Friday, July 27, 2007
Army grounds immature "soldier-journalist" Beauchamp by taking away his toys
I've been following the story of Private Scott Thomas Beauchamp, of course, but mostly because I don't have any personal history in the military, I haven't felt like I had anything particularly interesting to contribute to the on-going discussion. Nevertheless, I simply want to highlight one paragraph from WaPo media reporter-extraordinaire Howard Kurtz' column today that pushed one of my laugh-out-loud buttons as a father of four teens (emphasis mine):
The [New Republic's] editor, Franklin Foer, disclosed in an interview that Beauchamp is married to a New Republic staffer, and that is "part of the reason why we found him to be a credible writer." Foer also said Beauchamp "has put himself in significant jeopardy" and "lost his lifeline to the rest of the world" because military officials have taken away his laptop, cellphone and e-mail privileges.
What Foer calls Beauchamp's "lifeline" is, of course, what Beauchamp may actually have already used to hang himself. I'm sure that Foer is correct in saying that Beauchamp has "put himself in significant jeopardy" with the Army, both formally and informally. And The New Republic and, presumably, his wife have been his eager enablers in that, albeit without directly sharing his risks. (They may, however, have their own.)
My guess — and it's a pretty wild one, much less well informed than any of the military bloggers who are watching this — is that the appropriate personnel in the First Infantry Division will fairly soon confirm that Beauchamp is guilty mostly of birthing execrable and quite literally incredible fiction in both prose and poetry. Very likely neither he nor his fellow soldiers did the bad acts about which he's written.
Once that's established, then — to the enormous credit of our military — there will be intelligent and passionate internal arguments over what punishment, if any, Beauchamp merits (beyond the scorn of every serious person, regardless of their politics). Our military leaders are still struggling to find the right balance in dealing with the new media age — a time when, for purposes of damage control during the assessment, taking away Beauchamp's cell phone and laptop may be more urgent than restricting him to quarters. I frankly don't have a firm opinion as to where they ought to come out in that balancing, either in general or, in particular, with respect to Beauchamp. (I do hope that if he continues trying to publish his writing, he will seek professional assistance, perhaps via the G.I. Bill, in obtaining some basic grammar, punctuation, and even capitalization training.)
But I'm glad he's been exposed, and I look forward to the rest of the truth coming out. In the meantime, all of my sympathies are — presumptively and probably permanently, or at least until I have better reason than the likes of Beauchamp's trashy writing to change my evaluation — with every member of the First Infantry Division except Scott Thomas Beauchamp. The Big Red One has certainly been made famous in not only news reports but in fictional (or fictionalized) print and film, but I don't think they've ever been quite so "fabled" as they are now, as a result of Beauchamp's smears. I believe they almost certainly deserve to be vindicated even from any whiff of "fake but accurate" that lingers about Beauchamp's shameful tall tales.
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I think it is "Other than Honorable Discharge" time. I don't think the Army can give him reasonable protection from other-than-official punishment anymore (to put it as technically as possible.)
(2) The Drill SGT made the following comment | Jul 27, 2007 6:09:18 PM | Permalink
I think a Special Court Martial (sort of a misdemeanor trial, Judge, 3 officer jury) should try him under article 134 and give him a less than Honorable discharge.
put him under oath first. Get him to make a statement saying his article is true, then try him under 134 for conduct that brings discredit on the Army. Remembering that the abuse of the female in the chow hall was first person, allegedly the author was the abuser.
If he says what he wrote was a lie, then article 134,...
classic perjury trap.
(3) Michael B made the following comment | Jul 28, 2007 1:29:16 AM | Permalink
"What Foer calls Beauchamp's "lifeline" is, of course, what Beauchamp may actually have already used to hang himself."
That is equally hilarious, compared to Kurtz's excerpt, which truly was a laugh-out-loud bit of hilarity itself.
My knowledge of the military is strictly second-hand -- from my father and uncles all three of whom were in elite units with proud histories.
I believe that this is a blot for The New Republic but not very significant for the military. Soldiers belly-ache constantly. (You must know the story of the recruit who wrote to his mother: "The food is terrible ... and SUCH SMALL PORTIONS".) It is also the privilege of the enlisted man to question the competence and sanity of his superior officers. The kid is a fabulist and whiner but nothing that sergeants can't kick into line when it's time to do his job. TNR elevating his "girl talk" to newsworthiness is below the standard of a neighborhood weekly ad-paper let alone a national magazine.
(5) Bill M made the following comment | Jul 29, 2007 3:38:50 PM | Permalink
Scottie's in a world of hurt. If what he wrote is true, then he violated his duty to report the incidents up his chain of command. If they are false (as they most likely are -- maybe 99.999+%), then he's a marked man in his unit. If he thought he was being ignored before, then he ain't seen nothin' yet.
I'd expect a general discharge for the young turkey as the Army will likely be more than willing to shed itself of this supposed "expose writer."
I'd rather see a dishonorable, but I don't think he's done anything that would warrant it (unless what he wrote is true, in which case his failure to report it will provide viable grounds under the UCMJ, for a trial with that posible result).
(6) DRJ made the following comment | Jul 29, 2007 7:26:29 PM | Permalink
What is TNR going to do with the Beauchamps? Assuming they keep her on staff, I wonder if they plan to offer him a job once he's a civilian.
(7) gingeroni made the following comment | Jul 30, 2007 12:43:05 PM | Permalink
He may be in more trouble from his blog writings in Germany. Apparently, he was very explicit in detailing when his unit and all their equipment would leave Germany, arrive in Kuwait and head on in to Iraq.
(8) Friend #1 made the following comment | Jul 30, 2007 7:56:28 PM | Permalink
Beldar, I sense a groundswell. Your loyal readers demand to know what you think of the Fredo Gonzales mêlée. Is it perjury, political posturing, or both? What say you?
BTW, we're still very much on track for a Giuliani/Frist ticket in '08.
(9) DaSarge made the following comment | Jul 30, 2007 10:19:39 PM | Permalink
OK, as a trial lawyer (28+ yrs), former Staff NCO, & platoon sergeant, may I suggest a more urgent consideration? The Plt Sgt, Plt Cdr, whatever they call the Company GySgt in the Army, the Sgt Maj, & the Skipper are probably discussing whether this guy is mature enough to:
a. take on patrol;
b. allowed to operate a deadly weapon;
c. allowed out of the sight of adult supervision;
His platoon mates already know he he is too puerile to trust.
For a kid who should be an E-4, he has gone from E-3 to E-2 -- in combat, where promotions (in the Army, anyway) are easy.
With Yon, Thammes, Totten, & a host of serious guys out there, TNR thinks THIS adolescent nincompoop is the guy to publish? Are all the grown-ups at TNR gone or retired?
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