Phillippe Sands’ distortions exposed

We wrote here about the testimony of former Undersecretary of Defense Douglas Feith before the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, chaired by Rep. Jerry Nadler. Feith testified along with Phillippe Sand, the author of a book which accuses the administration (especially Feith) of hostility towards the Geneva Convention and of devising the argument that detainees at GTMO should not receive any protections under that convention – in particular, any protections under common Article 3. At the hearing, Feith powerfully refuted Sands’ charges. And he requested that Sands, who insisted he was relying on his interview with Feith, make the full transcript of the interview publicly available.

At Red State, Academic Elephant brings us up to date on this story. The full transcript is now available at the Vanity Fair website (this being the magazine where Sands published excerpts from his book). It fails to support Sands’ “torture narrative.” As Academic Elephant observes, “there is no mention of Article 3 [and] the “gotcha” statements that were the foundation of Sands’ case against Feith are so obviously doctored and recast to fit his case as to be laughable.”

In response, Feith has written a letter to Rep. Nadler, asking him “to acknowledge formally that Mr. Sands gave an untrue account of that interview, an account on which he built a false accusation against me of a war crime.” Feith documents for Nadler the discrepancies between the transcript and Sands’ story. Any fair reading of the transcript and of Feith’s letter will confirm that Sands distorted and misrepresented Feith’s words. In so doing, Sands thoroughly discredited himself as a scholar and commentator.

Nadler should provide the requested acknowledgment. In Academic Elephant’s words: “Demonizing public service with careless, ill-founded accusations of “torture” to hawk books and magazines is a dangerous game — and Chairman Nadler and his subcommittee owe it to all of us to hold those who play it to the highest standard.”

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