The editors of The New Republic have posted a statement saying that Scott Beauchamp, the U.S. Army private whose unsigned TNR dispatches from Iraq came under scrutiny this summer, did not admit to fabricating any parts of his stories–contrary to an article posted on The Drudge Report Wednesday.
The Drudge Report posted several documents pertaining to the Army’s investigation into the Beauchamp affair, including a transcript of telephone conversation from Sept. 6 in which Mr. Beauchamp refuses to confirm that his stories were true when asked by TNR editor Franklin Foer and executive editor Peter Scoblic.
That transcript–which, along with Drudge’s article and the other documents, were removed from The Drudge Report after a few hours–sparked an uproar among TNR‘s conservative critics, who said the editors of the magazine should have informed their readers of the conversation.
In the statement posted today, the editors write that Mr. Beauchamp did not recant anything during the conversation, but rather declined to comment one way or another because Army officials–who, up to that point, had forbade Mr. Beauchamp from communicating with the magazine–were in the room. "The September 6 exchange was extremely frustrating; however, it was frustrating precisely because it did not add any new information to our investigation," the editors write. "Beauchamp’s refusal to defend himself certainly raised serious doubts. That said, Beauchamp’s words were being monitored: His squad leader was in the room as he spoke to us, as was a public affairs specialist, and it is now clear that the Army was recording the conversation for its files."
The statement indicates that the day after that conversation took place, Mr. Beauchamp told his wife, who at the time was a research-reporter at TNR, that he was willing to stand behind what he’d written after all. According to the statement, Mr. Beauchamp later called Mr. Foer at home and told him the same thing.
In light of these conversations, the editors say, they do not accept the Army’s assessment (as expressed in the report posted on The Drudge Report Monday) that some of the allegations Mr. Beauchamp made in his articles were inaccurate.
TNR is continuing its investigation into Mr. Beauchamp’s stories, the editors say; the reason it’s taking so long, they write, is that the Army has not been cooperating.
"We have worked hard to re-report this piece and will continue to do so," the editors write, referring to "Shock Troops," a piece Mr. Beauchamp wrote that has attracted particularly fierce skepticism. "But this process has involved maddening delays compounded by bad faith on the part of at least some officials in the Army. Our investigation has taken far longer than we would like, but it is our obligation and promise to deliver a full account of our findings."
UPDATE: Asked to comment on TNR‘s statement, an Army spokesman for the 4th Brigade, 1st Infantry Division–Major Kirk Luedeke, who has served as TNR‘s contact in the Army because Mr. Beauchamp belongs to an infantry regiment that is attached to the 4th Brigade–said that although he could not comment on behalf of the entire Army, he could say that "from a brigade standpoint… a thorough investigation was conducted into Pvt. Beauchamp’s allegations and determined them to be unfounded. We are confident in the findings of the investigating officer and stand by them, and continue to be focused on our daily operations and missions in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom here in Baghdad."