Michelle Malkin has a post up on The New Republic articles run the pseudonymous soldier “Scott Thomas”. I posted something briefly here on it yesterday, after running across information posted at Red State on it. Now, Louise Story at the NYT chimes in on the quest for answers.
Just who is the “Baghdad Diarist”?
It is a question that many people are asking The New Republic, the Washington political magazine that has been running articles attributed to an American soldier in Baghdad.
The author, who used the pen name Scott Thomas, has written three articles for the magazine since February, describing gruesome incidents in Iraq. Last week, The Weekly Standard questioned the veracity of the New Republic articles and invited readers with knowledge about the military or Baghdad to comment.
Since then, several readers and a spokesman for the base where the soldier is supposedly based have written in, raising more questions.
“Absolutely every piece of information that’s come out since we put that call up has cast further doubt on that story,” said Michael Goldfarb, the online editor of The Weekly Standard. “There’s not a single person that has come forward and said, ‘It sounds plausible.’ ”
Franklin Foer, the editor of The New Republic, will not reveal the author’s identity but says the magazine is investigating the accuracy of his articles. In the late 1990s, under different editors, the magazine fired an associate editor, Stephen Glass, for fabrications.
“Now that these questions have been raised, we’ve launched an inquiry. We’re putting the full resources of the magazine to look into the story,” Mr. Foer said. “It’s taking me a little bit longer than I wish it did. The author, not to mention some of the participants in the anecdotes he described, are active duty soldiers and they’re on 20-hour active combat missions sometimes, and it’s very difficult for me to get them all on the phone to ask them the questions that I’d like to ask.”
The diaries have described some shocking incidents of military life, including soldiers openly mocking a disfigured woman on their base and a private wearing a found piece of a child’s skull under his helmet.
The magazine granted anonymity to the writer to keep him from being punished by his military superiors and to allow him to write candidly, Mr. Foer said. He said that he had met the writer and that he knows with “near certainty” that he is, in fact, a soldier.
Scott Johnson provides input at Power Line:
We don’t know yet whether Thomas’s article is fact or fiction. Foer may yet produce facts that substantiate it. As I observed last week, however, TNR ran the article without much in the way of independent verification of the incidents recounted in it. Foer’s comments in the Times article today amplify the point. Given the poor light in which they displayed our armed forces serving in Iraq, the incidents retailed by “Thomas” were self-authenticating in the eyes of TNR. “The editors” never seriously thought to question them.
Additional reaction from Michael Goldfarb at the Weekly Standard, who got things rolling on this issue and has more reaction from FOB Falcon.
Our Soldiers our held to the highest standards in all regards to include Standards of Conduct and Rules of War. There has been no operational reporting of the misconduct of Soldiers as reported in the article. We also cannot disclose the names and units of Soldiers that are serving in Iraq.
In addition, any misconduct by Soldiers is addressed by the unit commander through the uniform code of military justice. All violations of the law are investigated.
MAJ ANTON D. ALSTON
MNF-I Press Desk Operations Officer
Stay tuned. I am sure there will be more to come as Thomas and TNR are found out.