[Found in a dumpster behind Marty Peretz's townhouse! First draft of Franklin Foer's epic blamestorm at TNR]
By Franklin Foer
For months, our magazine has been subject to accusations that stories we published by an American soldier then serving in Iraq were fabricated. When these accusations first arose, we promised our readers a full account of our investigation. We spent the last four-and-a-half months re-reporting his stories. These are our findings, as far as you know.
When Michael Goldfarb, a blogger for The Weekly Standard, left me a message on a Tuesday afternoon in mid-July, I didn't know him or his byline. And I certainly didn't anticipate that his message would become the starting point for a controversy.
It was a unseasonably cool day, as I remember it; when I pushed the "message" button on my phone, a Meridian M3903 Digital, I distinctly remember being distracted by the "pekka-pekka" of raindrops against my office window as I listened to the message. At the time I guess I just remembered it was from some guy with a Jewish-sounding name, from the Weekly something-or-other, who wanted me to return his call, and I suppose I must have thought it was about my 401-K or magazine subscriptions or whatever. Also, like everyone else at TNR I was making plans for my annual 3-month vacation, which this year was a snorkling trip to Barbados, where I took some awesome photo you should really check out on my Flick page.
Turns out, though, this "Goldfarb" person was calling about a short experimental creative writing piece that appeared in the The New Republic the previous day titled "Shock Troops." It appeared on the magazine's back page, the out-of-the-way "Diarist" slot, next to the ads for the Vermont Poetry Review and Bose Wave radios (which pack an amazing sound for a small room system, which you really check out) , and anyway, it's sort of this little personal-meditation inside-jokey filler thing we do. Frankly, I remember being surprised that somebody was anal enough to actually read the piece, because it was really there as kind of minor "throw away" content, like the tiny Sergio Aragones cartoons that used to appear in the margins of Mad magazine, and unrelated to the magazine's beefier articles like "Capitol Insider," or "Don Martin's One Day At The Dentist's Office."
Anyhoo, "Shock Troops" bore the byline Scott Thomas, which we identified as a pseudonym for a soldier then serving in Iraq. Thomas described how war distorts moral judgments. To illustrate his point, he narrated three wacky anecdotes, In one, he and his comrades held down a burnt amputee at a chow hall and gave her a "Cleveland Steamer." In another, he and comrades held pinata parties using exhumed Iraqi infant corpses. A final vignette described US soldiers holding "Fast And Furious" tank-drifting races through Iraqi puppy kennels.
For anyone familiar with the gritty realities of the fog of war, or the fog-of-war-related experimental independent film series on HBO, there was nothing unusual or controversial in the Diarist's claims. Thus we were surprised when we learned that Goldfarb -- from the comfortable sinecure of his cushy Weekly Standard cubicle -- was actually calling to demand "proof" of this pseudonymous soldier's stories. Could the Weekly Standard actually stoop so low as insinuate our brave, tragic, dog-squishing troops are liars?
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By the weekend, the Standard's editor, William Kristol, published an editorial that, without evidence, pronounced the Diarist an open-and-shut case, calling it "farrago of dubious tales." The gloating by rightwing bloggers that the evidence now exists is really beside the point, and a smokescreen to obscure an important fact: when Kristol and Goldfarb and company first hurled their then-baseless charges in July, there was no way that they could have known that the evidence would eventually turn up! At best, it was a lucky guess, and more evidence of the Standard's pitiful jounalistic ethics.
Regardless, the doubts about "Shock Troops" resonated. All over the blogosphere, people who presented themselves as "experts" and "veterans" and claimed that the events described in the piece could never have happened. Some of these assertions were vague and meaningless-- "They are not 'Shock Troops.' They are our best and bravest," Kristol wrote--as if our soldiers were dainty plaster saints, immune from the traumas of wacky practical jokes of war. One wonders if Kristol has actually read the IMDB film reviews of Redacted, let alone actual seen it. But others were more specific and troubling. Denizens of FOB Falcon insisted that they had never seen a woman who matched Thomas's description; some familiar with the Bradley asserted that it couldn't be maneuvered into a 90 mph four-wheel drift, or pimped out with 22" spinners, or setup with hydros to hop on stray dogs.
Did we have a Jayson Blair on our hands--or, closer to home, another Stephen Glass, the fabulist who did so much to tarnish this magazine's reputation ten years ago? Or perhaps another Ruth Shalit, whose plagiarism at this magazine did somewhat less tarnishing 2 years earlier? Or could he be another Lee Siegel, whose 2007 sock puppeting at this magazine resulted another tarnishing, albeit only around 40 on the Glass Tarnish Quotient? One fact was clear: painful experience has taught us at The New Republic to be on the lookout for tarnishings, so Beauchamp should know better than to "pull a fast one" on us.
We published an online statement pledging an investigation. That weekend, members of the editorial staff assembled at my house to divide up the task of re-reporting his stories. It would be a long an arduous task, with the possibility of uncomfortable conclusions. Ted, the new intern from Columbia Journalism School, brought along Pictionary.
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"Yahtzee!" yelled Emily, one of the new interns from Bennington. Then we ordered Chinese takeout from Mr. Hans on W. 105th (I highly recommend the lemon chicken).
By now, the identity of Scott Thomas is publicly known. He is Scott Thomas Beauchamp, age 24. He first came to our attention nearly a year ago by way of Elspeth Reeve, one of three reporter-researchers who work at TNR as essentially yearlong interns and whose responsibilities include fact-checking and making sure that the break room has plenty of Coffeemate non-dairy creamer. When she sent along a piece from her friend Scott in Iraq, we were intrigued. "Hmm," we thought, intriguigedly, "here is a young man in the thick of the great stupid tragedy of our time, who will bring readers an introspective view on the day-to-day life of a typical soldier, whether it involves massacres of innocent villagers or a humdrum fragging of a psychopathic sergeant." When, before publication, Beauchamp asked for a pseudonym, we granted it. We felt that a soldier in a war zone could write most honestly about his feelings and experiences under a penumbra of anonymity. In return, we asked for a 25% share of book royalties, with a 10% option on future theatrical film and DVD gross.
His first piece, a Diarist titled "War Bonds" published in our February 5 issue, described the woes of an Iraqi boy named Ali Baba who found a magic lamp from which emerged a bikini-clad Genie, only to be killed when his magic carpet was downed by an insurgent RPG. This first piece didn't receive much attention, but the attention it did receive was positive. In any case don't remember any Hawks bitching about that one.
Several weeks passed before Beauchamp sent us another story--one recounting dialogue between French soldiers along a guard tower, taunting and catapulting cows at British SAS forces, which we rejected. During that time, he took leave in Germany with Reeve. The two had been casual friends at the University of Missouri and resumed a relationship online, which quickly turned into something serious. During Beauchamp's leave, he and Reeve left Germany
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taffetta gown with an empire waist. After a brief honeymoon in the Ozarks, Beauchamp returned to Iraq and Reeve to her post at the New Republic.
Another Beauchamp piece followed, about wartime humor among soldiers--the piece that ultimately became "Shock Troops." Beauchamp wrote that humor was essential to the soldiers' humanity, but that "the jokes were dark, violent, and would be seen by [my] former self, I assume, as in bad taste." That draft included the story of mocking the disfigured woman in the "chow hall." And it concluded with the following paragraph featuring his pseudonymous friends:
There are other examples I could give of just how dark and sad humor during a war can be. How about if I had Jibson make whoopie cushions out of fresh Iraqi baby bladders? That would be pretty funny, or at least funny-tragic. Or maybe if, say, instead of setting bags of dog poo on fire, I talk about how so-and-so sets bags of entire dogs on fire! Dude, it'd be like total dark comedy gold! In a tragic, plausible, fog-of-war kind of way, I mean. Think "Animal House" meets "the Deer Hunter."
Naturally we wanted to learn more about these stories--although, in hindsight, the genesis of these anecdotes in such a nonchalant aside should have provoked greater suspicion, along with the fact that he cc'd the email to Brian De Palma and Oliver Stone. Not wanting to be beat out by a Hollywood greenlight, we sent Beauchamp the okay and ran with the stories.
Fact-checking is a process used by most magazines (but not most newspapers) to independently verify what's in their articles. Webster defines "Fact" as 1. something that actually exists; reality; truth: 2. something known to exist or to have happened: 3. a truth known by actual experience or observation; something known to be true. But when it comes right down to it, is "fact-checking" really that all that simple? While Webster defines "check" as "to investigate or verify as to correctness," it also defines it as "to restrain; hold in restraint or control." So when we asked Reeve to
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coffee on the already dog-chewed original manuscript, further complicating the fact-checking process. Plus Beauchamp's anonymity, which we made a sacred journalistic promise to protect, made us reluctant to narc on him to Army public affairs. What's more, the fact-checking of first-person articles about personal experiences means you totally have to get into the head of the person, and their perceptions, which numerous dormitory discussion have shown to be the possible product of a completely different personal reality, man.
Sure, in retrospect maybe our editorial team could have assigned someone other than his wife, Reeve, to fact-check Beauchamp. But hindsight is 20-20, and you can't break eggs without making an omlet if you want to give 110%, and there's not "I" in "team." We believe she acted with good faith and integrity, and did an amazing job of totally getting in touch with Scott's various perceptions and realities. However, putting her in that position might be seen by some a conflict of interest. It was a mistake, and we've imposed new rules to prevent future fact-checking conflicts of interest, along with $100 bonus Target gift cards for fact-checkers who meet or exceed our new monthly fact-verification quotas.
Facing the difficulties of verifying the piece, but wanting to ensure its plausibility before publication, we sent the piece to a correspondent for a major newspaper who had spent many tours embedded in Iraq. Had he noticed the US Army in Iraq? Check. Did they have Bradley Fighting Vehicles? Check. Had he seen dogs? Check. So far, the story seemed to be plausible. But what of the disfigured woman of the Cleveland Steamer episode? This became the focal point of our fact-checking. We asked Reeve to push Beauchamp for corroboration of this woman's existence. In an e-mail, she relayed his answer (throughout this story, we've withheld the names of soldiers who never gave us permission to use them):
OK, now I am talking to Scott on the phone. Now he is asking all of the other soldiers in the Army if they had seen the her. Now I am hearing the other soldiers shout yeah. The other soldiers are now shouting that all of the facts that Scott wrote about are true. They are now shouting that don't call us or the Army again, or we will have to deny this conversation because we will get into trouble, and if we deny anything it is really a secret signal that we are actually verifying that the story is true. Now more soldiers are shouting something. What's that? The New Republic is their favorite magazine? But that they think the fact-checkers are underpaid? I am now telling Scott to tell all the other soldiers that I will pass on this information.
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He had survived one test. But there would be tougher, more stringent tests to come, because that's how we roll at The New Republic, biotch. For example, during the first week of the investigation, I reached Beauchamp with regularity on his cell phone. My calls with him often began the same way. "You're not a professional journalist," I would tell him. "If you got anything wrong or exaggerated things, mister, I will be all over you like ugly on an ape." Despite direct threats from Franklin "The Truth" Foer, Beauchamp continued to stand by his stories.
He also added details to his accounts. The woman Beauchamp said he Steamered loomed large within his circle of friends, which he directly assured me he had. They called her "Stumpy" or "Krispy Kritter." He sent a picture of himself holding a wishbone, which he assured me fell out of one of the baby pinatas. He provided us with several plausible-sounding names of other soldiers, like "Brooklyn" and "Lucky" and "Yossarian," and his emails included lots of realistic army-sounding words like "DFAC" and and "ComSpec NCO" and "BCGs."
During our first call, he passed the phone to a soldier who had drifted Bradley vehicles, who identified himself as Specialist Speedy Gonzales. "Si si senor," said Gonzales, in his high pitched hispanic accent "Every ting Scott Beauchamp, who is not me, tol you was true." In a series of subsequent e-mails, this Bradley driver elaborated at great length:
Ola senor! This ees Speedy and I am writeeng to joo to tell joo again that Scott Beauchamp ees dee reel deel! I dreeeft my Bradley all dee time on top of the perros, weech ees dee Espaniol for what joo greeengos call dee dogs. Day go Squeeeshy Squeeshy when I runs ober dem! ha ha, Ole! I am now happy dat jour fact checkeeng ees all done! Pleeze don' try to call me any more hokay?
After asking Beauchamp to provide additional first-hand verification, we received more emails:
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Soldier A: "I swear upon my BDUs that everything Scott Beauchamp wrote is 100% true. I personally remember seeing Stumpy in Kuwait. As Scott Beauchamp's poignant and true tales illustrate, the soul-sucking horror of war ends up twisting our own humanity. Beauchamp's darkly humorous memoir is among the most indispensible in the annals of war, and destined to be a best-seller."
Soldier B: "I swear upon my BDUs that everything Scott Beauchamp wrote is 100% true. I personally saw Stumpy in Kuwait. As Scott Beauchamp's poignant and true tales illustrate, the soul-sucking horror of war ends up twisting our own humanity. Beauchamp's darkly humorous memoir is among the most indispensible in the annals of war, and destined to be a best-seller."
Because their correspondence was so centrally important to our verification of the story, I pressed Soldier A and Soldier B to identify themselves, which they reluctantly agreed to do. Their names are Spec. Bott A. Sceauchamp, and Spec. Ttocs B. Pmahcuaeb.
On another call, Beauchamp passed the phone around to other soldiers. Although these soldiers came from many different backgrounds, and spoke with many different accents, they were unanimous on three things: (1) Scott Beauchamp was telling the truth, (2) that Beauchamp's true stories should get sent around to my connections in the publishing and movie world, and (3) stop calling or that Beauchamp would get in trouble, because the "walls have ears."
Meanwhile, while we were writing and emailing all of these actual soldiers, the Weekly Standard speculated that "Scott Thomas" might not be an active-duty soldier at all. The Standard described a lengthy "semiotics-based analysis" arguing that he "fits the profile of a creative writing program graduate." Can you believe the nerve of these people? I tried to convince Beauchamp that he could knock down these specious claims with one gesture: revealing his name. A week after the initial call from Goldfarb, Beauchamp finally agreed.
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In the early hours of July 26, we exchanged instant messages with Beauchamp, who reported a meeting scheduled for later in the day about "pinata with baby corpses in sector." Beauchamp didn't know what to make of this session. Thanks to instant-messaging, we watched the early phase of the Army investigation in real time.
Beauchamp: oh no theyre making everybody sign statements that i m lying
Beauchamp: yes even Soldier A and B and Gonzales
Beauchamp: who is not me BTW
TNR: and so the coverup begins
Then we realized something: soldier A (Sceauchamp), had mentioned seeing the disfigured woman in Kuwait, which was verified by the email from Soldier B (Pmahcuaeb). During our instant-messaging, we pushed Beauchamp on this:
TNR: where did you see Krispy?
Beauchamp: are you there?
Beauchamp: the last thing i got was "where did you see Krispy"
Beauchamp: why do u ask
TNR: smthng doesnt add up
Beauchamp: the dfac on falcon
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TNR: what about kuwait?
Beauchamp: wht abt it
TNR: thats where A and B said u saw her
Beauchamp: brb [be right back]
Nine minutes of silence
TNR: you there?
Ten minutes of silence
Beauchamp: ok just did a sworn statement
Beauchamp: saying that i wrote the articles
Beauchamp: theyre taking away my laptop
TNR: fuck is this it for communication?
Beauchamp: yeah and im fucked
TNR: they said that?
Beauchamp: because you're right the krspy WAS in Kuwait
FUCK FUCK FUCK
this is bad isnt it
TNR: yes FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK
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TNR: FUCKITY FUCK FUCK
TNR: F U C K
Beauchamp: GIMME AN F
Beauchamp: GIMME A U
Beauchamp: GIMME A C
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TNR: FUCKAFUCKAWUCKAFUCKMEINTHEASS AAAAAAGGGGGGH
where in kuwait?
Beauchamp: maybe was tijuana at donkey sho, dont rmmber now
TNR: why didn't you tell us that?
Beauchamp: tell who that
Beauchamp: u.s. or us????
TNR: us tnr
TNR: if what you're saying is true it's not the end of the world
Beauchamp: ok wtevs lolz
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Beauchamp: now theyr taking sworn statements from othr guys
TNR: what othr guys
Beauchamp: Hu's on frst
TNR: whos on first?
TNR: im just askng whos on first
Beauchamp: i just told u
hu's on first
TNR: whos on first?
TNR: i just want a straight answr whos on first
Beauchamp: thts wht I just said
TNR: ok lets try ths again whos on second
Beauchamp: no u moron i jst told u HU'S on first watts on second
TNR: so whats second and who is on frst???
Beauchamp: thats wht I KEEP TELLING U
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TNR: then whos third
Beauchamp: no u dumass,, HU IS FIRST!!! FOCH third
TNR: FUCK FUCK FUCK
i have to go like NOW though im so sorry
TNR: are you gonna be able to talk again?
Beauchamp: i hope so but i dont know
TNR: wait a mnte i still dont know whos on first
what did you sign?
After that, the Army, by its own admission, refused to order Beauchamp to give us permissionto speak to him. It was the worst moment to lose contact. He had admitted a major mistake, using an event that occurred in Kuwait before he ever set foot in Iraq to describe the psychological impact of war. And we were never able get the identies of the three mysterious soldiers.
A pattern began. Beauchamp's behavior was sometimes suspicious--promising evidence that never arrived--but so was the Army's. Did they Army really have "better things to do" as they were always claiming, or was this a deliberate setup to get ol' Frankie to take the fall? Maybe I haven't actually been in the military, or known actual soldiers beyond Beauchamp and A and B and Gonzales, but I could smell a rat, and it was wearing desert camos.
The rain spattered against my office windows as the facts swum about my head. Was I about to become a patsy in another one of Rove's media rubouts? And who, exactly, was on first? That's when she walk in. 115 pounds of Fact-Checking dynamite.
"Hey stranger, got a light?"
It was Mapes.
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No longer able to communicate with Beauchamp, we were running out of leads, and running out of time before vacation. At the weekly fact checking sessions at my apartment, even the the Scrabble and Pictionary breaks had grown tense. But we did have one ace in the hole: Kristopher Kiple. Beauchamp had described Kiple to me as the figure in his story who cackles wildly in the chow hall while performing various Cleveland Steamings and Dirty Sanchezings to the various tragically disfigured women who dined there. When the "Shock Troops" controversy emerged, Kiple was in the process of leaving the military and was being held at a base in Germany, having been removed from Iraq on mental health grounds. Once in Germany, he had gotten into trouble for "out on the town stuff" and "being abducted by aliens."
Finally, we thought, someone beside Lucy Ramirez who knew the real story. Several days after Beauchamp went incommunicado, Kiple called me on a Saturday morning.
"Oh yes, it happened," said Kiple. "I did it right in the chow hall. Cleveland Steamers, Dirty Sanchez, Stinky Wurlitzers, Hong Kong Doorknobs, you name it. What was I supposed to do? I had to, because of all of those burnt paraplegic mothers, I mean ladies, were staring at me, with there melted eyes. I tried to tell everybody else about it, but nobody believed me except Scott."
"The dude is a saint," added Kiple. "For months he kept writing me to see how I was doing, and to see if I had any more melted lady and dead baby anecdotes."
Now that we had contemporaneous verification, we were ready to back up at least that part of the story. But we had a hard time prodding members of Beauchamp's unit to talk further. When Gonzales stopped returning our emails, it was clear the coverup was in full motion. By coming down hard on Beauchamp, and Pmahcuaeb, the Army clearly provided a cautionary tale about the perils of cooperating with the press. Beauchamp began working longer shifts and was isolated from his beloved, dog-squishing comrades-in-arms.
Without new evidence to be gleaned, we began to lay out the evidence we had assembled. My apartment became a fact-checking control center, filled with evidence storyboards and timelines and color-coded official Post-It notes. It wasn't just the testimonials from the soldiers in his unit: Among others, we had called a forensic anthropologist, licensed phrenologist, and a spokesman for the manufacturer of KN air filters who verified that their product, when installed on a Bradley Fighting Vehicle, would add up to 100 cold-air horsepower. Nothing in our conversations with them had dissuaded us of the plausibility of Beauchamp's pieces.
But we also found some troubling evidence which did not inspire journalistic confidence in Beauchamp's reliability: In 2006, he had written a personal blog, I Like to Lie and Make Up Shit, which we only discovered after the controversy
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stab and kill and stab for Empire, like a tragic stabbing zombie killing stabbing thing."
While blog entries like these might have been posted before Beauchamp entered the military, we attributed them to a youthful imagination, and could have been part of an assignment for his "Darkly Tragic First Person Military Fiction" coursework at the University of Missouri. Overall, however, when we considered the totality of the Post-In notes we had amassed on my living room wall, we didn't have enough information to retract the stories we had published. And that information could only be obtained from another conversation with Beauchamp, something the Army wouldn't allow. We were in a Catch-22, with Beauchamp in Slaughterhouse 5, and we were up against The Big Red One.
Clearly, at this point, public scrutiny needed to switch to the Army, which responded with their typical military bullshit. On August 1, the Army concluded its "investigation." Two days later, a public affairs officer announced that Beauchamp's piece had been "refuted by members of his platoon and proven to be false." Oh yeah, I believe THAT, we said totally sarcastically. Sure, mister military industrial "fact checker," I'm sure you've got the Post-It notes to back it up, too.
Also, it's hilarious how the Army didn't announce this to The New York Times or even The Weekly Standard, let alone in a public report. It first gave the story of Beauchamp's supposed "fraudulence" to a former porn actor turned blogger named Matt Sanchez. Sanchez likes to gloat about being a milblogger and military veteran, which may be true, but guess what else is true? Total homo. Our fact checkers verified this by renting some interesting videos. We ask you: why did the Army choose to trust this information with a no-name ass pirate, rather than professional journalists with training in advanced ethics? The answer is that the Army wanted the matter to quietly fade away, and are obviously closeted homo porn fans.
Then, several days after Sanchez's "scoop," the Standard reported, based on an anonymous military source, that Beauchamp had signed a statement admitting that all three of his pieces were "fabrications containing only 'a smidgen' of truth." When called on this probable bullshit, spokesmen from the military curtly confirmed the findings to reporters. When pressed, they bluntly declined to elaborate. Neither Army Spokesman Curt Blunt, Public Affairs officer Frank Stark, nor Pentagon Media Liaison Gruff Short would answer our requests for elaboration.
Both the Times and The Washington Post repeated the Standard's anonymously sourced accusation. Either the anonymous Army source had lied to the Standard, or Beauchamp had lied to us. Let me ask you: do you really want to believe a publication that would print something from an anonymous Army source?
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When Beauchamp had described his statements to us, it seemed like he was walking a fine line, trying to satisfy his commanders while staying on the side of the ugly, dog-squishing truth. But, without the actual documents in hand, we had no way of judging. Through his wife and literary agent, we made the first of many requests for these statements, which Beauchamp was legally entitled to obtain for us. Unfortunately, release of the documents required Beauchamp's signature, which he was unable to give because, as he explained, his was suffering from a carpal tunnel injury caused by stress and overwork.
My colleagues and I placed calls throughout the military's public affairs apparatus in Baghdad and Washington, hoping to set up back channels. We asked officials to provide us any conclusive evidence - video, polaroids, DNA, even basic carbon dating -- that would give us faith in the Army's findings.
We never received this cooperation. But did the conservative bloggers wait for the definitive evidence of coerced Army interrogations and forced back-forgeries? Oh, no, not the conservative bloggers, who were too busy drawn by the scent of journalist blood to another Dan Rather/ Eason Jordan/ Jason Blair feeding frenzy. After we had posted a calm, online statement explaining that we had been unable to communicate with Beauchamp (who, according to both Reeve and her mysterious email friend Htepsle Eveer, was under orders from his CO Sergeant Fury not to speak with us) and were leaving on a 6 week snorkling vacation, oh boy, the shit starts a-flying. Check with Travelocity, you filthy wingnuts: we booked the tickets in April.
But then General David Petraeus's spokesman, Steven Boylan, told the Standard, "We are not preventing [Beauchamp] from speaking to TNR or anyone." Oh yeah? Then answer me this, you lying liar, why won't Beauchamp return my calls? Or Soldier A, or Gonzales? After several weeks, we stopped hearing back from them. The Army later confirmed to us that it had, indeed, on at least one occasion in August, prevented Beauchamp from speaking to us, using the ol' flimsy "he's out on patrol" dodge.
On a Thursday morning in early September--over a month after that final, hectic instant-messaging session--the Army finally brokered a call with Beauchamp. Over in Iraq, Beauchamp sat in a room with his squad leader and a public affairs officer. He spoke on speakerphone. In contrast to previous conversations, Beauchamp sounded uneasy. Although his words said, "I just want to not think about this anymore and just basically do my job. And that's all I really want to do." But the tone -- that haunted, tragic tone -- seem to say, "Help! I am being held against my will and forced to deny the brutal, yet sardonically humorous truth of this ill-fated war for empire!" We are currently running cryptographic analysis of the the digital voice print to conclusively prove this, and initial
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Carolina, but I think the best barbecue comes from Memphis. While not as sweet as Kansas City style, It's tanginess works great with pork ribs. But that's just my opinion, and I haven't had Arkansas-style, which I understand is very tasty.
Where were we? Oh yes, the Beauchamp fog-of-war thing.
Anyhoo, Beauchamp told us that the Army had scheduled calls with other news outlets in which he would say that he had no interest in further discussing his article and to demonstrate that the Army wasn't censoring him. We demanded he cancel those interviews, because we believed that (a) by speaking freely he would make leave the false impression that the Army was letting him speak freely, and (b) the weasley little fuck was still under an exclusive writing contract with TNR, and we were prepare to blackball him at every publishing house and film studio from New York to Kat-man-fucking-du.
The exchange had left us shaken. How could we stand by Beauchamp's story if he himself was refusing to do so? We began to think that we had no choice but to retract his story. But, then, Beauchamp reached out to us through his wife. He said that, during our call, he'd spoken under duress. For reals, I swear it. He said that his TNR articles, as we verified through all the other sources, were 100% true. He told us to tell you that if you hear him deny it in the future, this will be our secret code that he is really not denying it.Unfortunately, the tapes of this conversation were stolen in a mysterious break-in at the TNR offices last night, which we believe to also be the work of conservative bloggers, who may have somehow snatch the office key using the "video ambush" as a ruse.
Chief suspect: the blogger Confederate Yankee, who somehow conveniently obtained an interview, without our permission, of Major John Cross, the executive officer of Beauchamp's battalion who led the official Army investigation. After reading the exchange with Confederate Yankee, we booked time with Cross later in the week.
In our interview, surprisingly, Cross completely bolstered Beauchamp's credibility. He stated that Beauchamp had never recanted, flatly refuting what Goldfarb and others reported. Not in so many words, per se, but if you really get down to the gist of it he agreed that Beauchamp had carefully crafted his signed statements in an attempt to avoid contradictions. At least that's what I have in my notes, because like I said the office tape recorder was stolen by conservative bloggers who
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tetras and the coral, and its amazing how clear the water is. August is a great time to visit, because you can get really good deals on off season hotels and flights. Check out the official Barbados website for more activities.
Beauchamp's writings had originally appealed to us because we wanted to publish a soldier's introspections. We still believe in this journalistic mission, especially as the number of reporters embedded in Iraq dwindles. But, as these months of controversy have shown, telling the story of what is happening in Iraq through a soldier's eyes is a fraught project. The more we dug into Beauchamp's writings, the more clear it became that we might have been in the realm of war stories, a genre notoriously rife with embellishment.
That's when I decided to make the journey up-river. Some men in Beauchamp's platoon said he had gone native, that he had formed some sort of rogue breakaway dog-squishing cult up in Karballa province. The Army said he needed to be taken out, that he had become a liability, that he was dangerous to the mission.
That's when they sent for me. My name is Foer. I'm an assassin for the Company.
When I agreed to take on the Beauchamp job, I'm knew who I was looking for. I just wasn't sure what I was looking for. Was it adrenaline? My own sanity? An iside track for an editorship at Newsweek? It all raced through my mind as Maverick piloted the PSAT up the Euphrates.
"Quiet out there, cap," he said, casually dropping a hit of acid.
"Yeah," I said. "Too quiet."
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tiny tibias and flattened dogs that lined the entrance to his cave.
"You must be Beauchamp," I said looking into a pair of blank eyes that I recognized from Elspeth's MySpace page.
"You're an errand boy, sent by grocery clerks, to collect on a debt," he growled, rubbing his head with mashed potatoes.
"Truth?!!" I roared. "YOU CAN'T HANDLE THE TRUTH!!"
"The horror, the horror..." said Beauchamp, handing me a box containing the conclusive truth of his initial stories, before swimming poignantly out to sea.
Okay, maybe that last part was a little bit over the top. But seriously, what is the "truth"? Can any of us say, with metaphysical certainty, what this "truth" really is? Let us consider, in turn, the parables of Schroedinger's Cat, Goedel's Incompleteness Theorem, and and the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle. Isaac Schroedinger
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which, if you really think about it, could be a molecule in your thumbnail, or my thumbnail, or even Scott Beauchamp's thumbnail -- if indeed this "Scott Beauchamp" theoretically exists in the parallel universe time-structure
And so, to make a long story short, I guess we never should have put Beauchamp in this situation. He was a young soldierin 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, turns out that the events in his pieces didn't completely reach the stringent 40% likelihood of plausibility we normally demand. We cannot stand by these stories, yada yada yada.
Anyhoo, any suggestions for a nice winter vacation getaway?
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