We linked this story on the blog earlier today, but it's worth some real estate on the front page.
Yesterday, independent, experienced journalist Michael Yon wrote a scathing critique of Rolling Stone's recent story on the Afghan "Kill Team" and how members of that group were caught posing with corpses. According to Yon, it's "BULLSHIT."
Yon would know, he was embedded with the 5/2 Stryker Brigade Combat Team (SBCT) in Afghanistan -- the same brigade that housed the soldiers now in question. Yon explains that in his entire time with the brigade, he never witnessed anything remotely suspect:
The brigade gave me open access. I could go anywhere, anytime, so long as I could find a ride, which never was a problem beyond normal combat problems. If they had something to hide, it was limited and I didn’t find it. I was not with the Soldiers accused of murder and had no knowledge of this. It is important to note that the murder allegations were not discovered by media vigilance, but by, for instance, at least one Soldier in that tiny unit who was appalled by the behavior. A brigade is a big place with thousands of Soldiers, and in Afghanistan they were spread thinly across several provinces because we decided to wage war with too few troops. Those Soldiers accused of being involved in (or who should have been knowledgeable of) the murders could fit into a minivan. You would need ten 747s for the rest of the Brigade who did their duty. I was with many other Soldiers from 5/2 SBCT. My overall impression was very positive. After scratching my memory for negative impressions from 5/2 Soldiers, I can’t think of any, actually, other than the tiny Kill Team who, to my knowledge, I never set eyes upon.
He goes on to paint Rolling Stone's decision to include video of soldiers -- not a part of the "Kill Team" -- shooting Afghan men on a motorcycle as deceptive. Again, he would know -- he had the video before Rolling Stone did:
Rolling Stone commits a literary “crime” by deceptively entwining this normal combat video with the Kill Team story. The Taliban on the motorcycle were killed during an intense operation in the Arghandab near Kandahar City. People who have been to the Arghandab realize the extreme danger there. [...]
The killing of the armed Taliban on the motorcycle was legal and within the rules of engagement. Law and ROE are related but separate matters. In any case, the killing was well within both the law and ROE. The Taliban on the back of the motorcycle raised his rifle to fire at our Soldiers but the rifle did not fire. I talked at length with several of the Soldiers who were there and they gave me the video. There was nothing to hide. I didn’t even know about the story until they told me. It can be good for Soldiers to shoot and share videos because it provides instant replay and lessons learned. When they gave me the video and further explained what happened, I found the combat so normal that I didn’t even bother publishing it, though I should have because that little shooting of the two Taliban was the least of the accomplishments of these Soldiers, and it rid the Arghandab of two Taliban.
Read the rest of Yon's thoughts here, including his call to action against Rolling Stone.