J.L. Granatstein - We must hope good sense returns to American discourse Mark Collins - President Obama Nominates Hagel for SecDef, Brennan for CIA Chief
Jan 07

Nice of Ms Stead to notice. But she fails to mention that my piece was sent (in the morning, Jan. 5) as a letter to the editor that was not printed. There was also no correction of the caption in the print edition January 7. Those are points I believe she should have made in her piece; without them it is more about engaged readers than what the the paper itself did–or did not–do. Typical of the Globe:

Public editor: How Globe readers keep journalists on their toes

One of the greatest strengths of any newspaper is the intelligence and engagement of its readers. I am often reminded of the intelligence and knowledge of Globe readers, something that should keep editors and reporters on their toes.

Over the weekend, two readers wrote in noting errors in stories, and behind both of these errors are lessons for the staff. Here’s the first one from Mark Collins in Ottawa:

“Your obituary of John Sheardown (A diplomat, a daredevil and a key player in the Canadian Caper, Jan. 5 [p. S11]) contains a photo that, according to the caption, shows ‘five fugitive American diplomats’ in Tehran together with Mr. Sheardown’s wife, Zena. However, one of those five – second from right with high boots, a camouflage jacket, and mustache – is in fact the Canadian diplomat Roger Lucy who had his own part in the exfiltration caper. The Department of Foreign Affairs web page on the Canadian role states that ‘Luckily, at the last minute, the political officer, Roger Lucy, who had a knowledge of Farsi, noticed an erroneous date in the entry visas’ that the CIA had prepared for the Americans’ false Canadian passports.

“An official CIA account also relates, of the final preparations for the exfiltration, that ‘After dinner, Roger [Lucy] appeared in military fatigues, complete with hat, sunglasses, jackboots, and swagger stick. The interrogations began. The interrogations impressed some of the more overconfident members of the group with the importance of remembering the details of their cover stories and gave them a taste of what could be in store for them at the airport.’

“Another of our men in Tehran.”

Mr. Collins kindly included two great links to read more on this fascinating chapter in Canadian diplomatic history.

From that error comes a better and more complete story of the importance of Roger Lucy’s part in the Argo drama. (The entire CIA account makes great reading too.)

But here is what went wrong. The photo caption was correct [well partly] in The Globe archives. It identifies everyone in the photograph by name and notes that Mr. Lucy is a Canadian embassy counsellor. (In fact, Mr. Collins notes, Mr. Lucy was First Secretary, and that will be fixed for future captions.) In an effort to shorten the caption, the editor didn’t read it closely enough to note that along with Mrs. Sheardown, there was one Canadian official and four Americans.

The photo in question does not appear in the online version of the January 5 story mentioned in my letter. It does appear at the Globe online in this earlier AFP news story, December 31; as of 1530 January 7 Mr Lucy is still incorrectly identified as “counsellor”:

This photo was taken by Canadian John Sheardown in his Tehran living room during the three months in which he and his wife, Zena, hid four of the six American fugitives. From left to right: Americans, Mark Lijek, Cora Lijek, Robert Anders, Canadian Zena Sheardown, Canadian embassy counsellor Roger Lucy and American Lee Schatz. (CBC)
This photo was taken by Canadian John Sheardown in his Tehran living room during the three months in which he and his wife, Zena, hid four of the six American fugitives. From left to right: Americans, Mark Lijek, Cora Lijek, Robert Anders, Canadian Zena Sheardown, Canadian embassy counsellor Roger Lucy and American Lee Schatz.
(CBC)

Earlier:

Our Men in Havana (and our men in Tehran)

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Research Fellow at the Canadian Defence & Foreign Affairs Institute

4 Responses to “Mark Collins - The Canadian Caper, Our People in Tehran…and the Globe and Mail’s Public Editor”

  1. MarkOttawa Says:

    I should have noted that Ms Stead does have the caption corrected (’First Secretary”) on the photo at her piece.

    Mark Collins

  2. MarkOttawa Says:

    Full disclosure: I might have noted that Mr Lucy is a very good personal friend; I raised the matter with the Globe at my own initiative.

    Mark Collins

  3. MarkOttawa Says:

    The Globe published a correction to the Jan. 5 obituary on p. A2 in print Jan. 8 (I could not find it online as of 1000 ET):

    “…The man in fatigues is not an American as stated but rather Canadian embassy first secretary Roger Lucy.”

    Mark Collins

  4. MarkOttawa Says:

    Ericka from America comments at Ms Stead’s piece:

    “This reads like a parody of a newspaper issuing a correction.”
    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/community/inside-the-globe/public-editor-the-real-story-behind-the-man-in-fatigues/article7006996/comments/

    Mark Collins

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