Censoring Afghanistan


04 September 2011
Kandahar Province, Afghanistan

A message came today that a certain General has told me to unpublish "Battlefield Forensics."  “Battlefield Forensics” was first published on 18 August 2011.

This dispatch violates no policies.  It has cleared all OPSEC hurdles.  Again today an officer told me there are no OPSEC issues with any of my dispatches.  OPSEC refers to Operational Security.

Unless the General contacts me directly with justifiable cause, Battlefield Forensics will stay. It would be sad to end this way an embed that began at invitation of General Petraeus.  It would most likely be my final embed with the US Army.  The good news is that I will finish with both legs.

If the military decides to end my embed, as it did last year, the Army will not end my coverage of the war.  They will merely lose the opportunity to be seen through my lens and heard through my pen.  I will no longer have the opportunity to tell their side of the war.

There will be backlash against me.  There always is.  Typically they will wait until later to put some distance between events.

Please read Battlefield Forensics.


# camocowboy777 2011-09-04 17:27
Warning! Sarcasm to follow..
Maybe this General didn't like that you showed dead bodes in your posts? OH THE HORROR! God forbid that people would see how horrible that war really is.
As always, the PC horse-s*%t serves only to cripple our efforts and stall victory.
Keep doing what you are doing Micheal, It is refreshing to see these events from the soldiers point of view.
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# Tracy Clark 2011-09-04 17:27
I just found you!!! This would be very sad to your readers as well. We love our troops and hearing about them through your eyes!!! Crossing my fingers for you and all of us too!!!
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# Larry Uelk 2011-09-04 17:54
There are more security violations in the NY Times and Washington Post everyday that do threaten the security of our troops. Keep us informed, Michael, and we'll be at your back!
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# Pat C 2011-09-04 18:04
Battlefield Forensics....We spoke a couple years ago on the air, where you had the opportunity to meet the creative brains behind "Brothers at War". I believe I made the comment to you at the time that "it must be really hard stick that yellow crime scene tape across the sand.

God Bless
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# Michael Yon 2011-09-04 18:05
Update: Just talked with a commander about this. They had a meeting and it's a non-issue. Sounds like a case of staff gone-wild and using a general's name to add gravity to their cause. It backfired because adding a general's name to a censorship demand is a bad idea. Just not smart.
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# Wayne Hutton 2011-09-04 18:08
This is the same thinking that has prevented the media from showing the planes hit the towers. It's idiocy. They don't want to traumatize people, so they show the planes almost hit the towers than cut-away. My imagination is much more vivid than any real video, or photo - even your's Michael. To paraphrase Patton, we all need to know what is in our power to destroy - be it civilization or one life. We need to know because that is the only way we can decided if what we do is worth the consequences. Your dispatches help me to explain to people why we're still there. I shared your dispatches on the Pedros. They gave much comfort to parents who's kids are deployed or are even thinking of serving. Those dispatches show the lengths that the Air Force will go the save their children. That they won't be forgotten, or treated simply as a number by some Pentagon general-crat. The truth is the truth and it's what we need. You're in the right place at the right time.
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# Vernon Clayson 2011-09-04 18:15
The captain delivering the message and even the general dispatching it were following orders from soft and caring higher ups that have seen neither danger nor the dead of war or even that on the streets of American cities. That includes politicians at the very highest level, at the White House, it's not new, FDR and his minions didn't allow photographs of the dead until well into the middle of WWII. It won't get out but it would be interesting to see where each of these individuals actually came from and who funded their participation? Washington's concern is that photographs of our dead will show up, as reminder, we saw photographs of our soldiers dragged through the streets of Mogadishu and we know what the contents are inside the practically endless parade of caskets being taken from aircraft at Dover AFB.
We are not the gentle readers the politicians believe we are.
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# Trisha 2011-09-04 18:33
You have my support michael, and always will!

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# Rickie 2011-09-04 18:35
I live inside the Wash,DC Beltway with my parents. We all ready your web site. I showed my father your dispatch about the censorship before your update came out. His comment was, "NOT ON MY WATCH!!!" He was hopping mad and picked up the phone and started making phone calls. Your update calmed him down a bit, but he still wants to know where the letter came from. He said that he'll get to the bottom of it real quick.

Staff should know all too well that your readership is vast and at many levels in this country because you tell the truth. All you have to do it name names and there will be a firestorm headed their way with my father leading the way. Just tell us who the idiot is and that person will no longer have a career.

Take care and keep up the good work. We all love you.

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# Dan Gower 2011-09-04 18:37
I retired from the Army with 27 years as an Army Officer, 6 years as a contractor, and 6 years as a Civil Service Employee - then this summer had the honor to fly DUSTOFF missions with a unit in Afghanistan - embedd rules abound - however, like you, once the unit in which I was embedded grew to trust me and know that I was there to tell their story, much changed for the good/better. Keep telling the truth - keep showing how hard it is to be a Soldier in a war - our cause is noble - we do our nation's bidding. It's too bad we can't all get along - and that some resort to terrorism - these folks we war against in Afghanistan are not "suicide bombers" - like you said "they are terrorists"
Thanks for what you do brother
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# RCL 2011-09-04 19:45
I think it's plain the general considers the double standard on photos is bad diplomatically regardless OPSEC or Michael's excuse that the Afghan's do it. How many afghan photographers have the reach of Mr. Yon? How 'bout none.

It's a simple request by his host that he should allow as a matter of courtesy. Unfortunately Mike has been milking this bad boy image since Iraq.

Get over it Mike and concentrate on our guys and the war.
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# jonathan white 2011-09-04 19:46
Mike, I have worked wth you 3 times, Iraq with 19 Bde , Afghan twice, 19 and 11 Lt Bde. You are a star, you tell the truth, the boys like you, your readers respect you and the greater public have yet to wake up to your value. Try to keep up the good work. Give me a shout if you finish up in the UK- beers on me
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# Jerry 2011-09-04 20:01
I liked your Battlefield Forensics story. Thinking back to Vietnam, I was surprised that the dead guys were run through ID checks and such like a crime scene, and not just chucked into a hole. Keep up the good work and don't let those staff weenies intimidate you.
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# Vernon Clayson 2011-09-04 20:12
RCL, Michael Yon is the voice of those fighting the war, he's not milking anything, he's providing a service that the great leaders in Washington haven't provided for. What do you know of Afghan photographers, if they have any we are probably paying them at the same time the enemy is paying them. "Get over it"? no one gets over war whether fighting or observing. You sound like the foreign propaganda broadcasters of previous wars, e.g., Axis Sally. You get over it!
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# KateInVirginia 2011-09-04 20:16
War is ugly...so are politics. Keep up the good work and God bless you and keep you safe.
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# Zach 2011-09-04 20:25
Those pictures would have never passed thru my battalions opsec. Maybe with you gone the opposing force will not have the insider detail they need! :lol:

I know if I was a terrorist you blog would help me out alot. Expesicaly your blog on ieds that can't be picked up by metal detectors.
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# peter 2011-09-04 20:28
Definitely, definitely, a breach of the chain of command, and someone specifically gave that order to go to your tent, and heads SHOULD roll!!
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# Sarah Rankin 2011-09-04 20:44
8) I Just wanted you to know that I appreciate your brave stand ~ Now weapon formed against you will prosper & every tongue that comes against you ~ you will refute. YHWH continue to give you strength & courage to report & write to testify for these Brave Warriors ~ Shalom & Shalom & Shalom ~
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# RCL 2011-09-04 21:25
There was a time MY was almost alone but there are other very good sources now. Besides Mike's reporting has changed. He's got a chip on his shoulder and he pushes the OPSEC envelope repeatedly. His work now days is a shadow of Gates of Fire or his great work during The Surge.

All I'm pointing out here is the general's request is imminently understandable. Michael is his guest. A little courtesy extended to his own side wouldn't hurt.
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# RCL 2011-09-04 21:29
Dittos. Why Petraeus let him back in is beyond me. As usual Mike's itching for a fight. I notice it turns on his groupies.
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# Rickie 2011-09-04 22:03
RCL, ROFLMAO. Obviously you can't read any better than you write. If you'll read Mike's update you'll see that it was not the General who request the removal, but a staffer using the General's name and that Command Staff did not have any problems with Mike's dispatch. We have been reading Mike's dispatches since he started and the tenner and content has never changed; the truth is always there regardless of what you say. My father just told me that he's going to make sure that the career of the staffer that used the General's name is over. You can't have people in the war theater exercising poor judgement like that. Such lack of judgment almost always transistions into poor judgement on the battlefield where our troops could be killed as a result.

Keep up the good work Mike.

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# Carl Nogueira 2011-09-04 22:21
Whoever said there is no fool like an old fool, never met a bereaucrat. Just keep on keeping on Mike. Your work is invaluable.
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# Wayne Hutton 2011-09-04 23:11
Mike, please don't be discouraged or take the nay sayers to heart. It's interesting that most of the people who are willing to support you are also willing to do so by full name, and those against want to hide behind anonymity. I spent 10 years in the AF OSI, and the last 17 civilian law enforcement. That's 27 years working at seeking the truth. I know that the truth will win out. We got your 6 Mike, press on. The Hell with the censors & nay sayers. Yep, I guess that makes me a Fan.
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# Jim 2011-09-04 23:17
I just watched a documentary that shows a lot of what was hidden from the public and the Tillman family. I wanted to know your thoughts on the matter because It made me sick to know that the government not only covered up his murder but then used his death as a recruiting tool. Friendly fire is part of every war. But this was Murder and a sickening cover up. you can send it private if you want. but I would like to hear your perspective.
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# Sean 2011-09-04 23:43
Afghanistan is all but forgotten now. Michael Yon is one of the only real and honest sources of information coming in from Afghanistan anymore.
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# Sara Johnson 2011-09-05 00:07
Michael, There is an absence of information of the kind that only you provide, on this war. Putting any of our soldiers at risk is not on your radar. I think you would "give your legs away" before doing that. What IS it that your detractors don't like about you? Honesty? Integrity? Don't get it. Stay safe and Keep On! Thank You!
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# James 2011-09-05 00:20
Don't loose faith mate, a whole bunch of diggers in Aus wait on your posts because you are one of the few that actually tell the truth and know what is going on. Aus reporters don't leave the bloody FOB's!
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# Jim 2011-09-05 00:21
I guess a groupie is anyone who agrees with Mr. Yon and disagrees with the one throwing around the groupie label. Petraeus is no idiot. No one is perfect, but Yon's detractors are generally the ones with chips on their shoulders. Yon is a fine photographer and journalist providing a service others have no stomach for. There will always be critics.
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# Jim 2011-09-05 00:28
Um...it appears those IEDs were constructed by the terrorists you believe are getting this inside info from the author. Is that sort of like publishing pictures of German land mines in WW2 and then complaining that the Germans will see them and learn how to make land mines?
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# Papa Ray 2011-09-05 01:05
First let me say that I have been a fan and reader of Mike since his first efforts.

Mike knows that truth is what it is all about. But he also knows that sometimes, some don't want the truth blasted out to the public, so he knows that there are lines that can be crossed only with caution. He wants the truth to be told, but he also knows that he has to exercise some care in how he goes about it.

If he had a large organization behind him with unlimited funding it would be different. But it is expensive to go it alone with out the support of the military or those associated with our government.

Until he has those unlimited funds he does need the access afforded to him that not many get.

Don't encourage him to fight the system too much or his job will get ten times more difficult.

He may have no official editors but he does have enemies who are just waiting for him to screw up.
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# Pete K 2011-09-05 01:14
I looked at that dispatch. The pics were too gory for me and I didn't read the whole thing. No big thing, it just wasn't my cup of tea. My squeamishness kicked in bigtime.

I don't say that general was right, but I can understand where he might be coming from.
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# Winefred 2011-09-05 03:16
I can see why there might be someone who thought the Forensics piece was a bad idea. What I find unbelievable is that anyone with one foot in the 21st century could think there would be any point in "unpublishing" an online article. When Yon puts a photo-essay up, there's no turning back the clock. Sheesh. And to Jim on the "Tillman Truth": the Army made a HUGE mistake trying to transform his death into a glory story when it was a tragic case of friendly fire -- a terrible waste, but inevitable in any war. His grieving family sees murder, having a natural desire to explain away their loss by fixing blame, especially after the initial disinformation. I don't buy the murder story for a minute. Read the film review at bighollywood.co m. There have also been good articles with diagrams showing clearly how Tillman's squad, ambushed by the enemy in a canyon at a blind hairpin turn which looped back near to a second Ranger group behind them, the two squads unwittingly firing on each other.
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# RCL 2011-09-05 03:55
I followed the link from Michael and read the story. I must admit I don't see any update even now. Assuming it's true my point was simply that it was a modest request totally understandable due to the graphic nature of the photos. That stands regardless the general's staff sent the request.

As to the tenor of Mike's work, any call on that is subjective isn't it? You don't think it's changed. I do. He's always had a complicated relationship with PA but he's hit a new level in his Afghan embeds. He's picking fights and pushing OPSEC much more than he ever did in Iraq. Go back and check his archives.
Not that I don't wish him well and thank him for his efforts. He'll serve us all better if he stays embedded instead of getting tossed out after three or four months in country.
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# RCL 2011-09-05 04:01
Good point. You can't put toothpaste back into the tube. The request is actually pointless.

So why wouldn't Mike just let it go? Isn't it better to stay embedded than pick a fight with the brass? The military is a dense bureaucracy. Every soldier has to put up with BS. To make an issue of this seems silly to me.
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# Richardg 2011-09-05 08:03
I, too, was appalled by the photos of dead and mangled bodies.
And that is as it should be, because that's the reality.
We should all be horrified enough to firm our resolve to get this thing to a point where we can end it with honor.
Thanks for the blunt truths, Michael.
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# matt 2011-09-05 12:12
Except it wasn't a General, it was a PAO with an overinflated ego that decided he didn't like it and thought it would be a good idea to put this general's name on the letter.

Its pretty obvious that you didn't bother to read the comments, if you had you would have seen that MR. Yon had replied with an explanation of what really happened. I'll leave it to you to exercise some common sense and go find the comment.

Go find something useful to do and stop wasting everyone's time here.
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# whamprod 2011-09-05 13:39
Quoting Sarah Rankin:
8) I Just wanted you to know that I appreciate your brave stand ~ Now weapon formed against you will prosper & every tongue that comes against you ~ you will refute. YHWH continue to give you strength & courage to report & write to testify for these Brave Warriors ~ Shalom & Shalom & Shalom ~

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# whamprod 2011-09-05 13:52
Mike didn't "pick a fight with the brass." They picked a fight with him. He stood his ground. Perspective, my friend. Perspective. It is a good thing that he was willing to stand his ground. Why? Because once you knuckle under, you can be expected to knuckle under again anytime someone with an axe to grind gets their panties in a twist—particula rly some martinet of a staff officer. At that point, what value would his embed have any longer? No, Michael did exactly the right thing. Losing his embed and not being able to report the truth anymore would be far better than being allowed to stay and report lies.

Mike, keep on truckin'. I'll keep donating.
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# Jbad04 2011-09-05 14:06
Obviously the ability to construct these devices was already known. Yon's post already cleared opsec- hope you are out of the service because your lack of brains wouldn't qulaify you has a cook in most units.
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# camocowboy777 2011-09-05 17:25
Quoting Zach:
Those pictures would have never passed thru my battalions opsec. Maybe with you gone the opposing force will not have the insider detail they need! :lol:

I know if I was a terrorist you blog would help me out alot. Expesicaly your blog on ieds that can't be picked up by metal detectors.

I know that if I were a terrorist, the picture of my buddy Mr. Stiffy from the exploding motorcycle might give me pause. The pics of fingerprints and evidence collection might make me wonder about being ID'd and leaving a trail back to my family, etc............ You must be in Supply or Admin Zach. IMO,only a REMF would come with that BS.
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# Ellie 2011-09-05 18:13
Here we go again, the evil Michael Yon. Mike you live rent free in so many blogger's minds. I love it, their obsession with you is just crazy. They all act like libtards foaming at the mouth for that gotcha moment.
Keep up the good work. :-)
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# Tommy Barrios 2011-09-05 21:59
It saddens me that US Military has become a bastion of PC touchy feelie we can't offend anyone horse excrement!

The US military needs to take all that kind of garbage, pile in a incinerator and cremate same!

Stand up for your rights Michael, it's stalwart freedom loving and thinking Americans like you in the forefront of controversy that makes the real difference ;-)
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# Tommy Barrios 2011-09-05 22:16
What loony battalion are you in anyway, if any at all?

This is NOT an OPSEC issue in any form or fashion!

I think there are way too many armchair commandos out there spending way too much time on Call of Duty and then watching the Obomination Nation on MSNBC, obviously not in the real world!!
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# Tommy Barrios 2011-09-05 22:23
Zach needs his sack handed to him by a murdering muzzie radical;-)

Maybe then he might think twice about making ignorant remarks that side the enemies position propaganda!

Being nice to these people will only make you look weak and eventually get you killed, captured and tortured, or both!
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# Darren 2011-09-05 22:25

Its a large enough mess without the dirty washing. If some less than General started this and in fact no general did so, the sensationalist thing needs pulling. It just makes it look there are problems when there arn't or at least are more minor than anything else.

I presume the way has been cleared and the problem resolved. The damaging PR post doesn't need to stay.
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# Tommy Barrios 2011-09-05 22:34
He's got a chip on his shoulder and he pushes the OPSEC envelope repeatedly. His work now days is a shadow of Gates of Fire or his great work during The Surge.
You wouldn't know OPSEC if it hit you up side the head!

Everyone keeps throwing around this OPSEC acronym like they know what it means, when in reality most of them don't have clue.

Beginning to sound like a bunch Demoncrats trying to define what the meaning of "is", is!
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# Tommy Barrios 2011-09-05 22:43
A PAO from Berezerkley or the University of Communist Lost Angles, or the Columbia Collective!

Just remember, most PAO's are certified knee pad wearing butt kissers extraordinaire!

Consider the source when dealing with these sycophants of Edward Bearnaise!
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# Tommy Barrios 2011-09-05 22:48
All fathers should have sons like you young man ;-)


All sons should have fathers like yours;-)
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-1 # Tommy Barrios 2011-09-05 23:06
Are you a sympathizer of murdering Muslims?

Who gives two cents what these ignorant brainwashed Muslim morons think or some sniveling sympathetic pinhead bureaucrat in the DC Beltway!

You're beginning to sound like a brainwashed sycophant of the MGMSM and Al Jizzerator!
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# Deidre 2011-09-05 23:26
Glad this threat was lifted. Absolutely could see nothing wrong with the dispatch. Can't imagine any military would be squeamish re showing dead bodies. Must have been the written copy for some unknown reason. If it were the dead bodies being shown, good grief, what 9 year old girlie thinking.
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# Jason Cato 2011-09-06 00:11
The update is in the comments here... Scroll up. It even starts with the word update. Hit Ctrl-F to open the find window, and type in update. Do that from the top of the page and it'll take you right to it.
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# Jason Cato 2011-09-06 00:16
Why should Michael let it go? Some jack-a$$ PAO tried to make him retract a dispatch by invoking a General's name. This was done to in an attempt to strong-arm Michael into complying. I hope this General invokes some foot-to-a$$ for the PAO.
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-1 # Jason Cato 2011-09-06 00:18
Please refrain from calling the left wing liberals libtards. Or even liberals for that matter. I hate for the word liberty to be associated with those Moon-Bats. (The term of choice.)
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# Paul Hoglund 2011-09-06 18:50
Keep up the great work! Don't be afraid to show the dead. War produces dead people, people of all kinds. 'Their people', 'our people, people just caught in the middle. Americans NEED to understand what war means! They can't understand that with numbers and charts. The truth is the vast majority of Americans never see your posts...which is a shame. Most of those that do read your work are actually INTERESTED in the TRUTH...and the truth is this war produces burned bodies, bodies with holes in them and bodies missing parts. (Not to mention the survivors and their families who must deal with the pain of such truths)

Support the war or don't support the war, just follow your conscience, but take the time to get a perspective from the ground. A perspective of a man willing to tell the truth as he sees it. Read and support Michael Yon!
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# Julian 2011-09-06 21:23
The Richard Vigilante Book company is still charging people's credit card accounts for Michael Yon books and sending them empty boxes; they refuse to reply to emails, letters or calls. It is obvious that they are a scam, the only question is, does Michael Yon cooperate with these thieves?

I have sent Michael Yon support money before but unless he does something about his book sellers stealing hard earned money from HIS supporters, I will write him off - and how could I ever believe anything else he said? No way.
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# Julian 2011-09-07 05:36
To Michael and anyone else who happens across this - the MOST amazing thing happened within the last hour or two. The incredible Ms. Kraft, one of Michael's tireless volunteers, contacted me and she and Rich Ganey are going the extra mile to get the book on its way to me.

Although the Vigilante company remains, imho, an association which he could do without, the fact that Michael himself took the time to contact his people and have them contact me, speaks of a sincere and heartfelt desire to do the right thing. It not only restores my faith in the man and the mission, but also shows me that high-caliber men tend to have high-caliber staff and volunteers. So I send a snappy salute and a hearty 'thank you' to Michael Yon, Ms. Kraft and Mr. Ganey. If anyone reading this has any problem getting a book from the dullards at Vigilante, please go to the real source, and these people will take care of you.
Signing off and popping smoke -
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# Karen Kraft 2011-09-07 06:14
Dear Mr. Harper,

Thank you for the personal email exchange we had earlier. I appreciate your kind words and your continued support of Michael. And I know Michael does as well.

Julian, I can only imagine your frustration at having received an empty box when you were expecting a copy of "Inferno," and then not hearing from the publisher when you wrote about the delivery problem. That is not right. I can assure you that all parties behind the scenes are working to correct this book fulfillment problem.

I know personally that Michael cares very much that the people who support him are treated right. So thank you, Julian, for raising the red flag to us so we can correct your book situation asap.

If any other of Michael's supporters have had any book issues, please contact me at . I promise we will respond.

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# Alex Doiron 2011-09-08 17:09
It has been a while since I read through it but I believe there is a Geneva convention prohibition against displaying photographs of the enemy's dead. As an embeded reporter the US army may believe that the geneva convention applies to you and thus you are prohibited from displaying those photographs. I have no way of knowing what the General is thinking but the above is a posibility.
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