Patterico's Pontifications


Los Angeles Times Editors Edit Reuters Story to Remove Critical Facts Supporting U.S. Position

Filed under: Dog Trainer,International — Patterico @ 4:40 pm

Los Angeles Times editors have edited a Reuters story to remove critical facts supporting the U.S. position on an important international issue.

This morning’s L.A. Times publishes an article about the March 4 shooting by U.S. soldiers of a car bearing Italian journalist Giuliana Sgrena. The shooting killed Italian intelligence officer Nicola Calipari, and created an international controversy, which strained U.S.-Italian relations.

An important contested issue in the controversy was the speed of the car as it approached a U.S. checkpoint. Sgrena has maintained that the car was traveling at a “regular speed” — no more than 25-30 mph. Americans have said that the car was traveling at least 50 mph.

The L.A. Times story today portrays that critical issue as a still-unresolved queston:

WASHINGTON — The United States and Italy disagreed Friday in the conclusions of a joint investigation into the slaying of an Italian agent by U.S. troops in Iraq, further straining ties between the two allies.

. . . .

A U.S. Army official said this week that Italy was disputing two issues in the report: the car’s speed as it approached the checkpoint and the nature of communications between the Italians and American forces before the shooting.

Italy’s government has said the Italians were driving slowly, received no warning, and advised U.S. authorities of their mission to evacuate Sgrena from Iraq.

The Army says the car was speeding toward the checkpoint and that U.S. soldiers tried to get it to stop by using hand and arm signals, flashing white lights and firing warning shots, and then shot into its engine block when it did not stop.

As presented in the L.A. Times, the question of the car’s speed is a “he said, she said” issue, with no definitive evidence that would resolve the disagreement.

Here’s where it gets interesting.

The L.A. Times story is actually an edited version of a Reuters story that appeared on the news service yesterday afternoon. The Reuters story reported that investigators using satellite footage of the incident have conclusively determined that the car was speeding, just as the U.S. has always maintained. On page two of the story, the Reuters news service reported:

CBS news has reported that a U.S. satellite had filmed the shooting and that it had been established the car carrying Calipari was traveling at more than 60 mph per hour [sic] as it approached the U.S. checkpoint in Baghdad.

Thus, the Reuters story reported that there is definitive proof that the car was speeding towards the checkpoint — critical information that tends to justify U.S. soldiers’ decision to fire on the car. But in the version appearing in the L.A. Times, editors cut out the passage reporting that proof.

The evidence is conclusive that this cut was made by L.A. Times editors. We know this because the version of the Reuters story that was printed by the L.A. Times is unique to the L.A. Times. This can be seen by a simple comparison of the first sentences of the respective stories. The Reuters version opens with this sentence:

The United States and Italy on Friday disagreed on the conclusions of a joint investigation into the killing of an Italian agent by U.S. troops in Iraq, further straining ties between the two allies.

A Google search of that sentence reveals 58 hits, all of which are reprints of the story, using the same sentence worded in the same way.

The L.A. Times slightly alters that first sentence to read as follows:

The United States and Italy disagreed Friday in the conclusions of a joint investigation into the slaying of an Italian agent by U.S. troops in Iraq, further straining ties between the two allies.

In this edited version of the sentence, Times editors moved the word “Friday,” changed the word “killing” to “slaying,” and replaced the word “in” with “on,” making the sentence grammatically awkward. [UPDATE: In the comments, Dafydd ab Hugh notes that the use of the word “slaying” tells you something about where L.A. Times editors are coming from.]

As of the time of this post, a Google search of the first sentence of the Times version of the piece reveals only one hit — in the L.A. Times.

The evidence is incontrovertible: this edited version of the Reuters story is unique to the Los Angeles Times. Times editors removed the fact that there is proof, in the form of satellite footage, supporting the U.S. version of the event.

There is no excuse for the L.A. Times story not reporting this information.

P.S. Following up on that last point, I did a review of the The Times‘s past reporting on the issue of the speeding car. The paper repeatedly trumpeted Sgrena’s contention that the Americans had no reason to shoot at the car, because it was only going 25-30 miles per hour. In the extended entry, I provide a detailed history of the paper’s reporting on this issue.

Extended entry:

On March 6, The Times ran a Page A3 story (response 6 in this thread) which said:

An Italian journalist freed from kidnappers in Iraq and then shot by American troops returned home Saturday and raised questions about the official U.S. explanation of the shooting, as outrage swept Italy.

. . . .

The U.S. military said the shooting had been an accident and that the vehicle had been speeding toward an American checkpoint outside the airport and failed to heed warnings to stop.

But Sgrena told Italian state television Saturday that her car “was not going especially fast for a situation of that type.”

. . . .

Later, speaking to Italian prosecutors who are trying to determine whether criminal charges can be brought against the Americans, she said the “regular” speed of her car did not justify the shooting, according to the Italian news agency ANSA.

On March 8, a Page A5 story about the funeral of the Italian intelligence officer slain in the shooting said:

The U.S. military said the Italians had been speeding toward a checkpoint and had ignored warnings to stop.

Since her return to Rome on Saturday, however, Sgrena has disputed the U.S. version of events from her hospital bed. She said their car had not been speeding, her group was not near a checkpoint and they had not seen warning signals.

A March 9 story on Page A3 (no Internet link available) made it clear that the speed of the car was a critical difference between Italian and American versions of the incident. The story was titled: “Italian View of Iraq Shooting at Odds With U.S.” The sub-head read: “Foreign minister says ex-hostage’s car was not speeding or warned to stop before American troops fired, killing an intelligence agent.”

Italy and the United States clashed Tuesday over the slaying by American forces of an Italian intelligence officer in Iraq, with officials offering sharply contradictory accounts.

Italy has demanded a full investigation into the incident, and the U.S. military said Tuesday that it was broadening its inquiry to examine numerous shootings at checkpoints in Iraq.

Italian Foreign Minister Gianfranco Fini, appearing before Parliament, said the car that U.S. forces opened fire on Friday night was neither speeding nor was it warned to stop, as the U.S. military has said. The car was carrying Italian journalist Giuliana Sgrena, who had just been freed from Iraqi kidnappers, and Nicola Calipari, the intelligence agent who secured her release, to the Baghdad airport. He was killed and Sgrena was wounded.

Fini said he was basing his account on interviews with the driver, another Italian intelligence agent who survived the shooting. It supports the version given by Sgrena.

. . . .

In Italy, the government of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi found itself having to respond to public anger over the shooting.

The U.S. Army has said the Italians’ car was speeding toward a checkpoint and failed to heed the Americans’ hand signals and other warnings telling it to stop. Fini said there was no checkpoint and no signals, and the car was traveling about 25 mph. It had slowed to that speed, he said, because of puddles in the road and a sharp curve, and the Italians had left on the lights inside the car to better identify them.

A March 11 AP story, printed by the L.A. Times on Page A11 (no Internet link available), stated:

Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and Sgrena have disputed the Army’s version of events, including a claim that the car was speeding and ignored signals to stop.

. . . .

Berlusconi said the car had been traveling slowly and stopped immediately when a light was flashed at a checkpoint, before troops opened fire.

The top U.S. military officer in Iraq, Army Gen. George W. Casey, has said he had no indication that Italian officials gave notice of the route the Italians were taking. In a statement released after the shooting, the 3rd Infantry Division said the vehicle had been speeding and refused to stop.

More recently, an April 26 story on Page A5 reported on the continuing disagreement of American and Italian officials in light of the completion of a military investigation. The speed of the car was once again reported as a critical area of difference:

A U.S. military investigation has cleared American troops of wrongdoing in the killing of an Italian intelligence agent at a U.S. checkpoint in Iraq, officials said Monday, a conclusion that is likely to stoke the anger simmering throughout Italy since the shooting last month.

. . . .

A senior military official in Washington identified two potential areas of disagreement: whether the Italians were speeding and whether they had radioed their whereabouts to the U.S. military headquarters in Baghdad.

. . . .

The soldiers at the checkpoint told investigators that the car had been speeding and that the driver ignored had repeated warnings, including shots fired in the air, to stop the vehicle.

However, the Italian officer driving the car and Sgrena dispute the troops’ version of events. Italian Foreign Minister Gianfranco Fini, appearing before Parliament last month, said the vehicle was not speeding, nor were its occupants warned to stop.

And a Page A3 article the next day detailed Sgrena’s response to the results of the investigation:

An Italian journalist shot by U.S. soldiers in Iraq said Tuesday she was dismayed that a Pentagon report had cleared the troops of any wrongdoing in the incident, branding the investigation a “slap in the face” to her country.

. . . .

From the beginning, Italian officials disputed the U.S. military’s account of what happened. The Americans said the Italian vehicle had been speeding and they had warned it to stop. The Italian government, citing testimony from Sgrena and the surviving agent, denied that the car had been speeding and said no warning was issued before the shooting started.

The Americans said the car had been traveling about 50 mph; the Italians put the speed at about 30 mph. Sgrena said the road was full of puddles, which slowed the car.

It is truly astounding that the paper’s editors now see fit to hide from their readers the fact that satellite footage proves the car was speeding. The paper in the past understood that this is a critical issue in the controversy. What possible justification is there for the suppression of proof resolving that issue?

Times editors? What do you have to say?

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UPDATE x2: Several commenters indicate that they want to know how the L.A. Times defends this. If there is nothing in tomorrow’s paper either, I’ll write them and ask.

UPDATE x3: Even Al Jazeera reports the satellite information!!

UPDATE x4: The report, apparently including classified portions, is now available for download.

UPDATE x5: Thanks to Power Line, LGF, Eugene Volokh, and Michelle Malkin for linking the post.

UPDATE x6: I have written the Readers’ Representative to inquire. Meanwhile, some commenters are casting doubt on the satellite story, saying it is technologically impossible for a satellite to have recorded such information, especially on a cloudy day. I have no idea whether the story is true or not — but if it’s clearly false, and that is the reason that Times editors cut it out, they should report the facts supporting their suspicions. (That’s what Al Jazeera and the Iranian news agency did!) As I wrote the Readers’ Representative, I don’t see any justification for simply cutting out the passage without explanation.

UPDATE x7: The Times did the exact same thing again today.

UPDATE x8: Derek Rose disagrees with me on the significance of this edit, but adds something important — a transcription of the relevant portion of the CBS News broadcast:

DAVID MARTIN reporting:

Pentagon sources tell CBS News an American satellite recorded the incident, enabling investigators to reconstruct the event without having to rely on conflicting eyewitness accounts about how fast the car was going. The soldiers manning the checkpoint first spotted the Italian car when it was 137 yards away. By the time they opened fire and brought the car to a halt, it was 46 yards a way. That all happened in less than three seconds, which means the car had to be going over 60 miles an hour, even though Giuliana Sgrena, the just-released hostage who was wounded in the shooting, has insisted the car was going no more than 30.

We still don’t know whether the Pentagon claim is true, but it is helpful to understand exactly what is claimed. Thanks to Derek for that.

UPDATE x9 (5-3-05): Howard Kurtz questions my questioning of The Times. I respond to Kurtz here.

120 Responses to “Los Angeles Times Editors Edit Reuters Story to Remove Critical Facts Supporting U.S. Position”

  1. […] Times who clearly prefers to side with communists rather than our troops decided that they would re-write a […]

    THE AMERICAN PATRIOTS - Political Commentary by Veterans of the Armed Forces (e67421)

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  4. […] quo; Previous Post | Main |

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  5. […] “Media Notes” column that I think calls for a response from me: A blog called Patterico’s […]

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  6. Don’t worry, I’m sure they’ll run a correction on a Saturday or something.

    The Angry Clam (280c3c)

  7. Nice catch.

    See-Dubya (35af18)

  8. Patterico, in your understandable outrage at the Times’s slash-job on such an important fact, you missed an intriguing clue to the mindset of that newspaper:

    Reuters version:

    a joint investigation into the killing of an Italian agent….

    Times version:

    a joint investigation into the slaying of an Italian agent….

    You mentioned this change en passant, but I don’t think you noted the significance of it (at least you didn’t mention it). The word “killing” can mean either deliberate or by accident: “The car careened off the road, killing the driver and one of the passengers.”

    But “slaying” is never used except to mean deliberate killing — in fact, almost always it means deliberate, cold-blooded murder: “The spree-killer fired into the crowd, slaying an eight year old boy.”

    You would never write the first sentence using this word: “The car careened off the road, slaying the driver and one of the passengers.” It sounds ridiculous, like the vehicle was the animate, demonic car from the Stephen King novel Christine.

    “Slain” can occasionaly (but not usually) mean accidental killing; but not “slaying.”

    The viewpoint of the Los Angeles Times is quite clear: I suspect they still believe the original Sgrena claim… that this was an attempted “hit” on her, trying to silence her from revealing some dreadful secret.

    There really is no other way to interpret this except for astonishingly poor writing and copyediting, poor even by the basement standards of the Times. In this case, remember one of my favorite aphorisms: never attribute to stupidity what can adequately be explained by malice.


    Dafydd (df2f54)

  9. Man, it sure is gettin’ hot back there in the MSM kitchen!! Oh, yeah… something’s cooking all right, someone’s goose!

    Daver (472545)

  10. Excellent point, Dafydd.

    Patterico (756436)

  11. What a disgrace. And these assclowns wonder why their circulation is going to hell. How about complete lost of trust in their journalistic integrity? (if they ever had any!)

    Redhand (950f40)

  12. Say what you want, but it’s obvious to me that the MSM are going down swinging. They know the journalistic jig is up and are just trying to do maximum damage before being swept aside.

    Jeffersonian (fb24e0)

  13. Fascinating analysis. I can’t think of any way to excuse the use of the word “slaying,” but I thought of one highly unlikely (but still possible) explanation for the omission of the satellite analysis. Perhaps that analysis has been secretly called into question by Italian intelligence, and we are going to hear about that soon. If so, then then its omission would make sense (because the validity of the satellite analysis has not yet been settled). Well, that’s my best attempt to salvage whatever reputation the LA Times might still enjoy.

    John Thomas (79f383)

  14. Isn’t it funny how people seize on things? I mean, would Patterico find a CBS report based on anonymous sources so convincing if it undermined his political views? In this case, it butresses them, so he says the CBS report provides “definitive proof.”

    Huh — such faith in CBS!

    With all respect, any report (especially one by a single news agency) based on anonymous sources can hardly be deemed definitive. (And oddly, I can’t find the report on CBS’s own homepage, or mentioned on its own stories on this subject).

    Also worth noting: in the Reuters version of the story, the CBS report is the 16th graph of an 18-graph story. The LA Times story was just nine graphs. It’s not as if this one passage was the only thing that was cut.

    derek rose (800c16)

  15. The only excuse I can think of is if they had some reason to disbelieve the satellite info, but even in that case, they should still have mentioned it along with their reason for not believing it.

    Bruce Giese (06e412)

  16. When will the parent corporation (who is it??) step in and take action?

    I’ll keep coming back to read, but please let us know what the LAT answers to this one.

    Lord Whorfin (3c2825)

  17. I am going to borrow significantly from this post for a post of my own, but here is another cut you missed:

    > The Army official said one of the “trip wires” in the incident was that “there was, in fact, poor communications between the Italians and the Americans.”

    In the original, cut in the final. But clearly the satelite thing is more egregious.

    A.W. of (c80cfb)

  18. BTW, outstanding analysis on the “slay”-“kill” difference.

    Lord Whorfin (3c2825)

  19. That’s Why They Call It The Left Coast
    Charles Johnson spots a San Francisco Chronicle article praising a new book written by a self-described Bay Area Marxist-Leninist. And last month, we linked, in fairly short succession, to an L.A. Times article glorifying Sunset Hall, a Los Angeles ret…

    Ed (1e5ec6)

  20. this is a good one. very nice catch.
    absolutely demands an explanation in print by the times. a perfect blogosphere story.
    i noticed the killing/slaying thing too right away and was astonished. who are these people and wtf is their major malfunction?

    cali white bear (163bfe)

  21. So? What’s new? LAT has been anti-American since the BigO took over. That was 40 years ago.

    Rod Stanton (a27221)

  22. Excellent work, Patterico.

    Toby Petzold (cd28cf)

  23. If the satellite info. is so definitive, then why is there still disagreement between the U.S. and Italian governments?

    The U.S. report should be on the web somewhere, has anyone been able to find it?

    derek rose (800c16)

  24. Sure the LA Times has an excuse for doing this. They’re on the other side. They create enemy propaganda willingly and voluntarily. They have embraced their dhimmitude. They have gleichgeschaltet to the Jihadis.

    Jabba the Tutt (8dc23f)

  25. John T…it seems very unlikely that the LAT would have access to Italian intelligence while none of the other papers would…

    David Foster (8cec05)

  26. The first thing that occurred to me was, if CBS is reporting this satellite information, why aren’t we seeing more of it yet?

    Not that I’m suspicious; CBS and Reuters have shown quite a bit of animosity themselves towards the US so it’s hardly likely that they’re playing the shill.

    Nonetheless, The Times is obviously up to no good, even if the satellite info turns out to be less than concrete. If there were something amiss with the satellite info, then it would be another part of the story, not just something to be edited out as if this were just another editorial.

    Ray (49fc2e)

  27. My guess is the LAT doesn’t believe the satellite claim. I don’t either. If the Sat info exists, then why don’t they release it?

    Jeff Hoskins (46ff9d)

  28. I was asking the same thing about the sat info but for the Times to delete as they did is highly questionable. Especially considering the other changes i.e. killing to slaying and their track record so far.

    The evidence does work against them. If there were reason enough to delete such a potentially important piece of information, that would be part of the news story itself. Possibly even a second article. As it is however, they’re obviously in “editorial” mode.

    Ray (49fc2e)

  29. And remind me what Bob Sipchen of the LA times had to say about bloggers and Google last Tuesday night?


    You caught them!

    Flap (bef92f)

  30. In 1994 the LA Times did a story on a girl who had not been allowed to graduate from a Catholic High School. The story went on and on about how she had a kid and how bad the school was. At the very END of the story was a single sentence about how the girl had missed over 50 days of school. I cancelled my subscription that day.

    Dr Laura Schlesigner picked the story up and blasted the LA Times.

    This is nothing new for the LA Slime. Its a disgusting slimeball of a newspaper.

    red river (841f7b)

  31. David Foster: well, access to Italian interlligence is only one of many possibilities. The larger point is that the LA Times may have reason to doubt the story about the the satellite analysis (and we may soon hear about that in other reports).

    The satellite analysis will soon be either confirmed or disconfirmed. If it is confirmed, then Patterico will have driven the final nail in the coffin of the LA Times. Instapundit and Powerline will no doubt make this clear to a worldwide audience. We’ll know soon enough.

    John Thomas (79f383)

  32. I seriously doubt that the military will release the satellite imagery.

    Thinsk about it. One car, one checkpoint, at a random time of the night in Iraq. This is an astonishing capability, and the news that it can be done is not something that I’d expect to see released to the press.

    It would not surprise me if some officer somewhere is about to pay a steep price for going public with this.

    Gary (655f5f)

  33. Simply astonishing. Thanks Patterico for bringing this to light. The editors at the Times are obviously doing their best to keep the truth from being reported to their subscribers, and they wonder why their subscription numbers are falling so fast. Maybe they should try to truth and see how that sells for a change?

    Bryan (22855f)

  34. Don’t look for the images to be released, most military space imaging is classified. Lots of reasons for that too…

    But there are lots of images being taken in Iraq, for lots of different reasons. All it would take is two, with a known time difference between the photos, all you need is a couple of measurements on the ground to figure the speed.

    Head Moron (9eaa03)

  35. NPR did the same thing not 2 hours ago when I was coming home with some take-home Thai food. I was screaming at the radio and spilled peanut sauce on the car seat. Conspiracy I tell you!

    stephen (1934e4)

  36. It is unthinkable that any American newspaper could have done this. I only hope the Times has an explanation. I just linked to your story. Keep up the great work.

    Brady Westwater (72f6df)

  37. Great post Patterico, thanks for sharing.

    TallDave (e15e0b)

    There have been several new developments in the probe of the Iraqi checkpoint shooting involving Italian anti-war Communist writer Giuliana Sgrena. On Saturday night, the U.S. military released its official investigative report of the incident (details…

    Michelle Malkin (3ca10e)

  39. Even when I am in LA I can not pick up that paper anymore.

    PJ (16b29d)

  40. The LAT also went waaaayyy overboard in trying to sink Arnold in the 2003 Recall Election. To me, though, the best part was when liberal shills like Jane Hall (she’s on Fox News Watch on FNC Sat Nights) actually defended the LAT. That they would intentionally game a report to hurt the US is no shock. What’s even better is the feeble defense given by the libtrolls on this site.

    eddiebear (dc52ec)

  41. “CBS, citing Pentagon officials, said the satellite recording enabled investigators to reconstruct the event without having to rely on the eyewitness accounts.

    “It said the soldiers manning the checkpoint first spotted the Italian car when it was 137 yards (meters) away. By the time they opened fire and brought the car to a halt, it was 46 yards (meters) away. CBS said that happened in less than three seconds, which meant the car had to be going over 60 miles an hour.”

    Ray (49fc2e)

  42. The La Times is just another bulshit waco leftist rag. I see it that way and I am a Canadian.

    Neil (983fd2)

  43. What good would releasing the satellite photos do? Analysing them for speed information is beyond almost everybody’s ability anyhow… but people can confidently and forthrightly screw up the analysis something fierce. (Analysing still photos is beyond most people’s abilities.) Most people are intensely unskilled and as a result thoroughly unaware of how badly they’d screw it up.

    Plus, it’d just get the moon-landing photo treatment. “I expected to see fluffy bunnies in this image, and by golly, there they are! What, you don’t see them? They’re hiding behind that rock. That’s proof for fluffy bunnies, that’s what that is.”

    I won’t say they won’t release them, but I’ll confidently predict it won’t satisfy anyone.

    Jeremy Bowers (46f12e)

  44. How the L.A. Times Omitted Key Data from a Reuters Account:
    Patterico’s Pontifications catches what strikes me as a very serious omission….

    The Volokh Conspiracy (11ee8e)

  45. LAT Busted on Sgrena Story
    When will the diehard Lib MSM finally realize that their world has become much more transparent? Each ethical breach, each distorted report, each blatant bias will come to light, yet they prattle on, oblivious to the new reality, fiddling while their…

    Cheat-Seeking Missiles (59ce3a)

  46. Calling bullshit on the L.A. Times is a like calling bullshit on Baghdad Bob. Nobody is fooled but the quote-takers. Thanks, Patterico.

    Ryon (d6d8bc)

  47. The liberal press displays the gross irresponsibility we have come to expect
    The liberal press has been caught lying, changing the facts and making wild claims during the past day or two. Tomorrow the New York Times will make this statement: NYT Sunday: High-level military investigation into allegations of detainee abuse at…

    Patriots for Bush (e67421)

  48. Has everyone forgotten Sgrena’s original statement in her newspaper story about the car’s speed just before reaching the roadblock? Before the speed became a factor, she wrote something to the effect that the the car was going so fast as to be almost out of control.

    Dan Mahoney (a1b48b)

  49. News Flash! Sgrena lied!
    Well, not really much of a revelation for those who followed this story, but

    Media Lies (11ee8e)

  50. Derek, for God’s sake man, give it up. Admit when you’re wrong. Sgrena herself has been quoted in press as saying they nearly lost control of the car running through the puddles and they were laughing like school kids about it.

    She lied. Plain and simple.

    antimedia (d85572)

  51. I found this gem in the NY Times today:

    “Ms. Sgrena, a reporter for the left-wing daily newspaper Il Manifesto….”

    Now, why would a reporter for a patently objective newspaper as Il Manifesto lie about Americans?

    Kevin Murphy (6a7945)

  52. also had a story on this, it’s story dated April 30 also makes no mention of the satellite evidence:

    Mark Schlegel (88d289)

  53. “CBS news has reported that a U.S. satellite had filmed the shooting and that it had been established the car carrying Calipari was traveling at more than 60 mph per hour…”

    “Thus, the Reuters story reported that there is definitive proof that the car was speeding…”

    Sorry, you are plain wrong: the Reuters story reported that CBS was saying there was definitive proof.

    Big, big difference. Cutting a third-tier report is commonplace in good journalism.

    Flavio (681a35)

  54. Now, now, gentlemen. I’m sure there’s a perfectly reasonable explanation to the LA Times’ “creative editing” of the story.

    Possible, hypothetical rationalizations, (suggested to me by an anonymous source):

    A) The LA Times is an Al-Qaeda cell;
    B) The LA Times is run by aging, bitter KGB sleeper agents who feel left out in the cold;
    C) The LA Times is run by cowardly opportunistic hacks.

    Of course, this is WILD speculation and not supported by any shred of fact… in other words, a perfect front-page piece for the LA Times!


    A.R.Yngve (8f5525)

  55. Here’s an angle I haven’t heard anyone else mention yet.

    Sgrena, the driver, and the surviving agent were all Italians. Their claims about the speed of the car are ambiguous: “regular speed,” “not very fast,” “not speeding,” etc. They also claim that they did not see any signals to slow or stop.

    Now, how many of you have driven in Italy before? In my experience there, 60 mph is “not very fast” – and traffic signals are often ignored.

    Perhaps both Sgrena and the US report are correct. Chalk it up to cultural differences!

    equitus (66ae07)

  56. Sgrena, the driver, and the surviving agent were all Italians. Their claims about the speed of the car are ambiguous: “regular speed,” “not very fast,” “not speeding,” etc. They also claim that they did not see any signals to slow or stop.

    Cute, but they have specifically thrown out 25-30 mph as the speed.

    Patterico (756436)

  57. I was thinking the same thing in regards to speed: culturally, the lady might not have thought of that as very fast.

    Doesn’t excuse the LA Times though.

    Dean Esmay (ac5f29)

  58. Here’s a link to a Yahoo story on the CBS report, made (apparently) on Thursday:

    It has a little more info on the source and exactly how the speed was derived.

    Nick B (c89da8)

  59. LOL. The comment software “corrects” for Time Zone but doesn’t accurately sort them? LOL.

    There’s three posts made before me but appearing “after” me because I am EDT and it’s 6:27-ish, not 3:27-ish.

    Nick B (c89da8)

  60. Dawn Patrol
    US, Italy at Odds Over Killing of Italian in Iraq CBS news has reported that a U.S. satellite had filmed the shooting and that it had been established the car carrying Calipari was traveling at more than 60 mph per…

    Mudville Gazette (d881ce)

  61. Dawn Patrol
    US, Italy at Odds Over Killing of Italian in Iraq CBS news has reported that a U.S. satellite had filmed the shooting and that it had been established the car carrying Calipari was traveling at more than 60 mph per…

    Mudville Gazette (d881ce)

  62. Guys/gals, get a grip. The CBS ‘satellite spy pix’ story is an obvious garble — or misinformation planted to discredit (further) the technical illiterates who run the MSM. Spy satellites except Hollywoodized imaginary ones don’t HAVE that kind of coverage and resolution. More likely the observation — if any — was from a JSTARS drone (a UAV at about 500 to 1000 ft), which are said to ‘orbit’ over ground areas of interest, and that could have confused the hopelessly confusable. But the blogosphere is supposed to be self-correcting and fast-learning, guys, so get with the program, and get off the enthusiasm with a bogus story.

    JimO (410841)

  63. Dawn Patrol
    US, Italy at Odds Over Killing of Italian in Iraq CBS news has reported that a U.S. satellite had filmed the shooting and that it had been established the car carrying Calipari was traveling at more than 60 mph per…

    Mudville Gazette (d881ce)

  64. > The CBS ’satellite spy pix’ story is an obvious garble

    Actually, if you read the Yahoo story, it may well be a different “source” for the pix (i.e., a drone, as you suggest), but there is no reason to presume it’s invalid.

    I’ve also seem what the *unclassified* sats can do with ground imagery. You have a particular reason to believe why Cointel people have no better equipment?

    Nick B (c89da8)

  65. You have to mine the data yourself – Eurabia not on the shelves
    I am informed that Bat Ye’or’s book on the Euro/Arab axis, Eurabia, is not on the shelves at Barnes & Noble or Borders due to an “executive decision” – although they will special order it. I wonder what the factors…

    Solomonia (0c6a63)

  66. Re: speed of car – even if CBS is wrong on the satellite story, the LAT should have reported it, to be confirmed later. It was still a valid report. They didn’t hesitate to report the unconfirmed impressions of the shell-shocked Italians, so why hesitate with the satellite story? Unless LAT is biased, as one remote possibility.

    As for the Italian recollection on speed: they said they were “euphoric”, on a rescue mission and in a rush to get out of there. (Anyone ever drive in Italy? For them, 60 mph urban driving is cautious! Note: 60mph = 88 feet per second! Car was first spotted about 450 feet away from US troops. So the driver had 5 seconds to react to a glaring light in his face and to warning shots (allow 2 seconds, 176 feet) and then had 2 seconds (176 feet)to stop the car far enough away from troops (88 feet) to keep them from feeling threatened by a bomb car. At night. Try it yourself on an open dry road without any traffic. And if the Italian was driving faster than 60mph, forget it. This would explain why one of Sgrena’s reports was that the troops fired at the back of the car – it just couldn’t stop fast enough and went past the checkpoint.

    Just some thoughts.

    Jerry Magnan (cea559)

  67. Observation sats have to obey the laws of physics and optics. Both would have been broken if something in orbit could have detected and identified a vehicle in darkness at that spot and then done it again seconds later so movement could be measured.

    contact me for follow-up…
    jameseoberg at houston dot rr dot com

    JimO (410841)

  68. Patterico Jumps Shark
    Patterico has jumped the shark, if he ever was on the near side of it. He reports that the LA Times withheld proof that the Bush Administration position in the Sgrena shooting is correct, and the reflexively anti-U.S., anti-U.S. military…

    Silflay Hraka (b2b0e4)

  69. Oddly enough, MSNBC reported the following last month:

    >Report clears U.S. in friendly fire incident
    MSNBC ^ | 4/13/05 | Jim Miklaszewski

    >NBC News has learned that a preliminary report …

    >The investigation found the car was about 130 yards from the checkpoint when the soldiers flashed their lights as a warning to stop. But the car kept coming and, at 90 yards, warning shots were fired. At 65 yards, when the car failed to stop, the soldiers used lethal force — a machine gun burst that killed Calipari and wounded Sgrena and the driver.

    >Senior U.S. military officials say it took only about four seconds from the first warning to the fatal shots, but insist the soldiers acted properly under the current rules of engagement.

    When you run the numbers, the car was averaging about 32 MPH. Peculiar.

    PersonFromPorlock (63f8bc)

  70. LA Times Plays Fast and Loose With The Facts
    Blogger Patterico has a great post on some shenanigans that the LA Times is pulling in their reporting on the Italian journalist case. (59ce3a)

  71. Porlock – The difference I see between the MSNBC article and Yahoo’s article with CBS info is that the MSNBC is estimates – about 130 yards, about 4 seconds. The Yahoo article reported that the measured time was 3 seconds. That is close to four seconds, especially when recalling from memory, but the difference of a second in those calculations (traveled 65 yards in 4 seconds is just over 16 yards/second or 65 yards in 3 seconds which is 21.7 yards/second) makes a difference of almost 12 mph. When you add in the additional 7 yards between the estimate (130) and the measured (137), it increases the speed even more. So I think the differences in the math are due to estimates versus measures.

    Vivacesunshine (56a076)

  72. Los Angeles Times editors are no angels
    The LA Times comes in for criticism regularly in the blogosphere, but a couple recent mistakes on their part deserve closer scrutiny. LA-based Patterico shows

    The Moderate Voice (11ee8e)

  73. Care To Revise Your Story, Lady?
    “Make the lie big, make it simple, keep saying it, and eventually they will believe it…” —-Adolf Hitler The cat is now out of the bag. The Italian communist” journalist” who repeatedly told the world how US Soldiers at a…

    O.E.S. Project Web Log (b94a2d)

  74. LA Times Shills for Giuliana Sgrena
    Patterico has caught the Los Angeles Times red-handed, deliberately editing a Reuters report about the Giuliana Sgrena checkpoint shooting incident to remove critical facts supporting the US position. Why would the major newspaper of one of America&#3…

    Polibeat (3b497f)

  75. I am a right wing republican, and totaly believe the US Soldiers testimony that the vehicle did not slow down. But, THERE IS NO SATELLITE THAT CAN MEASURE THE SPEED OF A CAR! Perhaps a predator was on station, but a satellite is out of the question. The LA Times was correct to leave out such a far fetched claim.

    Satellie Engineer (cf1c93)

  76. Satellite Engineer,

    If you’re right (and for all I know, you are), the LA Times should have interviewed people like you and written a story shooting down the CBS News report.

    But they shouldn’t just edit it out and pretend that it’s not out there.

    Patterico (756436)

  77. The Yahoo report mentioning the Satellites is crap too. I bet the source claiming a Satellite filmed the car is a midlevel intel officer at a National Intell Agency (NIMA or NRO) desperately trying to justify their reason for getting a government paycheck, and fat budget allocations. The winds are shifting in Washington, and the national intel agencies are under sever preassure to justify their existance and heavy emphasis on technology. ITs all about HUMINT, or tactical UAV’s.

    Satellie Engineer (cf1c93)

  78. Daily Dish
    No Progressives Vermont Governor Jim Douglas closed the door on speculation that he would run for the Senate seat being vacated by (Jumpin’) Jim Jeffords. In a race that will garner more and more national attention as 2006 approaches, there

    The Cool Blue Blog (af7df9)

  79. My guess, it was a JSTARS. I have some friends flying them in Iraq and they monitor a very large area in great detail in order to support ground troops.

    That would make the most sense–and JSTARS can measure speed and distance with great accruracy.

    WB (c6b191)

  80. I have no problem with a left leaning paper. What bothers me is their insistence that they’re just another moderate voice, that they’re just reporting the facts which supposedly support a liberal point of view.

    This is Bloggery at its best.

    KirkH (5f8350)

  81. The “leak” behind the “satellite evidence” may have originally used a phrase like “technical means” — a euphemism that has often meant satellite images. It could also mean a drone, or a J-STAR in the area. J-STAR aircraft are specifically designed to track ground traffic, including cars, and would give the speed of the vehicle as a matter of course.

    And as someone else pointed out, before the speed of the car was seen as important, Sgrena was talking about how fast it was going — how it was almost out of control.

    Robert Crawford (9b3b9b)

  82. LA Times and the Satellite
    Blogger Patterico is all over the LA Times for supposedly editing “a Reuters story to remove critical facts supporting the U.S. position on an important international issue.”

    Basically, the LA Times printed this story on the investigation into the…

    Blog: Derek Rose (50fbba)

  83. Hey I’m just pleasantly surprised at the fact the investigative team was informed of the satellite feed at all. It wasn’t that long ago that compartmentalization would have kept Intel and JAG from collaborating.


    Mike (6de26c)

  84. Strictly FYI one and all:

    Every paper that subscribes to Reuters (or AP, AFP, Knight Ridder, etc.) has the right to edit our stories in any way they choose.

    Whether or not this particular edit was a good choice is a different story. But it’s not scandalous in and of itself that it’s been edited. Happens all the time, on every story we write.


    -Someone on the front lines

    mookie wilson (3cc1f6)

  85. A manned or unmanned US aircraft might have captured an image of the speeding car.

    However, a satellite probably did not so. It’s not technically likely.

    David Davenport (475a36)

  86. Mookie,

    I certainly understand that they have the right to edit Reuters copy. The question is whether the edit is appropriate. I don’t see how it could be.

    Patterico (756436)

  87. No new news about newzzzzz……
    I can’t think of a more perfect example of why the mainstream media hates bloggers than this: Los Angeles Times editors have edited a Reuters story to remove critical facts supporting the U.S. position on an important international issue. This…

    Classical Values (6ec4b2)

  88. Italian Idiots – Update XVII
    The report has been released and did someone screw the pooch bad. The person who classified the document redacted the portions that needed to be hidden but did not understand Adobe Acrobat to well.

    Flopping Aces (59ce3a)

  89. Sgrena originally claimed they were attacked by tanks. Her work prior to her claimed kidnapping includes, “UN:US crimes in Iraq” “Interview with an Iraki woman tortured at Abu Graib” “Bombs and tanks, hell breaks in Falluja” and “Napalm Raid on Falluja?”

    Unlike the LAT’s, Sgrena and the Italian paper she writes for admit their hatred for the United States, freedom and democracy.

    davsun (07a4c2)

  90. New Math In Orbit; Spiked in LA
    Ordinarily, such “he said, she said” stalemates resolve nothing and satisfy no one. So U.S. investigators trumped with technology–in particular, a spy satellite:

    No Oil for Pacifists (cea493)

  91. Satellite Engineer is full of crap. If the same vehicle appears in two satellite photos, simple mathematics will allow you to determine the velocity of anything that is in both pictures. They do it with IKONOS take all the time.

    Step 1: In picture A, determine the distance from vehicle P to landmark L. This distance is “D”.

    Step 2: In Picture B, determine the distance from P to L. This distance is E.

    Step 3: Subtract D from E. This is how far the vehicle moved; called S.

    Step 4: From the timestamps of pictures A and B, you know how much time elapsed between the pictures; this is T.

    Step 5: Vehicle velocity V = S/T.

    This is, of course, a very basic description of what happens (I’d call it a “sixty percent description”, because there are significant complicating factors that I’m leaving out.) But the fact remains that it’s very stupid to say that it’s “technologically impossible” to determine a vehicle’s speed using satellite imagery.

    DensityDuck (868b92)


    Link is to the US military’s report on the incident. What is remarkable (I didn’t read the whole thing – so I don’t know if it mentions car speed or not) is the number of attacks against US troops.

    The war is raging, two years after “Mission Accomplished”

    Susan (fe92cd)

  93. Hey S. E. If you are really a Satellite Engineer why can’t you spell it? 🙂

    As for an “average speed” of 32 MPH: The “average” velocity is the sum of the initial velocity plus the terminal velocity divided by 2. Since the terminal velocity is known to be 0 the initial velocity can be calculated to be 64 MPH assuming all else is reported accurately.

    One thing I would like to know is who was holding the stop watch that is telling us that the whole episode took place in EXACTLY four seconds?

    Willy B. (ae5522)

  94. It shouldn’t suprise us that the communists that run that rag would espouse the views portrayed by another communist. They hate America as much as she does. Goebells would be proud!

    Basil Doughty (4b9ce9)

  95. L.A. Times Removes to Skew the News
    Patterico reports that the Los Angeles Times recently removed crucial information from a reprinted Reuters wire story. The story, covering the March shooting of a car carrying Italian journalist Giuliana Sgrena by U.S. forces in Iraq, was doctored by t… (12537c)

  96. The only good use of the New York and LA
    Times is to cover the bottom of a bird cage.

    mad dog (282b1e)

  97. Maybe this comment will survive the site administrator, unlike my previou one, but I doubt it. Since my earlier comment was deleted, I have posted the real story on my site. At least, the site administrator will get to see it again.

    Iron Teaqkettle (35ba30)

  98. I apologize. It did survive. But the real story is still on my site.

    Iron Teaqkettle (35ba30)

  99. Editing truth
    Many of you have likely heard about the shooting incident…

    Current Events (35a63e)

  100. All the news that’s fit to distort
    The LA Times exceeds even it’s usual low standards in omitting crucial details of the Sgrena investigation.

    UNCoRRELATED (7f1a3e)

  101. Is the L.A. Times deliberately un-American?
    Patterico reports that the LA Times is in the habit of editing Reuter’s news stories so that they sound more anti-American. Case in point, concerning the Italian journalist who was fired upon for failing to stop at a U.S. checkpoint…

    Ravenwood's Universe (5c2592)

  102. If At First You Don’t Succeed…
    …fuck up once again to completely remove all doubt that you’re a biased, lying weasel (Thanks to LC & IB Patterico) Since the Case of the Lying Commie Bimbo Sgrena seemingly refuses to die the obscure death that it richly…

    The Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler (c411fa)

  103. Yes Stop Signs mean Stop the Car to 0 MPH! Yes, satellites can pick-up tire tracks on muddy ground. Yes LAT abuses it’s readers and it’s power.

    Brian (963dfa)

  104. So when is the LAT going to hire Giuliana Sgrena?

    Brian (963dfa)

  105. Fisker’s Whiskers VI
    Week 6 of The Fisker's Whiskers is here and another week has produced more outstanding fisking of maddeningly biased, misleading or just plain lazy journalism. And now, let's just get down to business and roll out what this weeks Fisker&#…

    The Word Unheard (20fd31)

  106. Blogworthies: A weekly round-up of noteworthy entries from a variety of weblogs on a variety of topics.

    The Blog from the Core (d13dcd)

  107. Calm Down Dear.

    Inclined as I am to believe that the Italians are at fault in this case, the Reuters story was reporting second-hand what CBS said about using satellites to determine the speed of the car.

    Since CBS has provided no evidence for this — and indeed it is barely plausible — the Reuters story was bound to be subbed back and restrained to the reported facts that are substantiated by evidence.

    Editing or adding to agency copy is what newspaper staff do; indeed they should do more such editing, instead of the increasing practice of swallowing what the agencies say whole. This is no evidence of any bias, this is accepted newspaper practice. Since you clearly don’t know much about newspaper practice, I wonder how you consider yourself to be is a position to judge it.

    tom metcalfe (bb9119)

  108. Since you clearly don’t know much about newspaper practice, I wonder how you consider yourself to be is a position to judge it.

    Nice. Why did you say that?

    I haven’t claimed that newspapers have no right to edit wire copy, or that they never do. I said this was an unusual thing to edit out, given the importance of the issue. I’m not the only one who thinks so. Doesn’t Mickey Kaus know something about newspaper practice?

    I asked them what the reasoning was. Eight days later, still no response.

    Patterico (756436)

  109. They just don’t get it
    and probably never will… After spending time with some of our armed forces best and brightest at boomershoot you tend to get a different opinion of just what is really going on in Afghanistan and Iraq. The soldiers tell decidedly…

    Fun Turns To Tragedy!!! (8b98e2)

  110. Patterico’s Pontifications » Los Angeles Times Editors Edit Reuters Story to Remove Critical Facts Supporting U.S. Position

    Patterico’s Pont…

    Patterico’s Pontifications » Los Angeles Times Editors Edit Reuters Story to Remove Critical Facts Supporting U.S. Position (699873)

  111. Patrick Frey? a deputy district attorney? commenting on the LA Times? and people care what you think because….????

    biff (38fb70)

  112. Biff believes that only the anointed journalists have a right to an opinion. It’s like saying that the poor peasants do not have the right to criticize the Mighty Church of the Los Angeles Times. As long as the people inside the Mighty Church (a characterization which they would reject as “too religious”) can’t hear and won’t tolerate criticism from the mere peasantry they’ll never change. On the other hand, a peasant working in the field is used to seeing cow manure and understanding what it is. They may even have developed expertise as a result, of a sort which will assist them when reading the Times.

    Mike Myers (3a4363)

  113. […] Patterico’s Pontifications is doing some excellent detective work on the LA Times. Apparently they are doing some redacting of their own by changing the wording or leaving things completely out of some Reuters reports: […]

    Flopping Aces » Blog Archive » Italian Idiots - Update XVII (ef3aba)

  114. […] Patterico s Pontifications Los Angeles Times Editors Edit Reuters Los Angeles Times editors have edited a Reuters story to remove critical facts supporting the U.S. position on an important international issue. This morning s L.A. […] » Iraq war (532ff2)

  115. […] Pattericos Pontifications Los Angeles Times Editors Edit …Los Angeles Times editors have edited a Reuters story to remove critical facts supporting the U.S. position on an important international issue. … […]

    A great Resource Directory » Southern California Vacations & Deals: Los Angeles Times Travel (074ac8)

  116. […] Pattericos Pontifications Los Angeles Times Editors Edit …For men and women in the printing trades that get together twice a year for dinners and to see one another when they once worked together. […]

    Resources and News » Poynter Online - <i>L.A. Times</i> Photographer Fired Over Altered … (95e359)

  117. against a foreign predator download…

    Thanks for the compliment –no one has ever told me that before!!…

    against a foreign predator download (28fd41)

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