Wednesday, August 8, 2007

'Baghdad Diaries' Fight Gets Even Uglier

It's time for someone to investigate what's going on with the Army and Pvt. Scott Beauchamp to find out the truth about some materials published in The New Republic and whether its author is being punished for having done so.

This fight between TNR and several rightwing blogs and publications has been going on for some time. The rightwingers didn't like the fact that TNR published a series of essays by Pvt. Scott Beauchamp alleging that some bad,though not criminal, actions were committed by some of his fellow soldiers.

Last night, the Weekly Standard published an anonymous, one-sourced story saying that Beauchamp has recanted his "Baghdad Diaries," published in TNR, describing such things as soldiers deliberately running over stray dogs with a Bradley Fighting Vehicle. TNR came back and denied that Beauchamp had recanted; the Weekly Standard fired back, insisting it was right.

Now the Washington Post has weighed in, quoting a military official who said an investigation showed that Beauchamp's accusations are false. It doesn't comment on the Standard's report of any recantation.

I don't know if "Baghdad Diaries" is true but it has been clear all along that the rightwing blogs have relied on very little beyond the word of another soldier who is himself under investigation involving his personal fundraising, personal innuendo but very little actual reporting to dispute the essays. The essay may be flawed; they may be fantasy but I haven't seen much beyond shrieking charges of anti-Americanism to prove the claims. If the Weekly Standard is right, good for them.

But so far, its complaints seem rooted in simply disliking what the essayist had to say, which hardly seems justification for the smearing attacks on TNR and on the author.

UPDATE: Josh Marshall has an excellent explanation of what has been going on.

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