By Michael Goldfarb
THE WEEKLY STANDARD has learned from a military source close to the investigation that Pvt. Scott Thomas Beauchamp--author of the much-disputed "Shock Troops" article in the New Republic's July 23 issue as well as two previous "Baghdad Diarist" columns--signed a sworn statement admitting that all three articles he published in the New Republic were exaggerations and falsehoods--fabrications containing only "a smidgen of truth," in the words of our source.
Separately, we received this statement from Major Steven F. Lamb, the deputy Public Affairs Officer for Multi National Division-Baghdad:
An investigation has been completed and the allegations made by PVT Beauchamp were found to be false. His platoon and company were interviewed and no one could substantiate the claims.
According to the military source, Beauchamp's recantation was volunteered on the first day of the military's investigation. So as Beauchamp was in Iraq signing an affidavit denying the truth of his stories, the New Republic was publishing a statement from him on its website on July 26, in which Beauchamp said, "I'm willing to stand by the entirety of my articles for the New Republic using my real name."
The magazine's editors admitted on August 2 that one of the anecdotes Beauchamp stood by in its entirety--meant to illustrate the "morally and emotionally distorting effects of war"--took place (if at all) in Kuwait, before his tour of duty in Iraq began, and not, as he had claimed, in his mess hall in Iraq. That event was the public humiliation by Beauchamp and a comrade of a woman whose face had been "melted" by an IED.
Nothing public has been heard from Beauchamp since his statement standing by his stories, which was posted on the New Republic website at 6:30 a.m. on July 26. In their August 2 statement, the New Republic's editors complained that the military investigation was "short-circuiting" TNR's own fact-checking efforts. "Beauchamp," they said, "had his cell-phone and computer taken away and is currently unable to speak to even his family. His fellow soldiers no longer feel comfortable communicating with reporters. If further substantive information comes to light, TNR will, of course, share it with you."
Now that the military investigation has concluded, the great unanswered question in the affair is this: Did Scott Thomas Beauchamp lie under oath to U.S. Army investigators, or did he lie to his editors at the New Republic? Beauchamp has recanted under oath. Does the New Republic still stand by his stories?