Friday, August 10, 2007

Beauchamp Scandal Update: TNR Points Fingers as Its Credibility Erodes

The New Republic's defense of Scott Beauchamp's column, "Shock Troops," continues to erode. [See "The New Republic Admits 'Error' in Iraq Soldier Story," Hedgehog Blog, August 3, 2007.] Beauchamp's alleged description of brutal and cruel conduct by soldiers in Iraq included an account of a Bradley vehicle driver who took pleasure in trapping and killing dogs in the vehicle's tracks. Critics had challenged whether a Bradley driver in fact could maneuver his vehicle in the manner described in the Beauchamp article. Last week, TNR claimed that it had "contacted the manufacturer of the Bradley Fighting Vehicle System, where a spokesman confirmed that the vehicle is as maneuverable as Beauchamp described." However, Michael Goldfarb, writing in The Daily Standard, says that he tracked down the unnamed [by TNR] company expert who spoke with TNR, Doug Coffey, head of Communications, Land & Armaments, for BAE Systems. Mr. Coffey had not been shown the Beauchamp column by TNR. Once he read the article, he challenged the credibility of the account both as to the ability of the Bradley vehicle to engage in such a maneuver and as to the likelihood of the commander and crew of the vehicle allowing the driver to engage in behavior that might well damage the vehicle and its equipment and endanger its crew.

TNR, in the meantime, continues to defend itself, but the defense sounds increasingly uncertain, and TNR now contends that the U.S. Army has "stonewalled our efforts to get to the truth" by blocking its access to Mr. Beauchamp. Too bad that TNR did not exert the same effort to fact checking before publishing the shocking, and now discredited, narrative of Mr. Beauchamp.


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