Whoops: US Embassy in Pakistan had wrong date on statement about CIA contractor

By Stephen C. Webster
Wednesday, March 16, 2011 15:07 EDT
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Update (at bottom): State Dept. insists dateline was a typo

A statement by the U.S. embassy in Islamabad, regarding the acquittal of CIA contractor Raymond Davis in the murders of two Pakistani men, had a little something wrong with it this morning: instead of reading “March 16,” it read “March 10.”

That’s a misstatement which could be a typographical error, or it could be something more.

It could imply the embassy knew what the outcome of the case would be ahead of time, potentially further inflaming an already tense diplomatic situation.

After the acquittal was announced, a Pakistani official claimed it was because the families of the two men had accepted “blood money” and dropped charges in accordance with local custom. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton insisted that “the United States did not pay any compensation.”

The Justice Department announced it was opening an investigation into the case, and U.S. Ambassador Cameron Munter said he expressed “my regret for the incident and my sorrow at the suffering it caused.”

The embassy had further thanked the families for “their generosity” in pardoning Davis, even though U.S. officials had maintained that he enjoyed diplomatic immunity from prosecution.

The discrepancy was spotted first by Nation reporter Jeremy Scahill. By the time Scahill sent an alert to his followers on Twitter this morning, embassy staff had already amended the page.

Raw Story was able to capture a screenshot of the embassy’s error before it was changed, preserved here.

It is unclear whether this was merely a mistaken keystroke or something more, and media affairs staff at the embassy in Islamabad were not available for comment due to the late hour.

Update: State Dept. insists dateline was a typo

Responding to a call from Raw Story, State Dept. spokeswoman Leslie Phillips said late Wednesday afternoon that the release was “just a typo.”

She specified that the website does not automatically generate datelines — that instead, someone had simply mistyped.

“It was a mistaken keystroke as the article says here, and not something more,” she explained.

With AFP.

Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster is the senior editor of Raw Story, and is based out of Austin, Texas. He previously worked as the associate editor of The Lone Star Iconoclast in Crawford, Texas, where he covered state politics and the peace movement’s resurgence at the start of the Iraq war. Webster has also contributed to publications such as True/Slant, Austin Monthly, The Dallas Business Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Weekly, The News Connection and others. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenCWebster.
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