Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Who and Where Is Major Ben Connable?

The Washington Post carries an Op-Ed piece today titled What Soldiers See in Iraq, subtitled The Truth on the Ground and declares; The writer is a major in the Marine Corps. On May 18th of last year, USA Today carried a piece called  A Marine Sees What Defeatists Don't and taglines the writer as; Maj. Ben Connable is serving as a foreign-area officer and intelligence officer with the 1st Marine Division.


Apparently, the USA Today article was referred to and linked in a 2004 Bush campaign e-mail.


All of which makes Marine Major Ben Connable a fairly prolific contributor to newspapers in this country, referenced by President Bush as well. The strange thing is, as well known and well covered as the major might be, he’s personally illusive. At least for me. I have instant luck with Googling all kinds of arcane information and obscure individuals, but Ben Connable comes up a blank. Who and where is this guy?


QuestionmanA Google search of ‘Ben Connable’ brings up 814 listings, all of them references to other references. ‘Major Ben Connable' gets 354 hits and ‘Marine Major Ben Connable’ gets 214 mentions, but they are similar links to who carried the articles and when, giving nothing substantive of the man himself. Google Images shows nothing of Ben or anyone else. On the other hand, Google ‘Jim Freeman’ and you’ll be gagged by 4,520,000 listings and 2,280 Google Images, two of which, on the first page of both listings and images, actually relate to me.


But does the president link to me in a campaign e-mail? Not bloody likely.


The Marine Corps doesn’t seem to know much about their foreign-area officer and intelligence officer with the 1st Marine Division either. A name search on the 1st Division site comes up blank, as do all other Marine related searches I tried.


So, who and where is this guy and did the Post and USA Today just swallow his credentials without question or do they know something not apparent to the rest of us. By ‘us’ I mean Google. You can’t get much more ‘us’ than Google.


Both articles by the mysterious Ben, May of last year and current, read as if they were written word-for-word by the administration spin-meisters. From the May, 2004 article,

Just weeks ago, I read that the supply lines were cut, ammunition and food were dwindling, the "Sunni Triangle" was exploding, cleric Muqtada al-Sadr was leading a widespread Shiite revolt, and the country was nearing civil war.


As I write this, the supply lines are open, there's plenty of ammunition and food, the Sunni Triangle is back to status quo, and Sadr is marginalized in Najaf. Once again, dire predictions of failure and disaster have been dismissed by American willpower and military professionalism.

And today,

For every vividly portrayed suicide bombing, there are hundreds of thousands of people living quiet, if often uncertain, lives. For every depressing story of unrest and instability there is an untold story of potential and hope. The impression of Iraq as an unfathomable quagmire is false and dangerously misleading.

Such contrived sentence structure as Once again, dire predictions of failure and disaster have been dismissed by American willpower and military professionalism and The impression of Iraq as an unfathomable quagmire is false and dangerously misleading make one question just who the author might be. Recent revelations of planted ‘news’ in Iraqi papers by Pentagon sources, sour one’s beliefs in who matched up which dots and for what purpose. Major Ben's articles come from Iraq, through what is ultimately a Pentagon controlled source and yet there is nothing of the man but his e-mail address.


I am more than willing to be wrong. I must say that in this time of fractured credibility, I am anxious to be wrong.


Who and where is Major Ben Connable?
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Read more of my musings on the war in Iraq at my personal web site.