July 20, 2007

The Previous Libel of the New Republic's Scott Thomas

Michael Goldfarb, who been leading the charge against suspicious and apparently false reporting by the New Republic's "Scott Thomas," posts some interesting content from a previous Thomas story:

Someone reached down and picked a shell casing up off the ground. It was 9mm with a square back. Everything suddenly became clear. The only shell casings that look like that belong to Glocks. And the only people who use Glocks are the Iraqi police.

Many people have keyed in on the fact that no Glock pistol (or any modern mass-produced commercial or military firearm, for that matter) has ever fired a 9mm cartridge that had a square case rim as "Thomas" so poorlyand inaccurately wrote here. What Thomas was ineptly trying to describe is that the striker of Glock pistols can leaved a squared mark on the primer of a fired shell, as opposed to the more common rounded edges of marks of firing pins of most other pistols.

But far more damning than Thomas' incompetence is the demonstrably false assertion he made that "the only people who use Glocks are the Iraqi police."

Glock pistols have been on the commercial market for decades, and are quite common worldwide. Glocks are a common and favored handgun on the Iraqi black market:

Glock pistols were also easy to find. One young Iraqi man, Rebwar Mustafa, showed a Glock 19 he had bought at the bazaar in Kirkuk last year for $900. Five of his friends have bought identical models, he said.

There are literally dozens of stories of Glock pistols being recovered from insurgents, terrorists, and militiamen. They have been captured in cordon-and-search operations, in targeted raids, in weapons caches, and of course, from the dead and wounded in violent confrontations.

American soldiers have them, as do civilian contractors from many nations in many lines of work. Ordinary Iraqi civilans (men and women) buy them to protect their families as well. Glock are quite likely the most ubiquious handgun in Iraq, carried officially or unofficially by those on all sides, and those on no side at all.

For "Scott Thomas" to claim that "the only people who use Glocks are the Iraqi police" is laughable, and coming from someone who claims to be a United State soldier in Iraq who would certainly know that to be a false statement, is perhaps as clear an audacious a display of willfully libeling the Iraqi police as has been written in the American media.

Posted by Confederate Yankee at July 20, 2007 04:00 PM

Hmmm. Surprisingly, the authors "skull" story is eerily similar to this incident:

Maybe he is just a plagiarizing moron?

Posted by: Enlightened at July 20, 2007 05:40 PM

Glocks are common. This Thomas fellow just flat out lied. Looks like he has some answering to do. And apologizing to do.

Posted by: brando at July 20, 2007 05:54 PM

We found out Scott Thomas was supposed to be out of Camp Falcon, Baghdad. I was there earlier this month so I contacted to the PAO officer to verify the details. Namely the grave site etc... His response? Below. We'll try to get a comment from the New Republic.

Major Kirk Luedeke
Public Affairs Officer
4th IBCT, 1st ID

Here are the facts as best I have established them, along with the actions I have taken here at Falcon.

1. I was notified of the New Republic blog entries yesterday (Friday) by documentarian JD Johannes, who had spent time with us as an embed in May. He was concerned about the reports, but also expressed doubt in their veracity. He provided the New Republic and Weekly Standard response to the blog entry links.
2. I was able to immediately refute the assertion that a mass graveyard of children's skeletons was found; an event such as this would have been reported during the construction of Coalition Outpost Ellis, the only such COP that exists in the area the blogger described (rural, south of BIAP).
3. The stories of the burned woman and hitting dogs with Bradleys can't be as decisively disputed, however, I have not encountered a woman matching that description at any time on Falcon since arriving here on 17 Feb. You would think that someone with such visible wounds would stand out in memorable fashion. This doesn't mean that she wasn't a visitor at some point, but I find the account of Soldiers mocking her dubious at best.
4. I immediately notified MAJ Lamb of MND-B PAO, who advised me to send him the link and pertinent information on the New Republic's blog posts, which I did. He informed me of his intent to engage the CENTCOM blog team to see if they could take action, and at the very least, make them aware of the situation.
5. I contacted the only unit in our brigade that has Bradleys, 1-18 IN, and advised their XO of the situation, recommending that they talk to their Soldiers about Army values and the Warrior ethos, reminding them of the rules for blogging in uniform and also reminding them of integrity and telling the truth. The bottom line: If you put something out there you should be willing to put your name next to it and stand by it. That he and New Rpublic are insisting on anonymity is very telling here.

Per COL Boylan's request, I have prepared the following:

1. There was no mass grave found during the construction of any of our coalition outposts in the Rashid District at any time. Such a discovery would have prompted an investigation and close attention paid at levels higher than ours to making sure that the victims were properly interred and attempts would have been made to determine their identities. It is difficult to fathom that a unit's leadership would condone Soldiers disrespecting the remains of anyone in the fashion described.

2. Due to the threat of IEDs, our combat vehicles are driven professionally and in control at all times. To be driving erratically so as to hit dogs or other things would be to put the entire vehicle's crew at risk and would be gross dereliction of duty by the noncommissioned officer or officer in charge of the vehicle. Drivers aren't allowed to simply free-wheel their vehicles however they see fit, and they are *not* allowed to be moved anywhere with out a vehicle commander present to supervise the movement. Therefore- claims of vehicles leaving the roadways to hit animals are highly dubious, given the very real threat of IEDs and normal standards of conduct.

3. As for the alleged woman with severe burn scars, we have nobody matching that description here at FOB Falcon. As Soldiers, we practice the value of Respect: "Treat people as you want to be treated." If the blogger and his friends can't live the Army value of respect, I have little doubt that someone around them who does would have made an on-the-spot correction. The Falcon dining facility is not a spacious one. Anyone being rude, loud or raucous calls immediate attention to himself. It is hard to fathom that anyone would be able to get away with such callous behavior without somebody intervening and stopping it from happening.

Posted by: Matt Sanchez at July 21, 2007 12:50 PM

Isn't it possible that he's just wrong, without the underlying conspiracy scenario?

Posted by: Doc Washboard at July 21, 2007 12:50 PM

Hey Doc:
What Planet you on?
One isn't "Wrong" when they are telling lies. Especially when they are making verifiable wrong statements like Square Casings (sounds like he doesn't even know about hand guns at all).
No conspiracy needed when some one lies and someone else publishes it without checking facts.

A prime difference in "reporting":
Micheal Yon reported about AQ roasting children to terrorize and control has said several times that he does not know for sure, the story's truth, only that the teller was certain about it. He has never tried to pass it off as anything but an unverified story.

AP and Ruters regularly report horror stories about sectarian violence or AQ successes from unnamed and unverifiable sources without a single attempt to fact check. Yet when Yon allows them to have, for free, a story with GPS coordinates, names of U.S. military officers, ISF officers, Pictures, Dates, and much more, they refuse to run it because they didn't get a press release from MNF-I, so it is unverified in their eyes. They even had a reporter in the same area that could have verifies it for them.

"Scott Thomas" would not simply be wrong, he'd be knowingly lying.

Posted by: JP at July 21, 2007 02:33 PM

Also, there is no accusation of an "underlying conspiracy scenario". Just journalists and their editors doing what they have been caught doing before and in some cases, proudly admitting to; faking and slanting news to portray what they feel must be reality somewhere or to shape public opinion so that it matches their desire (see the left wing Israeli broadcasters proudly admitting that they slanted coverage to make Israel favor withdrawal from south Lebanon some years back. The guy writing this would not even need to talk to his editor to get this to work since the editor wants a good anti-troops story and the writer and his imaginary soldier don't need to be talkative.

No underlying conspiracy scenario, just journalism as we have come to know it.

Posted by: Saul Wall at July 21, 2007 04:14 PM

Isn't it possible that he's just wrong

Sure - the rest of the world call that "propaganda" and "lies" rather than "just wrong" though.

Posted by: Purple Avenger at July 21, 2007 04:28 PM

Methinks someone has swallowed the bait from a Jihadist blogger:

Posted by: Snooper at July 21, 2007 09:39 PM

Tell you what, Doc. You concede that the "Bush Lied, People Died" mantra your side chants is also a bunch of propaganda, and we'll think about it.

Posted by: SDN at July 22, 2007 12:22 AM


Anybody who makes such claims under the shield of anonymity must be held to a much higher standard.

Posted by: memomachine at July 22, 2007 01:21 AM