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Saturday, July 21, 2007

Serious Questions Deserve Serious Answers: Scott Thomas and TNR

Serious allegations also deserve serious investigations and that is where we find ourselves with this mysterious anonymous "Scott Thomas" and his claims.

I first ran across this when Kateri from Miss Beth's Victory Dance emailed me, very upset, asking if I had read Hugh Hewitt's piece at Townhall.

I went to it, read it, and not having been in the military myself, passed it along to HCdl, who read it, then he commented at Townhall to this affect:

HCdl writes: Thursday, July, 19, 2007 9:10 PM
Let's watch Platoon again, shall we?

This guy has obviously seen Platoon and Full Metal Jacket ONE TIME too many. Chow hall? My gods, we didn't even call it that during the 80's when I was in.

And I doubt that whoever wrote this has ever even SEEN a Bradley Fighting Vehicle, sounds more like he was trying to describe, oh, I dunno, the family farm truck?

His claims start with a diarist, Scott Thomas, over at TNR, shown to us by The Weekly Standard.

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.

“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.

Go to Weekly Standard to see the rest of those claims and then we will recap the firestorm and investigation into these allegations.

Michael Goldfarb as well as a host of others, including Milibloggers, started investigating.

Some to discredit the accounts and others to simply find out if there was any truth to the allegations Thomas had made.

OpFor points out:

Right. Foer takes off the editor's hat and dons his ideological fedora. And that's the only way that Scott Thomas' diary entries are have to want to believe because it fits your narrative. Hook, line, sinker. Scott Thomas validated a narrative that TNR needed to be true, so they abandoned the very basics of journalistic integrity and ran an unchecked story by an anonymous source. Twin cardinal sins, even in the weird world of magazine journalism where the rules aren't as hard and fast as the newspaper realm.

By the way, credit to some progressives. They are absolutely creaming Foer in the comments section of his "we're investigating" post.The short skinny from their commentators? Hey, it ain't just conservative blogs who are concerned Scooter...

Now, as any Judge will tell you, if a witness is caught lying about one thing, generally it puts into question everything they say, that is common sense.

Which brings us to what we can call, inconsistencies, and that is being kind.

Hat Tip to QandO for the link to Matt Sanchez, where the FOB Falcon Responds:

Via Matt Sanchez, we've recieved this statement from Major Kirk Luedeke, the Public Affairs Officer at FOB Falcon, the base where "Scott Thomas" claims that he and his buddies ridiculed a woman who was badly disfigured by an IED blast (no one has yet come forward to claim they either have seen or heard of such a woman at the base, despite "Thomas"'s claim that she was a regular).

Hey Matt:

Here are the facts as best I have established them, along with the actions I have taken here at Falcon.

1. I was notified of the New Republic blog entries yesterday (Friday) by documentarian JD Johannes, who had spent time with us as an embed in May. He was concerned about the reports, but also expressed doubt in their veracity. He provided the New Republic and Weekly Standard response to the blog entry links.

2. I was able to immediately refute the assertion that a mass graveyard of children's skeletons was found; an event such as this would have been reported during the construction of Coalition Outpost Ellis, the only such COP that exists in the area the blogger described (rural, south of BIAP).

3. The stories of the burned woman and hitting dogs with Bradleys can't be as decisively disputed, however, I have not encountered a woman matching that description at any time on Falcon since arriving here on 17 Feb. You would think that someone with such visible wounds would stand out in memorable fashion. This doesn't mean that she wasn't a visitor at some point, but I find the account of Soldiers mocking her dubious at best.

4. I immediately notified MAJ Lamb of MND-B PAO, who advised me to send him the link and pertinent information on the New Republic's blog posts, which I did. He informed me of his intent to engage the CENTCOM blog team to see if they could take action, and at the very least, make them aware of the situation.

5. 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.

Per COL Boylan's request, I have prepared the following:

1. There was no mass grave found during the construction of any of our coalition outposts in the Rashid District at any time. Such a discovery would have prompted an investigation and close attention paid at levels higher than ours to making sure that the victims were properly interred and attempts would have been made to determine their identities. It is difficult to fathom that a unit's leadership would condone Soldiers disrespecting the remains of anyone in the fashion described.

2. Due to the threat of IEDs, our combat vehicles are driven professionally and in control at all times. To be driving erratically so as to hit dogs or other things would be to put the entire vehicle's crew at risk and would be gross dereliction of duty by the noncommissioned officer or officer in charge of the vehicle. Drivers aren't allowed to simply free-wheel their vehicles however they see fit, and they are *not* allowed to be moved anywhere with out a vehicle commander present to supervise the movement. Therefore- claims of vehicles leaving the roadways to hit animals are highly dubious, given the very real threat of IEDs and normal standards of conduct.

3. As for the alleged woman with severe burn scars, we have nobody matching that description here at FOB Falcon. As Soldiers, we practice the value of Respect: "Treat people as you want to be treated." If the blogger and his friends can't live the Army value of respect, I have little doubt that someone around them who does would have made an on-the-spot correction. The Falcon dining facility is not a spacious one. Anyone being rude, loud or raucous calls immediate attention to himself. It is hard to fathom that anyone would be able to get away with such callous behavior without somebody intervening and stopping it from happening.

Major Kirk Luedeke
Public Affairs Officer
4th IBCT, 1st ID

No mass grave, which now leads us all to question the veracity of every single statement made by "Scott Thomas", one lie proved, brings into question every word he says.

Serious questions deserve serious answers and serious allegations deserve serious investigations.

It IS that simple.

No one denies that the human nature allows for some horrible behavior, but we have seen accusations like this before by the once embraced darling of the far left liberal party, Jesse MacBeth. Just to be shown that every word was a lie because he was never there.

So, it behooves us all to demand answers, serious answers, which is more than the TNR has been willing to do as of yet.

As QandO points out:

UPDATE: Howard Kurtz is on the story as well. And he ends his column with this:

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."

What a greasy piece of crap this guy Foer is. Mr. Foer, no one is denying "bad news" comes out of Iraq. We covered Abu Ghraib extensively and condemned the military and the chain-of-command roundly for it. What we won't put up with however is a bunch of arrogant and clueless "journalists" using anonymous "authors" to make up crap that is implausible just to play to the prejudices of their equally clueless readers while attacking the professionalism and reputation of our soldiers. If that's a problem for you I suggest you start identifying your authors, sourcing your "facts" and learning at least a little bit about the subject matter, i.e. the military, before you go shooting your dumbass mouth off.

And yeah, I'm ticked.

As well he should be, these are legitimate questions that are being asked. Legitimate inconsistencies that have been found and the TNR remains silent and simply wishes to toss political softballs in answer?


You publish a story, you stand by it or you correct it and fire the appropriate people.

TNR comments see some from the left asking the same questions that are being asked from the right.

Everyone wants to know the truth. Verifiable truth.

Michelle Malkin puts like this:

Let me make one thing clear at the outset: To question the veracity of a soldier’s accounts of war atrocities in Iraq is not to question that such atrocities ever happen. They do. But when such accusations are made pseudonymously, punctuated with red flags and adorned with incredible embellishment, the only responsible thing to do is to raise questions about his identity and agenda without fear or apology–and demand answers.

Exactly. You do not print a story that you cannot verify, especially a story with such horrible accusations.

Right Wing Nut House calls for an independent investigation and he is right to do so.

[Update] Gateway Pundit says its crap:

** Let me be the first to confirm it... "It's Crap!" **
...And, I say that knowing that I have more facts here to back me up than The New Republic does from their source, Scott "skull-head" Thomas!

Head over and read it.

Tracked back by:
Jihadi Trolls and Bloggers from Take Our Country Back...
America promises 1 million dollars to Mexico and Central America from Right Truth...