The Weekly Standard is now reporting that that TNR "Baghdad Diarist" Scott Beauchamp has recanted:
THE WEEKLY STANDARD has learned from a military source close to the investigation that Pvt. Scott Thomas Beauchamp--author of the much-disputed "Shock Troops" article in the New Republic's July 23 issue as well as two previous "Baghdad Diarist" columns--signed a sworn statement admitting that all three articles he published in the New Republic were exaggerations and falsehoods--fabrications containing only "a smidgen of truth," in the words of our source.Already, I've received a bunch of emails from conservatives demanding I "recant." I'm not sure what, exactly, I'm meant to recant, since I've been critical of TNR's due diligence, cynical about Beauchamp's self-defense, and concerned that even the first revelation of Beauchamp's dishonesty was not insignificant, even as I detailed where I felt rightwing critics had gone over the line. I've tried very hard to be fair about this story, and I quite honestly don't feel there's anything for which I need to apologize.
Separately, we received this statement from Major Steven F. Lamb, the deputy Public Affairs Officer for Multi National Division-Baghdad: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.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."
And, in continuing to try to be fair, I'm going to note that, while there seems to be no question that Beauchamp lied about part of his stories, I'm not convinced his recantation is evidence that every aspect of all three "Baghdad Diarist" columns were false. And it's not because I have any evidence he recanted under duress or coercion; it's because he's a liar. And if we accept that he lied about, as TNR plainly acknowledged, where one incident took place (if it took place at all), then basic logic suggests he could be lying again. He's reportedly "had his cell-phone and computer taken away and is currently unable to speak to even his family," and I wouldn't argue with a straight face that I couldn't imagine him saying what needs to be said to get those privileges reinstated. (Which are maybe the least of his worries.) According to The Weekly Standard (see blockquote above), he was purportedly telling one story to TNR even as he was telling another to the military.
Treating his recantation as gospel seems rather foolish. Clearly he's lying to someone, but I certainly wouldn't presume to state with any certainty to whom. I'd guess that everyone's getting "a smidgen of truth" and "a smidgen of untruth" and a helping of something that blurs the lines between the two.
Like most things in life, it's very unlikely to be so convenient, so pat, so black-and-white, as we're now meant to believe.