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Tipping Off the Enemy

Did a 2002 story in the Los Angeles Times contribute to Iran’s detention of four Americans as spies? I raised that question in two previous postings here and here, taking the newspaper to task for endangering fellow citizens and jeopardizing an ongoing intelligence operation against a critical target.

Based on what we know so far, it is not yet possible to posit a definitive link between the story and the arrests. There is more digging to be done. I have not yet been able to check the Iranian press for references to the Los Angeles Times story when it first came out; how it was treated might shed light on current developments. When and if the ayatollahs are toppled from power, there will also be archives to scour—but that could be a long-time coming.

Meanwhile, how has the Los Angeles Times responded?

A different editorial team was in place back then. And the current one may or may not accept the merits of my argument. Perhaps the editors would handle such a story quite differently today, or perhaps not; they have not said a word. But, to their credit, they have done something else.

The impressive thing about this newspaper, in contrast to, say, the New York Times, is that they are open to airing criticism from outsiders. Today, they’ve run an op-ed in which I lay out the facts of the case as best we know them.

To subscribe to the Los Angeles Times, click here.

To cancel a subscription to the New York Times, call 1-800-NYTIMES.


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