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Why the Huffington Post Needs to Immediately Retract Mark Benjamin’s Afghanistan Massacre Report

At Truthout, Jeff Kaye has a must-read takedown of a recent report published by Mark Benjamin at The Huffington Post. Kaye reports:

A March 25 article by Mark Benjamin at The Huffington Post seriously misled readers about a link between the controversial antimalarial drug mefloquine and the mass murder in Afghanistan attributed to Staff Sgt. Robert Bales. Relying on a document he wrongly identified, and with zero evidence backing up his claims, Benjamin’s headline stated “Military Scrambles to Limit Malaria Drug Just After Afghan Massacre.” As a matter of journalistic ethics, Benjamin should apologize to his readers and retract the story.

The article begins with a dishonestly crafted lede that links the Afghan massacre with a “task order” memo from a Department of Defense (DoD) command regarding a review of mefloquine procedures, and goes on to suggest that Sgt. Bales, a victim of traumatic brain injury, may have gone psychotic from use of mefloquine and possibly committed the killings under influence of the drug. Furthermore, the article strongly implied that DoD possibly knew this and then implemented an “emergency review” of mefloquine procedures nine days after the Afghan killings.

But nothing in the record suggests this is true. The word “emergency” is never used in the one document Benjamin cites, and an actual examination of the full documentary record shows that the mefloquine review described in the article was actually ordered last January.