Rangers Lead the Way in Exposing Author as a Fraud

By Richard Leiby
The Washington Post
Sunday, May 2, 2004; Page D03

In the Style section last summer we profiled a Los Angeles writer named Micah Ian Wright, who'd just published a shrill antiwar poster book called "You Back the Attack! We'll Bomb Who We Want!" In his book, he described himself as a veteran of combat, a former Army Ranger whose experiences during the 1989 invasion of Panama turned him into a peacenik. In interviews with The Post and other media, he played up that background.

Wright, it turns out, is a liar. He never served in the military -- and confessed that last week to his publisher, Seven Stories Press, after we insisted on evidence of his service. Pursuing a tip from real Rangers who'd never heard of Wright, we filed three Freedom of Information Act requests with separate Army commands -- and last month finally confirmed that Wright never served.

"I feel awful about it. It was a lie that just grew and grew and grew," Wright, 34, told us Friday. He said mounting combat deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan, including that of Ranger Pat Tillman, compound his sense of remorse: "I plan to make a public apology on my Web site []."

Seven Stories has canceled publication of Wright's next book, "If You're Not a Terrorist, Then Stop Asking Questions," due out in two months. It also will remove from future printings of the first book his detailed and wholly fictional account of parachuting into Panama under fire during Operation Just Cause. Wright's book of satirically "remixed" World War II propaganda posters was a minor success, selling more than 20,000 copies. It carried endorsements from two WWII vets, novelist Kurt Vonnegut and historian Howard Zinn.

"The romance of his military background rang a bell with me and made me like him a lot," Vonnegut told us Friday. "You almost want to say, 'So what else is new?' Human beings are terrible liars. I still like what he did. He's a liar, but I still like his pictures."