Talk:Michel Thomas/Archive 3

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This Article is Disputed

Readers of this article should be aware that much of it has been drafted or edited by a former L.A. Times reporter who was sued by Michel Thomas for defamation, Roy Rivenburg, who has also made numerous comments on this discussion page. Mr. Rivenburg has repeatedly altered edits to the article so that it emphasizes "controversies" he insists deserve heavy emphasis in an an encyclopedia entry covering Mr. Thomas's life, in particular concerning Mr. Thomas's WWII service. No other major media outlet without a significant business relationship to the Los Angeles Times -- such as being owned by the same parent company, Tribune Group -- has seen fit to give credence to these alleged controversies, and many have challenged the L.A. Times' coverage of Mr. Thomas, particularly after he was awarded the Silver Star for his WWII service in 2004.

The neutrality of the article has accordingly been put in dispute status by Wikpedia, and the article should not be relied upon as an accurate description of Mr. Thomas's life that meets Wikipedia's standards. For more information about the defamation suit against Mr. Rivenburg and the Los Angeles Times, please see http://www.michelthomas.org, or simply use a search engine with the terms "michel thomas" and "rivenburg"

The Friends of Michel Thomas Facts@mt.org 05:57, 22 October 2007 (UTC)

What Thomas Wants to Hide

Journalists, filmmakers and public officials have been debunking Michel Thomas' claims for two decades. But none of this was mentioned in the Wikipedia entry written by his supporters, which is why their version of his biography was declared "non-neutral" by Wikipedia editors (see "POV Check" in Archive 2, above). Among other things, it failed to note that Mr. Thomas' tales have been contradicted by the U.S. Justice Department's chief Nazi hunter, an Oscar-winning documentary, the Los Angeles Times, Le Monde, Newsday, the prosecutor at Klaus Barbie's trial, military records, the New York Times, France's history channel and more.

Yes, Thomas did some valuable things during the war, but he exaggerated and fabricated other parts of his record, such as his military status (http://michelthomasfacts.blogspot.com/). He was a flawed hero -- and a neutral Wikipedia entry should reflect both sides.

As for his libel lawsuit against the L.A. Times and its reporter, Thomas' case was thrown out of court by four federal judges. Afterward, Times editor John Carroll called Thomas' tales "preposterous" and said, "I'm very proud of [our] story."

No journalist who has seen the evidence compiled by the L.A. Times believes Thomas' claims. And several who wrote articles sympathetic toward Thomas later apologized after viewing L.A. Times documents. Wikipedia readers can visit Thomas' website and mine (http://www.offkilter.org/thomas.html) and judge for themselves what to believe.

-- Roy Rivenburg 07:21, 22 October 2007 (UTC)


Please identify the journalists (plural) who "who initially wrote articles sympathetic toward Thomas [but] later apologized after seeing the L.A. Times' documentation." What did they "apologize" for, and when? One, who wishes to remain anonymous, has indicated to me that this is an exaggeration of her off-the-record comments made to you years ago.
64.81.242.192 07:33, 22 October 2007 (UTC)
Now that Roy Rivenburg has set up a web site (http://michelthomasfacts.blogspot.com) where his version of the facts of Michel Thomas's life can be presented, the fair thing for him to do is stop editing this Wikipedia article, as I and other so-called "Thomas supporters" have. He has had ample opportunity to present Michel Thomas's life as he sees fit, and to emphasize the alleged "controversies" he has focused on for six and a half years that question Thomas's credibility and put him in the worst light possible. Let's let truly neutral editors compose this entry. (They might want to look at the French version for guidance.) Any debates he may wish to have about Mr. Thomas can henceforth take place on Mr. Rivenburg's site.
In the future, I suggest that Wikipedia institute a policy that bars persons who have been sued for defamation from writing and editing articles about the person who sued them -- particularly when that person is recently deceased and can no longer defend his name. This seems like a simple and fair policy to insure that Wikipedia maintains the most basic standard of fairness and neutrality.
My own edits here, though far less frequent and numerous than Mr. Rivenburg's for the past two years, were done for the purpose of countering his biased presentation of the facts of Mr. Thomas's life. Recently, reasonably neutral editors, such as "Liquidfinale" have demonstrated both a sufficient knowledge of the facts of Mr. Thomas's life, and a truly neutral point of view, that I have not altered their work. I suggest that Liquidfinale and other neutral editors discourage Mr. Rivenburg from further edits here. He has set up an Internet forum to present his set of "facts" about Mr. Thomas.
Regarding that site, I will make one comment. On it, he has posted a document from the National Archives signed by CIC Agent Ted Kraus and Special Civilian Assistant Michel Thomas, regarding their capture of Gustav Knittel, one of the most-wanted war criminals in postwar Germany. Ted Kraus was interviewed by Mr. Rivenburg for his 2001 article, and fully corroborrated Michel Thomas's "tales" of his work as a CIC Agent. Yet he was never mentioned in Mr. Rivenburg's article. He subsequently wrote a letter to the editor of the LA Times, which was published in part, and he also filed a Declaration in Mr. Thomas's lawsuit against the LA Times, which I will paste below.
Mr. Thomas's biography describes Thomas' status as a CIC Agent as distinctive, if not unique, in that he performed with the full powers of an Agent despite not being a citizen, or having been inducted or trained in the US. Given these facts, and Mr. Rivenburg's triumphant insistence that this document is a "smoking gun" that "proves" Thomas "lied" about his status in the CIC, I invite Mr. Rivenburg to find another example of a mere "civilian assistant" in the CIC in WWII who wore the identical uniform as other CIC Agents, including the officer's collar tags, who was given complete responsibility for organizing and effecting the capture of a top war criminal and taking the lead role in his interrogation.
I also invite him to find another example of an article such as his, which presents as a fraud a man whose wartime service is unanimously praised by every living wartime comrade who served with him, not to mention receiving a high military decoration as a result of evidence uncovered pursuant to a defamation suit filed by the "fraudulent" subject of the profile.
DECLARATION OF THEODORE C. KRAUS, PH. D.
I, Theodore C. Kraus, declare and state as follows:
1. I am a friend of Plaintiff Michel Thomas (“Thomas”) whom I have known since 1945 when he and I served in the same United States U.S. Army Counter Intelligence Corps Unit. I have personal knowledge of the facts set forth herein, which are known by me to be true and correct, and, if called as a witness, I could and would competently testify thereto.
2. I read the Los Angeles Times article, “Larger Than Life” and I was deeply offended. It was clear to me that the Article strongly implied that Thomas had not been a member of the U.S. Army Counter Intelligence Corps (“CIC”); that he had not been present at Dachau when it was liberated by the U.S. Army; that he did not play a key role in locating and rescuing the Nazi Party Master membership card file and an enormous quantity of other Nazi documents from a paper mill near Munich in May 1945; that he did not escape from Klaus Barbie; and that Thomas generally was a fraud and a sham and that the totality of his alleged World War II experiences were fabricated.
3. In my opinion, the manner in which the reporter, Mr. Rivenburg, explained Thomas’ participation in the CIC called Thomas’ military service into question. I believe that the statements in the article indicating that the Pentagon was unable to verify Thomas’ military service combined with the “possible explanation” that Thomas was a civilian employee or that he served as a CIC translator or investigator have the effect of leading a reader to the erroneous conclusion that he was not a CIC Special Agent.
4. I was an Agent of the United States Army CIC in 1945. At that time, I was stationed in Ulm, Germany in CIC Detachment 970/35. Thomas joined our unit under the sponsorship of Lt. Ernest Gearheart. Lt. Gearheart left for the United States shortly after bringing Thomas to our unit. Lt. Gearheart passed away last year. Thomas stayed with our unit after Lt. Gearheart’s departure. I worked closely with Thomas within the CIC for approximately 15 months. Thomas operated as a full-fledged CIC Special Agent, not as a civilian employee, translator or investigator.
5. In the fall of 1945, Thomas joined our unit. During several periods in 1945-1946, I was interim head of the Ulm CIC due to personnel changes. During the fall of 1945, Thomas joined our unit. In that position, I was required to make both weekly and monthly reports to our regional offices in Goppingen and Stuttgart. I included Thomas’ activities in those reports. In those reports, I expressly referred to Thomas crucial assistance to our unit, including his ability to connect us to his well-placed informant network and his total dedication to the mission of CIC. In reports I received from headquarters, there was often high praise for Thomas’ activities and participation. In light of those reports, it is beyond dispute that those in charge of the United States CIC regional headquarters were fully aware of Thomas’ participation in our unit.
6. On or about October 2, 1946, I wrote a letter commending Mr. Thomas’ work with our unit. The letter was written on the stationery of my CIC Unit. A true and correct copy of that letter is attached to this declaration as Exhibit “ A”. As stated in my letter, “Mr. Thomas was a noteworthy addition to the Ulm organization.” That statement was accurate when I wrote it in 1946 and as of this date, neither my opinion nor my recollection has changed.
7. At the time of Thomas’ arrival, our primary mission was to combat enemy terrorism, sabotage and subversion. We were also charged with the task of uncovering former high-ranking Nazi political and military individuals. I was impressed by Thomas’ keen ability as an interrogator, among other skills he had as an Intelligence Agent. In many ways, he was better at counter-intelligence and interrogation than most of the American born agents.
8. Of the various operations that Thomas participated in during his work as a CIC agent, I can confirm that he spearheaded the arrest and capture of SS Major Gustav Knittel. Major Knittel confessed to ordering the murder of unarmed American prisoners of war in the Malmedy-Stavelot area in Belgium during the Battle of the Bulge in December 1944. He was convicted and sentenced to life in prison at a war crimes trial held in Dachau in May 1946. I was with Michel Thomas when he captured Major Knittel, who had emerged from hiding to rendezvous with his wife in an isolated home near Ulm in January 1946.
9. Further, Thomas’ participation in the French Resistance is unquestionable. I visited the Grenoble area of France with Thomas in 1946. During our visit it was clear to me that he was both familiar with and revered by the Maquis in France. During our visit, Thomas introduced me to a number of his former maquisards, all of whom appeared delighted to be reunited with him.
10. Given the nature of the work of the CIC, it was not our practice to wear uniforms with insignias, or to question (or rely on) the rank of persons within the unit. CIC agents did wear U.S. Military officers’ uniforms, however those uniforms did not indicate the rank of the officer wearing the uniform. The absence of rank insignia indicated to military personnel that the wearer was a CIC agent. Special Agent Thomas and I both wore this uniform, without rank insignia, at various times during our CIC service. In Thomas’ case, this was for 2 ½ years. At times, the nature of our work required wearing civilian clothes.
11. In November 1946, I participated with Michel Thomas in a "sting" operation in Ulm, Germany to infiltrate an underground SS organization that was working to undermine German denazification and the U.S. Military government. During this operation, I secretly taped Thomas's initial meetings with several former Nazi SS and SD officers. At the meetings, Thomas posed as a "Dr. Frundsberg", the RSHA leader of a so-called "Grossorganization," an umbrella organization purportedly coordinating a national underground movement. The operation had persuaded these former SS and SD officers that "Dr. Frundsberg" was the leader of a national organization of a much higher level than their own. At the meeting that I taped, Thomas persuaded the SS and SD officers to turnover control of their organization to the phony "Grossorganization" of which "Dr. Frundsberg" was head. Thomas' efforts, along with those of other members of our CIC detachment, ultimately led to the convictions of six members of this resistance movement, on charges of sabotage and attempting to overthrow the Allied military government.
12. I was not with Thomas during the liberation of Dachau. However, at the time that Thomas served in our CIC unit, I did see Thomas’ original photographs of Dachau that he took on the day of liberation. The images portrayed in the photographs included stacks of human remains, emaciated bodies and crematoriums. I have copies of those photographs, given to me by Thomas in 1946, in my possession.
13. I relayed all of this information to Mr. Rivenburg prior to the publication of the article. I was surprised that none of this information appeared in the Article, including the fact that Mr. Rivenburg had interviewed me, particularly since I believe that I am one of the only living witnesses who is able to corroborate Michel Thomas’ CIC service.
14. I do not understand why Mr. Rivenburg or the Los Angeles Times decided to ignore the information I provided to them. The absence of this information implies that Mr. Rivenburg was intent on discrediting Mr. Thomas, despite clear evidence I provided to them about his military service.
15. I was so upset by Mr. Rivenburg’s depiction of Mr. Thomas as someone who would misrepresent his military service that I wrote a letter to the Editor of the Los Angeles Times. A true and correct copy of that letter is attached hereto as Exhibit “ B”.
I declare under penalty of perjury under the laws of the State of Connecticut and the laws of the United States that the foregoing is true and correct. Executed December 14, 2001 at Cheshire, Connecticut.
Signed: THEODORE C. KRAUS, Ph.D.
Facts@mt.org 20:14, 22 October 2007 (UTC)


The controversies surrounding Michel Thomas weren't cooked up by me or the Los Angeles Times. His war claims have been under fire for 25 years by multiple newspapers, government officials, historians and an Oscar-winning documentary. It's all public record and therefore a legitimate part of his biography. Even the Washington Post devoted a large portion of its 2005 obituary of Thomas to questions about his war record.

Mr. Thomas' supporters have tried to erase any and all mention of these controversies from Wikipedia, but their edits have been reversed by several neutral Wiki editors. Yes, Michel Thomas did some valuable work during the war and created an intriguing language program afterward. Nobody is trying to take that away from him. But it's not the complete picture.

It bears repeating that Thomas' lawsuit against the L.A. Times was thrown out of court. It was a frivolous suit and four federal judges ruled that the Times article wasn't even libelous. In any case, my edits on Wikipedia have included full citations to media coverage and military records that anyone can check out.

As for Thomas' military status, his biography claimed he was a U.S. Army officer, a position that requires being inducted. Thomas even sued the L.A. Times for suggesting he was actually a civilian assistant. The question isn't whether Thomas wore a CIC uniform (so did thousands of other foreign nationals, according to Ian Sayer, who wrote a history of the Army's Counter Intelligence Corps) or was "treated like" a CIC agent. The question is whether he told the truth when he claimed to be an inducted Army officer and when he sued the L.A. Times for saying he was a civilian. Answer: Thomas fibbed. Rivenburg 21:06, 22 October 2007 (UTC)

Around and around we go Roy. Just because you keep repeating things does not make them so. You have for years insisted that Michel Thomas said he was "inducted" -- show me where he ever said that. It's not in his biography, and he never claimed it to me, nor was it ever claimed in any filing in his case. As is amply documented here and elsewhere, he was indeed "treated like" a CIC Agent, to a degree that no other "civilian assistant" was that you can identify. (And I met with Ian Sayer at his home near London -- he could not offer any parallel example either.) So, just as his biography states, Thomas's status was distinctive, and perhaps unique, and it was hardly a gross exaggeration on his part to consider himself a full-fledged Agent. You created this straw man issue back in 2001 and have been hammering away at it ever since. You arrogated to yourself the judgment of what Thomas's "official" status was, in direct contravention of his CIC comrades and colleagues, who actually served with him and disagree strongly with your characterization of it. You, and only you, continue to harp on this niggling technical issue of his official status, when NO ONE who served with him, or the US Army, has seen fit to take your "side" of this issue.
As to your assertion that Thomas's "war claims have been under fire for 25 years by multiple journalists, public officials, historians and an Oscar-winning documentary" -- it just doesn't stand up to scrutiny, as has been show here and elsewhere ad nauseam for years. You distorted the record on these issues, cherry-picked the evidence to put Michel in the worst possible light, ignored the evidence that supported his "claims" and wrote an article that left readers with the impression Thomas could have been sunning himself on the beach in Hawaii during WWII, because YOU decided that nothing he told you was believable. That's why so many prominent people rallied to his side in this matter, and have expressed their incredulity and disgust for your monumental, strained efforts to discredit him.
YOU may believe these controversies deserve the emphasis you have given them here, but your bias is obvious as you are defending your work. Having strenuously made your case here for two years, why can you not let other truly neutral editors make the decisions about whether they deserve the emphasis you have given them? Several have clearly indicated they believe the "controversies" don't deserve the emphasis you've given them here, and have expressed understandable frustration at the amout of space given to "debates" between yourself and those who disagree with you. Now that you've set up a web site where you are the Administrator, why can't you take this debate there?
Facts@mt.org 22:40, 22 October 2007 (UTC)


If Thomas never claimed he was inducted, why on earth did he sue the L.A. Times for saying he was a civilian assistant? The newspaper never said or implied Thomas could have been "sunning himself on the beach in Hawaii during WWII." It reported that Thomas arrested SS officer Gustav Knittel, noted that French records outlined two of his wartime imprisonments and described his "distinguished service" with the French Resistance, among other things. But when Thomas went further and claimed he was inducted (he couldn't have been an Army officer otherwise), the newspaper sought military records and asked Thomas for his military service ID number or discharge papers. Rather than simply explain that he was a civilian employee who was "treated like" an inducted CIC agent, he and his biographer continued to insist Thomas was a non-civilian and that his CIC ID card (pictured in the book) was identical to the cards issued to inducted agents. It wasn't. Thomas' ID was the kind issued to civilian employees; real agents had cards emblazoned with Eisenhower's signature. So, Thomas created this issue, not the L.A. Times. He called suggestions that he was a civilian employee "an insult," and sued the paper for telling the truth.

As for the rest, the Times didn't cherry-pick anything. People can rent the documentary film "Hotel Terminus" and see Klaus Barbie's prosecutor criticize Thomas' credibility. And they can read the Washington Post's obituary of Thomas, which also deemed his controversial war record newsworthy. The list goes on, so it's not one person's or one newspaper's opinion that Thomas was controversial. He was. Again, that doesn't negate his many accomplishments. It simply points out that Thomas was a paradox of genuine heroism and documented deceptiveness. Multiple neutral Wiki editors have recognized that a full portrait of Thomas includes both elements, which more than meet Wiki standards for notability. Rivenburg 23:49, 22 October 2007 (UTC)


Roy, your disingenuousness, or outright self-deceit, is astonishing. You know perfectly well how you set Michel Thomas up. Yours was not a disinterested article, it was a hatchet-job. You hammered away with questions you knew Thomas could not answer during two long interview sessions, totaling nearly eight hours, the second of which Thomas described as "an interrogation." You baited him to the point of rage with questions like what plaque was on the door of the office he was in when Barbie questioned him in 1943.
Hiding behind a pose that you were some kind of neutral reporter doing a just-the-facts-m'am profile is ludicrous, and anyone reading these Wikipedia entries can see that, as did the judges at the mock trial you refused to attend, then lied to reporters about when you claimed you weren't invited.
Michel did not care about his official status during the time of his service, and his superiors and colleagues did not either, as has been overwhelmingly documented. But you did, from the comfort of your cubicle in sunny Los Angeles more than five decades later, and by focusing on this issue as you did in your article, you left readers in doubt about much more than Thomas's official status. This was, of course, a deliberate tactic you used throughout the article.
You continue with this tactic to this day. Your statement, "but when Thomas went further and claimed he was inducted (he couldn't have been an Army officer otherwise)" reveals precisely how you twist facts to suit your purposes: Thomas NEVER said he was inducted. You have put words in his mouth, and created a straw-man issue which you then focus on to discredit him. His work as an Agent, and the status he was accorded by his peers, is extensively documented in his biography, and was even more extensively documented afterwards in the lawsuit. I have only cited one of many instances of this by posting Ted Kraus's Declaration above.
As for the Washington Post obit, whether he talked to you beforehand or not (you still have not answered the question of whether he did) you know perfectly well that Adam Bernstein relied heavily upon your profile when he wrote that obit, which was at odds with the Associated Press obit -- and even with the LA Times own obit -- in focusing on the controversies you chose to create.
I won't bother to refute the other misleading points you make, for the umpteenth time. It is pointless to keep belaboring this stuff here. Take the advice of the "multiple neutral wikipedia editors" who have asked you take this debate elsewhere. If Marcel Ophuls and Pierre Truche and Allan Ryan and the other journalists you insist portrayed Thomas as a liar want to weigh in here, the door is wide open for them to do so. Go ahead and find them and urge them to add their two cents as wikipedia editors. You know perfectly well that they will not of course, because whatever reservations they may have had about Thomas were not as you characterize them. They did not think Michel was a fraud and a liar, but you twisted their comments about him, made decades ago, to create a portrait of Michel that misled readers.
No, it's just you Roy. None of the people who actually knew Michel Thomas, and knew the truth of his life first-hand, saw him as you portrayed him -- least of all his wartime comrades. You've had your say here, and plenty of wikipedians are sick and tired of you constantly rehashing it, and compelling me to refute it because I cannot stand to see you keep ghoulishly attacking this man nearly three years after his death.
Facts@mt.org 01:02, 23 October 2007 (UTC)
Retcon alert:
Roy, for all our heated disagreements over the years, you have displayed a certain technical honesty about certain things, but even this seems to have deteriorated, as I've just noticed a more-than-trivial case of retconning -- a term I only learned of from Liquidfinale's post below.
You have removed, on October 16th, the following part of a comment you had previously posted here, to which I in turn responded:
It was neither arrogance or shame. It was the lunacy of the public statements being made by the pro-Thomas side, and the barrage of strange e-mails you sent the paper. There was no point to replying. Same reason I try to ignore your private e-mails. Rivenburg 09:19, 16 October 2007 (UTC)
As a result of this "retroactive continuity" deletion, the follow-up comment I posted is now nonsensical, as it refers to a statement of yours that was subsequently deleted. Perhaps you removed it because you recognized that it was intemperate on your part, but the result is that my "now that you've insulted me I'm taking the gloves off" comment looks even more intemperate.
In any case, it's a no-no. And now you've been busted. Twice. By two editors here. If I were a real geek, I'd put some link here to the Wayne Knight character in Jurassic Park with his computer screen waving a censorious finger and saying "ah-ah-ah, you didn't say the magic word!"
Facts@mt.org 02:10, 23 October 2007 (UTC)


Dear "Facts," you still haven't explained why Thomas sued the L.A. Times for saying he was a civilian if he never claimed to be inducted. Or why he falsely said his CIC ID card was the type given to inducted agents instead of to civilian assistants. Or why his biography said he was a U.S. Army officer, which would be impossible unless he was inducted. As noted, Thomas could have easily explained that although he was a civilian, he was given special treatment, etc. But he made no such statement and therefore has only himself to blame for the controversy over his status.

Your description of how the Times article was reported is wrong and hilarious. You weren't there. And it's no accident that Thomas never included the long e-mail exchanges between the L.A. Times and his biographer as part of the evidence for his libel lawsuit. Those e-mails make it clear that Thomas changed his stories about Dachau, his military status and other matters after the Times article came out. If they showed anything even remotely improper on the part of the L.A. Times, those letters would have been submitted to the court and published in full on his website. As for the Washington Post, I already said I had zero contact with anyone from that paper before the obituary.

I understand your admiration for Thomas; he was quite accomplished -- and the L.A. Times pointed out many of his achievements, including verified parts of his war record. But some of his stories didn't check out. It's no surprise his friends don't want to hear that. The truth is often unwelcome (e.g., Nixon fans downplay Watergate and Clinton aficionados rail against any focus on his infidelities). But that doesn't make the facts any less true. In Thomas' case, it's undeniable that his stories have been challenged in multiple major media outlets. And statements by his critics have been well-publicized and never retracted. When so many public officials, historians and newspapers independently raise questions about someone's honesty, it becomes a legitimate and significant part of that person's life story. Thomas' friends can make insinuations and attack the messengers all they want, but it doesn't change the facts. Rivenburg 04:28, 23 October 2007 (UTC)


Roy, most of this has been answered before. As for the emails between you and Christopher Robbins, there is nothing in them that bolsters your arguments. Quite the contrary. If you'd like to move this debate to your web site and stop taking up space on Wikipedia I'll be happy to post those exchanges in their entirety. Sections of them were quoted at length in both Chris Robbins' Declaration and on the web site. What they show very clearly is that you myopically seized upon issues like Thomas's technical status in the CIC, or details he could not recall to your satisfaction about the topography of Dachau, while ignoring lots of evidence that did not fit your agenda, such as the photos and documents proving that he served as a CIC Agent and was indeed at the liberation. Your article then insinuated that Michel operated with far less authority than he actually did when he was in the CIC, that he was not a Dachau liberator, and that he played no role whatsoever in the rescue of the Nazi Party files.
There may well be truths about Michel Thomas that would be unwelcome to his friends, but they do not include these false implications that were the heart of your profile of him. As attested to by his CIC colleagues, Thomas was distinctive and perhaps unique in being given the full powers and duties of an Agent despite not being a US citizen or going through a stateside induction process -- the evidence for this is overwhelming in his biography and that's why he was insulted when you insisted on a military ID number. He entered Dachau as the first troops arrived at the camp on April 29, 1945, and he rescued from destruction the worldwide membership card files of the Nazi Party before they could be pulped at the Josef Wirth paper mill in Freimann, Germany in the first week of May 1945. The evidence for these facts was extensive in his biography, and the investigation to prepare his lawsuit led to overwhelming evidence confirming all these facts that satisfied the most demanding experts at the Dachau Memorial Museum, the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, the National Archives, and the US Justice Department. The investigation also established that you engaged in a pattern of willful ignorance of the evidence for these facts in order to put Michel Thomas in a false light and portray him as a fraud. That is why he went through the considerable expense and emotionally draining effort of suing you and your paper, though he was advised of the long odds against his success in court because of the great latitude given to the US press to take liberties with the truth with public figures. It is also why he -- and Ted Kraus and Robert Wolfe -- flew cross-country to testify in a mock trial at Berkeley in April 2003 -- to which you were invited but refused to attend. It's also why he kept fighting to his last breath to counter the false and poisonous insinuations in your article.
Lastly, it is why I continue that effort on his behalf, long after his death, though I get no compensation for my efforts other than the satisfaction of defending the truth.
Facts@mt.org 07:00, 23 October 2007 (UTC)


The e-mail exchanges between Robbins and the L.A. Times go to the heart of how the story was reported and how Thomas altered his claims. That's why only a couple of out-of-context snippets from the extensive exchanges were included in the evidence he submitted for his unsuccessful libel lawsuit.

Re Dachau, Thomas' claim to have accompanied the 3rd battalion of the 157th Regiment into the camp has been labeled erroneous by the commander of that battalion and Thomas' own biographer. Yet Thomas repeated the tale in a sworn affidavit with his lawsuit. The L.A. Times didn't say Thomas was never at Dachau. It simply stated that his claim to have accompanied the 3rd battalion didn't hold up. Thomas later flip-flopped and tried to say he never claimed he was with the 3rd battalion, but his affidavit proves otherwise.

As for Robert Wolfe, he has never addressed the discrepancies between Thomas' account of the Nazi ID card rescue (instigating worldwide press coverage, personally ensuring all the files were removed from the paper mill, learning about the cache from a spy instead of from Hans Huber, etc) versus the clear and contrary reports in the New York Times and London Express. Wolfe might be right that Thomas obtained a few of the files in May 1945, but the rest of Thomas' story is demonstrably false, as press accounts and military records make clear.

Regarding Thomas' military status, you're still dodging the question. Even if he felt "insulted" by the newspaper's request for his military ID number (a request that was only made because Thomas claimed he had been inducted!), why did he falsely claim his CIC ID card was the type given to non-civilian CIC agents, and why did he sue the L.A. Times for truthfully reporting his civilian status? Again, the question isn't whether Thomas' duties were "distinctive and unique." It's whether he was a civilian or inducted. He or his biographer could have easily cleared things up, but didn't. Thomas made his status an issue by insisting he was a U.S. Army officer instead of a civilian. Some of his supporters still won't say he was a civilian assistant. If pressed, they'll admit he wasn't inducted (although they usually say "formally inducted," as if there were such a thing as informal induction), but they can't bring themselves to acknowledge he was a civilian. It's very odd. Rivenburg 08:11, 23 October 2007 (UTC)

A Former "Student's" View

Having taken Thomas's German course on tapes in preparation for a conference in Germany, and been quite impressed with his teaching method, I recently read his biography with interest. I have now discovered this feverish to-and-fro here between this LA Times fellow and various persons who seem, shall we say, a bit more sympathetic to Mr. Thomas.

Having reviewed it, I must say it strikes me that the reporter adopted an extraordinarily harsh stance on the late Mr. Thomas, and indeed it seems may have driven him to an earlier grave than nature would otherwise have done. What's particularly striking, having read the reporter's original article in the Times, is that his editors would give so much space to an article that, viewed in the most charitable light to the reporter, found precious little that merited such sustained attention. The rather insignificant contradictions seized upon by the reporter could easily be explained by minor slips of recollection by a near-nonegenarian, yet they were blown entirely out of proportion, and the man was in essence accused of being a liar about issues and events that have far less dramatic implications than the reporter would lead one to believe. Surely a newspaper intent on exposing significant frauds could find bigger game than "exposing" a well-documented Dachau liberator who could not precisely recall the landscape of the place nearly sixty years on.

Given this, it is not surprising Mr. Thomas reacted with such furious vehemence, and took the assault on his character as a mean-spirited attack by a reporter whose judgment and motives certainly appear open to question. The whole affair also seems to have inspired more than a few people, including his defenders here, to a state of passionate indignation. Hardly the sort of thing that should make an editor express "pride" for the dubious exercise of ridiculing a man of Thomas's background, (in what sounds like a flash of intemperance when faced with a surprisingly hostile question before a sympathetic audience.)

If this experiment in encyclopedic publishing is to be taken seriously, I must say I agree that the reporter's freedom to tailor this article to his fancy should be restricted, in particular as he has had ample opportunity to express his views on this discussion page.

Princetonian57 02:25, 25 October 2007 (UTC)

Disjointed article remedy

163.19 here again. Thanks for your replies, Roy and others, they were very helpful. some good ideas, though I can see that it would be difficult for the two sides to agree to remove all the WWII stuff. How about, instead, as with the Michel Thomas Method article, a new entry be created. The MT method bit was in the main article for a short time but was then put elsewhere because it made the main article too unwieldy. The same could perhaps be done with this. There could be a paragraph explaining the basic issue in this main article under the heading "LA Times vs Michel Thomas Case" or something like that and then all of the debate could be put into this new entry. All the WWII detail (by this I mean the arguments and counter-arguments) could be put on there, could be accessed by anyone reading this article (which would also still include a brief overview of it), but it would then no-longer dominate and disjoint the article.

What do you say guys? Can we make this into a more typical bio. that doesn't spend 50 pages discussing just how shiny MT's Silver Star really was?

Here's hoping! —Preceding unsigned comment added by 163.19.15.43 (talk) 00:39, 15 October 2007 (UTC)

I'm all for condensing and reordering material in the entry. And I'm fine with putting the language stuff at or near the top as long as the two-decade controversy over Thomas' World War II stories is adequately hinted at in the intro for readers who want to scroll down. I think tighter writing (similar to how the Washington Post obituary summarized the debate over Thomas), supplemented by external links and detailed footnotes, would make the entry more readable. Right now, it's like an excruciating hybrid of Robbins' book, Thomas' website and the L.A. Times article. Give me a few days or so and I'll revise a section to show what I mean. I'm not so sure about a separate entry to cover the war stuff simply because this is a biographical entry and the WW2 debate is a substantial part of Thomas' life. I also don't know how a separate wartime entry would work or whether it would conform with Wikipedia guidelines. Rivenburg 18:45, 15 October 2007 (UTC)
The article as it stands (19:45 UST, 15th October 2007) strikes a good, unbiased balance, in my opinion. It doesn't go into masses of detail about your claims, but nor does it contain masses of "pro"-Thomas citations. It's a good jumping off point, perhaps, for further constructive edits, as long as they adhere to Wikipedia guidelines. Best regards, Liquidfinale (Ţ) (Ç) (Ŵ) 19:45, 15 October 2007 (UTC)
Liquidfinale, an unbiased editor, has put substantial effort into this. I am happy to let his version stand without edits on my part. Mr. Rivenburg, can you do the same? If you keep insisting on inserting what you consider important, I will eventually feel bound to correct it, and then we're back to Captain Jack Sparrow and Barbossa having their perpetual duel "until Judgment Day and trumpets sound." (I get to be Jack, I mean Captain Jack)
Facts@mt.org 20:33, 15 October 2007 (UTC)
The impression I get is more "Gandalf vs. The Balrog", an endless battle stretching from the deepest abyss to the highest mountain. Or maybe "Peter Griffin vs. The Guy in the Chicken Suit", I haven't decided. Best regards, Liquidfinale (Ţ) (Ç) (Ŵ) 20:40, 15 October 2007 (UTC)
I'm puzzled why Liquidfinale retained a lengthy discussion about the debate over Thomas and Klaus Barbie but deleted details about the other controversies. What criteria makes the Barbie debate different from disputes over Thomas' role in the Nazi ID card discovery (covered by the Washington Post and L.A. Times), the liberation of Dachau (covered by the L.A. Times) or his official military status (covered by the L.A. Times and Newsday)? As explained a few posts ago, when multiple major media outlets have stories on such issues, it more than meets Wikipedia's "notability" and "undue" tests. So, a brief description of what the issues actually are is legitimate, proportionate and essential for a truly NPOV biographical entry. Moreover, discussion of these issues passed muster with several neutral Wiki editors, who insisted on much of the footnoting and attribution from both sides that Liquidfinale has deleted. Rivenburg 20:50, 15 October 2007 (UTC)
For God's sake, Rivenburg, I wish you wouldn't keep retconning your talk page comments like this, so they say something completely different to what you posted an hour ago. You've the right to do so, of course, but it doesn't half make things confusing when taking a quick glance at the page. As for your specific points, the controversies section contains but two main sections because there are two main controversies in terms of coverage. Firstly, the Barbie comments and subsequent trial in the 80s; I assume you haven't a problem with this one being mentioned. Secondly, the LA Times article, which encompasses all of the aforementioned issues, and from which most significant coverage has derived in recent years. A brief description of the main issues is perhaps legitimate, subject to wording and weighting, but if we start listing everything here again in exquisite detail, we'll only end up with the mess we had before. The ID card stuff, the CIC stuff, the Dachau stuff - each one has an explanation, each one has a counter-explanation, and no-doubt a counter-counter-explanation. So I'm keeping it short, uncontroversial. If people want to know more, the appropriate link is there to your piece. If you insist on continuing your war (and this goes for both of you), I suggest finding a different battleground to Wikipedia's shores. Best regards, Liquidfinale (Ţ) (Ç) (Ŵ) 22:07, 15 October 2007 (UTC)


Actually, I think the Barbie passage could be trimmed. The other controversies (Dachau, Army status and ID cards) are equally notable and could be briefly expanded. Rivenburg 22:21, 15 October 2007 (UTC)


Mr. Rivenburg apparently cannot help himself; however, I will honor my pledge to allow a truly neutral editor to write this article and will not undermine his work. I will suggest on this talk page that virtually every instance in which the words "he said" appear in the article -- with the insinuation that they rest on what Mr. Rivenburg would characterize as Michel Thomas's dubious credibility -- are in fact supported by ample third-party documentation. For this reason, the use of these words undermines the NPOV standard and they should be removed. One would not state, in the article about General Eisenhower, that "he said" the Invasion of Normandy occurred on June 6, 1944; by the same token, these words should not preface well-documented facts about the life of Michel Thomas.
For example, " he said he was arrested several times." We don't have to take Mr. Thomas's word on this, official documentation from the French Bureau des Anciens Combattants* clearly establishes that Michel Thomas was at Le Vernet, Gardanne, and Les Milles camps -- and that he endured torture at the hands of the French Milice. So may I suggest that the words "he said" be removed here, as well as further down where the article reads, ""one month after the 1943 Barbie incident, Thomas said he was tortured and subsequently released by the Milice."
*The document is titled "Report on the service and activities of Michel Kroskof-Thomas in the Resistance and Maquis, French Forces of the Interior, Isere, Section IV: signed by Captain Dax, St. Ismier, December 4, 1944. Copy read and certified by Secretary General of the Departmental Committee of National Liberation of Grenoble, August 22, 1957." This document is available from the French government and can also be viewed and downloaded from www.michelthomas.org.
As for "all of which he said he escaped:" It's documented he was in these camps for more than two years, and they were not places one simply walked in and out of -- in particular Les Milles, a deportation camp to Auschwitz. It seems to me that the burden should fall on the person who disputes Thomas's version of how he got out of these camps to produce some evidence to the contrary, before subjecting this to the tendentious "he said" qualifier.
Then there's "Thomas also said he engineered a post-war undercover sting operation that resulted in the arrest of several former S.S. officers." Again, Wikipedia readers don't have to take Michel Thomas's word -- the Frundsberg operation is well-documented in Thomas's biography which cites, at pp. 254-255 and elsewhere, the names of the former SS officers who were tried as a result of the sting operation: Schelkmann & Laufer and four subordinates. They were tried and sentenced in 1947 by the High Military Court of Wurtenberg-Baden in Goppingen. In both the biography and in sworn statements in federal court, Thomas's former CIC colleague Dr. Ted Kraus fully corroborated Thomas's account of the sting operation and the arrests, and there are transcripts of the eavesdropped conversations with these SS men, in German and in English, that were used in the trial.
Then there's "In the final week of World War II, Thomas said, he played a part in the recovery of a cache of Nazi documents from a paper mill in Freimann, Germany." Thomas's role in the discovery of these documents has been backed up by the leading expert in the world on captured German war documents, Robert Wolfe, and was further cited by the very Justice Department office Mr. Rivenburg elsewhere cites as critical of Thomas's credibility -- the Office of Special Investigations -- in a 2006 issue of the U.S. Attorney's Bulletin.
Facts@mt.org 02:44, 16 October 2007 (UTC) (he said)
All of those "saids" were originally added by neutral wiki editors. The Eisenhower analogy doesn't apply. There's a world of difference between facts that are common knowledge, such as the date of D-Day, and things that require attribution or are in dispute (such as Thomas' version of the Nazi Party ID card discovery). Adding attribution is standard journalistic practice. It's also spelled out in Wikipedia's policy on Verifiability (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WP:V). 75.17.189.190 03:43, 16 October 2007 (UTC)


75.17.189.190 (is that you Roy?) I dispute that "all of those 'saids' were originally added by neutral wiki editors. And the facts, as shown, are sourced. But the point is that when it comes to Michel Thomas, for the purposes of this article, which has up until now been controlled by Rivenburg, any fact claimed by Michel Thomas must meet the insistently skeptical standard of proof he demands. Yet Rivenburg has a pattern of "willful ignorance of the truth" -- as was commented on by a Boalt Hall law professor at a mock trial of this case hosted by UC Berkeley's Schools of Law and Journalism in 2003. (See: Jewish News Weekly, April 11, 2003: "Survivor Fights L.A. Times in mock trial to clear his name": http://www.jewishsf.com/content/2-0-/module/displaystory/story_id/20143/format/html/edition_id/410/displaystory.html)
It is only Rivenburg who disputes these facts, and he disputes them because he has always refused, and still refuses, to acknowledge the evidence behind Michel Thomas's "claims" and so endlessly recycles controversies that few if any others believe merit further attention.
Your point is fair enough about the D-Day analogy and Eisenhower. But you're speaking of general readers. When it comes to Michel Thomas's life, the facts I cited should be as much 'common knowledge' to Roy Rivenburg as the date of D-Day is to a general reader -- Roy has been bombarded with this evidence for over half a decade. Yet he keeps ignoring it.
Another way to look at the Eisenhower analogy is to take a minor fact that is not common knowledge from the wikipedia article about him and see how such a fact might be treated by a journalist determined to discredit Eisenhower. Here's one: "Upon full discovery of the death camps that were part of the Final Solution (Holocaust), he ordered camera crews to comprehensively document evidence of the atrocity so as to prevent any doubt of its occurrence." (By the way, no citation is offered for this fact in the wikipedia article. Yet it is not disputed.)
Let's suppose that fate dealt Dwight Eisenhower a different hand, and by 2001 he was an obscure WWII general most people had never heard of. His biography is published by an admiring British author and Roy Rivenburg decides to write a profile of him. After interviewing him he decides that nothing this Eisenhower fellow says can be trusted, including this business of ordering camera crews to shoot film at concentration camps. However, Eisenhower supports his "claim" by offering statements from one of the men who shot the film, let's call him Dr. Kraus, as well as documentation about the filming from 1945.
Rivenburg interviews Dr. Kraus, who corroborates the "story." Rivenburg then writes his profile, makes fun of Eisenhower as a Walter-Mittyesque character who claims he was at the liberation of concentration camps, and never mentions Dr. Kraus or the documentation in the profile. An enraged Eisenhower sues Rivenburg and his paper. A lengthy investigation finds still further evidence in the National Archives corroborating Eisenhower's account, and every one of the surviving members of Eisenhower's divisional command are located and file sworn affidavits supporting his "story." An expert from the National Archives reviews the evidence and writes a detailed monograph going over it all and concluding, yep, Eisenhower ordered that those films be shot. Meanwhile, a court decides Rivenburg was just writing a commentary piece and the defamation case is thrown out. Outraged, Eisenhower's friends, biographer, and his investigator publish the evidence from the court filings on an Internet site, and describe it in detail in letters to Rivenburg and his editors, and finally in ad nauseam debates on a wikipedia talk page about the dead general. All but a tiny handful of people pay much attention, and Rivenburg keeps harping away on the "pros and cons" of the "controversies" about General Eisenhower's "claim" about ordering the films.
Should reasonable people who've spent the time reviewing the actual evidence have to be subjected to Rivenburg's judgment in a wikipedia article about Eisenhower that these are "claims" whose truth is dubious? I think not.
When it comes to Michel Thomas, for Roy Rivenburg no amount of evidence for the simplest facts is ever sufficient. Rather, overwhelming evidence is routinely ignored, facts that put Thomas in the worst possible light are cherry-picked or twisted, and fresh controversies are perpetually introduced. How many French resistants can prove that they were combatants, or were in slave labor camps, or were tortured? Many who did these things, and suffered these things, cannot prove such facts with the kind of official documentation Michel Thomas had. But the legitimate ones have stories that do hang together, and are supported by at least circumstantial evidence, or witness testimonies. And real journalists who have any sense of proportion and reasonableness do not subject them to the third-degree.
Does Mr. Rivenburg harbor such insistent skepticism to Michel Thomas perhaps because, for unknown reasons, he had some axe to grind when he wrote his story about Thomas? Even if he didn't, and came to this subject free of any prejudice, he assuredly has demonstrated that he has one to grind now, if only to defend his prior work, as a quick glance at the history of this article will show.
For this reason, he (or is it you 75.17.189.190?), should refrain from further edits to this article, and let the neutral editors here try to steer this article, at long last, toward the long-distant shores of NPOV.
Facts@mt.org 04:59, 16 October 2007 (UTC)
Interesting that "Facts"@mt mentions the Jewish News Weekly article. The writer of that article, after seeing the evidence uncovered by the Los Angeles Times about Michel Thomas, apologized to me for the story. Also fascinating is that "Facts" keeps trying to make it sound as if the only Thomas skeptic on the planet is me. In reality, Mr. Thomas' stories have been questioned for at least two decades by multiple journalists in the U.S. and France, U.S. Justice Department officials, the man who prosecuted Klaus Barbie and an Oscar-winning documentary. Some of Thomas' stories are also irrefutably contradicted by military records, National Archives documents and 1945 newspaper articles. I never said Thomas didn't do valuable work during the war; quite the contrary. Some of his claims checked out, and the L.A. Times said so. But Thomas was a flawed hero who sometimes exaggerated and fabricated his record. L.A. Times editor John Carroll called those tales "preposterous" and said the paper wouldn't retract a single word because its article on Thomas "was true." Exactly. Rivenburg 05:48, 16 October 2007 (UTC)
I'd like to know more about that "apology" Roy. Can you document it? What exactly did she apologize about? And, if she did apologize, was it because of something you told her that was misleading or untrue? Context is important here. I recall speaking to or exchanging emails with the author of that article after she wrote it, and she never indicated any remorse about it to me. If you don't wish to share it here publicly, you have my email address.
As for John Carroll's comments, when he made them, he incorrectly called Michel's biography by Christopher Robbins an autobiography, said "the author sued us" and otherwise indicated he was ill-informed about the details of the case. He has never addressed the specifics, or given any indication he absorbed any of the information that was sent to him about Thomas after your article was published.
Facts@mt.org 06:36, 16 October 2007 (UTC)
Hi, Alex. The writer visited me at the Los Angeles Times, saw some of the documents we had and realized the newspaper got a bum rap in her article. So she apologized for her article. Do I have a signed affidavit? No, but she's not the only reporter to apologize after writing about Thomas without hearing the newspaper's side. No journalist who has seen the newspaper's evidence believes Thomas afterward.
Regarding Mr. Carroll, don't distort a simple slip of the tongue. As you know, Michel Thomas threatened to sue the newspaper BEFORE the story came out, so everything in the article was triple-checked for accuracy -- and every shred of evidence Thomas produced was reviewed by Times editors and attorneys. Nobody at the newspaper found Thomas' evidence believable and nobody does to this day. Carroll called Thomas' stories "preposterous." If you think he was ill-informed about the specifics of the case or the information presented by Thomas, then it is you who are ill-informed. One of the nation's most respected editors wouldn't jeopardize his own or the paper's reputation on a story he didn't have complete confidence in. When he said he was "very proud" of the article, it's because he knew all the evidence behind it. Rivenburg 07:26, 16 October 2007 (UTC)
Roy, out of respect for that reporter's privacy -- not to mention Wikipedia readers who would understandably find this exchange somewhat irrelevant -- we should be discussing this privately, whether by phone or email. But since you've put this factoid out there, I'm wondering about a couple of things, such as whether she was there trying to get a job, as opposed to doing research for an article about Michel Thomas. I sincerely doubt it was the latter, nor do you specify what it was she apologized for.
As for the statement, "No journalist who has seen the newspaper's evidence believes Thomas afterward." Believes Thomas about what? That he was not at the liberation of Dachau, as your article implied? That he did not rescue, or at least play a crucial role in the rescue, of the Nazi Party membership card files? That he did not function as a full-fledged CIC Agent, who was given the uniform, credentials, and "all the powers and duties" of other CIC Agents, despite being a stateless Jew living in the underground of Hitler's Reich? That his parents were not murdered by the Nazis?
And then there's "Nobody found Thomas' evidence believable and nobody does to this day." Nobody Roy? How about the more than 500 people who've gone to the trouble to write to you, the Times, and Carroll complaining about the article, including people like WWII historian Flint Whitlock, or Nazi-hunter Serge Klarsfeld, or New York Daily News publisher Mortimer Zuckerman? Or the 130 veterans of Michel's regimental association who sent signed cards on his behalf? Evidence about what Roy?
As for Carroll's statements, until I see evidence that he reviewed the information presented in the lawsuit, or that he was sent afterwards, I'm reserving judgment about what he does or does not understand. However, the only public statement he made on the subject shows not a slip of the tongue, but a fundamental misunderstanding of basic facts, such as that the book was not an autobiography, that your article was not a book review, as he described it, and that the awarding of attorneys' fees to the Times was not a punitive decision by the judge because Thomas's case was "so weak" but rather was automatically mandated by California's anti-SLAPP statute. (A statute whose purpose was perverted in this case.)
I find it hard to believe that any editor, much less John Carroll, if he were at all well-informed about the facts, would express pride in an article that "had a few laughs at the expense" of a documented Holocaust survivor and decorated WWII veteran. Your article portrayed Michel Thomas as a phony and a fraud who lied about his wartime service and his role liberating Dachau, yet two months after Carroll defended it that same veteran was awarded the Silver Star for bravery by the two most prominent WWII vets from the US Senate, saluted as a French Resistance fighter by the Ambassador of France, saluted as a Dachau liberator by the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, and celebrated in a nationally-televised five-minute segment on CNN on the day the WWII Memorial was dedicated, as more than a million fellow vets gathered in Washington for the ceremony. In my wildest dreams I could not have hoped for a more dramatic vindication for Michel, or a more conclusive repudiation of the nasty insinuations of your article. Everyone involved in the case got congratulatory letters and phone calls for weeks afterward, such as Max Cleland's letter describing Michel as "a genuine hero."
I and several others, including Michel's biographer, wrote several respectful letters to John Carroll after the Silver Star ceremony, yet he never had the courtesy to reply. Hardly the actions of a man who is proud of his paper's conduct. Whether it was arrogance or shame that caused him not to continue to defend your work, only Mr. Carroll can say, but neither speaks well of him.
Dear Facts@MT: You didn't mention that the "respectful" letters were preceded by months of e-mails and public statements full of personal attacks and inaccuracies. Why would you expect a response?
The laughs mentioned by Mr. Carroll were because some of the stories in Thomas' book (e.g., sending telepathic messages to a dog, making love amid an artillery barrage, voluntarily returning to a concentration camp because he didn't like the circumstances under which he was freed, etc) were so ridiculous they don't deserve to be taken seriously. If someone is a Holocaust survivor and veteran but still tells tall tales, should he automatically be immune from criticism? No. The Silver Star doesn't vindicate anything. I'm not saying Thomas didn't deserve the medal, but it wasn't awarded for any of the activities the Los Angeles Times wrote about. The tales that the paper focused on were, as Carroll said, "preposterous." Thomas was both a genuine hero and a genuine phony. He did good things but made up others. He was a fascinating dichotomy, and we pointed out both parts of his personality.
As for the list of Thomas claims that no outside journalist has believed after seeing the L.A. Times' evidence, it includes: Thomas' sworn claim that he accompanied the first battalion into Dachau; his boast that he was an Army officer instead of a civilian employee; and his version of events about the Nazi ID cards (he clearly lied about instigating press coverage, lied about making sure the documents were moved out of the paper mill -- and he couldn't recall simple details about the discovery until AFTER he sued). Those were the main issues debated in the Times article, although Thomas tried to distort what the article actually said and how it was reported.
Lastly, you have no understanding of how newspapers operate if you seriously think that Carroll and other editors weren't fully versed on the evidence behind a story that, if it were bogus, would undermine the newspaper's credibility. Also, the article was an investigative book review; my editors specifically insisted that everything in it be directly tied to content in the book. And it was similar to investigative book reviews I'd written earlier.Rivenburg 09:19, 16 October 2007 (UTC)
Roy, the LA Times published a positive review of 'Test of Courage' in November 2000. It had the subtitle "Book Review" above it. Calling your profile of Thomas a book review was a slippery dodge to avoid defamation liability. As for the other items you cite, those would have been fair game for a book review, but you did not focus on them. You focused on factual details concerning Thomas wartime record, did sloppy and superficial research, and had to rely on innuendo to get your article past all those lawyers and editors. If the detailed research I did that dismantled your article was lunacy, then I look forward to the next full moon. I'll be out howling with the head of the Justice Department office you keep citing for having criticized Thomas, and the leading expert on captured German war documents, and Senators Dole & Warner & McCain and Cleland, and the Ambassador of France. They all thought your effort was pretty shabby.
And now, since you've resorted to insulting me here, I see no reason not to take the gloves off myself. Although your mucked-up formatting will leave most Wikipedia readers wondering who is saying what here, those who can follow it will no doubt note that your snide and dismissive comments, particularly with respect to my sincere efforts to have a civil, private discourse with you over the years about this case, nicely illustrate the four symmetrical dimensions of factual distortion, arrogance, viciousness, and cowardice that has characterized your conduct, and that of your newspaper, since the beginning of this entire affair six years ago. You live in a truly sealed-off world of self-reinforcing reality to have made these statements, in light of the eventual outcome of this matter.
Now, go pat yourself on the back for a job well-done and get to work exposing another major fraud like octogenarian Gerry Thomas, whom you you so brilliantly 'debunked' by citing 1950s weather statistics proving those turkeys could not have been on that railcar, and that therefore he indisputably lied about his role in the creation of the TV dinner. That one garnered a special editorial by your fellow admiring journalist colleagues at the Arizona Republic, rebuking your efforts that touched off "an unexpected and surprisingly vindictive debate" about the harmless possible exaggerations, decades before, of a man who had just died and could no longer defend himself against you.
Seems to be your specialty Roy.
I suggest you keep at it. That investigative-reporting Pulitzer is just one more hit-piece away. You could start with the journalistic and theological bona fides of the WJI's spiritual founder, L. Nelson Bell. Maybe the Daily Titan will run it.
Facts@mt.org 10:51, 16 October 2007 (UTC)
Dear "Facts," the TV Dinner article included much more evidence than you cite, including Gerry's acknowledgement that his railcar story was "a metaphor." And the Library of Congress and other experts backed up what The Times published. Also, despite what you suggest, the story was published two years before Gerry died, included interviews with him and his defenders, and Gerry himself remained friendly toward me after it came out. Rivenburg 16:04, 16 October 2007 (UTC)
Roy: Gerry "remained friendly" toward you? I suspect he was just being a gentleman. You might want to check with his family to see how friendly they felt toward you. The article "included much more 'evidence'" -- was Gerry Thomas on trial for a crime for having successfully come up with a marketing strategy for frozen turkey dinners in 1951?
As for your statement "the story was published long before Gerry died" you conveniently leave out the fact that, having peeled back the tinfoil on this shattering scandal in 2003, which Gerry Thomas may have parried with outward good humor, you then published a nasty posthumous attack on him two weeks after he died, including the subhead "Even In Death, A Charlatan Served Us Up A Lot of Baloney." That's what your journalistic colleagues at the Arizona Republic were commenting on when they called your efforts "surprisingly vindictive."
Roy, don't you see the pattern here? You train your sights on very elderly men, set them up with questions that would confound the recall of most people their age about events several decades before, gain their trust, and then write articles triumphantly "exposing" them as "frauds" when by most people's lights they simply could not answer your questions in such a way as to meet your insistent standard of "proof" -- standards that would normally be the province of a criminal prosecution. Roy, these are the tactics of a man desperate to make a name for himself, not a serious, thoughtful journalist with any sense of proportion or understanding of the frailties of human memory.
Stick to the humor stuff Roy. Sometimes you're genuinely funny. Leave the investigative reporting to the pros lest you embarrass yourself again.
Facts@mt.org 20:23, 16 October 2007 (UTC)
The "posthumous attack" was an Opinion section piece about reporters who don't check questionable claims and obituary writers who declared Thomas the inventor of the TV dinner despite published evidence to the contrary (some had even reprinted the original L.A. Times story but didn't bother to check their archives before writing their obit). Almost every newspaper subsequently ran a correction on their obits, and more former Swanson employees came out of the woodwork to debunk Thomas. The charlatan/baloney phrase was a headline written by a copy editor (reporters don't write headlines). One difference between Gerry and Michel is that Gerry never claimed to have a photographic memory that allowed him to relive World War II events in vivid detail.
As for your "pattern" theory, no, two articles about 80-year-olds out of dozens of investigative stories don't constitute a trend. The only pattern I see involves multiple journalists, public officials, filmmakers and others questioning Michel Thomas' honesty over the past 20 years. Although I don't expect you to agree with their conclusions, it would be more constructive if you'd debate the facts themselves instead of going off on personal attacks. Rivenburg 20:54, 16 October 2007 (UTC)
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So, am I right in thinking that only Roy agrees with me about it being a good idea to reduce the section on the WWII, LA Times, arguments, counter-arguments bit? I hope not. Liquidfinale, are you sure it doesn't go into masses of details about these things? It seems torturous beyond belief to me. If one thinks about Thomas's life, and the reasons why he became famous enough to end up on wiki, would you say it was because of his war record? I think it wasn't. I think this was something that came up later once he was already famous for his language teaching, which was what made him famous. In the entry on Bill Clinton in Wikipedia, the bit about the Lewinsky scandal does not dominate in the way that this does. As Roy suggests, it really should be slimmed down. In my opinion, it should take up no more than a quarter of the article. Surely we can all agree on a quarter, can we? 163.19 —Preceding unsigned comment added by 163.19.15.43 (talk) 07:41, 16 October 2007 (UTC)
Actually, even in the late 1940s and continuing into the 1960s, much of the press coverage of Thomas focused on his war record. Perhaps because newspapers are reluctant to give free ink to businesses that wouldn't otherwise be in the news, Thomas played up his wartime exploits as a way to publicize his language school. Despite his success teaching celebrities, the school apparently struggled, as Thomas was sued repeatedly in the 1970s, '80s and early '90s for failure to pay rent, taxes and other bills. During that time, he also promised to open satellite offices in various cities but never did. I don't know when or how things turned around, but the program seemed to fare better in the last decade. Rivenburg 00:04, 18 October 2007 (UTC)
"So, am I right in thinking that only Roy agrees with me about it being a good idea to reduce the section on the WWII, LA Times, arguments, counter-arguments bit? I hope not."
Uh, no. Have you had a look at the edits I made yesterday? It's all been condensed significantly, especially the controversies/claim/counterclaim and WWII sections. If you think the Michel Thomas Method information should go near the start and be expanded some, be my guest; we'll see how it looks (though keep in mind that a separate article already exists for the Michel Thomas Method). Best regards, Liquidfinale (Ţ) (Ç) (Ŵ) 08:03, 16 October 2007 (UTC)

Oh, one more thing. Do we actually know anything more about Thomas's life beyond all this stuff? This could be another way to help balance the rest of this out. For instance, more detail on his early life in Poland and Germany; what he did when he first came to the united states; more on his family life; setting up his language schools and developing his teaching method. These are, I think, things that would improve the bio greatly, especially since they were also not covered in especially great detail in the book on him. Trouble is for me, I can't add it because I don't know much about it. Maybe the friends of MT know more. And possibly Roy found out some stuff while researching the original LA Times article? 163.19 —Preceding unsigned comment added by 163.19.15.43 (talk) 07:47, 16 October 2007 (UTC)

That would be just dandy; unfortunately, there isn't a great deal else published about Thomas to use for such purposes. If you can locate an article or paper which analyses the Method in some unbiased way, especially its development and set-up, it'll be fine to use it as a citation for an appropriate addition, either to this article or the Method one. Are there any academic papers which do this? Have a look, and be bold. Best regards, Liquidfinale (Ţ) (Ç) (Ŵ) 08:11, 16 October 2007 (UTC)
Liquidfinale: There have been various papers and studies, which I could cite here, but the definitive book on the subject of Michel's language teaching method is currently being written, and is scheduled for publication in a few months by English publisher Hodder. Titled "Michel Thomas: The Learning Revolution" it is by Dr. Jonathan Solity, an Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society and a Chartered Educational Psychologist. He is now a university lecturer in educational psychology. Here is a link for more information: http://www.hoddereducation.co.uk/Title/0340928336/Michel_Thomas_The_Learning_Revolution.htm.
Facts@mt.org 08:28, 16 October 2007 (UTC)
You make a very good point, Liquidfinale. Where on earth is it possible to find out information about Thomas, his personal life and his language methods? Funny, but despite there having been a fair amount written about the man, there are still a number of areas that are hard to find out anything about. I'm particularly interested in the early formation of his method. At what point did it become the really good method that it was by the time he released his CD courses? I can't imagine that it was as good all the way back in 1947. Who were his influences? There was another method about in the early 40s that was remarkably similar to his, did he "borrow" parts of it? I'd also be interested to see a bit of detail regarding his work with inner-city schools, how widespread it was, was there any lasting impact? There are some interesting bits on this website, written by former colleagues and UK schools that have adopted his method that are somewhat enlightening, but I don't think they could be cited: Life, times and method - http://pub8.bravenet.com/forum/657257956/show/688103 . Usage of in UK schools - http://pub8.bravenet.com/forum/657257956/show/673919 —Preceding unsigned comment added by 123.110.152.106 (talk) 09:19, 16 October 2007 (UTC)
Dear 123.110, I'd be interested in hearing more about the 1940s method you mention. In the 1960s, Thomas did some demonstration projects with teachers and students, earning rave reviews, according to Los Angeles Times reports from that era. But attempts to repeat that success on a wide scale never got off the ground. As the L.A. Times noted in 2001:
...whenever [Thomas] has been on the verge of a deal to spread his language instruction techniques to other subjects, something goes awry, he says. Those who got cold feet over the years include the Ford Foundation, L.A. public school officials and billionaire John Kluge, he says.
Herb Morris, his friend at UCLA, says Thomas "is a remarkably self-defeating individual in certain contexts."
In 1990, when Morris was dean of humanities at UCLA, he arranged a meeting between Thomas and the school's foreign language faculty to discuss using his methods. It was a fiasco. "His way of interacting with the department chairs was the worst imaginable," Morris recalls. "He wouldn't tell them anything about what he does--and he revealed his contempt for what they did."
Secrecy doesn't fly in the ivory tower, Morris says: "You won't get academics to use a 'new' method unless they have some indication that it can be replicated."
A few years before his death, Thomas conducted more demonstration projects, this time in England, and again received favorable reviews, including a BBC special (which also focused a lot on his war record). Rivenburg 00:04, 18 October 2007 (UTC)


Here's a suggestion for the World War 2 section. My edit begins "Thomas' biography gives an account of his war years." The next two paragraphs contain one "he said" each. I hope this is a good balance between good style (which would contain no clumsy "he saids" at all) and the strong implication, by use of multiple "he saids", that every part of Thomas' story is a lie. I deleted the reference to Barbie's prosecutor since it is mentioned elsewhere in the article. What do you think?--Lingvo9 09:46, 16 October 2007 (UTC)

It looks a good compromise to me; it may be that a light smattering of <ref name="robbins"/> tags would also serve well, if your version isn't sufficient for other editors. Best regards, Liquidfinale (Ţ) (Ç) (Ŵ) 09:54, 16 October 2007 (UTC)
Re: the "controversies" section. I agree with Liquidfinale. It may not be possible to expand the section "In recent years, several aspects of Thomas' war record ... reached the same conclusions as the Times article" without both sides continuing their claim and counterclaim war. Both articles are available online and there is no need to expand on them, ad infinitum, here.--Lingvo9 09:58, 16 October 2007 (UTC)


Scorecard

Rivenburg "Supporters":

The following have been cited by Rivenburg as "supporters" of his published assertions, pre- and posthumously, that Michel Thomas was a liar and a fraud who exaggerated or fabricated significant facts about his WWII service:

1) "a U.S. Justice Department former chief Nazi hunter" (Allan Ryan)
2) "an Oscar-winning documentary" (Hotel Terminus by Marcel Ophuls)
3) "The Los Angeles Times" (Rivenburg's paper)
4) "Le Monde" (French newspaper whose 1987 article parenthetically mentioned Thomas' testimony against Klaus Barbie)
5) "Newsday" (sister newspaper to LA Times, owned by Tribune Group of Chicago)
6) "the prosecutor at Klaus Barbie's trial" (French prosecutor Pierre Truche)
7) John Carroll (former LA Times editor who made public comments supporting Rivenburg in February 2004);
8) WWII comrades who served with Michel Thomas (NONE)

Comments:
--Allan Ryan's 1983 report, "Klaus Barbie and the United States Government: A Report to the Attorney General of the United States" regarding the role of US intelligence agencies in protecting known war-criminal Klaus Barbie when they used him as a postwar "asset," had been criticized publicly by Thomas. Ryan responded to those criticisms in a 1983 press conference. After their public confrontation about Barbie, Ryan and Thomas communicated privately and reached an amicable understanding. Ryan was not contacted or interviewed for Rivenburg's 2001 article.
-- Thomas was referred to in less than 20 seconds of Marcel Ophuls' 1988 film "Hotel Terminus" as one of several witnesses against Barbie. Ophuls was not contacted by Rivenburg for his 2001 profile of Thomas.
-- a 1987 Le Monde article parenthetically commented that Thomas's testimony against Barbie displayed "un goût trop prononcé de paraitre, de multiplier les détails." Rivenburg quoted French historian Henri Rousso as stating that this Le Monde quote meant "a taste for make-believe" rather than the more accurate "a taste for emphasizing too much, of offering too many details." Contacted after Rivenburg's profile was published, Rousso stated he was not contacted by Rivenburg in 2001. Regarding the French history program from which Rivenburg lifted this quote, Rousso added, ""My problem was not to comment on the testimony itself but to explain the atmosphere during the trial."
-- Pierre Truche met with Thomas in his office after the trial. He made it clear that he did not think Thomas had lied in his testimony, but said he excluded it because it was complex and unlikely. Truche said that as he listened to the evidence he was reminded of Boileau's line: "Le vrai peut quelquefois n'etre pas vraisemblable" -- "The truth can sometimes not be likely." Truche was not contacted or interviewed for Rivenburg's 2001 article.
-- re: Newsday: Rivenburg colleague and fellow Tribune-Group employee Ron Howell misleadingly quoted Thomas's investigator in a July 2004 article after interviewing him at the New York ceremony in which Rep. Carolyn Maloney presented Thomas with the Silver Star. Alone amidst otherwise universally postive press coverage of a ninety year-old receiving the Silver Star sixty years after having been nominated for it, Howell's article recycled Rivenburg's alleged 'controversy' about Thomas's official status. He did so by insinuating that the investigator's "admission" Thomas was never inducted was proof Thomas had lied about his CIC service. He left out that the investigator made it clear that in Thomas's biography and the entire record of his public statements on the subject Thomas never claimed he was inducted, but rather stated that he had the unusual status of having served as a full-fledged CIC Agent in 1945-47 despite not yet acquiring his US citizenship;
-- John Carroll was asked before a friendly audience in February 2004 at UC Berkeley, why he had never replied to the more than 400 letters he had been sent regarding the Times article about Thomas. His angry response indicated he did not know or recall fundamental aspects of Thomas's recently-concluded defamation case against the Los Angeles Times, including the fact that Mr. Thomas's biography was not an autobiography but was written by British author Christopher Robbins, that Thomas, not the author of the book, had sued the Times, and that the award of attorney's fees in the case did not reflect a punitive decision by the judge, but rather was mandated by California's anti-SLAPP statute. Nor did he mention that the Times attorneys were reprimanded by the judge for "rampant overbilling" and ordered to cut their fees nearly in half.


Thomas Supporters:

Public Officials & Institutions:

1) Senator Bob Dole (R, KS), (pinned Silver Star on Thomas in May 2004 at US WWII Memorial)
2) Senator John Warner (R, VA),(pinned Silver Star on Thomas in May 2004 at US WWII Memorial)
3) Senator John McCain (R, AZ), (submitted 1944 Silver Star nomination & supporting documents to US Army)
4) Senator Max Cleland (D, GA), (sent congratulatory note to Thomas in May 2004 calling him a "genuine hero")
5) U.S.Representative Carolyn Maloney (D,NY),(submitted 1944 Silver Star nomination & supporting documents to US Army: hosted July 2004 ceremony in New York City where she pinned Silver Star on Thomas at the Armory before an honor guard and Thomas's friends and family)
5) Ambassador of France Jean-David Levitte,(saluted Thomas as French Resistance fighter at May 2004 Silver Star ceremony);
6) US Army Decorations Review Board (researched Thomas's WWII service and 1944 nomination for Silver Star; granted Silver Star in May 2004);
7) Robert Wolfe (National Archives WWII Captured German War documents expert, wrote monograph concluding Thomas rescued Nazi Party worldwide membership card file from destruction in May 1945. Wolfe also wrote about the role of American intelligence agencies, including the CIC, in protecting Barbie after the war here: http://www.archives.gov/iwg/research-papers/barbie-irr-file.html)
8) U.S. Justice Dept. current "chief Nazi hunter," Eli Rosenbaum, (head of Office of Special Investigations, attended 2004 Silver Star ceremony at WWII Memorial);
9) U.S. Justice Dept. "Nazi hunter" Gregory Gordon (senior trial attorney, Office of Special Investigations, wrote article crediting Thomas with rescuing Nazi Party membership file in 1945, United States Attorney's Bulletin, February 2006 "Taking the Paper Trail Instead of Memory Lane: OSI's Use of Ancient Foreign Documents in the Nazi Cases" (http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/eousa/foia_reading_room/usab5401.pdf) )
10) U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum (chief archivist and other museum leadership reviewed documents and photos Thomas took at liberation of Dachau, and interviewed him. The Museum publicly saluted Thomas as a Dachau liberator before a large crowd at its Memorial Day 2004 "Salute to Liberators")

WWII Comrades Who Served with Thomas:
1) Dr. Theodore "Ted" Kraus(CIC colleague & commanding officer of Thomas; interviewed by Rivenburg but never mentioned in profile. Wrote letter complaining of this to LA Times and submitted sworn affidavit in Thomas's defamation suit against LA Times stating, "I do not understand why Mr. Rivenburg or the Los Angeles Times decided to ignore the information I provided to them. The absence of this information implies that Mr. Rivenburg was intent on discrediting Mr. Thomas, despite clear evidence I provided him about Thomas’s military service." Traveled from Connecticut home to California, Oklahoma, and Washington, DC to defend Thomas' reputation and celebrate his receiving the Silver Star;
2) Walter Wimer, (CIC colleague from WWII; filed sworn Declaration in Thomas's defamation suit stating "the implication … that Michel Thomas was a civilian employee who merely worked as a translator or investigator inaccurately belittles Mr. Thomas’s service in the CIC … Mr. Thomas was sent out on missions by our commanding officers, in the same capacity and with the same duties and powers as the other Agents of our unit.";
3) Bedford Groves(CIC colleague and former 180th Regiment US Army comrade from WWII; submitted letter to US Army describing how Thomas "did the work of three [CIC] Agents." Attended 2004 Silver Star ceremony in wheelchair.)
4) Henry Teichmann: (180th Regiment US Army WWII comrade; wrote 1944 orders releasing Thomas for CIC service; met Thomas at 2002 Oklahoma City 45th Infantry Division reunion, submitted letter to US Army in support of 2003 application for Silver Star)
All the sworn Declarations referred to above can be downloaded at http://www.michelthomas.org (Library section)

Experts Quoted by Rivenburg in His Profile of Thomas:
1) Felix Sparks (led troops of 157th Regiment that liberated Dachau; signed statement that Thomas could easily have been at Dachau liberation without his knowledge, contrary to Rivenburg's quote in Thomas profile);
2) Hugh Foster (expert on Dachau liberation; wrote detailed review of evidence Thomas was Dachau liberator, concluding he was one, and indicating Rivenburg may have misled him by withholding crucial evidence in order to elicit damaging quote);
3) George Leaman(compiled 1994 inventory of the Berlin Document Center, quoted in Rivenburg article that Stefan Heym's account of '45 rescue of Nazi files was 'more on the mark' than Thomas's; when interviewed in 2002, admitted he had not read Stefan Heym's accounts of rescue of Nazi files for more than 8 years, could not find copy of same in his files, and said his assesment of Thomas's account was based more on the biography's 'chummy accounts of womanizing' than on a detailed review of evidence regarding the discovery of the Nazi files)
4) Stefan Heym(US Army reporter in 1945 who later defected and became committed East German communist; stated in 2001 letter shortly before his death that he did not recall being contacted by Rivenburg, criticized "CIC boys and their ilk" in his response).
5) Conrad "Mac" McCormick (US Army archivist and CIC expert; interviewed at Ft. Huachuca, AZ after being quoted in Rivenburg's article, McCormick discovered mention of CIC "Agent Thomas" in the unpublished official history of the CIC which he was indexing. Signed sworn declararation in Thomas's defamation suit stating that the LA Times published a "Letter-to-the-editor" from him, expressing approval of Rivenburg's profile, even though he never wrote any such Letter-to-the-Editor to the Times);
The letters from Sparks and Foster, and the signed McCormick Declaration, can be downloaded at http://www.michelthomas.org (Library section)

Press and Broadcast Outlets:

1) US Army News Service: (http://www.defendamerica.mil/profiles/may2004/pr052804b.html);
2) CNN, Wolf Blitzer program: (Memorial Day 2004 broadcast re: Silver Star award, "Memories of War: WW II hero decorated 60 years later" ( http://www.cnn.com/2004/US/05/31/hero.decorated/index.html?iref=newssearch)
3) French National News Service: (Memorial Day 2004 broadcast re: Silver Star award)
4) Spanish National News Service: (Memorial Day 2004 broadcast re: Silver Star award)
5) Fox News, Bill O'Reilly Report: (June 8, 2004 broadcast, 'Unresolved Problems' segment; O'Reilly: "If Dole and Warner give the guy a Silver Star two weeks ago, I don't know. Last question, is there any reason to put this old guy through this? The guy looks like he's a hero, he gets the Silver Star. Is there any reason on Earth?"
6) Ha'aretz, Tom Segev: ("Moment of Truth for Michel Thomas" September 12, 2002; sample quote, "The Los Angeles Times reporter asked Thomas what color the party membership cards were - and Thomas did not remember. These cards were of a very special color, noted the reporter portentously.")
7) NBC Nightly News, hosted by Tom Brokaw(2004 taped segment by Mike Taibbi)

Others:
1) 130+ veterans of the US Army's 45th Infantry Division (sent signed cards protesting Rivenburg article to LA Times in 2002);
2) Flint Whitlock, (author of "Rock of Anzio" about 45th Division landing in Italy in '44), sent letter protesting Rivenburg article to LA Times;
3) Mortimer Zuckerman, (publisher US News & World Report, New York Daily News); sent letter protesting Rivenburg article to LA Times;
4) Warren Beatty, (actor, former Thomas language student), sent letter protesting Rivenburg article to LA Times;
5) Raquel Welch,(actress, former Thomas language student), sent letter protesting Rivenburg article to LA Times;
6) Emma Thompson, (actress, former Thomas language student), sent letter protesting Rivenburg article to LA Times;
7) Kevin Kline, (actor), attended 2004 Silver Star award ceremony in NYC, saluted Thomas
8) Walter Curley, (former US Ambassador); sent letter protesting Rivenburg article to LA Times;
9) Serge Klarsfeld, (Parisian attorney and Nazi hunter); sent letter protesting Rivenburg article to LA Times
10) Sherrie Mazingo (University of Minnesota Journalism professor and certfied expert witness in Federal defamation cases; wrote 2001 expert witness opinion stating that the article "fails the standards of accuracy, fairness, and balance" and "what is perhaps most grievously unethical about the article … is the overwhelming presence of editorializing, bias, superfluous information and cheap shots."
11) Herbert Morris, (former UCLA Law Professor and Dean of School of Humanities and Sciences; filed Declaration in defamation case stating that he spoke to Mr. Rivenburg prior to publication of his article and told him that he had "strong reservations about the motives of the Times in what appeared to me to be an attempt at an expose" and that "what Mr. Rivenburg and the Times were about to do was ‘tragic.’"
12) Christopher Robbins, the author of Thomas's 2000 biography "Test of Courage" recently re-published as "Courage Beyond Words:; outlined a wealth of documentation he presented to Mr. Rivenburg during lengthy correspondence prior to publication the article. Much of this was documentation already footnoted in his book. Filed sworn Declaration in Thomas's defamation suit stating that Rivenburg "was not interested in reviewing any of my material. His only interest seemed to be locating information which could be used to discredit Michel and Michel’s credibility", and, "From the start, it was clear to me that Mr. Rivenburg was intent on creating an issue where none existed."
13) Professor Robin T. Lakoff, (Dept. of Linguistics, University of California Berkeley; filed expert Declaration in defamation case. Regarding Rivenburg's omission of the statements of Dr. Ted Kraus from his article, Prof. Lakoff stated, "Mr. Rivenburg's deliberate omission of that material from the article represents a form of non-objectivity, a conscious choice of material in favor of that which represents Mr. Thomas badly, against that which represents him favorably ... reportorial bias tending to cause a typical reader to disbelieve Michel Thomas can be discerned reliably not only from what is explicitly present in the story itself. It is also discerned in what is absent, that, in a truly objective report, ought to be present: statements from both sides."

The sworn Declarations of Morris, Mazingo, Robbins, Lakoff, and Michel Thomas can be downloaded at http://www.michelthomas.org (Library section)<br

Plus hundreds of others, currently totaling more than 500 persons, who sent letters to the LA Times protesting Rivenburg's article and asking the paper to correct the record. The Times has never replied to any of them.

Facts@mt.org 23:51, 27 October 2007 (UTC)

Excellent re-edit

Excellent job on the re-edit, guys. This is much better in terms of length and managability, I think. Does anything else need to go in, regarding method, other bits of his life? Still, it really is much better now. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 163.19.15.61 (talk) 07:13, 6 November 2007 (UTC)

Well, the Method stuff now has its own article, but as per WP:SUMMARY, perhaps a small expansion of the section in this article could be done. The only problem is the aforementioned lack of sources to create such a section. We've been told there's a book out soon which will go into some kind of deeper analysis, so hopefully something can be done then. Best regards, Liquidfinale (Ţ) (Ç) (Ŵ) 08:20, 6 November 2007 (UTC)

___________________________________________________________________________________________________

The re-edit is an improvement, but the "controversies" section still advances the phony controversies of discredited reporter Roy Rivenburg on several issues, without letting readers know that these were conclusively rebutted. For example:

"In the 1980s, Thomas' well-publicized statements about Klaus Barbie caused controversy with the U.S. Justice Department"
This is overbroad, and makes it sound like the whole Justice Department was up in arms. In fact, Thomas challenged the report of one Justice Dept. official, Allan Ryan, head of the small Office of Special Investigations (OSI) within Justice, concerning when the CIC learned that Barbie was a war criminal. Ryan's report stated that CIC officials were unaware of this before 1949. Thomas, who had served in Germany in 1945-47 in the CIC and knew first-hand of Barbie's war crimes, asserted that CIC Agents knew of Barbie's war criminal past well before 1949. Ryan was responding to this criticism. Thomas's criticisms of Ryan's report were further corroborated when additional documents subsequently surfaced, (see: http://www.archives.gov/iwg/research-papers/barbie-irr-file.html).
"In recent years, several aspects of Thomas' war record have been challenged, most notably by the Los Angeles Times in 2001. Citing military records, 1945 newspaper articles and eyewitness testimony, the newspaper challenged Thomas' claims that he was a U.S. Army officer instead of a civilian employee, that he accompanied the first battalion as it liberated Dachau, and that he discovered and rescued a cache of Nazi Party ID cards (the L.A. Times credited a German man with the rescue). A 2004 Newsday article also concluded that Thomas was a civilian Army employee."
Again, this is overbroad: it makes it sound like there were multiple published "challenges" to "Thomas's war record." In fact, there was one article that did this substantively, Rivenburg's. This also mis-states what Rivenburg's article implied. The article's defamatory implications were much broader than what Rivenburg is now willing to defend. It implied Thomas was not a Dachau liberator at all. Rivenburg has back-tracked and tried to say that his article merely questioned Thomas's assertion that he went in with the first troops, but a fair reading of the article will show that this is untrue. Now that Rivenburg's false and defamatory implication has been thoroughly discredited, including by his own sources quoted in the article, he's trying to defend the trivial quibble that Thomas falsely claimed he went in with the 157th Regiment. But this too has been demolished. Rivenburg was told by Thomas's biographer Christopher Robbins before the article was published that Thomas had no idea what the regiment was that entered the camp, and it was Robbins who had erred in assuming Michel knew that these were the troops he had gone in with.
In fact, Thomas did enter the camp with the first troops, but he did not know or care what the infantry regiment was that was first in the gate, nor would his presence have been known to their commander, because as a CIC Agent he did not need to be attached to any infantry. By ignoring this in his article, and in the years since, Rivenburg still crows that he caught Thomas in a lie. But it is Rivenburg who is being dishonest. Even more importantly, the evidence Rivenburg ignored -- photos that Thomas took at the liberation, and the signed originals of statements of the crematorium workers whom Thomas interrogated -- was sufficient to persuade the chief archivist and other leadership of the US Holocaust Memorial Museum that Thomas was a genuine liberator, and they honored him as such at their "Salute to Liberators" event during the week of Memorial Day 2004.
As for the "Thomas's claims that he was a U.S. Army officer instead of a civilian employee" line, this too has been discredited. Thomas stated that he served as a CIC Agent, despite not yet having his US citizenship. This "claim" was supported by extensive wartime documentation, and then supported again by sworn Declarations of all his surviving CIC comrades, over five decades later. By constantly harping on a single document he found in the National Archives, Rivenburg for years has tried to portray Thomas as a liar who exaggerated his role in the CIC. Who is more authoritative on this subject? The men who served in the CIC with Thomas, or Rivenburg?
Then there's "and that he discovered and rescued a cache of Nazi Party ID cards (the L.A. Times credited a German man with the rescue)." A more accurate statement of what the article said would be, "the LA Times credited the German manager of the paper mill, to whom the Nazis had entrusted the documents for destruction, with the rescue." And of course, what's left out is that Thomas's role in the rescue of the files was supported by extensive documentary evidence that led the leading expert on captured German war documents, Robert Wolfe, to conclude that Thomas indeed did rescue the files from destruction. A conclusion echoed by a veteran Justice Department prosecutor from the OSI, in the 2006 US Attorney's Bulletin.
And finally there's "a 2004 Newsday article also concluded that Thomas was a civilian Army employee." That article quoted me as saying Thomas was never inducted, implying Thomas had claimed he was. But, as Rivenburg well knows, Michel Thomas never claimed he was inducted. I told Newsday reporter Ron Howell that Thomas never claimed he was inducted, and I pointed him to the specific page in his biography that makes it clear that despite never having been inducted, Thomas was was given all the powers & duties of an official agent. Howell quoted me out of context in a highly misleading fashion that supported the phony controversies of his fellow Tribune-Group employee Roy Rivenburg.
I have stayed my hand at any edits from this article since Liquidfinale and others have taken the helm here, but I will not let this section stand as written without a clear rebuttal. Otherwise, readers will read Rivenburg's assertions about Thomas, and then read that he lost his case, without being informed that these assertions were conclusively debunked.
Facts@mt.org 19:40, 8 November 2007 (UTC)

________________________________________________________________________________________________

Re the Justice Department section cited by Facts@mt: The article could change "with the Justice Department" to "within the Justice Department" or even specify the DOJ's Nazi-investigating unit. But the controversy was covered by a number of newspapers and it's a fact that Allan Ryan criticized Thomas' credibility at a press conference. There is no reliable evidence that Ryan ever met with Thomas later or changed his mind. And a 1983 L.A. Times article made it clear that at least one other DOJ official besides Ryan questioned Thomas' story.

// Rebuttal: The Wall Street Journal, a reputable newspaper, strongly implied that Bill Clinton had a role in the murder of his close friend Vince Foster. Does this make it so, in the face of half-a-dozen thorough investigations that concluded to the contrary? The fact that certain newspapers reported something does not make it true. There is substantial evidence that CIC Agents -- including of course, CIC Agent Michel Thomas himself -- knew of Barbie's war crimes prior to 1949. To include, in isolation, the fact that DOJ or OSI officials criticized Thomas's credibility without addressing the substance of what was at issue, and that the criticisms were proven unfounded by documents that later surfaced, is more of the same old smear tactics.

Re Dachau: The Times article never implied that Thomas wasn't at the camp. It reported, correctly, that the story in Robbins' book about Thomas entering the camp with the very first battalion (a story Thomas later repeated in a sworn affidavit) was wrong. That's all the article said, as a plain reading of the text shows. The broader implications claimed by Facts@mt were rejected by four federal judges (and the U.S. Supreme Court) and therefore don't meet Wikipedia policy on undue weight. Incidentally, the photos Thomas submitted to the court were dated May 1945, whereas the liberation actually happened April 29.

// Rebuttal: this is simply false. Read the article. It goes on and on about the topography of the camp, tanks that never crossed bridges, white flags, and other stray issues that clearly imply Thomas may never have set foot in the camp. Two expert witnesses, a professor of journalism and of linguistics, filed Declarations about Rivenburg's tactic of using such implications to smear Thomas in his article. As for the dates on the photos, this is a classic Rivenburgism: seize on the stray detail and insinuate that it's "proof" of a lie. As Rivenburg knows, the photos submitted to the court came from the widow of Frederick White, one of Thomas's CIC colleagues, and had handwriting on them that could have been made by anyone since 1945; however, the content of the photos themselves was verified by Rivenburg's own expert Hugh Foster as showing scenes that happened on April 29, 1945. They were further verified by the curator of the Dachau Memorial Museum, Barbara Distel, as having been taken on the day of liberation. And how did Thomas get the negatives? And the original signed statements of the crematorium workers?

Re Thomas' military status: The dispute over Thomas' Army credentials was reported on by two reliable, mainstream U.S. newspapers, the Los Angeles Times and Newsday. That meets Wikipedia policy for representing significant viewpoints from reliable sources. The implications suggested by Facts@mt have been rejected by the American legal system and by the mainstream media. Facts@mt's claims about the Newsday reporter are based on original research. There is no reliable evidence to support them. And, for the record, Thomas did claim he was inducted. Aside from the fact that he sued the L.A. Times for saying he was a civilian, his biography called him a U.S. Army officer, a position that requires induction. His biography also asserted that his Counter Intelligence Corps ID card was the same type issued to inducted CIC agents. The L.A. Times questioned these claims, correctly pointing out that the U.S. Army had no record of Thomas' military service and that his "CIC ID card" was the type issued to civilians.

// Rebuttal: The Newsday article was quoting me -- in a highly misleading way. But I am barred from refuting the misleading quote because it's "original research"? Come on. In Mr. Rivenburg's world, the fact that something gets printed in a newspaper gives it a kind of holy writ status, which lives forever, regardless of whatever contravening facts may exist. And here we have it, at last, baldly stated: Thomas claimed he was inducted, not because he ever said those words, but because he had to be inducted to be a CIC Agent, according to Roy Rivenburg. Never mind the consistent statements of Thomas's CIC colleagues spanning six decades that he served as a full-fledged Agent despite not having yet gotten his US citizenship -- those are irrelevant. No, the single lone document unearthed by the resourceful reporter proves Thomas lied when he called himself an Agent.


Re the Nazi ID card cache: It wasn't just the Los Angeles Times that credited Hans Huber with the discovery. So did 1945 articles in the New York Times, London Express and other newspapers. Those are all reliable, published sources. The version of events asserted by Mr. Thomas is based on original research prepared for a partisan and unsuccessful libel lawsuit. It isn't based on any reliable, published source. When the Washington Post published its obituary on Mr. Thomas in 2005, it repeated the Los Angeles Times conclusion that Huber deserved credit for the cache discovery. There was no rebuttal from Thomas' side. In other words, multiple reliable published sources credit Hans Huber with the discovery and, in the case of the Los Angeles Times, also dispute key aspects of Mr. Thomas' account. Excluding mention of this well-publicized debate doesn't conform with Wikipedia NPOV policy to represent significant views from reliable published sources. Instead, it gives undue weight and prominence to original research from a libel lawsuit dismissed as meritless by four federal judges and by the mainstream media. On that basis alone, the neutrality-in-question tag should be restored to the main article.

// Rebuttal: Well, here we have a point of agreement. Yes, the NPOV tag should be restored, but not for the reasons stated by Mr. Rivenburg. It should be restored because this article recycles his discredited attempts to smear Thomas. As to the Nazi Party files issue, we now have a new position from Mr. Rivenburg: the careful research of a leading scholar, Robert Wolfe of the US National Archives, based on painstaking review of original source documents from the National Archives, does not deserve mention because it was not published in a newspaper? Once again, we have the 'newspapers as holy writ' view of the world. And now there's a new whopper being asserted: the failure to rebut something that was printed in a newspaper (e.g. the Washington Post obit) further fortifies its unassailable truth. As to the assertion that Wolfe's so-called original research was "dismissed as meritless by four federal judges and the mainstream media" -- this is simply wrong. The judges ruled on constitutional First Amendment issues and never addressed any of the factual issues of Mr. Rivenburg's reporting. Plus, there were plenty of "mainstream media" outlets that were critical of his reporting, including Ha'aretz, The US Army News Service, and Wolf Blitzer's program on CNN, to name just a few.

Re Klaus Barbie: For the sake of historical accuracy, the section should include prosecutor Pierre Truche's statement to the jury, "With the exception of Mr. Thomas, all the witnesses are of good faith." That's what was said in court and it was deemed significant enough to be included in three newspaper articles, including the Washington Post's obituary of Thomas.

// Rebuttal: for the sake of historical accuracy, if the article is going to include this alleged statement by Pierre Truche, (what was the quote in French? what did Truche say afterward about it?), it should also put it in proper context and report that Truche commented after the trial that he did not believe Thomas was lying or dishonest in his testimony.

Plain-text entries above by Rivenburg 00:43, 9 November 2007 (UTC)

Rebuttals by Facts@mt.org 05:40, 9 November 2007 (UTC)


Ludicrous

Will someone please impose a dose of sense here? My grandfather was a CIC Agent in Germany and France during WWII and I've spoken to him about these "controversies" -- he dismisses the entire business being debtated here as ludicrous. According to him, someone like Thomas, whom he vaguely recalls hearing about as a rather legendary fellow, would have been treated like gold by CIC big-wigs because of his language skills alone, not to mention his experience as a resistance fighter. Most American CIC Agents spoke only English and were completely at sea trying to operate in Europe. He says it's not a bit surprising that a person like Thomas was used as an Agent, and that only a petty bureaucrat would have objected to his not having been a citizen -- or been inducted. And clearly the record of his accomplishments speaks to the good sense of those who took advantage of his talents.

Per Grandfather, it was after the war that the bureaucrats and button-polishers took hold in CIC, and many if not most of the best Agents -- who were motivated by the fight against Hitler and the Nazis -- left the service and returned home to civilian life.

The ones who took their places were the sort who might have resented a chap like Thomas, and tried to undercut him by whispering about his lack of formal status.

Perhaps this history helps explain why Thomas's comrades rallied so forcefully to his cause when they heard of this reporter's petty and vindictive efforts, decades after the fact, to minimize Thomas's contributions by focusing on whether his paperwork was in order. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 75.221.79.70 (talk) 06:11, 10 November 2007 (UTC)

"Restored per consensus?

<NV Researcher> posted an excellent revision here, which was promptly undone by <Son of Hades> on the basis of an alleged "consensus." I'm not sure who the parties are to that consensus, but I am not one, and have restored NV Researcher's edits.

NV Researcher's edit doesn't follow Wikipedia policy

I don't know who Son of Hades is. But the edits by NV Researcher don't conform with Wikipedia policy on NPOV or verifiability. For example, deleting the section on Klaus Barbie violates a Wikipedia policy that states, "All Wikipedia articles and other encyclopedic content must be written from a neutral point of view (NPOV), representing fairly and, as much as possible, without bias all significant views (that have been published by reliable sources). This is non-negotiable and expected on all articles, and of all article editors. ...All articles must adhere to Wikipedia's neutrality policy, fairly representing all majority and significant-minority viewpoints that have been published by reliable sources, in rough proportion to the prominence of each view." [emphasis added]

The controversy over Thomas' Barbie accounts and his trial testimony was described in the Chicago Tribune (1987), Los Angeles Times (1983 and 2001), Washington Post (2005), Le Monde (1987) and other publications. Those are all reliable and prominent sources whose presentation of facts hasn't been contradicted by any other reliable published source. There is no justification under Wikipedia policy for removing the Barbie section.

The same can be said for deleting any mention of controversy over Thomas' military status (reported on by the L.A. Times and Newsday), his Dachau liberation account (L.A. Times) and the role he claimed in rescuing the Nazi Party ID card cache. In 2001, the L.A. Times credited Hans Huber with saving the ID cards. Huber was also given credit by the New York Times and London Express in 1945. No reliable, published source has contradicted this. Robert Wolfe's monograph is, by Wikipedia's definition, original research, which is not allowed. As Wikipedia's verifiability policy notes, "Self-published material may, in some circumstances, be acceptable when produced by an established expert on the topic of the article whose work in the relevant field has previously been published by reliable third-party publications. However, caution should be exercised when using such sources: If the information in question is really worth reporting, someone else is likely to have done so." [emphasis added]. When the Washington Post wrote its 2005 obituary on Thomas, it tellingly ignored Wolfe's monograph, instead reiterating the L.A. Times' conclusion that Huber deserved credit for the discovery. Wolfe's monograph doesn't address the contradictions between 1945 newspaper articles and Thomas' account. Caution should also be exercised because his monograph was used by Thomas' legal team, and it is unclear whether Mr. Wolfe was compensated in any way by Thomas or his representatives.

Other problematic edits by NV Researcher, with responses:

In 2001 Thomas unsuccessfully sued the Los Angeles Times for defamation, after the paper published an article implying Thomas had lied about important aspects of his WWII service. Witness testimonies and documentation gathered to prepare the case were later presented to the US Army, and in 2004 Thomas was awarded the Silver Star.

The statement that the article implied Thomas had lied is opinion, and it was specifically rejected by the American legal system, which ruled the article wasn't libelous and didn't make the implications Thomas alleged. Judge Collins said the article "did present both sides of Thomas' stories." It would be more accurate and neutral for the introduction to say: "A sometimes controversial figure, in 2001 Thomas unsuccessfully sued the Los Angeles Times for defamation after it questioned some of his war accounts. In 2004, he was awarded the Silver Star by the U.S. Army." NV Researcher's next sentence about witness testimonies and documentation carries an implication in context that the Silver Star repudiated the L.A. Times article. The two had nothing to do with each other. The questions raised by the Times didn't involve the actions that led to the Silver Star.

Thomas's credibility was attacked in a profile published in the Los Angeles Times in April 2001, written by Times reporter and former humor columnist Roy Rivenburg. The article implied that Thomas had lied about being a US Counter Intelligence Corps Agent, a Dachau liberator, and the rescuer of the worldwide membership card file of the Nazi Party.

Again, this is opinion and has no place in Wikipedia. Liquidfinale's earlier edit about "Controversies," although not perfect, was more neutral.

Thomas filed a defamation suit against the newspaper and Rivenburg in October 2001, but the case was dismissed the following year in pretrial proceedings on the basis that it was commentary and not hard news reporting. Thomas was judged to be a public figure and therefore subject to a lesser standard of protection under US defamation law. The judge ruled that after reading the article, “a reasonable reader or juror might conclude ... that Thomas had in fact lied about his past. But no reasonable juror could find that Defendants intended to convey that impression."

This is written in a way that casts aspersions on the court ruling and the L.A. Times article, in clear violation of Wikipedia policy which "requires that where multiple or conflicting perspectives exist within a topic each should be presented fairly. None of the views should be given undue weight or asserted as being judged as "the truth", in order that the various significant published viewpoints are made accessible to the reader, not just the most popular one. It should also not be asserted that the most popular view, or some sort of intermediate view among the different views, is the correct one to the extent that other views are mentioned only pejoratively. Readers should be allowed to form their own opinions."

Here's how the Washington Post described Thomas' lawsuit in his obituary: "Mr. Thomas filed a defamation suit against the reporter and the newspaper, which refused to admit an error in the article. A judge threw out the case and ordered Mr. Thomas to pay legal fees." Neutral and succinct. The current edit gives undue weight to a lawsuit that was UNSUCCESSFUL. That is in direct conflict with Wikipedia policy on undue weight.

Also, NV Researcher's additions under "Defamation Case" regarding Robert Wolfe and Theodore Kraus, etc, violate Wikipedia policy banning original research. The affidavits and partisan evidence collected by Thomas' legal team were designed specifically to support a particular side in a failed lawsuit. They were rejected by the courts and by the mainstream American media. They cannot be given undue weight or prominence under Wikipedia policy, at least not without describing what the L.A. Times and other media have prominently reported. As Wikipedia policy states, "When reputable sources contradict one another, the core of the NPOV policy is to let competing approaches exist on the same page: work for balance, that is: describe the opposing viewpoints according to reputability of the sources, and give precedence to those sources that have been the most successful in presenting facts in an equally balanced manner."

Thank you. Rivenburg 10:56, 14 November 2007 (UTC)

Hi. I'm not going to delve too deeply into this right now, but I will just correct your point about the original research guideline you bring up. As you say, the lack of published coverage regarding the various rebuttals to Larger than Life would preclude their use in this article. However, you may or may not be aware that the latest edition of Test of Courage now includes such rebuttals, and their use would therefore now be legitimate.
Now, I don't think they should be included, as per my last edit summary, and lest we get back into the old habits of claim/counterclaim and end up bogging this article down with twice as much information on the defamation case as we do on Thomas' life, but all the same, it would be wise to note this point. Best regards, Liquidfinale (Ţ) (Ç) (Ŵ) 11:10, 14 November 2007 (UTC)

Point taken (I haven't seen the new edition of Robbins' book). However, the reliability and verifiability of his rebuttals are arguably clouded by the fact that Thomas and Robbins (a party in Thomas' lawsuit) cooperated on the book and split the royalties (as explained in the 2001 Los Angeles Times article), thereby making it a questionable source. In terms of reputation for adhering to Wikipedia's requirement for great "scrutiny involved in checking facts" and "presenting facts in an equally balanced manner," the L.A. Times, Newsday, New York Times, Washington Post and other media arguably merit greater precedence. Again, four federal judges ruled that the L.A. Times article was fair and presented both sides. The same cannot be said for Robbins' book.

On another note, please consider restoring Prosecutor Truche's statement to the jury when he asked them to disregard Thomas' testimony. It's what was said in court and it was deemed newsworthy enough to appear in three reliable newspapers, including the Washington Post obit of Thomas. Also, the exclusion of Thomas' testimony didn't lead to the unflattering coverage by French media. That coverage came before Truche asked the jury to disregard Thomas' testimony. Rivenburg 11:36, 14 November 2007 (UTC)

I'll correct that. But just to clarify before I do, that coverage came after Thomas' testimony, but before Truche's summing-up, yes? Liquidfinale (Ţ) (Ç) (Ŵ) 12:14, 14 November 2007 (UTC)

Yes, after the testimony and before Truche's final statements. Thanks. Rivenburg 19:00, 14 November 2007 (UTC)

The word "rebuttal" is a loaded term for describing the new chapter in Robbins' book. By definition, rebuttal suggests "proof" or finality that an opponent's arguments are false. It would be more neutral to characterize the new chapter as "disputing" or "challenging" or "critiquing" the Times and Newsday articles. That would also be in keeping with the language used to describe Allan Ryan's 1983 comments about Thomas and the LA Times' critique of Thomas' accounts. Rivenburg 22:59, 14 November 2007 (UTC)

I settled on "rebuttal" after trying out half a dozen other words which all seemed unsatisfactory. My reading of the word doesn't suggest a proof at all; more a counterargument, as in legal parlance. I don't think it's loaded, but I may have a look at it again shortly. Liquidfinale (Ţ) (Ç) (Ŵ) 23:22, 14 November 2007 (UTC)

Why not use "counterargument" then? "... the reissue of Thomas' biography included a new chapter offering counterarguments to the articles." The language should be consistent for both sides. In the dictionaries I consulted, "rebut" is often synonymous with "refute" and suggests "conclusiveness." That implication is easily avoided by using a more clearly neutral word. Rivenburg 23:43, 14 November 2007 (UTC)

I think I'm happy to keep "rebuttal" - coupled with the word "offered" ("...offered a rebuttal..."), this is something which says that the "new" information is presented for a reader's consideration, rather than saying they should take it as fact.
In other news, I can't but help but feel slightly vindicated by both parties' assertions that my contributions to this article "aren't perfect, but..."
- Best regards, Liquidfinale (Ţ) (Ç) (Ŵ) 16:34, 15 November 2007 (UTC)

A few observations

The fact that something is printed in a newspaper does not make it true. Rivenburg may wish this is so, but it is not. The facts he does not like were published, in numerous places, including a thoroughly researched book with a new chapter which Michel Thomas did not "collaborate on" because he was dead when it was written.
Rivenburg's desperation to defend his story grows ever more transparent, as when he argues that the sworn Declarations of Thomas's WWII comrades cannot be cited here, because they are "original research" collected in a "partisan effort." This is just pathetic: these men were first-hand witnesses to Thomas's service as a CIC Agent. Two of them had not had any contact with Thomas for nearly sixty years, and they were outraged by Rivenburg's article. Rivenburg would have their testimonies blotted from the record in favor of his stitched-together pastiche of selectively quoted, decades-old news articles.
Robert Wolfe was not compensated in any way for his research, and states this clearly in his monograph. His conclusion that Thomas rescued the files was cited in a published article by a veteran prosecutor from the US Justice Department with great expertise in the area of Nazi archives. His monograph was not "used by Thomas's legal team" -- it was written after the lawsuit was over, because Wolfe had a scholarly interest in the subject as the National Archives' leading expert on captured German war documents.
The courts in no way ruled that Rivenburg's article was fair. They ruled that it did not meet the American legal standard for defamation of a public figure. The same legal standard allowed the Wall Street Journal to publish articles indicating Bill Clinton plotted his best friend Vince Foster's death, without fear of defamation liability, although half a dozen investigations ruled otherwise and no sane person believed such a vicious notion that was clearly motivated by partisan malice. The same standard has allowed Cox Enterprises and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution to continue to defend their original reporting that the late Richard Jewell planted a bomb at the 1996 Olympics, and subsequent articles comparing him to convicted mass murderer Wayne Williams. The paper to this day refuses to settle Jewell's defamation case even though Eric Rudolph confessed to the crime, the US Attorney formally cleared Jewell as a suspect, and Jewell has been widely credited as the hero who saved dozens of lives by clearing people from the scene before the bomb went off.
NV Researcher's edits should be restored. There was a direct causal relationship between the lawsuit and the profile by Rivenburg and the granting of the Silver Star, which repudiated Rivenburg's implication that Thomas was a mere civilian assistant who fabricated or exaggerated his WWII service.
Facts@mt.org 15:52, 14 November 2007 (UTC)
Again, not wanting to get bogged down in this, but the article does currently state that last fact (paraphrased: "as a result of materials and testimony uncovered...[etc]... Thomas was awarded the Silver Star.") Best regards, Liquidfinale (Ţ) (Ç) (Ŵ) 16:12, 14 November 2007 (UTC)
It is sufficient to say Thomas received a Silver Star. Linking the medal directly or indirectly to the L.A. Times article or libel lawsuit falsely implies that the Army's decision to award the Silver Star represents a military endorsement of the libel lawsuit's claims and/or a rebuttal to the Times article. The medal was awarded for actions completely unconnected to anything in the L.A. Times' coverage. Linking these two elements in the introduction and the above-referenced passage doesn't adhere to Wikipedia policy on neutrality. Rivenburg 20:51, 14 November 2007 (UTC)
Please point out where Mr. Wolfe's monograph specifies that he and/or his family or any connected organization wasn't compensated in any way by Mr. Thomas, his legal team or their associates and I will adjust my posts accordingly. Thanks. Rivenburg 23:51, 14 November 2007 (UTC)
This ongoing edit war, now entering its third year, is all about which facts get emphasized in the Wikipedia article about Thomas. During his life there were scores of newspaper and magazine articles, and broadcasts, printed and aired about Thomas. Rivenburg's method was to sift through those and cherry-pick whatever he could find to put Thomas in a bad light. If the simple fact of publication should be the standard for what gets included here, one could simply tot up all the articles and broadcasts and compose a laundry-list of disconnected "facts", citing all those publications and broadcasts. But what makes an article coherent is the application of some discernment to the published facts, and here Rivenburg continues to insist that the facts of Thomas's life be viewed through the distorted prism he has fashioned. This is not a neutral one, despite his furious and tortured assertions to the contrary.
As stated before, the whole notion that the defendant in a defamation case should be allowed to compose, or heavily influence, an encyclopedic entry about the person who sued him, regardless of the outcome of the case, violates the most basic standards of fairness. No reputable publication, much less any encyclopedia, would countenance such a practice.
Liquidfinale has made a good effort to present a balanced article, but unfortunately it still recycles Rivenburg's controversies, and leaves readers with a skewed perception. If this article is to include mention of any of the alleged controversies Rivenburg insists on, it must also include the rebuttal evidence, and I will back the efforts of any editor who presents that evidence. I understand Liquidfinale's point that by drawing attention to the controversies, NV Researcher's version undermines his or her objective, but I disagree. Either Rivenburg's disproved implications should be left out entirely, or they should be balanced with the clear and convincing rebuttal evidence cited by NV Researcher, myself, and other editors here since 2005.
Facts@mt.org 18:40, 14 November 2007 (UTC)

Reply to Vince Foster/Richard Jewell comparisons

The analogy above doesn't fly. The difference between the Thomas case and coverage of Vince Foster and Richard Jewell is the reaction of the journalism community. For Foster and Jewell, there was extensive hand-wringing and soul-searching: Watchdogs like Editor&Publisher and the Columbia Journalism Review weighed in. And numerous journalists dissected the mistakes and ethical lapses in coverage. The same thing happens any time a journalist screws up. When my former L.A. Times colleague Eric Slater was accused of fabricating a source, the paper investigated, apologized and fired him. Ditto for a photographer who doctored a photo. When New York Times staffer Rick Bragg fudged on a dateline, his colleagues pounced on him and he resigned. All of these cases -- and many others (Jayson Blair, Jack Kelley, Diana Griego Erwin, et al) -- received wide coverage in the general media and in journalism watchdog magazines. Nothing like that happened with Thomas. Despite the best efforts of Thomas' high-powered PR team, the mainstream journalism community rejected his claims as decisively as the legal system did. Yeah, Fox-TV's Bill O'Reilly took a swipe at Times editor John Carroll over Thomas, but O'Reilly never talked with the paper. It bears repeating: No journalist who has seen the evidence gathered by the L.A. Times has done a story about Michel Thomas or believed his claims about the article's integrity. In an era where even the slightest hint of journalistic transgression is ruthlessly scrutinized by the larger journalism community, the silence on Thomas speaks volumes. Rivenburg 20:08, 15 November 2007 (UTC)

Re: Silver Star "completely unconnected" to LA Times article

Mr. Rivenburg has written above that "linking the medal directly or indirectly to the L.A. Times article or libel lawsuit falsely implies that the Army's decision to award the Silver Star represents a military endorsement of the libel lawsuit's claims and/or a rebuttal to the Times article. The medal was awarded for actions completely unconnected to anything in the L.A. Times' coverage."

Wishing doesn't make this so, Mr. Rivenburg -- only in your tidily compartmentalized world where isolated "facts" that discredit Thomas bob in a sea of willfully ignored evidence. Thomas's wartime comrades -- the ones who were supposed to be outraged by his allegedly false claims about what he did during the war -- were instead outraged at Rivenburg's smear of the man whom they served with in combat and in the CIC. They understood very clearly that Rivenburg's article did not merely "raise questions" about Thomas's service in some neutral and disinterested way. No, it clearly and forcefully implied that Thomas was a phony who lied about virtually everything he asserted about his wartime experiences. This is stated plainly in their Declarations. Several of them traveled great distances to support Thomas, on several occasions, because they knew he had been smeared by a malicious report. That's why they submitted their sworn testimonies to the US Army on Thomas's behalf. And the parade of notables -- like Senators Dole & Warner and the Ambassador of France and the head of the Justice Department's Nazi-hunting unit who came to honor Thomas at the Silver Star ceremony, and the officials at the Holocaust Memorial museum who honored Thomas as a Dachau liberator -- all understood Thomas had been unfairly portrayed by Rivenburg. They went out of their way to correct the false implications Rivenburg created, and restore Thomas's reputation. Many of them told me so personally, and the press coverage of the event reflects this reality.

Facts@mt.org 21:19, 14 November 2007 (UTC)

The Silver Star citation honors Thomas “for gallantry in action against the enemy in France from August to September 1944, while a Lieutenant in the French Forces of the Interior (Maquis Commando Group) attached to the 1st Battalion, 180th Infantry Regiment, 45th Infantry Division.” The citation doesn't refer to Thomas as a CIC agent, nor does it address anything that was in the Times article or in Thomas' libel lawsuit. Again, it is wholly sufficient to say Thomas was awarded a Silver Star. I have no quarrel with giving him his due. But the rest serves no purpose except to disparage the Times in a non-NPOV manner. Rivenburg 21:46, 14 November 2007 (UTC)


Rebuttal:

Re: "I have no quarrel with giving him his due."

See Kraus Declaration above, in particular:

13. "I relayed all of this information to Mr. Rivenburg prior to the publication of the article. I was surprised that none of this information appeared in the Article, including the fact that Mr. Rivenburg had interviewed me, particularly since I believe that I am one of the only living witnesses who is able to corroborate Michel Thomas’ CIC service.
14. I do not understand why Mr. Rivenburg or the Los Angeles Times decided to ignore the information I provided to them. The absence of this information implies that Mr. Rivenburg was intent on discrediting Mr. Thomas, despite clear evidence I provided to them about his military service.


See also Wimer Declaration, in particular:

"the implication … that Michel Thomas was a civilian employee who merely worked as a translator or investigator inaccurately belittles Mr. Thomas's service in the CIC … Mr. Thomas was sent out on missions by our commanding officers, in the same capacity and with the same duties and powers as the other Agents of our unit."

See also Declaration of Professor Mazingo, in particular:

"what is perhaps most grievously unethical about the article … is the overwhelming presence of editorializing, bias, superfluous information and cheap shots."

and, after listing all the facts and evidence ignored by Rivenburg concerning Thomas' WWII service:

"Yet, the overall presentation and tone of the story, specifically through the use of language, arrangement of information and inclusion of superfluous information, casts doubt on all these facts. Michel Thomas comes off as someone who has a wild imagination, engages in Walter Mitty-like fantasies, and is basically a liar.

and:

"The reporter's attacks on Thomas' background and, therefore, the accuracy of written statements made about his background, appear in at least 25 paragraphs of the story ... the reporter fails to meet the standard of accuracy by not reviewing, and in some cases not including all of the information and sources available to him. The same issues that grievously and unfortunately fail the standard of accuracy, also strike at the heart of of the ethical standards of fairness and balance."

I could go on, of course, but will leave it at that...

Facts@mt.org 23:03, 14 November 2007 (UTC)

Four federal judges said the implications claimed by Thomas were baseless. To wit:
Federal court ruling regarding fairness of article: "The Court finds that Rivenburg did present both sides of Thomas' stories."
Judge's statement re Mazingo's (paid??) critique: "The Court finds the declarations submitted by Plaintiff to be unhelpful."
Judge's statement regarding affidavits submitted by Thomas, author Robbins and Herb Morris: "These declarations merely reveal a reporter doing his job -- asking tough questions."
Ruling of 9th Circuit court: The article "cannot ... fairly be read as defamatory." And, "The validity of Thomas' admittedly extraordinary claims regarding his World War II-era exploits are thus particularly appropriate material for close examination and fair comment by the press. ... It is significant that the challenged article makes it plain that the reader should draw his own conclusions." Rivenburg 23:26, 14 November 2007 (UTC)


Yes, you're right Mr. Rivenburg. The courts ruled in your favor, and threw this case out, so therefore your reporting must have been correct. (And OJ Simpson was innocent.) Of course, what you conveniently leave out is that none of the courts were in any way ruling on the factual issues of your article -- they did not rule on any factual issues, juries as 'triers of fact' rule on those issues. The courts ruled only on the narrow Constitutional legal question of whether the article was defamatory on its face and therefore deserved to move forward to the phases of discovery and trial, where all of the evidence we had gathered, and more, would have been put before a jury.

That of course is why Michel Thomas went to the considerable trouble to participate in the mock trial sponsored by UC Berkeley's schools of law and journalism in 2003. You know, the one you were invited to participate in with your lawyers and editors, by multiple Fedexes, faxes and emails, weeks in advance, all of which you and they somehow managed to ignore -- dubiously claiming you did not receive any of them despite the Fedex delivery receipts, et al. -- when you told reporters you were not invited. The one where you were adjudged by a distinguished law professor to have engaged in a pattern of "purposeful avoidance of the truth" and where the former presiding judge of Alameda Superior court commented that if the case had gone to a jury "damages would have been sky-high."

And, while I've learned that whenever you assert something, I should look it up to determine if it's accurate and stated in context, I'll spare myself the trouble and grant that you are quoting accurately in stating, "for the Federal court ruling regarding fairness of article: "The Court finds that Rivenburg did present both sides of Thomas' stories." What you leave out is that that Court did not have the benefit of all the evidence in making that determination. They did not have your notes, a record of witness depositions from persons such as Ted Kraus, yourself, Michel Thomas, Walter Wimer, Bedford Groves, Christopher Robbins, Robert Wolfe, et al. They did not rule on the veracity or authenticity of the Dachau photos, the CIC history mentioning Agent Thomas, the National Archives documents proving that Thomas arrested Emil Mahl two days after the liberation. None of it. So they really did not have all the evidence, did they?

And that's why we're still at this all these years later. Because I and others were outraged at the injustice of this, and have worked pro bono for years to right the wrong that was perpetrated on Michel Thomas by you and your newspaper.

Facts@mt.org 02:45, 15 November 2007 (UTC)


Your whole premise is flawed. The reason the case never went to trial is because the article didn't say the things Mr. Thomas claimed it did. He read things into the text that simply weren't there, according to four federal judges. Two examples: Facts@mt says the L.A. Times implied that Thomas could have been sunning himself in Hawaii during World War II. That's quite a stretch considering the article confirmed that Thomas arrested SS officer Gustav Knittel, described French records outlining two of his wartime imprisonments and mentioned his "distinguished service" with the French Resistance. Pretty tough to do those things from Hawaii, no? What the Times (and later Newsday) did question was Thomas' assertion that he was an Army officer instead of a civilian employee.
Similarly, regarding the Barbie trial, the court ruled that the Times article "merely reports multiple accounts of Thomas' testimony." Yes, the Times described Barbie's prosecutor asking the jury to disregard Thomas' testimony on grounds that it wasn't made "in good faith," but the paper then pointed out that Thomas was backed by a prominent Nazi hunter and a Simon Wiesenthal official. That's far more balanced than what appeared in the 1987 Chicago Tribune and the 2005 Washington Post, which quoted Truche and left it at that. My Wikipedia edits have followed the balanced approach of the Times article. In contrast, Thomas supporters NV Researcher and facts@mt want to rewrite history, saying only that "Thomas testified at Barbie's trial." That's accurate, but it's not the whole story. Rivenburg 04:54, 15 November 2007 (UTC)


Though I doubt there's anyone who's following this discussion any more, I will address this to anyone hardy enough to still be here with us.

Here's the section of Rivenburg's article about Thomas being a Dachau liberator. After you read it, ask yourself if, knowing nothing else about Thomas, you think he was at Dachau at all:

Accounts of the Day Dachau Was Liberated
On the day Dachau fell, Thomas says, he was a U.S. Counter Intelligence Corps officer who temporarily joined two columns of tanks and infantry rolling through the German town to the camp.
He says he didn't have orders assigning him to the 157th Regiment: "I just went there. I could choose wherever I wanted to go.
Did anyone from the 157th know he was along for the ride?
"They all knew I was there."
However, the commander of the battalion, Lt. Col. Felix Sparks, now a retired brigadier general and former justice of the Colorado Supreme Court, says he would certainly recall if Thomas had accompanied the 200-member force: "He's got the right battalion, that's correct, but there were no CIC [Counter Intelligence Corps] with us." Ian Sayer, co-author of "America's Secret Army," a history of the CIC, says his records don't specify when the first CIC agents arrived at Dachau, but they do show their unit. It isn't Thomas'.
Thomas' version of how the camp was liberated differs from eyewitness accounts and National Archives records, says retired Lt. Col. Hugh F. Foster III, who has been researching the liberation for five years.
Regarding Thomas' mention of tanks, Foster says there were no tanks because the bridges between the town of Dachau and the military camp across the river had been blown up. Thomas doesn't recall a river.
Thomas says he entered the camp through the front gate, after the Germans waved white flags and opened fire on his group. But Foster and Sparks say the battalion deliberately avoided the front gate and circled around to another side of the sprawling camp.
The white flag incident did happen--but not to the 157th. As Sparks and his men inched through the camp, a handful of journalists and troops from the 42nd Division approached the main entrance.
Did Thomas simply confuse the two units and actually enter with the 42nd? No, he insists: "The 42nd was late." But Robbins, responding to written queries submitted later, says: "It is quite possible he arrived later than the 157th and that the troops he joined were indeed from the 42nd." In the course of writing the book, Robbins says, "research showed that it was the 157th that was involved, so it was I who assumed these were the troops he joined.
When Thomas is asked about other conflicts between his story and the one relayed by Foster, he concedes: "I was not with the front combat troops." He says he was at the camp that day but cannot say when.
Although Robbins and Thomas say he was an officer in the U.S. Army at the time, the Pentagon was unable to verify his military service. One possible explanation is a 1973 fire that destroyed some personnel files. Another is that Thomas was actually a civilian employee.
Robbins says proof of Thomas' Army credentials is in the book: a photo of his Counter Intelligence Corps ID card. Conrad McCormick, a CIC veteran and archivist at the U.S. Army Intelligence Museum in Fort Huachuca, Ariz., says the card isn't the official ID issued to full-fledged CIC agents. Rather, it's for non-American civilians hired as translators and investigators, he says. When The Times asked Thomas for his military ID number to trace his records, he declined, calling the request an insult.
"All of the men who served with him regarded him as a legitimate member of the U.S. Army," Robbins says, adding that technicalities of Thomas' service are trivial compared to the valuable work he did.

Now, if like me and virtually everyone we showed this article to, you think the above section paints Thomas as a phony Dachau liberator who fabricated or greatly exaggerated his role in the CIC, go back over the material in the preceding dozens of pages of discussion. Then read the letters from 2002 of Foster and Sparks at www.michelthomas. org. Then ask yourself if you think this section gives a fair and balanced description of all the evidence Thomas showed Rivenburg, such as the photos he took at the camp, for which he retained the negatives, the original signed statements of the crematorium workers whom Thomas interrogated, the fact that he arrested Emil Mahl, the 'hangman of Dachau' two days later near the camp, the statements of Ted Kraus that he told Rivenburg Thomas was a full-fledged CIC Agent, etc.

Facts@mt.org 07:09, 15 November 2007 (UTC)

Facts@MT people

Roy, just out of interest, who are the Facts@mt.org people? Michel Thomas has been gone a while now, who are these people who keep defending him? Not that I'm saying they shouldn't but I'm really curious about who they are that they should be so cross with you, since they are not MT himself. Do they represent his estate?

People who worked on Thomas' failed lawsuit and/or his unsuccessful attempts to persuade the mainstream journalism community that the L.A. Times botched its coverage of Thomas (see "Reply to Vince Foster/Richard Jewell comparison" above). Rivenburg (talk) 21:01, 19 November 2007 (UTC)
Yes, 'unsuccessful' attempts like:
CNN, Wolf Blitzer program: (Memorial Day 2004 broadcast re: Silver Star award, "Memories of War: WW II hero decorated 60 years later" ( http://www.cnn.com/2004/US/05/31/hero.decorated/index.html?iref=newssearch)
Army News Service: http://www.defendamerica.mil/profiles/may2004/pr052804b.html
United States Attorney's Bulletin, February 2006 "Taking the Paper Trail Instead of Memory Lane: OSI's Use of Ancient Foreign Documents in the Nazi Cases" (http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/eousa/foia_reading_room/usab5401.pdf)
Ha'aretz, Tom Segev: ("Moment of Truth for Michel Thomas" September 12, 2002)
Facts@mt.org (talk) 09:42, 20 November 2007 (UTC)

So, do you think MT paid them to carry on the fight once he was gone? —Preceding unsigned comment added by 163.19.15.136 (talk)

Response to 163.19.15.136: The answer is No. The people defending Thomas are those who got involved in his defamation case and were outraged at his treatment by Roy Rivenburg and the Los Angeles Times. These include Thomas's former fellow agents in the CIC, other military veterans, historians, experts in WWII captured German war documents, former students of Thomas's, etc. Facts@mt.org (talk) 20:07, 23 November 2007 (UTC)

I do have one question for both groups in this whole debate. Is it possible that the "truth" actually lies somewhere between your two positions? Is that possible? —Preceding unsigned comment added by 163.19.15.136 (talk) 01:17, 22 November 2007 (UTC)

11/28/07 edit vs. Wiki policy

LiquidF, I appreciate your vigilance in reverting the non-neutral edits of Thomas' legal team (NV Researcher and Facts@MT.org), but in the latest revert you left intact some statements that don't conform with Wikipedia policy. To wit:

1) In the final week of World War II, Thomas and a CIC colleague recovered a cache of Nazi documents from a paper mill in Freimann, Germany.

That is not settled fact, and any assertion that it's true is arguably original research. Except for Thomas' biography, which was written with his cooperation (including most of the "new" chapter, which originally appeared before his death) and a footnote in the U.S. Attorney newsletter (a source that hardly fits Wiki criteria for mainstream media), there are NO reliable published accounts backing up this assertion. Rather, in 1946, the New York Times and London Express credited Hans Huber with saving the files and alerting Allies to their existence. In 2001, the Los Angeles Times reached the same conclusion and the Washington Post reiterated the L.A. Times' findings in 2005. Wikipedia policy "requires that where multiple or conflicting perspectives exist within a topic each should be presented fairly. None of the views should be given undue weight or asserted as being judged as 'the truth.' " Your previous wording wasn't ideal, but it was better than the current version.

2) In the 1980s, Thomas' well-publicized statements about Klaus Barbie caused controversy with the author of a report about Barbie from the U.S. Justice Department.

In fact, a 1983 L.A. Times article quotes at least TWO Justice Department officials challenging Thomas' account. Ryan is named; the other isn't.

3) Documentation has since established that CIC did know of Barbie's involvement in various atrocities earlier than 1949, though "How high up the CIC ladder its officials were aware... is difficult to ascertain."

Including this is off-point. Ryan's criticism of Thomas was aimed at Thomas' claim to have written a memo about Barbie. Here's what Ryan said, according to Israel Today's 1983 article: "I find it pretty hard to put any credibility in what Thomas says," Ryan flat out declared. He insisted that if Thomas had really produced a memo on Barbie in 1947, he would have found it: "I found absolutely no indication that any such memo had been written." Furthermore, Ryan notes that Thomas made no attempt to contact him during the period he was working on the Barbie investigation. Dan Morain's 1983 L.A. Times article also raised doubts about whether Thomas wrote a memo. Noting that when Ryan first began investigating Barbie, the Times ran a long article in which Thomas described his wartime capture by Barbie, Morain pointed out that Thomas "mentioned his work as a CIC officer after the war, but did not say he had written a memo about Barbie." Bottom line: Including mention of this unpublished National Archives tidbit falsely suggests that it vindicates Thomas from the earlier criticism by Ryan and the Justice Department. It does nothing of the sort and should be dropped.

4) Lastly, the "Defamation Case" section continues to be problematic. Both sides can find quotes from Judge Collins' ruling to cast their case in more favorable light. But ultimately all that matters is that four judges ruled that the implications which Thomas claimed were in the Times article simply didn't exist. Again, the Washington Post's obituary said it concisely and best: "Mr. Thomas filed a defamation suit against the reporter and the newspaper, which refused to admit an error in the article. A judge threw out the case and ordered Mr. Thomas to pay legal fees." The current edit gives undue weight to a lawsuit whose claims were soundly rejected by the courts AND by the larger journalism community (see "Reply to Vince Foster/Richard Jewell comparisons" post above). I see no justification under Wikipedia policy on undue weight to say much more than the Post did. I doubt any other Wiki article gives so much ink to a lawsuit that was essentially ruled frivolous. Thank you. Rivenburg (talk) 04:01, 29 November 2007 (UTC)

The first two points I've reverted. As for point 4, I've altered it slightly from both NV Researcher's version and the version prior to that. The current wording gives a better indication as to what the hearing was about (to ascertain whether it should proceed to a jury). Point 3 I'm going to mull over for a short while. Best regards, Liquidfinale (Ţ) (Ç) (Ŵ) 13:25, 29 November 2007 (UTC)

Thank you. One other thing to mull on Point 3: Thomas kept copies of every document imaginable from his World War II days, even a driving permit issued to him by the CIC. Are we to believe that a crucial memo he supposedly wrote about Klaus Barbie, the war criminal who supposedly detained him in 1943, was the lone exception to this document retention program? Seems unlikely. And, in any case, although the National Archives tidbit is certainly relevant to the Wiki entry on Barbie, it isn't germane to the specific challenge that the Justice Department raised about Thomas.

As for Point 4, I still see no precedent in Wikipedia for the current wording. Cherry-picking a sentence or two from the very long ruling obscures and soft-pedals the court's overall finding that the article fairly presented both sides and wasn't libelous. Wiki policy cautions against the use of information from primary sources when interpretation of that info requires specialist knowledge. Going beyond the Washington Post's terse summary of the court ruling borders on such interpretation (by making a nonspecialist judgment about which sentence in the ruling is most important) and inaccurately suggests that the judges found some flaw in the Times article but were hamstrung from doing anything about it. The 9th Circuit judges blasted Thomas' lawyer in open court and their ruling was emphatic that his case had zero merit. Thanks. Rivenburg (talk) 14:31, 29 November 2007 (UTC)

I can see your point about not going into the judge's ruling in detail (i.e. just have "At a February 4, 2002 hearing to determine whether the case should be put to a jury, the judge dismissed the suit" with a mention of the unsuccessful appeal following). I'd perhaps be happy with that, but having experimented with how it might look I think it could give the impression that the judge was ruling on the facts of the dispute, rather than making a judgement as to whether there would be any hope of proving defamation were it to proceed to a jury. Do you think the current wording casts the LA Times in a worse light (or Thomas in a better light) than what was there previously? After all, it actually vindicates the newspaper, in that "no reasonable jury would find that the Los Angeles Times had intended to [defame Thomas]" and that "at most, a reasonable juror would find that [the] Defendants intended to raise questions about Thomas' story" - which I assume was the intention and if so a perfectly honourable one at that. Best regards, Liquidfinale (Ţ) (Ç) (Ŵ) 12:11, 30 November 2007 (UTC)

Yes, I think your proposed wording is more neutral than the current version. And, yes, the intent of the L.A. Times article was to raise questions about Thomas' story, present both sides fairly, and let readers decide what to believe. The courts said the paper succeeded on all counts, and said raising questions about historical events is perfectly legitimate. Quoting from the lower court ruling, as we've seen, invites an edit war over which quotes to highlight. The best option is to avoid that and let readers who want more details follow the link to the court's decision.--Rivenburg 21:16, 30 November 2007 (UTC)

Cutting the Gordian Knot

This Hatfield & McCoy battle has apparently raged for something like two years between the LA Times reporter defending his 2001 article, and the many editors who believe that if any space is devoted to that article, equal space or more should be given to the evidence countering the reporter's tendentious take on this subject. Given the substantial evidence put forward by Thomas's defenders, who seem motivated by a fierce desire to defend him from posthumous attacks, and the contrasting motives -- whatever they may be -- of a reporter who has devoted such impressive energies to criticizing the man before and after his death, the best way to resolve the problem is not to draw undue attention to it.
Liquidfinale has made a good stab at this, but his efforts have failed to resolve the problem. If the reporter wants to insure his views will be seen, the link remains to his commentary piece on his personal web site. And, for those who want to insure Thomas's defense is readily available, the link remains to the web site set up in response to the LA Times article.
The alternative to this is an endless wrangle.
Neonachtlinger 16:38, 30 November 2007 (UTC)

The "substantial evidence put forward by Thomas' defenders" has been rejected by the courts and the mainstream journalism community (see "Reply to Vince Foster/Richard Jewell comparisons" post above). Your edit of the Thomas article doesn't comply with Wikipedia policy requiring articles to fairly present all "viewpoints that have been published by reliable sources," which in this case includes the L.A. Times, Washington Post, New York Times, Newsday and Chicago Tribune, among others. Rivenburg 21:41, 30 November 2007 (UTC)

"All" points of view? That puts this right back to the perpetual point-counterpoint that turns this into a debate about your article. You have made your views known very forcefully here, and the link remains to your web site and thence to your article. Amen.

You're misreading Wiki policy. The key phrase there is all views "published by reliable sources." Thomas' POV has appeared only in unpublished sources or sources of questionable reliability/objectivity (such as a biography he cooperated on and collected royalties from). The only "debate" over the credibility of the Times article has come from Thomas supporters. The rest of the mainstream media, as explained above, have either rejected Thomas' claims or, in the case of Newsday and the Washington Post, reiterated what the L.A. Times found. Rivenburg 23:07, 30 November 2007 (UTC)

No misreading. I am afraid you're being rather self-interested in your definition of "published by reliable sources." Thomas's biography was republished posthumously nearly three years after his death and he had no role in writing the final chapter that conclusively rebuts the points raised in the LA Times article with official documentation, testimonies and sworn affidavits from his wartime comrades, letters from sources cited by the LA Times recanting their statements to the reporter, and the opinions of relevant experts. As for the contention that "the rest of the mainstream media" have somehow supported the assertions / implications of the LA Times article, that too has been rebutted, as noted above, in several publications and broadcasts. It is past time to shift the focus of this article to a straightforward account of the accepted facts of Mr. Thomas's life, and to footnote the controversial claims of the Times reporter, as the current version does.
75.213.131.210 23:52, 30 November 2007 (UTC)

Most of the "new" info in Thomas' bio first appeared in the 2003 edition of the book, when he was very much alive. And it's all based on material that the mainstream media doesn't buy into, as explained in the "Vince Foster/Richard Jewell" post above. The list of so-called pro-Thomas media outlets was Ha'aretz, whose writer never bothered to talk with the L.A. Times, so he didn't hear the other side of the story; a CNN.com article that merely covered Thomas' Silver Star award, which had nothing to do with the L.A. Times article (ditto for the Army News Service story); and the U.S. Attorney's Bulletin (not part of the mainstream media), which mentions Thomas only in a footnote. Except for Ha'aretz, none of these sources criticized the L.A. Times coverage.

But even assuming the new edition of Thomas' bio qualifies as reliable, Wikipedia policy still requires that opposing views published by other reliable sources (in this case the New York Times, London Express, L.A. Times, Newsday, Chicago Tribune, Washington Post, etc) be included: "Where multiple or conflicting perspectives exist within a topic each should be presented fairly. None of the views should be given undue weight or asserted as being judged as 'the truth,' in order that the various significant published viewpoints are made accessible to the reader, not just the most popular one. It should also not be asserted that the most popular view, or some sort of intermediate view among the different views, is the correct one to the extent that other views are mentioned only pejoratively. Readers should be allowed to form their own opinions." You cannot relegate reliable sources to footnote status just because you dislike them. Rivenburg 00:50, 1 December 2007 (UTC)

One ignored fact

My father was a member of the CIC. He served together with Mr. Thomas in the 307th CIC,Headquarters 7th US Army. What I cannot understand is how Mr. Rivenburg can categorically make so many assertions regarding Mr. Thomas. Truth be told, he doesn't really know what he is talking about.


I tried to get some information regarding my father's service and came up empty handed. Rivenburg could have researched every single document in NARA, and it would not make a difference, because the CIA has refused to declassify millions of documents: ( http://www.nytimes.com/2005/01/30/international/europe/30nazis.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1&oref=slogin )


A report made public by the working group in 1999 said an initial survey by the C.I.A. estimated that more than two million pages of documents among records in the agency's files for the years 1947 to 1998 included "operational, personality, country, and project files; analytical products, source material, and biographic reports" related to Nazi war criminals. The agency estimated that an additional 2.1 million pages among the files of its predecessor organizations, including the O.S.S., from 1941 to 1947, could be covered by the group's mandate.(emphasis is mine).


Furthermore, there are photographs of Mr. Thomas in his biography wearing a CIC Agent's uniform with US tags, in which he is right by Special Agent Ted Kraus. Honestly I cannot think that Mr. Kraus would allow anyone to impersonate a US officer.


Until all documents regarding the Intelligence service are declassified, and thus prove that any assertions made above are either true or false, I will continue to view Michel Thomas as a man of honor, a loyal brother in arms of my father, and as a true hero who helped saved many American lives.


If Mr. Rivenburg had any sense of decency, he would be more interested in finding out the truth, rather than defending one of his articles. In other words, he could use his privileged position as a journalist and demand that those documents should be made available to the public.

                    Nico de Koenigsberg


Cruz del sur 04:23, 2 December 2007 (UTC)