Given the way the MSM has covered the war in Iraq, I'm very suspicious of the validity of any story they publish. But this MSNBC story really seems over the top. It has so many "that just doesn't sound right" parts to it, I don't know where to start - how about those who've been in the sand box taking a look and rendering a knowledgeable analysis of the probability that any of it is true:
The American soldier stepped out of the Baghdad nightclub. In one hand, he clutched his weapon. In the other, a green can of Tuborg beer. He took a sip and walked over to two comrades, dressed as he was in camouflage and combat gear.
Inside the club Thursday night, U.S. soldiers of the 82nd Airborne Division ogled young Iraqi women who appeared to be prostitutes gyrating to Arabic pop music. A singer crooned soulfully through scratchy speakers to the raucous, pulsating beat — an action that Islamic extremists have deemed punishable by beheading.
Twenty minutes later, several drunk men coaxed an American soldier to dance. He awkwardly shuffled his feet, wearing night-vision equipment and a radio, joining the women and boisterous young men in an Arabic chain dance around tables covered with empty beer bottles.
Time spent away from family while on duty: 3+ years
Improvised Explosive device: $9
Special software and computers for you to type with because part of your left hand has been amputated, there is nerve damage to your left hand, there are skin grafts on 20% of your body, you have traumatic brain injury, and you have multiple shrapnel scars: $5,000
Setting up a blog: $10/month per year
Being patronized and condescended to by the readers you have sacrificed so much for: Priceless.
Chuck, with the utmost respect, I humbly beg to differ with you. I am deeply sorry that you were severely wounded, for nothing, for a country that doesn't give a !@#$. I am deeply sorry that over 4,000 of the finest men and women of this finest country in the world died, for nothing, and that tens of thousands of lives connected to theirs were forever diminished by the loss of their loved ones. Iraq is Vietnam all over again. We tried to intervene and it didn't work. How many tens of thousands of American lives were lost in Vietnam and what was that sacrifice for...nothing. Believe me, if a son or a daughter of mine were killed or wounded in Iraq, I would be at my wits' end...wondering why, what was the point, did my child die in vain and the answer would be, unfortunately, yes. I cannot tell the future but I firmly believe that Iraq will not emerge as a free republic or democracy, Iran and Syria will see to that. What do you envision for Iraq in, say, 2025 or 2030? Yeah, Saddam Hussein was an asshat douchebag but no real threat to us. I voted for George W. Bush both times, the 2nd time because I thought that it was a bad idea to change horses mid-stream and John Kerry is a piece of shit. But in the last 4 years, I slowly came to deeply loathe Bush and his entire cabinet because of what he did to you and every other soldier sent to Iraq, based on lies. McCain said it, your damaged body was nothing but a damned photo op for him. I have nothing but the highest respect for you and all of our military, I've contributed to you when you were wounded, Valour IT, Fisher House etc. I just think you all were sold a bull!@#$ bill of goods by a bunch of stuffed suits in DC who stood to profit mightily from this war and that makes me sick to my stomach.
U.S. Army 1st Lt. Patrick Higgins (foreground) of 1st Battalion, 4th
Infantry Regiment surveys a village as Spc. Aaron Trapley and Sgt. Gary
Fordyce provide sniper overwatch and Sgt. Nicholas Gauthier provides
security during a foot patrol near Forward Operating Base Mizan,
Afghanistan, on Feb. 23, 2009. DoD photo by Sgt. Christopher S. Barnhart, U.S. Army.
[Edit Note: Many of you have asked how to submit to the Motivator category. Send me an email with the Motivator attached. If you can, please identify the photographer.]
As a former soldier and a good friend of three of the Fallen soldiers that they covered accurately AND with respect, I will never forget their journalistic integrity and professionalism coupled with their humanistic approach that has given more than a few widows and children a modicum of comfort and a way to memorialize their loved ones. All while telling the truth...in other words, One. Class. Act.
“Less than 1% of the American population has served in Iraq or
Afghanistan. There has never been a greater disconnect between those
who serve in harms warm and those back home. All too often, the
sacrifices of our military are hidden from view. The sight of
flag-draped coffins is, and should be, a sobering reminder to all
Americans of the ultimate sacrifice our troops have made and the high
price of our freedom,” said IAVA Executive Director Paul Rieckhoff.
I understand some of what Paul is saying - that Americans are not connected to this war. After all, that's what great about Taking Chance (the story or the movie). It shows the connections that are there even when we think they aren't.
What I believe on this matter is that the soldiers are not being represented. I have lost three of the best men I could have as friends. Their families' inconsolable grief is something that I would want to ease. If having a photo of their son's casket, treated with dignity, would ease their grief or concerns, I can see Secretary Gates' position. From Reuters:
...President Barack Obama asked for a policy review early this month and Gates said that drew a call for change from the U.S. Army, which represents the largest portion of war dead.
"My conclusion was that we should not presume to make the decision for the families," Gates said.
believe that the American people would defer to the wishes of the
families of the fallen," he added. "That's where I would wager a lot of
However, not one of my fallen brothers, and not any of my friends in the war zones now, would ever want their death to be used by the media, their families, or anyone else that might reduce their sacrifice or the effort to win the war. Would Casey Sheehan have wanted that? From what I know about him as a soldier, I highly doubt it.
Like TSO at This Ain't Hell, my parents might disagree with me on the photo issue. My parents divorced when I was 10 years old. If had been killed in unpleasant places in the 80s or 90s, my mother most likely would not have wanted the media to use a photo of my casket. My father, quite possibly would have welcomed that. Casey Sheehan's divorced parents might have had the same disagreement. How will that predicament be solved? (note to SecDef Gates: The Blackfive Mom is quite formidable.)
And who in the Army requested the change?
It took me a good hour and a walk in the rain to calm down enough to publish this post.
Yes, the family has to authorize the taking of the photo. That seems like a reasonable enough control mechanism doesn't it?
It would if no one would ever abuse those photos. Do you really believe that Code Pink and the other organizations responsible for this reversal of policy will respect the intent of the new policy?
These are the same people that held signs outside of Walter Reed at night when the buses of wounded troops from OIF and OEF rolled in (I saw the sign) that said:
"You got maimed for a lie."
So what about the soldier's wishes?
Don't they matter as much, if not more, in this case?
Or are we just going to provide "a sobering reminder to all
When the first soldier's flag draped casket appears among all the hate sites, you can bet we will mobilize. Just because a fallen soldier can't defend himself is no excuse to abuse their memory. And that does not mean that there aren't millions of us to step up and protect his sacrifice.
As the Blackfive ombudsman, I must correct any inaccuracies that somehow sneak into these august web pages. In his recent entry "COB6 & UNCLE J MISTAKEN FOR "THE MAN," Uncle Jimbo incorrectly implied that COB6 is not "The Man." Confidential sources quickly emailed me to suggest otherwise. I have spent the last few hours investigating their claims. I am publishing it now:
1) You know all those bumper stickers that say "Skateboarding is not a crime?" Well guess what: It was COB6 who criminalized that !@#$ in the first place.
2) I have no less than 34 sworn affidavits from different people, who say they sold out to "The Man," and the person who handed them their cash had a high & tight, and identified himself as "COB6."
3) When you pay income tax to "The Man," your check is cashed by "COB6."
As you can see, all evidence indicates that COB6 is, in fact, "The Man." I apologize on behalf of Blackfive for any lingering confusion.
No, really, you should read it because it is well written and covers an area that should be of interest and concern to you. Last week, it was a pleasure to meet Mayhill Fowler, a writer whom I respect even when I disagree with her on particular points or issues. She took the opportunity presented by the seminar and its speakers to come up with a good article on Afghanistan and a (the, even) key problem. Go, read her article and think on it a bit. I will add only one thing: Lt. Col. Mennes not only made the physical gestures, he stayed for the mourning, bought the goats (?) required for the funeral, and did the right things at the right time to make amends. That's leadership, for it turned a family/group/local population from enemies into friends.
BREAKING NEWS: FOXNEWS REPORTS MEDIA TO VIEW WAR DEAD
Posted By Mr Wolf
UPDATED UPDATED: THIS IS BREAKING:
The Pentagon is expected to allow some media coverage of returning war dead with approval from their families, the Associated Press reported Thursday.
AS SOON AS WE CAN GET DETAILS, WE WILL DO SO.
HELL HATH FROZE OVER, AND THE INMATES NOW RUN THE ASYLUM.
The update is:
Shortly after Obama took office, Democratic Sens. John Kerry of
Massachusetts and Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey also asked the White
House to roll back the 1991 ban.
Over the years, some exceptions to the policy were made, allowing the media to photograph coffins in some cases, until the administration of President George W. Bush and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
leading military families group has said that the policy, enforced
without exception during George W. Bush's presidency, should be changed
so that survivors of the dead can decide whether photographers can
record their return.
Now I want to know what military family group requested THIS? NO group that I am aware of, nor associated with, would do such a thing. IAVA? IVAW? I'd like to see the name of the 'military families group' that would dare put families thru such turmoil.
Is there a way for a soldier to sign a disclaimer/denial slip before they deploy, preventing any family from over-ruling them? Seems that would be fair.
I've asked for details from Pentagon sources on this. No replies, as of yet.
UPDATE @1300: I FREAKIN' KNEW IT!! WAS THERE ANY DOUBT CODE PINK OR SOME SUCH WASN'T BEHIND THIS?
One of the family members who favors lifting the ban is Karen Meredith
of San Francisco, California, who wrote Obama urging him to order the
She’s become friendly with advocacy groups like the Gold Star Families
for Peace, Military Families Speak Out and Code Pink. She was asked
recently to appear at a counter-military recruitment event, but begged
off because it took place on Mother’s Day (although she is quick to
note that Mother’s Day started as an antiwar holiday).
ANYone who doubted that this WAS NOT, NEVER HAS BEEN, AND NEVER WILL BE a 'caring' effort on behalf of soldiers is full of SH*T.
We called BS, we GOT BS...
Dammit, Jim, this don't look good.
Now for MY opinion: Just as I suspected, the absolute worst groups imaginable have persevered to get this opened. Now, in some fashion, pics are going to come in from Dover on this. I hate to say it, its ugly to do so, but dammit, it's going to happen- pictures are going to go up on disgusting, infuriating, inflammatory sites that are going to totally disgrace a grieving family.
When that happens, I want a million copies to mail to SecDef Gates's office. And every elected official in Washington. Saying 'this is YOUR fault you have disgraced a soldier today.' And repeat it every time it happens. EVERY.SINGLE.TIME.
Every elected official- Dem or Rep- will answer to this. And more, I'm afraid.
The plans for global domination had COB6 and me in NYC for the past couple days meeting with media titans of very recognizable, but for now un-named flavors. In the course of this we were ambling through Times Square attempting to purchase beer for less than the $9 a bottle our hotel charged. We had just finished our day of infiltrating well-known buildings and convincing the inhabitants that they should join forces with us, and were rather nattily attired with COB6 looking very dignified in a charcoal gray Ralph Lauren rig, and myself sporting a blue, thin-striped Bill Blass get up. As we passed through the square a passel of young New York University types, think all black with black glasses, scarves and commie-looking hats, approached us. They were chattering and pointing as they neared and I caught the idea they were profiling us and blaming us for the collapse of the financial systems. One even clapped and said "well done gentlemen, good job". Needless to say we found this somewhat hilarious given our backgrounds and even our mission then to purchase the lowly hops beverage at a discount. We smiled and waved and continued on laughing at the silly young wankers. Side note, our efforts led us the low, low price of $14 a six pack. One good thing about NYC, no hangovers. I can't even afford to get drunk here.
Former Paratrooper and Army Officer, "Blackfive" started this blog upon learning of the valorous sacrifice of a friend that was not reported by the journalist whose life he saved. Email: blackfive AT gmail DOT com
Retired Special Operations Master Sergeant, Jim Hanson ("Uncle Jimbo") is now focused on writing about the military, politics, intelligence operations and foreign policy. Email: jimbo AT unclejimbo DOT com
Writer, photographer, and raconteur C. Blake Powers is the Laughing Wolf. He is independent in politics and covers topics including journalism, military, weapons, preparedness, space, science, cooking, food and wine, product and book reviews, and even spirituality. Email: wolf1 AT laughingwolf DOT net Laughing Wolf's Amazon Wish List
Bill Paisley, otherwise known as Pinch, is a 22 year (ongoing) active and
reserve naval aviator. He blogs over at www.instapinch.com on a veritable
cornucopia of various and sundry items and will bring a tactical naval
aviator's perspective to Blackfive. Readers be warned: any comments of or
about the F-14 Tomcat will be reverential and spoken in low, hushed tones.
Email: wpaisley AT comcast DOT net
Mr. Wolf has over 26 years in the Army, Army NG, and USAR. He’s Airborne with 5 years as an NCO, before becoming an officer. Mr. Wolf has had 4 company commands. Signal Corp is his basic branch, and Public Affairs is his functional area. He recently served 22 straight months in Kuwait and Iraq, in Intel, PA, and senior staff of MNF-I. Mr. Wolf is now an IT executive. He is currently working on a book on media and the Iraq war. Functional gearhead.
In Iraq, he received the moniker of Mr. Wolf after the Harvey Kietel character in Pulp Fiction, when "challenges" arose, they called on Mr. Wolf...
Email: TheDOTMrDOTWolfAT gmail DOT com
Deebow is a Staff Sergeant and a Military Police Squad Leader in the Army National Guard. In a previous life, he served in the US Navy. He has over 19 years of experience in both the Maritime and Land Warfare; including deployments to Southwest Asia, Thailand, the South Pacific, South America and Egypt. He has served as a Military Police Team Leader and Protective Services Team Leader and he has served on assignments with the US State Department, US Air Force Security Police, US Army Criminal Investigation Division, and the US Drug Enforcement Administration. He recently spent time in Afghanistan working with, training and fighting alongside Afghan Soldiers and is now focused on putting his 4 year Political Science degree to work by writing about foreign policy, military security policy and politics.
McQ has 28 years active and reserve service. Retired. Infantry officer. Airborne and Ranger. Consider my 3 years with the 82nd as the most fun I ever had with my clothes on. Interests include military issues and policy and veteran's affairs.
Email: mcq51 -at - bellsouth -dot- net
Tantor is a former USAF navigator/weapon system officer (WSO) in F-4E Phantoms who served in the US, Asia, and Europe. He is now a curmudgeonly computer geek in Washington, DC, picking the taxpayers pocket. His avocations are current events, aviation, history, and conservative politics.
Twenty-three years of Active and Reserve service in the US Army in SF (18B), Infantry and SOF Signal jobs with operational deployments to Bosnia and Africa. Since retiring he's worked as Senior Defense Analyst on SOF and Irregular Warfare projects and currently ensconced in the emerging world of Cyberspace.
Major Pain --
A Marine who began his blog in Iraq and reflects back on what he learned there and in Afghanistan. To the point opinions, ideas and thoughts on military, political and the media from One Marine’s View. Email: onemarinesview AT yahoo DOT com
Uber Pig was an Infantryman from late 1991 until early 1996, serving with Second Ranger Battalion, I Corps, and then 25th Infantry Division. At the time, the Army discriminated against enlisted soldiers who wanted use the "Green to Gold" program to become officers, so he left to attend Stanford University. There, he became expert in detecting, avoiding, and surviving L-shaped ambushes, before dropping out to be as entrepreneurial as he could be. He is now the founder of a software startup serving the insurance and construction industries, and splits time between Lake Tahoe, Boonville, and San Francisco, CA.
Uber Pig writes for Blackfive a) because he's the proud brother of an enlisted Civil Affairs Reservist who currently serves in Iraq, b) because he looks unkindly on people who make it harder for the military in general, and for his brother in particular, to succeed at their missions and come home in victory, and c) because the Blackfive readers and commenters help keep him sane.
COB6 spent 24 years in the active duty Army that included 5 combat tours with service in the 1st Ranger Battalion and 1st Special Forces Group . COB6 was enlisted (E-7) and took the OCS route to a commission. COB6 retired a few years back as a field grade Infantry officer.
Currently COB6 has a son in the 82nd Airborne that just returned from his third tour and has a newly commissioned daughter in the 4th Infantry Division.