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Winter Soldier update

Posted by Richard on August 15, 2007

I hope you've been keeping up with the story of Scott Beauchamp, who wrote under the pseudonym "Scott Thomas." On July 20, I wrote about his article in The New Republic, "Shock Troops," in which he painted himself and his comrades as callous, brutal, and depraved. I wasn't persuaded:

I'm no expert on military mess halls, children's skulls, or Bradley Fighting Vehicles, but the stories told by "Scott Thomas" in the New Republic article strike me as not even remotely credible. …

Since then, we've learned his true identity and that he's an aspiring novelist who admitted to joining the military for Kerryesque resumé enhancement purposes, a former Howard Dean campaign worker, and the husband of a TNR staffer. The army investigated his claims and interviewed every soldier with whom he served, and they concluded categorically that there is no basis in fact for his allegations. He recanted in writing and faces administrative discipline. And he now refuses to speak with any journalists, including his employers/abettors at TNR.

Various bloggers looked into his other TNR stories and found them just as obviously bogus as "Shock Troops." In one, he wrote of soldiers stopping to change a flat in a "river of sewage" — their vehicles have run-flat tires. In another, he claimed some "square-backed" cartridges prove that Iraqi police committed murder — in the known universe, there's no such thing as a "square-backed" cartridge.

Despite all this, TNR stands by the fraudulent articles and claims they've "fact-checked" and corroborated them. Of course, they won't name any of the "experts" they've consulted (to confirm the "plausibility" of Beauchamp's claims) or the one person who purportedly corroborates the events in "Shock Troops."

In the face of overwhelming evidence and testimony discrediting the story of how he publicly ridiculed a disfigured woman, TNR claimed their careful "fact-checking" uncovered only one "minor" error: the incident didn't happen at a forward operating base in Iraq, it happened in Kuwait before Beauchamp ever got to Iraq. Never mind that there's no evidence (beyond their anonymous source) of it happening there either. And never mind that this "minor correction" destroys the primary thesis of "Shock Troops," that the brutality of war dehumanized Beauchamp and his buddies. Apparently the flight from Germany to Kuwait dehumanized him.

Lots of bloggers have done yeoman work on this story, including Michael Goldfarb (who got the ball rolling), Confederate Yankee, Ace of Spades, and Michelle Malkin . Just run through their posts of the past couple of weeks if you want all the fascinating details. If you just want a one-stop executive summary that will bring you up to speed,  with a special emphasis on TNR's continuing fraud, read this Confederate Yankee post. And in a fascinating post last week, Michelle Malkin mirrored my recollection of the Vietnam Winter Soldier fraud and recounted other instances of Winter Soldier Syndrome.

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