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July 18, 2007

Lt. Steven Glass Now Writing For The New Republic From Iraq?

The New Republic has had a long and troubled past with too-ideologically-good-to-be-true, too-difficult-to-verify but too-juicy-not-to-run stories in the past. Now an anonymous "soldier" is reporting for them (illegally, one presumes) from Iraq, and is telling implausible stories that just so happen to portray his "fellow soldiers" as vicious monsters.

As "Steven Glass" recounted in Shattered Glass, "But there was a hole in their factual verification process -- stories posted by reporters in the field were only checked against the reporter's own notes for their accuracy."

TNR claims to have plugged that hole, but how could they? There is simply no possible way TNR has a second source for this "soldier's" illegal "reportage," presumably done anonymously not only to avoid a court martial, but so as not to alert his fellow soldiers. So how can TNR claim any of these lurid, troop-bashing stories have been verified in any meaningful way?

Incidentally...

[E]ventually, we reached the bones. All children’s bones: tiny cracked tibias and shoulder blades. We found pieces of hands and fingers. We found skull fragments. No one cared to speculate what, exactly, had happened here, but it was clearly a Saddam-era dumping ground of some sort.

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.

...

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 America—providing him with the perfect opportunity to suddenly swerve and catch a leg or a tail in the vehicle’s tracks. He kept a tally of his kills in a little green notebook that sat on the dashboard of the driver’s hatch. One particular day, he killed three dogs. He slowed the Bradley down to lure the first kill in, and, as the diesel engine grew quieter, the dog walked close enough for him to jerk the machine hard to the right and snag its leg under the tracks. The leg caught, and he dragged the dog for a little while, until it disengaged and lay twitching in the road. A roar of laughter broke out over the radio. Another notch for the book. The second kill was a straight shot: A dog that was lying in the street and bathing in the sun didn’t have enough time to get up and run away from the speeding Bradley. Its front half was completely severed from its rear, which was twitching wildly, and its head was still raised and smiling at the sun as if nothing had happened at all.

Compare with John Kerry's Winter Soldier false testimony:

They told the stories at times they had personally raped, cut off ears, cut off heads, taped wires from portable telephones to human genitals and turned up the power, cut off limbs, blown up bodies, randomly shot at civilians, razed villages in fashion reminiscent of Genghis Khan, shot cattle and dogs for fun, poisoned food stocks, and generally ravaged the countryside of South Vietnam...

Second verse same as the first, a little bit slower and a little bit worse.

Are you mad at me, Chuck? Chuck, are you mad at me? Why won't you answer me, Chuck?

The Weekly Standard is calling all servicemembers, milbloggers, and embeds:

[W]e believe that the best chance for getting at the truth is likely to come from the combined efforts of the blogosphere, which has, in the past, proven adept at determining the reliability of such claims. To that end we'd encourage the milblogging community to do some digging of their own, and individual soldiers and veterans to come forward with relevant information--either about the specific events or their plausibility in general.

Does anyone who has served at FOB Falcon remember hearing about or seeing the humiliation of this woman [mentioned earlier in the piece]? Do they know her name and how we might get in contact with her to confirm the author's account of the events that day?

Is anyone familiar with a combat outpost a few miles south of the Baghdad airport where a mass grave of Iraqi children was discovered? What about the other parts of the story? And does anyone else know of Bradleys careening wildly through the streets of Baghdad?

Please email any information, thoughts, and suggestions for further lines of inquiry to the WORLDWIDE STANDARD at wws@weeklystandard.com. We'll report back as information comes in.

Thanks to The Editor.

Bonus Steven Glass Comparison! How did Glass get away with filing dozens of obviously fraudulent report, and getting them all published?

Well, simple, really: He went for "colorful anecdotes" involving unnamed and unidentifiable people, the sort of thing that by its very nature could not be verified. And further, would never draw a single complaint from a maligned subject, because his subjects were simply entirely fictitious.

It's dangerous to put fake words into the mouths of real people. It's less dangerous to put fake words into the mouths of fake people, who work for fake organizations, discover fake mass graves, etc., because who is there exactly to write in a letter of complaint saying "I never said that"?

In one article, Glass claimed that he had encountered fanatical members of a new church worshipping a new deity, the Church of George Herbert Walker Christ, which held that the elder Bush ("Wouldn't be prudent") was in fact the second coming Jesus Christ Himself. And the TNR proudly published this. They never seemed to question why the Prince of Peace Himself couldn't miracle himself up a second term.

After all, Glass' own notes confirmed he'd met such people! And not a single member of the Church of George Herbert Walker Christ ever demanded a retraction, soooo...



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posted by Ace at 07:06 PM

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