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October 26, 2007

TNR'S Response: After We Told Beauchamp His Wife Desperately Wanted Him To Stand By The Story, He Emailed Her To Say He Stood By The Story

More self-serving bullshit from TNR, finally posting something on The Plank.

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.

The privileges and freedoms he speaks of are free use of his cell phone and laptop. Certainly Beauchamp would want access to these things, but it's hardly the case he was being threatened with three years in Leavenworth.

...


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.

Some points. Foer says that Beauchamp was not free to talk in the Sept 6th call because he was "under duress" from the Army. He doesn't mention another sort of duress -- the fact that Foer himself repeatedly told Beauchamp his wife's career would be "harmed" unless he re-affirmed the story. He says in the later conversation, where he claims Beauchamp stood by the story, there was no duress from the Army, as the call was unmonitored.

But the duress from Foer -- the "harm" that would befall Ellie Reeves -- still was there, no? Foer does not provide a transcript of this call -- it would be interesting to see if Foer continues making these vague threats -- though he almost certainly recorded the conversation himself and could provide it.

But he chooses not to.

"The Editors" then say the Army leaked a transcript of a call "with [Beauchamp's] lawyer," insinuating a breach of lawyer-client confidentiality. But such confidentiality requires actual confidentiality; talking with your lawyer in circumstances that are non-confidential, such a speaking with him in the presence of others who are not his lawyers, voids such confidentiality. You can't shout "I killed my wife!" on the street in front of a dozen witnesses and then claim privilege due to the fact that your lawyer was standing next to you when you shouted this out to the world.

Given that Beauchamp was speaking in front of his staff sergeant, a guy from Army media affairs, and the editors of a nationally-published magazine, I'd have to say the discussion in question was of the non-confidential sort.

It's also pretty questionable if "Gene" was acting as Beauchamp's lawyer -- or TNR's. He keeps seeking from Beauchamp documents TNR wants, but Beauchamp seems reluctant to provide. Under these circumstances, it seems that a lawyer who has Beauchamp for his client might advise him of his rights and best legal options and say something like, "You know, Scott, if you're worried about any of this, if you don't think releasing these documents are in your own interest, you don't have to sign any release form, even if these guys really want you to." Instead, "Gene," ostensibly representing Beauchamp, pushes ahead with TNR's agenda of getting Beauchamp to release the documents.

Lastly, TNR once again lies that it was the Army keeping Beauchamp from speaking with TNR until September 6th. As Foer and Scoblic themselves accuse Beauchamp, Beauchamp himself had been "dodging" TNR. The Army had nothing to do with it. Beauchamp didn't want to talk and was blowing off TNR -- how that implicates the Army in blocking TNR from their "reporter" is a mystery only Foer or perhaps Jon "I Hate Bush" Chait can explain.

Where's the transcript, Frank? You have it. You claim it says all sorts of things. Your credibility on this issue is rather weak. So let us see precisely what Beauchamp said, and precisely what you said.



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posted by Ace at 12:52 PM

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