The New Republic has just posted a statement by the editors on the continuing controversy about “Shock Troops” writer Pvt. Scott Thomas Beauchamp ….
Scott Thomas Beauchamp is a U.S. Army private serving in Iraq. He came to THE NEW REPUBLIC‘s attention through Elspeth Reeve, a TNR reporter-researcher, whom he later married. Over the course of the war, we have tried to provide our readers with a sense of Iraq as it is seen by the troops.
We granted Beauchamp a pseudonym so that he could write honestly and candidly about his emotions and experiences, even as he continued to serve in the armed forces and participate in combat operations.
This seems like a relevant piece of information to have mentioned earlier (while still protecting Beauchamp’s identity). It goes to TNR’s credibility, especially when it has been documented that Reeve has REPEATEDLY used Beauchamp in her stories in the past.
All of Beauchamp’s essays were fact-checked before publication. We checked the plausibility of details with experts, contacted a corroborating witness, and pressed the author for further details. But publishing a first-person essay from a war zone requires a measure of faith in the writer. Given what we knew of Beauchamp, personally and professionally, we credited his report. After questions were raised about the veracity of his essay, TNR extensively re-reported Beauchamp’s account.
Bull. This is completely ridiculous and laughable. ONE corroborating witness??!!! A friend of “Scott Thomas” no doubt.
FULL ANALYSIS OF STATEMENT CONTINUES…..
And “experts” — the experts outside the military that have never set foot in the places Beauchamp claims to have been and events he claims to have seen and not invented in his mind.
They had “faith in the writer” because they knew (as we now know from Beauchamp’s own pre-Iraq writings) that he had a (now documented) personal political axe to grind long before his boots hit the sand.
Beauchamp’s essay consisted of three discrete anecdotes. In the first, Beauchamp recounted how he and a fellow soldier mocked a disfigured woman seated near them in a dining hall. Three soldiers with whom TNR has spoken have said they repeatedly saw the same facially disfigured woman. One was the soldier specifically mentioned in the Diarist. (GP Ed. Note — Presumably the same “one corroborating witness”!)
He told us: “We were really poking fun at her; it was just me and Scott, the day that I made that comment. We were pretty loud. She was sitting at the table behind me. We were at the end of the table. I believe that there were a few people a few feet to the right.”
The recollections of these three soldiers differ from Beauchamp’s on one significant detail (the only fact in the piece that we have determined to be inaccurate): They say the conversation occurred at Camp Buehring, in Kuwait, prior to the unit’s arrival in Iraq. When presented with this important discrepancy, Beauchamp acknowledged his error. We sincerely regret this mistake.
TNR editors blow this off as if it were a minor nuisance. In fact, it is a huge blow to the entire story and Beauchamp’s credibility on all other items. “Scott Thomas” made it sound like the horrible American troops on the front lines in IRAQ were mocking this woman and also by inference that this woman was a victim of American weapons or military action. It is quite possible this woman has a genetic facial disease, but it hardly seems plausible that she was injured by American troops. And, most importantly, it sounds like only TWO people laughed at her — one of which is the author in whom TNR lent so much confidence and credibility.
In the second anecdote, soldiers in Beauchamp’s unit discovered what they believed were children’s bones.
More important, two witnesses have corroborated Beauchamp’s account. One wrote in an e-mail: “I can wholeheartedly verify the finding of the bones; U.S. troops (in my unit) discovered human remains in the manner described in ‘Shock Troopers.’ [sic] … [We] did not report it; there was no need to. The bodies weren’t freshly killed and thus the crime hadn’t been committed while we were in control of the sector of operations.”
Again, TNR shrugs off another major blow to the story and to “Scott Thomas'” credibility. In his original account, Thomas uses slight of words to subtly allege that the bones were the result of American military action.
The last section of the Diarist described soldiers using Bradley Fighting Vehicles to kill dogs. On this topic, one soldier, who witnessed the incident described by Beauchamp, wrote in an e-mail: “How you do this (I’ve seen it done more than once) is, when you approach the dog in question, suddenly lurch the Bradley on the opposite side of the road the dog is on. The rear-end of the vehicle will then swing TOWARD the animal, scaring it into running out into the road. If it works, the dog is running into the center of the road as the driver swings his yoke back around the other way, and the dog becomes a chalk outline.”
Again the infamous “one solider” witness who is conveniently at every place that Beauchamp’s stories take place! Kind of like how Beauchamp is in every story that his wife wrote while in Columbia, Missouri!!
I’m sorry, but this explanation by the editors has more holes in it than the Titanic. The TNR statement then closes with blaming the military for not being allowed to continue their “investigation”.
Although we place great weight on the corroborations we have received, we wished to know more. But, late last week, the Army began its own investigation, short-circuiting our efforts. Beauchamp had his cell-phone and computer taken away and is currently unable to speak to even his family. His fellow soldiers no longer feel comfortable communicating with reporters. If further substantive information comes to light, TNR will, of course, share it with you.
How convenient. What they fail to mention is that Beauchamp has violated many parts of military policy the least of which is failing to report incidents that should have been followed-up on my military investigators. Beauchamp’s fiction may result in his own court-martial. Again, couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.
It is astounding that all wrapped up in one statement today, the The New Republic editors have cast the military as hero, victim, oppressor and instrument of Bush fascism. A perfect summary of all of the talking points that demonstration what the Left means by “supporting the troops.”