Time Mag Investigates
Accuracy of CNN/Time
Nerve Gas Report
NEW YORK (AP) -- Time magazine is investigating the accuracy of a joint CNN-Time report that United States forces used nerve gas in a mission to hunt down American defectors during the Vietnam War.
The article by CNN journalists was published in the magazine two weeks ago, a day after it was aired by the network. Both organizations are owned by Time Warner.
"We believed that the initial CNN report and article were based on substantial evidence," Time managing editor Walter Isaacson said in a letter to readers in this week's edition. "But we feel that the doubts raised deserve full exploration. So we plan to keep reporting this story."
Noting that a Pentagon investigation into the matter was expected to be completed soon, he added: "When we get more of these facts and, we hope, a clearer picture of what may have happened, we will report them to you, correct any mistakes and try to clarify any disputes that remain."
The report accused the military of using sarin gas during Operation Tailwind in Laos, in which two U.S. defectors were supposedly killed, and in other missions. It quoted several Special Forces soldiers who said they were involved in the operation.
In addition, it quoted retired Adm. Thomas Moorer, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff at the time, as confirming the use of sarin. But after the report he said he had simply heard of unconfirmed stories about it and had no independent knowledge.
According to today's New York Times, April Oliver, CNN's producer of the story by correspondent Peter Arnett, decided to exclude information that one of the soldiers she interviewed had repressed all memory of that day's events for 24 years until she began questioning him.
Jack Smith, a longtime CNN producer who worked with Ms. Oliver on the piece, explained that he "felt very strongly" that the soldier "was telling us what really happened in that camp."
Last week, CNN military analyst Perry Smith, a retired major general, quit in protest, calling the report "sleazy journalism."
In an interview in The New York Times today, Isaacson said: "I trust CNN's journalistic standards. They did a story for us that was based on a lot of evidence. If some of that evidence is now suspect, that is something we plan to report to our readers, once we get to the bottom of it."

Sightings HomePage