And certainly we've seen these before, both confirmed and debunked. From The New Republic (subscription required):
I saw her nearly every time I went to dinner in the chow hall at my base in Iraq. She wore an unrecognizable tan uniform, so I couldn't really tell whether she was a soldier or a civilian contractor. The thing that stood out about her, though, wasn't her strange uniform but the fact that nearly half her face was severely scarred. Or, rather, it had more or less melted, along with all the hair on that side of her head. She was always alone, and I never saw her talk to anyone. Members of my platoon had seen her before but had never really acknowledged her. Then, on one especially crowded day in the chow hall, she sat down next to us.
We were already halfway through our meals when she arrived. After a minute or two of eating in silence, one of my friends stabbed his spoon violently into his pile of mashed potatoes and left it there.This is an alleged true account, put forth by “Scott Thomas”—the pseudonym of a soldier who is currently stationed in Iraq. Michael Goldfarb says that Thomas has submitted two other anecdotes for The New Republic which are—to put it mildly—just as unflattering to the character of his fellow GIs—featuring desecration of dead children and cruelty to animals.
"Man, I can't eat like this," he said.
"Like what?" I said. "Chow hall food getting to you?"
"No--with that fucking freak behind us!" he exclaimed, loud enough for not only her to hear us, but everyone at the surrounding tables. I looked over at the woman, and she was intently staring into each forkful of food before it entered her half-melted mouth.
"Are you kidding? I think she's fucking hot!" I blurted out.
"What?" said my friend, half-smiling.
"Yeah man," I continued. "I love chicks that have been intimate--with IEDs. It really turns me on--melted skin, missing limbs, plastic noses ... ."
"You're crazy, man!" my friend said, doubling over with laughter. I took it as my cue to continue.
"In fact, I was thinking of getting some girls together and doing a photo shoot. Maybe for a calendar? IED Babes.' We could have them pose in thongs and bikinis on top of the hoods of their blown-up vehicles."
My friend was practically falling out of his chair laughing. The disfigured woman slammed her cup down and ran out of the chow hall, her half-finished tray of food nearly falling to the ground.
Goldfarb asks Milbloggers to comment on these accounts. Though I am a Milblogger, I’m retired and have never been to Iraq. So when I found out about the story (from Allahpundit), I emailed Matt at Blackfive (Matt has contact with lots of Iraq veterans).
See some of the responses from some of those veterans here.
Matt’s co-blogger, Uncle Jimbo has some additional commentary:
Now about this particular back stabber [Thomas], I sincerely doubt that the incidents described all happened in his world as he tells them. And yes that means I'm calling him a liar, BUT!John at Op-for says:
The foul things he describes as being said, are said. The reprehensible words and acts happen and they are often ignored rather than confronted. Same as they are around the freakin' entire planet including wherever you work. This is the crappiest planet I have ever lived on, bar none, and I have run into far too few decent people…[SNIP]
I figger he probably has told the truth on one of these, and then done some military mything on the others. Now if that chafes his cones, he is always welcome to take that up with me. I actually exist.
The thought of a soldier (a) so grossly and openly violating the UCMJ and (b) wearing human remains for the better part of the day without an NCO or an officer spotting him is absolutely unbelievable.John's reasoning makes the most sense, especially to those of us who have been NCOs or commissioned officers in the past twenty or so years. Certainly, out there somewhere, someone is reading Thomas's accounts and thinking "Abu Ghraib all over again." Please. After Abu Ghraib, there would be no way that an officer/NCO would allow anyone to commit the acts specified in the piece. And--leaving aside the incriminating photos--the actions of Abu Ghraib's disgraceful perpetrators actually sounded plausible due to the lack of brutality similar to that displayed by Thomas's GIs.
But that's on the micro level. On the macro, my suspicions rest on a trinity of facts:
1) Recent examples of warzone whistleblowing have turned out to be false (Jimmy Massey, Jesse MacBeth, Daniel Coburn) and driven by an agenda.
2) The dispatches fit a narrative.
3) The New Republic has a proven, historical susceptibility to fake journalism.
I'm inclined to call bogus on these accounts, but my opinion can be changed in the face of real evidence. What do you think?
Dean Barnett: A "Jenjis" Khan redux?
Mocking of IED victim. “There but by the grace of God,” is the universal reaction of anyone to the reality that others are hit by IEDs. Soldiers come up and shake the hands of obviously wounded, and thank them for their service, or ask God to bless them, or speak with reverence and respect, with encouragement. (Even stupid 20 year olds.) NCOs and officers in earshot would have beaten any such idiots down, read them the riot act, or taken their names...