By JOHN MILBURN and ELLEN SIMON, Associated Press WritersThu Aug 9, 4:07 AM ET
A magazine gets a hot story straight from a soldier in Iraq and publishes his writing, complete with gory details, under a pseudonym. The stories are chilling: An Iraqi boy befriends American troops and later has his tongue cut out by insurgents. Soldiers mock a disfigured woman sitting near them in a dining hall. As a diversion, soldiers run over dogs with armored personnel carriers. Compelling stuff, and, according to the Army, not true.
Three articles by the soldier have run since January in The New Republic, a liberal magazine with a small circulation owned by Canadian company CanWest Corp. The stories, which ran under the name “Scott Thomas,” were called into question by The Weekly Standard, a conservative magazine with a small circulation owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. The Standard last month challenged bloggers to check the dispatches.
Since then, Pvt. Scott Thomas Beauchamp, of the 1st Battalion, 18th Infantry, has come forward as the author. The New Republic said that Beauchamp “came to its attention” through Elspeth Reeve, a reporter-researcher at the magazine he later married.
The Army said this week it had concluded an investigation of Beauchamp’s claims and found them false.
“During that investigation, all the soldiers from his unit refuted all claims that Pvt. Beauchamp made in his blog,” Sgt. 1st Class Robert Timmons, a spokesman in Baghdad for the 4th Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, based at Fort Riley, Kan., said in an e-mail interview.