we pull, and tug at the
spam propaganda story – those fake "good news" letters
from Iraq sent
out to 500 newspapers, signed by different soldiers –
the whole fabric of this odd little episode begins to come
apart, revealing a whole other layer underneath. The Pentagon,
the local commanders, everyone disclaimed any knowledge of
this "good news" factory, and it was only a coincidence that
the President had just launched a major public
relations blitz designed to shore up support for the war.
official story, up until
recently, was that a single individual soldier had taken
it upon himself to write and circulate the letter, but, as
it turned out, this wasn't just any grunt: it was Lt. Col.
Dominic Caraccilo, who is, by any measure, far from ordinary.
Caraccilo stepped forward and claimed credit, or blame – the
latter occurring in a normal world, and the former in the
World we live in, where up is down and moral inversion
refused to apologize. The letter, he declared, "perfectly
reflects what each of these brave soldiers has and continues
to accomplish on the ground. With the current and ongoing
media focus on casualties and terrorist attacks, we thought
it equally important to share with the American public, and
especially the folks from our soldier's hometowns, the good
news associated with our work in Kirkuk."
officials, while distancing themselves from Caraccilo's effort,
and assuring the media that he had been instructed not to
do it again, "said his intentions were honorable," according
to USA Today. There are currently no plans to discipline
Caraccilo. But there should be, and not just for sending out
idea of using the troops in the field as pawns in a propaganda
war on the home front is utterly antithetical to our republican
form of government: when it comes to the political arena,
the military must be strictly neutral in the battle
between the contending parties. Caraccilo's crime, directly
traceable to our foreign policy of global intervention, is
one of the chief corruptions of empire. Far from "honorable,"
Caraccilo's deception was execrable.
is interesting is that the military high command – an organization
not known for cutting slack would so readily acknowledge,
at least implicitly, that Caraccilo's actions were wrong.
As Lt. Col. Bill MacDonald, a military spokesman, put it:
sounded like a good idea at their level [but] it's just not
the way to do business. They're not going to do that again."
Caraccilo's superiors refuse to punish him in any way, thus
inviting a repeat. It's as if the whole dubious operation
had been unofficially sanctioned at a higher level, or initiated
by some other as yet unnamed agency.
This whole incident is highly unusual, but, then again, Caraccilo
is himself highly unusual.
is not only a
published author and editor,
but is also, perhaps, the
single most cited soldier in press accounts of the war,
as a Google search reveals.
Wherever there is a question to be answered, a rationale to
articulate, a "good news" perspective to be given on some
unfolding disaster, Lt. Col. Caraccilo is at the media's service.
in the war, before the myth of Iraqi WMD had been discredited,
was touting one of the first of many false alarms: several
barrels of a mysterious substance
(that turned out not to be biological or chemical weapons):
weapons inspectors never would have found this stuff,' said
Lt. Col. Dominic Caraccilo, the battalion commander who led
the team to the sites. 'It would have taken 40 years.'"
imagine if we hadn't invaded, hadn't so far taken nearly 400
casualties and thousands wounded, and hadn't run up a bill
billion – we would never have found all that liquified
camel dung, or whatever it was, and that woulda been a cryin'
showed up again at the scene of another attempt to somehow
rationalize the invasion, touting the capture of "Al Qaeda
suspects" in Kirkuk. A Washington Post story places
Caraccilo at the center of its narrative, the purpose of which
is to convince the reader of the Iraqi-Al Qaeda connection:
word came at 11:15 a.m. Sunday: al-Qaida suspect in the southeast
segment of the city.
the Kirkuk air base, headquarters for the 2nd Battalion of
the 503rd Airborne Infantry, U.S. Army Col. Dominic Caraccilo
weighed his options.
it turns out, the group in question was Ansar-al-Islam,
a shadowy outfit that is only vaguely "linked to Al Qaeda."
Citing an anonymous Army officer who questions "how seriously
to take reports of Al Qaeda activity," the Post reports
"Caraccilo decided the new information seemed solid and potentially
just in time for the reporters – and
the photographers. This guy is forever schmoozing
with the media, so much so that it
almost seems as if that's his primary job. Here
he is again, this time handling
the squabbling Kurdish factions with admirable aplomb. And
again, this time in the midst of adoring Iraqis:
reconnaissance mission, led by Lt. Col. Dominic Caraccilo,
rolled out from Bashur Airfield at dawn yesterday in a convoy
of humvees. The paratroopers drew smiles, waves and cheers
as they drove through villages in this semiautonomous Kurdish
love you,' one young girl yelled in English at the soldiers.
are you going? Please stay,' another man said in Kurdish as
the procession left one area."
there's good news, there is Caraccilo, a one-man harbinger
of hope. If the story of the Iraqi invasion is a narrative
of liberation and steady success, then he is its central hero,
the character through whose eyes we see this war as not only
necessary but also
wants war,' said Lt. Col. Dominic Caraccilo, commander of
the Second Battalion, 503d Airborne Infantry, one of the brigade's
two infantry battalions. 'But this is a paratrooper's dream.'"
when things look bad, as in this story headlined "Chaos
Reigns in Baghdad, Mosul, and Kirkuk," there's Caraccilo,
ready with a positive spin:
Kirkuk, another major northern city, the 173rd Airborne Brigade
and special forces planned to begin patrols and set up checkpoints
Saturday to stop the looting, said Lt. Col. Dominic Caraccilo,
commander of the 2nd Battalion, 503rd Airborne Infantry. "We
will guard key installations and re-establish the rule of
even the lack of food for his troops deters Lt. Colonel
from seeing the sunny side of near-starvation:
that have happened? No,' said Lt. Col. Dominic Caraccilo of
Seneca Falls, N.Y., commander of the 2nd Battalion, 503rd
Infantry. 'It tears my heart out. But sometimes you have to
go with what you've got, to the detriment of the individual
troops. No one died, and no one got scurvy.'"
is a major journalistic prop of this administration's Iraqi
Village, with the work his unit is doing in Kirkuk held
up as exemplary by the military-media complex, as in this
Knight-Ridder piece headlined "In
Kirkuk, troops see less violence, fewer attacks":
of the 173rd regularly eat and shop in local establishments
and interact with residents. By contrast, for example, the
82nd Airborne battalion based in Mahmudiya, south of Baghdad,
doesn't allow its troops to buy so much as a can of soda outside
their walled and heavily guarded compound off a major highway.
173rd's approach is riskier. The houses have been attacked
occasionally with rocket-propelled grenades, and one soldier
lost his legs in such an attack. But the risk brings rewards,
said Lt. Col. Dominic Caraccilo, who commands the 2nd Battalion,
503rd Infantry, which lives in the city. Soldiers know their
neighborhoods intimately and regularly get good tips about
potential problems. On Monday, one such tip led to the arrest
of some weapons dealers.
just don't understand how you could hold yourself out as doing
nation-building and not live among the people,' Caraccilo
us in the glories of "nation-building," while schooling the
Kurds in the intricacies of democracy, Caraccilo is a shepherd
tending two flocks. In sending those letters out – at taxpayers'
expense Caraccilo was merely playing, on the home front,
the same role he has so consistently played abroad as a propagandist
for the U.S. war effort. The quick disavowal
by the Pentagon to the contrary notwithstanding, it is
hard to believe that he plays this role free-lance.
tracing the story of how this administration
came to believe fake and in
some instances outright forged
"evidence" compiled to justify the invasion, what has come
out is a portrait of an intelligence community
divided against itself.
That's what the Plame affair is all
about, and that could well be what this Spam
Scam is all about, too.
the road to war, one faction
– the CIA – was telling the President one thing, while another faction – the neocons, and their
own "Office of Special
Plans" set up especially for the occasion – fed him information
altogether different. The
neocons have been running a
lot of rogue operations lately.
So it may be that the Pentagon is telling the truth about
how they knew nothing of Caraccilo's effort but somebody
did. The question is: who?
same liars who piped lies into the White House and Congress
have now redirected
their efforts at the American people. Whether Caraccilo is
part of that operation remains to be seen, but certainly,
in the context of the larger unfolding scandal of how we got
into this war in the first place, it is not
an unreasonable suspicion.
Please Support Antiwar.com
520 S. Murphy Avenue, #202
Sunnyvale, CA 94086
or Contribute Via our Secure
Credit Card Donation Form
Your contributions are