Man who lied about actions in Iraq admits faking forms
Jesse MacBeth stoked opposition to the Iraq war in 2006 when he spoke out about atrocities he committed as a U.S. Army Ranger serving as...
Seattle Times staff reporter
Jesse MacBeth stoked opposition to the Iraq war in 2006 when he spoke out about atrocities he committed as a U.S. Army Ranger serving as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
MacBeth, 23, of Tacoma, claimed to have killed more than 200 people, many at close range, some as they prayed in a mosque. He spoke at an anti-war rally in Tacoma and appeared in a 20-minute anti-war video that circulated widely on the Internet.
Trouble is, none of MacBeth's claims was true. He made it through only six weeks of Army basic training, was never a Ranger and never set foot in Iraq.
Conservative bloggers exposed MacBeth's lies in May 2006, destroying his credibility and embarrassing the Seattle company that produced the video about his exploits.
MacBeth's comeuppance continued Thursday, when he pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Seattle to one count of making false statements to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
Before becoming a public figure, MacBeth admitted, he filed a bogus claim for VA benefits in 2005 that included a fraudulent military-discharge form.
MacBeth said on the forms that he had been in the Army for more than three years and had achieved the rank of corporal. He also claimed he had been awarded a Purple Heart and that he was discharged because he suffered from post-traumatic-stress disorder.
None of those assertions was true, MacBeth acknowledged in a plea agreement. MacBeth spent 44 days as a private at Fort Benning, Ga., in 2003 but was released "for issues related to entry-level performance and conduct," according to court papers.
PepperSpray Productions in Seattle produced the video titled "Jesse MacBeth: An Iraq Veteran Speaks Out."
In the film, MacBeth told nuanced tales of brutal killings he carried out at the behest of his commanding officers.
"They would actually feel the hot muzzle of my rifle on their forehead," he reportedly said on the video, which is no longer in circulation.
The production company, which describes itself as a "video activist collective" of volunteers formed after the World Trade Organization protests in Seattle in 1999, has a link to a "Jesse MacBeth Retraction" on its home page.
The statement reads, in part: "Jesse Macbeth misrepresented to PepperSpray Productions and others his military service and was never deployed in Iraq. When we learned that Macbeth's service records were fraudulent, we immediately pulled the video and are no longer distributing it."
MacBeth, a skinny 23-year-old with close-cropped hair and a goatee, said little as he entered his guilty plea before Magistrate Judge James Donohue.
U.S. District Court Judge Robert Lasnik will sentence him Sept. 21. The maximum penalty for making false statements to the government is five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
David Bowermaster: 206-464-2724 or email@example.com
When vice president of Sub Pop Records Megan Jasper isn't running things at the office, she's working in her garden at her West Seattle home where she and her husband Brian spend time relaxing.