Comments: And?

Mr. Owens, many thanks for addressing my question regarding further developments in the Scott Beauchamp story. The biggest development, of course, is that Beauchamp's first sergeant (who responded to the running-over-of-dogs stories by attacking Beauchamp's character, and proclaiming that none of his soldiers would act in so unprofessional a manner) is now being court-martialled for the execution of four hand-cuffed Iraqi detainees.

This development has got to be a little embarrassing to those who tend to view our GIs through rosy glasses, and who took such glee in verbally pounding a combat infantryman named Beauchamp because he wrote some stories about nasty stuff (running over dogs, etc.) that is absolutely commonplace in wars. (Speaking to Iraq/Afghanistan directly, you can go to YouTube and find videos of a Marine throwing a puppy off a cliff, other videos of GIs shooting and mocking wounded dogs, lobbing CS grenades into a goat-tender's herd, harassing Iraqi children, etc.)

I guess I never understood the Beauchamp pile-on. None of us knows the man, his unit, or anything about their area of operations. None of us really know what did or did not happen. The arguments against Beauchamp always seemed to be a matter of his stories defying what civilians believe to be common-sense about how the military operates. No vehicle commander would allow his driver to smash through civilian property, change tires in a combat zone, run over dogs, etc., etc., etc.

Except that combat zones breed their own kind of insanity in which common-sense is not always the norm. I mean, just think about the prisoner executions that took place in Beauchamp's unit: the accused are not young soldiers with immature personalities, but the unit's top NCOs, the very soldiers who should have known better.

In other words, at first glance, it seems impossible that Beauchamp's first sergeant--the top-kick of the whole company--would personally be blowing prisoner brains out with his M16.

But, apparently, he did. At least, according to the U.S. Army.

See what I'm getting at? It makes no sense to run over dogs and smash up civilian property. It also makes no sense for a first sergeant to shoot prisoners--yet it happened.

American GIs perform all kinds of heroic, and compassionate, acts under fire. We have great troops, for which we should be proud and thankful. But the military metes out violence, and attracts alpha males who believe in action over words.... and things tend to get crazy sometimes.

Remember the drug problems that plagued the military in the final dog days of the Vietnam War? I know veterans of the 1970-72 who did crazy stuff like snort smack before going out on combat missions. Potentially suicidal? Sure. Real? You bet. Hell, one guy showed me an old 8mm home movie of his squad snorting and smoking heroin before moving out on their M113 Armored Cavalry Assault Vehicles.

Guys under stress do all kinds of crazy things. Won't run over dogs? Think again. A first sergeant who lies about the professionalism of his troops, and goes on to personally shoot prisoners? Believe it.

Thanks Again,
Keith Nolan

Posted by KeithNolan at September 19, 2008 10:38 PM

The backlash wasn't about Beauchamp revealing soldiers were capable of atrocities--I think a little thing called Abu Ghraib pretty much let that cat out of the bag--the problem with Beauchamp's stories was that so many key elements of his stories were so obviously contrived.

He couldn't provide any support for any of his three stories, and three of the five scenarios in those three stories were proven false.

I'll direct you again to this post's lede:

Some of the defenders of Scott Beauchamp's trio of fables in the New Republic simply can't let go of the fact that his stories were poorly written fiction. There's always been an odd attachment by some of them to justify his lies, almost as if his stories of minor atrocities were dismissed, then no atrocity claims would ever be taken seriously again.

Hatley was a relatively minor character and his email was not key in debunking any of the claims.

Yet again, the most fascinating aspect of the saga is the complete inability of some to admit they were so invested in a lie that they seek any excuse at all to keep hope alive that he was telling the truth.

Posted by Confederate Yankee at September 19, 2008 11:22 PM

No, the most fascinating element was the wig out over Beauchamp' stories and the man hours spent disscecting it.

Now it comes out, in the past few months that members of the unit, including one that impugned Beauchamp's character actually committed murder. THAT should be the big story and a bit of humble pie for you all. However, I see that it isn't.

Instead it's still the retread of Beauchamp's stories.

You really need to ask yourself why you can't conceive of a unit that murders unarmed men would have trouble running over a dog or making fun of a burned woman.

Armchair warriors are too funny. My husband makes macabre jokes about his "confirmed kill" in Vietnam being some poor farmer's water buffalo. This stuff happens.

When murder happens, THAT should be the story that the untold man hours are spent on. You don't see this I know, but here you are still banging away at Beauchamp.

Hatley is NOT a footnote, Beauchamp is. For Pete's sake, what is wrong with you? Where are your priorities? Murder trumps all, does it not? Even in war.

Posted by capelza at September 20, 2008 12:25 AM

Capelza: nice not to be alone here, as I usually am at right-wing blogs!

Thanks,
Keith Nolan

Posted by KeithNolan at September 20, 2008 01:18 AM

Mr. Owens, for what it's worth, I have absolutely no personal investment in the Scott Beauchamp story. I don't know a damn thing about the man or his unit. My gut feeling is that Beauchamp took some real incidents, and dressed them up a bit for publication.... but that's only a gut feeling.

The fact remains that the only people who know what happened in Scott Beauchamp's unit are the people in that unit--and the military investigators who pinned down the story of four detainees being executed by the unit's top sergeant.

No one did any real reporting into the Beauchamp story.... and I guess no real reporting will take place until Beauchamp's compadres are out of the army (that is, beyond the reach of military justice), and interviewed en masse by a level-headed reporter with no ax to grind.

Maybe Beauchamp was a fabulist. Maybe not. Maybe he was something in between. Neither you nor I know, nor did any of the thundering right-wing bloggers who were calling for combat infantryman Beauchamp to be fragged.

Support the troops indeed.... until the troops say something that isn't a GOP Talking Point. Then smearing the troops is the name of the game. See: the Bonus Marchers, the Winter Soldiers of Vietnam, the Winter Soldiers of Iraq, etc.

Goodnight,
Keith Nolan

Posted by KeithNolan at September 20, 2008 01:31 AM

Keith,

You are not making a reasonable argument. Executing prisoners is not the same type of behavior as the Shock Troops actions. If STB was describing prisoner abuse, the executions would show some pattern of behavior. Shock troops stuff was high school pranks with macabre styling. The general concept is not unbelievable, its the particulars that seem bizarre. Not only that, but there is nothing that proves that STB was telling the truth. Even with what we know about My Lai, if someone said they had used nerve gas there, we would need specific evidence. If atrocities are really that common, then report on a real one.

Also, there is no smear of STB going on beyond arguing that he was not telling the truth. You are making a case of bad journalism into some kind of crusade for whistle-blowing soldiers. Seriously, if TNR simply posted a retraction back in the day, this story would not really be discussed. Isn't getting the truth about this story important?

Perhaps you don't believe so. The Winter Soldier hearings were plagued by fraud, with some soldiers never having been to Vietnam or having never been in combat. Yet you cite them as part of some brave minority that is silenced. Do we have to take every anti-war or anti-government story as an article of faith?

Posted by OmegaPaladin at September 20, 2008 02:15 AM

For what it's worth, OmegaPaladin, I've done tons of research into the original Vietnam Winter Soldiers. Far from being frauds, I was able to verify many of their credentials as real vets, and was able to either personally corroborate their stories, or found contemporary news accounts, and official publications, that confirmed their stories.

For example, the official, multi-volume USMC history of the Vietnam War confirms numerous Winter Soldier stories, including several atrocities, the murder of a company commander, and media-censored cross-border raid into Laos by the 9th Marines in '69.

Won't bore you with reams of details (nor post the atrocity photos I uncovered from other veterans which spoke to the events discussed by the Winter Soldiers), but, suffice to say, I personally believe that the smearing of the Winter Soldiers as frauds and liars was one of the dirtiest tricks of the Nixon Administration.... and of the Swift Boat crowd during Campaign 2004.

Best,
Keith Nolan

Posted by KeithNolan at September 20, 2008 03:07 AM

No "real reporting," Mr. Nolan?

I personally interviewed the lead investigating officer in this case, personnel at 3 different bases including the two in Iraq and Kuwait where incidents were alleged to have occurred, the company that manufactures the Bradley IFV (to see if it can move the way Beauchamp claimed) and a civilian contractor that served at the base where the burned woman never existed in Kuwait. I even exchanged multiple emails with his wife, Elspeth Reeve.

I obtained and studied dozens of documents related to the official investigation via FOIA, and discovered that Beauchamp even backdated one if his own statements to CYA, but wasn't very bright, because he directly referenced the previous statement.

Scott Beauchamp was and is a fabulist in his stories.

Or Mr. Nolan, are you gong to claim special knowledge of unique square-backed bullets that only you and Mr. Beauchamp know exist?

Or do you know more about Glock handguns and their distribution in Iraq than those who have actually been to Iraq?

Or are you going to claim that you know more about the way Bradley IFVs can move than the company that designs, tests, and builds them, or can identify the mystery woman no one else saw, or can name?

You prove that don't know anything about the reporting of this story, admit that "I don't know a damn thing about the man or his unit" and that you're commentary is based on "only a gut feeling," and rahter clearly disclose that your primary reason for complaint is that your "gut" tells you that this is about "GOP Talking Points."

You should have stopped there.

Capelza,

You state, "You really need to ask yourself why you can't conceive of a unit that murders unarmed men would have trouble running over a dog or making fun of a burned woman."

Who said that I couldn't?

I've been quite well aware of the executions, and wrote about them a month ahead of the left-wing blogs, who are only lately coming to the story. I've just got enough sense to know that the actions of soldiers in Co. D (where the executions took place) wouldn't necessarily have any direct ties to the actions of Co. A (Beauchamp's unit), and that neither case is related to each other.

What you and Nolan and others can't seem to grasp is that because one group may have committed murder, it doesn't change the facts of Beauchamp's fiction.

As noted time and again, the burned woman does not exist and never did. She is a fictional construct, what Major Russo and LTC. Sams in Kuwait said was a myth or urban legend. I spoke with (and still keep in close contact) with a civilian logistics expert that was stationed there as well. He also denies her existence.

Of course, none of Beauchamp's defenders want to admit the other obvious falacy, which was that Beauchamp's anecdote about her was supposed to reveal the callousness of men who had been in combat, but the event he described wold have happened before he'd ever seen combat. Oopsie.

Bradley IFVs cannot be made to move the way Beauchamp describes. Literally dozens of veteran tracked vehicle commanders and drivers came forward to dispute that, but perhaps most tellingly, so did Doug Coffey, of BAE, the company that manufactures the Bradley.

There are no square-backed bullets or cartridges in any weapons system know to man. Such an inherent design flaw would lean to constant jamming due to failures to feed and chamber a round.

Glocks are wild distributed and coveted in Iraq another lie he told exploded by none other than the NY Times.

Hatley is indeed just a "footnote" in Beauchamp's story.

Sadly, he is also alleged to be a murderer in his own, far darker story, one you should note that I am not disputing because this isn't about talking points, no matter how often you try to convince yourself that it is.

Posted by Confederate Yankee at September 20, 2008 06:42 AM

"Maybe Beauchamp was a fabulist. Maybe not."--KeithNolan

That's one heck of a euphemism, and you even hedge that.

Posted by brando at September 20, 2008 09:06 AM

I'm no fabulist, I am, however fabulous. Just ask the German ladies that dig me....

Posted by Scott Thomas at September 20, 2008 09:40 AM

No insult intended, Mr. Owens. I just don't think "real reporting" can be done when guys are in fear of getting Article 15s and court-martials, and are being talked to long-distance by somebody they don't know.

Getting service personnel to admit to misdeeds is no easy task, by the way. Over the years, I've interviewed dozens upon dozens of Vietnam veterans who, mindful of their reputations and that of the units in which they were proud to serve, insisted that they and their comrades adhered precisely to the letter of military law.... only to bump into the odd character who blew all those interviews apart by breaking out old photos of hootches being burned, villagers beaten, and heads being chopped from dead VC.

Again, I have nothing invested in the not-so-exciting saga of Scott Beauchamp, and have no idea if he was telling the truth, lies, or something in between.

I'm curious: did any GI with whom you made contact admit to ANY misdeeds?

You know, instead of just beating Scott Beauchamp about the head and shoulders (and, as indicated above by OmegaPaladin, his stories just aren't that interesting or shocking), maybe you should write a detailed account of his unit's time in Iraq, with commentary on leadership, morale, mission, good deeds, bad deeds, etc.

Best Wishes,
Keith Nolan

Posted by KeithNolan at September 20, 2008 10:13 AM

Correct me if I'm wrong: this is an investigation, not a verdict. Or does innocent until proven guilty only apply to terrorists like Obama buddies Dohrn and Ayers, or treasonous @ssholes like John "I went to Paris to kiss VC @ss" Kerry?

Posted by SDN at September 20, 2008 10:49 AM

Keith:

The fact remains that the only people who know what happened in Scott Beauchamp's unit are the people in that unit--and the military investigators who pinned down the story of four detainees being executed by the unit's top sergeant.

Also Keith:

For what it's worth, OmegaPaladin, I've done tons of research into the original Vietnam Winter Soldiers. Far from being frauds, I was able to verify many of their credentials as real vets, and was able to either personally corroborate their stories, or found contemporary news accounts, and official publications, that confirmed their stories.

So, Keith knows what happened in Vietnam, despite his not having been there and despite it having been 35+ years ago, and yet no one can know, but those in Beauchamp's unit, what happened contemporaneously in Iraq, despite having done their own research, interviews and investigation. Is that about right, Keith?

Posted by Pablo at September 20, 2008 10:54 AM
I've been quite well aware of the executions, and wrote about them a month ahead of the left-wing blogs, who are only lately coming to the story. I've just got enough sense to know that the actions of soldiers in Co. D (where the executions took place) wouldn't necessarily have any direct ties to the actions of Co. A (Beauchamp's unit), and that neither case is related to each other.

It all happened in the Army, Bob, which as we know is chock full of dead end killbots who would probably be in jail if they weren't off killing brown people for Bu$hco. It's just one big unit of babykillers, whom, by the way, we support when it's politically expedient to do so.

Posted by Pablo at September 20, 2008 11:00 AM

"I've interviewed dozens upon dozens of Vietnam veterans who, mindful of their reputations and that of the units in which they were proud to serve, insisted that they and their comrades adhered precisely to the letter of military law.... only to bump into the odd character who blew all those interviews apart by breaking out old photos of hootches being burned, villagers beaten, and heads being chopped from dead VC."

Keith - As CY has repeatedly pointed out, we are not talking about the types of violations of the UCMJ you describe in your comment regarding Beauchamp, making your comparison ludicrous on its face. The punishments for participants with in any of the activities would be mostly administrative. Why do you keep ignoring significant points like that and the physically impossible details of Beauchamp's stories raised by writers such as CY. It creates gaping holes in credibility for observers such as yourself.

Posted by daleyrocks at September 20, 2008 12:21 PM

Let me get this straight, this far left wing fanatical nutjob Keith is trying to connect two completely separate events to prove that Beauchamp's proven lies were actually the truth? How sad and pathetic! Bob, why are you even responding to this obviously intellectually dishonest Keith character? He's lying and I'd bet, even though he's a far left wing fanatic knows he's lying.

Posted by Capitalist Infidel at September 20, 2008 12:38 PM

Okay, Capitalist Infidel, so I'm a "far left fanatical nutjob," who is both "pathetic" and "intellectually dishonest."

Wow! Do we know each other? I might mention that I voted for Reagan, Bush I, and Dole, and was geared up to vote for McCain in 2000 until ol' George W. somehow grabbed the nomination from him. My only anti-GOP crime is that I was never able to pull the lever for someone like George W.

This makes me left-wing?!

Please!

Your buddy,
Keith

Posted by KeithNolan at September 20, 2008 01:22 PM

Pablo, don't mind your insults, but don't think you have a grasp of what is involved in doing research into military subjects. (My apologies if your half-a-name hides one of the great journalists or writers of our time.)

Regarding Vietnam, yeah, when guys break out their old letters and diaries and photo albums and home movies, you get a pretty good drift of what "really happened."

Regarding Iraq, when guys are still in uniform and don't want to get caught up in the gears of the military-justice system, yeah, it's a little harder to get down to what "really happened."

When it comes to Beauchamp, I find it weird that he served in a unit so professional that no one would ever run over a dog, but shooting hand-cuffed detainees was considered acceptable. (And, no, I don't think the military is made up of mindless killbots, for pete's sake. I just think that humans are volatile and emotional creatures capable of anything under the right set of circumstances.)


Posted by KeithNolan at September 20, 2008 01:38 PM

Bwahahahahaha!!!! Everyone who believes "Keith" ever voted for a Republican please raise your hand........anybody?........didn't think so. Do these nutjobs think they are fooling anyone when they lie like that? What a sad and pathetic little man!

Posted by Capitalist Infidel at September 20, 2008 08:47 PM

Mr. Nolan, have you ever driven a tracked vehicle? Does the phrase "thrown a track" mean anything to you?

Unlike a wheeled vehicle with run-flat tires, when you throw a track, you aren't going *anywhere* until you get the track back on the road wheels. Armored soldiers (I used to be one) don't like to throw track and don't really care for drivers that do it. You can't move, so you are a sitting target. You have to get outside of the armor to fix the track, so you a vulnerable to small arms fire. Bad juju.

I don't doubt that they ran over dogs that ran in front of the vehicle. I do doubt that they would try to swing the ass end of the vehicle as they are driving by in an attempt to swipe the dog.

Maybe the leadership of that outfit was more lax than I can imagine; I'd expect a high causality rate from them if that were so.

Posted by Mark A. Flacy at September 20, 2008 11:50 PM

Mark, facts don't mean anything to left wing fanatics like Mr. Nolan. You're fighting a losing battle. The only thing that matters to them is their viciously anti-military ideology.

Posted by Capitalist Infidel at September 21, 2008 08:30 AM
Regarding Iraq, when guys are still in uniform and don't want to get caught up in the gears of the military-justice system, yeah, it's a little harder to get down to what "really happened."

As has been noted, the only reason there's a story in the new allegations is because guys who are still in uniform called for the gears of the military justice system to turn. As for Beauchamp, the violations alleged would be relatively minor and the military justice system hasn't batted an eye at any of it.

Your argument was that "The fact remains that the only people who know what happened in Scott Beauchamp's unit are the people in that unit--and the military investigators who pinned down the story of four detainees being executed by the unit's top sergeant." This is false. Much of what did happen, and more importantly, what didn't happen is knowable and documented. You're assertion that fear of reprisal has hidden the deep dark truth of burnt women and square bullets is, frankly, ridiculous.

BTW, I have not insulted you, Keith. Yet. So, you shouldn't mind.

Posted by Pablo at September 21, 2008 11:39 AM