Fake soldier tale debunked

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Meet “Jessie MacBeth.” He’s the latest cause celebre of the antiwar left — a “former Army Ranger and Iraq war veteran” who accuses his fellow troops of committing a litany of atrocities against innocent civilians. Anti-Vietnam War veteran John Kerry and the Winter Soldiers cast a long shadow.

In his 20-minute Internet video interview at peacefilms.org, which promises that watching the video “will change your life,” Mr. MacBeth (who also claims to have served in Special Forces) says:

• Superiors told him “our job over there is to strike fear in the hearts of the Iraqis … to be brutal and to not feel” and that “the Geneva Convention doesn’t mean crap.”

• He would “do night raids, pull people out, on their knees and zip-tied,” and if a man didn’t answer the way he wanted him to, he “would shoot his youngest kid and keep going.”

• “By my hand alone… almost 200 people were taken out by me. That’s just a rough estimate. A lot of them at close range… they would actually feel the hot muzzle of my rifle on their forehead…. We’d do stuff that would scare them first… beat ‘em up or kick ‘em or hit the wife…. slaughtering 30-40 people a night sometimes, women and children…. I was trained, you know, in all the Ranger school, 18 months of that crap…. I got disappointed in my country… but I didn’t say anything because I would have been locked up.”

• “Other things they told us to do, man, we were ordered to go into a mosque. This really hurts me a lot. My nightmares come mostly from this… we infiltrated the mosque… a couple hundred of people of all ages were praying…. We started slaughtering them, we started shooting them, started taking them out…. We would burn their bodies, hang the bodies from the rafters…. after a while, it’s just sickening to think that I took part in that.”

• “Kids threw rocks at us before and the guard command officer told us to take them out. … Our job was just kill, kill, kill.”

• “I’m so disappointed in my country. I’m ashamed to have actually served in Iraq.”

On the Military.com Web site, to which anyone can contribute, a profile of Mr. MacBeth claimed he had three basic combat jumps, service in Afghanistan as well as Iraq, and several awards including a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart.

There’s just one problem: According to Army Department spokesman Paul Boyce, there is no record of “Jessie MacBeth,” a k a Jesse Adam MacBeth, having served in either the Rangers or the Special Forces — or in any part of the Army at all. Mr. Boyce told me Tuesday that a check on Mr. MacBeth’s credentials came up empty. “At a minimum, this appears to have been concocted” and “some sort of hoax,” Mr. Boyce said. Special Operations Command and the State Department have been alerted.

Mr. MacBeth’s story started to crumble after my colleagues at the Hot Air blog (www.hotair.com) called attention to the Peace Films video interview and asked military bloggers about Mr. MacBeth’s appearance and claims. Harnessing the specialized knowledge of the blogosphere, military bloggers debunked a photo purportedly showing Mr. MacBeth in his official uniform (with his beret backward, incorrect flashes and tabs, and missing wings).

The Army’s Mr. Boyce told me the uniform issues were a major “red flag” — as were Mr. MacBeth’s incredible claims to have entered the Army at age 16, served as both a Ranger and in Special Ops, sustained various stabbing and shooting wounds, and exited at age 20. Not to mention all those unsubstantiated, slanderous smears against the Army Rangers (who suffered similar attacks by another lying antiwar veteran poseur, Micah Wright, in 2004).

Antiwar zealots initially defended the bogus soldier’s tale, but are now moving quickly to cover up the MacBeth stain. The video was yanked Tuesday afternoon.

But not to worry. I hear former CBS producer Mary Mapes, champion of “fake but accurate” journalism, is interested in publicizing Jessie MacBeth’s tall tales.

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