TNR Raises Posted by: Dale Franks
on Friday, October 26, 2007
Despite the Beauchamp-related documents leaked by someone in the Army to Drudge earlier this week, The New Republic has decided not to fold. They're not even going to call. They've decided to raise.
Since this controversy began, The New Republic’s sole objective has been to uncover the truth. As Scoblic said during the September 6 conversation: “[A]ll we want out of this, and the only way that it is going to end, is if we have the truth. And if it’s—if it’s certain parts of the story are bullshit, then we’ll end that way. If it’s proven to be true, it will end that way. But it’s only going to end with the truth.” The September 6 exchange was extremely frustrating; however, it was frustrating precisely because it did not add any new information to our investigation. Beauchamp’s refusal to defend himself certainly raised serious doubts. That said, Beauchamp’s words were being monitored: His squad leader was in the room as he spoke to us, as was a public affairs specialist, and it is now clear that the Army was recording the conversation for its files.
The next day, via his wife, we learned that Beauchamp did want to stand by his stories and wanted to communicate with us again. Two-and-a-half weeks later, Beauchamp telephoned Foer at home and, in an unmonitored conversation, told him that he continued to stand by every aspect of his story, except for the one inaccuracy he had previously admitted. He also told Foer that in the September 6 call he had spoken under duress, with the implicit threat that he would lose all the freedoms and privileges that his commanding officer had recently restored if he discussed the story with us.
On September 14, we also spoke at length with Major John Cross, who led the Army’s investigation into the Beauchamp case. Contrary to reports in The Weekly Standard and other outlets, Cross explicitly said that Beauchamp “did not recant” his article in the sworn statements he had given the Army. Moreover, although the Army’s investigation—which declared that the claims in “Shock Troops” were false—purported to be conclusive, Cross conceded that there were at least a dozen soldiers in Beauchamp’s platoon whom he had not interviewed.
No doubt those soldiers were exactly the guys who could provide corroboration.
TNR's position is essentially that the Army is either incompetent, or is intentionally preventing TNR from getting to the truth.
TNR says that the investigating officer, Maj Cross, specifically stated that PVT Beachamp "did not recant" his story. But, "did not recant" can mean something other than, ">Major, everything I wrote was true." It could also mean, "Major, I respectfully decline to answer any questions."
It was as we were awaiting the documentary record of the Army’s investigation that the Army leaked several documents, including the September 6 transcript, to The Drudge Report, which incorrectly reported that the documents show that Beauchamp had recanted. In fact, they show no such thing...
[Private Beauchamp] admitted that he was not an eyewitness to the targeting of dogs and saw only animal bones during the construction of Combat Outpost Ellis.
If the report is true, then I guess that isn't an explicit repudiation, but it certainly casts doubt on the veracity of the stories.
Also, I want to address the recorded phone call vs. the later, super-secret phone call. TNR alleges that PVT Beauchamp could not tell them the truth on the monitored call,because he was under duress. I must point out, however, that, since his squad leader was present for that call, it is equally likely that PVT Beauchamp could not affirm the truth of his stories because his squad leader would have known he was lying had he done so. He could, therefore, only confirm his stories to TNR when he was out of earshot of others who knew the truth.
It remains to be seen which of those equally likely scenarios is the truth.
Additionally, TNR accuses the Army of acting in bad faith.
The New Republic is deeply frustrated by the Army’s behavior. TNR has endeavored with good faith to discover whether Beauchamp’s article contained inaccuracies and has repeatedly requested that the Army provide us with documentary evidence that it was fabricated or embellished. Instead of doing this, the Army leaked selective parts of the record—including a conversation that Beauchamp had with his lawyer—continuing a months-long pattern by which the Army has leaked information and misinformation to conservative bloggers while failing to help us with simple requests for documents.
My experience with military Public Affairs operations leads me towards a conclusion of incompetence, rather than some conspiracy. But I strongly believe that "the Army" doesn't have a coordinated strategy here. Some people in a Public Information Office might have an agenda, as individuals always do, but I doubt "the Army" cares much one way or the other.
What "the Army" wants, in order to do anything, is a FOIA request, which will be given some desultory attention when someone wants to get around to it. If they ever do. That's pretty much how "the Army responds to FOIA requests about...well...anything.
But TNR's allegation is not that "the Army" is responding to their FOIA request they way that FOIA requests are usually responded to, but that there is an anti-TNR conspiracy on the part of "the Army".
We also tried to get the statements from Beauchamp himself. However, when Beauchamp requested a copy of his own statements from an Army legal adviser, he was told that he first had to coordinate any dissemination of them with Army public affairs.
OK. So, why didn't he do that? Those statements, once released to him, are his property. The coordination process is fairly simple. After PVT Beauchamp was told to coordinate the release with PA, did he do so? If not, why not? We are not, now, talking about a FOIA request. Now, we are talking about a soldier notifying the PIO that he wants to release the contents of his own statements—which are his property once released to him—to whomever he desires.
He could, in fact, simply give his wife power of attorney, assuming she doesn't already have it, and send the statements to her. Armed with power of attorney, she could then release them to anyone she desires. Presumably, she has the phone number for someone at TNR.
And let's also parse this statement further. Again:
However, when Beauchamp requested a copy of his own statements from an Army legal adviser, he was told that he first had to coordinate any dissemination of them with Army public affairs.
I guarantee you he wasn't told that. Those statements can be given to him by his legal advisor at any time. Army regulations require, in fact, that he receive copies of those statements if he desires them. He may have been told that he had to coordinate their public release, but this sentence, as written, indicates that PVT Beauchamp was told he could not obtain copies of his own statements without PIO clearance. I do not beleive that happened.
TNR has endeavored with good faith to discover whether Beauchamp’s article contained inaccuracies and has repeatedly requested that the Army provide us with documentary evidence that it was fabricated or embellished.
So, TNR is placing all the blame on the Army, and are not budging one inch until the Army gives them everything they ask for. Their position is, "If you can't prove it didn't happen, then we won't repudiate it."
I don't think that's the way it's supposed to work.
I’m thinking it’s time for TNR to admit they voted this one, and let it go at that. It’ll cost the head of Franklin Foer and if you have is lackeys, and may cost TNR some creds... but heck, when have they... or their readers... been concerned about that? As long as the paper was filled with leftist pap, it was a seller.... and will remain so, even with significantly lowered credibility.
Less financial damage to them, given legal bills, and lowered circulation while of this gets sorted out, and the added advantage of not being a distraction, whilst there’s an election to win for the Democrats.
Yes, that sound cynical. But frankly I don’t see another way to read the evidence.
I guarantee you he wasn’t told that. Those statements can be given to him by his legal advisor at any time. Army regulations require, in fact, that he receive copies of those statements if he desires them. He may have been told that he had to coordinate their public release, but this sentence, as written, indicates that PVT Beauchamp was told he could not obtain copies of his own statements without PIO clearance. I do not beleive that happened.
It also goes counter to what the SSG said during the transcribed phone call.
His SSG stated - explicitly - that STB could share those documents.
Since there is no public record of the phone call from Beauchamp to Foer, we will never know if Beauchamp is still standing by his stories. My bet is that Beauchamp went on with the same stuff in the Drudge documents that he was tired of the whole thing and never actually stood by them.
My personal take is that TNR is trying to force Beauchamp to say publicly that the stories are bogus so TNR can put all the blame on Beauchamp for deceiving them.