April 13, 2011 — On Saturday, the eighth anniversary of the fall of Baghdad, I posted Baghdad’s Neutron Bomb and America’s Nuclear Obama, with references to back up the explosive title. Military comrades and media colleagues have since asked for a fuller explanation of what moved me from reactionary to revolutionary — or, as we Texans would put it, from redneck to rebel. A paraphrase of Napoleon is helpful: From redneck to rebel is but a step. We proved that when we took Fort Sumpter, 150 years ago today.
My May family forebears settled in colonial Jamestown, later fighting for America against England, then the Confederacy against the Union. Patriots all, they would not be shocked by my infowar against our era’s maniacal King George, and the abominable Kenyan King who has followed him. On the contrary, I believe they would be ashamed had I not done my duty. Eight years ago, I declared my independence from the tyrants of our times in an essay that has been published at intervals by the internet, but never widely until today:
April 13, 2003 — To Frank Michel, Associate Editor, Houston Chronicle:
Since I talked with you the day after the April 5 Iraqi counterattack at Baghdad Airport, you have been the only media person to take me seriously. Thanks for encouraging me to write. I have tried to spark other media interest in the fate of the 3/7 Cavalry, but have been ignored by television and radio. I have been dismissed as crazy more than once.
For the last week I have been taking up a collection for the unit’s Army Emergency Relief fund. On the donations bucket is the sign:
‘Please donate to the relief fund of the 3/7 Cavalry, which took losses over the weekend.’
I have collected for 22 hours, and have exactly 20 dollars in donations. Although the public has no reason to doubt that the unit spearheading the advance to Baghdad has taken casualties, they have not been told to grieve yet, so they render no gifts to the dependents of the dead.
Nothing would make me happier than to be wrong in my inferences. I hope the facts will disprove me. Should my fears about the 3/7 Cavalry be realized, though, I ask that you publish my essay.
I wept as I watched CNN. It was pre-dawn, April 5 in Iraq, the end of the night on which Saddam Hussein had promised an attack. With a background in military intelligence and public affairs, I could see and hear the confusion, fear and tragedy in the faces and voices, and I could read between the lines used to keep the disaster hushed. It was apparent to me that the 3/7 Cavalry, the avant-garde for our assault across the desert, had been blown off the Baghdad airport.
The attack made military sense for the Iraqis. The airport was crucial for the control of Baghdad, and it wouldhave surprised me had they not booby-trapped it, targeted it for a counterattack, or both. Saddam had banked on winning the war by repeating the debacle of Mogadishu, where a handful of well-publicized casualties had swung American public opinion against military involvement in Somalia. At the Baghdad airport he had executed the best ambush since Little Big Horn, where Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull had destroyed the Seventh Cavalry Regiment. By morning writers would pen the name George “Custer” Bush and national resolve for the war would plummet.
Such dilemmas are the price we pay for the freedoms guaranteed by our Constitution, the first of which is freedom of the press. But we didn’t pay. Plugged into the media matrix, we didn’t blink and we didn’t ask questions. We ceased to function as Americans.
Saturday and Sunday following the disaster were part J. Edgar Hoover and part P.T. Barnum. The tail wagged the dog. The rescued Private Jessica Lynch, a tragic battle casualty, was morphed into another “Baby Jessica” to hold national attention. The 3/7 Cavalry breakout from the attack was labeled a “foray” into Baghdad. The U.S. body count, a pesky statistic from the Vietnam era, was hidden in the fog of war.
Monday morning offered a new scenario to dazzle the public: Four one-ton bombs had “probably” killed Saddam in one of his lairs. We had already bought that lie on March 19, the first night of the war, and it worked again. We focused on Saddam, and we focused on victory. We stayed on message, and we stayed in the dark. Mideast media carried stories of a massacre of U.S. forces at the airport, but we were told not to trust them.
I didn’t sleep at all the night the 3/7 Cavalry fell into a trap, and I haven’t slept much since. If my conviction about the unit’s bad luck is right, many fears, strange to me as an American who has spent a lifetime in service to his country, keep me awake:
- I fear we can no longer trust the president to tell the truth, since he clearly did not trust us to know the truth when the chips were down.
- I fear his military actions go against to the parting advice of two former presidents, both men who had led wars. In his valedictory address, George Washington admonished us to beware of foreign entanglements, and the Mideast is likely to be as entangling as quicksand. The departing Dwight Eisenhower bade us beware of the military industrial complex, which has either co-opted or coerced today’s media.
- I fear the public will not feel outraged at being offered the mirage of an adventure, instead of the reality of a war. Will media present the unlucky 3/7 Cavalry as a band of martyred brothers, rather than as grim casualties? Will our children learn that inside each flag-draped coffin is the torn body of a youth, who once dreamed of the future? Or will they be indoctrinated with images of fallen heroes, saluted by salvos of rifle fire? Will they want to grow up to fight wars, too? Are we training our own suicide volunteers for a Disney World War?
- I fear the media has signed a Faustian pact for a close-up of the best story of the new millennium: an American incursion into the Mideast. Has media/military cooperation ceased to be a public affairs operation conducted for the American people, and become a psychological operation conducted against them?
- I fear my president ordered assassination in the April 9 “bad luck incidents” of U.S. forces shelling Baghdad’s Palestine Hotel, which housed foreign journalists. The Arab media believes it was murder, and they were telling the truth about the 3/7 Cavalry. Was the “truth” we saw, heard and read in the U.S. “embedded” media the only version of truth admissible in an Orwellian cover-up, and was there a death penalty for dissent?
- I fear the tentacles of government have stretched too far. In suppressing the biggest negative story of the war, it has shown a mighty grasp over a professional group dedicated to the truth, but embedded with lies. Twisting the arms of the professions has always been part of the blueprint for strong-arm governments, which become as repressive to their own citizens as they are bellicose to other countries.
These are my fears, based on my belief that since the night we lost the 3/7 Cavalry:
- Our president has lied to us and our representatives in order to insure that the country did not function according to its Constitution.
- Our Congress has passed a $2.5 trillion national war budget in ignorance of the true conditions of the war.
- Our military has coerced those who professed to be our truth tellers into becoming purveyors of lies of omission and commission.
I look at my commission as a U.S. Army officer, and see that I swore to defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic. The commander in chief took an oath in which he swore to do the same. He betrayed it.
Congress should demand explanations from President George W. Bush, and prepare articles of impeachment if he can’t or won’t explain himself. As for the media, perhaps it will realize that although it was willingly embedded by the government, it is not married to it. A trial of impeachment of the president would be as good a story as the war was, and might even tempt the media to reconsider its spring fling in Iraq. Only then can we claim to live in the land of the free and the home of the brave. Only then can we say that the fate of the 3/7 Cavalry was a tragedy, and not a travesty.
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Captain May, who served on the general staff of Houston’s 75th Division, is a graduate of Classical Studies from the University of Houston Honors College.
- Baghdad’s Nuclear Bomb, and America’s Nuclear Obama
- Correspondence with Frank Michel (BOBCUP Report, vols. I & II)
- Ghost Troop Introduction
- Private Jessica Lynch, the media and the military
- Baby Jessica Rescue Web Page
- US bombs Al-Jazeera center in Baghdad
- Amerika Über Alles” — Our Nazi Nation