‘I wanna cover this guy’s Lebanon’
SINGAPORE — I know, I know… I said I was taking a break while I get married, and all, but I’m in Singapore waiting for a refuel, and I saw that HuffPost has [finally taken down that clown of a journalist, W. Thomas Smith Jr](http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2007/12/01/in-the-tank-did-national_n_74954.html). Smith alighted in Lebanon back in September for a few weeks and [his accounts](http://tank.nationalreview.com/post/?q=ZGRkZDFmMGFiODFjZTI0ODQzNTg4NjVkMjUyOTZhNDM=) of my adopted home [are risible](http://tank.nationalreview.com/post/?q=NzUzMDFmZmU5ZGZhNDZhMzIwNmY3OWU2NTMyM2IwNTc=).
I was a source for this story — I called him a “fabulist” — because I always intended to blog on Smith, tearing down his crap, but to be honest, I was going through a rough blog patch and couldn’t seem to work up the proper dudgeon.
Still, in one of his more fantastic posts, not mentioned in the HuffPost article, he claimed the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps [tried to assassinate an anti-Hezbollah Shi’ite politician with an “acid-weapon.”](http://tank.nationalreview.com/post/?q=MTE1NjEwMmQ2MDY0NTkzNzhlNGM3MzFkZDMyZDVlZjA=)
I interviewed Sayed once. Had coffee and sweets with him in his office. Conducted a reconnaissance mission with one of his armed men and two of mine in one of Sayed’s cars. I rode with him during a second recon in another of his cars. And yesterday, members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (here in Lebanon) attempted to kill Sayed and his family by sabotaging his vehicle (the first one I rode in). They planted a delayed acid-weapon on his car’s undercarriage, which ate through the chassis and caused the vehicle to basically break in half while he was driving.
As a buddy of mine remarked after that one, “I wanna cover this guy’s Lebanon. It sounds so much more interesting.”
Indeed. Too bad his stories are ridiculous falsehoods.
**UPDATE:** So, [some are reporting](http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/the_daily_dish/2007/12/they-knew-his-w.html) that I notified Kathryn-Jean Lopez of Smith’s stories six weeks ago. This is true, however, I sent the email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Did she get it? Did anyone? Hell if I know since I never received a response. Here’s the text of the email I sent on Oct. 6:
Mime-Version: 1.0 (Apple Message framework v752.3)
Subject: Accuracy alert
From: Christopher Allbritton
Date: Fri, 5 Oct 2007 21:39:27 +0300
Your posts by W. Thomas Smith Jr. are hilarious! Great fiction reading.
Such as this one:
“The general briefed me regarding the battlefield at Nahr al-Bared, near his camp, and what I would see today *as the first American journalist to visit the site of Lebanon’s defeat of Al Qaeda-affiliate Fatah al Islam.*”
You do know that almost every American journalist living in Beirut has been up to Nahr el-Bared several times during and after the fighting? I myself filed stories for the [*Washington Times*](http://www.washingtontimes.com/article/20070904/FOREIGN/109040025/1003) and the [*Newark Star-Ledger*](http://www.long-war.com/Allbrittons_Clips/Clips/Entries/2007/9/3_As_Lebanon_war_re-ignites%252C_a_risky_lie_protects_a_friend.html), the day after the fighting stopped — and I was in a hell of a lot more danger than your man is in today. (*Star-Ledger* seems to have archived the story, so that link goes to my personal site, but that’s the story that ran there. *WaTimes* is still available.)
You know, for a publication that went after the *New Republic* so hard for its soldier-in-Iraq stuff, your guy here is horribly, horribly inaccurate and sensationalist. I’m an American and I never have bodyguards and never needed one. He is making Beirut seem much more dangerous than it is. He also is — as are you, since I assume he’s expensing it — getting fleeced by some Lebanese con artists. He doesn’t need weapons and he’s making a big problem by carrying them and publicly writing about his “recon missions” in the Dahiyah. That’s not what journalists do; it’s what spies do, and by his actions, he’s making everyone suspicious of western journalists. That is the height of irresponsibility.
Secondly, he’s a liar. Hezbollah never invaded east Beirut on the 29th. And they don’t have 200 “heavily armed” militiamen downtown. I passed by today. There are about 40 guys down there with no weapons at all. They sit around, smoking shisha in jeans and t-shirts.
Perhaps your man in Beirut should not rely solely on March 14 guys and get a wider perspective. And stop lying and making careless errors. It’s your credibility on the line, after all.
So, that’s out there now for the record.