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Commentary, sarcasm and snide remarks from a Florida resident of over thirty years. Being a glutton for punishment is a requirement for residency here. Who am I? I've been called a moonbat by Michelle Malkin, a Right Wing Nut by Daily Kos, and middle of the road by Florida blog State of Sunshine. Tell me what you think.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Degrees of Certainty

More on the Scott Thomas/New Republic story. From the New York Times-

Franklin Foer, the editor of The New Republic, will not reveal the author’s identity but says the magazine is investigating the accuracy of his articles. In the late 1990s, under different editors, the magazine fired an associate editor, Stephen Glass, for fabrications.

“Now that these questions have been raised, we’ve launched an inquiry. We’re putting the full resources of the magazine to look into the story,” Mr. Foer said. “It’s taking me a little bit longer than I wish it did. The author, not to mention some of the participants in the anecdotes he described, are active duty soldiers and they’re on 20-hour active combat missions sometimes, and it’s very difficult for me to get them all on the phone to ask them the questions that I’d like to ask.”


The magazine granted anonymity to the writer to keep him from being punished by his military superiors and to allow him to write candidly, Mr. Foer said. He said that he had met the writer and that he knows with “near certainty” that he is, in fact, a soldier.
Note- If TNR's editors are trying to keep Thomas annonymous to protect him, they're doing a crappy job of it. By identifying the base(so as to protect the magazine from accusations of journalistic fraud) and other details, TNR has narrowed the possible soldiers that Thomas could be down to around 100. Covering TNR's own ass is more important than protecting Thomas if he is truly innocent. Anyone else notice this not so slight discrepancy?

TNR's editors have clarified themselves in regards to their certainty.

The story says that TNR knows with "near certainty" that Scott Thomas is a soldier in Iraq. In fact, we know this with absolute certainty.
I'm glad TNR is absolute certain that Thomas is a soldier. Then isn't it ironic that the NY Times misquotes their certainty? I mean the MSM wouldn't make mistakes on important details like that.

I never thought Thomas wasn't a soldier. Anyone with a basic knowledge of the internet, would be able to confirm the ISP location of a person's email. I'm assuming most of TNR's contact with 'Thomas' is through this form of communication.

Even with certainty about Thomas being military, that doesn't mean his stories any more believable. Read this for example.


I am a U.S. Army officer and have been stationed at FOB Falcon, Baghdad, Iraq since October of 2006. I am currently still here. The stories that “Scott Thomas” describes are completely fictional. From some of the things he talks about I am led to believe that this individual may possibly be in my unit since we are the only ones with Bradley Fighting Vehicles and I recall the child cemetery that was uncovered in our sector while constructing a Combat Outpost.

First: I have never seen a woman on the FOB that was disfigured. FOB Falcon is full of combat Soldiers (men). There are very few female Soldiers on the FOB. After being here a year surrounded by men, I can tell you what every woman on this FOB looks like. IF there had been a woman with burns covering her face, and IF some undisciplined Soldier(s) had done something like described in this guys story, he would have been dealt with swiftly and harshly. The dining facility here is small and usually crowded. Any NCO or officer that had heard or seen someone committing this type behavior would have immediately approached that group and reacted to that situation. Those Soldiers would have had UCMJ actions taken against them. No one I know, NCO, officer, or even lower enlisted, would have tolerated this.

Second: There was a children’s cemetery unearthed while constructing a Combat Outpost (COP) in the farm land south of Baghdad International Airport. It was not a mass grave. It was not the result of some inhumane genocide. It was an unmarked cemetery where the locals had buried children some years back. There are many such unmarked cemeteries in and around Baghdad. The remains unearthed that day were transported to another location and reburied. While I was not there personally, and can not confirm or deny any actions taken by Soldiers that day, I can tell you that no Soldier put a human skull under his helmet and wore it around. The Army Combat Helmet (ACH) is form fitted to the head. Unlike the old Kevlar helmets, the ACH does not have a gap between the helmet and the liner, only pads. It would have been impossible for him to have placed and human skull, of any size, between his helmet and his head. Further more, no leader would have tolerated this type of behavior. This type of behavior is strictly forbidden in the U.S. Army and would have made the individual involved subject to UCMJ actions.

Third: When the U.S. Army takes to the streets on patrols we do it deliberately, with task and purpose. “Thomas” describes the Bradley slowing down and ‘jerking’ suddenly to hit dogs. This just isn’t possible. If he is slowing down, then the vehicles behind him are slowing down, and there is a gap created between him and the vehicles in front of him. This would violate standard operating procedure (SOP) and make the convoy more susceptible to attack. While no one that has been to Baghdad can deny that there are large packs of wild dogs roaming the streets, to think that that is all a Bradley crew is worried about is absurd. The streets are also filled with IED’s and EFP’s. They line every street and and every corner. They are the number one killer in Iraq. When we travel in convoys, dogs are not our concern. We watch the streets, we look at curbs, we look at rocks, we look at windows for snipers and trigger men, we don’t look at wild dogs. Also, if this guy is driving a Bradley, how is he marking his “dog kill count” in a green book. Again, any leader would have corrected this action immediately, not only because it is subject to UCMJ action, but mainly because it endangers the lives of every man in that convoy.

In a final note I would like to say this. The U.S. Army today is the most disciplined and professional Army in the history of the United States. This is the only war in our nations history where we have not instituted the draft to fill our ranks. Every man in the service today is there because he volunteered. They stood up in the face of danger, knowing we were at war, and said “I’ll go”. Most of these men are on their second deployment in support of the War on Terrorism, some are on their fourth and fifth. After five years of war with an increasing number of casualties, longer and more frequent deployments, and no end in site, these brave young men continue to volunteer their services, many of them reenlisting. No other Army in our history has been able to do that without the draft. Our military men and women today are true professionals, they are truly America’s best and bravest. While there are some bad apples and non-conformist in our ranks, we are quick to identify them and remove them from the service. The author of this story is a bad apple. He is trying to get attention by telling wild stories. He too will be identified and removed from the service.


U.S. Army Officer
Reading letters like this make it hard to believe anything Thomas says.

It isn't just conservative bloggers who have a hard time. Take for instance this blogger and TNR subscriber who feels Foer still has to earn the trust of the magazine's readers and at present he's failing.

Bullwinkle reminds us of this interesting Martin Peretz quote. He's TNR's editor-in-chief and up till recently part owner of the magazine.

Watching the press circling the wagons around the beleaguered Isikoff this week, Martin Peretz of the New Republic described them as "a profession that is complacent, self-righteous, and hopelessly in love with itself."
TNR is certainly circling the wagons and in the process, bringing in any allies they can find.(Note- TNR's replies to the NYT was far better than the defensive stand taken in Howard Kurtz WAPO article. Did Franklin Foer find out he won my Knucklehead award? I wonder how it makes him feel, especially coming from someone who helps pay his salary.) The magazine's credibility is at stake again, because the editors didn't verify a story thoroughly enough before publication. Now TNR is doing catchup as the questions about their journalistic competence or incompetence continue to mount.

As Adam Penenberg once wrote, proving a negative isn't easy. Right now there are many negative but not conclusive points being made about the veracity of what Scott Thomas wrote.

I agree with my fellow blogger and TNR subscriber, TNR and Franklin Foer have to earn our trust. As of this moment, they're doing a rotten job at it.

Linked to- Adam, Big Dog, Pirate's Cove, Webloggin,

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