In the first [of three anecdotes], Beauchamp recounted how he and a fellow soldier mocked a disfigured woman seated near them in a dining hall. Three soldiers with whom TNR has spoken have said they repeatedly saw the same facially disfigured woman. One was the soldier specifically mentioned in the Diarist. He told us: "We were really poking fun at her; it was just me and Scott, the day that I made that comment. We were pretty loud. She was sitting at the table behind me. We were at the end of the table. I believe that there were a few people a few feet to the right."Weekly Standard responds:
The recollections of these three soldiers differ from Beauchamp's on one significant detail (the only fact in the piece that we have determined to be inaccurate): They say the conversation occurred at Camp Buehring, in Kuwait, prior to the unit's arrival in Iraq. When presented with this important discrepancy, Beauchamp acknowledged his error. We sincerely regret this mistake.
Acknowledged his error? How about confessed that he made something up? How about, misled his editors when they pressed him for corroborating details on July 17, after the piece was published? And how do we reconcile this with Foer's own statements over the past two weeks, including one to ABC News claiming corroboration of the account:The TNR piece ends this way:"We showed the stories to people who'd been embedded in Iraq to make sure that it all smelled good. We talked to one of the members of his unit to confirm the woman, a female contractor. We talked to a medic who'd served in Iraq to make sure that a woman could be in an FOB. We spent a lot of time with him on the phone asking hard questions."The New Republic is correct about one thing: the detail is significant. If the incident happened in Kuwait, it eliminates their editorial rationale for publishing the piece. It means Private Beauchamp had suffered "the morally and emotionally distorting effects of war" before ever going to war.
Although we place great weight on the corroborations we have received, we wished to know more. But, late last week, the Army began its own investigation, short-circuiting our efforts. Beauchamp had his cell-phone and computer taken away and is currently unable to speak to even his family. His fellow soldiers no longer feel comfortable communicating with reporters. If further substantive information comes to light, TNR will, of course, share it with you.So now the blame is on the government and TNR is off the hook? We did all the fact checking we could...