Reminds me of when Dan Rather said, in the midst of Rathergate, with a very straight face, that if the memos turned out to be fake he’d like to be the one to break that story.

Sometimes those big scoops need to be “helped along” a bit by outside parties, n’est-ce pas?

Franklin Foer, editor of The New Republic, said in an interview that the documents Matt Drudge posted this afternoon–and removed several hours later without explanation–could have only come from the Army.

Mr. Foer said he called TNR’s contact there, Major Kirk Luedeke, as soon as the documents appeared on Drudge’s Web site. According to Mr. Foer, Major Luedeke told him that the Army was “investigating the source of the leak,” though they did not explicitly take responsibility for it.

“It’s maddening to see the Army selectively leak to the Drudge Report things that we’ve been trying to obtain from them through Freedom of Information Act requests,” Mr. Foer said. “This fits a pattern in this case where the army has leaked a lot of stuff to right wing blogs.”

Mr. Foer said TNR had been trying since July to get access to some of the documents Mr. Drudge posted, but that the Army had not cooperated.

So Foer couldn’t report on a conversation he himself participated in because the record wasn’t complete yet? Re-read that transcript again. Foer and Scoblic are telling Beauchamp, with no little amount of desperation, that they’re going to have to walk away from the piece if he doesn’t talk to them. Which he doesn’t. By their own formulation his protracted “no comment” is hugely significant and thus, one would think, should merit some kind of mention in TNR, whether or not a new report might be warranted later if further documents were released. See for yourself:

doc1.jpg

Their defense here is obviously going to be that Beauchamp did offer to “talk” to them, sort of, by promising to release the statements he gave to the Army and that they were simply waiting until they had that material to report the conversation. But … why don’t they have that material yet? Beauchamp agreed to release it to them in part 2 of the transcript, but here we are six weeks later and still no report from TNR. Like Ace says, there are only two possibilities:

1) Beauchamp never authorized the release of these documents to TNR, and TNR is trying to claim the Army has a special duty to give them to TNR, even with Beauchamp stubbornly refusing to sign the release.

2) Beauchamp did authorize the release of all documents specifically pertaining to himself, which is all he could authorize, but that authorization does not cover the statements made by other troops in the unit. So TNR is spinning its failure to get permission from the other soldiers to view their statements as A) due to Army non-cooperation and B) absolving them from having to report any further on the story until they get these documents (which they never will).

They’re “waiting for all the facts to come in” before they do any further reporting on the story, in other words. And since there are no more facts forthcoming, voila: story’s over. Frankly, I’m surprised the Army didn’t leak Beauchamp’s statements and the report of its investigation to TNR just to call their bluff and force their hand.

Update: Says See-Dub, “So we are to believe that the army was previously stonewalling on these documents that show that A: the troops aren’t psychopathic dog-smashers and B: their effete liberal critics were printing falsehoods about them? Documents numerous sources had already FOIA’d? But now they ‘leak’ it?”

Update: Captain Ed’s on the same wavelength. “Just the fact that TNR needed an FOIA request to find out what the Army discovered should have informed them of Beauchamp’s credbility.”