January 22, 2008
Scott Thomas Beauchamp's "Shock Troops" Statements
After the article "Shock Troops" in The New Republic had been challenged by critics , a documentary filmmaker/blogger by the name of JD Johannes narrowed down the search of the author to Alpha Company, 1-18 Infantry, Second Brigade Combat Team, First Infantry Division on July21.
Three days after that on July 24, the military began a formal investigation, which included taking statements from soldiers in Alpha/1-18IN.
Scott Beauchamp gave his initial statement on July 26, published here for the first time.
Later, Beauchamp returned and filed another statement. For reasons as yet unexplained, he backdated the time of the second statement to 1700, an hour an 40 minutes before his original statement at 1840, and yet he directly refers to his statement made at 1840. [Update: perhaps the original statement was made at 15:40 and his penmanship is just bad? That would make a lot more sense...]
At no point during these two statements does Beauchamp directly recant.
He does not provide any support to the claims made in his article, "Shock Troops." There does not appear to ever have been any documentary evidence to support this story, nor the author's two previous stories.
Franklin Foer, editor of The New Republic, penned a retraction of these stories five months later. Foer has yet to issue an apology to his critics or the military he maligned during the course of this story.
Update: Thanks to Jon Ham at The John Locke Foundation for enhancing the contrast of these images.
Posted by Confederate Yankee at January 22, 2008 07:00 AM
not to defind the little fart but the time on the first report looks to me to be 1540but it may just be my eyes
Two pieces of lawyerly wording stick out to me in SB's statements:
1. He says he hasn't seen anyone hit a dog with a Brad "since I have been driving in the past two months" (statement 2) and, in an interesting parallel, "[I] have not seen a dog hit in that time" (statement 1).
This seems designed to open up the possibility for later testimony that he saw dogs deliberately hit by Bradley drivers before the time that he started driving.
2. "Also, there was no "mass grave", a term I never used, found...." This seems consistent with a later (post-discharge) statement that human bones were found, only not in a mass grave. Which is consistent with his story about the human skull cap thing.
Don't get me wrong: I think this guy is a lying sack of canine feces. I'm just saying, a lot of us have been anticipating a post-discharge "revelation" from STB that claims:
My stories were materially true even if some details, especially wording given by others ("mass grave") and of course the one little "mistake" I've already admitted, were misremembered. AND nothing in my sworn statements to the Army actually contradicted my TNR stories, right-wing bloggers notwithstanding.
I see room being deliberately cleared in these statements for this kind of semi-non-retraction. Not of course that there's any actual evidence for its truth. I just wish the Army had pushed a bit harder for direct repudiation of the stories, on the record.
DJ- Very good points. Problem is- once an individual invokes his rights under the UCMJ, he cannot be "pushed" for "direct repudiation" on the record.
Now that these statements are a matter of public record, you can begin to understand why the Army acted the way it did. STB refused to cooperate any further than he did by providing his own statements. There wasn't much else to be done at that point.
If PFC Beauchamp goes on to finish his tour in Iraq, and his Army enlistment, in a manner that earns him an honorable discharge, then he deserves to be, if not forgiven, then at least forgotten. I had plenty of soldiers who misdirected their energy into pursuits that would bring discredit to themselves and their unit, were found out and disciplined, then went on to become good soldiers. Scott will have several options after he leaves the Army. He can continue his bullshit, which will be lapped up by his fellow delusional Lefties, he can slide into obscurity and write under a pseudonym, or he can write a book or series of articles about what really happened in this whole affair. There are probably several other options there as well that I've missed. Which option he chooses will show whether he learned anything at all about honor while working alongside honorable soldiers.
Though hardly his intent, he did far more damage to the anti-Army side than he did to the soldiers serving honorably in Iraq.
I checked the New Republic's site yesterday and today. Foer is still hiding under his desk...
Diggs, the best option seems to be #4... slide into obscurity and never try to write anything ever again. He may think he has skill as a writer, but I don't think he does.
At least this "I must hurt my country & fellow human beings" spree is not quite as bad as the CIA. I'm none too pleased with the effectiveness of their screening process.
I credit Mr. Beauchamp for staying with his unit and apparently serving out his enlistment in an honorable manor (if available stories are accurate). I also credit his CO for giving Mr. Beauchamp more chances than I would have.
However, Mr. Beauchamp's statements are carefully worded so that he leaves room for a post military discharge statement to the effect that statements he made in Iraq were made under duress.
Mr. Beauchamp's AWOL and his fabricated stories paint an unflattering picture of a confused kid who thinks he is smarter than the world.
This kid strikes me as the next John Kerry.
I thought that due to privacy laws and such, that the written statements had to have the name of the soldier/writer/witness stricken out. Has Scott Beauchamp given his permission to have these public with his name on them?
I agree with the first comment: Beauchamp's first statement is dated 1540, with some kind of secondary stray mark that confuses the '5'. So, it really was the earlier statement.
If you don't believe me, just compare to Beauchamp's real '8', written a couple of lines down on the same statement. When Beauchamp wants to write an '8', he moves the pen differently.
And yes, the guy is a crapweasel. Clearly, if you match his sworn statements to his articles in some Clinton-esque fashion, he did leave himself several "outs" - while providing (and having) no evidence for the truth of his articles.
We all know that Beauchamp left himself some wriggle room so he can later on claim he was right.
Gringo, PFC Beauchamp's name was probably not redacted from the documents as the content renders the source intuitively obvious to the most casual observer. Note that all PII (e.g. SSN) has dutifully been redacted IAW the Privacy Act of 1973.
In a long career as a criminal defense attorney I have read thousands of witness statements. This statement undoubtedly reflects the issues his interrogators were pursuing, and the perspective in which those issues were framed.
I believe, based on these statements, that the investigators were focusing on Beauchamp's own driving habits, and the possible desecration of graves. Why the investigators were focusing on those two issues is open to speculation. Beauchamp's fairy tales mostly detailed behavior which was deplorable and sickening, but not actionable by military justice, nor involving conduct which placed other soldiers or military assets at risk. My reading is that the investigators were focusing on behavior which was actionable from a military justice standpoint or putting persons or equipment at risk.
I suspect Beauchamp was taking so much heat that his only concern at the time was avoiding discipline or court martial. Any wiggle room he preserved for himself to use later was unintentional. If he had the imagination to look that far ahead, he wouldn't have penned that pack of lies in the first place.
On the other hand, I suspect he already fears a future filled with any number of folks willing to spit in his face (or kick his ass). I wonder if he really wants to risk the consequences of claiming his fantasies were true once he returns to civilian life.
DJ nailed it. Observe a devious little crapweasel in action.
I'll bet he's already planning his book tour.
"...but not actionable by military justice..."
I beg to differ. The UCMJ covers his conduct (misbehavior) with the following:
Article 15: Nonjudicial punishment (NJP) refers to certain limited punishments which can be awarded for minor disciplinary offenses by a commanding officer or officer in charge to members of his/her command.
The Manual for Courts-Martial, 1998 edition, also indicates in Part V, para. 1e, that, in determining whether an offense is minor, the "nature of the offense" should be considered. This is a significant statement and often is misunderstood as referring to the seriousness or gravity of the offense. Gravity refers to the maximum possible punishment, however, and is the subject of separate discussion in that paragraph. In context, nature of the offense refers to its character, not its gravity. In military criminal law, there are two basic types of misconduct-disciplinary infractions and crimes. Disciplinary infractions are breaches of standards governing the routine functioning of society. Thus, traffic laws, license requirements, disobedience of military orders, disrespect to military superiors, etc., are disciplinary infractions.
And this one, the "Catch 22":
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.
At the very least, he qualifies for an Article 15, but if they wanted to really fry his ass, they'd have no problem using Article 134.
Keep in mind that the Left believed everything PFC Beauchamp wrote, long before he wrote it.
All of the criticism of Beauchamp is true. He IS a crapweasel, he IS a slimy little worm who defamed the U.S. military. But, he also is finishing his tour. He is a soldier in the United States Army, and we have to give him a bit of credit for that. I hope (but I don't expect) that he behaves in an honorable way when he leaves the military.
I personally think Beauchamp is a Weasel.
He's got two problems though. If his story is false...then he's got legal problems with TNR. He deliberately wrote a false story that damaged the reputation of TNR.
The fact that TNR had their house lawyer on the phone during the last conference call means TNR is none too happy with Beauchamp....
So the JAG for Beauchamps unit does the right thing...gets enough evidence to get clear Beauchamp of any UCMJ violations but not but not enough for TNR to sue Beauchamp. Then advises Beauchamp to avoid talking with anyone who has a lawyer or recorder present.
If the Army prosecuted every soldier that told a tall tale there probably wouldn't be an Army.
I also believe having looked over the statements that Douchechamp (sic) wrote that he allowed himself some 'wiggle room' in order to preserve his 'future' as a writer or a blogger even. As far as Santos statement of "I also credit his CO for giving Mr. Beauchamp more chances than I would have."
I believe that in the current CYA mentality of the military, that his current commander, from Battalion CO to Company CO that they both are aware of the fire that Douchechamp lit with his accusations, and probably fear for the future in the respect that if mentioned by name, the BC ( a LT Chicken) and the CO (Capt) are probably fearful of having their names publically associated when he writes his "The Army Kept Me Down and other War Crimes I Saw" book that he writes later in his life.
Having been one of the ones who helped Bob with this, it's apparent from these statements that, unlike the belief that he isn't thinking of the future, that scum sucking crapweasels (LOVE that term) like him do INDEED worry about having wiggle room down the line.
Fact is, its been apparent in both people who knew him in Germany (former fiancee) and others, that he joined the military with the express idea of becoming the next Hemingway or other such War-Writing Luminaries. His actions, as reprehensible as they may be, and despite his attempts to 'straighten out' as documented by Blackfive, still show one thing. He had the expess intent of going to Iraq in order to become a 'war writer' and his subsequent actions, to include his questionable marriage to a factchecker at TNR, shows his intent, no matter what the cost, either to him, his people, his troops or anyone immeadiately surrounding him.
His attempt to 'straighten out' in Iraq AFTER the fact can be simply explained that once his proclivity for smearing and degrading his fellow soldiers can be attributed to wanting to stay alive while he finished his in-theater tour. After all, friendly fire aint so friendly is it? Douchechamp epitomises (sp?) to me a true sociopath who cares nothing for anyone around him and would do anything to protect his own worthless hide.
He's got two problems though. If his story is false...then he's got legal problems with TNR. He deliberately wrote a false story that damaged the reputation of TNR.
1, He's judgement proof, or IOW, he's got no money to take even if they win. 2. In order to sue him, TNR would have to be trying to prove they got taken, a fact that they seem highly allergic to. For them, trying to sue Beauchamp would be like trying to drill an empty well with your face.
I would not be surprised if Mr. Foer and/or some legal beagles from TNR advised Pvt. Beauchamp to leave himself some wiggle room in his statement.
I think we should withhold criticism of Scott Beauchamp. He served his country in a combat zone. Plus Beauchamp did not hurt the reputation of TNR, he helped us see more accurately what that reputation should be.
Buck, good point. the PFC couldn't have more clearly shined a light on TNR's poor journalistic practices and biases if he had intentionally set out to be a mole and catch them in a sting.
Point taken. Had they wished they could have found a way to charge him. Nevertheless, I stand by my original premise that his statements reflect the investigators' focus. Taking your point into account, I would refine my analysis.
There are two distinguishable areas of interest, (1) breaches of discipline which put persons or assets at immediate, identifiable risk, and (2) breaches of discipline that may violate the articles set out above but do not pose the same immediate, identifiable risk. The former demands action; failing to act is negligence and dereliction of duty for his superiors. The latter, as the regs specifically indicate, require a careful balancing of considerations.
At the point in time of the investigation, I think an astute officer could well determine that the actual risk that Beauchamp's libelous fantasies would undermine morale or good order in the ranks was less important than the consequences of appearing to censure him for writing what he wrote. The inevitable consequence of initiating disciplinary proceedings over writing what he wrote would have been a national media frenzy over alleged stifling of dissent (no matter the utter falsehoods he employed). The focus of the media, and the story, would have been shifted from Beauchamp's libels and Foer's folly to the military's alleged "oppression" of Beauchamp and "suppression" of "free speech". On the other hand, investigating what personnel actually did (as opposed to wrote) which resulted in immediate, identifiable risk, is absolutely justifiable and not subject to the same criticism. I think someone was actually using his head here, and properly identified the important issues and appropriate focus of investigation.
If I recall correctly, the only official rebuke Beauchamp got for anything he wrote was for publishing dates of movement for his unit on his blog, which was a clear violation of security.
The libelous fantasies were well ignored by military justice. His veracity was already seriously in doubt, and I suspect his popularity with his fellow soldiers had reached a new low and was sinking. Beauchamp was getting a fair portion of heat for his libels as it was, and his immediate future had to appear pretty grim to him. The downside of investigating Beauchamp for writing what he wrote as opposed to what he or other soldiers may have done outweighed any military benefits.
Which returns me to my original point. Beauchamp’s statements reflect the focus of the investigation, and were designed to clear himself of actual wrongdoing. They were probably also intended to deny his usefulness as a witness to wrongdoing by others. The perceived “wiggle room” is probably reflective of the focus of inquiry and his exculpatory intentions as opposed to a plan to preserve his options later. Whether he will actually attempt to split hairs later to justify further falsehoods remains to be seen.
Buck, while I honor him for his service to his country, he did write scurrilous lies that were purported to be fact. His service does not un-do that.
Just because someone serves does not make them immune to all criticism. John Kerry tried that, now John McRINO is trying it, and it never, I say again, never flies.