Breaking: TNR challenges Weekly Standard’s claim that Beauchamp has recanted; Update: Weekly Standard stands by its source
posted at 2:49 pm on August 7, 2007 by Allahpundit
We’ve talked to military personnel directly involved in the events that Scott Thomas Beauchamp described, and they corroborated his account as detailed in our statement. When we called Army spokesman Major Steven F. Lamb and asked about an anonymously sourced allegation that Beauchamp had recanted his articles in a sworn statement, he told us, “I have no knowledge of that.” He added, “If someone is speaking anonymously [to The Weekly Standard], they are on their own.” When we pressed Lamb for details on the Army investigation, he told us, “We don’t go into the details of how we conduct our investigations.”
Note that Lamb isn’t denying it, just saying that if it’s true, no one’s told him yet. Goldfarb should offer TNR a deal: you burn your sources and we’ll burn ours.
I’ve got updates and video coming so stand by.
Update: While we wait for the video to upload, Frank Foer has a question for the right-wing blogosphere: Don’t you think you owe me an apology?
“My magazine this last week has been subject of basically a smear job by the Weekly Standard and a lot of the conservative blogosphere over a piece that we published from a soldier in Iraq, which we have gone back and re-reported and it turned out to be aside from one mistake to be the case and I just wish that there was, and this sounds like a trite mainstream media criticism, but that those in the blogosphere who kind of move from one reckless allegation to another reckless allegation for once apologize when they get something wrong.”
He said that on Friday, before the news broke about Beauchamp (allegedly) recanting, so it’s not quite as brazen as it might seem — unless he knew about the recantation when he said it. Apparently he didn’t if they’re disputing it now.
Update: Fox News covered it 20 minutes ago and confirmed that the DoD investigation found Beauchamp’s allegations to be false. They didn’t have any info on the alleged recantation, though; for that they cited Goldfarb.
The one new detail here: since there’s no evidence of criminal conduct, he’ll face administrative punishment only. That jibes with what “armylawyer” said last night about Beauchamp having had little incentive to lie to investigators given that lying to them would have exposed him to harsher penalties than simply copping to the incidents in TNR. Which makes the now-disputed fact of his recantation that much more important.
Update: Rusty makes a great catch. Has TNR mentioned yet in any of its reporting the results of the Army’s investigation? They mentioned in their post on August 2 that the investigation had begun but unless I’m missing something they’ve never actually taken a moment to let their readers know that, yes indeed, the Army formally disputes their account of what happened. In fact, in their haste to rush Maj. Lamb’s nonconfirmation into print this afternoon, they conveniently neglected to mention that he himself is on record as saying Beauchamp’s allegations are false. Did I miss their report on this somewhere or have they really not mentioned it yet?
Update: If you missed the flame war I linked in the headlines between Rick Moran and Ace, now’s your chance. Moran’s argument is reminiscent of (but distinct from) the nonsense Boehlert floated last year during Jamilgate and which Yglesias dusted off a week or two ago for this story — namely, that because worse things have happened in Iraq, it doesn’t really matter whether Beauchamp’s telling the truth. The parallel’s close enough that it’s worth quoting what I wrote in December:
[Boehlert] doesn’t care if the story’s bogus or not. He’ll say en passant that he does because he knows, as a journalist and media critic, that he has to. But it’s strictly pro forma. His position seems to be that the story’s true in the Larger Sense, as a microcosm of the brutality in Iraq, even if it’s not, you know, technically true (“as if an AP retraction would change a thing on the ground in Baghdad, where electricity remains scarce, but sectarian death squads roam freely”). In other words, “fake but accurate.” That’s his bottom line here and that’s why it’s dishonest of him and his pals to even pretend to care whether the report’s accurate. As far as they’re concerned, if Jamil Hussein turns out to be real, the story’s true; if he turns out not to be real, the story’s True. They can’t go wrong. Meanwhile the AP, if it’s guilty of bad facts to whatever greater or lesser degree, gets an almost completely free pass.
Substitute Beauchamp’s piece for Jamil and TNR for the AP and we have a match. Moran isn’t going as far as Boehlert and Yglesias — he clearly thinks it matters if the story’s true or false, he just doesn’t think it matters as much as victory in Iraq. Which happens to be correct, undisputed, and beside the point.
Update: Goldfarb makes the same point I made about Maj. Lamb above and says he has “full confidence” that Beauchamp recanted. And now he’d like to know: are TNR and Beauchamp denying it or just “airing,” a la Andrew Sullivan, the fact that Maj. Lamb himself has no personal knowledge of the recantation?
Update (Bryan): TNR’s Foer is proving to be a real piece of work. Let’s fisk him.
We’ve talked to military personnel directly involved in the events that Scott Thomas Beauchamp described, and they corroborated his account as detailed in our statement.
Uh, yeah, we knew that already. But none of them put their names on the record, and there’s good reason to believe that you’re conflating one guy into three by citing him three times in three stories, without naming him, of course. We have no reason to believe you without real corroboration, and you have yet to provide that.
And yes, I’m linking to Ace of Spades to refute TNR, because Ace is by far the more credible of the two.
When we called Army spokesman Major Steven F. Lamb and asked about an anonymously sourced allegation that Beauchamp had recanted his articles in a sworn statement, he told us, “I have no knowledge of that.”
Well, on the plus side at least you’re finally getting someone with an actual name on the record. On the minus side, he’s not refuting the recantation. He’s just, as Allah said, stating that he doesn’t know anything about that. As a Public Affairs Officer, he’s not an investigator, so it’s reasonable to believe him on that point. And it’s just as reasonable to note that this means precisely nothing to the factual point of whether Beauchamp recanted or not. Nothing. That sentence is a sad attempt at misdirection.
He added, “If someone is speaking anonymously [to The Weekly Standard], they are on their own.” When we pressed Lamb for details on the Army investigation, he told us, “We don’t go into the details of how we conduct our investigations.”
Again, nothing in there refutes the statement that Beauchamp recanted. Nothing. CID (look it up, liberals) doesn’t go into the details of how it conducts its investigations because, duh, that tips off anyone that’s being investigated as to how CID look-sees might be thwarted. Use a little common sense, TNR.
One more time, this is really simple and doesn’t need a whole lot of he said-she said stuff: Where’s the stratified mass grave? Are Iraqi police really the only people in Iraq using Glocks? Can you build up so much war stress that you’d stoop to mock a wounded woman (that no one else can even find) before you’ve ever even been in the war?
This has become a very stupid story, because TNR isn’t interested in telling the truth and its spin is so far below the Clintonian gold standard that it has become pathetic.
The New Republic has become Truthout. That’s how much damage this story has done to their credibility.