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TNR Pulls the Eject Handle
Posted by: Dale Franks on Saturday, December 01, 2007

Franklin Foer, the editor of The New Republic, provides a 14-page explanation of the Beauchamp Affair at the TNR web site.

For 13 pages, the explanation goes on an on about how good TNR's re-reporting was, especially considering the difficult reconditions associated with doing it, and what dicks conservative bloggers are.

Then, at the very end, Mr. Foer—though obviously not wanting to—grabs the black and yellow striped handle, yells "Eject! Eject! Eject!" and gives it a firm tug.
But, after our re-reporting, some of our questions are still unanswered. Did the driver intentionally run over dogs? Did he record his kills in a little green notebook? We've never been able to reach the driver. And Beauchamp told us that he'd procure a page from the notebook, but that has not materialized. This is a plausible anecdote, and several soldiers in Beauchamp's unit had heard stories about dog-hunting, but only one had actually seen the driver Beauchamp wrote about intentionally hit dogs. He is one of Beauchamp's friends, and, over the course of a number of e-mail exchanges with him, our faith in him has diminished.

Several weeks after the monitored call in September, we finally had the opportunity to ask Beauchamp, without any of his supervisors on the line, about how he could mistake a dining hall in Kuwait for one in Iraq. He told us he considered the detail to be "mundane" given the far more horrific events he had witnessed. That's not a convincing explanation. If the event was so mundane, why did he write about it—and with such vivid detail? In accounting for the inaccuracy of a central fact, he sounded defensive and evasive.

Beauchamp has lived through this ordeal under the most trying of conditions. He is facing pressures that we can only begin to imagine. And, over the course of our dealings with him, we've tried to give him the benefit of the doubt. Ever since August, we've asked him, first though his wife and lawyer and later via direct e-mail and phone calls, to personally obtain the sworn statements that the military had him draft and sign on July 26. And, ever since then, he has promised repeatedly to do just that. We are, unfortunately, still waiting.

In retrospect, we never should have put Beauchamp in this situation. He was a young soldier in a war zone, an untried writer without journalistic training. We published his accounts of sensitive events while granting him the shield of anonymity—which, in the wrong hands, can become license to exaggerate, if not fabricate.

When I last spoke with Beauchamp in early November, he continued to stand by his stories. Unfortunately, the standards of this magazine require more than that. And, in light of the evidence available to us, after months of intensive re-reporting, we cannot be confident that the events in his pieces occurred in exactly the manner that he described them. Without that essential confidence, we cannot stand by these stories.
In the end, after reading the whole article, it's difficult for me to understand completely what Mr. Foer is trying to say. The dominant impression I get is that he's saying, "We thought all this stuff was true, and we mostly still do, we just can't prove it." And with that, they now disavow it.

The subtext is that the Army should have been more helpful, and that PVT Beauchamp should've been more helpful, and that conservative bloggers should've kept their pieholes closed.

In one sense, TNR is correct. The Army, once again, did its usual stellar job of incompetently handling relations with the press in general, and TNR in particular. Whatever the truth may have been, the Army utterly failed in handling this whole matter transparently, and providing a clear explanation of the methods and results of the investigation. But, that's been SOP for the Army PIO for the last 40 years.

Dolts.

At the end of the day, though, TNR has bailed out on the Baghdad Diarist. Reluctantly. Grudgingly. With lots of convoluted defenses. But they've done it.
 
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It seems to me they are slyly laying the blame for the entire mess on Beauchamp. Somehow this "young soldier...without journalistic training" whom they granted "the shield of anonymity" overcame all their years of experience and journalistic training, despite their best efforts to maintain their high standards. To use their own words,

"That’s not a convincing explanation."
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
...provides a 14-page explanation....
Long winded, and with too much marginally relevant material. I’ve seen better writing from high school students, and this guy is supposed to be a high-powered editor of a major magazine.
 
Written By: Billy Hollis
URL: http://
Dale, as much as I’d like to agree with you as regards the army and ’they could have done better’, I have to wonder how much of the perception of lack of cooperation is actually the actions of TNR.

As someone who spent a good deal of time in end user support, I can tell you firsthand that there are a large number of people who will go to great lengths not to be cooperated with. Ask anyone on a help desk. Their one goal in life is to bitch loudly and blame the the other guy and prove them wrong, no matter the cost.

I have long suspected TNR to be one of these, where the military is concerned. In reading Foer’s bit, I am convinced of it.
 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://bitsblog.florack.us
Well, I certainly don’t have your experience in dealing with the Army, or the military. In fact, I don’t have any at all.

However, I don’t see where its incumbent on the Army to "handle" the press at all in this type of situation. They are hamstrung by privacy laws in releasing a lot of pertinent info that could help "communicate". Therefore, its impossible for them to really give a complete picture of these cases and be "transparent".

Personally, I think its in the Army’s best interest, and their only real duty, to investigate public claims of malfeasance and misconduct by their own soldiers, as in the Beauchamp case.

After investigating, when the case is concluded, they either close the investigation as unproven or false, or they find the subject culpable and mete out appropriate disciplinary actions, as they apparently did.

Why is it the Army’s duty to help clear up TNR’s mess or publicly refute or confirm a soldier’s stories?

I think the Army did exactly what the Army is supposed to do: investigated wrong-doing by one of its own, got his statement in writing, meted out proper discipline, finding his actions severe enough to merit discipline but not egregious enough to merit discharge, gave him the option to leave or stay.

He elected to stay, and according to Michael Yon, at least, whom I happen to trust implicitly, Beauchamp is at least attempting to do his duty to the best of his ability.

He will not have completely atoned for slandering his comrades, no matter how good a job soldiering he does from here on out, until he recants his lies about them and the Army in general, insinuating that the abuses he described are pervasive and tacitly allowed by authorities.

Really, I continue to read how the ARMY screwed this up. I do not think its the Army’s duty to vet every story coming out about Iraq and then explain the entire investigative process to the world.

Their duty is to keep their soldiers doing their job in a moral, legal and effective way. As much as all of us here in blogland would love to know all the teensy details of the investigation (mostly so we can continue to bash TNR and gloat how right we were) its hardly in the Army’s best interest to expend resources to do so.

You know, we don’t even know the real providence of the "leaks", we assume it was the Army. We don’t know for a fact. They may have been from Beauchamp himself.

I think the Army acted completely correct in this manner. The important thing was to investigate crimes or unbecoming conduct of its soldiers, it did so, it meted out punishment, decided the fate of the perpetrator, and moved on.

Its not the Army’s job to tie up all the lose ends for us. In a great deal of this case, its not even legal for them to do so.

I find zero on which to blame the Army in this case. I think most of the vitriol and blame thrown at them now is because we all want more story, and the Army is not bending over backwards, or even forwards, to give it to us.

Its not their job to do so, and I certainly don’t expect them to do so, even if it would be ’good public relations’ and ’engender good will’.

All that said, chalk up another scalp for the righty blogs: Dan Rather, Mapes, Eason Jordon, Reuters Fauxtography, TNR, have I missed any big ones?

All the leftwingnuts have is Jeff Gannon.
 
Written By: docweasel
URL: http://docweasel.wordpress.com
This is a plausible anecdote
In that it doesn’t involve little green men or teleportations perhaps, but so what, Foer?
When I last spoke with Beauchamp in early November, he continued to stand by his stories. Unfortunately, the standards of this magazine require more than that.
Yes, how very unfortunate for you that, in the end, even your magazine must answer to some minimum standards of evidence and truth. Intellectual honesty and editorial straightforwardness, on the other hand, clearly cannot be compelled.
 
Written By: Linda Morgan
URL: http://
TNR supported the invasion of Iraq. Thought it was a good idea. It’s little surprise, therefore, that they lack integrity.

Anything anyone can do to take TNR down is surely welcome.

Keep it up, wingnuts
 
Written By: mkultra
URL: http://
Well, I certainly don’t have your experience in dealing with the Army, or the military. In fact, I don’t have any at all.

However, I don’t see where its incumbent on the Army to "handle" the press at all in this type of situation.
It isn’t incumbent upon them, if they want to continue to look like dolts.

But, try to wrap your mind about around just this one thing, as an example. The Army repeatedly told TNR that Beauchamp was free to speak with them. Even though that was categorically untrue, and Beauchamp had, in fact, been ordered not to speak with them. Which the Army later admitted.

This is characteristic of the PIO’s incompetence.
 
Written By: Dale Franks
URL: http://www.qando.net
Oh, and do us all a favor. Rather than copy and pasting a lengthy post from your own blog in our comments section, have the courtesy to post a link, instead.
 
Written By: Dale Franks
URL: http://www.qando.net
Ooohhh, the barking moonbat mkultra rails against wingnuts.

What weight that must carry...
 
Written By: bains
URL: http://
I wrote the post after the comments (see timestamp). I thought it was substantial enough to use for a post. I apologize, feel free to delete it if it bothers you.

Also, the Army in fact did NOT forbid TNR to talk to Beauchamp, nor vis versa. In fact, the transcript of Foer and an editor talking to Beauchamp was released on Drudge, as I remember. Foer then asked Beauchamp not to talk to other media. TNR also spoke to Beauchamp on a monitered phone call, and on an unmonitered one.
 
Written By: docweasel
URL: http://docweasel.wordpress.com
hhhmmm let me summarize their position. "Our boy is obviously a liar, we are obviously liars, but we sooooo much want it to be true, and we sooooo much want to believe that the military are a bunch of evil nazis, and all those right wing bloggers are just a bunch of evil nazis, oh boo hoo poor us!"
 
Written By: kyleN
URL: http://impudent.blognation.us/blog
I’m hoping Hillary gets the nomination. That way mkultra can defend her integrity while calling every conservative who supported the war lacking in integrity. It’ll be fun!
 
Written By: Steverino
URL: http://
"...that’s been SOP for the Army PIO for the last 40 years."

You’re missing a zero there.

Possibly two.
 
Written By: Charlie (Colorado)
URL: http://
docweasel....
I find zero on which to blame the Army in this case.
I agree with Dale that to some extent there are things that the army could have done differently, in this situation. Where I disagree with Dale is the question of whether not it would make any difference. I don’t think it would have. There’s a lot more going on here than you mentioned, but none of it changes the ultimate direction of the thing.
I think most of the vitriol and blame thrown at them now is because we all want more story, and the Army is not bending over backwards, or even forwards, to give it to us.
It seems quite clear to me, at least, that Beauchamp and TNR went into this thing looking for something negative to print about the army and its actions in Iraq. By definition, that is a hostile situation. Taken a step further, that relationship would result in to the smallest thing done by the army to be taken in exactly the wrong fashion; both Beauchamp and TNR were, like race hustlers, looking to be offended, and praying it happened, so as to further their agenda.
Its not the Army’s job to tie up all the lose ends for us. In a great deal of this case, its not even legal for them to do so.
That’s an important point, and should not be overlooked in all of this. There is much in the way of legal minefield surrounding these events, to say nothing of matters of intelligence during a time of war. All of that needed to be considered throughout, by the army. It’s a restriction, of course, that the mainstream media has demonstrated little respect for... and TNR, who was in effect fighting for it’s life, would have even less.

It’s a classic "damned if you do, damned if you don’t" situation. Anything, and I mean anything, shy of the army admitting that everything Beauchamp said was true, would not satisfy TNR, because the agenda isn’t being satisfied.

Once that point is established, the complaints of TNR must be taken with a grain or three of salt... even when exclusive of the fact that Beauchamp fabricated the whole thing, and TNR printed it without fact checking, because it fit with the image they wanted to project of America’s military.

When those factors are added into the mix... well....

 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://bitsblog.florack.us
The Army never told Beauchamp he couldn’t talk to TNR. In fact, the Army released or leaked a transcript back a couple of months ago where it was TNR that was asking Beauchamp to not talk to anyone.

Jim C
 
Written By: Jim C
URL: http://thinking-right.com
The “square backed” cartridge casings that Beauchamp described are not entirely false.

His clumsy description is consistent with what a typical PFC in the armed forces knows about weapons and ammunition.

It appears to me that what he ineptly described is actually the indentation on the primer from a spent cartridge, not the brass itself. The Glock is a striker fired pistol that leaves a distinctive rectangular indentation on the primer.

I don’t have any spent brass handy around here or I would take a digital photo to show the difference between the impression from a Glock striker and the firing pin from a pistol like the Beretta M9.

Of course, all that would prove is that the cartridge was fired from a Glock or similar pistol.
 
Written By: Words Twice
URL: http://wordstwice.blogspot.com/
Also, as someone who has driven a Bradley, it’s damn near impossible to chase down a small animal. They have poor acceleration, high clearance between the tracks, plus your field of view to the right is completely blocked by the bulk of the hull.

So I call bullsh!t on some kid racking up multiple hits on stray dogs. Sounds like the kind of story that starts with "I know this guy..."

I tried to drive my track up a pronghorn antelope’s @ss at the Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site when I was stationed at Fort Carson. Not even close to getting him, but it was sure fun to try!

 
Written By: Jeff
URL: http://
TNR supported the invasion of Iraq. Thought it was a good idea. It’s little surprise, therefore, that they lack integrity.
Deosn’t this also apply to most Democrats in the Senate and House?
 
Written By: Don
URL: http://
Deosn’t this also apply to most Democrats in the Senate and House?
Why yes, it does. Unfortunately, they don’t have the access to the Wayback Machine that our esteemed friend does.
 
Written By: Rob
URL: http://
What’s happening here is easy to see. TNR is simply passing on the reins of the fabulist coach to those buffoons over at National Review.
 
Written By: Retief
URL: http://
TNR is simply passing on the reins of the fabulist coach to those buffoons over at National Review.
There are buffoons and then there are BUFFOONS.

The buffoons at NR only took 48 hours to clear up their fabulist problem, while the BUFFOONS at TNR took four and a half months. Tell me again who handled it better and more professionally?
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://qando.net

 
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