Sunday, August 05, 2007

The New Republics Larger Problems

Bob Owens at Confederate Yankee has been doggedly pursuing evidence that would confirm or deny Pvt2 Scott Thomas Beauchamp's claims asserted in a series of stories published in The New Republic. Owens' latest posting suggests that TNR has seriously misled their readers in claiming that their investigation, including communications with the US Army, confirmed the Shock Troops pieces.

TNR claims that they received sufficient evidence to confirm their reporting. Yet, the US Army says that they provided TNR's editor, Jason Zengerle, the same exact information provided to Owens and others - that the dining hall incident is considered to be nothing more than an urban legend or myth. There is absolutely no evidence that the incident actually occurred.

Why, in the course of publishing their confirmation, did they not disclose that fact? After all, they did manage to disclose that they were wrong about the location of the incident - moving it from FOB Falcon inside Iraq to Camp Buehring in Kuwait months earlier. That's a significant admission, although it was buried among claims that it confirmed the story via anonymous sources.

The US Army has stated that their investigation of these claims lack merit and are false. Their investigation involved members of the US Armed Forces providing statements under oath. If TNR knows something that the US Army doesn't, provide the names of those who are making the claims so that the truth of the matter asserted can be sorted out.

Hiding behind anonymous sources does nothing to support TNR's position here. They can claim that anonymity can protect the sources from repercussions of their claims, but justice would demand that those individuals come forward so that the military can address the claims and impose administrative and criminal sanctions against those who violated the Uniform Code of Military Justice and Armed Forces regulations?

Matt Sanchez, who's been reporting from FOB Falcon, notes that Col. Ricky Gibbs, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, Fort Riley, Kansas--Private Thomas Scott Beauchamp's Brigade, says that regardless of the veracity of these claims, someone is going to be in trouble.

That confirms what I said at the outset of this whole mess. If someone is lying, they're in trouble. If Beauchamp is telling the truth, someone will be in trouble. Right now, the weight of evidence is suggesting that Beauchamp is the one in trouble.

Right now, TNR is on a preprogrammed vacation. This is extraordinarily bad timing on their part, though they have been providing some updates on their website claiming confirmation of Beauchamp's work. They have to know that the facts are shifting against them in a hard way.

Let's assume that Beauchamp's correct and all those incidents occurred. Would you want your publication to be smeared by others without getting ahead of the curve? I don't think so. I'd want to get my ducks in a row and prove that I got the story right. I'd want to confirm the story.

So what did TNR do? They got a bunch of anonymous sources to claim that they confirmed it. That's no different than their initial claims that they confirmed and vetted the piece.

That's not confirmation. Who exactly are these sources? What are their qualifications? Are they members of Beauchamp's unit or have knowledge of these incidents? Will they make themselves available to the US Army to investigate the matter further?

Anyone can say that they have anonymous sources. It's quite a different story to have someone put their name on the line and back Beauchamp's story.

So far, all we know is that the US Army investigation has found no merit to the claims. They are lies, urban legends or myths.

If TNR knows something, they have an obligation to come forward.

If they can't, heads must roll at TNR for not only buying into Beauchamp's claims, but in trying to confirm the allegations with anonymous sources as though no one would notice, and Beauchamp will be shown to be the liar and fraud that many milbloggers have already concluded based on their own analysis of his claims.

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