Thursday, February 15, 2007

Uh, we got a little problem here. Yeah (Updated)

Seems you totally fabricated that Lincoln quote. Yeah.

Glenn Greenwald: (subscription required)

Frank Gaffney, one of the country's most influential and well-connected neoconservatives, has a column in today's Washington Times in which he argues that the debate taking place in Congress over the war in Iraq constitutes treason. Gaffney specifically argues that the condemnations of Douglas Feith from Levin "really should be a hanging offense."

Gaffney begins his column by purporting to quote Abraham Lincoln. Gaffney claims that Lincoln said:

Congressmen who willfully take actions during wartime that damage morale and undermine the military are saboteurs and should be arrested, exiled, or hanged.

This quote has become a favorite weapon for those who want to criminalize criticism of the Leader and the War. Jack Murtha's opponent in the last election, Diana Irey, cited this quote while discussing Murtha's opposition to the war.

But this quote is completely invented. Lincoln never said it. This "quote" was first attributed to Lincoln by J. Michael Waller in Insight Magazine, in a 2003 article revealingly entitled: Democrats Usher in an Age of Treason. But as Waller himself now admits, the quote attributed to Lincoln is completely fraudulent. Waller wrote in an e-mail to (h/t William Wolfrum):

The supposed quote in question is not a quote at all, and I never intended it to be construed as one. It was my lead sentence in the article that a copy editor mistakenly turned into a quote by incorrectly inserting quotation marks.

It was Waller, in The Washington Times' Insight Magazine, urging that anti-war Congressmen be hanged -- not Abraham Lincoln. But to justify their plainly un-American assault on our most basic constitutional liberties, neoconservatives like Gaffney simply invent quotes, attribute them to Abraham Lincoln, and continue to use them long after they have been debunked.


UPDATE III: It is notable that the Gaffney Op-Ed still remains unchanged, with no retraction or acknowledgment of error. It seems highly likely (though admittedly not definite) that The Washington Times is now aware of the fictitious nature of the Lincoln quote. Multiple readers here have indicated that they sent e-mails to the Times. I also called the Times and left a voice mail message (a couple of hours ago) for Commentary Page Editor Mary Lou Forbes, detailing the error and directing her to this post as well other sources for finding the proof that the quote is fake. And yet, the quote remains.

UPDATE IV: I spoke with Mary Lou Forbes, the Commentary Page Editor of the Times, who said that she contacted Gaffney about the e-mails she received and that he has now confirmed that the quote is fictitious. Forbes said Gaffney intends to "run a correction at the bottom of his next column."

When I pointed out that this did not really seem to be a sufficient correction, and suggested that they ought at least to append a correction to the top of the online version, she said that she had not thought of that -- pointing out that she was "an old print journalist" -- but said that perhaps it was a good idea and that they might do that.


Thanks for bringing this to our attention. Yeah. We'll get right on that. Yeah, our columnist lied through his keyboard and we haven't corrected it. But there's really no problem. Yeah.


Update: the link to the inflammatory Gaffney "column" is now directing web surfers to an equally proposterous but older Gaffney column from February 6, but his most recent column leading with the bogus Abe Lincoln quote isn't showing up. Don't know if it has just been moved or if rather than correcting the record the paper's website has just decided to delete the stupid thing altogether.

1 comment:

Is Ought said...

Glenn Greenwald the puppeteer is one of the very last people that should be talking about fabrication.