TNR: Beauchamp called us without the Army goons around and stood by everything

posted at 1:43 pm on October 26, 2007 by Bryan

The rehabilitation of Scott Thomas Beauchamp may have been premature.

We are now to believe that two weeks after Scott Thomas Beauchamp issued the Mother of All No Comments to his editors at The New Republic on tape, he rang up Franklin Foer and told him that he still stood by all of his articles (minus the one little detail about shifting the melted woman story from the battlefield DFAC in Iraq to the rear echelon DFAC in Kuwait, and prior to Beauchamp’s entry in the war, details which render the story nonsense). We’re not supposed to notice that. We’re also not supposed to remember how TNR’s fact-checkers manipulated their Bradley subject matter expert with vague and misleading questions designed to lead the witness toward their point of view, rather than the facts, and we’re also not supposed to notice that to date TNR hasn’t responded to that allegation at all. Put that out of your mind. And there’s also one other hard fact that we’re to put out of our minds when reading TNR’s latest, and I’ll have more to say about that in bit. Here’s a taste of TNR’s update.

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.

The documentary evidence says one thing, Foer says another, and he expects everyone to just take his word at face value. He offers no evidence at all that the second conversation even took place, just his word. There are several directions we could take this, but supposing that the second conversation actually took place and supposing that Foer didn’t put the “just heard from your wife, and she’s just gonna collapse from heartache if you wrote fiction” emotional screws to Beauchamp again as he did on Sept 6, Beauchamp admitted to Foer that he lied in official Army documents. I’m referring to the Army’s investigative findings.

beauchamp-grave002.png

Look at the second sentence, the one that begins with “He admitted…” That’s a flat recantation of two major and salient parts of his articles. Let’s go over them. First, killing dogs with a Bradley.

One particular day, he killed three dogs. He slowed the Bradley down to lure the first kill in, and, as the diesel engine grew quieter, the dog walked close enough for him to jerk the machine hard to the right and snag its leg under the tracks. The leg caught, and he dragged the dog for a little while, until it disengaged and lay twitching in the road. A roar of laughter broke out over the radio. Another notch for the book. The second kill was a straight shot: A dog that was lying in the street and bathing in the sun didn’t have enough time to get up and run away from the speeding Bradley. Its front half was completely severed from its rear, which was twitching wildly, and its head was still raised and smiling at the sun as if nothing had happened at all. I didn’t see the third kill, but I heard about it over the radio.

“I didn’t see the third kill…” implies that he was an eye witness to the first two. But in the Army investigation, he admits that he wasn’t an eye witness to any of it.

Now, the stratified mass grave.

About six months into our deployment, we were assigned a new area to patrol, southwest of Baghdad. We spent a few weeks constructing a combat outpost, and, in the process, we did a lot of digging. At first, we found only household objects like silverware and cups. Then we dug deeper and found children’s clothes: sandals, sweatpants, sweaters. Like a strange archeological dig of the recent past, the deeper we went, the more personal the objects we discovered. And, eventually, we reached the bones. All children’s bones: tiny cracked tibias and shoulder blades. We found pieces of hands and fingers. We found skull fragments. No one cared to speculate what, exactly, had happened here, but it was clearly a Saddam-era dumping ground of some sort.

He has put himself on the scene of a discovery that he recanted under oath. If he told Foer that he stands by his work, then he either lied to Foer or he lied to the Army under oath. It’s a binary choice, one or the other. Given the relative consequences of either action, which is the more likely?

The mention of the animal bones gets at the heart of Foer’s deceptive and repetitive claim that he’s “re-reporting” Beauchamp’s stories. Beauchamp made a factual claim to have been among a crew that discovered a Saddam-era mass grave that was stratified with household items at the top and the bones of children below. It was a skull from that grave that Beauchamp claims another soldier wore “like a crown.” If the mass grave doesn’t exist, then the story can’t be true. If TNR is really re-reporting the story, has it verified the existence of the mass grave? The Army says it doesn’t exist. Does TNR say that it does? Has TNR put any boots on the ground to find it on their own? We’re not supposed to notice that TNR has yet to weigh in on its existence or non-existence at all.

Foer can spin and twist his conversations with Beauchamp and various Army officers all he wants. He can suggest that the Army is being devious with him, that it’s strong arming Beauchamp, whatever. But if he can’t verify, after all this time, the existence of that mass grave, and since he now has official records documenting that his reporter has lied to somebody, Foer has no choice but to consider Beauchamp’s credibility as beyond repair and his stories as fatally flawed.

But he’s not going to do that. He’s going to continue to focus on the leak and make the Army out to be the villain. That’s been his standard tactic throughout, and that attitude probably contributed to TNR’s publishing Beauchamp’s fables in the first place.

Update (AP): We learned yesterday, as this was crumbling around TNR, that the left considers this story a terribly silly distraction from the “real issues” that they’re, um, no longer covering. Will TNR’s pushback create Strange New Respect for the saga of Scott Beauchamp among our liberal colleagues? Stay tuned!

Update: Foer is indeed out from under his desk, and tunneling straight to the center of the earth.

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And the retarded get even more retarded

Defector01 on October 26, 2007 at 1:45 PM

He offers no evidence at all that the second conversation even took place, just his word.

If a tree falls in the forest…

PRCalDude on October 26, 2007 at 1:48 PM

Either STB is digging that huge hole deeper, or FF is.

Or both.

Somebody’s seriously stuck on stupid.

thirteen28 on October 26, 2007 at 1:51 PM

Looks like TNR has a big investment in shovels.

.

GT on October 26, 2007 at 1:52 PM

Fits the theme. TNR has to spin it someway that the military looks bad, since that was the theme of the piece in the first place.

Spirit of 1776 on October 26, 2007 at 1:52 PM

I’m not sure, I realize Beauchamp is playing with fire by playing both sides, particularly with the Army, but given his ego, he might be playing both sides. I wouldn’t discount it for a second.

Bad Candy on October 26, 2007 at 1:54 PM

If a tree falls in the forest…

PRCalDude on October 26, 2007 at 1:48 PM

and no one is there to hear it….

Will the MSM still make it out to be an ecological disaster??

Romeo13 on October 26, 2007 at 1:55 PM

Between this and the Bobby Calvan story, once again we see why Pride is considered the worst of the “deadly sins,” since some form of it is at the root of all wrongdoing.

inviolet on October 26, 2007 at 2:00 PM

Two-and-a-half weeks later, Beauchamp telephoned Foer at home and, in an unmonitored conversation

I don’t know for sure, but I’m betting that all cell calls from the theater are monitored. But of course, Foer wouldn’t count on that.

baldilocks on October 26, 2007 at 2:01 PM

The documentary evidence says one thing, Foer says another, and he expects everyone to just take his word at face value.

Don’t let the facts get in the way…

Rick on October 26, 2007 at 2:02 PM

Hmm… Beauchamp told the Army he embellished most if not everything did he not?

Would Foer be DUMB enough to lie about something like this? And if he’s not is Beauchamp DUMB enough to lie to the Army about this? Or DUMB enough to lie to Foer? Knowing what kind of a hellstorm would erupt either way.

I can’t see Beauchamp being that stupid. But I can’t see Foer being dumb enough to make up a magic phonecall either. Clearly Beauchamp wants to stay in Iraq, for whatever reason. Why would he risk it by contradicting a signed statement with the Army to a member of the press?

Only Foer can gain from this, if only briefly, and with a small group of people.

Keljeck on October 26, 2007 at 2:07 PM

I’m a scientist by training, remember, and I know that when you have question you are asking (Given that TNR is not going to go gently into what really happened), your next move is to make a prediction, based on what you already know or can find out, on what will likely happen next if your prediction is correct. Many here have made some very good predictions over the last few weeks about what TNR could possibly do if they are a) essentially morally bankrupt, b) will do anything to save face, and c) really want Beauchamp’s stories to be true.

TNR has hit every single one of them square on the nose. Can we move this whole kit and kaboodle up out of “hypothesis” range into “theory” territory yet?

Bob's Kid on October 26, 2007 at 2:16 PM

STB recanted his recantation with the Army two weeks later but don’t tell the Army that.

STB is going to have to come forward now with a public statement.

danking70 on October 26, 2007 at 2:17 PM

The comments section at the Plank is illuminating. Like Foer, the Plank’s readers are under the delusion that the Army owes TNR an answer. Additionally, there seem to be quite a few of them who are unfamiliar with the trackback/pingback concept.

baldilocks on October 26, 2007 at 2:22 PM

So it looks like we have two possibilities:

1. Beauchamp never intended to recant his “diarist” and only issued his stern “no comment” under duress from his Army superiors.

2. Beauchamp did intend to recant his diarist, but for some reason (perhaps to protect his wife) told Foer that the Army essentially forced him to recant.

So even though we can say with reasonable certainty that the diarist was, shall we say, counter-factual, the issue of whether or not Beauchamp intended to recant is still unknown and unproven. And frankly, given how badly the waters have been muddied at this point, this issue will likely never be resolved. Lefities will always believe that the Army gestapo pressured Beauchamp, and we on the right will always assume that Beauchamp is a wannbe-Hemingway whose tall tales got away from him.

Either way, I don’t think you can argue that Beauchamp is a world-class a-hole. Either he hung TNR out to dry, or he hung the Army out to dry. Tosser.

Enrique on October 26, 2007 at 2:30 PM

He has put himself on the scene of a discovery that he recanted under oath. If he told Foer that he stands by his work, then he either lied to Foer or he lied to the Army under oath. It’s a binary choice, one or the other. Given the relative consequences of either action, which is the more likely?

It is not lying when a man tells his wife one thing and his mistress something entirely different.
- Rudy Giulianai

MB4 on October 26, 2007 at 2:30 PM

It is not lying when a man tells his wife one thing and his mistress something entirely different.
- Rudy Giulianai

MB4 on October 26, 2007 at 2:30 PM

Excellent metaphor, though I question the attribution. ;-)

However, which one is which?

baldilocks on October 26, 2007 at 2:36 PM

It is not lying when a man tells his wife one thing and his mistress something entirely different.

Scott is Italian?

bnelson44 on October 26, 2007 at 2:37 PM

Clearly Beauchamp wants to stay in Iraq, for whatever reason. Why would he risk it by contradicting a signed statement with the Army to a member of the press?

Only Foer can gain from this, if only briefly, and with a small group of people.

Keljeck, I agree with your premises but not your conclusion. This is Sir Real Scott Thomas we’re talking about here. He’s the moron that made up the stories and peddled them to TNR in the first place. The Army might be able to pound some sense into him, but it’s likely going to take longer than a few weeks.

Foer has big problems but, especially at this point in the game, he is not so stupid as to make up an entire phone call. Everything we know about Beauchamp says he IS stupid enough to lie to TNR after coming clean with the Army.

This entire narrative is about Beauchamp making up stuff to sell to TNR. Hey, they bought it the first time, why not the second?

Missy on October 26, 2007 at 2:37 PM

Jonah linked this on The Corner to explain FF.

Priceless.

thirteen28 on October 26, 2007 at 2:37 PM

However, which one is which?

baldilocks on October 26, 2007 at 2:36 PM

The Army is the wife, TNR the mistress.

MB4 on October 26, 2007 at 2:38 PM

Scott is Italian?

bnelson44 on October 26, 2007 at 2:37 PM

I thought he was French.

MB4 on October 26, 2007 at 2:41 PM

Like a
Foer by Foer
upside the head

DANEgerus on October 26, 2007 at 2:43 PM

I thought he was French.

Oh, ok, nevermind then…

bnelson44 on October 26, 2007 at 2:43 PM

Its front half was completely severed from its rear, which was twitching wildly, and its head was still raised and smiling at the sun as if nothing had happened at all.

You know…with all the other nonsensical crap he wrote, I never looked at the feasibility (or lack thereof) of this statement before.

What’s the width of a Bradley track? From photos it looks like it’s about two feet wide. So…exactly how big are the dogs over there? I’m thinking if the front half was pristine other than not being attached to the rest of the body, the back half would be completely crushed, not twitching wildly. But if the front half was to have enough weight and balance to remain upright and smiling at the sun, and any of the back half was to have enough structural integrity to twitch wildly, that dog had to be about six or seven feet long before getting run over!

(Now if you’ll just take a look at this model dog I made out of chicken wire….)

James on October 26, 2007 at 2:46 PM

Missy on October 26, 2007 at 2:37 PM

Hmm. Beauchamp’s end goal in this, at least originally, was to become a writer. Foer used that against him in the transcript. Maybe he made the private call after, not expecting Foer to admit to having it?

That way he gets out of the army eventually, and can claim what Foer is claiming now, and TNR has the never ending investigation the whole time.

That makes sense. He’s an idiot, so I doubt he would realize that military transcripts can be requested, and there are people who would.

Keljeck on October 26, 2007 at 2:46 PM

Well, the time frame of this supposed unmonitored phone call is interesting. The first was 7 Sep. The second was about 15 days later, so about 22 Sept.

It certainly appears that Reeve was still working at TNR at the time of the first call. On 24 Sep, Mediabistro reported the Facebook comment on a blog by a friend of Beauchamp’s that Elspeth had left TNR.

Under what possible scenarios would this have ocurred in so close proximity using (1) the premise Reeve left of her own accord and then (2) been fired?

Dusty on October 26, 2007 at 2:53 PM

That way he gets out of the army eventually, and can claim what Foer is claiming now, and TNR has the never ending investigation the whole time.

Keljeck on October 26, 2007 at 2:46 PM

Right. Plus there’s the whole issue with his wife not wanting him to recant, which may add further motivation to keep feeding lies to TNR.

Missy on October 26, 2007 at 2:54 PM

Beauchamp is clearly a compulsive lier. I remember when I lived in the D.C. area (Northern Virginia) years ago reading an article about some guy who would lie about basically everything. I mean everything. If he was going to a Safeway store, he would say he was going to a Giant store. If he was going to Giant, he would say he was going to Safeway. I’ll bet that if a little toggle in Beauchamp’s head had tilted just a little bit the other way he would have been telling some news outfit that he was an heroic Special Forces guy and wrote fantastic stories about his great exploits.

MB4 on October 26, 2007 at 2:55 PM

Beauchamp is an author of fiction who wanted to be published so badly that he submitted his fiction to a political commentary magazine.

bnelson44 on October 26, 2007 at 3:25 PM

I love this. The longer Franklin Foer and The New Republic shoot themselves in the foot, the sooner The New Republic will go out of business.

SoulGlo on October 26, 2007 at 5:22 PM

Let’s not forget that Foer has done as much lying as STB on this issue. Given his dogged refusal to recant the stories, it is not surprising at all that Foer would make up a fictional phone call that gave him exactly what he wanted to hear. Even given the deservedly low opinion of STB, I see no reason to believe that the phone call took place based merely on Foer’s word.
It would be great if STB came out with a pblic recantation, but it wouldn’t make a difference. We don’t believe his stories already, and the lefties will simply conclude that the Army forced the recantation and continue believing what they so fervently want to believe.

Lancer on October 26, 2007 at 8:43 PM

Beauchamp is now between a rock and a hard place with the Army. Given his sworn statements (regardless of Foer’s supposed duress), if he backs up Foer now he’s in it for lying in an official statement, and his newfound humility and desire to stick with his unit and serve faithfully will be seen as a continuing fraud perpetrated in his dream of becoming “the next Hemingway”.

He needs to plainly distance himself from TNR, and NOW, or he’s toast. His wife should realize this, unless her loyalty is more to TNR than to Scott.

In any case, whether Beauchamp really does stand by his stories or not, they have been very clearly and decisively shown to be fabricated, embellished, or at the least very heavily distorted. That’s something we’d all be proud to stand by, huh?

Freelancer on October 27, 2007 at 3:47 AM