Sunday, October 01, 2006

Censorship by the military?

This email, said to originate from Michael Yon was in my email inbox. Another blogger also received a similar email and reprinted it, so I take that as confirmation that I am not being hoaxed. Therefore I am reprinting the letter for discussion without endorsing any view on it. The text is below. I have omitted the name of the officer that Michael Yon specifically names until such time as the veracity of this email is confirmed. His website does not repeat the accusation made in the email. However the general issues that the email raises can be printed without danger. But I emphasize that I have not fully confirmed the provenance of the email. The emphasis is mine.


Sept 27, 2006

Greetings:

Pajamas Media recently reported that there are only 9 embedded reporters in Iraq. Many are blaming this on the media, and while I can never be called an apologist for mainstream media, I can say with certainty that the United States military is censoring.

It remains unclear if this is a general policy, though there are recent inquiries to the office of the Secretary of Defense. I await response. Or, perhaps, the censorship is merely the policy of LTC *****  who is responsible for operations involving embeds. ****  is said to be the most quoted man in Iraq . I've learned to trust nothing he says. I do know for a fact that **** has been untruthful with the media. If **** calls me on this, I'll take the time to prove it.

While sons and daughters, mothers and fathers, sisters, brothers and friends, fight and die in Iraq and Afghanistan, the military apparently is preventing journalists from telling the story. They attempt to deflect accusations of censorship by allowing in just enough reporters to appear transparent.

I'll post updates on the website as the situation unfolds.

Meanwhile, we have several new dispatches on the site from Walt Gaya who traveled to Iraq. Gaya earned two Purple Hearts last year, but LTC **** denied his request for an embed despite having direct invitations from the 4th Infantry Division and from Brigadier General Dana Pittard. Walt Gaya entered Iraq without US forces.

My final dispatch from Afghanistan, The Perfect Evil was originally published on National Review Online, picked up by CBS and the Council for Foreign Relations. Part One of the three-part series is posted on the site, with extensive supporting material. At this critical time in Afghanistan it’s important to keep this mission on the front page because the window for change is closing fast.

Most people know this site runs entirely on support from readers, and sales of books and photos. Accordingly, reader patronage is greatly appreciated and essential. I'll keep the dispatches coming: Good, bad and ugly.

Very Respectfully,

Michael

Michael Yon
PO Box 416
Westport Pt MA 02791

Commentary

The scope of Michael Yon's accusation of censorship (if it indeed originates from him as I cannot find confirmation on his website) is unclear The issue being whether this is narrowly directed against a particular officer of whether it is blanket indictment of widespread policy. The key paragraph is:

It remains unclear if this is a general policy, though there are recent inquiries to the office of the Secretary of Defense.

So the accusation is specific to one officer and there is a challenge to prove it is not policy. If a policy of censorship and disinformation is being practiced it can only result in political and military catastrophes and there is no need to explain why. No enterprise can succeed in delusion or blindness. So the text is out there in the spirit of the email. Is it or is it not true. Many readers at Belmont have their own private sources of information. If the picture being allowed out of Iraq is fundamentally distorted we should collectively know.

69 Comments:

Blogger Doug said...

I think Yon (I know someone) alluded to this earlier.
The entire enterprise has had a walking on eggs feel to it for some time.
...like hopeing your Sleazy IM talk stays quiet past November.
Washington is so full of Saboteurs and CYA Artists, it's nauseating.
Folks like Yon are our lifeline to Sanity.
Obviously it could be a spoof, but reminds me of Karridine making his post on the Coup to LGF instead of his own Blog.
Now THERE's a quiet Coup if I ever heard one.
If I get a Jones to have a Coup, I'll submit to Allah first just for the positive coverage value.
---
Why can't she be the President of Iran?

10/01/2006 04:25:00 AM  
Blogger wretchard said...

What whole enterprise Doug? What is it that's walking on eggs?

10/01/2006 04:53:00 AM  
Blogger Scott said...

"I do know for a fact that **** has been untruthful with the media. If **** calls me on this, I'll take the time to prove it."

Doesn't smell like Yon's M.O. If he's going to call someone out I would expect him to validate such a fundamental assertion in the original - not wait for some possible future event before doing so.

10/01/2006 05:25:00 AM  
Blogger DB2 said...

The issue of censorship and Michael returning to Iraq came up back in August:

www.michaelyon-online.com/wp/precarious-road.htm

"Although many commanders have asked that I return to Iraq and report on their efforts and progress, PAO Officers such as LTC Barry Johnson in Baghdad have turned down my embed requests."
--snip--
"Now it may be too late. But I can’t say that for certain because the PAO in Baghdad is censoring. I have contacted Central Command—who is conducting the war in Iraq—to ask if this censorship is merely the policy of one Lieutenant Colonel Barry Johnson in Baghdad, or if he is speaking for the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines, because he is acting as the gatekeeper for all of them."

10/01/2006 05:25:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Wretchard:
The "War" that isn't.
The Leakers and traitors that are feted rather than punished.
Libby still under the gun while Bergler and the rest of Clinton's Truth Squad run free.
The lives lost to PC Rules and Political calculations.
---
Around this time last year, even if I had wanted to, I would not have been able to get out of Iraq, but now that I am a civilian, getting in is the issue. Thus far, COL Tully with the 4th infantry Division has been kind enough to approve my embed for a period of a month, however due to issues with CPIC (combined press information center) in Baghdad, that embed is on hold.
Rather than waste any more time I will have to approach this journey from a different angle. My entry will have to be through the region of Kurdistan in Northern Iraq . This is my safest bet into the country as a civilian for the time being, keep in mind that I am not a gambling man. There I will wait for further notification on my embed approval from CPIC and hopefully make my way south. In the weeks to follow I’ll be keeping you posted with photo essays as I make my way to the front line. Until then,

Walt

10/01/2006 05:27:00 AM  
Blogger Asher Abrams said...

Well, I can't match Doug's eloquence and incisive analysis. But I received a similar e-mail and posted it on "Dreams Into Lightning" believing it to be legitimate. I did this because (1) as you observed, its contents are consistent with the general nature of earlier statements Michael Yon has made about Iraq; (2) shortly before the e-mail appeared, I saw similar comments on the PJM story signed by one "Michael Yon"; (3) the e-mail address on the message is the same one from which I've received updates from MY before; and (4) if someone else were falsely using MY's name, I believe he would have caught wind of it by now and we would hear about it.

However, I think your cautious approach is wise. I'll be watching Michael Yon's site carefully for any follow-up.

- Asher Abrams

10/01/2006 05:29:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Walt's Post

10/01/2006 05:30:00 AM  
Blogger 2164th said...

Excuse me gentleman, aren't we doing the same thing we accuse the MSM of when we run with stories that have no confirmation. Dan Rather?

10/01/2006 05:34:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

10/01/2006 05:39:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Deuce,
db2 refers to the piece I dimly remembered.
Walt is further confirmation to shoshanna and my *hunches.*
Unlike Dan, I will not
Swear it is fake but accurate.
Just a hunch.
(did you get your 4 full hours of sleep???)

10/01/2006 05:40:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

BUT,
Unless you can come up with a good reason for Yon not getting an embed, the burden of proof is on YOU!
(in my world)

10/01/2006 05:42:00 AM  
Blogger 2164th said...

Up and fired to go Doug. I respect hunches, but I also have a hunch that with the news about Foley, there is going to be a lot of dirty pool and pre-election misinformation.

10/01/2006 05:44:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

You and Rufus do too much analysis fueled by Budweiser!

10/01/2006 05:46:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

You have not responded to all the evidence pointing to the veracity of the e-mail.
...it's refered to right here in this thread.

10/01/2006 05:47:00 AM  
Blogger wretchard said...

2164,

That's a fair comment, which is why I deleted the name of a specific officer being accused. But I think that I've hedged the general allegation -- that the US military is employing censorship -- can be raised generally with very explicit qualifications I've already put in. I don't see the harm in trying to find out if this is true, because I don't know that it is true. But I think we're about to find out.

I had considered emailing Michael Yon for a confirmation, but with the mail shot already out, it is already all over the place. And when I saw that other sites had already printed the email verbatim, it seemed best to put the caveat signs around it, suppress the individual name of the person accused and see if anyone knows anything about this. Open up the subject for discussion. As I said, we collectively know the answer.

You know what I think? If this is policy it is a well-kept secret because the 4ID divisional commander would not have issued the invite later said to be blocked if word was out that embeds were discouraged. I must say that I myself have been informally invited to Iraq by a senior officer, not as an embed, it is true, but to look at something. I never got the impression that people were trying to hide something. Otherwise why should I be invited privately and off the record? So my two cents worth is that it's not clear there is censorship as policy. But the best way to establish that is to air this issue for discussion.

10/01/2006 05:50:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

As shoshanna says,
Seems like Michael Yon would chime in by now if this were a fake.

10/01/2006 05:58:00 AM  
Blogger 2164th said...

Wretchard I only ever questioned your judgement and decision once. Within hours we will know if the letter and allegation is correct. If you decide to go to Iraq, I'll pass around the hat and help defray some expenses.

10/01/2006 05:59:00 AM  
Blogger Darryl said...

"If a policy of censorship and disinformation is being practiced it can only result in political and military catastrophes and there is no need to explain why. No enterprise can succeed in delusion or blindness."

Wretchard

Isn't censorship and disinformation part of an effective of wartime strategy?
Has it not been used since before Sun Tzu's era?
For the sake of clarity, what am I missing? What am I not understanding when, to my mind, political and military catastrophes do not necessarily follow from censorship and disinformation?

10/01/2006 06:08:00 AM  
Blogger wretchard said...

darryl,

At some sufficiently general level everyone needs to know the truth. Nothing operational, nothing that would risk lives. But everyone deserves an answer to the basic question: how are things going, genreally speaking? Otherwise I will blog on food or fiction and won't even try to get at the truth, if we can't know it on general terms at least.

If there were no embeds, then the field would be clear to the media and the stringers who are free to say what they want anyway. Prohibiting embeds won't change negative coverage. The negative coverage is already there. Moreover, Iraq is large and complex country. Spread enough reportage around and there's bound to be good and bad news. So if there is something in the system that is preventing the deployment of embeds, it is valid to ask whether it is true and if so, why?

So while disinformation is a valid weapon in war I am not sure that blocking embeds -- if that's true -- is really relevant to disinformation.

10/01/2006 06:24:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

"It is not really responsible behavior.
It is not well brought-up behavior.
They missed a good opportunity to keep quiet.
"

- Jacques Chirac, on Eastern European nations supporting the United States
---
From Shoshanna's site.
---
The French are like the Northstar of Narcissism.

10/01/2006 06:25:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

Whether one wants to dismiss Mr Woodward, or not, this article in the NYTimes does illustrate where the direction of the "War Debate" is moving.
Management foul ups bring on a
"State of Denial"
Bet the White House wishes it had some real censorship capacity.

10/01/2006 06:41:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

NASA TV

10/01/2006 06:45:00 AM  
Blogger Darryl said...

Wretchard

Thank you for your clarifying response to which I agree.

Maybe the fundamental question is who is the target of a disinformation and/or censorship campaign? I would be disheartened if one were not being directed against the jihadists.

In a media-centric war where the press is such huge player, how does the US military effectively deal with an antagonistic press at home whilst fighting a war? I don't have clue.

I may be mistaken, but I believe there were no embeds during Desert Storm (in which I too part).

10/01/2006 06:57:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

"You know, I don't know if I had that moment to live over again, I don't know if I'd do that or not. But if I had done that -- and quite frankly, I mean, I wouldn't have had a problem doing that -- but in my thinking, the door's closed. I mean, there's nothing I can do to open this door again. And I think if I had said that to the president in front of Cheney and Condoleezza Rice and Rumsfeld in there, the president would have looked at them and they would have rolled their eyes back and he would have thought, 'Boy, I wonder why we didn't get rid of this guy sooner?' "
---
Although the comments are no longer available at the old BC site, I long ago said that I believed General Jay Garner got screwed,
...and so did the rest of us.
---
(first State withheld critical info from him, then they sabotaged him.
But in a State of Denial, why should that become widely known?)

10/01/2006 07:00:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

AFTEREFFECTS: POSTWAR PLANNING; PRESIDENT PICKS A SPECIAL ENVOY TO REBUILD IRAQ

L Paul Bremer III will take charge of a multibillion-dollar enterprise currently run by a retired lieutenant general, Jay Garner.

10/01/2006 07:13:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

It coulda been worse!
---
Tuesday, March 11, 2003
Barbara Bodine, Queen of Baghdad. CNN reports that the postwar Iraq state will be governed by none other than terrorists' friend and former ambassador to Yemen Barbara Bodine:
A central sector, including Baghdad, will be administered by Barbara Bodine, a former U.S. ambassador to Yemen, the sources said.
She served in that post in October 2000, when the destroyer USS Cole was bombed in Aden harbor.
Barbara was central to defeating the FBI's counterterrorism investigation of the USS Cole bombing in Yemen while she was ambassador there as reported by PBS Frontline.

That investigation was headed by John O'Neill, the maverick FBI counterterrorism expert who was forced out of the bureau in August 2001 because he wouldn't act appropriately worshipful of his inept superiors like interim FBI director Tom Pickard.

O'Neill had the names of two of the hijackers who flew into the Pentagon on his desk one month before 9-11, when he was kicked out the FBI door.
He subsequently took a job which turned out to be his last — John O'Neill died in the attack on his new employer, the World Trade Center in New York City.

Barbara Bodine, the new Queen of Baghdad, is ironically enough the same person who forced O'Neill out of Yemen in 2001 as he tried to connect the Al-Qaeda dots back to Osama bin Laden, who had known ties to Yemen and who is not now, and never was, Iraqi.

Barbara Bodine is a harbinger of death. She stymied the USS Cole investigation, and helped to prevent the one man who was figuring out Osama bin Laden's real story from acting effectively.
Her presence in the scheme for postwar Baghdad expands the arguments about incompetence and deception as basic principles of Bush foreign policy.

10/01/2006 07:18:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

On The Road To Somewhere Else
In the course of preparing a rousing something or other about something or other, I was reminded of this excerpt from Woodward's last book:

Within the CIA's Near East Division, which handled some of the hardest, most violent countries, the Iraqi Operations Group was referred to as "The House of Broken Toys." It was largely populated with new, green officers and problem officers, or old boys waiting for retirement. After taking it over in August 2001, Saul had begun a full review of where the CIA stood with Iraq.
---
VALERIE!

10/01/2006 07:27:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

General Garner w/real audio interview.

10/01/2006 07:34:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

(includes Rummy demanding from Garner that State Sabotage be carried out)

10/01/2006 07:36:00 AM  
Blogger hdgreene said...

Mr. Yon's stuff is great. But there was a dispatch where he went out armed and may have fired his weapon. This sounds like giant no-no where bureaucrats are concerned (although I understand fully -- didn't the AP guy take a rifle in "We were Soldiers?")

Also, these days you can't pick and choose your reporters (that would be called censorship in any case). You can't put some in and not others. And some "reporters" may in fact be operatives for the otherside, for the insurgents. So, you keep the number down.

And Gen. Sherman thought they were all spies since they were quite willing to not only publish the real plans -- but make stuff up if it would sell papers (or, in some cases, hurt the Union cause).

I don't know if these points were covered in comments. I don't have time to read all the comments but will come back to it soon.

10/01/2006 08:00:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Spotlight on Garner is the critical glare of Arab eyes
April 16 2003

When he arrives in Nasiriyah today to oversee his first meeting inside Iraq on the country's future, Jay Garner will finally step into the spotlight as the new American administrator of Iraq.The US Secretary of Defence, Donald Rumsfeld, and his deputy, Paul Wolfowitz, who hand-picked the 64-year-old retired general for the job, have so far shielded him from the media and congress.

The taciturn head of Iraq's Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance darts around Kuwait City surrounded by minders and hidden behind sunglasses.

"General Garner has many remarkable qualifications for this task," Mr Wolfowitz told US senators last week, citing the general's role at the end of the first Gulf War when he helped provide a safe haven for Kurds fleeing Saddam Hussein's army.
Mr Wolfowitz made it clear General Garner was America's man in Iraq. He will not cede power to the UN, despite the urging of Europe, the British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, or the US Congress.

There are nervous doubts about America's ability to administer Iraq and the general's ability to lead the massive task.
The looting of Iraq's cities has cast a pall over liberation for many Iraqis.
Even the Pentagon's loyal Iraqi opposition leader, Ahmad Chalabi, voiced his anger at the failure of the US to stop the mayhem.
"Where is General Garner, now?" demanded Chalabi as he arrived in Nasiriyah with US forces last week and found crowds complaining about looting, power cuts and water shortages.
General Garner and his team of US, British and Australian officials were still in Kuwait City, under orders not to go to Iraq until security improved.
And in Washington and in Europe, the high-minded goals of General Garner's bureaucracy are being overshadowed by the American scramble for post-war reconstruction contracts.

General Garner will have to walk a fine line in his dealings with Chalabi.
Already he is finding it difficult.
Chalabi has said he will not attend the general's town hall meeting today.
He wants to go to Baghdad with a force of his Free Iraqi Fighters.
General Garner might be endorsed by Washington but in Iraq that will not be enough.

This story was found at: http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2003/04/15/1050172600077.htm

10/01/2006 08:05:00 AM  
Blogger Dave H said...

It is difficult to blame the armed services from being distrustful of all media includding bloggers. There was much less critiicism of the Gulf War where with the lesson of Vietnam in hand the DOD controlled the media much more comepletely. Of course that was before the net's all seeing eyes got all over the place.

I think it is built into the military's bones today to completely distrust all media.
I am not sure I agree with your statement Wretchard, that lack of coverage can lead to military disaster. Certainly not true in WW II.

It is a very disturbing subject, my thoughts are that we would probably be somewhat ahead if there were no more coverage than what was allowed in the Gulf war. Given the bloggers, even with their ubiquity somewhat restricted, that probably would mean no MSM coverage at all. I bet the military could live with that, I certainly could.

10/01/2006 08:43:00 AM  
Blogger IceCold said...

I'm very familiar with the LTC in question, and seeing Yon's comment on another site about this matter, asked one of the LTC's deputies about it. He said the big issue, not just with Yon but other bloggers and also regular free-lancers, was the lack of institutional support for these people - specifically insurance and medevac arrangements, etc.

I can't judge the sense or merits of that explanation, but the people involved are generally above-board and direct. The issue of Yon's picking up a weapon and firing during that incident in Mosul where LTC Kurilla was wounded also came up.

Hard to imagine the LTC in question wanting to censor Yon or other bloggers. Shows you how difficult it is to really understand a situation unless you're actually involved. I know all these people on the military side, but still can't quite settle on what I think about Yon's claims.

10/01/2006 09:28:00 AM  
Blogger 3Case said...

1. For what reason would a guy with a well-known and respected blogsite put something out via an e-mail? Particularly given that he has blogged on this topic before. Using a tagetted e-mail seems more a hallmark of a disinformation event.

2. It was said: "(3) the e-mail address on the message is the same one from which I've received updates from MY before;"

e-mail addresses are easily spoofed...very easily spoofed. I would be interested in a comparison of the subject e-mail's full header to the full header of a known good MY e-mail from the location from which the questioned e-mail claims to be originating. That is much harder to spoof.

10/01/2006 09:40:00 AM  
Blogger Annoy Mouse said...

Yon in fact has already issued a soft expose. I don’t recall the particulars but he felt he had a story that was an exclusive and was asked to sit on it for security purposes. Within 24 hours the “story” was broken by big media and Yon saw it as something of a slight that he was not in the loop. That was my impression anyhow.

10/01/2006 10:14:00 AM  
Blogger Asher Abrams said...

3case raises a good point, and I should have done this right away.

I compared full headers from the subject e-mail and two known legitimate ones from Michael Yon. From what I can see, the information appears to be the same, but I'm not knowledgeable enough to say for sure.

10/01/2006 10:48:00 AM  
Blogger Annoy Mouse said...

Hdgreene makes some good points about information security and one must wonder if the now indigenous stringers and media representatives aren’t all considered spies now. If a phone call is all it takes to instigate a raid or an all out assault, who but someone who has signed their allegiance to the cause with blood be allowed by the insurgents to roam freely. Every kidnapping and beheading was preceded first by a betrayal. In a case of heightened security, who would vouch for any embed when their own safety and those in their charge were so vulnerable, let alone the safety of a Yon as a target of opportunity himself? Yon put a face on coalition forces in Mosul, but he also gave us all an insight into what were the current means and methods of tactics.

10/01/2006 10:58:00 AM  
Blogger Annoy Mouse said...

Of all credible reasons for Yon’s exclusion, I’d have to say that, as icecold notes, Yon’s lack of logistics trail might be the simplest. The government is a business and a business takes a very strict view on risk. Who would stand behind Yon if he were to fall?

10/01/2006 11:05:00 AM  
Blogger Dan said...

This seems like a strange discussion. Is this offered to contradict the proposition that the US military does not engage in censorship above the level of operational plans? That strikes me as an awfully permissive and clearly naive standard - a standard so naive and permissive (i.e. of information being broadcast) that it sounds like a straw man to me. Does Yon anywhere indicate exactly the kind of information being censored, or any specific incident?

But, to echo someone's comment above: is this really something we ought to be that concerned about? I read recently, for example, a columnist in the London Times aghast that the US military, with British support, was actually carrying out targeted assassinations of terrorists, terrorist leaders, and terrorist cells, which he columnist asserted was illegal under international law.

Well - ha, I'm sorry - that's the concern of people who should no longer be listened to under current circumstances. In fact, are there no mines that need workers? No libraries that need cataloguers? No cars that need fixing? No farms that need farming, or perhaps equities to be analyzed? Why is it we are beset by so many people in a profession for which they are clearly morally unqualified to exercise?

Or are the charges that the US military is conducting some sort of genocidal policy, or some other Hitlerine strategy?

Frankly, the insinuation that the military ought to abide by all features of a Liberal civilian press is merely a rhetorical weapon. Or does the army that refused to slaughter looters, refused to kill Sadr, or defered in innumerable instances to the degeneracies of what passes for local politics suddenly conduct mass abductions, ransoms, massacres, political intrigues, embezzlements, thefts, lootings, terror campaigns - in short, everything the enemy engages in with a public impunity that would make Churchill never stop throwing up?

Michael Yon is a good journalist, but he is still a journalist. He has also lately become habituated to imputing Afghan poppy cultivation, and it's proceeds support of the Taliban, to a failure of US or Coalition policy. Oh really? That's interesting - perhaps the pesticiding of the crops by air and then the subsequent starvation of thousands of farmers would result in a greater benefit to the Afghan people, to say nothing of a more morally cogent strategy in the minds of journalists?

The inabiliy to grasp the nature of the countries and cultures and peoples with whom we are now against our will engaged is, in my opinion, getting more profound, not less. I would like to know a little bit more about the nature of what is being censored before I presume there is anything even of interest here. I think it behooves everyone to be At Least as skeptical of journalists as one is of the US armed forces.

10/01/2006 11:21:00 AM  
Blogger Tarnsman said...

Doug, this about whether or not Michael Yon's email is real or fabicated, not who the "Queen" of Baghdad is going to be, Garner, Woodward or any of the other claptrap you bring up. If you can't stick to the subject at hand go hang out with your buds over at DUI and free associate with them. As far as this supposed email from Michael Yon I smell a rat. Given the Michael Yon's previous access with the 4th ID and his sober but fair reporting I'd think the military would want a reporter like Michael embedded with the troops. I'm sure that this will be cleared up by Mr. Yon.

10/01/2006 12:54:00 PM  
Blogger 2164th said...

tarnsman, you must be the new self-delegated defender on the gate. There are few people more tedious than a scold.

10/01/2006 01:38:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

That's outa line, Deuce.
Straighten up, or ship out!

10/01/2006 02:04:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

If Yon had not been there before we would never have read "Gates of Fire"/LtCOL Kurilla, and WHY we don't win wars anymore.

10/01/2006 02:13:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

"was the lack of institutional support for these people - specifically insurance and medevac arrangements, etc."
---
For previously caught and released Jihadis, OTH, spare no expense, SAVE the bastard no matter the cost.
hmmm

10/01/2006 02:19:00 PM  
Blogger Asher Abrams said...

I have just received confirmation by e-mail from Michael Yon's office that this message is indeed authentic. Yon will be issuing a statement soon.

10/01/2006 02:24:00 PM  
Blogger trangbang68 said...

Not to drink the Rumsfield Koolaid,but maybe its a reaction to media snooping in every unit looking for atrocities.
This war is largely censored already by the 'driveby media' in Limbaugh's term.I was surprized by the admission that 4000 foreign fighters were KIA in Iraq.If I got all my news from the MSM cabal I would have thought:
a)there were hardly any foreign fighters only home grown insurgents radicalized by American heavy handedness.
b)the casualties were largely collateral while our own troops were
being decimated by IED's from a faceless enemy .

10/01/2006 02:33:00 PM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

Comment #1: To quote Sigmund, sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, and sometimes an e-mail is just an e-mail. Mr. Yon has posted several different missives discussing his problems getting back into Iraq. He is now naming names, and I see it as a reasonable escalation, given that he's obviously being given the run-around by the officer in question.

Comment #2: Doug is a regular commenter and sometimes makes valuable contributions. But I, too, find his off-topic dissertations on the state of the universe and his own id disconcerting, and wish he would take them elsewhere.

Comment #3: Why is everyone so stunned and amazed that what may be a rogue officer in the military may have taken it upon himself to be a roadblock to reporting what's going on there? Are we to understand there is no such thing as an incompetent or power-hungry officer in the whole United States military?

Ignoring my own advice that sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, doesn't it strike anyone else that concerns about "insurance" and "risk" are all about ass-covering and back-pedaling? If Yon had been told he didn't have sufficient medical or life insurance, don't you think he would have mentioned it elsewhere? This is stupid people scurrying for cover like cockroaches when the light of public attention is being shined on them.

Comment #4: I would agree that it might be a personal vendetta between the officer in question and Mr. Yon *IF* the current fact that there are only nine embedded reporters in the whole of Iraq didn't tell a different story of systematic blocking of access. One almost begins to wonder if a hand with fingers curled up for bribe-taking might be involved; i.e., "How much will you give me for a pass into Iraq?"

10/01/2006 03:18:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The veracity of the email has been verified. Mike did post his comments regarding LtC Barry Johnson on Pajamas Media the other day, as did I.

I have reprinted an email I sent to LtC Johnson last month on my blog.

LtC.Johnson is doing a major diservice to our troops, their families, and the Military.

I warned LTC.Johnson, I would go viral with this and I advised I would make many Generals, Lt.Cols, and others in my close circle of influence aware of what was going on. Incompetance leading to censorship is untenable. Worse, when asked on a radio show, LtCol Barry Johnson LIED about his reasons for NOT granting an embed to Mike.

Lt.Col Barry Johnson needs to be relieved of CPIC leadership and not replaced by some one who will merely follow his lead.

Barry Johnson was at the heart of the Baghdad Press Club hubris surrounding the payment to media to plant positive stories. While the DOD denied any knowledge of this - a month ago they paid the Lincoln Group $20 million in taxpayers money to plant positive stories in the media.

And yet, Lt.Barry Johnson denies Mike Yon an embed, based on a personal vendetta..and then lies to the American people as to his reason!

10/01/2006 03:22:00 PM  
Blogger Sparks fly said...

Maybe the Dems have placed a mole in the military to stifle honest reporting on the war so that they can pronounce Bush a failure and win the congressional elections coming up shortly.

If so expose him and get him out of there.

10/01/2006 03:25:00 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

Judging from Yon's office's response, then, the censorship consists in reducing the number of embeds.

Hm. According to my recollection, the embed policy in OIF was historically speaking an extraordinarily open one. Results have been mixed, but the notion that access is now being curtailed, if true, and of course it may be, signifies what? It may mean, in part, that the USAF is tired of the sniping, which is the fuel of the political opposition, and which in turn must impose real limitations on conducting operations that would be unpalatable even on the center-right, however cogent under the circumstances. In tandem, it may also signify that the US intends to get hard against militia; I rather think al Qaeda, amazingly, still evokes little sympathy from anyone, in the sense that their obliteration from above is at least not openly lamented or criticized (detention and processing are of course different matters). Maybe that's wishful thinking, though. I will guess that, judging by a few of Yon's recent pieces, which have started airing uncomfortable and reasonably vast problems (see his recent articles in National Review Online), the military has reigned in its former more liberal policy with respect to embeds, and is now interested in a more pro-US tac. This probably reflects the delicate nature of the situation. Clearly US amitions are mortally threatened, largely because the political representatives are incompetent comspirators interested in little but achieving their personal fiefdoms, because, of course, they tribal wastoid barbarians. Moreover, something does not add up, exactly, about the reticence to engage Sadr, particularly in light of the many recent reports indicating the Mahdi Army's prime responsability for "Shia death squad" activity - which, according to recent reports, is now splintering into factions disaffected with whatever passes for Sadr's compromises to keep himself within the political fold. I recall vividly the look on Gen. Abizaid's face when McCain grilled him on the same topic I recently watched on C-SPAN. The look was "Senator, you should not be going there."

In any case, Yon's information is probaly bad news. Unfortunately, only unpalatable killing, maiming, and terror firebombing is going to stun the barbarians into not annihilating each other according to their pathetic means. And now the vote to federate Iraq will be discussed, and stimy because of the usual Sunni intransigence and the geographical distribution of oil deposits.

See? This is why Empire is really so much easier and better. Sadr City's a problem, eh? BAM! 6 hours later, no more Sadr City! Oh - Ramadi refuses to assimilate? BAMBAMBAM - problem solved! Yay!

But then, what? Barbarians do no work. And they're all "seething," or something.

Also, Sadr delenda est.

10/01/2006 03:28:00 PM  
Blogger Andrewdb said...

3Case - I received the same e-mail. I do not have a blog, but did sign up for MY's e-mail list. If it is a fake, someone hacked his e-mail list, which of course is not impossible.

10/01/2006 03:46:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Open Letter to Lt.Col. Barry Johnson.

Pajamas Media "How Many Embedded Reporters Cover The Iraq War"

10/01/2006 04:42:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

From Open letter link above:
---
Had it not been for Michael Yon- a writer who possesses a better understanding of military ops than most credentialed journalists on the big media payrolls, who can and does provide full context to the events he witnesses, who continues to be interviewed by major print, radio, tv and on-line media as the GOLD standard for ALL coverage in both Iraq and Afghanistan, and who garners the respect of generals, a long list of Lt.Col's, grunts, Marines, airmen, seamen, special forces, Hollywood celebs, and even "administration hating, anti military, lets cut and run" Democrats - this war would have beencompletely lost on the homefront in 2005 thanks to a biased agenda filled media, thus handing over a huge victory to jihadists around the world; and not even your plan to pay for good news to be planted in the media could have salvaged that scenario.

People want the whole picture - something besides combat- which is exactly what Michael Yon provided in his evocative, insightful, informative, and honest dispatches. Yet you deny him an embed for personal reasons and then mislead the public as to why you took this ludicrous action...

10/01/2006 05:07:00 PM  
Blogger Woman Catholic said...

sparks fly

Maybe the Dems have placed a mole in the military to stifle honest reporting on the war so that they can pronounce Bush a failure and win the congressional elections coming up shortly.

Stifle honest reporting, like pictures of dead troops' caskets? You think the Dem mole is censoring that?

10/01/2006 05:58:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Michael Yon :
The military is half the problem when it comes to bad media. LTC Barry Johnson is boss of the Combined Press Information Center in Baghdad. Johnson regularly denies embeds for no apparent reason even while combat commanders extend invitations.
This is the type of coverage that LTC Barry Johnson turns down. Johnson would not permit Walt Gaya, who earned two Purple Hearts in combat in 2005, to embed with US Forces. So Walt paid his own way to Iraq:
http://www.michaelyon-online.com/wp/omars-side-of-the-wall.htm
---
Michael Yon :
The military makes it very difficult for reporters in Iraq. I know three -- including me -- who recently tried to embed in Iraq and were denied. In 2005, when I wrote a single sentence the PAO did not like, I needed a guard to eat in the dining facility in Mosul. The PAO stole some of my photos and released them to the world, then taunted me to "sue them" when I asked for compensation. Brigadier General Vincent Brooks knows the story well. A journalist might interview him and ask why he refused to obey the laws of the United States while he was Chief of Public Affairs. Our combat troops are great -- and our lower level PAO people usually are, too. But the behavior of the upper levels of the Public Affairs Office often border on thuggery. They paid for positive news to be printed -- and got caught -- all while alienating the few who will go into combat day in and day out and give fair coverage. The poor coverage is not all the fault of the media.

The PAO is a huge obstacle to winning this war. The Combined Press Information Center (CPIC) in Baghdad is led by a man named LTC Barry Johnson. Johnson is entirely responsible for much of the bad news coming from Iraq. He is incompetent and not to be trusted with getting the truth out to American citizens. Only nine reporters in Iraq? If Barry Johnson were fired, there would be at least 12, including me, but he will not allow me to embed and has offered no truthful explanation for his actions. If we lose this war, the loss will be due at least in some part to people like LTC Barry Johnson who blows off fair media while grabbing his ankles for the big media who can destroy him...the very media that continues to be blamed for all the bad news.

Sep 23, 2006 08:31 AM

10/01/2006 06:39:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Totten's interview at PJM makes it clear why one just about has to be embeded these days or paid for by Time, etc:
The costs for Security alone are staggering.
Says the North is safer, hope Walt stays up there.

10/01/2006 06:41:00 PM  
Blogger Cutler said...

"Barry Johnson was at the heart of the Baghdad Press Club hubris surrounding the payment to media to plant positive stories. While the DOD denied any knowledge of this - a month ago they paid the Lincoln Group $20 million in taxpayers money to plant positive true stories in the media."

So f****** what?

10/01/2006 06:43:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Cutler, please!
We have the Bar for that sort of thing!

10/01/2006 06:46:00 PM  
Blogger Cutler said...

I'm sorry, but I'm sick of the immediate leap into moonbat territory when there's problems. Dan's right, you can make a case without going overboard.

10/01/2006 06:49:00 PM  
Blogger Cutler said...

Similar methods stopped Italy from turning Communist after World War II.

Nothing's going to be rosy in this process.

10/01/2006 06:51:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

'Rat's belief is that the Army's sensitivity to the Catch and Release issue is at work here.
I think that is moonbat territory, even if Yon may be (understadably imo) over-emotional.
If we never win any more wars we're in heap big trouble.
PC Rules make that so.

10/01/2006 06:55:00 PM  
Blogger Mike H. said...

Do you mean, a military that the press has never known to do any good is censoring?

3 million people can't all be wrong (inscribed on a page from Vietnam).

10/01/2006 09:49:00 PM  
Blogger Michael Yon said...

Regarding this comment left by Ice Cold:
"I can't judge the sense or merits of that explanation, but the people involved are generally above-board and direct. The issue of Yon's picking up a weapon and firing during that incident in Mosul where LTC Kurilla was wounded also came up."

Irene here. I work with Michael. If someone in CPIC is raising the issue of the incident with firing a weapon then they are truly desperate for excuses.

Ice Cold claims to not be making judgement, but he vouches for the character of his source, who is impugning Michael's character, and anyone who has internet access can easily check the facts on this one and know what I know--that this is unadulterated, intentional, and really hackneyed BS.

Here is why:
1. Michael wrote about how the military dealt with that incident more than a year ago, in Gates of Fire. They reviewed the facts, looked at the film, talked to the witnesses...and he stayed in Iraq with the Deuce Four until they returned to the US which had been his long held and oft-stated plan.

2. He successfully re-embedded last October to cover the elections in Baghdad, traveling again with CSM Jeffrey Mellinger. If the incident was going to be a block to future embeds, it would have been a block back then, especially when it was so fresh in everyone's mind. But it wasn't.

And, for the record. The military has never asked Michael-- or other embeds who have shared experiences with him--about insurance. Johnson never asked about that. He would undoubtedly be surprised by the answer had he done at least that. He came up with the stuff about insurance after the fact. It is a red herring.

The stuff about firing a weapon is rehashed rumors.

As to insisting that people have mainstream media support before allowing embeds....some of the best coverage of our military has come from alternative media sources. Does anyone commenting on this site dispute that? Is LTC Johnson the only person alive who hasn't picked up on that fact?
Anyone who has an embed invite from a military commander, who is willing to travel to a war zone at their own expense, risking it all without media affiliation, deserves at the very least respectful treatment from PAO/CPIC staff, to say least about not having the same people spread lies and rumors about them...

10/01/2006 09:52:00 PM  
Blogger irene said...

I just want to make it clear that the previous comment was not written by Michael Yon, but by me (Irene) who works with him. I happened to be logged onto the blogger site at the time I posted my comment and I just realized that by doing so it left the impression that Michael Yon had posted the comment. Just wanted people to be clear about that.

10/01/2006 10:01:00 PM  
Blogger ledger said...

Yon is a hard hitting but controversial reporter. And, he has had friction with the US Army.

The grabing of a weapon and shooting of a propane tank during the LTC Kurilla incident was not the greatest maneuver for a journalist (although Yon's intentions were good).

Further, Yon did contact Ted Kennedy's office for support of his litigation against the US Army regarding the distribution of the famous photo. So, there is friction between Yon and the US military (and probably between Yon and LTC Barry Johnson). Litigation Always Brings Friction. Hence, I think there is more to this thing than the average reader can see.

I think Yon is a great reporter and I have read most his stuff. But, Yon can go off on a tangent every now and then.

Since I don't know the whole story I will just leave it in the unsolved bin - and let others make their own judgment.

10/02/2006 01:27:00 AM  
Blogger RaymondW said...

This thread is a complete waste of time and I'm really disappointed. This is about ego and tantrums and its time to let it go.

10/02/2006 03:46:00 PM  
Blogger Kirk Parker said...

2164th, "There are few people more tedious than a scold." True enough, but foremost among that select group are the logorrheic few who do so much to detract from the comment section here.

10/03/2006 01:30:00 AM  
Blogger Egfrow said...

We are not allowed to treat our enemies as ememies. The MSM does not have the future interests of United States of America as a moral goal.
The US Military is questioned about every manuever and every report that is filled. Part of war is decptions to the enemey. This can't be allowed if the MSM keeps blowing our secrets out.

The Military can't win this war with the Current Press involved at all. It's an impossible feat to win when we are not allowed to wage war against our ememies.

Vietnam and all conflicts after it have been compromised by free press commentary and photography without the benifit of context or reason. This is why we keep loosing. The American public can call for war on our ememies but can't stomach what that actually means.

10/03/2006 01:13:00 PM  
Blogger Abu Nudnik said...

Censorship by military in a time of war? You don't say!

Good on them.

And good on disproportionate response too. Any government that doesn't use all its tools is immoral. Any government that sacrifices its own in favor of the enemy should be removed.

10/03/2006 05:23:00 PM  

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