...a 25-year-old rising star at The New Republic, wrote dozens of high-profile articles for a number of national publications in which he made things up.
As 60 Minutes first reported in May, he made up people, places and events. He made up organizations and quotations. Sometimes, he made up entire articles.
And to back it all up, he created fake notes, fake voicemails, fake faxes, even a fake Web site - whatever it took to deceive his editors, not to mention hundreds of thousands of readers.
How do these things get into prestigious publications which boast of having fact checkers and editors, and accuse the Internet of lacking credibility because they don't have them? Simple, some stories are too good to check.
Exhibit "A" is the "Duke Rape" case in which the entire press corps could not wait to convict white athletes of raping a black "student" despite evidence to the contrary. They believe in the narrative, so the hell with the facts.
Which brings us to pseudonymous blogger and "front line soldier" Scott Thomas who describes tales of cruelty and horror in the actions of our soldiers in Iraq.
Power Line does a brief roundup while Franklin Foer of The New Republic assures us - like Dan Rather did - that all he has found out so far makes the story true.
Howard Kurtz chimes in Bloggers Raise Red Flags Over New Republic's 'Baghdad Diarist'
Well, according to people who have been there, people who are there and people who have the necessary expertise, the stories that "Scott Thomas" tells are either not true or impossible.
The Weekly Standard's Michael Goldfarb references the "fake facts" that Scott Thomas relates.
But one comment stands out in my mind because it explains why The New Republic is willing to run these stories.
Here's what New Republic editor Franklin Foer had to say about the questions raised by the WWS and so many others:"A lot of the questions raised by the conservative blogosphere boil down to, would American soldiers be capable of doing things like the things described in the diarist. The practical jokes are exceptionally mild compared to things that have been documented by the U.S. military. Conservative bloggers make a bit of a living denying any bad news that emanates from Iraq."
Are the events described by "Thomas" mere "practical jokes"? I'd say they are a little more serious than that. Foer accuses conservatives of routinely denying "any bad news" out of Iraq, but the point here is that the "Scott Thomas" piece isn't news...it's a slander of U.S. troops. Here's what Dean Barnett had to say in response:This little quote shows just how much we differ. Foer apparently thinks the cruel mocking of an IED victim, the defiling of an Iraqi corpse, and the misuse of a Bradley fighting vehicle to run over dogs all qualify as “practical jokes.” I don’t.
But that’s not all Foer says. He even insists that the “practical jokes” are mild. Scratch that. He says they’re “exceptionally mild compared to things that have been documented.” This wonderful “defense” proves my point that the heart of Foer’s agenda has always been slandering the entire United States military and the 160,000 men and women who are serving in Iraq.
The important thing to remember here is that this isn't a story about shoddy fact-checking or a regrettable lapse of journalistic ethics over at TNR, rather this is indicative of how the left views the American warfighter. To them, he's capable of such savagery that the far-fetched stories related by "Scott Thomas" are not only credible on their face, but "exceptionally mild."
Obviously American troops are every bit as capable of criminal behavior as their civilian peers, and perhaps more so owing to the stress and violence of daily life in Iraq, but misconduct by U.S. servicemen in Iraq has been the exception, not the rule. If the New Republic and its political kin weren't predisposed to view American soldiers as barbaric, than the "Scott Thomas" story would have struck them, as it did everyone else who has since commented on it, as implausible at best. (I think it's worth noting that while the Internet will present two sides to almost any issue, no matter how absurd the opposing view may be--i.e., the charge that it was Bush that brought down the Twin Towers--best I can tell, not a single person has stood up to defend this piece other than Foer, not a singly lefty blog, not a single reader.)
The fake solders who report atrocities have a long history. Who will forget, after the last Presidential election on how John Kerry claimed that our army in Viet Nam resembled the hordes of Genghis Khan. And of course we have "Jessie MacBeth" who was hailed by the Left for recounting atrocity stories that never happened.
Michelle Malkin has a good roundup and has the right attitude.
Let me make one thing clear at the outset: To question the veracity of a soldier’s accounts of war atrocities in Iraq is not to question that such atrocities ever happen. They do. But when such accusations are made pseudonymously, punctuated with red flags and adorned with incredible embellishment, the only responsible thing to do is to raise questions about his identity and agenda without fear or apology–and demand answers.
And Ray Robinson at the American Thinker says that is sounds very much like Clifton Hicks.
It turns out that there is a plausible candidate for who "Scott Thomas" might be: Clifton Hicks. The evidence is not conclusive, but it is fairly suggestive. Others are welcome to examine it with a fair mind. Hicks must be accorded the benefit of the doubt, of course.
Clifton Hicks is a former army soldier who did serve in Iraq. Hicks has become that most cherished item for the anti-war crowd, a soldier who fulfills their need for first-hand accounts of war atrocities. Hicks was granted conscientious objector status and a release from the Army after receiving administrative punishment for unprofessional conduct. Since then, and especially recently, he has tapped into the anti-war establishment for self-promotion.
The evidence that links these two identities is strong but not conclusive. Clifton Hicks was quoted in a Newsweek article, Probing a Bloodbath, which focused primarily on the "Haditha massacre". Of great interest is the name of the Newsweek reporters: Evan Thomas and Scott Johnson. Keep in mind that our TNR writer took the pseudonym "Scott Thomas". Is this a coincidence?
While the evidence is not conclusive, the similarities are striking; similar themes, events, writing styles and the apparent play on the reporter's names which could be viewed as a clue from someone who thinks he is just too clever for others to catch his little inside joke - taking the names of the journalists who wrote about him as his "journalist" name.
Anyone familiar with "Scott Thomas" should come forward. Until then, it appears likely that The New Republic has either been had or is scamming the American public with bogus war stories from a discredited soldier.
And Villanous Company comments on the return of "Winter Soldier." That was the Kerry organized cabal of fake Viet War vets who claimed our troops:
...had personally raped, cut off ears, cut off heads, taped wires from portable telephones to human genitals and turned up the power, cut off limbs, blown up bodies, randomly shot at civilians, razed villages in fashion reminiscent of Genghis Khan, shot cattle and dogs for fun, poisoned food stocks, and generally ravaged the countryside of South VietnamThat was John Forbes Kerry who now claims that not many people died after we abandoned Viet Nam. Click on the link for the deatils; it turns your stomach. Kerry must believe that the younger generation will believe his bold faced lies. I don't know how the man lives with himself. And he wants to do it again!