Captain May, Ghost Troop  Commander to
Leon Smith, Publisher, Lone Star Iconoclast
Dear Mr. Smith,
Thanks for our latest chat today.  It's most refreshing to speak with a newspaper that's interested in news, and the Lone Star Iconoclast clearly is.  I picked up a copy of your paper edition back on Easter Day, when I was celebrating the Crawford Peace House's third anniversary, and enjoy reading your on-line articles now that I'm back home in Houston.
Tragedy for our Times:  Private Jesse MacBeth
The biggest Iraq story not being covered by the media nowadays is that of Jesse MacBeth, who claims to have been a veteran of both Afghanistan and Iraq.  He also claims to have served with elite US Special Forces and Ranger units during combat operations in both countries.  Finally, he claims that US forces received orders, in the early Iraq War, to commit atrocities.
MacBeth's claims broke onto the internet at roughly the same time as Congressman Jack Murtha's claim of a Haditha massacre on Chris Mathew's Hardball (MSNBC) last month, prompting MacBeth opponents to claim they smelled a rat.  In the last three weeks there have been any number of articles and emails by the neocon journalists like Michelle Malkin to debunk him and label him a liar.  The Army is quoted by one after another of them as denying that he served in combat, and instead has labeled him a 43-day wonder, who washed out of the service while still in training.
All of this was so curious to me that I watched the MacBeth interview (20 minutes of it).  In fact, I watched it several times, inimically, looking to use my own background as a former Army intelligence officer to catch MacBeth in the act of spouting lies.  I was looking to make quick work of this, since I knew very well that there's no way a "43-day wonder," as he was said to be, could BS a four-decade soldier like me.
After watching his interview several times, I hadn't caught MacBeth in any lies, though.  As far as I could tell, he was telling the truth.  As more atrocity news broke in Iraq late last week, culminating with a new Iraqi government saying that American atrocities are routine in Iraq, it's easier and easier to believe MacBeth.
This is, I believe, why there has been such a concerted effort to discredit him.
Crossing paths (and swords) with Bush Leaguers
Last week I began my research on Jesse MacBeth the hard way:  Having appeared in a show after his taped interview, I found one of my publishers under attack from a Bush League bully who insinuated her treason and his desire to get her.  I contacted the bully politely, but firmly, and quickly received an email reply that I was a traitor, that traitors should be shot, and that I should thank God this was America (presumably since here a traitor was hard to shoot).
As I maintain contacts with my local police intelligence folks, I passed the email on to them, and soon afterward was being threatened by the next rung in the ladder of disinformation, Robert Noe, who was part of the anti-Sheehan crowd in the Camp Casey summer of 2005.  He made apologies for his accomplice -- along with new threats.  
Noe has a green beret background and a felonious streak, and was doing his level best to cause a riot in Crawford when he visited, and says as much himself in an article he wrote on his antics:
Noe, who served as a hatchet platoon leader in Vietnam, was out to do a hatchet job on Jesse MacBeth, and anyone who stood up for him (or in my case, beside him in an interview sequence).  It was apparent that he was a ringleader for the Bush League attack on MacBeth's record and (in consequence) his story of command-sanctioned atrocities.
I looked to the internet trail of Noe and other virulent pro-war fanatics, and found that they used the same inconclusive arguments against MacBeth:  that his DD-214 said that he had only served 43 days; and that the Ranger and Special Forces didn't know him.  Still, I found no convincing proof in any of this that MacBeth really was an impostor.  The argument that a DD-214 form was irregular still had to be backed up, and without that being proved I saw no reason why I shouldn't continue to regard the interview as authentic.
If Jesse MacBeth is a liar, I think after every repeat viewing of his interview, then he is the best liar on earth.  If he wasn't in the Middle Eastern War, then he should be teaching courses on it, because his grasp of details shows that he has studied it intensely somewhere.
Lies, damned lies and Army Public Affairs
Frustrated and wanting direct answers, I called Army Public Affairs Friday after lunch, looking for the nearest public affairs officer to call up the Army Personnel Center (ARPERCEN) in St. Louis and give me exact, accurate information on Jesse MacBeth's background and service record.  As a former Army public affairs officer myself, I expected a one-minute call, then a return call with answers after a one-hour wait.
It didn't happen that way, though.  The first officer I spoke with was a major.  I didn't get his last name nor, after I'd stated that I was interested in Jesse MacBeth, did I get anything else.  He begged off for having a bad memory and passed me to another spokesman.
The new spokesman said he was quite surprised that I should take an interest in old news, and said that he had told quite a few journalists what he would tell me:  there was precious little information about Jesse MacBeth, who seemed to be a hoaxster.  He mentioned that neither Ranger nor Special Forces knew him, and that there were copies of a most dubious DD-214 for MacBeth on the internet.
I let him finish all this before explaining that I wasn't a regular journalist, but a former officer, and that I knew he was repeating the same rumors I'd already been working with (and against) in discerning the truth about MacBeth.  I added that I'd been a public affairs officer, and knew very well that the information I was asking for was something he could have definitively addressed weeks ago, when the MacBeth interview broke, or by now at any rate, since the allegations of that interview were still a matter of pressing public concern.
My opponent (for he showed himself to be this) interrupted my points to argue with me from time to time, and I finally told him that he'd been non-responsive, and that my story line from the interview with Army Public Affairs was that they neither confirmed nor denied Jesse MacBeth's story of over a year of service.  At this point, he said that such words would be a misrepresentation -- after which I asked him if he could affirm MacBeth's service claim (to which he replied "No").  I next asked him if he could deny MacBeth's service claim (to which he hesitated long, then replied "Yes").
As a final matter of record, I asked his name, and found to my surprise that it was the civilian chief of Army Public Affairs, Paul Boyce!
Why on earth would the chief of the Army's public affairs apparatus bother to take a call on a story that was (to hear him variously describe it):  stale, fraudulent, inaccurate and a hoax?  The answer is simplicity itself:  Because Jesse MacBeth's story is none of these things.
I urge you and other interested journalists to follow up on this story that is holding up so far -- at least insofar as it has become an obvious target for an obvious discrediting operation that combines such mixed characters as former green beret Robert Noe (something out of Apocalypse Now) with Bush League information apparatchik Paul Boyce (something out of the Manchurian Candidate).  It's all an attempt to knock down Jesse MacBeth, and his horrible story of a war in which the same command structure authorizing Abu Ghraib tortures in the fall of 2003 was authorizing reprisals and executions in the fiels -- all of it in contravention of the laws of war.  If MacBeth is to be debunked by military apologists like Noe and Boyce, it must be done with facts and figures, not with the tactics and techniques of character assassination.
I leave resources below -- along with the most important resource of all:  the Jesse MacBeth interview.  Given the contradictions of his critics, those who want to know the truth should listen to him, then decide for themselves.
Captain May is the founder and commander of Ghost Troop, a cyber-intelligence group of 300 military veterans and antiwar activists.
5/28/06 Jesse MacBeth video:
6/02/06 update on Jesse MacBeth (by Capt. May's for Adelaide Institute):
11/03/03 East Arizon Courier article on Jesse MacBeth, wounded veteran & 4/06/04 Free to Camp Coalition article on Jesse MacBeth, veteran:

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