Thursday, March 27, 2008

Jason Mattera and Selective Reporting

It's come to my attention through Michelle Malkin and Jon Lilyea of This Aint Hell, that Mr. Mattera, whom I met at Winter Soldier wearing a media badge, had done a piece about Winter Soldier and asking various individuals whether they would sign affidavits.

An exciting story, some might say, especially those from the pro-war side. It's billed as IVAW on the whole being unwilling to sign affidavits. It would be an exciting story, and quite a scoop for Mr. Mattera....

...if it were true.

Those of you who have encountered me know many things about me. One of which is that I do not hesitate to call people out on both sides when I have personal knowledge of a situation. Another is that I don't call people out unless I'm sure they're in some way being deceptive. I invited and hosted conservative milbloggers, and while I might not be happy with all of their stories, it was not my place to make editorial comments.

One thing you may not know about me, and you certainly would never get a hint from the story that Jason Mattera ran, is that I, too, had the dubious pleasure of being interviewed by him.

Mr. Mattera didn't seem to enjoy the interview, though. After all, I said in the first few minutes that I had signed sworn statements, and while I couldn't produce them immediately, I was happy to do so again. In fact, anyone who ever wants me to swear to anything I say, break out the forms and witnesses, and I'm happy to get them done. I also talked about patriotism, and loving America, and pride in the Army. As this conversation went on, Mr. Mattera appeared to get a bit of a sour taste in his mouth. It's almost as though that weren't the story he wanted to hear. While he reluctantly agreed with me that America was in fact the greatest country in the world and it was our responsibility to keep it that way, I had a sense that he couldn't wait to put down the mike and the videocamera, and leave me for more tempting pastures.

Mr. Mattera, unlike certain other gentlemen, greatly ignored the rules of the event. If you look at the video, you will see him interviewing Jason Hurd by what looks like Jason Hurd's POV. This would be in the makeshift parking lot. That means that he broke outside of the main hall and harassed people getting things from their cars to do interviews. Why might he do a thing like that, when there were literally hundreds of IVAW members in the main halls? Probably because he wasn't getting the answers he wanted. The answers he had to selectively cut and paste to even attempt to make a video, that doesn't really say what he wants it to say.

Mr. Mattera, one might ask why my voice and those others who stated they would be happy to sign statements on the spot weren't included? You accuse IVAW of selectively choosing what they present, yet you are guilty of the same thing yourself. Most of what you have to show is people saying "I can't speak for other people". Not them saying they wouldn't do anything, but them saying they can't advise anyone else on what to do. Because it's frankly not their business. They're speaking for self, something I was always taught to do in the military.

I've left some comments on this video, and I've also taken the step of calling the YAF and asking to speak to Mr. Mattera. He declined to take my call, but I have left my telephone number on his voicemail. We'll see if I get a call back-but somehow I doubt it, given the extreme lack of journalistic integrity Mr. Mattera has displayed.


NAMedic said...

What is it exactly about which you'd be happy to swear an oath or affidavit?

I listened to your testimony recorded from winter soldier and you don't have anything of a factual nature to say. It is just your usual vague opinions.

I happen to think the Yankees will do at least as well this year as last year. And I'd have no problem swearing an affidavit to that effect.

I'm sure that would make a real impression on lots of people.

Mr. Matera did find one gentleman who was willing to sign an affidavit, Garett Reppenhagen. His testimony likewise did not allege any kind of misconduct at all, just two combat accidents. So what's he got to lose, since there is no liability even alleged?

So when is all this "actionable intelligence" going to be produced in support of such winter soldier testimony as there was that had any substance at all?

Army Sergeant said...

I was initially scheduled to offer closing testimony, but the panel ran long and I was unable to do so. I will be completing my testimony via video and will be happy to provide anyone who likes with a transcript.

Items include denial of access to mental health services/chaplains, the military authorizing illegal gun possession for an untreated PTSD sufferer that led to the death of a soldier, soldiers forced to live in unsafe, illegal, and condemned housing, medical malpractice nearly leading to death of a soldier, domestic violence incidents against soldiers by soldiers going unpunished and NCOs reprimanded for trying to take action, among others.

Thus Spake Ortner said...

Someone will likely end up demanding I burn up my Vast Right Wing Conspiracy Membership Card, but I kind of agree with you in a way. I would have shown the ones who would, so at the least I would know whose stories have a kernal of truth, and which are complete BS.

However, AS, the things you were going to testify to I must say I disagree with airing them. I no doubt believe all those things happened, and I could tell you similiar things, like in my unit, the discrepancies in punishment for O's and E's. BUT, BUT, I don't think this is the venue to air it all. There is a chain of command, and each command has an IG. This stuff should be brought up there, not at a hearing like this. Now, if they were, and nothing happened, I would back your right to bring it up, but not before that crucial first step.

I loathed, absolutely loathed my chain of command. As a matter of fact, my blogger name is a goof on my BC. But I'm not airing stories of the LT that was busted with hookers and promoted, not because it wasn't a huge issue, but rather it was our Battalion, not "The Army."

In house problems should stay in house in my opinion. In my command, if there was a domestic violence issue, it would have been dealt with by command, by sock party, or by IG complaint.

Thus Spake Ortner said...

Oh, and I second Namedic's question, WHEN WILL those testimonies be made available so we can verify them fully? The stories were precious short of actual facts, and taking only Hurd's testimony, I've already talked to his 1SG and CSM who say he's lying.

Now, I can't verify them anymore than him, so some actual proof would be a good thing. Naturally, as you are inclined to believe Hurd, I am inclined to believe my people. Let's lay out the cards and see what each has.

Army Sergeant said...

TSO: There was an IG complaint made, but it was not mine, thus, I don't know the results. The problem is that IG can only recommend, they can't actually make action happen.

I believe that the command was verbally spanked for the death-of-a-soldier incident, but the leadership who had allowed it all remained in place, and nothing happened at least that was transparent to us. Things may have taken place behind the scenes.

"The Army" is not responsible for all of these incidents, but it is responsible for fostering a climate in which it encourages local commanders not to proceed with chapters, encourages people not worthy of the uniform they wear to be promoted, etc. I distinctly remember when the order came down from a very big-boy CSM that everyone not actually currently under UCMJ action was to be sent to the board, no matter their fitness for leadership.

Really, it's hard for me to pick my testimony: breakdown of the military is my assessment of what I've seen of a military slowly deteriorating due to the Iraq conflict. I've been in for over seven years. There are so many small incidents it's hard to explain the impression without telling some of them.

We shouldn't have AWOL soldiers returning with no fuss because it's easier than charging them. We shouldn't have people who piss hot continuing in their job and not even losing their rank, simply because the unit doesn't want to make a stink and lose a body.

We need a well-disciplined military, and what I'm seeing these days simply isn't it.

LT Nixon said...

I'm not a big fan of ambush journalism. Seems a bit dishonest. Like a Michael Moore documentary. Interesting how your interview was conveniently left on the cutting room floor.

And, "POV"...Army Sergeant you are so "hooah". haha, take care.

Earl said...

I have watched reporters for years asking questions and getting answers they can't use - so between them and their editors much falls to the wayside. How much don't we know about George Washington's Army because of that? Keep caring and sharing, it makes a difference.

Anonymous said...

Oh, please stop the bitching. You sound pathetic. It’s really sad that your anti-war compatriots were unwilling to sign affidavits. Were you in combat? What type of “eyewitness” accounts can you give from the battlefield? If you didn’t see combat, an affidavit from you is meaningless.

mohammed said...

hello brained female.
this is the guy you met in NY.
Sholom has my email address but not yours, so if you want to say hello back, ask him for it.

Anonymous said...

I just read namedic's comment! And he/she raises a good point: what the hell are you going to sign an affidavit to, since you have not been in combat, and for all we know, you haven't even been to Iraq? Count your lucky stars Mr. Mattera didn't put you in the video -- you signing an affidavit based on your “opinions” would've made you look like an ass.

Jon de Wald said...


I'm sorry for the stress and bother I caused you in the weeks before Winter Soldier. In the light of the obnoxious behavior of some of those on the other side of the issue, I believe my response was proportionate but it was unfortunately far outside IVAW's code of conduct and could have been very detrimental to the integrity of Winter Soldier had I not been dismissed.

I feel the board did the right thing. I'm not going to appeal their decision, though in the months or perhaps years ahead I may seek to rejoin IVAW. Should I become a member again, I hope you'll forgive me making your work so difficult.

I watched much of WS. You guys were great. I know a number of "non-aligned" vets who were as impressed as I was with what you all did in DC. When there are those who criticize you or doubt your honesty- without any justification- remember the rest of us who are now largely silent but behind you all the way. Keep at it.

- Jon

Army Sergeant said...

Anonymous commentators:

As a military intelligence NCO, much of the service I have seen remains classified. I honor my oaths, including the one I swore to safeguard classified material. When the material is all declassified, I would be happy to swear affidavits about it.

That is why I can currently swear only to the things I have seen which are not classified: medical, housing, training, and equipment failures. Lower standards getting people killed. These things are problems which need to be exposed. They may not measure up to the level of the crimes you seem to be so hungry for, but they are still problems in our military system, and illustrate the breakdown of the military since the beginning of the Iraq occupation.

Jonathan De Wald:

I understand that many of us struggle with anger issues on a daily basis. You are not alone in this. I myself struggle greatly with this problem, and if it were not for the support of other members, I would probably have succumbed on some occasions. Winter Soldier, and the events surrounding and leading up to it, had emotions running even higher than usual.

I appreciate your apology, and I will also say that I took no personal pleasure in your termination. I really truly do hope the best for you as a veteran, and I know that even though you are not a member, I'm sure that many services are still open to you-peer counseling, etc. I don't say this as a 'holier than thou' sort of thing-I say this as someone who has needed to use it herself on occasion. None of us are perfect. None of us can always be strong without help.

I would not be opposed to your eventually rejoining the organization, and should such a thing happen, I would certainly not hold those weeks against you. Life is too short for grudges, and like I said, I haven't led a perfect life. I would be sunk if everyone held every action in my past against me. We grow as individuals day by day, and sometimes it takes a time of crisis to spur it.

I wish you all the best.