Bob Owens over at Confederate Yankee managed to track down one of the sources The New Republic used to "confirm" one of the facts in their since-discredited "Shock Troops" piece -- and it doesn't reflect well on that magazine's vaunted fact-checking. Specifically, Owens tracked down the spokesman for the manufacturerer of the Bradley Fighting Vehicle that reportedly was used to run over dogs, knock down stalls, curbs and concrete barriers for fun.
In short, the TNR researcher did not provide the text of "Shock Troops" for Mr. [Doug Coffey] to review, and only asked the vaguest possible questions. It seems rather obvious that this was not an attempt to actually verify Beauchamp's claims, but was instead designed to help The New Republic manufacturer a whitewash of an investigation.
It turns out that after asking Coffey to verify what Pvt. Scott Beauchamp actually wrote, rather than some obscure hypotheticals, that the "confirmation" TNR got isn't very solid.
I can't pretend to know what may or may not have happened in Iraq but the impression the writer leaves is that a "driver" can go on joy rides with a 35 ton vehicle at will. The vehicle has a crew and a commander of the vehicle who is in charge. In order for the scenario described to have taken place, there would have to have been collaboration by the entire crew.
It also seems suspicious that a driver could go on repeated joy rides or purposefully run into things. Less a risk to the track though that is certainly possible but there is sensitive equipment on the top of the vehicle, antennas, sights, TOW missile launcher, commander and if it was a newer vehicle, the commander's independent viewer, not to mention the main gun. Strange things are known to happen in a combat environment but I can't imagine that the vehicle commander or the unit commander would tolerate repeated misuse of the vehicle, especially any action that could damage its ability to engage.
Of course, TNR -- in full CBS/Dan Rather/Mary Mapes mode -- continues to stand behind its correspondent and their own fact-checking. I was originally of the opinion that Franklin Foer and the rest of the management could survive this embarrassment. I no longer think that's the case. TNR has not been honest or forthright since this controversy erupted -- and blaming those who expose your errors is never a good strategy.
Foer's going to have to go.