March 23, 2007

The Silencer

This is U.S. Army General Vincent K. Brooks.


He might look familiar as the man once known as the "the face of the U.S. military" for his role as spokesman for U.S. Central Command during the beginning of the Iraq War, He was the former chief PAO (Public Affairs Officer) of the US Army. He is currently the deputy commanding general - support for Multinational Division-Baghdad.

Vincent Brooks is also the general that has just threatened to kick Michael Yon out of Iraq.

A general emailed in the past 24 hours threatening to kick me out. The first time the Army threatened to kick me out was in late 2005, just after I published a dispatch called “Gates of Fire.” Some of the senior level public affairs people who’d been upset by “Proximity Delays” were looking ever since for a reason to kick me out and they wanted to use “Gates of Fire” as a catapult. In the events described in that dispatch, I broke some rules by, for instance, firing a weapon during combat when some of our soldiers were fighting fairly close quarters and one was wounded and still under enemy fire. That’s right. I’m not sure what message the senior level public affairs people thought that would convey had they succeeded, (which they didn’t) but it was clear to me what they valued most. They want the press on a short leash, even at the expense of the life of a soldier.

Brooks was chief PAO when the miltary wanted to kick Yon out of Iraq in 2005 over his the "Proximity Delays" and "Gates of Fire" dispatches, and apparently Brooks still harbors a grudge. Now that Yon finds himself in Brooks' territory again, it appears he has taken special interest in trying to kep Yon from doing his job.

Austin Bay weighs in on the witch hunt:

This is stupid... Telling Michael Yon to exit the theater is the WWII equivalent of telling Ernie Pyle to quit filing dispatches.

With terrorist propaganda blanketing the Internet, General Brooks seems intent on silencing one of the few long-term combat journalists in Iraq that can offer a competing voice.

Not a smart move, at all.

Update: Yon speaks about the media war.

Posted by Confederate Yankee at March 23, 2007 06:50 AM

Well in the words of Lt. Gen. Russel Honoré it
looks like the man is stuck on stupid!!!

Posted by: Tincan Sailor at March 23, 2007 09:52 AM

BROOKS? OMG. During the Pentagon/Michael Yon photo kerfuffle, Brooks helped end that (I e-mailed with him about that). What is he thinking doing this to Michael Yon? He should know how much popular support Yon has (and isn't Bruce Willis making a moving based on Yon's writings on the deuce-4?). Idjit.

Posted by: E.V. at March 23, 2007 09:59 AM

This is ridiculous. Is there some way to get in touch with this guy or his superiors? Better yet, is there some way to talk to their entire chain of command and point out that they're actively working to ensure that the NYT and CNN have an effective stateside monopoly on telling the American public how the war is going?

Posted by: Q_Mech at March 23, 2007 10:03 AM

This guy is the classic Staff Puke, I hate these guys who are more worried about carving out their own little sphere of influence than they are about winning a war. Always willing and able to quote policies and procedures, but never anywhere near the sound of battle.

Posted by: SgtP_USMC at March 23, 2007 10:23 AM

His dad is Gen Leo Brooks, the guy who dropped the bomb on the MOVE house in Philadelphia and set off a fire that destroyed a neighborhood.

Posted by: sylvia at March 23, 2007 10:32 AM

None of this is new. The Military has been working hard to keep the press contained since the first gulf war.
Props to Michael Yon for not letting them. I'll be reading his site regularly. Thanks for the link.

Posted by: iaintbacchus at March 23, 2007 10:45 AM

Trackbacked by The Thunder Run - Web Reconnaissance for 03/23/2007
A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention.

Posted by: David M at March 23, 2007 11:49 AM

Someone asked what can be done. How about emailing Brooks and copying Petreaus,

I've had it with these personal vendetta's by men like Brooks and LtCol Barry Johnson. I blogged about him and included a copy of an email I sent him when he lied about why he denied Yon's embed. Once that email was posted...things heated up!
Email Brooks, then post the email, go viral. Brooks lost when he infringed on Yon's intellectual property with Mike's iconic photo of Major Beiger cradling Farah.

He promised after losing that battle he would not stand in the way of Mike embedding again.

He lied.

He is standing in the way of winning the media war against our enemies, and doing so while enacting a personal vendetta!

Brig. Gen Brooks is doing our war effort more harm than good. Time for him to pay for his incompetence, his selfishness, his overinflated ego, and for another vendetta on the part of CPIC towards Mike Yon which, yet again, amounts to censorship.

Posted by: Huntress at March 23, 2007 12:08 PM

I just sent an e-mail to President Bush urging him to remove Gen. Brooks and the rest of the PAO's who are more interested in protecting their own image than letting a great "reporter" serve America.

One e-mail won't make a difference, but hundres and thousands will.

Posted by: GoAmerica at March 23, 2007 12:34 PM

I just added an excerpt and link at "Let's send Ernie home."

Posted by: Bill Faith at March 23, 2007 12:43 PM

As far as I am concerned, Michal Yon is writting some of the best stuff I have ever seen about a war. For some staff weenie looking for another star to get upset when somthing that is not all positive is written is just, well, SOP for a lot of officers. Trying to get him out of country is as bad as always complaing about the MSM only running negative stories. You have to take the good with the bad.

Maybe this General can retire and take a position with Al Gore and state the PC position for everyting.

Posted by: Garu at March 23, 2007 12:59 PM

Just want to clarify, while Mike was moving towards a lawsuit against the Army for copyright infringement, the lawsuit didn't materialize after
Brooks caved in and settled under pressure that was created by millbloggers.

I have Brooks email addy, if any would like it, email me.

Posted by: Huntress at March 23, 2007 02:24 PM

Thanks for the article. I had never heard of Mike Yon and I voraciously read through his blog and it is amazing. He is able to maintain a POV that is as objective as is humanly possible. He writes with a humanity and intelligence that are without parallel.
Thank you for raising my awareness. Now what can I do to help?

Posted by: Pete at March 23, 2007 02:47 PM
Thank you for raising my awareness. Now what can I do to help?

Contact the Army Public Affairs (web site) and ask them to attempt to provide functional accomodations and workspaces for journalists covering the war. Better internet access (broadband) would greatly help, as is lockable and reasonably climate controlled storage to hold their expensive communications gear when off base on assignments.

Politely tell General Brooks himself: of the value of Michael Yon's writing, as well as the writing of other embedded journalists, and explain why you think it is in the Army's best interests to allow these brave men and women function without threats of censorship or expulsion.

Contact the White House and your congress people.

Write your local papers.

There are all sorts of things you can do to help, and I'm sure you can think of more things to do on your own. Just remember to be firm, fair and supportive.

Our troops deserve the best, and that includes the best embedded journalists to honestly cover their war.

Posted by: Confederate Yankee at March 23, 2007 03:03 PM

The democrats have their partisans in the officer corps. Who gave this guy his star ... Clinton or Bush? My guess is that he is a Clintonista.

Posted by: crosspatch at March 23, 2007 03:44 PM

A comment over a CQ made good sense. When Yon picked up a weapon and fired at insurgents, he placed all other journalists at risk of being enemy targets because the enemy can no longer be sure that journalists are just reporters.

If I were a 100% civilian journalist, I probably wouldn't want to be within 100 miles of Yon at this point. He isn't really a journalist anymore, he is a paramilitary combat reporter.

Posted by: crosspatch at March 23, 2007 04:49 PM

It might be helpful if the pretense that journalists are somehow above or completely outside the war was challenged a little more often.

Good luck to Mr. Yon.

Posted by: charles austin at March 23, 2007 05:03 PM

I hate the idea of Michael Yon being kicked out of Iraq as much as anybody, but I think some of you are throwing WAY too much invective at Brooks without A) knowing for sure that he wants to kick Yon out, and B) hearing his side of the story.

Brooks could be the BIGGEST Michael Yon fan, and still reasonably threaten to send him home under certain circumstances.

Posted by: Marty at March 23, 2007 05:25 PM

"If I were a 100% civilian journalist..." ---crosspatch

You would likely be sucking back brewskis in the Green Zone, sucking up to your colleagues, congratulating yourself on 'telling truth to power', and filing stories about how the sky was still falling, and the evil Bushitler was DOOMED.

I could hardly care less what this 'type' thinks, and I have the suspicion that Mr. Yon would also be quite content with the 100 mile 'civilian journalist' exclusion radius. If only it was a much larger distance.

Posted by: dougf at March 23, 2007 05:28 PM

If you want to know why we are in trouble in Iraq, you need look not further than these gutless politically correct flag officers.

Posted by: john floyd at March 23, 2007 07:44 PM

Cross patch who ever made that comment over a CQ is an ass. You claim that if you were a 100% civilian journalist, I probably wouldn't want to be within 100 miles of Yon at this point. He isn't really a journalist anymore, he is a paramilitary combat reporter.

Well Brian Williams IS a 100% civilian journalist and he begs to differ:

Brian Williams, anchor and Managing Editor of NBC Nightly News, from his blog The Daily Nightly:

At a later date, I plan to share some residual notes from our travels in Iraq -- including some recommended reading. One link that cannot wait another day is the blog of Michael Yon. Michael is a Special Forces veteran who is now a unilateral embedded journalist. His dispatches are the most true-to-life that I've ever encountered -- raw writing from the soldier's point of view. He is best-known for one in particular, called Gates of Fire, a gripping account of a firefight that required him to briefly revert from journalist back to soldier in order to save American lives. I had the pleasure of getting to know him on this trip, and it is easy to see why he enjoys near-rock-star status among members of the military, both active and retired.

Posted by: Huntress at March 23, 2007 07:57 PM

Mr Crosspatch,

I say, speaking as the parent of three currently serving sons, If that was my son under fire and I found out that you had the opportunity to help him and chose to allow him to die... Well, you would be a hell of a lot safer in Iraq!

To those "journalists" who hold their, somewhat disreputable, profession in higher regard than their duty to their fellow citizens and claim to be "A CITZEN OF THE WORLD" I say that the only way for you to maintain a clear conscience (should you be so afflicted) would be to renounce your US citizenship, liquidated your US assets, move to Paris (or Berkley), get a UN passport and pay your taxes to whatever corrupt, neo-socialist sock puppet is running that worthless organization at the moment. Then if you still feel no obligation to assist my dying son in distress at least I won't have the additional irritation of your claiming the right to call yourself my peer.

Posted by: edgeofacrimony at March 23, 2007 08:07 PM

I don't want General Brooks' e-mail address. I want the e-mail address of his superior officer, and *that* officer's superior officer.

Mailing address would be nice, too, to send a nice paper letter.

Posted by: NahnCee at March 23, 2007 08:33 PM

Crosspatch has a fake link. In Vietnam, medical officers chose to go armed and avoid the red cross armband of a noncombatant. Why ? A medical officer was one of the longest held VC POWs. Ernest Hemingway went armed as a war correspondent in France after Normandy. Ernie Pyle was shot by a Japanese sniper.

I'll take Michael Yon's reports over the couch commandoes of the Green Zone.

Posted by: Mike K at March 23, 2007 08:33 PM

Last week I wrote to the JCS when Michael’s problems first started. Michael needs assistance now and the military needs to learn to deal with the media. No need to create enemies. I have since written to the President and now this to the general.


I have been providing financial support for Mr. Yon since he starting covering the war against Islamic fascism. I have at times disagreed with his conclusions, but I totally respect his reporting; all of it , the good, the bad and the ugly. He is a modern Ernie Pyle; one of the type we need for this generation and this war.

When I served, I don't remember anyone like him reporting from Vietnam. We also need media support to counter the terrorists media savvy and Mr. Yon is one of the few who consistently aligns himself with the troops. Please do your best to provide support for his efforts and, as well, all of the reporters in the Iraq. Many of the major media journalists have agendas and/or have editors that rewrite their stories to fit their positions; agendas that I, and most likely you do not support, but being on their "good" side is much better than creating an enemy with one who has a loud media voice.

I thank you for any consideration you may give to assisting Mr. Yon

Posted by: amr at March 23, 2007 08:36 PM

This just makes me irate. What is this guy, a double-agent?? He's obviously not on OUR side.

I never cease to be impressed with the outstanding quality of our military personnel on TV, in interviews, in articles. Brooks is a perfect example of the opposite quality. With U.S. generals like this, who needs Sadr, OBL and their ilk?

He's obviously a Democrat.

Posted by: Peg C. at March 23, 2007 09:05 PM

Peg says,

"I never cease to be impressed with the outstanding quality of our military personnel."

But OF COURSE. We all know how much Republicans support the troops. They LOVE them. They WORSHIP them. They're not merely human, they're Superman, Captain America, the greatest superhuman heroes the world has ever known!!

But wait; this is different. Confederate Yankee writes a post about how this general supposedly wants a single journalist out Iraq for selfish reasons. So suddenly he's no longer Superman. No; now he's a double agent; a collaborator; a traitor; a coward; a Communist; a terrorist; and - Oh My God, No - A DEMOCRAT!!

Reading this blog is like doing an internship in a mental hospital. I mean, what the hell must it be like to go through life with the miniscule brain of a grunting, ignorant savage like Peg, and the other members of the Republicanism cult? The paranoia, the fanaticism, the hatred; to view every human being as a likely traitor and enemy at the drop of a hat. Personally, I'm unfamiliar with any details about either Yon or Brooks, and wouldn't dream of reaching a conclusion about this story without checking out some additional facts. But of course Peg and those like her have no need to observe such niceties before loudly declaring that a general should immediately be cashiered out of the Amry for treason. In short, though I have no particular interest in this story, it's always a real pleasure to check in on this blog to be reminded what makes Republicanism among the most widely loathed - and loathsome - political ideologies anywhere on the planet.

Posted by: legaleagle at March 24, 2007 12:20 AM


I would bet you have done some time in a mental hospital, but I doubt it was as an intern. The only paranoia, fanaticism or hatred I detect on this string has come from you. However, so you won't be disappointed here is my version.

I agree that "to view every human being as a likely traitor and enemy at the drop of a hat" is a very disturbing trait and that's why I don't read Kos or DU anymore.

As for not being familiar with details of either Yon or Brooks, The answer to that is called research. You have a computer use it for something! To me it seems that if the General were doing his job he would be known for something more than trying to infringe someone else copyrights and a personal vendetta to censor the press.

As for the idea of a "Republicanism cult" I have to laugh. The Democrat party has set itself up in the minds of its members as being synonymous with the national government. They think that they are the natural ruling party of this country and would like to be the only one. If they were competent they might have an argument, but their record speaks for itself in that respect. They see their power as being more important than honest elections, economic health, integrity in governance, national security, human rights... It is obvious that they really have no ideas or agenda other than to see that no one but them gets to run the country (and collect the bribes) and if they happen to run the country into the ground in the process (remember Jimmy Carter) they will blame it on George Bush or anyone else who happens to be caught usurping their rightful station.

As for that "most loathsome political ideology" title I have an alternate candidate. Socialism, the gift of our sophisticated european cousins whom we all wish to emulate, in all of its forms large and small, bigotted and cruel, overbearing and insinuating, intrusive but impersonal.

Socialism has been the most destructive plague that ever afflicted the human race. It has destroyed more lives than any single disease and more than most of them combined. Well over 200 million people died in the 20th century alone the victims of one form of this disease or another. That doesn't even count the enormous numbers of helpless drones produced by utter dependence on the welfare state. I know its the utopian ideal, but it is an insult to human nature. But Hey, to make an omlet you have to break eggs, right comrade? And the best part is that our Democrat friends are happy to coexist with it, to embrace its icons, to learn its lessons, to preach its gospels and to inject its filthy, alien virus into our political system.

I'm always tempted to ask the moron with the "Che" t-shirt if he also has one of Mao or Pol Pot or Hitler or Himmler or Eichman? Since one psychopathic murderer is pretty much the same as another to me.

I'll just bet you're saving that Robert Mugabe for a special occaision... Non?

If "Republicanism" is so loathed around the planet why is it that every one of the most murderous two bit dictators in the world have two things in common; first an autographed love bite from Jimmy Carter on the rim of his anus and secondly the desire to pass his blood soaked regime off as a republic?

Republican and sometimes proud of it.

Posted by: edgeofacrimony at March 24, 2007 02:38 AM

Some how I smell a troll...Well slick I must be
your worst nightmare,a Democrat who is revolted
and disgusted by what passes for the party today.
And I'm no big fan of Dubya and the politicaly
correct way the war has been run.As for Brooks
he is what Col Hackworth refered to as a perfume
officer and that ain't good...One thing you can
say is Bush at least has a set and that is sure
as hell going to be hard to find in the Senate or Congress.NO cajones!!!.75% of the public has
forgotten 9-11 and 90% don't belive we are in the
fight of our lives for freedom and to keep our
way of life the way it is now...All you have to
remember is Awyn al-Zawahiris words to America
Convert to Islam or die!!!.

Posted by: Jack Sparrow at March 24, 2007 05:45 PM

Lord, lord. Intro: I'm a retired officer/NCO/private, otherwise known as a mustang. Into the Marines as a slick-sleeve, out of the Army as a LTC, intelligence branch (don't dislike the Marines - I'm proud to be one - it's a story about a 2LT...)

1. If a former soldier could watch his comrades at hazard without picking up a rifle, he's a moral zero.

2. If a journalist with no experience did the same, he's either
(A) A coward, or
(B) If he felt he was more of a hazard than a help, a smart guy.

3. I don't know the whole story behind our PAO general. I distrust anybody in PAO on (lack of) principle. However, let's admit the obvious: By shooting, Mike did IN FACT break a rule Since when does the military ignore breaking rules? You may examine it and decide on a slap on the risk, but you don't ignore broken rules. A GO I once worked for had a sign behind his desk he had made as a 1LT: "When you walk by the violation of a standard, you just set a new standard." Truth. Give Brooks a break until you know all the facts.

4. Leagleeagle, if you are in fact in law (I don't say legal professional because you obviously aren't very professional) then I hope I meet you in court. Ad hominem makes a lousy legal analysis. If that's the best you can do, I'd make leagleeagle mincemeat out of you in three sentences, and I'm still a 1L. You actually had some reasonable points (see #3, above) but who noticed in your flatulent blast of name-calling?*

*PS: I added this last because you probably don't know what 'ad hominem' means. Look it up in the dictionary; it's under "A".

Leagleweasel (and proud of it). Leagleweasels chase ambulances instead of cars.

Posted by: leagleweasel at March 24, 2007 11:51 PM

I notice that legaleagle has nothing to respond with.....and it's been almost 24 hours. LOL. Maroon.

Posted by: Specter at March 25, 2007 09:52 PM

The Troll ran out of gas...

Posted by: Jack Sparrow at March 25, 2007 10:07 PM

i know gen.brooks and i don't buy ANY of this hype. i think it is one sided garbage and gen. brooks should be commended for doing a fine job in iraq and not stooping to defend himself from these absurd allegations...

Posted by: jen at March 26, 2007 09:10 AM


No allegations have been made about Gen Brooks.
His actions have been documented. He lied about standing in Mike's way, he caved under the face of guilt for copyright infringement, and he paid a monetary price for that. He did issue the eviction order,and he has stood in the way of both Mike Yon and other media which serves to create enmity with people who are working on the same team.

I won't print the other information I have found out about BG Brooks, or his father, but suffice to say, it's ugly.

Posted by: Huntress at March 26, 2007 10:06 AM

Crosspatch said:

"When Yon picked up a weapon and fired at insurgents, he placed all other journalists at risk of being enemy targets because the enemy can no longer be sure that journalists are just reporters."

In the specific circumstances in which that happened Yon himself could have been dead had he not picked up that weapon. It is total and absolute nonsense that mainstream media journalists are "nuetral"; they are not. In the leftist/liberal academia they are taught advocacy journalism and the United States, our military and our troops in Iraq are the last people in the world they want to be advocates for. The only "news" from Iraq that mainstream media journalists are interested in is the "news" that fits their advocacy position - they are against the war, period, no matter what.

Michael Yon is 100 times more 'nuetral' than any mainstream media journalists because he simply goes to where the troops go and reports what he sees, warts and all.

Posted by: Wuli at March 26, 2007 01:49 PM