Couple articles today by Ron Harris in the St. Louis Dispatch about Marine Staff Sgt. Massey’s claims of atrocities committed by our troops.
For more than a year, former Marine Staff Sgt. Jimmy Massey has been telling anybody who will listen about the atrocities that he and other Marines committed in Iraq.
In scores of newspaper, magazine and broadcast stories, at a Canadian immigration hearing and in numerous speeches across the country, Massey has told how he and other Marines recklessly, sometimes intentionally, killed dozens of innocent Iraqi civilians.
Among his claims:
Marines fired on and killed peaceful Iraqi protesters.
Americans shot a 4-year-old Iraqi girl in the head.
A tractor-trailer was filled with the bodies of civilian men, women and children killed by American artillery.
Massey’s claims have gained him celebrity. Last month, Massey’s book, “Kill, Kill, Kill,” was released in France. His allegations have been reported in nationwide publications such as Vanity Fair and USA Today, as well as numerous broadcast reports. Earlier this year, he joined the anti-war bus tour of Cindy Sheehan, and he’s spoken at Cornell and Syracuse universities, among others.
News organizations worldwide published or broadcast Massey’s claims without any corroboration and in most cases without investigation. Outside of the Marines, almost no one has seriously questioned whether Massey, a 12-year veteran who was honorably discharged, was telling the truth.
Each of his claims is either demonstrably false or exaggerated – according to his fellow Marines, Massey’s own admissions, and the five journalists who were embedded with Massey’s unit, including a reporter and photographer from the Post-Dispatch and reporters from The Associated Press and The Wall Street Journal.
[...]Massey, 34, of Waynesville, N.C., was with the 3rd Battalion, 7th Marines based out of Twentynine Palms, Calif. The unit went to the Middle East in January 2003 and participated in the U.S. invasion of Iraq in March of that year.
Massey was discharged in December 2003, shortly after returning from Iraq due to depression and post-traumatic stress syndrome.
He began turning up in the press and on broadcasts last spring with stories about military atrocities. Massey’s primary thrust has been that Marines from his battalion – some of whom, he told a Minneapolis audience, were “psychopathic killers” – recklessly shot and killed Iraqi civilians, sometimes, he said, upon orders from their commanders. During a hearing in Canada, Massey said, “We deliberately gunned down people who were civilians.”
The Marine Corps investigated Massey’s claims and said they were “unsubstantiated.”
From the beginning, Massey misled reporters.
In early interviews, he told how he had lost his job at a furniture store because of his anti-war activities. But when asked about the incident in an interview Oct. 19 with the Post-Dispatch, Massey said he had quit his job but never had felt pressure to leave.
“I left on good terms,” he said.
He also backtracked from allegations he made in a May 2004 radio interview and elsewhere that he had seen a tractor-trailer filled with the bodies of Iraqi civilians when Marines entered an Iraqi military prison outside Baghdad. He said the Iraqis had been killed by American artillery.
He told listeners that the scene was so bad “that the plasma from the body and skin was decomposing and literally oozing out of the crevices of the tractor-trailer bed.”
He repeated the story in the Post-Dispatch interview. But when told that the newspaper’s photographs and eyewitness reports had identified the trailer contents as all men, mostly in uniform, Massey admitted that he had never seen the bodies.
Instead, he said, he received his information from “intelligence reports.” When asked if those reports were official documents, he answered, “No, that’s what the other Marines told me.”
The details of Massey’s stories changed repeatedly.
For example, he almost always told his audiences and interviewers of an event he said he’d never forget: Marines in his unit shooting four civilian Iraqis in red Kia automobile.
In some accounts, Massey said Marines fired at the vehicle after it failed to stop at a checkpoint. In another version, he said the Marines stormed the car.
Sometimes he said three of the men were killed immediately while the fourth was wounded and covered in blood; sometimes he said the fourth man was “miraculously unscathed.”
Sometimes he said the Marines left the three men on the side of the road to die without medical treatment while the fourth man exclaimed: “Why did you shoot my brother?” In other versions, he said the man made the statement as medical personnel were attempting to treat the three other men, or as the survivor sat near the car, or to Massey personally.
There is no evidence that any of the versions occurred.
In another story that Massey often tells, he and other Marines in his platoon fired upon a group of innocent demonstrators shortly after they arrived in Baghdad. Massey said that the demonstrators were protesting the Marines’ presence, holding signs in English and Arabic.
The Marines heard a shot, Massey said, and in panic began firing into the demonstrators.
In some versions, the demonstrators were near a checkpoint. In other versions, they were outside a prison on a road about 200 meters away, or anywhere from 5 to 15 miles from Baghdad International Airport.
Massey told a version of the story before an immigration hearing in December in support of an American soldier trying to flee to Canada. Then, Massey said he and the Marines killed four of the demonstrators. In other interviews, he said the Marines shot at 10 demonstrators and killed all of them but one, whom he let crawl away.
In interviews with more than a dozen Marines and journalists who were in the military complex that morning, none can recall such an incident.
They say that during the first week to two weeks inside Baghdad, they never saw any protesters.
Ron Haviv, an independent photographer embedded with the unit, said he never saw any protesters or demonstrators, with or without signs.
“Basically, the only people who were on the streets in the first week were there to loot,” said Haviv, who has covered conflicts across the globe, including the first Gulf War, Haiti, Yugoslavia and Russia.
Lt. Kevin Shea, the commander of Massey’s platoon, recalls that on the morning after they arrived, about 20 Iraqis from a nearby community did approach the Marines to ask what was happening. Shea said that he had explained what the Marines were doing and that the Iraqis had gone back to their homes.
He then goes on to ask why the MSM has printed his obvious lies as fact:
Media outlets throughout the world have reported Jimmy Massey’s claims of war crimes, frequently without ever seeking to verify them.
For instance, no one ever called any of the five journalists who were embedded with Massey’s battalion to ask him or her about his claims.
The Associated Press, which serves more than 8,500 newspaper, radio and television stations worldwide, wrote three stories about Massey, including an interview with him in October about his new book.
But none of the AP reporters ever called Ravi Nessman, an Associated Press reporter who was embedded with Massey’s unit. Nessman wrote more than 30 stories about the unit from the beginning of the war until April 15, after Baghdad had fallen.
Jack Stokes, a spokesman for the AP, said he didn’t know why the reporters didn’t talk to Nessman, nor could he explain why the AP ran stories without seeking a response from the Marine Corps. The organization also refused to allow Nessman to be interviewed for this story.
Some media did seek out comment from the Marine Corps and were told that an investigation of Massey’s accusations had found them baseless. Still, those news outlets printed Massey’s claims without any evidence other than the word of Massey, who had been released from service because of depression and post traumatic stress disorder.
That Massey wasn’t telling the truth should have become obvious the more he told his stories, said Phillip Dixon, former managing editor of The Philadelphia Inquirer and currently chairman of the Howard University Department of Journalism.
Dixon examined dozens of newspaper articles in which Massey told of the atrocities that Marines allegedly committed in Iraq.
“He couldn’t keep his story straight,” said Dixon, who has also been an editor at The Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times. “First it was a 4-year-old girl with a bullet hole in her head, then it was a 6-year-old girl.”
Editors at some papers look back at the Massey articles and are surprised that they ran them without examining whether the claims were true or without ever asking the Marine Corps about them.
“I’m looking at the story and going, ‘Why, why would we have run this without getting another side of the story?'” said Lois Wilson, managing editor of the Star Gazette in Elmira, N.Y.
David Holwerk, editorial page editor for The Sacramento Bee, said he thought the newspaper handled its story, a question and answer interview with Massey, poorly.
“I feel fairly confident that we did not subject this to the rigorous scrutiny that we should have or to which we would subject it today,” he said.
Harris asks the right question, why did they print this garbage? But we all know the answer. Because it fits in with the MSM image of our military and our Government. The MSM and the left want us to fail in Iraq and in the war on terror, plain and simple, and the liberal establishment will commit fraud on a daily basis to further that agenda.
The MSM and the left want us to fail in Iraq and in the war on terror, plain and simple, and the liberal establishment will commit fraud on a daily basis to further that agenda.