Category Archives: Media vs. Military

Newsmen, We Know Snipers. This Clown Was No Sniper

USMC Sniper scope3In Lake Worth, Florida, the media scared the crap out of the public with sensationalistic headlines.

Report: SWAT Teams Responding to Possible Naked Sniper Situation in Lake Worth

via SWAT Teams in Lake Worth Respond to Possible Sniper Situation | New Times Broward-Palm Beach.

That seems weird. Normally we associate “sniper” with many things, but “naked” isn’t one of them. There’s a pretty substantial difference between one’s ghillie suit and his birthday suit, and most people smarter than a journalist wouldn’t mistake one for the other.

There’s apparently a naked man on a building rooftop on a sniper perch, with a gun. This according to a Facebook and Twitter account called Palm Beach County Alerts.

According to the alert, numerous Palm Beach Sheriff’s Office and Palm Beach Fire Rescue units are surrounding the area of 1700 S. Federal Highway in Lake Worth. That is the address for the Shangri-La Hotel. The area has been evacuated, according to the report.

A guy listening to the public-safety stations on a scanner — something that’s apparently beyond credentialed “reporters” these days — had an interesting fact or two.

He says police are saying the man is naked and rolling around atop the roof of the building. The man also reportedly has a gun and at least at one point placed the weapon in his mouth.

The man is acting extremely psychotic, according to the report.

Ever try to put an M-24 in your mouth, let alone an M82A1? Would. Not. Go.

They never did correct the headline. As the news outlet later admitted they knew at the time, he only had a handgun, and had actually asked someone to call the police, because “I feel delusional, and I’m hallucinating!”

Handgun != sniper. Also, drugs and a handgun and acting out in public != sniper.

Leroy Strothers, 33, put the gun to his head and pulled the trigger when police approached him. It didn’t fire, and he never threatened the cops or anyone but himself. The Palm Beach (County) Sheriff’s Office SWAT team ultimately talked him into giving up the gun. In the follow-up story, the paper suggests that Strothers might have fired one shot in the air before the police came.

He also told the officers that he was under the influence of flakka, a designer drug that is vaped with an e-cigarette (not to be confused with “Budder,” another designer street drug which is a wax form of marijuana). Flakka is made with similar ingredients used to make bath salts, the recreational designer drug that’s made headlines recently and is linked to dangerous hallucinations and maybe even responsible for the face-eating incident in Miami, though that’s still being debated.

Flakka, or “Gravel,” which is an a-PVP (or, methylenedioxypyrovalerone) — a hodgepodge mix of chemicals, like sort of a cross between crack cocaine and meth — is becoming widely popular throughout South Florida. It’s cheap, easy to get and reportedly induces behavior in smokers similar to that of meth.

Police have not confirmed if Strothers was on flakka, but he says he was. When PBSO SWAT was able to calm him down and talk him off the roof, Smothers was arrested and transported to JFK Hospital by Palm Beach Fire Rescue for evaluation.

When officers recovered the gun, they found that it was loaded with eight bullets. Police also found a bullet casing on the roof. Some witnesses had reported on social media seeing Strothers firing the gun into the air before police arrived.

Oh, and how do you think the paper described this buck-naked, pistol-wielding druggie? You know it, “Lake Worth Sniper.”

PTSD claim in 5… 4… 3…

How NBC’s Lisa Myers Falsified a Gun Control Story, and Brian Williams Dumped on MOH vets

NBC-Red-Banner-logoIn a column about lying four-flusher Brian Williams, the Boston Herald’s Howie Carr remembers another incident with NBC News. Actually, Howie remembers a bunch of incidents. Remember NBC editing the George Zimmerman/Trayvon Martin 911 tape to make Zimmerman sound like a racist? Remember Dateline NBC wiring a GM truck with explosives to suggest that the vehicle was unsafe? Howie did.

But he also remembered the one time they came to him for a story, and then NBC’s Lisa Myers lied about what people were saying on his popular drive-time talk show.

It used to be a big deal to get on one of the nightly network newscasts. That was a long time ago, about 25 million viewers ago. But one day, I got a call from the Nothing But Crap Nightly News. Some legislation to gut the Second Amendment was coming up and they wanted some radio talk-show response. C’mon up, I told them.

Having once worked as a reporter for the local See B.S. affiliate, I figure I have a pretty good ear for TV sound bites. But I always try to give New York a good selection to choose from. So my first hour — to make their deadline — I talked to 25 callers, 23 of whom were opposed to gutting the Second Amendment.

At 6:30 there I was, in a Lisa Myers piece about the gun legislation. She said something like, even conservative talk-show callers back Big Brother’s common-sense approach to disarming the American public. And then they played three of my callers, two of the two who were for gun control, and one of the 23 who didn’t want to screw around with the Bill of Rights.

Was I surprised that Brian Williams of Nothing But Crap News has now been busted? No, but I was very, very happy.

via Carr: Brian Williams’ ‘mistake’ puts him in good company | Boston Herald.

Another Herald columnist, Peter Gelzinis, noted that NBC’s Brian Williams, now under the gun for fake war stories, went out of his way to lie to the national convention of the Congressional Medal of Honor Society in 2006. He blew off a prior engagement to speak at the convention for a new engagement that had popped up… Saturday Night Live. Gelzinis:

But when he arrived on Saturday, Sept. 30, 2006, Williams told committee members Tom Lyons and Neal Santangelo that a “pressing engagement” back in New York prevented him from doing much more than greeting the audience of more than 1,000 guests … and leaving.

As disappointed as Lyons and Santangelo were, they still arranged for a police escort to rush Williams through the tunnel to catch his plane back to NYC.

After the banquet, as Santangelo, Lyons and other committee members relaxed in a lounge at the Colonnade Hotel, Neal Santangelo’s wife phoned from their room to say she knew why Brian Williams had to bail out of a Medal of Honor banquet.

She was watching the chiseled face of “NBC Nightly News” ham it up with Seth Meyers and Amy Poehler in a Weekend Update sketch on “Saturday Night Live.”

“I … cannot believe that you left us for this,” Neal Santangelo wrote in a letter to Williams a week after the banquet. “In an act of egotistical, blatant self-promotion, you deceived the (Medal of Honor) Recipients, declined to break bread with them and disrespected them.

“You placed comedy before courage … Your conduct was irreverent, insulting, incomprehensible and shameful. You may attempt to ‘spin’ the issue to support your position, but that will do nothing but bring you further shame in my eyes.”

The three-page letter Neal Santangelo wrote out of pure rage and emotion was never sent.

Neal was asked not to send it at the time by the national leadership of the society — they were willing to eat the snub for some support from Williams, which naturally never materialized — so he put it away. But as Gelzinis notes, Neal knew from that instant on that Williams was a phony’s phony, and it was no shock to him when the shifty newsreader turned out to have been making up news stories, too — stories that often inflated Williams’s reputation at the expense of the real vets he held in such contempt.

Yes, we can say that. The helicopter stolen valor and the lying snub of the MOH society display a pattern of contempt.

Williams’s stolen valor is far from unique among media poseurs. The king of them may be Geraldo Rivera. And, contrary to the Columbia School’s gentle breeze of bullshit about integrity, every network had employed a fabricator, and none of the fabricators has lost his career.

Williams has never apologized for stiffing the Medal of Honor recipients nine years ago, just like Lisa Myers has still never apologized for falsifying her story using Howie’s sound clips. Both have been held up by their peers as examples of what passes for character among journalists.

It could just be that they really are.

UPDATE:

Screenwriter and novelist Andrew Klavan, citing Prof. W. Joseph Campbell whose Getting it Wrong is an essential guide to media mythmaking, notes a propos Williams. (Edited, and emphasis ours):

[The media Cronkite myth] explains why Brian Williams’ trustworthiness doesn’t matter, why the trustworthiness of television (and newspaper) “journalists” no longer matters in general, and why the internet upended them and rendered them obsolete. It’s not merely one technology replacing another. Mainstream journalists could maintain their authority amidst the noise… if they just didn’t lie all the time. All. The. Time. It’s because they don’t tell the truth that we don’t trust them. They keep silent about what they don’t want us to know (say, the IRS scandal) and overplay what they want us to care about (the Valerie Plame non-scandal)….They don’t even know what the truth is! They all live happily together in a foggy wonderland of left-wing mythology where its ALL Brian Williams under RPG fire all the time.

You can tell they’re lyin’, ’cause their lips are movin’. That’s about the size of it.

“Men’s Magazines”? For what set of “men”?

Real men: Neil Armstrong, Mike Collins, Buzz Armstrong, Summer '69.

Real men: Neil Armstrong, Mike Collins, Buzz Aldrin, Summer ’69.

Is there anything lamer than so-called “men’s magazines” that are published by some gang of effete metrosexual New Yorkers, presumably for other effete metrosexual New Yorkers, and the limp-wristed set everywhere that aspires to be them?

Here’s an example, from the laughably named GQ, formerly “Gentlemen’s Quarterly.” Some effervescent airhead named Jeanne Marie Laskas managed an interview with Buzz Freaking Aldrin.

A substantial guy, at 85.

Now, like half of America, we’ve met Aldrin, and you know what? He’s a substantial guy, who wants to talk about substance. At 85, he’s still sharp. But his interviewer is hell for dull. Laskas is bored by orbital mechanics, so she keeps going back, as you might expect for a superficial GQ type, to what she can understand.

And that is? What he’s wearing. Seriously. Sometimes she sounds like some perv on an IRC channel: Wat U wearin? 

She has the answers, this is big-J Columbia School Journalism for you:

He’s wearing a lapel pin of his famous moon footprint in miniature, cast in pewter. He’s wearing a tan corduroy jacket, a tie with pictures of planets all over it. He’s wearing bracelets, big beads. Turquoise on one wrist and a string of translucent alien faces or something on the other.

The jewelry is distracting. There is more. A gigantic double watch, two faces fused together like heads on conjoined twins. There are gold rings, a moon, a star, diamonds, a pinkie ring, many rings. What is up with the jewelry? It’s confusing. Wait, jewelry?

But to Laskas, everything is distracting. She has the focus of a hamster on meth, and her article is an impressionistic splash of her feelings and sensations. She’s as deep as a bird bath, and not nearly as practically useful. Even if you’re not a bird.

In the end, even though it’s supposedly a profile of Aldrin, it tells you a lot about the very uninteresting Laskas, and damned little about Aldrin, who has a book in the stores describing a practical pathway to Mars, a fact she, who is very uninterested in Aldrin beyond his clothes sense, somehow fails to mention. Anywhere. Anywhere at all in the interminable article.

Well, it’s not like the readership of GQ would get anywhere with the orbital mechanics, is it? The nearest they get to the space program is stocking up on Astro Glide.

 

 

 

Army Will not Prosecute Deserter / Traitor Bergdahl

You read it here first: US Army deserter Bowe Bergdahl, who deserted his unit in combat and aided the enemy with information they used in subsequent attacks of his betrayed unit, is not going to be prosecuted by the Army.

That’s the message sent between the lines by a preparation-of-the-battlefield leak to one of the favorite leakers of the lame-duck SecDef, and of administration DOD political appointees in general, Lolita Baldor of AP.

Baldor has been given a background briefing on how rare prosecution of deserters is, in advance of the announcement. The subtext is, there’s nothing special about this guy, this is all just routine Army administration. 

That subtext is, if we need to say it, bullshit.

The U.S. Army has prosecuted about 1,900 cases of desertion since 2001, despite tens of thousands of soldiers fleeing the service in the face of deadly combat, long and multiple deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan and strains on military families.

The data reflects how rarely the military takes desertion cases to court. And it underscores the complexities of such cases as a top military commander reviews the investigation of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who left his Afghanistan post in 2009 and was captured and held by the Taliban for five years.

That’s really rare? Most of the 20k deserters DFR are guys who walked off after basic training, or in their first unit. It’s very doubtful that the nearly 2,000 prosecuted were all overseas or combat desertions. Indeed, Bergdahl is the only  combat desertion we’re aware of, and the only one who went beyond bugging out to aid the enemy.

In some circles, that makes him a hero. Those would be the same circles that bow to our enemies.

More than 20,000 soldiers have been dropped from the rolls as deserters since 2006, Army data show. Totals for earlier years weren’t available, but likely include thousands more.

In trial cases over the last 13 years, about half the soldiers pleaded guilty to deserting their post. Another 78 were tried and convicted of desertion.

….

Soldiers who avoid deployment or leave posts in combat zones are more serious cases, particularly if the deserter is responsible for standing guard or protecting others in dangerous places.

via Army Data Shows Rarity of Desertion Prosecutions – ABC News.

The point being, when they let Bergdahl slide they’re not doing anything special.

There’s also one outright falsehood in Baldor’s column: Army spokesman Wayne Hall is quoted  claiming that GEN Mark Milley, commander of FORSCOM, has “broad discretion” in the decision about Bergdahl. Anyone who believed Milley has free hands in this has less understanding of the Army than we’d expect from someone like Lolita Baldor (who has been writing nonsense about the military for her whole career). In fact, the decision is a political decision, and Milley’s hands are tied; he’s merely the delivery system for a decision that was made in Washington, and almost certainly in the White House.

The problem is, fundamentally, that the President, his advisors, and the lame-duck SecDef are well-attuned to the sufferings, if any, of Bergdahl, and put much less value on those of his unit peers whom he condemned to injury and death when he turned coat. Indeed, they’re much more sympathetic to the views of the five top Taliban and Haqqani Net terrorists they swapped for him. Being the in Acela Corridor crowd means you can transcend obsolete concepts like Duty, Honor or Country. To those people, Bergdahl is a “hero,” in a rare unironic use of the word, for them.

The Bergdahl trade needs to be rehabilitated, after some of the terrorists released on his behalf were implicated in the Taliban’s murder of 140 Pakistanis, mostly schoolchildren, in a Peshawar school. Connected Army folks think it’s going to happen in the next few days, when eyes are not on DC.

Fortunately for the Taliban, for the politicians who value them more than our own soldiers or their families, and, especially, for traitor Bowe Bergdahl, there are people in the press willing to be their Sons of Ham, “the hewers of wood and the drawers of water.”

Like Lolita C. Baldor of the Associated Press. Whose phone rings every time a Big Lie needs some polish, and wide release.

Where “Tripwire Vet” Stories Come from, Part II

In Part I of this 2-part series, we showed you an article about how journalists at the profession’s allegedly most prestigious school — the Columbia School of Journalism — are taught to lie (although the article’s author, Michael Lewis, says “obfuscate” — and slant their work. Now let’s look at another source of slanted, agenda journalism: shadowy nonprofits.

In a frankly unbelievable and thinly reported heart-warmer about how two workers at a bankrupt California assisted-living home continued treating and caring for the residents, NPR exposed, in the credits, one such nonprofit:

StoryCorps is a national nonprofit that gives people the chance to interview friends and loved ones about their lives. These conversations are archived at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress, allowing participants to leave a legacy for future generations. Learn more, including how to interview someone in your life, at StoryCorps.org.

via ‘If We Left, They Wouldn’t Have Nobody’ : NPR.

A sidebar has three more StoryCorps stories on offer: and quite remarkably, all are “pity the poor veteran” tales. They are:

If you squint a bit, you can see John Kerry (a lifelong C- student) smirking as he derides enlisted chumps (by whom he means, “those not born to wealth and connections, unlike me”) who “get stuck in Iraq.”

These stories are catnip to the Columbia grads at Narodniy Politicheskiy Radio. For example, the suicidal-thoughts story centers on a soldier’s discovery, ten years later, that he has had a traumatic brain injury.

Just after hearing from a buddy that he has a 100% disability for one, the young man remembered that he, too, was blow’d up.

Well, it could happen, but these things do seem to be a theme, and it turns out that StoryWorks actively solicits them, for its too-lazy-to-report-ourselves journalist partners at NPR, who can just sit and wait for someone else to create the stories they want.

StoryCorps’ Military Voices Initiative records stories from members of the U.S. military who served in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Miraculously, every one of those stories seems to be something along the lines of “Damaged, scary vet needs help from social service agencies,” just the sort of thing that set’s NPRnik’s red little hearts aflutter.

See some themes emerging, or what?

While we don’t doubt that those stories are the way their single sources see things, and some of them legitimately make you go, “Awww….” (try the Iraqi interpreter story, and the Marine who’s not letting burns define his life), the themes StoryCorps’ faceless, manipulative world-changers are aiming for are not exactly hard to discern. Indeed, we found only two positive stories about the military, and one was from 60 years ago:

We’ve beat on StoryCorps here, and they deserve a good beatdown, but they’re not the only group with shadowy funding spinning the press against vets (a spin that meets no resistance, because the press is already merrily spinning in the same direction). The emergence of these sorts of predigested pablum producers has been a delight for editors — canned human interest stories matching their prejudices, comforting the comfortable and afflicting the outgroup, and for short money, without needing to dictate the story to their own reporters before dispatching them to fill in the quote holes. The publisher can write one check a month to StoryCorps and get his news-hole filler or clickbait articles, ones that will never challenge his readers.

This is why you never see a story about a veteran who founded a business, anchors a small community, or, Gaia forfend,  stayed in the military to mentor, train and lead the next generation. That’s not The Narrative®, silly.

Where “Tripwire Vet” Stories Come from, Part I

Apparently we’re not the only ones dismayed to encounter graduates of journalism schools; even the newspapers have caught on and aren’t hiring them. Writing in 1993 in The New Republic, a key pub for the sort of trust-fund lefties who seek to change the world through their inspired slant on writing, Michael Lewis recounted the low opinions working newsmen have of the grads of J-Schools in general and especially the Columbia School of Journalism (a graduate school), but the real key graf was this one, recounting how the school actually graduates fewer alumni into journalism jobs than it matriculates out of them:

Journalism schools, of course, balk at being balked at. Last fall Columbia’s placement director boasted to students that 45 percent of the class of 1992 had found jobs or internships in journalism. Perhaps, but to appreciate that figure fully you must know that 50 percent of the class came to the school from full-time jobs in journalism. Another 20 percent had internships. Assuming the numbers provided by Columbia students and faculty are accurate, the journalism school redirected 25 percent of the class of 1992 into other occupations.

Yes, it’s old, but you have to Read The Whole Thing™. Yes, it’s good. It’s brilliant. The segment beginning a few weeks ago (it’s bold in the original) exposes exactly how the CJS students have been taught to begin with:

My null hypothesis! My angle. My bias. My take. My … point … of … view!

Lewis, to his credit, is a little bit shocked.

“My null hypothesis,” I said, “is that the Columbia Journalism School is all bullshit.”

They paused. “That’s a good null hypothesis,” said one, finally.

And that would be as dynamic a closing for his article as it will be for this blog post, but it’s only the set-up for a grander closing, and one that explains why the wise man never talks to “credentialed journalists.” Do Read The Whole Thing™.

And Stay Tuned for Part II.

The Eisenhorror Continues

This mess is the "tapestry" for the Ike Memorial.

This mess is the “tapestry” for the Ike Memorial. And we thought that Chairman Maotin Luther King was bad.

We have covered, long ago, the saga of the abominable Eisenhower Memorial, which even earlier we called, deservedly, emetic. This disaster is the result of a runaway commission of Washington insiders, who chose society architect Frank Gehry sight unseen. Gehry produced an abominable hackery of chain-link-fence “tapestries” and a statue of a child in an empty field.

The Eisenhower family is unsatisfied with this insulting abortion of an art-school undergrad C-minus design, and Congress tried to pull the plug on the failed commisssion and the Gehry eyesore. Gehry, for his part, has taken his fee (paid up front) and rather than produce the construction plans he was paid for, spent the money on a sleazeball lobbyist, figuring that with enough of a lobbying presence he can always hit the taxpayers up for more money (he’s received, and blown, $15 million so far).

From Mona Charen’s syndicated column:

The Eisenhower Memorial Commission was established in 2002 with a budget of $64 million. It is staffed by nine full-time employees, some earning six-figure salaries, and presided over by a 93-year-old, ailing board chairman.

Without a design competition, the commission chose a design by Frank Gehry that critics, including the Eisenhower family, regard as insulting to Eisenhower’s memory. Featuring enormous metal “tapestries” eight stories tall that would depict the Kansas prairie, the block-long memorial park with its enormous metal curtains would dwarf the statuary in the center. The original design called for Ike to be portrayed as a barefoot boy. Thus is a key figure in the history of the 20th century reduced to insignificance. Historians sometimes do that to people — memorials are meant to do the reverse.

The boy Ike has since been replaced, after protests, with a proposed statue of Ike as a cadet. Not much better. West Point has produced many cadets but only one Eisenhower. Gehry now proposes to eliminate the tapestries, but keep the pillars. Commission member Bruce Cole, who believes a simple statue of the man would have been best (and most consistent with Ike’s wishes), says the pillars standing alone “look for all the world like industrial smokestacks.” Others say they evoke an unfinished highway overpass or the final scene of Planet of the Apes.

Since the memorial has been stalled, you may ask, what happened to the money? After 15 years, the commission has spent $41 million, including paying Gehry 95 percent of the price of construction drawings before the design was approved. According to the set Washington Examiner, Gehry used some of the $15 million he received to hire former Clinton counsel Gregory Craig to help secure approval of the design. That’s how it goes when you’re well-connected in Washington.

Republicans in Congress declined the commission’s request for $50 million more. They appropriated just $1 million last year, which still leaves the corrupt commission in business. Is this farce to be the only memorial to one of our greatest leaders?

via Memorial to Waste | National Review Online.

You gotta love Washington. It’s the only place where anybody would kill something off by giving it “just” $1 million a year.

Here’s a better idea:  give it $0 a year, and let Ike’s family hire a sculptor, and do a Kickstarter or Indiegogo fund raiser to pay him. We’d hit that. What’s the problem with doing it that way?

Ah, yes. No scope for grifters, grafters and grabbers of the Gregory Craig variety. If there is no waste, no carrion, there is nothing for him to feed on, and he would have to get a job in the productive economy — something he has never learned how to do.

As for Gehry, let him find people that want to live in leaky, rusty eyesores, or corporations that want to make their employees work in them, on his own. He’ll survive, or not, without a handout from the US Government.

Islamic Jihad Propaganda and other Pulitzer Bait

Islamic JihadJournalists wonder why America hates them, and why they poll lower than telemarketers, pedophiles, ebola or even Congress. If any journalists happen to read WeaponsMan, they’ll find out by the end of this post.

ITEM: The website that absorbed the failed news magazine Newsweek has a new lease on life — as a propaganda outlet for Islamic Jihad. IJ supporter and Beast writer Jesse Rosenfeld has been running repeated stories about a supposed Israeli atrocity in the village of Khuzaa, where six of his IJ comrades seeking martyrdom apparently found it.

In previous stories, Rosenfeld tried to sell the six decomposing men, at least one of whom was dressed in a camouflage uniform, as civilians. And if you read his latest story, he seems to have but a single source, a putative IJ fighter. Making Rosenfeld his bitch steno pool, Abu Muhammad dictates:

However, as the ground invasion neared, according to Abu Muhammad, an intense Israeli campaign that included bombing from F-16s and intense artillery fire killed many fighters. Civilians began fleeing as shelling intensified, but real panic came when Israel moved in its tanks, and the civilian exodus began in earnest.

During this phase of the fighting, the Palestinian resistance in the town hunkered down and waited as the Israeli shelling and aerial bombardment laid waste to one building after another in order to clear a path for tanks and jeeps. From the tunnels, the fighters could hear above them Israeli troops carving out the buffer zone that would eat up about 44 percent of Gaza’s territory and leave much of that area reduced to rubble.

“After we had been in the tunnels about a week, with the Israelis firing mortars, they drove in with the tanks,” said Abu Muhammad, who apologized about his uncertain grasp on specific dates. He’d lost track of the days after so much time underground, he said, but he remembered, “There were around 60 tanks.”

Flag_of_the_Islamic_Jihad_Movement_in_Palestine.svg

Only when Israel had positioned its forces around Khuzaa did the armed Palestinian groups begin their counterattack, according to Abu Muhammad. “First we targeted the tanks and the jeeps with IEDs,” he said mechanically, as if recalling a combat briefing. In the second stage of their effort to bog down and then repel Israeli forces, the three guerrilla factions launched a multi-pronged hit-and-run campaign from all directions.

“Some of our people would come out of the ground, attack the soldiers and then disappear back into a tunnel,” said the combat veteran.  “Others surprised them from empty houses,” he said.

“The guerrillas found themselves in an all-out firefight at the entrance to the tunnel.”
In one of those brazen attacks, says Abu Muhammad, fighters used a shoulder-fired rocket to hit a house the Israeli army had taken over, killing two of the soldiers with sniper fire as they fled the building. He is unable to give an overall estimate of Israeli or Islamic Jihad casualties in Khuzaa, but says 130 fighters from his group were killed during the war. (Israeli intelligence puts that number at 182.)

When I visited Khuzaa on four occasions during and after the war, there were clear signs of an intense battle in the ruins of the town. Incoming and outgoing machine-gun fire covered homes and apartments near positions taken by Israeli soldiers. Israeli bullet casings littered the floors of the entrances to residences that were transformed into stucco barracks.

via Did Israel Execute Jihadists in Gaza? – The Daily Beast.

Abu Muhammad said there was another guy, and describes what the other guy saw, but IJ didn’t make that guy available to their loyal scribe, so the corroboration for Rosenfeld’s single source is the single source’s alleged hearsay from another source.

It’s all Propaganda

tonguebathThe rest of the Beast is similarly slanted Scheissdreck. We’ll just describe one more ITEM: There’s a story about Chuck Todd’s debut as host of Meet The Press – a slavering tongue bath of Todd’s reproductive tackle to the same extent that Todd’s fawning, servile “interview” of the President was a slavering tongue bath, in turn, of Todd’s President Boyfriend. It’s getting pretty meta in the Washington press corps.

The media wonders, sometimes, why their stock is so low with the public. Jesse Rosenfeld, the Jake Lingle of the Islamic Jihad, is one reason. The Chuck Todd tongue baths — incoming and outgoing — are two more reasons.

bettercallsaulAnd then – ITEM. There’s William Langewiesche, the Vanity Fair writer who in 2007 worked with a plaintiff’s attorney to craft a one-sided, partly fabricated and the remainder slanted, story in that mostly celeb-gossip magazine, to help advance the lawsuit.

“You and I are now firmly on the same side,” he told [the ambulance chaser] in one of his emails. “But actually we were about an hour after I met you.”

Footnote: I emailed Langewiesche, asking if this is the way he approaches all his stories and if there was some explanation of how his conduct constituted fair journalism that I was failing to understand. He didn’t reply.

Gee, that’s special. (Well, not really. That’s typical, that’s what they learn at J-School). Langewiesche has written a defense of his so-called ethics that is mostly heat, not light; it amounts to, “sure I was on the side of the ambulance chasers, because they were right, and the oil company was eeevil.” In his words:

As to my being on Donziger’s side: yes, and openly so, but only to this degree—after weeks of fieldwork, and an even longer time being stonewalled by Chevron, I concluded, quite explicitly in the piece, that the plaintiffs were essentially right…

So here we have a professional journalist, the Miami Herald’s Glenn Garvin, crucifying another pro, Langewiesche, for the sort of underhanded misreporting that’s characteristic of the entire profession. Journalists come to their desks with a Manichean worldview, and every story is a B-western with good guys in white hats and bad guys in black hats. They make the decision early on, select the Narrative they’re going for, and from then on, the facts are cut to size, beaten to fit, and painted to match.

We have discharged our duty to our readers by linking, above, the takedown and the reponse. Personally, we’re amused by the outraged bleat that how dare a fellow ink-stained wretch treat a member of the Guild like the Guild treats the Muggles.

This is no less than Carnegie’s maxim about talent in generations, playing out on the public stage. Langewiesche’s father wrote a book on airmanship, published 70 years ago, that’s still cherished by new generations of pilots — at least, by those who aspire to mastery of the craft. The son inherited the skill with words, but that’s the extent of it.

Rather like a gun, verbal facility can be used for good or for ill. Q.E.D.

And then, again, ITEM: there’s the Guardian’s Damian Walter, who wanted his readers to loathe a book editor and publisher, one Toni Weisskopf, as much as he loathes her himself. Since she hasn’t done anything loathsome, he just made up a bunch of quotes and stuff. Novelist Larry Correia (author of the great HK: Because You Suck. And We Hate You meme) finally wrung an admission to the fabrication out of Walter, who is not very bright and perseverates like an autistic kid. (We just gave you the tl;dr version because we don’t have Larry’s patience for putting up with this scrote).

Perhaps Damian is striking for a job at Vanity Fair.

Bottom line: we can’t imagine why people don’t trust the media. Can you?

Khmer Rouge leaders finally face justice

One of Cambodia's many chilling memorials to KR days. From a travelogue by Lauren Irons.

One of Cambodia’s many chilling memorials to KR days. From a travelogue by Lauren Irons.

Decades after their 1970s mass murders, two Khmer Rouge leaders, Khieu Samphan and Nuon Chea, finally were convicted for a small subset of their crimes during the Killing Fields massacres that halved the population of Cambodia in the 1970s.

The New York Times, whose editors and reporters don’t seem to remember now their paper’s support and admiration for the KR in 1973-78, has reported on the trials:

Witnesses have given harrowing testimony of being forced out of their homes and into the countryside by Khmer Rouge soldiers, denied medical care and seeing executions and other atrocities. The evacuation of Phnom Penh in April of 1975 left the capital a ghost town and portended the social fragmentation that would follow over the next three years, eight months and 20 days of Khmer Rouge rule. Families were separated, money was abolished, and the country’s population was forced into a giant, failed effort of collectivized labor.

“The heart of the Khmer Rouge crimes was the complete disregard of human costs of their revolution,” said David Chandler, a former American diplomat who served in Cambodia and is a leading historian on the Khmer Rouge atrocities. “Their vision was completely flawed and unhitched to reality.”

The trial began in 2011, more than three decades after the fall of the Khmer Rouge, a delay that was one of several factors that complicated the quest for justice.

“Justice on this scale cannot be done by any trial mechanism as far as I can see,” Mr. Chandler said.

The limited scope of the trial and verdict, which dealt only with the forced evacuations and one site where mass executions occurred, has frustrated many observers and victims, and even the staunchest supporters of the trial have been ambivalent about the process.

“We knew that the court would not resolve everything. But it was important to have the proceedings. We had to continue the search for truth,” said Youk Chhang, the founder of the Documentation Center of Cambodia, an organization that has amassed a trove of documents and photographs from the Khmer Rouge era.

via 2 Senior Khmer Rouge Leaders Are Convicted in Cambodia, Decades After Rule – NYTimes.com.

It was standard New York Times (and academic) narrative in 1975 that the KR were not that bad, or, if they were that bad, that, “Nixon’s bombing of Cambodia” made them do it (this last was the position of the Times’s Sidney Shanberg). It all depended on whose ox was gored:

canon.PDF

[T]here were many times more stories and editorials by the New York Times and the Washington Post on the condition of human rights in South Korea and Chile than there were on Cambodia, Cuba, and North Korea, combined.

 

The Times, which supported Lenin, Stalin, Castro, and Cambodia’s Samphan, Chea, Ieng Sary and Pol Pot (the last two of whom cheated justice by dying in 2013 and 1998 respectively), has never, ever, faced the fact that “scientific international socialism,” like its kissing cousin “national socialism” always ends in mass murder. It is a fine thing to welcome the Times, after three decades plus, to the opposition to the Khmer Rouge, but it’s a pity it hasn’t shaken their underlying belief, nor their fundamental gullibility: they’ll fall for the next revolution, too.

The KR leaders were the Times’s kind of people: bright, highly verbal, university graduates with an internationalist outlook (most of them educated in 1950s and 60s Paris). Like the editors of the Manhattan broadsheet, they believed in central planning, big government, the subordination of the individual to the needs of the collective many.

Of course, the Times editors except themselves, and those like themselves, from such expropriation: “special ones like us” had needs, you know? And so did the Khmer Rouge.

Well, a Cambodian court has spoken, and the KR communists are officially guilty. In this day and age, a court doing the right thing, however belatedly and wherever found, is something worthy of remark. Who knows, an outbreak of journalistic integrity might follow.

Land of the Lost… Guns: Afghanistan

So, we saw this at Miguel’s, which led us to Fox News, which led us to the Washington Times, which still didn’t give up the primary source document. We wanted the primary source document because the numbers in the Times’s story didn’t add up.

The essential claims in these media versions of the story are:

  1. The Afghans have lost or sold off tens of thousands of the guns we gave them; and,
  2. The databases are poisoned with many duplicates; and,
  3. Most or many of the US-provided weapons were never entered in the database; therefore:
  4. Accountability for weapons in the Afghan National Security Forces (ANA/ANP) is nonexistent.

Here are the numbers as we pulled them from the report, and as the media spun ‘em:

The narrative is that the Afghan National Army has lost tens if not hundreds of thousands of small arms, and that as a result We Are Doomed. It took some doing (anyone who thinks Obamacare’s website was uniquely mishandled has spent no time among the web gardens of the .gov or .mil) but we did unearth the document.

Two Databases Stood Back-to-Back, Refusing to Say a Word…

The problem is at once more complex, more nuanced, and more interesting than that. And for gloom and doom fans, we’re probably still doomed. The bottom line is that the US’s incredibly complex and inefficient inventory systems, which famously do not talk to one another, also don’t mesh with the inventory system we provided to Afghanistan. Three completely different (and fundamentally incompatible) IT systems track US-provided small arms in OEF. Those systems include:

  • SCIP, the Security Cooperation Information Portal, used in the USA by logisticians supplying materiel to American allies worldwide.
  • OVERLORD, the Operational Verification of Reliable Logistics Oversight Database, developed in-country by the Combined Security Transition Command-Afghanistan (CSTC-A), the latest of several names for the US training HQ in-country.
  • CoreIMS, the Core Inventory Management System, a US-spec COTS inventory database that has been foisted off on our valiant Afghan allies.

Here’s a graphic from that famous primary source document that the Times and Fox wouldn’t show you, preferring to predigest your informational meal. (Here’s a link to the document: SIGAR 14-84.pdf. We’ve saved a copy in case the link goes  tango uniform). This shows what the Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction thinks the process is:

dod_weapons_inventory_process

 

So what we have turns out to be, not vast numbers of guns vanishing as they take each step along the pipeline, but three different and incompatible databases having data that are at odds with one another.

Which database is right? Who knows? Could be any of them. Or none of them! In fact, all three databases could have wide discrepancies, and yet none of them have totals close to what actually exists in inventory.

But it turns out, if you actually read the SIGAR report instead of act like a Media Luminary and Skim Until Shocked, the auditors did that, and as it turns out, some of the numbers are before they deep-dove the data, and some of the numbers don’t represent what they appear to represent. Yes, Afghan inventories are a mess, but they’re not the mess the news stories describe. A spot check of weapons in storage at the ANA Kandahar depot, for example, found the weapons in the crates the database said they’d be in, and traced every weapon back in inventories that matched the weapons on site. A similar exercise at the ANP 22 Bunkers Depot appeared to have similar results, but the inspectors didn’t have time to complete the inspection.  True, other depots and units had more fragmentary records, and the ANA Central Supply Depot’s records were far off from what was inventoried on site. But by Afghan standards, it wasn’t all that bad.

Remember that the idea of weapons inventories was something that Afghans have never done, except when compelled by Soviet or NATO allies. That they don’t do it as well as the US DOD, while using a stack of incompatible and user-hostile systems imposed from outside, shouldn’t shock anybody.

If you’re an old Afghan hand, one fundamental error in this whole process will have jumped out at you from the very beginning: trying to impose a sophisticated Western computer system (actually, multiple systems; a fourth incompatible database called ULTRA, Universal Listing of Transactions for Record Accounting, is under construction for the ANP) on a nation of Iron Age illiterates. Illiteracy was 94% to 97% when we first went into Afghanistan (the Taliban had closed all schools except madrassas). Illiterates make weak computer operators, something that American loggies never considered for a minute before deciding to spin up the Afghans in Microsoft World. Results predictable:

According to CSTC-A officials, efforts to develop the capabilities of ANSF personnel to manage the central depots have been hindered by the lack of basic education or skills among ANSF personnel and frequent turnover of Afghan staff.

Gee, there’s a shocker. We impose US-style personnel turbulence and military bureaucracy on an ally where most of the population is illiterate and borderline innumerate, and as Wilkins Micawber might say, “results, misery.”

The Duplicate Serials Problem: Not Such a Big Deal

Then, there’s the duplicate serial numbers problem , which comes to rise for two reasons:

  1. The procurers, developers and operators of the system did not understand that different weapon makes and models may indeed use the same serial numbers, and different manufacturers may use the same serial numbers for their versions of the same firearm, and so they erred in trying to use serial number by itself as a unique key;
  2. Lack of communication between databases

Even the authors of the report don’t seem to find that their discovery of some duplicate numbers is meaningless. Here’s their table from the report:

sigar_serial_number_dupes

¡Ay, Chihuahua! (Old Afghan phrase). Yes, it’s not just an Afghan thing to have two weapons with the same serial number. Heck, the USA did it:

M1 Rifle Serial 1,608,803: these two receivers were sold by CMP at auction recently.

M1 Rifle Serial 1,628,802: these twin receivers were sold by CMP at auction recently.

Someone who knows weapons can clear these three discrepancies in about two tenths of a second. Like this:

  • DX2383 needs to be reconciled by eyes-on physical inventory, because it’s possible that this represents two different guns, but because an AMD-65 is a variant of AK-47, it’s equally possible that this is one gun described two ways. Several manufacturers made AK variants using serial numbers of this pattern, so only physical inventory can establish whether we’re talking about one gun or two here.
  • 178203 is obviously two different weapons, and a properly constructed database would not confuse an M203 with an M249 of the same serial number.
  • A598 is the very same problem, Russian-designed-weapons style.

As anyone who’s ever accounted for any significant quantity of firearms can tell you, serial numbers are only likely to be unique on a single type (i.e. make/model/caliber) of weapon made for a single customer by a single manufacturer. Now, we’re not sure what other US arms have duped serial numbers like the M1 example above. (We know M16A1 rifles and XM177 “submachine guns” had absolutely unique numbers because manufacturers had independent sN blocks).

But this duplication is spun by SIGAR, in their ignorance of firearms, as a major problem, and it is spun in turn by the media as a Chicken Little sky-is-falling moment. It’s only a problem because the database designers and auditors are ignorant of the limits of serial numbering.

We certainly admit that the SIGAR report does identify some real challenges facing Afghan services on weapons-inventory issues, and it points up the poor visibility into those issues that US service elements, including CSTC-A, have into Afghan inventories. As far as the weaknesses of Afghan inventory controls are concerned, this is news to us in which way? We were pleasantly surprised to see that some Afghan National Police elements are tracking their assigned weapons using Microsoft Excel. This means they have some literate cops, who can even use computers — that’s miles ahead of 2002, let us tell you. But the SIGAR is shocked by this, and by the fact they’re not using some high-dollar, centralized, fiddly data management system instead of Excel.

Crawl, walk, run, people. Trying to drop Afghans into RDBMS management when they not only haven’t got the hang of Excel, but are largely utterly unlettered, is asking for trouble.

One is reminded of Lawrence’s maxim not to do things for the locals, but to let them do it themselves, however imperfectly.