Beauchamp and Libby

First, a correction: I suggested that the appearance of Scott Thomas Beauchamp's "Baghdad Diarist" was "a case of a magazine giving a break to a young writer ... because the young writer's likeable wife asked them to," but I am reliably informed that Beauchamp and his future wife were only acquaintances when she mentioned him to TNR's editors.

Second, TNR has posted another update, in which they write that the Army, by restricting access to Beauchamp and refusing to share any of the details of its own investigation, has thrown up a wall to further inquiry. TNR's critics, needless to say, aren't buying.

At this point, the Beauchamp story is beginning to bear more than a passing resemblance to the Libby affair. Both are Iraq War-related controversies in which the underlying accusation (perjury in a case where no criminal charges were filed, embellishment or fabulism in a back-page TNR Diarist) is less significant than what the alleged crime is supposed to represent: In Libby's case, the "Bush lied, people died" theory of the war; in the Beauchamp affair, the belief that the press is actively undermining the American mission in Iraq. And in each instance, not only the interpretation but the facts of the case seem to shift depending on whose account you read. I hope that we'll reach a point with the Beauchamp case where at least the facts will be agreed upon, but I wouldn't bet on it; barring a public, obviously uncoerced recantation from Beauchamp himself (or his corroborating witnesses), or a military investigation that vindicates his claims, it seems more likely to end, like the Libby affair before it, as a matter of whom you believe, and why.