So, we saw that an irritating attack on the Bridge Over the River Tarnak led to the crusade of an American Journalist to campaign against an allied General, when that General's political masters struck out on a policy the Journalist didn't like. But did he succeed in getting that General fired? Or were his later claims as empty as his early allegations?
Long ago, when I was sitting on a cot in the middle of a hot desert, bored out of my mind, a colleague gave me a book. That book inspired a look into the minds of serial killers, and I crawled inside, reading, analyzing, and learning the things that make a deviant segment of society tick. I am by no means a "profiler," but I've practiced learning what makes segments do what they do, those that think differently than do I, and others whom I wish to think more like. I've studied serial killers, terrorists, islamists, drug kingpins, communist propagandists, rapists, the rich, the employed, and now Yon. This series is the result of crawling into the head of one Journalist, of trying to understand why he says the things he says.
His own words are the key to that, though I will not express my broader conclusions. I will tell you that I don't believe his hype of his greatness. I believe he was mad that Canadian politicians, who had decided that Canada had done her part, and he took it out on a Canadian General, who had nothing to do with the politicians, and nothing to do with the bridge. I think he tries to be the first with the story, even if he has to quote those that were ahead of him, to prove he was first. I don't think he has any special access, or ever has, even if he was able to convince some to conduct an interview because he was a Journalist and at one time was well read by those who were craving what no one else was providing.
But the question here is: Did he take down General Menard? Did he collect his first scalp?
Yon was fiercely focused on getting the General fired for not pulling guard duty on a bridge, for which the General was not responsible. He took issue with a French-Canadian General commanding US Troops, and he spun a whole series against that General over a kernel of fact that didn't relate to the General. He would later learn of a totally separate incident, through the MSM, and bemoan they didn't credit him with breaking the story he would blow out of proportion. Let's see how the ND story broke and flowed in Yon's own words.
This is the first instance I found of Yon mentioning the story. He links to the Montreal Gazette, while shooting an email off on the same day he reads the story, and claiming that he had begun checking the day before. So, he did not break this story. The Montreal Gazette beat him to it. Later he would claim he had heard the rumors on the 13th. NOTE: that blue boxes are text I added.
Also note that he says Menard hit an American Helicopter with automatic fire as it was preparing for takeoff, and also nearly shot a high level official. All of this gossip would later prove false. Of course, he is just reporting and seeking the truth while covering his rumor-mongering with hearsay. He's "just asking questions," though his questions are designed to imply allegations that aren't true.
The next day, Yon publishes his questions email demanding answers on Facebook. His email seems to be tailored to imply things worse than the facts would demonstrate, based in the gossip he's heard. Still he hasn't broken the story, but instead cites his own article on the bridge. He complains the US PAO has told him they don't know about the situation, yet. But he doesn't wait for the answers to publish his implications. Had he waited just a few hours, he would have learned the rumors were false. His rush to get his name out as breaking the story would bite him in the butt for failing to check the facts of what has occured under his nose.
I have to believe Yon's confusion of the timeline was not the result of stupidity, nor lack of attention to detail, though it could have been a mistake of the latter, which projected him onto a path which his ego prevented him from correcting. He doesn't like to make corrections to himself, or answer unsavory questions about himself. He prefers making accusations, and demanding answers, to his own accusing questions.
It seems that BG Menard fired his weapon when he did not intend to. I don't care if you call it an AD (accidental discharge) or ND (negligent discharge) or an idiotic mistake. The bottom line is that a bullet (two in this case) left the barrel of his weapon when he didn't mean for them to do so. It happened on March 25, 2010, and he was likely thinking about something other than loading/unloading his weapon properly. Or he was overthinking it. Most times ND's happen when a Soldier is tired and stressed and lacking regular firearms training.
An ND is typically investigated. Initiating an investigation within 24 hours is hardly a delay. An ND does not typically result in a press release. In other words: standard procedures were followed. And the investigation likely led to the rumors floating around the base about an incident few had witnessed. Or perhaps the stories started because Menard told his staff of his embarrassing episode. Had Yon had his ear to the ground, he'd likely have heard about the rumor much earlier than 2 weeks after the staff briefing. But every commander will have detractors under his command. Some Troops dislike all officers out of hand, and any leader who makes such a mistake is going to be the talk of the subordinates.
Don't get me wrong, any ND is a big deal, but they happen way too often and to all levels of Troops. A General is less likely to have one, because a General is less likely to be loading/unloading a weapon. But in those times they do, they're just as likely, if not more so to have one, because they're out of practice in loading/unloading a weapon. The military is backwards in dealing with ND's. They're risk averse, and attempt to prevent ND's by decreasing the number of people carrying a loaded weapon, rather than increasing respect for all weapons. Rather than enforcing the policy of "Treat every weapon as if it's loaded," they attempt to keep every weapon unloaded as much as possible, increasing the treatment of weapons as unloaded.
When a fan questions the unsubstantiated rumors being worthy of publication, and the errors in the time line, Yon notes his record is one of unsubstantiated opinions and that, regardless of his claims, something will prove him right, because it always has. This time will prove different, however, because this time the prophet has not claimed a vague, debatable "War can be won," or "War is being lost," but a more specific event that can be proved or disproved with facts. His initial implied allegations were disproved.
Menard did not shoot up an American Helicopter. He didn't almost kill a "high level" official. But I'm sure it was very embarrassing for Menard, and very humbling to admit it to his staff, as well as to order an investigation. Do poor weapons-handling skills mean he's incapable to lead? If that were true, we would have elected McCain/Palin. There's no proof either Obama or Biden know where to put the butt of a rifle to get a clean shot at the target, while McCain fought in Viet Nam and Palin is known for her hunting skills.
Importantly, Yon's own words, and his links, prove that not only did he not break either the ND story or the affair story, but that he also wouldn't have looked at them, if he didn't have a hard-on for the General. His words also demonstrate that he considered both stories as inconsequential, until the General was relieved for the affair, when he proclaimed himself as the sole source of breaking the stories, and claimed his first scalp for events he had little knowledge of.
At best, Yon sent an email on the day that the ND story was broken by the Canadian Press. At best he heard a rumor about the incident two weeks after the investigation was initiated, and two weeks after the General had briefed his staff. At best, Yon waited 6 days before he started "researching" the rumor. But more likely the Canadian media was already working on the story when Yon typed his email and Yon's time line demonstrates nothing that would indicate the email was sent before he read the Canadian MSM article. In his parting shot, Yon claims the General was a coward in Yon's opinion, (see his "note" at the bottom to right), in the face of a "lonely writer" (Yon), for being brave enough to admit, to the press, as well as his staff, that he had made a rookie error while handling a weapon. I contend Yon's loneliness is a result of his own words, actions, and personality. He certainly wasn't alone on KAF and if he's lonely there, then it speaks of his inability to connect with the Troops that surround him.
The green highlighting are the facts presented to him within hours of his initial allegations. He chooses not to publish the entire email.
This series is not about "taking on the powerful" as Yon once was in the world of war journalism, but in separating hype from fact. I can categorically state here that Yon did not report the issues or facts that took down General Menard and hence cannot be credited with "collecting his scalp." But already we see in this final screenshot that Yon has chosen a new target, against whom he admits he has no evidence he'll show to support his claims. The evidence will show that he took on General McChrystal, not because of his opinions on how the war was being fought, but because he decided that it was General McChrystal who ordered his disembed.
The Tarnak Saga:
1) The Bridge Over the River Tarnak Looking at Fact and Fiction of the incident
2) From Tarnak Bridge to Bruhaha Looking at Yon's obsession for Menard
3) The Tarnak Scalp That Wasn't Looking at Yon's claims of scalping Menard
4) The Yon Conspiracy Over Tarnak: Looking at Yon's Conspiracy Theory Origins
5) Overview of the Michael Yon Saga
1) Yon OPSEC Violations: It can't be more blatant but some are in disbelief
2) Yon Publicizes Video of American Soldier Losing Legs.
3) Banned By Yon!
4) Yon's Attack on PTSD as insanity
5) The Banning of an Angel