Did New Republic Soldier-Writer Recant Grisly War Tales?

Last week, New Republic editor Franklin Foer released a statement detailing the results of an internal investigation of columns written by Pvt. Scott Thomas Beauchamp, who is stationed in Iraq.

Under the name Scott Thomas, three columns offered harrowing accounts of the experiences (and degraded morals) of troops. Scenes include an Iraqi boy whose tongue is cut out for talking to Americans; a description of a dog eating a corpse lying in the street; troops mocking and sexually harassing a woman troop whose face has been damaged by an I.E.D.; and a soldier who wears a part of an Iraqi boy's skull under his helmet.

But soon after, the Web site of The Weekly Standard raised suspicions about the reports, asking military bloggers to try to dig up corroborating (or uncorroborating) evidence for the episodes.

Franklin Foer investigated, and published a long description of the findings of The New Republic's reporting.

But since then, a military spokesman has told The Weekly Standard, "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."

The Weekly Standard further refers to anonymous sources who tell the magazine that Pvt. Beauchamp has since recanted and admitted the stories were largely false:

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."

We'll carry Michael Calderone's full report as it develops.