“Morgan Jones'” Three Unverifiable Claims Covered Up His Own Failures

As Michael Calderone reports, 60 Minutes has finally conceded they got hoodwinked by “Morgan Jones” AKA “Dylan Davies.”

I’ve heard no related concession from Dick Cheney propagandist Mary Matalin that her Simon & Schuster imprint, Threshold, published a fabrication, “Jones'” book. Until we learn how that happened — which surely drove some of the credibility 60 Minutes accorded a guy working under a pseudonym for obviously nonsensical reasons (his other name, Dylan Davies, had already been published, at a time much closer to the attack) — I think it worth examining what story he chose to tell.

The 60 Minutes platform gave “Jones” the opportunity to make 3 claims that, as delivered, were unverifiable (because there were no witnesses).

2 of them conflict with the incident report that has been his undoing. In the first — and the one that has attracted all the attention — “Jones” claimed he had heroically entered the compound and bashed some guy’s face in (but not shot him).

Not long afterwards, Morgan Jones scaled the 12-foot high wall of the compound that was still overrun with al Qaeda fighters.

Morgan Jones: One guy saw me. He just shouted. I couldn’t believe that he’d seen me ’cause it was so dark. He started walking towards me.

Lara Logan: And as he was coming closer?

Morgan Jones: As I got closer, I just hit him with the butt of the rifle in the face.

Lara Logan: And?

Morgan Jones: Oh, he went down, yeah.

Lara Logan: He dropped?

Morgan Jones: Yeah, like– like a stone.

Lara Logan: With his face smashed in?

Morgan Jones: Yeah.

Lara Logan: And no one saw you do it?

Morgan Jones: No.

Lara Logan: Or heard it?

Morgan Jones: No, there was too much noise.

The incident report says that “Jones” tried to drive to the compound but upon hitting Ansar al-Sharia roadblocks, his driver judged they’d be killed if they tried to get closer, so they turned back. They were gone from “Jones'” villa for no more than an hour total.

But what’s remarkable about this heroic scene is the designed unverifiability of it. Had “Jones” claimed to have shot a man, there’d be bullets missing from his gun, a dead body. Instead, he bashed the guy’s face in, which is not only more exciting, but also has the advantage of being quieter. No witness to see or hear the event.

I’m far more interested in “Jones'” claim to have gone to the hospital (guarded by the same militia whose roadblocks convinced “Jones” to turn back from the compound) to see Chris Stevens’ dead body. The incident report says, instead, that one of his guards had gone to the hospital to check after one of the guards who had been shot and while there had seen and photographed the Ambassador, and learned he had still been alive when brought to the hospital by Libyan men but then died. Crucially, “Jones'” incident report claims he didn’t tell his own Managing Director that night about Stevens (at least about Stevens’ passing, but possibly even about his being brought to the hospital).

I kept quiet about the Ambassadors [sic] death as I knew there would be huge repercussions.

Compare that with what he told 60 Minutes.

Morgan Jones: I was dreading seeing who it was, you know? It didn’t take long to get to the room. And I could see in through the glass. And I didn’t even have to go into the room to see who it was. I knew who it was immediately.

Lara Logan: Who was it?

Morgan Jones: It was the ambassador, dead. Yeah, shocking.

Morgan Jones said he’d never felt so angry in his life. Only hours earlier, Amb. Chris Stevens had sought him out, concerned about the security at the U.S. Special Mission Compound where Morgan was in charge of the Libyan guard force.

The story was nonsensical in any case, because if an American employed contractor had seen the Ambassador’s body in a hospital controlled by a hostile militia, you might thing he’d claim custody of the body.

But the story does serve to let “Jones” claim that he had just spoken about security with Stevens.

Read more

Our (We) Working Class Pundits

Digby has a righteous rant about a discussion between Wolf Blitzer, Mary Matalin, and Paul Begala in which they revealed their utter divorce from the reality lived by most Americans as they discuss whether the $172,000 Robert Gibbs made as Press Secretary was a sacrifice. Here’s a taste:

According to these guys [Robert Gibbs’] job is right up there with curing cancer for sheer importance to the future of mankind.

Look, you can’t blame these two. They are both glugging from the same taxpayer trough half the time and have a big investment in believing that what they do is so special and so unique that they are just a little bit better than lesser people who toil at less exalted labor.

And evidently, they truly believe regular people don’t eat lunch at their desks and work long hours and have huge responsibilities. Or if they do, they are in very important jobs like media and investment banking where people are paid what they are “worth.”

You ought to read the whole thing.

I just wanted to add two things.

First, in the discussion, Matalin argues that, when you work at the White House “you really do work three shifts a day. You work 24 hours a day.” In response to which Begala elaborates,

The President’s trying to make a point here — he’s not trying to say that 172 thousand dollars a year is not a good paycheck. But compared to what the guy could be making… And, as Mary points out, if it’s a hourly wage, then Gibbs is probably making about fifty cents an hour. [my emphasis]

If Gibbs’ $172,000 annual salary were broken down into hourly salary, Begala says, with the assumption that he was working 24 hours a day 365 days a year,  then his hourly wage “is probably … about fifty cents an hour.”


There are 8,760 hours in a 24/7 year. Gibbs’ $172,000 salary for those 8,760 hours would work out to be $19.63 an hour. For someone working 40 hours a week, 50 weeks a year, that works out to be a yearly salary of $39,260. Which for household salaries–not individuals–falls in the middle quintile of yearly income in this country, and less than $3,000 less than what Wolf says is the “mean” salary in this country (he actually means “median” and he may be using just full time workers).

Gibbs needs a break, Obama says, and Begala and Matalin agree, because even assuming he’s been working 24/7, he’s been working as hard for the same money as half the country. So we should feel sorry for him.

Read more

Dick Asks Obama to Wave His Magic Wand

During the week that Dick Cheney ordered Libby to out Valerie Plame, Mary Matalin told Libby that "Bush" should order everything on the Wilsons declassified (it’s not clear whether Matalin meant this to include Plame’s identity or not). She said "the President should wave his magic wand" to declassify the oppo on the Wilsons. (She said this in the same conversation, IIRC, in which she called Joe Wilson a snake.)

I thought of that today when I read Cheney’s latest attempt to pressure Obama to declassify his propaganda on torture. (h/t Bob Fertik)

I saw that information as vice president, and I reviewed some of it again at the National Archives last month. I’ve formally asked that it be declassified so the American people can see the intelligence we obtained, the things we learned, and the consequences for national security. And as you may have heard, last week that request was formally rejected.

It’s worth recalling that ultimate power of declassification belongs to the President himself. President Obama has used his declassification power to reveal what happened in the interrogation of terrorists. Now let him use that same power to show Americans what did not happen, thanks to the good work of our intelligence officials.

C’mon, Obama, wave that magic wand, Dick appears to be begging. A wonder, huh, that he’s resorting to selective declassification again to try to win a political argument.

Selective declassification, that is, and a selective memory. Central to Cheney’s narrative, you see, is that Obama "used his declassification power to reveal what happened in the interrogation of terrorists." Now, to be fair, Obama did participate in discussions of whether or not to release those documents. But ACLU didn’t get the documents from Obama or the White House. It got them from DOJ, the originator of the memos.Those memos got handed over in the same way any routine successful FOIA request would  (even if this did end up being a non-routine FOIA request). 

I guess in Dick Cheney’s little mind, it always has to be about the executive waving his magic wand.

Update: Ah jeebus. As if working from a script, Fox’s Major Garrett rushed off to the press conference and started waving Dick’s magic wand for him.

Q A follow-up on Mark’s question, does the President agree or disagree with the Vice President’s contention that he has the authority to declassify the CIA memos? Does he agree with that?

Read more