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August 02, 2007

TNR Claims (Partial) Vindication

Read it all.

I'll start with this:

In the first, Beauchamp recounted how he and a fellow soldier mocked a disfigured woman seated near them in a dining hall. Three soldiers with whom TNR has spoken have said they repeatedly saw the same facially disfigured woman. One was the soldier specifically mentioned in the Diarist. He told us: "We were really poking fun at her; it was just me and Scott, the day that I made that comment. We were pretty loud. She was sitting at the table behind me. We were at the end of the table. I believe that there were a few people a few feet to the right."

The recollections of these three soldiers differ from Beauchamp's on one significant detail (the only fact in the piece that we have determined to be inaccurate): They say the conversation occurred at Camp Buehring, in Kuwait, prior to the unit's arrival in Iraq. When presented with this important discrepancy, Beauchamp acknowledged his error. We sincerely regret this mistake.

Error? Mistake? He was off by an entire country and something like nine months?

This is what TNR terms an "error," a "mistake"? And when they "fact-checked" this beforehand, how did their "rigorous editing and fact-checking" miss the fact this took place in another country, before actual deployment?

I'm reminded of Steven Wright's joke: "The other day I was... oh wait, that was someone else."

Could happen to anyone, really. Common mistake.

What made this tall tale smell (and not "smell good," per TNR's standard of "fact-checking") was that no one could figure out what the hell a badly disfigured woman -- obviously a medical evacuation case -- was doing wandering around a Forward Operating Base in the first place. A med-evac was there... why? In the thick of combat and high-tempo activity... why? What is FOB Falcon, a goddamned sanitarium/spa? Do they have lovely regenerative baths there?

It also didn't help that no one -- no one spoken to -- could remember seeing such a woman on the base.

TNR calls this an "error." As you like it.

More: Spruiell:

That's a rather significant detail to flub, given that the author's intent was to illustrate the morally deadening effects of war.

Indeed. Isn't it convenient that had he correctly noted this vicious attack on a disfigured woman had occurred after he had suffered the trauma of proposing to 2 or 3 women in war-torn Germany and during a dangerous posting in Kuwait, it would have suggested not that Bush's war had made him a degenerate prick but that genetics and upbringing had made him so?

Not quite as "grabby" an opening graf, eh?

Thanks to CJ.

...

Their next case of "confirmation" is curious. First I'll give you their "confirmation." Read carefully.

In the second anecdote, soldiers in Beauchamp's unit discovered what they believed were children's bones. Publicly, the military has sought to refute this claim on the grounds that no such discovery was officially reported.

Funny, I thought it had be reported far and wide, citing military sources, that a children's cemetery had been dug up.

But one military official told TNR that bones were commonly found in the area around Beauchamp's combat outpost. (This is consistent with the report of a children's cemetery near Beauchamp's combat outpost reported on The Weekly Standard website.)

Er, no it's not. This deception disguises a key dispute between WS and TNR: WS confirmed "children's cemetery." Scott Beauchamp claimed mass grave -- not in those words, but in words strongly suggesting a mass grave.

TNR claims vindication in that bones were found -- that was known from day one or, I guess, day two, when army sources confirmed (and did not seek to "refute" Beauchamp's story by claiming no bones had been "officially discovered") a children's cemetery had been routinely dug up to be relocated due to an engineering project. They prove here what is not disputed. Except that Beauchamp didn't just call it "bones," did he?

Here's what he claimed:

No one cared to speculate what, exactly, had happened here, but it was clearly a Saddam-era dumping ground of some sort.

From the get-go, this has been challenged because the wording is clearly intended to suggest "mass grave," and mass graves usually are dug after mass-executions. But no mass grave was found, and TNR's "confirmation" does not claim it was. Now they only claim "bones" were found -- which does then little good, as the Army has long confirmed "bones" were found. What they disputed was a "mass grave," or as Beauchamp calls it, "clearly a Saddam-era dumping ground of some sort" where "no one cared to speculate what, exactly, had happened."

There is no "confirmation" for anything other than children being buried in a graveyard where little "speculation" as to "what, exactly, had happened" was necessary, no more than one needs to speculate "what, exactly, had happened" in your local graveyard. What, exactly, had happened? People had died and then had been buried, as is usually the case with dead people.

The next claim of "confirmation." Note how little is confirmed.

More important, two witnesses have corroborated Beauchamp's account. One wrote in an e-mail: "I can wholeheartedly verify the finding of the bones; U.S. troops (in my unit) discovered human remains in the manner described in 'Shock Troopers.' [sic] ... [We] did not report it; there was no need to. The bodies weren't freshly killed and thus the crime hadn't been committed while we were in control of the sector of operations." On the phone, this soldier later told us that he had witnessed another soldier wearing the skull fragment just as Beauchamp recounted: "It fit like a yarmulke," he said. A forensic anthropologist confirmed to us that it is possible for tufts of hair to be attached to a long-buried fragment of a human skull, as described in the piece.

First of all, TNR claims "confirmation" from two sources and yet, strangely, only reports one soldier directly confirming anything beyond the undisputed discovery of bones. (Why do they keep confirming what is not strenuously contested? Because they don't have confirmation for the rest, that's why.)

Only one soldier confirms seeing the "skull cap." One begins to wonder if the same single soldier confirmed all of these claims -- and if that soldier just happens to be Beauchamp's bosom chum, the guy he makes fun of mutilated women with.

But is that all Beauchamp claimed? That a soldier had stuck a bit of skull on his head and had been glimpsed doing so by one (1) other soldier?

Not hardly:

One private, infamous as a joker and troublemaker, found the top part of a human skull, which was almost perfectly preserved. It even had chunks of hair, which were stiff and matted down with dirt. He squealed as he placed it on his head like a crown. It was a perfect fit. As he marched around with the skull on his head, people dropped shovels and sandbags, folding in half with laughter. No one thought to tell him to stop. No one was disgusted. Me included.

The private wore the skull for the rest of the day and night. Even on a mission, he put his helmet over the skull. He observed that he was grateful his hair had just been cut--since it would make it easier to pick out the pieces of rotting flesh that were digging into his head.

Funny? Of course not. But many of my friends were laughing anyway.

Did Beauchamp, perhaps, make another "error" or "mistake," similar to mistaking a base in Iraq for a staging area in Kuwait, in confusing "one" for "many," by any chance?

Scott Beauchamp claimed that the entire group of men tasked to dig up the the cemetery had seen, approved of, and laughed at the man with the child's skull as a cap.

Does TNR have confirmation of that?

TNR and the left will claim this is a minor distinction. Of course it's not. No one doubts that one soldier might rape another one. When the claim is that one soldier rapes another with an entire platoon cheering him on, it's obviously more serious, for it speaks not to the criminality and pathology of one man, but to his entire unit and the entire immediate leadership of that unit. And proving the former -- a rape occurred -- hardly established the latter -- an entire platoon hooted and cheered for the spectacle.

What milbloggers found absurd here was not that one soldier might engage in bad behavior. They found it implausible that a soldier would do something like this and parade around his fellow soldiers, including, one assumes, his NCOs, without being disciplined, without even simply being told to put the skull down, and in fact applauded for his "clowning" and permitted to continue wearing the skull for the rest of the day.

One asshole grabbing a piece of skull and putting it on his head where only his buddy can see it isn't terribly hard to believe. The entire platoon (or more?) of troops laughing at this display? Very hard to believe -- and unconfirmed, thought TNR attempts to blow that by you.

And, oddly enough, the original Shock Troops story is now hidden behind the registration wall, so you can't check the "confirmation" against the original story! Of course... if you click on the cached version...

Incidentally, would the one soldier wearing this skull cap be Scott Beauchamp himself, by any chance? In the last anecdote -- the melted-face anecdote -- he was in fact the malefactor. Was he here as well?

The dog-story seems confirmed -- until you remember that once again it is only one soldier confirming it, just as there was one soldier "confirming" the skull-beanie tale. Is it the same soldier? Certainly if it were a different soldier, TNR would say so, wouldn't it? Spread the confirmation around; make the confirmation read stronger.

The fact they continue saying "one soldier, one soldier" strongly suggests these two soldiers are in fact the same soldier, and even a complete asshole like Beauchamp might have one friend willing to save him from the brig. (And in fact TNR previously claimed confirmation from "at least one" soldier-- which seems to suggest only one soldier confirmed all three tales (sorta) but they had other soldiers for the proposition that bones were found in Iraq.

Incidentally, TNR:

Just as a stab in the dark, this soldier doing all this confirming wouldn't happen to have known Beauchamp previously from Missouri, would he?

I have no firm evidence on that point -- just an odd connection a reader pointed out to me. Could be a coincidence.

But I'm putting it to TNR: Is this helpful confirming soldier from Missiouri? Does he have a prior relationship with Beauchamp?

Perhaps a stab in the dark too far.

Well, how about this one:

Would he be Beauchamp's joke-buddy for the first incident?

Would he be the one Beauchamp watches the news with laughing at "silly Republicans"?

Apropos Quote From Shattered Glass: Between a Fortune Online editor and reporter investigating the Steven Glass fabrications:

Writer: There does seem to be one thing in this piece that checks out.

Editor: What's that?

Writer: There does appear to be a state in the union called "Nevada."

I hope I won't get flagged for misreporting if I didn't get that quote just right. I have "near certainty" it's right, and I've passed it around to experts to see if it "smelled good."


digg this
posted by Ace at 05:34 PM

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