New York Times changes its story on Russia poisoning ex-spy

"Russiagate and the missing ducks" addressed a New York Times story (April 16) about Trump's reaction to a briefing by CIA director Haspel (then the deputy) about the (alleged) Skripal poisoning in Britain.

The gist of the NYT story was that Haspel persuaded Trump to take strong action by showing him pictures of poisoned children and dead ducks, tagged as collateral damage in the attack on the Skripals. The gist of my post was that there were no dead ducks or poisoned children, the Brits never claimed that there were, and the real question was who was lying to whom.

The CIA has never responded to charges that its head lied to the president on a matter of great national importance, nor did the NYT, until last Wednesday (June 5).  Then, the reporter used a nine-part tweetfest to explain that no one had deceived anyone.  Early reports mentioned poisoned ducks and children, and these were shared with the U.S. in the interests of full disclosure, but there were no pictures.  The pictures shown the president were from Syria.

Whether the president was shown the early, erroneous reports about ducks and children was left unclear by the carefully drafted tweets, as was any information as to when, if at all, these were corrected.

The correction illustrates the old aphorism that the cover-up can be worse than the crime.

There were in fact no early reports of poisoned ducks and children, at least not public ones.  How did such information get into the system, and when was it corrected?  Children had been feeding ducks near the Skripals, but none were affected, and the authorities did not even check up on them for two weeks.

The original NYT story was changed to say, "Ms Haspel displayed pictures illustrating the consequence of nerve agent attacks, not images specific to the chemical attacks in Britain."  Note that this leaves open the possibility that Haspel said that such collateral damage occurred in Britain and then illustrated it with Syrian pictures.  Indeed, given the artfulness of the denials, a cynic might say such a conclusion is compelled.

A Russophile (but always interesting) blog called The Duran takes the cynical view: "NYT covers up CIA Skripal lie with even worse CIA Skripal lie":

So in other words, Ms Haspel couldn't show any pictures from Salisbury to persuade the sceptical Mr Trump, because there weren't any to show. So she showed him pictures from other nerve agent attacks, which were presumably sufficiently bad to turn him from his scepticism, to expelling 60 diplomats. Even though nothing like that happened in Salisbury.

Moon of Alabama also has a serious, and skeptical, discussion of the matter, noting the squishiness of the sourcing:

The original report was sourced on 'people briefed on the conversation'. The corrected version is also based on 'people briefed on the conversation' but adds 'a person familiar with the intelligence'. Do the originally cited 'people' now tell a different story? Are we to trust a single 'person familiar with the intelligence' more than those multiple 'people'? What kind of 'research' did the reporter do to correct what he then and now claims was told to him by 'people'? Why did this 'research' take eight weeks?

The whole Skripal Affair remains a riddle covered in a mystery wrapped in an enigma.  And it remains possible that it is connected to the Steele Dossier and the rest of Russiagate.

Once again, unleash the attorney general.

James V DeLong lives in the Shenandoah Valley.

"Russiagate and the missing ducks" addressed a New York Times story (April 16) about Trump's reaction to a briefing by CIA director Haspel (then the deputy) about the (alleged) Skripal poisoning in Britain.

The gist of the NYT story was that Haspel persuaded Trump to take strong action by showing him pictures of poisoned children and dead ducks, tagged as collateral damage in the attack on the Skripals. The gist of my post was that there were no dead ducks or poisoned children, the Brits never claimed that there were, and the real question was who was lying to whom.

The CIA has never responded to charges that its head lied to the president on a matter of great national importance, nor did the NYT, until last Wednesday (June 5).  Then, the reporter used a nine-part tweetfest to explain that no one had deceived anyone.  Early reports mentioned poisoned ducks and children, and these were shared with the U.S. in the interests of full disclosure, but there were no pictures.  The pictures shown the president were from Syria.

Whether the president was shown the early, erroneous reports about ducks and children was left unclear by the carefully drafted tweets, as was any information as to when, if at all, these were corrected.

The correction illustrates the old aphorism that the cover-up can be worse than the crime.

There were in fact no early reports of poisoned ducks and children, at least not public ones.  How did such information get into the system, and when was it corrected?  Children had been feeding ducks near the Skripals, but none were affected, and the authorities did not even check up on them for two weeks.

The original NYT story was changed to say, "Ms Haspel displayed pictures illustrating the consequence of nerve agent attacks, not images specific to the chemical attacks in Britain."  Note that this leaves open the possibility that Haspel said that such collateral damage occurred in Britain and then illustrated it with Syrian pictures.  Indeed, given the artfulness of the denials, a cynic might say such a conclusion is compelled.

A Russophile (but always interesting) blog called The Duran takes the cynical view: "NYT covers up CIA Skripal lie with even worse CIA Skripal lie":

So in other words, Ms Haspel couldn't show any pictures from Salisbury to persuade the sceptical Mr Trump, because there weren't any to show. So she showed him pictures from other nerve agent attacks, which were presumably sufficiently bad to turn him from his scepticism, to expelling 60 diplomats. Even though nothing like that happened in Salisbury.

Moon of Alabama also has a serious, and skeptical, discussion of the matter, noting the squishiness of the sourcing:

The original report was sourced on 'people briefed on the conversation'. The corrected version is also based on 'people briefed on the conversation' but adds 'a person familiar with the intelligence'. Do the originally cited 'people' now tell a different story? Are we to trust a single 'person familiar with the intelligence' more than those multiple 'people'? What kind of 'research' did the reporter do to correct what he then and now claims was told to him by 'people'? Why did this 'research' take eight weeks?

The whole Skripal Affair remains a riddle covered in a mystery wrapped in an enigma.  And it remains possible that it is connected to the Steele Dossier and the rest of Russiagate.

Once again, unleash the attorney general.

James V DeLong lives in the Shenandoah Valley.