ARLINGTON, Va. — Debunking the claims of a minor Internet celebrity, the Army said it has no record of a man who claimed he committed atrocities with Army Rangers in Iraq.
In an interview posted on the Web site SocialistAlternative.org, Jesse MacBeth claimed that his job was to “strike fear in the hearts of the Iraqi people” while serving with the 3rd Ranger Battalion.
“We would go into people’s houses and plow down entire families,” MacBeth said. “We would interrogate people. If we didn’t like the answers that they gave, then we would kill the youngest child. If they gave more answers that we didn’t like, then we’d move on to the rest of the family. They could’ve been innocent people.”
MacBeth also claimed U.S. troops would “slaughter” Iraqis in mosques.
But U.S. Army Special Operations Command at Fort Bragg found no evidence of a soldier named Jesse MacBeth ever serving with Army Rangers or Special Forces, said Army spokesman Paul Boyce.
Boyce also noted several red flags about MacBeth’s appearance.
“There are also numerous wear and appearance issues with the soldier’s uniform — a mix of foreign uniforms with the sleeves rolled up like a Marine and a badly floppy tan beret worn like a pastry chef,” Boyce said.
In one picture of MacBeth posted online, he is wearing his beret with the insignia centered over the wrong eye.
In a telephone interview Thursday, MacBeth said he purposely wore his uniform backward in a video interview in which he made his allegations because veterans are prohibited from wearing their uniforms at protests.
Asked why the Army found no record of him, MacBeth said, “They did the same thing to John Kerry.”
But the group Iraq Veterans Against the War, to which MacBeth belonged, said it too was skeptical of MacBeth.
In a statement on its Web site, the group said MacBeth’s claims of service “have not been verified” and the group is conducting an investigation of the matter.
Group member Garett Reppenhagen called MacBeth a “troubled kid.”
“I’m not sure why he would want to be fraudulent to IVAW,” Reppenhagen said in a telephone interview Thursday.
Reppenhagen said the group would take steps in the future to verify its members’ service, but he could not say what those measures might be.
Vietnam veteran Doug Sterner is an advocate for a proposed law that would make it a felony to make false claims of decorations earned. MacBeth claimed he had earned a Bronze Star.
Sterner said he believes MacBeth is more interested in “self-gratification” than getting a political message across.
“If he was honestly a war protester, he would do it honestly, so his opposition to the war is as transparent as his military service is bogus,” Sterner said.
But MacBeth insisted he served in Iraq with the Rangers and claimed Iraq Veterans Against the War had betrayed him.
“When the heat gets on them they stab me in the back,” he said.
Still, MacBeth said he would not defend his credibility any further.
“I’m not going to follow this battle no more. The right wing won,” he said.