I mentioned on Monday that the online errata page for my last book had been updated and that I would have more details. Before I get to them, I invite those of you with ample time on your hands to read the entire e-mail exchange in chronological order between retired law professor Peter Irons and me over the past week here. I think you will find it, well, interesting.
Now, corrections, retractions, and apologies:
On page 123 of my book, In Defense of Internment, I wrote that Aiko Herzig-Yoshinaga, a research associate for the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians, “surreptitiously shared confidential documents with” attorney and now-retired law professor Peter Irons. In subsequent comments on my blog, I stated that Irons had been explicitly denied permission to copy the documents and had engaged in similar activities before. It has come to my attention that these statements are in error.
The disputed sentence in my book and my subsequent comments on my blog were based on the following passage in an article by Cal State Fullerton professor Thomas Fujita-Rony in the April 30, 2003, issue of Frontiers: A Journal Of Women Studies:
Irons was not allowed to copy any of the memos and letters he had found detailing this set of actions. The official responsible for screening records for public use was unavailable due to illness, and in the absence of clearance, permission to duplicate these vital documents was denied. Irons called Herzig-Yoshinaga, who, as a researcher for the commission, had the right to access any nonsecret document related to the CWRIC’s work. She immediately copied all the documents, which provided proof for the first time of Justice Department misconduct in the cases that upheld the exercise of presidential war powers under the Constitution.
Although Fujita-Rony did not explicitly say that Herzig-Yoshinaga behaved “surreptitiously” or that the documents in question were “confidential,” I believe these were reasonable inferences on my part given what he wrote. I clearly cited Fujita-Rony’s article as my source in my book and on my blog. I did not contact Herzig-Yoshinaga or Irons directly. The passage, as Bruce Ramsey notes, was not central to the thesis of my book.
In response to inquiries from Irons and me, Fujita-Rony now says the passage he wrote in 2003, which he acknowledges he failed to footnote, is erroneous. He has written a letter of retraction to the editors at Frontiers. Here is his e-mail to me:
Dear Ms. Malkin:
I was in error. I am retracting the assertion that Professor
Irons was at any time denied access to the archival materials
in question. I am “attaching” and inserting below the text of the
letter I am sending to the editors of Frontiers. I hope this will
Thomas Y. Fujita-Rony
Accordingly, I am retracting my claim that Herzig-Yoshinaga “surreptitiously shared confidential documents with” Irons. I have made a note of this on the errata page of my book. Moreover, I am directing Regnery to excise the words “surreptitiously” and “confidential” from future editions of the book.
In addition, I retract the following statements which appeared on my blog:
Contrary to [University of North Carolina law professor Eric] Muller’s assertion that the papers shared were “publicly available documents sitting in publicly available files at archives open to the public,” the article makes clear that Irons did not obtain permission to receive the papers he acquired from Herzig-Yoshinaga.
As I noted, these records, however, had not been cleared for public use, and Iron’s request to copy them had been explicitly denied. By the way, this was not the only time Irons engaged in these sort of shenanigans.
I apologize to Irons and Herzig-Yoshinaga for the errors.blog comments powered by Disqus
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