This week (Mar 13-16) the Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) will be holding its Winter Soldier Investigation (WSI), patterned on the Vietnam Veterans Against the War event from 1971. That highly fraudulent event became a foundation of the longstanding smear of the Vietnam veterans. IVAW has claimed that it will have testimony provided by its own members as well as Afghan and Iraqi "survivors", and according to The Washington Independent, citing IVAW sources:
"A network of journalists currently in Iraq will reach out to Iraqi civilians in the relevant cities and towns for independent eyewitness accounts."The members of IVAW do not have those kinds of contacts on their own. Dahr Jamail, who describes himslf as an independent reporter, has demonstrated that he does, identified and unidentified! Jamail, with a longstanding record of pushing claims of widespread American atrocities, also has a record of collusion with the activists of IVAW to get the story as they want it to be! Dahr Jamail will be critical to the success of WSI as the IVAW and their allies define success.
Almost two years ago Dahr Jamail was the most effective promoter of the fraudulent Jesse MacBeth video that charged the U.S. Army Rangers with mass executions of civilians that never happened. On May 21, 2006, Jamail promoted the video extenseively on his website and in his e-mail alerts, writing:
"This 20 minute interview will change how you view the U.S. occupation of Iraq forever. I cannot possibly recommend this more highly. An Iraq war veteran tells of atrocities he and other fellow-soldiers committed regularly while in Iraq. I have never seen this level of honesty from a U.S. soldier who directly participated in the slaughtering of Iraqis."Three days later, by which time IVAW’s MacBeth had been exposed as a fraud, Jamail sought to hide his own promotion of the false atrocity charges by laying the blame for what he had been doing on others:
May 21, 2006
"Perhaps the most interesting propaganda campaign we have seen in connection to the Haditha Massacre was a massive and coordinated effort on the part of FOX news and the right wing bloggers to discredit any allegations of war crimes along with the entire ‘left wing’ Internet...By far the greatest promoters of the MacBeth video were FOX news and the right wing bloggers."Who is Dahr Jamail?
May 24, 2006
Dahr Jamail is an American who had grown up in Houston and had been a mountain guide in Alaska prior to the invasion of Iraq. He went to Iraq in 2003 as a self described "unembedded reporter", spending eight months there between November 2003 and February 2005, reporting on what he calls "the occupation". He is the author of "Beyond the Green Zone – Dispatches from an Unembedded Journalist in Occupied Iraq".
About the book, Publishers Weekly wrote:
"…unapologetically dubious of the U.S. government's party line, Dahr sees ‘resistance’ where ‘obedient’ mainstream reporters see ‘insurgents,’ ‘the occupation’ where others see ‘the war.’ Jamail has successfully established a reputation in progressive and radical circles as a journalist who is free from the taint of a ‘compliant corporate media’ and censorship of the military ‘embeds’.""Beyond the Green Zone" was well received in all the right, or rather, left places, like Mother Jones. That reviewer for Mother Jones, Nick Turse, has been a champion for years of the John Kerry/Vietnam Veterans Against the War charges leveled at the 1971 Winter Soldier Investigation that the American soldiers in Vietnam committed atrocities on a routine and widespread basis.. In "Need A War Crime Story? Call Dahr Jamail", Robin at Chickenhawk Express correctly noted that Jamail has largely "flown under the radar" of the right. He has, however, become well established with the radical left and increasingly with the center left. Jamail writes for far left organs like The Nation and Foreign Policy in Focus, as well as more center-left organs like The Independent, The Sunday Herald and the Guardian. He also reports for The Asia Times, Islam Online and Inter Press Service. He reports on radio and television for Democracy Now! and the BBC. He has his own "Dahr Jamail’s MidEast Dispatches" site on the Net.
Stephen Kinzer, former NY Times foreign desk chief, calls Jamail’s book:
"International Journalism at its best".Who is Jesse MacBeth?
On May 21, 2006 the video "Jesse Macbeth: An Iraq Veteran Speaks Out" hit the Net, and within little more than a day it caused a firestorm. In the video MacBeth claimed to have been an Army Ranger deployed to Iraq, where his unit had murdered hundreds of men, women and children in and around Fallujah in 2004. MacBeth admitted to having personally killed over two hundred civilians, many of them execution style, saying that his victims would:
"...feel the hot muzzle of my rifle on the forehead."He recounted how his unit had slaughtered hundreds praying in a mosque, and claimed that the Rangers burned the bodies or hung them from the building’s rafters.
It was sensational stuff, but beyond perhaps his name and acknowledged membership in IVAW, everything MacBeth claimed in the video was a lie. Booted out of the Army after only forty-four days of boot camp, MacBeth was a complete fraud. He was spotted as such almost instantaneously by milbloggers when the video was pointed out to them by skeptics. At the time of the video’s release, MacBeth had been a member of IVAW for months and the IVAW logo appeared prominently in the video. After he was exposed, MacBeth resigned from the IVAW, although even his forty-four days in the military still meets IVAW’s membership criteria.
IVAW, which had had credibility problems with atrocity stories told by other members, within days distanced itself from MacBeth and the video after he was exposed, stating:
"After looking into his recent claims, we have learned that Jesse is not what he represented himself to be. Accordingly, IVAW does not in any way endorse Jesse MacBeth or any of his accounts involving military service. He -- and he alone -- is responsible for them. IVAW was not aware of the creation of the video program featuring MacBeth, and did not authorize use of our logo in the program."Early last year, MacBeth was convicted of defrauding the VA, and sentenced to jail. There the story seems to have ended, with almost everyone’s position on the matter settled. For many on the right, MacBeth was yet another example of the anti-American and anti-military left typified by IVAW, trying to smear those serving in uniform. For many on the left, the right wing was making too much of one loose cannon in order to undermine stories of real, ongoing and even routine American atrocities. Some on the left speculated that MacBeth was likely a plant by the right to discredit the anti-war left. On all sides, MacBeth is scorned as a loser and worse.
What has not been sufficiently dealt with is how MacBeth came to the attention of the independent activist film makers at PepperSpray Productions in Seattle who made the video and why did they believe he was credible. Further, how was the expertise and contacts available to have the video and the text of the same (almost instantaneously translated into Arabic) disseminated so widely on the Internet? Jesse MacBeth, loser, didn’t do that by himself. Jesse may have been a loose cannon and worse, but MacBeth and his video was an operation, even if an ad hoc one, involving many. It only became the "loose cannon" stunt as a cover when MacBeth was exposed as a fraud.
The video hit the Net on May 21, 2006. On May 23, 2006, the PepperSpray Productions producer of the video, Randy Rowland, wrote an e-mail about the controversy posted in its entirety at a blog site in New Zealand called Cryptogon.com, as an update to that site’s 5/21/2006 posting (scroll down). What that e-mail reveals from an insider perspective is devastating to the credibility of PepperSpray Productions, IVAW and Dahr Jamail. Rowland provides some history of PepperSpray’s dealings with MacBeth:
"We met Jesse at a rally where he, along with other IVAW members were holding an IVAW banner, giving speeches as IVAW members, and talking to the press. We made arrangements to interview him the next day, which formed the basis of the piece we did. The piece went out on our show, and Terry [Portinga] put the interview part up on his peacefilms.org website."Rowland was speaking of IVAW events in Tacoma in which MacBeth had marched and spoken. IVAW members and leadership had to have been aware of the kinds of things MacBeth was saying. A month before the video went viral, on April 26, 2006, the Socialist Alternative published an atrocity charge laden interview with MacBeth, identifying him as IVAW. That post’s original content has been deleted, but saved for posterity by quick action at ArmyRanger.com and Shadowspear’s Special Operations Forces Community Forum.
MacBeth had been scheduled (but reportedly didn’t show) to participate as an IVAW representative at the "Halliburton on the Run" teach-in in Oklahoma on May 17, 2006, conducted by After Downing Street, an anti-war left umbrella group. It was MacBeth’s highly visible membership in IVAW that gave him credibility with PepperSpray and others. Rowland’s entire e-mail reads as though PepperSpray had assumed an implied IVAW support for what MacBeth was doing and saying because he was publicly representing the organization. Rowland was also somewhat distressed that PepperSpray could not keep the video up if IVAW did not back MacBeth.
In doing as he was doing, however fraudulently, MacBeth was doing exactly what IVAW expected of its members
"Some things to expect as a member of IVAW:There may well have been an informal but understood quid pro quo between MacBeth and IVAW. According to the IVAW’s own statement on MacBeth, he had come to them in January 2006 asking for help and IVAW did so in several ways. The IVAW statement phrased that as “Assisting veterans is one of the founding principles of IVAW and it is a mission that we take seriously”. MacBeth had been having trouble getting benefits from the VA, including for his fake PTSD. In the April interview with Socialist Alternative when asked how he had gotten involved in IVAW, MacBeth replied:
Requests to speak with the press
Requests for participation in special projects with artists, students, etc.
Requests to participate in/speak at local events"
“Veteran's Affairs told me they had no money for me.”IVAW may have been pleased to have MacBeth as an activist, and in return may have carelessly and without due diligence assisted MacBeth, even through contacts, in his attempts to defraud the VA.
PepperSpray’s Rowland recounts in the e-mail that it was only after MacBeth’s claims on the video were being challenged that:
"IVAW asked Jessie yesterday to verify his military service etc, and Jessie did fax them some VA paperwork and his DD214".IVAW had been giving MacBeth assistance, credibility and a platform for charging Americans with gross atrocities, but only after the video came under skeptical scrutiny did IVAW seek to even verify MacBeth’s claim of service in Iraq! As to disseminating the Jesse MacBeth story over the Net, Rowland’s next line makes clear what happened, and the caps are his:
"Once Dahr sent out the link to the video, there was a LOT of attention on the video. Right away it came under attack for being lies."Months before the MacBeth video, PepperSpray Productions was producing Dahr Jamail videos, with English and Arabic, such as "Eyewitness in Iraq: Dahr Jamail, an Unembedded Report" and "Testimonies from Falluja".
During the two days it took to convincingly expose Jesse MacBeth as a fraud, Dahr Jamail was the preeminent and most effective promoter of the MacBeth video, getting it out to both English and Arabic sites (scroll down to the Jamail quotes for May 21, 2006 in both languages). When MacBeth was exposed in short order, Jamail sought to conceal his part in that promotion by blaming that promotion on "the right".
A Talking Point Memo on Haditha?
The MacBeth video was released only a few days after Congressman Murtha publicly accused several Marines of killing civilians in "in cold blood" at Haditha. While the media was rife with now debunked fantasies about execution style killings and revenge rampages by the Marines, Dahr Jamail and others were intending to ratchet up the idea of wholesale atrocities by American forces, a recurring theme with IVAW also. In the e-mail, Randy Rowland wrote:
"After all, the news these days is about a Marine squad who are accused of exactly this same behavior. Jesse's story would clearly show the Marine story to be common policy, rather than a squad of loose cannons..."In their reactions to the outing of Jesse MacBeth as a fraud, IVAW, PepperSpray Productions and Jamail all had Haditha on their minds. The uniformity of their responses to the MacBeth controversy comes across as agreed upon talking points. In its "Retraction Statement for our Video ‘Jesse Macbeth: An Iraq Veteran Speaks Out’" PepperSpray had:
"Jesse Macbeth misrepresented to PepperSpray Productions and others his military service and was never deployed in Iraq. We...deeply regret that the Macbeth video distracted attention from the military investigation of a Marines massacre of 24 civilians in Haditha..."IVAW upped the ante a bit, as posted on May 27th at Daily Kos:
"The timing of the widespread circulation of the MacBeth video interestingly coincides with the ongoing military investigation of the recent Marine massacre of two dozen civilians (including women and children) in Haditha..."When the word "interesting" appears at places like DailyKos and DU, it works somewhat like the "trigger word" in Manchurian Candidate. Reading that word starts the tinfoil vibrating and heating up as though it was placed in a microwave. Kossack comment after Kossack comment from then on and even other diaries at Kos alluded to Jesse MacBeth being a Rovian-Young Republican plant meant to embarrass the anti-war left like IVAW.
Yet Jamail did both PepperSpray and IVAW one better. While also invoking Haditha, he blamed FOX News and the right blogosphere for promoting the video. Writing on the same day (May 24) that FOX’s John Gibson aired a story on the video and three days after Jamail himself promoted it, Jamail went apoplectic to deflect his involvement:
"FOX 5/24/2006 Propaganda Fabrications Involving Jesse MacBeth VideoJamail’s Promotion of MacBeth: How Extensive?
Perhaps the most interesting propaganda campaign we have seen in connection to the Haditha Massacre was a massive and coordinated effort on the part of FOX news and the right wing bloggers to discredit any allegations of war crimes along with the entire ‘left wing’ Internet. This campaign came in the form of fraudulent video testimony from Jesse MacBeth...two days before FOX's wild promotion of the MacBeth video, a Google search on Jessie MacBeth revealed only two obscure references to the video at all...By far the greatest promoters of the MacBeth video were FOX news and the right wing bloggers...The video barely made a stir on the web since people questioned its validity within hours."
As the e-mail from PepperSpray’s Randy Rowland showed, it was Dahr Jamail’s linking to the video that suddenly got it "a LOT of attention".
Quoted in Steven Vincent’s "In The Red Zone", Jamail claimed that as early as late 2004, a year and a half before the MacBeth video, his MidEast Dispatches site would get over one million hits per day! If that claim was accurate, not counting Jamail’s e-mail alerts, it is reasonable to conclude that for the two days that he had pushed the video, the number of people who went to his site met or exceeded the daily circulation of the New York Times, the Washington Post or the Los Angeles Times. In that Jamail used the Internet to bring attention to the video meant that some number of those who either went to his site or received his e-mail dispatches passed the information on at blogs and websites, discussion boards or in their own or forwarded e-mail.
The evidence of Jamail’s widespread promotional reach is still on the Net, despite some determined attempt at both clean-up and bait and switch. A Google search turns up numerous sites that quoted Jamail promoting the MacBeth video well before the FOX News story! The depth and breadth of that promotion is impressive, and one can only wonder how much further the false MacBeth claims of American atrocities would have been given play had not the debunking of MacBeth been accomplished so rapidly.
This site, Free Iraq, is in both English and Arabic, and the quotes are from Jamail:
"Video: Jessie Macbeth, a former U.S. Army Ranger admits killing Iraqi civilians in cold blood as normal practice , May 21, 2006The link at that site to Jamail’s website didn’t work because Jamail had deleted his post, but that deleted page can be found on the WayBack Machine, with "Posted by Dahr Jamail at May 21, 2006 08:58 PM", three days before the FOX News report! In his accusations against FOX and the right blogosphere, Jamail said:
The FULL English transcript of Jessie's testimony.
The FULL Arabic transcript
‘This 20 minute interview with Jessie Macbeth will change how you view the U.S. occupation of Iraq, forever. An Iraq war veteran tells of atrocities he and other fellow-soldiers committed regularly while in Iraq.’
"The video was posted on a small, low bandwidth website that could never have handled anywhere near that kind of traffic..."The site with the video that Jamail linked to in his deleted "Middle East Dispatches" post on May 21st was www.peacefilms.org. By May23rd, ALLAHPUNDIT reported at Hot Air that the MacBeth video had migrated and become available for viewing and even download at Mininova, Information Clearing House and TorrentSpy. It had also migrated to Google Video and YouTube, making a mockery of Jamail's claim about inability to handle high traffic. Jamail disingenuously writes of "two days before" precisely to avoid how far the story spread over those following two days, owing considerably to his own efforts.
The Common Ills Blogspot, May 21st:
"Keesha notes an e-mail sent out to people who sign up for alerts at Dahr Jamail's Iraq Dispatches:From DailyKos:
Jessie Macbeth, a Former Army Ranger and Iraq War Veteran Tells All
Watch the video here."
"I get emails from Dahr Jamail...he pointed to this video…it was produced by Pepper Spray Productions, who did the video for Dahr of the Fallujah massacre..."And...
"I diaried this a few days ago based on it having been advanced by Dahr, PepperSpray and IVAW - people and organizations that I respect and trust."Some of the other sites and feeds that Jamail also reached that either quoted or expressly credited Jamail for the MacBeth linkage can still be found despite the clean-up, including:
Peace, Earth and Justice News
Politics International Iraq
Media With Conscience
Aliraqi.org (With still active links to the video and Arabic transcript)
An Arabic Discussion Site
Chimes of Freedom
The Last Outpost
The Truth Campaign
The quotes of Jamail from his deleted post also made it to various conspiracy sites and others with the video that have had tens of thousands of views. The ChiefBrief blog shows that the Google Video of MacBeth, long gone, was quoting Jamail’s endorsement.
As an example of how the video went "viral" (spread by contact or exposure), the Dissident Voice had this on a now deleted post, fortunately captured by Amy Proctor at Bottom Line Up Front:
"If the [MacBeth] video gets widespread exposure, it is unfathomable that support for a US troop presence in Iraq could be sustained...It is a video that should number the days of the Bush administration...we hear the shaken ex-army ranger and Iraq war veteran Jessie MacBeth admit to the Stygian depths of depravity and evil that US service personnel have sunk…"The Dissident Voice article with link to the video migrated to Uruk.net (Information From Occupied Iraq), an English-Italian language site. At the top of the page was a request:
"We are looking for voluntary translators from Arabic into English."Days later, when Dissident Voice had deleted its original post, it offered as explanation for having accepted MacBeth’s lies:
"Upon what did I base my decision to develop the [MacBeth video] article? First, the video was highly endorsed by respected journalist Dahr Jamail...Spending eight months on the ground in post-invasion violence-wracked Iraq as an independent journalist confers credibility; hence, a recommendation from Jamail carries much weight. His website provided a link..."Last October Jamail was interviewed by Yahoo Picks’ Jill Robinson, speaking of the large volume of subscribers and web traffic his site enjoys:
"The volume of subscribers has surprised me, in addition to the volume of traffic my website receives...The website has been a tremendous help in getting information…out to a larger...Both my site and the Internet allowed me to do an end-run around the standard accepted model of journalism...what has been amazing to me is how much demand there was…in the sense of an extremely large audience of readers who wanted my reports."Dahr Jamail had less than two days to "move" the MacBeth video (and transcripts) before MacBeth was outed, and then he shut his part of the operation down. He then tried to hide it by charging that others, like FOX News and the right blogosphere, were the ones who had been doing what he had done.
Oddly enough, Jamail used the same resources he used to promote the MacBeth video, his website and e-mail dispatches, to disseminate the charge that it was FOX News and the right that had done so, an irony no doubt lost on the recipients of those e-mails and his website’s readers. Within days the same discussions at Daily Kos and DU that had people speculating and even insisting that MacBeth was a right wing plant shifted gear to claims that it was the right wing promoting the here-to-fore "obscure" video all along. Jamail was apparently so relieved at his success in dodging a well deserved bullet to his supposed journalistic credibility that by June 9 he and Jeff Pflueger wrote "Propaganda and Haditha" in which the claims about FOX News’ and the right blogosphere’s promotion of the MacBeth video was used as an example of right-wing pro-war propaganda methods!
By late in the day on May 23rd, by which time MacBeth was being convincingly exposed as a fraud, Jamail sent out this notice:
"I recently sent out an announcement which brought attention to a filmed interview with Jesse MacBeth. Upon further investigation, I found more questions than answers about the personal history of Mr. MacBeth. I therefore removed this posting from my website."The investigation Jamail refers to was not his and that "I found more questions..." is simply and clearly a lie. He was not questioning; he was backtracking because others were questioning and investigating. Even on anti-war left sites like Daily Kos and DU there was skepticism about MacBeth’s claims to have been a Ranger and combat experienced soldier, and not only from veterans. Perhaps if Jamail had condescended to have been embedded with the military for a time he might have been able to develop some minimal ability to recognize an actual combat soldier or Army Ranger.
In his May 24 series of accusations against FOX and the right, he had the audacity to write:
"The video barely made a stir on the web since people questioned its validity within hours."Dahr Jamail used his "credibility" to give that video validity and promote it, without questioning it’s “validity”! Jamail said in the Yahoo Picks interview that:
"…the Internet allowed me to do an end-run around the standard accepted model of journalism".While even the regular media has often had well documented problems with their standards of verification, in the matter of Macbeth the media that Jamail made an end run around was indeed skeptical, as Jamail was not. From Randy Rowland’s e-mail account of what transpired:
"Some big media people were interested in our video and the Jesse story but they, rightfully so, wanted verification of the story, so they could run with it...it is BIG news, if it can be subjected to the extra-normal journalistic scrutiny needed for really big stories...Big media backed away from the story..."The video was, however, big news for Dahr Jamail, who is not an unaffiliated and independent journalist. He is, at the least, the proprietor of a media disinformation operation.
His site provides downloads of free audio and video, and links to others, in both English and Arabic, and several are by PepperSpray. His stories have been translated into French, Polish, German, Dutch, Spanish, Japanese, Portuguese, Chinese, Arabic and Turkish. He is a frequent speaker at left and anti-war events and colleges. Lot of credentials, lots of credibility with lots of people, and the proven ability to push a story. He was "promoting" the MacBeth story that he had good reason to know or determine was false! Jamail was supposedly in Fallujah in 2004 at about the same period in which MacBeth had claimed to have participated in the atrocities there! Jamail has contacts in Iraq. Last November at Firedoglake he wrote:
"I have an Iraqi colleague who I continue to do stories with for Inter Press Service. He lives in Fallujah."Presumably his contact in Fallujah might have been able to verify a story of hundreds killed in a mosque and hung from the rafters.
Credible Independent Journalist or Something Else?
A sampling of Jamail’s other work, in the light of his demonstrated credibility as regards the MacBeth video:
On November 24, 2004, Jamail wrote "Allawi's Dictatorship" for Inter Press Service. Jamail claimed that interim Iraqi Prime Minister Allawi was "following in the footsteps" of Saddam Hussein, and that Allawi ruled "more in the style of the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein than a leader of a supposedly democratic state." The following April the supposed dictator Allawi peacefully and without hesitation handed over his office to the new democratically selected Prime Minister.
On November 26, 2004 Jamail wrote an article for Inter Press Service claiming "The U.S. military has used poison gas and other non-conventional weapons against civilians in Fallujah, eyewitnesses report."
On February 24, 2006 Jamail published "Golden Mosque Bombing – Who Benefits?", with the clear implication that the U.S. was behind the attempt to set off a wave of sectarian violence. Writing in OpEd News on the same day in "Whose Bombs Were They", Mike Whitney had:
"Other prominent analysts including...Dahr Jamail...agree that the Bush administration appears to be inciting civil war as part of an exit strategy."Two years before, in the interecepted letter written by al-Zarqawi, the leader of AQI wrote of his desire to attack the Shia so as to unleash sectarian violence
"These [Shia] in our opinion are the key to change. I mean that targeting and hitting them in [their] religious, political, and military depth will provoke them to show the Sunnis their rabies …If we succeed in dragging them into the arena of sectarian war, it will become possible to awaken the inattentive Sunnis..."On April 19, 2006, in "Civil War In Iraq?", Jamail made the charge that the U.S. was backing "a Shia militia invasion of a Sunni neighborhood".
On May 21, 2006, the very same day that Jamail posted that "I cannot possibly recommend this more highly" in reference to the MacBeth video, he also made an earlier post entitled "More Abu Ghraib Photos Posted". This was more than two years after the initial publication of the first such photos. The resurrection of Abu Ghraib photos and the MacBeth video were to build upon Murtha’s Haditha charges and feed the ensuing media frenzy and, it must be said, jihadist and insurgent propaganda and recruiting.
On May 31, 2006, several days after he deleted his post praising the honesty of Jesse MacBeth, Jamail wrote "Countless My Lais in Iraq", claiming:
"The media feeding frenzy around what has been referred to as "Iraq's My Lai" has become frenetic. Focus on U.S. Marines slaughtering at least 20 civilians in Haditha last November is reminiscent of the media spasm around the ‘scandal’ of Abu Ghraib during April and May 2004…countless atrocities continue daily...Torture did not stop simply because the media finally decided...to cover the story, and the daily slaughter of Iraqi civilians by U.S. forces and U.S.-backed Iraqi ‘security’ forces had not stopped either."On September 5, 2006 Jamail published "U.S. Losing Control Fast", a tremendously pessimistic view (from our side) of the situation in al-Anbar Province. That article contained statements Jamail supposedly received from locals in al-Anbar:
"Eyewitnesses in Ramadi say that the U.S. military recently asked citizens in al-Anbar to stop targeting them, and promised to withdraw to their bases in Haditha and Habaniyah (near Fallujah) soon..."And...
"Hundreds of local policemen have quit the force after seeing that they are considered a legitimate target by fighters..."And...
"The U.S. forces seem to have no clear policy in the face of the sustained resistance."And...
"The U.S. Army seems so confused in handling the security situation in Anbar"The previous spring and summer the tribes in al-Anbar began to turn from AQI and the insurgency and toward the Americans and our Iraqi allies. The Anbar Awakening, in which the Sunni tribes formally allied themselves with coalition forces against AQI, was comprised of twenty tribes by August 2006, as reported by Michael Fumento. Jamail wrote his article in September, as the Awakening, perhaps the most dramatic and crucial series of events in Iraq in 2006, was kicking into high gear, as Bill Roggio also reported in Long War Journal.
On April 20, 2007, Jamail published "An Interview with a Resistance Fighter", demonstrating perhaps the breadth of Jamail’s contacts and providing a leader of the Ba’athist insurgency a platform to lay the blame for the sectarian violence on the U.S.
On November 11, 2007, in a discussion at the Firedoglake website, Jamail agreed that the Nazi reprisal slaughter of the Czech village of Lidice is "a very accurate comparison" to what U.S. forces did in Fallujah. He also wrote that it is not out of the realm of possibility that the U.S. had dug mass graves for the bodies of illegal alien soldiers in the U.S. military who have been killed in Iraq, so as to keep casualty figures low.
In January of this year Jamail wrote "Killer of U.S. Soldiers Becomes a Hero" for Inter Press Service. Jamail used the Muslim Association of Scholars and a Saddam era Colonel (unidentified as such) as sources in an article for the charge that two American soldiers, Capt. Rowdy J. Inman and Sgt. Benjamin B. Portell, were physically abusing a pregnant Iraqi woman when they were killed by an Iraqi soldier. Jamail did not see fit to name the Americans and gives minimal attention to sources that say otherwise in a very lopsided presentation. Only several weeks before the Sunni religious establishment of Iraq had removed the Al Qaeda supporting Association of Muslim Scholars from the Umm al Quraa mosque in Baghdad, as again reported in Long War Journal. The Washington Post reported that the Association of Muslim Scholars was the source of the charge against the soldiers of abusing a pregnant woman.
Dahr Jamail and IVAW: Ethics vs Expediency
Jamail and IVAW have had a longstanding symbiotic relationship.
In August 2005, several months before the MacBeth video, Jamail was meeting with IVAW members Abdul Henderson, Alex Ryabov, Camilo Mejia, Harvey Tharp, Michael Hoffman and Charlie Anderson. In "What Have We done?" Jamail wrote:
"I type furiously for three hours, trying to keep up with the stories each of the men shared….about the atrocities of what they saw, and committed, while in Iraq."No details likes events, dates, places and units involved for these supposed atrocities were provide in the article. One of the interviewees was Camilo Mejia, an IVAW leader and the first American soldier who, after serving in Iraq and returning home on leave, refused redeployment. In a March 2005 interview with Amy Goodman, Mejia told of a six hour period in which his unit was guarding detainees, and were ordered to keep them awake and disoriented. He described the methods used as yelling, making loud noises with a sledgehammer, making the detainees get up and sit down, and "if all of that fails then, you know, cock a .9 millimeter gun next to their ear, so as to make them believe that they're going to be executed." When asked if he had done those things, Mejia replied "Not really..."
Months later, while Dahr Jamail furiously typed atrocity stories, that had changed for the IVAW’s Mejia to "I tortured guys..."
Another interviewee, Harvey Tharp, was quoted by Jamail as stating:
“Most of what we’re talking about is war crimes…war crimes because they are directed by our government for power projection.”Last month Tharp was quoted in the Yemen Times as saying he had never personally witnessed any American atrocities in Iraq, but he had come to “know about certain cases”.
Both Robin at Chickenhawk Express and milblogger Grim at BLACKFIVE took apart a Jamail story from last October published in the Asia Times, under the title "US soldiers shy from battle in Iraq". The article was supposedly about widespread and growing attitudes and behavior with the troops in Iraq. The bloggers pointed out that while the article used four sources, two active duty and two veterans, it only identified two of them as members of IVAW. However, the bloggers found that all four were IVAW members. There are thousands of Army and National Guards troops at Ft. Drum, where the story was written. That Jamail solicited information from only those four demonstrated collusion with IVAW to get the story as they wanted it to be, not independent and credible journalism. That Jamail did not disclose in the story with the hand-picked sources that he served on the advisory board of the IVAW makes that an ethical breach that would likely end the career of any ordinary journalist.
Just last November, when interviewed by Kevin Zeese, Jamail was asked what advice he would give the peace movement and Americans opposed to the Iraq occupation, and he replied:
"I feel the two single greatest things people can do to help end the occupation are to support Iraq Veterans Against the War, and to continue to organize locally. IVAW is the spearhead, I feel, of any movement that will be effective in ending the occupation..."MacBeth’s Testimony Survives
I had linked to the Free Iraq site, with the Arabic, intentionally. Within hours of the outing of MacBeth as a fraud, numerous sites that carried the video, transcript, MacBeth interviews and/or links to them started a clean-up, including Information Clearing House and Socialist Alternative as well as Jamail’s "Middle East Dispatches".
The video became harder to find. However, that is here, in the English part of the Net. The Arabic text on the Free Iraq site can be copy-pasted into Google. If you spend the time, as I did, Google will take you to sites and translate the Arabic. The translations are poor, but with some persistence you can find that well after the MacBeth story died in English, the Arabic transcript, various versions of MacBeth's claims and no doubt the video were still circulating in the Arabic speaking world. There are Arabic sites that claim MacBeth was speaking the truth, and that his video and credibility was attacked by American government censorship. They make that claim months after it was debunked.
The MacBeth testimony still lives as a recruitment device for those who would kill our troops in revenge. Dahr Jamail and IVAW are both accountable for that. IVAW’s disclaimer about not knowing about the video nor endorsing it, even if true, doesn’t absolve them. IVAW gave MacBeth unwarranted credibility and acceptance when he was telling fables. As Greyhawk of Mudville Gazette put it:
"No veteran could fail to spot MacBeth as a phony - it took about 3 seconds. But IVAW couldn't do it until after he was outed by milbloggers."IVAW granted credibility to and used, for their own purposes, the Jesse MacBeth that gave that testimony. Dahr Jamail made sure it got circulated where it could so enrage some people that they will strap on a suicide bomb vest or plant an IED and kill our troops. IVAW only sought to verify MacBeth’s service after it was challenged by others, and the "credible" Dahr Jamail tried to pin his own actions on others.
Dahr Jamail’s Verifiers and Winter Soldier
On Feb. 9, The Nation published an interview with Jamail in which Jeremy Scahill said to Jamail:
"You haven't been to Iraq for a number of months, but you are regularly in touch with Iraqis on the ground. In fact, a lot of the articles that you do you co-author with Iraqi colleagues still on the ground. Many of the journalists who do go to Iraq are trapped in the Green Zone-- or what an Iraqi friend of mine calls the Green Zoo. And so, in a way, you may be in a better position to analyze what's happening there, because of your regular contact with unembedded Iraqi journalists."As WSI 2008 unfolds, look for “verification” from Ali al-Fadhily, who co-authored "Iraq: Killer of U.S. Soldiers Becomes a Hero" and other pieces with Jamail. Another will likely be Ahmed Ali, who co-authored "US the Biggest Producer of Terror" and "reports" from Diyala. Then there is Arkan Hamed who co-authored “Another US Cover Up Surfaces in Iraq”. Indications are that the unembedded “reporters” in Iraq give Jamail the story, who writes it up and gets it out, after first of course checking them as thoroughly as he did MacBeth’s bona fides and charges.
As with the Jesse MacBeth operation, while it lasted, expect the "credible" independent journalist to be actively involved with Winter Soldier, pushing atrocity themes and getting the information out, even to where it may assist the jihadist and insurgency recruiters. MacBeth was exposed because, oddly enough, Jamail’s push was so effective that the video became so widely circulated so quickly that it was brought to the almost immediate attention off the debunking milbloggers.
How many other Dahr Jamail efforts over the years never received such scrutiny, and is the absence of such scrutiny what allows conferring upon him that unwarranted aura of "credibility"?