I don’t think I’ve ever seen such an inept public relations snafu as what transpired courtesy of Colonel Steven Boylan, a top aide to General Petraeus. Gleen Greenwald on his blog wrote an article discussing the politicization of the U.S. Military under the Bush administration. To prove Greenwald’s point, Glenn gets a sharply worded e-mail from Colonel Steven Boylan. I’ll reprint that below:
From: "Boylan, Steven COL MNF-I CMD GRP CG PAO"
Sent: Sunday, October 28, 2007 8:15 AM
Subject: The growing link between the U.S. military and right-wing media and blogs
I had hoped to post this in response to your article, but apparently it is closed already.
I am not sending this as anyone's spokesperson, just a straight military Public Affairs Officer, with about 27 months overall time in Iraq who is concerned with accuracy, context and characterization of information and has worked with media of all types since joining the career field in 1991. The issues of accuracy, context, and proper characterization is something that perhaps you could do a little research and would assume you are aware of as a trained lawyer.
I do enjoy reading your diatribes as they provide comic relief here in Iraq. The amount of pure fiction is incredible. Since a great deal of this post is just opinion and everyone is entitled to their opinions, I will not address those even though they are shall we say -- based on few if any facts. That does surprise me with your training as a lawyer, but we will leave those jokes to another day.
You do have one fact in your post -- then Brigadier General Bergner did work at the National Security Council on matters concerning Iraq. Not surprising as he had returned from a year plus deployment to Iraq as the Multi-National Division - North Assistant Division Commander. It would seem reasonable that someone with Iraq experience would work issues at the NSC that was familiar with and had experience in Iraq. All else after that portion in your post about Major General Bergner is just your wishful thinking to support your flawed theory.
The claims about Steve Schmidt being out here on the staff in Iraq are just flat wrong. Pray tell, where do you think he is and how long have you fantasized that he has been here? Based on our records of who is in Iraq, I am really sorry to disappoint you, but he just isn't here. You are either too lazy to do the research on the topics to gain the facts, or you are providing purposeful misinformation -- much like a propagandist.
Schmidt was here, but at the time for the vote on the Iraqi Constitution, October 2005 for 30 days. He was never on the MNF-I staff and for that short period was actually detailed to the Department of State. He hasn't been back since. Sorry to burst your bubble, but a little actual research on your part would have shown that he is actually not here, but that would contradict your conspiracy theory. I am curious as to when you think the media relations or operations changed here in Iraq. I in fact do know exactly the day and time thatit changed and want to see if you are even in the same ballpark as reality.
For the third matter concerning the Beauchamp investigation and the documents that were leaked - it is very unfortunate that they were - but the documents are not secret or classified. So, there is your third major error in fact. Good thing you are not a journalist. The information that was released and it appears that has since been taken off the net is more of a matter concerning the Privacy Act. Since we don't know who released them, we are not able to take the appropriate actions and the media tends not to give up their sources -- good, bad or indifferent...I will not judge. That is our system and we must work with it.
As for working in secret with only certain media is laughable. The wide swatch of media engagements is by far the most diverse it could be. But you might not think it that way since we chose not to do an interview with you. You are not a journalist nor do you have any journalistic ethical standards as we found out from the last time I engaged with you. As we quickly found out, you published our email conversation without asking, without permission -- just another case in point to illustrate your lack of standards and ethics. You may recall that a 30-minute interview was conducted with the program that you claim to be a contributor. So instead of doing the interview with you, we went with the real talent, Alan Colmes.
I also noticed that you fail to mention the amount of material that is leaked to those other publications that I dare you to call right-wing like the NY Times, Washington Post, LA Times, etc. I do not condone or wish them to happen, but it happens. If you believe they are right-wing, then again, it is nice to live in a fantasy world.
I invite you to come see for yourself and go anywhere in Iraq you want, go see what our forces are doing, go see what the other coalition forces are doing, go hang out with the reporters outside the International Zone since that is where they live and work and see for yourself what ground truth is so that you can be better informed. But that would take something you probably don't have.
Steven A. Boylan
Colonel, US Army
Public Affairs Officer
After reading this, my first reaction was “WOW”. Greenwald to his credit went to great lengths to verify that the e-mail was in fact from Col. Boylan, General Petraeus’s Public Affairs Officer. The e-mail address was the same as the one used in a previous e-mail encounter and Greenwald asked for any experts on IP addresses to verify that the address in question was Col. Boylan’s.
Well enter the denial stage. Col. Boylan, though refusing to engage in dialogue with Greenwald, is responding to e-mails in the published e-mail address from some of Greenwald’s readers who are castigating his behavior. On top of that, he is denying sending the original e-mail. Yep, someone else sent it, despite the fact that the language style used in e-mails to Greenwald’s readers is spot on to the one in the original e-mail. Also, wouldn’t it be a bit troubling that someone other than Col. Boylan, Gen. Petraeus’s public affairs officer could in fact speak for the commanding General of our war in Iraq?
Clearly, Col. Boylan has been caught in a lie, and trying to cover it up is making him look even more stupid and irresponsible. And on top of that, Col. Boylan’s e-mail proved Greenwald’s point about the politicization of the military under George W. Bush. That the public affairs officer for the Commanding General would be sending curt, patronizing e-mails to liberal bloggers is the very thing Greenwald was addressing.
Gen. Petraeus must be thoroughly ticked to have a subordinate behaving in such a way. Totally amazing.