Michael Yon on the Scott Beauchamp story, and redemption:
As the real story unfolded, The New Republic looked increasingly culpable and ridiculous trying to hide behind a fact-checking process that was clearly stuck on the difference between fact and fabrication. In the lingering spotlight, no one seemed to appreciate the soft shoe.
It was not a story I followed closely because then–as now–I was focused on the war. But what struck me as most important was not that Beauchamp wrote some bad combat stress fiction, but that a media organization printed it as truth.
And what of Beauchamp? Because he was the man who originally wrote the lurid overwrought fable of puppy-killing among the grave-desecrating cretins who made fun of a woman disfigured by bombs, the tepid outcome left many people unhappy. Especially those who wanted to see him humiliated (he has been plenty humiliated.) Beauchamp was allowed to stay in the Army and suffered only a minor administrative setback.
I was at a reconciliation meeting between Sunni and Shia in the West Rashid district of Baghdad on 24 October, and it happened by complete coincidence that I was with Beauchamp’s battalion. In fact, I was with his old company commander for much of the day, although I had no idea for most of it that I was with Beauchamp’s old company commander.
At the reconciliation meeting, Beauchamp’s battalion commander, LTC George Glaze, politely introduced himself and asked who I wrote for. When I replied that I just have a little blog, the word caught his ears and he mentioned Beauchamp, who I acknowledged having heard something about. LTC Glaze seemed protective of Beauchamp, despite how the young soldier had maligned his fellow soldiers. In fact, the commander said Beauchamp, having learned his lesson, was given the chance to leave or stay.
It can be pretty tough over here. The soldiers in Beauchamp’s unit have seen a lot of combat. Often times soldiers are working in long stretches of urban guerrilla combat dogged by fatigue and sleep deprivation. This is likely one of the most stressful jobs in the world, especially when millions of people are screaming at you for failures that happened three years or more ago, and for decisions to invade Iraq that were made when you were still a teenager. Just as bad is the silence from the untold millions who have already written off your effort as hopeless. Add that to the fact that buddies are getting killed in front of you. (More than 70 killed in Beauchamp’s brigade.) I see what these young men and women go through, and the extraordinary professionalism they nearly always manage to exude awes me on a daily basis.
Lapses of judgment are bound to happen, and accountability is critical, but that’s not the same thing as pulling out the hanging rope every time a soldier makes a mistake.
Beauchamp is young; under pressure he made a dumb mistake. In fact, he has not always been an ideal soldier. But to his credit, the young soldier decided to stay, and he is serving tonight in a dangerous part of Baghdad. He might well be seriously injured or killed here, and he knows it. He could have quit, but he did not. He faced his peers. I can only imagine the cold shoulders, and worse, he must have gotten. He could have left the unit, but LTC Glaze told me that Beauchamp wanted to stay and make it right. Whatever price he has to pay, he is paying it.
The commander said I was welcome to talk with Beauchamp, but clearly he did not want anyone else coming at his soldier. LTC Glaze told me that at least one blog had even called for Beauchamp to be killed, which seems rather extreme even on a very bad day. LTC Glaze wants to keep Beauchamp, and hopes folks will let it rest. I’m with LTC Glaze on this: it’s time to let Beauchamp get back to the war. The young soldier learned his lessons. He paid enough to earn his second chance that he must know he will never get a third.
Though Beauchamp is close, I’m not going to spend half a day tracking him down when just this morning I woke to rockets launching from nearby and landing on an American base. Who has time to skin Beauchamp? We need him on his post and focused.
As for The New Republic, some on the staff may feel like they’ve been hounded and treed, but it’s hard to feel the same sympathy for a group of cowards who won’t fess up and can’t face the scorn of American combat soldiers who were injured by their collective lapse of judgment. It’s up to their readers to decide the ultimate fate.
The New Republic treed like a bandit Ã¢â‚¬Â¦ personally, I think they would make a nice Daniel Boone hat.
And he is 100% right. You can count me as being in the “skin Beauchamp” camp but after reading Yon’s usual clearheaded thinking I believe the man IS trying to make it right. While I don’t doubt he wrote the lies because he is against the war and wanted the people back home to believe it was Vietnam all over again while at the same time he wanted to become the next “Hemingway” but once caught he apparently made good. He stayed with his comrades, he took their punishment like a man and faced the piper, and for that I hope he is forgiven.
Of course all this may be different if Foer’s statement last night is true:
Despite the contentious conversation, Foer continued to defend the
article days later. He did so again yesterday, reiterating that other soldiers
whom the magazine would not identify had confirmed the allegations.
While Beauchamp “didn’t stand by his stories in that conversation, he didn’t
recant his stories,” Foer said in an interview. “He obviously was under
considerable duress during that conversation, with his commanding officer in the
room with him.”
While the discussion “was extremely frustrating and engendered doubts,” Foer
said, Beauchamp defended his story in a subsequent conversation that was
conducted with no superiors present.
If he did in fact decide to defend the lies then all that I have written can be thrown out the window.
But so far we have learned much on Foer and TNR. They cannot be trusted and as Michael Yon said, are the ones who deserve to be treed.
No one has even addressed the story at The Plank,
TNR’s staff blog. No one, from Martin Peretz on down, has bothered to give an
explanation for the transcript in which Foer threatened Beauchamp with his
wife’s job if he recanted, or the named soldiers in the Army report who denied
Beauchamp’s claims. All Foer can do is to argue — through Kurtz — that he has
verified the stories with anonymous sources.
I find it hilariously ironic that Foer refuses to defend himself and TNR in
his own magazine, but instead goes whining to Howard Kurtz — at the newspaper
that he demanded Beauchamp refuse to engage. I wonder why Kurtz didn’t ask him
about that, and ask Foer why he was talking to the Post when he didn’t want
Beauchamp to do so. Foer’s hypocrisy knows no bounds.
Bryan at Hot Air:
The phone call in which Scott Thomas Beauchamp delivers the Mother of All No Comments, thereby refusing to stand by his own work for TNR, took place on September 7, 2007. So from that date forward, Foer has had a piece of knowledge in his head that he has refused to divulge publicly; namely, that when pressed, Beauchamp did not stand by his stories. But what did Foer’s TNR say after September 7, 2007?
Go back to what Foer’s TNR said on July 26, 2007.
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.
Look at that last line again. Did TNR release the full results of its search when it was completed? I suppose they could argue that it wasn’t completed even as of today, but once they knew that Beauchamp no longer stood by his stories, they had all they needed to know. They knew that on September 7.
And they sat on it.
Foer was a party to the call. He didn’t have to wait for the Army to do a thing, and in fact owed it to his readers and his employers, one of whom was also a party to the call, to come clean. He didn’t.
And there’s another lie in that same paragraph. If the original article had been fact-checked at all, it wouldn’t have been run because the facts would not have checked out. So there’s lie #3. Their re-reporting evidently amounted to asking one of Beauchamp’s mates enough questions to get vague confirmations that have turned out to be false, and to ask misleading questions of a subject-matter expert to skew his findings toward an angle that benefited TNR. Lies 4 and 5.
And there’s one more: TNR has consistently accused the Army of keeping Beauchamp from talking to them. He’s been free to talk to them since August 6. Lie #6. They were the ones who told him not to talk to media. It’s right there in the transcript that Foer evidently never intended to see the light of day.
Now, compare and contrast all of this to the last scandal to hit the conservative yin to The New Republic’s yang, National Review Online. In March 2006, when NRO became aware that they had published many pieces written by a man who was being accused of plagiarism, they investigated. They didn’t attack the critics. They went through all of the accused’s articles and checked them for evidence of plagiarism, and when they found that he was guilty, they acknowledged their errors and apologized. National Review handled that scandal exactly as it should have been handled. Their example should have served to guide NRO’s friends at TNR during the Beauchamp scandal. But it obviously didn’t.
And their digging that hole even deeper for themselves. Maybe they think this whole thing will blow over, at this point I can’t imagine what they are thinking by refusing to acknowledge that the gig is up.
I guess it all comes down to the usual leftist drivel. “Sure, the story may be fraudulent, but the lie tells a bigger truth about the evil war perpetrated by Bushitler so its ok to keep the lie going.”
Makes sense right?