The New York Times reports today that
An Army investigation into the Baghdad Diarist, a soldier in Iraq who wrote anonymous columns for The New Republic, has concluded that the sometimes shockingly cruel reports were false.
"We are not going into the details of the investigation," Maj. Steven F. Lamb, deputy public affairs officer in Baghdad, wrote in an e-mail message. "The allegations are false, his platoon and company were interviewed, and no one could substantiate the claims he made."
Among those interviewed was none other than the author himself, Scott Thomas Beauchamp, who, as we reported yesterday, recanted all three pieces he wrote for the New Republic. The Washington Post also reports on the Army's investigation:
Army investigators have concluded that the private whose dispatches for the New Republic accused his fellow soldiers of petty cruelties in Iraq was not telling the truth.
The finding, disclosed yesterday, came days after the Washington-based magazine announced that it had corroborated the claims of the private, Scott Thomas Beauchamp, except for one significant error.
The "error" that the New Republic discovered was significant, as it showed Beauchamp to be an entirely unreliable narrator--a story of malicious taunting of a disfigured woman in a chow hall did not happen in Iraq, as Beauchamp had originally claimed. And even the revised account is highly suspect, the Army calling it an "urban legend or myth."
Michelle Malkin writes about the "incident" at the chow hall in today's New York Post:
It wasn't true. After active-duty troops, veterans, embedded journalists and bloggers raised pointed questions about the veracity of the anecdote, Beauchamp confessed to The New Republic's meticulous fact-checkers that the mocking had taken place in Kuwait -- before he had set foot in Iraq to experience the soul-deadening impact of war.
Military officials in Kuwait tried to verify the incident and called it an "urban legend or myth." Beauchamp's essays are filled with similarly spun tales. How much of a bull-slinger was Beauchamp, an aspiring creative writer who crowed on his personal blog that he would "return to America an author" after serving (which he told friends and family would "add a legitimacy to EVERYTHING I do afterwards")? The very first line of his essay "Shock Troops," which opened with the melted-face mockery, was this: "I saw her nearly every time I went to dinner in the chow hall at my base in Iraq."
Beauchamp himself has not publicly commented since a July 26 statement on the New Republic's website.