LINK Smearing Soldiers The Gray Lady's Killer-GI Lie By Ralph Peters THE New York Times is trashing our troops again. With no new "atrocities" to report from Iraq for many a month, the limping Gray Lady turned to the home front. Front and center, above the fold, on the front page of Sunday's Times, the week's feature story sought to convince Americans that combat experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan are turning troops into murderers when they come home. Heart-wringing tales of madness and murder not only made the front page, but filled two entire centerfold pages and spilled onto a fourth. The Times did get one basic fact right: Returning vets committed or are charged with 121 murders in the United States since our current wars began. Had the Times' "journalists" and editors bothered to put those figures in context - which they carefully avoided doing - they would've found that the murder rate that leaves them so aghast means that our vets are five times less likely to commit a murder than their demographic peers. The Times' public editor, Clark Hoyt, should crunch the numbers. I'm even willing to spot the Times a few percentage points (either way). But the hard statistics from the Justice Department tell a far different tale from the Times' anti-military propaganda. A very conservative estimate of how many different service members have passed through Iraq, Afghanistan and Kuwait since 2003 is 350,000 (and no, that's not double-counting those with repeated tours of duty). Now consider the Justice Department's numbers for murders committed by all Americans aged 18 to 34 - the key group for our men and women in uniform. To match the homicide rate of their peers, our troops would've had to come home and commit about 150 murders a year, for a total of 700 to 750 murders between 2003 and the end of 2007. In other words, the Times unwittingly makes the case that military service reduces the likelihood of a young man or woman committing a murder by 80 percent. Yes, the young Americans who join our military are (by self- selection) superior by far to the average stay-at-home. Still, these numbers are pretty impressive, when you consider that we're speaking of men and women trained in the tools of war, who've endured the acute stresses of fighting insurgencies and who are physically robust (rather unlike the stick-limbed weanies the Times prefers). All in all, the Times' own data proves my long-time contention that we have the best behaved and most ethical military in history. Now, since the folks at the Times are terribly busy and awfully important, let's make it easy for them to do the research themselves (you can do it, too - in five minutes). Just Google "USA Murder Statistics." The top site to appear will be the Department of Justice's Bureau of Justice Statistics. Click on it, then go to "Demographic Trends." Click on "Age." For hard numbers on the key demographics, click on the colored graphs. Run the numbers yourself, based upon the demographic percentages of murders per every 100,000 people. Then look at the actual murder counts. Know what else you'll learn? In 2005 alone, 8,718 young Americans from the same age group were murdered in this country. That's well over twice as many as the number of troops killed in all our foreign missions since 2001. Maybe military service not only prevents you from committing crimes, but also keeps you alive? Want more numbers? In the District of Columbia, our nation's capital, the murder rate for the 18-34 group was about 14 times higher than the rate of murders allegedly committed by returning vets. And that actually understates the District's problem, since many DC-related murders spill across into Prince George's County (another Democratic Party stronghold). In DC, an 18-34 population half the size of the total number of troops who've served in our wars overseas committed the lion's share of 992 murders between 2003 and 2007 - the years mourned by the Times as proving that our veterans are psychotic killers. Aren't editors supposed to ask tough questions on feature stories? Are the Times' editors so determined to undermine the public's support for our troops that they'll violate the most-basic rules of journalism, such as putting numbers in context? Answer that one for yourself. Of course, all of this is part of the disgraceful left-wing campaign to pretend sympathy with soldiers - the Times column gushes crocodile tears - while portraying our troops as clichéd maniacs from the Oliver Stone fantasies that got lefties so self-righteously excited 20 years ago (See? We were right to dodge the draft . . .). And it's not going to stop. Given the stakes in an election year, the duplicity will only intensify. For an upcoming treat, we'll get the film "Stop-Loss," starring, as always, young punks who never served in uniform as soldiers. This left-wing diatribe argues that truly courageous troops would refuse to return to Iraq - at a time when soldiers and Marines continue to re-enlist at record rates, expecting to plunge back into the fight. Those on the left will never accept that the finest young Americans are those who risk their lives defending freedom. Sen. John Kerry summed up the views of the left perfectly when he disparaged our troops as too stupid to do anything but sling hamburgers. And The New York Times will never forgive our men and women in uniform for their infuriating successes in Iraq. Ralph Peters' latest book is "Wars of Blood and Faith." ------------------ Always glad to see someone take the NYT to task for, well, being themselves. God Bless the USA and its free press.