“The quality of life and security for the citizens has been largely restored, and we are a large part of why that has happened,” reads the letter that the soldier in Iraq wrote to his hometown newspaper. It continues:“The fruits of all our soldiers’ efforts are clearly visible in the streets of Kirkuk today. There is very little trash in the streets, many more people in the markets and shops, and children have returned to school. I am proud of the work we are doing here in Iraq and I hope all or your readers are as well.”The same letter appeared in at least 11 different newspapers. The Olympian of Snohomish, Washington, noticed the scam when it received this letter from two local soldiers. These letters to the editor were supposedly sent by soldiers in the 2nd Battalion of the 503rd Airborne Infantry Regiment. One of the soldiers, in a hospital recovering from shrapnel wounds to his legs, had no idea he had written the letter. Another soldier’s stepmother expressed concern that the bogus letter from her stepson would give legitimacy to a war she did not support. “There are a lot of Americans that are not in support of this war that would like to see them returned home,” she told the Olympian.
Joel Bleifuss, a former director of the Peace Studies Program at the University of Missouri-Columbia, is the editor & publisher of In These Times, where he has worked since October 1986.