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now this is just crass.(20 posts)

now this is just crass.rufus
Oct 13, 2003 6:03 AM
Not entirely crass, justOldEdScott
Oct 13, 2003 6:12 AM
done badly. Any bonehead knows when you do a 'planted' letter campaign, you use different letters! Sheesh. That's how I know the GOP isn't behind this. They wouldn't make that mistake.
You're right...that's the work of somesn69
Oct 13, 2003 7:45 AM
flunky public affairs officer, no doubt at the "request" of his higher chain of command and through even higher levels in DOD.

Still, the soldiers' comments that are quoted lower down in the verbiage of the story are similar to the sentiments of two friends of mine who have been over there (shore-based rather than ship-based) since March. They say much the same...the vast preponderance of the nation is doing far better than one would expect or than the media fairly reports of (not good copy, thus not good revenue production). Likewise, they say that Tikrit remains a nasty place, filled with a lot of Saddam loyalists who, as former Bathists, fear the coming shift in the balance of resources and WEALTH to the Kurds in the north and the Shiites in the south. Thus their antipathy, as opposed to the other areas where the Fedayeen have as much or more to fear from the civilian population than they do from US troops.

Back to the original point, however. PAOs are schmucks, in my humble opinion, typically cast aside from their original designator/ least in the Navy they are. ...Guys/gals who couldn't make it; thus, in typical DOD brilliance, we make them our mouthpieces.

My $.02.
HEY! I was a PAO! You calling me a schmuck??OldEdScott
Oct 13, 2003 7:56 AM
The reason being -- herewith, the Army's typical brilliance -- flunking out of the UK School of Journalism after one year made me freakin' Edward R. Murrow, in their view.

It was a TERRIBLE gig when they tried to make me a combat photog, who took the unfortunate pictures he had to take with his eyes mostly squinted near shut. Not a bad gig later when -- more typical brilliance -- my dismal showing at that got booted up to JUPAO in Saigon to help with the daily 'Snow in the Tropics' press briefings. That's where I learned to write fiction, which led inevitably to political writing ...
Actually, I began life as one too.sn69
Oct 13, 2003 8:37 AM
Fresh out of UF NROTC/Journalism, I was sent to Pensacola in the pilot "stash" pool at the time, waiting for training. Having that degree earned me a year-long set of orders to a squadron to be their PAO. It was stupidly esy stuff--writing weekly articles for the base newspaper while explaining inverted pyramid to the paper's idiotic editor. Anyhow, shortly thereafter, the Navy's PAO-corps officially approached me to redesignate and join their ranks. I went screaming to my CO's office and got immediate orders to start flight school.

I'd rather be a cockpit flunky; writing I'll save for the career after this one. Of course, I'll have to find an agent, an editor and a publishing contract, but HEY, why worry about the details?!.....

OBTW, there's a 57/58 RB-1 on eBay frames at present. It's got the "Grant" fork crown too. I REALLY hope Rivendell clears up their financial woes.
If not Rivendell, check out...PdxMark
Oct 13, 2003 11:25 AM
If not Rivendell, check out...sn69
Oct 13, 2003 1:47 PM
Been drooling over his bikes for more than a year now. Likewise, Ves Mandaric makes terrific lugged 753 and Nemo bikes just up the road in Vista/San Marcos. All the tri-geeks know him for his Yaqui bikes, which are terrific, but his road bikes are quite nice too.

Being in San Diego, I wish that Bill Holland had a website. He's colocated with Joe Bell down in the southbay area (Spring Valley). I see lots of his ti bikes on the road, and occassionally I see a nice lugged one too.
Next Pentagon hoax on Americans: Letters from the "Iraqi people"critmass
Oct 13, 2003 9:40 AM
Dear American Newspaper,

Saddam was bad man. He had WMD and planned 9-11 wiith Bin Laden. Thank you for bomb-ning us. Bush is a good man. If you care for Iraqi people vote for Bush. Also Rummie VERY good man. I want become conservative Christian republican like these good men.

Sincere, Ackmed Rahmfell, Free Iraqi
Next Pentagon hoax on Americans: Letters from the "Iraqi people"Hot Carl
Oct 13, 2003 11:40 AM
ps: Please consider liberating my oppressed brother in Syria, my sister in Iran, and my poor puppy in North Korea.
Crass or no, apparently it reflects the soldier's POVTJeanloz
Oct 14, 2003 4:11 AM
There was a segment on the Newshour over the weekend with a reporter who had just returned from Afghanistan and Iraq, who said the many of the soldiers were upset by the lack of coverage back home of all of the good things they had done.

She conveyed that the soldiers feel like they're making real progress, while the Democrats try to portray it as Vietnam II - which they obviously are disheartened by.
Oct 14, 2003 7:47 AM
There is something about the "Your Hearts and Minds or else" attitude that reminds us of the failures of Vietnam.

It might be the POV of some soldiers (the soldiers in Rufus's link didn't write those words as purported therefore they were a hoax) but I'm sure there are many more troops that are just sick and tired of the extended deployment, the danger, the 120 heat and the uncertainty. There have been numerous reports about morale being very low among the troops starting in the middle of the summer. It IS like Vietnam in that the longer you stay the more you see your people get wounded and die. Dubya and the boyz say we will be there for years. It IS like Vietnam as soldiers find that many Iraqi's don't want them there, as more IED's explode under them on the roads, as more truck bombs go off, as they change emotionally and mentally from seeing friends die and killing. They then start to question the war or worse they begin to hate the Iraqi's and that becomes the basis for "Hearts and Minds or else" and even atrocities with that leaving psychological and emotional wounds. It's easy to see war as rosy especially if you have never been in one like the Vietnam chickenhawks in this administration. Those that have been in war know the realities.
Vietnam, as the Pentagon Papers showed, was built on lies. There is one major difference though: it took six years of war before the Pentagon Papers came out, this time we knew the lies this war was built on in months.

But then Dubya and the boyz are only going to be around for another 17 months.
Believe what you wantTJeanloz
Oct 14, 2003 8:00 AM
I only point out that a PBS reporter returned from the front and reports that she was surprised with how happy the soldiers were with what they had done and were doing, and how dismayed they were by the coverage the war was receiving in the U.S.

She said that the situation was "180 degrees different" than what she had believed based on reports in the U.S. media. And this was not on Fox News.

Furthermore, the big bruhaha is that this was a form letter sent around, not an actual letter penned by each soldier. But how is that different than cyclists sending a form response to Clear Channel when they do something we don't like? The instances where soldiers say they didn't sign the letter are odd - but many soldiers said that they didn't write the letter, but supported the message.
Odd that you call it "odd", when a better word is...dr hoo
Oct 14, 2003 2:24 PM
... forgery. Signing someone's signature is forgery. Doing so in the name of a military member who is putting his or her life on the line, in essence hijacking their identity for political purposes, is the act of a slime dweller.

Odd? I have some stronger words for it.
Odd that you call it "odd", when a better word is...sn69
Oct 14, 2003 7:30 PM
Would it disturb or otherwise shock/surprise you to learn that this sort of activity also went on quite frequently during the glorious Clinton years? You know...the ones that were devoid of duplicitous, meandering and imperialistic foriegn policies that involved arbitrary use of military force for questionable, dubious purposes--oh, wait...that must have been my imagination getting carried away during two deployments I made in support of the "other Gulf War," the one that involved constant air strikes, monthly TLAM strikes, occassional exchanges of artillery, noted/directed terrorist/insurgent strikes and plenty of hard and soft casualties on both sides; the one that spanned 11 years.

What you are reading here is no different that what was frequently "sent" home on our behalf as a function of a rightfully maligned critter known as the Fleet Hometown News Release. I've no doubt that the Army and Air Farce have their versions as well.

Is it wrong? Yup. Does it bother me? Yup. Do all administrations do this sh!t? Yup.

In the meantime, the rest of the article also makes it rather clear that while the brave young women and men in question oppose this policy, they nonetheless also have some well-defined opinions about the other side of things going on over there that aren't easy adaptable sound-bites ready to generate viewership and this revenue for Channel Whatever Eye Witness Snooze.
Odd that you call it "odd", when a better word is...critmass
Oct 14, 2003 9:49 PM
There is no difference in my mind between a Dubya sycophant and a Clinton one, or more to my point here a Johnson one. It amuses me when I see people trying to obscure by bringing some past antagonist into the argument, as if that is some sort of validation of their moral relativism.
But then people look into mirrors all the time and they can't see their ideological apologist opponent staring back.
One of the things that Vietnam should have taught us is that psyops that indulge in contempt, scorn or insult are fatal. This is a case of contempt for the truth and deceiving the American public with bogus letters about PERSONAL experiences from hometown soldiers. People in small cities like Olympia remember when they are deceived in this manner. I remember reading a news story about a battalion commander chuckling about putting up posters of Saddam dressed up as Elvis with a gold chain and cross around his exposed hairy chest to draw out the resistance. This was in Tikit of all places. That kind of stupidity and things like Duyba's brain-challenged "bring them on" are both ignorant examples of incentives to violence and even gives the enemy the moral-superiority feeling of self-justification. I was against this misadventure from the start. I see the arrogance of neocon conquerors written all over this. I also see, with eyes from Vietnam, that arrogance that is as truculent as it is provocative just leads to more resistance and deaths.
You're right about this kind of deception going on in the past with Clinton or whoever but that just obscures the point, intentional or not, that it's going on NOW. I don't question the bravery of our men and women. I do question one sided arguments about all of our troops being content with their political and economic-oriented war plight and how they really feel about being in Iraq.
It would no more surprise me than...dr hoo
Oct 15, 2003 6:04 AM
... someone yelling about Clinton when criticisms of Bush are mentioned.

Show me the documentation on forging signatures during the Clinton administration. I don't doubt that they are there, but show me the evidence please. Buddies "stories" don't count. I know about a lot of slimy things that have happened in many administrations, so I am willing to believe you, I just need some source.

What actually does suprise me is that the press is recognizing this astroturfing for what it is: propaganda. Administration says something, which letters from the "troops" say too, which matches all the e-mails news outlets are getting... trying to show a "grassroots" movement which is in fact not there. It is artificial grass roots, thus "astroturf". The real ongoing story here is the press is looking VERY closely at what is being said, and growing ever more skeptical of administration claims.

But my real point in calling it forgery is targeted at TJ, who a short while ago stated that "perjury is perjury" in regards to Clinton, but when seeing another crime does not label it as so. He just called it "odd".
The proof would be me.sn69
Oct 15, 2003 7:29 AM
My folks got Hometown News Releases on me during my last cruise (Operation Southern Watch stuff, otherwise known as Groundhog Station). ...Showed up in the Ft Laud Sun Sentinal with quotes and whatnot that I never said. Hell, I never spoke to anyone about it.

More often than not, these things are the overzealous and entirely misguided actions of foolish public affairs staffs. I see it all the time in my current job.

I'd suspect that far less of it actually relates to Evil Empire Conspiracies.

And, FWIW, I think Critmass' point about relating duplicity in gov't particularly with regards to LBJ is right on the $. NOT to belabour his other point about citing the past, that horrid morrass that cost over 200,000 lives (Vietnamese and ours), was started far earlier. In that regard, I think my broader point is that there's a continual cycle that seems to repeat regardless of the political cabal du jour. Selective partisan awareness on the part of a great many people, however, seems to continually obscure that reality.
Follow-up. Truth? Decide for yourselves. nmsn69
Oct 15, 2003 2:45 PM
USA Today
October 15, 2003
Pg. 14

Officer Was The One Behind 500 Letters

By Ledyard King, Gannett News Service

WASHINGTON — An Army battalion commander has taken responsibility for a public-relations campaign that sent hundreds of identical letters to hometown newspapers promoting his soldiers' rebuilding efforts in Iraq.

Lt. Col. Dominic Caraccilo said he wanted to highlight his unit's work and "share that pride with people back home."

Army officials revealed Tuesday that 500 identical form letters were sent to newspapers across the country with different signatures. They said the mass mailing was the wrong way of getting the message out, but they didn't know whether the commander would be disciplined.

"It sounded like a good idea at their level, (but) it's just not the way to do business. They're not going to do that again," said Lt. Col. Bill MacDonald, a spokesman for the 4th Infantry Division, which is leading operations in north-central Iraq.

Caraccilo heads the 2nd Battalion of the 503rd Airborne Infantry Regiment, a paratroop unit normally based in Italy with roughly 800 soldiers. The battalion has spent the past few months in the north-central Iraq city of Kirkuk restoring basic services.

Amid the daily headlines of bloodshed and unrest in Iraq, Caraccilo wanted to draw attention to the work of his troops by mailing a form letter to soldiers' hometowns.

"The quality of life and security for the citizens has been largely restored, and we are a large part of why that has happened," reads the five-paragraph, typed letter sent in late summer.

MacDonald said no one was forced to sign the letter, though most did. At least one soldier contacted by Gannett News Service said he never signed the letter that appeared in his hometown newspaper in Charleston, W.Va. Several parents also said they knew their sons had not written the letters that appeared in local newspapers. The letter appeared in at least a dozen newspapers, according to a Gannett News Service search.

Caraccilo said he meant no harm. "The letter was purely an effort made by soldiers of the 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry to afford our soldiers an opportunity to let their respective hometowns know what they are accomplishing here in Kirkuk," he wrote in an e-mail to the 4th Infantry Division public affairs office. Attempts to reach Caraccilo directly were unsuccessful.

"As you might expect, they are working at an extremely fast pace, and getting the good news back home is not always easy," he continued in the e-mail. "We thought it would be a good idea to encapsulate what we as a battalion have accomplished since arriving in Iraq and share that pride with people back home."

Military officials said they were unaware of any plans to discipline Caraccilo. They said his intentions were honorable.

News of the letter-writing campaign emerged over the weekend as President Bush and other administration officials were conducting their own campaign to emphasize successes in Iraq. Polls have shown American public opinion on the mission souring.

White House spokesman Scott McClellan said Tuesday that he didn't have details of the letter-writing campaign and referred questions to military commanders.

"The intention was good, but the delivery system was probably not a good way to do it, because of misperceptions that could be taken," MacDonald said. "You don't want anybody out there saying I never saw that letter."

Contributing: Judy Keen
Follow-up. GUILE? Decide for yourselves.critmass
Oct 16, 2003 1:00 AM
Well I guess it wasn't the misguided actions of foolish public affairs staffs.
But then.... "Military officials said they were unaware of any plans to discipline Caraccilo. They said his intentions were honorable" I guess we should just forget the whole thing.

But then I remembered that it was the 173rd airborne that played the we found WMD's game.
I remember press reports, widely circulated, about them saying they had found a chemical warhead. That made me do some web searches.

Guess who presented it to the press:

"The weapons inspectors never would have found this stuff," said Lt. Col. Dominic Caraccilo, the battalion commander who led the team to the sites. "It would have taken 40 years." And one of his men is quoted "Make sure you put this in the newspaper: The U.N. weapons inspectors suck."

Then his men confirm to the press that one of the warheads tests positive for nerve agents

"Two initial "improved chemical agent monitor" (ICAM) tests showed trace amounts of a nerve agent on the baseball bat-length warhead -- at the rear and in the middle where there is a screwed-down circular area about the size of a quarter"

BUT THEN....under more scrutiny from the press and experts the tanks are found to contain farm pesticides, they were found on a farm, and the warhead tests negative for nerve agents.

To be kind I would say that Caraccilo's P.R. skills are lacking or maybe it's just guile.
I call it odd because I don't know what happenedTJeanloz
Oct 16, 2003 6:39 AM
I called it odd because it wasn't clear to me how a soldiers name was signed to a letter by somebody else. It brings up the obvious questions: who signed it? why did they sign it for somebody else?

Odd because I don't know the answers to this, and would like to learn them. Odd like it needs more investigation before I draw a conclusion. Not that there wasn't, possibly, a crime committed here - I'm not saying that's the case. Just saying that it's peculiar, and deserves investigation before I cast judgement.