Update (Yes, Another One …) on Thomas Lowry vs. the NARA

Over at TOCWOC, Brett Schulte has posted on information relayed to him by Dr. Thomas Lowry regarding the Lincoln Pardon Controversy (for those of you who want to track the pogress of the controversy, you can do so through clicking “Lincoln Pardon Controversy” in “Categories”).  Lowry’s provided the texts of two emails sent him on September 14, 2010 by Mitchell Yockelson of the NARA.

It’s interesting to compare this information with the claim Lowry posted last month on his single-post blog, in which he said:

Sometime in 2010 the Archives staff noticed the overwrite. They claim that they tried to reach me and that I was “evasive.” That is simply a falsehood, a fabrication. We have been at the same address for thirteen years, with the same phone number and same e-mail address for those same thirteen years. We rarely travel. We have voice mail. Neither of us would forget a query from the National Archives. The first we knew of this “discovery” was the unannounced knock on our front door.

It’s difficult to reconcile this claim … that Lowry was unaware of the NARA’s concern about the date on a Lincoln pardon … with the evidence he now produces that documents that he was aware that the NARA was curious about the dating of a document.  Quoting from the second of the two e-mails Yockelson sent:

For the past few years I have worked for our Inspector General’s office looking for lost, stolen, or as we call it, alienated records. In any case my partner and I, Dave Berry, have been working on a complaint about a court martial that contains [a] Lincoln signature and the contents of the endorsement appears to have been altered.

Needless to say, far from clearing up matters, Lowry’s newest contribution to the discussions renders them murkier.  Apparently he’s not quite aware that he had just damaged his own February narrative … that he’d never forget an inquiry from the NARA, and that he’d never known there was a problem … with the production of these two e-mails.  One wonders, of course, whether these are the sum total of the e-mails sent, for, if they are, then the NARA’s story also requires modification.

Finally, although I am amazed at the lack of responsiveness by both parties to questions raised here and elsewhere in the blogosphere, I would advise Dr. Lowry to make his case a little more forcibly in a venue where he can gain some satisfaction.  That he doesn’t do this puzzles me.  Both sides seem to be less than forthcoming, and one wonders why that is so. All this has done is to darken the shadows cast on both parties in the course of this whole affair.

My thanks to Brett.

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3 thoughts on “Update (Yes, Another One …) on Thomas Lowry vs. the NARA

  1. I really do wish the DoJ had pursued this — not because I’m a throw-the-book-at-‘em type, which I’m not — but because that would have forced both sides in this matter to lay out their evidence for all to see and evaluate and be challenged. What we have now is just a horrible muddle.

    I don’t trust Lowry’s version(s) of events; he seems to be his own worst enemy, and at the end of the day his defense really amounts to little more than “I’m an honorable man who wouldn’t have done this.” He’s right that it would have been a stupid and needless thing to do, but people do stupid and needless things all the time.

    I hope Lowry pursues some sort of civil action against the National Archives. It’s hard to imagine he’d prevail in the face of a signed confession, but maybe — just maybe — such a case would proceed far enough that we can get some sort of transparency into the actual evidence and actions by both sides.

  2. Dr. Lowry has now offered at least four different versions of events–confession, recantation, rambling blog post, and now a comment in which he quotes emails that he earlier claimed did not exist. These various accounts are not just difficult to reconcile, but impossible to reconcile. Even if he were now inclined to try to “make his case a little more forcibly in a venue where he can gain some satisfaction,” I’m afraid he may already have stretched his credibility to the breaking point.

    His last comment to Brett Schulte on TOCWOC–in response to a request to provide the actual text of his replies to the emails he quoted so that readers could judge for themselves if he was being reticent or evasive–does little to inspire any more confidence. Rather than just typing in the text of his replies as he had done with that of the emails to which he was replying, Dr. Lowry instead (and to my mind somewhat bizarrely) offers to provide the text of his replies in a PDF to be sent via private email.

    Dr. Lowry might do better to quit while he’s behind.

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