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.

51 thoughts on “OK, TNR Is Looking More And More Like Just A Pile Of C**p.”

  1. _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?_

    I’ll give them one bit of leeway here – publishing anything around this would do nothing but stoke the fires of people against them, while doing nothing else. And it’s just not enough information to be useful in any way. I mean, if you’re still with them after all this time, would this change that?
    I do believe that publishing anything, even a simple “we are reviewing our failures, and will get back to you – we do not know how long this will take” would have been good.

    _So who’s putting duress down on Beauchamp, again?_
    I’d guess that someone in his outfit sat him down and mentioned that besides the overall shame he had brought, if someone wanted to nail him to the wall they could.
    I’m guessing “Article 92″:http://usmilitary.about.com/od/justicelawlegislation/l/blucmj.htm, if you match them up to that story about seeking permission before blogging.

    You could probably try 89, 90, 91, 94, 99(definitely 99), 104, 133. And if his phone conversation with TNR came after he made official statements, he could face a whole bunch of problems if he recanted(107).
    I believe these could be a few years in federal prison, maybe a decade for false official statements. I don’t know if a big book deal is enough for that.

    Knowing that would probably put me under duress.

  2. Dave, I’m certainly no expert on UCMJ (although I’ve scanned it and read law pretty well at this point) and I don’t understand – how do you get a 99 out of this?

    Definitely a 92 – but think about the optics of something like that. This isn’t the 70’s, and he’d be a folk hero even if he didn’t prove the stories out and just took the hit for publishing them. There’s no way he’d go to Kansas; he’d be scooted out of the Army quickly and be on that Boeing to NYC.

    A.L.

  3. alphie – take two weeks off for continued drive-bys. You’ll be welcome back on Nov 10. You’re banned until than, and all marshalls will just delete anything you post.

    Here’s the clue – I’m happy to debate this stuff as much as I have time to do so – with people who are genuinely interested in debate and in maybe convincing me I’m wrong – not kicking sand at me and hoping to piss me off. You get to decide what you want to do and what rules you want to play by – I just invited avedis, who is no lover of most of my positions – to do a guest post.

    Take some time, think about it, come on back – or not.

    A.L.

  4. You guys may as well be speaking Urdu for all it matters. What evidence can you present that shows that TNR cares about facts at all? Seriously. Even one tiny bit.

    You can’t, can you?

    The TNR wants to hold on to its readers and those are the people who think the military bullies and brainwashes its people right before they become crazed rapists. This is just more of the same.

    It’s the TNR, people. You are WAY overthinking the problem.

  5. I think it’s important to pound TNR for massive failures of journalistic integrity (I know, an oxymoron).

    BECAUSE they are anti-American, Anti-Military, and elitist. Noonan’s article about WHY TNR thought Beauchamp’s stuff was the genuine article is instructive: they live life through movies. Specifically 1970’s movies about Vietnam.

    It is important even if the duty is ugly, tedious, boring, nasty, and often mindbogglingly stupid to push back on TNR every day.

    Because our soldiers, sailors, marines, and air men who sacrifice every day in ways we can never know deserve no less from us. They specifically deserve BETTER than TNR. BETTER than Whoopi calling them Nazis today on the View. BETTER than the slew of movies depicting them as deranged “crimes-against humanity” monsters committing war crime after war crime.

    This is WHY the culture war battle is important. For decades people ceded movies, TV, literature, politics, and more culturally to those who despise the military and America.

    So AL, I’d say you MUST continue. We all should. Otherwise the long-term effects will be the same shameful treatment the Vietnam Vets received. Plus overt discrimination when they come home.

  6. From AL at 3
    _Dave, I’m certainly no expert on UCMJ (although I’ve scanned it and read law pretty well at this point) and I don’t understand – how do you get a 99 out of this?_

    Any person subject to this chapter who before or in the presence of the enemy
    3) through disobedience, neglect, or intentional misconduct endangers the safety of any such command, unit, place, or military property;
    5) is guilty of cowardly conduct;
    7) causes false alarms in any command, unit, or place under control of the armed forces;
    9) does not afford all practicable relief and assistance to any troops, combatants, vessels, or aircraft of the armed forces belonging to the United States or their allies when engaged in battle;

    Again, if you really wanted to force the issue – you could declare that he had reasonable knowledge his words would be in the presence of the enemy while he and his unit were, which would be enough.
    And that he could have endangered other members of the military with his stories of the bones(mainly that one, disrespecting ancestors would hit Iraqi honor hard), called false alarms by causing the investigation(indirectly), and did not afford all practicable relief.
    Not sure about the cowardly conduct though. It just felt right.

    _There’s no way he’d go to Kansas; he’d be scooted out of the Army quickly and be on that Boeing to NYC.._
    I dunno – my expectation of higher up the chain would either be to stay and rehabilitate then go on admin for a while, or to come down with all force that I could.

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

    Just a point of curiosity. At some point, this text was likely put through OCR. It mistook e for c and a spellcheck didn’t catch it.

    Back in the 1960’s Gene Kelly a great screwball comedy, “A Guide for the Married Man”. The story is told through vignettes featuring celebrities of the day.

    One of the scenes starts with Joey Bishop and a beautiful girl in bed. Bishop’s wife bursts into the room and catches them in the act! Bishop calmly pulls on his pants, asking, “What woman?” “What on earth are you talking about?” The girl in the background gets out of bed, dresses and leaves. All the while the wife is yammering on about catching him with another woman. Bishop continues to collect himself and denies everything, all the while telling his wife, “what are you talking about? There is no woman”. Soon the girl is gone and Bishop is dressed, sitting in his easy chair and steadfast in his denial. The wife doubts she ever saw anything. After his repeated denials she begins to believe Bishop. Finally, she apologizes and begins to make dinner.

    That’s TNR’s strategy. Eventually the blogs will run out of things to say about the story. TNR will refuse to drive it further. The story will die. In 20 years nobody will remember, it will just be an odd footnote to the war.

  8. Actually, I think what the TNR has done here is just make very apparent what has been the norm for years in the news business. Which is that an institution’s editorial postion shapes its coverage of any matter completely. Manufacturing, obscuring, changing or ignoring facts to comply with that editorial position is considered essential journalism. Talk of ehtics and standards are simply a method of selling those postions to the rest of us. In sum, I think the whole enterprise is simply about misleading the rubes in the rest of the country. What the media, all of it on both sides of the aisle, sell is influence not information. And they will do anything including lie shamelessly to preserve that influence. If you’re looking for information look to Yon and those like him.

  9. This is WHY the culture war battle is important. For decades people ceded movies, TV, literature, politics, and more culturally to those who despise the military and America.

    Fair enough. But using facts and logic to fight this is probably a waste of time.

    An APC cutting a dog in half with it’s tracks? It’s tracks?!?

    Maybe we should just point and laugh a lot more. :-)

  10. _You guys may as well be speaking Urdu for all it matters. What evidence can you present that shows that TNR cares about facts at all? Seriously. Even one tiny bit.
    You can’t, can you?_

    Sure I can – when the story was falling apart, they posted what they did for verification. Included in that was that they called 5 soldiers who were in his unit to verify what he was saying was true.

    Not that I really believe them now – but it qualifies as a tiny bit for back then.

  11. Dave, the story had a dog cut in half by a tracked vehicle. That’s it, the game is over, all done. Do not pass Go, do not collect $200. They don’t live in the same world you do. They’re not moved by facts. The story was wrong, but the narrative is right is what they live. It’s great to get to the bottom of this and thoroughly understand the situation, but in the end, I think that all you can do is mock them.

  12. Maybe we should just point and laugh a lot more.

    Definitely, but why does this need to be an either/or situation. I think both/and works just fine here.

  13. Based on some of Beauchamp’s own words there may be another possibility that I have not seen discussed yet.

    He may complete his term, obtain his honorable discharge, and return home to tell his side of the story. Nothing new there. Except maybe his story won’t be the one Foer wants you to hear.

    Maybe Saul Beauchamp will have had a conversion on his own Damascus road. Clearly he was of a certain mindset when he set out to make a name for himself in Iraq. Perhaps his very public falling out, and subsequent chance at redemption have done something to alter his opinion of Iraq, the war, and the soldiers who serve.

    The big green machine has ways of changing one’s perspective, and esprit d’corps is not something that gets ordered off the quartermaster’s list. It is grown and nutured over time, the Army knows this and is usually quite succesful at it. Overall the military has a long and storied history of taking people of questionable merit and making them into something much more.

    This may actually be Beauchamp’s first significant experience working within something much larger than himself. Perhaps through this process he has come to appreciate the qualities and sacrifices made by those around him, many of whom have never been presented with his opporunities. Maybe he’ll come home with a whole lot more to say about that.

    Is it likely? Probably not. Is it possible? I don’t know, but I know the thought does not make Foer rest easy.

  14. Am I the only one who while reading this had a picture on his mind of TNR as Tex Cobb, peeling himself off the mat one last time after 14 rounds of being pummeled?

  15. I recall the Cobb-Holmes fight, but I don’t recall Tex “coming off the canvas.” All I remember is a tough Texan just walking forever into those fists of fury until even Holmes hated to hit him one more time and signaled in desperation for the ref to stop the contest.

    There is nothing comparable with the Beauchamp thing, where no bravery or honor has been shown. Indeed, if anything it’s exactly the opposite.

  16. I’m going to save the comments from ThomasD (#16 from ThomasD at 5:14 am on Oct 27, 2007) for a couple of years, until Beauchamp returns to civilian life.

    Of all that I’ve read of this case, from all over the ‘net, ThomasD may, just may, be the most prescient commentator of all. He is certainly the most charitable.

  17. The thoughts expressed in comment #16 have occurred to me, as well, but by his actions so far Beauchamp has only demonstrated himself to be a narcissist. And narcissists are not known for suddenly becoming fountains of empathy and virtue.

    But, one can hope.

  18. I share that hope. But I think it’s a 50/50 shot at best. It’s just as likely that he’ll return to civilian life with a blistering expose of all the atrocities he saw.

    That book would have a guaranteed audience, possibly hundreds of thousands. There are an awful lot of code pink loons that have invested heavy emotion in their hatred of Chimpy McHitlerburton. They’d be willing to shell out $24.99 to be “proven right.”

  19. TNR says he would not confirm or deny the story in their monitored conversation because he was under threat.

    But TNR says the next day SB had his wife contact TNR to confirm SB stands by his story.

    As if SB thought the Army would hurt him if he confirmed the story, but at the same time SB thought the Army would not hurt him if SB’s wife confirmed it on his behalf?

    I think that’s confirmation of the baloney on this one.

  20. I still fail to see why anyone cares – let alone gets riled up – over this whole thing. Because it reflects badly on the troops? Why? How? Young men in combat do all sorts of normally socially unacceptable things.

    For example, US troops have done far worse things to desecrate the dead than play with some old dry bones.

    The prying out of gold teeth, cutting ears off as suveniers, urinating into the mouths of corpes are all well documented and true; if not from Iraq circa 2003 – 2007, then certainly from Vietnam and most definitely from WW2.

    So what?

    Running over a dog with a Bradley? Who freaking cares whether or not its true? It wouldn’t surprise me if GIs ran down dogs for sport.

    Yours truly once shot an indigenous goat on a bet (it was a long shot and the goat went right down). It was a stupid thing to do and I could have been in trouble for doing it, but……boys will be boys, you know?

    Meanwhile US contractors are gunning down civilians and jeaprodizing any good will that we may have among the Iraqi populace. I don’t see any any posts about that on these conservative blogs.

    Nope. Just some little minor incidents that Scotty Beauchamp – perhaps more of a fame seeking snotty kid than a soldier (or perhaps not) – may or may not have reported accurately. Yawn.

    Slow news day?

  21. Oh yeah, I was going to add that I guess this is more about an attack on TNR than about any faux outrage over Beauchamp defaming our troops (again it’s hard to see how he has).

    I have never read TNR so I don’t know anything about it. I assume it’s been targeted as a “Lefty” rag. Just curious, is there anything else that TNR has done to upset the “right” other than being “Left”?

    With all the crappy “reporting” out there across the left/right spectrum, why target TNR?

    Who here knows the real story?

  22. avedis is just taking the “fake but accurate” stance. Who needs facts when you can just make stuff up based on what happened in another time and place to someone else?

    Corvan, you hit the nail on the head. TNR wasn’t always this way. I’ve watched something similar to what’s happened there happen to a local paper here in my own town. A paper which used to print facts, pro and con, and let the reader decide has taken to berating anything right-of-far-left with vitriol and hyperbole ever since they hired their new far-left editor. The entire paper has taken a leftist slant even into the movie review section.

  23. I still fail to see why anyone cares – let alone gets riled up – over this whole thing. Because it reflects badly on the troops? Why? How? Young men in combat do all sorts of normally socially unacceptable things.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    I hope that Democrats and Liberals don’t get upset if I characterize their ethical worldview in reference to Representative William Jefferson of Louisiana. You might recall that he is under indictment for accepting bribes and having $ 90,000 dollars in cash in his freezer. He is also known for commmandeering a Louisiana National Guard vehicle during the Katrina response to go to his house and secure some personal belongings. With that action he may actually have contributed to the deaths of some of the Katrina victims.

    His actions clearly reflect upon Democrats and Liberals. Corrupt as they all are, they do all sorts of greedy, selfish socially unacceptable things as they rip off and exploit their constituents.

  24. Let’s sit in our man Beauchamps chair for a minute. If the story was pure BS then he has done irreparable harm to The New Replublic and his marriage. Our man Beauchamp by this point has taken legal advice. To believe TNR had a lawyer on the conference call with Beauchamp to protect Beauchamp is being somewhat naive. They did after all threaten him with “You will never write again anywhere”.

  25. Screw Beauchamp. He knew what the hell he was doing. He’s an attention whore who willingly allowed himself to be used by TNR. In the process, he lied, denigrated his fellow Soldiers, and caused an outrageous distraction that his unit did not need. LTC Glaze wants to keep Beauchamp? He better keep the UCMJ Manual handy. Let him get back to the war? Shit, he was never really in it to begin with.

    More lame crap: “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.”

    If Beauchamp’s own words in the interview or the lack of factual evidence wasn’t enough to convince Foer that he’d been Glass’d, then he’s really stuck on stupid. TNR is still trying to cover its ass. Admitting that they fucked up beyond belief might have saved at least a shred of credibility. Just reading the transcripts and Beauchamp’s blithe responses makes me want to vomit. TNR has claimed throughout this sordid espisode that the Army forbid Beauchamp to comment or speak to the media. That, as evidenced by the transcripts, is an out and out lie. Beauchamp was free to talk, TNR knew this, but told him to keep quiet. Then you turn around and accuse the Army of gagging him.
    Foer needs to step back, take a breath, and write a detailed apology for TNR’s (collective) journalistic malfeasance. Redactions have become nothing more than cover-ups and lame excuses instead of dignified, truthful explainations.
    Congratulations, TNR. Your credibility is in the crapper.

  26. Oyster: “avedis is just taking the “fake but accurate” stance.”

    No. I am not.

    I am taking the stance that I could care less and don’t see why any other sentient being would either.

    I brought up known and well documented examples of the sorts of socially unacceptable things that our troops have done not lend credence to Beauchamp, but to diminish the importance of his stories, true or untrue.

    Get it? Beauchamps stories, if fabricated, are piss poor fabrications. They fail to shock relevant to reality. If true, ditto. So, again, who the hell cares?

    Red: “I hope that Democrats and Liberals don’t get upset if I characterize their ethical worldview in reference to Representative William Jefferson of Louisiana.”

    Are there any liberals or democrats here other than the (alleged) affilation of the man who wrote the post (A.L.)? Because if your question was directed at me in any way, you’ve got the wrong guy; being neither a democrat nor liberal.

    Red, you’re not related to Jim Rockford (the one who comments here) are you? I notice a family resemblence.

  27. Good post. SB is Walter Mitty. It’s been obvious from the first reading of the TNR stories. They are sea stories, big time.

    Foer is pretty naive and pretty wanting to believe to have gone for them in the first place, with some pretty fricking sketchy fact-checking. And the follow on checking is pretty pathetic as well.

    Oh…and both the left and right are wrong about SB being a war hero. He’s hiding out in the military and refusing to answer questions. Reminds me of the E-3 in 1990 who DUI crashed into my sister and then tried to run away from civilian justice using deployment.

  28. TNR is acting as if it is the Army’s obligation to disprove the stories, rather than its obligation to prove they are true. This is not journalism, this is playground rumor mongering.

  29. Avedis deploys the “Show’s over, folks — move along” defense. Sure sign that the “But the Meta-narrative is True” and “the Documents are Fake but Accurate” defenses have crumbled. I mean, if the “narrative” is “true” and the “documents” are “accurate”, why does your lot have to concoct fables and forgeries to sustain them? If the “truth” is on your side, why do you have to repeatedly deploy and amend falsehoods in order to defend it?.

    Slander is slander, p*ss-poor fabrication or not, get it? Especially when it gets play in a name magazine.

    And especially where Rathergate is now a career option for any media entity contemplating such slander.

    –furious

  30. I notice that avedis has written tens of thousands of words worth of comments responding to posts about the Beauchamp story here on WoC, always desperately trying to convince everyone that it’s not important and no one should pay any attention to it.

    Apparently that tactic isn’t working any better than back when he was impersonating WoC commenters and guest bloggers to try to discredit stories he didn’t like.

  31. I was not aware of avedis’ history. I was simply going to ignore him – now I know anything he says is a malicious lie. Thank you for the link.

  32. Just as Yon suggests that second chances are important, I think it’s important to note that avedis came back and has been a responsible – if prolific – critic of what we’ve been putting up here since then.

    I thought about my response when he started posting again, and I’ll say that the diversity of voice is important enough to me that I’m willing to let him be.

    He screwed up, it’s over, I’m willing to take what he says seriously – if nothing else, as arguments that I have to pierce to make my points well.

    A.L.

  33. @ Shad: “I notice that avedis has written tens of thousands of words worth of comments responding to posts about the Beauchamp story here on WoC, always desperately trying to convince everyone that it’s not important and no one should pay any attention to it.”

    I am not trying to convince anyone of anything.

    I am asking a question (and explaining a little why I would ask such a question).

    Want to try answering it?

    @ furious: “Avedis deploys the “Show’s over, folks — move along” defense.”

    Nope (see above). I am genuinely curious regarding why this particular example gets so much traction. I am not defending anyone or anything here.

    @ DSinope: “I was simply going to ignore him – now I know anything he says is a malicious lie. ”

    That staement is, in itself, a vicious lie – and, I might add a weak excuse on your part for not exercising your frontal lobe and answering someone who doesn’t understand you.

    Sometimes I drink. I think M. Totten is an ass (just my opinion). The combination got the better of me one night I commented in sophmoric and impolite fashion not to discredit anyone – obviously the IP address would quickly prove that tactic faulty – but in a twisted sense of humor that I sometimes exhibit after too many bourbons. Sheesh, don’t you have anything more productive – and quite frankly, less creepy – to do with your time than google search for shreds of evidence to (irony of it all) discredit someone whose POV you don’t like?

    AL has graciously allowed me back despite the fact that 90% of time I only comment when I disagree with AL; often on fundemental realities and perceptions. He is mature and self assured enough to recognize the value of counter perspectives. How does any of that make me a pernicious liar?

  34. Sheesh, don’t you have anything more productive – and quite frankly, less creepy – to do with your time than google search for shreds of evidence to (irony of it all) discredit someone whose POV you don’t like?

    Sorry, avedis, but I can only laugh at the accusation from you — the person who fantasized that Michael J Totten, rather than actually going to Iraq, Israel, Turkey, etc. to do independent reporting was actually there on some sort of exotic gay sex vacation — a slander which you posted under Totten’s own name on this site — that it is somehow “creepy” to remember and point out the dishonest tactics you’ve used on this very blog in the past.

    I think it’s important for people to see the levels you’ve sunk to when arguing on this site, and the lengths you’ve gone to in trying to discredit people who were saying things you didn’t want to hear (and that you didn’t want other people to hear).

  35. Shad, lighten up.

    You still haven’t argued anything. You have merely attacked at a personal level.

    I made a mistake. I admit it – though my intentions were, again, a poor sophmoric joke; not an attempt to discredit.

    What’s the matter, Shad? Homosexuality would, in your book, discredit Totten’s work? Gays can’t report factually? That interpretation never crossed my mind. I, on the other hand, do not believe that sexual orientation has an impact on the ability to do foreign correspondence effectively so how could my comment have been an attempt to “discredit”?

    As for your insuation that I have done other similar things in the past (“dishonest tactics you’ve used on this very blog in the past”), well that just shows your pathetic level of sleaziness. You continue with personal attacks against those who disagree with you.

  36. I thought in Beauchamp’s original story that it was another soldier who was targeting dogs, not STB. Is there any indication STB has released those docs to TNR? It would have been nice if the Army had forced him to make a public apology and/or explanation, but I suppose by law they can’t. Morally, he ought to, for libeling his comrades.

  37. Funny that alphie gets sent to the showers, and avedis hypes up the activity.

    Are the trolls running a DA Form 6 (that’s a “duty roster,” Marc and any others who are fortunate enough not to have been on one — used to assign unpleasant thrills like KP, guard duty, Staff Duty Officer, Watch Officer, etc), for “Winds of Change Duty Troll?”

    I mean, they appear to be clearly different trolls, but they’re both clearly trolls. I admire Marc for his high threshold of tolerance — I couldn’t do it. (I don’t even have comments. My blog’s share of my $300 bandwidth bill is for my opinion, not parasitic, hostile trolls… GYOB, ya know?).

    Of course, Avedis (which is part of the name on my old cymbals — a musical instrument that makes essentially atonal noise) and I both comment on Beauchamp/TNR/Fabricating Franklin threads. I say I am interested because I am a soldier and veteran and dislike being slimed by poseurs. Avedis says he is not interested, yet this is where he posts.

    Most peculiar. I look forward to his next expression of his obsessive disinterest.

  38. I’m jumping into the middle of things here; please forgive my naivete.

    I’ve been disgusted by Beauchamp’s stories, and what they suggest about his motives, from the beginning. And TNR’s actions, in trying to keep the story (and/or their reputations) alive, in spite of evidence that Beauchamp is trying hard to win respect from his fellow troops, look downright disgusting to me.

    But I have to say that, when I first read Beauchamp’s allegations, my reaction was the same as what avedis said: “Good grief, is that all?!?”

    So TNR wanted some authentic-sounding nihilistic antiwar stories from a first-person military perspective. And this was the best Beauchamp could do?!? Making fun of a crippled woman (and making himself look like an ass in the process); claiming damage to buildings and the deaths of a few dogs; and soldiers having fun with bones.

    Not that desecrating a gravesite isn’t serious, mind you; and hey, I like dogs too. But that’s so incredibly tame, compared to the atrocities American troops have ALREADY been accused of in this war. What’s next? Have American GIs also been returning videotapes without rewinding them? Have they been writing bad words in library books? Have they perhaps been running with scissors and leaving the top off the toothpaste?

    – – –

    The only way I can make sense out of any of this is, perhaps, if we assume that: (a) TNR asked Beauchamp for sensationalist stories; (b) they didn’t want anything too dramatic, for fear of being fact-checked; so (c) they contented themselves with “atrocities” that are hardly worse than high-school pranks.

    Lame, lame, lame. And they got caught with their collective editorial hand in the cookie jar anyway. In other words, they’re not only liars; and they’re not only cowardly liars. They’re INCOMPETENT cowardly liars.

    By all means, let’s hold TNR’s feet to the fire. But let’s not forget to laugh at how absurd the whole thing is… that TNR ever expected anyone to take them seriously in the first place.

    respectfully,
    Daniel in Brookline

  39. Avedis isn’t a troll. Opinionated and a bit of a contrarian, but definitely not a troll. I and others have had good discussions with him, so let’s please keep the troll label to where it belongs.

  40. Treefrog:

    Avedis isn’t a troll.

    Nah, he’s just an ordinary guy who posed as someone else in order to cast a homosexual smear, which he calls a “mistake”, and then defends in very next paragraph (#42).

    Talk about fake but accurate. He was drunk and he screwed up, and yet he still thinks he got it mostly right.

    He then turns it around on Shad and accuses him of a “pathetic level of sleaziness” – as opposed to the epic levels that avedis achieves after a couple of beers, I guess – and implies that he’s a homophobe for pointing out his “mistake”.

    So I guess we’ve got an Olog-hai in the compound, and we’ll just have to pray that he stays sober. I’m not objecting. But I say let him defend himself.

  41. You know, I don’t think there’s any way avedis and I can prove the truth of Beauchamp’s assertions Stateside, and it’s absurd for you to criticize us for not doing so. Likewise, I’m wondering how it is you feel you can refute them by action-at-a-distance? John Cole at Balloon Juice says he could run over a dog while driving a tank. K’Gar at Obsidian Wings says he was a passenger in a tank that deliberately ran over a dog. The making fun of the burned woman story was wrong in the less important issue of where it took place. On-site investigation of Beauchamp’s story implicates issues of duress and/or ass-covering.

    It’s a safe guess that without the photos none of you would have believed Abu Ghraib happened, and a few of you still aren’t sure.

  42. AJL –

    No, I’d be certain that prisoner abuse takes place in pretty much every situation in the world where there are prisoners and guards. Just as I’d be certain that there are incidents of bad – even horrible – behavior in armies in wartime pretty much throughout history.

    What I’m interested in is the question of why it is that the media leadership in this country seem so compelled to pick those threads to weave their narrative from – even to the extent of picking (obviously) false ones, time and time again. Because, as I keep trying to say, the chosen narrative influences our choices and perceptions very strongly (remember, I’m a Habermas fan).

    That’s why I’m interested in this story, and don’t want to let up until I’m proven wrong (simple – produce the burned woman, produce sworn statements – or even uncontradicted named statements from people who witnessed what Beauchamp wrote about) or until TNR steps back on this.

    A.L.

  43. #45: Daniel in Brookline:

    Daniel, I have to repectfully disagree with your point *”Not that desecrating a gravesite isn’t serious, mind you; and hey, I like dogs too. But that’s so incredibly tame, compared to the atrocities American troops have ALREADY been accused of in this war.*

    The fundamental problem is that these so called “atrocities” have rarely ever turned out to be true (Haditha, Koran Flushing, Gitmo Torture, etc) or have been blown completely out of proportion (Abu Gharib). The liberals and their counterpart in the MSM continue to beat the drum over any morsel of information that reflects badly on out troops no matter how true or how insignificant. The cummulative net effect of all this is that it undermines the war effort by turning the country against the war and arousing the passions of the Islamo-fanatics around the world (remember the reporting of the Koran flushing incident which caused the deaths of around a dozen people).

    As humiliating and sordid as the Abu Gharib debacle was, it pales in comparison to the indiscriminate killing of dogs for sport and desecrating a human gravesite as described by Beauchamp.

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