Thursday, July 19, 2007
For those not familiar, Jesse MacBeth was an anti-war charlatan, darling of the anti-war left. Macbeth claimed to have witnessed and participated in all manner of war atrocities in
Goldfarb introduces the TNR piece this way:
The first episode puts "Thomas"'s unit at a "chow hall" at an unnamed base. A woman eating there is wearing "an unrecognizable tan uniform, so I couldn’t really tell whether she was a soldier or a civilian contractor." The woman's face is described as having been "more or less melted, along with all the hair on that side of her head," by an IED. She sits down for lunch next to the men. Here's how "Thomas" describes what happens next:
We were already halfway through our meals when she arrived. After a minute or two of eating in silence, one of my friends stabbed his spoon violently into his pile of mashed potatoes and left it there.
“Man, I can’t eat like this,” he said.
“Like what?” I said. “Chow hall food getting to you?”
“No—with that fucking freak behind us!” he exclaimed, loud enough for not only her to hear us, but everyone at the surrounding tables. I looked over at the woman, and she was intently staring into each forkful of food before it entered her half-melted mouth.
“Are you kidding? I think she’s fucking hot!” I blurted out.
“What?” said my friend, half-smiling.
“Yeah man,” I continued. “I love chicks that have been intimate—with IEDs. It really turns me on—melted skin, missing limbs, plastic noses . . . .”
“You’re crazy, man!” my friend said, doubling over with laughter. I took it as my cue to continue.
“In fact, I was thinking of getting some girls together and doing a photo shoot. Maybe for a calendar? ‘IED Babes.’ We could have them pose in thongs and bikinis on top of the hoods of their blown-up vehicles.”
My friend was practically falling out of his chair laughing. The disfigured woman slammed her cup down and ran out of the chow hall, her half-finished tray of food nearly falling to the ground.
The TNR piece continues with “Scott Thomas’s” “war story” with other highly doubtful anecdotes:
The author claims that his unit stumbled across a mass grave filled with the remains of Iraqi children, and, rather than report the find, chose to desecrate the corpses:
About six months into our deployment, we were assigned a new area to patrol, southwest of
One private, infamous as a joker and troublemaker, found the top part of a human skull, which was almost perfectly preserved. It even had chunks of hair, which were stiff and matted down with dirt. He squealed as he placed it on his head like a crown. It was a perfect fit. As he marched around with the skull on his head, people dropped shovels and sandbags, folding in half with laughter. No one thought to tell him to stop. No one was disgusted. Me included.
The private wore the skull for the rest of the day and night. Even on a mission, he put his helmet over the skull. He observed that he was grateful his hair had just been cut—since it would make it easier to pick out the pieces of rotting flesh that were digging into his head.
Again, American troops might be capable of such behavior. But most incidents of soldiers taking such war "trophies," to be blunt, involve dead enemy fighters, not massacred children. The questions pile up. Would a child's skull fit on the head of fully-grown man? Would pieces of flesh and hair still remain so long after the fact? Would American soldiers fail to report the discovery of a mass grave? Are there really units corrupt enough for a private to dare do such a thing for a day and a night?
Finally, the author tells of a friend who drives a Bradley armored vehicle and has a penchant for careening around the streets of Baghdad in the hope of causing as much destruction--and killing as many stray dogs--as possible:
I know another private who really only enjoyed driving Bradley Fighting Vehicles because it gave him the opportunity to run things over. He took out curbs, concrete barriers, corners of buildings, stands in the market, and his favorite target: dogs. Occasionally, the brave ones would chase the Bradleys, barking at them like they bark at trash trucks in
Goldfarb has updated his initial post with lots of reactions, and reactions came in fast and furious from multiple sites with strong military connections or credentials:
In comments to the posts mentioned above, real military veterans signal this is BS reporting, pointing out multiple areas with high probability of falsehood, I’ll summarize:
Vehicle operation. The Bradley doesn’t “sneak up, it’s lumbering, very noisy mechanically, tracks, etc., would no more run over a dog (unless already dead) or catch it unaware. Also, driver visibility probably precludes what is described in the story, seeing dogs along the right side of the vehicle. Lastly, corpses and other dead animals are likely means of hiding improvised explosive devices (IED), and avoided by vehicles, Swerving suddenly in a city setting could get the vehicle hung up, or run the risk of an IED or mine set near the edge of the roadway. All military drivers know these things, and the behavior described would be highly improbable.
Mass grave. Like GIs who came upon Concentration Camps, soldiers today in
Mocking of IED victim. “There but by the grace of God,” is the universal reaction of anyone to the reality that others are hit by IEDs. Soldiers come up and shake the hands of obviously wounded, and thank them for their service, or ask God to bless them, or speak with reverence and respect, with encouragement. (Even stupid 20 year olds.) NCOs and officers in earshot would have beaten any such idiots down, read them the riot act, or taken their names. Zero tolerance, “we’re all on the same team,” “that could be you, you sh*thead” kind of reactions. The remark that the soldier couldn’t tell if the clothes she was wearing was a uniform is likewise hard to believe. Someone familiar with the DCU would not mistake it for the tan jumpsuits, chino/workshirt combinations, or even the desert camouflage uniforms of other services or Iraqis. Each are distinct, and you know your own.
Medical. Informed medical personnel confirm the great unlikelihood that a person could survive and IED-induced “melting of the face” without extensive (and lengthy) medical treatment, many surgeries, recovery time, and rarely would anyone be allowed back in
And I’d add the following circumstantial evidence. Commenters note a similarity between some of what’s described here and events depicted in the (anti-war) movie Jarhead. I’d add that one of the
Speaking of The War Tapes, one of the soldiers was clearly traumatized by the accidental killing of a woman when she ran in front of their HUMVEE at night, following a close call near-collision with a civilian vehicle that approached rapidly and swerved in front of the HUMVEE. Likewise, my soldiers and I were deeply disturbed to walk through vehicle graveyards (as a soldier on The War Tapes), seeing the horrible damage and knowing the certainty or great likelihood that vehicle occupants were incinerated or blown to pieces (or both).
Sounds to me their phony veteran might be pulling stories from movies or what he’s read. (Or from anti-war websites.)
For those who claim that the
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