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A U.S. Army First Sergeant described as a murderer in today's NYT seems to be the same one that led the unit involved in last years New Republic / Beauchamp controversy.

In July 2007 a U.S. soldier under the pseudonym Scott Thomas wrote about the war in Iraq at the The New Republic's Shock Troops blog. Scott Thomas described some disgusting behavior by his fellow soldiers. Such included running over dogs with Bradley fighting vehicles and playing with a child's scull found in a mass grave.

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crossposted at Moon of Alabama

The rightwing media, the Weekly Standard, the National Review and many others, went nuts over these reports. The blogger's name was disclosed as Scott Thomas Beauchamp, a member of Alpha Company, 1-18 Infantry, Second Brigade Combat Team, First Infantry Division, and after some heavy push and pull and an army investigation, The New Republic said it "cannot stand by these stories".

At the time of that controversy, a mil-blogger in the U.S. wrote to Beauchamp's company senior non-commissioned officer, identified as First Sgt. John E. Hatley, and got this response:

My soldiers conduct is consistently honorable.  [...] Again, this young man has a vivid imagination and I promise you that this by no means reflects the truth of what is happening here. [...] I’m proud of my soldiers and would gladly give my life for any one of them. Please continue to keep them with you in your prayers and thank God that we have these courageous men willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for their country, Americans, and the people of this struggling nation.

Sincerely,

1SG Hatley

Today the NYT reports about willful killing of Iraqis who were taken prisoners by the U.S. troops.

In March or April 2007, three noncommissioned United States Army officers, including a first sergeant, a platoon sergeant and a senior medic, killed four Iraqi prisoners with pistol shots to the head as the men stood handcuffed and blindfolded beside a Baghdad canal, two of the soldiers said in sworn statements.

After the killings, the first sergeant — the senior noncommissioned officer of his Army company — told the other two to remove the men’s bloody blindfolds and plastic handcuffs, according to the statements made to Army investigators, which were obtained by The New York Times.
...
The soldiers, all from Company D, First Battalion, Second Infantry, 172nd Infantry Brigade, have not been charged with a crime.
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The accounts of and confessions to the killings, by Sgt. First Class Joseph P. Mayo, the platoon sergeant, and Sgt. Michael P. Leahy Jr., Company D’s senior medic and an acting squad leader, were made in January in signed statements to Army investigators in Schweinfurt, Germany.

In their statements, Sergeants Mayo and Leahy each described killing at least one of the Iraqi detainees on instructions from First Sgt. John E. Hatley, who the soldiers said killed two of the detainees with pistol shots to the back of their heads.
...
Last month, four other soldiers from Sergeant Hatley’s unit were charged with murder conspiracy for agreeing to go along with the plan to kill the four prisoners, in violation of military laws that forbid harming enemy combatants once they are disarmed and in custody.

Is the First Sgt. John E. Hatley who led Beauchamp's unit the same one that murdered handcuffed prisoners?

Different units you say? Beauchamp's unit was part of the 1-18 Infantry, Second Brigade Combat Team, First Infantry Division and the NYT associates Hatley with the First Battalion, Second Infantry, 172nd Infantry Brigade.

But those units are one and the same. Only the name changed:

On 16 March 2008, 1st Infantry Division’s presence in Europe formally ended when the 2nd (Dagger) Brigade in Schweinfurt, Germany reflagged as the 172d Infantry Brigade.

Indeed:

The 172nd Infantry Brigade was activated with the following unit redesignations:
...
1st Battalion, 2nd Infantry (reflagged from 1-18 Infantry)

It is very unlikely that one battalion has two First Sergeants with the name John E. Hatley.

A few month after Hatley ordered and took part in the murdering of prisoners he denied some relative harmless though brutal behavior Beauchamp described. The soldiers in his company (including himself?) were "the best America has to offer."

The TNR should look into retracting its retraction of Beauchamp's accounts.


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crossposted at Moon of Alabama

Originally posted to Bernhard on Wed Aug 27, 2008 at 12:05 AM PDT.

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