AP Stealth Edits Iraq WMD Story
July 9, 2014 - 7:20 am
The Tatler post is based on the AP story, yet its timestamp is 3:21 pm Pacific Time, July 8. The AP story’s timestamp is 8:22 pm Eastern Time, July 8. Adjusting for the time zones, the Tatler story went live two hours before the AP story.
That’s not what actually happened. What actually happened is that the AP stealth edited the story. That timestamp is the only indication the AP has given that it edited its story after the fact.
And what an edit…
Here is the original lead, which I quoted at Tatler:
Iraq has informed the United Nations that the Islamic State extremist group has taken control of a vast former chemical weapons facility northwest of Baghdad where 2,500 chemical rockets filled with the deadly nerve agent sarin or their remnants were stored along with other chemical warfare agents.
Iraq’s U.N. Ambassador Mohamed Ali Alhakim said in a letter to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon circulated Tuesday that “terrorist” groups entered the Muthanna site June 11 and seized weapons and equipment from the protection force guarding the facility.
Here’s the edited version:
The Islamic State extremist group has taken control of a vast former chemical weapons facility northwest of Baghdad, where remnants of 2,500 degraded chemical rockets filled decades ago with the deadly nerve agent sarin are stored along with other chemical warfare agents, Iraq said in a letter circulated Tuesday at the United Nations.
The U.S. government played down the threat from the takeover, saying there are no intact chemical weapons and it would be very difficult, if not impossible, to use the material for military purposes.
Iraq’s U.N. Ambassador Mohamed Ali Alhakim told U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in a letter that “armed terrorist groups” entered the Muthanna site on June 11, detained officers and soldiers from the protection force guarding the facilities and seized their weapons. The following morning, the project manager spotted the looting of some equipment via the camera surveillance system before the “terrorists” disabled it, he said.
The new version of the story is more than twice as long as the original. It adds several paragraphs written to play down the threat that ISIS’ seizure of the Saddam-era weapons facility poses. It’s clear from the above, and other edits that follow, that the AP published, then discussed the issue with the Obama administration and the United Nations, and then made very significant edits to its original story.
That’s fine, if the new facts clarify the truth and the AP acknowledges and explains its edits. The AP doesn’t acknowledge the edits. There is no note stating that its story was edited after publication. There’s no notification at all. Just the new timestamp.