In their latest demonstration of how much they love the troops, liberals have produced yet another anti-war hoax.

The New Republic has been running “true war” stories from a brave, anonymous liberal penning dispatches from Iraq. The famed “Baghdad Diarist” described his comrades joyfully using Bradley fighting vehicles to crush stray dogs, mocking a female whose face had been blown off by an IED, and defacing Iraqi corpses by wearing skull parts on their own heads.

Various conservatives began questioning the plausibility of the anonymous diarist’s account — noting, for example, that Bradley vehicles don’t “swerve,” as the diarist claimed. The editor of The New Republic responded by attacking the skeptics’ motives, complaining that some conservatives make “a living denying any bad news that emanates from Iraq.”

But when that clever retort failed to quiet rumblings from the right wing, The New Republic finally revealed the “Baghdad Diarist” to be … John Kerry! Actually it was Pvt. Scott Thomas Beauchamp, Democratic candidate for president circa 2028. (That gives him 20 years to learn to pronounce “Genghis.”)

In revealing himself two weeks ago, Beauchamp lashed out at “people who have never served in Iraq.” He said he was too busy fighting “an actual war” to participate in “an ideological battle that I never wanted to join.”

He had tried to stay out of ideological battles by writing made-up articles in a national magazine claiming soldiers in Iraq had become callous beasts because of George Bush’s war, killing to “secure the riches of the empire.” Alas, this proved an ineffective method of keeping his head low. Beauchamp’s next bid for privacy will be an attempt to host “The Price Is Right.”

In response to Beauchamp’s revelation that he was the “Baghdad Diarist,” the military opened an investigation into his allegations. There was no corroboration for his stories, and Beauchamp promptly signed an affidavit admitting that every single thing he wrote in The New Republic was a lie.

According to The Weekly Standard’s Michael Goldfarb — who has led the charge of those who “make a living denying any bad news that emanates from Iraq” — Maj. Steven F. Lamb, the deputy public affairs officer for Multi-National Division-Baghdad, said this of the Baghdad diarist:

“An investigation has been completed and the allegations made by Pvt. Beauchamp were found to be false. His platoon and company were interviewed and no one could substantiate the claims.”

In response, The New Republic went into full Dan Rather loon mode. This astonishing post showed up on The New Republic Web site on Tuesday afternoon:

“We’ve talked to military personnel directly involved in the events that Scott Thomas Beauchamp described, and they corroborated his account as detailed in our statement. When we called Army spokesman Maj. Steven F. Lamb and asked about an anonymously sourced allegation that Beauchamp had recanted his articles in a sworn statement, he told us, ‘I have no knowledge of that.’ He added, ‘If someone is speaking anonymously (to The Weekly Standard), they are on their own.’ When we pressed Lamb for details on the Army investigation, he told us, ‘We don’t go into the details of how we conduct our investigations.’ — The Editors”

It’s good to see Mary Mapes is working again.

What on earth is going on? Either the military investigation found that Beauchamp lied or it didn’t. Either military personnel corroborated stories of soldiers wearing skulls as crowns or they didn’t. Either Army spokesman Maj. Steven Lamb gave a statement to The Weekly Standard or he didn’t.

At the same time as The New Republic was posting the above statement, which completely contradicted The Weekly Standard’s update, renowned right-wing news outlet ABC News confirmed that the military has concluded that Beauchamp was writing “fiction.” ABC also quoted Goldfarb’s account and said that Maj. Lamb reiterated his statement that Beauchamp’s stories were false to ABC. The New York Times had the same story on Wednesday.

The New Republic has gone mad. Perhaps the magazine brought its former employee, fantasist Steven Glass, out of retirement. It’s long past time for The New Republic to file for intellectual Chapter 7. Arthur Andersen was implicated in fewer frauds.

And we wonder how Democratic congressmen can lie about a vote they lost on the floor of the House — captured on CSPAN for all the world to see — changing the vote so that they win.

America’s imminent victory in Iraq and safety from terrorist attacks at home is driving them all crazy.

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