Which brings us to the letter from a young Captain apparently attached to the Utah National Guard. Jeffrey Porter, who authored the following letter, is in trouble. Officers are not supposed to take a political position. I believe he is telling the truth but his chain of command has stepped in and are denying his version. I believe Captain Porter was telling what he saw without intending it to become part of the political debate. I held off until now posting the letter because I wanted to be sure it was authentic. I have confirmation from friends in theater that it is legit.
Unfortunately, Porter's credibility was shattered almost immediately--not from "pressure" from his chain of command but, rather, from the fact that he wasn't even present when Obama visited Bagram, Afghanistan. From Snopes.com:
If you click here, it'll take you to the snopes page where more than a few doubts have been cast on the veracity of what Porter had to say. I refuse to believe a Captain in the United States Army doesn't know the boundaries and limits of what to say about a political candidate. If he doesn't know the boundaries and limits, he's the only one shuffling around in a fog of ignorance. I think that it's wrong to push this material at bloggers. This E-mail had a target audience, and the good Captain's friends and family weren't it.
The problem is that the E-mail that he sent was very savvy about what to say and how to say it so that it would cause maximum outrage and get forwarded to bloggers like Johnson who would republish it and amplify the message. Whether this is done to excite a liberal or conservative or libertarian blogger is not the issue--plenty of liberal blogs fall for this crap, too.
Here's how it starts--when these smears get started, someone with a pseudonym will usually post it on a forum board with some sort of military or conservative issue affiliation and then distance themselves from it. The post at this link occurs in pane #5 and then the post "distancing" the person who posted it follows shortly thereafter in pane #47.
The E-mail is as follows:
As you know I am not a very political person. I just wanted to pass along that Senator Obama came to Bagram Afghanistan for about an hour on his visit to ‘The War Zone’. I wanted to share with you what happened.
He got off the plane and got into a bullet proof vehicle, got to the area to meet with the Major General (2 Star) who is the commander here at Bagram.
As the Soldiers were lined up to shake his hand he blew them off and didn’t say a word as he went into the conference room to meet the General. As he finished, the vehicles took him to the ClamShell (pretty much a big top tent that military personnel can play basketball or work out in with weights) so he could take his publicity pictures playing basketball. He again shunned the opportunity to talk to Soldiers to thank them for their service
So really he was just here to make a showing for the American’s back home that he is their candidate for President. I think that if you are going to make an effort to come all the way over here you would thank those that are providing the freedom that they are providing for you.
I swear we got more thanks from the NBA Basketball Players or the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders than from one of the Senators, who wants to be the President of the United States . I just don’t understand how anyone would want him to be our Commander-and- Chief. It was almost that he was scared to be around those that provide the freedom for him and our great country.
If this is blunt and to the point I am sorry but I wanted you all to know what caliber of person he really is. What you see in the news is all fake.
CPT Jeffrey S. Porter
The wording of this E-mail does not sound like an "off the cuff" observation, does it? A genuine observation would have been a little more even-handed or less calculating. Instead, it reads exactly like every other smear or hit piece perpetrated by the right wing, right down to the line about the Dallas Cowboys' Cheerleaders. The E-mail is too perfectly formed as a political attack to have been genuine. "Battle Captain" is a more informal term, not his actual position. CPT Porter likely works in an S-3 shop for an officer more senior to him. How is it possible that he didn't know he couldn't express himself like this? Why didn't he just ask his boss?
Here's Obama in Afghanistan--and this is the picture that the McCain campaign doesn't want you to see. The E-mail from CPT Porter was just a clumsy, ill-conceived attempt at ginning up phony outrage so that the sight of Obama being welcomed by US troops would be diminished in any way possible.
Here's the "retraction" of the E-mail:
Now the Bagram captain is dialing back, having signed the viral e-mail with his name, rank and unit - a possible violation of military regulations barring political statements. This morning, he sent The Mouth a new statement (punctuation corrected):
“I am writing this to ask that you delete my email and not forward it. After checking my sources, information that was put out in my email was wrong. This email was meant only for my family. Please respect my wishes and delete the email and if there are any blogs you have my email portrayed on I would ask if you would take it down too. Thanks for your understanding.”
An Army officer familiar with the incident told The Mouth today that the writer is “devastated that the letter was made public. It was never his intention that it go beyond members of his family.”
Is there anything even remotely "family oriented" about that E-mail? That's the most ludicrous thing about all of this--a perfectly worded smear directed at Barack Obama, obviously targeted to incite the anger of a military-oriented community was intended only for his family? You know, if I wrote my wife and said that the Dallas Cowboys' Cheerleaders were friendlier than Obama, I think the first thing I'd get back was a very pointed question of exactly how so? This is bullshit that deserves to be debunked.
I mean, honestly--would someone say this to their wife?
It was almost that he was scared to be around those that provide the freedom for him and our great country.
I'm sorry--I'm laughing my ass off at how earnest and transparent this bullshit really is. CPT Porter is too smart for his own fucking good, and his panicked withdrawal--his plea to have his E-mail deleted from blogs!--indicates to me that this was a smear gone wrong. As in, he got caught. Whoops! Next time, honey, remember to take my name off the bottom, okay?
We have to watch out for people who will spread these E-mails. And whether it's about Obama or McCain, the best thing to do is to take it with a grain of salt.