Saturday, August 25, 2007

An Error at the Counterterrorism Blog 

In one of my earlier posts, I included a quotation from a piece by Jeffrey Breinholt at the Counterterrorism Blog that included this sentence:
Cat Stevens� conversion to Islam and his relocation to Iran is now common knowledge...

Reader "Missy" took me to task in the comments to my post:
Cat Stevens never relocated to Iran. He has lived in London, England his entire life. He has never even visited Iran. How can you say this is common knowlege when it is not even true?

By the way, Jeffrey Breinholt said Yusuf sued the "Boston Globe". That is not true. The untrue article was printed in the tabloid paper, "Globe", and as you know, they make up alot of what they write. Yusuf sued the "Globe" tabloid and won the lawsuit because the article was untrue.

I responded to Missy by pointing out that this was Breinholt's claim, not mine, and told her that I had requested further information.

Almost immediately thereafter, as readers may know, my husband and I went away on a trip. Upon my return, I noted that my inquiry had generated no response. I finally trucked over to the Dakota County law library (I don't have university access to legal research services) and obtained a copy of the case Breinholt cited, Globe Communications Corp. v. R.C.S. Rizzoli Periodici, S.p.A., 729 F.Supp. 973 (S.D.N.Y.1990).

Breinholt's on-line resume is impressive, with 10 years in the Counterterrorism Section of the U.S. Department of Justice, where he served as the Deputy Chief, so I expected his information to be reliable. Unfortunately, in this case it is not. Here is Breinholt's summary:
The Boston Globe publishes an article about Yusuf Islam, the popular musician formerly known as Cat Stevens, describing how he had embraced Islam and moved to Iran. Islam sues the Globe for libel. Globe Communications Corp. v. R.C.S. Rizzoli Periodici, S.p.A., 729 F.Supp. 973 (S.D.N.Y.1990)."

Breinholt�s summary is wrong in almost every respect. Globe Communications publishes the weekly magazine Globe, not the Boston Globe newspaper. The lawsuit was brought by Globe against Rizzoli, the original publisher of an Italian news magazine article about Cat Stevens that Globe had reprinted. Globe wanted to recover from Rizzoli the damages Globe had paid to Stevens because �Globe determined through discovery that many of the facts contained first in the Rizzoli Article and then in the Globe article were false.� 729 F. Supp. at 975. This totally undercuts Breinholt�s later assertion that �of these cases I list above, there was only one that was not dismissed in favor of the defendants - the oldest one, involving the Arab Sheik looking to acquire an American wife.�

I now regret my original description of Breinholt�s post as �a great piece of research.�