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SWJED
07-22-2007, 10:19 AM
22 July Washington Post - Bloggers Raise Red Flags Over New Republic's 'Baghdad Diarist' (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/07/20/AR2007072002180.html) by Howard Kurtz.


The column in the New Republic, described as being penned by a U.S. soldier in Iraq, is filled with tales of petty, stomach-churning behavior.

The "Baghdad Diarist," writing under the pseudonym Scott Thomas, says he was "shocked by my own cruelty" as he recounts soldiers getting their kicks by running over dogs with Bradley Fighting Vehicles and playing with Iraqi children's skulls taken from a mass grave.

But now the liberal magazine, responding to questions raised online by the Weekly Standard and other conservative Web sites, is looking into whether the soldier's account in this and two earlier columns can be substantiated...

Major Kirk Luedeke
Public Affairs Officer
4th IBCT, 1st ID
DRAGONS


Here are the facts as best I have established them, along with the actions I have taken here at Falcon.

1. I was notified of the New Republic blog entries yesterday (Friday) by documentarian JD Johannes, who had spent time with us as an embed in May. He was concerned about the reports, but also expressed doubt in their veracity. He provided the New Republic and Weekly Standard response to the blog entry links.

2. I was able to immediately refute the assertion that a mass graveyard of children's skeletons was found; an event such as this would have been reported during the construction of Coalition Outpost Ellis, the only such COP that exists in the area the blogger described (rural, south of BIAP).
3. The stories of the burned woman and hitting dogs with Bradleys can't be as decisively disputed, however, I have not encountered a woman matching that description at any time on Falcon since arriving here on 17 Feb. You would think that someone with such visible wounds would stand out in memorable fashion. This doesn't mean that she wasn't a visitor at some point, but I find the account of Soldiers mocking her dubious at best.

4. I immediately notified MAJ Lamb of MND-B PAO, who advised me to send him the link and pertinent information on the New Republic's blog posts, which I did. He informed me of his intent to engage the CENTCOM blog team to see if they could take action, and at the very least, make them aware of the situation.

5. I contacted the only unit in our brigade that has Bradleys, 1-18 IN, and advised their XO of the situation, recommending that they talk to their Soldiers about Army values and the Warrior ethos, reminding them of the rules for blogging in uniform and also reminding them of integrity and telling the truth. The bottom line: If you put something out there you should be willing to put your name next to it and stand by it. That he and New Rpublic are insisting on anonymity is very telling here.

Per COL Boylan's request, I have prepared the following:

1. There was no mass grave found during the construction of any of our coalition outposts in the Rashid District at any time. Such a discovery would have prompted an investigation and close attention paid at levels higher than ours to making sure that the victims were properly interred and attempts would have been made to determine their identities. It is difficult to fathom that a unit's leadership would condone Soldiers disrespecting the remains of anyone in the fashion described.

2. Due to the threat of IEDs, our combat vehicles are driven professionally and in control at all times. To be driving erratically so as to hit dogs or other things would be to put the entire vehicle's crew at risk and would be gross dereliction of duty by the noncommissioned officer or officer in charge of the vehicle. Drivers aren't allowed to simply free-wheel their vehicles however they see fit, and they are *not* allowed to be moved anywhere with out a vehicle commander present to supervise the movement. Therefore- claims of vehicles leaving the roadways to hit animals are highly dubious, given the very real threat of IEDs and normal standards of conduct.

3. As for the alleged woman with severe burn scars, we have nobody matching that description here at FOB Falcon. As Soldiers, we practice the value of Respect: "Treat people as you want to be treated." If the blogger and his friends can't live the Army value of respect, I have little doubt that someone around them who does would have made an on-the-spot correction. The Falcon dining facility is not a spacious one. Anyone being rude, loud or raucous calls immediate attention to himself. It is hard to fathom that anyone would be able to get away with such callous behavior without somebody intervening and stopping it from happening.

Links:

"Shock Troops" (https://ssl.tnr.com/p/docsub.mhtml?i=20070723&s=diarist072307) - The New Republic

Note to Readers (http://www.tnr.com/blog/the_plank?pid=127498) - TNR Editor

Fact or Fiction? (http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/013/889yghpf.asp) - Weekly Standard

Who is TNR's Mysterious Author 'Scott Thomas'? (http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2007/07/who_is_tnrs_mysterious_author.html) - American Thinker

Johannes to Thomas, Radio Check, Over (http://www.outsidethewire.com/blog/media/johannes-to-thomas-radio-check-over.html) - Outside the Wire

Battle Buddies (http://www.mudvillegazette.com/archives/009052.html) - Mudville Gazette

TNR Correspondent a Fake? (http://www.blackfive.net/main/2007/07/the-new-republi.html) - Blackfive

Doubting Thomas (http://powerlineblog.com/archives/018286.php) - Powerline

Literally: The Scott Thomas "Smoking Gun" (http://mypetjawa.mu.nu/archives/188773.php) - The Jawa Report

“Scott Thomas:” The New Winter Soldier? (http://michellemalkin.com/2007/07/20/scott-thomas-the-new-winter-soldier/) - Michelle Malkin

What say you Council?

Mark O'Neill
07-22-2007, 11:31 AM
The entire account read like undergraduate angst rather than the real emotions (and prose) of a soldier encountering such things.

Notwithstanding that observation, based on my sharing time with American soldiers, Officers and Marines over the last few decades, and many great friendships formed in peace and on ops, I cannot for a minute imagine the systemic and obviously enduring BS that 'Scott Thomas' describes occuring.

I would like to see the US Military pursue this one.

I also find it troubling that many of the blogs listed resorted to a 'leftist' or 'right wing' polarisation regarding this matter. To my mind , such 'reporting' has little to do with political persuasion or belief, and everything to do cowardice, deceit and immorality. These three concepts are clearly understandable, irrespective of any adopted political position or belief.

Mark

T. Jefferson
07-22-2007, 01:09 PM
:mad:The phrase ďWINTER SOLDIER INVESTIGATIONĒ comes to mind.


I would like to talk, representing all those veterans, and say that several months ago in Detroit, we had an investigation at which over 150 honorably discharged and many very highly decorated veterans testified to war crimes committed in Southeast Asia, not isolated incidents but crimes committed on a day-to-day basis with the full awareness of officers at all levels of command....

They told the stories at times they had personally raped, cut off ears, cut off heads, taped wires from portable telephones to human genitals and turned up the power, cut off limbs, blown up bodies, randomly shot at civilians, razed villages in fashion reminiscent of Genghis Khan, shot cattle and dogs for fun, poisoned food stocks, and generally ravaged the countryside of South Vietnam in addition to the normal ravage of war, and the normal and very particular ravaging which is done by the applied bombing power of this country.

We call this investigation the "Winter Soldier Investigation." The term "Winter Soldier" is a play on words of Thomas Paine in 1776 when he spoke of the Sunshine Patriot and summertime soldiers who deserted at Valley Forge because the going was rough.

We who have come here to Washington have come here because we f eel we have to be winter soldiers now. We could come back to this country; we could be quiet; we could hold our silence; we could not tell what went on in Vietnam, but we feel because of what threatens this country, the fact that the crimes threaten it, not reds, and not redcoats but the crimes which we are committing that threaten it, that we have to speak out.

SWJED
07-22-2007, 01:33 PM
Left out that Marine reservist and freelance journalist Matt Sanchez (http://matt-sanchez.com) received the response from the 4th ICBT Public Affairs Officer to an e-mail Sanchez sent concerning the "Thomas Affair" and gave us permission to post in full.

T. Jefferson
07-22-2007, 06:14 PM
You would think the left might wise up. Apparently Rathergate was not enough so now they have another farce Ė letís call it Thomasgate.

Abu Buckwheat
07-22-2007, 06:50 PM
Left out that Marine reservist and freelance journalist Matt Sanchez (http://matt-sanchez.com) received the response from the 4th ICBT Public Affairs Officer to an e-mail Sanchez sent concerning the "Thomas Affair" and gave us permission to post in full.

Uh... isn't he the guy who is being investigated for being a gay porn star while on active duty and for defrauding donors with a false story about deploying to Iraq? His porn name was "Rod Majors" who starred in "Mansex meltdown?":eek: There has to be a better source than that.;)

The Marine Times:http://www.marinecorpstimes.com/news/2007/03/mcsanchez070314/

mmx1
07-22-2007, 06:56 PM
Uh... isn't he the guy who is being investigated for being a gay porn star while on active duty and for defrauding donors with a false story about deploying to Iraq? His porn name was "Rod Majors" who starred in "Mansex meltdown?":eek: There has to be a better source than that.;)

The Marine Times:http://www.marinecorpstimes.com/news/2007/03/mcsanchez070314/

Ironically, it was the blogosphere that outed him after he got too cozy with a number of prominent conservatives, hoping for another Jeff Gannon. He doesn't seem much the worse for it, though. Reportedly his current trip overseas as an embed is funded by Horowitz.

I don't know what came of the fraud allegations, though.

SWJED
07-22-2007, 07:07 PM
Uh... isn't he the guy who is being investigated for being a gay porn star while on active duty and for defrauding donors with a false story about deploying to Iraq? His porn name was "Rod Majors" who starred in "Mansex meltdown?":eek: There has to be a better source than that.;)

The Marine Times:http://www.marinecorpstimes.com/news/2007/03/mcsanchez070314/

First I heard of that. But he is the one who got the e-mail from the 4th ICBT PAO so he is the source. I'm going to do some more checking...

SWJED
07-22-2007, 09:25 PM
Democracy Project - Both New Republic and Weekly Standard Missing Elementary Journalism (http://www.democracy-project.com/archives/003406.html).


Thomas Lipscomb, veteran investigative journalist and publisher, who has debunked many a canard, looks askance at both The New Republicís gullible inking of absurd invented charges against American forces in Iraq and at the lack of depth in the Weekly Standardís skepticism.

Lipscomb wrote to the Washington Postís media columnist, Howard Kurtz, who couldnít make heads nor tails out of the matter. Lipscomb wonders where are any military veterans among these titans of journalism, who could directly and immediately see through the absurdity of the TNR piece and provide immediate truth.

For that matter, why not let their fingers do the walking, right to the Pentagon, and ask the operator to connect them with someone with military experience. Instead, days pass, until a blogger -- a Marine Reservist and a student at Columbia University in New York City, presently in Iraq interviewing the troops -- gets a Public Affairs officer in Iraq to reply courteously that the TNR piece is BS.

As Lipscomb says, this isnít about politics; itís Journalism 101.

Below, Lipscombís email to Howard Kurtz:

Looks like The New Republic has been had again. And this time it is so obvious it is embarrassing.

Of course with journalists today being the gentle allergic-to-combat darlings they are on both left and right... they can't be expected to know something as simple as there ARE no "square back" 9mm cartridges... or that anyone who tries cute tricks like the "diarist" describes with a Bradley has a very good chance of flipping his vehicle like a turtle exposing his lightly armored belly or leaving himself an immobile target in enemy country.

And BTW there is a crew aboard this Bradley with him that is not really interested in taking those kinds of risks with the putative "private"

Not really a situation to "enjoy" now... is it?

Perhaps instead of trying get this kind of crap "fact-checked, to the extent possible" (whatever that means) some of these publications could actually take advantage of some expertise available right in their hometown in DC... It is just a local call away.

Many journalists use it all the time. It is called the Department of Defense...

RTK
07-22-2007, 10:00 PM
The flags raised were not red. They actually looked like this...

selil
07-22-2007, 11:51 PM
Good BS Flag

http://www.twinshock.net/forums/images/smilies/bsflag.gif

Culpeper
07-23-2007, 12:33 AM
Bring back the Sedition Act of 1918.

SWJED
07-26-2007, 12:35 PM
Bloggers Raise Red Flags Over New Republic's 'Baghdad Diarist' (Updated) (http://smallwarsjournal.com/blog/2007/07/bloggers-raise-red-flags-over-1/)

Update: For what it is worth - just posted (http://www.tnr.com/blog/theplank) to The New Republic's The Plank


My Diarist, "Shock Troops," and the two other pieces I wrote for the New Republic have stirred more controversy than I could ever have anticipated. They were written under a pseudonym, because I wanted to write honestly about my experiences, without fear of reprisal. Unfortunately, my pseudonym has caused confusion. And there seems to be one major way in which I can clarify the debate over my pieces: I'm willing to stand by the entirety of my articles for the New Republic using my real name.

I am Private Scott Thomas Beauchamp, a member of Alpha Company, 1/18 Infantry, Second Brigade Combat Team, First Infantry Division.

My pieces were always intended to provide my discreet view of the war; they were never intended as a reflection of the entire U.S. Military. I wanted Americans to have one soldier's view of events in Iraq.

It's been maddening, to say the least, to see the plausibility of events that I witnessed questioned by people who have never served in Iraq. I was initially reluctant to take the time out of my already insane schedule fighting an actual war in order to play some role in an ideological battle that I never wanted to join. That being said, my character, my experiences, and those of my comrades in arms have been called into question, and I believe that it is important to stand by my writing under my real name.

--Private Scott Thomas Beauchamp

It is either quite naive or just simply false for Beauchamp to have thought that his article would not be seen as a reflection of the entire U.S. Military by many.

It is also noted here that the plausibility of the events he described were questioned by people who HAVE served and ARE serving in Iraq.

And here is the Catch-22 - Beauchamp jumps on his bandwagon about how those who doubted the validity of his account somehow questioned his character, his experiences, and those of his comrades in arms. Okay then, if the accounts are true then his character and experiences are doubly in question and deserve to be investigated.

SWJED
08-05-2007, 07:02 AM
The U.S. Army vs. The New Republic (http://www.weeklystandard.com/Weblogs/TWSFP/TWSFPView.asp#2107) Ė Michael Goldfarb, Weekly Standard.


The Confederate Yankee (http://confederateyankee.mu.nu/archives/235806.php) has posted an email from Col. Steven Boylan, Public Affairs Officer for General David Petraeus, announcing the results of the Army's investigation into the allegations made by Scott Thomas Beauchamp:

To your question: Were there any truth to what was being said by Thomas?

Answer: An investigation of the allegations were conducted by the command and found to be false. In fact, members of Thomas' platoon and company were all interviewed and no one could substantiate his claims.

As to what will happen to him?

Answer: As there is no evidence of criminal conduct, he is subject to Administrative punishment as determined by his chain of command. Under the various rules and regulations, administrative actions are not releasable to the public by the military on what does or does not happen.

Nat Wilcox
08-08-2007, 12:20 PM
The story has reached an interesting impasse now, with TNR currently sticking to its guns, the army claiming one thing, and the Weekly Standard claiming something even stronger. There is a decent summary here:

Army says soldier's articles for magazine were false (http://www.nytimes.com/2007/08/08/washington/08diarist.html)

And good links to blogosphere reactions here:

Bahgdad fabulist? (http://www.slate.com/id/2171894/nav/fix/)

Old Eagle
08-08-2007, 12:47 PM
Check out the 8 Aug opinion summary on the SW blog. One of the last entries is a very good (IMHO) analysis from Slate mag.

This incident, like the whole war, no longer hinges on fact, but on domestic political "take". Politicians and media support their party's position regardless of the facts on the ground. This is scary.

Steve Blair
08-08-2007, 01:02 PM
Check out the 8 Aug opinion summary on the SW blog. One of the last entries is a very good (IMHO) analysis from Slate mag.

This incident, like the whole war, no longer hinges on fact, but on domestic political "take". Politicians and media support their party's position regardless of the facts on the ground. This is scary.

The Slate story is very good, and repeats what those of us who study military history already know. Each day in each war is different from the one that came before, and the view from one window is never the same as that from another window, or even from two people looking out the same window. Why this is so hard for so many to understand is beyond me, but I also get disgusted with the ideologues on both sides who disregard the facts and basics of human nature to support their own spin positions.