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From outside one will always triumphantly impress theories upon the world and then fall straight into the ditch one has dug, but only from inside will one keep oneself and the world quiet and true. /FK (Contact: TBONotebooks at fastmail.fm. The Blue Octavo Notebooks welcomes mail, although we cannot guarantee a response. Your email may be posted in part on The Blue Octavo Notebooks unless otherwise requested.) Please enjoy the notebook entries, and thanks for reading.

Sunday, September 05, 2004

“Fun With [Quotes]!” On March 12, I pointed out that Arab News didn’t know when the September 11 terrorist attacks took place: They had them taking place in 2000. Now, an Arab News editorialist has them taking place in 2002: “If you want to see how power can change character consider the remarkable case of Abdul Rasul Sayyaf, once famed as warlord and fundamentalist, and mentor of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the brains behind Sept. 11, 2002.” Oh, brother.

Anyway, Sarah Whalen, everybody’s favorite “expert in Islamic law” who (cough, cough) really did teach law at Loyola University School of Law in New Orleans, Louisiana, is having a jolly good time with the supposed Israeli-spy scandal. Her journalistic prowess is on display from the first paragraph:

NEW ORLEANS, Louisian, (sic) 5 September 2004 — Some Arab leaders have nerve, blaming “Zionists” for problems in the Middle East. “We can be certain Zionism is behind everything,” one of them averred last June. “I don’t say 100 percent, but 95 percent.”

Ahem, and which Arab leader made this comment, you ask? Why, Saudi Arabia’s own Crown Prince Abdullah, not that one would know this from reading Whalen’s column. Nor would one know that Whalen’s choice quote was made in reference not to general “problems in the Middle East” but rather to specific terrorist attacks in Saudi Arabia last spring. Here’s the full quote, including the sentence Whalen elided:

"... You know who is behind all of this... Zionism is behind it - that was clarified. It was clarified to us, and I say that it is not 100 percent, but 95 percent, that the Zionism's hands are behind what happened. Unfortunately, they misled some of our sons....But we are certain that Zionism is behind everything. That is what was proved. I am not saying 100 percent but 95 percent..." (translation from Ar-Riyadh, May 2, 2004).

Seriously. Anyway, that this is a thoroughly decrepit and inane statement goes without saying, and so it’s little wonder that Whalen utilizes it, albeit more than slightly out of context. Whalen then belittles several political figures who dared criticize the royal Crown Prince’s royally stupid comment… but notice how Whalen conveniently inserts an exclamation point (!) into Senator Susan Collins’s observation.

“The crown prince’s statements are inflammatory and irresponsible,” said Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine. “On the one hand they say reassuring words to American leaders, but on the other hand they spout inflammatory anti-Semitic rhetoric for their domestic population.”

Somebody is squawking here, but it’s not the Senator.

Whalen continues to brandishes her charming talent for misquotation and embellishment with a reference to Lawrence Franklin, who was supposedly “described by the LA Times as that ‘go-to guy for Wolfowitz and Feith,’” The actual description, of course, was made not by the LA Times but from a former Pentagon official who spoke to the paper on condition of anonymity. And this time, rather than pumping up a quote with an exclamation point, Whalen simply omits a few words. The full quote is “Franklin was the go-to guy on Iran issues for Wolfowitz and Feith.”

Not content with misquoting real people, Whalen then misquotes a fictional person. “I'm shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!” said Captain Renault, yet is anyone shocked that Whalen misquotes him as well?

The rest of Whalen’s column offers the usual predictable drivel, and at least one more misquotation. The following quote, courtesy of a senior Israeli official, has appeared in several articles: "We have very good, excellent working relations with the Americans, and we are very discreet about it. There is no need to operate [spies] in the Pentagon or anywhere else in the United States." Interestingly enough, when Whalen regurgitates the quote, the [brackets] around [spies] have magically [disappeared]. Neat.

Whalen also quotes a US. Official’s observation that, from what he’s seen, Lawrence Franklin is not a spy but an idiot. Perhaps the same might be said of a certain “expert in Islamic law” who “taught law at Loyola University School of Law in New Orleans, Louisiana.”

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