One last post about Jonathan Keith Idema, the freelance torture-prison operator in Afghanistan who was a source for Dan Rather and Mary Mapes of CBS. I received this e-mail, which bore the signature Lucian V. Truscott IV, in response to my last Idema post:
I was in Afghanistan in April-May of this year and met Idema in the bar of the Mustafa Hotel, where I was staying, and where Idema regularly hung out. He was outfitted like a big-time "contractor," -- cargo pants, black t-shirt and shoulder holster with 9 mm, wearing shades in the dimly-lighted bar (when it was lit at all -- the electricity went off every hour or so, plunging the place into darkness until the hotel generator kicked in). One night Idema showed me excerpts from his famed CBS tape of al Qaeda training. It was obviously, patently, plainly, clearly bogus -- an real amateur attempt at showing bad guys doing bad things. So-called al Qaeda operatives charged into a typical Afghan house, assuming the sort of "at the ready" cop positions you might see on NYPD Blue -- guys slamming backs against the wall, weapons at the read as other guys charge through the room pointing weapons at doors, windows, etc etc. It wasn't even the sort of Afghan dwelling you'd find out in the boonies where the al Qaeda training camps were. It was obviously a house somewhere in Kabul. The Afghan houses out in the boonies are mud-brick or stone dwellings, many with thatched roofs, with hard dirt floors and hand-made furniture -- typically, a hand-crafted kind of bench with a rope seat on which are placed hand-made pillows. Not the sort of cheap factory-made stuff you'd find in Kabul.
A grade D straight-to-video Hollywood movie would have appeared 10 times more authentic. It was hard for me to believe that Rather and CBS bit when approached by Idema. Forget about his ex-con past. Idema himself was so obviously a phony-baloney play-acting Rambo, it was hard being around him and listening to his horseshit for more than 5 minutes or so. Not one journalist in Kabul paid him any attention, which drove him up the wall. He wanted everyone to believe that he was on the "inside" of everything, and it would be just a matter of a few weeks before he, Idema, personally marched Osama into town in chains. I didn't see anyone laugh in his face, but then, I didn't see anyone in his face at all, because no one even got near enough to him to listen to his line of horseshit.
It was hard for me to understand how he was going to accomplish this, since he appeared never to leave Kabul, partying everynight at the bar of the Mustafa.
Not a lowpoint for CBS news. THE lowpoint.
If this is the case, then, as I've said before, Rather and Mapes aren't sinister left-wing disinformation peddlers -- they're just suckers for a juicy story who really need to take their bullshit detectors into the shop.
(Lucian Truscott IV is a journalist and the author of Dress Gray and other military-themed novels.)