What if I told you a story about a married US soldier in Afghanistan who repeatedly sneaked off of the base in his civilian clothes, accompanied by his girlfriend, a subordinate soldier. That they took their weapons with them, concealed in their clothing, and then willingly turned their weapons over to the owner of the restaurant where they dined. And then bragged about their exploits on Facebook and included pictures.
Throughout that retelling, you were picturing an Army specialist or young buck sergeant, weren’t you? What if I told you that it was a Texas National Guard Lieutenant Colonel? The same LTC who accused BG William Caldwell of trying to run intelligence operations against visiting members of Congress, LTC Michael Holmes. Well, in April, 2010, the Army conducted a 15-6 investigation into the antics of Michael Holmes and his girlfriend Major Laurel Levine (I know, she sounds like a superhero’s girlfriend or a stripper, doesn’t she?).
For background see Assoluta Tranquillita who links to all of the best blogs who wrote about this last week.
What were Holmes and Levine doing when they went off of the base in civilian clothes to dine in restaurants? They were drumming up business for the company they hoped they would found after their tour. They called it SyzygyLogos LLC and they hoped to do business doing exactly what they were doing for the Army in Afghanistan. That’s why they also took pictures of themselves doing the taxpayers’ business in civilian clothes to make it appear as if they already had a private company and were contracted with the US government. On your dime. This is from his company’s Facebook profile of SyzygyLogos LLC under title “Training the Afghans”
The investigating officer, LTC Richard Santiago, found the investigation to be a breeze since Holmes and Levine left a trail on Facebook like this;
So this is what Santiago recommended;
On May 18, 2010, Colonel Joseph P. Buche, Chief of Staff, approved all of Santiago’s recommendations except a. and f., so they didn’t get Article 15s or have their Federal status revoked. They got sent back to Texas in September. Apparently, Holmes stewed for nearly six months before he went to Michael Hastings of the Rolling Stone Magazine to spill his guts over what we’re supposed to believe is some heinous crime.
Oh, yeah, and Holmes tries to make it sound as if he’s some spook-like Psy-Ops guy, except he’s never been to any kind of training like that. They’ve kinda lost interest in the company they were forming during their duty hours in Afghanistan, too. I guess that happens when Holmes has to go home to his wife every night instead of Hotlips Levine.
Holmes told Fox News;
“Do I have an ax to grind? Yeah. But the ax is this. If they can do this to a lieutenant colonel, what are they doing to the sergeants out there? I have a lot of education and training. … I knew where to go and what the rules were and weren’t.”
Except that “what was done” to Holmes seems to have a mountain of evidence. I don’t know too many sergeants who would hand their personal weapon over to a foreign civilian and try to manipulate their training to look like the sergeant has a business.The pictures that Holmes or Levine themselves put and left on Facebook seem to support the 15-6 investigation.
Mikey Hastings and Mikey Holmes have a cheerleader in Glen Greenwald at Salon, who thinks that the character of the messengers doesn’t matter;
As usual, anyone who makes powerful government or military leaders look bad — by reporting the truth — becomes the target of character assassination, and the weapon of choice are the loyal, vapid media stars who will uncritically repeat whatever powerful officials say all while shielding them from accountability through the use of anonymity.
Given that Holmes has been proven by an Army investigation to be a liar (Holmes told the investigator that hed been given permission to wear civilian clothes and carry his personal weapon concealed outside of the wire – and the evidence of his duplicity has been posted on the internet by Holmes and Levine themselves) don’t you think the Hastings articles should be met with a measure of skepticism? What Greenwald and Hastings want you to do is read the articles without knowing where this bullshit is coming from. Like the IVAW gets bent out of shape when I investigate their individual backgrounds. We’re not supposed to ask where the information is coming from, or what might be the motivations of the messenger.
If the Army really went on a witch hunt to silence Holmes and Lavine, they might have included an investigation into the relationship between the two, but that investigation was specifically excluded from the 15-6. Personally, I’d have preferred that the command had given him an Article 15, that way we’d have been able to see if Holmes was prepared to take the charges to a court martial and risk a little “pound me in the ass prison”.
But you know what upsets me most about this whole story? It’s bullshit from the first word of Hastings’ article. Public Affairs and Information Operations are basically the same. There’s no difference except in which people are hearing the information product. If Brigadier General Caldwell was willing to tell visiting Congressmen and Senators bald-faced out-right lies, he could have had used either of those two offices to tell them with the same result.
The only way this is news is if Caldwell was planning on having Holmes waterboard visitors.