To: Franklin Foer, Editor, The New Republic
From: Timothy, Blogger, Zeal & Activity
CC: Michael Yon, Hugh Hewitt
Re: “Scott Thomas” Affair – Next Steps
Dear Mr. Foer:
Your publication of Army private Scott Thomas Beauchamp’s “Diarist” piece has caused some controversy. Apparently, only one detail of his story – beyond the fact of his existence – has been corroborated. Pvt. Beauchamp appears to have strong political views. He’s not a particularly good writer. It doesn’t help that you knew he is married to one of your staffers.
I suggest that The New Republic run a companion piece in its next issue. It has some similarities with the Beauchamp piece, and some key advantages over it. I am confident that it will meet The New Republic’s standards for freelance writers. Running this piece will provide your readers with a valuable, interesting, and informative contrast with Pvt. Beauchamp’s experience.
Like the Beauchamp piece, it deals with a mass grave – a real one. Again, the grave contained children’s bodies. The atrocity here is far more newsworthy than some cretinous horseplay: the children had been decapitated.
Corroboration will not be a problem. The grave’s excavation was witnessed by at least five American Soldiers from C Company, 1-12 Cavalry, who are identified by name, together with Iraqi soldiers from the 3-25 (5th Division). It was captured on video and in numerous still photographs, and its GPS coordinates are available.
Of course, I’m referring to Michael Yon’s dispatch “Bless the Beasts and Children.” On June 29, in a village about 3.5 miles from Baqubah, the capital of Diyala Province, U.S. and Iraqi troops discovered a mass grave containing the bodies of “10-14” villagers and children, as well as their animals.
Additional detail including a final body count is here and comments from a Diyala provincial council member are here. A video interview with American witnesses is here.
Michael Yon, who has been called “this generation’s Ernie Pyle,” is a former Green Beret and freelance journalist. He has been in Iraq since January 2007 and previously embedded in Mosul with the 1-24 Infantry. He has often criticized U.S. policy in Iraq and Afghanistan and the Army chain of command that authorizes embedded journalists. He was among the first to describe the situation in Iraq as a “civil war.” His writing is powerful, direct, and gripping.
Mr. Yon has offered the “Bless the Beasts and Children” dispatch, photographs, and video to all media outlets free of charge during July 2007. While several news websites and blogs linked to the dispatch, as far as I know, no print publication has carried them. Mr. Yon can be reached at email@example.com.
Publishing Mr. Yon’s dispatch will demonstrate the The New Republic’s commitment to complete coverage of the war in Iraq. It will provide the magazine’s readers with important information about our allies and enemies there. It will showcase a gifted writer with virtually unfettered access to the battlefield. And it will soothe the distracting uproar over Pvt. Beauchamp’s allegations.
CC: Michael Yon, Hugh Hewitt
I don’t currently have Mr. Foer’s email address so I haven’t yet sent this letter directly to him. UPDATE: Done, with the help of commenter Sharkman, a little before 9 p.m. GMT on Friday.
UPDATE: Welcome, Hugh Hewitt readers! Have a look around – you might be interested in this somewhat related post on Citizen Journalism.