Hoax Museum Blog: Military

Abu Ghraib Prison Fantasy Camp — image Something like this was inevitable, I suppose. It's the Abu Ghraib Iraqi Prison Fantasy Camp, situated in scenic Mountain Home, Idaho. I'm assuming this was inspired by Rush Limbaugh's recent comments about the torture scandal. According to the website: "Just want to 'blow off some steam' (as Rush Limbaugh so correctly put it)? Abu Ghraib Fantasy Camp is here for you! (actual opening date set for Summer '04). At Abu Ghraib Fantasy Camp... you'll find dozens of 'Iraqi prisoners' you'll be able to 'discipline.' Don't worry, they (and you) will be perfectly safe. Unlike in Iraq, we've taken every precaution to protect your safety."

Update: It turns out, according to Wonkette, that the Abu Ghraib Fantasy Prison Camp is the creation of Bob Pagani, aka Cranky Media Guy. Bob is quite well known to us here at the Museum of Hoaxes. I think you'll find a few of his other creations in the Gallery of Hoax Websites, such as Tom's Girl. Congratulations, Bob. This was a good one. Very weird. But good.
Posted: Tue May 11, 2004.   Comments (7)

Draft Registration — image According to this official looking website, the military is now readying for a general draft. But wow, they're sure asking some weird questions of draftees. For instance, under the Mental Fitness Pre-Screening section, they want to know if you suffer from "NPR listenerism." But wait a second. You guessed it. It's not really a military website, despite the official-sounding URL they managed to acquire. No, it's just another gimmick to sell some t-shirts. The site is pretty well-designed, however. It had me going for a second or two.

Posted: Sat May 08, 2004.   Comments (4)

Fake Battle, Fake Casualties — image The Indian Army has admitted that some battles fought last year high up on the Siachen Glacier north of Kashmir were completely fake. The reports of enemy casualties were made up, and the video footage of a Pakistani bunker being blown up was staged. The bunker actually had been built by Indian troops. The army officers apparently did all this in order to win awards for gallantry.
Posted: Fri May 07, 2004.   Comments (0)

Micah Wright, Pseudo Army Ranger — Micah Wright is the author of You Back the Attack, We'll Bomb Who We Want, a satirical take on war propaganda. Publishers Weekly described him as a "former Army Ranger turned antiwar comic book artist." In an interview with the Washington Post in July, 2003 Wright elaborated at some length on his experience as an Army Ranger. Here's a quote from that article:

He endured rigorous Ranger training, including capturing and eating a snake. He says he participated in classified combat missions in South and Central America, but can talk only about Operation Just Cause, the capture of Panamanian leader Manuel Noriega. (Or, as he calls it, "Operation Just Because.") Did he ever kill anyone? "That's one of those questions that I really don't like to answer," he says after an uncomfortable pause. "You're shooting at people and other people are shooting and people fall down. Put it this way: I never shot at anybody who hadn't shot at me first."

Sounds pretty exciting and mysterious, except now Wright has admitted that he was never an Army Ranger. The extent of his military experience is some Army ROTC training. So Wright now joins a long tradition of lying about military service. It's a tradition that includes both pro-war and anti-war activists, democrats as well as republicans. I could easily have a whole gallery of the museum devoted to phony veterans. (Thanks, Shane)
Posted: Sun May 02, 2004.   Comments (5)

Updates from the War Against Terror — Here are a couple of news reports that are deeply disturbing on many different levels. First, a story from Macedonia where the police have admitted that seven Pakistani 'terrorists' they gunned down two years weren't terrorists at all. The seven men were actually completely innocent would-be immigrants who were lured to Macedonia with the promise of being granted access to Western Europe. The Macedonian police then killed them and created a phony story about how they were terrorists in order to win US support. Next, there were those photos of Iraqi prisoners being tortured by US soldiers that recently surfaced, prompting President Bush to remark how disgusted he was by what he saw. I haven't heard anything to indicate that those pictures were fake, but British authorities are questioning the authenticity of similar pictures that became public a day or two later showing British troops engaged in similar activities. The British government is noting that the prisoners in those pictures appear too clean and too unharmed, and the soldiers appear to be wearing incorrect uniforms.
Posted: Sun May 02, 2004.   Comments (7)

Operation Take One for the Country — image Operation Take One for the Country (or OTOFTC) has been getting a lot of publicity lately. It claims to be "a movement of like-minded women (women predominantly as of right now) who have covertly organized into groups to frequent eating and drinking establishments near armed service bases where troops are preparing to ship out overseas, and take one for the country, so to speak." In other words, they pick up soldiers in bars and sleep with them. This has been generating a lot of cries of hoax. For instance, Single Southern Guy notes that there's a transcript of a radio interview with two of the OTOFTC participants on the site, but the radio station that supposedly conducted this interview doesn't appear to exist. My thoughts on this? First, even if it's not real, this will obviously immediately inspire 'Operation Pretend You're a Soldier.' Second, women sleeping with departing soldiers certainly lies well within the realm of possibility. The real question is whether it's being done on an organized basis with entire sororities and the like participating, as this site claims. That seems less likely. Sure, some women may joke that they're participating in OTOFTC, but that doesn't really constitute a covertly organized movement. It seems more likely that this is a cute idea that someone is using to sell some t-shirts and bumper stickers.
Posted: Thu Apr 29, 2004.   Comments (5)

Soldier Picture Follow-Up — image This is good. Some guy has created a program that lets you put whatever text you want on the sign held by those kids posing in the desert with an American soldier.
Also, Salon.com recently had an article about this picture, although I didn't think it was a particularly well researched article. The author tried to argue that the new ease with which images can be manipulated somehow poses a dangerous threat. It contains statements such as:

There was a time when photographs were synonymous with truth -- when you could be sure that what you saw in a picture actually occurred.

Oh, really? What period in history was that? Images have always been manipulated, and people have always known it can be done.

Then he warns that a doctored photo might be used for political dirty tricks, going on to state:

If a doctored photo ever does lead to the defeat of a political candidate or some other disaster -- puts the wrong guy in jail, say -- one immediate consequence might be a quick decline in the trust we have in pictures.

Reading this, I can only assume he doesn't know anything about the history of photography. What about the Tydings Affair, when Senator Tydings lost his 1950 Senate reelection bid because of a doctored photo? And William Randolph Hearst, of course, was notorious for using fake (or misleading) pictures in his newspapers for political purposes.

Posted: Tue Apr 27, 2004.   Comments (46)

Soldier Guy — About a month ago a photo began to circulate around the internet showing an American soldier posing with two Iraqi boys. One of the boys was holding up a sign that read, 'Lcpl Boudreaux killed my Dad, then he knocked up my sister!' Needless to say, the photo caused a lot of outrage. The Council on American-Islamic Relations complained to the Pentagon about it. And it received coverage in publications such as Islam Online. According to the Marine Corps Times, "Investigating officers have spoken with Boudreaux and are working to determine whether the claims on the sign are true and what, if any, charges to bring against him." In the meantime, a second, more innocuous version of the sign began circulating that read, 'Lcpl Boudreaux saved my dad then he rescued my sister.' Everyone immediately assumed that this was, in fact, the real picture, and that the initial one had been a hoax. But this may not be the case, because even more versions of the picture are on the loose, including one in which the sign is blank. And then there are the inevitable spoofs of it. It's hard to know what the reality is here. We'll probably have to wait for the Marine Corps investigators to report before we find that out. But one observation to make is how easy it's become to photoshop text onto signs. As a consequence, this seems to be the latest trend in photo hoaxes. (via Balloon Juice)
Update: The Marines finished their investigation, but they haven't yet made the results of it public.
Posted: Thu Apr 15, 2004.   Comments (1)

ID Sniper Rifle — The ID Sniper Rifle is a high-powered rifle, produced by Empire North, that supposedly can implant a GPS-microchip into a person, allowing the military to track them wherever they go in the world. Here's the description from Empire North's website: The microchip will enter the body and stay there, causing no internal damage, and only a very small amount of physical pain to the target. It will feel like a mosquito-bite lasting a fraction of a second. Given the low-tech feel of Empire North's website, I'd have to say this is a hoax. Plus, is it really possible to hit someone from a long-distance with a microchip and a) have the microchip survive the impact, and b) have the person only feel a small prick? Seems unlikely. Also check out the company's other product, Juju, the Citizen Eye, a device that allows you to photograph suspicious-looking people and beam the images directly to the Department of Homeland Security. This seems like obvious satire. The weird thing is that Empire North is listed as one of the international exhibitors at the 2002 China Police Technology Conference. Somehow whoever created this website must have conned their way into getting listed as one of the conference's exhibitors. (Thanks to 'Saints' for the link)
Posted: Mon Apr 12, 2004.   Comments (6)

Coalition to Promote the Use of Child Soldiers — There are quite a few satirical hoaxes that I find myself comparing to Jonathan Swift's Modest Proposal For Preventing The Children of Poor People in Ireland From Being A Burden to Their Parents or Country (by feeding them to rich people). The Arm the Homeless prank was one such satire. This is another. It's the Coalition to Promote the Use of Child Soldiers. Yeah, I'm assuming it's satire.
Posted: Tue Mar 23, 2004.   Comments (1)

Taliban Reunited — Have a hankering to find out what your old terrorist chums are up to now that Afghanistan is occupied by the American military? Then check out Taliban Reunited, the site that lets terrorists get reacquainted with their former friends and acquaintances.
Posted: Tue Jan 06, 2004.   Comments (0)

The Sasquatch Militia — sasquatchThe Republic of Cascadia is recruiting for the Sasquatch Militia. Help defend the Sasquatch homeland against invading cryptozoologists, Canadians, and others. Militia activities include boulder throwing, stomping, and delimbing.
Posted: Sat Dec 27, 2003.   Comments (0)

Saddam Claus — saddam clausJohn Walkenbach has a great photoshop on his weblog (J-Walk): the disguise Saddam Hussein was wearing when he was captured.
Posted: Sun Dec 14, 2003.   Comments (1)

New Stealth Bomber — stealthHere it is. The first unclassified photo of the new F-22 Stealth Fighter Bomber. Invisible not only to radar but also to the human eye. (Thanks to Darren McEwen for the picture).
Posted: Tue Dec 09, 2003.   Comments (2)

Nigerian Navy Recruitment Scam — Just when we had all gotten used to those Nigerian email scams that fill up our inboxes every day, the Nigerian criminal class has gone back to the drawing board and come up with an entirely new way to con people out of money: it's the Nigerian Navy Recruitment Scam. Nigerian fraud artists are circulating fake documents that appear to be recruitment forms for the Nigerian Navy. I'm at a loss to see how exactly they make money out of this, but I'm sure they have a way. Meanwhile, the real Nigerian navy has announced that it will begin circulating real recruitment forms sometime this month.
Posted: Mon Dec 08, 2003.   Comments (47)

CIA Tricks of the Trade — Some of the CIA's recent strategies are outlined here. For instance, it's been creating fake religious leaders in the Middle East to drum up support for American polices... i.e. it's been paying people to pose as pro-American Muslim clerics. They've also been giving agents satellite phones hidden in rifles. But even though they've got all kinds of high-tech gadgets, they're also still using disappearing ink.
Posted: Tue Sep 23, 2003.   Comments (0)

Air Force Hoax — An email has been going around containing the text of a supposed Air Force press release that lists bases slated for reduction or closure due to budget cuts. The Air Force announced today that the press release is a hoax.
Posted: Tue Sep 09, 2003.   Comments (0)

The art of disinformation — Interesting NY Times piece on the Art of Disinformation (as it pertains to spycraft).
Posted: Tue Jul 22, 2003.   Comments (0)

Who is the real Saddam Hussein? — An audio broadcast being aired on Al-Jazeera purports to be the voice of Saddam Hussein delivering a message to the Iraqi people. As usual, it has left everyone wondering if it really is Saddam's voice, or just someone impersonating him. This recalls how everyone wondered whether the man in the video broadcast shown during the war was actually Hussein, or one of his doubles.
Posted: Mon Jul 07, 2003.   Comments (0)

Comical Ali — The Iraqi (Mis)Information Minister (aka Comical Ali) is reported to be alive and well in Baghdad.
Posted: Mon Jun 02, 2003.   Comments (0)

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