A.A. Bondy
American Hearts

Leaves in the Gutter

For What I Don't Become

The Thick of It
BBC America

Saddest Ghost Lamp

Friday, March 18, 2005

New York Times Publishing Unprecedented Levels of Bullshit*

To look at this front page New York Times story by Monica Davey, you'd think maybe there is a newsworthy change in the rate of desertion in the U.S. Armed Forces. It's headlined, after all, "Unvolunteering: Troops Improvise To Find Way Out," and starts with two anecdotes about troops deserting or filing as a conscientious objector to avoid going to Iraq.

Uh-oh--the Army's in trouble! Enlistees are talking about shooting themselves in the leg to get out of serving in that hellhole! Put this baby on the front-page.

But wait: "Department of Defense officials say they have seen no increase in those counted as deserters since the war in Iraq began. Since October 2002, about 6,000 soldiers have abandoned their posts for at least 30 days and been counted as deserters.... The figures, Pentagon officials said, suggest that the deserter ranks have actually shrunk since the years just before Sept. 11, 2001."

Now, I'm absolutely confident that the foregoing is a complete lie, and that there is a detectable increase in the desertion rate. But I have zero evidence to support that claim, and neither does Davey, which makes the entire point of her story rather flimsy. She struggles gamely to align the story with the evidence--"One by one, a trickle of soldiers and marines...are seeking ways to get out," and "soldiers, their advocates and lawyers who specialize in military law say they have watched a few service members try ever more unlikely and desperate routes" to avoid serving.

Wow! A trickle of folks are deserting, and a few of them are desperate!

Thank god for Sgt. First Class Tom Ogden, who was willing to claim--in contravention of the only available evidence on the desertion rate--that there is an uptick in folks who cut and run: "There are a lot of people, many more than normal, who are trying to get out now."

So which is it?
*The rate at which the New York Times publishes bullshit has not changed in recent years.