TNR still silent about Beauchamp (update) Posted by: McQ
on Sunday, October 07, 2007
***UPDATE: I should have been more clear when I originally posted this. The original TNR article referenced is an August 10th article. What I've included is more recent information concerning Beauchamp and a reminder of why TNR says it is stymied in it's "investigation" (which is looking more and more like OJ's search for Nicole's killer). This is a reminder that TNR has yet to reply to the charges it claims it so badly wants to investigate.***
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."
A) The Army doesn't have any obligation whatsoever to share any information with TNR. It did an internal investigation and satisfied itself that the stories were false. It didn't investigate them to share its results with TNR, to whom it owes nothing.
B) According to Beauchamp's Brigade commanders it is Beauchamp who has chosen to not talk to the press.
He is not — we can't — we do not order them not to talk to the press. They can talk to the press. And our soldiers are the greatest advertisers for the Army, because they'll speak the truth and tell the truth in most cases.
Seems pretty straight forward, wouldn't you say?
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.
Since then questions were asked and his commander answered them. It was not the first topic of conversation either (I was on the call as well. A transcript can be found here).
TNR then said:
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."
And Goldfarb has updated that as recently as last week. In a story called "Beauchamp Speaks" in which Goldfarb says:
Last week we heard from Scott Beauchamp's commanding officer, Col. Ricky Gibbs. Gibbs said that Beauchamp had admitted to the investigating officer that his stories for the New Republic were false—or, as he put it later in the briefing, that, while Beauchamp had not "recanted," he "does not stand by the story." Col. Gibbs also said that Beauchamp was free to speak with the press.
So where's TNR's update? Where's its renewed effort to do what it said it would do?
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 tnr.com. 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.
Now maybe it has changed when I was in, but we usually provided copies of signed statements to the person signing them because it was their right to have them, it insured the integrity of the document and it was then available if they wanted to consult a JAG officer.
So my guess is, if he really wanted too, Beauchamp could provide those copies of his statements to TNR. At the very least he could probably recreate them. And I know he gets mail (I'm going along with their claim they can't communicate with him otherwise), so I have to wonder if TNR has mailed a request to him asking he provide them?
Secondly, for privacy reasons, no military officer would ever provide such statements to anyone outside the investigation. That's because they would carry a minimal security classification (probably FOUO) which would prohibit that.
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.
According to his Brigade commander, Beauchamp is free to "defend himself" if he so desires. COL Gibbs says he's free to talk to the media as indicated above, but apparently it is Beauchamp who has decided he's not interested in doing so. Gibbs says:
... and he won't talk to the media, they say.
The "he" is Beauchamp and the "they" are members of his staff who are apparently in the know about Beauchamp's decision.
Let's cut to the chase.
Here's the TNR ploy - Claim you can't talk to Beauchamp (untrue), claim the Army is stonewalling (untrue) and then claim that your investigation is therefore impeded to the point that you can go no further (untrue). Or said another way, lie, shift blame and then go silent.
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.
Ah, but of course they know they're scott-free (no pun intended) on this count. The Army isn't going to release the results of an internal investigation for the reasons I've outlined, and I'd bet that they really know that Beauchamp has chosen not to talk to them, so none of those "things" they've now shifted their blame too are going to happen - and they know it. Consequently they'll never have to "accept responsibility" for their writer or themselves, will they?
Which takes us back to their second sentence:
While many of these questions have been formulated by people with ideological agendas, we recognize that there are legitimate concerns about journalistic accuracy.
Of course TNR has no political agenda, does it? And, according to TNR, those who cried foul couldn't have been motivated by something else, could they? It certainly couldn't have been people who had spent decades in the service and who knew not only the technical aspects of the stories were wrong, but the cultural aspects as well?
No, all of this had to be driven only by those with an ideological agenda. That's important. Because if they can fob that off on their readers, then the blame shifting will be complete and it ends up being nothing more than the usual right-wing smear campaign along the usual Army cover-up.
But a perfect fit for the idealogical narrative of the TNR's client base.
UPDATE: As an example, check out how completly Josh Marshall bought the TNR spin.