Sunday, April 27, 2008

Did Richard Warman lie about "lucy"?

In the recent debate about whether Richard Warman was responsible for the racist Cools-post, one sometimes finds the claim that Warman was caught in a lie about his membership on Freedomsite during the Lemire hearing. For example, one commenter at drdawgsblawg offered this summary
    Warman previously denied under oath that he'd signed onto a message board as the infamous "Lucy", then recanted when it became clear moments later that he had indeed used that pseudonym. So, did he "lie" then? I suppose it depends on how finely one likes to split hairs.
When challenged, he linked to a graphic a snippet of the transcript that had been posted to freedominion, which I repost here (the red underline and arrow were added by me):
    Richard Warman, lucy, Anne Cools post
Based solely on this, one might conclude that Warman had lied. It is always worthwhile, however, to be attentive to how evidence is presented and how that presentation affects one's perception. In this case, note especially the tendentiousness of what I've underlined in red.

Was there some "incontrovertible proof" presented, as was claimed by whoever prepared this picture? No. Let's look at the actual transcripts. Here is a screen capture of the bottom of p. 769 and the top of 770, including the page break. Note the red arrows, which point to what the commentary has replaced.
    Richard Warman testimony, Lucy, Anne Cools
As you can see, there was no evidence presented at all, much less 'incontrovertible proof', and what the commentary has replaced is nothing more than a page number. What happened? Warman was asked whether he had registered an account, he answered that he had not as far as he remembered. When he was shown an account name that jogged his memory, he immediately corrected himself.

Now, those who dislike Warman or his actions are free to disbelieve him if they choose. But we also know (from Klatt's affidavit) (1) that Warman never posted any messages on the board as "lucy", (2) that he had logged in under this name precisely twice (see here, p. 37 of the pdf), and (3) that both his log-ins occurred within a two-hour period on Nov. 15, 2003. Given that more than three years had passed between these logins in 2003 and his testimony in February, 2007, surely any fair-minded individual would have no difficulty believing that he had simply forgotten about the "lucy" account in the interim.

So. A lie or an honest mistake? Take your pick. But if we're going to call this a lie, what are we to make about the numerous misstatements of Klatt in his sworn testimony?

Edited and rewritten for clarity and concision.


fergusrush said...

I see that you have a better version of the transcript than I could find with my quick Google search (I'm hardly a detective nor am I a computer expert of any kind). Also, the passage of time between the events and the testimony had, frankly, made no impression on me despite reading the material several times; I missed those details as I concentrated upon Warman's words. Looking at it all now in the light of your post, I can see that my original impression of events was incorrect, and that my subsequent remarks were wrong. There really was no hair to be split, and I would agree that this was likely an honest mistake.

Good catch, Buckets.

buckets said...

Thanks, Fergus, for your comment and the decency of rethinking your original position. In this particular case, I don't think that you have much to feel bad about in missing those key facts -- not least because the evidence was presented in the way it was precisely in order to obscure them. And, frankly, this is not the only place.