July 18, 2007

A Series of Highly Incredible Events

Has the greed of the New Republic for stories depicting our nation's soldiers as depraved barbarians led to a downfall of what little credibility the rag still maintained?

Writing today at the Weekly Standard, Michael Goldfarb thinks he smells a rat in the writing of a man who claims to be a soldier currently serving in Iraq, discussing a series of brutal allegations concerning the alleged verbal abuse of a burn victim, the wearing of child's skull, and a dog-murdering Bradley IFV driver.

Let's look at few problems with each of the claims of "Scott Thomas," the pseudonym of man who authored the New Republic article.

The burn victim story.
First, it is all but impossible for a U.S. soldier not to be able to determine the uniform differences between an active-duty soldier's unifrom and a civilian contractor's apparel. Second, it is highly unlikely that a person as horribly burned as the one described would be medically fit for active duty. Third, if two soldiers began taunting a wounded IED survivor, I think it quite likely that other soldiers would quickly and violently end their display.

The child's skull story.
First, it is biologically improbable that a piece of a child's skull would fit on an adult human's head. Second, it biologically improbable that a Saddam-era mass grave in a hot desert country like Iraq would contain flesh that was still rotting. Third, it is highly unlikely that any military unit would stand for such behavior.

The dog-murdering Bradley IFV driver.
The most preposterous story of all. IFV drivers don't run willy-nilly around and over everything in their path, and have to answer to his own vehicle commander, the rest of the crew, and any infantrymen carried by the vehicle if they make erratic, dangerous, and perhaps life-threatening decisions such as those claimed here. There is also the fact that Bradley's cannot slip up on a dog and run him over as claimed, and I find it highly unlikely that this Bradley is so nimble that the driver could repeatedly hit, wound and kill dogs, or that he would be allowed to repeatedly hit stationary objects, without being removed from his position by his immediate commander, his platoon commander, his company commander, or others.

I think it is highly probable that each of these stories is false, and will be very interested to see if the New Republic can in anyway support these outlandish claims.

Posted by Confederate Yankee at July 18, 2007 11:35 PM


The Left needs for these stories to be true because it upholds their sense that Iraq is an immoral cause and they are on a moral plane above all others. As to say: "See how good men are forced to do evil things when put into an immoral war. We are creating brutes who reflect the immorality of what they are doing by these evil acts."

Page 1 of the Leftist Vietnam playbook: Soldiers are mindless automatons who are: (1) babykillers who are innately immoral (caveat: except if you kill babies in the name of fighting a "brutal occupation", then, you are a liberator fighting oppression); or, (2) hapless dupes of evil leaders who exploit naive patriots and lead the good to their downfall for selfish and evil ends.

Only those of raised consciousness can, by opposing the enterprise, redeem the sins of the Republic (poverty, racism, sexism, homophobia, individualism,mass consumerism and overall vulgarity). Example of fearless truthteller and holder of moral authority: St. Sheehan. Her son falls into category 2, hapless dupe of evil leaders.

In no way can a soldier be a free thinker EXCEPT when he opposes the effort. All others who support the effort are either:(a) evil; (b)brainwashed; (c) stupid; or, (d) all of the above.

Posted by: wjo at July 19, 2007 12:26 AM

The last time New Republic was caught publishing fabricated stories, they insisted that Stephen Glass was such a genius that nobody could tell his articles were false.

Actually, his stories were often preposterous. They were a forest of red flags for any fully conscious editor. But they demonized conservatives, Christians, and Republicans, so they perfectly suited the prejudices of the New Republic staff. As WJO points out, the same defective machinery seems to be cranking away in this case.

If the editorial staff of a news magazine cannot tell whether they are publishing fact or fantasy, they should do something else. The Weekly World News is always looking for Ivy Leaguers with a low gullibility threshold.

Posted by: lyle at July 19, 2007 03:03 AM

Oh, I suppose then that the photos of the GIs in the Vietnam War holding up the severed heads of Viet Cong were faked? some of you guys have such an idealized view of what the US Army is and what it does, you can't accept reality when it flies in the face of your expectations. War brutalizes. Everybody.

Posted by: Max at July 19, 2007 04:51 AM


Where does your expertise come from? Let me guess: from political fiction exactly like the stuff published in the New Republic. Or from the succession of make-believe veterans embraced by the Left, like Jesse MacBeth.

It isn't brutality that makes these stories smell bad. It's the lack of real world context. In fiction, a recklessly sadistic Bradley driver answers only to the author. In real life, there's a whole military bureaucracy waiting back at the camp.

And that bit with the skull, besides being gross, is crap that only an adolescent idiot raised on Texas Chaisaw Massacre III would believe.

Posted by: lyle at July 19, 2007 05:42 AM

Soldiers are coming back from Iraq and telling stories that are wildly different form the New Republic "Defeat and Demoralization" narrative, so they must be smeared and discredited as quickly and as thouroughly as possible.
Standard leftist tactics- when you can't refute the witnesses, call them nasty names.

Posted by: DaveP. at July 19, 2007 07:19 AM

Maybe they've rehired David Glass.

TNR has a history of passing off fiction as fact. This may be another time. If my driver was trying to kill dogs, I'd shoot him myself.

Posted by: Tom at July 19, 2007 07:39 AM

Here are my thought's on the article. 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 canít 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. Iím not saying its impossible, just unlikely. I have a feeling these are stories that the author heard of, and not actually witnessed.

Posted by: BohicaTwentyTwo at July 19, 2007 08:06 AM

Hey Confederate Yankee, good for calling the AP out on their shoddy reporting.

Matt Sanchez

Posted by: Matt Sanchez at July 19, 2007 08:19 AM

A further point about the Glass fabrications. TNR does not deserve the benefit of the doubt. They have shown that they can be had, repeatedly, by an unscrupulous writer who caters to their menu of liberal bigotries.

Character is fate. If a known serial liar appears to be lying, he should not be treated with the same open mind as anybody else. The New Republic did not regain their virginity after Stephen Glass left the building.

Posted by: lyle at July 19, 2007 08:21 AM
There is also the fact that Bradley's cannot slip up on a dog and run him over as claimed, and I find it highly unlikely that this Bradley is so nimble that the driver could repeatedly hit, wound and kill dogs, or that he would be allowed to repeatedly hit stationary objects

Unless, of course, dhimmi LIEberals are actually going over to Iraq and chaining dogs down in the street specifically to make them tempting targets for Bradley drivers, which I wouldn't doubt for a second, because I once saw a LIEberal with a dog on a leash, which is the same skillset they'd have to use in their anti-Bradley dog-chaining conspiracy.

Posted by: Doc Washboard at July 19, 2007 08:34 AM

Nice group of assessments, CY. The info that has poured in as a result of the Weekly Standard request has put a lot of dents in veracity of Scott Thomas' *memories* and TNR's reputation is again diminished.

[Posted by Matt Sanchez at July 19, 2007 08:19 AM]

Thanks to you, Matt, for that follow up post yesterday, confirming the '25 killed in Fallujah bombing' that wasn't. I didn't remember that one.

Posted by: Dusty at July 19, 2007 09:51 AM


Has killing stray dogs now been elevated to a war crime? This story just reeks of the "any stick will do" when it comes to beating up on the USA so a little skeptisism is in order.

Posted by: wjo at July 19, 2007 10:20 AM

Let it be known I'm officially offering a $1,000 cash reward for any soldier who will step forward, authenticate these stories, and testify under oath at a court martial of the offenders.

I'm also pretty sure I'm going to be keeping my cash.

Posted by: Purple Avenger at July 19, 2007 06:06 PM
Has killing stray dogs now been elevated to a war crime?

I never suggested that it had been or should be.

Posted by: Doc Washboard at July 19, 2007 07:15 PM


That one didn't work well.


Posted by: iconoclast at July 20, 2007 11:41 AM

That one didn't work well.


What are you talking about?

Posted by: Doc Washboard at July 20, 2007 01:28 PM

Hello Doc and Max,

This is an Iraq Vet currently serving in Afghanistan. I told my wife I came here to be an Engineer for USACE but really, I just couldn't get used to the lack of opportunities to do evil back in Iowa. After I ran over one neighbor's dog, the rest just locked theirs up better. And the damn Humane Society, bunch o' nosy busy bodies! The Burn Unit was nice enough to believe I was writing an article for school but they kicked me out right in the middle of my rendition of "Melty, melty, mo-melty!"

You know, I fisked this story bit by bit. The story is not plausible for many reasons ranging from Article 93 of the UCMJ, to the fit of PASG helmet, to the property laws the military abides by in Iraq. But when I got to the fisking of Max at the end. I decided that was enough and deleted the rest. Read on.

"Oh, I suppose then that the photos of the GIs in the Vietnam War holding up the severed heads of Viet Cong were faked?" -Indicting current soldiers for the crimes of past ones? Seems reasonable...

"some of you guys have such an idealized view of what the US Army is and what it does, you can't accept reality when it flies in the face of your expectations."

And you believe this story because it meets your expectations; "War brutalizes. Everybody."

So rather than acknowledge the implausible and shocking nature of the events, you accept them wholly with no further proof than, what was the proof again?

I am getting tired of hearing what an immoral, stupid bastard I am for serving in the military from idiot liberals like you two. F*** both of you.

Posted by: y7 at July 21, 2007 05:18 AM


Actually, I was mocking the need of the Right to frame every news story they don't like as part of a deliberate Lefty disinformation conspiracy. However, if you choose to see my post as an indictment of your driving ability, I can't stop you.

Posted by: Doc Washboard at July 21, 2007 08:35 AM

In China, where I live, families will sometimes take the recently dead body of grandpa out at night and throw it under the wheels of a passing truck to try hush money from the driver for not calling the police to investigate him running over an old man.

How do we know that the Iraqi people were not doing the same with their dogs?

Posted by: Fai Mao at July 21, 2007 10:19 AM

Fai Mao;
Behold the ignorance of the Leftie!

Dogs are unclean in Islam. No Muslim has a dog. That's why they are all strays, feral. IP don't use "police dogs", there are no tracker dogs, no bomb-sniffing dogs. No domesticated dogs. Period. Got any clues yet, clueless?

Posted by: Brian H at July 21, 2007 08:30 PM

Dik Waker;
Not faked, just selected. The filtering and fact-free jibing was continuous. E.g.: remember all the ridiculous "body count" numbers the V-era media mocked? After the "peace" had settled in for a while, the North confirmed them. They were all in the ballpark, often low. Especially in the Tet Offensive, which left the NVA in tatters.

Gorsh! So who could doubt a Mighty Selective Media maroon? Anyone with a functioning neuron. I suggest acquiring one.

Posted by: Brian H at July 21, 2007 08:49 PM
Dik Waker


Posted by: Doc Washboard at July 21, 2007 10:21 PM


I was mocking the need of the left to frame every incredulous and improbable story attributing misbehavior and atrocities to US soldiers as reasonable and the need to immediately discount any questions regarding the story's veracity is "the need of the Right to frame every news story they don't like as part of a deliberate Lefty disinformation conspiracy."

Do you dispute that lefties frame every news story that THEY LIKE, and you like this one, as proof positive of the moral vacuity of the United States and her military with no further proof than an anonymous anybody saying it is so? Do you disagree that you are more likely to believe stories that indict soldiers as monsters than you are to question them?

This is a highly inflammatory article with such an array of misbehavior over such a period of time that reasonable people should be immediately view it with skepticism. And yet, you choose to believe it. Do you believe because, given your opinion of the military, these are the reasonable outcomes of a rogue military?

If it reasonable for you to think that I, as part of the collective Army being smeared here, am capable of these behaviors or at the least complicit enough to stand by and let them happen, then I believe the "idiot liberal" insult and F-bomb are comparatively mild responses to the charges you so readily level at me and my fellows.

It is not that you insult my driving, sir, it is that you insult my morality and character.

I'll double down on that F-Bomb, Doc, thanks.

Posted by: y7 at July 22, 2007 12:18 AM


An Afghan I am working with explained dog ownership to me. Certainly, Muslims think that dogs are unclean but more importantly they believe that a dog in the house will keep Angels away.

Muslims, mainly wealthy ones, keep dogs for protection and work but will not keep them in the house.

Posted by: y7 at July 22, 2007 12:23 AM

That may be in "moderate" old-time (pre-AQ/fundamentalist) Afghanistan and ME, but they toe the line much more carefully now. Family pets, where they occur, are rare and kept out of sight. Playing with or walking or feeding a dog in public would be an invitation for some nasty re-education. And Spot would be the first to go.

Jews and Christians, if you recall, are the offspring of pigs, apes, and dogs.

Ask your Afghan friend if he, personally, would pet a dog.

Posted by: Brian H at July 22, 2007 04:02 AM

I am in Afghanistan now. The Afghan I refer to is sitting in his home country telling me this. I saw a bull mastiff the other day, very well fed. That is not a dog someone will buy just to let go feral.

Your argument seems to be that the dog story can't be right because dogs are unclean and feral and therefore a rare occurance. But there are many dogs, here and in Iraq, that I could walk up to and pet. But I THINK they are unclean here and wouldn't touch one. They are like farm cats; a pet not allowed in the house.

And like Yai Mao says, if we hit one, we have to stop and see if we need to drop a voucher on someone.

Posted by: y7 at July 22, 2007 06:34 AM
gven your opinion of the military

You have absolutely no idea what my opinion of the military is.

Posted by: Doc Washboard at July 22, 2007 07:27 AM

Only someone who has nerver served in the military could believe this story. There is a chain of command in all units that would never allow these events to happen. The E5 (SGT) has absolute authority over the privates, he reports to the E8's (Sargent Majors) who reports to the Officers. The idea that someone could parade around with human remains is prepostorous. Aint gonna happen.

Posted by: dan in michigan at July 22, 2007 03:33 PM

Doc, don't BS me.

"the need of the Right to frame every news story they don't like as part of a deliberate Lefty disinformation conspiracy." Your quote indicates that you think this is a true story that doesn't need further investigation. It sounds plausible to you so it must be us wingers simply don't like it and wish to discredit it.

You are defending this story. Your opinion is clear.

Posted by: y7 at July 23, 2007 07:26 AM

And plus, don't just pull a quote out of context. The entire question is:

"Do you believe because, given your opinion of the military, these are the reasonable outcomes of a rogue military?"

The question doesn't presume to know your opinion, the question is asking for your opinion. It is a 'yes' or 'no' question. Does your opinion of the military support a belief that these allegations are reasonable?

Posted by: y7 at July 23, 2007 09:35 AM


Thank you for your service. As well, thanks for firsthand input on these matters.

Posted by: wjo at July 23, 2007 09:51 AM
"Do you believe because, given your opinion of the military, these are the reasonable outcomes of a rogue military?"

Listen, Steve, as I mentioned earlier, I'm not attacking the military here. I'm attacking the "A-ha! It's clearly PhotoShopped!" approach to life indulged in by many on the Right.

Let's look at your question, though, as you posed it up above. I think I know what you're asking here: I think you want to know whether I believe that we have a rogue military. The answer to that would be "no."

Let's look at what you wrote, however: "Do you believe...these are the reasonable outcomes of a rogue military?" Well, yes. If we had a rogue military, then yeah, I guess these are some of the things we could expect to see; not much would surprise me. Similarly, if we had a rogue law enforcement establishment or a rogue teacher's union or a rogue gundealer's network, there are a lot of weird and horrible things that would go on. We don't have such groups in our society, yet your question seems to presuppose that I think we do.

There are certainly evil assholes in every line of work, including teaching, the ministry, the military, animal enforcement, and fashion design, but I think that they are the exception rather than the norm.

Further, the "given your opinion of the military" formulation clearly suggests that you have already plumbed the depths of my opinions about the military.

The way you put your question has a "have you stopped beating your wife" feel to it that I'm guessing is a product of haste in composition, rather than deliberate intent, so I've tried to answer the question I think you're asking.

I'm definitely glad the military is there to protect me when I need it, and I'm overjoyed that there are people who are willing to do that job, because, frankly, I sure as hell don't want to do it. I just don't always agree with the decision to employ those guys and gals at certain times or in certain ways.

Finally, I know that when I write, "I'm definitely glad the military is there to protect me when I need it," I have opened the floodgates to a bunch of rabid Righties who will say that I'm lying or that I really want nothing more than to spit on maimed soldiers returning from Iraq or whatever--it has happened to me that way before when I've tried to be honest in this regard--but whatever.

I hope that this answers your question.

Posted by: Doc Washboard at July 23, 2007 11:31 AM

Doc, I didn't want to get into a symantec war with you. As I said in my first response, defending this article and remarking sarcastically about rightie outrage certainly makes me cast your opinion in an anti-military form. I don't think that is unreasonable.

I did phrase the question in a "when did you stop beating your wife" way. That wasn't fair. In my own defense, the stereotype being applied to me and many of my friends in this article far outweighs any rhetorical swipe I might have taken at you.

I do apologize for making blatant assumptions about your belief system.

I have heard this article referred to the "new Winter Soldier." I might agree. There are at least two violations of the law of war here. If the New Republic wants justice, they should allow the military to pursue this man and his fellow soldiers. If the New Republic wants something else, (perhaps a political motivation?) they should do exactly what they are currently doing; protecting a criminal.

To be clear, I apologize for presuming to know your character. I think I know your character better now and I certainly believe you. Thank you for your candid answer.


Posted by: y7 at July 23, 2007 11:59 PM