Soldier’s Names Used in Astroturf Campaign

Apparently the US military is taking this “Army of One” idea to new levels. As mentioned at MetaFilter in the item Not very clever, are they?, the same lengthy, text-identical letter is appearing in small-town newspapers all over the country, touting the success of the Iraq operation. An excerpt:

The fruits of all our soldiers’ efforts are clearly visible in the streets of Kirkuk today. There is very little trash in the streets, many more people in the markets and shops, and children have returned to school. This is all evidence that the work we are doing as a battalion and as American soldiers is bettering the lives of Kirkuk’s citizens. I am proud of the work we are doing here in Iraq and I hope all of your readers are as well.

That heartfelt missive from Pfc. David Deaconson appeared in his hometown newspaper, the Beckley (WV) Register-Herald, on September 21. Signed by Spc. Nathan Whitelatch, it appeared in the Connellsville (PA) Daily Courier on September 11. Signed by Sgt. Shawn M. Grueser, it appeared in the Charleston (WV) Daily Mail on September 10.

The Olympian (of Olympia, WA) was especially blessed; it received two copies of the letter, from different soldiers. They didn’t run them in their letters to the editor section, but they did contact a half-dozen soldiers whose names had appeared below the letter in various papers, confirming that the soldiers had not actually written them: Many soldiers, same letter.

Witih Google, these things are pretty easy to sniff out. You notice a suspiciously erudite letter to the editor in the local paper, plug the phrase into Google, and bam: instant debunking. Kind of makes you wonder how many of these passed unnoticed back in the day.

Thanks to Adam at Words Mean Things for the pointer.

2 Responses to “Soldier’s Names Used in Astroturf Campaign”

  1. malbela Says:

    ‘I yearn for you tragically’
    I just happen to be reading Catch-22 when I spot this on MetaFilter. Pfc. Deaconson and Spc. Whitelatch seem to have similar opinions and writing styles. But only if you take ‘similar’ to mean ‘identical’. The Olymipian, the paper for

  2. operation_yellow Says:


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