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July 2007

Michael J. Totten on Patrol

Michael J. Totten is on patrol in Baghdad with the 82nd:

...“I suppose I shouldn’t smoke,” I said to Eddy.

“You got that right,” Eddy said. “Snipers wearing night vision can see the tip of your cigarette from a mile away. They’ll watch as you lift the cigarette to your mouth and figure out where your head is. Then BLAMMO. They’re really good shots.”

I kept the cigarettes in my pocket. 

“We’re being followed,” said Sergeant Fisher.

Eddy, the rest of the soldiers, and I turned around.

“Four of ‘em,” Eddy said.

I couldn’t see anyone but the soldiers standing right next to me without night vision goggles.

“Where are they?” I said.

“In the shadows two blocks behind us,” Eddy said. “There weren’t there a minute ago.”...


Free Speech, Free Press, And Thoughts

Whenever comments are deleted, or the person posting them banned, there is an immediate outcry that somehow the individuals who write for this blog, or Blackfive who founded and hosts it, are somehow infringing on free speech and/or the right to a free press. The intellectual contortions that go into such accusations are amazing, astounding, and amusing.

They are two separate issues, but are indelibly intertwined here in the Great Experiment that is our Republic. At least in the minds of some.

Given the length, the rest willl be in extended entry.

Continue reading "Free Speech, Free Press, And Thoughts" »

Radio & Tillman update

I added this to my previous post about Kev's theory on how Pat Tillman could have been shot.

I spent most of the afternoon reading several hundred pages of testimony about Tillman's death and I will first apologize to O'Neal for the post because the fact that it is possible that he could have done what Kev detailed was not a good enough reason to put it up in the way I did. Grim had it right in the comments, Occam's razor may say the simplest solution must be true, but it doesn't mean it is. As bizarre as the possibility seems, the rounds that hit Tillman in the head likely came from a SAW and M4 carbine in the convoy behind his.

The left was running with the idea that this unlikely 3 rounds in 2" group meant something sinister. As in most cases where the left tries to gen up some slander I assumed I could easily debunk it. Well I racked my little brain and couldn't, and when Kev mentioned his theory it was the first thing I had heard that actually made sense and would explain the situation without involving Noam Chomsky. As I said that wasn't a good enough reason to make the implications I did and I again apologize to O'Neal.

Tonight, Sunday night with Kevin & Greg of Pundit Review radio which you can stream here at WRKO Sunday night at 7:25 pm Central.

Then Monday morning St. Louis must pay the price as my usual gig with Jamie Allman of 97.1 TALK  (to listen) kicks off at 830 am Central. Do check out Allman's blog Bull Moose America.

Yet One More Reason "Journalists" Continue To Circle The Bottom Of The Trustworthiness Scale

Via Baldilocks, comes this monumental piece of dreck. The money quote is:

How dare a college grad and engaged citizen volunteer to join the Army to fight for his country! (Which is something that most of the brave souls who inhabit the milblog community prefers to leave to others.)

While this is CJR, it is still by journalists and about journalism. You would think that they might could scare up at least some basics of journalism 101 and do some research, or spare a layer or two of that much vaunted fact checking that guarantees the accuracy, honesty, and neutrality of the true bastions of journalism that are the Old Media.

Hint for the cognitively impaired: Read author notes to the right -- I am the only civilian here. All the others are former or current serving military, and several have indeed seen the elephant. Read the author sketches at other places, and you might just find that they too have served or are serving; that some of the people who smelled something happend to have served at or spent considerable time at the base in question; and, that contrary to the overwrought lie they don't hate the troops.

They are the troops.


Book Review: Lone Survivor

This is one of those books that poses problems for a reader and reviewer. It challenges concepts, perceptions, and pre-conceived notions. It is engaging, well written, well paced. The style is easy, a delight to read for one can in effect hear it -- a sign of a natural story teller -- even as you read. It pushes the range of emotions, with the reader laughing one page, and literally having tears stream down your face before two more pages are turned. That said, I would give much that this book need never have been written, or written for very different reasons.

Lone Survivor is a book that is hard to read, knowing the reason for it being written; yet, it is an easy read, a delight to read in most other respects. Marcus Luttrell had a mission, and I would deem it an unqualified success.

It is not just a tale of a mission gone bad, though that is a tame way of describing how horribly wrong things went and the losses suffered. It is not just a tale of how he came to be a part of that group and his part in the mission. Those are in some ways but a secondary part to the greater goal: bringing the people of Seal Team 10 to life for the reader, making them people with whom you can identify, empathize, and see as the individuals they were. Marcus Luttrell succeeds in humanizing them, in making them much more than numbers, or brief footnotes in a media story.

The tale he tells is a very human one, compelling in all the best ways of a man and a writer. Over the years, I've read accounts of Hell Week and training, some of them rather dry and technical, others somewhat self-aggrandizing. This is the first time I can honestly say that I felt it, that was presented in a way that made it realistic and understandable. In so doing, it made the rest of the story accessible.

From the writing, it is clear that Marcus Luttrell has a gift for telling the tale. I rather suspect that Patrick Robinson has helped sharpen that tale, given it the excellent pacing and structure of the journey from boy to man, recruit to SEAL, all encompassed within the framework of a journey to and on a mission from beginning to end. Yet, this is the story of a team and the individuals within, and it was Marcus' tale to tell. It is clear that he has been allowed to do so, and that the basic and fundamental humanity of all involved is there to see.

It is indeed a hard book to read, for the reader knows up front why it was written and what happens. Yet, it is a book that all should read, for there is much more to the story than death. There is much more than suffering. The reason it should be read is, as Paul Harvey used to say, the rest of the story. It should be read so that you meet the people, know them as well as you can, and see that the tragic circumstances are but the tip of the iceberg. You owe it to the participants to read and know them, to appreciate them for what they were. Most of all, you owe it to yourself to read that larger story, to understand as best you can the people within, how they came to be there, what they believed, and how they lived and died, and to empathize however you can with those they left behind.

This book does not simply tell their tale, it sings their song. Read it, and listen. Learn, appreciate, and strive.


Greyhawk sums up Scott Thomas Beauchamp


...2. In the meantime, something to bear in mind as his story is bandied about: Scott Thomas Beauchamp is an asshole. He either did what he said he did to a disfigured woman in a DFAC (which makes him an asshole) or he fabricated the story for reasons unknown (which makes him an asshole). This same methodology can be applied to his other war stories, too...

Radio Radio

Not just an EC reference but two radio gigs to pimp.

Sunday night with Kevin & Greg of Pundit Review radio which you can stream here at WRKO Sunday night at 7:25 pm Central. Somehow I imagine my horrendous treatment of dung beetle Scotty Beauchamp will come up. Did you hear the howls from the left and poor Balloon Juice man about how I incited the hordes to draw and quarter the little lying pissant. For the record I don't even think he deserves much punishment, because I don't believe he was telling the truth, and being a sorry writer is not a crime. Maybe a little Pat Tillman as well.

Then Monday morning St. Louis must pay the price as my usual gig with Jamie Allman of 97.1 TALK  (to listen) kicks off at 830 am Central. Do check out Allman's blog Bull Moose America.

Beauchamp: Silence and the Severity of the Matter

There is one thing about which I agree with our friends from the Left, including John Cole.  It is time for a period of silence on the legal issues surrounding this case.  I realize this is an unpopular opinion here, but please allow me to explain my thinking.

First, the military's only authoritative response to the issue so far is this PAO release denying some of the charges raised in Beauchamp's writings, and calling the others into question.  It is reasonably clear at this point that there will be an investigation into the question of the charges.

Second, if the military finds that the charges are false -- as the PAO's initial inquiry suggests -- there are potentially serious legal ramifications.  I am not a lawyer, so what I am about to say is not a suggestion that these charges are the proper ones to bring, but merely an illustration of how serious the matter could be.  Raising false charges of war crimes, that result in the need for your unit to disrupt operations to investigate claims you knew to be false, can reasonably be read by a layperson as a violation of UCMJ 899 art. 99:

Any member of the armed forces who before or in the presence of the enemy—
(1) runs away;
(2) shamefully abandons, surrenders, or delivers up any command, unit, place, or military property which it is his duty to defend;
(3) through disobedience, neglect, or intentional misconduct endangers the safety of any such command, unit, place, or military property;
(4) casts away his arms or ammunition;
(5) is guilty of cowardly conduct;
(6) quits his place of duty to plunder or pillage;
(7) causes false alarms in any command, unit, or place under control of the armed forces;
(8) willfully fails to do his utmost to encounter, engage, capture, or destroy any enemy troops, combatants, vessels, aircraft, or any other thing, which it is his duty so to encounter, engage, capture, or destroy; or
(9) does not afford all practicable relief and assistance to any troops, combatants, vessels, or aircraft of the armed forces belonging to the United States or their allies when engaged in battle;
shall be punished by death or such other punishment as a court-martial may direct.
Again, the decision on proper charges (if any) is the rightful duty of JAG lawyers, not me, and I don't mean to pretend otherwise.  An authoritative reading would require looking at precedent to see how "before or in the presence of the enemy" has been interpreted in the past, which I am not equipped to perform.  It's entirely possible that the JAG will determine that no charges are due, or that this section should not apply; and although it seems highly unlikely on its face, it is vaguely possible that at least some of the charges he raised will prove out.  I just want you all to understand the limit case for how serious this matter could be, if the military's investigation shows that any of the charges he raised were not true, and constitute "false alarms" for a unit in the presence of the enemy. 
We have entered the phase in which it is critical to let the DOD's legal machinery operate.  Of course you will want to continue to examine the questions involved that are not relevant to the question of whether a court martial is appropriate, etc; but this matter appears to be entering its formal stage, and we have a duty as citizens not to prejudice that process. 

Private Beauchamp and the bravest Chaplain in the World

When left wing bloggers attack...

Greyhawk responds:

It's really sad to see someone claim they have ultimate moral authority to insult women and kill dogs without anyone questioning their character just because they've been to Iraq.

Greyhawk, in Iraq, is obviously insulted by the reaction that we're getting from the left wing.  Apparently, killing dogs, insulting women, etc. is standard operating procedure for a military man (did you get the memo?).  I would pay attention to Mudville on this topic if I were you.

And it's okay for Andrew Sullivan to get all worked up over this without any evidence...after all, Sully seems to insinuate that Abu Ghraib and Gitmo are systemic of the military...at least he admits he doesn't know what he's talking about:

Look: I don't know the roots of everything Scott Thomas Beauchamp has written. If there are aspects to his first-person accounts that do not pan out, we need to know. But so far, there's no evidence of anything wrong. So far, the hysteria says far more about the hysterics than about TNR.

Sully might apologize, I'll give him that, when it comes to light that Beauchamp is an Appeal For Redress type of Asstroturfer and one who's connected to TNR and one who is either lying about or complicit in violations of the ROE.  I'll get into that shortly with Beauchamp's own words.

The rest of the leftwingosphere has been equally lacking in understanding what's happening.  Some reading Jimbo's post think he's calling Jihad on Beauchamp when in fact Jimbo is saying what you all are thinking...that the soldiers of Alpha Company are not too happy with Scott making up (liar) or embellishing (I am a writer, dammit!) or outright telling the truth (Blue Falcon) right now.  If that's surprising to you, you are lacking a distinct understanding of group dynamics.

Cole, who used to be reasonable, looks like he suffers from BDS (and looks for our take on Tilman and Lynch - which are available via something called "Google" - we haven't commented on the latest theory that he was intentionally murdered).  I'm disappointed.

Speaking of hate...maybe John and his readers might examine this piece by Beauchamp and see if it fits any kind of reality about the military.  Here is a post from May 8th, 2006, from Private Beauchamp:

"Shit, I don't know...put a 556 in his head"
On the street below the mans brown face dissolves into a thick red mist. The lights in the cities houses shut off in unison. Elecricity rationing. Water rationing too. You ever tried to survive for more than a few hours in hundred and twenty degree weather without water? In the streets the kids bodies start convulsing in semi-orgasmic rhythms. Their pants fill up with shit and piss and the smart ones sneak out to the fields to hidden caches of water jugs and trinkets of candy from the american soldiers.
"See that sarge, kids digging or something?"
"Well, better safe then sorry. Cap his ass Leclaire."
"You sure sarge?"
"Well, im either right or wrong. And if I'm wrong im still right because i could have been right even though i was wrong."
They watch the sliver of red sun fall slower and slower, silhouetting the little barbarians falling bodies. The Chaplain turns and walks back towards the FOB in contemplation. Gotta rack out early tonight. Handing out bibles in the marketplace tomorrow, early. Unintelligible rap blares out of the open doors of the HUMVEE.

The Chaplain was there?  Right! Handing out bibles in the market place in Iraq?  Right!  It's all meme (verbatim) bull$#!*. If the killing "the little barbarians" is true, then Beauchamp, Leclaire and the Chaplain should be investigated for a violation of the ROE in May 2006.

Is this exactly the same kind of writing that Beauchamp has written for TNR?  The above is either fiction or some serious allegations of crimes (let alone a chaplain handing out bibles in a muslim marketplace...).

When the military bloggers get blamed for outing this piece of garbage, the left decides to defend a self-described war criminal.

Almost unbelievable.

I'll leave the last word for commenter "arch" who left this gem:

If Scott Beauchamp wants to become a writer, he needs to buy a copy of E.B. White's Elements of Style. The 100+ word sentence he wrote is, in itself, a war crime. I'm sure the army is preparing him well for his likely civilian vocation - janitorial service.