An infobox in an L.A. Times story on the Scooter Libby trial today says:
In his January 2003 State of the Union address, President Bush said Iraq had sought uranium for nuclear weapons from Niger, in West Africa.
Here, once again, are the sixteen words from Bush’s 2003 State of the Union speech:
The British Government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.
I just read that phrase five times straight and didn’t see the word “Niger” anywhere. (By the way, other African countries sell uranium, including the Congo.)
Now, really. Is this truly so difficult that paid, professional journalists can’t keep track of it? Has nobody ever explained this to them before? Really?
Well, I think it’s high time someone tried, then. It’s about time we saw the facts on this stated clearly, in print, in the pages of this newspaper. I’m writing the Readers’ Representative tonight and politely demanding a correction.
Even if I don’t get one, the response should be entertaining.
James Taranto reports on an article in the Los Angeles Times which provides extensive detail about CIA covert agents:
The Los Angeles Times boasts that it has identified three CIA pilots who are facing kidnapping charges in Germany over a 2003 counterterrorism operation there:
The names they used were all aliases, but The Times confirmed their real identities from government databases and visited their homes this month after a German court in January ordered the arrest of the three “ghost pilots” and 10 other alleged members of the CIA’s special renditions unit on charges of kidnapping and causing serious bodily harm to Khaled Masri, a German citizen of Lebanese descent, three years ago.
None of the pilots responded to repeated requests for comment left with family members and on their home telephones. The Times is not publishing their real names because they have been charged only under their aliases.
But it does offer plenty of details about them:
In real life, the chief pilot is 52, drives a Toyota Previa minivan and keeps a collection of model trains in a glass display case near a large bubbling aquarium in his living room. Federal aviation records show he is rated to fly seven kinds of aircraft as long as he wears his glasses. . . .
His copilot, who used the alias Fain, is a bearded man of 35 who lives with his father and two dogs in a separate subdivision. . . .
The third pilot, who used the alias Bird, is 46, drives a Ford Explorer and has a 17-foot aluminum fishing boat. Certified as a flight instructor, he keeps plastic models of his favorite planes mounted by the fireplace in his living room in a house that backs onto a private golf course here [in a town of 13,000 the Times identifies in its dateline].
Remember all the outrage when Robert Novak “outed” Valerie Plame, who apparently worked a desk job at CIA headquarters in Langley, Va.? Here the L.A. Times is publishing extensive personal details on three men who have actually done dangerous work defending the country. Where’s the outrage?
UPDATE: Lorie Byrd lives in the area and says:
I am familiar enough with this part of North Carolina to know that it would not take a genius to locate these men (particularly the third pilot) and their families. These men were using aliases for a reason. The L.A. Times did not provide Google Maps to their homes, but they did give anyone who wanted to track these men down, a real jump on locating them.
Speaking of the Wilson/Plame affair, the L.A. Times is fudging claims about what Bush said in those famous “sixteen words” in the 2003 SOTU. Details here.
UPDATE x2: A commenter says that, according to the story, the pilots may be simply contractors. This ignores the fact that they were flying covert missions for the CIA. The story puts them at risk whether they are official employees, non-official cover employees, or simply contractors flying covert missions.
The El Paso Times recently published an article reporting that Agent Juarez resigned from the Border Patrol and that Agents Vasquez and Jacquez are fighting termination. [Update: Hat tip to Tracy for the article.]
Here is a summary of the testimony of Arturo Vasquez:
Well, I have finished “Supreme Conflict” by Jan Crawford Greenburg, and have a lengthy review drafted up . . . but my Internet access went down yesterday. And last night, I felt like reading — more than I felt like spending a bunch of time on hold trying to fix the Internet problem.
I’m about halfway through “L.A. Rex” by Will Beall, which (so far) is a thinly disguised over-the-top Suge Knight tale told in snap-crackling prose, filled with street references that probably go over the heads of 90 percent of the people who read it. So far, it’s a fun ride — better than being on hold!
I finished “The Blue Knight” recently, which I enjoyed pretty well. I think I like Beall’s book better. Is that sacrilege?
Anyway, I’ll see if I can’t find the motivation to work out the kinks in the Internet coverage tonight.
In the meantime, let me join the chorus of praise for DRJ’s thorough and even-handed summaries of the Border Patrol shooting trial transcript. She is doing an absolutely amazing job.
I even got her to agree to summarize the summaries, once she’s made her way through the transcript. And she also plans to grade Johnny Sutton’s papers by analyzing the truth of his “fact sheet.” I already showed one of his claims to be false, and a few more may bite the dust before we’re through. Good work, DRJ!