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Monday, June 21, 2004

Today in the Times "Last month, a senior Bush administration official told The Times that Mr. Kahtani had provided information to interrogators "about a planned attack and about financial networks to fund terrorist operations." But several other officials disputed that characterization, saying he had not given any new information about plots by Al Qaeda."

For readers who aren't willing to read 7 pages on the web, this excellent article presents strong evidence that torture lite did not work as well as a cup of tea in getting Mr Kahtani to talk.

My interest is to repeat the perennial proposal that anonymous sources who are caught lying be identified. If sources are allowed to lie anonymously, lies can be spread without anyone bearing responsibility. No legitimate purpose is served by assuring sources that they are free to lie. If a source asks to speak off the record and then refuses if the promise is conditional on the absence of multiple sourced refutation, a serious reporter would be glad to have screened out a lie.

I'd say all reputable newspapers should declare it to be a policy that promises of anonymity are conditional on the absence of solid evidence of dishonesty. Also, while they are at it, they should cite other news sources as follows "according to an anonymous source quoted in the Los Angelos Post Enquirer, which allows sources to lie anonymously, ..."

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