(Note: we wrote this and scheduled it, we thought, for the 18th. But many things are going on and so we’re hitting “publish” a couple of days later. Military Times has now published the third installment of its five part story, and is suggesting it will take two weeks or more to finish the two remaning installments — 20 Mar 15. Ed.).
Marine Corps Times, one of the military papers focused on personnel issues (who’s on the promotion list, etc.) that the relentlessly anti-military and anti-soldier Gannett Corporation acquired from Army Times Publishing Company, had great fun in 2008 with a story suggesting that the Marines of MARSOC lost control and massacred great numbers of civilians.
The title of the story was: “Meltdown at TF Violence: Uncovered — the hidden story of the MarSOC Marines who shamed the Corps.”
The story was “hidden” for a good reason: the tale of massacre flowed from fabrications and falsified evidence by, in part, JAG officers (gee, there’s a shock, not) that was then leaked to friendly reporters (another unsurprise). They didn’t even get the name of the MARSOC task force right, which shows you how deep and well-sourced their story wasn’t. And now, the story has not exactly been retracted, or even apologized for, but Gannett’s peer paper Military Times is sloooowly running a five-part reported thumbsucker about what really happened. (This time, they’re going to pinky-swear, perhaps).
And guess what? There was no truth in the rush to judgment by the media, including Marine Corps Times, and bad leadership, including essentially all of the Army and Navy Judge Advocate General’s Corps, and certain careerist officers, including Army MG Frank Kearney and Kearney’s rumpswab, Air Force Lt. Col. Patrick Pihana, who were eager to throw the Marines under the bus. (This doesn’t surprise anyone who knows Kearney, a man of immeasurably low character). Marine officers who were hostile to the idea of an elite within the Corps, far from standing up for their Marines, greased the skids under them. Pihana, assigned with a wink and a nod to “investigate” the incident, dismissed all Marine testimony, however independently taken, as “lies,” accepted all Afghan testimony, and made contrary evidence disappear.
In the civilian world, that’s obstruction of justice, a serious felony. For Pihana, it was the order he got from Kearney, and the two of them, far from being charged, were decorated and promoted. As were the Marine officers who were willing to see seven Marines framed for murder for, as they saw it, “the good of the Corps.”
As we said, the Gannett crapweasels never actually retract their original story. They get this close:
Marine Corps Times… published a cover story in February 2008 boasting of hidden details about the “meltdown” within Task Force Violent and the “cowboys” who shamed the Corps — a characterization that has proven unfair and untrue.
That’s better than nothing, just; they use a variety of passive constructions to weasel around the fact that they were some of the key clowns in the circus (many media stories cited the Marine Corps Times fabrications as authoritative). For example, “….an incomplete narrative would emerge.” Nobody created it, you see. This goose egg of a story was here and just hatched.
It’s nice (well, it isn’t really; it’s actually depressing) to learn that the Marines can be as blockheadedly focused on intramural score-settling and as as passive-aggressive as leaders as the Army can, but the question is, why should we trust this report from the same integrity-challenged guys who took great pleasure in starting the whole juggernaut rolling downhill in the first place? We probably shouldn’t. But it’s one more data point out there.
Task Force Violent: The unforgiven
Part 3 comes tomorrow. Two more parts are scheduled beyond that.
This first parts of the story are interesting in that they claim that the Marines prepared for a kinetic, direct-action mission profile for Iraq, and were told only at the last minute that they were going to Afghanistan, so they had no worthwhile cultural and linguistic preparation. All the leaders asked about this made like the famous Nast cartoon, “Who took the money?”
We can’t say who betrayed MARSOC, although given Kearney’s history with Special Forces guys and wild, improbable accusations, we’ll never believe his protestations of innocence. But we don’t trust these Gannett media wallahs as far as we can throw the Hindu Kush.
That MARSOC did not debut in the Corps to spontaneous and sustained hosannas is, of course, old news.