jeans and told his parents he was going camping in the desert with his friends.
He and his friend flew to Syria, a favored transit point for Iraq-bound fighters because Syria doesn’t ask visiting Arabs for visas, and its 360-mile border with Iraq is thinly policed. A network of al-Qaida operatives sheltered him in Damascus, Aleppo and the border town of Abu-Kamal, and about two weeks later he and 23 other men were smuggled into Iraq.
Four Iraqi teenagers guided them to the Iraqi border town of al-Qaim. They saw Syrian border guards in the distance who fired in the air. “They didn’t try to stop us. We were already in Iraq,” al-Shayea said.
At al-Qaim, the men were split into two groups. Al-Shayea said his group of 12 met an al-Qaida leader who had direct links with Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the al-Qaida chief in Iraq who was later killed by a U.S. airstrike. He took the men’s money and gave each $100.
“Then he asked us a question: ’Those who want to carry out martyrdom (suicide) attacks, raise your hands,”’ said al-Shayea. “No one did.”
Al-Shayea’s group then spent a week at the Sunni fundamentalist stronghold of Rawa before al-Shayea and another Saudi man were taken to Ramadi and finally Baghdad.
Al-Shayea met his new “emir,” or leader, an Iraqi who told him his first assignment was to take a fuel tanker to a Baghdad neighborhood to be collected by others.
“I felt scared. I didn’t know Baghdad at all, and I also didn’t know how to drive heavy vehicles,” he said.
Also, he says, he was never told that the truck would contain 26 tons of butane gas, rigged to explode outside the Jordanian Embassy.
“That evening, we performed the last prayer of the day and had dinner — a dish of chicken and aubergines,” said al-Shayea. “The emir gave me a crude map of my route.”
Two al-Qaida militants drove with al-Shayea, but then jumped out 1,000 yards from where he was supposed to park the truck and fled in a waiting car.
“I felt something bad was about to happen,” he said.
The farther he drove, the more nervous he got until, 60 feet from the embassy, an explosion — believed triggered from afar — turned the back of the tanker into a fireball.
“I saw the fire and I started to scream and pray,” he said.
“I looked around me and I saw everything had melted. My hands had turned black. I jumped from the window and started running without thinking of what I was doing.”
The blast killed nine people.
Thinking he was an innocent victim and a Shiite by his fake ID card, passers-by took al-Shayea to a Shiite-run hospital. There he kept silent for several days until he finally told his doctors the truth.
The world’s first encounter with al-Shayea was on footage of his interrogation which was sent to Arab TV stations. Back in Buraida, his parents saw their son, face charred, head heavily bandaged, but alive. They were stunned. They had been notified he was dead and had held a wake for him.
Al-Shayea said he told his interrogators where to find a senior al-Zarqawi aide in Baghdad, revealed all he knew about al-Qaida, and denounced al-Zarqawi and Osama bin Laden as killers of innocents.
He says he hasn’t seen nor heard from the friend who accompanied him since they parted soon after entering Iraq.
Today his hair has grown back, he sports a thick black beard and he can move without difficulty. He credits the medical care he received, including 30 operations, at the hospital of U.S.-run Abu Ghraib prison.
He says that when he was handed over to the Americans a couple of days after his interrogation at the Iraqi Interior Ministry, he was scared because he had heard about the prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib.
“But the care with which the American officers carried me down to the car when they came to take me made me relax,” said al-Shayea. “One spoke Arabic and tried to put me at ease.”
“The aim is to reform the youths, to listen to them and talk to them,” said Ahmed Jailan, one of the clerics. “We also try to instill a sense of hope in them by telling them they still have the chance to make up for what they lost if they follow true Islam.”His might be a voice worth listening to - let's hope the right people hear.
Saudi authorities don’t say how many have passed through their rehabilitation program, but they are thought to number several hundred, including returnees from Guantanamo.
While 's story might be unique, others are similar:
A suicide bomber captured before he could blow himself up in a Shiite mosque late last week claimed he was kidnapped, beaten and drugged by insurgents who forced him to take on the mission. The U.S. military on Sunday said its medical tests indicated he was telling the truth.
In a confession broadcast on state television Friday, Mohammed Ali, who claimed to be Saudi-born, said he was kidnapped and coerced to agree to the mission. He said he fled after another suicide attacker killed at least 12 worshipers Friday at a mosque in the northern city of Tuz Khormato.
Results from medical tests on the young man were "consistent with his story and characterization of his treatment," Col. Billy Buckner, a U.S. military spokesman said.
The suicide attack that was performed on an election center in one of Baghdad's districts (Baghdad Al-Jadeedah) last Sunday was performed using a kidnapped "Down Syndrome" patient.So next time you read a story like this:
Eye witnesses said (and I'm quoting one of my colleagues; a dentist who lives there) "the poor victim was so scared when ordered to walk to the searching point and began to walk back to the terrorists. In response the criminals pressed the button and blew up the poor victim almost half way between their position and the voting center's entrance".
I watched a car bomb burn at a police check point in Tall 'Afar, the explosion killing no one but the people inside the car -- a man, a woman and two young children.Or this:
BAGHDAD -- A suicide bomber in an explosives-laden SUV killed at least 27, including an American soldier, late this morning in the deadliest insurgent attack in more than two months.or this:
Many, if not most of the dead were children loitering and playing near U.S. soldiers at an impromptu checkpoint in Baghdad al-Jadida, a lower-middle class residential district populated by Shiites, Sunnis and Christians.
"We have received the bodies of 24 children aged between 10 and 13," said an official in charge of the morgue.
"Why do they attack our children? They just destroyed one U.S. Humvee, but they killed dozens of our children," he said as women screamed, slapped their faces and beat themselves over the head.
A suicide attacker steered a car packed with explosives toward U.S. soldiers giving away toys to children outside a hospital in central Iraq on Thursday, killing at least 31 people. Almost all of the victims were women and children, police said....and wonder how one human could do this to another, you know one possible answer.
"It was an explosion at the gate of the hospital," a woman who had wounds on her face and legs told the AP. "My children are gone. My brother is gone."
With no room left at the hospital, emergency workers rushed victims to hospitals in Baghdad, about 15 miles to the north. And when the hospital morgue was full, the workers were forced to place the dead in the hospital garden so family members could find them.
"You know, boss," I once said to my boss, "we have over 200 people in this organization. Any type of person you can imagine, good or bad, any character flaw you've ever heard of, in this unit I can guarantee you there's one of each."
I've been around a while, I know. And this isn't unique to the military. Cut a random slice of the population, and you'll find the same. Hey, none of us are perfect - we are all of us flawed mortals. Some more so than others; some can't get to work on time two days in a row. Some abuse their children or wives. Some bounce checks, some steal CDs from the Exchange even though it's payday. Some go for all the above and more.
Some people are prone to that sort of behavior but somehow avoid it. Until they meet someone else who has already started down that path and whose example provides just the right amount of temptation to push them over the edge. This invariably happens to more than a few young people who leave the protection of their parent's home and join the military - just as it does to more than a few who leave their parents home and go to college - or band camp, or elsewhere.
And let's face it - war ain't band camp. Some are attracted to military life purely for the opportunity to participate in sanctioned violence. Some years back I had a good friend who was a volunteer fireman - I believe he was the first person to tell me that arsonists - or perhaps pyromaniacs would be the better term - often find employment as firefighters. The vast majority of fireman, however, have other motivations for what they do. They are, in fact, the exact opposite of that sort.
And that's true of America's warriors as well. Perhaps the best explanation for this comes from LTC (RET) Dave Grossman's On Sheep, Wolves, and Sheepdogs:
"Then there are the wolves," the old war veteran said, "and the wolves feed on the sheep without mercy." Do you believe there are wolves out there who will feed on the flock without mercy? You better believe it. There are evil men in this world and they are capable of evil deeds. The moment you forget that or pretend it is not so, you become a sheep. There is no safety in denial.But believe it or not, many - if not most - people who join the military are sheep.
"Then there are sheepdogs," he went on, "and I'm a sheepdog. I live to protect the flock and confront the wolf."
If you have no capacity for violence then you are a healthy productive citizen, a sheep. If you have a capacity for violence and no empathy for your fellow citizens, then you have defined an aggressive sociopath, a wolf. But what if you have a capacity for violence, and a deep love for your fellow citizens? What do you have then? A sheepdog, a warrior, someone who is walking the hero's path. Someone who can walk into the heart of darkness, into the universal human phobia, and walk out unscathed.
There are degrees of "bad behavior" - in war and elsewhere. On the lower end - but sliding ever upwards - might be actions like those described by Scott Beauchamp; verbal abuse of people (anyone out there not guilty of this one?), physical abuse of objects, animals, and human remains. Somewhere further along you'll find infliction of pain on fellow man for one's own pleasure. A bit beyond that, rape and murder. Combinations and degrees of all the above blur the scale, as does motivation and premeditation.
Yeah man,” I continued. “I love chicks that have been intimate—with IEDs. It really turns me on—melted skin, missing limbs, plastic noses...Ignore for a moment whether those stories are true or not, and read this one:
...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. ...
...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.
Not long into their stay, two of the soldiers appeared at the base one day with animal carcasses. They'd found a dead goat and a dead cat somewhere and started slicing them up. Someone took a photo of a soldier pretending to have sex with the goat's head. "Then they cut off the cat's head and shoved it on the top of a soda bottle," England says.That's a true story - and Beauchamp's stories reminded me in some way of that account. I'm not even suggesting that story inspired him, just that they sound like tales told about the same type of people.
For several weeks, the decaying animal heads provided entertainment for the soldiers. "Someone put sunglasses on them, and put the rifle next to the heads and took a picture. Some soldiers put a cigarette in the cat's mouth," she says. The soldiers stashed the severed heads in their rooms.
"It was funny," England says. "So funny."
That comparison story, by the way, is one told by Lynndie England of her fellow soldiers' actions immediately prior to their arrival at Abu Ghraib. They were certainly on there way there, you might say.
So if many who join the military are sheep, believe me when I say that many are also sheepdogs - and some few are wolves. But it's a society of sheepdogs - believe it or not, it is so. Start out a sheep and stick around for a while and you'll become one - or at least more like one. But lest you revert, keep this in mind:
Do you believe there are wolves out there who will feed on the flock without mercy? You better believe it. There are evil men in this world and they are capable of evil deeds. The moment you forget that or pretend it is not so, you become a sheep.There are wolves in here, too.
Is Scott Beauchamp a wolf? Hardly - he strikes me as a sheep who's trying to live up to his misunderstanding of expectations. He's confused the behavior of the sheepdog with that of the wolf. Back to LTC Grossman's description of the sheepdog: "He looks a lot like the wolf. He has fangs and the capacity for violence."
The difference, though, is that the sheepdog must not, can not and will not ever harm the sheep. Any sheep dog who intentionally harms the lowliest little lamb will be punished and removed. The world cannot work any other way, at least not in a representative democracy or a republic such as ours.And who will perform this removal, you ask? The answer is not the sheep. Scott Beauchamp is not a sheepdog. And he is not a wolf. He is, like Lynndie England before him, someone who may slide the wrong way down a certain path. Who has in fact done so, in word if not in deed. He is fortunate in that he will be judged much sooner than she was; that if found wanting, he will simply be returned to the flock.
And in the strange world we live in, who are his strongest supporters? They are those who share his confusion:
The sheep generally do not like the sheepdog. He looks a lot like the wolf. He has fangs and the capacity for violence. The difference, though, is that the sheepdog must not, can not and will not ever harm the sheep. Any sheep dog who intentionally harms the lowliest little lamb will be punished and removed. The world cannot work any other way, at least not in a representative democracy or a republic such as ours..(More to follow)
Still, the sheepdog disturbs the sheep. He is a constant reminder that there are wolves in the land. They would prefer that he didn't tell them where to go, or give them traffic tickets, or stand at the ready in our airports in camouflage fatigues holding an M-16. The sheep would much rather have the sheepdog cash in his fangs, spray paint himself white, and go, "Baa."
Until the wolf shows up.
Put away your New Republics and read Michael Totten.
1. Scott Thomas Beauchamp's story is now in the hands of his superiors. They know him and his overall worth as a soldier and will decide his immediate future. If you are fortunate enough to be someone other than one of those superiors (or his wife) you are officially relieved of concern for this asshole and his future.
2. In the meantime, something to bear in mind as his story is bandied about: Scott Thomas Beauchamp is an asshole. He either did what he said he did to a disfigured woman in a DFAC (which makes him an asshole) or he fabricated the story for reasons unknown (which makes him an asshole). This same methodology can be applied to his other war stories, too.
3. As for anything else he might have to say regarding past, present, or future events: nobody in their right mind cares what an asshole has to say.
4. Some people might somehow consider this a political issue. They are wrong. There are assholes in the Democrat and Republican Parties in the United States. There are probably assholes living on your street. There are assholes in the Army. Those who think no soldier could be an asshole are wrong. Those who think all soldiers are assholes are wrong. While some assholes aren't exposed prior to their military service, those who think the Army transforms good people into assholes are wrong. (Beer can do that, but that's another story.)
5. I hereby add "those with an obsessive attraction to assholes" to the list in paragraph one. By all means, if you find assholes irresistible, please continue to obsess over this particular model until the next one comes along. You won't have long to wait.
The magazine's editor, Franklin Foer, disclosed in an interview that Beauchamp is married to a New Republic staffer, and that is "part of the reason why we found him to be a credible writer." Foer also said Beauchamp "has put himself in significant jeopardy" and "lost his lifeline to the rest of the world" because military officials have taken away his laptop, cellphone and e-mail privileges.
As both the military and the magazine investigate Beauchamp's allegations, a personal blog surfaced in which Beauchamp said last year that each morning he feels "retarded for joining the army," "a little more liberal than the day before" and "a tool for global corporations."
Beauchamp did not provide any documentation for his three published columns. He is married to a reporter-researcher at the New Republic, Elspeth Reeve.
Beauchamp's writing was challenged by the Weekly Standard and conservative bloggers after he wrote vividly, and profanely, of soldiers mocking a woman disfigured by an injury, getting their kicks by running over dogs with Bradley Fighting Vehicles and playing with Iraqi children's skulls taken from a mass grave.
Foer said the magazine is attempting to confirm every detail. "We are trying to be as deliberate and meticulous as we possibly can," he said. "We're not going to be rushed into making any sort of snap judgment."
Maj. Kirk Luedeke, a spokesman for the base, said by e-mail: "We are conducting a formal investigation into the allegations made by Pvt. Scott Thomas Beauchamp in the New Republic, so given that situation, I am unable to comment on the matter until the investigation is complete."
In his blog, called Sir Real Scott Thomas, Beauchamp quoted Vice President Cheney as explaining in 1991, when he was defense secretary, why the United States ended the Persian Gulf War without taking Baghdad. Beauchamp added that "we laugh harder at CSPAN than comedy central. Silly republicans."
Beauchamp, who was based in Germany when the blog entries were posted in 2006, described his career this way: "I shoot, move, communicate, and kill . . . the deaths that I inflict secure the riches of the empire."
As conservative bloggers yesterday continued to challenge the veracity of Beauchamp's accounts, Foer said: "It is really unfortunate that someone like Scott, who was really only trying to tell his particular story, has become a pawn in the debate over the war and the Weekly Standard's efforts to press an ideological agenda."
Gotta wonder if she's considered cutting off one of her arms or setting her face on fire, now that she knows what kind of chicks her hubby really digs.
The actual quote was "Frank doesn't want to tell ___ her husband is a liar," offered up not by my source but by someone else. The blank has now been confirmed as TNR staffer Elspeth Reeve, and even though the quote was "husband," there's some question about that: weddingchannel.com says their wedding is coming in October. Though perhaps they had a quickie civil ceremony before his last deployment or something, with the formal ceremony to occur later.
Look, husband/fiancee, not sure it matters. It certainly seems that everyone in the TNR offices were under the impression they'd already been married.
I was going to let this slide and not report it but then TNR played the hard guys and fired the guy actually sharing information about this with people. Meanwhile Foer and Beuchamp are still drawing paychecks.
Scott Thomas Beauchamp was not chosen for this job because he had some terrific amount of experience or credentials or integrity. He was picked for Plame-type reasons: He's married or engaged to someone at TNR.
As Gracie reported to me, this is openly discussed in the TNR offices. One representative quote: "Frank[lin Foer] doesn't want to call [woman's] husband a liar." That wasn't Gracie saying that, that was someone else in the office, explaining the inter-office politics of this.
My Diarist, "Shock Troops," and the two other pieces I wrote for the New Republic have stirred more controversy than I could ever have anticipated. They were written under a pseudonym, because I wanted to write honestly about my experiences, without fear of reprisal. Unfortunately, my pseudonym has caused confusion. And there seems to be one major way in which I can clarify the debate over my pieces: I'm willing to stand by the entirety of my articles for the New Republic using my real name.
I am Private Scott Thomas Beauchamp, a member of Alpha Company, 1/18 Infantry, Second Brigade Combat Team, First Infantry Division.
My pieces were always intended to provide my discreet view of the war; they were never intended as a reflection of the entire U.S. Military. I wanted Americans to have one soldier's view of events in Iraq.
It's been maddening, to say the least, to see the plausibility of events that I witnessed questioned by people who have never served in Iraq. I was initially reluctant to take the time out of my already insane schedule fighting an actual war in order to play some role in an ideological battle that I never wanted to join. That being said, my character, my experiences, and those of my comrades in arms have been called into question, and I believe that it is important to stand by my writing under my real name.
--Private Scott Thomas Beauchamp
TNR Editors have this reponse:
As we've noted in this space, some have questioned details that appeared in the Diarist "Shock Troops," published under the pseudonym Scott Thomas. According to Major Kirk Luedeke, a public affairs officer at Forward Operating Base Falcon, a formal military investigation has also been launched into the incidents described in the piece.
Although the article was rigorously edited and fact-checked before it was published, we have decided to go back and, to the extent possible, re-report every detail. This process takes considerable time, as the primary subjects are on another continent, with intermittent access to phones and email. Thus far we've found nothing to disprove the facts in the article; we will release the full results of our search when it is completed.
I'm sure Greyhawk will have something to add. When he has time to pull away from the duties of war.
It's really sad to see someone claim they have ultimate moral authority to insult women and kill dogs without anyone questioning their character just because they've been to Iraq.
Update -- More on that thought:
It's sad to think that anyone of any age or rank thinks he has absolute moral authority to kill dogs and insult women without having his character impuned by non-Iraq veterans. But one thing is worth keeping in mind - this is a Private in the Army, a young guy, perhaps prone to believe the more fabulous tales told by his comrades in arms. Or perhaps not. Whatever the case, it's pretty effing petty behavior on the part of The New Republic to set him up like this. In this entire situation they strike me as the biggest dirt bags of all. Then again, perhaps he and his buddies are the criminal thugs he claims they are, and TNR has done us all a favor.
Believe me, Pvt Beauchamp will have a lot of "explaining" to do to his chain of command. They get to sort things out from here.
I have verified that there is a Private Beuachamp listed on AKO and he is listed in the listed unit.
No one has ever denied the plausibility of the events per se; we have questioned where the outside forces that constrain poor behavior by Soldiers were. I am sure he revealed himself because the detective work that was done by numerous people narrowed the unit down. JD Johannes at Outside the Wire correctly identified the unit before Pvt. Thomas' admission. As a Commander I imagine what the last few days have been like for that unit Commander. It cannot have been easy.
Bravo for standing up, finally. Now accept the consequence of your actions.
I actually forced myself to read The Nations article on atrocities committed by US Troops in Iraq. No surprise, I found some familiar names - they'd appeared in Mudville before. Oddly enough, most of the claims they made back then - some of which were well refuted here - are not included in their latest attacks.
For instance, in the Nation, Spc. Aidan "Coke Bottles" Delgado describes a riot (one he didn't witness, by the way) at Abu Ghraib prison. Judging by their absence, we must assume Delgado has dropped other claims he used to make about his fellow soldiers. Specifically, that they kept empty coke bottles in their Humvees to smash over the heads of Iraqis as they drove by them in the streets.
Jeff Englehart has no real atrocities to describe in this story, just that American troops are ignorant racist thugs:
"I guess while I was there, the general attitude was, A dead Iraqi is just another dead Iraqi," said Spc. Jeff Englehart, 26, of Grand Junction, Colorado. Specialist Englehart served with the Third Brigade, First Infantry Division, in Baquba, about thirty-five miles northeast of Baghdad, for a year beginning in February 2004.He's really toned down his rhetoric. Back in November, 2005, Englehart made a bit of a name for himself by claiming that his fellow soldiers burned Iraqi Civilians to death in Fallujah using White Phosphorus. That claim - certainly more of an atrocity than any described in the Nation - is surprisingly not noted there.
"You can honestly see how the Iraqis in general or even Arabs in general are being, you know, kind of like dehumanized," said Specialist Englehart. "Like it was very common for United States soldiers to call them derogatory terms, like camel jockeys or Jihad Johnny or, you know, sand nigger."
Some classic Englehart quotes not appearing in the Nation:
a) ...a former US soldier who served in Falluja, tells of how he heard orders for white phosphorus to be deployed over military radio - and saw the results.Also appearing, "Spc. Garett Reppenhagen, 32, of Manitou Springs, Colorado":
"Burned bodies, burned women, burned children; white phosphorus kills indiscriminately... When it makes contact with skin, then it's absolutely irreversible damage, burning flesh to the bone," he says.
b) "White Phosphorous was used, which is definitely, without a shadow of a doubt a chemical weapon".
c) When I joined the United States Army I swore an oath to "serve and protect the Constitution of the United States", not an ignorant greedy little fuck like George Bush or any of his court jesters in the White House. And by writing and speaking against his policies and his war and his grossly high death tolls, I know in my heart that I am still, to this day, fighting to protect all the constitutional rights that his administration is robbing from us everyday.
d) The Iraqi insurrection, in itself, is what I believe to be an honest rebellion. Because it is a guerrilla war against an illegal occupation enforced by our conventional military force, with far superior weapons and technology, it seems obvious that acts of terrorism are also acts of desperation.
Probes into roadblock killings were mere formalities, a few veterans said. "Even after a thorough investigation, there's not much that could be done," said Specialist Reppenhagen. "It's just the nature of the situation you're in. That's what's wrong. It's not individual atrocity. It's the fact that the entire war is an atrocity."A ,long-time anti-war activist and Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) member Reppenhagen - although he hails from Manitou Springs, Colorado, is often called upon to make appearances posing as an audience member during John "Jack" Murtha speeches and appearances. Following Murtha's declarations, "audience members" will be invited to address the congressman. Reppenhagen will be one of the first, announce his status as a veteran of Iraq, and praise Murtha for his courage. Here's one such example.
Another such planted soldier at that meeting was "Sgt. John Bruhns, 29, of Philadelphia" - who, in an amazing coincidence, also appears in the Nation's article, revealing the terrors of house raids:
As the Alpha Company team leader, Sergeant Bruhns was supposed to be the first person in the door. Skeptical, he refused. "So I said, 'If you're so confident that there are a bunch of Syrian terrorists, insurgents...in there, why in the world are you going to send me and three guys in the front door, because chances are I'm not going to be able to squeeze the trigger before I get shot.'"
As Sergeant Bruhns ran security out front, his fellow soldiers smashed the windows and kicked down the doorsBut in addition to appearing as a random veteran audience member praising John Murtha, other details of his post-military career didn't make the published version of The Nations hit-piece. He's a favorite of the MoveOn political group:
MoveOn.org Political Action said this afternoon that the liberal group's members have chosen the subject they want to see turned into a "pro-troops," anti-war, television ad that film director Oliver Stone will create....and frequently protests with Code Pink outside Walter Reed Hospital. Bruhns is a full-time Democratic party activist. He is probably the most heavily quoted ex-soldier in the Nation's story.
The spot will focus on the story of John Bruhns, who served with the U.S. Army in Iraq and now says "I feel used and I feel misled" by the Bush administration.
Sgt. Kelly Dougherty Tells one of the most horrific stories in the piece:
"It's like very barren desert, so most of the people that live there, they're nomadic or they live in just little villages and have, like, camels and goats and stuff," she recalled. "There was then a little boy--I would say he was about 10 because we didn't see the accident; we responded to it with the investigative team--a little Iraqi boy and he was crossing the highway with his, with three donkeys. A military convoy, transportation convoy driving north, hit him and the donkeys and killed all of them. When we got there, there were the dead donkeys and there was a little boy on the side of the road.She adds that she thinks the vehicles didn't slow down much before they killed them. Dougherty is co-founder and current executive director of Iraq Veterans Against the War>. Most of the ex-soldiers appearing in the article are members.
In fact, that's essentially what The Nation's story is - a thinly disguised public relations piece for Iraq Veterans Against the War.
The Nation interviewed fifty combat veterans, including forty soldiers, eight marines and two sailors, over a period of seven months beginning in July 2006. To find veterans willing to speak on the record about their experiences in Iraq, we sent queries to organizations dedicated to US troops and their families, including Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, the antiwar groups Military Families Speak Out, Veterans for Peace and Iraq Veterans Against the War and the prowar group Vets for Freedom. The leaders of IVAW and Paul Rieckhoff, the founder of IAVA, were especially helpful in putting us in touch with Iraq War veterans. Finally, we found veterans through word of mouth, as many of those we interviewed referred us to their military friends.Surprise!
This Nation investigation marks the first time so many on-the-record, named eyewitnesses from within the US military have been assembled in one place to openly corroborate these assertions.As noted previously - at least since John Kerry fled Vietnam. I guess IVAW doesn't hold physical meetings.
Update: Via email, from Paul Rieckhoff of IAVA:
Great blog. I am a regular reader.
I wanted to contact you ASAP to let you know that we agree with you about
The Nation piece 100%. It was a total hit job. We do not approve of or
support this piece of trash in any way. We responded immediately here:
Of course the Nation buried our letter, and gave the authors a chance to
respond before it was posted--a courtesy they didn't give us.
But there are also some other things you should know. Our guys have done a
bit of digging into who the writers of this piece are.
Laila Al-Arian has an interesting past. Look into Sami Al-Arian ("reporter"
Al-Arian¹s Father). FYI, Laila told LTC Mike Zacchea, (one of an number of
our vets who were approached, and refused to be interviewed when they
sniffed out the direction of the piece) that Sami was her uncle, not her
father. More background on that here:
The issues surrounding this piece are so numerous I don't know where to
begin. The fact that the magazine assigned Laila Al-Arian to this piece
alone undermines the article's credibility (and that of The Nation)
tremendously. Her work as an activist on her father's behalf is clearly
relevant, and obviously impacted her ability to be objective. Most of our
vets never would have talked to her had they known that.
The Nation wanted to smear vets and create an anti-war piece of propaganda.
They succeeded. They are using the names of groups like ours, Vets For
Freedom and others to do it. Please help us push back against this, and
alert all veterans. I'd be happy to answer any questions you have. Just let
Also, please check out the latest from the Dole-Shalala Commission today
Important news that folks need to know about.
Call anytime we can be a resource.
Iraq & Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA)
(Part one here.)
Think soldiers in the US Army aren't capable of bad behavior? Think again. Before jumping into any discussion of accusations of crimes leveled at US military members, one should probably keep the following headlines in mind:
Details Emerge in Alleged Army Rape, Killings
The U.S. military said last week that authorities were investigating allegations of a rape and killings in Mahmudiyah by soldiers of the 502nd Infantry Regiment, part of the 4th Infantry Division.
2 U.S. Soldiers Charged With Murder of an Iraqi
...in northern Iraq, two American soldiers were arrested in connection with the death of an Iraqi man in June. The military said the two have been charged with premeditated murder, and their battalion commander has been removed from his job.
US troops on Iraq murder charges The US military in Iraq has charged two of its soldiers with the murder of three Iraqis between April and June in the Iskandariya area, south of Baghdad.
3 U.S. Soldiers Charged With Murder The U.S. Army has charged three soldiers in connection with the murders of three Iraqi men who were in military custody in Iraq in early May, the military said Monday.A truly disheartening roundup. But read beyond the headlines and opening paragraphs, and buried in the text you'll invariably find another report on the behavior of US soldiers. In order, from the above stories:
But on June 23, three months after the incident, two soldiers of the 502nd came forward to say that soldiers of the unit were responsible, a U.S. military official said last week. The U.S. military began an investigation the next day, the official said.
Military officials said that investigators began probing the death, which took place June 23 near Kirkuk, 160 miles north of Baghdad, after they were alerted to suspicious circumstances by other soldiers from the unit.
Charges were brought after fellow soldiers alerted the authorities.
The investigation was requested by Lt. Gen. Peter W. Chiarelli, commander of multinational forces in Iraq.This quote invariably included in military press releases on these topics is worth bearing in mind, too:
Chiarelli's request and the decision to open the probe were announced Thursday in an e-mail from Baghdad. Chiarelli acted on the basis of suspicions raised by soldiers about the deaths.
The soldiers are presumed innocent unless until they are proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of any alleged offenseBut contrast the reports above with those included in anti-war veterans groups' claims of American atrocities:
But they nevertheless described such acts as common and said they often go unreported--and almost always go unpunished.Invariably these veterans claim they didn't report the various atrocities they now claim to have participated in or witnessed while they were on active duty because the military wouldn't do anything about them.
The U.S. military's criminal investigation into potential abuse of Iraqi detainees by U.S. soldiers at Abu Gharib prison in Iraq now includes reports from soldiers that military police took photographs showing soldiers hitting detainees, CNN has learned.Of course, no one was paying attention. Four months later Mary Mapes claimed the story as her own.
Earlier, several Pentagon officials who declined to be identified by name confirmed to CNN that investigators were looking into the reports -- all coming from fellow soldiers -- of photographs showing male and female detainees with some of their clothing removed.
(Still more to follow...)
Some time ago I advised folks not to focus on whether Jamil Hussein was actually an Iraqi police officer and instead concentrate on the accuracy of his claims. I'll now suggest avoiding the argument as to whether "Scott Thomas" is or isn't a soldier. The exhumation of a graveyard has already been corroborated, that alone leads me to believe Thomas is indeed a soldier here.
There was a children's cemetery unearthed while constructing a Combat Outpost (COP) in the farm land south of Baghdad International Airport. It was not a mass grave. It was not the result of some inhumane genocide. It was an unmarked commentary where the locals had buried children some years back. There are many such unmarked cemeteries in and around Baghdad. The remains unearthed that day were transported to another location and reburied. While I was not there personally, and can not confirm or deny and actions taken by Soldiers that day, I can tell you that no Soldier put a human skull under his helmet and wore it around.This neither proves or disproves any claim that a soldier pranced around wearing a "skull cap". I do know what would have happened to any such soldier were he to be seen by an NCO, an officer, a fellow soldier, or any one else around who wasn't also a complete asshole.
But allow me to shock you: There probably have been dogs struck and killed by vehicles in Iraq. There probably have been people insulted in DFACs. And there are assholes in the US Army. The New Republic wants people to believe those assholes are typical soldiers. I suggest my bottom line comments from my first take on the story might be useful.
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.I don't know the answer yet. Of course, if this guy is a soldier he's a pathetic excuse for the real thing, and he's going to face some repercussions for his actions. He either did what he says he did, and is an asshole, or he didn't and is fabricating stories, and is an asshole. Back to my first story:
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 "Scott Thomas" actually is a soldier, you'll see an amazing example of Orwellian double-think. Any attempt by the Army to punish this douche bag for the behavior he confesses to (or for fabricating incidents, if his claims prove false) will be described by leftists in and out of the media as persecution for "speaking out". No one will commend the Army for cleaning it's own house. This is because Thomas' actions are seen by these same people as typical behavior of U.S. Soldiers - all of whom are as described in Thomas' dispatches. Thus the Army will be "hypocritical" for punishing (make that "scapegoating") one who will suddenly be described as a "whistleblower'.
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.
Meanwhile, a second storyline will also develop. This one will be about the humbling of bloggers who will be described as naive, or part of a cover-up. Whichever might be the case, the bottom line will be that bloggers have zero credibility. Here's how that happened in the Jamil Hussein story.
So lets make one thing clear. For the record - and for what it's worth - I hereby call on The New Republic to stop covering for this little dirt bag and turn him in to proper authorities. The New Republic's new "war hero" is not exposing bad behavior of others that's condoned by his seniors - he's confessing to that behavior himself. Since the New Republic won't release his identity, we can only conclude that either they support this sort of behavior by US troops or know that he isn't one. Neither option speaks well for anyone involved.
I further urge my fellow bloggers - and anyone else interested in the truth in this matter - to follow suit.
And so does ABC News
While you were sleeping, U.S. and Iraqi soldiers were busy:
Monday, 23 July 2007 Three Iraqis freed, their captors detained
Monday, 23 July 2007 Iraqis take lead in island clearing operation
Monday, 23 July 2007 Allons Soldiers render medical aid to Iraqis after VBIED blast
Monday, 23 July 2007 Truck Bomb destroyed during Marne Avalanche
Monday, 23 July 2007 12 al-Qaeda terrorist facilitators captured
Monday, 23 July 2007 Coalition Forces kill 9 terrorists, detain 8 and destroy weapons caches
Monday, 23 July 2007 Warlords find EFP cache
Monday, 23 July 2007 Combined operation nets cache find in Jamia
Monday, 23 July 2007 Suicide car bombers miss target, kill 3 civilians, wound 13 others
Monday, 23 July 2007 Soldiers search for missing comrades leads to discovery of weapons caches
Monday, 23 July 2007 Task Force Marne Soldier died of wounds
Monday, 23 July 2007 Soldiers attacked during combat logistics patrol
Monday, 23 July 2007 IA Forces, U.S. Special Forces detain al-Qaida Terrorists linked to U.S. casualties
Monday, 23 July 2007 Search nets seven terrorist suspects in Bulayj
Monday, 23 July 2007 IA, U.S. Special Forces detain alleged terrorist finance chief in Ninewa Province
Monday, 23 July 2007 ISF, U.S. Special Forces detain five suspected extremists
Sunday, 22 July 2007 Insurgents target ambulance
Sunday, 22 July 2007 Iraqi Army, Coalition Forces detain suspected Al Qaeda cell leader near Taji
Sunday, 22 July 2007 Coalition Forces Detain Two Suspected Weapons Smugglers
Sunday, 22 July 2007 Coalition Forces kill one terrorist, detain 14 suspects
Not a bad day's work from hard working soldiers. (And there are more stories here. And there are even more stories that aren't - stories that time and security considerations won't allow.
Then, while they were sleeping:
Throughout this Haditha investigation our family has believed in the innocence of our son L/Cpl Justin Sharratt, we knew he was innocent. There are things I do not understand and I would like to find the answers. We do not seek revenge, but we would like to see justice. In a conversation with Congressman John Murtha, my questions still remain unanswered. With the help of the American people, I hope to find justice.Daily Kos:
On Wednesday morning, July 17th I spoke with Congressman John Murtha via telephone from his Washington, DC office. We had a courteous conversation. I knew what to expect from a career politician and Congressman Murtha did not disappoint. Mr. Murtha avoided answering the hard questions and I was unable to press him for the answers. I wanted the conversation to remain amicable and decided to let him speak and avoid a heated confrontation.
At no time during the dialogue would Mr. Murtha acknowledge the impending exoneration of my son.
Mr Murtha believes combat operations in Iraq have put an enormous strain on our Armed Forces. The stress of combat situations has led our troops to kill innocent civilians. I pointed out to Mr. Murtha, “Our Haditha Marines are innocent until proven guilty.” It seems he is again denying our Marines their Constitutional rights of due process and the presumption of innocence.
I questioned Congressman Murtha as to his statements of 17 May 2006. On national television, in front of millions of Americans, he stated “Marines killed innocent civilians in cold blood.” I asked him why he denied these Marines their Constitutional rights of due process and the presumption of innocence. Again the Congressman used his experience to side step the answer. Mr. Murtha stated his intentions were to point out the stress our military was under in Iraq. He replied we would not win the hearts of the Iraqi people by killing women and children. I again snapped, “Our Haditha Marines have not been convicted of killing innocents and are innocent until proven guilty.”
But do I still support the individual men and women who have given so much to serve their country?The New Republic:
No. I think they’re a bunch of idiots. I also think they’re morally retarded. Because they sign a contract that says they will kill whoever you tell me to kill. And that is morally retarded.
We were already halfway through our meals when she arrived. After a minute or two of eating in silence, one of my friends stabbed his spoon violently into his pile of mashed potatoes and left it there.Daily Kos:
“Man, I can’t eat like this,” he said.
“Like what?” I said. “Chow hall food getting to you?”
“No—with that fucking freak behind us!” he exclaimed, loud enough for not only her to hear us, but everyone at the surrounding tables. I looked over at the woman, and she was intently staring into each forkful of food before it entered her half-melted mouth.
“Are you kidding? I think she’s fucking hot!” I blurted out.
“What?” said my friend, half-smiling.
“Yeah man,” I continued. “I love chicks that have been intimate—with IEDs. It really turns me on—melted skin, missing limbs, plastic noses . . . .”
“You’re crazy, man!” my friend said, doubling over with laughter. I took it as my cue to continue.
“In fact, I was thinking of getting some girls together and doing a photo shoot. Maybe for a calendar? ‘IED Babes.’ We could have them pose in thongs and bikinis on top of the hoods of their blown-up vehicles.”
My friend was practically falling out of his chair laughing. The disfigured woman slammed her cup down and ran out of the chow hall, her half-finished tray of food nearly falling to the ground.
According to the July 30, 2007 issue of The Nation magazine, damning photos of a U.S. Soldier using a spoon to literally scoop out the brains of a dead Iraqi and pretending to eat the gray matter were recently acquired.(Notice Michelle Malkin's screen capture - a disclaimer paragraph that wasn't in the original piece appears by magic in the text...)
Of course, everyone is appropriately appalled and make all claims of disgust and finger-wagging. Research shows, however, that such unacceptable behavior happens more often than the United States military wants you to know.
When it comes to training killing machines, the military really does create “an Army of one.”
The list of serial killers and mass murderers borne from the military is astounding.
And here's the referenced story from The Nation:
Over the past several months The Nation has interviewed fifty combat veterans of the Iraq War from around the United States in an effort to investigate the effects of the four-year-old occupation on average Iraqi civilians. These combat veterans, some of whom bear deep emotional and physical scars, and many of whom have come to oppose the occupation, gave vivid, on-the-record accounts. They described a brutal side of the war rarely seen on television screens or chronicled in newspaper accounts.If not the first, at least the first since John Kerry fled Vietnam.
This Nation investigation marks the first time so many on-the-record, named eyewitnesses from within the US military have been assembled in one place to openly corroborate these assertions.
The Nation contacted various anti-war groups to find veterans willing to make such claims:
To find veterans willing to speak on the record about their experiences in Iraq, we sent queries to organizations dedicated to US troops and their families, including Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, the antiwar groups Military Families Speak Out, Veterans for Peace and Iraq Veterans Against the War and the prowar group Vets for Freedom. The leaders of IVAW and Paul Rieckhoff, the founder of IAVA, were especially helpful in putting us in touch with Iraq War veterans.I doubt any Vets for Freedom members contributed atrocity tales - those guys would have had the courage to act while still in uniform.
That Nation hit-piece was by Chris Hedges. His semi-disguised public relations campaign for Iraq Veterans Against the War also appeared in the LA Times earlier in the month:
AFTER FOUR YEARS of war, most Americans still remain sheltered from the day-to-day realities of the occupation of Iraq, especially its effects on Iraqis. With reporter Laila Al-Arian, I spent the last few months interviewing 50 combat veterans, and in thousands of pages of transcripts, they told a brutal story.
With extraordinary honesty, these veterans — medics, MPs, artillerymen, snipers, officers and others — revealed disturbing patterns of behavior by American troops: innocents terrorized during midnight raids, civilian cars fired on when they got too close to supply convoys and troops opening up on vehicles that zip past poorly marked checkpoints, only to discover that they'd shot a 3-year-old or an elderly man. The campaign against a mostly invisible enemy, many veterans said, has given rise to a culture of fear and even hatred among U.S. forces, many of whom, losing ground and beleaguered, have, in effect, declared war on all Iraqis.
That this many stories on the same theme appeared in so many leftist publications nearly simultaneously over the past week is as coincidental and unrelated as the multiple operations American and Iraq soldiers performed yesterday. We'll look at motivation tomorrow.
"Tomorrow" for me comes with this disclaimer. Astute observers will have noted that my "day's work" listed above actually stretched over two days. That was one day in my world - I worked from 4PM Sunday until 5 PM Monday without a break. Then, instead of going out and killing Iraqi babies I went back to the tent and wrote a song to my wife via flashlight.
So see you tomorrow, whenever that may be. In the meantime, sleep well, America.
I see your eyes
with you I drown
in light that shines
on all around
You're by my side
without a sound
we reach the sky
above the ground
you bring me down
The sun will rise
and fall unbound
for time with you
my queen uncrowned
I'd walk the earth,
the whole world 'round
to bring you things
that I had found
You bring me down
you bring me down
You bring me down like a river
that flows to an ocean
and fills it
a little bit more
You bring me down stars from heaven
just to light my way home
down the path
that leads to your door
you bring me down
yeah you bring me down
How I wish time could fly
when you're not around
But I hear the sighs
and above the frown
if tears you cry
are falling now
know they will be dried
when I'm back in town
You bring me down
you bring me down
Matt Sanchez: Scott Thomas picked the wrong FOB (Forward Operating Base) as a background for his stories at the New Republic...
I was at Camp Falcon earlier this month and didn't recognize any of what Scott Thomas described. So, I e-mailed the public affairs officer Major Luedeke at Camp Falcon...
Major Kirk LuedekeFollow the links for more.
Public Affairs Officer
4th IBCT, 1st ID
Here are the facts as best I have established them, along with the actions I have taken here at Falcon.
If my guess is correct, that narrows it down to about 100 guys and your organic C.O. is Captain Robby Johnson.
I ran through Mahala 885 with CPT Johnson and a great group of guys last May and hammered out a little story about it.
After inquiries by the Standard, Foer identified the mess hall as being at Forward Operating Base Falcon. Michael Yon, a respected military blogger who spent time with the unit this year, wrote: "That story about American soldiers at FOB Falcon sounds like complete garbage." Other bloggers said military personnel always wear uniforms and could not possibly be confused with contractors.
As the criticism mounts, Foer says he sees an ideological agenda.
"A lot of the questions raised by the conservative blogosphere boil down to, would American soldiers be capable of doing things like the things described in the diarist. The practical jokes are exceptionally mild compared to things that have been documented by the U.S. military. Conservative bloggers make a bit of a living denying any bad news that emanates from Iraq."
My contribution to this is simple. I went to my bookshelf. The 30 linear feet or so of reference material I have on firearms and ammunition.
And tried to figure out "square-backed" 9mm ammunition - and how that related to Glock pistols. Because that's who "Scott Thomas" decided that a massacre scene he happened upon had to have been perpetrated by Iraqi police. "Square-backed" 9mm shell-casings that are unique to Glock pistols, which, according to "Thomas," only the Iraqi police carry.
I know of two total types of ammo in which the word "square" could be applied ...
Oh, by the way, somedoby's being punished for all this. But guess who:
I contacted the only unit in our brigade that has Bradleys, 1-18 IN, and advised their XO of the situation, recommending that they talk to their Soldiers about Army values and the Warrior ethos, reminding them of the rules for blogging in uniform and also reminding them of integrity and telling the truth. The bottom line: If you put something out there you should be willing to put your name next to it and stand by it. That he and New Rpublic are insisting on anonymity is very telling here.Death by PowerPoint, and another reason not to blog.
So anyhow, some old guy up in the rfront started yakkin' on about integrity and shit, but me and my buddies was having a fart lighting contest in the back of the room and we didn't pay him no nevermind. Then we went out to do some rapin' and stuff.
We dismounted the plane and I stepped into harsh blazing sunshine.Yup.
You know how it feels when you get into a black car in the afternoon with the windows rolled up in July? It’s an inferno outside, but inside the car it’s even hotter? That’s how Iraq feels in the shade. Sunlight burns like a blowtorch. If you don’t wear a helmet or soft cap the sun will cook your brain. First you get headaches. Then you end up in the hospital.
The funny thing is, you eventually get used to it. Heat remains a threat, and you're never comfortable outside, but you drink lots of water and become accustomed to the extreme. You become "climatized" to temperatures in the one hundred-teens - and higher. It's still hot - believe me - but you can deal with it. I once had a month-long stay in a tent city in Egypt. It was August, and we had no air conditioning back then. But we got used to 110 degree heat, and shivered when night time temperatures plunged into the 70's.
Point being, if you haven't caught on yet, that after a couple weeks you get used to it - the body is amazing that way.
Back to Michael:
After having spent several days Baghdad’s Green Zone and Red Zone, I still haven’t heard or seen any explosions. It’s a peculiar war. It is almost a not-war. Last July’s war in Northern Israel and Southern Lebanon was hundreds of times more violent and terrifying than this one. Explosions on both sides of the Lebanese-Israeli border were constant when I was there.You get used to that, too, but it sucks worse than the heat.
You’d think explosions and gunfire define Iraq if you look at this country from far away on the news. They do not. The media is a total distortion machine.
But stick around long enough, and you'll find the war. Or it will find you.
Oh, and by the way, if you're a blogger headed to Iraq and would appreciate a better welcome then the one Michael received, contact me before you depart, I'll see what I can do. (I can't lower the heat, but otherwise...)
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.
My name is Kathleen Henry. I am a regular reader of your blogs. I am also a member of Soldiers' Angels.
On Wednesday, we received an alert indicating that over 1200 Marines were submitted to our organization for support. At one time. These Marines are from the Fighting 13th MEU (Marine Expeditionary Unit). Some of them are on their 5th deployment. You can read about these Marines at their website:
Right after I posted that update, I was reading the latest news on the all night debate on capitol hill when I saw this:"While Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the majority leader, said Democrats were not staging the debate as a political stunt, members of his staff delivered care packages to their Republican counterparts. “A few supplies for your sleepless night — help us bring an end to this war,” read the note attached to a bundle of toiletries, tied with a yellow ribbon."
He sent care packages to Republican Senators mocking our real support for our troops. We need to muster all the support we can from as many citizens as we can to provide letters and care packages for the morale of these marines That is why I am sending you this message. I hope that you will help us spread the word that we are in urgent need of some upstanding citizens to assist Soldiers' Angels in providing this support.
But, I would also like to start a campaign to get all of the Republican Senators to send Sen. Reid's generous gifts to the people that really need it: 1200 Marines. Please ask your readers to contact their Senators and ask them to send these care packages to:
Fighting 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit
c/o Soldiers' Angels
914 Tourmaline Drive
Newbury Park, CA 91320
Please note: The "Send Harry's Care Packages to the Marines" campaign is not an official position of Soldiers' Angels as it is a non-partisan, non-profit organization whose sole mission is to support our troops. This campaign is my personal mission. If Sen. Reid can't support our troops any other way, we can at least make good use of his political theater in providing material support to some people who need it.
Grand Prize Raffle – a Harley Davidson XL883R Black Motorcycle!
The Mike Stokely Foundation, Inc. is a 501 (3) (c) charitable organization under Internal Revenue Service regulations and is registered and in good standing with the Georgia Secretary of State as a non-profit corporation
In the top right corner of Mudville, you'll notice an ad with a pretty girl. Many have sought out her name and phone number. If all works out some will get to see more of her. ;-)
Ranger Up has been helping Mudville stay a float for some time now and have been a great sponser. They have a tongue-in-cheek sense of humor and a savvy sense of business. They are ran by military and former military guys. Some of them are stationed at Fort Bragg. They make clothes for the military and the patriotic Americans who love the men and women of the Armed Forces.
The founders of Ranger Up got into business to make a buck but they are also guys with heart. They care about those in the Armed Forces and hope to use their earnings to help servicemen.
The Ranger Up Serious Monologue
Our nation owes everything to the brave men and women who have the courage to step into harms way time and time again so that we may live peacefully here at home. As we all know, many of our nation’s heroes have paid for our freedoms with their lives. Many more still have come home with life-changing injuries. These men and women lay injured in our nation’s hospitals or have finally transitioned home – into lives significantly altered. People that were once the finest of athletes with the best employment prospects find themselves worried about how they are going to adapt into their new lives – how will they work, exercise, live? As many folks we’ve spoken to that have undergone major operations such as amputations have said – even getting up in the morning takes planning. Nothing is easy anymore.
Moreover, we know that the government is failing our men and women in this regard – Walter Reed’s recent incidents are just the tip of the iceberg. Other hospitals are worse, and once our soldiers, marines, sailors, and airmen are released from active duty, they have even less support. We’re not conspiracy theorists and we don’t think anyone is out to hurt our servicemen, but the government is a huge bureaucracy, and as anyone who has ever tried to fix their pay in the military system knows, bureaucracy does not equate to efficiency. As such, we at Ranger Up strongly support organizations like the Wounded Warrior Project.
What is the Wounded Warrior Project?
The Wounded Warrior Project is a nonprofit organization full of American patriots, many of them former servicemen and women, that is fighting to do something to help our wounded heroes. Their mission is “to raise the awareness and enlist the public's aid for the needs of severely injured service men and women, to help severely injured service members aid and assist each other, and to provide unique, direct programs and services to meet their needs.” In short, they are a motivated and lean organization that truly cares about our armed forces and is doing everything in its power to see that each and every wounded hero has the opportunity and tools to excel in every facet of their lives post-injury.
Ok – So what do you Ranger Up clowns have to do with this?
We’re not a huge corporation, and even though we are growing at an amazing rate thanks to your support, we’re still a handful of current and former soldiers working our butts off, so we aren’t in a position yet to donate in a meaningful way to the cause as a corporation (we do give on an individual basis), but we knew we needed to help. So we tried to figure out what we had available: 1) www.rangerup.com, a great platform to get the message out and 2) Our buddies – the guys we served with – the guys we’ve met in person or online – and the patriotic Americans that support the Armed Services. We realized that the military, its veterans, and it supporters make up the most powerful network in the world because we can come together faster and with stronger execution than any other entity if there is a need.
With that thought in mind, we reached out to Matt Burden at www.blackfive.net and Mr. and Mrs. Greyhawk at the Mudville Gazette, and inquired about whether they would support a little idea we had to raise awareness…They agreed.
So what’s the freakin’ plan? Simple. As anyone who is a Ranger Up fan knows, we are sophomoric idiots. We like beer, hot chicks, the Armed Forces, mixed martial arts, beer, and hot chicks (did I mention hot chicks and beer?). So we got the crew together, drank some beer, and identified the key ingredients of the plan:
1) Hot chicks – you guys know by now that we can’t do anything without Grace – especially if it involves asking her to take her clothes off…
2) Mixed Martial Arts – When he heard about what we were trying to do, undefeated International Fight League Fighter and Iraqi Veteran Tim Kennedy also came on board.
3) T-shirts – The OPERATION GRIM T-shirt. All the proceeds go to charity. Not $1 per shirt. Not $5 per shirt. Every nickel of profit from these shirts will go the Wounded Warrior Foundation. We’re only recovering the cost of the shirts and printing – no labor costs – no secret squirrel fees!
4) Milblogs, Radio, Newspapers – Led by the aggressive efforts of Blackfive and Greyhawks, we have started an awareness blitz. We’re letting millions of soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines, vets, and patriots know about this opportunity to support our wounded troops. In fact, we feel so strongly about this that we will link to all blogs that place a permanent* link to the Operation Grim page on Ranger Up.
*Permanent = until Operation Grim’s mission is accomplished.
And Finally, the Mission:
5) MAXIM MAGAZINE. GRIM stands for GRACE IN MAXIM. I received the first American issue of Maxim Magazine in April of 1997 for free in my barracks and thought it was the coolest mag I had ever read. And you know what? Everyone else did to. Since then I (and everyone else I know) have found ourselves reading MAXIM during training exercises, throughout deployments, and when we are generally just sitting around the barracks. It has simply become an essential part of military life. In my estimation, whether it has been through military articles, free mags to deployed soldiers, or just general good humor, Maxim and its sibling Stuff, have always supported the troops. We’re gonna ask them to do it one more time.
We want them to put GRACE IN MAXIM.
We all know she’s hot enough.
We’re providing Maxim with some awesome pics of Grace and Tim modeling the OPERATION GRIM gear (and of some where Grace is just being hot).
Maxim can give the Wounded Warrior Project the exposure it deserves.
Beyond the exposure, we can raise a ton of money for WWP if a bunch of great MAXIM fans come online and buy the OPERATION GRIM SHIRT!
BOTTOM LINE: WHAT YOU CAN DO TO HELP
1) Send an email to Maxim at firstname.lastname@example.org and let them know we need their help. A personalized letter is best, but you can simply paste the form letter below:
Dear Sir or Madame,
I am writing to inform you that we in the military community are strongly urging you to support OPERATION GRIM and PUT GRACE IN MAXIM in order to raise money for the Wounded Warrior Project which supports badly wounded soldiers from the international war on terror. We are not asking for charity – we are asking you to put a gorgeous girl and an undefeated MMA fighter and Iraqi vet in your magazine in order to support a tremendous cause. As you are receiving this, millions of active duty, reserve, national guard, and veterans of the Armed Forces are awaiting your decision. You can read the whole story at: www.rangerup.com/GRIM.
Thank you for your consideration.
2) Send this page to a friend – either by using the link at the bottom of the page or copying the url and emailing it to everyone you know. Please – spread the word!
3) Buy the Operation GRIM Shirt!
4) If you don’t want the shirt, go directly to the website at ADDRESS and donate some money.
Thanks for your support.
Nick, Brad, Dave, Tim, Grace, BMF5, The Greyhawks, and The Wounded Warrior Project
Wounded Warriors project is one of my favorite charities (you'll notice it in the right sidebar) so if it means putting a pretty girl in a highly circulated magazine to get donations, then I'm all for it. So send that email, buy their shirt and let's take care of our wounded!
Another detail worth noting in that bogus "20 headless bodies" story:
The discovery of 20 headless bodies was made in the Om-Obaid village near the Tigris River southeast of Baghdad, according to a police official in nearby Madaen. A half-dozen heads were also found near the still-clothed bodies, which appeared to be of men of varying ages, he said.The implication that the victims were Sunnis is important, because it "balances" reports of other events described in the same story:
The area is largely Sunni Arab, with many residents from the Dulaimi and Jabouri tribes.
A spate of grisly attacks believed to have been carried out by Sunni Arab militants killed dozens of Shiites around Baghdad, just days ahead of a planned huge march of devout Shiites through Sunni heartlands to the remnants of a revered shrine.And allows for this headline: "Sectarian Attacks Kill Dozens in Baghdad" above what otherwise - if left as a simple factual story without the added lies - would have been a rather one-sided report of al Qaeda style attacks..
A rush-hour bombing Thursday morning killed 25 people in the largely Shiite neighborhood of Baya in southwest Baghdad, where the Mahdi Army militia has escalated violence against Sunnis, an Interior Ministry official said. Ten people were killed in a bombing Wednesday night in the mostly Shiite neighborhood of Kadhimiya in northwestern Baghdad.
Now roll back to February, 2006. In the immediate aftermath of the Samarra Shrine bombing, reports of retaliatory attacks on Sunni Mosques soared to almost 200 - a figure that would later prove to be (ahem) highly exaggerated.
But "later" is the key word - in every instance. The truth would come out only after the damage was done; increasing tensions in Iraq, and increasing dismay in the United States. And while millions around the world saw the headlines of Sectarian Violence and 20 Headless Bodies in Iraq this week (or on at least two previous occasions), damn few would ever know the actual facts.
If I were the suspicious sort, I would be immediately suspicious of reports of retaliatory attacks apparently carried out so swiftly that they appear in the same story with the report of the original incident - especially retaliatory attacks that occur miles away from the scene of the first. I'd be equally suspicious that those reports are almost always from unnamed officials, or groups with known terrorist connections. I might even go so far as to speculate that maybe those reports of retaliatory attacks were scripted as part of the plan in the first place.
The odd thing is that no mainstream media source - with myriad "reporters" hot for a great expose - have noticed this glaring trend.
And if I were truly a suspicious person, and not willing to believe in repetitive coincidences or the number of times such bogus reports have somehow made their way into international media sources (who certainly should have learned from previous mistakes), then I might be willing to believe that the reporters and editors know full well what they're doing when they intentionally describe well coordinated al Qaeda attacks as "Sectarian Violence".
But since I'm not the suspicious sort, I can only conclude that said reporters and editors are simply among the most gullible tools on Earth.
The Associated Press, Reuters, and a small Iraqi Independent news agency called Voice of Iraq released stories Thursday about the massacre of 20 men near Salman Pak, who were supposedly found decapitated on the banks of the Tigris River.I'm shocked - shocked I tell you, to read this. I haven't heard of such a thing since the last time the news reported a bogus headless bodies story.
BAGHDAD, Iraq – Friday, news media reported a mass killing in a village near Salman Pak where 20 men were allegedly found beheaded. It now appears that the story was completely false and fabricated by unknown sources.
BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Separate groups of gunmen entered two primary schools in Baghdad on Wednesday and beheaded two teachers in front of their students...Or the time before that...
"We sent a crew and they spoke with witnesses in front of the school, and they say nothing happened. We spoke to the guard at the school who says 'I was here from early morning until they (the kids) left, and nothing happened," said a representative of one of the agencies.
"We went to both schools and no one confirmed it. We even went to the local police station and they denied it happen. This thing you can't hide. The kids saw nothing,"
BAGHDAD, Iraq, March 26 (NY Times) — The bodies of 30 beheaded men were found on a main highway near Baquba this evening, providing more evidence that the death squads in Iraq are becoming out of control.
Q: About, on the news that we heard this week of a number of headless bodies being found along a road in Baghdad. I was wondering what more you could tell us about that, what you know about the victims, and who the perpetrators were?
GEN. THURMAN: Okay. I did understand that question, and what I would tell you -- we have not confirmed that report. We went to multiple sites to look for the 32 headless bodies that was reported to our headquarters, and we did not find anything; nor did any of the local citizens that were in these areas could verify that anybody had ever been in there. So I look at that report as completely false right now.