||[Jul. 24th, 2007|02:28 pm]
A Place for Republicans and Christians
Doubts Raised on Magazine’s ‘Baghdad Diarist’
By LOUISE STORY
Just who is the “Baghdad Diarist”?
It is a question that many people are asking The New Republic, the Washington political magazine that has been running articles attributed to an American soldier in Baghdad.
The author, who used the pen name Scott Thomas, has written three articles for the magazine since February, describing gruesome incidents in Iraq. Last week, The Weekly Standard questioned the veracity of the New Republic articles and invited readers with knowledge about the military or Baghdad to comment.
Since then, several readers and a spokesman for the base where the soldier is supposedly based have written in, raising more questions.
“Absolutely every piece of information that’s come out since we put that call up has cast further doubt on that story,” said Michael Goldfarb, the online editor of The Weekly Standard. “There’s not a single person that has come forward and said, ‘It sounds plausible.’ ”
Franklin Foer, the editor of The New Republic, will not reveal the author’s identity but says the magazine is investigating the accuracy of his articles. In the late 1990s, under different editors, the magazine fired an associate editor, Stephen Glass, for fabrications.
“Now that these questions have been raised, we’ve launched an inquiry. We’re putting the full resources of the magazine to look into the story,” Mr. Foer said. “It’s taking me a little bit longer than I wish it did. The author, not to mention some of the participants in the anecdotes he described, are active duty soldiers and they’re on 20-hour active combat missions sometimes, and it’s very difficult for me to get them all on the phone to ask them the questions that I’d like to ask.”
The diaries have described some shocking incidents of military life, including soldiers openly mocking a disfigured woman on their base and a private wearing a found piece of a child’s skull under his helmet.
The magazine granted anonymity to the writer to keep him from being punished by his military superiors and to allow him to write candidly, Mr. Foer said. He said that he had met the writer and that he knows that he is, in fact, a soldier.