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Balanced Fare: We Report, You Deride

Monday, October 21, 2002

William Safire Took a Bad Czech

Fascinating story in the Times:

"The Czech president, Vaclav Havel, has quietly told the White House he has concluded that there is no evidence to confirm earlier reports that Mohamed Atta, the leader in the Sept. 11 attacks, met with an Iraqi intelligence officer in Prague just months before the attacks on New York and Washington, according to Czech officials"

The Times coyly adds this:

"The White House has generally been cautious about using the reports of the Prague meeting to help make the case for war with Iraq. Yet the Prague meeting has remained a live issue with other proponents of military action against Iraq, both in and out of the government."

Yes, "out of government" would include Mr. Safire, as, for example, here.

And, fans of John LeCarre will love the Times supplemental piece of the workings of the Czech intelligence service, the British M I 6, and the CIA.

UPDATE: I see the obvious, given enough time. Look, Safire is arguably a victim here. Stop laughing and listen. This Mohammed Atta connection did not come to Safire in a dream - he has government sources that were pushing this story to advance their own agenda. Rather than a two-line "ooops, I was wrong", Safire may name names as to who played games. Or, we may get what he would call a "thumbsucker" on the odd relationship between the press and its sources. But this new revelation seems to merit a full column. Let's give him a bit of time.

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