Not much new ground broken:
For several weeks now, questions have been raised about Scott Beauchamp’s Baghdad Diarist “Shock Troops.” While many of these questions have been formulated by people with ideological agendas, we recognize that there are legitimate concerns about journalistic accuracy.
Um-hm. Attack the “ideological agendas” first, facts second. That’s been TNR’s MO during this entire episode.
As for “journalistic integrity,” what about using vague, general questions asked of unnamed experts to attempt to back up very specific and dubious allegations? Is that journalistic integrity, or an attempt to bury inconveniences?
Indeed, we continue to investigate the anecdotes recounted in the Baghdad Diarist. Unfortunately, our efforts have been severely hampered by the U.S. Army. Although the Army says it has investigated Beauchamp’s article and has found it to be false, it has refused our–and others’–requests to share any information or evidence from its investigation. What’s more, the Army has rejected our requests to speak to Beauchamp himself, on the grounds that it wants “to protect his privacy.”
Elsewhere, a named Army source (Maj Steven Lamb) has reportedly said that Beauchamp is free to speak with anyone about this. TNR doesn’t name anyone in its “protect his privacy” statement. Should we trust them?
At the same time the military has stonewalled our efforts to get to the truth, it has leaked damaging information about Beauchamp to conservative bloggers. Earlier this week, The Weekly Standard’s Michael Goldfarb published a report, based on a single anonymous “military source close to the investigation,” entitled “Beauchamp Recants,” claiming that Beauchamp “signed a sworn statement admitting that all three articles he published in the New Republic were exaggerations and falsehoods–fabrications containing only ‘a smidgen of truth,’ in the words of our source.”
Stonewalled? Leaked? That’s a loaded set of words, TNR. You’d best be able to back it up
Here’s what we know: On July 26, Beauchamp told us that he signed several statements under what he described as pressure from the Army.
That “pressure” was likely the knowledge that he could get slapped with judicial punishment for lying to investigators, who had likely already found out from Beauchamp’s mates or from the lack of a stratified mass grave as he described that his reports were made up. Or is he now accusing the Army of squeezing him unjustly? I’m not saying that that can’t happen, but if that’s what he’s going with, he had better be able to back it up.
He told us that these statements did not contradict his articles.
He also misreported the melted woman tale as having taken place in Iraq and being a result of war stress, when he now says it happened in Kuwait before he ever got to the war (and there’s no solid evidence that the woman ever existed). You have a reason right there to disbelieve him, TNR? You’d be wise to take it.
Moreover, on the same day he signed these statements for the Army, he gave us a statement standing behind his articles, which we published at tnr.com. Goldfarb has written, “It’s pretty clear the New Republic is standing by a story that even the author does not stand by.” In fact, it is our understanding that Beauchamp continues to stand by his stories and insists that he has not recanted them.
So which is it — are you in contact with him or are you not? Or is the “continues to stand by his stories” statement reflective of not having heard from him since he is said to have recanted? If he sent the “stands by” statement that wasn’t made under oath before signing the reported recantation that was under oath, which should we believe?
Scott Beauchamp is currently a 24-year-old soldier in Iraq who, for the past 15 days, has been prevented by the military from communicating with the outside world, aside from three brief and closely monitored phone calls to family members. Our investigation has not thus far uncovered factual evidence (aside from one key detail) to discount his personal dispatches. And we cannot simply dismiss the corroborating accounts of the five soldiers with whom we spoke.
Square-backed bullets? Iraqi police being the only people in Iraq using Glocks? And where’s the stratified children’s mass grave? Forget the he said-he said and the “ideological agendas” and just address the facts for once. Is that too much to ask?
TNR, given its history has a special obligation to ascertain whether its diarist wrote truth or fables. TNR doesn’t need to hear from him in order to prove him right or wrong. TNR doesn’t need to insinuate that the Army that Beauchamp smeared is “stonewaling” its “re-reporting.” TNR doesn’t need to blame the Army for Beauchamp’s silence. TNR can address the allegation of whether its fact checker treated the Bradley manufacturer’s spokesman as has been described, linked above. TNR can ascertain whether there’s a stratified mass grave as Beauchamp described. TNR can look into whether the Iraqi police are the only group using Glocks in Iraq, as Beauchamp asserted. TNR has done none of those things, while continuing to insist that its problems are because the Army is rightly investigating allegations made by one of its troops against others, in public and from a war zone.
And TNR has yet to address the ethics violations that those right wing ideologues at the Poynter Institute and CJR described to that right wing outfit the Associated Press and published in that right wing rag, the Washington Post.
Vacation won’t last forever.
More: Over at Ace’s, commenter AD makes a good point.
Wait a minute – so now they’re saying Beauchamp was pressured into signing the statements Goldfarb talked about . . . but these weren’t contradictary? Why would the Army pressure Goldfarb to sign statements that merely backed up everything he said?
They’re starting to try to nudge in the excuse of “wait, he was pressured!” without wanting to admit the Weekly Standard may have been right.
Update: Trolling Ace’s comments again, wondering why this commenter didn’t leave said comment here as well as there, but never mind that. It’s just a good comment — Nordbuster, #94.
TNR’s hurling of unfounded accusations at the Army — that they’re “stonewalling” and “leaking,” that they “pressured” Beauchamp to sign statements and are preventing him from communicating with the outside world — is the real “Telling Clew,” Ace.
The whole point of “Shock Troops” was to demonize the U.S. military, right? And now that their little story has proven to be credibility-deficient, how do the editors of TNR defend themselves? By demonizing the military!
TNR’s editors are pandering to the prejudices of their anti-war readership (and ownership) by portraying the dispute over Beauchamp’s factually challenged writing as a titanic struggle between those bloodthirsty neocon hawks at the Pentagon and the tribunes of Truth at TNR.
Liberals of a certain age (namely, the age of Marty Peretz) have a deeply ingrained receptivity to the idea of the U.S. Army as compulsively dishonest.
Nordbuster is on to something.