Washington Times prints fake letter. Howell Raines fired.
A letter to the editor of The Washington Times, purported to be from a senior U.S. diplomat with scathing criticism of the Foreign Service for lack of loyalty to the Bush administration, was exposed yesterday as a forgery.
Wesley Pruden, the editor in chief of The Times, said the newspaper learned “from the highest level at the State Department” that the letter was a hoax and the newspaper fully accepts “as true that the ambassador was not the author of this letter.”
Stephan M. Minikes, ambassador to the Vienna-based Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, writes in an authentic letter to The Times, published in full this morning on Page A18, that the forgery was a “complete and utter fabrication. It was not written by or for me and it expressed views that are diametrically opposite to the views I hold.
“The fact is that never in my long career have I worked with a more dedicated group of professionals than those I have encountered in the Department of State led by Secretary Powell â€” people who are absolutely committed to executing the president’s foreign policy goals.”
The State Department spokesman, Richard Boucher, told reporters at his regular briefing that Secretary of State Colin L. Powell conveyed to the newspaper’s top editors the seriousness with which he regards the matter.
Powell later commented on the fact that, although the letter was an obvious fake, that would not preclude the President from mentioning it in his next State of the Union address.