First I am going to list a few excerpts from Slate, then I am going to point out what I take issue with. (His excerpts will be in blockquotes.)
One question today is whether Beauchamp's dispatches are true. A second, more pressing question is how to better gather and report such stories, and how we should evaluate and verify them. I am deeply skeptical about the veracity of Beauchamp's dispatches, particularly the last one, but disinclined to offer definitive pronouncements at this time. Partisans on both sides of the political spectrum seem to harbor no such doubts. Based solely on the content of these dispatches, some were happy to leap to conclusions about the author's veracity without regard for the facts. And as the argument grows louder, each side turns toward the troops, using them to stand in for their own preconceived ideas about this war.
The basic issue has nothing to do with preconceived ideas at all, the troops are the focus because they are the ones slandered and by now, everyone already knows via, Wapo, NYT as well as dozens of other sources that the military has categorically said Beauchamp's allegations are false, so to continue to deny this, shows the writer is unwilling, himself, to see the realities, and that is just in the beginning of the Slate piece.
The author is careful to distance himself from these monstrosities, meticulously chronicling the horrors of this war without falling victim to them. But in his third report, Beauchamp breaks with this theme, writing that war has turned him into a monster as well. He describes a scene in which he and some buddies ridicule a badly deformed woman in the base dining hall—making fun of her injuries from an improvised explosive device.....
The New Republic's editors countered the Weekly Standard's attack with a bland statement on Aug. 1, a position by which they continue to stand. The magazine's investigation found that sources in Beauchamp's unit could in fact corroborate his stories but also determined that the dining-hall scene took place in Kuwait, not Iraq. The New Republic's conclusions rested on anonymous corroboration from five other soldiers in Beauchamp's company, a unit of about 150 men, as well as statements from outsiders.
In other words, both the Weekly Standard and the New Republic claim that their versions are now confirmed by anonymous military sources and by the same Army public affairs officer. In some circles, this could be called a draw.
Among military circles, the reaction to Beauchamp's stories has been mixed. A number of my friends were disturbed by the article, especially what it implied about his unit and its leadership, but very few questioned its basic truth. Everyone's war is different, and it's nearly impossible to judge the veracity of another person's combat experience. When I read Beauchamp's first two articles, I was disturbed but not surprised. His tamer reports echoed my own experiences of Iraq and mirrored stories I'd heard from other soldiers there. The third dispatch, however, struck me as too fantastic to believe, in part because I could not imagine soldiers making fun of anyone who had been wounded by an improvised explosive device, especially an infantryman like Beauchamp who himself faced the dangers of these bombs. But, as was the case with the other veterans I spoke to, I could not rule out the truth of the articles. Every soldier experiences fragments of the larger war. Beauchamp's tale was neither believable nor patently untrue on its face.
Now look at the sentences I emphasized there. The writer of the Slate piece first states that that Beauchamp broke with his theme "writing that war has turned him into a monster", then, the writer of the Slate piece further admits and shows by linking to the TNR statement, that it was "determined that the dining-hall scene took place in Kuwait, not Iraq", which was before Beauchamp ever even arrived in Iraq, thereby completely negating the whole purpose of showing that the war had turned him into a monster!!!!!!!!!
The last two sentences I emphasized above is completely dishonest from the writer of the Slate piece, saying "I could not rule out the truth of the articles." and stating "Beauchamp's tale was neither believable nor patently untrue on its face."
HELLLLLOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!! They just showed in their own piece (Slate) that Beauchamp's account in at least one major area was "patently" untrue and false and in the same article said they couldn't rule out the truth of the articles?
How slow can they actually be? How much effort does it take to make those statements then deny the truth all in the same breath?
On to page #2 of the Slate's attempt to deny reality.
The American military has changed over the decades, becoming a much more educated, professionalized, and disciplined force. Yet bad things still happen in war, and anyone who finds Beauchamp's story incredible merely because it's upsetting has no idea what war can do. The truth will eventually come out in this case, but larger questions about the credibility of incredible wartime narrative will remain.
How, then, should journalists (and here I lump together newspapers and opinion magazines like the New Republic, which frequently commissions reported pieces and first-person narratives) tell the story of what happens in wartime?
The author asks this question and then goes on to give the very answer he is looking so hard for.
Secondly, when journalists do use anonymous sources to report critically about the military, they must do so with the greatest care. Sy Hersh would not have broken the Abu Ghraib story but for anonymous sources, but he also took great care to obtain photographs and documents to corroborate what he was being told. Dana Priest's Pulitzer Prize-winning reporting on secret prisons has been so good because it has been so right. The lesson here is that in war reporting, as with all reporting, you can certainly use anonymous sources, but only with the proper due diligence........
Something TNR definitely did not do in the Beauchamp pieces.
Once again, to ask a question like "How, then, should journalists (and here I lump together newspapers and opinion magazines like the New Republic, which frequently commissions reported pieces and first-person narratives) tell the story of what happens in wartime?" , to ask that question, pretending it is a serious question you are looking for an answer to, then providing that very answer on the same page, means that asking the question in the first place was completely, intellectually dishonest on the part of the Slate writer.
Last but not least and I belive my final point below the excerpt will be agreed to by every active military personnel as well as every veteran out there.
The Beauchamp dispatches show the extent to which the discourse over Iraq has been poisoned and how quickly the left, the right, and the military were willing to go to the mat to defend their version of what is—or what they thought ought to be—true. No one cares anymore about the troops, the truth of their reports from Iraq, or the serious issues of professional journalism associated with a series of this type. The troops have become pawns in this debate; their stories a kind of Rorschach test that reveals more about how we view the war than its reality on the ground.
Once again the writer is either very dense or very dishonest because the whole uproar caused over Beauchamp's fairy tales WAS about "the troops" and "the truth of their reports from Iraq" and "the professional journalism associated with a series of this type".
It is because we care about the troops, because we care about the truth of their reports, because we care about journalistic ethics and journalistic professionalism, it is exactly because we care that we question them as forcefully as we do.
That goes double for veterans and milibloggers, they care more than the writer of Slate, obviously, since he cannot even acknowledge the patent lies that TNR allowed to be published and were unable to verify.
That complete last paragraph is a deliberate lie, or, like I said, the writer of the Slate piece is very, very dense.
Furthermore, had the milibloggers, Weekly Standard, The Military or any of the right wing bloggers ascertained that Beauchamp's accounts had been true, you can bet your ass they would have come down like a ton of bricks on the soldiers that participated, had they participated, in the atrocities that Beauchamp accused them of.
I was not blogging when Abu Ghraib story was brought to light, but I have read through many of the milibloggers and right wing blogs and they did, indeed, stand up against those horrors and denounced those responsible.
No one wishes to deny that horrible things happen, we know they do, especially in a time of war, hell, horrible things happen on our streets everyday, just watch your local news for heavens sake, but what the writer of Slate ignores, willfully, in my opinion, is that it is because we all care, that we want the truth, not some half cocked, bullshit fictional stories by a wannabe writer told for no other reason than to further TNR's political agenda.
Slate should be ashamed of themselves for their own patent contradictions within this piece they just published.
Goes to show how far into denial the far left liberal base will go in trying to justify that which cannot be justified and trying to deny the undeniable.
Shame on them.
[Update] Because Confederate Yankee cares about the truth, accuracy of reporting and our troops reputations, they did a bit more fact checking and found out some interesting things.
Along with the context the TNR researcher didn't provide, I'd asked a set of questions, including these:Would a Bradley driver who "took out curbs, concrete barriers, corners of buildings, stands in the market," run a significant risk of damaging the vehicle's track systems? Would such actions also possibly damage the vehicle's armor? Could it have an adverse affect on other crucial vehicle components? Please elaborate as much as possible. I'd also like to ask you about the claims made by the author as he describes the process of killing three dogs using the tracks of the Bradley IFV. I recognize this is more speculative in nature, but would ask that you comment about the possibility that a Bradley's driver could "jerk the machine hard to the right and snag its leg under the tracks. The leg caught, and he dragged the dog for a little while, until it disengaged and lay twitching in the road."
I don't pretend to be the most mechanically-minded person, but I think that a tracked vehicle such as a Bradley turning "hard to the right" would have a right tread that is either stationary, or nearly so. Is this a correct statement?
If this is a true statement, then it seems the possibility of any animal being run over by a stationary or near stationary track is quite slim. Would you agree with that assessment?
What is the likelihood that a Bradley's track system would "drag a dog for a little while?
Mr. Coffey's response:I can't pretend to know what may or may not have happened in Iraq but the impression the writer leaves is that a "driver" can go on joy rides with a 35 ton vehicle at will. The vehicle has a crew and a commander of the vehicle who is in charge. In order for the scenario described to have taken place, there would have to have been collaboration by the entire crew.
The driver's vision, even if sitting in an open hatch is severely restricted along the sides. He sits forward on the left side of the vehicle. His vision is significantly impaired along the right side of the vehicle which makes the account to "suddenly swerve to the right" and actually catch an animal suspect. If you were to attempt the same feat in your car, it would be very difficult and you have the benefit of side mirrors.
Anyone familiar with tracked vehicles knows that turning sharply requires the road wheels on the side of the turn to either stop or reverse as the road wheels on the opposite side accelerates. What may not be obvious is that the track once on the ground, doesn't move. The road wheels roll across it but the track itself is stationary until it is pushed forward by the road wheels.
The width of the track makes it highly unlikely that running over a dog would leave two intact parts. One half of the dog would have to be completely crushed.
It also seems suspicious that a driver could go on repeated joy rides or purposefully run into things. Less a risk to the track though that is certainly possible but there is sensitive equipment on the top of the vehicle, antennas, sights, TOW missile launcher, commander and if it was a newer vehicle, the commander's independent viewer, not to mention the main gun. Strange things are known to happen in a combat environment but I can't imagine that the vehicle commander or the unit commander would tolerate repeated misuse of the vehicle, especially any action that could damage its ability to engage.
In other words, BAE System's Head of Communications over the division than manufactures the Bradley IFV was never specifically asked to comment on the claims made in "Shock Troops" by TNR's legion of fact-checkers.
When he saw the claims made in "Shock Troops," he stated, by citing the physical properties of his company's vehicle, that it is highly unlikely, if not impossible, for the Bradley story told in "Shock Troops" to have been correct.
Read the whole Confederate Yankee piece, it shows how much work, time and effort went into verifying these accounts. Confederate Yankee, Weekly Standard and the many right wing bloggers have shown more concern for the truth than TNR and Slate are capable of acknowledging or duplicating.
GREAT JOB Confederate Yankee!!!!
Maybe if Slate had cared more about the integrity of TNR's reporting and verification process than they did about "whitewashing and accusing those who did care about the truth of not caring about the troops, they too would have been able to "rule out the truth" of TNR's articles.
Reaction to the Confederate Yankee's excellent work can be found here.