July 26, 2007

Scott Thomas Comes Forward... And Answers Precisely Nothing

The New Republic blog The Plank is featuring an entry from disputed diarist Scott Thomas, who has now come forward as Scott Thomas Beauchamp, and now the fun truly begins.

There are two parts to this entry: a preface from "the editors," and then a statement by Beauchamp himself. I'll now discuss each at length, and in turn.

The Editor's Preface
They state in full:

As we've noted in this space, some have questioned details that appeared in the Diarist "Shock Troops," published under the pseudonym Scott Thomas. According to Major Kirk Luedeke, a public affairs officer at Forward Operating Base Falcon, a formal military investigation has also been launched into the incidents described in the piece.

Although the article was rigorously edited and fact-checked before it was published, we have decided to go back and, to the extent possible, re-report every detail. This process takes considerable time, as the primary subjects are on another continent, with intermittent access to phones and email. Thus far we've found nothing to disprove the facts in the article; we will release the full results of our search when it is completed.

In the meantime, the author has requested that we publish the statement below. --The Editors

First, I think it is a bit unfair of TNR's editors to claim that "some" have questioned the details of Beauchamp's three dispatches, including many active-duty soldiers in Iraq, and several at FOB Falcon in specific.

The fact of the matter is that the overwhelming majority of those who have written about this subject at all are overwhelming critical of TNR, their editors, the apparent failings of their editorial vetting process, and their seeming unwillingness to address the substantive criticisms leveled at the accuracy of the accounts Beauchamp related in these stories.

This criticism comes not only from without, but from within: scan the comments on"A Note to Readers" by Franklin Foer on July 20, "A Note to Readers" by the Editors on July 24, and a substantial number of commenters on today's "A Statement from Scott Thomas Beauchamp," and many of TNR's own subscribers continue to heavily criticize Beauchamp's stories and Franklin Foer's supposed vetting process... and with just cause.

It gives me no joy to say this, but say this I must: Franklin Foer and the editorial staff of The New Republic are inaccurate—purposefully, I suspect—when they claim that the article "Shock Troops" was, "rigorously edited and fact-checked before it was published."

If they had done their due diligence as editors, they would have discovered that outside of Beauchamp himself, no other soldier stationed at FOB Falcon—including both named and anonymous sources stationed at FOB in the recent past and present—have ever seen the mysterious disfigured female contractor Beauchamp claims to have so brutally verbally assaulted.

No Time for Fact-Checking
How easy would it have been for Franklin Foer to do a cursory fact-check to even see if a contractor matching that description has been on base in recent memory?

About this hard:

Dear Major Luedeke,

My name is Franklin Foer, editor of The New Republic.

I've recently been submitted a story that mentions the existence of a female contractor that is said to have significant facial burns and scarring as the apparent result of an IED attack in the past. She was not recently injured, and is apparently healthy, other than the scarring. I would like to simply check to see if someone matching that description is presently at FOB Falcon, to make sure that this description is correct.

Franklin Foer
The New Republic

I didn't have Major Luedke's email address when I started composing this email containing just one of the questions Franklin Foer should have asked before going to press with Beauchamp's now heavily disputed accounts.

It took my a grand total of 29 minutes to get Major Luedeke's email address, within which time I was able to compose this fictitious email of Foer's, and a very real email that I did send with far more probing questions that I'd hoped to have answered.

Unfortunately, Major Luedke responded just 38 minutes later to let me know he could not respond to my questions, citing the "active, formal investigation on the allegations Pvt. Scott Beauchamp has made in the New Republic."

57 minutes... apparently that was too much time for TNR to invest in fact-checking Beauchamp's claim.

Rigorous Editing and Fact-Checking?
Nor do I think there is any way Foer can claim that Beauchamp's two previous articles could have been "rigorously edited and fact-checked."

In fact, the editors don't make that claim, which is a smart move on their part: I think I have proven beyond a doubt that Foer and his team didn't so much as crack open a Web browser window in fact-checking Beauchamp's second post, Dead of Night, or they would have known that there are no such things as a square-back shell casing, and that Glock pistols are common among all strata of people in Iraq, and not just the Iraqi police.

That Franklin Foer "and the Editors" at The New Republic did not do their jobs as editors in vetting the stories submitted by Beauchamp before publication seems readily apparent.

If they had done their jobs as editors adequately, TNR would not have needed to launch an investigation which has now stretched over a week, nor would they find a need, as they've phrased it, "to the extent possible, re-report every detail." This strikes me as nothing less than an admission that they did not vet these stories prior to publication.

Franklin Foer seems to be well on his way towards being known as the "Mike Nifong of Journalism," rushing to push a narrative before the facts have been established, based solely on the unverified claims of a witness who has, shall we say, "credibility problems."

Editors can't be disbarred, but they can be replaced, and I've yet to hear a compelling explanation from Foer or The New Republic explaining why that should not occur.

And now on to the statement of Scott Thomas Beauchamp:

My Diarist, "Shock Troops," and the two other pieces I wrote for the New Republic have stirred more controversy than I could ever have anticipated. They were written under a pseudonym, because I wanted to write honestly about my experiences, without fear of reprisal. Unfortunately, my pseudonym has caused confusion. And there seems to be one major way in which I can clarify the debate over my pieces: I'm willing to stand by the entirety of my articles for the New Republic using my real name.

I am Private Scott Thomas Beauchamp, a member of Alpha Company, 1/18 Infantry, Second Brigade Combat Team, First Infantry Division.

My pieces were always intended to provide my discrete view of the war; they were never intended as a reflection of the entire U.S. Military. I wanted Americans to have one soldier's view of events in Iraq.

It's been maddening, to say the least, to see the plausibility of events that I witnessed questioned by people who have never served in Iraq. I was initially reluctant to take the time out of my already insane schedule fighting an actual war in order to play some role in an ideological battle that I never wanted to join. That being said, my character, my experiences, and those of my comrades in arms have been called into question, and I believe that it is important to stand by my writing under my real name.

Beauchamp claims he wants to "talk honestly about my experiences," and that his words "were never intended as a reflection of the entire U.S. Military."


A Purposeful Deception
In his alleged verbal assault on the IED-disfigured woman in the FOB Falcon dining facility (the one that no other soldier stationed at the base seems to have been able to see):

I saw her nearly every time I went to dinner in the chow hall at my base in Iraq. She wore an unrecognizable tan uniform, so I couldn't really tell whether she was a soldier or a civilian contractor. The thing that stood out about her, though, wasn't her strange uniform but the fact that nearly half her face was severely scarred. Or, rather, it had more or less melted, along with all the hair on that side of her head. She was always alone, and I never saw her talk to anyone. Members of my platoon had seen her before but had never really acknowledged her. Then, on one especially crowded day in the chow hall, she sat down next to us.

Not just any day, but an especially crowded day. Beauchamp then goes on to describe how he and his friend verbally assaulted this disfigured woman:

...loud enough for not only her to hear us, but everyone at the surrounding tables.

According to his story Beauchamp and his friend loudly abused a burn victim during "one especially crowded day" in the chow hall, loud enough "for not only her to hear us, but everyone at the surrounding tables" to hear them, with no registered response from the surrounding soldiers, and that is not meant as a reflection of every soldier stationed there?

In his claim that a fellow soldier wore part of a child's rotting skull on his head, he indicts his fellow soldiers by stating:

As he marched around with the skull on his head, people dropped shovels and sandbags, folding in half with laughter. No one thought to tell him to stop. No one was disgusted. Me included.

Again, how is this not an assault on the integrity and basic humanity of his entire unit?

Once more, waxing poetic about the dog-murdering Bradley driver:

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. Everyone was laughing, nearly rolling with laughter. I approached the private after the mission and asked him about it.
"So, you killed a few dogs today," I said skeptically.
"Hell yeah, I did. It's like hunting in Iraq!" he said, shaking with laughter.
"Did you run over dogs before the war, back in Indiana?" I asked him.
"No," he replied, and looked at me curiously. Almost as if the question itself was in poor taste.

Again, he implicates everyone in his unit as being a sadist or a sociopath, and that is not meant as a reflection of everyone around him?

Far from being accidental, I think that implicating every soldier he is serving with as an accomplice to sadism is his express intent in "Shock Troops," in every line of florid prose.

But he isn't quite done yet:

It's been maddening, to say the least, to see the plausibility of events that I witnessed questioned by people who have never served in Iraq.

This might come as something of a shock to Private Beauchamp, but it doesn't take combat experience to spot suspicious stories based upon even a rudimentary knowledge of human nature.

Few men, military or not, are going to stand idly by while a couple of punks publicly berate a burn victim. Few men, military or not, are going to find a man prancing about with a rotting section of a long-dead child's skull on his head entertaining, and no matter how entertaining a single sociopath or even a pair find it to be, I strongly doubt than anyone wants to wear rotting flesh in the hot sun for his own amusement.

Nor does it take a rocket scientist to figure out that the commander, crew, and soldiers riding in a Bradley IFV would not appreciate being thrown about the cramped metallic interior, and would not allow such events to occur repeatedly, much less find themselves "nearly rolling with laughter" as a sadist allegedly repeats attempts at canine murder and smashes through the corners of buildings and market stalls.

No, I've never served in the military, but I've done several tours in upper-level undergraduate and graduate level writing courses including several creative fiction courses. In each one, peer review was a staple. The subject matter was different; but the lack of ability of some writers to tap into the humanity of others in any meaningful way is remarkably echoed here.

And Scott just for the record: civilian or not, I suspect I know far more about firearms than you do, but at the very least, I know that the square-backed 9mm pistol cartridges you claim to have found does not exist, and I also know that your claim that only Iraqi police have Glocks is likewise laughably false.

Initially reluctant
Beauchamp states:

I was initially reluctant to take the time out of my already insane schedule fighting an actual war in order to play some role in an ideological battle that I never wanted to join.

Interestingly enough, his blog entries seem to indicate a rather different mindset, from his stating that he feels "retarded for joining the army" to the statement he is "getting more liberal each day."

Beauchamp, at some point, established contact with Franklin Foer and The New Republic.

Beauchamp established a relationship with the magazine—one that, if Ace's tipster is correct, one that will end in a wedding to a TNR staffer this October—and decided to write articles for them.

Not only was Beauchamp willing to join an ideological battle; he had to go out of his way to join it.

Ain't That a Kick in the Head
Beauchamp closes:

That being said, my character, my experiences, and those of my comrades in arms have been called into question, and I believe that it is important to stand by my writing under my real name.

The laughable irony of all this? It was Beauchamp, and Beauchamp alone, that called his fellow soldiers' character, integrity, and basic humanity into question.

Before Beauchamp wrote these words and had them delivered to the New Republic for publication, the most prominent stories written about the 1st Infantry Division were quite positive.

Even though the author is finally revealed, Scott Thomas Beauchamp remains unconvincing as a probable fabulist, and Franklin Foer and The New Republic have thus far provided no evidence corroborating the claims that they have promised that they "rigorously edited and fact-checked."

They keep telling us that Beauchamp's story is true, and yet to date, they have utterly failed to come up with the facts that support their claims.

I suspect that the reason for this is that the facts simply aren't there.

Update: I screwed up and impropery cited Beachamp is belonging to the 4th ID a couple of paragraphs up. As he clearly states, he is a member of Alpha Company, 1/18 Infantry, Second Brigade Combat Team, First Infantry Division.

Posted by Confederate Yankee at July 26, 2007 04:44 PM

awesome job!

i predict that the investigation will prove that s.t. beauchamp is a liar.

this will NOT launch his writing career or one poltics - except if he wants to write for a leftist organization in the MSM, or run as a democrat!


Posted by: reliapundit at July 26, 2007 05:00 PM

Beauchamp says that he decided to come forward today and stand by his writing. That was the right thing to do.

Reading today's "Ace" posts and their links, it is also clear that Pvt. Beauchamp had been identified by numerous people last night. And Ace claims that the an inquiry about Scott Thomas Beauchamp was left at the TNR switchboard.

So perhaps stepping into the limelight was an active choice, or perhaps it was a case of making a virtue out of necessity.

Posted by: AMac at July 26, 2007 05:28 PM

Well-done, and thanks for quoting extensively from the original pieces - a valuable reminder, so many posts and twists and turns after Michael Goldfarb put up his first WEEKLY STANDARD piece on this controversy, that the descriptions went rather far beyond reporting what Foer at once point recently referred to as a few "practical jokes." If Foer actually believed that, then I guess he could have had the series entitled "Joke Troops."


Posted by: CK MacLeod at July 26, 2007 05:38 PM

How can this guy get more liberal everyday when he supported Dean and was editor in chief of liberal campus news magazine?

Posted by: Liberrocky at July 26, 2007 06:02 PM

Doc, didn't we already cover this? When you state something as true when it's known to be false, then that's lying.

Glocks are common. People other than the IP have them. There's nothing confusing about that. Once you admit that fact, it will go a lot easier for you.

I still haven't forgotten your 'nobody' comment. There's still time to repent, just like there's still time for Beauchamp to repent.

Posted by: brando at July 26, 2007 06:12 PM

On the bright side, his membership in Iraq Veterans Against the War is assured. I hear they're saving Jesse MacBeth's spot for him.

Posted by: Pablo at July 26, 2007 06:54 PM

Well done CY.

I don't think anyone was doubting that this guy existed. We doubted the horsecrap he was selling as "his experiences".

Posted by: Conservative CBU at July 26, 2007 06:56 PM


To review:

I've never seen any Lefties say whatever it is you accused them of saying--I can't even remember what it was now, so I must applaud your grudge-holding abilities--and you then tell me that, because an alleged Lefty allegedly told you something in an alleged private conversation that I was not part of, I was therefore lying?

It seems more likely that you are indulging yourself in a bit of convenient dissembling.

An exercise for the student: look up the definition of "lying." I don't think you have a firm grasp of the concept.

Posted by: Doc Washboard at July 26, 2007 07:07 PM

On some level, I hope that at least some of his stories are that there are grounds for prosecuting him for failing to report and/or participating in these "antics".

Posted by: TBinSTL at July 26, 2007 07:09 PM

Why should we care AT ALL about his background? His time at a college paper, participating in a pro-life march,etc.

The simple question is: is he telling the truth? Not a single blog post on any site today has brought us ANY closer to answering that.

Posted by: john at July 26, 2007 07:11 PM

I don't think "...about the 4th Infantry Division ..." is quite correct.


Posted by: J.M. Heinrichs at July 26, 2007 07:33 PM

Best takedown I've seen on this whole sordid tale. Bookmark!

Posted by: DaveB at July 26, 2007 07:38 PM

Man, he's a private? He's so screwed. The left should be happy though, they'll have a new posterboy martyr. This should be cute.

Posted by: paully at July 26, 2007 07:47 PM

Wow Doc. You're now staking your word on a topic that you don't remember? Um, That's probably a bad idea.

And you can drop the whole "alleged" part. What I said was true. Cause that's how I roll.

Doc, no need to remember, and you can't be saved by feigning ignorance. That's what's so cool about the written word. You can just go back and re-read what you lied about. That's sort of the basis for civilization, and modern society. We can pass on our knowledge by writing stuff down.

The down side is that when you lie Doc, is that you are sort of undermining civilization itself. So please don't do that.

Anyway, I have good news to report to you. I'm not trying to trap you. I'm trying to help you be better. You actually have a way out, by apologizing to me, changing your ways, and by me granting you forgiveness. Time's running out. Last chance. Don't do to yourself what Lex Steele did to himself.

Oh, and now that we've solved that...Glocks are still common.

Posted by: brando at July 26, 2007 08:09 PM

Is it important to know that "scott Thomas" isintimately involved with a staffer at TNR?

YES - It is now clear that there is a person on the TNR staff that knew the "diarst" was lying and embellishing. How do I know? She is engaged/married to a guy she has known since college days and trips to abortion rallies. Please explain how she could possibly believe the guy she is going to spend her life with is insulting a disfigured woman. At best, he can claim it wasn't really him but he was "protecting" others. But the girlfriend/wife knew this was a load.

Posted by: chris at July 26, 2007 08:18 PM

Maybe you should go to Iraq to check out his stories.

Oh wait. The knee.... forget I even mentioned it.

Posted by: tbogg at July 26, 2007 08:24 PM

I have put in my time in the military as a NCO. And there is no way that NCOs are going sit by and watch something like that mess hall incident without taking abrupt action. Especially since this was a small base and the indications are that this jerk was a known troublemaker.

Furthermore, at least in my branch of the service, mess halls are staffed by a small group of Military Police that are there to maintain order.

Action would have been taken for no other reason that if the woman filed a complaint their butts would have been on the burner if it came out that they were present.

And as for punishment, whether he was lying or not he is liable under the UCMJ:

Though not specifically mentioned in this chapter, all disorders and neglects to the prejudice of good order and discipline in the armed forces, all conduct of a nature to bring discredit upon the armed forces, and crimes and offenses not capital, of which persons subject to this chapter may be guilty, shall be taken cognizance of by a general, special or summary court-martial, according to the nature and degree of the offense, and shall be punished at the discretion of that court. "

This fits his actions perfectly, we'll just have to see whether the Army wants to pursue this.


Posted by: agesilaus at July 26, 2007 08:29 PM

"An exercise for the student: look up the definition of "lying." I don't think you have a firm grasp of the concept."

"When you state something as true when it's known to be false, then that's lying."

Looks like he's got a pretty good grasp of what lying means.

Of course, to a liberal it depends on what "is" is. Right?

Posted by: Conservative CBU at July 26, 2007 08:52 PM

I suspect that the reason for this is that the facts simply aren't there.

Not so much as a nibble on my $1,000 cash reward offer for witnesses who will corroborate - even after all the hoopla of the past few days.

Come on - there's gotta be some trooper out there would like to pick up a fast grand for testifying under oath that Thomas's allegations are in fact true.

Posted by: Purple Avenger at July 26, 2007 09:40 PM

Even giving the guy miles of credit until we find out more, things look really bad.

If for nothing else, a soldier who would "out" his buddies for personal gain is a dirt bag, and by definition of very shaky credibility and character.

Posted by: Ray G at July 26, 2007 09:43 PM

You'll get your answers, just as soon as I get that ball-gag I've had my eyes on, and not one second before. I mean, I've got a honeymoon to plan for...

Posted by: scott thomas at July 26, 2007 11:33 PM

Keep after this guy, hound him right out of the military for LYING!!!! I so hope they courts-martial him and he gets a dishonorable discharge along with the entire nation knowing he's a stinking liar.

Posted by: Bill at July 27, 2007 01:13 AM

Well as someone currently serving in Iraq I question your character and integrity and if the investigation finds that what you wrote was true then your entire squad is ate up in a major way and has a leadership problem big time! As for the DFAC incident if it turns out to be true I can only wish I had been there so I could have kicked your asses into next week! Stupid fraggin private it figures.

Posted by: Oldcrow at July 27, 2007 03:17 AM

The PAO, MAJ Leudeke, indicates a formal investigation is taking place. I believe that means a 15-6 investigation is taking place. A dis-interested field grade officer will be assigned to investigate both the allegations that Beauchamp made as well as his behavior in this thing.

I imagine the incident has reached, at a minimum, Brigade level, and probably has General Officer attention. He will probably get an Field Grade Article 15. I would recommend the maximum punishment but not a dishonorable discharge. That would be reduction in grade to E1, loss of four weeks pay over 2 months, 45 days of extra duty, 45 days of restriction, $1400 fine, and General Officer Letter of Reprimand in his Performance fiche. I doubt that he will be Court Martialled unless he requests it. I hope he can salvage a General or Honorable Discharge for his service.

I think that is fair. And, for your info PFC Beauchamp, I was a First Sergeant in Iraq and I never considered the events you described as plausible.

Posted by: y7 at July 27, 2007 03:54 AM

I'm not sure how much the culture of the military has changed since I left in 1986. I doubt its changed very dramatically though.

In that culture this guy would have difficulty getting a meal at the chow hall or going to the latrine at this point. My guess is the only reason he "came forward" is the people in his unit figured out who he was and confronted him. There's no way he voluntarily revealed himself as the author of this drivel. Much more likely he made the decision to reveal himself whilst backed into a corner with a crowd of about 8-10 NCOs standing around him with their arms crossed. He is an idiot.

His complaints about his "comrades in arms" being slandered sound a lot to me like someone that wants to lessen the severity of the repeated ass-kickings he's going to be receiving as he is processed out of the service over the next few months. Unfortunately for this turd if he thinks his fellow soldiers are stupid enough to buy his attempt to transfer blame for that to someone that DIDN'T write it he's mistaken. The people he serves with represent a cut above the average in the US, not a cut below as believed by the left.

I won't go farther into it than that I guess, except to say that I sure as hell wouldn't want to be him right now. This is a guy that has every single person in his vicinity - a war zone, mind you - wanting to beat the living crap out of him. He has not even one single friend there, I assure you.

What an idiot.

Posted by: DaveW at July 27, 2007 06:07 AM

A small correction. This soldier claims he is a member of the 1st Infantry Division, not the 4th ID.


Posted by: JS at July 27, 2007 06:42 AM


Frankly the real victims in this idiotic tragedy are the other soldiers in the 1/18, Alpha company most especially.

Posted by: memomachine at July 27, 2007 09:53 AM


"I imagine the incident has reached, at a minimum, Brigade level, and probably has General Officer attention."

Well that's *my* definition of "oh s**t!".

When the general commanding your division is getting a morning briefing on you, that's when you know it's going to be a bad day.

Posted by: memomachine at July 27, 2007 09:57 AM
Maybe you should go to Iraq to check out his stories.

Oh wait. The knee.... forget I even mentioned it.

Yes, it does suck.

Now, remind me again, tbagg, what malady keeps you from joining up forthe "good war" in Afghanistan?

Posted by: Confederate Yankee at July 27, 2007 10:09 AM

Hahahhahaha. this private is screwed so bad. someone in my unit went congressional and that was hell, just wait till this duechebag has to stand in front of several 05 and up types with his first sergeant and sergeant major walking him in the room. that and his direct line NCO would be in that room too answering questions. hahahahhha. then this guy is going to be serving detail after detail until he either gets courtmarshalled or sent home early to be beat up at every NCO club on post. why does this strike me as so fitting though i dont know. oh by the way i give it about a 50 50 shot his firing pin or some other piece of his weapon if not the entire thing will come up missing before he leaves if he hasnt been relieved of it already. nothing like a missing weapon to really jack someone up. or the old oh hey look what i found laying in the latrine first sergeant, looks like private scotty doesnt know how to keep accountability of his weapon.

Posted by: E4Puke at July 27, 2007 12:40 PM

"Now, remind me again, tbagg, what malady keeps you from joining up forthe "good war" in Afghanistan?"

Dude, I didn't know you could pick and choose which war you went to. It's all so obvious now. All our troop in Iraq are there because THEY WANT TO BE!!! That clinches it. The left is being deliberately deceptive on the whole Iraq issue, because if the troops DIDN'T like it in Iraq, they'd all just hop over to Afghanistan.


Posted by: Jody at July 27, 2007 01:34 PM

Actually we had Marines switch units just before our deployment so they could go to Iraq, and we were well over TO.

I noticed that this is a reoccurring theme with a certain faction in the US, so I usually try to correct it when I can. So here's the straight dope. Despite the efforts of a good chunk of our population, the individuals in our armed forces are still volunteers.

Posted by: brando at July 27, 2007 08:09 PM

If being a veteran is somehow required to have a valid opinion on the war, then we still win hands down.

Prior service and active duty personnel are overwhelmingly on board with the war on terror, in Iraq and elsewhere.

Semper Fi

Posted by: Ray G at July 27, 2007 09:10 PM
Maybe you should go to Iraq to check out his stories.

Because we all know how much respect Tbagg has for people who actually do that, like M. Malkin and B. Preston, Yon, Roggio, Totten, Ardolino, etc...

The trouble with stepping in something like Tbagg is the time it takes to scrape it off your shoe.

Posted by: Pablo at July 28, 2007 09:19 AM