27 October 2007

Answering Rutten

Tim Rutten writes in Drudge, New Republic battle over 'Baghdad Diarist'

There are questions to be asked, though you won't see them in the pro-war blogosphere:

* Who leaked the documents to Drudge and why, among all the documents the Army must have collected in this case, was one of them a transcript that could be used to put Foer and Scoblic in a bad light?

* Why did Drudge take the documents down and why hasn't he explained his reasons for doing so?

* Why no original link to the Memorandum, the only document that would have contained evidence?

* Why has the Army kept Beauchamp in Iraq where it can control access to him and he's beyond the reach of any other jurisdiction?

* Why hasn't the Army complied with the New Republic's FOI request?
I also want to know the answer to the first question. I'm betting this leak was an unofficial and unauthorized act of an individual. (I sincerely hope I'm proved correct about that. I also consider the assumption being made by others that the leak was an official act of "the Army" to be hypocritical, diversionary and culture-left warrior tactics. But who knows? Maybe the leaker(s) lacked the willful intent and knowledge to know better [Like Linda Tripp's personnel records? - ed. Good point.] )

Either this individual sent the documents directly to the Drudge Report or indirectly through a third-party. Either way, this was a violation of AR 15-6:
3–18. Safeguarding a written report
a. When the report contains material that requires protection but does not have a security classification, the report will be marked “For Official Use Only” as provided by AR 25–55.
b. No one will disclose, release, or cause to be published any part of the report, except as required in the normal course of forwarding and staffing the report or as otherwise authorized by law or regulation, without the approval of the appointing authority. [my emphasis]
If the leak of the documents that were posted on the Drudge Report was not authorized (a good bet), then only an approved Freedom of Information Act request could authorized such a release. (see A Citizen’s Guide To Request Army Records Under The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) or AR 25-55: The Department of the Army Freedom of Information Act Program)

I would very much like to see the name(s) of the leaker(s) made public and properly disciplined.

I would also like an answer to the second question. I think Drudge owes his readers an explanation just as TNR has a responsibility to its readers. Both are failing miserably.

The third question about the missing link seems minor and conspiratorial. The signed memorandum of record is the last page of the second file containing the second part of the telephone conference call transcript. It's just not linked as a separate "fourth document." Rutten didn't do his homework. [UPDATE: Note that Rutten's online column, referring to a dispute taking place online, contains NO LINKS!] I also disagree with the conclusion that the memorandum was "the only document that would have contained evidence." Dumb question, moving on ....

The fourth question is stupid AND conspiratorial. It's primarily Beauchamp's decision to stay in Iraq. If Beauchamp wanted to leave Iraq, he could have made that known during the investigation and been administratively punished and sent back to the unit's rear detachment in Germany or separated from the Army and sent home. As Michael Yon wrote:
He could have left the unit, but LTC Glaze told me that Beauchamp wanted to stay and make it right.
So instead of being administratively disciplined and whisked out of Iraq, Beauchamp received a "local file" counseling and a second chance. This isn't just a dumb question, this is Rutten being a jerk.

The last question is just plain ignorance on Rutten's part and is nicely addressed by Bob Owens:
A simple phone call from TNR to the Centcom FOIA office in Tampa would provide them with the status of their request, a fact Foer and Sargent either did not know, or chose not to reveal. It is again worth mentioning that the documents Franklin Foer has directly asked for, such as Beauchamp's statements, could easily be released by Beauchamp himself.
Rutten also "either did not know, or chose not to reveal" and couldn't be bothered to make such a phone call because ... well, because ...?

Rutten also asks this later in his column:
Who knew the Army was awash in such compassion?
Not Rutten. But it's my guess that Rutten knows little to nothing about the Army and leadership. For Rutten, the Army is an institution he can use to spread conspiracy theories with questions based on ignorance and stupidity.

Finally, Rutten asks:
Why the attempt to shift attention off the alleged fabulist, Beauchamp, and onto the editors of the magazine, who after initially supporting the invasion, have turned decisively against the war?
What shift? Is Rutten, the media critic, unaware of the attention that the editors of TNR have been receiving this whole time along with Beauchamp?

I've never been particularly "down" on Beauchamp and he deserves the second chance he's been given to redeem himself. For now, "He’s good with the house."

My Proposed Correction for Tim Rutten’s Column on the Beauchamp Affair
Timothy Rutten: Champion of Ethics as Proclaimed by the Los Angeles Times
Questions For TNR

Beauchamp's Second Chance
War Stories: Carter and Beauchamp
Not Blogging About Beauchamp

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