The Ft. Jackson Mystery: An Exchange With A Reader

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CBN's story about Ft. Jackson is wrong. A reader writes to take me to task:

It's looking danged credible now. More and more by the hour. It's being reported by Forbes, ArmyTimes.com, and dozens of other credible mainstream journals. Looks like you and Ambinder owe a bit of an apology to CBN and Stakelbeck. Especially, since you named them as a source, in part, as an element discrediting the story AND to paint them as wild-eyed rumor mongers. Irony.

No doubt you two will show more deference to the ever-trustworthy CBN in the future.

My response:

CBN said five people were arrested. That's false. I said the army is investigating rumors and hasn't found evidence to support them. That's true. Who is wrong?

The reader replied:

Likely, the "hasn't found evidence to support them" is likely untrue or the investigation would not have been ongoing since December. It doesn't mean the allegations are true, or even if true it doesn't mean the Army will be able to fully substantiate them.

If the term "arrested" as opposed to "held for questioning and continuing to be under investigation" is where you are going to plant your flag on your claim that CBN "got it wrong" on a story that had previously been unreported at all, then that's serious quibbling. And it seems likely that your "hasn't found evidence" claim will be shown to be at least as wrong as CBN's.

To which I responded:

It sounds like you want this story to be true.

To which he replied:

That's ironic, because it seems to me you are desperate that it not be true, simply because you don't like CBN. My point is that it seems to be 90% true. And for a blog, which is breaking a factual story (as opposed to an opinion or a "can-you-believe-he-said-that story"), that's well above expectations.

Well, I do like CBN.  But the story is more than 90 percent wrong. It's completely wrong. And in its wrongness, it's damaging because it provides fortification for those who believe that Muslims are infilatrating the ranks of the U.S. Army and intend to poison good Christian soldiers. Indeed, I detect a bit of religious competition in CBN's reporting. After all, it is CBN. Forgive me for that inference, but I think it's warranted. Also warranted is increased scrutiny of non-citizen Muslims in our armed forces, especially those without security clearances. That's exactly the type of scrutiny that led to the Army CID investigation, which, according to the Army, has turned up exactly nothing. So there's no need to demonize Muslims at Ft. Jackson.  Here is the official Ft. Jackson statement:

"In December 2009, five Soldiers were investigated for potential verbal threats against fellow Soldiers.  While the investigation continues there is currently no credible evidence to substantiate the allegations.  At no time was there any danger to the Fort Jackson community."

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Marc Ambinder is an Atlantic contributing editor. He is also a senior contributor at Defense One, a contributing editor at GQ, and a regular contributor at The Week.

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