Since our last statement on “Shock Troops,” a Diarist by Private Scott
Thomas Beauchamp that we published in our July 23 issue, we have
continued our investigation into the article’s veracity. On Wednesday,
for a brief period, The Drudge Report posted several documents from the
Army’s own investigation into Beauchamp’s claims. Among those documents
was a transcript of a phone conversation that TNR Editor Franklin Foer
and TNR Executive Editor J. Peter Scoblic had with Beauchamp on
September 6–the first time the Army had granted TNR permission to speak
with Beauchamp since it cut off outside contact with him on July 26.
During this conversation, Beauchamp refused to discuss his article at
all: “I’m not going to talk to anyone about anything,” he said. In
light of that phone call, some have asked why The New Republic has not
retracted “Shock Troops.”
The answer is simple: 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. TNR pressed for clarification:
Scoblic: So you didn’t get statements from everyone in his platoon, then?
Cross: We got statements from everyone in his platoon that was available that day we were conducting the investigation.
Scoblic: At a later point did you follow up with any of the people that weren’t available that day?
Faced with the fact that Beauchamp stood by his story and the fact that the Army investigation had serious gaps–as well as the fact that our earlier reporting had uncovered significant evidence
corroborating Beauchamp’s accounts–The New Republic decided to continue
its investigation. On August 10, we had filed a Freedom of Information
Act (FOIA) request with the Department of the Army for all documents
pertaining to its investigation of Beauchamp, particularly any
statements Beauchamp had signed. But it was not until October 10 that
Central Command informed us that the FOIA request was finally under
review by the appropriate office. We also repeatedly tried to get these
documents directly from the First Infantry Division, to which Beauchamp
is assigned, but we were told that they could be released only through
a FOIA request. 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.
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, and Drudge soon removed the
supporting documents from its website, and later its entire report.
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.
We have worked hard to re-report this piece and will continue to do
so. But this process has involved maddening delays compounded by bad
faith on the part of at least some officials in the Army. Our
investigation has taken far longer than we would like, but it is our
obligation and promise to deliver a full account of our findings.
As many have stated in the comments of this post, the fact that Scott decided to
go back to his unit and put this whole episode behind him, is not proof
that he has admitted he lied and is now sorry about it. He instead
decides to pretend like the whole thing never happened. While
I was at first inclined to give him some kudo’s for trying to make this
thing right I now have to agree with many of the commentors that in
fact he has done nothing of the sort. He has done the opposite in fact
by ignoring the whole debacle.
Now, if what Foer says is true in the above response, that he in
fact now stands by his obvious lies, then he can go pound sand for all
As for TNR, their excuses for not saying a peep about the investigation
are weak. They never responded to the many new facts found by Bob
Owens, instead they chose to ignore everything.
Which can not be excused.
Also, what evidence do they have that it was the Army that leaked the documents? I’m guessing none. Just another attempt to soil the reputation of our military in my opinion.
They, along with Scott apparently, are
digging themselves into a hole that grows deeper by the moment.
Bob Owens on these “other soldiers” who supposedly refute the Army’s findings:
There are 58 pages of sworn statements
currently under legal review at Central Command’s FOIA Office in Tampa
that seem to directly disagree with that assertion, so let’s get the
facts as we know them out in the open.
To date, The New Republic has been very vague about the
specific claims of these anonymous soldiers, including how many
soldiers support each allegation, what their relative positions are
within the company or incident that puts them in a position to support
their allegations and what, precisely, they said in support
of their allegations. I think that it is quite reasonable for the
editors to release the full claims, if not the names of the claimant.
In addition, specific questions about each anecdote need to be answered for these claims to be regarded as truthful.
He also goes into each of Scott’s allegations in his stories, refuting all of them.
But TNR still stands by the obvious lies.
And down the hole they go.