It's been almost six years since Air Force Major Jill Metzger disappeared from a shopping mall while deployed to Manas AB, Kyrgyzstan in September 2006. Metzger resurfaced a few days later, with an incredible tale of kidnapping, over-powering her abductors and racing almost 30 miles to freedom (the Air Force officer happens to be a champion marathon runner).
It sounded too good to be true, but the military media largely fell in line with the "public" account of Metzger's ordeal. Thankfully, Glenn MacDonald and the crew at Militarycorruption.com didn't buy the official version of events. Over the years that followed, they produced a number of exclusives on the Metzger case, indicating that she staged her own disappearance. Among their revelations:
-- Metzger showed no signs of having run 30 miles barefoot through the Kyrgyz countryside in her "bid for freedom." In fact, her feet appeared to be in remarkably good shape, with no indications of cuts, bruises or blood.
-- The Air Force officer, who is a natural blond, was a brunette at the time of her repatriation. Dye on her hands indicated that Metzger did the job herself. Would a woman fleeing her kidnappers take the time to change her hair color? Or was the makeover aimed at covering up other activities that were the real reason for his disappearance.
-- Kyrgyz authorities doubted her story from the start, and even interviewed a local abortion doctor who claimed he performed that procedure on Major Metzger during the time she was missing. However, local cops were never allowed to follow-up on their initial interview with Metzger; she was flown out of the country less than three days after her return.
-- A source inside the Air Force Office of Special Investigations (AFOSI), which probed Metzger's disappearance, told Militarycoruption.com that the USAF personnel officer flunked at least two polygraphs after her escape. One exam, administered at her home station of Moody AFB, GA, showed clear signs of deception.
-- No rape kit or pregnancy test was ever administered to Metzger, despite her alleged abduction by male suspects.
-- AFOSI agents investigating the case were told to "lay off" Metzger, because she had "someone big by the b---s."
-- Air Force General Gary North, then a senior commander in the region, made a surprise appearance at Manas shortly after Metzger's rescue, offering an official "welcome home." He pressed his ceremonial coin into the palms of Air Force security forces personnel on duty in the area, telling them "You didn't see a thing."
Some of the better reporting by Militarycorruption.com on the Metzger case can be found here.
While the incident--and the apparent cover-up--are well known to readers of this blog, the controversial case is bubbling up again. On Monday, the Air Force confirmed that Major Metzger was "kidnapped" back in 2006, based on an extensive examination of forensic evidence, and interviews with dozens of individuals connected to the case. More from Air Force Times:
On Feb. 3, investigators officially closed the case of Maj. Jill Metzger, who disappeared for several days in September 2006. She later said she had been kidnapped and had managed to escape.
“The Air Force Office of Special Investigations and several outside agencies then conducted a comprehensive and detailed examination of all the facts in this case and continued the investigation as long as was necessary in order to get to the truth,” Air Force spokeswoman Maj. Tracy A. Bunko said.after talking to hundreds of people, canvassing areas of Kyrgyzstan and conducting a forensic analysis of the evidence, investigators determined that all of the evidence supported Metzger’s account of what had happened, Bunko said in an email.
Of course, the service didn't release any of the forensic evidence or witness interviews that confirmed the kidnapping. And the Air Force assessment doesn't really address any of the questions raised by Militarycorruption.com. What about the failed polygraphs? What about Metzger's refusal to speak with investigators after being flown out of Kyrgyzstan? What about the evidence developed by local police? And what types of forensic evidence led the Air Force to its conclusion? As noted previously, Major Metzger reportedly refused to submit to medical tests that might offer new details about her abduction and those allegedly responsible for it.
In its account, Air Force Times said the service's recent review "debunks" an on-line smear campaign aimed at Major Metzger. Funny, but we don't see how legitimate questions--posed by Militarycorruption.com and other other blogs--represents a smear campaign. And without more details, we don't see how those questions have been answered. You'd think Air Force Times would be asking some of those questions--or at least pressing the service's p.r. flack for more details--but (as with other stories on the Metzger case), the paper has been happy to regurgitate military spin.
Of course, the real question is why this issue is surfacing again. After all, it's been almost six years and (to our knowledge) no Congressional committee was forcing the USAF to resolve the matter. We believe the motivation is two-fold: first, General North is preparing to retire later this year, and tidying up the Metzger case eliminates an issue that might cause some uncomfortable questions during a future session on The Hill, perhaps during confirmation hearings for an appointment in a future Romney or Obama Administration.
The other reason is rooted in Major Metzger's own career. After being placed on the "temporarily retired" list for a couple of years, she returned to active duty in 2010, at Andrews AFB, MD. She's probably up for Lieutenant Colonel, and resolving the Kyrgyz matter would improve her prospects for promotion.
Here's hoping that Glenn MacDonald can pry loose a little more information from the OSI, and shed some real light on how this case was finally "closed." Then as now, the Metzger scandal stinks to high heaven, and not even the passage of time can change that, despite Air Force efforts to sweep it under the rug, once and for all.