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May 26, 2010

The Michael Yon Rumor Mill *Correction Appended"

Last month I commented on what many have dubbed "The Yon Flap". Unlike most Milbloggers, I've never been a huge Yon fan so I don't really have a dog in this fight. I have no opinion on his mental state. I chose to comment because the flap was beginning to degenerate into "my guy said/your guy said" and some very important principles were getting lost in the kerfuffle.

Today Yon hints that he's about to unleash Armegeddon on "the blog lynch mob":

Blackfive is on thin ice, and it's integrity is in question. Blackfive is kindly asked to provide hard evidence that it was told that I violated embed rules.

This is a moment of truth. Show your cards Blackfive.

Uncle Jimbo (and it was Jimbo and not Blackfive, as Yon sloppily reports, who made the statements in question) responds here. Let's begin where I left off last month with the question of standards. Mr. Yon appears to object to the use of anonymous sources. He demands to see the evidence. This is extremely interesting since Mr. Yon has no problem passing on unsubstantiated tips from anonymous sources when it suits him:

An American soldier emailed from Afghanistan saying that his unit has been ordered to patrol with no round in the chamber.

I found this post fascinating when it came out. Note the total lack of specificity: no rank, unit, or location. Absolutely no attempt to provide context or to verify the "information" provided. Interestingly, a blogger who defended Yon back in April decided that if this unsourced rumor (and absent a single shred of corroborating evidence, that's essentially all it was) had any meaning then perhaps he ought to do a little fact checking. He received this response:

Headquarters ISAF, the ISAF Joint Command and the Regional Commands have not issued guidance to units instructing them to conduct patrols without rounds chambered. Force protection levels are dictated by the local threats and determined by commanders at the lowest possible tactical level, so without knowing the specific unit from which this report came I can’t verify with absolute certainty that verbal or written guidance has not been issued locally. But the intent to subordinate commanders should be clear. At no time do we remove our troops’ inherent rights of self-defense, and we are confident that their training and discipline allows them to use force discriminately within the rules of engagement. We’d welcome information from anyone who has a problem with the way guidance is being implemented that they haven’t been able to address with their immediate chain of command.”

Another Milblogger, the same one who questioned Yon's unsubstantiated accusations regarding the senior commander in Afghanistan in April, performed the same due diligence and posted the response. And Blackfive does the same today.

I ask you: what is more credible? A single, unsourced, unsubstantiated sentence on Facebook? Or the posts of three bloggers who took the time to ask questions and to provide context and information? It's an important question because as I outlined in my last post Mr. Yon has a long history of throwing out unsourced and unsubstantiated accusations:

Michael Yon is purportedly a professional journalist. As such, shouldn't he be held to some elementary standards of professionalism? But more importantly, how much sense does it make to extend the benefit of the doubt to Mr. Yon for what amounts to unsourced and unsupported allegations of criminal misconduct against a career soldier?

Is this where the bar should be set for professional journalists? Do they have no responsibility to back up such a serious charge with evidence?

It is not (as some have alleged) that General McChrystal cannot be challenged or criticized. It's that it's profoundly irresponsible for someone of Yon's stature to casually toss out accusations like that with no proof. As the accuser, he bears the burden of proof. And he has provided none.

McChrystal was hardly the first to be accused on no evidence by Mr. Yon. As I outlined in my prior post, BG Daniel Menard was similarly accused of criminal negligence by Mr. Yon. Now Big Journalism appears to have adopted the Yon Standard: no evidence required. No fact checking. Just uncritical acceptance of unsubstantiated rumors and accusations:

And yet nobody in the media seems to have much of a problem with Michael Yon being removed from the front lines by Obama/General McChrystal. Yon has openly stated the problems in Afghanistan right now and how we could lose this war, unless changes are made. He has been critical of the current rules of engagement that have put our troops in danger and could actually make this war like the Vietnam that the leftist media claimed it was early and often when Bush was president (it’s strange you don’t hear those comparisons from them anymore).

Yon’s reward? He’s lost his embed status, banished to Bangkok. Yon could return but his access might be limited and you can’t just pop in and out of that theater like it’s the neighborhood movie palace. Mess with Yon enough and his resources wear thin, but his patience will not. You will not stop this soldier. He is the ultimate warrior for those who fight and die for this country. His reports are honest, chilling, gripping and are as reflective of the battles they represent as anything I have ever read. But this administration is making it as difficult for him to do his job. You can’t believe this is by accident. The most critical battle in Afghanistan is about to take place, the battle for Kandahar, and the voice of the American soldier is not allowed in.

"Banished to Bangkok?" Really? Who banished him? This is nonsense on stilts. What evidence is provided to support the notion that the President of the United States is involved, much less McChrystal? Or do we only fact check/require actual evidence when we're dealing with the NY Times but suspend that standard when a story confirms our preconceived biases? In a refreshingly well researched piece for Wired mag, Noah Shactman supplies a distinctly different view of the circumstances surrounding the termination of Yon's embed:

This time, Yon tells Danger Room, there were no early warnings. “There was no back story. None. Zero indication from the brigade company or unit level,” he says over an intermittent cellphone connection from Jalalabad, Afghanistan. “I’m mystified.”

Lt. Col. Tadd Sholtis, a spokesman for the U.S.-led International Security Assistance Force in Kabul, says there’s a simple explanation: Yon’s extended embed was holding up other reporters who wanted similar access.

“The problem is that there are more than 100 other reporters on a waiting list to get into embeds with the 5-2 and other units — especially in and around Kandahar — which is why embeds are established for defined periods of time. Since demand far exceeds supply, we try to balance the needs of individual reporters with our responsibility to provide information through embeds to a large and diverse a field of reporters,” Sholtis tells Danger Room in an e-mail.

.... Yon couldn’t accept that rationale. “McChrystal’s crew has declared an information war on me,” he posted to Facebook. “If McChrystal knew what he was doing, he would not be drawing attention to his staff.”

He called McChrystal’s aides “crazy monkeys,” and said that he had “compelling evidence of General McChrystal’s smear campaign” against him. “Official statements by his people — in writing — have been defamatory and libelous.”

Noah's reporting is corroborated by this account in Politico. As far as I know, there isn't any corroboration of Yon's version of events.

And notably, Yon's "compelling evidence" of defamatory and libelous statements from McChrystal's staff turned out to be anything but. In fact, by Yon's own standard his own statements about BG Menard, Stanley McChrystal, and his "crazy monkeys" are clearly both defamatory and libelous.

Oh, wait - I forgot! Michael Yon refuses to be bound by the standards he applies to others. Anonymous sources are fine when he uses them to accuse career officers of criminal negligence, incompetence, and corruption but as applied to his own conduct, not so much.

When he accuses career military officers, evidence is deemed unnecessary. But when his own unsourced accusations are questioned, suddenly evidence is required?

What standard should we apply to Mr. Yon's reporting? He has repeatedly stated that he's not a blogger. OK, I'll buy off on that. According to Colonel Steve Boylan, who had the temerity to object when Yon published information on American KIA before their families had been notified [5/30 UPDATE: PLEASE SEE THE CORRECTION AT THE END OF THIS POST] (a practice that normally brings the wrath of the entire Milblogging community down on a journalist's head) and who left a comment on my last Yon post, Yon says he's not a journalist, either. Just one who makes his living reporting:

On the issue of Michael being called a professional journalist, he himself does not claim that to be so and has in fact declared that he is not a professional journalist to anyone who will ask.

As for bloggers and citizen journalists, we in the military are still working on how to deal with the various issues of this still new medium. With the traditional media, we get to have a reasonable path to figure out and correct errors in fact, violations of ground rules, etc. The traditional media have a system in place that we can use to discuss issues with the editors and so forth until a resolution is found. This is not the case with most bloggers/citizen journalists.

Many are one-person shops and if they don't like the answers, the rules, etc then they ignore them. There is no recourse for the military to try to correct an issue if they choose not do listen. Usually our only recourse is to deny access due to lack of faith and confidence that they will provide an accurate representation of the facts.

Overall we do support the various bloggers/citizen journalists, but we cannot accomodate all requests due to the support requirements needed.

They do provide an important and useful avenue for the readers, but to determine the opinions from the facts can be very difficult and I have found that most blogs are more opinion than fact which can be very misleading to the public.

If Yon isn't a blogger and isn't a journalist, what is he? By what standard do we evaluate his work? Or do we just throw away the rule book because after all, he's Michael Yon? That doesn't seem right to me.

Credibility is never more important than when a journalist or blogger reports information that we have no way to independently verify. I don't agree with those who have said they're willing to give Mr. Yon the benefit of the doubt even if he's wrong and even if he provides no evidence to back up repeated accusations of criminal behavior.

The burden of proof is always on the accuser. There are good reasons for this: when the cost of accusing public figures is too low, accusations become a means of settling scores and harassment. It seems to me that bloggers and journalists should be asking a few questions instead of uncritically accepting the unsupported Facebook postings of a man who seems to think the rules don't apply to him (though clearly they apply to those who question him).

There is a difference between responsible, well researched scrutiny of military policy and leadership and anonymous sniping without a single shred of evidence. The first is entirely fair game and milblogs do it all the time. The second is unprofessional, irresponsible, and frankly adds nothing to our knowledge of how this war is being fought.

If there is one quality that defines the difference between the military and everyone else, it's the concept of accountability. We are all accountable for what we say and do, or at least we should be if we expect others to believe what we say. The truth matters. Facts matter. Context matters. Credibility matters. What I want to know is, is Michael Yon willing to live by the standards he demands of others?

Are you willing to uncritically accept unsubstantiated accusations of criminal negligence, incompetence or corruption from someone who refuses to be held accountable? And if you are not, how do you explain the double standard?

UPDATE: At 11:30 pm on 5/29, Col. Boylan left the following correction in the comments section:

For the record, in 2005, when I was the director of the Combined Press Information Center, we had been notified that Michael had posted information on a WIA (Wounded in Action) before family had been notified. That was why we had denied his request. However, this was cleared up since the officer who had been wounded in fact informed us that he had already told his family about the event and therefore there was no breaking of the ground rules and as the articles have stated, Michael was granted embeds after we had the correct information.

As promised, I have noted the correction in three places: in the title of the post, inline, and at the end of the post. Many thanks to Col. Boylan for correcting the record.

Posted by Cassandra at May 26, 2010 03:14 PM

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Comments

All right, Cass, you win. I grant you this one on the merits.

Posted by: Grim at May 26, 2010 06:59 PM

I am not sure there are any winners here, Grim. Least of all me.

Posted by: Pachysandra at May 26, 2010 08:29 PM

Yon is toast.
Even if you want to allow for the fact that he might be tactically right in this situation, he has strategically emptied his magazine.
You simply do not bite the hand that feeds.

Posted by: smitty at May 26, 2010 09:12 PM

That you would have a problem with me discussing whether there are local COs requiring their reports to patrol without a round chambered is bizarre in the superlative. I said in the very post that I must assume that the report is accurate, and then commented from there in order to address certain weapons "conditions" based on previous experiences. The very response from Tad Sholtis that you copied and pasted into this post is what he sent to me, and in fairness, I posted his exactly response to me in the same post.

I didn't corroborate the facts or do "fact checking" as you call it because it is impossible for me to do so. Is this hard for you to understand? The article was about the requirements IF THE REPORT WAS TRUE. The presupposition was stated right there in the post.

Again, truly bizarre. I cannot possibly begin to understand your moral preening on this. I think you ought to relax a bit.

Posted by: Herschel Smith at May 26, 2010 11:08 PM

I think you need to look at Michael Yon the way Michael looks at himself to understand Michael. Michael is not a reporter, Michael is not a blogger. Michaaaeeelll is an artist, painting a picture the way it ebbs and flows. He brings spectrums of color into a newly defined pallet of enrichment using his canvas of life. This is not something to love or hate, this is something to decipher. After all this has turned into being all about Michael. Produced by Michael. Directed by Michael. Starring Michael.

Posted by: Sanmon at May 26, 2010 11:58 PM

Yon "flap" notwithstanding, I stopped visiting Blackfive after that jackass "Laughing Wolf" took me for a troll because I had agreed with an article that some actual (perceived, at least) troll had posted there. He posted some abusive things to which my response was that he'd never speak that way to my face, or he'd get his ass kicked. He's a punk. He's not even a veteran, like myself. I emailed every other person who authors there about it...and not one of them ever replied.

Screw 'em all...

Posted by: camojack at May 27, 2010 01:24 AM

"Blackfive is on thin ice, and it's integrity is in question."

Uncle Jimbo (and it was Jimbo and not Blackfive...)

In this instance (see emphasis), MY has referenced Matty's *site*, not Matty Blackfive hisself, darlin' girl.

Posted by: BillT at May 27, 2010 04:34 AM

That you would have a problem with me discussing whether there are local COs requiring their reports to patrol without a round chambered is bizarre in the superlative.

And your comment is mystifying. Where did I say I had a problem with you discussing that subject? I quoted you as one of:

...three bloggers who took the time to ask questions and to provide context and information?

Not quite sure how you managed to infer a criticism from that (much less that I had a problem with the parts of your post I didn't mention) but I think you need to read more carefully.

I didn't corroborate the facts or do "fact checking" as you call it because it is impossible for me to do so. Is this hard for you to understand?

Given that there was no unit mentioned, no location, and no supporting details there was really only one "fact" you could check: whether the supposed order to patrol without a chambered round had come from the top or not.

This is, in fact, what you did. And the entire purpose of mentioning this was that, unlike Yon, you did attempt to ascertain that fact. The rest of your post, which I said precisely nothing about, dealt with evaluating whether such an order would have made sense.

I'm not sure why I should defend myself against your mistaken impression, much less against something I didn't say. So I won't. I will say - again - that before objecting to something I didn't say you might care to entertain the possibility that you got things exactly backwards?

The article was about the requirements IF THE REPORT WAS TRUE. The presupposition was stated right there in the post.

No kidding. But then I only commented on the Sholtis cite.

Posted by: Cassandra at May 27, 2010 04:48 AM

Credibility is never more important than when a journalist or blogger reports information that we have no way to independently verify.

One reason I try to confine my TINS! war stories to the times I wasn't operating single-ship is that those guys in my old outfit who survived *read* them, and they'd be the first to call me out if I played fast and loose with the truth. Taking undue liberties would flush my credibility, and that's the only thing I got goin' for me -- it's not likely I'll be heavily involved in any *new* exploits...

Posted by: BillT at May 27, 2010 04:54 AM

In this instance (see emphasis), MY has referenced Matty's *site*, not Matty Blackfive hisself, darlin' girl.

I did notice that, Bill. It seems odd to me, however, when addressing a single post on a multiple author site, to ask the site to justify itself rather than the author of the post.

In this case, Yon appears to be asking a website to provide the identity of Jimbo's unnamed sources (who apparently told him something that led him to say he'd heard Yon was disembedded for violating the embed rules). There's no real reason, however, to think this information would have been conveyed to Matt or the other authors.

I'm happy to entertain arguments on this one, but on most multiple author sites the authors can and do disagree. Therefore, the writing of any individual author can't be assumed to represent "what the site thinks". It seemed to me that Mr. Yon either simply didn't take the time to note who had actually written the post or found it more useful to associate Matt with it personally than to challenge the actual author of the post. I think the distinction matters.

Your mileage, of course, may vary.

Posted by: Cassandra at May 27, 2010 05:05 AM

Camo:

I understand your frustration, and I'm sorry that happened to you.

I wrote this post in the way I did because I'm not terribly interested in taking sides on an issue based on whether I like the parties involved. I do know one or two of the folks at Blackfive and have not had any problems with them. I don't know Yon at all.

But even if I were close friends with every single person at Blackfive, I think anyone who has read me for any time at all knows that would make no difference to my take on the issues I tried to raise in this post.

The personalities here are irrelevant.

As Grim can tell you, I've never hesitated to take issue with my friends if I thought they were wrong. Moreover I've never been one to get (at least intentionally) into pissing contests. In this case, (Capt. Smith's little digs about "moral preening" and my state of relaxation aside :), I am asking whether standards matter?

I've asked two main questions:

1. If Yon claims not to be a blogger or a journalist either, where does that leave us? What standard of care should be applied when evaluating his work?

Journalists are normally paid to do some kind of reporting. Yon appears to me to be making a living through donations received by readers of his dispatches. If that isn't journalism, I'm not sure what is so I happen to believe (his disclaimers notwithstanding) that that's the right standard.

2. Regardless of whether Yon is a blogger, a journalist, or just Joe SixPack, he is in fact "reporting" and has, in the course of that activity, several times thrown out very serious accusations of criminal negligence, corruption, and incompetence.

He has accused the senior commander in Afghanistan of mounting a smear campaign against him, and of unfairly ending his embed in order to "silence" him. Those are serious charges. He has also "wondered" whether McChrystal is telling the truth to the SecDef and POTUS. He has also stated several times that McChrystal is incompetent and has implied repeatedly that the reason for ending Yon's embed is to prevent him from reporting on that incompetence. Which is odd because this first mention of McChrystal's supposed incompetence neatly coincides with the ending of Yon's embed. Before that, Yon wasn't saying anything bad about McChrystal.

Ironically if we accept that McChrystal really did can Yon to prevent criticism, this may be the best "evidence" of McChrystal's supposed incompetence - the poor slob took an embedded journalist who wasn't saying anything bad about him and converted him into an enemy who hasn't stopped criticizing him since!

Not a terribly effective method of "silencing" your critics, was it? :p

It's bad enough that Yon has been saying these things but now other major online outlets have taken up his accusations and even augmented them with similarly unsubstantiated accusations. Therefore, I don't think it's out of line to say, "Those are some pretty serious charges. Do you have some evidence? If you don't, why should I or anyone else believe you?"

As much as I may sympathize with you over your experience at Blackfive, I don't think that has any bearing on the larger questions I've tried to raise in this post.


Posted by: Cassandra at May 27, 2010 05:39 AM

Camo:

Did you email me? I don't remember the occasion; but I also don't read every post. Especially if I was in Iraq at the time, it's possible that I just didn't notice.

If you want to dig it out and send me the details, I'll be happy to talk to him about it.

Posted by: Grim at May 27, 2010 06:20 AM

...it's not likely I'll be heavily involved in any *new* exploits...

I wouldn't wager much on that proposition.

Posted by: Grim at May 27, 2010 06:31 AM

It seemed to me that Mr. Yon either simply didn't take the time to note who had actually written the post...

That was the impression I got. It happens at the Castle at times -- I'll be credited with something John wrote or he'll be scoured for something I said.

Which is fine with me, of course...

Posted by: BillT at May 27, 2010 06:34 AM

I wouldn't wager much on that proposition.

Yeah, well, I've got most of the Guardian Angel Detachment deployed out of theater right now, so I have to watch my step...

Posted by: BillT at May 27, 2010 06:41 AM

In this instance (see emphasis), MY has referenced Matty's *site*, not Matty Blackfive hisself, darlin' girl.

Whoever wrote the original also got the it is and its wrong as well.

Btw, Yon does know crazy monkeys. After all, the bus driver is one.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at May 27, 2010 06:48 AM

That was the impression I got. It happens at the Castle at times -- I'll be credited with something John wrote or he'll be scoured for something I said.

It happens here too, nearly every time one of my guest posters writes something. That's why I thought it was worth mentioning - I didn't think most people would necessarily pick up on the fact that it was Jimbo who actually wrote the post in question :)

Nonetheless, you made a good point - my interpretation isn't the only possible one.

If there's one thing I've learned about the Internet, it's that people don't read the same way online. Most skim or scan rather than reading carefully.

I try to be aware of this in my own reading but being human, am nowhere near perfect in this regard.

Posted by: Cassandra at May 27, 2010 06:50 AM

It's bad enough that Yon has been saying these things but now other major online outlets have taken up his accusations and even augmented them with similarly unsubstantiated accusations.

It is not un common for a hierarchy to become disrupted and unbalanced when their leader takes a trip off the side of the cliff into unknown areas of human habitation and behavior.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at May 27, 2010 06:50 AM

The problem is that Yon doesn't see himself as a leader. Thus he is both unaware of his responsibilities and also unprepared for them. Yon, for all intents and purposes, is a loner. And thus his "problem solving" skills revolve around that kind of perspective and mentality.

Nobody said human hierarchies were sane, people.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at May 27, 2010 06:52 AM

Personally, I think Bill is one of those that it would take a nuke to take out.

People seemed to have tried, many times, but failed.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at May 27, 2010 06:54 AM

Whoever wrote the original also got the it is and its wrong as well.

Yeah, I noticed that too. In fact, that was called my attention to the fact that Yon said "it's credibility" rather than "his credibility". It seemed odd.

Here's another interesting question: should Facebook postings be evaluated by different standards than posts on a blog or Tweets (God I hate that word)? I will admit that I tend to think of Facebook and Twitter as Wikipedia-like, except they tend to contain even less information and few if any links to corroborating material.

Should it make a difference whether the Facebook poster is a journalist as opposed to a private citizen? IOW, are we more inclined to believe even unsubstantiated Facebook posts/tweets if they come from a reporter? And if this is the case (I'd argue it is since the vast majority of Yon's defenders seem to be relying on "I trust MY because he's MY" - IOW, their trust seems attributable to his more formal dispatches even though the Facebook posts are nowhere near as detailed or well documented), is their reliance reasonably justifiable?

We live in an era of increasingly informal communications and that makes evaluating what we read far more difficult because communication takes place under a wider range of circumstances.

Posted by: Cassandra at May 27, 2010 06:55 AM

Personally, I think Bill is one of those that it would take a nuke to take out.

OMG. What if BillT is actually Chuck Norris?

Admit it - when was the last time you saw them together?

Posted by: Cassandra at May 27, 2010 07:04 AM

If Michael Yon thinks Facebook is like his personal diary that he should put down any inner thought, good or bad, floating around in his head, then he seriously misunderstands the nature of Facebook.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at May 27, 2010 07:06 AM

(God I hate that word)

I noticed you hate a lot of the New World vocabulary ; )

Posted by: Ymarsakar at May 27, 2010 07:07 AM

Hey Grim. Check out this dangerous old guy here.

Link

Sometimes size does matter. The size of your knowledge that is.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at May 27, 2010 07:16 AM

Curtis LeMay knew him. He made USAF officers train with him during their tours in Japan. That is one reason that judo is so widely popular in America today.

Posted by: Grim at May 27, 2010 07:23 AM

Get out of here, Grim. No way the US military and their knuckle draggers could accomplish such a multicultural mission requiring diplomacy and sensitivity!

In other news on knuckle draggers, this is my rely to Chuck's comment at the Jimbo, BF, response thread.

If you think he's incompetent, then say why you think think that, and what do you think we should be doing

Chuck, McChrystal is incompetent because he can work with thousands of other people, of all ranks and classes, military or political.

Yon is correct to disrupt human harmony such that people are no longer able to agree on much of anything, let alone work together. That is Yon's brilliance. And it is, in the mirror of the moon, McChrystal's incompetence.
-Me, quoted by I

You can't expect the military to work with people. Don't they just blow them up or something?

Posted by: Ymarsakar at May 27, 2010 07:51 AM

If you think italic line, is Chuck's.

Btw, who is the "him" in question? Did Curtis make the USAF train or was it someone else.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at May 27, 2010 07:55 AM

Hey Grim. How come Mifuni is ranked at a 10th dan/degree Black Belt and Dillman is also ranked at 10th dan/degree Black Belt too?

I can't figure it out. Maybe I should ask my God, Obama or Yon to tell me which is which. Whatcha think? They'll tell me who is the real one, and absent what I can see and think for myself, I'll totally trust in Obama and Yon's judgment on this.... right?

Posted by: Ymarsakar at May 27, 2010 07:58 AM

Don't get Dillman wrong. He actually does know quite a bit. You have to filter out some of the 'secrets' he claims to teach, but you can learn a lot about ryukyu kempo or small circle jujitsu from his people.

People like secrets. They like to believe they know something other people don't know. And sometimes they do; but not always.

Posted by: Grim at May 27, 2010 08:44 AM

People seemed to have tried, many times, but failed.

I was merely better at doing my job than they were about doing theirs.

Posted by: BillT at May 27, 2010 08:57 AM

The thing about these mcDojos is, in some respects, a pyramid scheme. Rather, you have the one person at the top and the true believers at the bottom. The true believers, the work bees who do the work and MOST of the teaching, are great people, often times. They really work at it. You can learn from them because they are willingly to teach and to be taught.

Get too far up the top where the money is, Grim, and you tend to see some of that Obama mania going on.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at May 27, 2010 09:19 AM

"And your comment is mystifying. Where did I say I had a problem with you discussing that subject? I quoted you as one of:

...three bloggers who took the time to ask questions and to provide context and information?

Not quite sure how you managed to infer a criticism from that (much less that I had a problem with the parts of your post I didn't mention) but I think you need to read more carefully."

I too was a bit mystified, but it was late. So I went back and re-read a good deal of the history of the Yon flap along with your comments and the post at CQ for context. Failing to detect offending remarks in this post, given the context, and fearing further damage to my grok-o-matic, I decided to have a beer and retire for the evening.

As the curtain dropped on another day I could not help but marvel at how often things are misread, misinterpreted, and/or taken out of context on the intertubes.

One has to wonder how nations have managed to avoid conflict as much as we have. But then it is safer and easier to fight on the intertubes than in meatspace.

And then there's always the delicate art of diplomacy inherent in our species.

Posted by: bthun at May 27, 2010 09:26 AM

OT: hey, Cassandra, sent you an email...possible it wound up in your spam folder since that seems to happen to yahoo messages sometimes..

Posted by: david foster at May 27, 2010 10:06 AM

Thanks! I'll check :)

Posted by: Cassandra at May 27, 2010 10:10 AM

Bthun, I'm always amazed at how quickly people get nasty on the Internet - often on little or no provocation. The irony here is that I linked Captain Smith precisely because I thought he handled the matter correctly. I also included him b/c he wrote an ardent defense of Yon in April.

A lot of the discussion of this story has revolved around taking sides, and as someone who came down firmly "on Yon's side", I thought his treatment was interesting and germane.

I have absolutely no problem with assuming the email was accurate for the purpose of discussing the merits of such an order. I also thought it was good that he thought to check on the one thing he did have the power to check on: whether this "order" came from the top and applied to everyone or whether it was a lower level policy from a local commander?

For the purposes of this post, I have no interest in the validity of such an order wherever it may have come from. It's not germane and so I did not comment on that part of his post.

I cited four different bloggers all of whom questioned the order to some extent to make the point that there is a difference between thoughtful, well researched scrutiny/criticism and afactual, contextless scrutiny/criticism. Not really sure why he didn't get that, but whatever.

Posted by: Cassandra at May 27, 2010 10:13 AM

Not really sure why he didn't get that, but whatever.

Why not?

I think it was obvious to me that he felt you were on the other side, thus hostile body language promotes hostile outlooks. This was always the case between humans.

What people may not get, I realize, is that when there is No Body Language on the internet or if they can't read between the lines like some Stasi letter reader, the Monkey that controls human emotion and imagination will make it up.

Yes, the monkey that is the source of your imagination and fears and inner emotions will simply make up what you see. If you don't see hostile body language, but you fear or was told you are facing a hostile person, you will see hostile body language.

It is even easier for the monkey to take control on the internet, when you can't see body language a tall. But the monkey will tell you that you saw it. The monkey will tell you that they flicked you off. The monkey will tell you that the other guy is snickering behind your back, thinking something that they didn't put in print.

And because this is the internet, because you have to be calm and ask for clarification, the monkey often times win because he can tell you what is really going on before you rational and logical mind ever finds out. Because you know what? The monkey is valuable. We can't kill the monkey. We need the monkey. But we don't need the monkey in the driver's seat telling us what is or is not real.

This is why we throw the monkey under the bus. He'll be back, but not while I'm driving the bus.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at May 27, 2010 10:31 AM

...it was obvious to me that he felt you were on the other side, thus hostile body language promotes hostile outlooks. This was always the case between humans.

That may well be. I tend to assume that people are going to disagree, that this is normal and even desirable, and that consequently I shouldn't assume that when someone disagrees with me they are attacking me personally.

But we all know that I am weird.


Posted by: Cassandra at May 27, 2010 10:40 AM

I was merely better at doing my job than they were about doing theirs.

And humble too. Your students got a great instructor. If Yon had been your student, he probably would have came out better in the end on balance.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at May 27, 2010 10:42 AM

The Japanese would definitely call you hen (weird).

Posted by: Ymarsakar at May 27, 2010 10:46 AM

Grim blogged about something called Nemesis hostility. Not the Greek goddess but how people could benefit from feeling hostile towards other people's hostility.

Now if you simply look at it from a psychological level without looking at the nemesis factor, that means people will and do get hostile if they sense hostility. But as I mentioned before, that doesn't mean they sensed hostility correctly. They could be mistaken.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at May 27, 2010 10:51 AM

Neither Yon nor Blackfive took this story at face value: it was reported as an email and as rumor. I read the actions of both Yon and Blackfive as seeking, quickly, verification of the story, if true.

I would prefer that people report a rumor, or as in this case email allegation, as rumor, with a request for verification from anybody who might have direct knowledge, and a declaration of a 3-day waiting period for the sake of clarity.

Also: these allegations have an original source.

Posted by: valerie at May 27, 2010 10:56 AM

But we all know that I am weird.

It's just your body language.

Mine, apparently, is Braille...

Posted by: BillT at May 27, 2010 10:56 AM

"Mine, apparently, is Braille..."

Which explains the zipper.
0>;~}

Posted by: DL Sly at May 27, 2010 11:03 AM

I like some of Yon's stuff, read his early autobiography, and know he has a background in Special Forces. But as far as I can tell or remember, he has no formal journalism training. More importantly in this context, he seems to have gone rogue. Me, I'm sticking with the Marine wife on this one. This post cannot have been easy to write Cassandra, but by writing it you performed a public service, and many of us are in your debt.

Posted by: Patrick at May 27, 2010 11:06 AM

Not one of the herd, well, that goes without saying, but weird? Nahhh.


*returns attention to Google Earth search for the location of that 500 gallon martini*

Posted by: bt_will_work_for_500_gallon_martini's_or_range_time_hun at May 27, 2010 11:07 AM

Neither Yon nor Blackfive took this story at face value: it was reported as an email and as rumor. I read the actions of both Yon and Blackfive as seeking, quickly, verification of the story, if true.

I don't think I ever said (or even implied) that Blackfive took the story at face value. I also only saw that one sentence ("An American soldier emailed from Afghanistan saying that his unit has been ordered to patrol with no round in the chamber.") from Mr. Yon.

I didn't see any caveats, requests for verification or characterization of the statement as a rumor from Mr. Yon. The item I linked to was just a single sentence. Though of course it's possible that this did happen later and I missed it!

I don't necessarily have a problem with circulating unverified information (rumors), but I do think they should be clearly identified as such.

Posted by: Cassandra at May 27, 2010 11:14 AM

"Yes, the monkey that is the source of your imagination and fears and inner emotions will simply make up what you see."
And monkey will see you in court if you persist in slandering monkey!

Posted by: cheetah at May 27, 2010 11:16 AM

I'm reading Michael Yon's facebook page and his online FB wall discussion with CJ Grisham and some others.

It doesn't look good. Yon says he doesn't know why he got booted.

He doesn't know? But suspects, right. Well, that's the perfect situation for the "imagination" to start up making up all kinds of things. Especially if you can't verify if any of it is true.

All the issues I described before still apply to Yon. He wants the names of Jimbo's sources because Yon wants to know, but he seems to have run out of sources in the military to find out (gee, I wonder how). Yon suspects something happened that was nefarious. He admits he doesn't know. Hrm...

Maybe he thinks he'll know based upon Jimbo's source? Not likely, of course.

There's also something else bad going.

The info war run on about Tillman is actually bolstering defense of Yon. That is something being propagated by, how shall I call it, "non-positive" agents.

The other thing I noticed, which was also bad, is that there was a long history of Leftist agent provocateurs that commented on Yon's magazine or other social medium, in order to sabotage Yon. Now that this pressure has been ordered to other theaters of America by Obama, the people that witnessed, experienced, and fought back against Leftist de-moralizing attempts now are applying their Stone wall techniques they learned on the fly with poor training to Blackfive and other milblogging company.

Against the Left, the right method is to close them off, isolate them, and destroy them if you can't contain or ignore them. That's because reason or compromise doesn't work on them. When you use such methods against honest criticism that isn't designed to de-moralize or destroy the work of Yon, you have in effect fallen into the Leftist trap.

They cried wolf so many times, that the well has been poisoned.

The left levels charges of racism all the time, so that when real racism happens, nobody pays it any attention because it is so common for false racist charges to be filed. This gives the impression to blacks that whites and the media really are racist. So they cheer in the case of false racism charges, like Duke, because the Left poisoned the well on racist charges long ago.

It's a kind of neat little setup they have there. But I didn't know they had used it on Yon until I read his long time commenters at FB wall.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at May 27, 2010 11:28 AM

Susan Cazenavette
I am just praying for discernment in all of this for you, Michael. We need you. I would say your calling is definitely to be in a war...it is just a different way of calling. They say, the pen is mightier than the sword. Because of your army background you understand discipline, and you understand hierarchy. You are "outside the wire, now." I pray ... See Morethat God will show you wisdom. I certainly don't know what that is for you. I am concerned, because we need you and I believe you are very effective in what you are doing. But the Bible does say, that not all things of our freedom are profitable.

Richard Bradley Bonds
A long time ago most of Mr. Yon's dispatches were commented on almost all by people talking to each other like this, and worse:

--Communist-Progressives
--The One
--MASTERS SOCIALIST MINIONS... See More
--elite idiots drunk on Charismatic tainted Kool-Aid flavoring masking the STRYCHNINE
--American Coalition for Libral Unity
--Rulers of America
--RahmObama
--socialists in spin city east
--Dhimmicratic administration
(http://bigjournalism.com/rfutrell/2010/05/25/who-in-the-msm-will-stand-up-for-michael-yon/)

I am glad there is almost none of that on here anymore. I like it all that much more without them.

I will never abandon him because of things people say.

I will always keep sending him $2 when I can. It's not much, but when you're scraping by on pocket change - remembering he is unsupported - I'm hoping if he needs it, his last penny will be mine that I sent. I can gladly do at least that.

One of the issues of learning new things under combat stress is that you tend to integrate those solutions in and apply them elsewhere. You never forget about them because you learned that they worked in a time of your time that you were being attacked, that your very preservation depended upon efficiency. If people learned defensive methods which worked for them, while they were reporting or being in combat, they will then try to use such "solutions" in a different (inappropriate) context.

If they don't catch themselves, if they don't realize the magnitude of this mistake, they will essentially be translating their former problems unto their current self. A problem that could have been solved, now can't be because you used high power tactical solutions on a social disagreement. Why? Because the "tactical solution" worked for you before, so you kept on relying upon it.

This is bad, in case people didn't know.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at May 27, 2010 11:32 AM

Michael Yon
Irony is that Canadians walked up and told me about the weapon drama -- but I never would have known had McChrystal's gang just left me in the field. This and so much else (not to mention Menard himself) continues to undermine my confidence in COMISAF and other leadership.

On the media front, not only did COMISAF senior staff distract me from ... See Moredoing field work that families and troops seemed to value, they brought a laser on their own poor judgment. I spent probably as much time writing the above entry as it took to flush Menard to fess up to the negligent discharge. This was the indirect and accidental work of General McChrystal and Admiral Smith. They ran over Menard accidentally in the way that one might accidentally run over a rabbit. COMISAF drove me to KAF and Menard ran under the tire with a thump and we keep going.

I never would have known about the negligent discharge and some other matters if they had just left me with the infantry.

If it ain't broke...

General Stanley McChyrstal: No Confidence
Tuesday at 9:08pm

A couple of things I'll note.

Monomania. If it isn't Menard, it is McChrystal. If it isn't McChrystal, it is Menard.

Arabic sense of vendetta. "You made me do it"

Making enemies where none existed. This is a "shoot that guy's friend because I don't like that guy's policies and we'll call it even". It ain't ever even with that escalation.

http://www.nationalpost.com/news/story.html?id=3070468

People make mistakes. Journalists think reporting on mistakes will fix them. Journalists are critics. They think just because they report problems, that other people then have to do the work of solving, that they are free to create as many problems as they wish because "the truth" justifies it.

The truth doesn't justify a damn thing.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at May 27, 2010 12:25 PM

No one was injured and Menard immediately asked for an investigation and told his troops about the incident -- factors that should mitigate the sentence, prosecuting lawyer Lt.-Col. Marylene Trudel told the court.

You can't make people do what is in their best interests. The fact that they did it, wasn't because you remote controlled them into it. It's a dangerous path for Yon to walk, thinking his big stick of a pen is what made people do the right thing.

People don't even do the right thing when their family members tell them to do it. People blow their brains out regardless of what their family members want. You cannot make other people's decisions for them. Especially when you are a hostile party. The only thing you can do is to blow them up with force or threaten them with force.

There is no public official in Obama's administration that would have immediately "fessed" up just because some reporter reported a problem. Leaders with megalomania simply aren't that decisive about admitting mistakes.

And you know what?

Yon said he heard it from Canadian troops. But the Canadian troops? They heard it from who, Menard? Not a fact. But definitely a probability. Yon's duty is to investigate what is probable.

To not to do so, is to undermine confidence in COMISAF and other leadership.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at May 27, 2010 12:32 PM

facebook comeback: http://www.facebook.com/?ref=home#!/MichaelYonFanPage

Posted by: kate at May 27, 2010 01:14 PM

I know Colonel Steve Boylan, and he was the Public Affairs Officer for General David Petraeus. I will email to Colonel Boylan now asking him to comment. Did he say I announced KIA before family members were notified? That's a very serious charge made by this blogger. Apparently she thinks she's accusing me of breaking embed rules, while actually she is accusing Colonel Boylan of defamation.

- from Yon's latest Facebook posting

Thanks Kate. I was unaware of this.

I did not "make the charge", and I linked to my source as I always do. How hard is it to click on the link I placed right in my post? From the linked item:

When the blogger left Iraq for a break and then tried to return in September, the Army said no. Lt. Col. Steven Boylan wrote to Yon, telling him he had violated his embed agreement, which requires withholding photos of dead and injured soldiers until their family members had been notified.

This same link was excerpted in my prior post - the one Col. Boylan commented on. Should there turn out to be evidence that the information in the link was wrong I will of course be more than happy to include a link to the correction.

Posted by: Cassandra at May 27, 2010 01:26 PM

From the wall post comments of "If I had broken embed rules, Admiral Gregory Smith.."posted 11 hours ago, Yon just made this comment regarding this website.

Michael Yon: Another website that undermines itself by quoting Blackfive. And calling me a professional journalist. Hasn't done homework. Have stated a thousand times am not a journalist. Poor research and emotionally written:

http://www.villainouscompany.com/vcblog/archives/2010/05/the_credibility.html


52 minutes ago · Flag

Posted by: KAF at May 27, 2010 01:44 PM

Yon's a one man battle group that is also known as a loose cannon on deck. No, he isn't a journalist in many respects. In some respects, not so much.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at May 27, 2010 01:54 PM

Well, that's interesting, especially since nowhere in this post do I "quote Blackfive" :)

I did link to Jimbo's response so my readers could see it if they were interested. I made no comment on it, however.

Also, I say right in this post - several times - that Mr. Yon does not consider himself to be a professional journalist. Here:

According to Colonel Steve Boylan... Yon says he's not a journalist, either.

And here:

If Yon isn't a blogger and isn't a journalist, what is he?

And again, here in the comments:

Journalists are normally paid to do some kind of reporting. Yon appears to me to be making a living through donations received by readers of his dispatches. If that isn't journalism, I'm not sure what is so I happen to believe (his disclaimers notwithstanding) that that's the right standard.

Even when stating my personal opinion, I reminded readers that Yon doesn't consider himself a professional journalist.

How this was twisted into my claiming he does eludes me.

I am confused as to how reminding people that he says he's not a professional journalist became a claim that he is!

Posted by: Cassandra at May 27, 2010 01:58 PM

You know my answer to that ; )

Posted by: Ymarsakar at May 27, 2010 02:07 PM

Unfortunately the 'fans' read what he says and it matters not what you wrote. Most won't even read to the bottom of the page of this to gain more understanding on the issue of responsible communication to the public. Many of those who do are wearing 'Yon' colored glasses and so the leaf is looked at but not the trees, let alone a glimpse of the forrest. Some sociologist could write an interesting paper on this phenomenon.

Posted by: KAF at May 27, 2010 02:28 PM

"Noah's reporting is corroborated by this account in Politico. As far as I know, there isn't any corroboration of Yon's version of events."

Cass,

To be clear, this is not corroboration. This is two reporters getting statements from the same entity. Just because that's the company line, doesn't make it so.

Uncle Jimbo says that Yon was kicked for violating embed rules. Well, if that's so, the information isn't classified. Why would the public affairs office say something different? Why is Jimbo so secretive about the reasons? Okay. So now we know Uncle Jimbo is talking to the ignorant at best (liars at worst).

Yon is open about why he THINKS he was kicked, and he offers as a confirmation that there were no embeds around asking for his cot. Granted, the military isn't always efficient.

But what we have here is Yon's word against the word of the public affairs office. Nothing else. Zero. If Yon has compelling proof that McChrystal's office attempting to publicly smear him, he should sue. Maybe it's less than legally compelling, so he won't. Maybe Yon's lying. I think the bloggers (who might well be being manipulated by the public affairs office) should stay out of it.

Posted by: CMAR II at May 27, 2010 02:34 PM

Unfortunately the 'fans' read what he says and it matters not what you wrote.

I often get the impression that it doesn't matter what I actually write :)

Inevitably, someone comes along and neatly substitutes what they think I wrote for what I actually wrote! I haven't really been following the discussion over at his place.

I got disgusted when he told a decorated combat vet to grab a helmet yesterday. You'd hope comments like that might open a few people's eyes, but then again this is the Internet.

Posted by: Cassandra at May 27, 2010 02:40 PM

Methinks you have ruffled a few feathers. Keep it comin!

Posted by: Delta Whiskey at May 27, 2010 02:43 PM

Some eyes are open. But those wearing the glasses don't take them off very often and when they do, it can take time to adjust to the new lighting. I admire those who have gone on his fb trying to coax people to be responsible for how they interpret info, or to see through the drama and alarmist postings (especially from anon. and usually young officers who send him emails). Even if it's like running in water I hope they never stop trying to keep the 'truth' truthful.

Posted by: KAF at May 27, 2010 02:51 PM

CMAR II:

Thanks for your comment! Please allow me to respond inline:

To be clear, this is not corroboration. This is two reporters getting statements from the same entity. Just because that's the company line, doesn't make it so.

It's important to note the difference between corroboration (to support with evidence or authority) and proof (to establish conclusively). I deliberately did NOT use the word "prove" because I agree that word would not have applied here.

Uncle Jimbo says that Yon was kicked for violating embed rules. Well, if that's so, the information isn't classified.

There is also a reason I didn't address Jimbo's statement. As I stated, the burden of proof is on the accuser.

As I recall, Jimbo didn't say he knew for a fact Yon was lying about the reasons for the termination of his embed. What he did say was that he'd heard he was terminated for violating the embed rules.

I carefully neither repeated nor commented upon that claim because I have no way to address it on the merits. I don't disagree that an anonymous source is less persuasive then a named one, but that same argument can be made against Mr. Yon's use of anonymous sources, can it not? What is problematic here is attacking another writer for citing anonymous sources when you use them yourself.

That's the risk of citing anonymous sources: there's not much reason to have confidence in them since we don't know who they are or if they have an agenda.

Why would the public affairs office say something different?

I don't know that they did.

Why is Jimbo so secretive about the reasons?

I don't know. Why doesn't Yon name all his sources? I imagine they have the same reasons - probably because the sources asked not to be identified.

Okay. So now we know Uncle Jimbo is talking to the ignorant at best (liars at worst).

Do we? How do we know this?

Yon is open about why he THINKS he was kicked, and he offers as a confirmation that there were no embeds around asking for his cot.

So in other words, you (and Yon) are claiming that PAO is lying, but you offer no proof?

Granted, the military isn't always efficient.

That's an understatement :p

But what we have here is Yon's word against the word of the public affairs office. Nothing else. Zero.

Very true. I have a hard time believing PAO would be willing to publish a very specific lie in several places when it's so easy to find out. Contrary to your prior assertion, I have not seen a single shred of proof from Mr. Yon that there wasn't actually a waiting list for embed spots.

If Yon has compelling proof that McChrystal's office attempting to publicly smear him, he should sue.

And it will be interesting to see whether he ever does.

Maybe it's less than legally compelling, so he won't. Maybe Yon's lying. I think the bloggers (who might well be being manipulated by the public affairs office) should stay out of it.

Why? Mr. Yon is the one who threw out public accusations of malfeasance by active duty officers. Why in the world should his statements be off limits for discussion?

Are you seriously contending that he musn't be questioned? That seems bizarre to me.

Posted by: Cassandra at May 27, 2010 02:55 PM

What was that about logic?

By the way, in the interest of keeping things factual, stop referring to Mr. Smith as "Captain." He has not now or ever served or held any military rank.

Posted by: Greyhawk at May 27, 2010 03:13 PM

...in the interest of keeping things factual, stop referring to Mr. Smith as "Captain." He has not now or ever served or held any military rank.

I did not know that! My bad :)

Posted by: Cassandra at May 27, 2010 03:21 PM

BTW, fantastic post, Cass.

Hate to drop in my one point of disagreement with you, but it's significant. "I don't necessarily have a problem with circulating unverified information (rumors), but I do think they should be clearly identified as such."

I agree only if you are excluding this specific rumor - it's the type that gets troops killed. The truth of it matters not one bit, there are those who read that stuff and will eagerly test the theory.

That brings us to the easy answer to the Facebook/Twitter/whatever question - all same same in that regards, GI.

Posted by: Greyhawk at May 27, 2010 03:26 PM

I got disgusted when he told a decorated combat vet to grab a helmet yesterday.

It probably worked on those Leftist operators he talked to when he first started his dispatches, Cassandra. It worked on them, because the Left loves "authority" and things like that.

But that's cause the Left is childish and mentally weak.

So Yon's little trick worked on them, those that spewed Chickenhawk as a defense of their political rampage, so now he thinks it'll work now.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at May 27, 2010 03:27 PM

When the only attacks or criticism you ever heard for several years, while in a war zone, came from the traitorous Left, you might start getting the impression that the only reason that you could be criticized for comes from what is motivating those people.

And if certain little verbal tricks worked to put those people off their feed, then obviously when some "new people" come on the scene and it looks to the monkey like these new people sound like the old people, then obviously the "old trick" will still work. That's the mantra.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at May 27, 2010 03:31 PM

"I did not know that! My bad :)"

Jeesh - no apologies needed. You see a guy dressed in a military uniform, you assume he's military.

I'm certain he would have corrected your real mistake as swiftly as he did the imaginary one.

Posted by: Greyhawk at May 27, 2010 03:31 PM

Cass,

"It's important to note the difference between corroboration (to support with evidence or authority) and proof (to establish conclusively)."
But this corroboration offers nothing different from what Yon has said himself. He already said that the public affairs office SAID they were kicking him for lack of space. Noah and Politico merely got the public affairs office to confirm that that was the reason they gave, right? Yon doesn't believe that's the reason. Maybe he's wrong and maybe he's right. At this point, it's he-said-she-said. You and I don't have any chance of knowing the truth. That's why I say the bloggers should stay out of it and deal with matters of confirmable fact. If Yon does in fact sue the PAO for defamation that might be forthcoming. At this point, the bloggers are merely defending standing on the unimpeachable transparency of the military PAO, which seems risky to me.
"Do we? How do we know [Uncle Jimbo's sources are ignorant or liars]?
Because Jimbo's story makes no sense. He's claiming that the PAO is lying about it's reasons for kicking Yon (I suppose) to preserve his feelings or something. Did they preserve Geraldo Rivera's feelings when he was kicked for giving away troops locations? If Yon were kicked for violating embed rules, there would be no reason for the PAO or Uncle Jimbo or his sources not to say so. And that Jimbo won't say so (out of thin protestations of integrity), makes me extremely suspicious.
Why doesn't Yon name all his sources?
I didn't say Jimbo should name his sources. I said Jimbo should give the actual embed violations he CLAIMS to know Yon committed. That's not telling tales out of school.
I have a hard time believing PAO would be willing to publish a very specific lie in several places when it's so easy to find out.
I don't think this is all that easy to find out. Certainly no bloggers have asked to see the list and verify it. And just as the military isn't always efficient, PAO's are not always models of subtlety and cleverness.
Contrary to your prior assertion, I have not seen a single shred of proof from Mr. Yon that there wasn't actually a waiting list for embed spots.
You're asking Yon to prove a negative. Not impossible in this case but always hard to do. He gave the PAO's reasons. He said he didn't believe that was the actual reason. There's really no value-add that the bloggers can provide other than to claim the PAO never lies or acts politically--which would be laughable.
Mr. Yon is the one who threw out public accusations of malfeasance by active duty officers. Why in the world should his statements be off limits for discussion?
See above. What would we discuss?
Are you seriously contending that he musn't be questioned?
I'm saying you don't know ANYTHING. Neither do I (except that Jimbo's story is whack). Personally, I'm not willing to get in a huff about the integrity of the PAO. And I don't think anyone else is either. This is all about Yon's criticism of McChrystal's success and leadership. Some bloggers are attempting to defend McChrystal by thrashing Yon on a peripherally-related issue (at best). This strikes me as petty. If you don't agree with his criticism of McChrystal, challenge Yon on that.

Posted by: CMAR II at May 27, 2010 03:42 PM

He's claiming that the PAO is lying about it's reasons for kicking Yon

If JImbo wants to say somebody lied, he'll actually use those words.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at May 27, 2010 03:51 PM

[I said]He's claiming that the PAO is lying about it's reasons for kicking Yon

Ymarsakar replies]If JImbo wants to say somebody lied, he'll actually use those words.

Self evidently untrue.

Jimbo says his sources --which he adamantly believes-- say Yon was kicked for violating embed rules. He affirms that the PAO says Yon was kicked for lack of space.

To me this sounds like Jimbo is saying the PAO is lying about what it is telling Yon and reporters. Do you have another interpretation?

Posted by: CMAR II at May 27, 2010 03:58 PM

You're asking Yon to prove a negative. Not impossible in this case but always hard to do.

You know, some folks would say that if you have no evidence that someone is lying, perhaps you shouldn't accuse them in the first place :p

He's not being asked to prove a negative - he's being asked to offer some evidence to support accusing active duty military folks of lying.
Doesn't seem unreasonable at all to me.

He gave the PAO's reasons. He said he didn't believe that was the actual reason. There's really no value-add that the bloggers can provide other than to claim the PAO never lies or acts politically--which would be laughable.

I disagree. Bloggers can point out (as I did) that there is no evidence to back up the accusation. They can point out that PAO was willing to go on the record - several times, in fact - as to the existence of a waiting list. If you think that happens without the statement being run up the chain, I have a very large bridge to sell you in Arizona.

I'm saying you don't know ANYTHING.

I know that PAO was willing, when challenged, to go on the record.

I know that Yon hasn't provided one single shred of evidence to back up either his claim that PAO was lying or that McChrystal orchestrated a smear campaign against him.

Those are the kinds of accusations that - if there were evidence - would get him in a LOT of trouble. And I think it's wrong and irresponsible to accuse people of criminal acts with zero evidence.

But apparently you disagree, which is your right. On my site, which I pay for, I am free to discuss whatever I wish.

Posted by: Cassandra at May 27, 2010 04:00 PM

Some bloggers are attempting to defend McChrystal by thrashing Yon on a peripherally-related issue (at best). This strikes me as petty. If you don't agree with his criticism of McChrystal, challenge Yon on that.

No, some bloggers are pointing out that there is absolutely NO evidence to back up the accusations against McChrystal.

That's not petty. It's an accurate statement, even if you don't like it and wish they would stop :p

Posted by: Cassandra at May 27, 2010 04:02 PM

CMAR,

If you want to debate Jimbo, he lives over at Blackfive. Not here.

The subject of this post was not Jimbo, nor did I address Jimbo's statements. You are arguing with the wrong person.

Take it on over to Blackfive, OK? It's not really relevant to this post.

Posted by: Cassandra at May 27, 2010 04:04 PM

Hate to drop in my one point of disagreement with you, but it's significant. "I don't necessarily have a problem with circulating unverified information (rumors), but I do think they should be clearly identified as such."
I agree only if you are excluding this specific rumor - it's the type that gets troops killed. The truth of it matters not one bit, there are those who read that stuff and will eagerly test the theory.

I can't disagree with that. I got pretty upset when I saw the post for precisely that reason. And I didn't write about it b/c I had nothing to add and was hoping it would die a quiet death.

Posted by: Cassandra at May 27, 2010 04:07 PM

[bloggers] can point out that PAO was willing to go on the record - several times, in fact - as to the existence of a waiting list.
Everything done in the military is done on the record. That's not going above and beyond. I'm genuinely surprised soldiers don't have to file their toilet paper after using it. Every bad apple who was found out and court-martialed lied about it on the record.

It is a tautology to say that THE PUBLIC AFFAIRS OFFICE went on the record. All they *do* is go on the record.

Are you saying the PAO has never lied or acted politically?? Because that is the only logical inference I can draw here.

And *some* bloggers [like Uncle Jimbo] are obviously engaging in dishonest smear against Yon, spreading lies that are absolutely absurd on their face which are being happily absorbed by the gullible without any critical thinking. Perhaps you'll claim Yon does the same thing? Well, I guess that makes it right.

Posted by: CMAR II at May 27, 2010 04:16 PM

If you want to debate Jimbo, he lives over at Blackfive. Not here. The subject of this post was not Jimbo, nor did I address Jimbo's statements. You are arguing with the wrong person. Take it on over to Blackfive, OK? It's not really relevant to this post.
I'm glad to see that you have decided to stop defending him (because his assertions are not defendable). But the reason you and other bloggers are taking up this issue is because of Jimbo's post. So it's not without relevance.

Posted by: CMAR II at May 27, 2010 04:20 PM

And you *did* bring up Yon's challenge to Blackfive in this post, Cass. I thought you did, and I just scrolled up to check. Yep. I had to scroll up pretty far. It was an awfully long post to say "Yon has offered no proof that the PAO kicked him because they didn't like what he was writing."

Posted by: CMAR II at May 27, 2010 04:32 PM

...the reason you and other bloggers are taking up this issue is because of Jimbo's post. So it's not without relevance.

I cannot speak for other bloggers, CMAR.

In my case, it would be more accurate to say that the only reason I'm aware of Mr. Yon's accusations at all is that Jimbo raised the issue.

And I don't believe I have "defended" Jimbo (not that he needs defending from a 125 # Marine wife). I merely responded to your comment.

I'd like to point out that you have no evidence that anything Jimbo said is "lies". Your only "evidence" is the statement from PAO (which is rather problematic since you claim that statement isn't worth the paper it's written on b/c PAO are just a bunch of lying liars who lie!). That's a thin reed to rest your case upon.

It is logically inconsistent to say you won't believe Jimbo because he has provided no evidence but you will believe Yon because he has... ummm... provided no evidence :p

It is also logically inconsistent to call Jimbo a liar for making an unsubstantiated statement but give Yon a pass for doing the same thing.

The truth is that (as you admitted earlier) you don't know the facts in either case.

Enough about Jimbo - off topic.

Posted by: Cassandra at May 27, 2010 04:35 PM

Ad hominem tu quoque, or Red Herring.

Posted by: KAF at May 27, 2010 05:00 PM

To me this sounds like Jimbo is saying the PAO is lying about what it is telling Yon and reporters. Do you have another interpretation?

Easily. The stories contradict each other, seemingly, but that's because nobody knows all sides of the story. There are often times perfectly reasonable explanations for what many see as mutually exclusive events.

For example. How come water boils at 100 Celsius but sometimes, only boils at higher temperatures, 110 Celsius? If one person somewhere claimed he got water to boil at 100 Celsius and another person in a lab said water only boiled for him at 110 Celsius, is somebody lying?

No, all it takes is higher air pressure. Or perhaps something was added to the water. Or they were simply there was no standardized unit for Celsius and those two were using their homegrown version.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at May 27, 2010 05:01 PM

The idea that somebody is lying is a war or combat mentality. It means that somebody is an enemy here. There's an us vs them mindset.

That's fine against the Left. They are the enemy. But don't bring that mentality everywhere with you.

There are times plenty of reasons to believe differences in perspective isn't because somebody "lied" or had intent to deceive others.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at May 27, 2010 05:03 PM

Most of what Mike Yon says makes perfectly good sense to me.

CMAR, I think if a blogger says something about someone else who disagreed with someone else the bloggers commenters should probably stay out of it.

Posted by: Bambi Stokes-Hymington at May 27, 2010 05:03 PM

Enough about Jimbo - off topic
Cass,

The issue for me here isn't about Jimbo. It's about bloggers, readers of blogs, and credulousness. I'll probably be banned for posting this response after you've warned me off. If you read to the end, you'll see why I believe you can't discuss this issue without saying where you stand on Jimbo. Okay. Whatever happens, here goes.

I'd like to point out that you have no evidence that anything Jimbo said is "lies". Your only "evidence" is the statement from PAO (which is rather problematic since you claim that statement isn't worth the paper it's written on!).
I don't say it. I never have. But JIMBO says it, and Yon says it. I don't know what to believe. Yon *might* be paranoid (not lying) about the PAO. Jimbo's story on the otherhand is for compost. The problem IS NOT that he doesn't offer any evidence. The problem is that anything more he says on the subject would only sound crazier.

My "evidence" of this is that Jimbo's version makes ZERO sense. What I don't understand is why you don't see it's a crazy smear...unless you've decided that ATTACK ON YON = GOOD.

This is not --in any way-- the same thing as Yon's claim that HE THINKS he was kicked because they didn't like what he wrote. This is Jimbo passing on (or making up) a facil lie.

I'll walk you through it one more time: Jimbo says the PAO is LYING when they say Yon was kicked for lack of space, but WHY WOULD THEY LIE if Yon had merely broken embed rules???

How is this applicable? A dozen bloggers have jumped on Jimbo's bandwagon to attack Yon for WHAT HE THINKS without one word criticizing the mob organizer --Jimbo-- for his original story THAT MAKES NO SENSE. On top of that, they're willing to put all their trust in a military bureaucratic corp (I'm including you here, Cass) in order to thrash a blogger who (whatever other deficiencies you might think he has) has done no more than engage in the age-old military practice of accusing the brass of looking out for itself. Anyone who claims that Yon would like to see the effort fail in Afghanistan has never read his writings (you didn't say it, many blog commenters have though).

Posted by: CMAR II at May 27, 2010 05:07 PM

On top of that, they're willing to put all their trust in a military bureaucratic corp (I'm including you here, Cass) in order to thrash a blogger who (whatever other deficiencies you might think he has) has done no more than engage in the age-old military practice of accusing the brass of looking out for itself.

A few observations:

1. None of my arguments depends in any way on anything Jimbo has said.

I would really like for you to acknowledge this, CMAR.

2. If none of my arguments rest on anything Jimbo has said, it makes no sense to claim that "debunking" Jimbo disproves anything I have said. And I really wish you'd respond to my arguments rather than Jimbo's.

3. I understand your feeling that Yon is being "attacked".

I can't comment on what other bloggers have said, though. That's up to them. I can respond to this:

On top of that, they're willing to put all their trust in a military bureaucratic corp (I'm including you here, Cass) in order to thrash a blogger who (whatever other deficiencies you might think he has) has done no more than engage in the age-old military practice of accusing the brass of looking out for itself.

You are wrong to include me here.

You are equating NOT believing Yon's accusations when he provided NO evidence whatsoever to back up his claims with believing PAO.

I think the best analogy is to a court of law. If I (or the state) accuse X of some criminal act, I bear the burden of proof. If I fail to provide legally sufficient proof, X will be acquitted even if he never raises a single defense or provides any exculpatory evidence.

This is the situation with Yon.

He has accused PAO and McChrystal. But he has provided no evidence. Therefore, the charges are dropped.

That says nothing about the actual guilt or innocence of PAO or McChrystal - it says only that the case against them is grossly deficient.

There is a vast difference between trusting someone unconditionally and being unwilling to convict them on zero evidence.

Do you understand now? *That* is the point of this post.

Posted by: Cassandra at May 27, 2010 05:27 PM

I found another big fat liar. These people should stop attacking Mike Yon for having the courage to be the only one to tell the truth about
*number of total casualties (including wounded);
*details of the damage to an ISAF vehicle produced by a certain quantity of explosive;
*precise details of the limitations of counter-measures employed by that vehicle; and
*the ISAF name for the route where it occurred.

We have a right to know!

Posted by: Mullah Omar at May 27, 2010 05:36 PM

The intellectual honest position (and I don't mean that as an insult) when you don't know who to believe, is to believe no one and wait for more information to be made available.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at May 27, 2010 05:38 PM

A dozen bloggers have jumped on Jimbo's bandwagon to attack Yon for WHAT HE THINKS without one word criticizing the mob organizer --Jimbo-- for his original story THAT MAKES NO SENSE.

But CMAR, the way I read Jimbo's post, and I don't think I'm alone, his main point is Yon's "Sour Grapes" about being told his embed is over. They are tiring, concerning, and dangerous. In other words, Yon's responses were becoming irrational.

With that being the main point, the 'bandwagon' in general, has not been about who's lying about what. It's about Yon's behavior.

Your argument seems to be: Jimbo has, in your eyes, not proven or backed up his claims, and neither has Yon, therefore, Jimbo's post should have no credibility or support. That is not a valid argument. Ad Hominem Tu Quoque is in play here.

Still, your point is valid, just not relevant to any reason not to link to his post.

Posted by: KAF at May 27, 2010 05:51 PM

For the record, "Mullah Omar" is me. Y'all want to enjoy that link before continuing the conversation.

Posted by: Greyhawk at May 27, 2010 05:53 PM

Mullah...I found another big fat liar. These people should stop attacking Mike Yon for having the courage to be the only one to tell the truth about.....

Here's the place to pass on your sentiments

http://mikeyawn.blogspot.com/2010/05/blame-canada.html

Lol.

Posted by: KAF at May 27, 2010 06:07 PM

Thanks for the link to that, GreyHawk, I've read several of his posts but not that particular one. Bruce is a good guy, very reasonable.

Posted by: KAF at May 27, 2010 06:11 PM

1. None of my arguments depends in any way on anything Jimbo has said. I would really like for you to acknowledge this, CMAR.
I hereby so acknowledge...as far as that goes.
2. If none of my arguments rest on anything Jimbo has said, it makes no sense to claim that "debunking" Jimbo disproves anything I have said.
Then why did you quote Jimbo's non-answer to Yon at the start of this post? Why are you so uninterested in the truth of this matter? If Yon had really endangered soldiers' or other reporters' lives by breaking embed rules that would really be worth opining on right?
And I really wish you'd respond to my arguments rather than Jimbo's.
Okay. Let go. This is a long post and it does not cover ONLY Yon's suspicions about why he was removed from embed. In fact, it never specifically addresses that issue. The following is a summary of the post (Note: quotations count as one paragraph no matter how many are included):

4 paragraphs: Subject--Jimbo's accusations

Conclusion: Yon does what he accuses Jimbo of doing to him
[But I say he there is no EVIDENCE THAT HE DOES (that, is deliberately spread lies) -- see above-- see how this is important?)

4 paragrahs: Subject--Yon's claim that a unit was forced to go on patrol with no ammo.

Conclusion: An official statement that says, if it happened, it wasn't a direct order from the top.

[Not exactly a denunciation. Especially, since it could be argued (if it happened) that it was a rational extrapolation on G. McChrystal's policies]

2 paragraphs: Subject -- whether Yon, as a professional journalist should be held to a high standard of proof for anything he writes.

Conclusion: Yes.
[As a statement of opinion, not fact, this conclusion is not subject to critical dispute. Same with Yon's opinion that the brass in Afghanistan wanted him out because they didn't like what he was writing.]
You also asked:

I ask you: what is more credible? A single, unsourced, unsubstantiated sentence on Facebook? Or the posts of three bloggers who took the time to ask questions and to provide context and information?
Perhaps neither. It depends. But as I showed one of those bloggers is telling a crazy lie and another only got a non-denial from HQ. The third doesn't like Yon's criticism in a particular instance. Big surprise.

3 paragraphs: Subject -- Yon has severely criticized others without sufficient proof, and his supporters lamentations of maltreatment are over-blown.

2 paragraphs: Subject -- A reporter reiterates the PAO's public statement on the subject.
Conclusion: the subject is the conclusion

3 paragraphs: Subject -- Yon is being railroaded by other bloggers with the same lack of evidence that Yon employs

Conclusion: He started it!

[But Yon is (or was) THERE. He had a dog in this fight. If he was spreading rumors, they were (apparently) rumors that he was getting from the ranks. Stories about troops not getting support from the brass or from the militaries of other countries might have another side to them. What of it? Every story has more than one side.]

8 paragraphs: Subject--Is Yon a journalist or a blogger or what?

Conclusion: He's a walking privy-storm.

[But Yon's stories from Afghanistan and Iraq were compelling because they so often had the flavor of a loose cannon. He was Mr. Loose Lips. He seemed always on the verge of telling an uncomfortable fact that was not in the interest of anybody....Left, Right, HQ, Taliban.]


Posted by: CMAR II at May 27, 2010 06:32 PM

Your argument seems to be: Jimbo has, in your eyes, not proven or backed up his claims, and neither has Yon, therefore, Jimbo's post should have no credibility or support. That is not a valid argument. Ad Hominem Tu Quoque is in play here.
KAF,

Actually, my argument is beyond that. Jimbo's claim is such an obvious lie. Not to recognize that betrays a disturbing lack of curiosity. If Jimbo were to name some embed rules that Yon supposedly broke, it would still sound crazy. If he were to name his sources it would still sound crazy. Jimbo is claiming that Yon was kicked for violating embed rules, but that the PAO could not remove him for that. They had to make up a story about there not being any space for him.

Look, perhaps, Yon is paranoid when he says he thinks the PAO kicked him because the truths he was telling were a problem for them. He might be self-agrandizing. Jimbo could have opined that. But instead he supported his claim with a totally whacked story. If Jimbo didn't make up the lie, then he was extraordinarily gullible in believing it. It would suggest he WANTED to believe it.

Posted by: CMAR II at May 27, 2010 06:42 PM

CMAR, your point is valid. However, the topic goes back to behavior patterns.

Even if Jimbo was being dramatic to make a point and made it up...which I have no opinion one way or another having only read ONE post of his, it does not detract from his putting out to the public an observation about a PATTERN of behavior of someone else, namely, Yon. Not just a pattern, but an alarming paranoid, possibly self-agranzing, as you say, pattern of lashing out.

On this point, several who have followed Yon's many posts had a similar opinion. Jimbo was the first in the milblogging arena to point it out. If it wasn't him, I'm sure someone else would have started that ball rolling.

Soooo, you need to look at lots and lots of Jimbo's past posts to confidently identify if this 'craziness' YOU see is worth getting upset about. Your opinion then on this 'Yon' argument of Jimbo's will then have some merit, and hence be able to identify if this is a rant, a retaliation, a concerned observation, or what. Regardless, it still doesn't take away from the valid point he made regarding Yon's many rash statements that reek of sour grapes.

Posted by: KAF at May 27, 2010 08:05 PM

why did you quote Jimbo's non-answer to Yon at the start of this post?

Because I try to provide access to both sides of a dispute even if I don't take either side. Why does a completely neutral link like "Jimbo's response is here" bother you so much?

Why are you so uninterested in the truth of this matter?

Because as you said, we don't have enough information. It's pointless and a waste of time.

If Yon had really endangered soldiers' or other reporters' lives by breaking embed rules that would really be worth opining on right?

You tell me. In my prior post I linked a post of Yon's in which several family members of the unit he mentioned wondered why he was publishing information their loved one wasn't allowed to tell them?

I have a problem with that.

I say he there is no EVIDENCE THAT HE DOES (that, is deliberately spread lies) -- see above-- see how this is important?)

There is no "evidence" that Jimbo lied either. He says he heard differently. You have no evidence that he did not, in fact, hear differently. You may not believe him but that is not proof that he lied.

You persistently conflate your opinions with facts or evidence. They are not one and the same.

Not exactly a denunciation. Especially, since it could be argued (if it happened) that it was a rational extrapolation on G. McChrystal's policies

You seem to have missed the point. The point was not to "denounce" anyone. Once again, whoever makes an accusation (even one based on "extrapolation") bears the burden of proof. That burden was not met. It wasn't even attempted.

As a statement of opinion, not fact, this conclusion is not subject to critical dispute. Same with Yon's opinion that the brass in Afghanistan wanted him out because they didn't like what he was writing.

The first opinion doesn't involve accusations against 3rd parties. The second, does. Two very different things.

...as I showed one of those bloggers is telling a crazy lie

No, you didn't. Your opinion is not fact. Nor is it evidence. Nor is it proof.

and another only got a non-denial from HQ. The third doesn't like Yon's criticism in a particular instance. Big surprise

Again, you missed the point (which was that no one else just threw out a rumor without making any attempt to verify the circumstances or provide context). What Yon did was profoundly irresponsible.

Yon is (or was) THERE. He had a dog in this fight. If he was spreading rumors, they were (apparently) rumors that he was getting from the ranks. Stories about troops not getting support from the brass or from the militaries of other countries might have another side to them. What of it? Every story has more than one side.

Actually, Yon was in Bangkok when the chambered rounds thing was posted wasn't he? That's not "there" any more than I'm "there" at this moment :p

Passing on unsubstantiated chow line bitching is essentially gossip or rumor mongering. Not the standard one expects of a reporter. Or even a blogger. Had he said "I have no way to verify this", I'd be more inclined to cut him some slack.

I get emails all the time, often from Nigerians telling me I've won a million dollars. I don't blog about them.

Yon's stories from Afghanistan and Iraq were compelling because they so often had the flavor of a loose cannon. He was Mr. Loose Lips. He seemed always on the verge of telling an uncomfortable fact that was not in the interest of anybody....Left, Right, HQ, Taliban

Wow. Just wow.

I don't even know what to say to that. And you trust a man like that?

Wow.

Posted by: Cassandra at May 27, 2010 09:18 PM

Look. I have been more than patient with this line of conversation but I am done discussing it, OK?

I get the point. You admit you don't know any of the facts but you trust Yon regardless and very much want to convince me Jimbo is a dirty rotten liar :p

You haven't said anything that comes even close to convincing me I should trust Yon when he says things he can't prove but conclude Jimbo is a liar when he does the same thing. You are indulging in outcome based argumentation, and the outcome you want is for "your guy" to win and Jimbo (who isn't "my guy" and whose claims form no part of my argument) is a liar.

Again, the accuser bears the burden of proof. You haven't even come close to meeting it.

And with that, I'm done with this particular subject. NO. MORE. JIMBO.

If you want to argue with him, go over to Blackfive :p

Posted by: Cassandra at May 27, 2010 09:23 PM

Imagine my surprise when I logged into fb tonight and saw Yon ranting about YOU, my friend... He's got a formidable opponent in you, Cass.

Posted by: AFSister at May 27, 2010 10:51 PM

That's true. He'd have been wiser not to tangle with Cassandra. It is few enough who can say they've come off well by doing so.

Posted by: Grim at May 28, 2010 12:57 AM

As much as I may sympathize with you over your experience at Blackfive, I don't think that has any bearing on the larger questions I've tried to raise in this post.
Posted by: Cassandra at May 27, 2010 05:39 AM

We had the Michael Yon discussion to some extent when I met you a couple of years ago. In any event, I did not mean to sidetrack the issue, although your post also referred to Blackfive, so my comment wasn't exactly off topic.

Anyway, regarding Mr. Yon, it appears to me that he feeds on the attention...and, in fact, he lives off of the proceeds. Naturally, if his revenue stream is impacted by the current situation (and apparently it is) he isn't happy about that, and perhaps what we've been seeing lately is the result.

Camo:
Did you email me? I don't remember the occasion; but I also don't read every post. Especially if I was in Iraq at the time, it's possible that I just didn't notice.
If you want to dig it out and send me the details, I'll be happy to talk to him about it.
Posted by: Grim at May 27, 2010 06:20 AM

As I said, I emailed every other person (besides "Laughing Wolf") who authors at Blackfive, yourself included. Certainly, if you were in Iraq at the time that's a valid reason for not having the time (or inclination) to reply.

At any rate, that was years ago and the damage is done; I just don't go there anymore, nor do I feel compelled to go digging through the archives. I appreciate your offer however, and have always admired your take on things, but there's no need to bother talking to "Laughing Wolf" about it...unless you'd like to arrange a meeting for this 50+ year old veteran to kick his punk ass. I'm definitely down with that...

Posted by: camojack at May 28, 2010 01:30 AM

My sense of Jimbo may be skewed, as he doesn't like talking about certain things on Blackfive, but I doubt he is in a position to lead the pack currently voicing their views against Yon's current practices.

unless you'd like to arrange a meeting for this 50+ year old veteran to kick his punk ass. I'm definitely down with that...

Grim is offering to help you solve your problems and get what you need. Not what you want from the perspective of emotions. Just to clear something up that may not have been.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at May 28, 2010 08:43 AM

Now, I know Colonel Steve Boylan, and he was the Public Affairs Officer for General David Petraeus. I will email to Colonel Boylan now asking him to comment. Did he say I announced KIA before family members were notified? That's a very serious charge made by this blogger. Apparently she thinks she's accusing me of breaking embed rules, while actually she is accusing Colonel Boylan of defamation.

I don't know where Yon learned to deal with people but how did he survive this long if every time somebody said something that didn't match up for what he "knew to be true", he thought they were doing defamation or lying?

When he was on the A Teams, did he tell his team and team leader that they were "defaming" him when their AARs turned out to be different to his?

Posted by: Ymarsakar at May 28, 2010 08:47 AM

Michael Yon
Julie -- agreed. All the rest I think are men (referring to Cassandra as exception). Across the board the work is emotionally charged. Whether that be the Jimbo guy or Ziegenfuss or...list is long. Many of them link back to the Jimbo fella.

Man pours far more energy into hate than into love.
Yesterday at 11:11am

One has to wonder whether Yon thinks he doesn't need a mirror into his heart or whether he thinks what he sees is an accurate rendition of real people.

This is the guy that wants to personally go after two generals, at the least, amongst not just the American military hierarchy but elsewhere.

Who was the Australian COIN officer that worked with Petraeus, COL Kilcullen? He didn't like a bunch of stuff in or about Iraq, but it was sight apparent that he could work with people without something blowing up.

Love takes the form of creating something beneficial to other people besides you and hate mostly involves blowing stuff up and making trouble for other people.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at May 28, 2010 09:58 AM

Also, Yon deemed Jimbo the ring leader. So the followers "trust" in those orders to be right.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at May 28, 2010 10:00 AM

CMAR,

It's really a rather simple issue.

1) Jimbo makes an inflamatory accusation without any shred of evidence to support it.
2) Yon says that if Jimbo is going to make said accusations he ought to provide the evidence for said accusations
3) Cassandra agrees with Yon that those who make accusations bear the burden of proof
4) Cassandra wonders why Yon doesn't apply that same standard to himself.

There's a word for saying that you shouldn't be held to the same standard you hold others to: Hypocrisy.

If you think it's important that Uncle Jimbo is a lying scumbag who's making up wild stories as part of a smear campaign, fine, he's a lying scumbag who's making up wild stories as part of a smear campaign, but it still doesn't excuse Yon's hypocrisy.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at May 28, 2010 10:23 AM

Did he say I announced KIA before family members were notified? That's a very serious charge made by this blogger. Apparently she thinks she's accusing me of breaking embed rules, while actually she is accusing Colonel Boylan of defamation.

I thought it was pretty funny that he was demanding to see my proof.

How hard is it to find the one sentence in my post (which he obviously read, since he's complaining about it) that mentions Boylan AND CLICK THE LINK EMBEDDED IN THAT SENTENCE.

Hint: it's UNDERLINED.

Not impressive.

But then his original wall post claimed that I said he was a reporter (I actually said he claims not to be a journalist - 3 times!) and that I had "quoted Blackfive" (I didn't).

And this guy collects money for his reporting?

Posted by: Cassandra at May 28, 2010 01:43 PM

I thought it was pretty funny that he was demanding to see my proof.
Cassandra,

When does he do that? Certainly not in your excerpted quote. He seems to be saying "Boylan never told ME that. *I* will find out the truth of the matter." Yon is disputing the facts REPORTED BY the L.A. Times. It's not like he would be the first.


Yon seems to be having the same problem with some people inexplicably hearing him demand proof that I've been having regarding Jimbo's accusations (and continue to have-- see Yu-Ain Gonnano's last comment). Perhaps the problem is not me or Yon.

Posted by: CMAR II at May 28, 2010 03:40 PM

Yon is disputing the facts REPORTED BY the L.A. Times.

The LA Times isn't mentioned in his post:

Here is the latest. This blog is emotionally written and even quotes Blackfive as a source. [Ed. note: factually inaccurate] It's riddled with [unspecified] errors. It also makes serious and erroneous accusations against my ethics on re...porting soldiers killed in action before family members are notified. This is an outright lie, and I'm calling the author on it to provide proof.

"It", in the bolded excerpt, clearly refers back to "This blog".

As in,

"This blog also makes serious and erroneous accusations against my ethics on re...porting soldiers killed in action before family members are notified. This is an outright lie, and I'm calling the author on it to provide proof."

No mention of the Times. None.

You really do appear to be doing everything in your power to convince yourself. As for proof, it is not inexplicable to ask him for proof when he makes an accusation.

After all, he has now demanded proof of several others.

The bottom line is that he's not willing to abide by the standard he demands of others.

Posted by: Cassandra at May 28, 2010 04:01 PM

Oh, and CMAR -

I notice you just elided right past the fact that he's chiding me for unspecified errors when he:

1. Couldn't find the link embedded right in the sentence he complained about.

2. Claimed I had "undermined" myself by "quoting Blackfive" (when in fact I did no such thing):

From the wall post comments of "If I had broken embed rules, Admiral Gregory Smith.."posted 11 hours ago, Yon just made this comment regarding this website. Michael Yon: Another website that undermines itself by quoting Blackfive.

3. Accused me of not knowing that he claims not to be a journalist when in fact I said three times that he claims not to be a journalist.

And calling me a professional journalist. Hasn't done homework. Have stated a thousand times am not a journalist. Poor research and emotionally written:

It would seem he's not one to talk about poor research.
Pure. Comedy. Gold.

Posted by: Cassandra at May 28, 2010 04:11 PM

Cass, since --in the same post-- he says he's contacting Boylan for information about this story, I understood that he was not calling on YOU to provide proof...but the LA Times reporter. That was my understanding when I first read it and your post. Maybe I'm wrong, though. Did he email YOU directly and ask for proof?

#2 As for the fact that you didn't quote Blackfive, I don't think this is a significant point. You led the post with the Blackfive kefuffle. From what Yon has been saying about Jimbo's accusations, he would consider the undermining element to be that you are part of the "lynch-mob" of bloggers that is rallying around Jimbo. So if you want to declare "point for Cassandra" because you didn't actually quote him, fine. I don't think makes any difference.

#3 Yon was simply saying, once again, that he doesn't like being called a "journalist" so he thinks you're barking up the wrong tree to claim he should follow some kind of official journalistic standards. He also doesn't like the term blogger which strikes me as getting too far in the weeds with semantics. I think his point is that he's not writing a book with footnotes and attributions. He's on some far corner of the Earth. He finds bits of cloth and shell and sends them to the rest of us in glass bottles. His only obligation is to tell the truth.

For example:

a) A soldier told him that he was ordered to go on patrol with no ammo.

b) Yon reported that a soldier TOLD him that.

Result: Obviously Yon is implying that this is a rational result of McChrystal's new ROE. That might or might not be true. He doesn't SAY that. That's just the implication based on what he's previously written. But unless there is no soldier that said that, it's the truth. The report from HQ is "Well,it MIGHT be true, but it wasn't a specific order from on High." We still don't know if what the soldier said to Yon is true. But, from Yon's POV, he has fulfilled his obligations. He told the truth about what he saw and heard. When he was in Afghanistan, his MO was to find out the truth of such reports when he could. But he's not in Afghanistan anymore. And it wasn't his decision.

When Yon is writing in the first person, he under far less obligation to get "all the facts of the issue" than a blogger (like yourself) who is critiquing his reports from the other side of the planet. He's telling what he SAW and HEARD. That doesn't need justification. See the difference??

If what Yon says is logically CRAZY, that's another matter. Then a 3rd party doesn't have to delve far to assess the situation.

Granted, PROPAGANDISTS use the First Person Report method as well. This lets them create a slanted pictures by only telling one side of the story and blowing it out of proportion to be as bad as possible. Is Yon a propagandist when it comes to McChrystal? McChrystal's supporters think so. I don't think so. He's certainly a hardened critic of McChrystal. Probably the most credible one. I think the pictures he painted of Afghanistan are 100% real, although perhaps not the whole story. McChrystal has received almost universal adulation. He can afford one serious critic.

Posted by: CMAR II at May 28, 2010 06:03 PM

Yon can speak for himself. He doesn't need a press gaggle to be his mouth.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at May 28, 2010 06:09 PM

Let me say this again in concise form:

Yon doesn't have to provide PROOF that he didn't do something if he KNOWS he never did it. He doesn't have to provide proof of something he himself heard or saw. He IS the proof.

He doesn't have prove that something he was told is actually true if there is no way of doing that anymore because the PAO disembedded him. This doesn't give him the right to lie or to repeat something that is untrue on its face.

A blogger or reporter in the States OUGHT obtain evidence about information that is 2nd or 3rd hand. Because that's just useless gossip.

See the difference?

Posted by: CMAR II at May 28, 2010 06:11 PM

CMAR, I just want to make this point since I was the one to post it here.

While reading Yon's facebook post's under the wall post titled, "If I had broken embed rules, Admiral Gregory Smith would have been the first to say so. That would be their dream come true. If operational security had been breached, nobody will need milblogs or milkooks to point it out" In the comment section, several post down, Yon posted this:

Michael Yon: Another website that undermines itself by quoting Blackfive. And calling me a professional journalist. Hasn't done homework. Have stated a thousand times am not a journalist. Poor research and emotionally written:

http://www.villainouscompany.com/vcblog/archives/2010/05/the_credibility.html

Notice the link to her blog. Funny thing is...I posted this here on this blog yesterday, (you scroll up you can see it), however, his comment has since been removed if you go to his fb to check!!! Things that make you go Hmmm.....

Posted by: KAF at May 28, 2010 07:24 PM

Grim is offering to help you solve your problems and get what you need. Not what you want from the perspective of emotions. Just to clear something up that may not have been.
Posted by: Ymarsakar at May 28, 2010 08:43 AM

I do not need an interpreter; I understood what Grim said perfectly well...and expressed my appreciation for his offer. I have no problem, I just don't go to Blackfive anymore, since I deem the level of discourse there beneath me.

How 'bout if you stay out of it? Grim can speak for himself, quite effectively...

Posted by: camojack at May 28, 2010 08:29 PM

He doesn't have to provide proof of something he himself heard or saw. He IS the proof.

Ah. But Jimbo has to provide proof of what he says he heard, because if you're not Michael Yon, you can't be the proof of what you heard.

Got it.

No, I don't see the difference at all, and furthermore I don't think you're right.

If Yon is not a blogger and also not a journalist, why should the military give him an embed slot that exists for bloggers and journalists?

If Yon can accuse anyone of anything (but somehow he is never guilty of libel or defamation and never has to offer any proof because he IS the proof) how do I know he's not making it all up?

I don't. You want one rule for Yon (essentially that whatever he does is OK) and another rule for everyone else. And you want stricter standards for someone blogging as a hobby (an amateur, if you will) than for someone who gets paid to do what he does (a professional).

Makes perfect sense.... not. Look, I've been polite, I've entertained your arguments and attempted to respond to them. I find them utterly unconvincing, so there's no point in continuing.

Let's move on.

Posted by: Cassandra at May 28, 2010 10:53 PM

Don't help, Ymar. :)

Posted by: Grim at May 28, 2010 11:01 PM

Okay, Cass. I get it. You're not exceptionally bright. You don't see the difference between the honesty of reporting something you've seen and heard and the maliciousness of forwarding an accusation that is logically bizarre that no sane person could believe if they could juxtapose two concepts to each other.

When I concede that Yon has gone too far in saying he's neither a journalist or blogger, you treat that as defense.

But I agree. Let's shoot Yon up a little bit and then move on. If it's good enough for drive-by killers it's good enough for us.

Posted by: CMAR II at May 29, 2010 01:16 AM

It may surprise you to learn this, but just as your opinion is not evidence, neither is agreeing with your opinions a reliable barometer of intelligence :p

And verbal criticism is not even close to drive by murder or "shooting" someone.

Aye yay yay. Are you always this dramatic?

People can disagree without the world ending. When we began this conversation, you said you expected me to ban you (!) for continuing to talk about Jimbo after I'd politely asked you to stop.

Not only did I not ban you, I continued to respond to your arguments. And you continued to argue the same line even after being asked (again) to stop several times. Politely.

Finally I put my foot down and said, "that's enough" and your response is to tell me I'm not 'exceptionally bright'. Not exactly an inducement to further patience, is it?

In accusing Gen. McChrystal of orchestrating a smear campaign and lying to the President and SecDef, Yon was not "reporting something he saw or heard".

And FWIW, though I'm not endorsing this view, what Jimbo said could very well be true. It is not at all "logically bizarre" to think the military might have chosen not to extend Yon's embed b/c they think he has a bad habit of flouting the rules. We are talking about them going out of their way, and I see no reason they should want to do that for him.

That is just as plausible (more, in fact) than saying there is some galactic conspiracy to silence him. But you are going to believe that on no evidence because that's what you want to believe.

Me? I don't see enough evidence to believe Yon and I don't see enough evidence to believe Jimbo either. That doesn't mean either one is "lying".

An accusation of lying - just like an accusation that a General is corrupt and dishonest - requires proof.

As I've said OVER AND OVER AND OVER, the burden of proof is on the accuser and absent any proof whatsoever, it would be unjust as well as illogical to blindly believe the accusation. You have offered ZERO proof that Jimbo is lying and so your argument is unconvincing.

And you've offered ZERO proof that Yon's accusations are truthful so that is equally unconvincing. Same rule.

Posted by: Cassandra at May 29, 2010 06:44 AM

How 'bout if you stay out of it? Grim can speak for himself, quite effectively...

Fine by me. I don't have a problem with Grim or Blackfive or Laughing Wolf. If I did, I would solve it by myself rather than disconnecting an entire island of potential human resources from my access.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at May 29, 2010 07:05 AM

You want one rule for Yon (essentially that whatever he does is OK) and another rule for everyone else.

It is true that Yon is in theater but many of his critics are not.

However, that doesn't confer automatic superiority upon the tactical viewpoint. It simply means it is a tactical view, but not view from a logistical or strategic stand point. It's not superior, it's just different. Yon claims he has the necessary resources to judge. But there are limits to what people can judge from the position of being integrated into a unit conducting a mission in a broader war. By recognizing these limits, Yon and other people can make informed decisions about what they know as opposed to what they don't know. But if people simply tear down the fences, they are now wandering in places they should not be.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at May 29, 2010 07:10 AM

Stop helping, Ymar. :)

Posted by: Grim at May 29, 2010 12:13 PM

In what subject are you talking, Grim?

Posted by: Ymarsakar at May 29, 2010 12:44 PM

I haven't offered anybody my help here, with the exception of explaining why two seemingly mutually exclusive statements can have a perfectly reasonable justification for being bot correct and true.

Maybe that'll clear up whatever misunderstanding there is.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at May 29, 2010 01:32 PM

For the record, in 2006, when I was the director of the Combined Press Information Center, we had been notified that Michael had posted information on a WIA (Wounded in Action) before family had been notified. That was why we had denied his request. However, this was cleared up since the officer who had been wounded in fact informed us that he had already told his family about the event and therefore there was no breaking of the ground rules and as the articles have stated, Michael was granted embeds after we had the correct information.

Posted by: COL Boylan at May 29, 2010 11:08 PM

One correction...should have been 2005, instead of 2006. My appologies.

Posted by: COL Boylan at May 29, 2010 11:11 PM

Yon has written compelling stories and taken what should have been award-winning photos; but he's not a member of JCS and chooses many of his friends and sources poorly.

Perhaps he should leave his divorce-lawyer tactics at home?

Posted by: setnaffa at May 30, 2010 12:09 AM

Thanks so much for taking the time to let me know, Col. Boylan. I have made the correction!

Posted by: Cassandra at May 30, 2010 08:52 AM

Do all of you seriously believe that what the commanders tell the press (and you) and what actually happens over there is the same?!?! Our military commanders are extremely PC and will state whatever needs to be stated. But reality is very much different. The average enlisted soldier, airmen, etc. has very little genuine respect for their commanding officers because they view them as inept hypocrites. Do I have the substantiated "proof" that you demand? My husband has lived and served this farce for 24 years and counting...

Posted by: Army wife at May 30, 2010 12:07 PM

I imagine that if your husband were the one being accused on no evidence, you'd be singing a different tune :p

That just might be why courts in every civilized society in the world assume the accused is innocent until proven guilty - IOW, until sufficient evidence of guilt has been produced.

As for the "I don't need proof because my husband has lived and served for 24 years" argument, I sincerely hope you never run into anyone whose husband has served for 25+ years and who disagrees with you (much less a no kidding vet).

If they disagreed with you, we'd be forced to agree with them (even if they couldn't produce a single shred of evidence).

*rolling eyes*

Posted by: Cassandra at May 30, 2010 12:34 PM

Do all of you seriously believe that what the commanders tell the press (and you) and what actually happens over there is the same?!?!

They're not the only ones involved. It is not the press and then the CoC. It's everybody in between, foreign adjutants as well as domestic or foreign enemies. They all get a say.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at May 30, 2010 01:20 PM

Our military commanders are extremely PC and will state whatever needs to be stated. But reality is very much different.

If Yon had been talking about Casey using the words yon used on McChrystal, it would be a different story. Had the setting been Iraq in 2004-5 and not Afghanistan of 2010, again, it would be a different matter.

That's cause there was proof on Casey. His own actions.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at May 30, 2010 01:22 PM

But of course, Yon didn't go after Casey and he's not going after the Civil War argument in Afghanistan.

He'd have done better to reverse those two in spacetime.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at May 30, 2010 01:23 PM

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