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July 20, 2007
Who is TNR's mysterious author 'Scott Thomas'? (Updated)
The New Republic is running a sensational pseudonymously-authored article entitled Shock Troops, which TNR claims is written by a soldier currently serving in Iraq. The article provides candid portrayals of rough and ugly humor among the troops and hinges on the premise that those who have no experience with the military will believe that the "dehumanizing" aspects of the war have turned our young men and woman into barbarians parading around with a child's skull for a cap and insulting the war-wounded for their deformities. Many of us who do have experience with the military believe that these stories sound faked.
Thus a call has risen to identify who this person is, in order to determine if the claims are legitimate. The writer uses the nom de plume "Scott Thomas". It turns out that there is a plausible candidate for who "Scott Thomas" might be: Clifton Hicks. The evidence is not conclusive, but it is fairly suggestive. Others are welcome to examine it with a fair mind. Hicks must be accorded the benefit of the doubt, of course.
Clifton Hicks is a former army soldier who did serve in Iraq. Hicks has become that most cherished item for the anti-war crowd, a soldier who fulfills their need for first-hand accounts of war atrocities. Hicks was granted conscientious objector status and a release from the Army after receiving administrative punishment for unprofessional conduct. Since then, and especially recently, he has tapped into the anti-war establishment for self-promotion.
The evidence that links these two identities is strong but not conclusive. Clifton Hicks was quoted in a Newsweek article, Probing a Bloodbath, which focused primarily on the "Haditha massacre". Of great interest is the name of the Newsweek reporters: Evan Thomas and Scott Johnson. Keep in mind that our TNR writer took the pseudonym "Scott Thomas". Is this a coincidence?
In the Newsweek article, Hicks states "One guy in my squadron ran over a family with his tank."
"Scott Thomas" writes for TNR:
It seems that both writers focus on stories from Iraq of running over people and things with armored vehicles. Both write in a distinctive soul-searching, near self-loathing and existentialist style. Compare this sample from the TNR piece:
Now from Hicks:
According to TNR "Scott Thomas" is currently serving in Iraq. Hicks was there in 2003 and 2004. But several military members have pointed out that when "Scott Thomas" describes finding a mass grave from the Saddam era it sounds much more like a story from 03-04 than a recent event.
Similarly, "Scott Thomas" writes in another TNR article, War Bonds, about an incident in which he spoke with a child who subsequently had his tongue cut out because "Apparently he had been talking to too many Americans."
While the evidence is not conclusive, the similarities are striking; similar themes, events, writing styles and the apparent play on the reporter's names which could be viewed as a clue from someone who thinks he is just too clever for others to catch his little inside joke - taking the names of the journalists who wrote about him as his "journalist" name.
Anyone familiar with "Scott Thomas" should come forward. Until then, it appears likely that The New Republic has either been had or is scamming the American public with bogus war stories from a discredited soldier. Hicks has stated:
Here Hicks expresses that "we... were happy to have killed" an Iraqi child. His own words!
Ray Robison is proprietor of the eponymous blog, Ray Robison: Pointing Out the Obvious to the Oblivious
Update: Clifton Hicks has denied being Scott Thomas. Read the exchange between him and Ray Robison here.