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Unbelievably lazy journalism, even by AP "standards"


by: Blue Girl

Wed Apr 21, 2010 at 12:00:00 PM CDT

If I didn't know better, I would say that the M$M - NY Times, the AP, HuffPo - was trying to push a narrative that our veterans are out of control and a threat to us all! Be afraid, be very afraid!

At least that is the impression I got when I read this:

An Army veteran who threatened a shooting rampage last year at a southern Illinois Veterans Affairs hospital has been ordered to spend a year and a day in federal prison.

A judge also sentenced 30-year-old Mark Harmon of Shawneetown on Monday to three years of supervised release after his prison term.

Harmon pleaded guilty in January to attempted possession of a firearm on federal property with the intent to commit a crime.

Police at the VA hospital in Marion arrested Harmon last October after he told a nurse by telephone that he was armed and was ''going to fill that place with lead.''

Prosecutors say authorities found a loaded semiautomatic handgun, a magazine filled with 13 bullets and 13 loose rounds of ammunition in Harmon's truck.

I read that and I first thought "how tragic." I wondered if he had a TBI or PTSD?

So I googled him and looked at the local press from the time of his arrest - something the AP stringer who wrote the piece to send out over the wire should have done before hitting "send."

Though Harmon's legal scrapes since 2006 included a judge's order that he seek treatment for substance abuse and anger issues, it's unclear whether those problems were tied to his military service dating to his 1997 enlistment in the Army Reserves.

Harmon signed up for a three-year stint in the active-duty Army in January 2007 and was stationed at Fort Campbell, Ky. But just four months later, he was discharged under an "administrative separation." Reasons for such partings may be made public only if the soldier signs off on the disclosure.

Details about any mental health issues Harmon may have had while in the military are confidential under medical privacy laws, said Ray Gall, a spokesman for the records-keeping Army Human Resources Command in St. Louis.

Harmon's Army Reserve units were mobilized at least three times between January 2002 and November 2003, but there's no indication he spent time overseas or in combat, Gall said.


Court records in his native Gallatin County, Ill., show Harmon's propensity for threats and gun-wielding date to at least November 2006, when he was accused of storming his ex-wife's house with an assault rifle and threatening to shoot her.

Felony home invasion and aggravated assault charges were tossed out by a judge the next month, court records show without explaining why.

But prosecutors refiled those charges in June 2007 after Harmon went to his father's home armed with an assault rifle and handgun, then threatened to kill his parents and shoot any police who tried to intervene, Shawneetown Police Chief Robert Patton said this week.

Prescribed medication Harmon had taken caused him to nod off, enabling his parents to sneak out to safety, Patton said. With the house surrounded by heavily armed police, Harmon was awakened when the telephone rang, noticed he was alone and bolted from the house before being arrested outside, Patton said.

As a result of the standoff, Harmon was charged with two counts apiece of aggravated assault, misdemeanor unlawful use of a weapon and disorderly conduct.

In November 2007, prosecutors dropped those charges in exchange for his guilty plea to a misdemeanor count alleging that he damaged Price's table in September 2006.

Harmon was ordered to spend two years on probation and seek treatment for substance abuse, unspecified "past trauma issues" and anger management, court records show. He also was required to undergo random drug screening and was barred from certain areas of Shawneetown, including three taverns.

Well now, that rather shoots the tragic hero/broken man/feckless VA meme that was alluded to and promoted in the most passive of voices, doesn't it?

This guy isn't a stressed soldier. This guy is a garden-variety  fuckup and people who actually give a shit about the well-being of those who serve in our military are glad this shitbag never deployed, because shitbag soldiers get good men and women killed.

What is really sad is that before our military was stretched to the breaking point by two mismanaged wars, this fuckup would never have gotten five minutes of a recruiters time. That domestic violence charge in 2006 would have rendered him ineligible to sign up for the active duty Army.

The AP could have done a little legwork - it took me all of about fifteen seconds to google his name, hometown and "VA hospital", hit enter and select a local-press article from the first ten that popped up that laid out his troubling background in the initial article about his arrest.

The press is simply lazy, incompetent and willfully dishonest at the very least, and the way the story of this man's conviction is presented to the public is evidence of those charges. They owe us factual reporting, but they seem totally uninterested in fulfilling their obligation to present the news and much more interested in pushing a meme.

It is absolutely disgraceful what has become of the only profession specifically protected in the Constitution of the United States of America.

Blue Girl :: Unbelievably lazy journalism, even by AP "standards"
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