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That Took Foerever: Beauchamp Story Collapses

3:40 PM, Oct 24, 2007 • By MICHAEL GOLDFARB
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The Drudge Report has posted a a series of documents that reveal the lengths to which the New Republic's editors, specifically Frank Foer and Peter Scoblic, went to cover up the truth about the Scott Beauchamp stories. This is the end of the road, and a long road it's been.

When we started looking into Beauchamp's stories back in July, we believed that the New Republic had simply been taken in by a huckster--that despite being over-eager to publish a story that cast our troops in a negative light, TNR's editors had done so good faith, believing the stories to be true. So we emailed Frank Foer, who agreed to provide us with some of the corroborating details in order to demonstrate his author's credibility.

Foer told us that the incident with the disfigured woman had taken place at FOB Falcon and that the "Saddam-era dumping ground" was located a few miles south of Baghdad International Airport. With that information, we asked our milblogger friends to help us confirm the details of the story. It quickly became clear that no one at Falcon had ever seen this woman, that no "Saddam-era dumping ground" had ever been discovered, and that the Bradley Fighting Vehicle was not capable of dissecting stray dogs with the precision described by Beauchamp.

Nevertheless, the editors at TNR insisted in their first official statement that they had "much to corroborate" the soldiers account. Beauchamp himself stepped forward to attack his critics and affirm the accuracy of his reports. Still, not a single person could corroborate the existence of the mystery woman at Falcon. When confronted with this fact, Beauchamp confessed that the incident had not taken place as he'd described, a mere 48 hours after lashing out at those who questioned his account. And yet, the New Republic still determinedly stood by the rest of his story, declaring that its own "investigation" had found the claims about killing dogs and desecrating children's remains to be accurate. Once again, TNR produced not a single on the record statement to back up these claims.

It is now clear that somewhere along the way, TNR stopped acting in good faith and started doing damage control. They cited a Bradley expert who purportedly confirmed that the vehicle could be operated as Beauchamp described. But when Bob Owens tracked down said expert, BAE spokesmen Doug Coffey, he denied making any such statement, saying that TNR had mischaracterized his comments and that the editors had never shown him Beauchamp's stories. He added that having read the stories, they were indeed "suspicious," and that he did not believe the Bradley could be operated as described. TNR never acknowledged Coffey's later statements or its apparent misrepresentation of his earlier statement.

And then came our report that Scott Beauchamp was no longer standing by his stories. The editors at TNR responded to this report by insinuating that THE WEEKLY STANDARD was not a credible source. They also accused the Army of "stonewalling" and preventing them from speaking with their author. That was on August 10. Bob Owens subsequently reported that TNR spoke to Beauchamp on September 7--the transcript now posted on Drudge--but TNR never returned to the subject, despite their claims of a "commitment to the truth" in that August 10 statement.

The documents posted by Drudge reveal that the New Republic's editors have known for several weeks that the central anecdote of the story was untrue, that the other anecdotes were deeply suspect, and that the author was no longer standing by his work. And yet they remained publicly silent even though they had long ago promised to be open and forthcoming on the matter. Worse still, they asked Beauchamp to cancel pending interviews with the Washington Post and Newsweek, lest their complicity in Beauchamp's slanders come to light.

Foer attacked his magazine's critics as "reckless" and "ideologically motivated," at one point even demanding an apology from the bloggers who did so much to advance this story and find out the truth of the matter. He now has more than a little 'splaining to do.

Update: The transcript and documents are no longer available at Drudge. They can be found here. Also at MM's site here.