New Republic editor Franklin Foer tells The New York Times today that the magazine is investigating articles written under the pen name Scott Thomas and billed as the magazine’s “Baghdad Diarist.”
Three articles have been attributed to Thomas in the magazine since February, describing gruesome events in Iraq from the point of view of an American soldier.
But last week, The Weekly Standard’s Michael Goldfarb issued a call to his readers to determine whether the writer was a fake.
The articles written by “Mr. Thomas” are harrowing–but as much in their descriptions of troops’ callous and sometimes illegal behavior as in its characterizations of the dangers of an Iraq deployment.
And it is largely this characterization of American troops desecrating mass Iraqi graves and not reporting their existence, or laughing at the appearance of an unidentified woman who has been damaged by an IED explosion, that appears to have set Mr. Goldfarb’s bullshit detector off.
Mr. Foer tells The Times he has met the writer, whose identity his magazine is keeping secret to protect him from retaliation and punishment by the military, but stopped short of saying he was absolutely certain that the writer was what he claimed to be.
‘Now that these questions have been raised, we’ve launched an inquiry. We’re putting the full resources of the magazine to look into the story,’ Mr. Foer said. ‘It’s taking me a little bit longer than I wish it did. The author, not to mention some of the participants in the anecdotes he described, are active duty soldiers and they’re on 20-hour active combat missions sometimes, and it’s very difficult for me to get them all on the phone to ask them the questions that I’d like to ask.’