UPDATE: I’ve published a critical followup to this post, both because I’ve gotten specific emails accusing Garlasco of being a Stormfront.org contributor (100% not true) and because there’s a general risk that this controversy is becoming one about him personally (misses the point). He’s a guy who has a lot of inchoate sensibilities when it comes to Jews and the Jewish State, and there’s obviously something going on that’s consistently tilting his reports in an anti-Israel direction. If he was just incompetent then 50% of his mistakes would favor Israel.
He should never have been tasked with producing reports about the Middle East, if for no other reason than there’s something moving him other than level-headed analysis. It’s not straightforward and its not vulgar, but it’s obviously doing work.
But this isn’t about him as an individual. It’s about HRW’s institutional culture, where people couldn’t tell that something was amiss because everyone holds the same opinions he does. His anti-Israel biases are literally institutionalized in that organization. As I said at the bottom of this post, this is their mess as much or more than it is his. More elaboration at the followup.
ORIGINAL: There are two Marc Garlascos on the Internet. One is a top human rights investigator who, having joined Human Rights Watch after several years with the Pentagon, has become known for his shrill attacks on Israel. The other is a Marc Garlasco who’s obsessed with the color and pageantry of Nazism, has published a detailed 430 page book on Nazi war paraphernalia, and participates in forums for Nazi souvenir collectors.
Both Marc Garlascos were born on September 4, 1970. Both have Ernst as their middle name. Both live in New York, NY. Both have a maternal grandfather who fought for the Nazis. I’ve put links and screenshots on all this after the jump, and you can click through for full-sized versions. It’s hard to escape the conclusion that both Marc Garlascos are the same person.
Bloggers and activists concerned about Israel have been baffled and frustrated by the first Garlasco almost since he joined HRW. On his public photography site he posts gratuitous Palestinian and Lebanese death porn in between galleries of cute Western-looking kids playing soccer (no link – keeping his kids out of it). He provides a seemingly never-ending stream of interviews to all kinds of outlets, where he spins tales about ostensible Israeli atrocities. The only problem is that many of these tales – per Soccer Dad and IsraPundit and Elder of Ziyon and NGO Monitor and CAMERA and LGF – are biased and inaccurate. That doesn’t stop Garlasco from putting them into the kind of HRW reports that make their way into international anti-Israel condemnations and academic anti-Israel dissertations.
Then there’s the second Marc Garlasco, who I caught wind of from Elder of Ziyon. Elder had just finished tearing apart another one of HRW Garlasco’s anti-Israel reports when he found the Amazon profile of collector Garlasco. This Garlasco’s Amazon book reviews show a nearly obsessive knowledge of Nazi-era Luftwaffe Flak and Army Flak. A little more searching revealed that he’s written a gigantic book on the subject that retails for over $100. He regularly participates in forums about Nazi medals under the handle Flak 88, where he posts galleries of his prizes and admires what others have managed to collect. On those forums he uses the email firstname.lastname@example.org, which points to a family genealogy site he set up in 2002.
If both Garlascos are the same, Human Rights Watch almost certainly knows about his creepy hobby. It took me less than an hour on Google to confirm Elder’s hunch to my satisfaction, and not much longer to lock the whole thing down. There’s even an Amazon widget displaying Garlasco’s book at the bottom of his Huffington Post article, though that may be automatically generated. The book might even be listed on his CV because, after all, none of this is illegal. Just potentially unseemly.
The collector Marc Garlasco certainly doesn’t keep his day job secret from his fellow memorabilia collectors. There are at least two public references to his life as an HRW investigator on the forums. In one thread he posts dozens upon dozens of pictures from his collection at the end of 2007, which he describes as having been a “very lucky” year. A friend responds “Jeez Louise!! I had no idea HRW paid the big bucks!!” In another thread he comments on a badge and gushes “I would kill for that – WOW!” A friend responds “now now, HRW boy, don’t go overboard!”
So we have to assume he’s not leading a double life and that his employers know about his extracurriculars. If so we can also safely assume they’ve investigated the numerous demonstrable errors in his anti-Israel writeups. They presumably concluded that his apologism for antisemitic genocidal Hamas lunatics is unrelated to his obsession with antisemitic genocidal Nazi lunatics. That would be interesting to hear.
If Garlasco has been less than forthright about what he does in his off-time – and if HRW hasn’t taken an hour to Google him and figure it out for themselves – that would be interesting in a different way.
Either way, someone needs to explain why he keeps getting sent to the Middle East to write debunked report after debunked report, lest people suspect that he has an unseemly motive for his consistently anti-Israel errors.
A profile of collector Marc Garlasco from one of his forums, tying together his email, birthday, name, and Flak88 handle:
Screenshots from collector Garlasco’s Amazon review page, showing his Sept. 4 birthday and his New York, NY hometown:
If you follow his email address to garlasco.com you find that his birth year is 1970 and his middle name is Ernst:
And here’s yet another forum, this one selling the Marc Garlasco / Flac88 tome. The book also sells on a bunch of other sites and as a used book on Amazon. But this page is one of the places where his online handle is listed along with the rest of his info:
Again from the collector Marc Garlasco’s Amazon review page, the story about how his maternal grandfather fought for the Nazis. It can’t be his paternal grandfather because the review right below talks about how the paternal grandfather had arrived in America at the turn of the century:
For myself this book was an eye-opener. My grandfather was in Flak from 1938-1945. He began as a range-finder (Entfernungsmesser) operator on 88s preparing for sea-lion, and later became a radar operator. This probably saved his life. As more and more Flak men were pulled into line units to fight on the ground in Russia and elsewhere, the skilled radar operators stayed on the Western Front to monitor the daily fleets of aircraft flying to Germany and they provided what little early-warning the Luftwaffe would have until everything collapsed. It gave me a better understanding of my grandfather’s service as well as an appreciation for what Westermann terms the world’s most advanced air-defense network at the time.
Marc Ernst Garlasco was born on Sept. 4th 1970 in New York City, NY to Albino Joseph Harlasco and Notburga Elizabeth Grossman. He is a former Intelligence Officer for the Defense Intelligence Agency at the Pentagon and is currently a senior military analyst at Human Rights Watch and is HRW’s resident expert on battle damage assessment, military operations, and interrogations. He also leads HRW’s work on Abu Ghurayb, civilian military contractors, and non-lethal weapons.
Garlasco flew to Germany on behalf of the Pentagon at least a dozen times, where he… visited relatives. His mother is German, and his German grandfather was constantly asking him: “Why on earth are you in the military?” The grandfather, a former soldier in the German Wehrmacht, had long ago become a fervent pacifist. “I experienced a war, Marc,” he told his grandson, “and it’s horrible.”
Again – don’t mistake all these blockquotes and screenshots as evidence of some kind of hard-nosed journalism. This is just due diligence. In total all this material took no more than 90 minutes to compile and a few hours to organize and write up. If these are the same Garlasco, he’s not going of his way to link his private and his public lives – but he’s not skulking in anonymity either. This is HRW’s mess to explain as much or more than it is his.
* Is Israel using illegal weapons in its offensive on Gaza? [Ha'aretz]
* Israel Used Phosphorus to Torch Hamas Hideouts: Human Rights Watch (Updated) [Danger Room]
* Off the marc [Soccer Dad]
* The Incredible Marc Garlasco [IsraPundit]
* Some research avenues for Gaza "civilians" [Elder of Ziyon]
* HRW’s Garlasco’s latest article: inaccurate and biased [NGO Monitor]
* Prestigious Award for Tendentious Spread [CAMERA]
* Bad pennies [LGF via American Thinker]
* Human Rights Watch Shill Has Meltdown – Rants About “Sharanskys Of The World,” Dares Critics To Find “One Incident” Of HRW Bias (UPDATED: Nasrallah Bragged About Using Human Shields) [MR]
* Human Rights Watch Earns Their Saudi Pay, Publishes Another Thinly-Sourced Report Demonizing Israel (UPDATE: Video Of Hamas Soldiers Hiding Behind White Flags) [MR]
* HRW’s pattern of bias in its "Precisely Wrong" report [Elder of Ziyon]
* The Banality of Rick Ayers or, Hiding in Plain Sight [Garlasco / HuffPo]
* 2007 Annual Update [Wehrmacht Awards]
* Bullion Flak Trade / Spec Patch –Pretty Neat! [Wehrmacht Awards]
* Profile for Flak88 [German Combat Awards]
* Reviews Written by Marc E. Garlasco "email@example.com" (NY, NY USA) [Amazon]
* Family Tree [Garlasco.com]
* The Flak Badges Book [Kampfgruppemedals]
* Marc Garlasco [Wiki]
* Marc E. Garlasco [AllExperts]
* Marc Garlasco [LinkedIn]
* Marc Garlasco Search [Facebook]
* The Pentagon Official Who Came in From the Cold [Speigel]
* HRW: “No Basis” For Claims That Hezbollah Used Human Shields. MR: What About All The Photos And Videos [Video]
* Human Rights NGOs: We Don’t Talk About Hamas’s War Crimes Because They’re Too Blatant And Savage
* Human Rights Watch Shill Has Meltdown – Rants About “Sharanskys Of The World,” Dares Critics To Find “One Incident” Of HRW Bias (UPDATED: Nasrallah Bragged About Using Human Shields)