Monday, August 27, 2007

Burning Another Beauchamp

At Confederate Yankee, a lively and fascinating discussion is taking place over an accusation of conservative media dishonesty by Harper's Scott Horton. Horton accuses a prominent conservative commentator of creating "pure fabrications," and cites as evidence his direct experience at the location in question:

I have no idea whether Beauchamp's story was accurate. But at this point I have seen enough of the Neocon corner's war fables to immediately discount anything that emerges from it. One example: back last spring, when I was living in Baghdad, on Haifa Street, I sat in the evening reading a report by one of the core Neocon pack. He was reporting from Baghdad, and recounted a day he had spent out on a patrol with U.S. troops on Haifa Street. He described a peaceful, pleasant, upscale community. Children were out playing on the street. Men and women were out going about their daily business. Well, in fact I had been forced to spend the day "in the submarine," as they say, missing appointments I had in town. Why? This bucolic, marvelous Haifa Street that he described had erupted in gun battles the entire day. In the view of my security guards, with which I readily concurred, it was too unsafe. And yes, I could hear the gunfire and watch some of the exchanges from my position. No American patrol had passed by and there were certainly no children playing in the street. This was the point when I realized that many of these accounts were pure fabrications.

CY denizens respond by demonstrating that Horton was probably not in the area at the time the alleged "fabrication" was written. There is a good chance that the piece Horton refers to is either this NYSun Op/Ed by Fred Kagen:

It is true that the overall level of violence in Iraq remains high, and American soldiers are still dying. Scores of terrorists flow into Iraq every month, detonating suicide car bombs against civilians, Iraqi security forces and American troops. This is the core of the security problem faced by our troops and by innocent Iraqis.

But looking at these casualty numbers alone distorts reality. Security is improving across Baghdad, even in traditionally bad areas. In early May, I walked and drove through these neighborhoods. Haifa St., scene of day-long gunfights between Al Qaeda terrorists and coalition forces in January, is calm and starting to revive. Its market is open and flourishing.

Or, it could be this Weekly Standard Op/Ed by feared and hated William Kristol:

"We went through two of the worst Sunni neighborhoods in Baghdad... heavily infested with al Qaeda and other terrorists who terrorize the population and drive them to support or at least tolerate attacks against us. But the kids on the streets--and there were many--waved, smiled, asked for candy. The locals give us tips and ask us to get the terrorists out of the area and, above all, to protect them. We walked through a market off of Haifa Street--remember, the site of that long-running gun-battle back in January that made so much news? The market was thriving, flourishing, the local U.S. commander knew everyone and everyone knew him. The kids thronged around us, laughing, asking for candy... .

Both of these items describe conditions as seen by the scribe in May of this year. However, there is no evidence at all that Horton was even in Iraq in May, 2007. In fact, Horton has apparently not been in Iraq since Spring 2006.

Meanwhile, kat-missouri of Middleground painstakingly documents how Haifa Street has been in a state of flux almost since the beginning of the insurgency, with the most recent reports indicating that Kagen and Kristol's accounts were accurate. Given their professional relationship and Kristol stating that he was relating the observations of a friend, the two accounts could be of the same events.

We have no journalistic accounts of Haifa Street by Horton in 2007.

What fascinates me about CY's discussion is that Bob originally started out with an intellectually honest question about whether a conservative writer was "Beauchamping" his story. Instead, it appears the worm has turned and it is the liberal who gets burned for dishonesty.