NYR iOS app Android app More

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors
Edward Jay Epstein

GET UPDATES FROM Edward Jay Epstein
 

What John Solomon Got Wrong About DSK Scandal

Posted: 06/05/2012 12:15 pm

In his new book, DSK, John Solomon relies on a technique of channeling himself inside the head of people he has never met and rendering thoughts they have not stated. Consider, for example, his entry into DSK's mind on p. 8. He writes omnisciently that when DSK met a police officer at JFK on May 14:

Strauss-Kahn's mind was racing. Could his lover from the night before turned on him? Or maybe those rumors that he had been hearing in France had manifested themselves in some sort of Sarkozy-led conspiracy? Could something embarrassing have been found on his BlackBerry or had it been used in a crime since he lost it.
This interior dialogue, as other parts of the book, is the product not of reporting but of Solomon's mind-reading technique.

He devotes some 40 pages (chapters five and six) to channel himself into the minds of the prosecutors and describe their inner "angst" that he claims led them to dismiss all the charges against DSK. In doing so, he omits the central reason for their motion for dismissal: the grand jury had indicted DSK based on false testimony given under oath by the single witness who claimed to have witnessed what had happened in room 2806. That witness was the complainant Nafissatou Diallo.

On page 15 of the Recommendation for Dismissal, the prosecutors state, "The complainant had admitted to making false statements under oath in testimony before the grand jury that voted the present indictment." No one except the prosecutors know what falsehoods she told the grand jury since, by law, grand jury testimony is sealed. All we know is that the prosecutors concluded that "the complainant's credibility cannot withstand the most basic evaluation." If a grand jury renders an indictment bases on false or perjured testimony, it is per se a miscarriage of justice. So Solomon's psycho-babble about the prosecutors' mental processes in seeking a dismissal is besides the point.

Solomon also invents a conspiracy theory for me concerning DSK's missing BlackBerry, even though he acknowledges, "Epstein doesn't quite fully articulate the full-blown theory, instead leading the reader to the inevitable conclusion, through a series of facts and half-facts." He then goes on to conflate for me a straw man in which he states falsely that I say that Diallo stole the phone after Sarkozy's forces authorized the theft in Paris. In this case, his mind-reading is faulty.

What I actually said in the New York Review of Books article he refers to was far more modest:

The records obtained from BlackBerry show that the missing phone's GPS circuitry was disabled at 12:51. This stopped the phone from sending out signals identifying its location. Apart from the possibility of an accident, for a phone to be disabled in this way, according to a forensic expert, required technical knowledge about how the Blackberry worked. From electronic information that became available to investigators in November 2011, it appears the phone never left the Sofitel. If it was innocently lost, whoever found it never used it, raising the question of by whom and why it was disabled at 12:51.
The conclusion I reached is that, "All we know for sure is that someone, or possibly an accident, abruptly disabled it from signaling its location at 12:51 PM."

Here is why I stand by that conclusion. The phone records show that the last call made or received on that phone was at 12:13 PM. DSK used another phone for all the calls he made after that as well as a text message he got from his daughter at 12:31 PM, less than three minutes after checking out. Meanwhile, while he was in the taxi, according to the records of BlackBerry, the missing IMF BlackBerry kept sending GPS signals from the Sofitel hotel for 13 minutes. It could have left his room but it was still in the hotel. Then, according to BlackBerry's records, it stopped sending signals at 12:51 PM, twenty-three minutes after DSK had left the hotel, and after at least four hotel staff members had met in the room between 12:45 and 12:51 PM. Since the phone was not found in the police search, I believe it likely that the phone was taken but I have never claimed to know who took it. The straw man Solomon attributes to me is just another figment of his mind-reading.

 
FOLLOW BOOKS