If you know a combat veteran, then you may have had a fortunate encounter. A private moment when they open up and the stories begin to flow. Soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines are possessed of almost super-human traits. They work harder, laugh louder, love more intensely, think more profoundly than the average person waiting in line at Starbucks for their venti chai latte.
Combat veterans have seen things most will never see. No movie marathon of Full Metal Jacket, Platoon, and Deer Hunter or even Jarhead – will ever convey the harsh realities our Armed Forces see while deployed to a War Zone.
They are the superheroes with superhuman responsibilities. The weight of our nation’s bedrock – the US Constitution – is their charge to defend. Most will meet the challenge. Some folks were never meant for such greatness, and they fail.
Our national press corps weave more than news and opinion, they bear much of the burden of telling America’s story, to her people and to the world. Sometimes, they fail too. And it should never be perceived as a crack in that bedrock – instead, a counterweight. They function like a level… giving us clarity. Informing our opinions, partisan points of view, and providing much needed ballast to policy makers.
Case in point, The New Republic. Earlier today, Editor Franklin Foer penned a piece – Fog of War – that details his magazine’s struggle with reporting from the frontlines, “Bagdhad Diarist” Scott Thomas Beauchamp, and weathering attacks from the Left and Right. It is a concise accounting and reveals only one human frailty – their misplaced faith in a soldier who never should have been. Excerpts are below.
The New Republic: Fog of War
In retrospect, we never should have put Beauchamp in this situation. He was a young soldier in a war zone, an untried writer without journalistic training. We published his accounts of sensitive events while granting him the shield of anonymity–which, in the wrong hands, can become license to exaggerate, if not fabricate.
When I last spoke with Beauchamp in early November, he continued to stand by his stories. Unfortunately, the standards of this magazine require more than that. And, in light of the evidence available to us, after months of intensive re-reporting, we cannot be confident that the events in his pieces occurred in exactly the manner that he described them. Without that essential confidence, we cannot stand by these stories.
Baghdad Diarists by Scott Thomas Beauchamp:
“Shock Troops” (published July 13, 2007)
TNR Online updates regarding Scott Thomas Beauchamp:
A Scott Beauchamp Update (published October 26, 2007)