Patricia Cohen / Wikipedia.org – 2007-08-15 23:23:28
(August 8, 2007) — An Army investigation into the Baghdad Diarist, a soldier in Iraq who wrote anonymous columns for The New Republic, has concluded that the sometimes shockingly cruel reports were false.
“We are not going into the details of the investigation,” Maj. Steven F. Lamb, deputy public affairs officer in Baghdad, wrote in an e-mail message. “The allegations are false, his platoon and company were interviewed, and no one could substantiate the claims he made.”
The brief statement, however, left many questions unanswered.
Just last week The New Republic published on its Web site the results of its own investigation, stating that five members of the same company as Pvt. Scott Thomas Beauchamp, who had written the anonymous pieces, “all corroborated Beauchamp’s anecdotes, which they witnessed or, in the case of one soldier, heard about contemporaneously. (All of the soldiers we interviewed who had first-hand knowledge of the episodes requested anonymity.)”
Private Beauchamp had revealed his identity after The New Republic online and conservative bloggers expressed doubts about their veracity.
As the Baghdad Diarist, he wrote that one soldier had jokingly worn the remnant of a child’s skull on his head. In another issue, he said he and a soldier had mocked a terribly disfigured woman sitting near them in the mess tent. Franklin Foer, editor of The New Republic said that after Private Beauchamp revealed his identity, the Army severely curtailed his telephone and e-mail privileges.
Private Beauchamp is married to a reporter-researcher at the magazine, Elspeth Reeve.
Michael Goldfarb, the online editor at The New Republic who had initially raised doubt about the columns, wrote yesterday that The Standard had learned from a source close to the Army investigation that Private Beauchamp “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.”
Earlier, The New Republic had conducted its own investigation and found only one inaccuracy: the story about the disfigured woman had occurred in Kuwait before the unit arrived in Baghdad.
Yesterday, The New Republic posted another note on its Web site saying its editors had spoken to Major Lamb and asked whether Private Beauchamp had indeed signed a statement admitting to fabrications.
“He told us, ‘I have no knowledge of that.’ He added, ‘If someone is speaking anonymously [to The New Republic], they are on their own.’ When we pressed Lamb for details on the Army investigation, he told us, ‘We don’t go into the details of how we conduct our investigations.’
In an e-mail message, Mr. Foer said, “Thus far, we’ve been provided no evidence that contradicts our original statement, despite directly asking the military for any such evidence it might have,” adding, “We hope the military will share what it has learned so that we can resolve this discrepancy.”
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