Private Scott Thomas Beauchamp is one peculiar fellow.
Beauchamp, we now know, is the author of the New Republic dispatches published under the pseudonym "Scott Thomas," dispatches that have been widely questioned.
Beauchamp attended the University of Missouri-Columbia from 2002 to 2004, where he was the editor of a lefty campus magazine called Prospectus. It was there that he first met Elspeth Reeve, the future TNR staffer whom he would later marry. A friend of Beauchamp's told the Columbia Tribune that Beauchamp transferred to the University of Missouri-St. Louis, but that school couldn't find any record of his enrollment. Odd.
Beauchamp seems to have joined the Army for an unusual reason. His badly written blog, kept while he was stationed in Germany, contains a declaration that "ill return to america an author," a reference to "wanting to be in [a war] just to write a book," and a confession that, while he feels like he's "a tool for global corporations," he clings to the idea that "this army experience... will add a legitimacy to EVERYTHING i do afterwards, and totally bolster my opinions on defense, etc." Beauchamp, then, seems to have decided to write an antiwar book, and then decided to enlist so that he could write from the perspective of a veteran. Strange.
Another bizarre nugget from his blog: A picture of a German girl with a caption implying that she's his girlfriend. The picture is actually of Claudia Heym, a blogger (though one who hasn't written in a while) at Misunderestimated Germans, where the title banner contains the same picture that Beauchamp used. Blogger GM Roper, who first noticed that picture, has emailed with Heym's coblogger and suggests that Beauchamp doesn't even know Heym (given Heym's conservatism, it seems unlikely that they'd hit it off). So Beauchamp seems to have invented a girlfriend for himself. Weird.
Private Beauchamp was once a Private First Class; at some point, he was demoted. A milblogger at The Foxhole exchanged emails with the First Sergeant of Beauchamp's company; while the First Sergeant's reply has been taken down at his request, it mentioned that Beauchamp has other "issues."
Evidently not thriving as a soldier, Beauchamp decided to become a war correspondent. In publishing his work, the New Republic gave him the benefit of the doubt (for no magazine's fact-checking processes can work if writers are dishonest), presumably because he is the husband of a staffer. Were his dispatches true? It's possible. There do turn out to have been bones discovered during the construction of a Command Outpost, albeit in a somewhat different context than Beauchamp's writing implied. While it would be better for TNR if everything turned out to be true, Beauchamp is in a lot less trouble, as Jack Kelly has pointed out, if he made it all up.
TNR is continuing its investigation of Beauchamp's claims, and now the Army is investigating them as well. Beauchamp, for his part, is standing by his reporting: "[M]y character, my experiences, and those of my comrades in arms have been called into question," he writes indignantly.
Recall that Beauchamp depicted himself in print as loudly mocking a woman disfigured by a bomb. Now he's upset with people who doubt the story for questioning his character. Again: A peculiar fellow.
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