Leave Dark

Leaving the Darkness:

Per Karrde and Cassidy, I'm reminded I promised to undo the all-black scheme after the election. Cassidy requested a return to the previous pattern, and given her performance as leader of the Marine Team for Project VALOUR-IT, I'm glad to oblige her request. As of this hour, her leadership has produced $50,618 for use in purchasing voice-activated laptops for wounded veterans, distant from their families and often without the use of their limbs in the early days of treatment.

The other teams did well too, with everyone but the Air Force surpassing the $45,000 goal. This may have had to do with their leader's approach to fundraising...

Thanks to everyone.

Nat. Ammo Week / Genius!

National Ammo Week, Plus -- Genius!

National Ammo Day is Nov. 19th, but it has been expanded to a week for the ease of everyone involved. I hope everyone will participate.

I shall be laying in .45 Long Colt this year, as Doc and I agreed on its usefulness. Over time, I think I'll change out so that I use .45 Colt in my carry piece, concealment piece, and field carbine. For now, it's only the deep concealment piece I use it in, but I have come to like it better than any other cartridge.

If you're looking for something different, however, I've got a great one for you. It's not out on the market yet, but for next year, we might consider this brilliant invention: "Season Shot."

Season Shot is made of tightly packed seasoning bound by a fully biodegradable food product. The seasoning is actually injected into the bird on impact seasoning the meat from the inside out. When the bird is cooked the seasoning pellets melt into the meat spreading the flavor to the entire bird. Forget worrying about shot breaking your teeth and start wondering about which flavor shot to use!
For bird hunting, I see no reason why that shouldn't work just fine. To add, ah, spice to their offer, Season Shot notes that it's the first truly environmentally safe ammunition -- since it's just herbs and whatnot, instead of lead or steel or white metals.

Hat tip: The Ministry of Minor Perfidy.


Veteran's Day: VALOUR-IT Final Push

Now that both teams from the Department of the Navy have reached their goals, our leader Cassandra has decreed that we should help out the Army. I'm sure Matty & Jimbo will appreciate your kindness. So will John of Aaaarrrrgh!, who earlier expressed his awe of the Marine staff. (See the comments. If anyone wants to round out the top ten...)

It's a fitting service for Veteran's Day. My thanks to all who have helped, and all who have given. That goes for the Project, and for the military as a whole.

Happy Veteran's Day.

Jack Palance

Jack Palance, RIP:

This Veteran's Day, we remember many great men, and honor those still living who have served. It happens that we might, this particular Veteran's Day, take a moment to remember Jack Palance, who has just died.

I suspect he's best remembered here as the gunfighter Jack Wilson in Shane. He did "cold-eyed killer" better than almost anyone: even Lee Van Cleef seemed to be reprising Jack Wilson in The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.

There was more to the man than that, however: he was a heavyweight fighter, under the name Jack Brazzo, with twelve knockouts and fifteen wins in his career. And, yes, he was a veteran:

With the outbreak of World War II, Palance's boxing career ended and his military career began. Palance's rugged face, which took many beatings in the boxing ring, was disfigured when he bailed out of his burning B-24 Liberator while on a training flight over southern Arizona, where he was a student pilot. Plastic surgeons repaired as much of the damage that they could, but he was left with a distinctive, somewhat gaunt, look. After much reconstructive surgery, he was discharged in 1944.
It's easy to forget how dangerous training is in the military, but the risks are very real. The Department of Defense celebrated in 1998 when accidental deaths in the military declined notably over a monitored nine-year period: only 6,790 service members died in that time. It had, in the previous perioud, been 11,216. In Iraq, in three years we've lost about three thousand people. In nine years from 1988-1996, 6,790 died accidentally.

Palance didn't die, and went on to turn his reconstructed face into one well known to every American. He won an Oscar for his role in the film City Slickers, and at the awards show made some appropriate remarks about Billy Crystal before demonstrating one-handed pushups. He was 73 at the time.

We'll miss you, Jack.
I guess this is appropriate this day too:

Marine receives Medal of Honor

Words don't really do the deed justice.
Happy Birthday, USMC.


Contrasts on the West Coast:

JarHeadDad sends two stories this morning that touch on the universities of California. They are on patriotism and anti-patriotism, and offer an interesting contrast on the Marine Corps birthday.

The first is about the Pledge of Allegiance.

Calif. College Ends Pledge of Allegiance
COSTA MESA, Calif. (AP) - Student leaders at a community college voted to drop the Pledge of Allegiance after a tense meeting in which one flag-waving pledge supporter berated them as anti-American radicals.

Orange Coast College's student trustees voted Wednesday not to recognize the pledge, with three of the five board members saying it should be dropped from their meetings.

Board member Jason Ball argued that the pledge inspires nationalism, violates the separation between church and state with the phrase "under God," and is irrelevant to the business of student government. He cited a 2002 San Francisco federal appeals court ruling - later dismissed by the Supreme Court on a technicality - that the pledge is unconstitutional when recited in public schools.

Sophomore Chris Belanger, one of several students who attended the meeting to support keeping the pledge, waved an American flag and accused the board of "radical views and anti-Americanism."

Coast Community College District spokeswoman Martha Parham said the decision was up to the students.

"They run their own show, so to speak," she said.
I wouldn't object to a decision not to say the pledge of allegience at every single meeting of your committee. The pledge isn't something that has to be repeated over and over to take effect. It's an oath, which -- when sworn by an adult -- is binding.

What I wonder about is the wording, "not to recognize the pledge." That seems an odd thing to say. Not to require it; not to perform it as part of the rituals of the meeting; I can understand that. But what does it mean to say that you don't recognize it?

Anyway, that's the first story. The second treats a graduate of the University of California's efforts to set the record straight on the flag-raising at Iwo Jima. He came across an injustice in making a film, and made a promise.
Local war hero finally recognized

By John M. Flora

Phil Ward, who died in relative obscurity last December, is finally getting the recognition he deserves.

While his friends and family knew Ward, a native of Mace, was a veteran of the fierce World War II battle for Iwo Jima, almost nobody knew he was one of the Marines who raised the first American flag atop Mount Suribachi.

And it's only in the last few months the Marine Corps and others have come to recognize his role in that historic gesture that gave hope and encouragement to his fellow Marines locked in deadly combat with the island's fanatical Japanese defenders.

Associated Press Photographer Joe Rosenthal's iconic photograph of the Iwo Jima flag-raising is actually of the second U.S. flag erected on Suribachi on Feb. 23, 1945. Photos of the first flag-raising, that include Ward and other members of a patrol led by Lt. Harold Shrier, had less artistic appeal than Rosenthal's shot. They were ignored at a time when a stronger image was needed to boost homefront morale.

The Marine Corps was heavily invested in the Rosenthal image. It became the basis of the Marine Corps War Memorial near Arlington National Cemetery and inspired the architecture of the National Museum of the Marine Corps being dedicated this week at Quantico, Va. Consequently, Sgt. Lou Lowery's pictures of the first flag-raising were suppressed by the Corps for decades.

Ward, of Crawfordsville, died Dec. 28 in a hospital near his winter home in McAllen, Texas at the age of 79. His funeral was Jan. 3 and his ashes were interred Jan. 19 at Arlington.

He was two weeks shy of his 19th birthday when he and his buddies in E Company, 2nd Battalion, 28th Marines, hit the beach on Iwo Jima and charged into one of the bloodiest fights in the history of the Corps.

Early on the morning of Feb. 23, 1945, a reconnaissance patrol scaled the 560-foot Suribachi to scout Japanese positions around the volcanic crater.

They met no opposition and concluded the Japanese were dug in. Raymond Jacobs, then a young radioman, recalled that a second patrol was organized to attack and secure the top of Mt. Suribachi.

Jacobs, a retired newsman who now lives in Lake Tahoe, Calif., said Lt. Shrier was put in command of the patrol and was given an American flag to take with him. Jacobs said he was assigned to the patrol to provide a radio link with battalion headquarters.

As the column of about 40 men set out up the steep slope, Jacobs recalled, they were led by Cpl. Charles Lindberg and Pvt. Robert Goode, each carrying a flame-thrower. Tagging along was combat photographer Lowrey.

"The sides of Suribachi were very steep," Jacobs said. "The ground we were climbing had been chewed and churned by bombing, naval gunfire and our own artillery ... The climb was so steep and the ground so broken that at times we were crawling on hands and knees."

Reaching the top, the Marines moved quickly along the rim, he said, and Lt. Shrier spread the patrol in a defensive perimeter around the inner rim of facing inward toward the center of the crater.

Jacobs said he saw several Marines pulling a piece of Japanese water pipe from the ground to use as a flagpole.

One of Lowery's photos shows a group of Marines tying the flag to the pipe. Jacobs and others believe one of the men is Phil Ward.

He said Lt. Shrier's command group moved to the highest point on the crater preparing to push the flag pole into the ground and Cpl. Lindberg kicked at the ground to clear a hole for the flag pole. Jacobs said the pole was jammed into the ground and the men took turns pushing it deeper, kicking dirt and jamming rocks around the base to stabilize it.

"Just moments after the flag was raised we heard a roar from down below on the island. Marines on the ground, still engaged in combat, raised a spontaneous yell when they saw the flag. Screaming and cheering so loud and prolonged that we could hear it quite clearly on top of Suribachi," Jacobs said.

"The boats on the beach and the ships at sea joined in blowing horns and whistles. The celebration went on for many minutes. It was a highly emotional, strongly patriotic moment for all of us."

Chuck Tatum, author of "Red Blood, Black Sand," an account of the battle for Iwo Jima, and himself a Marine Corps veteran of the invasion's first wave, was dug into the black volcanic sand below the mountain at the time.

"All of a sudden, my assistant gunner was hitting me with his entrenching tool on the foot, and I turned to him and said, Steve, what are you doing?,' and he said, 'Tatum! Tatum! Look, they got the flag on Suribachi!'"

"I think that pride engulfed me. When you saw that, there's no way to describe the emotions that went through your body."

Clark Jamison, a sailor aboard the U.S.S. Estes who was coordinating air strikes on Japanese positions, recalled he was about two miles from Suribachi.

"I saw it and I yelled, 'The flag is going up on Suribachi.' There was an overwhelming yell from the crew and from the amphibious group ... Everybody turned and looked in that direction. Everyone was so elated and so proud to see the Stars and Stripes on Suribachi."

"You know, we were very young, fully indoctrinated in the Marine Corps lore and tradition and when you see the flag, it just had a very special meaning to you," Jacobs said.

"The Japanese, apparently enraged by the sight of our colors, hit us with rifle fire and a barrage of grenades," Jacobs said. "We responded with flame throwers, grenades, BAR (Browning Automatic Rifle) and rifle fire. I remember seeing individual Marines and fire teams running toward the caves firing as they ran. We burned and blasted caves on both sides of the crater rim and soon it was over - intense but brief with Japanese resistance buried."

He said Lowery was the only Marine Corps casualty when he fell over backwards trying to avoid a grenade and suffered bumps and bruises in a 20 or 30-yard slide down the steep slope. His camera was smashed but his film undamaged, Jacobs said.

A short time later, a larger flag was sent up the mountain to replace the first.

By that time, AP photographer Rosenthal was on hand to record the moment. While Ward was not in the best known photo, he is in a subsequent group shot since dubbed "the Gung-Ho photo."

Many Marines who fought on Iwo Jima, including Jacobs and Tatum, never knew there was a second flag-raising until months or years later.

In retrospect, Jacobs said, "The first flag-raising was for the Marines on the island because they reacted to it. The second flag-raising, Rosenthal's picture, was for the morale of the people back home. They reacted to it."

Perhaps it's because of a lack of official interest in the first flag-raising and Lowery's photos that historians failed to thoroughly identify the men in Lowery's pictures.

Likewise, James Bradley's best-selling "Flags of our Fathers" did not list Ward as one of the original flag-raisers.

As late as last January, it was the Corps' official position, as articulated by Leatherneck magazine editor Col. Walter E. Ford (Ret.) that Phil Ward was not in the Lowery photos and there was also official doubt that Jacobs was in the pictures.

But Dustin Spence, a 21-year-old theatre and history graduate of the University of California, Davis, has apparently succeeded in setting the record straight.

Spence had several conversations with Phil Ward last year in hopes of portraying Ward in the film version of "Flags of our Fathers," released this fall.

Spence said he is convinced beyond question that Jacobs and Ward are in the Lowrey photos.

"Phil has ring on his right hand on the ring finger in those pictures. Lou Lowrey got different perspectives of the flag-raising, circling around, and Phil is someone who is constantly holding onto that flagpole," he said.

Spence said he spoke with the reclusive Lindberg and said he "states that Phil Ward helped put up the pole."

Spence said he called Ward in a Texas hospital a few days before his death to reassure him he would continue to fight for official recognition.

"My promise to him was, 'I will tell your story'" Spence said.

Spence made good on his promise earlier this year
by persuading Col. Ford to publish a seven-page article on the first flag-raising that analyzed the Lowery photos in light of Spence's historical research.

"The article worked out very well," Spence said. "They printed more than 100,000 copies, and it's totally sold out now."

And thanks to Spence's efforts, Phil Ward's name has been added to photo captions and text in the current editions of Bradley's book.

Spence is working on a documentary titled, "Flags Over Iwo Jima" with the Los Angeles-based production company PixVfm.

He said the documentary will be unique compared to the many other Iwo Jima flag-raising documentaries because it will for the first time display the entire truth of the important flag raising event.

Spence said he hopes to get this new and important information out to the general public and do service to this important event in American history.

For more information, visit Spence's website at www.flagsoveriwojima.com
Now that's praiseworthy.


Museum of the American West:

The NY Times has a kind word for Gene Autry.

Hat tip: Arts & Letters Daily.


I Wonder if Force Fields Work on Bowie Knives?

The British Ministry of Defense has a warning for us:

During his time as head of the Ministry of Defence UFO project, Nick Pope was persuaded into believing that other lifeforms may visit Earth and, more specifically, Britain.

His concern is that "highly credible" sightings are simply dismissed.

And he complains that the project he once ran is now "virtually closed" down, leaving the country "wide open" to aliens.
I read in Dune that skillfuly-wielded knives were very capable against forcefields.



I think that Wuzzadem is right about this one. The elections are an American matter. A family matter. We don't care what the rest of the world thinks, and if they've got a bit of wisdom in their heads, they'll stay out of it.

SSM Medals

A Request from the VA:

Some Soldier's Mom wanted me to pass this on to all of you:

VA Urges Veterans to Wear Medals on Veterans Day
The Honorable R. James Nicholson, Secretary of Veterans Affairs, and leaders of major veterans organizations called on America's veterans to help kindle a new spark of patriotism on Veterans Day by wearing the medals they earned during military service.

"We are announcing a Veterans Pride Initiative to remind Americans of the pride and honor in the hearts of those who have served," Nicholson said. "We expect Americans will see our decorated heroes unite in spirit at ceremonies, in parades and elsewhere as a compelling symbol of courage and sacrifice on Veterans Day, the day we set aside to thank those who served and safeguarded our national security."

For information about the campaign and how to display and/or replace medals, please visit the VA Web page.

Nicholson, in speaking about a visit to Australia for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps Day said,
One of the things that stood out during the day-long ceremonies was how all of the veterans and surviving family members wore their medals and campaign ribbons. It focused public pride and attention on those veterans as individuals with personal histories of service and sacrifice for the common good.
That is why I am calling on America's veterans to wear their military medals this Veterans Day, November 11, 2006. Wearing their medals will demonstrate the deep pride our veterans have in their military service and bring Veterans Day home to all American citizens.

Veterans, wear your pride on your left side this Veterans Day! Let America know who you are and what you did for freedom!!

History Repeats

History Repeats:

"U.S. Rejects Referrendum for Rebel Georgia Region."

JL Rsponds

Major Leggett Responds:

Major Joel Leggett writes from Iraq. One of our co-bloggers here, and a gentleman I greatly respect in spite of our occasional sharp disagreement, I'm posting for him the comment he wished to make:


I saw your post and I had to comment. Unfortunately, there is something wrong with our server and I can’t post these comments on your site. First of all, I must take issue with your characterization of Jim Webb as a “real conservative.” I am curious, is it his threats at economic redistribution that make him conservative? I always believed that the defense of private property and freedom to keep what one earns was one of the more distinguishing characteristics of a real conservative. If that is true then I fail to see how Webb’s threats to make the wealthy pay their share and raise taxes qualify him as a true conservative. Furthermore, it seems to me that you yourself recognized that you don’t agree with him on just about anything. Are you some hard leftist that takes issues with Webb’s conservative positions?

What makes Webb such a great candidate for the Senate? I got it. His willingness to publicly apologize for not voting for a man that not only made his political career by slandering servicemen but continues to insult. Obviously this man is a stalwart conservative. Or better yet, maybe it was his sucking up to Clinton so he could pander to the left in VA for their votes. No, no, here it is. It was his intentional misrepresentation of the reason he quit the Reagan administration when he addressed crowds of Democrats, leading them to believe it was anything but his insistence that the U.S. build MORE battleships. You know what gives him real conservative street cred? The fact that his victory just handed control of the Senate to a party dedicated to cutting and running from Iraq as well as ensuring that only left-wing “Living Constitutionalists” are appointed to the Supreme Court.

From Iraq ,

Thanks Grim.
I have to admit that I haven't heard some of these complaints before, so I'm not sure how to respond to them. The Jim Webb I know is a former Marine who holds a Navy Cross, a former Secretary of the Navy whose reasons for stepping down I had never heard were in dispute, and the author of some books on Scotch-Irish culture that I know Major Leggett admires. He ought to admire them.

I can't bring myself worry too much about what the author of Born Fighting is going to do. Nor is it easy to think of a book that more readily encompasses what I, at least, think of when I think of conservativism -- that's the kind of people the word means. That's the sort of man that conservativism aims to produce. A man who honors those values so highly, and has defended them so fiercely, will do right in the big things even if he makes what I consider to be mistakes in the small ones. I don't have to agree with his every idea to trust him, anymore than I have to agree with the Major on every point to know he is a good man that I could trust with the safety of my family if need be.

(For those of you who haven't read Webb's book, here's a review from Parameters, the journal of the US Army War College. It's the third from the last review on this page.)

Major Leggett and I have obviously encountered different material on the subject of Webb as a Senator. Now, I've made a conscious effort to avoid the negative campaign ads pouring out of Virginia since the summer: about the time that Allen became 'the worst racist ever,' I decided there was little of use apt to come out of the next few months of discussion. I know what kind of a Senator Allen was, because he was my Senator. I had no complaints with him.

I think Webb's the better man. I also believe our system of government is cracking on key fault lines, so that we can't depend on the institutions in the way we have in most of our history. We need honorable men on both sides of the aisle.

I wish to extend my thanks to Major Leggett for his letter, and assure him of my continued respect and good will. I am always sorry to disagree with him, as I know he and I are on the same side on the most important questions. Still, a man must say what he thinks, and I think Webb was the better choice.



Once again, elections are down to the wire. I'd like to begin by reposting my comments on the 2004 election. Let's look at what's the same, and what changed:

Yesterday, almost 55 million Americans got up, formed part of record lines, and voted to replace the President of the United States. Many of them felt passionately about doing so. Many had donated money to political campaigns for the first time. Many people heretofore uninterested in politics joined grassroots organizations aimed at removing George Bush from office, and to try to pry any part of the Federal government back to their political party.

This morning, the results must look to them like the carnage of a battlefield. Despite everything they did, George Bush was reelected. The Republicans, far from losing the House or the Senate, secured and increased their majorities. The highest ranking Democrat in the government, Senate Minority Leader Daschle, was turned out by voters. For social liberals, the sweeping victory of amendments forbidding gay marriage -- every one offered passed handily -- must be depressing. There is nothing for them to feel good about in the results, except the election of Mr. Obama and the well-deserved defeat of Mr. Keyes in IL.

They were defeated only because more than 58 million Americans stood up to vote for the opposite things.

In medieval battles, often forces coming into contact with each other were nearly evenly matched. The forces fight -- Vikings and Saxons clashing at each other behind their shield walls -- until that small difference in strength breaks one of the lines. Then, pouring through the breach, the victors tear apart the shield wall and rout the enemy. Few of the losers escaped from such battles, when any did. Though the foe may have been of nearly equal size and strength, at the last that small difference led to a complete victory for one side, and complete destruction for the other.

Democracy works in a similar way. We have had a giant clash of peaceful armies, and in spite of the completeness of the rout, we must remember that their force was nearly as powerful as our own.

For those of you readers who were part of the defeated army, I salute you. You have every reason to be proud of how hard you fought, and of the dedication and steadfastness with which you struck for your cause. You can hold your heads high, knowing that you did absolutely everything that could be done.

In the next years, we must remember the 55 million. It may be that some of them can be won over, through argument or through example, or even -- on matters not of principle -- through compromise. Even when not, we must remember that they showed that America is their country too: no one can ever again claim to be backed by the "silent majority." That majority has now spoken, but it spoke on both sides.

We should remember that they felt all the passion and concern that we did ourselves, and found that doing everything they could only led to the defeat of their cause. That kind of defeat can weaken the Republic, which many of us are sworn to uphold. It weakens it by undermining faith and confidence in the institutions. We must take care to be sure they find fair hearing of their concerns in the institutions that conservatives now control. The government must serve them as well. We should take care to observe the tenets of Federalism, and not use the power of the Federal government to try and influence liberal states according to a general will. We should erect new walls in that regard, so that our disappointed neighbors can still live the lives they want to live in what is also their country.

Those same walls will protect us, should we ever someday lose.

Congratulations to the victor.
What was different this year? First of all, the defeated army was a political party, not a movement. In 2004 conservatives and others of the right carried the day, defeating John Kerry and his movement from the left. This year, conservatives in many places simply absented themselves from the fight. 2004 was Red v. Blue; 2006 was about the Republican party, which has stunk it up.

Indeed, the abandonment of conservatism by the Republicans is not only clear in the agenda they've pursued these last years. The most conservative person elected in this race appears to be -- awaiting final results -- Jim Webb. The Democrats elected a man who is a true conservative. Several of their other victories, and a number of near misses, were also centrists or even rightists (at least in their campaign rhetoric!).

That's the second difference: while in 2004, the left could console themselves that they had done all they could, in 2006 the same can't be said of the Republicans. They didn't do all they could do; they barely did anything at all. Half of what they did do was wrong. They didn't deserve support, and so they didn't receive much.

In 2004, I blogged about the upcoming elections almost every day. This year, I hardly mentioned them at all. In 2004, I gave lots of money to political causes; this year, not one donation to any candidate or movement. Instead, I've spent the days running up to the election raising money for a far better cause than politics: Project VALOUR-IT. That fundraiser, ongoing until Veteran's Day, needs your attention and help if you have any to give.

I didn't stay home. I still went out and voted, as everyone should -- and, as I said below, at the state level it was a nice election.

That brings us to what is still the same, this year as in 2006. My vision of what we need in this country's domestic politics:
We must take care to be sure they find fair hearing of their concerns in the institutions that conservatives now control. The government must serve them as well. We should take care to observe the tenets of Federalism, and not use the power of the Federal government to try and influence liberal states according to a general will. We should erect new walls in that regard, so that our disappointed neighbors can still live the lives they want to live in what is also their country.
I think that's as right now as it was two years ago. Georgia should be allowed to be Georgia; Vermont, Vermont. American elections won't be so contentious, nor cause such turmoil in people's lives, when we re-enforce the walls of Federalism.

Such an agenda is right on the merits, whether it is meant to protect our way of life, or our neighbors' in the Blue states. We are all Americans, and ought to look out for each other -- even when we don't agree.

Congratulations to the victors.

Looking good Federalism

Federalism Looks Better & Better:

Whatever you may think about the national election returns, the statewide elections here in Georgia are affirming my support for increased federalism. Several Constitutional amendments here in Georgia are showing very strong, and deserved support:

1) An anti-Kelo amendment restricting eminent domain;

2) An amendment affirming the right to hunt and fish, and requiring the state to manage public lands so that all Georgians have access to those activities;

3) Amendments to restrict ad valorem taxes for farms and ranches;

4) Amendments to establish new homestead exemptions to ad valorem taxes for the widows of slain policemen and firefighters.

I assume most of you are reasonably pleased with local outcomes, however pleased or distressed you may be by the direction of Congress. Mark that. By pushing power down to the states and localities, we can each of us better have the life we want. Americans may not all agree about how best to govern, but that doesn't mean America can't be for all of us.


CENTCOM Sends (A Blogger!):

Confederate Yankee interviews the Bloodhounds, the 615th Military Police Company, 89th MP Brigade. The MPs express support for the mission in Iraq, though there are notes of caution as well.

Interestingly, the blog interview was brought to my attention by CENTCOM -- they sent me an email, so I'd tell you about it. Good to see them engaging bloggers.

The Times on Snipers:

You have probably seen the New York Times / International Herald Tribune story on the problem of snipers. I've been trying to figure out what to say about it.

The worst thing I can say about it is to point out an omission in it. C. J. Chivers, the author, writes:

Most of the time, the marines said, the snipers aim for the troops' heads, necks and armpits, displaying knowledge of gaps in their protective gear.
"Displaying knowledge of gaps in their protective gear." And where did that knowledge come from?

Perhaps from the fact that the New York Times published a diagram of our body armor, helpfully showing where it was vulnerable?

That's information that really should have been included in this story, if the point is to give people an honest reading of the problem of snipers. Or, for that matter, the problem of the insurgency: the fact that media coverage of insurgent attacks has been demonstrated to increase their frequency. It's a force multiplier. Anyone writing on the topic -- and I'm not suggesting they shouldn't ever write on it -- should not only keep that in mind, but make the point. The reader should always be reminded that the insurgent was thinking of them, as much as the Marine, when he pulled the trigger.

The omission -- especially of the mention of body-armor diagrams -- isn't the only complaint to make. Most of the complaints with the series focus on the pictures, because they drive raw emotions. What Cassandra said here about the earlier part of the series goes as well for this part. An editorial decision to publish pictures of bloodied US Marines is just that: a decision.

How to judge that decision? Allah points out that the Times front-paged the worst picture, not the best one. Both images are just as valid -- which one do you lead with? They led with the one that shows blood and pain, not the one that shows a fellow Marine putting his own body between the wounded man and the sniper, ready to reply to further shots with his grenade launcher.

The same decision was made in the text. The reporter made a decision to treat the problem in graphic, emotional terms. That is a valid way to treat it -- bullet wounds are nasty, and the emotions people feel are real. Having wounds described in these direct terms gives you a sense of the real sacrifice our Marines make, and the risks to which they volunteer time and again to expose themselves.

Like the Times, though, while his story has all the data, it leads with the wound. It could have led with other things. It ought to have admitted its own complicity in the problem of snipers.

A reflection of that sort -- on the degree to which their past coverage has literally helped the enemy hurt Marines -- would be wise. Perhaps it would cause them to consider more carefully what they print in the future.