Scott Beauchamp and the Right’s own credibility problems

The New Republic has printed the latest installment of the Baghdad Diarist – Scott Beauchamp story. I was going to put up a few snips from the right-wing blogs, but Michelle Malkin sums up the general price range of what you’ll find in La-La land, Bombshell…TNR ‘fesses up: The Beauchamp stories are bullcrap, By Michelle Malkin • December 1, 2007 03:48 PM

Read the whole thing here and watch TNR’s defenders (and advertisers) weep. The maxi-mea culpa runs more than 10 pages and thousands and thousands of words (self-pitying, rationalizing, messenger-blaming), but this is the belated bottom line: The Beauchamp stories are bullcrap. Franklin Foer’s conclusion:

When I last spoke with Beauchamp in early November, he continued to stand by his stories. Unfortunately, the standards of this magazine require more than that. And, in light of the evidence available to us, after months of intensive re-reporting, we cannot be confident that the events in his pieces occurred in exactly the manner that he described them. Without that essential confidence, we cannot stand by these stories. (excerpt from TNR post)

The bottom line for the Right is that what TNR wrote in the last paragraph in a thirteen page story. The truth is that the final story remains murky. Fog of War -The story of our Baghdad Diarist

In prior months, our magazine had been coming under attack from the left for criticizing the war but failing to champion withdrawal (not to mention for initially supporting the war). So it was disorienting to find ourselves criticized from the right, too, for supposedly slandering the troops.

Not Malkin, Daily Pundit, Right Wing Nut House, The Strata-Sphere, Riehl World View, protein wisdom, The Jawa Report, Sweetness & Light, Free Frank Warner, The American Pundit, Right Voices, Winds of Change.NET, Atlas Shrugs, Macsmind or any other Republican blog or pundit has bothered to mention this part of the TNR post as it completely destroys the TNR as liberals with a grudge out to smear the military meme. If you leave off Foer’s closing paragraph and you’re not predisposed to come to conclusions that the Kool-Kids had already come to anyway there is reason to believe that Beauchamp got a couple details wrong which he and TNR had readily admitted to previously, but other then that Scott is at most guilty of some literary embellishments rather then complete fabrications,

Facing the difficulties of verifying the piece, but wanting to ensure its plausibility before publication, we sent the piece to a correspondent for a major newspaper who had spent many tours embedded in Iraq. He had heard accounts of soldiers killing dogs with Bradleys. These accounts stuck with him because they represented a symbolic shift in the war.

So some degree of corroboration that the story isn’t completely impossible. Bauchamp is obviously not the first to tell stories about the dogs and Bradleys.

Soldier A: “I would like to say something about Mandrake’s Bride. … [W]e first saw the lady in Kuwait and it is very true. She had burns on her head and its strange but in a way most people thought it was humorous. It might sound sick but I guess that’s all we really have here is to laugh when we can and day dream of home.”

Soldier B: “The crypt keeper, yes I saw her, the skin of her face had something wrong with it, burn, maybe some sort of surgery and her hair was like a thinning mullet with chunks missing, she was wearing DCUs [Desert Camouflage Uniforms] if I remember correctly but like Beauchamp said I can’t remember seeing a unit patch on her which makes me think she was a civilian.”

Soldier A: “While digging we came across several bones and a guy named [name withheld] said he was part Indian and danced around the bones to show he was peaceful and he did a proper burial procedure.”

That sounds like more verification that the scared woman did exist even if she was in Kuwait rather then Iraq. Contrast these corroborative accounts with the pure speculation of the so-called elite intellectual Conservative publication, The Weekly Standard,

On the Standard website and elsewhere, there was speculation that Scott Thomas might not be an active-duty soldier at all. The Standard described a lengthy “semioticsbased analysis” arguing that he “fits the profile of a creative writing program graduate.” I tried to convince Beauchamp that he could buy credibility and knock down these specious claims with one gesture: revealing his name. A week after the initial call from Goldfarb, Beauchamp finally agreed.

Does the WS’s speculation cancel out the possibility of Beauchamp’s poetic license. Probably not, but it does point up one of many instances over the last six years in which the Right’s speculation has passed for journalism. The Conservative bloggers for the unvarnished truth are also selectively ignoring this part,

[S]lew of events: initially, the whole platoon was called in and we received certificates of having been instructed in some sort of equal opportunity training we never got. Then everyone was dismissed; everyone, of course, except the platoon’s four Bradley drivers. …

What we had to do, then, was write and sign a sworn statement … saying that we’d never seen or committed the act of randomly causing destruction with our Brads, and that we’d found no “mass grave” site at [combat outpost] Ellis.

… [I]t bottomed out to us saying that we’d found “unidentified remains.” [Captain] cheerfully edged us into calling them “animal” remains “so that there’s no implication of them possibly being human.” I changed mine to what he wanted. SCOTT changed his to “remains that people had said were animals.”

Anyone that has been in the military, a military family or part of corporate culture knows that when the sh*t rolls it does so down hill and you start signing things just to make it all go away. The truth about the incident with the bones and whether they were human remains might never be settled, but it certainly will not be resolved until all these guys have left the military. The story is important, but not important enough to be deprived of being able to communicate with family as Beauchamp was at one point or the possibility of even worse punishment.

Beauchamp had described Kiple to me as the figure in his story who stabs his mashed potatoes in disgust at the sight of the disfigured woman and cracks jokes at her expense. When the “Shock Troops” controversy emerged, Kiple was in the process of leaving the military and was being held at a base in Germany.

[ ]… She looked like an American. We saw her about every day or every other day–maybe fourteen times. Usually, mostly during lunch chow–twelve, one p.m. Yes, we called her Mandrake’s Bride, some crazy mythology that Scott and one of our buddies made up for her. I don’t remember some of the shit that they used to talk about her.”

At least one Rightie blogger has taken exception to this,

Two days later, a public affairs officer announced that Beauchamp’s piece had been “refuted by members of his platoon and proven to be false.” The Army didn’t announce this to The New York Times or even The Weekly Standard, let alone in a public report. It first gave the story of Beauchamp’s supposed fraudulence to a former porn actor turned blogger named Matt Sanchez. Apparently, the Army wanted the matter to quietly fade away.

Why did the Army cooperate with a Republican porn actor and not respond to TNR’s inquiries. Again, what did people think Scott’s fellow soldiers would do. Tell the truth and get some kind of punishment or sign off on what their superiors wanted to here and just get on with fighting the war that the chicken-hawk bloggers fight only with their keyboards. In the overall scheme of things Scott’s stories are at most serial exaggerations from one person who yields no influence on national policy and has minuscule if any influence on public opinion about the conduct of the military as a whole or individual soldiers. The same cannot be said of those that got Scott and his fellow soldiers into Iraq. The Right’s concern for the truth is glaringly hypocritical. Where are the stories from the same bloggers listed above about the lies of Condelezza Rice and George Bush,

On September 25, 2002, Rice insisted, “There clearly are contacts between Al Qaeda and Iraq. … There clearly is testimony that some of the contacts have been important contacts and that there’s a relationship there.” On the same day, President Bush warned of the danger that “Al Qaeda becomes an extension of Saddam’s madness.” Rice, like Rumsfeld–who the next day would call evidence of a Saddam-bin Laden link “bulletproof”–said she could not share the administration’s evidence with the public without endangering intelligence sources. But Bob Graham, the Florida Democrat who chaired the Senate Intelligence Committee, disagreed. On September 27, Paul Anderson, a spokesman for Graham, told USA Today that the senator had seen nothing in the CIA’s classified reports that established a link between Saddam and Al Qaeda.

On the Right we have the regular assortment of ideologues that hope to hang their credibility on the small cracks in the actual narrative of Iraq to sell the idea that there is a truth, a truth that they and only they know, but which the media like TNR is covering up. In an strange kind of partisan math, if Beauchamp is a complete liar and TNR a promoter of these embellishments, that  equals Bush and Rice’s lies don’t matter or the lies of the Right are for the good of the country, thus justifiable. It is the height of irony that the Rightie blogs have endured so many blisters on their typing fingers to get to the bottom of the Iraq Diarist stories (the first of which they all thought was just great), yet have not lifted a finger to get out the truth about the 237 misleading statements made by Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice and Powell. Just recently Karl Rove, the former Bush adviser has tried to do some rewriting of history himself, Rove against the world

Last week, in one of his more breathtaking lies, Karl Rove told a national television audience that it was Congress, not the Bush White House, that pushed for an Iraq war resolution in advance of the 2002 midterm elections. Rove said the administration was “opposed” to moving “too fast,” and that the president and his aides wanted the debate “outside the confines of the election.”

Since then, there’s been one thing everyone, on both sides of the aisle, can agree on: Rove is lying. Then-Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle said Rove either has “a very faulty memory, or he’s not telling the truth,” a sentiment echoed by then-House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt’s office.

Rove’s former colleagues are just as blunt. Former White House Chief of Staff Andy Card not only said Rove is wrong, but added, “[S]ometimes his mouth gets ahead of his brain.” Former White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer concluded, “I think Karl in this instance just has his facts wrong.” Former Bush counselor Dan Bartlett added, “This is the first time I’ve ever heard Karl say that.”

Where’s the outrage from the wing-nut bloggers who think an undotted i in a TNR story is evidence of some great liberal conspiracy when their savior Unka Karl goes around telling the most egregious lies. The same kind of lies that the Right has been telling for decades and told not by soldiers, but Republican officials and policy makers that actually do affect policy and public opinion. In the future will we see a Malkin headline that reads Bombshell…Republican Party ‘fesses up: The Bush administraion stories are bullcrap. Probably not because to the Right, as usual the truth doesn’t matter, American values don’t matter, fidelity to Republican ideology is what really matters.

More at Corrente, Winger circlejerk alert

Sluttish, pouty-lipped, autocoprophagic concentration camp advocate and stalker-of-twelve-year-olds Michelle Malkin is going to turn the knobs all the way up to 11, isn’t she? We’re going be hearing the words “liberal New Republic”* until our ears bleed.