Patterico's Pontifications

9/29/2007

Toobin Repeats Canard That Gonzales Called the Entirety of the Geneva Convention “Quaint”

Filed under: Books,General,Judiciary,War — Patterico @ 10:32 am

In a curious passage that tries to make the case that Alberto Gonzales was a True Conservative, Toobin sloppily distorts a Gonzales quote about the Geneva Convention. Here’s Toobin:

Gonzales had taken the most aggressive position among Bush’s allies on the legal basis for the war on terror, dismissing the protections of the Geneva Convention as “quaint.”

Sigh.

We’ve been through this before, noting the distortion that originated with Michael Isikoff, and continued with Maureen Dowd, Sidney Blumenthal, and every liberal blogger under the sun.

Let’s go to Gonzales’s original memo and read the entire quote:

In my judgment, this new paradigm renders obsolete Geneva’s strict limitations on questioning of enemy prisoners and renders quaint some of its provisions requiring that captured enemy be afforded such things as commissary privileges, scrip (i.e., advances of monthly pay), athletic uniforms, and scientific instruments.”

As is clear when one reads Gonzales’s actual quote, Gonzales did not dismiss the entirety of the Geneva Conventions protections as “quaint,” as Toobin falsely claims. Rather, Gonzales was referring to only a curious subset of protections — like providing musical instruments and athletic uniforms to captured prisoners — that actually were quaint.

Yet another mistake by Toobin.

36 Responses to “Toobin Repeats Canard That Gonzales Called the Entirety of the Geneva Convention “Quaint””

  1. Do publishers have editors anymore?

    Or do they just run with the manuscript as is?

    SMG

    SteveMG (4e418e)

  2. You’re cherry-puicking again, Patterico — boldfacing the wrong part of the quote.

    In my judgment, this new paradigm renders obsolete Geneva’s strict limitations on questioning of enemy prisoners and renders quaint some of its provisions requiring that captured enemy be afforded such things as commissary privileges, scrip (i.e., advances of monthly pay), athletic uniforms, and scientific instruments.”

    You give the “and” more weight than what precedes it — which as we all know by now is toriture, plain and simple.

    David Ehrenstein (b35c9c)

  3. SteveMG, in this day and age it isn’t worth investing the editorial dollars and time to try and bring accuracy and balance to a book. All you have to do is publish a rabidly anti-Bush or anti-Republican or anti-Conservative tome and it is guaranteed to sell a certain number of units and be profitable. In a similar vein, an anti-Clinton, anti-Democrat, anti-Liberal book will also generally turn a profit. Trying to write something in-between runs the risk that you please neither side and consequently sell very few books.

    JVW (6a3590)

  4. SteveMG, in this day and age it isn’t worth investing the editorial dollars and time to try and bring accuracy

    I’ve read/heard that elsewhere. That the costs are prohibitive (my post was only partially tongue-in-cheek; ugh, not a good mental image).

    To be fair to Mr. Toobin, I understand he has posted a number of bloggers (Eugene Volokh et al.) requesting that they and others inform him of the errors. Future editions (ahem) will have the corrections.

    Whether he would admit that the above by Patterico is an “error” or a different “interpretation” remains to be determined.

    SMG

    SteveMG (2fac95)

  5. David,

    Toobin’s quote is

    a) accurate

    b) inaccurate

    c) fake but qccurate

    d) you won’t answer the question but will tap-dance around it.

    I choose b and d.

    Patterico (d57abf)

  6. No, David, we don’t “know” that the obsolete “strict” limitation on questioning prisoners is torture.

    Especially since people like you, David, have so misused the word “torture” to refer to things that we know “plain and simple” are not.

    SPQR (6c18fd)

  7. What’s the difference “quaint” and “obsolete”?

    alphie (99bc18)

  8. Alphie picks “d.”

    Shocka!

    Patterico (2a8eaa)

  9. In this context, I think obsolete means meaningless. For example, the nature of terrorism and unlawful combatants makes meaningless some POW issues that were applicable to uniformed military under the Geneva Conventions.

    Quaint adds a layer that is beyond meaningless, e.g., something from a by-gone era that would not be relevant for anyone, even POWs who are uniformed military.

    DRJ (ec59b5)

  10. Haha Patterico,

    Knowing what we know now, I’d go with:

    e) close enough for a popular non-fiction book (number 8 on Amazon, one slot below O.J.’s book).

    Why don’t you write out the sentence the way you think it should read and then see if it would survive the editing process?

    alphie (99bc18)

  11. Gonzales had taken the most aggressive position among Bush’s allies on the legal basis for the war on terror, dismissing some of the provisions of the Geneva Convention as “quaint.”

    How difficult is that?

    After all, this is a man who makes a living with words. He needs to be judged accordingly.

    SMG

    SteveMG (2fac95)

  12. “Haha alphie,”

    Choice “e” is really choice “d.”

    Patterico (2a8eaa)

  13. Gonzales had taken the most aggressive position among Bush’s allies on the legal basis for the war on terror, dismissing some of the provisions of the Geneva Convention as “quaint.”

    That would be about right except that the first part of the sentence has absolutely nothing to do with the second. Of course, that problem exists in the original so no knock on you, SteveMG.

    David,

    which as we all know by now is toriture, plain and simple.

    What’s plain and simple is that you’re torturing reality.

    Pablo (99243e)

  14. Why would commissary privileges, athletic uniforms, and scientific instruments be quaint? Taliban don’t deserve toothpaste and exercise? (I’m willing to pass on scrip for the moment.)

    Ehrenstein is also correct that the actual ramifications of this memo and its ilk were despicable. There’s a connection between this philosophy and undisputed prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib and elsewhere.

    Andrew J. Lazarus (d28434)

  15. “d) you won’t answer the question but will tap-dance around it”

    Don’t confuse me with Larry Craig, Patterico. I’ve been out of the closet since 1961.

    David Ehrenstein (b35c9c)

  16. athletic uniforms, and scientific instruments

    Provide “athletic uniforms and scientific instruments.”

    Unless I missed something, nowhere did Gonzalez say exercise and/or toothpaste were “quaint”.

    Can you find references to those?

    Re “athletic uniforms and scientific instruments.” Yes, that’s quaint.

    Not quite as quaint as connecting this to Abu Ghraib since the trials of those who engaged in the terrible conduct showed that they did so without any approval from the higher ups.

    SMG

    SteveMG (2fac95)

  17. Let’s not get too far afield.

    The article of the Geneva Convention Abu G. was talking about concerns the right of POWs to receive mail from home and the Red Cross and the right to continue their religious and secular studies while held.

    Reading his memo, it’s not hard to see why we have begun the seventh year of fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan.

    alphie (99bc18)

  18. SteveMcG #4:

    To be fair to Mr. Toobin, I understand he has posted a number of bloggers (Eugene Volokh et al.) requesting that they and others inform him of the errors. Future editions (ahem) will have the corrections.

    Maybe you can e-mail him your three word correction from #11 … easy enough to fix.

    Itsme (92753f)

  19. Actually, the idea of a Taliban wanting a scientific instrument is…wierd.

    kishnevi (db290b)

  20. There’s a connection between this philosophy and undisputed prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib and elsewhere.

    Do you remember a prosecution, Andrew? Charles Graner does.

    Please detail the connection you insist exists.

    Pablo (99243e)

  21. Right, Alphie, the Taliban are not fighting to regain control of Afghanistan, they are fighting for the right to receive Readers’ Digest in Guantanamo Bay. These are people who thought beheading prisoners is acceptable conduct before they ever heard of Abu Ghraib or Guantanamo Bay.

    You will evidently never connect with reality.

    SPQR (6c18fd)

  22. why do you even acknowledge the troll? He *craves* attention to his words. You all know there’s no thought behind it. In fact, if you tried, you could even fake what the troll says – it’s not that hard.

    Ignore it, and soon it will wither away and stop posting.

    steve miller (84b990)

  23. The point is that pat has focused on secondary points and avoided primary ones. The more important point is not the word quaint but
    Obsolescent.the fact that he uses the former is cause for question. That he uses the latter is cause for anger.
    You’re playing the prosecutor my man, and speaking before a jury of your choosing.
    Not very effectve for a larger audience.

    blah (389e83)

  24. Right, Alphie, the Taliban are not fighting to regain control of Afghanistan, they are fighting for the right to receive Readers’ Digest in Guantanamo Bay. These are people who thought beheading prisoners is acceptable conduct before they ever heard of Abu Ghraib or Guantanamo Bay.

    Yeah, and it’s only Americans the Taliban is fighting. Things were all kite flying and rivers of chocolate before we showed up in Afghanistan.

    Northern Alliance, anyone? Some people seem to forget that the majority of those doing ground combat in late ’01 – early ’02 were not Yankees, and that the fight started long before that for them.

    Pablo (99243e)

  25. Note how the liberals here are totally fine with misrepresenting a quote, with quotation marks, as long as the victim of the misrepresentation is an ideological opponent.

    I think they’re trying to say it’s OK to misquote them. Have at it, folks.

    Patterico (2a8eaa)

  26. Don’t confuse me with Larry Craig, Patterico. I’ve been out of the closet since 1961.

    Translation: “I choose d.”

    Won’t any liberal here admit that the quote, in quotation marks, is inaccurate?

    If Toobin hadn’t lazily relied on the media and/or left-wing blogs, he could have easily made an accurate argument that was similar to what he wanted to say:

    Gonzales had taken the most aggressive position among Bush’s allies on the legal basis for the war on terror, dismissing as “obsolete” the protections of the Geneva Convention relating to questioning of prisoners.

    I’m not saying that Gonzales wasn’t aggressive on the war on terror, or that he never waved a hand of dismissal regarding any Geneva Convention protections.

    But TOOBIN MISQUOTED HIM, PERIOD. Using QUOTATION MARKS. And not ONE intellectually honest liberal here will step forward and admit it.

    Simply amazing? Or simply predictable?

    You be the judge.

    Patterico (2a8eaa)

  27. Itsme at least didn’t argue with me about it.

    Patterico (2a8eaa)

  28. And believe me, I have lots in the way of substance in the long piece I’m working on.

    Patterico (2a8eaa)

  29. I think they’re trying to say it’s OK to misquote them.

    For the Left [il]liberals here (and elsewheres) that’s absolutely correct. Inventors of “fake but accurate” style of controlling the narrative.

    Darleen (187edc)

  30. If blah is a good indicator quoted statements are never to be taken at face value. You’re a ducking idiot if you don’t accept his cherry picking the most damning interpretation of quoted statements from folks who don’t agree with the liberal narrative. You’re a ducking idiot if you accept damning quoted statements of liberals at face value. You must allow him to cherry pick the most positive meaning out of the statement. In other words you are a ducking idiot if you do not accept the liberal spin of every quoted statement. And it will always be the best fit into the self-serving liberal narrative no matter how illogical the spin.

    Semanticleo is more polite about it. alphie is too loopy to maintain any consistent narrative. But the end result is the same.

    Just Passing Through (ff997a)

  31. The Taliban want a total Wahhabi theocracy; Saudi Arabia without the oil; but with the mutawakkil
    (religious police). That’s why the Saudi General Intelligence and the ISI sponsored Maulana Younis Khalis; their mentor in the 80s and 90s. Taliban don’t wear uniforms, and they were only recognized diplomatically by the KSA, Pakistan & the UAE. Among the ‘poor innocent’ prisoners at
    Gitmo is Detainee # 603, Mohammed Manea Al Quahtani; he’s the one Durbin cried out tears for
    the Senate floor. Here’s the thing though, had he not been deterred at the Orlando Airport in Aug. 2001; He and many other senators would have been
    casualties of the Capitol Attack by Flight 93; for
    he was the fifth slot there. Becoming shaheeds
    ‘martyrs’ seems to have become an Al Quahtani family tradition. Having blown themselves
    up in Baghdad and Fallujah, and training other in Chechnya, Thailand, Afghanistan. They are Saudi
    nationals, but you coldn’t really consider them
    members of the Saudi government as such.

    narciso (c36902)

  32. P #27 etc:

    I guess you didn’t see my post #18 where I suggested that SteveMcG e-mail his correction to Toobin.

    Itsme (d95f64)

  33. I saw it. I suppose it is an implicit admission that it is an error. I guess that’s the best we can hope for.

    Patterico (2a8eaa)

  34. JPT,

    You’re assuming the memo is the only time Gonzalez opined on the Geneva Conventions.

    It wasn’t.

    alphie (99bc18)

  35. “Haha alphie,”

    You can’t provide any other instance of Gonzales calling any part of the Geneva Conventions “quaint” in which he expresses a different meaning. And we all know it. So don’t pretend otherwise.

    Patterico (2a8eaa)

  36. P #32:

    You’ll have to show me where I said I thought everything Toobin has written was error-free or even especially accurate. I’ve also pointed out where I question his overall perceptions.

    Itsme (d95f64)


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