Wow. I'm Verklempt!

By Benjamin Wittes
Thursday, July 21, 2011, 11:48 AM

It's not quite a trading card, which remains the high point, but an award for being "The Worst Possible Person in the World" comes pretty close.

Turns out that DOJ, in a footnote in a brief before the D.C. Circuit, cited this post of mine from some time back--in which I expressed dismay that Scott Horton and Harpers had received a National Magazine award for a feature article devoted to the spurious suggestion that U.S. service personnel had tortured three Guantanamo detainees to death. The passing citation in the brief prompted this howl of rage from a new blogger over at Firedoglake named Jeff Kaye, who had earlier written a defense of the Harpers article. Here are some highlights from the new post:

The Koppelman and Wittes articles (the latter is mainly a compendium of links to Koppelman and other like-minded attacks on the Harper’s investigation) are cited as examples of how the plaintiffs’ use of the new information uncovered by Scott Horton’s investigation is “not itself admissible evidence.”

. . .

The Worst Possible Persons in the World

The subhead, of course, is a takeoff on a well-known bit by news commentator Keith Olbermann, but the award is all my own. Both Alex Koppelman and Benjamin Wittes must now live with themselves, knowing their misrepresentations of the Scott Horton article are being used by the government to deny the parents of the dead former Guantanamo prisoners any justice in American courts. One of the dead men, Yasser al-Zahrani, was only 16 years old when he was picked up by U.S. forces.

. . .

So, Koppelman and Gittes have won a bit of infamy by having their attacks cited in a government brief seeking a denial of a lawsuit filed by the parents of two of the dead prisoners. What’s even more galling is that their articles were poorly researched and basically government apologia. The U.S. government appears to have taken notice, and used their articles for their own purposes, making Koppelman and Wittes, wittingly or not, government proxies in the matter of the Guantanamo suicides controversy.

Happy to be a government proxy on this one. Robert Loeb and Barbara Herwig, who filed the brief, hereby have my blessing to use any Lawfare post their hearts may desire in defending this suit. I'll live with myself quite happily, thank you. 

One other thing. There's a saying, "Say whatever you want about me. Just spell my name right." I'm Wittes--with a W. Jake Gittes--with a G--is this guy. Kaye's error, among those who know the movie Chinatown, will prompt at least passing amusement: