Attention, military readers: Is this story true or false?

posted at 9:46 pm on July 18, 2007 by Allahpundit

I’m skeptical, but I’ve been skeptical before and gotten burned. A friend of mine tells me he’s hearing from his military sources that some of the minor details in the piece are questionable, though, which was how the Jesse Macbeth thing first started to unravel. Of course, the skepticism in that case was entirely justified.

What say you? It’s far-fetched, but is it impossible?

Belated exit question! Assuming it’s bogus, precisely how mad will Chuck be?

Update: Blackfive’s readers think it’s BS.

Update (Bryan): I’ve been thinking about this off and on since reading it earlier today. There are problems with all three stories that make them very suspect in my mind. Regarding the human remains story, the “soldier” describes digging through a mass grave and coming upon artifacts in more or less discrete layers; first mundane household objects, then clothes, then bodies and body parts. That makes for good drama but I don’t see any good reason for a mass grave to be so clearly layered like that. We’re not talking about sediments in the Grand Canyon settling over millions of years; we’re talking about objects and people hastily pushed into a hole (probably with a bulldozer) and then buried. Stuff gets jumbled together in a grisly scene like that. Neat stratification just seems unlikely to me, never mind any NCO tolerating some idiot in his unit running around with a skull on his head. And never mind whether a kid’s skull would even fit on a grown man’s head. And do you mean to tell me that some sharp LT over there never found out about this children’s mass grave and made sure to get it out to the press in all these years? And the unit’s intelligence officer would probably be required to investigate what had occurred there, contrary to the “soldier’s” statement that “no one cared to speculate what, exactly, had happened there.”

The story of the woman in the DFAC makes no sense for the simple reason that the soldier claims not to know whether she was civilian or military. A real soldier ought to know at a glance whether she was one or the other if he was as close to her as he claims to have been. He’d know because US uniforms worn on base have to comply with regulations. Uniforms that look out of place either belong to foreign military, in which case their regulations apply making their uniforms obvious, or they belong to civilian contractors, in which case they won’t comply with US regs and also won’t look like, say, the Aussie or UK military. You see someone in your AO once or twice wearing strange or unique clothing, you find out or hear about who they are and what they’re there for. Especially if they’re as obviously unusual as A) a woman who B) survived an IED attack, C) lived to tell the tale, and D) came back wearing unusual clothing. And if this soldier doesn’t know a civilian from a troop when she’s a few feet away from him, how in the world can he tell friend from foe in a firefight? Never mind the fact that, from what I saw during my limited stay in Iraq, no one jokes about, let alone directly mocks, anyone wounded by an IED. Ever. Gallows humor is alive and well among the troops in Iraq as it should be, but mentioning IEDs tended to turn conversations reflective and quiet very quickly.

The dog story makes little sense for several reasons, not least of which is that such careless driving in a Bradley isn’t likely to be tolerated by the unit’s CO for long. That kind of driving can not only lead to IED attacks, but even to simple accidents with parked cars and whatnot that can quickly turn into ambushes. You might get away with driving like that once, but not twice. And fwiw, the only dog I saw in Iraq was a more or less honored guest on FOB Justice. He was a little on the mangy side, but no one minded his presence and certainly no one was allowed to abuse him.

Poke away at my thinking on this, but the bottom line is that the New Republic was damnably irresponsible for publishing that “soldier’s” tales without verifying them and without giving NR’s readers enough of a basis to fact check them for ourselves. You’d think they would have learned after Stephen Glass. Evidently not.

I’m going to call BS on all three stories until the NR outs the author and he proves that they’re true. That’s what it will take. We have no reason at this point to believe that any of the stories are true and several reasons, not least of which is that this whole thing is reminiscent of the ghoulish stories John Kerry’s liars fabricated under the Winter Soldier project, to believe that they are most likely false. NR should not have published them.

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I’m inclined not to believe it, but I’m merely a spouse. I do know, however, that had someone been as severely injured as the ‘blogger’ was describing from an IED attack, chances are good they wouldn’t be back out there. I had a friend who was hit in the neck with shrapnel. He was good until they deployed a second time and he lost it out there. Honorably discharged and everything.

My husband has never mentioned anyone coming back to the sandbox after an IED attack. She must have balls ‘o’ steel for that. And since she had aforementioned balls, chances are that she wouldn’t be so quick to have hurt feelings.

P.S. The husband has not ever seen a female hadji working with them. I’ll ask to make sure when I talk to him next, though.

LindsayK on July 18, 2007 at 9:55 PM

It’s not impossible, imo. There are sick twisted people everywhere, even in the military. But it is ridiculous to focus on such evil when the vast majority of the military is made up of honorable men and women.

Rightwingsparkle on July 18, 2007 at 9:56 PM

Hmm…whole things sounds too gross to be true – particularly the first tale of loud abusive behaviour towrds a female in a chow hall. A little too public, and a little too un-PC, war zone or not.

Likewise, the other two are a bit too disturbing, particularly for more than one-off morbid sick humor gags (which are not beyond the realm of believabilty). The biggest red flag for those two is the reported duration of the behavior. Things that pop up on the spur of the moment might be ignored. Repeated or extended stupid just begs for authoritarian intervention (of which, there is no lack in the military).

Of course, this is an initial hip shot take, and I readily admit to having no direct knowledge one way or the other.

But my money would be on the sick joke here turning out to be the one played on the journo that was probably spoon fed this story, and swallowed each and every morsel….

Wind Rider on July 18, 2007 at 9:57 PM

I’m gonna call bullshit. Little things don’t make sense. For example, if these are Army soldiers, they wouldn’t be calling it a “chow hall”…it is universally called DFAC (Dee-fack…short for dining facility).

Second, say what you will about our soldiers, but I have -never- seen them joke about their own being hit by an IED. Usually, when you bring up an IED hit amongst soldiers, it gets very somber.

Like I said, it just doesn’t seem right.

PBoilermaker on July 18, 2007 at 10:00 PM

I find the first one hard to believe. I’d have to assume that other soldiers would’ve stepped up to defend the lady. Even if a guy was thinking something like that I find it hard to believe one would actually say it out loud.

As for the Second, I could see that kind of gallows humor happening there at the site but for the skull to be carried around and worn all day is where I have to think it’s a bunch of bs. A Sgt or officer I’m assuming would’ve stepped up I’m thinking and put a stop to that behavior.

The third one I can see happening. I saw some footage a couple years ago of some soldiers using this poor dog for target practice. Seriously, the poor dog just wouldn’t die. They must’ve shot that animal about 5 or 6 times and it was just screaming and howling like crazy (understandably). Finally a soldier walked up and shot it in the head and put it out of its misery. Very disturbing.

Yakko77 on July 18, 2007 at 10:01 PM

I don’t know. When my brother-in-law came back for leave he would play a little rough with the kids and they would cry. He would then laugh about it. He was always a little rough but would stop when they cried. Not now. The mess hall and skull story I doubt. But, the dog story would really not suprise me.

boomer on July 18, 2007 at 10:02 PM

Bullshi’ite, bullshi’ite and bullshi’ite.

The first, because everyone is p.c. everywhere.

The second, because the guy whould have to be a literal pinhead.

Third, we like dogs, the Iraqis don’t.

(Vick isn’t in uniform.)

profitsbeard on July 18, 2007 at 10:02 PM

Well, I tried to post something, but it isn’t showing up.

PBoilermaker on July 18, 2007 at 10:02 PM


PBoilermaker on July 18, 2007 at 10:02 PM

BS until someone shows me some real damn proof

Defector01 on July 18, 2007 at 10:11 PM

You can find rotten apples anywhere. What I am the most proud of is just how hard the team works to prevent the kind of stuff that has been the norm thru history. Our common enemy hides behind women and children (such as, the New York Slimes) but american soldiers don’t. Not only do they protect the home front but are willing to consider people elsewhere as part of the home front. Duty is the basis of honor. Something the enemy does not really understand.

creative dude on July 18, 2007 at 10:11 PM

After reading the rest, I’m still going to call BS. Like was mentioned earlier, American soldiers love dogs in theater. Why? Because the dogs almost universally love us back and hate the LN’s (who are very abusive to them). In my AoR, a FRAGO was issued to remove all animals from the FOBs and other military installations because of a few isolated incidents where they attacked LN workers. This was universally unpopular with the soldiers. We loved those animals…they were something normal and friendly in a strange, screwed-up place. In fact, many soldiers put the welfare of the dogs above that of the LN’s.

The poster who mentioned the PC atmosphere regarding the skull story is also correct. You would not believe how remote we can get in combat while still maintaining PC behavior. We are out to win hearts and minds and the soldiers know that behavior like that (dressing up with a human skull) will not be tolerated and that it hurts the mission.

There are always exceptions, but these stories seem like just that…stories.

PBoilermaker on July 18, 2007 at 10:12 PM

I’m going to call bull. The thing with the dog seems to be the most likely (I have a friend who drove straight over a car with the driver in the other side, trying to avoid a hairy situation). But the other two, not even close. Of all the guys I know who’ve come back from Iraq, only two are even close to capable of putting human remains on their heads, and none of them would ever publically rip on an IED victim.

BadgerHawk on July 18, 2007 at 10:16 PM

Well, when you rig a war so that the soldiers can’t win, some of them will go crazy. It happened in Viet Nam, it will happen in Iraq. I know if I was in Iraq, I’d be up on charges long ago.

jihadwatcher on July 18, 2007 at 10:16 PM

Most likely not true, simply because the stories do not sound typical of PTSD behavior, nor do they sound technically plausible. The dog story makes no sense from a technical viewpoint.

jihadwatcher on July 18, 2007 at 10:20 PM

Well, when you rig a war so that the soldiers can’t win, some of them will go crazy. It happened in Viet Nam, it will happen in Iraq. I know if I was in Iraq, I’d be up on charges long ago.

jihadwatcher on July 18, 2007 at 10:16 PM

That’s a pretty ignorant position to hold. I’ve heard all sorts of stupid things come out of soldiers’ mouths and I’ve seen all sorts of screwed up situations, but the Apocalypse Now “up the river” behavior is something I never saw and neither have the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines I personally know and have served with.

PBoilermaker on July 18, 2007 at 10:20 PM

On a less happy note. War does not just kill and main. Humans are damaged by war. Some endure better, none are undamaged.

Someone said “Do you think women can handle the shock and horror of modern combat? No, and neither can men.”

It takes a lot to know that (even if not openly spoken of) and step up to the plate anyway.

creative dude on July 18, 2007 at 10:20 PM

Wind Rider on July 18, 2007 at 9:57 PM

The biggest red flag for those two is the reported duration of the behavior. Things that pop up on the spur of the moment might be ignored. Repeated or extended stupid just begs for authoritarian intervention (of which, there is no lack in the military).

Some crusty senior NCO would have stopped those chow hall shenanigins right quick. It’s been a couple decades, but I remember it as a chow hall.

But my money would be on the sick joke here turning out to be the one played on the journo that was probably spoon fed this story, and swallowed each and every morsel

That was my initial impression.

fluffy on July 18, 2007 at 10:23 PM

The story seems a bit too over the top to be true, almost as though the writer couldn’t help himself and included every simplistic caricature of a soldier they could imagine.

If they’d had the self-discipline to reign it in, it would almost be plausible. As is, though, it reads more like a cliched war story than a piece of journalism.

Slublog on July 18, 2007 at 10:23 PM

How, if they didn’t know the woman in the first scenario, did they know her disfigurement was from an IED?

mikeyboss on July 18, 2007 at 10:24 PM

creative dude on July 18, 2007 at 10:20 PM

Sadly, very true. I like to see people back home scoff at the mention of PTSD. It is real and our personnel are going through some serious psychological agony.

People flinching during fireworks and car backfires or going into the 1000-yard stare at the grocery store are typical stereotypes, but the effects are much more sinister and damaging than many would believe.

PBoilermaker on July 18, 2007 at 10:26 PM

A million cameras in Iraq and none for the New Republic’s mole…. If a US Soldier was parading around with a child’s skull on his head there would be lots of photos. Count on it.

TheBigOldDog on July 18, 2007 at 10:26 PM

TheBigOldDog makes an excellent point. There is almost always someone with a digital device to record things for posterity.

PBoilermaker on July 18, 2007 at 10:29 PM

My guess is that there may be some basis in truth in one or more of these stories, but if so they have been likely quite “embellished” in each telling.

MB4 on July 18, 2007 at 10:36 PM

Speaking from my tour of duty in Iraq (2004), yakko is right in saying that a SGT or officer would probably step in. Guys will be guys and some do some pretty stupid things. Some do some really bad things. And, yes, there are bad guys in the army too, as Rightwingsparkle says (love your blog, btw). The Army has a lower percentage of bad guys than the general public, though.

And we called it a “chow hall” all the time.

Anytime someone reports something as fact under a pseudonym, don’t believe it. I wouldn’t give any credence at all to this just on journalistic grounds.

JohnJ on July 18, 2007 at 10:37 PM

This is nothing less than a direct smear of our armed forces in Iraq.

unamused on July 18, 2007 at 10:38 PM

It all sounds like something a liberal Hollywood screenwriter would make up to sell movie tickets.

Tennessee Dave on July 18, 2007 at 10:40 PM

At first, they seem almost plausible. However, as has been mentioned, duration is the key. As an NCO, I would have put the kibosh on both the activity in the DFAC and the skull-as-hat joke after about thirty seconds; the first is just rude and the second is barbaric to the point of inhumanity (although funny for about thirty seconds, in theater). The third is the most plausible, to my mind, but only if it was very intermittent. A driver who is constantly swerving to hit things is a hazard not only to himself and to pedestrians but to his whole convoy.

So, to recap in short, had these been mentioned as incidents which happened very quickly and were just as quickly stopped, I might believe it. But the longer the duration, the more they seem like big-fish type stories told to make either a comic or tragic point, a military storyteller’s specialty.

Militant Bibliophile on July 18, 2007 at 10:40 PM

This story was such an absurd caricature that I called BS right away. I’m not in the military anymore, nor was I ever in the army, but come on. This smacks of Jesse MacBeth/John Kerry reporting.

PRCalDude on July 18, 2007 at 10:42 PM

Horseshit. Guaranteed.

I saw plenty of f*cked up things during my stint in the Marine Corps. When young men get stuck together in close quarters, with limited supervision and no women around … strange stuff happens. People are freaks.

Give them training and weapons, put them in danger for a while … and stuff gets even stranger. I saw a lot of it. Yes, some violence, some cruelty, some of the basic ugliness of humankind. It’s everywhere, and the military isn’t an exception.

And yeah – people like gallows humor. People make sick jokes in the face of danger. Cops do it, too. So do firemen. So do coroners. It’s a way of dealing with death and fear.

HOWEVER – all three stories are still horseshit. Why? Because all three are public. All three would have drawn the instant attention of NCOs and officers. In private, I might have believed it. In a chow hall? On patrol? Not a single change in Hell. I guarantee it.

I even know what happened here: each of these stories probably has a very small kernel of truth to it. They’re apocryphal … urban legends. I saw it again and again in the military … something interesting happened on ship or on base …. and by the time I heard the story the second or third time, it was wildly distorted and exaggerated.

There was probably some kind of ugliness in a chow hall. Some joker on patrol probably did do something stupid with human remains. And some private out there probably has a reputation as a wild man when he drives his Bradley.

But the final version of the story as reported in the laughable “media,” and all of the details involved, are 99% Grade-A horseshit.

There isn’t even a question about it. All three stories are either gross distortions retold a few dozens times … or intentional lies told to goof on the reporter.

Now THAT – intentionally screwing with media – is exactly the sort of things most Marines would find deliciously funny.

Somewhere in Iraq, right at this minute, a couple guys are sitting around, reading the hub-bub they invented out of thin air, and probably laughing so hard they’ll be sore tomorrow.

Good for them. The skull bit was a nice touch.

Professor Blather on July 18, 2007 at 10:42 PM

Anyone else find it odd that the details of the supposed conversations are so vivid? Skeptical fer sure…

JetBoy on July 18, 2007 at 10:47 PM

I alerted Blackfive to the account when I saw it in the news links. If anyone can find out whether the is some truth to these anecdotes, he can.

baldilocks on July 18, 2007 at 10:48 PM

Small editorial comment: If you are going to tease and discuss something, do like the Godfather of Pundits and quote a bit of the meat of the content so I can quickly comprehend your snarkiness as it relates to the originating snark.


Neo on July 18, 2007 at 10:48 PM

Totally ignoring the content for a second and just reading the style…it is written totally and completly like a novel not a news story or autobiographical account.

Next, aspects of the stories themselves don’t make much sense. How can you swirve a vehicle and catch the TAIL of a dog who was chasing your vechicle in the wheels/tracks? Do people burned by IEDs even return to duty on the frontline like that? Why would household items be found in a mass grave of mostly children, seperate from but on top of the bodies?

Resolute on July 18, 2007 at 10:48 PM

Neo on July 18, 2007 at 10:48 PM


PBoilermaker on July 18, 2007 at 10:50 PM

I can’t believe this guy didn’t know whether the gal at the “chow hall” (nice point, PBoilermaker) was a civilian or military. Maybe on a single encounter as a quick walkby on the way to their table, but he says he “always” sees her alone and I cannot believe mils don’t know their mils by sight when seen regularly even if they’ve never talked.

And I have to ask, “always alone”? Why would she have nobody to sit with? She’s got to be working with some group of people. I can’t believe she would be totally shunned or that others she has to know and work with would let her shun everyone else’s company. There’s too many people that are NOT like Scott Thomas for much of even this one story to be true.

I’ll put up $20 that this Scott Thomas is a liar. I’ll add $5 to it if he even made it out of boot camp.

Dusty on July 18, 2007 at 10:53 PM

Easy work for a willing sleuth. Female IED survivors w/ facial burns who have redeployed – can probably be counted on one finger – maybe zero fingers. Find her and ask her.

But this entire “story” is showing up just as Haditha is blowing up in the faces of the usual suspects.
I’m gonna need solid proof before I’ll give this crap a second thought.

Stephen M on July 18, 2007 at 10:55 PM

Females in theater are never “always alone”.

Dusty, I guess plenty call it a Chow Hall, but thanks. I always heard DFAC.

Regardless, good points have been made about the suspiciousness of the accounts. It makes our side look bad, though, so I imagine many in the MSM will suspend disbelief when they hear about it.

PBoilermaker on July 18, 2007 at 10:57 PM

It works like this:

I caught a trout 12″ long.

I caught a trout 16″ long.

I caught a trout 20″ long.

I caught a salmon 20″ long.

I caught a salmon 30″ long.

I caught a salmon 40″ long.

I caught a shark.

I caught jaws.

MB4 on July 18, 2007 at 10:59 PM

Uhm…I ain’t buying it! (I’m not military, though!)

SouthernGent on July 18, 2007 at 10:59 PM

It sounds like a provacatuer story. You plant a phoney story with outrageous claims to push for an ideological or political goal.

It almost sounds like something Ted Rall would create.

William Amos on July 18, 2007 at 11:02 PM

No freaking way.

Who here doubts the left would engage in EXACTLY this type of sock puppetry?

They would do ANYTHING to discredit our military. Aren’t their heroes Murtha and Kerry, and aren’t they the kings of lies? That’s where they learned it.

Everybody has a cell phone, let’s see the proof. (And even then you can’t believe it…I saw a vid of soldiers with kids chasing them beggin for water that was voiced over to make it sound like the soldiers were making fun of the kids…pure BS.)

JustTruth101 on July 18, 2007 at 11:03 PM

Ret. Navy here…

I don’t buy it for one simple reason…

This guy could possibly see ONE asshat type sitution… but THREE???

My guess is he took barraks stories and repeats them as if HE was there….

Just like a good Sea Story… but you know the only difference between Sea Stories and Fairy Tales??? One begins with “once upon a time”… and the other begins with this aint no Shi#”…

Romeo13 on July 18, 2007 at 11:10 PM

Who here doubts the left would engage in EXACTLY this type of sock puppetry?

They already did…Jesse Macbeth. Funny how the outcry about that lie was drowned out by the lie.

PBoilermaker on July 18, 2007 at 11:12 PM

I’m raising the Barbara Streisand (BS) flag too. 20 years of deployments and three wars later, I’ve never seen anything closely resembling this crap. I do not believe any of this would be allowed without serious consequences.

Centurion68 on July 18, 2007 at 11:14 PM

The story only exists to denegrate our military and for no other reason.

Mojave Mark on July 18, 2007 at 11:17 PM

I sort of doubt it but there have been roughly a half million different soldiers that have rotated through there. Abu G was the twisted work of a handful of people.
I really hope it is not true. So many video cams over there, one would think at least one person would have captured some of this on tape if it were true…….

Bradky on July 18, 2007 at 11:22 PM

In military terms, this sort of story is referred to as “scuttlebutt.” And the people who take them seriously are referred to as “braindead retards” (although that term is in more general use.)

As for soldiers mocking their enemy’s victims or “swerving” tracked armored vehicles to outmanoeuver dogs – use your freaking HEAD, will you?

Finally, seriously considering an anonymous “soldier’s” accounts as related by the military reporters at The New Republic isn’t a lack of skepticism; it’s a sign of drug overdose.

logis on July 18, 2007 at 11:24 PM

It almost sounds like something Ted Rall would create.

William Amos on July 18, 2007 at 11:02 PM

So, has anyone ever seen Rall and ‘Thomas” in the same place at the same time?

bdfaith on July 18, 2007 at 11:26 PM

I’d like to join the loud and thunderous calls of bullshit. This is pure lefty warporn. Liberals “support the troops” so much that they make up stories like this to smear them. How do you have somebody in a DFAC in a uniform that you can’t even identify as civilian or military? Probably because she’s a member of the armed forces of Madeupistan.

ReubenJCogburn on July 18, 2007 at 11:29 PM

Now THAT – intentionally screwing with media – is exactly the sort of things most Marines would find deliciously funny.

Yup. I know I sure do (even though not a Marine.)

The story only exists to denegrate our military and for no other reason.

Mojave Mark on July 18, 2007 at 11:17 PM

At least as to why it was reported. Fact checking – once again a significant lapse on the part of the liberal media.

IrishEyes on July 18, 2007 at 11:35 PM

Fits the John Kerry/Oliver Stone/Stanley Kubrick vision of the United States Military. Psychotic out of control troops and impotent officers. If we believe these stories then we have to believe not one of the many soldiers involved/witnessing had a concience. All bad apples, just as Hollywood wants us to believe America is, except for them of course.

I vote no.

peacenprosperity on July 18, 2007 at 11:46 PM

Sounds like scenes that were cut from the movie Jarhead or something.

EnochCain on July 18, 2007 at 11:46 PM

One oddball running over a dog is maybe plausible, but I’m having trouble with the thought of a tracked vehicle dragging a dog it hit. Any thoughts on that from one of you with more time around tracks than an old zoomie?

Making fun of a wounded comrade or a dead kid … not buying either story at all. I agree with the previous commenters that an SNCO or officer would have lit them up and that these fairy tales are intended to hurt the military.

cyrano on July 18, 2007 at 11:46 PM

I call BS.

Sadly, I do believe that people out there are depraved enough to do something like this. However, what makes me think that this is all made up is the insistence that no one took issue with the actions, and no one put a stop to it.

I mean, I can believe that one or two punks would ridicule a woman – but I can’t believe that everyone in the vicinity would stand for it. I can believe that a guy would put part of a skull on his head and prance around – but I have a difficult time believing that everyone around him had no problems with it whatsoever, as the writer claims. One person that depraved – sure. Two – maybe. But in a whole group, there has to be someone who would stand up for what’s right.

Then again, maybe I’m too hopeful.

nailinmyeye on July 18, 2007 at 11:47 PM

It’s BS.

Could they have encountered a disfigured female contractor? Yes.

Would she had the injuries as a result of an IED impluasible but not impossible.

To me the reason why this is BS is simply that anyone who has been outside the wire on a mission for any amount of time would NEVER bust someones chops if they were injured by an IED.

Anyone who has seen or been in an actual IED incident would never laugh at someone elses injury for noother reason than jinxing themselves.

If they were Fobbits and made such a callous remark in a public area (chow hall) they would have had their ass beaten by guys that do missions on a daily basis.

I’ll be the first to admit gallows humor does prevail but the cat that wrote this garbage has watched Full Metal Jacket too many times.

Trooper on July 18, 2007 at 11:53 PM

Bull, Bull, Bullshit x 3= Bullshit…

No photos, no proof this story goes poof!

I know that during my sons time in Iraq that the first 2 stories are bs… to the dog story possible.

robo on July 18, 2007 at 11:58 PM

My gut tells me that if any of these incidents were true, in each case someone got his ass kicked. Big time. And probably lucky he wasn’t shot on site for dancing with a child’s skull.

I’m just not buying it. Even within a group of idiots there are those with values. Someone most certainly would have come forward.

JimRich on July 18, 2007 at 11:59 PM

It all sounds like something a liberal Hollywood screenwriter would make up to sell movie tickets.

Tennessee Dave on July 18, 2007 at 10:40 PM

Probably the best non-mil argument for “bullshit” here. The stuff reads like excerpts from a synopsis for “Full Metal Jacket II,” not like eyewitness accounts of real events. And it isn’t even an issue of content, but of style.

Most significantly, the narrative itself comes off as somewhat flippant. The narrator of a piece of fiction might exhibit such an attitude. A genuine whistleblower documenting real events of gross malfeasance would desire to be taken quite seriously, and the tenor of his writing would reflect that intent. Flippancy does not.

If this is from a real source, I suspect he’s substantially embellishing incidents that involved relatively minor aspects of the final results, to the extent that the end product is far more fiction than truth. Or, it’s just straight-out fiction.

Blacklake on July 18, 2007 at 11:59 PM

I have no idea if this is true or not; however, it does make me question the fact that these stories deal with three subjects for which most Americans are particularly sensitive: the disabled, children, and dogs.

Kimmer on July 19, 2007 at 12:01 AM

Oops. Just to be clear I was not calling any of our troops idiots. Only using that term as a “lowest common denominator”.

JimRich on July 19, 2007 at 12:04 AM


m1a1usmc on July 19, 2007 at 12:05 AM

Yes, stylistically it reads like excerpts from a plot synopsis for “Full Metal Jacket II,” not like an eyewitness account.

Most telling I think is that the narrator’s attitude is somewhat flip. This would not be inappropriate in a piece of first person fiction, but a whistleblower attempting to document gross malfeasance would strongly desire that his account be taken seriously. As such his writing style would be suffused with a meticulous and serious tenor. Flippancy would undermine his intent.

I’d wager it’s either tall tales based on slim (and probably not particularly controversial in reality) slivers of truth, or complete fabrication.

Blacklake on July 19, 2007 at 12:05 AM

An UPDATE at Blackfive

Update: A trusted source says that the FOB in question, FOB Falcon, was turned over to the IA/IP a year or two ago.

Would your stated opinions change if the unidentified source was Itaqi referring to IA activities instead of a US source referring to US activities?

News2Use on July 19, 2007 at 12:11 AM

Consider the source.

Tony737 on July 19, 2007 at 12:16 AM

Add another tick on the bullsh1t list. Everyone has hit all the main points here but I’ll elaborate on a couple and add one I haven’t read yet:

1) NCO’s witnessing ANY of the events would be all over these guys and if not an officer is gonna be up in an NCOs face pretty damn quick.

2) I don’t know for sure(maybe a Military shrink can chime in here) but I would be SHOCKED if severe facial scarring such as a burn scar would be sent back to the theater. It seems to me that would be a HUGE morale problem.

and now for the clincher…haven’t seen this one in the comments…

3) A stranger in a DFAC?…REPEATEDLY IN A DFAC…and all you are concerned about is her scars? please…

When I was in the Army in the 80s we still called it a Chow Hall. Of the folks I know that have been deployed, none of them use Chow Hall. so…to play Devil’s advocate with my own points…

1) there may well be a group of asshats out there in a company. enlisted, NCOs, and officers all being disgraces to the Uniform

2) Morale problems in the military? say it ain’t so!!!

3) Maybe the female in the DFAC is a contractor…who knows

but the DFAC being called a chowhall by Privates? no way…absolutely no way.

Pilgrim on July 19, 2007 at 12:18 AM

I would go with my gut instinct that it is a Jihadi acting like an America, and TNR bit it hook, line and sinker. If you are blinded by hate for America, of course you believe everything he says.

Now, can individuals be cruel? Sure, Liberals over there who hate being there can do cruel things and ten report on it to say how bad America is, just ask John Kerry.

This guy has a chance to be a Senator and run for President some day.

WoosterOh on July 19, 2007 at 12:24 AM

The first two are complete crap. If the woman injured by an IED was in their unit and they knew her, then yeah they would give her crap. I know I’ve done it with some of my fellow Marines. But if they were in a crowded chow hall doing it to someone they did not know then they probably would have got their asses kicked. The second one their is no way in the name of hell that something like a mass grave is not going to be found or reported. Let alone some idiot running around with a kids skull on his head.

The third story is probably false but could be true. I know on during Phantom Fury we had a three day pass from the chain of command to shoot all the strays we could and a buddy of mine caught and ate a bird. But swerving a Bradly around to hit dogs just seems a little out there.

mundayr on July 19, 2007 at 12:27 AM

3) A stranger in a DFAC?…REPEATEDLY IN A DFAC…and all you are concerned about is her scars?

No, it was common when I was over there back in 04/05. Different units moving around on different shifts. Hell, ninty percent of the people in there were probably stangers. Which is why I am supprised as a former NCO that some skulls were not cracked.

-as an aside its late and my spelling sucks

mundayr on July 19, 2007 at 12:32 AM

Scuttlebutt is an understatement – I’m raising the BS flag. I don’t see anyone running over dogs on purpose. Jerkoff with the skull would’ve had an intervention, if not an anonymous request for said person to get a psych eval. And the man in the DFAC/chow hall – he would’ve been dealt with. Even if only a firm ‘chat’ in the nearest gear locker about popping his head out and getting his own act together. Before someone else did it for him.

Now that my P$&&ed-As-Hell-Meter(TM) is pegged, I have a bizarre question. Or maybe not so much. How is this guy getting his articles to The New Republic? I ask because of the presence of a post date. Either he emailed it and someone posted for him, or ‘Mr. Thomas’ has his own log in and a way to access New Republic’s site.

Why is this important? All of the things mentioned in that article were reportable if not actionable. Mr. Thomas witnesses someone wearing a human skull on their head. Yet instead of reporting it to his superiors (or anyone in unit), he puts it on the blog of a national publication. I wonder if he used DoD bandwidth to send his report. A lot goes in and out of Baghdad in one day, but I’m sure if this is real some Army ITs are already narrowing it down. Assuming this is not some asshat posting from a nice comfy living room six blocks from The New Republic offices.

If this clown’s for real, there’s a CO out there who’s quite peeved. Said CO if this is real, probably received a full broadside from the next rung up demanding to know WTF was going on in his or her goddamned unit. Along with an allusion to said next rung taking a trip over for a personal “chat”. Given the post date, if this was real the Army probably knows which unit it came from (if it went over DoD bandwidth). By this point said unit would’ve been locked down and lost any email and web access until this thing was sorted out (i.e. people were selected for court martial).

Of course, this all assumes that “Scott Thomas” is a real soldier stationed near Baghdad.

Not some jackass posing as one from their nice new Dell laptop. In front of their brick fireplace. In that nice brownstone just down the road from the offices of the goddamned New Republic. Enjoying a Chianti. While people I may have enjoyed a beer with, or served beside at one time are f*@%ing dying. Sick bastards.

I wonder. If this is what I think it is, can the Army sue the New Republic for defamation? Considering I know of quite a few IA’d sailors over there, can the Navy join in? There’s always a first time.

Suihei Deloi on July 19, 2007 at 12:34 AM

I’ve seen a video on Live Leak where 2 dogs vicously barked at several Iraqis but were perfectly friendly to the US Troops.

I think they’re totally BS because they’re way too over the top. I don’t think entire units can do the things they say and not have someone whistleblow.

You know, they keep comparing Iraq to Vietnam. Well, it’s not the first time the left tried to smear the Soldiers with totally false testemony, from fake soldiers.

Mazztek on July 19, 2007 at 12:53 AM

I think New Republic should be sued, too.

As for damages sought, it seems NR is trying to nullify the Army’s $500 Billion investment in the war. I am for tort reform, but maybe not until NR goes hit for a multi-billion sanction. If this were china, the leadership of NR would be hanged as well. Treason is embraced as a game by the liberal media.

G. Charles on July 19, 2007 at 1:09 AM

holy crap, someone listen to Chris Matthews on Leno. Cuckoo for cocoa puffs.

fudgypup on July 19, 2007 at 1:28 AM

Professor Blather at 10:42 said almost exactly what I had planned to say here.

There could be a small grain of truth in the three stories, but in all of them if even a grain of truth, it has been as exaggerated as John Kerry’s ‘war wounds’ and as Bill Richardson’s professional baseball career.

It wouldn’t take an Officer or NCO around to put a quick stop to any of them… Peer pressure alone would suffice to see a quick end to all three situations if there were more than just a couple of cherry REMFs around.

No way any of the stories are even half true individually. All three together make it pretty obviously a liberal hit piece.

LegendHasIt on July 19, 2007 at 1:33 AM

We got our war porn during Shock and Awe. Now that the AQ in Kos is winning, they are enjoying their form of war porn.

pedestrian on July 19, 2007 at 1:38 AM

This is total B.S. Many things here make no sense. I work for a defense contractor so I go in and out of the Iraq theater. I have had the privilege to work with our soldiers at Camp Liberty(Baghdad) and Speicher(Tikrit). I can’t believe our guys would conspire to do such evil. For an entire chain of command to allow so many horrendous incidents to occur without consequences would have to be damn near impossible.

Guardian on July 19, 2007 at 1:50 AM

100% road apples: (1) Miss Meltface wouldn’t be “recovering” in theater. (2) This is not the Chinese Army, and no digging for weeks by hand would occur on any US Military construction project. (3) Right… a Fort Knox Armor School graduate uniquely qualified to operate a $3 Million Bradley, swerving in search of “targets” while his commander sits two feet off his right elbow.

AP could make up better stories after 11 cold ones.

T J Green on July 19, 2007 at 2:20 AM

If this were china, the leadership of NR would be hanged as well. Treason is embraced as a game by the liberal media.

Good point. Occasionally I’ll hear someone refer to the United States’ “imperialist” ambitions in print or elsewhere. Usually, there’s a comparison to the Roman Empire thrown in. How little people know.

If we were like the Roman Empire, there would be no talk of suing. The traitors would already be no more, their heads on tall pikes outside their city as a warning to others. That is the difference. We’ll actually give someone a chance to prove they’re not an idiot who would sell out their nation. Some who’re my elders would say we’ve gone soft.

Suihei Deloi on July 19, 2007 at 2:23 AM

I have no idea if this is true or not; however, it does make me question the fact that these stories deal with three subjects for which most Americans are particularly sensitive: the disabled, children, and dogs.

Kimmer on July 19, 2007 at 12:01 AM

Excellent point.

madne0 on July 19, 2007 at 3:23 AM

About a year or so – Jeralyn Merritt linked to and commented on some simliar like story (I am thinking AP) that depectied so savage behaviour on some rouge troops – can’t remember details now, but Jeff Goldsten called her out it on her knee jerk belief in the story and…

What do you know? It turned out to be total bs,

Also Wesley Clark (after he lost nomination and began to help Kerry time) about 2/3 years ago went on Fox News and accused troops of widespread raping and pillaging innocent Iraqi’s based on a anon soldier communicating to him— Ian? has the audio as he was one that caught it….it turned out to be total BS

If I were TNR I’d trace the header on that email – would not be surprised to learn it was a poser Kossak (Kos hates TNR_

Topsecretk9 on July 19, 2007 at 4:29 AM

For an entire chain of command to allow so many horrendous incidents to occur without consequences would have to be damn near impossible.

Guardian on July 19, 2007 at 1:50 AM

Exactly. And as some others have mentioned, in every one of those stories that crap went over unquestioned and unchallenged by every one of the officers and NCOs present, not to mention every one of the soldiers’ peers. (Including “Scott Thomas”, who if he actually existed would be a disgrace.) Does anybody who took the oath and wore the uniform want to f*cking tell me that would ever happen in real life?

This New Soviet Socialist Republic crap is nothing but liberal fantasies of what they think the military does all the time. Not surprising, considering how much they hate the military, not to mention how few of them have ever actually served.

ReubenJCogburn on July 19, 2007 at 4:30 AM

Way over the top, and clearly out-of-bounds behavior for a G.I. As others have said, senior NCOs would have shut down any of those actions. In fact, if the incidents WERE true, the soldiers involved would never say so to a journalist, that’s just hanging your jewels out to be chopped off if you get ID’d as involved in such boorish behavior.

A load of mid-grade nitro-humus.

Freelancer on July 19, 2007 at 6:10 AM

Oh, and a tidbit buried in the skull-cap bit. Cleanliness is life for soldiers in the sand. Bits of “rotting flesh digging into his scalp” is beyond the pale. Not a chance.

Freelancer on July 19, 2007 at 6:11 AM

Do they still call it chow?? I was in the army and it was the dining hall,, not the chow hall.

JellyToast on July 19, 2007 at 7:22 AM

just read the Bradly story,,, some times its the little things that can give it all away,, I don’t think there is much to a “dashboard” on a Bradly. How would anyone keep a notebook “up on top?” I believe everything is flush,, there is no actual top,,, this can be seen if you google “drivers seat Bradly fighting vehicle.” Besides that,, I can see someone doing this from time to time, but, I just don’t believe this story. Also,, a Bradley driver drives the vehicle he is assigned to. he doesn’t get to pick and choose.

JellyToast on July 19, 2007 at 7:34 AM

I’ve been to Iraq twice and my Bullshit alarm is going off as well. I agree with the small sliver of truth to each… and subsiquent embellishment and the mandatory “No Shit, there I was…” thrown in. If it is a soldier I hope they find him and kick his ass. If it is a civilian… I hope they go to jail.

If that FOB was closed 1-2 years ago (and IF it is a soldier in theater) then finding out when would definately narrow down the list of “suspects”. My guess is the Army is already working to track down who this “soldier” is.

BadBrad on July 19, 2007 at 7:44 AM

Smells like someone with VERY limitted military service, if any at all, trying to pass as legit in order to give the lefties some red meat.

The prose reads like a stupid Hollywood antiwar flick, I can see Sean Penn in the starring role.

MARINES eat in chow halls not dog faced army dopes, anyone who doesn’t know that from the git-go aint in the club.

I’ve spent more time in remote FOB’s than I care to remember, they are generally small, intimate, dirty armpits of the world. Everyone knew everyone, even non US. No mystery guests had the liberty to walk around unescorted, (are you F’n kidding me?)especially a chick. Even Rosie O would be oggled and every swinging d*** would know she was in the wire, who she was, where she came from, and what size her bra was.

Burn victims may be stabilized at an FOB but are quickly sent to facilities better equipt to handle those types of injuries, (think surgery in a public toilet) and crispies who are well enough to eat in a freakin chow hall instead of their bed are MONTHS into rehab and are looooong gone from a damn FOB. Clown.

Alden Pyle on July 19, 2007 at 7:55 AM

No way are these “stories” true.

Most importantly, if our brave little hero “Scott Thomas” knows about such atrocities, he should be reporting them up the chain-of-command, not sending dispatches to The New Republic.

Beyond that, in a place where the enemy is apt to sneak in and blow themselves up, strangers in a mess hall would be a concern- especially if wearing a uniform nobody had ever seen before.

highhopes on July 19, 2007 at 8:02 AM

As others have already said, all three stories have two things against them: duration and ostentation. For those reasons alone I say they’re all BS.

IED lady story: The guy would have received a serious and near-instantaneous ass-kicking. Even forgetting for a moment basic decency, there’s a serious “there but for the grace of God go I” philosophy.

Skull cap story: Coming across human remains might result in a very brief goof-around moment, but as a retired senior NCO, I can assure you it would have lasted about 12 seconds.

Bradley driver story: Again, duration is the problem here. I can see Cpl. Dipwad getting away with this once, maybe twice, before getting shut down.

flipflop on July 19, 2007 at 8:03 AM

True or not (and obviously it’s NOT) expect this to be embraced by the nutroots gang, become the accepted lore, and be presented as fact in 10 or 15 years when they start making the Iraq War movies – i.e. how accruate do any of you think The Boys From Comapay C was?

mugged on July 19, 2007 at 8:05 AM

I thought Muslims hated dogs?

That would make killing three in one day pretty implausible.

DavidM on July 19, 2007 at 8:07 AM

Wow, I claim no expertise in these areas… but as I was reading these clearly bogus stories, I saw the holes in them that the Weekly Standard and all the bloggers identified. Meaning I picked them out as I read them, and then read the reactions from others who noticed the exact same things. This guy sounds like he’d be a decent fiction writer… only he deserves to be locked up instead.

As others have noted… Is someone with an IED melted face going to still be there? Would they not be able to recognize whether she was contractor or military? And would anyone be that big of a d**k? And would they be ballsy enough to do that, first of all because it’s likely a superior would be in the vicinity, and even if not in view, would they take the chance that one might be near by or coming in at that second? I’m just picturing the incident as described and I can’t believe anyone needs to be told it’s bs.

The mass grave thing… Yeah, the obvious… why would everything be in layers, with the bones buried deeper than the rest? Why would there still be hair and “rotting flesh” attached? You’d have to be an idiot to think a child’s skull would be a perfect fit, as described. But back to that rotting flesh… How stupid are the editors of The New Republic? Shouldn’t they have tossed this in the trash the second they read it? WTF!? The media, as always, is increasingly infuriating. At least these guys aren’t MSM… but I wonder if the MSM will pick this up and pass it off as fact? I’m sure the NY Times is salivating over it.

As for driving the Bradley… again, I’m no expert but the whole thing just doesn’t wash for a number of reasons… As others noted (in other blogs, etc.)… The vehicle doesn’t turn as it would need to, to complete the actions described… to say nothing of the blind spots, and risk of IEDs…. how about being caught by superiors!? This assclown sure seems to know a lot of people who engage in the most disgusting behavior without fear of punishment huh? Also, just a question on the twitching hind end of the severed dog… does that really happen? I know chickens can run around for a minute with their heads chopped off… but for some reason I think a sliced off back end of a dog would just lie still… I don’t claim to be a doctor, and feel free to correct me, but that just sounds unlikely.

Anyway, this story makes me so mad. We’ve had Jesse Macbeth, some idiot talking about stacking bodies in trailers to be hauled away, and at least a handful of other fake troops over the past few years I recall reading about at Malkin’s blog. Wasn’t there even a female this year who was suing the military or something or claiming depression after a tour in Iraq… that she never did? There really are quite a few of these stories and it’s hard to keep track of them… and even harder to google a few keywords to find them, because they’re so buried (if mentioned) by the media. If I recall that fake female troop was pushed by the NY Times.

RightWinged on July 19, 2007 at 8:12 AM

Oh, and a quick prediction… I’m not confident that anything will come out of this unless Fox gets on it, because the MSM won’t pressure them at all to prove these stories… but if The New Republic does get busted, just watch… a very very silent correction, or perhaps just a pulling of pages from their web site, and no one outside of the blogosphere will be any the wiser.

RightWinged on July 19, 2007 at 8:14 AM

Oh, if anyone is interested in one of the fake Iraq vets I mentioned earlier, it’s a female named Amorita Randall

So what did the NY Times do after publishing her lies and getting caught? Oh, they made good by printing this idiocy:

“Based on the information that came to light after the article was printed, it is now clear that Ms. Randall did not serve in Iraq, but may have become convinced she did.

Nope, the NY Times can’t just say “we were had”, it’s that this poor woman really believed she has been to Iraq, so we feel bad for her imaginary suffering. Shameful.

RightWinged on July 19, 2007 at 8:18 AM

Every day my email gets a couple of these “urban legends”, they make is sound so real, always it is with a disclaimer like “my aunts neighbor” or “I knew someone”, but never any real facts. Snopes is full of them.
This is a “military legend”, always vague (notice we don’t know what uniform she had), never a company name (this guy put a skull on his head), a reporter would have at least a company, a date, a location, something to be able to pin this down. Try asking a hitchhiker with the sign of “need money, viet vet” where he served and suddenly his memory was also stolen by the CIA.
However, this is a true story, my friends fiance went out and found a dead rabbit in her backyard, she thought it was her neighbors and she thought her rat poison had killed it…

right2bright on July 19, 2007 at 8:24 AM

Anti-military propaganda.

Aylios on July 19, 2007 at 8:36 AM

A trooper will get a lot of leeway from me just because of the horror they have to live with on a daily basis. This is an explanation more than an excuse for this behavior.

A soldier reacting that way to a disfigured person is not so far fetched if you consider that is coming from a person who has control issues. Those types of insults are not borne out of wisdom or experience. They are borne out of fear and ignorance. Most of us had to learn, and I don’t mean just to be told by our parents, we had to LEARN not to make fun of or point at those less fortunate. There are people out there that make it to 19 years old and missed that lesson. The problem is that by 19, people expect everyone to have learned it and anyone who acts contrary to that must be evil. We all learn life’s lessons at different times and this may have been the experience that finally resonated with this soldier, but we didn’t hear about that part because this makes a better story without that context.

Gallows humor? Makes sense. Again, the horror of war leads people who are unprepared for it to do very strange things. There is empathy and sympathy. A lot of people confuse the two. You cannot function is situations like this if you have sympathy for every dead child you see. The way to deal with it is to use empathy. This allows you to understand the victims pain without taking it onto yourself. Well, there are a lot of people out there that don’t understand that. They were taught sympathy. Taking on the feelings of a guy who missed the big kick to win the game is a hellava lot different than taking on the feelings of a child shaking in fear as she is blind folded, bound, knelt in front of her grave, just waiting to have happen to her what she has grown up with since the days of Saddam.

Killing dogs. My son and I have discussed the ROE’s he will be operating under in just 60 days. He will do his duty, but because I raised a moral person, he has some conflict with it. The safety of the troops is paramount to the lives of civilians in certain situations and they don’t have time to vet the bad from the innocent. Again, when human life is dealt with that way, the death of a dog is nothing when you take it in relative terms from a person who hasn’t learned the skill sets to deal with the horror of war.

I have never been asked to kill on a daily basis, but I have seen things that were horrific. What these troopers go through on a daily basis is a hundred fold to my experiences. Imagine unearthing a grave full of the bones of children. Most of us will react in a predictable way. But there are some who cannot process it, and instead of allowing it to paralyze them (by repressing the memory) and making them ineffectual soldiers , they get as close as possible to it. It’s a coping mechanism. And again, we don’t know what happens afterwards. This may have been the event that led the soldier to become a better, more empathetic soldier.

That’s my take on it. One other thing I know. Regardless of any soldiers weaknesses, they are there serving, and the people who will make hay from this, are mostly those that sit in their ivory towers, sanitized from the real world by money and power.

No. These troops get a lot of leeway from me. At least until I know they have been taught the same skills that most of our troops learned at their parents knee, and need those skills in their daily dealings with the most horrible situations a human being can be expected to operate under.

csdeven on July 19, 2007 at 8:56 AM

The dog story seems odd. I think its possible that soldiers might be mentally capable of such creulty to animals, but I am not sure how physically possible it is with a tracked vehicle to do what he says. There are two ways to turn a tracked vehicle, you do a pivot turn or a skid turn. A pivot turn means you have one track in reverse and one in forward drive and you can do 360s in place. A skid turn is when you have one track moving fast and the other track moving slow or stopped. I can’t see how either method could be used to lure dogs in and try to run them over the way the writer describes. Another note I saw on another website is that the driver compartment on the Bradley is on the left side and visability of the right side of the vehicle is limited.

As a note, I am not an expert Bradley driver by trade, but I have driven them on occasion. Also, I have done extensive ground guiding of them to know what they can and cannot do. I’m not saying its impossible, just unlikely. I have a feeling these are stories that the author heard of, and not actually witnessed.

BohicaTwentyTwo on July 19, 2007 at 8:58 AM

Was Vick a soldier in Iraq?

right2bright on July 19, 2007 at 9:00 AM