“Scott Thomas”: A psychological profile; Update: Rigorous fact-checking, says Foer Update: Bryan weighs in on the whole “woman in a FOB” question

posted at 1:02 pm on July 25, 2007 by Allahpundit

More exactly, a semiotic profile. The link is going around thanks to the author’s hard knock on TNR editor Franklin Foer at the end but the tasty part is in the middle where he dissects Thomas’s style. Verdict: He’s probably a grad student with military but not combat experience who fancies himself the Dangerous Guy with Chops. Heavy on the physical detail, devoid of emotional judgment, he needs you to know that (a) he’s been there and (b) he’s farking crazy, man, beyond good and evil, and he’s willing to use every “sinister” stylistic affectation he can find to communicate those two facts. Which tends to suggest that he’s not beyond good and evil at all or else he wouldn’t be straining so hard to affect evilness.

Even so, it doesn’t always work out:

4) Physical detail is mildly slanted toward the refined senses (sight and sound) rather than the vulgar senses (smell, taste, touch, and kinesthesia); the refined-sense details tend to be more specific, and the vulgar-sense details tend to be alluded to more than specifically named. (I think this is caused by a lack of actual experience; in actual experience the vulgar senses are the strong ones, but in library research the refined senses are the ones easier to paraphrase to avoid being caught in plagiarism).

He’s a poseur, in other words, albeit perhaps one with enough experience to make a facially plausible case of combat duty. I’d actually be surprised if it turned out the guy’s a grad student: presumably a trained writer would be less heavy handed lest it be too obvious, per Barnes’s critique, what he’s “trying to do” with his dispatches, but Barnes would know far better than I would the level of subtlety to expect from MFAs. I think Ace’s theory, that TNR plucked this guy from their comments section when he professed some combat experience and hinted at dark tales of American stormtroopers run amok, is more likely but we’ll see. Foer certainly is taking his time with the investigation, which seems odd given the doubtlessly extensive fact-checking that preceded publication. Just check the fact-checker’s notes, boys. I’m sure it’s all in there.

If Foer’s smart, and he seems to be notwithstanding his lapse here, he’ll do what he can to shift this debate from whether Thomas’s stories are true to whether Thomas is a solder at all. That’s what the left did in Jamilgate with the help of some foolish right-wing bloggers, as Greyhawk reminds us:

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…

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”. [See also. — ed.] 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’.

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.

I said something similar in a comment on Patterico’s blog in the heat of Jamilgate back in December:

Mark my words: [the left will] trumpet whatever facts about [Jamil Hussein] redound to the AP’s advantage even if on balance the AP looks bad. For instance, if it turns out he exists but he’s not a real cop, the news on the lefty blogs will be “HE EXISTS.” And then they’ll set about showing why it’s not a big deal that he’s not a real cop, even though the AP has been claiming he’s a real cop for months now. Anything they can do to shore up the AP’s credibility, any argument they can make, they’ll do it, because like I said above, that’s what this is really about — protecting the left-wing media from a credible charge of malfeasance, even though it wouldn’t mean much in the grander scheme of how awful things are in Iraq.

I said they’d do it and they did, and they’ll do it again. Oh well.

Update: ABC’s story on the dispute is up. Foer:

Franklin Foer, the editor of the New Republic, said that he has met Thomas here in the States and that he is “absolutely certain” that he is a soldier in Iraq. “Not an ounce of doubt,” he told ABCNEWs.com. Asked about how he attempted to verify Thomas’ military credentials, Foer said, “I’ve got many, many data points to back that up” although one of those proofs didn’t include a military e-mail account.

As for the specific accounts in the stories, Foer said that the articles were rigorously fact-checked before they were published. “We showed the stories to people who’d been embedded in Iraq to make sure that it all smelled good. We talked to one of the members of his unit to confirm the woman, a female contractor. We talked to a medic who’d served in Iraq to make sure that a woman could be in an FOB. We spent a lot of time with him on the phone asking hard questions.”

Every milblogger who’s looked at these dispatches finds problems with them, yet Foer’s embeds all signed off?

Update (Bryan): Quoth ABC–”We talked to a medic who’d served in Iraq to make sure that a woman could be in an FOB.”

I’d have loved to have seen the medic’s face when Frank Foer asked whether a woman could be in a FOB. A FOB is a military base — “forward operating base” to be specific. We have women in the military serving in Iraq. Ergo, a woman can be in a FOB. What genius came up with that question?

But hey, we have photographic proof that a woman can in fact be in a FOB and not even be in the military. See this picture? Taken on a FOB, with a woman front and center. I took the picture, so I can tell you under my own name that it isn’t a photoshop. That’s FOB Justice, on the west bank of the Tigris in Baghdad.

Where on earth does the brilliant Franklin Foer think that we stayed when Michelle and I went to Baghdad? Where do most male and female reporters stay when they embed with troops in Iraq? They stay on FOBs. Mystery solved. “Can a woman be on a FOB?” That might be the dumbest question of all time.

If that’s the level of fact-checking that we can expect from TNR, we’re in for a long, hard slog in getting them to admit that they’ve been had.

Also keep in mind, kids, these are the people we’ve been arguing about the war with for the past four years. They still don’t even know what a FOB is, and they’re publishing stories that they claim were written by a soldier.

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So what do we do? Can we hit them in a way they can’t squirm out of?

Bad Candy on July 25, 2007 at 1:06 PM

I said they’d do it and they did, and they’ll do it again.

You’re an oracle!

Blake on July 25, 2007 at 1:09 PM

Bad Candy on July 25, 2007 at 1:06 PM

You’re joking right? There is nothing the left cant squirm out of, except possible hell itself.

doriangrey on July 25, 2007 at 1:14 PM

Blake on July 25, 2007 at 1:09 PM

You’re an oracle!

No…He is the all powerful and knowing Allahpundit, it’s his job to know these thing so of course he does… :P

doriangrey on July 25, 2007 at 1:16 PM

Ummm… and just where is Jamill??? And why are we not hearing from him as a “Source” anymore?

He was all over for a long time, then his existance was questioned, and now I don’t see anything from him anymore…

Or am I just missing his “reports”?

Romeo13 on July 25, 2007 at 1:24 PM

I’d actually be surprised if it turned out the guy’s a grad student: presumably a trained writer would be less heavy handed

I just graduated from an MA Creative Writing program two months ago. We’re not immune to heavy-handedness. Frankly, we have to do anything we can to get people to notice because no one reads anymore.

Enrique on July 25, 2007 at 1:29 PM

You’re joking right? There is nothing the left cant squirm out of, except possible hell itself.

doriangrey on July 25, 2007 at 1:14 PM

Democrats squirm out of hell regularly, how do you think they get here?

/couldn’t resist

Bad Candy on July 25, 2007 at 1:31 PM

I hit a donkey in my 1114 in Iraq on mission once.
I didn’t kill it though.

Regardless if I killed it or not does that qualify me to write in TNR as the great ass slayer?

Just askin’.

Trooper on July 25, 2007 at 1:31 PM

Having read Mr. Thomas’ literary offerings, I would have to say that I seriously doubt if the man ever “wore boots”.

Jonas Parker on July 25, 2007 at 1:35 PM

So then Scott Thomas is this

guy ?

William Amos on July 25, 2007 at 1:40 PM

One of the motives of such obviously fake stories is to make the subject matter thinkable.
Scott Thomas has succeeded in that. However this story ends the public will forget the details and remember that such disgusting behavior of the troops was in question.

That’s how the Truther movement started. Today 30% of Americans believe that President Bush at least knew about the 9-11-2001 attack.

The best response is to pound into the public consciousness that the MSM lies about the Iraq war. Then however this story ends the public will remember that the MSN cannot be trusted.

TunaTalon on July 25, 2007 at 1:41 PM

There was a “Jamil”, and he was apparently an Iraqi police captain, though AP lied when they swore “Jamil Hussein” was his real name.

What they never covered was how he knew what he knew, about deaths all over the city the day they happened. They never explained why they trusted his motivations or his accuracy. One time Kim Gamel, who is now AP’s Baghdad Bureau chief, tried to substantiate his case and couldn’t–but AP kept relying on him.

And then, of course, some Hot Air people took a gander at those mosques he said were “destroyed” in the unproven attacks, and found otherwise.

We know who won that round: has AP quoted Jamil Hussein for a single report since then? Lexis-Nexis tells me they haven’t.

As far as I’m concerned, that’s the bottom line.

see-dubya on July 25, 2007 at 1:42 PM

PS Grad students are uniformly awful writers, who try to write what they think their professors and colleagues want to hear. None of the Ph.D. types I know ever went through any actual training on how to write, let alone style.

see-dubya on July 25, 2007 at 1:45 PM

Excellent blog at the link. I was thii-iis close to getting an MFA. I know that sort of literary-tough-guy the piece described. Hell, some of them were my instructors. Drinking, womanizing, a little gun play, some drugs, maybe a story about eviserating a prostiture with a Bowie knife – you know, tough guy stuff. It’s all very tiresome.

The blog is on to something about “Thomas”. I’m looking forward to his outing.

Thomas the Wraith on July 25, 2007 at 1:47 PM

I’m still betting that his desk and the desk of Franklin Foer are under the same roof. We cannot let them slip away, this has to be pursued. A retraction and an apology for inefficient fact checking should not be accepted. Nothing short of knowing the identity of the guy that typed this stuff should be accepted.

How will we defeat the likes of Ahmandinejad and Al Queda if we can’t defeat the enemy within?

peacenprosperity on July 25, 2007 at 2:00 PM

Barnes’ critique was withering. An what is an MFA?

PRCalDude on July 25, 2007 at 2:01 PM

That’s some pretty insightful stuff there. Especially about the senses. Here’s this guy changing a tire (yes, I know, most Humvess have run-flat tires and don’t carry spares) in the middle of a river of raw sewage and all he writes about is what he sees. Wouldn’t you think he would have more to say about what he smelled? That’s the difference between someone who actually did something and someone who saw a picture of something. Same with the mass grave / children’s graveyard. You would think it would be a bit pungent, yes?

BohicaTwentyTwo on July 25, 2007 at 2:02 PM

Masters of Fine Arts – M.F.A. It’s the creative equivalent of an MA or MBA. You can get an MFA in just about any creative endeavor: writing of all kinds, film making, painting and all the plastic arts, music, acting, etc. It’s largely useless except for networking and making contacts and if you’re disciplined, having time to work on something substantial, like a novel or a short film. The big name for writing is the Iowa Writers Workshop at U of Iowa.

Thomas the Wraith on July 25, 2007 at 2:07 PM

Masters of Fine Arts – M.F.A. It’s the creative equivalent of an MA or MBA. You can get an MFA in just about any creative endeavor: writing of all kinds, film making, painting and all the plastic arts, music, acting, etc. It’s largely useless except for networking and making contacts and if you’re disciplined, having time to work on something substantial, like a novel or a short film. The big name for writing is the Iowa Writers Workshop at U of Iowa.

Thomas the Wraith on July 25, 2007 at 2:07 PM

Oh. Sounds like a joke to me. Looks like it just develops narcissicistic, self-congratulatory hacks with a predictable, formulaic writing style. It’s analogous to the music MA programs now: they all produce post-modern writers of music that is indistinguishable from noise.

PRCalDude on July 25, 2007 at 2:11 PM

There is nothing the left cant squirm out of, except possible hell itself.

doriangrey on July 25, 2007 at 1:14 PM

To them, there is no good and evil. Hell (like heaven) is just another name for the afterlife (all blurred together or “shades of gray”). So don’t insult the poor souls in hell — they are the oppressed ones that just need some heavenly welfare to get back on their feet (part of the “redistribution of wealth” taking place in the “afterlife”.

Rick on July 25, 2007 at 2:13 PM

. An what is an MFA?

PRCalDude on July 25, 2007 at 2:01 PM

Thank you for that. Although I know, I’m not proud of it. Don’t think it’s particularly relevant to military guys though.

JiangxiDad on July 25, 2007 at 2:14 PM

I was sort of disappointed that he didn’t point the finger at Chutch.

wordwarp on July 25, 2007 at 2:20 PM

This is a great article (I actually emailed Bryan this link last night), and it certainly pegs some of the issues with the writer’s pronounced, hacky style. But it seems unlikely that an MFA program grad would end up in Iraq, even in a noncombat role.

What if, instead, the MFA writer was actually a secondary participant in creating these stories? Perhaps TNR got hold of some soldier’s antisocial boastings and assigned it to said writer for editing / ghostwriting, thereby introducing the tell-tale MFA stylistic elements, as well as the factual inaccuracies?

If this were the case, it could lead to a rather frustrating conclusion to l’affaire Scott Thomas. If it were to become public that a second party had worked over the stories, TNR could blame their lack of “truthiness” on the extensive editing process without ever really having to address the underlying facts. Fake-but-accurate redux.

Squid Vicious on July 25, 2007 at 2:28 PM

PRCalDude on July 25, 2007 at 2:11 PM

It’s analogous to the music MA programs now: they all produce post-modern writers of music that is indistinguishable from noise.

Music degree’s are usually F.A’s, at least mine was, although it was only a B.F.A. Oh and been listening to my cr@p again eh???

doriangrey on July 25, 2007 at 2:28 PM

Franklin Foer is caught in his lie.

It *is* what TNR does, you know: Publish bogus stories and defend genocide.

georgej on July 25, 2007 at 2:38 PM

No way this guy is a soldier. I doubt he’s even a writer. Scott Thomas is most likely a mentally unstable individual who has been hearing stories from a friend or loved one in Iraq. Thomas then regurgiates some of the details of what he has heard and concocts fantastical stories of murder, mayhem, and dog flattening.

Thomas may even be even using the credentials (name, rank serial number, unit, etc.) of the soldier he’s been hearing these stories from.

Mike Honcho on July 25, 2007 at 2:46 PM

“We showed the stories to people who’d been embedded in Iraq to make sure that it all smelled good.”

Not to actual soldiers or Marines but to embedded people, i.e. other reporters. So we have unnamed reporters verifying the story of an anonymous individual without a military email account for a 31-year old editor in DC who has only ever worked for TNR. WTF??

Thomas the Wraith on July 25, 2007 at 2:53 PM

I’ve heard that with the closing of Weekly World News, Bat Boy and Elvis will be employed as fact checkers at The New Republic.

mr_oni on July 25, 2007 at 3:11 PM

Not to actual soldiers or Marines but to embedded people, i.e. other reporters.

Thomas the Wraith on July 25, 2007 at 2:53 PM

Of course. The people at TNR don’t know any actual soldiers.

James on July 25, 2007 at 3:15 PM

Re: the update adding the ABC story, I am surprised Foer met Thomas before he left for Iraq, because it brings up so many more questions.

Shopping for the dregs of an organization to write stories defaming the organization pseudonymously is not a good idea no matter which one it is. I suspect the sky to fall on TNR’s reputation now and it will be heavy.

Dusty on July 25, 2007 at 3:18 PM

I’m actually an undercover secret CIA Agent. But, if you call them. I’m so secret that they will deny my existence.

I have pleanty of Data points to back that up. Actually, I don’t, but doesn’t that sound really good?
Fact is, I’m a US Marine Reserve Staff Sergeant. My ‘Data point” to prove that is my military issue ID CARD. That’s not a data point, that’s a cold hard fact.

Unless Foer has seen that actual ID, or bothered to see that ID, then Thomas is not nor has ever been a soldier, ad Foer is the most irresponsible “journalist” ever.

Mazztek on July 25, 2007 at 3:42 PM

Mazzlek -

Is there an expiration date on that card? After you leave the Reserve do they take the card from you? Does it indicate where you’ve been stationed or what unit or division you’re in? I’m wondering if Foer may have been snowballed by someone who had been in the military but is out now.

Thomas the Wraith on July 25, 2007 at 3:47 PM

Is there an expiration date on that card?

Yes.

After you leave the Reserve do they take the card from you?

Yes.

Does it indicate where you’ve been stationed or what unit or division you’re in?

No.

James on July 25, 2007 at 3:49 PM

Anyone want to bet “Scott Thomas” eventually gets “killed” in Iraq?

peacenprosperity on July 25, 2007 at 4:02 PM

So if Foer saw the card that could account for his “near” “absolute” certainty that Scott Thomas is a soldier. He admits in the ABC piece that Scott doesn’t use a military email address. Otherwise, how would he “know” that Scotty boy was in the military at all?

How easy is it to fake that card at least enough to fool an editor?

Thomas the Wraith on July 25, 2007 at 4:12 PM

Foer said, “I’ve got many, many data points to back that up”

Well, never heard anyone defend their position using the peculiar phrase “data points to back that up.” Was that vetted thru lawyers?

Data … points …? Kinda like “Deathly Hallows” – sounds like it means something but it doesn’t?

naliaka on July 25, 2007 at 4:21 PM

No way this guy is a soldier. I doubt he’s even a writer. Scott Thomas is most likely a mentally unstable individual who has been hearing stories from a friend or loved one in Iraq. Thomas then regurgiates some of the details of what he has heard and concocts fantastical stories of murder, mayhem, and dog flattening.

Thomas may even be even using the credentials (name, rank serial number, unit, etc.) of the soldier he’s been hearing these stories from.

Mike Honcho on July 25, 2007 at 2:46 PM

By George, I think he’s got it!

Bob's Kid on July 25, 2007 at 4:36 PM

Wasn’t Data Points an episode of the “Star Trek: the Next Generation”?

Or is it a town in Arizona?

(Somehwere between Grasshopper Junction and Baghdad, AZ.)

Would TNR accept both as true if it fit their template?

“Scott Thomas” is a pseudonym.

Why?

There’s no law against telling the truth.

profitsbeard on July 25, 2007 at 4:40 PM

naliaka,

Hey, no spoilers-I haven’t read “Deathly Hallows” yet.

Regarding Foer’s “data points,” didn’t AP claim to have verified Jamil Hussein’s identity by actually going into the guy’s office and seeing his desk? Which, of course, turned out to be a complete lie. If AP can fudge their sources, why not TNR? After all, the only measure of Truth is whether it fits their far-left, anti-America, anti-Bush narrative. Actual facts are irrelevant. That is why Fox is so terrible at “lying” in their reports-not due to any factual problems, but because they have the gall not to follow the Left’s party line.

Lancer on July 25, 2007 at 4:40 PM

We talked to one of the members of his unit to confirm the woman, a female contractor.

Didn’t the original story claim the author didn’t know if the woman was a contractor or in a military branch?

mikeyboss on July 25, 2007 at 4:46 PM

We talked to one of the members of his unit to confirm the woman, a female contractor.?

Didn’t the original story claim the author didn’t know if the woman was a contractor or in a military branch?

That quote doesn’t make any sense. Is Foer claiming that they found the woman in question (if so, why not have her step forward to corroborate his account of the “chow hall incident”) or that they found a female contractor at this FOB.

Mike Honcho on July 25, 2007 at 4:51 PM

Re: the update adding the ABC story, I am surprised Foer met Thomas before he left for Iraq, because it brings up so many more questions.

Yeah, Dusty. I too think that’s weird.

MayBee on July 25, 2007 at 5:07 PM

Lancer on July 25, 2007 at 4:40 PM
Hehe!

So, one of the data points er … points to “a woman.”
Wow! Glad that was cleared up! Whoa! To think we DOUBTED! The woman in the “chow hall” is in fact a woman! For SURE! Female. For sure. Of the feminine gender. YessirreeBob!
Next week, we will assemble data points to present … a name. A female name. All data point direct us to a name of the fairer sex.
Did the woman have a book in the “chow hall?” To read whilst she sat alone, near the snickering writer and the creeps he claims are his companions who he hangs out with, but far away from everyone else who can’t stand him and his crude associates? “Deathly Hallows” perhaps? Advance frontline battlefield copy one wonders? Did she reveal the plot device – revenge for them making her feel bad?

naliaka on July 25, 2007 at 5:08 PM

Say, ya’ll don’t suppose that Mr. “Truther,” Mr. AWOL could be the source? Did just as much research to come to that supposition as he did for his 9/11 theory. Maybe a few seconds more.

naliaka on July 25, 2007 at 5:29 PM

He’s a poseur, in other words, albeit perhaps one with enough experience to make a facially plausible case of combat duty.

Square backed 9mm rounds…heh.

major john on July 25, 2007 at 6:16 PM

Look, I agree that this guy is a “poseur”… but I also think he is a Soldier. I agree with the “writer guy” who says (paraphrased and translated into Armyspeak) that this guy is most likely an educated REMF who is a career FOBBIT. He sits around hearing all the Urban Legends and looking at the pictures of the guys who really actually DO stuff and he dreams… “I AM hardcore; I AM highspeed; I AM a badass who is a cold, hard killer” Not realizing that the guys who live outside the wire don’t think or talk the way he thinks they do or should. Or that those outside the wire daily are fully aware that by doing what he says they did they would be totally undermining their mission and making their live significantly harder and more dangerous. This is all probably because the stories he hears are from other FOBBITS who overheard it once from some guys in the latrine and embellished it each time it was told.
Poseur – yes
Soldier – also yes
He is just a FOBBIT soldier posing as something he is not (tough, hard, heartless badboy killing machine who has inspired Chuck Norris to wear Scott Thomas PJ’s). That is why he has many details (ie what is looks like, sounds like…) but little of how it FEELS (usually the most lasting).

We need to quite arguing about if he IS a soldier and start debunking what he is saying.

BadBrad on July 25, 2007 at 7:14 PM

Every milblogger who’s looked at these dispatches finds problems with them, yet Foer’s embeds all signed off?

Yeah they all signed off on them, just like all of the typography and handwriting experts signed off on CBS’s copies of Bush’s TANG records.

angryoldfatman on July 25, 2007 at 7:59 PM

If that’s the level of fact-checking that we can expect from TNR, we’re in for a long, hard slog in getting them to admit that they’ve been had.

Bryan, don’t give them that ground. The truth that the articles area a fraud is almost a given. Don’t give them an out to throw up their hands and say, “Oops, we were taken.”
Make them prove that they did not know it was a fraud froom the beginning.

Yea and it wasn’t Lindsey’s coke in her pocket.

peacenprosperity on July 25, 2007 at 8:52 PM

How easy is it to fake that card at least enough to fool an editor?

Thomas the Wraith on July 25, 2007 at 4:12 PM

Hell, I could make one with a pen and some construction paper that’s good enough to fool an editor–like Franklin Foer–who wants to believe the sh*t I’m shoveling. The actual ID cards are pretty elaborate, but I bet you could get one made at your local illegal alien fake ID place that would fool an untrained observer.

Yea and it wasn’t Lindsey’s coke in her pocket.

peacenprosperity on July 25, 2007 at 8:52 PM

Sorry, those were my pants she was wearing–the old ‘getting dressed in the dark’ thing, you know? (HA!)

ReubenJCogburn on July 26, 2007 at 3:03 AM

The actual ID cards are pretty elaborate, but I bet you could get one made at your local illegal alien fake ID place that would fool an untrained observer.

That’s doubtful these days, unless the faker somehow has the card blanks with the microchips embedded in them. The old ones (and current retired/dependent ones) were reputed to be easy to fake, to the point where it sometimes wasn’t accepted as ID to get into bars, but that’s not the case now.

Assuming, of course, that TNR knows what to look for, or even the fact that we have a new kind of ID card. Which I doubt.

James on July 26, 2007 at 8:02 AM

I can’t speak for Mazztek (and wouldn’t bother, he does quite well on his own). ID cards for active duty military have been of the Schlumberger “smart card” variety for the last 6 years. Those aren’t easy to fake. The photo is burned directly onto the card (like a Sam’s club or Costco card, but in color), and all of the DEERS data, including EAOS, clearance level, current duty station, email address and PKI certs are embedded in the chip.

Retirees get the older style cards that don’t include an embedded chip, but do have a laser holograph of the DoD Seal in the cover plastic, so you can’t fake the lamination, the black-and-white digital photo is printed directly onto the card stock, so you can’t slide in a passport-style photo, and a barcode plus elaborate digital data field on the reverse. I don’t know whether Marine reservists use the Smart Card or not, but I would strongly suspect that an activated Army reservist working from an FOB would have a Smart Card.

Of course, if someone’s never seen a military ID card before, anything could fool them, but the question came up.

As to Thomas not using an Army email address for his posts, that would be wise. Military email is monitored worldwide, and if he is a soldier, the moment his real identity is uncovered, his email would be embargoed for review by his superiors. Then they would start asking him why he never reported the unsatisfactory behavior he has written about. The “see something, say something” concept is universal in the military. If you are aware of unacceptable actions, and fail to report them, you get a place right next to the perpetrator for punishment.

Freelancer on July 26, 2007 at 5:14 PM