Some things don’t seem coincidental

Ace deconstructs The New Republic‘s most recent attempt to explain away Scott Thomas’ rather strange, and almost impossible to corroborate, claims about his macabre and novelistic experiences in Iraq. The more one learns, the more it seems that Thomas wanted to write a semi-biographical version of the great anti-War novel, and therefore went to Iraq bound and determined to test his preconceived plot scenarios. In this way, he reminds me of Kerry, who pretty much did the same thing with his prosy little Vietnam diary (where he served, you know).

Anyway, there was one thing Ace wrote about that struck me as very peculiar. First, I give you Ace’s bit, including quotations from TNR, all of which is followed by my comment. This particular quotation has to do with the claim that the soldiers dug up a mass grave and one soldier spent the day wandering around wearing a child’s skull on his head (emphasis below mine):

Their next case of “confirmation” is curious. First I’ll give you their “confirmation.” Read carefully.

In the second anecdote, soldiers in Beauchamp’s unit discovered what they believed were children’s bones. Publicly, the military has sought to refute this claim on the grounds that no such discovery was officially reported.

Funny, I thought it had be reported far and wide, citing military sources, that a children’s cemetery had been dug up.

But one military official told TNR that bones were commonly found in the area around Beauchamp’s combat outpost. (This is consistent with the report of a children’s cemetery near Beauchamp’s combat outpost reported on The Weekly Standard website.)

Er, no it’s not. This deception disguises a key dispute between WS and TNR: WS confirmed “children’s cemetery.” Scott Beauchamp claimed mass grave — not in those words, but in words strongly suggesting a mass grave.

TNR claims vindication in that bones were found — that was known from day one or, I guess, day two, when army sources confirmed (and did not seek to “refute” Beauchamp’s story by claiming no bones had been “officially discovered”) a children’s cemetery had been routinely dug up to be relocated due to an engineering project. They prove here what is not disputed. Except that Beauchamp didn’t just call it “bones,” did he?

Here’s what he claimed:

No one cared to speculate what, exactly, had happened here, but it was clearly a Saddam-era dumping ground of some sort.

From the get-go, this has been challenged because the wording is clearly intended to suggest “mass grave,” and mass graves usually are dug after mass-executions. But no mass grave was found, and TNR’s “confirmation” does not claim it was. Now they only claim “bones” were found — which does then little good, as the Army has long confirmed “bones” were found. What they disputed was a “mass grave,” or as Beauchamp calls it, “clearly a Saddam-era dumping ground of some sort” where “no one cared to speculate what, exactly, had happened.”

There is no “confirmation” for anything other than children being buried in a graveyard where little “speculation” as to “what, exactly, had happened” was necessary, no more than one needs to speculate “what, exactly, had happened” in your local graveyard. What, exactly, had happened? People had died and then had been buried, as is usually the case with dead people.

The next claim of “confirmation.” Note how little is confirmed.

More important, two witnesses have corroborated Beauchamp’s account. One wrote in an e-mail: “I can wholeheartedly verify the finding of the bones; U.S. troops (in my unit) discovered human remains in the manner described in ‘Shock Troopers.’ [sic] … [We] did not report it; there was no need to. The bodies weren’t freshly killed and thus the crime hadn’t been committed while we were in control of the sector of operations.” On the phone, this soldier later told us that he had witnessed another soldier wearing the skull fragment just as Beauchamp recounted: “It fit like a yarmulke,” he said. A forensic anthropologist confirmed to us that it is possible for tufts of hair to be attached to a long-buried fragment of a human skull, as described in the piece.

Am I being paranoid here, or is there may than a whiff of anti-Semitism in the unknown corroborator’s claim that the bone fragment fit like a “yarmulke”? Maybe centuries of blood libel accusations have made me sensitive to negative connotations when people make accusations that link dead children and Jews.

Or maybe there’s something very peculiar about this description, one that’s simultaneously weird and esoteric. I doubt that most American soldiers are going around comparing bone fragments to yarmulkes. It’s also hard to imagine the practical reality of this claim, given that the curvature of a child’s skull is so much smaller than that of an adult’s. Smells bad to me, not to mention unnatural and as artificial as the rest of Thomas’ literary version of war.

Hat tip: LGF

UPDATE: Michelle Malkin has put together an excellent collection of quotations and links regarding TNR’s latest attempt to explain away its decision to publish, apparently unread, Thomas’ novelistic confabulations.

4 Responses

  1. Someone called the 1930’s ‘a low dishonest decade”. It’s clear that decade was not the low water mark; what is unclear is how much lower we can go…

    I’m certain this bit player with his walk on part will be completely forgotten in the history of this conflict, but the propoganda value is in the present, and has no future value. Still it rankles that TNR would traffic in this scurrility, and that our troops have to bear yet another load of libellous crap as they fight our enemies.

  2. I want TNR to confirm that a CHILD’S cranium is large enough for an adult man to wear on his head, under his helmet!!

    Oh yeah….wouldn’t we all like to see them try to confirm that one!

  3. […] Others posting on this issue: Stephen Spruiell, John Noonan, Junkyard Blog, Michael Goldfarb, Dean Barnett, Baldilocks, Political Animal, Bill’s Bites, Wake up America, Solomonia, Bookworm Room […]

  4. So… Mr. Beauchamp claims that the incident in which he ridiculed the disfigured woman occurred in KUWAIT, not in Iraq? Consider how the infamous article opens:

    “I saw her nearly every time I went to dinner in the chow hall at my base in Iraq. She wore an unrecognizable tan uniform, so I couldn’t really tell whether she was a soldier or a civilian contractor.”

    He goes on to wonder whether the constant exposure to war has made him inhumane. This is a fellow who had just spent years in Germany training, and had then flown to Kuwait, a staging point for deployment to Iraq.

    Read his first sentence again. Consider his reflection on the horrors of war. It is impossible for this to be a mistake. It is an out and out lie.

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