Friday, November 28th, 2014

E-mail targets Obama's Afghan stop

SUMMARY: Here's a shocker: Another chain e-mail proves inaccurate. This time, it's an American soldier slamming Obama's visit to Bagram Air Base.

Just after Sen. Barack Obama visited Afghanistan during his recent trip abroad, a scathing e-mail from a captain at Bagram Air Base spread virus-style, infecting blogs and inboxes across the country.

"As you know I am not a very political person," the attack begins. "I just wanted to pass along that Senator Obama came to Bagram Afghanistan for about an hour on his visit to 'The War Zone'. I wanted to share with you what happened."

What happened, according to the author — who is reportedly a Utah Army National Guard intelligence officer — is that Obama went straight from his plane to a bulletproof vehicle, then to a meeting with a general, ignoring a line of soldiers waiting to shake his hand.

Afterward, Obama went to the Clamshell, a recreation tent, so photographers could take pictures of him playing basketball, the e-mail says. "He again shunned the opportunity to talk to Soldiers to thank them for their service," the author wrote.

"I just don't understand how anyone would want him to be our Commander-and-Chief," the self-described apolitical officer says. "It was almost that he was scared to be around those that provide the freedom for him and our great country."

For good measure, he adds: "What you see in the news is all fake." ( Read the entire chain e-mail here. )

What about what you see in your inbox?

We've examined chain e-mails in depth , and found a great many contain falsehoods. This is unexceptional in that regard.

Obama and the two senators with him did not brush off the troops, said Capt. Christian Patterson, a spokesman for the Army's Combined Joint Task Force-101 (CJTF, in Pentagon speak) at Bagram Air Field.

"There were three members of the congressional delegation and they did stop and take time to shake hands with service members here," Patterson said.

In fact, briefings "were delayed as the senators took time to shake hands, speak to troops, and pose for photographs," said a press release issued by the Army.

And that bit about blowing off the troops for photo ops on the basketball court? "Sen. Obama did not go to the 'Clamshell' recreational tent or play basketball during his stop here," the press release says. (Obama played basketball with troops at a prior stop in Kuwait.)

"His itinerary was set by CJTF-101 prior to the visit," the press release continues. "While CJTF-101 cannot say if this blog is authentic, the comments in it are inappropriate and factually incorrect."

We were unable to speak directly with the e-mail's author, identified in most versions of the e-mail and in published accounts as Capt. Jeffrey S. Porter of the 142nd Military Intelligence Battalion. Patterson said military policy prohibited him from saying whether or not a Jeffrey Porter was serving at Bagram.

The Army Times reported that it corresponded with Porter, who asked them to "delete my e-mail and not forward it [because] after checking my sources some of the information that was put out in my e-mail was wrong. This e-mail was meant only for my family." The New York Daily News reported a similar exchange but did not identify the e-mail author by name.

But because the military directly and unequivocally contradicted the most damaging allegations at issue — that Obama shunned troops on various occasions, including on his way to a photo opportunity on the basketball court — we rule this claim False.