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Monday, October 21, 2002
Three people can keep a secret... if two are dead
The New York Times is really desperate to squelch the story of 9/11 hijacker Mohammed Atta's meeting with Iraqi intelligence officials in Prague. (So much so that they provide two stories about the topic, including one discussing the oh-so-fascinating world of bureaucratic infighting in the Czech government, along with stories of gay British spies.) Still, in neither article does the Times say anything substantive about the actual issue, of the meeting involving Atta.
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.
Despite the Times' attempt to sell this as a refutation of the story, all it actually says is that they can't confirm the story, because it is "based on the statements of a single informant." Well, I can tell the difference between "can't prove" and "didn't happen."

I wonder what Times columnist William Safire is going to say about this article, given his insistence that the story of the meeting is true. (He has an unrelated column in today's paper, so I guess we'll have to wait until Thursday to find out.) The article itself quietly avoids naming Safire, saying only that "the Prague meeting has remained a live issue with other proponents of military action against Iraq, both in and out of the government."

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