I Was A Marine Sniper
June 11, 2009 12:42 PM   Subscribe

 
shaky ground here... who the heck is the blogger, how do we have any idea this is legit? and, why was it posted here at MeFi, for the "OMG killing people" factor?
posted by HuronBob at 12:54 PM on June 11, 2009


I've got to say that I don't think this is really worthy of a single link FPP. There are no verifiable details about the interviewer or the interview subject. On top of that, the point seems to be that snipers have been trained by the US Marines to be tough and to be able to shoot people with guns. These snipers have now been deployed to Iraq where they shot people with guns. Is this really discussion worthy or informative?
posted by SeanOfTheHillPeople at 12:58 PM on June 11, 2009


That was my first impression. I mean, I read it - most of it, anyway - and thought to myself several times, "Yeah, I guess I imagine a sniper would probably say that or feel that way, not that I really know" - but seriously, I without any context or anything to lend it legitimacy it'll probably just end in a flame war, as that was seriously a pretty polarizing piece.
posted by kbanas at 12:58 PM on June 11, 2009


Of course, even if it had context or legitimacy, it would still probably end in a flame war, but at least then it would one with merit. Maybe.
posted by kbanas at 12:59 PM on June 11, 2009


I Was NOT a Marine Sniper. Discuss.
posted by joecacti at 1:05 PM on June 11, 2009 [3 favorites]


I don’t judge, I just ask the questions…..and the answers are insane. Enjoy.

Meh.
posted by jquinby at 1:07 PM on June 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


Dick Cheney needs to call the Marine sniper school. They're calling the waterboard simulation the "Water Torture Device". the Dick has clearly told us that waterboarding is not torture, even if our tough as nails Marine snipers can't handle it and say the they've "never freaked out worse" (and that's coming from some one who claims to have been locked in a foot locker for long periods of time).

Ok, end of my derail.
posted by ShadowCrash at 1:09 PM on June 11, 2009


Before a lot of our classes they’d play a couple of gruesome murder videos of people getting their fucking heads cut off, or being gutted alive. Fucked to death with a knife. It made Faces of Death look like Sponge Bob.

Was he telling us about training videos or recommending Death Metal bands?
posted by munchingzombie at 1:12 PM on June 11, 2009 [2 favorites]


He must have been close for that first kill or aiming for the nuts.
posted by NiteMayr at 1:14 PM on June 11, 2009


One of the persons who left a comment on this blog claimed to be Andrew Sullivan, stating that he linked to it on his blog. I double-checked, and sure enough, Sullivan has a link to it.

Doesn't mean it's legit, but I found it interesting that Sullivan got wind of it and linked to it.
posted by lord_wolf at 1:14 PM on June 11, 2009


I saw this via Andrew Sullivan and thought it was dubious, especially as the blogger's other 'undercover interviews' are pretty much identical reads. But then maybe it's just because this blogger's friends are all a-holes.

(The CBC did a report on Canadian snipers who work with US units in Afghanistan; these guys are nothing like the creep in the interview.)
posted by grounded at 1:16 PM on June 11, 2009


> I Was NOT a Marine Sniper. Discuss.

I did not discuss not being a Marine sniper. Discuss.
posted by ardgedee at 1:17 PM on June 11, 2009


Undercover Interview - I was a guy that ate a Five Guys burger

So what did you eat for lunch today? I got a little hamburger from Five Guys with just about everything on it.

That was something your volunteered for or were you forced to eat it I wanted to eat it. I mean, my dad would eat stuff like that but wouldn't talk to me about it, so I grew up wanting to eat double patty hamburgers like that.

I'm a wimpy vegetarian that doesn't know about all these manly terms. What's a patty? It's like the crazy-ass thing where someone blows a cow away and then pulverizes the shit out of it until it's flat. And then they flame the flattened bloody mess. It's pretty intense but you get used to it after you've been in a few fast food places. It sort of desensitizes you.

As a guy trained to eat like this, does that make you see things differently than others? Yeah. I mean, I saw a cow on a Chick-fil-a billboard, and I thought, man, I could eat a part of a cow.

So you ate a Five Guys burger today. What was that like? It was great man. Like, all my life I had been waiting to eat a burger like that, and I'm so elite I even got jalapeno peppers on it. I ordered it and waited for it for five minutes, 'cause I knew it was going to come out, and then I could eat it.

Did that bother you? No, I dug it. I mean, if I wasn't tough, I might worry about my ass burning later, but you just tough it out from training back in college and from going to all you can eat Indian lunch buffets when you're poor.

Would you eat something like that again? Another burger like that? Sign me up! I'm there!
posted by SeanOfTheHillPeople at 1:17 PM on June 11, 2009 [77 favorites]


The other thing is that Marine Snipers look like Mark Wahlberg.
posted by From Bklyn at 1:18 PM on June 11, 2009




i think that i am going to give this link a shot.
posted by the aloha at 1:22 PM on June 11, 2009 [2 favorites]


Read Jarhead instead. Do not watch Jarhead.
posted by Skot at 1:23 PM on June 11, 2009


How can someone, after (x) years of video games and Internet, not know what the fuck an RPG is?
posted by plexi at 1:33 PM on June 11, 2009


I didn't see anything that qualified as "insane" in the answers, or even anything in this that really deviates from what people I know in the armed forces will tell you if you straight up ask. What do people expect a trained sniper to feel when he kills someone?
posted by Nomiconic at 1:34 PM on June 11, 2009


How can someone, after (x) years of video games and Internet, not know what the fuck an RPG is?

Sometimes a journalist needs to dumb down his line of questioning slightly to make sure the answers are clear for the reader. But yeah, if it's for the Internet, it's a safe assumption that the reader knows what a role-playing game is.

A rocket-propelled role-playing game, that is.
posted by explosion at 1:36 PM on June 11, 2009 [7 favorites]


His indifference to life is pretty creepy as is the way he defines his manliness through killing other men.
posted by caddis at 1:37 PM on June 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


How can someone, after (x) years of video games and Internet, not know what the fuck an RPG is?

Yeah I thought shooting someone for having a Role-Playing Game...

on preview - damn you explosion.
posted by multivalent at 1:42 PM on June 11, 2009


I'd like some more information about his handshake agreement with a colonel to be deployed as a team leader, apparently fresh out of sniper school, into a combat zone as a Marine who was "not necessarily under a contract". I've come across a few stories of the difficulties encountered by Soldiers who were trying to change units in order to be deployed. They involved a shit ton of paperwork, mostly done by the men who wanted to deploy, and a lot of begging/ass kissing to get their own units to release them and then to find another deploying unit who needed a Soldier in their specific rank trained in their specific MOS.

I mean if this guy was able to swing it and the paper work was filled out on the sly after he deployed or something like that, OK, way to work the system. But buddy, when you swore the oath your placed yourself under contract.
posted by Science! at 1:46 PM on June 11, 2009


This reads like someone watched a few movies and read a few books and has a cousin in the Marines pretending to be a sniper, frankly.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 1:48 PM on June 11, 2009 [10 favorites]


I'm all for special units and snipers in the military,they need them, but I worry that these snipers could snap and kill Americans here at home. Seriously, after training like that, what safe guards do the Military have in place to keep that from happening. As far as I know, they aren't the best when it comes to mental help issues.
posted by QueerAngel28 at 1:50 PM on June 11, 2009


Yeah, this certainly feels fake, but then again it's certainly possible that it's true (even if the website sets off the sketch bells in my head).

Not every soldier feels something when they kill someone. It's not a crime, and it's most certainly useful in the military (though it may not work so hot when they get back, when it can *become* a crime).

This particular sniper didn't feel anything. I know people who went to Iraq four times and didn't feel anything. I also know people who went to Iraq twice and left the military to get out of that cycle because they stopped sleeping and stopped living.

You cannot judge all snipers--or all members of the military--based on this guy (and this sketchy, sketchy interview) because people live on a continuum. To think that all soldiers feel remorse when they kill is naive; sometimes they are psychopaths, sometimes they just compartmentalize really well.

This interview, which is way too fixated on the 'wow, so creepy!' factor, doesn't delve into the guy's reasoning. And that is a shame, because he will be demonized for something he may not have adequately explained.
posted by librarylis at 1:52 PM on June 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


No, you weren't a Marine Sniper. You're a bullshit artist who plays video games.

I'm sorry, but I'm having a really hard time believing any of this. I've met a couple people who wanted to serve over in Iraq because they wanted to go "kill people" and both of them were denied by the armed services. It may be that after training you are desensitized to killing, but if you sign up thinking you're going to blow some people away, you're more of a liability than an asset. You're a loose cannon.

Also, I don't see anything about wind direction or velocity, or specific makes of guns, or how waiting for hours for your target makes you cramp up, or any details that DON'T sound like a videogame. And do snipers really sit holding their guns up? I thought they used gun stands, or sandbags or, hell, a bag of beans to keep the gun lined up. Only in videogames are you holding the controller like it's a gun if you're sniping.

I don't know, I just think this guy sounds too much like someone who WANTS To be a sniper because he thinks it sounds cool, not a professional anything.
posted by misha at 1:54 PM on June 11, 2009 [3 favorites]


Marine Sniper: 93 Confirmed Kills

Impressive, but that's still a long way off from the White Death.

It seems to be that snipers are best modern risk for creating war dogs. The nature of the job:
a) Gives the soldier a great deal of personal authority. They operate unguided and are expected to make executive decisions in the field.
b) Requires a soldier to be completely aware of the political and social context in which they're working, to support a).
c) Requires them to kill dispassionately and of of their own initiative, without hesitation due to empathy fuelled by b).

It seems to me that a soldier that does all three very well is a pretty scary individual.
posted by CaseyB at 2:05 PM on June 11, 2009 [3 favorites]


My partner wanted to shoot the guy, and I was like “hold on, hold on”. This guy looks legit…because everyone out there looks the same. They (the terrorists) don’t wear uniforms or anything like that. I had a feeling, and I didn’t want to shoot this guy for no fucking reason. Turns out that the guy had got a flat tire. Once we got the spotting scope out we were able to look in detail. The guy just happened to get a flat tire right where he shouldn’t have.

Asst. Sniper: Dude take the shots, blow him in his fucking hadji nuts man, just take the fucking shot. I want to see that dude get blown.
Sniper: Don't be an asshole what if he's just fucking around, got a bum tire you can't call fucking trip-A out here, this is fucking Iraq.
Asst. Sniper: I know but I want to get the kill man, I want to level up. I came out to Iraq for two fucking reasons: assistant kills, and achievements.
Sniper: Dude, I love killing as much as the next guy, I love blood, I love seeing their bodies just blow the fuck open, but if he's really changing a tire our score will go down by one. It sucks, fuck I know, it sucks.
Asst. Sniper: He's just changing a tire, shit, you're right. Next Big Team Battle we'll win for sure.
Sniper: I know, I mean I would have loved to blow him wide open man, but fuck, gotta keep my gamerscore up.
posted by geoff. at 2:07 PM on June 11, 2009 [6 favorites]


His indifference to life is pretty creepy as is the way he defines his manliness through killing other men.

Well, yes and no. "If he shot that rocket across that river and shot one of my friends that had a wife and kids, that’s what matters to me." This does not sound indifferent to life to me. It sounds like his motivation for killing people is the belief that those he kills are valid threats to him and people he cares about. That sounds reasonable to me, I guess?

As for the manliness thing, it's extremely common in military families. It's sad but doesn't read to me as super creepy.

That's all contingent on any of this being true, which is certainly worth debating because on second reading, it's sounding more and more forced.
posted by Nomiconic at 2:09 PM on June 11, 2009


How far away can you shoot somebody right between the eyes?

These are exactly the same kinds of questions I'd ask a sniper.

If I was 13 years old.

Even if it is legit, the whole war porn angle is off-putting.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 2:16 PM on June 11, 2009


According to this (in my opinion, much better article, Marine snipers are enlisted men:

Officers credit the snipers, all enlisted men, with saving Marine lives by suppressing enemy fire and allowing their comrades greater freedom of movement. ''The snipers clear the streets," Captain Douglas Zembiec said. ''The snipers are true heroes."

Also, the training school is in Hawaii, and operates twice a year. Not sure about a school in Japan, as the FPP refers to.

He also mentions how, if there are two of them together, there's this 50/50 balance where one is on and one is off (his iPod story). Actually, snipers always work in pairs, and they are both on, one serving as spotter and one as sniper the entire time. via
posted by misha at 2:16 PM on June 11, 2009 [3 favorites]


Read Jarhead instead. Do not watch Jarhead.

Why not watch it? I've seen it a couple times and it was pretty good I thought. Do you mean for factual reasons?
posted by CaptKyle at 2:16 PM on June 11, 2009


Also, I don't see anything about wind direction or velocity, or specific makes of guns, or how waiting for hours for your target makes you cramp up, or any details that DON'T sound like a videogame. And do snipers really sit holding their guns up? I thought they used gun stands, or sandbags or, hell, a bag of beans to keep the gun lined up. Only in videogames are you holding the controller like it's a gun if you're sniping.

Yeah, I guess I'm not entirely 100% convinced it's fake, but on the off-chance that it is real, that is one boring-ass dude.

One of my favorite things about mefi and ask.metafilter is how, if you get at exactly what someone does for a living, and they're passionate about their job, they'll give this gigantic fucking answer, filled with technical detail that starts getting slowly away from any jargon you normally encounter, and then they'll like realize that what they're saying is kind of beyond laymen's terms, and pull back a little, and try their best to depict what their day-to-day or their overall career trajectory is like. See, for example, vulnerabilities to worms in Macs and Windows, or I'm studying bird-strikes, or I am a paleoanthrolopogist.

There are all kinds of little details in those links that make me think, when reading them, "Oh! I never would've considered that aspect of that job!" This interview or fake-interview, whatever it was, had none of that. Basically, I could've written it based on stuff I've read about snipers and seen in movies over the years, and I am most definitely not a sniper. If it's real, it's not particularly interesting.
posted by Greg Nog at 2:18 PM on June 11, 2009 [5 favorites]


Slight derail, but I found this simulation of what's really needed to "line up the crosshairs" very interesting.
posted by misha at 2:22 PM on June 11, 2009 [5 favorites]


Who was is that said "the most destructive force in the universe is an 18-year-old American male"?
posted by gottabefunky at 2:29 PM on June 11, 2009


Undercover Interview - I was a guy that ate a Five Guys burger

mefi's own President Obama?!?
posted by inigo2 at 2:30 PM on June 11, 2009


Why not watch it? I've seen it a couple times and it was pretty good I thought. Do you mean for factual reasons?

Naw, I myself simply did not like that movie at all.
posted by Skot at 2:40 PM on June 11, 2009


I worry that these snipers could snap and kill Americans here at home. Seriously, after training like that, what safe guards do the Military have in place to keep that from happening.

I'm more worried that Kate Gosselin could snap and kill Americans here at home.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 2:42 PM on June 11, 2009


Read Jarhead instead. Do not watch Jarhead.
posted by Skot at 1:23 PM on June 11

You mean like...the movie with subtitles?
posted by 29 at 2:44 PM on June 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


Pff .. I call BS ... this one just doesn't smell right ...
posted by aldus_manutius at 2:46 PM on June 11, 2009


If it's fake - then shame on him.

If it's real - Hoo-RAH!!!
posted by winks007 at 2:50 PM on June 11, 2009


Was that the worst part of training?

The worst part for me was when I was doing this training mission in Arizona in these rocky hills in Yuma, and I almost got shot by a Cobra helicopter.

He wasn't a Marine, he was part of G.I. Joe!
posted by P.o.B. at 2:58 PM on June 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


Huge frickin’ 40 millimeter bullets just zipped past me at chest level just an arms length away.

Wouldn't this have killed him anyway? Something to do with the bullet's velocity creating wind shearing forces?
posted by P.o.B. at 3:01 PM on June 11, 2009


I'm curious now what my friend who went through sniper-school thinks about this.
posted by rubah at 3:05 PM on June 11, 2009


Yeah, the more I read the more I think this is BS. The special forces guys and Army Snipers I've met were not even close to what this guy is like. I don't know though.
posted by P.o.B. at 3:08 PM on June 11, 2009


I gave it the benefit of the doubt until the waterboarding bit.

BS-meter went bonkers there.
posted by dopamine at 3:17 PM on June 11, 2009


I'm sorry, but I'm having a really hard time believing any of this. I've met a couple people who wanted to serve over in Iraq because they wanted to go "kill people" and both of them were denied by the armed services.
Well, obviously you wouldn't say that to the recruiter. Also keep in mind that recruiting standards have really fallen. They are recruiting gang members, highschool drop outs and white supremacists. I think if someone said "i want to kill people" but otherwise scanned pretty well they would get in.

Beyond that, I don't know why anyone thinks this is fake. What the hell do you guys know about what it's like being a sniper? I suppose it could be fake, I mean it's just a blog post, we really have no idea.

But the idea that you guys just know what being a sniper is really like and how snipers really feel is a little absurd, especially since you're dismissing as being 'too cliche' I mean, they're cliche's for a reason.
Wouldn't this have killed him anyway? Something to do with the bullet's velocity creating wind shearing forces?
LOL What? That sounds like something a little kid would say.
posted by delmoi at 3:22 PM on June 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


Wouldn't this have killed him anyway? Something to do with the bullet's velocity creating wind shearing forces?

I watched a Mythbusters episode last night where they used a .50 caliber sniper rifle to test the "sonic boom breaks glass" myth -- a bullet passing within 2 inches of a lightbulb (and a wine glass, beer bottle, etc) didn't so much as make it move, let alone blow them to pieces.
posted by Pantengliopoli at 3:27 PM on June 11, 2009 [2 favorites]


They did it wrong. You're supposed to fire the .50 cal bullet from the Concorde.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:30 PM on June 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


...unless the Concorde is on a conveyor belt, in which case it totally won't take off.
posted by misha at 3:32 PM on June 11, 2009 [5 favorites]


LOL What?

LOL what indeed. Guess my info is false on that one. Then again I'm a thirteen year old blogger who likes to fake interview his friends like they're the most baddest ass' of all.
posted by P.o.B. at 3:36 PM on June 11, 2009


Huge frickin’ 40 millimeter bullets just zipped past me at chest level just an arms length away.

Bzzzt.

40mm means a grenade launcher. I'm pretty certain a trained Marine wouldn't refer to the projectiles as "bullets". I'm being charitable by not asking the question "How did you know what size rounds they were" because I can think of a few ways to tell...

I also question the range-safety situation, as well.
posted by Nice Guy Mike at 3:47 PM on June 11, 2009


Huge frickin’ 40 millimeter bullets just zipped past me at chest level just an arms length away.

A 40mm bullet would be huge indeed, if there were such a thing fired from Cobras. I might have bought it without bothering to look it up if he'd said it was an AC-130. Looking it up, current Cobras don't fire grenades though earlier models had a launcher.

Is there even such a thing as a 40mm bullet? I know there are 40mm grenades, but a grenade isn't a bullet. And I know there are 40mm cannon, but wouldn't they fire explosive shells rather than bullets?
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 4:01 PM on June 11, 2009


You're dead on about the 40mm being a grenade. I think the cobra has 20mm or 30mm cannons and some 2.75" (Hellfire, I think) rockets. I served and never saw a 40mm "bullet" also the 40mm grenade (with a point detonated fuse) arms after a few twists from the launcher. Besides a 40mm goes THUMP, not whiz - everybody "knows" that!
posted by winks007 at 4:13 PM on June 11, 2009


To be fair, it's pretty hard to measure bullets in the air.
posted by ODiV at 4:24 PM on June 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


Nonsense.
posted by digsrus at 4:54 PM on June 11, 2009


Everyone I ever met in the Army who said they were a sniper or wanted to be a sniper was a major pain in the ass.

I mean, we're doing a 5km movement-to-contact in Bradleys through the pine woods at Fort Polk, and this guy wants me to drop him off so he can play sniper. Fat chance, pal.
posted by atchafalaya at 5:05 PM on June 11, 2009


Cobras have a 20 mm cannon, the Apache a 30mm cannon.
posted by cardboard at 5:13 PM on June 11, 2009


I've got a sniper story of my own. Here it is.

I was part of the invasion of Grenada in the fall of 1983. It was chaos when I landed at Point Salines, and took a day for my unit to get stuff together and find a place to erect our gigantic 250-foot antenna, in order to create Radio Free Grenada, and psyops the island population into loving Reagan and Americans. (That was secret, that we were a psyops unit operating the radio station.)

Anyway, sometime in the first few days, a bunch of us were sent on patrols. I kinda hung to the back and went my own way, alone, heading over some hills toward the airport. As I reached the top of a small hill, I heard shots, and I saw a Cuban sniper on a hill between me and the airport, shooting at the airport. He was facing away from me, and his hilltop was slightly lower than my hilltop, maybe 150-200 meters away.

Before making any quick judgments, I assessed the situation. He wasn't shooting at PEOPLE, from what I could tell, just equipment, as the people had all taken cover. So it didn't really look like lives were hanging in the balance. He was also facing away from me, and he would have been such an easy shot that I would have felt guilty blowing him away from behind, when he wasn't really doing much harm.

Another thing that made me hesitate on blowing him away was that a day or two before, I had scavenged a Cuban wall-locker to throw in my tent and keep my shit from floating out the tent every morning after a big rain. Inside the wall locker I found a note, written in a child's scrawl, in Spanish, saying something along the lines of, 'Merry Christmas, Daddy! I miss you! Come home soon!" It was this note, more than anything else, that made me hesitate to shoot the Cuban sniper in the back. Because all the dehumanizing work the Army does to soldiers crumbled right then and there -- these weren't inhuman monsters out to conquer the Carribbean; they were people, just like me, and just like you.

Nevertheless, with that Cuban child's message to his father ringing in my mind, I steeled myself to take the guy out. But at just that moment I heard the rotor roar of a helicopter, and as we had air supremacy, I knew it was ours. Sure enough, a helicopter had spotted the sniper and he zipped over a couple of hills and, before I could do much but gape in awe, the copter launched a couple of rockets (Hellfires? I dunno), then there was a huge explosion where the sniper had been, and then I saw a leg go flying one way and most of the torso go flying another way, and that was that.

The dehumanization training, what little of it had ever stuck with me, had been blown away by that child's message, forever. I was never again able to dehumanize my enemies, and cannot do so to this day.

And that's my sniper experience.
posted by jamstigator at 5:31 PM on June 11, 2009 [36 favorites]


"I had bloody knees and hands from falling. It was just a fucking nightmare mission."

Holy shit. This guy would piss himself if I took pot shots in his general direction with a .22.

Jeez.
posted by snsranch at 5:34 PM on June 11, 2009


I don't know Jamstigator, that doesn't sound like any Call of Duty game I ever played
posted by tylerfulltilt at 5:37 PM on June 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


I woke just on daybreak, rested. No-one trained me to sleep properly,
I'm just a natural I guess. The curtains were closed and from the prone position I had no way to gauge conditions, no goddamned way to know what was in store. I regulated my breathing, rolled on my side. And had a quick wank.

I'm a wanker. And I'm damn good.
posted by Gamien Boffenburg at 5:57 PM on June 11, 2009 [2 favorites]


I'd like to hear from anyone with a medical background about whether this guy's "E.R. Nurse" undercover interviews sound like they could possibly be for real.
posted by Kirklander at 6:21 PM on June 11, 2009


I can't speak for the BS-probability of the ER nurse one, but the sniper interview doesn't set off any alarms for me and sounds pretty similar to many snipers that I've talked to.
posted by glider at 7:14 PM on June 11, 2009


Anyone care to hear a REAL friendly fire story? I have a good funny one, but it kinda disses Canadians.
posted by snsranch at 7:36 PM on June 11, 2009


"At this point she’s already dead, so they’re like fuck it. The ER doctor gets a scalpel and cuts the girls stomach open in plain view of the ER. The doctor cuts her stomach open, pulls out the baby, dumps it onto the the gurney next to the dead girl, and we’re trying to do CPR on the baby. That was pretty gnarly…the girls neck was long and broken from hanging herself. I almost threw up that time…what got me was the doctor just straight up said “fuck it”,cut the stomach open, and pulled out the baby by the legs."
I think I've got it. Here's the trick: Imagine all these interviews being read by Quentin Tarantino.
posted by Liver at 8:24 PM on June 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


From the link:
"...while giving you classes on ballistics, on stocking, on different traits you need to have as a sniper..."

I'm certain that word is supposed to be "stalking."

That actually makes me think the interview is legit; someone with enough knowledge to fake the whole thing wouldn't get that wrong during transcription. At the very least, the person who transcribed it was not the person speaking.

Anyway, after reading the whole thing, I don't see anything in there that screams "fake." Exaggeration, maybe, particularly the being-shot-at-in-training stuff, but the general tone doesn't seem like a stretch. I probably know a dozen people that could have given that exact interview, minus the sniper-specific parts, after a couple of beers.

And of course he wouldn't say "I want to go to Iraq and kill people" to a recruiter. I'm sure he probably has a totally rehearsed explanation for that very question, or maybe multiple answers; one patriotic version, one personal-challenge version, one practical version ("they'll give me a lot of money for college/grad school/whatever"), etc. My guess is that because the interviewer was either a personal friend, or someone he just didn't feel threatened by in any way, he didn't bullshit around.

Of course, "I want to kill people" might not be the complete truth either; it's probably a bit too simple. It might just be the answer that he gives to other guys when he wants to make them shit their pants a little. My guess is that, insofar as you can really figure out the 'real' reason why someone does something, it's probably some combination of a lot of reasons. It might be one reason one day and another reason another. So it might not even be fair to say that any of the reasons are lies; when he's talking to his parents he might honestly believe he's going over there for one thing, and when he's chilling with his buddies, it's completely different. People are funny like that.
posted by Kadin2048 at 9:17 PM on June 11, 2009 [1 favorite]


They had kick-ass gear, and they were wearing Gilly suits which are the bush looking suits that you wear to hide.

Those would be "Ghillie suits".
posted by gen at 10:17 PM on June 11, 2009


You lead a charmed life, Leftenant...
posted by Sutekh at 12:03 AM on June 12, 2009


The answers to the questions are pretty obvious and to the point. The "marine" only delivers the emotion the questions ask for. Normal people wander around with their answers, even marines. The man has no personality beyond wanting to shoot people. He has no opinions on his friends, the political issues, nor an enthusiasm for technical merit or leadership. Heck he answers in Yes/No format, military people may be straight to the point, but they don't feel the need to confirm or deny every question. He's a cardboard cutout imo.

His understanding of signaling a helicopter involves only a strobe, the very same helicopter that shot a nonexistent bullet over his head. You'd think he'd understand more about a process that nearly got himself killed. He felt the 'concussion of the guns going off'. Does he mean the bullets that hit the ground next to him or maybe the Cobra was close enough that he felt those guns firing? Makes no sense.

His job is Scout Sniper, team leader. Wouldn't that involve a rank of some kind and designation as 'team leader'? Besides that someone in the army probably knows what rank he's referring to right now and they could track him down, with work. So he would/should probably say he was nothing more than 'a sniper' to prevent that happening, rather than what he said. Sounds pretty sloppy to me. On and on it goes.

Last but not least, he's posted about this thread on his blog, addressing the questions of his legitimacy with the idea that we should just trust or it'll ruin the fun. Hehe. Sure is fun alright. He touches on three points
-he's not gonna reveal the guy
-keeping the guy anonymous is part of the fun
-the secret guy gets to be totally honest.
Sounds like something I would say when I'm lieing. Particularly because he & I know
-he can't reveal the guy
-it is fun for him atm
and he's being "totally honest".

The blog itself has no more history than being his personal ramblings. It's Faaake on my watch. If I'm wrong i'll eat my hat. Heck I'll eat all my hats and my scarf.
posted by Submiqent at 1:51 AM on June 12, 2009


I wonder about people in the sniper's frame of mind when they come back to civilian life and problems aren't solved at 1000 yards.

Interviewer - "What do you feel when you kill somebody?"
Sniper - "Recoil."

posted by Enron Hubbard at 6:31 AM on June 12, 2009


I've never met a combat-experienced pro sniper or scout who sounded so juvenile in regard to his work. And why is he wearing his grandfather's ring?

Just sayin'.
posted by zennie at 6:44 AM on June 12, 2009


I was listening to Wilco

Which of their albums best accompanies blasting fucking guys with fucking AKs, I wonder?

Probably A Ghost is Born.
posted by total warfare frown at 7:55 AM on June 12, 2009


This reads to me like a real interview with a real sniper whose feelings about and characterizations of what he was trained to do and subsequently did are themselves fundamentally media-determined and "fake." Which I think is why so many people here are keying on how similar it is to other war-porn stories. Of course it is. That's the only frame the subject has to understand what he did.

It reminds me of what David Wallace wrote in “How Tracy Austin Broke My Heart” about how fundamentally disappointing sports memoirs always are. That when you get down to it, the training that is required to be a top athlete (or in this case, a Marine sniper) itself prevents you from understanding your own performance in any analytical way. So the athlete, or sniper, falls back on cliche ("I thank God for all my success" / "Killing people is no big deal") as the only way they have to express what the truly "feel" about what they do. Wallace concludes that what they ultimately feel about what they do is probably nothing at all. That analyzing it is incommensurable with doing it -- if you can think analytically about returning a 90 mph serve or shooting someone in the left ear at a thousand yards, you probably can't do it.
posted by rusty at 9:33 AM on June 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


Again, though, rusty, in addition to the simplistic, "I felt fine killing people, that's all I want to do," attitude, there's no tactical insight, no technological knowledge, no professional jargon--in short, nothing that sets this apart to me as a professional talking about what it's really like on the job. Add to that the bullets vs grenades error many have noticed and it just smells fishy.
posted by misha at 10:46 AM on June 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


misha: yeah maybe. To be honest, taking it as legit permits me to make the post above, which I totally do think is an interesting and valid point, even if this interview is BS. I would just have to find different evidence to support it. Such as for example:

Since posting, I've actually been pondering this a little more, and thinking of Tracey Kidder's My Detachment as the ideal obverse of my point above. The book is Kidder's memoir about his Vietnam war service, and boils down mostly to the ways in which he was not very good at being a soldier. He is, however, extremely good at analyzing why he was not good at soldiering, and the gist of it is encapsulated right there in the two words of the title: My Detachment. His "detachment" is literally his unit in Vietnam, of course, but the book's major overriding theme is Kidder's personal detachment from all the movements and ideologies of that time in his life, both anti-war and pro-war, his sense of detachment from his family, eventually even his detachment from any feeling of cohesion with his Detachment. Its this detachment that makes him both an extremely reluctant and mediocre soldier, and a great writer about what it's like to be a mediocre soldier.

Wallace himself also amply points up the analysis vs. performance divide in his own writing about what it's like to be a near-great tennis player and to know you will never be a great tennis player, and to suspect that fundamentally you will never be a great tennis player simply because you are too capable of imagining yourself not being a great tennis player.
posted by rusty at 11:34 AM on June 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


...and just at that moment I knew what I had done, which was to post the perfect MetaFilter comment, and I just gave thanks to God and thought that this is probably the happiest moment of my life so far, and I wa so grateful to all the people, my family, and my trainers, and God, who had helped me to get this far.
posted by rusty at 11:35 AM on June 12, 2009 [3 favorites]


If the post is false, the debate over it's integrity has done more to further the cause of its author than the post could have by itself (But, that could have been the point too... O.o)

If the post is true, and it would not shock me if it was, than I think that it is no different from giving anyone the opportunity to throw down some shock value into their life experiences.

I am certain you could find a plumber who would love to go on and on about the THRILL of looking through medicine cabinets and making sandwiches from your fridge. Although the analogy falls apart rapidly, I am just saying that if you're asked about the shocking and thrilling parts of your job your more likely to embellish them, especially if it is expected.
posted by llacness at 12:26 PM on June 12, 2009


His indifference to life is pretty creepy as is the way he defines his manliness through killing other men.

In a sane world yes, but 'round here, it's just par for the course.

I also find this blog post quite dubious
posted by IvoShandor at 11:23 PM on June 14, 2009


There's a lot of fish here. They may pick psychos for marine snipers but they don't
pick idiots.

"They found a unit that needed sniper team leaders, and they let me go over to Iraq with the unit, but not necessarily under a contract. Just sort of like a handshake with the colonel."

People don't go to Iraq on a handshake with a colonel, particularly someone clearly dumb enough to tell someone he thought was a reporter about it.
posted by Blasdelb at 10:50 AM on June 22, 2009


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