A SERE Instructor on Waterboarding

Update: apologies to writer Malcom Nance, who I carelessly misrepresented as a SEAL.

Over at the Small Wars Journal, Malcom Nance talks about waterboarding and torture.

I’ve talked – indirectly – about it before, and cited John Boyd, who made the basic point perfectly clearly:

Observations Related To Moral Conflict

No fixed recipes for organization, communications, tactics, leadership, etc.

Wide freedom for subordinates to exercise imagination and initiative – yet harmonize within intent of superior commanders.

Heavy reliance upon moral (human values) instead of material superiority as basis for cohesion and ultimate success.

Commanders must create a bond and breadth of experience based upon trust – not mistrust – for cohesion.
(slide 118)

I’ll have more to say about this in the next few days. Amazingly, I think I can tie TNR into it.

Why Beauchamp Matters.

One issue that keeps coming up is the question of why this whole Beauchamp thing matters? The neoleft blogs – John Cole et alia – are all “hey, they have a small circulation, it’s not a big deal why obsess over it?”

Well, because memes drive ideas, and ideas – in the media monoculture – drive coverage, which in turn drive how we understand what’s going on.
I wrote about it before (yeah, I say that a lot, I know, and it bugs me too) when I talked about the murder of Karen Toshima and the perception of gang violence:

For most of the next decade, as gang crime rose, peaked in 1995, and then fell dramatically, the narrative of life in Los Angeles was the omnipresent fear of gang violence.

That fear was fed by sensational media – first news, then movies and television – and it defined and limited life in Los Angeles.

Was gang violence a real issue in Los Angeles before 1988? Of course. Was it something worth spending significant resources on and attempting to suppress? Yes.

But the monomaniacal focus on Los Angeles as the “Gang Capital of the World” created a false impression that Crips and Bloods ruled the streets. Where did that perception come from? From reporting the, like a hip-hop drumbeat, regularly pounded home the point

In a few small pockets, for a few years, yes. But the vast majority of people in Los Angeles – people like me – drove throughout the city, ate in restaurants throughout the city (three of my favorites are in South Central and two in East LA).

But the perception of the city changed. Policies changed as a result – policies that may or may not have been good ones.

In Iraq the stakes are much higher. But the mechanisms we’re using to sort them out really are no different. Wouldn’t it be nice if they were?

Today, the WaPo gives a good example of why it’s worth fighting the TNR issue:

‘I Don’t Think This Place Is Worth Another Soldier’s Life’
After 14 months in a Baghdad district torn by mounting sectarian violence, members of one U.S. unit are tired, bitter and skeptical.

I don’t for an instant question the validity of what the Post reporter wrote, or the honesty of what the serving soldiers said.

But I’m willing to bet that I could – in a day or two of research I dont have time to do – find similar cites from troops in World War II or any other war that you choose. No one hates war the way soldiers do; talking to the soldiers that I know has convinced me of that.

But sometimes they have to be fought.

And deciding to fight them – and to win, and most important, how to win, having decided so – is important (yes, that’s a statement I’ll need to take some time and defend in comments), and so it’s important that we have a complete view of what’s going on.

A news media full of nothing but the heroic exploits of our troops isn’t a complete view; neither is one that says our troops are brutal and brutalized, helpless and yet omnipotent, and that the reality of war with either the one TNR stubbornly clings to or the one presented in this article.

We need truth to see our way through this, and truth is ambiguous, morally complex, and fits no one’s set agendas.

It’s Islamofascism Research Week

A call for suggestions on reading material…

Since it’s the end of “Islamofacsism Week”, I thought I’d toss a question and a request for research help out there to the crowd. I’ve argued for a while that we face a significant problem worldwide with a movement within Islam (note that ‘a movement within’ =! ‘Islam’) that is absolutist, violent, nihilistic, and expansionist, and that we need to break the movement before it becomes the dominant one within the Muslim community (at which point my little equation may be incorrect).

In my view the roots of this movement are as European as they are Islamic.

There are three European-influenced movements that I’ve found in modern Islamic thought; Pan-Arabism – the notion of the ‘Arab People’ as one nation; the Palestinian movement; and the Muslim Brotherhood, and it’s descendents down to Al Ida.

All three have strong European roots, and in two cases, appear to have foundational connections to (actual as opposed to Bushitler) Nazism.

I wrote about Pan-Arabism a while ago:

I picked up Bernard Lewis’ collection of essays ‘From Babel to Dragomans‘ and have been working through it in my odd moments. One of his essays, on Pan-Arabism, makes the following connections:

…the first theoretical statement of pan-Arabism is the work of a certain ‘Abd al-Rahman al-Kawakibi (?1849 – 1902), nowadays generally regarded as the ideological pioneer of pan-Arabism…He is principally remembered for two books, both of which were attacks on the Ottoman Sultanate in general and on the reigning Sultan, Abdulhamid II, in particular…The second [book], entitled Umm al-Qura (The Mother of Cities, i.e. Mecca)…is hardly more original than the other [Lewis suggests that Kawakibi’s first book was a hash of Della Tirannide, by Alfieri], being to a large extent a reflection of the views expressed by the English Romantic poet Wilfred Scawen Blunt in his book The Future of Islam, published in 1881 and setting forth the idea of an Arab Caliphate.

Bin-Laden’s core philosophy is thus the restoration of something that never was – an Arab (as opposed to Turkish) Caliphate. Something suggested originally by a British Romantic poet. The philosophical lineage is there; now it just needs to be explored. Blunt’s book is at the UCLA library, and sometime in the next few weeks, I’ll go pick it up and report.

(I never did, but will…)

and

Lewis continues:

The second intellectual precursor of pan-Arabism was another Syrian, this time a Christian, Negib (Najib) Azoury (birthdate unknown – died 1916). Azoury was a Maronite or Uniate Catholic Christian who studied in Istanbul and Paris and later became a provincial official in Jerusalem. He left his post in unknown circumstances and seems to have been condemned to death in absentia in 1904, when he fled to Paris. In the following year, he published a book, Le reveil de la nation arabe. He spent most of the remaining years of his life in Paris, where he formed an organization – probably a one-man show – called the ‘Ligue de la patrie arabe’ … The name, it has been remarked is reminiscent of the anti-Drefusard ‘Ligue de la patrie francaise’, which flourished in the late eighteen nineties. His writings reflect the anti-Semetic obsessions with worldwide Jewish power which were current in anti-Dreyfusard circles…

So the roots of Islamist thought can be seen as going back to the salons of London and cafes of Paris. That matters, both because it shows that the philosophy we’re fighting against is a relatively recent one – this isn’t thousands of years old – and that it had other paths to follow:

The new and significant elements in Kawakibi’s writings are 1) his clear and explicit rejection of the Ottoman Caliphate; 2) his insistence on the Arabic-speaking peoples as a corporate entity with political rights of its own and 3) most radical of all, his idea of a spiritual Caliphate which would presumably leave politics and government to a secular authority separate from religious authority and law, entirely within the scope of human decision and action.
(emphasis added)

The Muslim Brotherhood was founded in the 1920’s by an Egyptian schoolteacher, Hassan al-Banna. He is often sited as having corresponded with and received aid from the Nazi Party; one thing I’d love to get pointed to is one or two good biographies of him. al-Banna was one of Qutb’s mentors, and Qutb’s writings strongly influenced not only the Muslim Brotherhood but the movements that we loosely call ‘Islamist’ today.

And finally, we have Mohammad al-Husayni, the Mufti of Jerusalem (so created by the British, btw), who spent World War II in Germany trying to be helpful to the Reich. al-Husayni was Yassir Arafat’s predecessor and as reported, sponsor. Here’s also someone I’d like to know more about.

But I think that it’s fair to suggest that there are enough ties to fascism that it’s not outrageous to use the term. But it’s always worth learning more. And learning more about the links between European anti-Enlightenment philosophy and Islamism as well.

the common roots may explain why it is that anti-enlightenment movements and Islamist movements seem to make such good bedfellows.

OK, TNR Is Looking More And More Like Just A Pile Of C**p.

See the update at the bottom.

Here’s TNR’s response to the Beauchamp documents that have been making the rounds.

Since our last statement on “Shock Troops,” a Diarist by Private Scott Thomas Beauchamp that we published in our July 23 issue, we have continued our investigation into the article’s veracity. On Wednesday, for a brief period, The Drudge Report posted several documents from the Army’s own investigation into Beauchamp’s claims. Among those documents was a transcript of a phone conversation that TNR Editor Franklin Foer and TNR Executive Editor J. Peter Scoblic had with Beauchamp on September 6 – the first time the Army had granted TNR permission to speak with Beauchamp since it cut off outside contact with him on July 26. During this conversation, Beauchamp refused to discuss his article at all: “I’m not going to talk to anyone about anything,” he said. In light of that phone call, some have asked why The New Republic has not retracted “Shock Troops.”

The answer is simple: Since this controversy began, The New Republic’s sole objective has been to uncover the truth. As Scoblic said during the September 6 conversation: “[All we want out of this, and the only way that it is going to end, is if we have the truth. And if it’s – if it’s certain parts of the story are bullshit, then we’ll end that way. If it’s proven to be true, it will end that way. But it’s only going to end with the truth.” The September 6 exchange was extremely frustrating; however, it was frustrating precisely because it did not add any new information to our investigation. Beauchamp’s refusal to defend himself certainly raised serious doubts. That said, Beauchamp’s words were being monitored: His squad leader was in the room as he spoke to us, as was a public affairs specialist, and it is now clear that the Army was recording the conversation for its files.

The next day, via his wife, we learned that Beauchamp did want to stand by his stories and wanted to communicate with us again. Two-and-a-half weeks later, Beauchamp telephoned Foer at home and, in an unmonitored conversation, told him that he continued to stand by every aspect of his story, except for the one inaccuracy he had previously admitted. He also told Foer that in the September 6 call he had spoken under duress, with the implicit threat that he would lose all the freedoms and privileges that his commanding officer had recently restored if he discussed the story with us.

OK, I’m gonna call significant bullshit here. I’ll yield to people who know the Army better than I do (Jimbo?), but they can’t toss him into a Gulag for talking to the press. He can be dishonorably discharged; he can spend six months on shit burning detail while he waits to get out. But then he gets out – there’s a fat book contract waiting for him, a lecture circuit, and he can understudy for William Arkin. No commander is going to put him into combat, he’s not going to get fragged. The Army cannot enforce his silence for very long. And so there’s no way a stonewall by the Army makes any sense, because it will collapse soon – and it will be career ending for the officers and NCO’s involved when it does. It’s not like the Tillman lies – the interested party there was dead, his survivors and those who benefited from the coverup were the ones who pushed the issue; here Beauchamp is very much alive and has a whole lot to gain by not only publicly standing up to repression by the Army but by becoming a whistleblower on Army wrongdoing.

On September 14, we also spoke at length with Major John Cross, who led the Army’s investigation into the Beauchamp case. Contrary to reports in The Weekly Standard and other outlets, Cross explicitly said that Beauchamp “did not recant” his article in the sworn statements he had given the Army. Moreover, although the Army’s investigation – which declared that the claims in “Shock Troops” were false – purported to be conclusive, Cross conceded that there were at least a dozen soldiers in Beauchamp’s platoon whom he had not interviewed. TNR pressed for clarification:

Scoblic: So you didn’t get statements from everyone in his platoon, then?

Cross: We got statements from everyone in his platoon that was available that day we were conducting the investigation.

Scoblic: At a later point did you follow up with any of the people that weren’t available that day?

Cross: No.

Faced with the fact that Beauchamp stood by his story and the fact that the Army investigation had serious gaps – as well as the fact that our earlier reporting had uncovered significant evidence corroborating Beauchamp’s accounts – The New Republic decided to continue its investigation.

Gosh, let’s go to the docs we have for a moment.

We’ll start with the TNR ‘investigation’ with BEA – the manufacturer of the Bradley. Here’s Bob Owens, who talked to them as well:


Bob, I received your earlier email and wanted to talk to some others about the specific questions you asked. To answer your last question first, yes, I did talk to a young researcher with TNR who only asked general questions about “whether a Bradley could drive through a wall” and “if it was possible for a dog to get caught in the tracks” and general questions about vehicle specifications.

In short, the TNR researcher did not provide the text of “Shock Troops” for Mr. Coffery to review, and only asked the vaguest possible questions. It seems rather obvious that this was not an attempt to actually verify Beauchamp’s claims, but was instead designed to help The New Republic manufacturer a whitewash of an investigation.

There were (basically) three significant stories told by Beauchamp:

1) He insulted a burned woman at lunch;
2) They found a mass grave and one of the soldiers played with human bones;
3) Bradley drivers deliberately damaged structures and ran over dogs;

Let’s start with #1. Here Beauchamp acknowledged that he’d moved this from a dining hall in Kuwait – where was was being staged into the war – into a dining hall at his base by error or for dramatic purposes, whatever.

Here’s the military’s investigative report:

c. To verify the existence of a disfigured woman at the FOB Falcon DFAC, I surveyed several Soldiers from across Task Force 1-18TN because they have been here the same amount of time as Private Beauchamp. Statements were taken from:
(I) CPT Lee Showman – Exhibit T
(2) SSG Jesse Martin – Exhibit U
(3) SSG Francis Hancock – Exhibit V
(4) SGT Craig McLaughlin – Exhibit W
(5) SPC William Whitmore – Exhibit X
(6) PV2 Jarrid Ilgenfritz – Exhibit Y
Every Soldier interviewed did not recall a disfigured woman in a tan military type uniform. Additionally, CPT Johnson verified with PFC Kloos, a friend of Private Beauchamp who is currently located on Joint Security Substation Black Lion, that he had never seen this woman either.

OK, says, TNR, but you haven’t talked to every soldier that served with Beauchamp – “Cross conceded that there were at least a dozen soldiers in Beauchamp’s platoon whom he had not interviewed” but you know what? What are the odds that a sample of people in your office wouldn’t recall seeing someone strikingly disfigured? Not one soldier has come forward – did the woman meet anyone else in Kuwait? No one has come forward and said “Yeah, I remember someone like that…” Hell, the insulted woman herself hasn’t come forward – and you’d think she’s want a piece of Beauchamp. So TNR, while you’re demanding that the Army take time out from the war to interrogate every member of Beauchamp’s batallion, why don’t you take a moment or two and point the victim out to us? You want the Army to prove conclusively that something didn’t happen; all you have to do to gain credibility in this is show us that it might have. I won’t hold my breath.

Let’s go to #2. There was no mass grave.

(5) Sworn statements from Private Beauchamp stating that he did not hit
or target dogs as a driver of a Bradley nor did he see a “mass grave” but did find
animal bones during the initial occupation of Combat Outpost Ellis – Exhibit E

and

c. That the desecration of human remains and the discovery of a “Saddam-era dumping ground” is false. CPT Erik Pribyla reports of seeing a “skull and what appeared to be a human femur” during the reconnaissance of Combat Outpost Ellis. He gave orders for the skull and femur to be buried with as much dignity as possible during the initial occupation of Combat Outpost Ellis (Exhibit G). PFC King reports that he buried the skull (Exhibit I). Other Soldiers report that there were several animal bones discovered during the initial occupation as well (Exhibits G, H. M. R & S). I fmd that the
second set of bones were probably those of chicken. goat, or sheep remains. commonly found on Iraqi farmsteads in trash piles where they are dumped after a meal. The bones were collected and interred in a discreet manner. At no time did a Soldier place the cranial bones on his bead or wear them on patrol (Exhibits J, K, & N).

OK so he interviewed the soldiers who did the burying, and they are saying – what, exactly? Is there any way to make TNR’s story – because it isn’t Beauchamp’s any more – out of this statement?

So, the response is that everyone is lying to under pressure from the Army. Let’s speculate on that for a moment.

In WWII, Korea, or Vietnam, it would have sucked big time to a be a military whistleblower. What do you think about it today? Back to Beauchamp. What would the world look like if he was sure of his facts and was willing to take on the Army?

Let’s go to #3. To restate:

From Beauchamp:

(5) Sworn statements from Private Beauchamp stating that he did not hit
or target dogs as a driver of a Bradley…

From the manufacturer of the Bradley, first the nature of the ‘validation’ conducted by TNR – from a named person, Doug Coffey:

Bob, I received your earlier email and wanted to talk to some others about the specific questions you asked. To answer your last question first, yes, I did talk to a young researcher with TNR who only asked general questions about “whether a Bradley could drive through a wall” and “if it was possible for a dog to get caught in the tracks” and general questions about vehicle specifications.

Now what he said when he’d reviewed the TNR stories:

I can’t pretend to know what may or may not have happened in Iraq but the impression the writer leaves is that a “driver” can go on joy rides with a 35 ton vehicle at will. The vehicle has a crew and a commander of the vehicle who is in charge. In order for the scenario described to have taken place, there would have to have been collaboration by the entire crew.

The driver’s vision, even if sitting in an open hatch is severely restricted along the sides. He sits forward on the left side of the vehicle. His vision is significantly impaired along the right side of the vehicle which makes the account to “suddenly swerve to the right” and actually catch an animal suspect. If you were to attempt the same feat in your car, it would be very difficult and you have the benefit of side mirrors.

Anyone familiar with tracked vehicles knows that turning sharply requires the road wheels on the side of the turn to either stop or reverse as the road wheels on the opposite side accelerates. What may not be obvious is that the track once on the ground, doesn’t move. The road wheels roll across it but the track itself is stationary until it is pushed forward by the road wheels.

The width of the track makes it highly unlikely that running over a dog would leave two intact parts. One half of the dog would have to be completely crushed.

It also seems suspicious that a driver could go on repeated joy rides or purposefully run into things. Less a risk to the track though that is certainly possible but there is sensitive equipment on the top of the vehicle, antennas, sights, TOW missile launcher, commander and if it was a newer vehicle, the commander’s independent viewer, not to mention the main gun. Strange things are known to happen in a combat environment but I can’t imagine that the vehicle commander or the unit commander would tolerate repeated misuse of the vehicle, especially any action that could damage its ability to engage.

Which is, by the way, consistent with what the ‘toy tank brigade’ said about Bradley operations.

And let’s note something else – Bob Owens names a name. The military documents name names. TNR? “…as well as the fact that our earlier reporting had uncovered significant evidence corroborating Beauchamp’s accounts…“.

Now they start talking process:

On August 10, we had filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with the Department of the Army for all documents pertaining to its investigation of Beauchamp, particularly any statements Beauchamp had signed. But it was not until October 10 that Central Command informed us that the FOIA request was finally under review by the appropriate office. We also repeatedly tried to get these documents directly from the First Infantry Division, to which Beauchamp is assigned, but we were told that they could be released only through a FOIA request. We also tried to get the statements from Beauchamp himself. However, when Beauchamp requested a copy of his own statements from an Army legal adviser, he was told that he first had to coordinate any dissemination of them with Army public affairs.

It was as we were awaiting the documentary record of the Army’s investigation that the Army leaked several documents, including the September 6 transcript, to The Drudge Report, which incorrectly reported that the documents show that Beauchamp had recanted. In fact, they show no such thing, and Drudge soon removed the supporting documents from its website, and later its entire report.

The New Republic is deeply frustrated by the Army’s behavior. TNR has endeavored with good faith to discover whether Beauchamp’s article contained inaccuracies and has repeatedly requested that the Army provide us with documentary evidence that it was fabricated or embellished. Instead of doing this, the Army leaked selective parts of the record – including a conversation that Beauchamp had with his lawyer – continuing a months-long pattern by which the Army has leaked information and misinformation to conservative bloggers while failing to help us with simple requests for documents.

We have worked hard to re-report this piece and will continue to do so. But this process has involved maddening delays compounded by bad faith on the part of at least some officials in the Army. Our investigation has taken far longer than we would like, but it is our obligation and promise to deliver a full account of our findings.

Here, again, I’ll call bullshit. Let’s start with one basic thing – They talked to Beauchamp twice, on Sept 7 and three weeks later. Why didn’t they disclose that? Why did they leave their audience believing that he was in durance vile, unable to update his MySpace page, talk to his editors, or anything else?

And what is TNR expecting to come up that will stand up against the sworn statements in the Army investigation? In an excellent post Bob Owens suggests:

What Could They Be Waiting On?
The answer is revealed in the transcript of the September 7 call, where Franklin Foer and Peter Scoblic repeatedly focus on getting the two sworn statements signed by Scott Beauchamp – to the point of conferencing in his TNR-appointed lawyer – to try to get Beauchamp to release them.

I’m not sure what Foer thinks he will find in those two sworn statements by Beauchamp that will carry more weight than the sworn statements of every other soldier interviewed during the course of the investigation that refute the allegations in “Shock Troops.”

But Beauchamp already made sworn statement to the Army –

(5) Sworn statements from Private Beauchamp stating that he did not hit
or target dogs as a driver of a Bradley nor did he see a “mass grave” but did find
animal bones during the initial occupation of Combat Outpost Ellis – Exhibit E

And they didn’t need a FOIA action to get the sworn statements from Beauchamp, they just needed his OK:

Scoblic: The reason we wanted to bring you in Gcne is that Scott said that he’d be willing to get us a copy of his statements to the Anny, but he had difficulty doing that there because of his schedule. We thought that it might be easier for you to do it from your perch in Washington but you know- as we pointed out to him, the question has been what does Scott want? You two need to talk directly for him to give you pennission to obtain those statements and then with us, he’d be willing to do that. so we wanted to conference you in during this …during the time we’re able to talk to Scott and make sure we’re all on the same page and you can just go ahead and do that.

Gene: Yeah. Scon· here’s what you have to do: you have to fax me something with your signature on it authorizing me the release of all documents concerning this matter to me.

Beauehamp: Okay. All right.

Gene: And then I can take that … put your signature and your unit and your social security number on it. You got to fax me something… (unintelligiblc) an email will not work so sign it, (unintelligible) and fax it. I’m just saying that’s what the military will want. And once you fax me that indicating that I am representing you, I will do what I can to get the documents.

Beauchamp: Okay.

Gene: Scott, I’m also going to ask that you telephone me at your convenience so you and I can discuss this in private.

Beauchamp: Yeah. Okay.

Gene: All right?

Scoblic: Can you do this right now for me? Is there a fax machine at Falcon?

Beauchamp: Urn …

Scoblic: Can you just grab a piccc of paper. ..

Beauchamp: I’m not going to do it right now…um… I’ll talk to, I’ll call Gene later and discuss it with him. And we’ll…

Foer: (unintelligible)

Beauchamp: I mean we’ll discuss it in private how we’re going to do it. But. I’m doing this guys, ..

Foer/Scoblic: (unintclligible)

Beauchamp: I’m doing this for you guys. I’m getting you these documents because you have been putting a lot on the line to defend… personally… to help me out and I wouldn’t… I’m not releasing these to the public just to release these to the public because I do understand that you’ve been trying to look out for me personally. But at the same time, it is a personal decision.

Now there are a fair number of possible interpretations we can put on all this information, that’s to be sure.

But a responsible, honest reviewer – something TNR has shown itself lacking – would be saying very different things in light of the information we do have in hand.

TNR could have said that they were unsure of the truth of the stories (as they were when this conversation was over); they could have said that there was conflicting information, that facts that needed to be proven were as yet unproven, and so they were – conditionally – withdrawing them, and that once these had been reported, they would be back with boots on if the stories turned out to be true.

Instead we get deceit, silence, and chestbeating. And, I’ll add, they have now sold Beauchamp out, since he is committed not to speak to the media except with prior approval, and it certainly appears that he violated that requirement:

The next day, via his wife, we learned that Beauchamp did want to stand by his stories and wanted to communicate with us again. Two-and-a-half weeks later, Beauchamp telephoned Foer at home and, in an unmonitored conversation, told him that he continued to stand by every aspect of his story, except for the one inaccuracy he had previously admitted.

So lawyered-up magazine TNR appears to stick it to Beauchamp.

But he was under duress, TNR claims:

He also told Foer that in the September 6 call he had spoken under duress, with the implicit threat that he would lose all the freedoms and privileges that his commanding officer had recently restored if he discussed the story with us.

Hmmm. here’s Michael Yon, who spoke with Beauchamp’s commander:

LTC Glaze seemed protective of Beauchamp, despite how the young soldier had maligned his fellow soldiers. In fact, the commander said Beauchamp, having learned his lesson, was given the chance to leave or stay.

He could have left the unit, but LTC Glaze told me that Beauchamp wanted to stay and make it right.

So are they locking Beauchamp down? Ziptying him to the 50-cal on his Bradley? Not likely:

It can be pretty tough over here. The soldiers in Beauchamp’s unit have seen a lot of combat. Often times soldiers are working in long stretches of urban guerrilla combat dogged by fatigue and sleep deprivation. This is likely one of the most stressful jobs in the world, especially when millions of people are screaming at you for failures that happened three years or more ago, and for decisions to invade Iraq that were made when you were still a teenager. Just as bad is the silence from the untold millions who have already written off your effort as hopeless. Add that to the fact that buddies are getting killed in front of you. (More than 70 killed in Beauchamp’s brigade.) I see what these young men and women go through, and the extraordinary professionalism they nearly always manage to exude awes me on a daily basis.

Again, ask yourself, as a commander – in an environment like that, you have an unhappy soldier who is bringing bad and unwanted publicity down on you, who is unwilling to support his buddies, and who really wants out.

Where would he be?

On a plane to freaking New York, that’s where. With a golden passport to a writing career and a happy, loving wife.

So who’s putting duress down on Beauchamp, again?

Scoblic: What are you going to do after this job? Are you staying in the Army?

Beauchamp: Um, I don’t know what I want to do. Um I haven’t made up my mind yet what I want to do.

11
Scoblic: Ah…you’re not going to be able to write any more after this…you know that, right?

Foer: Ellie sent me an email to tell you that it’s the most important thing in the world for
her that you say that you didn’t recant.

Sorry, this defensive, self-righteous crap doesn’t stand. I don’t care if TNR is prowar, antiwar, or doesn’t give a fuck. They slandered the troops, lied about what they did to bring those slanders to press, and are stonewalling and hoping their supporters in the blogs will push back enough let it die.

“Why does it matter?” …it’s a tempest in the New York media teacup – one that is becoming less relevant by the month. You’re right. So here’s a proffer, from one of the ‘conservative’ (heh) blogs hounding them on this. Let’s see the left blogs supporting them simply say – “look, they too far out on a limb on this, and it’s cracking. TNR has behaved horribly in this and damaged their credibility, and they need to do something to start building it back.”

Then we can start talking about important issues in the war. Meanwhile, we can censure, then move on. Right?

Update: I realized I neglected to add one of the more damning misrepresentations by TNR:

Here’s TNR’s position:

TNR has endeavored with good faith to discover whether Beauchamp’s article contained inaccuracies and has repeatedly requested that the Army provide us with documentary evidence that it was fabricated or embellished. Instead of doing this, the Army leaked selective parts of the record-including a conversation that Beauchamp had with his lawyer-continuing a months-long pattern by which the Army has leaked information and misinformation to conservative bloggers while failing to help us with simple requests for documents.

The accurate statement here would be “a converstaion that Beauchamp and others had with his lawyer” but that’s just me complaining about a cheap shot.

Here’s the transcript from Sept. 7:

Beauchamp: I can get copies of any legal documents that pertain to me. I can get copies for me.
Scoblic: And can you share those with us?
Beauchamp: Um… probably.
SSG Preiszler: Yes, you can share it with them.
Beauchamp: Yeah, I can.

The key documents are Beauchamp’s two sworn statements to the Army investigators:

Scoblic: Can you tell us what was in those statements?
Beauchamp: The … there were two sworn statements and um… since you since you’re
the magazine I was published in, I will try to get you copies of those. Urm…

Now those documents are referenced in the investigation report:

(5) Sworn statements from Private Beauchamp stating that he did not hit or target dogs as a driver of a Bradley nor did he see a “mass grave” but did find animal bones during the initial occupation of Combat Outpost Ellis – Exhibit E

Now I don’t know the Army – I’ll certainly admit that – but I do know buraucracies. And having referenced Beauchamp’s statements, I’d say the odds they don;t exist, or say something far different than what is summarized are pretty vanishingly small.

It’s possible that thery were lawyer-worded in such aa way as to make that summary technically accurate but factually inaccurate; I can’t imagine how it would be. And it’s certainly possible that the Army is flat-out lying – but those odds are vanishingly small (see ‘stonewalling’ above).

But one thing that seems pretty incontrovertable is that the key documents in the matter have been either under the control of Scott Beauchamp or the lawyer TNR obtained for him since Sept 7. I’d love to know who ‘Gene’ is and have someone with more journalistic impulse than I have chase him down and ask him simply if he has Beauchamp’s documents.

But I don’t see how TNR is doing anything except “well, we asked for 2000 documents, and we only got 20, and we can’t say anthing until we have all 2000.” That’s fine, except – a) if the 20 documents you have blow up the story, do you really need the 1980 other ones? And in modern journalism (see Jarvis, Jeff) stories are ‘in progress’ constantly, and for a story like this reporting it in progress probably would have been a pretty good thing to do.

Unless of course, you’re more interested in wishing it away.

Watch Both Of These…

A trackback from Redstate reminds me that today is St. Crispin’s Day – famed for the battle of Agincourt and Shakespeare’s great speech for King Harry.

I blogged it some time ago, and rewarded Branagh:

I don’t care that Kenneth Branagh is reduced to being Harry Potter’s [or Will Smith’s – ed.] foil; I hope he’s happy and healthy and being banged into insensibility by starlets every day for his incredible version of Prince Hal, in Henry V.

Every so often, an actor will nail a role so well that every time you pick up the book and read it, you hear the actor’s voice, and when I quoted Shakespeare below, I heard Branagh’s voice.

Here’s the speech:

But here’s another scene from the movie that is critical to keep in mind as we try and judge where we stand in Iraq, or in any great matter (quality not as good):

TNR – “Nice wife you have. Shame if something happened to her…”

Wow, take a day to write a proposal and all hell breaks loose in the blogosphere.

Drudge posted – and then took down – three documents represented as a) a transcript of a call between Scott Beauchamp and Franklin Foer (et alia); b) a memorandum of counseling, signed by Beauchamp acknowledging receipt; and c) the investigative report by Beauchamp’s command. Flopping Aces has them all here.

People with reasons to know have vouched for their authenticity, and Jonathan Chait was quoted as stating they were authentic.

Reading them, I’m damn glad that I canceled my subscription to TNR online.

If accurate, these paint a picture of a total lack of moral compass, professional responsibility or honor by the editors of a major magazine that intends to be influential in setting American policy.The side message about/from Beauchamp’s wife is the most disgusting thing:

Foer: I think, I don’t wanna…You’re obviously in a very uncomfortable position in that your wife is involved in this, and I wish she wasn’t involved because I, I… trust her, I care for her, I don’t want her to get hurt in all of this. But she just, she sent me a note to tell you that it’s the most important thing to her that you say that you didn’t recant. And I don’t…I feel that (unintelligible) in saying that to you because it puts me in an awkward position, but it’s what she wanted me to convey to you.

Followed closely by this:

Scoblic: What are you going to do after this job? Are you staying in the Army?

Beauchamp: Um, I don’t know what I want to do. Um I haven’t made up my mind yet what I want to do.

Scoblic: Ah…you’re not going to be able to write any more after this…you know that, right?

Beauchamp: I…I mean I really don’t care at this point. That’s not…that’s not…basically what I’m saying is that’s not what’s important to me.

For those who think Beauchamp has been bludgeoned into silence, I doubt it. With the resources of a major magazine keeping public attention on him, it would be impossible for the Army to mistreat – or even seriously punish – him without huge public outcry. And from Beauchamp’s POV that kind of mistreatment/punishment would be the golden ticket to a major book contract the second he was out of green.

So kudos to Beauchamp, who appears to be learning from all this, and brickbats to TNR for lying to us all and for showing themselves as the cheap thugs they certainly appear to be.

As of today, TNR is reduced to whining that the Army leaked the documents to Drudge. Somehow they never seem to whine when documents critical of the Administration are leaked if they think there is a story there – and there certainly is a story here.

Yes, the media are happy to do anything to get a story out – unless, of course, it’s about them – then they stonewall, hide, and lie. Just like the politicians they cover. Who says they aren’t peas in a pod?

Trust Them, They Are Trained Professionals

Critics on my right and left have busted me for opining in complex areas like foreign policy where I have no formal training (I did take a class in international politics, and it’s the one class in college I didn’t pass because the professor wouldn’t accept my essay on the decline in relevance of the nation-state and I wouldn’t rewrite it to support the continued primacy of the nation-state). I worry about that sometimes, and then I read things like this account by Daniel Drezner of a conversation at an International relations conference:

IR THEORIST A: Here’s the thing… if the experimenter shoots the monkey when it throws the cucumber, the other monkeys will process that information as well. So it’s not only about a sense of fairness, it’s about survival.

POLICYMAKER B: Yes, the experimenter could shoot the monkey, and maybe that would cow the other monkeys into submision. If you keep shooting monkeys, however, it might encourage the remaining ones to rise up and overthrow the experimenters and establish their own cucumber plantation.

Yes, I’m warmly secure in the thought that our foreign policy may be being set by trained, highly-educated professionals.

The Fire Next Time

Sunday, on my ride home, we rode through what I thought was the downwind ash plume of a huge fire north of Santa Barbara. It turns out that it was ash from the recent – huge – Zaca fire being blown offshore by the high winds. Then, again, in Oxnard where we had to divert because Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu was closed. A friend almost got caught there on his morning motorcycle ride:

Both sides of the road were on fire and flaming debris was flying throughout the air. Visibility was no more than 20 feet. I couldn’t see and I couldn’t breathe and I couldn’t turn around, because I was on PCH and I wasn’t the only traffic.

Then cars started freaking out and stopping in front of me in the middle of this ‘tunnel of flames’. I had to get out of there! So I’m riding as fast as I dare with no visibility, splitting between stopped cars and flaming shit on the road. None of us were supposed to be there. PCH was already closed but having just come down Latigo I was inside the road blocks.

I went from “wow this is exciting” to “shit I’m in trouble” in about 15 seconds.

I made it though and didn’t crash.

The fires are burning from Ventura to San Diego – the length of the coastal urban belt here in Southern California.

Last year, I did (but never posted) a post on why it was worth worrying about large-scale terrorism. I gamed what I would do with $25 million and 50 people.

In my little model, two people and about $50,000 set about fifty fires over a Santa Ana weekday, broke the fire response capabilities of the region, and managed to burn substantial amounts of Southern California.

Greece just went through a similar ‘storm’ of fires this summer.

“Fires are burning in more than half the country,” Diamandis said. “This is definitely an unprecedented disaster for Greece.”

The worst blazes – 42 major fronts – were concentrated in the southern mountains of the Peloponnese and on the island of Evia, north of Athens. Arson has been blamed in several cases, and seven people have been detained on suspicion of causing fires.

Note that the arsonists do not appear to be coordinated or terrorists.

We need a robust domestic set of systems – an infrastructure – to protect us both against natural disaster and against intelligent terrorists who will eventually exploit our natural vulnerabilities.

It wouldn’t hurt if we stopped incentivizing people to build in disaster-prone areas as well. The millionaires in Malibu can afford to choose to live there; but zoning regulations need to be stricter, insurance more expensive, and federal disaster relief in the form of buyouts. That’s equally true of the poor people living on the Gulf Coast.

Corrected misstatement about the blog post – I wrote it, but never put it up.