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Update 9:15pm Eastern. FOB Falcon and the Soldier Calling Himself Scott Thomas from a Mother’s Perspective at Blue Star Chronicles:
I’ve spent a lot of time reading about the ‘Scott Thomas’ affair. ‘Scott Thomas’ is the pseudonym taken by a Soldier in Iraq who is weaving tall tales about their adventures there. As the mother of a Soldier serving in Iraq, I find myself glued to the stories and reading everything I can find written about it.
That may seem odd and it probably is, but there are two things that keep me awake at night while my son is in Baghdad. One is the obvious worry about his safety. That’s the worry every mother of every son who has ever gone to war has in her heart. The other is that he not be subjected to the being used for propaganda purposes by whatever enemy wants to use him, his unit, his company or whatever. I believe that is a worry that has taken on a whole new meaning in this war.
Update 5:30pm Eastern. See-Dubya answers the “so what?” question about Beauchamp/Reeve.
Update 4:15pm Eastern. Dean Barnett on the end of the beginning of the “Scott Thomas” affair…
TNR employed as its Baghdad correspondent a guy who was there specifically to mock the war effort while he hopefully advanced his own career as a writer by doing so. Beauchamp’s champions (not that I’m aware of any) have the potential defense that he was a young man who didn’t know any better. TNR’s editors do not. They gravitated to Scott Thomas Beauchamp because he would have the “moral authority” necessary to slander the troops with impunity, a moral authority that Franklin Foer and company of course lack.
One other note: Scott Thomas Beauchamp’s life will be a smoldering ruin when this affair has run its course. His partners in crime at The New Republic will still have jobs and careers. Will they see Scott Beauchamp in their nightmares? And will they see the 160,000 honorable and noble troops that together they conspired to malign?
Just fyi: Here’s Reeve quoting Beauchamp in one of her articles in 2004 for The Columbia Missourian at the Missouri School of Journalism.
Update 2:54pm Eastern. Ace reports that the soon-to-be wife of Scott Thomas Beauchamp is…TNR staffer Elspeth Reeve. According to the TNR masthead, she’s a reporter-researcher for the magazine.
Or was? According to Discarded Lies, a TNR staffer was fired this morning. That staffer was the source of the leaks…Update again…I just called TNR’s office and left a message for Reeve. She still works there. Will see if she calls back.
Allah weighs in at Hot Air:
We’ve been getting tips similar to the ones Ace has about Beauchamp being intimately connected to someone on the TNR staff. He claims to have a source within TNR itself (although not anymore, perhaps — more on that in a bit) who thought Beauchamp was either married to someone who works there or was recommended by someone married to someone who works there. There are a lot of “Scott Beauchamps” in the world, no doubt, but if this is a coincidence, it’s a fabulous one…There’s some ambiguity about whether they’re married yet or just planning: the Wedding Channel thing says October but a tipster pointed me to the comments on this MySpace page. Check the May 19 entry for Ian Cognito (Beauchamp’s alias) and you’ll see he says he was married the week before. Whether they’re married or engaged isn’t really important but there you go, for the record.
Thanks to liberrocky for finding the Wedding Channel thing and thanks to Ace for summing this up nicely:
It’s all so Plame-ish. As Gracie wrote to me, of all the embeds and milbloggers and real journalists they could have picked for the job, they instead chose to go with a very partisan, very inexperienced blogger just out of “laziness.” Just because they knew him. Just because it was easy.I actually think part of the reason was that they knew Beauchamp’s politics — he having put them on display on his goofy blog — and so, just like with Valerie Plame, they knew the report was going to come back the way they wanted it when they sent him. But Gracie says it’s just Occam’s razor: Laziness.
Allah’s own summary: “So now the dilemma for TNR: If they find out that Beauchamp’s been exaggerating or outright fabricating in his Iraq stories and they come down hard, they probably lose Reeve too. Then again, they’ve already allegedly lost one employee over this — follow the link to Ace’s site and see what became of his TNR source, “gracie” — and if it turns out Beauchamp’s a liar then Foer will probably be hitting the bricks too, so what’s one more staff vacancy?
Given the number of milbloggers invested in this story and the number of guys with direct links to FOB Falcon — JD Johannes most notably and, per one of the updates above, Jeff Emanuel — the scrutiny of TNR’s findings after they publish the results of their investigation will be intense. They’d better do more than just check with Beauchamp’s buddies, who’ll naturally want to protect a pal, especially one who just got married and whose wife’s job may be on the line.”
Here he is…
Here’s his Myspace avatar:
Update 1:50pm Eastern. Michael Goldfarb has lingering questions for TNR and gets word from FOB Falcon:
We are in the midst of a formal investigation into the allegations Pvt Beauchamp has made. That’s all I can say for now.
Major Kirk Luedeke
Public Affairs Officer
4th IBCT, 1st ID
Update: Milblogger Jeff Emanuel also is headed back to FOB Falcon and offers TNR his help.
Mark Steyn pegs Beauchamp: “Strange chap.”
Update: Milblogger/ documentarian J.D. Johannes is headed back to FOB Falcon in Iraq in a few weeks, where Beauchamp’s unit was located (and which Johannes guessed correctly). Johannes has some words for the TNR writer.
Scott Johnson at Powerline doesn’t mince words in his assessment of Beauchamp: “Pretentious ass.” I’d add, in the parlance of p.c. pop psychology: A pretentious ass with issues. Major issues.
Update: The milblogs weigh in…Op-for, [email protected], Mudville Gazette, Uncle Jimbo
And a reader e-mails this info:
I’m active Army & an Iraq vet. I just pulled up “Scott Thomas Beauchamp” on the secure “Army Knowledge Online” website. It lists his current rank as “PV2”. (That data is kept accurate via pay records on that website.)
In his Sep 06 blog post he listed his rank as “Private First Class”. That indicates that without a doubt he was busted at least one rank as part of Article 15 proceedings under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, and he likely has a strong ax to grind with his chain of command.
Update: A bit of the revealing poetry of Scott Thomas Beauchamp…
Every morning I get up and I’m a little more liberal than the day before
Every morning I get up and try to recite a fact from something I read last night.
Every morning I get up and wish I was as free as the people that I’m “fighting for”
Every morning I get up and think I’m a tool for global corporations
Every morning I get up and miss my mother
Every morning I get up and shave
Every morning I get up and realize how much I love my comrades
Every morning I get up and say I’m Scott Beauchamp, in the army, living in Germany, and this is my life, and I’m going to be treated like shit today and do landscaping and janitorial work and practice killing people and there could be no other way to appreciate what I had or what I’m going to have once I get out other than enduring this now when all I really want to do is teach history and lay around and read and hustle around and repair the world (tikkun olam) and sift through knowledge and improve culture and learn how to sail and work in soup kitchens and start a family and really, I mean REALLY study the best the western civilization has to offer and facilitiate the mystery and power through everything I do, but I cant do it without getting through this army experience first, which will add a legitimacy to EVERYTHING i do afterwards, and totally bolster my opinions on defense, etc, and of course its making me a lot less lazy, just because im not use to being lazy any more, etc.
Every morning I get up…
Cassandra at Villanous Company has a must-read on the consequences of Beauchamp’s words in TNR and TNR’s expediency:
Desecration of a mass grave is a serious matter. What was his motivation in writing about it?
Certainly this is not behavior sanctioned by the U.S. Army. The right course of action for anyone witnessing such a heinous act would be, if indeed it really happened, to report the perpetrators to the command. Someone who would desecrate the grave of a child, who would place a piece of a child’s skull under their helmet and wear it for hours, is someone in need of psychological help.
Did Private Beauchamp have no concern for this person’s mental health, if not for the welfare of any innocent Iraqis who might be harmed by someone for whom the lines between right and wrong had so clearly been badly blurred? Assuming this account is true, (and considering so far no record of a mass grave has been unearthed in the vicinity of FOB Falcon, this requires a leap of faith) a crime was committed. His obligation was to report it. It is, possibly, understandable that loyalty might have prevented a young man from turning in his comrade, though this doesn’t excuse him doing the wrong thing.
What excuses Franklin Foer? He would surely understand that the Army has rules against desecrating the graves of children. Did he think that simply writing an anonymous article satisfied our obligation to the Iraqi people, since he has apparently satisfied himself that Beauchamp’s stories are “true”? His conscience is suspiciously easy to salve, especially for one who is so ready to believe ill of our armed forces.
This whole episode smacks of expediency, of an editor who believed a story because it aligned with what he wanted to believe and of a young man who, for whatever reason, wanted the freedom to say ugly things without the responsibility of backing them up.
To this day, he is still ducking that responsibility, as are the editors of The New Republic. But the damage has been done. The grisly images of a soldier dancing insanely with the bits of a child’s skull under his helmet, of a Bradley driver swerving to run over helpless dogs, of cruel soldiers mocking a scarred and crying woman, are seared… seared into our national consciousness.
John Kerry could not have done it any better himself.
And more on Beauchamp’s motivations, in his own words: “My goal is to become an incompetent leader that gets fragged by 30 something NCO’s at a forward operating base in Sadr City. Heres to the memories and stardust kid. love, Scott.”
More light-shedding from Dean Barnett, who flags Beauchamp’s Cheney/GOP-bashing.
Update: Looks like this is Scott Thomas’s MySpace page. Yes, his theme music is the Talking Heads’ “Psycho Killers.” The first line of the song: “I can’t seem to face up to the facts…”
Plumbing his blog further, Bad Candy notes that on May 14, 2006, Scott Thomas is unsure of his deployment:
Sunday, May 14, 2006
in short, our units deployment is postponed until further notice…maybe even cancelled….
posted by Scott Thomas at 2:36 PM
Update: Here’s a blog authored by a “Scott Beauchamp,” titled “Sir Real Scott Thomas,” last updated in September 2006. Same bloated writing style. Here’s a post from April 2006 on his plans: ” ill return to america an author.”
Scott Thomas, Jan. 29, 2006: “This weekend was horrible. I worked all weekend, 12 hour shifts. Today was spent mainly in the motor pool attempting to stop and oil leak in a Bradley Fighting Vehicle. Now anyone who knows me should be laughing right now at the mental image of ME working on a military armored vehicle worth hundreds of thousands of dollars when I can barely change the tire of an Escort.”
Scott Thomas, Jan. 23, 2006, in response to a commenter who asks him what to tell people who ask what he does for a living: “Tell them that I shoot, move, communicate, and kill. Much like your college career Glenn, only the deaths that I inflict secure the riches of the empire.”
And via Allah and commenter Bad Candy, see this May 8, 2006 post from Scott Thomas. Allah notes: “He’s not in Iraq at this point, I don’t think: his sidebar bio says he’s training in Germany and he cops to being in Amsterdam three weeks later, but I guess it’s possible (is it?) that he was in Iraq and then went to Europe in the intervening time. Either way, the May 8 item can only be one of two things: an exercise in creative fiction that looks exactly like the sorts of things he wrote for TNR or a bit of reportage of an actual incident — in which a U.S. commander ordered the murder of children. Which is it?”
TNR’s “Scott Thomas” is Private Scott Thomas Beauchamp, a member of Alpha Company, 1/18 Infantry, Second Brigade Combat Team, First Infantry Division:
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.
In the bass-ackwards version of journalism practiced at TNR, the editors continue to check whether the stories they published by Beauchamp check out:
As we’ve noted in this space, some have questioned details that appeared in the Diarist “Shock Troops,” published under the pseudonym Scott Thomas. According to Major Kirk Luedeke, a public affairs officer at Forward Operating Base Falcon, a formal military investigation has also been launched into the incidents described in the piece.
Although the article was rigorously edited and fact-checked before it was published, we have decided to go back and, to the extent possible, re-report every detail. This process takes considerable time, as the primary subjects are on another continent, with intermittent access to phones and email. Thus far we’ve found nothing to disprove the facts in the article; we will release the full results of our search when it is completed.
It’s actually not that complicated, guys. Was there or was there not a mass grave that contained the bones of children underneath everyday, mundane household items? If there was, Pvt Thomas’ writings could be true, but if there wasn’t — and we know that there wasn’t — then they can’t be true. Are the Iraqi police the only ones who use Glocks in Iraq? If they are, his writings could be true. If they’re not — in a country awash in weapons, they’re not — his writings contain fabulism.
That’s the bottom line. There’s no need to blame the lack of a good fact check a week after the saga erupted on the difficulty of tracking down witnesses to all the events Thomas claims to have witnessed. All one needs to do is check the basic checkable facts he reports. That wasn’t done before publication, and hasn’t been done yet.