Sunday, October 28, 2007

Glenn Greenwald’s Mysterious E-mails

Glenn Greenwald reports on a rather bizarre e-mail exchange he’s been having with Col. Steven A. Boylan, the public affairs spokesman for Gen. David Petraeus. It seems that Col. Boylan took exception to a post that Mr. Greenwald wrote earlier in the week saying that there was a growing link between the U.S. military and right-wing media and blogs in order to get their point of view out.

I had a prior e-mail exchange with Col. Boylan several months ago when I requested an interview with Gen. Petraeus after he had granted an exclusive interview to far-right partisan Hugh Hewitt (author of the 2006 prescient tract: Painting the Map Red: The Fight to Create a Permanent Republican Majority). In terms of whether the U.S. Army under Petraeus and Boylan is, in fact, becoming a political actor, I’ll let multiple passages from Boylan’s email to me this morning speak for itself:

The issues of accuracy, context, and proper characterization is something that perhaps you could do a little research and would assume you are aware of as a trained lawyer.

I do enjoy reading your diatribes as they provide comic relief here in Iraq. The amount of pure fiction is incredible. Since a great deal of this post is just opinion and everyone is entitled to their opinions, I will not address those even though they are shall we say — based on few if any facts. That does surprise me with your training as a lawyer, but we will leave those jokes to another day….

You are either too lazy to do the research on the topics to gain the facts, or you are providing purposeful misinformation — much like a propagandist….

Sorry to burst your bubble, but a little actual research on your part would have shown that [Cheney P.R. aide Steve Schmidt] is actually not here, but that would contradict your conspiracy theory…..

I am curious as to when you think the media relations or operations changed here in Iraq. I in fact do know exactly the day and time that it changed and want to see if you are even in the same ballpark as reality….

For the third matter concerning the Beauchamp investigation and the documents that were leaked — it is very unfortunate that they were — but the documents are not secret or classified. So, there is your third major error in fact. Good thing you are not a journalist….

As for working in secret with only certain media is laughable. The wide swatch of media engagements is by far the most diverse it could be. But you might not think it that way since we chose not to do an interview with you. You are not a journalist nor do you have any journalistic ethical standards as we found out from the last time I engaged with you.

As we quickly found out, you published our email conversation without asking, without permission — just another case in point to illustrate your lack of standards and ethics. You may recall that a 30-minute interview was conducted with the program that you claim to be a contributor. So instead of doing the interview with you, we went with the real talent, Alan Colmes….

I invite you to come see for yourself and go anywhere in Iraq you want, go see what our forces are doing, go see what the other coalition forces are doing, go hang out with the reporters outside the International Zone since that is where they live and work and see for yourself what ground truth is so that you can be better informed. But that would take something you probably don’t have.


Steven A. Boylan

Colonel, US Army

Public Affairs Officer

Everyone can decide for themselves if that sounds more like an apolitical, professional military officer or an overwrought right-wing blogger throwing around all sorts of angry, politically charged invective. Whatever else is true, it is rather odd that this was the sort of rhetoric Col. Boylan chose to invoke in service of his apparent goal of proving that there is nothing politicized about the U.S. military in Iraq.

Since receiving that e-mail, Mr. Greenwald has been looking into whether or not this e-mail is genuinely from Col. Boylan. He’s received what could only be called a cryptic non-denial denial (or non-replial reply…) saying he’s not saying whether or not he sent the intemperate e-mail. Mr. Greenwald has had several readers with expertise in internet technology do some research, and the conclusion is that, compared to e-mails Mr. Greenwald has received from Col. Boylan in the past and the one he received today, both were sent by the same person.

The origin of the e-mails aside, it’s clear that the United States military has engaged and continues to be engaged in seeking out friendly reporters and bloggers to get their side of the story out. This isn’t much different than the tactic practiced by the Bush administration with people like Armstrong Williams, and when you have the degree of politicization going on in places like the Department of Justice where people are hired and fired for their voting records or brown-bag lunches at the GAO are sponsored by the White House Office of Political Affairs to get the message out to support “their” candidates, it would be an event if there wasn’t a political angle coming from the Public Affairs office of the US Army.