This was first reported at FreeRepublic on Sunday, September 9 at 6:55 PM Pacific Time (3:55 PM Eastern), with follow-up posts here, here, and here. The incident took place on or some time prior to Friday, September 7. The original Freeper report, with plentiful pictures, states that:
..... It looks like the person who did this walked along The Wall with some type of container, perhaps hidden at their side so that they could squirt the oily substance without being caught in the act. ..... It is unknown who did this to The Wall, and apparently the US Park Police did not know about this damage until today; though the Park Service employees knew about it.
There is a two-part YouTube video on the incident. Part 1 deals with damage to the East wall (the obvious damage is very visible beginning at about the 2-minute mark; Part 2 deals with damage to the West Wall, and includes some discussion with National Park Service personnel. The chronicler notes that pressure washing was not going to be enough to undo all of the damage, and states that:
There really is no way for anybody to declare this was accidental.
A collection of over 60 pictures relating to the damage is here. Old Media coverage has been sparse to non-existent. A New York Times search on "Vietnam Memorial" (not in quotes) shows no relevant coverage. The Washington Times's story of September 11 does not identify the date of the incident. The Washington Post carried its story ("Oily Substance Found on the Wall") on Wednesday, September 12, at Page B03. Even at that point, Park Service spokesperson Bill Line was claiming that "Until this investigation is completed, it is premature to speculate whether any intentional act was committed." One wonders if the Post would have bothered to cover the story at all had two local TV stations not scooped the paper on the previous day (here and here). A date-ranged September 8-14 Google News search on "Vietnam Memorial" (not in quotes) shows very few Old Media stories. More than a few people do not understand why the National Park Service is taking so long to acknowledge the obvious. At Human Events on Friday, Michelle Oddis noted that "Anyone who has seen photos or video of the trail of gunk on the black glossy walls would definitely not see it as an accident." Another Human Events writer, Ronald Winter ("Damaged Vietnam Memorial Has Park Service Walking on Eggshells"), gave readers this unsettling assessment I have not seen elsewhere:
The Park Service is hopeful, but not certain, that when the material is finally removed it will not have left any permanent damage.
I believe there is a more-than-small chance that someone either involved with or supportive of the International ANSWER protest that took place yesterday knew that people associated with the Gathering of Eagles would be guarding the capital's memorials this weekend to ensure that there would not be a disgraceful replay of the damage done at the Capitol Building by the ANSWER hordes earlier this year. So the vandal(s) decided to do the damage ahead of all that. It's also worth asking why, even though the incident was known well before David Petraeus's appearances before Congress took place, no non-New Media outlet did anything with this story -- not that much was ultimately done anyway -- until after the General's testimony was over. Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.