- The Washington Times - Monday, May 29, 2006

Left-wingers flocked to the “soldier” calling himself Jesse MacBeth to hear claims of horrific war crimes in Iraq. But thanks to sleuthing by conservative bloggers, we now know that “Jesse MacBeth” — the name should have tipped us off — has never even served in the Army. “False face must hide what the false heart doth know,” said the real MacBeth. The fake MacBeth couldn’t hack it either.

“MacBeth” claimed to have murdered worshippers in a mosque in cold blood: “Other things they told us to do, man, we were ordered to go into a mosque… [A] couple hundred 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… [I]t’s just sickening to think that I took part in that.”

But it all looks to be false. None of it could have happened if, as Army spokesman Paul Boyce confirmed to Michelle Malkin, there is no record of the young man’s service. Credit goes to Mrs. Malkin and blogger cohorts at HotAir.com, who first grew suspicious hearing among other unlikelihoods that “MacBeth” claimed to have retired from both the Army Rangers and special operations by the age of 20. Mrs. Malkin queried Mr. Boyce, who responded that “At a minimum this story appears to have been concocted” and was probably “some sort of hoax.”

In some respects the outing doesn’t matter, since the damage is already done. The claims are all over the Internet — presumably all over the Middle East, too — of willfully ordered atrocities. Leftist groups like Iraq Veterans Against the War are distancing themselves from the fiasco. (Out, damned blog, I say!) But the claims are already out there.

This is not the first time a phony soldier has been exposed. Just two years ago columnist Richard Leiby caught Micah Wright, author of the antiwar “You Back the Attack! We’ll Bomb Who We Want!,” as a phony veteran. Leftist historian Howard Zinn and outspoken novelist Kurt Vonnegut had both previously endorsed the book. Mr. Vonnegut’s non-repudiation repudiation: “He’s a liar, but I still like his pictures.”

No one could possibly say that about “MacBeth,” whose story — like the original’s claim to the throne — stands not within the prospect of belief.

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