Last night Pelton sent me a number of photographs to prove his assertions to be facts. I promised beforehand not to share, publish, distribute, fold, spindle or mutilate them. There, included in the pictures were two pictures of a standard issue Army UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter which upon closer inspection had some sort of illustration on the rear part of the engine nacelle. I could only see the right side of the bird. A picture taken from about four feet away clarified the illustration; a faded Grim Reaper about two feet long by a foot tall with scythe, robes flowing back from, you guessed it, a skeletal face.
Well, there you have it.
Mr. Pelton, I'm sorry. There was, technically, at least one skull on that bird. I had stated categorically that no General Officer in the United States Army would fly around in a helicopter with a skull on it, and I have been proved wrong. Please accept my apology.
I have kept my word. I have not, nor will I, distribute or publish those pictures. I am a man of my word. There were other pictures which Pelton presumed would assuage my other concerns with his veracity. Those, however, fall short. One picture designed to demonstrate that you can in fact see the gunner from the top of the vehicle was taken as Pelton was standing atop a stationary vehicle prepared for a CONOP. No one rides vertically on the outside of the armor during movement. I take it that his inference was that he was in this position during the movement in which he described all of the gunner's gestures.
I'm still not buying that part. Nice try, though.
Another was, by his description, taken out the back window of an MRAP of another MRAP, apparently to demonstrate that he could make out what the other gunner was doing. Either that picture was taken from outside the vehicle or that is the most transparent green-tinted ballistic glass that has ever made a long dusty convoy movement without getting dust on it.
Again, the check is in the mail.
There were pictures of 1LT Jones around others who were clearly drinking (they were French or Pelton, and they were drinking beer) but there is not one picture of the Lieutenant drinking. There is certainly not a photo of him enjoying a "smuggled nightcap" on the HESCOs in the starlight. I stand by my statement that this is a fabrication until he can prove otherwise. Of course, if he can do that, he would be assisting in the destruction of a young officer's career, already in jeopardy due to his article. I asked him about that.
There is no "young officer fighting for his career" if you mean Jones. He deserve a medal or at least half the salary of the nearest social scientist. Jones can come an work for me in Kabul if he is out of job.
It's amazing how the story changes. 1LT Jones deserves a medal. Is that the picture that the article paints? No, clearly not; but when questioned about if he even cares about this man's career, this flippant response and an off-the-cuff offer of a job at his new venture in Kabul (an intelligence venture that apparently provides very similar producets as HTS.) AFPax Insider hasn't officially been rolled out yet, but there are rumblings over at IraqSlogger.com about it. With the recent damage done to HTS and all the negative publicity, the rollout may be sooner than we think. Getting officers to lose their commissions is a really original recruiting tool, I've got to admit.
It is my opinion that Mr. Pelton considers me an idiot. He also considers me to be weak and easily frightened.
I have been subjected to a barrage of emails from Pelton over the course of the past two days alternating between compliments and belligerent threats. His bipolar fits of lets-be-reasonable-about-this-you're-a-nice-guy-I'm-going-to-smash-you-over-the-head have been mind boggling in their rambling complexity.
The intensity, bordering on desperation, of these emails has caught me off guard. "Why," I ask myself, "would this public figure, a published author and television personality, be so bothered by what this lowly blogger has to say?"
I'm just a little guy. Look at my webcounter. I'm not the Washington Post. Why work so hard to silence me? That is what he is trying to do; silence me.
If you do even the slightest bit of research on my background you will understand why your unfounded insults will not go uncorrected. I can also tell you that without an earnest attempt on your behalf to correct your malicious actions, the appropriate corrective and punitive relief available to me will be fully enforced.
I recognize bullying when I see it. I remarked on The Stupidest Man on Earth that Mr. Pelton had been threatening me. He responded to that with, "I don't threaten." I remember that from the playground, etc... the unspoken part was, "I promise." Message received, Mr. Pelton. A swirl rose up within me; a bit of a tingling up the back of my neck. I hadn't felt this feeling for a pretty long time... since...
Since the first time I read the Constitution of the United States of America. You never really appreciate the Constitution as much as when you really need it. I like the Amendments a lot, too. I'm pretty fond of the Second Amendment, but today I'm finding that the First Amendment is pretty cool. It assures me that I have the freedom of speech.
Is this a great country or what?
If you choose to be unresponsive, I will take that as proof that you choose to ignore polite requests to mitigate the damage.
I didn't feel as if I was approached politely.
What is it that you expect from this? Your approach earlier was like a man beckoning a dog while he clutched a baseball bat in his hand.
I think you have me pegged correctly.
Glad I'm wearing my drool bib and hockey helmet then. I'm not a smart man, but I do know what rights are. Thankfully there are smart men who know, too. The Supreme Court has clarified things quite a bit, as I've had explained to me by some smart people. I have nothing to fear.
The Constitution feels like body armor. Mmmmmm... toasty.
I strongly encourage you to consult your lawyer and have him define the term "libel" and its potential impact. I will print out a pdf of your website and other comments at exactly 9pm tomorrow evening Pacific time.
If I don't hear from you by this time tomorrow or see significant evidence of retraction. I will publish and circulate your transcript with the photographs proving that the information in the Men's Journal article is accurate and correct. I then reserve the right to enforce legal action against you.
I'm thinking, "not so much," Bob. I don't have a thing to worry about. My opinion is protected speech, and you as a journalist should know that. I have and am giving my opinion on an issue of public concern. Yep, you were right. Discovering the definition of "libel" is was certainly a comfort and a joy. You see, the changes to my blog did retract statements that you had proved to be factual technically. Being a man of my word, and ego not being my main issue, I am happy to correct that which is factually proven.
However, there is a big difference between the logo in the picture on the helicopter and "hot-rodded Black Hawks adorned with skulls." Technically there was a skull face, and adorned means "worn or decorated with," but when you paint a word picture, you know what you're doing. I and everyone else who read that expected big, obvious skulls... you know, big white skulls prominently displayed like on the nose of the chopper, not some half-eroded two-foot Grim Reaper with a skull face no bigger than a few inches on the back half of the engine nacelle. Sheesh.
Many have asked why Pelton hasn't published his pictures. I will tell you why, because I have seen some of them. They don't support his crazy, hazy, opium-smoke-filled image of the days he spent with the HTT's. Pelton described FOB Kutschbach as if it were some ramshackle hunker-down-or-they'll-hit-you type of place, with spent shell casings and "discarded shipping containers." The picture he sent me of a PSD member with a >gasp< stylized skull with hair >gasp< on his backpack showed one of the (normal) Blackhawks on the white gravel LZ at a very tidy (for a war zone) FOB Kutschbach. They've done some nice things with the place. That area was all dirt the last time I was there.
The changes made to my posting do not change the meanings of "fabrication," "stylization" or "stretches of imagination." I clarified that these are, in my opinion, questionable assertions. Some, I'm sure, are untruths. That is my opinion informed by my experience, an experience much of the readership of that dreadful, fragmented adventurist pipe dream do not have. I am just a blogger; a little guy who Pelton has described himself today as having no respect for as he exulted in his success in intimidating me over at "The Black Flag Cafe."
Even a couple of Pelton's own hangers-on expressed disappointment in how easily I backed down. Be of good cheer, guys; I'm still here. I'm aware of where I stand, and if Mr. Pelton cares to go through the minor effort of finding me and suing me for no result, then all's the better.
I am an American, and I am not afraid.
This exercise has taught me a great deal. I've learned some things that are comforting. I've been drawn closer to one of the cherished rights which I myself have risked all for. I've once again become acquainted with what bullying looks like, especially wrapped in the mantle of righteousness (or self-righteousness, as the case may be.)
I've also become familiar with some very disturbing things. There will be more on that. For today, I promised that I would apologize, and that the title of the post would be, "Mea Culpa." I have fulfilled that promise. I'm a man of my word. This is much more than I can say for a man who admittedly broke his word by smuggling alcohol downrange in Afghanistan.
In the meantime, today will not be the day that a Canadian millionaire suppresses an American citizen/Soldier in the exercise of his First Amendments rights.