"The death knell of your ethics has been enabled by your parent organizations who have chosen to align themselves with political agendas. What is clear to me, is that you are perpetuating the corrosive partisan politics that is destroying our country and killing our service members who are at war." - LTG Ricardo Sanchez, former Commander MNF-Iraq (to reporters upon retirement October 2007).
I've received quite a bit of email about the latest New York Times journalistic hit job on our troops.
Town by town across the country, headlines have been telling similar stories. Lakewood, Wash.: "Family Blames Iraq After Son Kills Wife." Pierre, S.D.: "Soldier Charged With Murder Testifies About Postwar Stress." Colorado Springs: "Iraq War Vets Suspected in Two Slayings, Crime Ring."
Individually, these are stories of local crimes, gut-wrenching postscripts to the war for the military men, their victims and their communities. Taken together, they paint the patchwork picture of a quiet phenomenon, tracing a cross-country trail of death and heartbreak.
The New York Times found 121 cases in which veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan committed a killing in this country, or were charged with one, after their return from war. In many of those cases, combat trauma and the stress of deployment - along with alcohol abuse, family discord and other attendant problems - appear to have set the stage for a tragedy that was part destruction, part self-destruction...
I believe that Marc Danziger, Armed Liberal at Winds of Change, was the first of many to take the NYTimes to the woodshed by looking into the numbers. Statistically, he laughs at the mental prowess of the authors:
..well, what does it mean? How do these 121 murderers compare with the base rate of murderers in the population?
And the answer appears to be damn well...
Check out Marc's whole response.
And I particularly like Phil Carter's response to the NYTimes over at IntelDump:
...So, basically, the reporters went trolling on Lexis-Nexis and other databases to find "murder" within the same paragraph as "veteran" or "soldier," and built a front-page story around that research. They compared the pre-war numbers to the post-war numbers and found that, voila!, there's a difference. And then it looks like they cherry-picked the best anecdotes out of that research (including the ones where they could get interviews and photos) to craft a narrative which fit the data. The article makes no attempt to produce a statistically valid comparison of homicide rates among vets to rates among the general population. Nor does it rely at all on Pentagon data about post-deployment incidents of violence among veterans. It basically just generalizes from this small sample (121 out of 1.7 million Iraq and Afghanistan vets, not including civilians and contractors) to conclude that today's generation of veterans are coming home full of rage and ready to kill.
I've got a one-word verdict on this article and its research: bullshit...
Phil tears them apart and does give them the benefit of the doubt about being shoddy journalists rather than agenda driven hacks.
And my inbox is full of people outraged by the article. Lisan sends one of the more succinct emails about the effect the article might have - the NYTimes piece was carried by the Sacramento Bee on the front page:
...Last night, my momma and I were at the Sacramento Airport to help greet a number of returning Soldiers, including SPC Michael Hamilton, whose story was written up by the Bee in December; and other members of the 3/61, Captain Andrew White and SPC Abrams. We also were there when many members of an Air Force Medical wing deployed from Travis Air Base returned from Afghanistan. Present were family, Patriot Guard, and many other supporters who had gotten the call to welcome these men and women home.
I bring this up because one of the Patriot Guard riders at the airport spoke to my momma and me about coming home from Vietnam and almost being thrown in jail after some punk called him a baby killer...Our Vietnam Vets have been instrumental in making sure that now, our returning Soldier, Airmen, Marines and Sailors are not greeted with such disrespect and insult.
That was all I could think about this morning as I stood in line at the grocery store with that Bee headline screaming at every checkout line. Our men and women came home last night to a happy, welcoming crowd, who were more than pleased to see them and thank them for their service to our beloved country. And this morning, those same men and women will see a local paper with a prominent headline implying they are murdering criminals let loose in our society. This meme is a little too close to what the Vietnam Veteran experienced 30 years ago, and I thought you should know...
Sloppy work or intentionally malicious, either way the NYTimes has made a mistake...again.
You can email your concern to the Public Editor of the New York Times here.
...Those on the left will never accept that the finest young Americans are those who risk their lives defending freedom. Sen. John Kerry summed up the views of the left perfectly when he disparaged our troops as too stupid to do anything but sling hamburgers.
And The New York Times will never forgive our men and women in uniform for their infuriating successes in Iraq.