Hot on the heels of last week’s staged FEMA news conference, Salon writer Glenn Greenwald is reporting on a bizarre and troubling exchange of emails with Iraq boss David Petraeus’ public affairs officer, one Colonel Steve Boylan. Greenwald’s thrust? That the Army, especially in Iraq, has become increasingly politicized in its dealings with the press. (This is familiar territory for readers of Ken Silverstein’s excellent work in Harper’s this summer.) Writes Greenwald:
The U.S. military, like everything else, is becoming rapidly politicized, fully incorporated into and following the model of the Republican right-wing noise machine. Throughout this year, the U.S. military in Iraq has become staffed with pure Republican political hacks — including long-time Bush/Cheney P.R. hack Steve Schmidt and former White House aide Gen. Kevin Bergner. These are the most partisan and politically-motivated people around shaping U.S. military conduct.
His proof? That the Army has apparently leaked documents and granted exclusive interviews to conservative mag The Weekly Standard (by way of its The Worldwide Standard blog) and right-wing bloggers in order to refute allegations of serious military crimes described in a series of stories in The New Republic written by Scott Beauchamp, a deployed soldier. Of course, Beauchamp admitted to faking those stories (faked stories, after all, are TNR‘s true forte). But that’s beside the point, according to Greenwald. For in the course of blogging about the leaks to The Standard, Greenwald drew Boylan’s ire. Greenwald says he received this email from Boylan:
I do enjoy reading your diatribes as they provide comic relief here in Iraq. The amount of pure fiction is incredible. Since a great deal of this post is just opinion and everyone is entitled to their opinions, I will not address those even though they are shall we say — based on few if any facts. That does surprise me with your training as a lawyer, but we will leave those jokes to another day … You are either too lazy to do the research on the topics to gain the facts, or you are providing purposeful misinformation — much like a propagandist …
Shocked by the sheer unprofessionalism of the correspondence, Greenwald confronted Boylan. Never mind the substance of Greenwald’s arguments (and there are some nits to pick), Greenwald rightly believed that Boylan, as a representative of the U.S. Army and a liaison to the war-funding public, should conduct himself with greater respect and humility. ”The linchpin of a republic under civilian rule — as well as faith in the armed services by a cross-section of Americans — is an apolitical military,” Greenwald wrote. ”Like all other branches of the government intended to be apolitical, this linchpin is eroding under this administration, and that ought to be of far greater concern to Boylan and Petraeus than hurling petty insults.”
But then Boylan denied ever saying any of the above. Someone was sending emails in his name, he said. Greenwald was skeptical, so he did some IP-address investigating and seems to have verified that Boylan did, in fact, send that nasty note and others:
The IP address — 10.70.20.11 — does not appear to be recognizable from various IP locator programs. Time zones appear to be different, but the IP address on the original email I received matches the IP address used to send to me the following: (a) the emails today from Col. Boylan denying that the original email was his; (b) the emails I received back in July from Col. Boylan regarding an interview with Gen. Petraeus; and (c) the forms sent to me [at Col. Boylan's request (though not at mine)] for a Media Embed Credentials form. All three of those sets of emails came from the same IP address — 10.70.20.11 — as the original email I received today, so clearly that is an IP address used by the U.S. military in Iraq.
So in addition to having a bad attitude and perhaps favoring right-wing media, Boylan is a liar.