Frank Gaffney, one of the country's most influential and well-connected neoconservatives, has a column in today's Washington Times in which he argues that the debate taking place in Congress over the war in Iraq constitutes treason. Gaffney specifically argues that the condemnations of Douglas Feith from Sen. Rockefeller "really should be a hanging offense."
Gaffney begins his column by purporting to quote Abraham Lincoln. Gaffney claims that Lincoln said:
Congressmen who willfully take actions during wartime that damage morale and undermine the military are saboteurs and should be arrested, exiled, or hanged.
This quote has become a favorite weapon for those who want to criminalize criticism of the Leader and the War. Jack Murtha's opponent in the last election, Diana Irey, cited this quote while discussing Murtha's opposition to the war.
But this quote is completely invented. Lincoln never said it. This "quote" was first attributed to Lincoln by J. Michael Waller in Insight Magazine, in a 2003 article revealingly entitled: Democrats Usher in an Age of Treason. But as Waller himself now admits, the quote attributed to Lincoln is completely fraudulent. Waller wrote in an e-mail to FactCheck.org (h/t William Wolfrum):
The supposed quote in question is not a quote at all, and I never intended it to be construed as one. It was my lead sentence in the article that a copy editor mistakenly turned into a quote by incorrectly inserting quotation marks.
It was Waller, in The Washington Times' Insight Magazine, urging that anti-war Congressmen be hanged -- not Abraham Lincoln.
this is my response to the Managing Editor of the Washington Times
It does the country more harm to print false quotes attributed to famous and popular Presidents and inflame the Neocons into demanding the critics of the Iraq War be punished for doing their duty in Congress, to debate the most serious issue of our day.
The Neocons demanded the bloggers head for offending Catholics for far less than what Frank Gaffney wrote. Yet he is supposedly a great writer, why? Where is the accountability? Does your paper endorse enticement to riot? Does it allow false quotes to be printed as truths? The nation awaits your response.