October 09, 2007

The New Republic Re-Interviewed Beauchamp... Over a Month Ago

For reasons as yet unknown, dredged up a Josh Marshall entry on Talking Points Memo from August 10 this past Sunday afternoon. Marshall cited a subscribers-only post by the editors of The New Republic released the same day, captured in its entirety by Google's cache.

It bears reading in full.

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. We at THE NEW REPUBLIC take these concerns extremely seriously. This is why we have sought to re-report the story, in the process speaking with five soldiers in Beauchamp's company who substantiate the events described in Beauchamp's essay.

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."

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. "

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. He told us that these statements did not contradict his articles. 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 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. The Army, meanwhile, has refused our requests to see copies of the statements it obtained from Beauchamp--or even to publicly acknowledge that they exist.

Scott Beauchamp is currently a 23-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. (You can read our findings here.)

Part of our integrity as journalists includes standing by a writer who has been accused of wrongdoing and who is not able to defend himself. But we also want to reassure our readers that our obligations to our writer would never trump our commitment to the truth. We once again invite the Army to make public Beauchamp's statements and the details of its investigation--and we ask the Army to let us (or any other media outlet, for that matter) speak to Beauchamp. Unless and until these things happen, we cannot fairly assess any of these reports about Beauchamp--and therefore have no reason to change our own assessment of Beauchamp's work. If the truth ends up reflecting poorly on our judgment, we will accept responsibility for that. But we also refuse to rush to judgment on our writer or ourselves.

And how true that last line is, especially the part where they admit to not wanting to rush to judgment on themselves.

Tomorrow marks the two-month anniversary of this rather deceptive post, which also happens to be the last official word from Franklin Foer, Jason Zengerle, and the other editors and reporters of The New Republic intimately tied to what one media critic has already labeled as one of the top 101 incidents of media dishonesty.

It was clearly established that as an administrative action, that Beauchamp's statements were not legally releasable by the Army to the public. In short, to give his statements to the media without his permission would be illegal, something that TNR knew, or should have known, prior to accusing the Army of being deceptive.

That said, Beauchamp himself could have released these documents to the public, including the media, as soon as the investigation was over if he so desired back in August. He has not apparently seen fit to do so.

Beauchamp was free to speak to the media as early as August 6, four days before The New Republic said that they could still not contact him. On September 10, Pajamas Media published my exclusive interview with Major John Cross, who led the official U.S. Army investigation into the allegations made in "Shock Troops" and found that not a single soldier would corroborate any of Beauchamp's claims.

After re-reading the August 10 statement by the editors of The New Republic, I contacted Major Kirk Luedeke, PAO for Forward Operating Base Falcon where Beauchamp is stationed, and asked him several questions in hopes of updating the story thus far.

The answers seem to indicate that Franklin Foer, Jason Zengerle and the editors of The New Republic have indeed been pursuing their incestuous relationship with Scott Beauchamp further; they've just refused thus far to publish any of the answers they've obtained, for reasons yet unknown.

The interview discussed comments made in the August 10 TNR article cited above, and asked about developments since :

Q: At that time [August 10], the editors of TNR claimed that there were "five soldiers in Beauchamp's company who substantiate the events described in Beauchamp's essay." Have the editors of TNR made any requests to interview soldiers in Beauchamp' s unit, identified of them, or made any attempts to find out about their credibility?

A: Other than requesting and receiving interviews with Pvt. Scott Beauchamp and Maj. John Cross in September, TNR has not asked to speak to any additional Soldiers in the 1-18th Infantry Battalion through the 4th brigade public affairs channels.

Q: At that time, the editors of TNR claimed that, "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." At the time those statements were made by TNR's editors on August 10, were they factually accurate? Since that time, have the editors of The New Republic spoken with anyone who would have, "information or evidence from its investigation, " such as Major Cross, the investigating officer I interviewed a month ago on September 10?

A: 4th brigade public affairs Soldiers were present for separate interviews conducted between TNR and Pvt. Beauchamp and Maj. Cross.

On Aug. 10, the Army was still in the process conducting an investigation into the possible violation of Operational Security by Pvt. Beauchamp, and therefore, he was not at liberty to conduct interviews pending the outcome of the active investigation. He was, however, able to communicate with his family during that time.

The interviews with Beauchamp and Maj. Cross occurred in the first two weeks of September, and to my knowledge, are the only ones conducted through official channels between TNR and any member of the Vanguard Battalion.

Q: TNR also claimed that, "the Army has rejected our requests to speak to Beauchamp himself, on the grounds that it wants 'to protect his privacy.'" At the time those statements were made by TNR's editors on August 10, were they factually accurate? To your knowledge, have the editors of The New Republic spoken with Scott Thomas Beauchamp since August 10, and if so, when? Does Scott Beauchamp currently have the capability to speak to The New Republic if he so desires, and release all documentation relating to the investigation if he so desires?

A: The statements made by TNR on Aug. 10 about Beauchamp's availability were accurate- given the investigation's status, he was not authorized to conduct interviews with media outlets. However, as soon as the investigation concluded in mid-August, he was free to speak openly if he so desired. He rejected interview requests from Confederate Yankee and the Weekly Standard, but did in fact speak to TNR on the 7th of September, while Maj. John Cross conducted a separate interview with TNR roughly one week later.

Pvt. Beauchamp also canceled scheduled interviews with Newsweek and the Washington Post after speaking to TNR.

TNR interviewed Scott Thomas Beauchamp over a month ago. TNR interviewed investigating officer Major John Cross after I interviewed him for Pajamas Media roughly a week later.

At this stage of the game, one must wonder how much longer Franklin Foer, Jason Zengerle, and the other TNR editors involved in this farcical investigation can continue to hide the obvious fact that this was a series of stories that has not been corroborated, are partially or entirely fictional in nature, and poorly (or never) fact-checked, probably because of the author's relationship with a TNR staffer that he later married.

One must begin to wonder just how ethical Editor-In-Chief Martin Peretz and Executive Editor J. Peter Scoblic are in not reacting to the obvious facts that key elements of the stories written by Scott Beauchamp were not fact checked, and that Franklin Foer and Jason Zengerle are running what appears to be a purposefully deceptive investigation to cover up the lack of fact-checking prior to publication, while apparently lying to readers, experts, critics, and perhaps even their own employers at TNR and CanWest Mediaworks.

I'd love to know what Scott Thomas and Major Cross had to say to TNR, but The New Republic seems content to continue to answer questions about their credibility and ethics with silence.

Posted by Confederate Yankee at October 9, 2007 12:11 PM

Admit nothing.

Deny everything.

Make counter-accusations.


Just sayin'.

Posted by: MTT at October 9, 2007 12:31 PM

For a "progressive" mag these guys sure seem to be living in the mediascape of the 1920's. Did they really think they could hold an interview with Scotty with thrid parties present and keep it secret? This level of stupidity would only be credited to rednecks shooting beer cans off each others' heads by our Liberal Superiors. What a larf! Someone with some ducats in pocket needs to give Scotty the David Brock treatment. "I Was A Leftwing Hatchetman..." would sell like hotcakes. Come on, Scotty! When it comes to TNR you actually DO know where the bodies are buried. So you have to go to Regnery, so what? His money spends good as anyone's.

Posted by: megapotamus at October 9, 2007 12:46 PM

Sigh... it's not about the facts. The story is true, even if the facts aren't. Don't you get it?

The Leftists care so much about our troops that they want to bring them home. The best way to accomplish that is to convince the American people that our soldiers are sadistic monsters that we can't in good conscience unleash on an innocent world.

It's sooo thoughtful and caring of the Leftists to want to bring our troops home, especially considering they've never even met a soldier! Leftists are such compassionate people.

Posted by: Iron Soldier at October 9, 2007 12:49 PM

Wow. Just wow. What great reporting, Bob.


Posted by: Armed Liberal at October 9, 2007 01:04 PM


*shrug* like I written before. Beauchamp & TNR are going to keep quiet on this until Beauchamp is finally out of the Army then they'll try a full court press on the basis that Beauchamp's BS routine was true, but suppressed under pressure by the Army.

Posted by: memomachine at October 9, 2007 01:50 PM

I hit that same story on Memeorandum this morning and thought to myself that this had already played out, not at TNR but most notably here and at a few other web sites.

Why TNR is dragging this out is beyond me. If it is a dare to call the media out on this then I guess they win the game. The mainstream press shows no interest in this story at all.

Thanks for being the fact-checker on this. It means a great deal to me and many others who cannot trust the MSM anymore - and as we can see with very good reason.

Posted by: David G. at October 9, 2007 01:51 PM

The New Republic should change its name to 'The Old Satrapy'

Posted by: Robbins Mitchell at October 9, 2007 01:57 PM

Jebus CY - your comments section has been invaded by a bunch of stupid.

Posted by: Dan Irving at October 9, 2007 03:09 PM

Case in point - I posted this in the wrong section!

/Open Mouth.
/Insert foot.

Posted by: Dan Irving at October 9, 2007 03:10 PM

As I like to say:

Until I'm proven guilty,
Deny everything ... deny everything,
I'm being framed,
It's all a set-up,
Deny everything ... deny everything

- Circle Jerks

Posted by: submandave at October 9, 2007 04:27 PM

Why don't you let this story die a natural death? It's time to move on and begin the healing process, as we did after every one of Bill's Bimbogate eruptions.

Posted by: Banjo at October 9, 2007 05:58 PM


Why don't you let this story die a natural death?

'Cause there's nothing natural about this story.

The latest revelation is so shocking but alas, not surprising, that if those with "idelogical agendas" had been the ones to publish and then suppress stories such as these, MSNBC, the NY Times, et al would be all over this story all of the time.

Remember Joseph Charles Wilson IV?

How about Scooter?

The absolute silence about this charade is deafening and almost as intense as the hypocrisy and cognitive dissonance that it creates for those who believe in accountability and integrity of a free press.


Not time to move on, Banjo.


Just sayin'.

Posted by: MTT at October 9, 2007 06:31 PM

Because, Banjo, if we let the story go, we let The New Republic get away with blatant lies.

Perhaps you can countenance letting them get away with that, but I--and apparently CY--cannot.

Posted by: C-C-G at October 9, 2007 07:45 PM

good sarcasm, Banjo.

Posted by: iconoclast at October 9, 2007 11:18 PM

This is a re-run of Winter Soldier.

Except that now there are blogs.

Come on guys. The 70s are over. 30 years over.

The world has moved on.

Posted by: M. Simon at October 10, 2007 02:25 AM

Laughing Wolf from Blackfive met Bauchamp and spoke with him at length. He reported that Bauchamp was well liked by his squad and the officers above him.

Posted by: John Ryan at October 11, 2007 08:00 PM

John Ryan, I call Male Bovine Droppings.

I just looked at Laughing Wolf's post archive at BlackFive and found nothing of the sort there.

Here is what has been posted from Iraq by LW regarding Scott B.: (blockquote isn't previewing right so I will do it this way)

It is true that I am out with the 1/18 and am at the COP where Scott was/is stationed. I haven't seen him, and to be very frank, he has been peripheral to this long before I came over. He was the spark and Paul the catalyst for my coming over here.

Was there a grain of truth around some of Scott's postings? Yes. In talking with various sergeants and others, there were some bones found. Some were apparently cow bones, and what may be/is a gravesite (not mass) was not disturbed once it was found. The people who control/own this area were not aware of any grave here, so the First Sergeant decided just to leave it be in an abundance of caution. There are a number of feral dogs here, and some have been indeed been shot. If an obviously sick dog, foaming at the mouth, is agressive, then it should be shot. So should anything that poses a threat to the troops.

From what I am seeing and otherwise finding out, there are a lot of feral dogs around here and in Iraq in general. It also appears that distemper, rabies, and a number of other diseases are a problem with wild animals including feral dogs, and it is not unusual to see obviously sick animals, and those that have died from various diseases.

Yet, these are largely side issues. There was concern with some that I was coming to do a hatchet job on Scott, but that isn't why I came. I came to report on the reality of day-to-day life here, for Scott has been irrelevant to that story and the larger stories for some time now. As for what happens to him within the Army, what I do know is that he is under a first sergeant who, according to quite a few people, has a reputation for taking problems and making them good.

To be honest, were I to see Scott I would have to thank him, for without what he did, I wouldn't be here. The same is true of Paul, for without his mistaken posting, my challenge to him to come out and report the reality would never have been issued or accepted. Right now, I also have to thank Paul, because by not showing up he has given me some very good exclusives.

Nothing on Laughing Wolf's own personal blog about Beauchamp at all, that I could find.

Please, feel free to prove me wrong by posting a link to the precise BlackFive post where LW makes that statement. If they've removed it (which I doubt), Google should have it in their cache... CY can tell ya all about finding things in Google's cache.

But, I suspect that you're as big a liar as Beauchamp, and will scurry into your dark hole just as he has.

Posted by: C-C-G at October 11, 2007 08:19 PM

It was a good conversation, and I enjoyed meeting him. I had heard a lot of good things about him as a soldier from the people who know him, and the leaders above him
Posted by: davidp at October 11, 2007 09:16 PM

CCG is sorta right... B5 posted this, so it wasn't in LW's archive. Do keep in mind that some people have a dry sense of humor.

Posted by: Confederate Yankee at October 11, 2007 09:21 PM
B5 posted this, so it wasn't in LW's archive.

Well, that explains why it wasn't where I looked.

I hereby publicly admit my error and beg forgiveness.

Posted by: C-C-G at October 11, 2007 09:33 PM