From the Howie Kurtz report that Jennifer mentioned below:
But New Republic Editor Franklin Foer is standing his ground. “We’ve talked to military personnel directly involved in the events that Scott Thomas Beauchamp described, and they corroborated his account,” Foer said. The magazine granted anonymity to the other soldiers it cited…
“Thus far,” [Foer] added, “we’ve been provided no evidence that contradicts our original statement, despite directly asking the military for any such evidence it might have.”
So Foer’s position now is that the burden of proof is on the Army to demonstrate that they didn’t botch their investigation.
I made this point in my column today, but let me tease it out: All things being equal, it’s more likely that the Army got the truth than that TNR did. The Army investigators interviewed members of Beauchamp’s platoon and company in person. It’s very difficult for liars to keep their stories straight under those circumstances. This is the basis of the prisoner’s dilemma. According to game theory, the equilibrium in the prisoner’s dilemma is for rational players to defect — that is, to snitch on other interviewees.
There was no such dynamic at work in TNR‘s investigation. They were emailing with their sources. If the soldiers they questioned decided to mislead them, all they had to do was coordinate their stories before answering emails from TNR.
Is it possible that TNR has the truth and the Army doesn’t? Of course. But that’s certainly not how I’d bet.
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