August 03, 2007

Breaking: Kuwait-Based Army PAO Calls Beauchamp/New Republic Claim an "Urban Legend or Myth"

I've been silent on the New Republic's latest attempt to explain their editorial dereliction of editorial duties in the Scott Thomas Beauchamp collection of stories know as "Shock Troops" when those latest explanations surfaced yesterday, but that doesn't mean I've been disinterested.

Instead, I've been trying to run down some of the claims TNR has made by contacting experts for on-the-record discussions of Beauchamp's allegations... a level of transparency that Franklin Foer and The New Republic doesn't seem to want to provide.

One of the revisions to the Beauchamp story was the new claim that Beauchamp's verbal assault of a badly-burned female contractor for wounds he claimed were caused by an IED happened not in Forward Operating Base (FOB) Falcon in Iraq after Beauchamp's psyche had been scarred by the horrors of war, but instead occurred in Camp Buehring, Kuwait, before Alpha Company, 1/18 Infantry, Second Brigade Combat Team, First Infantry Division had even deployed into combat.

This, of course, completely undermines the narrative Beauchamp was seeking to establish, and that Franklin Foer claimed to have fact-checked.

But beyond those tiny inaccuracies--you know, that the incident happened in the wrong country, and before he experienced the horrors of war, and not after--we are left to ask the obvious question: did Foer put any effort into checking to see if this new claim was any more accurate than Beauchamp's previous one?

I did.

This morning, I contact Major Renee D. Russo, Third Army USARCENT PAO in Kuwait, to ask her if she knew of "a female civilian contractor at Camp Buehring with severe facial burns, and if so, when" she was there.

Here is her emailed response, in full.

Mr. Owens,

We have received other media queries on the alleged incident, but have
not been able to find anyone to back it up. There is not a police
report or complaint filed on this incident during that timeframe. Right now it is considered to be a Urban Legend or Myth.

I am still researching the incident and will have to get back with you
later with any new developments.

As it stands now, the U.S. Army in Kuwait, like the U.S. Army in Iraq, is casting strong doubts on the veracity of Beauchamp's claims, stating that to the best they can determine at this time, the female contractor Beauchamp claims to have abused is either part of an "urban legend or myth."

I've also attempting to get verification form a total of five PAOs in Kuwait to see if they have any record of Franklin Foer or any other reporter or editor from The New Republic attempting to contact them prior to publishing the revised Camp Buehring claim to see if TNR made a good faith effort to verify that a contractor matching this woman's description was based in U.S. military bases in Kuwait.

Update: Both Bryan at Hot Air and Ace link to a post by Matt Sanchez from FOB Falcon, claiming that the military investigation into Beauchamp's stories was completed August 1, and that his claims have been:

"...refuted by members of his platoon and proven to be false."

That quote comes from Sergeant First Class Robert Timmons, the acting public affairs official of the 4th IBCT, 1st ID.

I'll post any documentation as it becomes available.

Posted by Confederate Yankee at August 3, 2007 09:40 AM

First off, I hate what Beauchamp has written, for the reasons if why and what. His actions have smeared the whole of the military by painting them with a broad brush. His words were was further used by TNR as a tool for their own agenda I sincerely hope that he gets his due.

"...has concluded that the allegation made by..." Which allegation was determined to be false? I know of 4 or 5 horrendous ones. What of the others? The burned soldier reference seems to have been in Kuwait instead of the FOB. Is that what rendered it false? Don't get me wrong, I want him to be held accountable for his words/actions. If he did these things he should be held to account, if he lied he should as well.

I am interested in truth. I hate parsing of words. The notation in the column above would lead a casual reader to believe that all of his allegations have been proven false. We are led to believe they never happened, and that Beauchamp is a complete liar. But in truth, it only says one is false.

Just a thought.

My bad if indeed all have been proven false. In fact,I hope for that case. I just read the "plural/singular issue" post at Matt Sanchez' blog and it makes sense. Can this be clarified?

Just so that no one misunderstands me. I am a supporter of the military, this war and the war on the islamofascists. It is those animals that we are fighting in Iraq and around the world. I believe that he Beauchamp enlisted to,(in his own words paraphrased from his blog) get "cred" as a soldier to become a writer. A despicable reason to join the armed services - to later push yourself up, by discrediting them.

Posted by: Artista at August 3, 2007 10:48 AM


Ok I have even *less* faith in this "fact-checking" than before. If there are soldiers who are saying this Beauchamp crap is true then they need to step on up and identify themselves.

This anonymous crap is not acceptable at any level. And considering the US Army is investigating this any idea that being anonymous at this point has any value is ridiculous.

TNR has zero credibility to rely on anonymous sources *or* anonymous "experts" or "witnesses".

Posted by: memomachine at August 3, 2007 11:07 AM

Well, I'd like a slightly different question answered about the disfigured woman story. Beauchamp says in his story that the woman's injuries came from an IED attack. There is nothing in his story which gives us any indication of how he came to "know" that this is where her injuries came from. Is his story that somebody told him that was where her injuries were from? Is his story that he simply assumed that was where her injuries were from?

Maybe it's not significant, but Maj. Russo's reply establishes that there is no complaint from a victim that approximately matches Beauchamp's story. It doesn't address the question of whether there is/was a female on the base with facial burn scarring. Because I expect the next "minor correction" to the story is that the woman contractor was burned decades ago in some accident completely unrelated to the war, and that Beauchamp and buddy ridiculed her in private.

Posted by: cathyf at August 3, 2007 11:08 AM

What a disgrace to that uniform he is.

Good work on the PAO contacts.

Posted by: 21 Bravo at August 3, 2007 11:26 AM

When can we start calling for mass firings at TNR?!?!?!

Posted by: T.Ferg at August 3, 2007 11:30 AM

Okay, so now people who wear the new helmet say there is no way to get another skull while one's own skull is still attatched. Someone could check that fairly easily, we lnow how thick skull bone is, someone with one of the new helmets can soften some plastic, shape it into a "skullcap" and put it, and the helmet on. With pictures.
We know that this alleged woman is, according to Beauchamp, still serving. Aside from him not knowing if she is military or contracter, I guess at this one base in the entire world they cut off those little tags saying "US Army", "US Air Force", etc, one of the whole points of the story is that no one said anything to stop it.
My service was of a different generation but I cannot imagine a "crowded dining facility" with not one person over the rank of E-4. Had I tried that trick back in 1964 as an E-2 I would STILL be dragging those cut down 55 gallon drums out of the latrines , pouring diesel fuel in and lighting it and stirring with a stick.
His own words call the lie.

Posted by: Peter at August 3, 2007 11:31 AM

I was stationed in Kuwait in 2004. To my knowledge, the only base that had contractors running security gates and checkpoints was Camp Arifjan. Other posts like Camp Doha, Spearhead(SPOD), Liberty(KNB), and Buehring all had MPs or National Guard units running security. Those are the only security contractors that would typically wear a uniform of some sort. Unless she was a mechanic and was wearing coveralls, only the security guards wore uniforms, and yes they were tan, but not recognizable.

But, you see, this too is part of the left wing Iraq narrative. Its the Shadow Army story. Thousands upon thousands of paid, murdering, mercs from outfits like Blackwater and Triple Canopy. There's so many of them, we can't even recognize their uniforms.

In truth, there are thousands of contractors in Iraq, and most of them are in logistics, not security. Hell, most of the 'contractors' are TCNs who do work in the Chow Halls and suck out the porta potties.

Posted by: BohicaTwentyTwo at August 3, 2007 12:59 PM

Mr. Beauchamp is like the Jihadists trying to get to heaven, his heaven is working for a slanderous rag like "The New Republic." After the smears and laughter that they have received by their peers for printing the lies of Mr. Beauchamp, his chance of working for the magazine is nil. Another John Kerry trying to ride to fame on the backs of heros.

Posted by: ron nord at August 3, 2007 01:02 PM

When can we start calling for mass firings at TNR?!?!?!
Posted by: T.Ferg at August 3, 2007 11:30 AM

They already fired a source for a milblogger on the story.

I would think that STB's wife needs to get her resume up to date as the next most likely target.

As far as the rest, downsizing will take care of that till the offices are empty.

Posted by: YardBird at August 3, 2007 01:33 PM


Something really bothers me about this explanation on how to run over dogs with a Bradley.

1. I've never driven a Bradley but I did drive a lot of armored cars during my time in the USMC and quite frankly I cannot understand this explanation about how to kill dogs with a Bradley. It doesn't make any sense to me at all and that's because in order for this explanation to work it requires the Bradly, a *tracked* vehicle, to **slide** on the pavement. If you're driving down a road and turn left, then you're going *left* so the rear end isn't going to menace anybody or anything because you're now heading away from it. The only way you could menace anybody is if you were turned left but sliding forward so that the rear end could possibly clip someone. But it's not that easy to make a tracked vehicle slide because they're very heavy.

Frankly it sounds like someone taking their experience driving a *car* and trying to pass that off as their personal experience driving an APC. Either that or Foer is lying out of his ass.

Plus the hard right necessary to run over a dog, supposedly now in the road, would require an extreme maneuver that's extremely dangerous in an APC because they have a fairly high center of gravity and would likely roll over. Particularly the Bradley because it's about 11' to 14' high, depending on the position of the TOW launcher. On top of that you have the situation

So let's say there's a dog on the right hand side of the road that I want to run over. I drive up and maintain speed, which has to be low or else the violent maneuvers will roll the APC. Then I turn left 30 degrees and ... what? The Bradley slides forward? At low speed?

Then assuming the dog has moved onto some portion of the road then I'd have to swing back to the right at least 30 degrees or more. Excuse me but if the Bradley slid forward because I turned a hard left then wouldn't the Bradley slid forward if I turn a hard right? And since time has elapsed since I first turned hard left *and* because I need to regain traction in order to actually turn hard right again doesn't that mean that I'm now *no longer on the right hand side of the road but have instead traveled to the left hand side and traveled forward as well*?

I'm trying to be charitable about this but this is nonsense. Putting aside concerns about rolling the vehicle, which is frankly extremely dangerous when dealing with armored vehicles, there is also the negative impact on the turret gunner providing security and the passengers who are being thrown around along with the necessary gear like ammo.

Now perhaps I could do this with a wheeled APC because I have made them slide a little bit when going around corners but that's *not* something that drivers want to do because it means that you have temporarily lost control over your vehicle.

And if someone's got a RPG pointed at you when you're screwing around like this then you're pretty much dead. So I'm still not buying it.

I'm going to see if I can find out the email address of the civilian contractors working on the Reflex program of rebuilding Bradleys and ask them. These guys have to test drive every vehicle that leaves their depot so they all have thousands of hours of driving time in all conditions. So if anybody knows, it's them.

Posted by: memomachine at August 3, 2007 01:47 PM

If there are soldiers who are saying this Beauchamp crap is true then they need to step on up and identify themselves.

And collect a grand from me if they do. Not even a nibble on my offer so far...and its been out there for going on two weeks.

Posted by: Purple Avenger at August 3, 2007 02:09 PM

Sanchez updated to say "all" allegations were disproven.

Posted by: laddy at August 3, 2007 02:36 PM

Look, I drove a BFV for 2 years while in the army, and I have logged over 3,000 hours driving time. I do not care what some anonymous contractor confirmed for TNR; it is a load of B**L S**T! The driver's blind spot to the right side of the BFV is absolutely ominous; consequently, this forces any maneuver to the right beyond a gradual turn to be aided by the TC's guidance. Furthermore, the ability to slide the rear of a "speeding BFV" to the right and then jerk it back to the left would be difficult to do; even with pivot steer and a wet surface, it would be exceedingly difficult to complete the maneuver without throwing track or jeopardizing the integrity of the vehicle. It becomes even more ludicrous to claim that this type of maneuvering took place in the much dryer climate of Iraq were the potential to throw track is greater than on a wet hardball. Just a little advice on how to take the TNR's explanation for the BFV-dog anecdote.

Posted by: Lousy-ana-Texan at August 3, 2007 04:38 PM

Thanks for doing the legwork on this and making the necessary phone calls. It's not right that this story got to this point without those calls being made.

Posted by: Mark Eichenlaub at August 3, 2007 06:21 PM

Lousy - I used to drive M-113s, but have never driven a Bradley. Question: Can a Bradley pivot-turn in place? I suppose this would have the effect of swinging the rear of the vehicle around if it was absolutely rotating without moving forward or back. You would then have to reverse the turn, to hit the dog, driving into you blind spot. This action would likely result in the TC doing a "Superman", no?

Posted by: holdfast at August 3, 2007 07:58 PM

holdfast: Even that maneuver doesn't take into accout the dog. Because it won't just stand there waiting to be hit. The closest I can come to B's description is that a dog came running out of an alley and got hit by mistake.

Posted by: Rhoda at August 3, 2007 10:20 PM


Where are Doc, gil in this thread? Curious.

Posted by: y7 at August 4, 2007 12:43 AM

I too drove 113's in the military, and occasionally now, I run tracked equipment such as 277 cat loaders. I cannot see how someone would be able to execute what beauchump describes. I can believe someone who wacks walls curbs etc for sport. guys like that are easy to spot too because the squad riding in backgives them an intro to the blanket party to express their love of the fun ride.

Posted by: Jeremy at August 4, 2007 04:14 PM

This guy is sooooooooooo full of CRAP! I'm currently ON Arifjan and I've been to Beuring and all point in between. Beauchamp has managed to do only a few things with this fairy tale telling:
1) Make the Army look bad and soldiers in general, esp. since the moonbats out there are going to claim NO MATTER WHAT that he's telling the truth... (just like that scumbag Jessie Dirksing or whatever the hell his name was telling all them fantasy crap) and
2) Painted a VERY large bullseye on his back. I'd say that his fellow Soldiers in 1/18 aren't going to be very helpful if he's ever in a tight spot.... Live rounds and traitorous lying douchebags don't stand a chance in a free fire zone. My guess is that the chain of command will have him out of Theater for his own safety faster than he can make up more BS... which when you think about it, might have been his intent all along...

Posted by: Logistics-R-Us at August 4, 2007 08:34 PM

Rene Russo is in the army? I guess that acting gig isn't working out for her.

Posted by: Christopher Taylor at August 5, 2007 10:46 PM


@ Lousy-ana-Texan

"Just a little advice on how to take the TNR's explanation for the BFV-dog anecdote."

Absolutely agreed.

I put in a lot of hours driving APCs in the Marines, usually LAVs and Dragoons, and couldn't imagine doing the maneuver as described. And those were wheeled APCs let alone a tracked one.

And yes any such maneuver would toss any passengers around very painfully and make the topside machinegunner really pissed off. APCs can be dangerous to drive or ride even when not doing wild maneuvers. I've seen APCs flip over backwards because they were trying to drive up too steep an incline or because the ground was far too saturated with water. I've seen APCs flip over in an aerial corkscrew, throwing out the topside machinegunner, before pancaking on the asphalt.

Taking unnecessary risks to try and run over a dog, and being allowed to do so by the vehicle commander and troops riding passenger, just boggles the mind.

And that's if there's any hope of validity in this nonsensical allegation, which I don't believe there is.

Posted by: memomachine at August 6, 2007 09:58 AM

Not true; not very believable; not unique to war (that there are jerks in any organization); not informative; not supportive of the military; not enlightening. So what was the purpose for publishing these stories? Oh yeah; it's agenda,stupid.

Posted by: mbabbitt at August 8, 2007 10:02 AM

The facts are that anyone, military or civilian, that had been injured / burned that badly would not have been allowed to remain in country, they would have been transported to the US or possibly Europe as soon as they could be stabilized. There are several reasons for this, primarily because the medical faculities are far more advanced, also you do not want to expose you combat troops to this type of sitituation, sad to say but it affects morale.I learned long ago that soldiers seldom make good authors, It is just not something that we are trained to do.

Posted by: Will at August 8, 2007 06:27 PM