May 22, 2007:
The U.S. Justice Department recently
indicted an anti-war activist who claimed he was a soldier who had participated
in atrocities during the liberation of Iraq. In this case, the anti-war
activist not only had been making phony claims about massacres, he also is
accused of defrauding the government out of over $10,000 in veterans benefits.
It is yet another example of the aftermath of a phony claim not getting the
reports those lurid initial claims of massacres got.
There have been several major claims of massacres.
The most notable was the 2002 Battle of Jenin against Israel. After the battle,
the Palestinian Authority claimed a massacre had occurred. The mainstream media
and human rights groups quickly echoed their claims. However, further
investigations showed that not only had the body count been exaggerated, but
that most of those confirmed killed were, in fact, terrorists and not
Claims of a massacre at Haditha in 2005 have also
become much more murkier. Testimony from an intelligence officer and a liaison
officer indicated that at least eight of the 24 killed in Haditha were
insurgents. The initial Haditha investigations uncovered some apparent
discrepancies in the Marines' stories, and a criminal investigation by NCIS was
launched. This, and claims from human rights groups in the media, led to some
criminal charges being filed earlier this year. Currently, the Haditha matter
is being addressed through the military justice system. Contrary to earlier
claims by an anti-war Congressman, there has been no cover-up.
Phony claims of massacres have not been the only
false claims aimed at the U.S. military. Al-Qaeda terrorists that have been
captured are instructed, in their training manuals, to immediately and loudly
claim torture. This tends to draw the attention of human-rights groups - and
they tend to lobby politicians. The media also tends to jump not only on the
torture claims, but also other lurid claims, like guards at Guantanamo Bay
flushing a Koran down the toilet. The Koran-flushing story triggered riots in
which people were killed and injured. In virtually every case, the claims
turned out to have no relation to the facts.
Phony claims by anti-war activists - including
phony claims of military service - are not new. Several members of Vietnam
Veterans Against the War were found to have never served in Vietnam. That said,
these groups tend to get a pass from a media that is sympathetic to their
agenda. Much of the outing of these phonies, and the placement of torture
claims in context comes from bloggers.
Fighting false accusations from terrorists that get
repeated by the media, human rights groups, and politicians is important, yet
it proves to be difficult. Not only do these claims tend to undermine morale
among the troops, they also have to deal with increased recruiting by
terrorists, who often cite the claims from Western media and anti-war activists
of massacres and torture. This allows the terrorists to train a new generation
- a generation out to avenge atrocities that never happened. - Harold C.