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Federal Court Gets “Snark”-y

Bill Mears of CNN tells us that the Court cites nonsense poem in ruling for Gitmo detainee

WASHINGTON (CNN) — A federal appeals court has slammed the reliability of U.S. government intelligence documents, saying just because officials keep repeating their assertions does not make them true.

A three-judge panel from the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington likened the Bush administration’s case to a line in an 1876 nonsense poem by Lewis Carroll: “I have said it thrice: What I tell you three times is true.”

Portions of the court’s findings were released a week ago, including a ruling that a Chinese Muslim accused of being a foreign fighter was wrongly imprisoned. The full ruling was released Monday.

Hazaifa Parhat is being held by the U.S. military at the Guantanamo Bay Navy base in Cuba. In its ruling, the court ordered that Parhat be released or transferred, or that a hearing be held quickly to determine whether he is being held properly.

The judges criticized the government for offering unsubstantiated evidence, and referred to Carroll’s poem,”The Hunting of the Snark,” in which the line is uttered by a pompous character called the Bellman.

“The government suggests that several of the assertions in the intelligence documents are reliable because they are made in at least three different documents,” wrote Judge Merrick Garland. “We are not persuaded. Lewis Carroll notwithstanding, the fact the government has ‘said it thrice’ does not make the allegation true. In fact we have no basis for concluding that there are independent sources for the documents’ thrice-made assertions.”

I’m going to take a wild guess and suggest that the judges were really annoyed with the government’s case.  At least they didn’t use nursery rhymes or fairy tales.

3 comments

1 Fallenmonk { 07.01.08 at 7:42 am }

Even Lewis Carroll would be challenged to write the story of the Bush administration.

2 Kryten42 { 07.01.08 at 11:32 am }

Ah yes! The famous (some say infamous) Rev Charles Lutwidge Dodgson would indeed have been mightily perplexed.

I became fascinated by *Lewis Carroll* many years ago, and whilst in the USA obtained at auction a rare copy of the handwritten manuscript for “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland”. The original manuscript was quite different from the printed book. It was great deal smaller, the publishers added many pages to give it decent volume for a book. He had written a dedication on the first inner page which read “to a dear child, in memory of a summer day”. It has been mistakenly reported that the book was a Christmas gift. Alice Liddell was presented with the finished (handwritten) 90 page book in Nov. 1864.

I first came to know him initially because of his work in Symbolic Logic (and Mathematics).

However, he had a great sense of humor and did publish some works of comedy. So, I suspect he would have made great comedy at this Administrations expense, and I would be enormously fascinated to see him use symbolic logic to describe them! LOL My mind boggles!

there are many a historical character that I have wished were alive today. However, on balance, and with regard to their sanity and intelligence, it’s probably best that they are not!

It’s curious to me that so many people there don’t know (or understand) the axiom “The truth need be told but once, a lie must oft be repeated” or, if I may paraphrase Queen Gertrude in Hamlet, *The man doth protest too much, methinks!* The word “protest” at the time Hamlet was written meant “declare solemnly” or “vow”, so Gertrude was saying that the actress’s (she was referring to in Hamlet) vows were too artful, too insistent, deceitful.

Ahem. I didn’t intend to lecture! I felt a need to explain. 🙂

3 Bryan { 07.01.08 at 12:31 pm }

Gilbert & Sullivan would have had an interesting time with the Hedgemony.

The annoying part is the number of people who can’t see the absurdity in their claims. They keep restating what are manifestly lies, and those lies get parroted by the media as truth. There is no attempt to fact check anything.

The scenario described by the judges is exactly what was done with much of the intel used to support the Iraq invasion. Single-sourced claims from unreliable sources are claimed to be multiple claims because a few different intel shops commented on them. The yellowcake story and everything from Curveball are prime examples. In saner times they would have been filed as rumors until something truly independent was found to support them. Just because three different countries filed them as rumors doesn’t make them facts.

Hopefully this will cause other courts to look more critically at government claims.