Saturday, August 28, 2004

CB Has Left The Building

Over a month ago, while surfing at Blogger Forum, I noticed this post by a CBFTW in the link exchange (CBFTW): "iraq war blog - hello, I am a soldier in the united states army currently in Iraq. If you want to view the site go to"

After I checked out CB's blog, and mostly dug it (one of his original posts was a list of songs that he liked to play while in Iraq which included "Stuck In The Middle" and "Speak English or Die"...I wrote him to tell him that he had erroneously attributed the former to Bob Dylan and to ask him if the latter was a joke...he said thank you, and, yes, it was). I wrote a short post on my site about it (Blogger In Mosul). CB (I know his real name but I won't reveal it at this time...I'll get to the why in a moment) found out about my blurb and left this comment on my site: "Hey man, thanx for talking about the site on yours, mad props. I'm not a republican or a democrat, I'm just a skater from SF who's packin a machine gun in iraq at the moment. Over and out."

CB's mostly wonderful blog possessed that rare "you are there" quality. At first, his posts weren't that well written. But he kept at it. And, by the end (yes, there's an end), his entries were so realistic and humanistic that I left a comment on his site comparing his work to Tim O'Brien and Anthony Swofford.

CB's a fan of Hunter S. Thompson. So much so, that the original name for his site paid tribute to the Great Gonzo: "My War - Fear and Loathing In Iraq." CB wasn't a warmonger; he was just doing his job. At the top of his blog CB featured a representation of Picasso's Guernica - the famous anti-war painting which was famously covered over when Colin Powell gave his grand performance at the United Nations to push for the war in Iraq.

Unfortunately, it didn't take long for the brigades from the right to discover his site. Soon, they began posting comments like "thanks for fighting the enemy there so we don't have to fight him here" (not a direct quote, mind you) and flaming the liberals or not-so-right-wingers that frequented his blog. Sadly, CBFTW linked to some of their sites (off site that I discovered through CB's used to be entitled "Moby Rebuttal" but is now Blonde Sagacity...a blogger that seems to pick up her talking points straight from Sean Hannity...I've fought a number of battles on her site...but when she's not talking far-right scary politics she's not a half-bad read), as well. Worst of all, one day he posted a story which claimed that he just fought a battle with Al Qaeda...bad enough...but he also claimed (mostly based upon the word of one of his Commanding Officers) that the enemies were Al Qaeda that had come into Iraq from Iran.

A few weeks ago, the brass caught wind of CB's blog, and he figured he was "fucked" and - like the Full Metal Jacket soldier - "in a world of shit." But the brass didn't cut the plug immediately (or maybe not at all). They allowed him to continue his writing, as long as everything was submitted to the Military, parsed, and pre-approved. He agonized over shutting it down. But he soldiered on.

The first noticable change was that the title was shortened to "My War." I guess the Military don't do irony. Then he started to become annoyed with the myriad of posters on his blog. He was trying to sanitize his site for the brass...but posters were copy-and-pasting and resubmitting some of his posts.

Then he became famous.

He began getting write-ups here and there throughout the land. One day, the Wall Street Journal ran a story which carried his name, and while it didn't mention his blog, it pretty much told the same story as one of his posts (I'm not going to give the exact link...because his name is in it). Then NPR ran a piece on him. Yet, they (stupidly...though they later corrected it by deleting it) made a direct connection to his name and blog.

On August 19th, CB's only post was the text to the 1st Amendment, which created a ton of wild speculation. He returned briefly to the blog warning his fans again not to copy-and-paste. But most wouldn't listen.

Then, ominously, he mentioned he pulled guard duty.

Finally, on Friday, August 27, 2004, CB's blog endured a final name change: "Over and Out." His last post - like a true punk rocker - "thanx Ever Get the Feeling You've Been Cheated?" - last words Johnny Rotten spit onstage at the Sex Pistols last gig in 1978. OVER AND OUT."

As of now, there's no way to know for sure what happened to CB. Did the brass make him stop? Did he stop because his identity had been outed? Did he stop because he couldn't bear the censorship? Did he stop because clowns from the right kept posting stupid things? Did he stop because clowns from the left (like yours truly) kept posting stupid things?

If you go to CB's stripped-clean website and follow some of his links to right-leaning sites, you will discover that his "pals" have all the answers. They don't blame the brass for muzzling CB. They are focussed on a letter-writing campaign against NPR for printing his name.

It's people like me that they blame for his flight. I don't have all the answers. If it was people like me...I do apologize...for CB's sake. But I never signed up - completely - with Uncle Sam (completely?...a story for another day). And I never willingly signed away my rights. So, for now, the 1st Amendment protects me. The guys and girls that are stuck in Iraq no longer possess this freedom.

Here's hoping CB's doing as best as can be out there. Here's hoping that CB makes it back home in one piece. Here's hoping that CB returns to writing...whether by blog, journal or future bestseller. Here's hoping that, someday, - like the Sex Pistols - CB makes a comeback and earns some filthy lucre.


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