Patterico's Pontifications

7/20/2008

Spiegel Rewrites Interview with Maliki

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 4:27 pm

Hot Air captured the following passage from the English translation of Maliki’s Der Spiegel interview:

SPIEGEL: Would you hazard a prediction as to when most of the US troops will finally leave Iraq?

Maliki: As soon as possible, as far as we’re concerned. US presidential candidate Barack Obama is right when he talks about 16 months. Assuming that positive developments continue, this is about the same time period that corresponds to our wishes.

Here’s how the exchange reads now:

SPIEGEL: Would you hazard a prediction as to when most of the US troops will finally leave Iraq?

Maliki: As soon as possible, as far as we’re concerned. U.S. presidential candidate Barack Obama talks about 16 months. That, we think, would be the right timeframe for a withdrawal, with the possibility of slight changes.

There is no explanation of the rewrite.

Spiegel says: “SPIEGEL stands by its version of the conversation.” That’s great . . . but which one?

SHOCKING POSTSCRIPT: The L.A. Times ignores the earlier version — as does the rest of the world, apparently.

Nor does the L.A. Times report that Maliki’s office disputes the rewritten Spiegel translation.

I said it was shocking! And I meant it!

UPDATE: A reader writes with a link to an L.A. Times story that does indeed mention the dispute, that was published before I published this blog post. It is mentioned in passing, in the 12th paragraph of an article about a related topic: Obama’s decision to stick to his goal of a quick withdrawal. That is certainly an appropriate way to handle a development that casts doubt on a front-page above-the-fold story in the Sunday edition. Seriously!

UPDATE x2: Thanks to Instapundit for the link. A third version has now appeared courtesy of the New York Times. More here.

UPDATE x3: Der Spiegel’s rewrite undercuts the argument that Maliki’s walkback resulted from U.S. pressure. In fact, his walkback — which merely points out that he “said the possibility of troop withdrawal was based on the continuance of security improvements” — is exactly what Der Spiegel initially reported that he had said.

19 Responses to “Spiegel Rewrites Interview with Maliki”

  1. There’s little that shocks me anymore about what the press does, but I’m genuinely shocked they didn’t at least mention the re-write in the stories about Maliki’s spokesman saying he was misquoted. I think that’s just spin on the Iraqis’ behalf to water down the political effect, but the fact remains that he *was* misquoted in one of these two iterations. Which one is the accurate version is known only to Spiegel, I guess.

    Allah (06eb6b)

  2. Yet another explanation/translation I heard claims that Maliki was only speaking of US combat units. American support units(about 90,000 personnel) should stay indefinitely to help rebuilt Iraq and its Army.

    Perfect Sense (9d1b08)

  3. I’m having an e-mail debate with the editor of a leading Norwegian newspaper now about this, and he pointed to the supposed fact that Maliki’s correction came from the MNF office, or something. Yes, let’s trust Der Spiegel about what Maliki said, instead of Maliki himself. Good one.

    I suppose it was just coincidental perfect timing that Der Spiegel folded up this Foreign Policy Credential in Obama’s lap as he headed off to Afghanistan.

    Riiiiight.

    Seixon (7e3bdc)

  4. Here is yet another reminder as to how utterly crucial it is to correctly frame debates. This was the genius of Tony Snow as Press Secretary. He constantly rejected the terms of the question and refused to play the gotcha game.

    In this case, he would have marched into the press room with the transcript and demanded retractions as soon as the actual words became available.

    The propaganda levee is forever being breached, but those in a position to shore it up must do so. The entire template of the BHO campaign and its media minions is relativistic confusion. If the election turns on murky concepts like “change”, BHO wins. This latest lie is the quintessential example of relativism and it serves to confuse. Hell, even I was confused. If clarity is dominant, McCain has a puncher’s chance.

    Ed (59b337)

  5. I predicted that for every thousand media outlets that got it wrong ‘again’ maybe one would broadcast/print a correction and that would be in an hour no one watches or on a page that no one reads and in fine print. The term anti-american media fits them to a ‘T’. I no longer trust a word that comes from any of them and will not subscribe to the supermarket tabloid rags they call news, or watch the Lame Stream Media outlets. If not for the local news at 6 and 11 they would never be on. Right now I use NBC for local news and that’s it. I saw CNN at a neighbor’s at 4PM and they were still hyping the lies about what Maliki said.

    Scrapiron (c36902)

  6. “Too good to check” is an apt phrase here.

    The LAT will mention the discrepancy soon…on Saturday on page 28.

    And the narrative “we’re winning in Iraq because all the jihadis went to Afghanistan” will soon be added.

    Patricia (f56a97)

  7. I’m not sure how, for Americans, “success” could be interpreted as anything less than the fewest American soldiers dying while ensuring a stable Iraq. It’s a complicated goal, but one would think that we can achieve that while pulling troops from Iraq to somewhere they are far more needed, which would be Afghanistan.

    John-David (26720b)

  8. There is a rumor going around that Goebbels is dead. Yeah. Right. Anyone who believes that and still believes the LAT also is a good prospect for buying a bridge.

    Bleepless (25b615)

  9. John-David:

    Yes, and then we can watch the success in Iraq unravel so that BHO and company can then point to that and go “see, we told you!”

    No, you and your ignorant or disingenuous (likely the latter) analysis can go fly a kite (in a nearly-stable Iraq).

    ECM (de5660)

  10. Who’d have thought that Arabic being translated into German into English could result in a MAJOR miscommunication? Diplomatic protocols are in place so misunderstandings like this don’t occur.
    Which is why meeting a leader of a rogue nation WITHOUT preconditions is a really stupid idea.

    Obama doesn’t realize that a star trek universal translator hasn’t been invented, and that’s why it’s a really dangerous idea to simply wing it on foreign policy.

    liontooth (0edfdb)

  11. The New York Times weighs in with its translation of PM Maliki’s remarks:

    The statement, which was distributed to media organizations by the American military early on Sunday, said Mr. Maliki’s words had been “misunderstood and mistranslated,” but it failed to cite specifics.

    “Unfortunately, Der Spiegel was not accurate,” Mr. Dabbagh said Sunday by telephone. “I have the recording of the voice of Mr. Maliki. We even listened to the translation.”

    But the interpreter for the interview works for Mr. Maliki’s office, not the magazine. And in an audio recording of Mr. Maliki’s interview that Der Spiegel provided to The New York Times, Mr. Maliki seemed to state a clear affinity for Mr. Obama’s position, bringing it up on his own in an answer to a general question on troop presence.

    The following is a direct translation from the Arabic of Mr. Maliki’s comments by The Times: “Obama’s remarks that — if he takes office — in 16 months he would withdraw the forces, we think that this period could increase or decrease a little, but that it could be suitable to end the presence of the forces in Iraq.”

    He continued: “Who wants to exit in a quicker way has a better assessment of the situation in Iraq.”

    DRJ (92ca6f)

  12. That’s worth a post. Thanks, DRJ.

    Patterico (cb443b)

  13. Maliki’s change of heart “followed a call to the prime minister’s office from U.S. government officials in Iraq,” per the WaPo:

    But after the Spiegel interview was published and began generating headlines Saturday, officials at the U.S. embassy in Baghdad contacted Maliki’s office to express concern and seek clarification on the remarks, according to White House spokesman Scott Stanzel.

    Quoting a W-H spokesman by name not only suggests that Maliki was woodshedded, but placed on notice.

    steve (1454f6)

  14. Saw the NY Times translation. Obama’s judgement has gone from being “right” to “could be suitable.” What struck me as odd about all this was the fact that he mentioned Obama’s plan at all since it seems like an obvious endorsement, but then it occurred to me…. it’s not like he could mention Bush or McCain’s timetable for withdrawal. So, when asked to give a timetable, he refrenced Obama’s — since it was the only one out there — and described it as possibly “suitable” but also malleable. Hardly an endorsement.

    Heywood U. Reedmore (ce98a7)

  15. Confirmed by the NYT: al-Maliki favors Obama’s timetable. McCain’s supposed strong suit – foreign policy – has been severely damaged.

    Game, set, match, Obama.

    MG (dac6ba)

  16. I’m sorry, but everyone here thinks that the free press is something that is sacred. It is not sacred when it is undoubtedly a tool of the powerful and and treasonous. The employees and the publishers of the LA Times, NY Times, and the Chicago Tribune, et. al. should be held awaiting trials of treason and sedition. But of course that will never happen in our Alice in Wonderland country, where up is down and bad is good. Thank our free press that would have you not hear the real stories.

    The real problem is that there are so many versions of BS floating around that no one, not even participants in the stories, have any idea of what truth is.

    Bend over and kiss your a$$ goodbye, America.

    wavynavy (696248)

  17. MG-
    “Confirmed by the NYT…”

    You are joking, right?

    tyree (6be385)

  18. “Quoting a W-H spokesman by name not only suggests that Maliki was woodshedded, but placed on notice.’

    Maybe.

    Or maybe it suggested that Maliki wasn’t aware that the Western press would be so dishonest and didn’t think to confirm that he’d been quoted accurately.

    qrstuv (839839)

  19. Any regular reader of Der Spiegel should be aware that it maches both Time and Newsweek when it comes to an inability to report with both accuracy and objectivity.

    Bar Sinister (d92631)


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