Friday, October 31, 2003

Diego's Modus Operandi And A Call For Vigilance

As we've seen Diego, the smearblogger, is currently maintaining 3 blogs all having various degrees of similarity to the genuine Riverbend blog.

But there is limited possibility for actual confusion. While his more recent actions suggest that Diego's denuding of his original smearblog yesterday was perhaps more aimed at avoiding being yanked by Blogger for being quite such a flagrant rip-off than any actual attempt at acting like a decent human being, nonetheless the steps he took certainly lessen the chances that anyone will innocently mistake the smearblog for the real one.

Diego's likely defence if called to account for his actions is to claim that it can no longer be shown that he is making an active attempt to deceive people. So this is why I'm going to ask readers to keep an eye on any forums they may frequent for things like this

This shows that on Sept 20 2003 Diego went to a Usenet news group to which he had never posted before, picked up a thread inactive for weeks, responded to a post mentioning the genuine Riverbend blog and *changed* the quote of the original post in his reply to make it look as if the original poster had mentioned the riverSbend blog instead. The deceptive intent is quite plain. Diego looked for people on Usenet discussing the genuine blog and tried subtly to mislead them into going to the smearblog. This is only one instance where Diego did this. There are others.

This was basically the smoking gun which I came upon early last week and which convinced me that the person using the "Diego Gastor" nym was not just innocently promoting the fake blog by accident but was doing it with plain intent to mislead.

If you look at this link you'll see that almost every one of the posts by "Diego" this year involved popping up on Usenet where discussion of the real Riverbend was taking place and trying to lead them towards the smear blog. For fans of the bizarre you may also note that on at least one instance "Diego" finds himself in agreement with someone called "Troy" on the matter. I would at this point very much like the individual Troy to be in touch to how shall we say eliminate... himself from my enquiries...

So that's what Diego does folks. He does not simply hope that people will stumble on his fake sites (as some who would seek to diminish the gravity of his conduct have claimed), he tries to mislead people to it. So just keep your eyes peeled.

If anyone sees an individual using any nym to try and direct innocents towards the fake blogs - riverSbendblog, riverbendSblog, riverbendblogS - by suggesting they speak for an Iraqi girl blogger or are in any way of a different nature to what they really are let me know and I'll post it here. And of course such things could also be brought to the attention of blogger as evidence of "Diego's" attempts to deceive.

Note what I'm asking for here - observed dishonest attempts to deceive. This is not a campaign to drive any individual from the web. If someone who bears a passing resemblance to suspect "Diego Gastor" should be observed sharing gardening tips, TV preferences or even if he's spotted wishing Bill Clinton a foul death, that is not the concern of this site.

I do not condone harassment of any individual to oppose the use of their right to participate on the internet. Even though that individual may not share those principles. Why? Because I and those associated with the Bending Truth campaign believe in honouring certain high principles whereas "Diego Gastor" does not.
Clarification from Zeyad "Deploring" the riverSbend Blog

This morning I received a very polite and measured email from Zeyad clarifying his position on the riverSbend site. To me it demonstrated if there was any doubt that he's on the right side on this issue. We clearly are not going to see 100% eye to eye on the connotations of his controversial words of Wednesday but on the larger issues I think we are in pretty much total concord.

I absolutely accept that Zeyad never intended to explicitly endorse the smear site. I stand by my position that his comments made on Wednesday were ambivalent at best, but I commend him for clarifying now his position, in terms for which I'd have applauded him, had they been included in his blog on Wednesday:

"I thought it was deplorable that [the riverSbend blogger] would post under Riverbends name in an obvious attempt to undermine her message."

Even trying to maintain this blog which I imagine must get only a fraction of the attention and traffic that Zeyad's does makes me appreciate how time-pressed blogging can make one feel. While I feel the impression given was that Zeyad had read and absorbed the comments section of his blog, which clearly denounced the riverSbend faker, I can understand how he might have done so more hurriedly than might have been advisable, and that he was speaking from a position less informed on the matter than many of us reading him were. And even might have expected him to be.

Zeyad's blog has understandably become very popular, and as a result, what he says has gained some import. His story of the baby-bomb earlier in the week has to a large degree entered the internet consciousness as an paragon of what - for some - the war in Iraq is about. This indictes the power that he has. And with power of course comes responsibility.

In the same way that a man in a pub can utter unnoticed sentiments that had they slipped from a politician's mouth on a mic, could spell ruin for his career, so also Zeyad may find that things he writes without giving great thought to could rebound in unexpected ways.

Bending Truth is a one-issue site, like a focus group or a lobby, it will tend to jump on any public statement which might seem to dilute its message. And the message if Bending Truth is the plain truth - that the riverSbend blog is the work of an angry and dishonet politically motivated activist in the US, and does not originate from a blogger, in the accepted sense of the word, anywhere. And certainly does not emanate from Iraq. The way the campaign was progressing earlier in the week we were steamrolling. I can't apologise for my perception that the comments made by Zeyad on Wednesday might have detracted from our momentum.

But I'd like to thank Zeyad for getting back to me and making quite clear his position on the riverSbend smear merchant, which here bear some repeating, "I thought it was deplorable that he would post under Riverbends name in an obvious attempt to undermine her message."

I'd like to see this on his blog, I must say, but there's time yet for that. :)

[As a final note Zeyad also mentioned to me that someone he believes to be French is attacking his site, and trying to disrupt it. Bending Truth condemns this individual for his offences against free speech. If you have anything to take issue with Zeyad about, set up your own blog and say it. If I could do it, you can. Let's allow all genuine Iraqi voices to hit the web untrammelled by these opponents of the values that we are, in the end, all struggling for.]
Follow Up On Mr C - the other faked identity

I promised to get back here with the story of another instance of Diego's identity fakery, so for a refresher course go to this link and scroll to the bottom. Basically what happened was I noted (having done a "riverbend + riversbend" google search) that on the Nielsen-Hayden blog there had been some recent confusion over the two blogs, though I should say no one really seemed fooled by riverSbend.

As can be seen I posted a small resume of the situation and, as is my wont, I shamelessly plugged this blog. There was not a great deal of response to my post, in fact only one person responded directly. Their response was as following

"Why are you wasting so much time on if it is a 70 year old man posting? What skullduggery is going on here?
I take it you disagree and are trying to discredit someone that has a different view than you.
I would suggest you contact him (or her) and settle your differences.
Hay, what can a 70 year old man do to you! :-)"

And claimed to have been written by someone called "James Chamblee". After I wept for a few hours in remorse having been forced to confront, so it seemed, the voice of my own thundering conscience, it suddenly dawned on me that the name James Chamblee was not one with which I was entirely unfamiliar. A quick google check indeed confirmed that very recently "Diego" the riverSbend faker had exchanged harsh words with a Mr James Chamblee on Usenet.

It did not seem likely I reasoned that Mr Chamblee would weigh in with these words of defence of his enemy, even had he stumbled upon them - perhaps an even greater unlikelihood. With all due respect to Nielsen Hayden there is probably not an enormous daily tread of random traffic through their month old comment archives.

So I responded on NH at that point that I would be happy to address these comments once I had confirmed by a mail from the addresss there given, that these were indeed the sentiments of Mr James Chamblee. Unsurprisingly these never came. I did also email Mr Chamblee at that point informing him that I believed someone was impersonating him on NH. I didn't get a response to that either, though as it turned out this was because his mail filter has been a little hyperactive of late.

After a couple of days delay I, playing fast-and-loose I'll admit with Usenet netiquette, but in view of the belief that an individual had a right to know about their online identity theft, I posted OT to soc.retirement where Mr Chamblee had recently left his own messages.

Long story short he got in touch yesterday. I told him my reasons for believing he'd been impersonated and he sent the following:

I read the piece attributed to me, and it's a fake. It completely baffles me why some people have so little regard for themselves and so little personal honor that they would impersonate someone else.

Thanks for bringing this to my attention, and I have exposed [Diego] to the readers of soc.retirement in two posts a few minutes ago.

Well said I think. Anyway we probably have Mr Chamblee to thank as much as anyone else for the riverSbend's major capitulation yesterday morning. Soc.retirement has been Diego's most regular haunt in his years online so Mr Chamblee's expressed ire in this location was "taking the battle to the enemy" in a very real sense. If Diego didn't feel the pressure before that occurred, he certainly felt it at that point.

(PS Eagle-eyed readers may have noted I had posted this yesterday for just a few minutes. I had to take it down because it had lots of ugly characters in it since I'd cut-and-pasted from Word, and I didn't have even the spare to minutes to take them out)
The Saga Continues

Reader Brian pointed out today:
"Not sure if you know about this one - now it's getting a bit ridiculous...

The image is from: "

Yes folks, there's another one. It seems there may be life in the old dog yet. This time, apart obviously from the name, there's nothing really sinister about this site. It shows Diego is still thumbing his nose at the campaign but there's nothing much else he can do at this stage. Tokenism is all he has left.

(And the answer to Brian's question:"Is this guy US sponsored?" is:

Not unless you count Medicare)

Thursday, October 30, 2003

Moving Through the To Do list (by cheating really)

It turns out my readers are in the end a fairly timorous bunch. Only one person confirmed they would like me to publicise a message for "Diego". and even they said it was OK if I didn't.

So Gillian, even though I heartily agreed with your sentiments and thought you expressed them very well I couldn't help feeling that posting the message intact might have looked a little like rubbing Diego's face in it, in light of the fact that he's basically capitulated this morning.

But I'm still going to excerpt this broader sentiment which I think sums up a notion many of us will share:
"if you believe in a true democracy and freedom of speech - don't abuse that right to speak by using it to pretend to be someone you're not in order to further your own interests. Democracy is not about being a liar."
A Riddle Wrapped Inside an Enigma
Yesterday on the Healing Iraq blog Zeyad wrote the following:

"some people in the comments section pointed out a blog, which seems to have been around for a while. I only heard about it yesterday. I am not affiliated with it at all. It looks like an Iraqi or someone from the CPA writing his own perspective on current events. Interesting to read I would say if the author didn't post under Riverbend's name."

Now some of you may know I said some time ago that anywhere on the web I saw discussion of the riverSbend fake blog I wanted to ensure that close by there was a comment pointing out what a load of rubbish it was. I have made some attempts to do that though most of the comments have been lukewarm when discussing it. Most people have been slightly confused, few have been fooled. No one that I've come across of any standing has been taken in after taking time, even claiming to take time, to examine the riverSbend hoax.

So if anyone anywhere on the web had made this (albeit tepidly) approving comment and I had read it, I would have been in contact with them to set him or her straight. But let us put this into further confusing context here.

On Monday and Tuesday on Healing Truth Zeyad's comment page this is basically a summary of all the comments written about riverSbend:

(1)"it looks like a fake site created to look like riverbend's site. It looks like they did a copy-paste of Zeyad's story for today's entry."

(2)"It is sad when people use deception to try to make a point. It just invalidated any good ideas they may have had."

(3)"I've seen the fake riverSbend site and I wrote to river about it around a week ago. She directed me to a site a reader/friend made proving the riverSbend site is a fake. Lousy fake too. You'd think the Bushies could be more creative... sheesh."

(4)"This explains the two sites:"

(5)"a bad imitation of the celebrated Riverbend (no 's') blog?"

(6)"I think everyone knows the other RiversBend site is fake"

(7)I myself wrote a post starting "I was a little concerned to find that I may have inadvertantly added to the confusion about the fake riverSbend site. It is fake. Riverbend on the other hand is real. "

(8)Yet another commentor supplied the link to John Gorenfeld's linking of the Diego online persona to the fake riverSbend blog
"Funny story about Riversbend:

It seems some right-wing whackjob picked the posts from healingiraq and put them on riversbend. Stupidly, he left up his sig, and has been revealed."

There is is. Basically Zeyad's comment page on the topic comprised a long list of people, one after the other pointing out the known fact that the riverSbend blog is fake, written by an embittered American. These comments were posted to Zeyad’s comment section on Monday and Tuesday of this week. Not one person posted an opinion that it was a genuine Iraqi, or any evidence to support this conclusion.

Then on Wednesday, and I'm still shaking my head, Zeyad, apparently in summary of these very comments says of riverSbend's blog, "It looks like an Iraqi or someone from the CPA"

Come again? To quote the classics here, (Will Farrell from Zoolander in fact), "I feel like I'm taking crazy pills."

Now I did write an immediate response trying to encapsulate in words my bewilderment at such a bizarre conclusion. Considering this response was on Zeyad"s own comment section and the low number of negative responses I got, I can only assume that I was not the only one who thought he might have spoken in error.

Let's put it like this. If a guy sat down a few days back with a stack of newspapers from all over the US full of the story that the Marlins had beaten the Yankees in the World Series, and then uttered the following, "I just went through the papers. It looks like the Yankees are the new world champs", then what do I learn from that?

Well I don't really very learn much about the newspapers or their content, I learn absolute zero about reality. All I possibly learn is something about the guy who spoke. What do I learn? At this point it beats me. I'm still baffled. Any and all theories are welcomed.

As well as posting my comment yesterday, I did email Zeyad but have as yet had no response.

Now one might say it is not the job of Zeyad to verify one way or the other the identity of the riverSbend faker. Perfectly true. But nor was Zeyad obliged to make a comment on the matter at all. And I believe that once he took the choice to pass a comment, he accepted responsibility for whatever that comment was. He took responsibility in the context to sum up what he'd learned from his comment page.

At the moment if one does a google search on "riverSbend + iraq" one does not go straight to a quote from a popular new Iraqi blogger declaring that outed plagiarising US-based smearblogger riverSbend "looks like an Iraqi or someone from the CPA". Will it soon? Maybe. And who's going to look worse for that?

Well you know what, I'm slightly less agrieved about this whole thing now than I was yesterday. I'm slightly less concerned than a lot of good work could have been needlessly undermined, by one thoroughly off the wall comment. Because that search throws up a litter of links demonstrating it is basically accepted knowledge on the web that the riverSbend blogger is a faker in the US, which was not the case before the anti-riverSbend campaign got rolling a couple of weeks ago, and as can be plainly see the riverSbend faker is beating a hasty retreat. So Zeyad's comment, I think, is more likely to reflect badly in the future on him than on Riverbend, or on those of us who have sought to defend her.

Anyone who utters plainly false or misleading statements in public is liable ultimately to look the worse for it. The truth, as they say, will out. So come on Zeyad, do the decent thing, not for those concerned about truth, and about untainted free speech, and of course about Riverbend herself, but for yourself and your own reputation. The web community, I think, is crying out for a wide variety of reliable and credible voices from Iraq. I stress those words - reliable and credible. So come on withdraw, retract or amend the comment. At the very least explain it.

Because if you really can demonstrate the likelihood, having examined all the evidence that is right there under your nose, that the riverSbend blog is the work of an individual in Iraq, even in the light of the seemingly incontrovertible proof to the contrary, then I know a guy called Scott Peterson. And he's looking for a lawyer.
Slight Correction

Diego, as a couple of readers have been so good as to point out does not in fact now point to the Iraqi Riverbend blogger. He links to the riverbend.blogspot blog, not riverbendblog.blogspot blog.

This is the blog from where he stole the "Yekke my friend" entry that used to be in on his site.
Running Behind

By the way folks anyone who thought I was purely dissembling when I said yesterday about not having limitless time should be getting themselves out a big plate and preparing to eat those words. I've got to be on my way out in under an hour and I am aware that what with all the making dinner, spending time with Mrs AtBendingTruth, going to bed last night etc. I have amassed a sizeable to do list.

Sooner or later I have to

a) post the letters to "Diego" that some readers have sent in.

b) Write something about Zeyad's comments on riverSbend yesterday.

c) Update you on the Mr C who had been impersonated by Diego a few days ago. (He finally got in touch to confirm that he had indeed been impersonated as I correctly guessed)

d) locate any plagiarised source and write something about the latest riverSbend entry

e) respond to some emails.

I don't know when I'll get around to these things but I will (although if anyone else wants to check out (d) and let me know I'd be grateful. Actually it might even be original - judging from the fact that it uses the term "liberal" in its accepted, pejorative sense)

The Enemy is in Retreat!

Great news folks. If you check out the riverSbend smear site today you can plainly see that our campaign is having considerable success. It looks like almost complete capitulation by "Diego".

- He's obviously given up on trying to replace the graphics we've had yanked. (And to think I thought he was completely incorrigible.)

- He's removed his fake archives

- significantly he has removed the line he stole from Riversbend that adorns the top of her page. Instead of saying "I'll meet you 'round the bend my friend, where hearts can heal and souls can mend..." as he did until yesterday, the fake blog now says, "...The riversbend, a place where you can begin again..."

- Most significantly perhaps he's changed the name to Baghdad's not Burning. The chances that anyone might actually stumble on this site and believe it was by the real Riverbend have tumbled.

- He has stopped claiming to be writing an "Iraqi girl blog"

- the posts are no longer attributed to "river"

- "Diego" has even put in a link to the real Riverbend!

Now is this enough? He has put in a new entry today, so that indicates some intent to keep adding to the blog. And he is still including stolen and unattributed prose. It's a massive step. But why not just drop the whole rivers thing Diego? Start a blog being if not entirely open about who you are at least making a clean break.

I'm sure if you started up an there would be a few people who'd pop in, from a morbid curiosity if nothing else. How about it old fella? Shut down riverSbend. Shut down riverbendS. Exercise your rights to free speech on a totally separate forum and I can guarantee you at least one eager reader.

Heck I'll even give you a plug here.

Wednesday, October 29, 2003

On Diego's Email

I don't have it! Or I might have and just don't know. I have so many. I have recently tried emailing him at a couple of the more likely candidates but if one of them turns out to be live I think it's only fair to give him the opportunity to cease and desist before I'd even consider doling it out.

Remember folks he is an old guy, and even though he's a mean, mean old guy I wouldn't feel quite right about dishing out his address at the moment. I can't guarantee I'll always feel that way if he starts saying more things like, "I can't imagine that your family is very proud of you now. They definitely aren't looking forward to a traitors funeral. Keep it up and your relatives will be scraping a 82 year old basterd off the wall of your studio." as he has done in the past but who knows.

As I've said before - if I publish his email address I have to take a degree of responsibility for every single message that goes his way as a result of that. And that's something I can't do without giving a high degree of consideration to. I'd like for ideally Riverbend and him to have an email discussion about where he sees this whole blog fakery going and come to some sort of, if not amicable, at least slightly less public denouement.

Also as well as being a limp-wristed chicken-livered liberal do-gooder as noted, by not giving out too much I'm also being a pragmatist. If I publish all I know and Diego gets the worst web-bashing in history he may well bunker in and become even worse than he is already. He'll have nothing left to lose. At the moment, his online life is a million times more comfortable than it could be in theory and as long as he knows that he has an incentive to change his behaviour.

For the moment, since I know Diego knows about this blog how about if I just agree to post any messages anyone wants in the knowledge that he may well read them?
Comments on Riverbend today:
The real Iraqi blogger wrote today on her blog a couple of things I wanted to comment on:

I wrote to Blogger, telling them about the site and how the person was pretending to be me, they said that if I wanted to make an official complaint, I had to mail in (by snail-mail) a letter complaining that someone was stealing the contents of my site.

Now that seems a bit rich. Why snail mail? She's in Iraq for God's sake. Never mind that the blogspot TOS say things like:

You agree to not use the Service to:
(a) upload, post or otherwise transmit any Content that is unlawful... harassing or otherwise objectionable;


(c) impersonate any person or entity, including, but not limited to, a Pyra official, forum leader, guide or host, or falsely state or otherwise misrepresent your affiliation with a person or entity;


(d) post ... any Content that you do not have a right to transmit under any law or under contractual or fiduciary relationships...


(e) post ... any Content that infringes any patent, trademark, trade secret, copyright or other proprietary rights of any party


(i) "stalk" or otherwise harass another;

(d) and (e) are unarguable. The rest are definitely debateable. That's at least 2 breaches of the blogger TOS that the faker riverSbend commits daily, and yet for some reason blogger will only take action if the faker is directly stealing from Riverbend's site. He is doing that too of course, but as she points out to a degree relatively minor compared to the rest of his breaches.

But I'm sorry what kind of sense does this make? What's the point of having Terms of Service if you refuse to enforce them. Come on blogger this is not good enough at all.

Further down it says:
You agree that Pyra, in its sole discretion, may terminate your password, BlogSpot Site, use of the Service or use of any other Pyra service, and remove and discard any Content within the Service, for any reason, including, without limitation, for lack of use or if Pyra believes that you have violated or acted inconsistently with the letter or spirit of the TOS.

Would anyone with any knowledge of the situation dare to suggest that the riverSbend smear site (the author of which by the way once said of Riverbend ""Even a bitch on the rag can change when exposed to a better way of life than what Saddam provided for the Iraqi. ") is not in violation of the spirit of the TOS, by setting up a site intended to contaminate her right to free speech?

Has the world gone mad?

I suggest maybe if anyone reading this site feels as agrieved as I do about this situation to contact Pyra/blogger at this link. Alternatively, and I haven't really thought this through so if it's a terrible idea please let me know - would anyone consider setting up a YankRiverSbendFaker (or similar) mailing list to garner pressure by having a lot of people sign up. I would do it myself but while, as is plainly evident, I have a lot of time on my hands, it is not quite as unlimited as sometimes I might make it appear. Please email me any comments on that or other constructive anti-riverSbend ideas you may have. Obviously feel free to contact Riverbend before me with such ideas, I only suggest contacting me as obviously her time is better spent on writing her blog, as opposed to having to defend it from lone nutcases like "Diego".

On another point Riverbend says:
Brian over at has several more.

Just to clarify I have about 40 email addresses that "Diego" has used on Usenet over the last few years, but I don't know how many, if indeed any at all are currently active. He frequently changes them in a matter of days. I would imagine he may do this to avoid killfiles, or simply to avoid being traced. Given the lack of success he has with the second of those objectives I'm going to assume it's the first.

Persistent killfile evasion in order to atack another Usenet poster could also be a breach of an ISP's TOS. Perhaps anyone who has any regular contact with "Diego" on usenet and who finds he changes his handle to avoid their killfile could get in touch. Just a thought.
More Diego-spotting

As pointed out by reader HJP:
"You probably already noticed, but about two hours ago he changed his stats login from the very incriminating "solerito" to the more generic "mosul"."

Thanks to HJP for pointing this out. And as I told HJP that's not the kind of thing I tend to notice so if anyone spots anything else like that and wants to mail me with it I'll be sure to broadcast it here.
More from Leon Sparx
"I just got a bright idea. After renaming the filenames so his link wouldn't work, I created a file with the same filename as the old baghdad children picture, only this time the image contains text calling his site a fake."

That's right folks. For a limited time only (one presumes) the riverSbend fake blog bears a graphic saying "This website is fake. Find the real riverbend"

Thanks to Leon for that.
Strike 3!!!

Just in from Leon Sparx, the third victim of riverSbend's theft to take action:

"Thanks for pointing this out. I fell for this last night actually and asked the person to put up a link to my page in exchange for using my photo. I didn't realize at the time the page was bogus.

I just changed the filenames around so his link won't work, but we will of course see what happens."

Once again the riverSbend fake site has been defaced.

Now I'm no baseball expert folks, I'm from the UK, but three strikes... doesn't that mean "You're out!"
Another Victim of riverSbend's Theft Takes Action.

This just in from YouthNoise:

"Hello and thank you so much for your email.

We appreciate your effort to inform us of this infringement and have reported this to the appropriate YouthNOISE team members who will take action accordingly.

Best regards,

The YouthNOISE Team"

(Quick recap for new readers: YouthNoise had a graphic stolen by the riverSbend smear merchant to use on his site. I notified them of the theft a few days ago. I saw the graphic was no longer showing on the fake blog yesterday, and this mail explains why. Another small victory for Bending Truth)
Breaking News
A correspondent has just pointed out to me that it looks like our man, smear merchant "Diego" of the fake riverSbend blog has another blog on the go. It's still in its initial stages but it's at Henceforth I suppose to be known as riverbendS.

As can be seen it's still under construction. At this moment I'm going to be cautiously optimistic and assume it's the same guy retreating, as opposed to a new guy getting in on the action.

At worst I'd say it's the same guy diversifying and he's going to run two smear blogs at once. This seems the only viable conclusion based on the statistical impossibility of two separate idiots of such magnitude existing simultaneously in the same universe. I can specifically remember covering this very topic back in Physics class.
The Tenacity of the Cockroach
Question: When does an admirable and relentless pursuit of an objective cross the line into a sad inability to learn from one's mistakes?

I ask because as of this morning the fake riverSbend smear site again replaced the graphic we had yanked yesterday. This for the second time in less than a week. And because again the Diego, the riverSbend smear merchant, linked directly to a graphic from someone who again does not sound like he'd have much sympathy for Diego's objectives and methods. Put more succinctly, he doesn't sound like a nut.

This time the picture is of MidEastern children and the author Leon Sparx sounds like a decent guy. He has this to say about himself:

"I'm a 24-year-old college graduate who works in computers. Originally I was to spend 2.5 months backpacking Scandinavia. Norway proved quite expensive, so I went to eastern Europe. In Poland, I learned the Iraqi border had been opened. "

I will of course contact him forthwith.

On a sidebar:
I'm kind of feeling a degree of irrational inner conflict over this. Obviously it is my stated aim to get the riverSbend faker off the web but there's something in me crying out for a more worthy opponent. Am I going to daily update this blog only for him to repeat the same dumb mistakes over and over?

I'm just glad I wasn't under Diego's command back in Korea. I can picture him endlessly sending a pointman over the same peak to be repeatedly picked off by the same sniper. "Go for it man", Diego would say shoving the next soldier toward certain death, "Maybe this time the sniper won't shoot"

Why does he have to keep stealing so flagrantly from people who will have no sympathy whatever for his shabby objectives? (OK I'm jumping the gun saying that about Leon Sparx who has yet to raise an objection. But like I said I'm basing my conclusion that he won't like what riverSbend has done on my impression that he (Leon of course, not riverSbend) isn't a nut)

Seriously don't any right wing nuts have cameras? Couldn't he get a photo of anybody of vaguely MidEastern appearance and put it up himself. I know I shouldn't be giving the guy pointers, but Jeez, it just gets embarrassing for everyone to be involved with someone so thoroughly inept.

Tuesday, October 28, 2003

Strike Two!
As of now, it looks like we've scored another little victory over the fake riverSbend smear site. Yesterday I let the youthnoise website know that the smear propagandist was illegally using their graphic of a young Iraq girl to bolster his plagiarised blog.

I didn't hear back from youthnoise, but I note they've renamed the graphic as of today, so that the faker's link fails again. This time, he's not broadcasting an anti-Bush political message just a blank space but still...

Anyway I wonder if its ever going to dawn on Diego of the smear riverSbend blog that people don't like to have their art stolen to emblazon a hack smear job like the one he is running. I wonder how long he's going to stay online before he gets his site yanked for TOS violations. I'd reckon his days are probably numbered.

Obviously watch this space.

Well so much for my dilemma. The truth is out. Another blogger called John Gorenfeld, working entirely independently of me, and using different means has identified the riverSbend faker. I've contacted John, both to share war stories, and perhaps to temper my earlier remarks.

As I told John, it was an experience which occurred to an online acquaintance of mine wherein someone with an online grudge contacted her employer and caused her trouble at work (by producing out of context her online contributions) that has made me hesitant to draw the line between the riverSbend faker and his real identity. These are my scruples, and I don't mean to suggest anyone else is at fault for not holding them.

I would hope that if "Diego" as I'll now refer to our faker, has any integrity, any damn sense that he'll admit defeat and give it up. But if he was a man of worth he'd never have done what he did, so I'm not holding my breath.
Ethical Dilemma. And Possible Resolution

I've said in the past that I do know the real name and identity of the riverSbend faker. I've also said that I'm keeping it to myself in view of the fact that there are a lot of nuts out there and I don't want to take responsibility for what might happen if I release someone's real name to the public in a (highly) negative context. After all, I don't work at the Whitehouse.

Seriously I don't imagine anyone out of sympathy for Riverbend and antipathy towards her defiler is going to duff up a 70 year old man, for revenge but I'd imagine a deluge of unpleasant emails might result and for all I know riverSbend has a heart condition or other complaint which might be exacerbated.

I know, I know. He kind of deserves it. He's a total unremitting jerk of the highest order, a slimy lying dishonest toad of a man, and if it's unAmerican to try and smear and distort the free speech rights of someone because you don't like what they're saying (and I think it surely is) then he's disgrace to his country, arguably even the uniform he used to wear.

But somehow I just wouldn't feel right about naming him here. I doubt that's ever going to happen. But I will say this. Even in the last few days, I have very good reason to believe, that he was again impersonating another individual (who I will refer to as Mr C) who he harbours a dislike for and pretending to speak for that person, in a manner in which that person would never speak for themselves (I have contacted this person for verification that they indeed spoke the comments attributed to them but have as yet had no response).

This is unconscionable. To make a habit of impersonating people who's opinions you do not like on line is wrong. It is base dishonesty. And I will say this, while the riverSbend faker continues to use these low, unAmerican, dishonest tactics to smear his enemies I cannot guarantee that those people he impersonates will not be informed of the identity of the impersonator.

To be clear:
- unless the fake riverSbend blog ceases to be, or ideally, runs for a while with an apologetic retraction (possibly even written by Riverbend), I see no moral obligation on my part to withhold from Riverbend the identity of the person who is attempting to smear her. (On the understanding that she will act responsibly with that name, of course)

- If the riverSbend faker persists in impersonating Mr C or any other person I see no moral obligation on my part to withhold from Mr C or that other person the identity of the person who is attempting to smear them. (Again on the understanding mentioned above)

Give it up riverSbend. Truth will out, and liars only bring ignominy on the causes they attempt to further. You have embarked upon a foolish and invidious, and unlawful, course of action, making you, and perhaps even by association the US military and the Republican Party look shabby, and the time when you will have to give it up is drawing closer.
Snowballing contempt
riverSbend's fakery from October 27th:
Todays Tragedy by Zeyad
"The Mujahedeen have sent the Iraqi people their Ramadan greetings. Today, the first day of Ramadan, there were several bombings all around Baghdad. The deadliest was on the Red Cross in Sina'a street. An Ambulance full of explosives went past..."

This blog is starting to practically write itself. As a correspondent kindly pointed out this riverSbend thievery is from Zeyad, who writes the blog which is causing quite a stir on the internet at the moment. To an extent it's been credited, but I wonder does our lying propagandist really not know that it is still intellectual theft to reproduce and publish material - even if you put the author's name beside it - if you do not have their permission to do so?

I would suggest that if the riverSbend thief really wants to promote the healingiraq blog (which, while seeming genuine, does arguably paint a more pro-US picture than either Salaam Pax or Riverbend) that he just write a blog, admitting to being an ex-military, retirement age, pro-War, Clinton-despising, Republican party activist[1] and link approvingly to it.

Until the riverSbend blogger owns up to fact that he is not really an Iraqi working woman, that his only connection to Riverbend is that of any other parasite to its host, until he alters his blog to remove the entirely intended and dishonest similarities, until he stops stealing unattributed material without the author's approval, then he is still being a dishonest, smearing, cowardly, moronic, sad and bitter little man.

[1]From December 2002 until Jan 2003 the riverSbend plagiarist proudly proclaimed himself "an active member of the 'Republican Party.'" Taking this at face value, I'm not sure if he stopped being a Republican Party active member at this time, or if his deceitful, underhand dirty trick tactics are the work of someone who remains an active member of the party. My gut instinct is that he is not acting with any official authority. I can imagine the Republican party capable of almost any foul-up. But I fall short of imagining they'd be so incompetent as to enlist the services of the riverSbend blogger who is after all to dirty tricks what inspector Clouseau was to competent police work.

Monday, October 27, 2003

The Magpie Strikes Back.

The riverSbend faker now has posted on his site a couple of new entries. Of course being an assiduous watcher of the counterfeit blog I know that he did not post the entries on Friday 24th and Saturday 25th as he makes it appear. But I've decided I've already made my point about the faking of archives so I'm not going to do it anymore. I'm not going to create a fake Friday entry just because he did. All of this I really did write on Monday

RiverSbend's fake entry for Friday 24th Ramadan:
"The moon's conjunction is on Saturday October 25, 2003 at 12:50 UT i.e., 8:50 am Eastern Daylight Time - 5:50 am Pacific Daylight Time. On Oct 25, the moon is going to be less than 13 hours old on West coast of USA,..."

[Brian's comment - this is taken from the front page of Obviously this won't be there forever. But it's there now]

The blessed month has come to you. Allah has made fasting during it obligatory to you. During it, the gates to Paradise are opened and the gates to hellfire are locked...

[Brian's comment - this is straight from the Kuran it seems. Well maybe our thief is gaining scruples. He's not abridging any copyright here]

RiverSbend's fake entry for Saturday 25th:Guardian Special Report: IRAQ
Governments pledge billions,2763,1070603,00.html

[Brian's comment - fair enough an attributed link. But from an aging man in USA. Not from an Iraqi woman worker in Baghdad]

Saturday, October 25, 2003

Knight Takes Pawn

Well it was fun while it lasted. When I checked the fake riverSbend site this morning the anti-Bush image had been replaced. This time by a rather cutsie picture of what looks like a child. Is this supposed to be our blogger?

Again our faker has just linked to another site, making the source of his picture very plain. It's from this site Youth Noise, this page. This time it really is an Iraqi girl. A 12 year old Iraqi girl callen Belan and not a "simple woman worker". Now this site is not "political" in the sense of taking a for or against stance on the war on Iraq, as far as I can see. But it seems a nice well-intentioned site and this page gives readers an opportunity to send well wishes to children in Iraq.

How offended might they be by the possibly illegal use of their graphic? I'd guess not as offended as Mark Vallen was, since the use in this instance is not, as far as I can tell at this juncture such a direct corruption of the owner's artistic intent. But since they are supporting Iraqi young people and the faker riverSbend is trying to squash the voice of a young Iraqi person it's possible they'd object. I intend writing to them to find out. But not now. I'm a bit pushed for time.

Anyway at least this incident shows the riverSbend faker is still paying some attention to their site. They hadn't put up anything new since Tuesday 21 and the Dinar Returns to Iraq entry. I can't imagine why the faker has been so lax. From this ommision one might even think there hasn't been any good news to report since. And we all know this isn't so.

Friday, October 24, 2003

First Blood

This is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. It is just the end of the beginning. And other pomposities.

riverSbend says "Bush is a liar. Stop the war".

Note that's not the genuine Iraqi Riversbend blogger I'm talking about. But the fake proWar riverSbend site. This is what the fake proWar riverSbend blogger is announcing on his site this morning.

Why is the riverSbend faker sending out this message apparently contradicting the gist of what he's been saying so far? Who knows why his attitude seems to taken a 180 degree turn recently? Maybe he's found himself an Iraqi girlfriend!*

(*Sorry that's an in joke for now.)

No. The real reason that the fake proWar riverSbend blog has a graphic which says "Bush is a liar. Stop the war now" has nothing to do with riverSbend's change of heart. It has a little to do with me, but a lot more to do with Mark Vallen of art-for-a-change.

Mark as I predicted yesterday was not altogether happy with the use to which the faker riverSbend was putting his artwork. But rather than get angry about it, or threaten legal action, he did something which I personally thought was both clever, and more than a little amusing.

Since the riverSbend faker was, without any permission, perverting Mark's artwork by linking to his site and showing this photo of an anti-protestor on a deceitful pro-War propaganda site, Mark changed his graphic. The Iraq5a.jpg on the art-for-a-change site, no longer shows this protestor. Instead it shows a graphic saying "Bush is a liar. Stop the war now".

I'm going to reemphasise, no one hacked the riverSbend site, no one did anything morally questionable (well apart from riverSbend obviously). Mark Vallen altered his own site and since riverSbend was illegally linking to it, his site was changed by proxy.

As a final note, I'd also like to say that Bending Truth is not an anti-Bush site. The sentiments "Bush is a liar. Stop the war now" are Mark Vallen's. That is not to insult the intelligence of my readers and pretend I utterly disagree with those sentiments. But this site is not anti-Bush, it is pro-Truth. Its mission is to allow the voice of an Iraqi citizen to hit the web unalloyed by underhand, deceitful tactics as used by riverSbend.

That's first blood to the pro-Truth, anti-riverSbend contingent. Or more precisely to Mark Vallen. And if anyone wanted to check out his work at his site at, then what can I say - he's obviously a fine artist with a decent to great sense of humour.
Affirmative Action

As promised, I sent the following mail to Mark Vallen at yesterday to let him know that his artwork was being used illegitimately:

Hi Mark,
I came upon your site this morning. I suspect you may have reason to be displeased about how I did that, and I'd be very interested in hearing your reaction.

Let me explain. I don't know if you have been following the riverbend blogger on the internet ( It's written by a young Iraqi woman and describes in vivid terms her reactions to the US invasion. I believe it's a very important site.

Unfortunately someone who I believe to be a disgruntled US male, a vehement and partisan Bush supporter, probably in his fifties or over, has set up a spoiler site called (note the extra S). It is designed to look like riverbend's site, and still claims to be written by an Iraqi "girl" but it gives an entirely different message. In fact it is just a plagiarised collection of US govt and foreign news sources. You can read my detailed dissection of where every entry has been stolen from at my blog (

Now how does this relate to you? Well if you go to the fake site you will note that it includes in the top right-hand corner a picture of a supposedly Iraqi woman. Just a very quick look at the html shows it is in fact linked to your site. And is of a woman demonstrating against US sanctions against Iraq. (The fuller picture shows she is holding a child's coffin, though this is obscured from the cut-off version on the fake site)

My point in summary:
Your photo of a woman protesting US policy in Iraq is being used, presumably without your permission, to promote - by underhand means - US foreign policy in Iraq. This seems to me at the very least ironic, and probably unlawful.

It is my belief that the fake riverSbend blog should be removed from the internet. I think there is a very solid case for this happening. However I also think that it should exist online for a while with a public apology for what it has attempted to do - to smear an Iraqi woman and distort her use of her right to freedom of speech. And I am attempting to garner pressure to make that happen.

If you would like to examine my blog ( and make a public comment on how you feel about the real riverbend blog and the fake smear blog, and most particularly it's apparent infringing of your copyright, and distortion of your artistic intent I would like to publish it on my blog. Anyway thank you for your time and I look forward to your response,


Thursday, October 23, 2003

More unintentional comedy
I noted today that the main difference in appearance between the layout of the real Riverbend blog and the fake riverSbend blog is the photo of a (presumably Iraqi) woman in the top right hand corner in the fake riverSbend site (Fake RiverSbend's stolen photo). Obviously this is not really our blogger - but is it supposed to be? Well right above her head is copied the real Riverbend's lead in "Girl Blog from Iraq". This is certainly not the photograph of what I would consider a "girl".

But hey, who am I to say? It's possible a rather sullen looking Iraqi woman in her forties would call herself a girl. Of course elsewhere in the fake blog the blogger describes herself as a "woman" but I'm not going to make a big deal of whether that amounts to an inconsistency when there are so many other more glaring ones.

What I did want to point out though is that a very cursory look at the html code for this page shows that the image is from here. This is a cut off version of the following. Suddenly the Iraqi woman's sullen looking expression is given context. She's holding a coffin with the picture of child on it.

A further look at the site shows the explanation behind the picture:
"During the Save the Children of Iraq demonstration held on 8/15/200 in front of the Staples Center, Artists placed hundreds of small cardboard coffins around the demonstration area. Each coffin represented an Iraqi child who has died due to the U.S. imposed sanctions against that country. Each small coffin had a name in Arabic drawn on it along with a photo of an Iraqi child"

Now this is all a bit more confusing. This picture was taken in the US, at a demonstration against US foreign policy in Iraq. We don't even know for sure if this woman is an Iraqi. We can though be pretty sure that she isn't now in Iraq writing a blog about applauding the US occupation, I think. And we can even state with a fair degree of certainty that she wouldn't want her picture being used to *promote* - through false propaganda - US foreign policy. We can also I would suggest be fairly sure that the artist wouldn't want his art being used in this way either.

But we needn't speculate on that last point. There is a contact address on this webpage as well. I intend to use it, to ask the artist Mark Vallen how happy he is at having his copyright infringed and his picture used in a manner which is absolutely contrary to its artistic intent. The address is If I get a response I'll let you know.

Wednesday, October 22, 2003

My name is Brian. And I am an individual based in the US with a keen interest in politics and at this point in time particularly in the war in Iraq. Among the vast variety of available news sources I am particularly interested to hear voices from Iraq itself, as it seems much of the debate about the best course of action there seemed designed to bypass the citizens of that country.

Like many people I came across the Salaam Pax blogger earlier in the year. I followed closely the "Is he real or isn't he?" debate. Were these really the words of an Iraqi in Iraq? Or was this someone pretending to be one, for a prank or for more sinister purposes. This has now been answered pretty conclusively in the affirmative. Salaam Pax has had a book published and draws a regular paycheck from the Guardian, one of Britain's most venerable newspapers. But it's important to note the tendency in cyberspace to attempt to portray a voice as "not real" simply because one does not like the message.

After an early mention in Salaam's blog in March, Riverbend, another Iraqi, this time a women, who blogs at began posting in August. If anything she is a more gifted writer even than Pax, and her use of the English language would put many native speakers to shame with its imagery and emotiveness. With her approval by Salaam Pax and her authenticity of emotion I have never harboured doubt as to the fact that Riverbend is a genuine Iraqi citizen in Iraq. I have seen nothing that would persuade me otherwise in her words.

Is she a fan of the US invasion? Not entirely, for sure. But is she a Baathist, a Saddam loyalist as some have tried to suggest? No dispassionate and serious view could support that contention.

But some who dislike her message have gone even further than making these suggestions in an attempt to discredit her. A foreign - probably American - citizen has produced a similar blog, almost stealing her name, but writing at - note the extra S. This blog is a shabby, poorly cobbled together collection of material plagiarised from various foreign sources. It is not a blog by any true defintion.

Let me be clear - if an Iraqi citizen approves the US invasion and wishes to write about it, I applaud them. I for one will be eager to read it. But this is not an Iraqi citizen. This I will demonstrate - if not beyond all doubt, at least beyond all reasonable doubt.

In all likelihood, this is the work of an embittered American who does not like what Riverbend writes. But who is too cowardly to debate it honestly. Instead this individual preferred to set up this spoiler site, and try to deliberately lead people to believe that Riverbend's message has changed by deceivingly misleading them to it.

This person even produced fake archives predating Riverbend's blog in an attempt to suggest that the fake site predated it. I can produce conclusive proof here that not only *can* archives be faked. But that in this case they have been.

I am very aware that I noted just above how people attempt to smear as "not real" those with whom they disagree. I do not agree with riverSbend. But my conclusion that he is not a real Iraqi is not based merely on that fact. It is supported by a mass of evidence which I will produce here.

At a later date I will post the evidence I have as to this person's identity and their malicious intentions. For the moment this blog looks like a lot of date entries stretching back to July (except for one joke one from 1999). Each entry since then is a dissection of the fake RiverSbend's corresponding entry for that date. I show here that over 99% of the verbiage assembled at that location was written not by a simple Iraqi worker as the author would claim but by foreign journalists writing for other publications. Their work has been plagiarised without credit

At this point this blog is intended to shame the fake riverSbend blogger into giving up the game. And to provide some amusement for those with a passing interest in just how desperate some are to silence a message that does not correspond to their own worldview.

If this site is closed down or no more entries appear my readers should conclude that I have been subject to assassination or kidnapping by the American CIA and act accordingly.

(Just kidding - actually the riverSbend site is so poor it was more likely produced by Saddam Hussein himself than US intelligence since it shows at least one member of the pro-invasion contingent in such a dismal light.)

Accept no substitutes.

Proof That Blogspot Archives Can Be Faked

Proof The RiverSbend Archives Are Faked

RiverSbend Plagiarises the New York Times

Tuesday, October 21, 2003

RiverSbend wrote:
Dinar Returns to Iraq

Japan had about $150 million in Iraqi funds frozen in accounts there. So far almost $90 million has been returned to the development fund. $585 million more was identified in accounts in Switzerland, and $275 million has returned to Iraq. The United States has returned almost $2 Billion that was frozen and held in their banks
since the first war in 1991.
- posted by river @ 12:21 AM

[Brian’s Comment – very interesting. I first pointed out the flagrant plagiarism on the site to the believed culprit in the time between the last entry and this one. After this confrontation the perpetrator may have realized that the game was - to a degree – up, and that he would need to shift tactics This entry I cannot locate online as I have done with all the other entries below. A bit more checking though came up with this:

U.S.: Syrian-controlled banks hold $3 billion in Iraqi funds, Douglas Jehl, New York Times

“Some $150 million more in Iraqi funds has long been frozen by Japan, and about $90 million of that has been returned to the development fund. About $585 million more has been identified in accounts of the Bank of International Settlements in Switzerland, and $275 million of that has been returned.”

[Before that in the piece:]
“About $1.7 billion belonging to the former Iraqi government had been held in banks in the United States, where it had been frozen since the Gulf War of 1991.

So it appears our blogger, may be taking just a little more care to rewrite. Or else this is just lifted from a source I have been unable to find. Whatever it certainly isn’t being written from an Iraqi on the streets as this blog would have us believe. Watch this space as the game progresses]

Wednesday, October 15, 2003

RiverSbend wrote:
The New Dinar

Today we begin exchanging our two old currencies for a single new Iraqi Dinar, according to Coalition Provisional Authorities.


The exchange is a major logistical operation that involved flying the 2300 tons of currency in 747s into Baghdad and over 100 convoys, delivering over 700 tons of currency around the country. Click here for more information on the new currency.

- posted by river @ 3:07 AM

[Brian’s Comment – this is nothing new. Again like the David Kay blog thing it’s almost fair enough. It actually says things like “according to the [CPA]” and actually links to a CPA article ( However the main quotes e.g. “For years Iraqis have struggled with the difficulties of operating with two separate currencies” are adapted from the front page of the cpa site unattributed (NB this is accurate as of present but is obviously not going to be front page news forever) ]

Sunday, October 12, 2003

RiverSbend wrote:

First Transfer of Authority From Coalition to Iraqis

A significant event marking the return to normalcy for the Iraqi people occurred Oct. 7. Authority of a site was transferred back to the people of Iraq.


Bouhy and the rest of the guards were thrilled by the ceremony and the chance to be a part of history. “Now we can celebrate something for ourselves,” Bouhy said. “We did not have the opportunity to celebrate with the old regime.”

- posted by river @ 6:14 AM

[Brian’s Comment – this is a direct steal - First Transfer of Authority From Coalition to Iraqis, by Cpl. Todd Pruden, 372nd MPAD. We have already been familiarized with Cpl Pruden’s work in the Sept 18th entry. Note – one wonders what the fake blogger intends to suggest by reproducing this stuff as if it were original. Are we to suppose that this “simple Iraqi woman worker” was approaching US soldiers (quoted in the article) and canvassing for their opinions on the handover here – and getting neat little soundbites like “this will definitely be a centerpiece for this area”? The mind boggles. My feeling is that the blogger simply does not know what he’s doing. The blog is a very half-hearted and incompetent attempt and has no cogent, consistent or logical feel to it, the way a genuine blog does. NB the blogger even takes the image from the original and posts it in the blog]

Saturday, October 11, 2003

RiverSbend wrote:
Iraqis challenge 'Arabism'

I got a tour the other day of Baghdad's rebuilt airport, which is now quite beautiful, but still hasn't opened out of security concerns. Our tour guides even took us through passport control to show off their new computers that will check for incoming terrorists.


Root for them to succeed, for having such a state in the heart of the Arab world would be a very, very good thing.
- posted by river @ 6:36 AM

[Brian’s Comment: This, along with the US govt report supposedly posted before it was even written is another one of my favourite entries here. Chutzpah or extreme stupidity, it’s hard to say. An innocent naïf reading this might think “Oh interesting, but why is this “simple Iraqi woman worker” being given a tour of the airport”. A slightly less innocent naïf might add: And why did they get exactly the same tour as Thomas Friedman, one of the most world famous MidEast journalist, who described his airport tour in the New York Times thusly just a few days before:

Telling the Truth in Iraq,By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN
“I got a tour the other day of Baghdad's rebuilt airport, which is now quite beautiful, but still hasn't opened out of security concerns. Our tour guides even took us through passport control to show off their new computers that will check for incoming terrorists.”

[Brian’s Comment – note how our faker didn’t even bother to change in the last line that “them” to “us”. Thomas Friedman is not writing as an Iraqi. And of course, neither is our blogger]

Saturday, October 04, 2003

RiverSbend wrote:
Kay Reports Further

A few people pointed out this blogger to me. (

Yesterday David Kay gave a telephone intereview to reporters, in which he elaborated on his written report in ways that were, in some respects, quite helpful. The highlights:
- posted by river @ 8:26 AM

[Brian’s Comment – nothing (much) to see here. Our fake blogger links approvingly to a real one. If this was an Iraqi doing this, or a US citizen honestly admitting this is what they were doing there is no problem here. But a US citizen pretending to be an Iraqi so they can approvingly point to another website. Well like everything else to do with this site, it stinks.]