Scott Thomas Had A Blog…

Scott Thomas Beauchamp of The New Republic has come out and identified himself – good.

Here’s his blog.

I’ve got to comment that semiotician John Barnes pegged Thomas as a “MFA student”; while I haven’t poked around enough to see if he was one, he certainly writes like one.

May 24, 2006
Every morning I get up and feel retarded for joining the army.
Every morning I get up and feel proud for serving my country.
Every morning I get up and dont want to get up.
Every morning I get up and wish that I was back in college.
Every morning I get up and appreciate everything that I’m learning here.
Every morning I get up and wish my roomate wasnt such a big fan of Disturbed…
Every morning I get up and I’m a little more liberal than the day before
Every morning I get up and try to recite a fact from something I read last night.
Every morning I get up and wish I was as free as the people that I’m “fighting for”
Every morning I get up and think I’m a tool for global corporations
Every morning I get up and miss my mother
Every morning I get up and shave
Every morning I get up and realize how much I love my comrades
Every morning I get up and say I’m Scott Beauchamp, in the army, living in Germany, and this is my life, and I’m going to be treated like shit today and do landscaping and janitorial work and practice killing people and there could be no other way to appreciate what I had or what I’m going to have once I get out other than enduring this now when all I really want to do is teach history and lay around and read and hustle around and repair the world (tikkun olam) and sift through knowledge and improve culture and learn how to sail and work in soup kitchens and start a family and really, I mean REALLY study the best the western civilization has to offer and facilitiate the mystery and power through everything I do, but I cant do it without getting through this army experience first, which will add a legitimacy to EVERYTHING i do afterwards, and totally bolster my opinions on defense, etc, and of course its making me a lot less lazy, just because im not use to being lazy any more, etc.
Every morning I get up

May 8, 2006 (written from Germany)
“Shit, I don’t know…put a 556 in his head”
On the street below the mans brown face dissolves into a thick red mist. The lights in the cities houses shut off in unison. Elecricity rationing. Water rationing too. You ever tried to survive for more than a few hours in hundred and twenty degree weather without water? In the streets the kids bodies start convulsing in semi-orgasmic rhythms. Their pants fill up with shit and piss and the smart ones sneak out to the fields to hidden caches of water jugs and trinkets of candy from the american soldiers.
“See that sarge, kids digging or something?”
“Well, better safe then sorry. Cap his ass Leclaire.”
“You sure sarge?”
“Well, im either right or wrong. And if I’m wrong im still right because i could have been right even though i was wrong.”
They watch the sliver of red sun fall slower and slower, silhouetting the little barbarians falling bodies. The Chaplain turns and walks back towards the FOB in contemplation. Gotta rack out early tonight. Handing out bibles in the marketplace tomorrow, early. Unintelligible rap blares out of the open doors of the HUMVEE.

Beauchamp made a series of implausible claims; let’s see how they check out now that they can be tested.

I’m making popcorn.

56 thoughts on “Scott Thomas Had A Blog…”

  1. Gosh, another repeat of Rathergate that doesn’t happen. When will you ever learn that Karl Rove set that one up? I’m waiting for the apologies from all the dextrobloggers who were sure TNR had fallen for a fraud. But I won’t hold my breath.

  2. I’ll add there is a USMC PFC by that name listed, but only as a military.com member and not a DOD file. The databases are pretty current so if there is someone by that name they should show up. This has shades of Jesse MacBeth written all over it.

  3. Andrew, go over and read John Barnes’ piece.

    The issue at hand is whether the incidents as reported happened; questions of fact. A number of informed people have suggested reasons why they are improbable; those who served at FOB Falcon can’t recall seeing (and doubtless would) a burn-disfigured woman serving there as a soldier or contractor; they suggest that the norms of the place would lead to someone talking shit about a wounded person would meet with some – objection.

    Modern Kevlar helmets don’t have room under them to put pieces of skull; they are foam-lined like motorcycle or bicycle helmets. No mass grave has been discovered, just (per several sources) a children’s cometary where the children (not found under a midden) were disinterred and moved – probably under close supervision given the PsyOps impacts of such an act.

    Bradley Fighting vehicles don’t travel alone through the streets, meaning that a vehicle that accelerated and swerved would impact the vehicles in front or back of it. The driver of a BFV can’t see things close in front and particularly not in close front right – making running over dogs sleeping on the curb fairly difficult.

    HMMV’s have run-flat tires, meaning that it is likely that the driver would drive out of a river of shit before changing the wheel.

    All of these aren’t from folks like me who have some book-knowledge of conditions there, but from people who are there now or have spent serious time there.

    And it reflects an interesting turn – as referenced in the movie post – in which the cultural tastemakers have decided that the flavor of our troops is going to be sour and evil.

    A.L.

  4. I think you are totally off target if you are looking for a faker. It’s pretty clear that he’s really serving. Fakers don’t write about mundane things. Everything that happens to a faker is Apocalypse Now or Rambo part Deux. This is just a kid in the military blogging for his friends.

    What you have here is a guy who constructs narratives. This is a guy who believes, much like the media, that the narrative speaks more truthfully than the facts. Now, he probably has some of his facts straight, but I suspect at least some of his ‘facts’ are actually symbols for something else.

  5. No, I don’t at all think he’s a fake – i.e. I do think he’s a serving member of the Army in Iraq.

    I do question the ‘truthiness’ or ‘reality-basedness’ of the stories he told.

    But now other people can fact-check him, and we’ll see what happens.

    Hence the popcorn.

    A.L.

  6. I just read the John Barnes peice, and if I ever need to hire a semiotician I’ll no where to go.

    Wow. Did he ever peg this guy.

  7. Well its been confirmed he is active, I think the Army stopped allowing public use of the locator system. The other services still allow it.

    Someone from Malkins site posted this:

    I’m active Army & an Iraq vet.

    I just pulled up “Scott Thomas Beauchamp” on the secure “Army Knowledge Online” website. It lists his current rank as “PV2″. (That data is kept accurate via pay records on that website.)

    In his Sep 06 blog post he listed his rank as “Private First Class”. That indicates that without a doubt he was busted at least one rank as part of Article 15 proceedings under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, and he likely has a strong ax to grind with his chain of command.

    That said, NJP without even being active for a full term is usually a good indicator of a shitbag in your ranks.

  8. Most Americans now think that it was a mistake to invade Iraq
    Most Americans no longer trust or believe the Commander in Chief.
    Most Americans are not going to vote for any politican that supports the Bush policy

    The New Republic has a circulation rate of about 60,000 copies. I don’t think many people other than left wingers read it. Those people have already made up their minds about Iraq. It wasn’t the New Republic or others like it that made the public opinion change so drastically in such a short time.

  9. JR: Whether you are right or wrong, I’m not sure that has much of anything to do with anything. The question is whether the writing presented by the NR is true or not. If it isn’t, the slander it creates is not justified even if Bush is Satan himself, because its not a slander of Bush.

  10. JR your point has no relevance to the situation at hand.

    Journalistic malfeasance is the topic, it just happens to that the subject involved is Iraq.

  11. Recall how Stephen Glass worked the New Republic. The stories he invented were far more fantastic than these: a church that worshiped George HW Bush and forbade its members to eat broccoli, for example.

    TNR published reams of this bullshit without even suspecting Glass. They were precisely the kind of stories that a stereotypical Liberal elitist would find credible: stories about stupid Americans (especially stupid non-Liberal Americans) full of bizarre detail. Like Linda Tripp Halloween masks that were advertised as “naturally scary”.

    I don’t believe Glass had a political axe to grind. He simply knew his marks; he knew exactly what kind of things they wanted to believe and he loved to push the envelope farther and farther into fantasy land. He loved to see how much smoke he could blow up their asses, and it turned out to be an incredible amount.

    Glass steered away from political subjects towards the end, after he got in trouble for inventing a story about a Conservative convention where everyone decided that “Conservatism is dead” and then went up to their hotel rooms to do drugs and chase prostitutes. (Very similar to the crudities that Baghdad Diarist describes.) The hosts of the convention called him out on the “facts” in the story, and although TNR stood by Glass, he had a close call.

    After that Glass tended towards fabulations that he thought no one would challenge, and the story that brought him down was a non-political story about a hacker convention.

    I expect the Baghdad Diarist will do a similar change of tone and subject matter. Whatever the customer wants, right?

  12. Andrew J —

    This one is a double-dose:

    The guy made stuff up: there was no mass-grave, humvees have run-flat tires (most of them don’t have spares), you don’t change tires out in Baghdad as a sitting duck, but change them in the base, the kevlar helmets have pads that provide close fit, there was no woman burned and any such action would have led to both an ass-kicking and serious discipline.

    Secondly, this guy is the husband of a TNR staffer, who got his assignment through nepotism and who was not fact checked because of nepotism.

    This raises a HUGE HUGE problem for the Liberals: their elitist nepotism. They’re all related and married to each other, and who you know rather than merit matters. As such they are the social and political enemy of everyone without influence and power, that is to say everyone.

  13. You might find this comment thread at Balloon Juice illuminating, especially with respect to the mass grave story (true), the tires, and the feasibility of running over a dog with a tank. How many of the dextrobloggers on the case have driven a tank (like Cole has)?

    Refutations based on “that’s not how it’s supposed to be” are pretty stupid, unless you’d like to admit that the Abu Ghraib torture chambers were according to regulations—and not even I have claimed that.

    Jim might also want to draw the Decter-Podhoretz-Kagan-Kristol family trees before talking about “nepotism”.

  14. Andrew –

    There are a bunch of testable facts presented by TNR in the dispaches. They seem unlikely to many people with a lot of direct military experience, including experience on-site where Beauchamp was stationed.

    As I noted in the original post; we’ll get to validate or invalidate these pretty quickly.

    I’d suggest popcorn while we wait; I like old-fashioned pan=popped myself.

    A.L.

  15. Andrew:

    1. The Bradley is not a tank.

    2. Re-Read his passage, he’s speaking about the M1, not the Bradley.

    3. Cole saying the “mass graves” is true, makes it so? Even without any supporting evidence?

  16. #15 Gabriel –

    That’s a pretty significant development if true, and has huge explanatory power. Former TNR editor Charles Lane said of Glass that they believed the things he wrote because he was their friend – an explanation he knew was lame, but it was what happened. TNR is a pretty cozy little fraternity and everybody knows everybody else; friendship easily trumped professionalism.

    The media would be hugely suspicious of any other institution that was run by a tight little clique of friends, but of course they trust themselves and expect everyone else to do so as well.

    As for what will happen to Foer, it depends on what finally comes out and what he does next. When Charles Lane finally realized that Glass was a liar, he didn’t stonewall or cover it up. He went through everything Glass had written and exposed it all.

  17. As a veteran myself I would hate to guess anyones reasons for joining the service, but the one lingering question I have about this whole affair was, why did this guy join?

    Part of me thinks it was a desperate attempt to get some Hemmingway experiences so that he could write about them, and given that those gritty experiences were not manifesting he invented them.

    Another part of me thinks that he joined just so he could undermine the mission at some point down the line or use it as a jumping off point for a media career. I mean how does he end up as a front line troop with a media/journalism background? There is entire Media/Journalism wing within each branch of service with MOS’s tailored to those jobs. Why didn’t he take one of those?

    The link to the TNR staffer continues to develop, she has quoted him in several stories she wrote when they were both at School together.

  18. “Part of me thinks it was a desperate attempt to get some Hemmingway experiences so that he could write about them…”

    I don’t know why part of you needs to think that when that’s the explanation he gave in his blog. I don’t know whether to believe him or not, but its not a suspicion on my part I feel the need to repress given that the person in question openly admitted it.

  19. Andrew J —

    It’s interesting that the guy’s wife wrote an article critical of nepotism in government when she is guilty of the same thing. I agree with you on the Podhoretz family, it’s as bad as the Ehrenreich media dynasty (her son is a PBS big-wig) or Marc Cooper and his daughter (at E!) and so on.

    But you missed the main point: the nepotistic relationship meant zilch fact checking:

    Bradleys are not moved without the vehicle commander’s explicit orders.

    Terrorists commonly plant IEDs and EFPs in dead animals, no one with self-preservation would drive over a sleeping/possibly dead animal. You can’t see from the driver’s spot to the right. Running over stuff gets you busted down, or possibly dead. The story references running over stuff to destroy it, which is a good way to lose a tread and be a sitting duck for RPGs and IEDs. Bradley’s make a god-awful noise certain to wake any animal. There was no mass grave, all potential mass graves had plenty of officers documenting everything to help in the conviction of Saddam and others.

    There WAS nearby a children’s cemetary that had been used by local Iraqis unmarked. Discovered during construction and carefully (under officer supervision) transferred to a formal cemetary. According to MNF-I FOB Falcon PAs.

    Military bloggers including soldiers who were there in Iraq have debunked the tires detail (no soldier will change tires in sewage when you can drive back to the base and so in safety with an actual spare which doesn’t exist in most Humvees in Iraq). Along with many others. Including the words “chow hall” … it’s called a DFAC.

    Nor was Abu Graib a “torture chamber.” At worse panties on heads and naked pyramids. Far worse done in Pelican Bay (but no one cared, the real victims with third degree burns were all hard-core convicts). Torture is what was done to the Late Pvt. Joseph Anzack, tortured and murdered by AQ.

    The guy made all this stuff up. It’s fake but accurate like Dan RaTHer, the Duke Non-Rape Case, Haditha, Jenin massacre, and every other lie the Left pushes. In this case the lies serve the social purpose of making the elites feel that they are better than the soldiers putting their lives on the line.

    This guy is going to get the hammer: admit his lies under a military investigation or go to court martial for failing to report the (obviously made up incidents). Another Stephen Glass.

  20. I took the Scott Thomas kerfluffle a little more seriously, because I’m a TNR subscriber. I read his endpieces (back page of the magazine) and didn’t think, eh, horse hockey, but damn, how depressing. War, especially COIN, does suck.

    In other words, Beauchamp pwned me.

    These “Baghdad Diarists” added a few more little pieces to my mosaic on “how to think about the Iraq war” as I try and re-evaluate. (Compared to what I’d anticipated, it’s been a failure. Compared to the alternate post-2003 history of the paths-not-taken… I dunno. Yet.)

    I think people like me were a good part of Beauchamp’s audience. It’s not absurd to think of war supporters, wavering war supporters, and former war supporters as TNR readers. The 2003 magazine under Peter Beinart (IIRC) was pro-war. An embarrassment, in the way things are currently seen in moderate-Democrat circles.

    The affair make me feel terribly old fashioned. What I expect from a serious magazine is to have articles that purport to be non-fiction… to be non-fiction. More specifically, that editors and reporters will ask the right questions, so that malign fantasies don’t end up earning endorsement as factual accounts. Everybody makes mistakes, but the point of procedures is to avoid needless mistakes.

    You can see from a read of TNR’s subscriber-only blog “The Plank”:http://www.tnr.com/blog/show_comments.mhtml?b=the_plank&pid=128957 that people with this view make up a distinct minority.

    Before it became Get-Out-The-Popcorn Time, I’d suggested this (#45):

    It seems to me that we can hold provisional opinions; the important thing is to keep open to facts as they are revealed.

    Changing the discussion to focus on the (doubtlessly) lousy motives of people who disagree with you doesn’t seem particularly helpful.

    By publishing “Baghdad Diarist,” TNR invited these two questions:

    1. Did the shocking events Pvt. Scott Thomas Beauchamp describes actually take place?

    2. Did the editors at TNR exercise reasonable Due Diligence in vetting Beauchamp’s pieces?

    After reading this morning’s developments, I am still unclear on these points:

    –At present, does Mr. Foer believe Beauchamp’s accounts of events?

    –At present, does Mr. Foer believe that the pre-publication fact-checking of Beauchamp’s pieces was performed to TNR’s usual standard?

    –Is Mr. Foer claiming that fact-checking was adequate, on the basis that TNR readers know that “Diarist” pieces are merely personal accounts, and not real reporting?

    These seem like reasonable things for subscribers to ask of the editors.

    Wade through the 200+ comments, and you’ll see that these sorts of questions are of little importance to most of this part of TNR’s audience.

    That said, I’d highly recommend Lt. Col. Matthew Jones’ comment (#106), for a good sense of what the context of “Baghdad Diarist” debate should be.

    Anyway… I can smell it from here. Did you guys add enough oil? More salt!

  21. One of the comments at Malkin’s place found this guy at the Missouri writing program, with some of his poems.

    I agree that the somoticist (?) had him nailed.

  22. I was a TNR reader during the days of Morton Kondracke and Fred Barnes. Back then it was worth reading just for the book reviews. It had a reputation for being serious to the point of pretentiousness; there was a joke that a typical TNR title was something like “Whither Albania?”

    IMO, it went south when Michael Kinsley became lead editor. Kinsley is about as serious as a prep school wedgie, and soon every story in TNR referred to George Bush Sr. as “Poppy”, which was apparently supposed to be hilariously funny.

    The point that most people missed about Stephen Glass was that, even if every word of what he wrote had been true, his stuff was utter yuppie garbage that had no place in a magazine that was supposed to be a flagship of serious Democratic policy. It was social elitist porn for self-satisfied snots to giggle over.

    The descent to bottomless perdition continues apace, but the critical point was passed long ago.

  23. Nor was Abu Graib a “torture chamber.” At worse panties on heads and naked pyramids.

    The Death of an Iraqi Prisoner [snip] The Iraqi insurgent died within hours of his capture, while being interrogated by the CIA. A military autopsy ruled Jamadi’s death a homicide, but no one has been held accountable for his death.

    Last year a Republican senator conceded that they contained scenes of “rape and murder” and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said they included acts that were “blatantly sadistic.”

    While we wait for the popcorn to pop, can we have a contest: what color is the sky on Jim Rockford’s planet?

  24. Andrew J —

    The alleged death of an Iraqi prisoner did not happen at Abu Graib and was ruled by a court martial charging (wrongly) a Navy Seal commander to be the work of the Iraqis. The prisoner in question was a notorious Saddam General who’d killed a lot of the relatives of his captors. What do you expect? Guy was dying when he was brought in.

    Grainer and England and the others were charged and sent to prison for humiliation of the prisoners. During their trial which used as evidence photos taken by Grainer and England and others, there were no charges of “rape and murder” which were and remain Al Qaeda propaganda repeated by Dems. Rumsfeld was repeating cant required by the hypocritical media which openly sides with AQ.

    Considering AQ does far worse to our men, including the cutting off of genitals, disembowling, drilling into arms and legs, as well as beheading (you’ve seen the videos) getting into a fuss about the idiocies of Abu Graib is like worrying about a hangnail instead of cancer.

    It’s just plain stupid. AQ beheading vs. panties on the head and naked pyramids? I’d personally rather spend a year in Abu Graib under Grainer and England as an Iraqi than one second as anyone in AQ’s hands. More proof of the extended AQ/Leftist propaganda machine which justifies and celebrates AQ atrocities against Humanity and makes triviality on the part of the US a war crime.

    Back on topic: it appears that the unit in question may have been in Germany when the TNR story was filed. The stories have thinly reworked bits of German stories about German misconduct in Afghanistan (including the skull bit). The guy was in the Univ. of Missouri Writers program when he quit and joined the Army to “get material for my stories” according to his blog. His open disdain of the Military and it’s mission and it’s people is detailed ad naseum on his blog.

    He’ll face an intensive investigation by his CO. He’ll either recant his allegations as false (and face punishment, it’s alleged he’d already been busted down for misconduct) or face a Court Martial for failing to report serious violations of standing orders: driving Bradleys to destroy things (and endangering the vehicle/occupants), bad conduct with human remains, the IED survivor treatment.

    Very likely these are all false. Which will make him the target of his fellow soldiers who don’t like being made falsely into monsters for the enjoyment of a condescending elite.

  25. >Jamadi was then moved to Abu Ghraib for further interrogation. At the prison, MPs stretched Jamadi’s arms directly behind him and shackled his wrists to window bars. If the arms bear the full weight of the body, the position can be extremely painful.

    Mr. Rockford, do you have any cousins who are Holocaust deniers?

  26. Rockford, are you unaware that there were videos taken of prisoners being raped at abu graib? A woman by a soldier, and a boy by a contractor.

    Were you unaware that there were multiple prisoner deaths at abu graib that were attributed to guard brutality? Photos of a couple of them in ice packs.

    I tell you what — how about you write up a list of the interrogation methods that aren’t torture, and send them to your local police. Tell them that if you ever get arrested you don’t mind if they use those on you. Be sure to include the one where you’re naked with a couple of K-9 dogs biting you, and then they get a half-trained intern to stitch up your fast-bleeding wounds.

  27. While on popcorn detail, I discovered this very interesting contrast. From PowerLine, we have an impossibility analysis of the dog-hunting incidents based on experiments with a toy tank. (h/t TBogg via Balloon Juice) Note, however, the vocabulary by which the PowerLine writer tries to make it sound like he knows what he’s talking about.

    When you turn a tracked vehicle like a Bradley, you do it through differential braking–you slow down the inside track and accelerate the outside track, so the vehicle skids through the turn.… I can say with some assurance that the driver’s hatch is on the left side of the vehicle. Immediately to the driver’s right is the engine compartment, the cooling grill of which rises above the level of the driver’s hatch, making it impossible to see anything on the right side of the vehicle. Even if the driver was head-out, he still couldn’t see anything to his right below the level of the top deck.

    According to John Cole at Balloon Juice (whom you may remember as a Republican who voted for W twice until the scales fell from his eyes), we find

    Not to get facts in the way of your spin, but I actually have driven a Bradley, and probably have a thousand hours in the driver’s seat of an M1 A1 Abrams. In the M1, you sit in a reclined position in the center of the hull of the tank, equi-distant between both tracks, neither of which you can see. Additionally, most of the time driving, my hatch was closed, and I was navigating using a series of thick glass periscopes that were about 9-10” wide and 2-3” tall. And guess what- I could run over a dog.

    All that great PowerLine Keyboard Commando analysis ruined because their toy didn’t include the periscopes! What can I say? I can say the stories Beauchamp told were pretty weak tea compared to incidents we know happened like Haditha and Abu Ghraib. They probably shouldn’t be mentioned in the same breath with the possibility the Pat Tillman fairy tale wasn’t to cover up a friendly fire accident but a fragging, but I will anyway. Why is the right so incensed by them, anyway?

    As I suggested upthread, the Rathergate incident is backfiring on the right now. The big deal about Beauchamp at Hewitt and Malkin isn’t about the minor incidents he retold, but looking for another coup fourré to turn the rhetorical tide. Once upon a time, a total amateur claimed to know enough about fonts to discredit an attack on Dear Leader Bush, bring down a liberal MSM icon, and end all further inquiry into Bush’s rather sketchy service history; surely someone with extensive knowledge of tanks derived from Toys ᴙ Us can beat back this new slander. Except Rathergate was a setup. The Rove machine knew the docs were phony at the latest when CBS asked them for comment. That lightning won’t be striking twice.

  28. Once upon a time, a total amateur claimed to know enough about fonts to discredit an attack on Dear Leader Bush, bring down a liberal MSM icon, and end all further inquiry into Bush’s rather sketchy service history; surely someone with extensive knowledge of tanks derived from Toys á´™ Us can beat back this new slander. Except Rathergate was a setup. The Rove machine knew the docs were phony at the latest when CBS asked them for comment.

    Andrew, what the f–k are you talking about?

    I’m not even going to dignify your eagerness to believe that Pat Tillman was murdered.

  29. I’ll try to spell it out for you more slowly, Glen.

    Beauchampgate probably won’t turn out like Rathergate, because Karl Rove isn’t involved.

    The Keyboard Kommandos playing with toy tanks in the hopes of replicating Buckhead’s devastating analysis of the Rather memos’ fonts are doomed, because Buckhead, a GOP activist who showed no knowledge of typography in any other context, was tipped off in advance.

    Funny how the Hewitt/Powerline BS detector didn’t go off for the Jessica Lynch and Pat Tillman stories, isn’t it?

    This isn’t about “supporting the troops”. It’s about supporting Bush’s fictional universe.

  30. AJL, my experience with feral and stray dogs was in Central America many years ago, but probably applicable to Baghdad. They were all small, alert, wary, fast-moving, and hard for a stranger to approach (assuming you would want to). Dogs like that getting routinely caught by a BFV? Wouldn’t happen. Injured dogs in the road, or carcasses? That I could believe, but it’s not what Beauchamp reports.

    John Cole’s experience driving M1A1s and using periscopes notwithstanding, there have been a series of objections to the swerving, squashing BFV stories as Beauchamp told them, none of which have been countered.

    Same thing for each of the other important anecdotes. By “important” I mean, “demonstrate to the reader that depravity is the usual, accepted moral standard, unit-wide, among infantry units in Baghdad.”

    Scanning page 56:

    * Loudly taunting and cursing an IED-disfigured woman in a crowded chow hall. The many who overhear find this behavior unremarkable.

    * Capering about with a child’s skull as a crown, all day and night. The many who witness this desecration find it unremarkable.

    * Using a BFV to slice a sunbathing dog. The many who hear this reported on the radio roll with laughter.

    If you take away the reactions of “the many,” what is left? That the author brags that he and a few of his buddies act like sociopaths.

    I think it’s fair to say that all of us know the truth of General Sherman’s remark.

    If 0.1% (ha) of 160,000 soldiers are teetering before deployment, and if another 0.1% (ha) become unhinged by stress and violence in-theatre, that’s over 300 men.

    Then the point of “Baghdad Diarist” would be either, “they need psychiatric help,” or “they need to be brought up on UCMJ charges.”

    Not exactly what Beauchamp was trying to get across.

  31. Actually, I tend to think the uproar about Beauchamp is more because of his *tone* than anything else.

    Iraq is full of stray dogs that are kind of feral. At various times and places it’s been official US policy to kill them. Individual soldiers have had problems when they adopted dogs and then hoped to take them home rather than see them abandoned and shot.

    The issue isn’t shooting dogs. The issue is talking like you think it’s wrong but you do it anyway.

    Beauchamp writes like there’s something wrong with some of the soldiers. Like they’re teenagers or something, people who do stupid things for the fun of it. So we get a whole lot of outrage. They talk about having him tried under UCMJ. For joshing with a woman? For killing dogs? For playing with bones? Hardly. His big crime is visibly having a bad attitude.

  32. J Thomas, from my perspective you miss the point.

    Beauchamp used anecdotes to illustrate to the reader that depraved behavior is the norm throughout his unit.

    You believe that he intended to show that some of the soldiers are teenagers or something? People who do stupid things for the fun of it?

    If you (or your loved one) behaved as Beauchamp describes, you’d think, what? “Dumb kids. Stupid to josh with a woman, kill a dog, play with bones.”

    Really?

    How about you, Armed Liberal? AJL?

    [Off topic, AJL, could you offer a good link for the Rathergate-was-concocted-by-Rove assertion that you made? I hadn’t heard of that.]

  33. AMac, are you arguing that soldiers don’t get hardened by war? Come on, at various times and places in iraq it’s been policy to shoot dogs on sight. Lots of mostly-feral dogs that cause trouble. (But then there are domestic dogs too, watchdogs and such. It might not be the feral ones who were unwary.)

    I knew a friend-of-a-friend (FOAF) who was involved in road-building in rural alabama. They were cutting through an old cemetery and they started playing with thigh bones and such. (Apparently if you cut the ends right you can make a flute, that kind of thing.) Then their supervisor walked up with a contractor, and they were in *trouble*. He couldn’t just pass it off with a witness, and he talked like they might face criminal charges. You think that sort of thing is less likely to happen in a war zone?

    This stuff just isn’t very serious. What makes it look bad is he talks about it, and he has a bad attitude.

  34. _Off topic, AJL, could you offer a good link for the Rathergate-was-concocted-by-Rove assertion that you made? I hadn’t heard of that._

    You never heard of that? I came up with that story myself when I first saw how it was unfolding. It’s *the most* obvious possibility. I’ve never seen any proof, though. The trail to find out who made the forgery goes cold very quick. Assuming it is a forgery. The Bush administration later released other documents from that time with that typeface.

  35. J Thomas,

    > are you arguing that soldiers don’t get hardened by war?

    No. When I referred to General Sherman, I was being elliptical–sorry. His quote was, “War is hell,” and he meant that to include the hardening and scarring that it inflicts on soldiers.

    > [The stuff reported by Beauchamp] just isn’t very serious.

    That’s helpful in understanding where you are coming from. If I thought so too, I’d agree with much of the rest of your analysis.

    I think the reports of Michael Yon and others illustrate that war is, indeed awful, counterinsurgency especially so, this war in its particular ways. What I don’t get from Yon’s writing is evidence to support the idea that depraved behavior is the norm throughout the units that he embeds with.

    As I said earlier, the widespread nature of the depravity was my main take-away lesson from my first read of “Baghdad Diarist,” reinforced by re-reads once this controversy broke. Per that semiotics guy’s analysis, I don’t think that was me projecting, or some accidental effect. It was what the author intended.

    If it’s a true picture, it’s important for us back at home to appreciate. If it’s falsely drawn, that’s just as important.

    If Beauchamp misreported the anecdotes to conform to his preconceived narrative, all that’s left is truthiness, or fake-but-accurate.

  36. Andrew:

    The Keyboard Kommandos playing with toy tanks in the hopes of replicating Buckhead’s devastating analysis of the Rather memos’ fonts are doomed, because Buckhead, a GOP activist who showed no knowledge of typography in any other context, was tipped off in advance.

    Andrew, the more you spell it out, the crazier you sound.

    You know as well as everybody else does that the Rathergate memos were fakes, and crude amateur fakes at that. You’re just sore that the stinky little weasels who forged them didn’t get away with it.

    Not even CBS misses Dan Rather and Mary Mapes. Get over it.

    Here’s my take on the Bradley-driving dog killer. I agree that it’s not conclusive to argue about the Bradley’s right-side blind spot when driven from the hatch, because Beauchamp does not say whether the driver was in the hatch or driving by periscope. When the Bradley is buttoned up, the driver is almost lying on his back. Beauchamp says “He kept a tally of his kills in a little green notebook that sat on the dashboard of the driver’s hatch” which implies that he was in the hatch, but not conclusively.

    What I find far more unbelievable than hitting a dog with a Bradley is his claim that the driver jerked to the right and snagged a dog’s leg “under the tracks” [sic] and dragged it for some distance. Any portion of a dog that wound up under the track of a Bradley would be crushed or severed in place. The treads of a tracked vehicle do not slide along the ground. If something becomes caught under the track, it would remain in place until the vehicle passed, at which time it would be lifted up over the rear wheel and would move forward along the side of the vehicle. If the dog’s smashed leg were somehow still strong enough to drag the dog’s weight, the dog would have been pulled up between the track and the Bradley’s skirt and ground to pieces, with the remains being ejected at the front of the vehicle.

    That never happened. If you gave that sick bastard Michael Vick a Bradley and six years on the Aberdeen Proving Grounds, he could not replicate that feat.

    But let’s be clear what this is about. This is not about a dog getting run over by an IFV. This is an attempt to paint a boorish, neanderthal portrait of American troops in Iraq, and the author stresses this repeatedly by claiming that all soldiers present at these grotesque events found them hilarious.

  37. AMac, there are people who think that the forgeries themselves were created by Rove and fed to Bill Burkett through a honey trap. OK, maybe, but that isn’t what I’m saying here. Burkett has told numerous stories about how he obtained the forgeries, probably none of them true, and unless someone on the other end want to fess up, that’s a cold trail.

    It’s undisputed that CBS gave facsimile copies of the memos to the WH before running with the story, asking them to comment.

    It’s undisputed that “Buckhead” is a GOP-connected attorney, and that his posts to Powerline about the fonts came within four hours of the airing of the story.

    Buckbeak’s knowledge of typography appears rather limited. (He doesn’t seem, for example, to be familiar with the IBM Execeutive kludged proportional fonts typewriter of the 1960s, although that didn’t write the forged memos for other reasons.) I was an early Mac adopter, and therefore a one-time font junkie. But Buckbeak seems more like a corporate Windows user to me. He couldn’t even tell what font was used in the memos.

    As soon as those memos hit the White House, the Rove apparatus must have known they were forged. Why? Because they could have just asked Bush himself, and he could reassure them that he’d already shredded the genuine memos, or maybe that he was really a hero to his CO, or whatever. But instead of denying the authenticity of the memos on the spot (possibly getting CBS to do a proper authentication of their sources, which would not, of course, have been possible), they used them as bait in a trap.

    You may remember that I agreed, at this site, that the actual pages produced against Bush were computer-printed. My knowledge of the subject, though, is greater than average.

  38. AJL,

    Thanks for the link and recap.

    Forgeries created by Rove and fed to Bill Burkett through a honey trap? I dunno. Maybe created by Jack Welch (NBC) or Michael Eisner (ABC)? Or Italy’s P2 or Russia’s FSB? Any evidence?

    I thought the non-conspiratorial nature of “Buckhead’s” detection of the forgery was established. Here’s “Patterico”:http://patterico.com/index.php?s=buckhead (where I see you comment now and then) with a bucket o’ links on the subject.

    Rove declining to comment on the eve of 60 Minutes running the story, knowing the documents were phonies? That I can believe. Evidence would nice, but it’s in character for that cutthroat to let his enemies make fools of themselves.

    “Rove didn’t warn Rather and Mapes off a story they were determined to air when given a last-minute look at faxes of obvious forgeries that Rather and Mapes got from a shady Bush enemy!!” Kind of different from “Rove masterminded the Rathergate scandal!”

    Rather and Mapes seem to have been sufficiently biased, ideological, and stupid to have engineered their scandal all by themselves. Whether or not Rove gave a shove at the very end.

  39. Hmmm. The link to Buckbeak’s own explanation (from Patterico) is dead, but it was at mac.com. Maybe, like Rush Limbaugh, even a conservative can recognize a superior OS.

    I think it’s more likely than not that Rove already knew the story was going to backfire when it ran. I find it decidedly possible that he sowed the field meantimes.

    The honey trap story (I can’t find the link) is amusing, but I freely admit there’s nothing resembling evidence for it.

  40. > recognize a superior OS.

    Heh, always nice to find things to agree on.

    The gist of what Buckhead (-beak??) said (as I recall) was that he downloaded the pdfs from cbs.com and thought, “Proportional font? From a ’70s typewriter? Doesn’t sound right. I’ll log on to Free Republic and post something.”

    Having spent way too many hours typing in the mid-eighties on a series of state-of-the-art Wang and then IBM word processors during the office’s off-hours, I would have thunk the first three of those thoughts, if I’d been paying attention. Even if my Rovebot implant hadn’t given me those exact instructions. “Sowing the field,” I don’t get. Honey trap notions sans evidence, I’ll pass.

  41. _You’re just sore that the stinky little weasels who forged them didn’t get away with it._

    I’d say there’s a very strong change that those stinky little weasels did get away with it. Nobody knows who they are, they appear to have gotten clean away.

    I don’t have evidence who baited that trap. It makes some sense to ask who benefitted. That’s always risky since the actual perps may not have gotten the results they wanted.

    NBC? ABC? They probably gained some relative to CBS, but didn’t the loss to the whole industry matter more?

    Russia? Italy? Are they better off with Bush? Russia probably is. Harder to argue that for italy, they aren’t our enemy.

    Rove? Before, there was some question about Bush’s military record. After the forgeries were revealed it was widely assumed that Bush must be 100% A-OK. If somebody tried to forge evidence against him and failed, there couldn’t be any true evidence. It proved Bush was a good patriotic veteran who did everything expected of him before his honorable discharge. Obviously better than that lying coward scumbag Kerry who claimed to have two purple hearts that he actually never deserved and whose entire military history was a fake.

    Rove was the big winner. That doesn’t prove Rove did it. Rove needed a strategy, and this wonderful coincidence showed up just when he needed it. Sometimes that just happens to people who deserve it, who don’t know anything about how it happened. Sometimes they’re just lucky.

  42. _As I said earlier, the widespread nature of the depravity was my main take-away lesson from my first read of “Baghdad Diarist,” reinforced by re-reads once this controversy broke._

    What happened just doesn’t look that depraved to me. I think people get outraged by the guy’s flat style. He makes it sound extra bad.

    I think John Barnes may have gotten it backward about the literary guys. If you start out with somebody who’s kind of autistic, who writes without a lot of affect because that’s the kind of person he is, he might very well come up with weird stories to explain it to people. If they just meet him he seems weird and unlikeable. But if they think he was exploring in india and had to spend the night in an open grave with the jackals howling above him, or he was a SEAL who had to mercy-kill his wounded buddy that he couldn’t drag back to the boat, or whatever — if they think he’s got PTSD because of the romantic adventures he lived through, then they’ll cut him more slack. But really it’s just he’s autistic. Get an autistic writing about his iraq experience and it might come out like everybody around him is depraved. But it isn’t so much what happens, it’s how he writes about it.

  43. The first apparently genuine letter from another soldier in Beauchamp’s company. Not a great deal of support for his diaries.

    Blogger Cheryl McElroy reprinted “this response”:http://sfcmac.wordpress.com/2007/07/27/update-on-the-new-republics-man-in-iraq/ to a query she sent to Baghdad.

    [I have cut the text of the email at the recipient’s request–AMac 7/29/07 9:00pm].

    I suspect the near future will bring other emails from Alpha Company, 1/18 Infantry, 2nd BCT, 1ID. Their content and tenor should help establish what the general character of this unit is.

  44. I’d say there’s a very strong change that those stinky little weasels did get away with it. Nobody knows who they are, they appear to have gotten clean away.

    No, they didn’t get away with passing off the forgeries as real, which is what they wanted. The forger is either Burkett or someone connected to him; it doesn’t matter who that rank amateur was, or who his accomplices were. It’s not against the law to lie to CBS News.

    Now, if John Kerry had been the target of this forgery, the Democrats would still be screaming for a congressional investigation, and Andrew wouldn’t be able to get through a single comment thread on any topic without bringing it up.

    Back in the 1950s, a con man named Paul Hughes bilked The Washington Post (and others including some in the DNC) out of thousands of dollars by feeding them documents he claimed to have stolen from Joseph McCarthy. The documents were crude fakes that Hughes typed himself, full of misspellings. Their contents were completely preposterous, claiming that McCarthy was storing guns in the basement of a Senate office building in preparation for a coup. They fell for it – of course they fell for it.

    Hughes did get away with it. When he went to trial he claimed that The Washington Post knew what he was doing the whole time, and the jury believed him. Otherwise, they’d have to believe that The Washington Post is either incredibly stupid or so blinded by politics that they are functionally stupid.

  45. #24 from AMac: “I took the Scott Thomas kerfluffle a little more seriously, because I’m a TNR subscriber.”

    It looks like you are paying money for garbage.

    Can you get an early end to your subscription, and your money refunded for the rest?

  46. Well, this thread went way off topic with a few remarks about unrelated topics trying to prove a truth with uncollaborated conspiracies.

    But, let’s get into the problem of Pvt Beauchamp’s stories, real other not. Let’s just look at the fall out from one alleged, unreported incident in Beauchamps musings:

    *Driving over dogs, walls and market stands for the hell of it.*
    a) Whether it is plausible or not to chase down and run over stray dogs, I’ll leave up to the experts.
    b) *Filing Reports:* When people go on patrol and then return to base they have to complete a bunch of paperwork commonly referred to as “reports”, “de-briefs”, etc in layman’s terms that the squad or platoon leader or highest ranking person in charge must complete, often having debriefed his entire unit to pull together said report. He or she must sign their name to it. It goes up the chain of command and is variously countersigned and entered into “the record”. Said reports may or may not contain damage to private or public property depending on the patrol and what it encounters that day.
    c) *Damages Claims:* the US military pays for damages resulting from operations/patrols that they perform. When Iraqis come to make claims, there is some sort of verification that is performed which most likely includes reviewing reports from that day. If reports do not indicate action in that sector or damage, said claims may be rejected.
    d) *COIN/Beauchamps Claims are true but unreported:* Rejected Iraqi home owner, store owner, administrator, general John Q Public leaves with a bad taste in their mouths that Americans really are liars and destroyers, just like the leaflet they got shoved under their door said. Ticked off Iraqi decides that the next time the Americans come down the road he is definitely not going to cooperate in identifying bad guys, bombs or other information and may even decide that he should participate in driving these crazy, dangerous Americans from his country with whomever seems to be most likely willing and capable. resulting in wounded and dead Americans and probably Iraqis.
    e) *False Reporting/Beauchamp’s Writes Expose*: Beauchamp writes expose indicating that contrary to filed reports, public and private property really was damaged and people were acting like idiots. Squad leaders, platoon leaders and higher are raked over the coals and possibly prosecuted for making false reports. (that is illegal) Beauchamp is prosecuted for failing to report such incidents and for going outside his chain of command. Iraqis are still ticked off. All Damages Claims must now be reviewed against reports filed by said unit in order to determine which ones may need to be paid after all. (yes, our military has to act like an insurance company assessing, appraising and paying for damages as well as determining fraudulent claims while simultaneously working COIN).
    f) *Beauchamp’s Expose is False*: JAG has no idea if it is or not and even if Beauchamp claims now that they are fabrications from rumors, innuendo and Bs around the DFAC, the JAG must assume that Beauchamp is protecting his friends and himself so they will continue to pursue his claims as if they were true. making people miserable and possibly finding other little PITA issues that were dealt with internally or were truly no big deal but now are being used to flagellate people in order to make an example and create “good discipline”. Beauchamp is still prosecuted for disobeying orders which state that he cannot write anything either for a paper, website or other organization without first notifying his command and receiving permission. he is also possibly prosecuted for lying.

    Worse, while people always talk about the “only 60,000 readers”, since it is on the net and can be replicated any number of times, copied, pasted, linked or otherwise widely disseminated, the possibility that his fake but accurate stories could become fodder for the enemy propaganda (and I don’t mean the Dems) could, in a rather long drawn out way admittedly, be responsible for damaging COIN operations in his sector or even outside the country, used to bolster the idea that Americans are unfeeling, torturous, destroyers of the Islamic nation; assist in recruiting and, therefore, end up killing American soldiers and civilians around the world.

    In short, Blabber Mouth Beauchamp screwed the pooch anyway you look at it. True, false, somewhere in between. And that is only ONE of his fabrications.

  47. “You never heard of that? I came up with that story myself when I first saw how it was unfolding. It’s the most obvious possibility.”

    What’s that word that liberals use? ‘Truthiness’?

    Your wildly spinning stories about what this kerfluffle at TNR must mean are filled with the same sort of ‘Truthiness’.

    The problem with your explanation is that they are all hindsight. Not only are they in hindsight, but they are damage control. You are spinning away evidence you don’t want to see. Mr. Barnes did his in foresight.

  48. As for the dog thing, I’ve got no real stake in that. I don’t know if you can consistantly hit a dog with a M2A2, and I don’t know that it matters compared to some other points – some of which have already been revealed.

    But, speaking as an amateur tank buff and onetime professional driver of large trucks, it seems to me to be a little fishy of a story in context.

    1) Max speed on a Bradley is 35 mph. Most dogs can run about that fast or when motivated. And although the Bradley accelerates really quickly for all 33 of its tons, it doesn’t do as fast as a dog.
    2) It would be hard enough to deliberately hit a dog with a automobile, unless it was a rhodesian ridgeback or some other dog that is prone to biting moving cars.
    3) “Take a look at this”:http://afvdb.50megs.com/usa/pics/m3bradley.html. The four periscopes in the driver’s side hatch are clearly visible (three forward and one to the left). Note that they do not project upward like a submarine parascope like you might imagine. they are integral with the hatch and do not extend above it. It’s not hard to imagine what sort of field of vision that you have when the hatch was down. Not only can you not see the right side of the vehical, but you can’t see a dog sized object that is within about a car length of the vehical. If AFV driver’s were prone to driving as described, it wouldn’t be dogs I’d be worried about them hitting, but children.
    4) The Bradley makes an awful racket that warns just about anything that isn’t deaf that its coming. It’s not a stealthy vehical, which is why the Army likes Strikers for some missions.

  49. DISCLAIMER: I rectified a mistake and removed [the 1SG’s ] email from the post. I should not have included that, due to privacy issues and the fact that the man has enough headaches with running his unit and the stress of deployment. DO NOT CONTACT HIM. If you want to sound off, email me.

    SFC MAC

    [Text of email removed from earlier comment at recipient’s request. — AMac 7/29/07 9:00pm]

  50. I’d say there’s a very strong change that those stinky little weasels did get away with it. Nobody knows who they are, they appear to have gotten clean away.

    _No, they didn’t get away with passing off the forgeries as real, which is what they wanted._

    Nobody has even interviewed whoever it was. We have no evidence what they wanted. Maybe they wanted a crude forgery to stand, and they failed. Maybe they were stupid. Maybe they wanted a crude forgery to fail. Maybe they were mean. How do we choose which they were?

    You say you know. How do you know about them. How could you know, unless … Glen! Did *you* do it?!!

  51. _JTFR, since it’s about 130 in Baghdad now, I’d expect dogs to be pretty lethargic mid-day._

    That’s true, but what time of year was it when he claims it was happening? He wasn’t there this time last year.

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