Across the Bay

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Note from Michael Young

I just received the following note from Michael Young. Those interested could also see my own remarks earlier today.

I tried posting this in the comments section of Josh Landis' site several hours ago, but evidently he didn't let it through. It's no big deal. I'm sure he's as tired of this exchange as I am. For the sake of the bored readers, I will refrain from responding to most of Landis' remarks, as they only indirectly confirm what I complained of: nowhere did he convincingly prove that his false statements made about me were correct.

However, where I will respond is on Michel Kilo, because this is a serious issue. Landis' statements on the Kilo affair were irrelevant. I never accused him of being responsible for Michel Kilo's imprisonment, as Landis claimed. Anyone can reread what I wrote and dismiss just about everything he wrote in his response.

What I did say is two things: that Landis named Kilo as meeting Bayanouni in Syria, when Kilo has always privately denied going to Morocco. I notice that in Landis' long explanation, he failed to mention one key thing: whether Kilo confirmed to him or anyone Landis cited that he had traveled to Morocco. Kilo did indeed take pride in drafting the Damascus Declaration, but never confirmed his trip to Morocco. Landis' throwaway comment that Kilo could not have hidden his travel to Morocco because the Syrian authorities could "have looked in [opposition members'] passports to ascertain which of them had" traveled to the country only indirectly confirms that Landis has no independent confirmation that Kilo went to Morocco. Usually, when one hides a specific fact behind a general statement like this one, it means there is no proof.

And if Landis is so keen to send me information clarifying the issue, let me suggest an alternative: to post it on his website. I know it would hold quite a few surprises.

Secondly, Landis didn't deny, or address, the gist of my argument: that he erroneously cited Andrew Tabler's article as his source for the information on Kilo's trip, because Andrew's article did not mention Kilo. The fact is that Landis only deepened the mystery by his answer. If he was able to confirm Kilo's trip through "several members of the opposition", "reporters", and "a friend", then why didn't he use them as sources, instead of citing an article by Tabler that did not contain that information at all? He could have cited "unnamed sources in Damascus" or something to that effect. C'mon Josh, fix that mistaken footnote. Should we expect an erratum in The Washington Quarterly's pages?

The fact that Landis mentioned Kilo when he needn't have done so; when Kilo apparently did not confirm his trip to Morocco to anybody; and when Landis' cited source, Andrew Tabler, did not confirm the Morocco trip either, because he actually could not confirm the trip, was particularly careless on Landis' part. It was all the more so as Michel Kilo was in prison at the time. Should Landis not have erred on the side of caution for Kilo's sake? Andrew Tabler did. Why not Landis?