The Yoo-Sands Controversy

Yesterday, I reported on former deputy Attorney General (and torture memoranda author) John Yoo’s none-too-subtle attempt to discredit critic and author Philippe Sands by suggesting he’d lied to a House subcommittee. As an attempt to clear the air, Sands has written a letter to John Yoo, which he’s also submitted for the congressional record, and I’ve obtained a copy. The text appears below.

Over hundreds of hours I conversed or debated with many of those most deeply involved in that memo’s life. They included, for example, the combatant commander and his lawyer at Guantanamo, Major General Dunlavey and Lieutenant Colonel Beaver, the commander of United States Southern Command in Miami, General Hill, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Myers, the undersecretary of Defense, Mr. Feith, the general counsel of the Navy, Mr. Moorer, and the deputy assistant attorney general at DOJ, Mr. Yoo.

I believe that is an accurate statement. It does not indicate that I interviewed you for the book, and there is no other point in my testimony in which I so indicated. For the avoidance of doubt, in my book Torture Team (which I appreciate you have not read), I refer to our debate in conversation at pages 184-5.

I hope you will forgive me for having troubled you with this point. I would not have done so but for the fact that Representative King appears to have concluded that I made “a false statement” to the Committee , and your exchange with him has caused me to receive a number of enquiries by email, raising issues of integrity or veracity.

I am perfectly happy to proceed on the basis that any statement you made (and any error it might have contained) was in good faith, and would be grateful if you could perhaps so communicate to Representative King and the Chairmen of the Committee and the Sub-Committee, and thereby clear up the misperception.

With best wishes,

Philippe Sands

cc. Representative John Conyers, Chairman, Judiciary Committee
Representative Jerrold Nadler, Chairman, Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Sub-Committee
Representative Steve King, Member, Chairman, Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Sub-Committee

Brian Beutler is the Washington correspondent for the Media Consortium, a network of progressive media organizations, including Mother Jones.