Thursday, October 25, 2007

Scott Thomas Beauchamp All But Recants

Yesterday the Drudge Report posted leaked transcripts of a telephone conversation between Scott Thomas Beauchamp and editors at The New Republic in which he all but recants the stories he told in a piece for the magazine. Although all-but-recanting is not exactly the same as actually recanting, it's the next best thing. As Ace of Spades, who has written many, many long posts about this Very Important Story, puts it in one the posts I read before my eyes glazed over and I began to wonder what happened to the earlier, funnier Ace of Spades, "He All But Tells [New Republic Editor Franklin] Foer His Stories Are False." Sure, all-but-telling Foer his stories are false is not the same as telling Foer his stories are false, but it's very, very close.

When Scott Thomas Beauchamp published his piece "Shock Troops" in The New Republic, in which he made the shocking and unlikely claim that he and his fellow soldiers had become dehumanized by war and engaged in macabre humor, the conservative blogosphere all but ripped Beauchamp's head off in post after post assailing him for slandering himself and the rest of the troops. Uncle Jimbo at Blackfive all but encouraged his fellow soldiers to frag him.

Now that the Army has leaked these documents that all but prove their contention that Beauchamp made the whole thing up, many in the conservative blogosphere are all but turning cartwheels in celebration that that they have been all but vindicated in their attacks on Beauchamp (who Blogs for Bush all but calls a "phony soldier") and The New Republic. The liberal blogosphere, meanwhile, has all but ignored the story since they hate The New Republic, too, for being one of the leading cheerleaders for the War in Iraq.

However, some conservatives were all but certain that Beauchamp actually had recanted his stories. On The Corner Stephen Spruiell pointed out that contrary to what Drudge claimed, Beauchamp didn't actually admit guilt, but said it was just a "small matter." But Kathryn Jean Lopez was even more of a stick in the mud, writing, "I have to say in my layman's reading of the three documents, it doesn't seem to constitute a clear cut 'confession'" but instead "reads like a kid who is in way too deep and wants out." But after Mark Steyn pointed out to Lopez, "It's not about Beauchamp 'confessing,'" and Corner readers deluged her with browbeating emails accusing her of being "the enemy" (giving her a little taste of what it might be like to be Beauchamp or a New Republic editor), she all but recanted her earlier post.

Although Drudge mysteriously took down his copies of the leaked documents with no explanation, they are available here, here and here. They are all but damning. In the closest he has ever come to an admission of guilt, Beauchamp says, "I'm not commenting on the stories. That's what I'm saying…I'm not discussing them at all. Um, which is not an admission of anything," and later adds "My final statement is this is spun way out of control in a way that has distracted me from my job and more importantly distracted me from helping people around me. The fellow Soldiers around me who I love and respect." While it's not exactly a recantation, it's not not a recantation. There is no sign that he is under duress or being coerced in any way since he tells The New Republic editors that he is not being censored and the Army officials who are in the room with him standing over his shoulder and listening in during the call to protect his rights agree that they are not pressuring him in any way whatsoever.

We will probably never know how the Army got Beauchamp to all but admit the stories were made up. Whether they used any of the harsh interrogation techniques that have been so successful at getting terrorists to confess is, of course, classified. We do know that he was kept incommunicado from New Republic editors and members of his family for a month or so, which gave him time to think about his actions without needless distraction. I'm sure he got some subtle pressure in form of good-natured joshing from his fellow soldiers to tell the truth. He was also told that among the charges he might have received if the Army was unhappy with the outcome were "Failure to Obey an Order or Regulation," "Disloyal Statements" and "Reckless Endangerment." As any prosecutor knows, threatening to charge someone with a serious crime is a good way to get them to confess. At the same time the Army conducted a vigorous investigation by asking his fellow soldiers if they committed any of the crimes Beauchamp wrote about or became accessories after the fact by witnessing them and not reporting them. All of his fellow soldiers told investigators these things never happened and, of course, they had no reason to lie.

I think we can consider this story all but wrapped up now. The conservative blogosphere has won by all but silencing Beachamp and damaging the reputation of The New Republic. We probably won't be hearing from any other soldiers with stories that put a bad light on the war. And if we ever do hear from Scott Thomas Beauchamp again, perhaps after he gets out of the military, the War in Iraq will probably be all but won by then.

Update: The New Republic issues a statement that all but confirms the accusations against the magazine by the conservative blogosphere.

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10 comments:

Trevor said...

I'm all but glad this story is all but over.

Anonymous said...

Well said, Jon.

You might want to the posts at PW to see folks who a) don't know who Jonathon Swift is, and b) wonder if we're still supposed to be eating poor children.

Libby Spencer said...

Brilliant Jon. Thanks for the link.

Kathleen said...

my ass has been all but laughed off.

Anonymous said...

C'mon Jonny! That is a "weak" lede...

Beauchump is now a wannabe "roger-dodger A-1 soldier"!

Accentuate... the Positive!

new day said...

I have had many sleepless nights worrying that in the course of killing a million people, our soldiers may have run over a dog. So, now we know it was all but a big lie, and I will all but sleep soundly tonight.

Sen. Peter Higham Paul said...

Yes, when one is lying on the table, naked, with electrodes stuck up the fundament, it does wonders for your recanting abilities.

Marius Key said...

The link to the military blogger who was willing to give Scott Beauchamp a "second chance" really shows the compassion of our conservative bloggers. I bet they would even forgive Graeme Frost for using his accident to get free medical treatment, as long as he stopped bragging about it.

kathleenmaher said...

What a lot of...news. When I was in high school, the history teacher all but taught us kids that war was dehumanizing--really dehumanizing, no ifs ands or alls...

Nascim Alnaam said...

Thank you very much
alaamiah
.....

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