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I saw active service in conventional, clandestine and covert units of the South African Defence Force. I was the founder of the Private Military Company (PMC) Executive Outcomes in 1989 and its chairman until I left in 1997. Until its closure in 1998, EO operated primarily in Africa helping African governments that had been abandoned by the West and were facing threats from insurgencies, terrorism and organised crime. EO also operated in South America and the Far East. I believe that only Africans (Black and White) can truly solve Africa’s problems. I was appointed Chairman of STTEP International in 2009 and also lecture at military colleges and universities in Africa on defence, intelligence and security issues. Prior to the STTEP International appointment, I served as an independent politico-military advisor to several African governments. I am a contributor to The Counter Terrorist magazine. All comments in line with the topics on this blog are welcome. As I consider this to be a serious look at military and security matters, foul language and political or religious debates will not be entertained on this blog.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

THE NEW YORK TIMES “CORRECTION” AND OTHER THINGS

Having been away for a couple of days, Matt (www.feraljundi.com) alerted me to the fact that the New York Times had finally responded to my letter accusing them of lying about Executive Outcomes in an article they had published.

The New York Times printed a correction on 18 May and although not apologising for the deception, wrote the following:

An article on Sunday about the creation of a mercenary battalion in the United Arab Emirates misstated the past work of Executive Outcomes, a former South African mercenary firm whose veterans have been recruited for the new battalion. Executive Outcomes was hired by several African governments during the 1990s to put down rebellions and protect oil and diamond reserves; it did not stage coup attempts. (Some former Executive Outcomes employees participated in a 2004 coup attempt against the government of Equatorial Guinea, several years after the company itself shut down.)

Ironically, it seems that the New York Times considers the murder, rape and mutilation of innocent civilians by foreign-backed insurgents as mere “rebellions”. Of course, they also felt it very necessary to, in their correction, mention that some ex-EO men were involved in Simon Mann’s poorly planned coup attempt in Equatorial Guinea whilst not mentioning any other company’s ex-employees. But it appears as though every time a South African is involved, it should be blamed on EO.

Whereas I am not entirely satisfied with the correction without an apology, I shall be discussing the matter with my legal council before deciding what action to take next.

I note that there are several comments pending approval on my blog. I apologise for not yet publishing and responding to them – I shall do so as soon as I have caught up on my backlog of administration.

On request of several readers of the blog, I have finally opened a Twitter account. I am still trying to master this new element of social media but until such time as I can, I shall remain a twit.

36 comments:

John said...

Good Evening Eeben,

Excellent news - an admission of wrongdoing, cleverly posed as a mistake....
The accused you and your company of a very serious crime - unfortunately the bad news travels far faster than the retraction. Information warfare at it's finest. And they reach millions of readers online now.

I do hope your legal council can find a way to hurt them in the pocketbook - that is the only thing that can stop this nonsense.

Regards,
John

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

As you correctly point out, they accused EO of a very serious crime, John. I am certainly not going to leave it there.

I will be discussing the “correction” with my legal counsel shortly and see what advice they give me. As the NYT deemed itself fit to write rubbish, they must be held accountable for that – something I plan to do.

Rgds,

Eeben

Jake said...

Eeben,
Well done. Though this retraction may not have been as strong as you had hoped it certainly is one of the more thorough ones the NYT has ever produced. Good on you for standing up to them.

Jake

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Many thanks, Jake.

A feeble correction is most certainly not an apology – which is what I would expect from a newspaper that ought to pride itself on having an ounce of integrity. But then again, as they deemed it fit to lie, they need to be held accountable.

I am really getting a bit sick of these people who lie under the guise of being journalists.

Rgds,

Eeben

Jake said...

Eeben,
I doubt if in most cases it is willful lying, at least this long after EOs closure. Most likely it's just sloppy, lazy reporting. As per my previous comm to you I'll be pleased to assist you in establishing a site which contains FACTS about EO and answers to the Frequently Asked Questions on the subject. Say when...
Jake

Gatvol said...

If you can handle the exposure, go for the Wallet. If you prefer the shadows, let it die.

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

You may be correct, Jake but it is responsible reporting to check facts. These clowns didn’t even bother to do so. As for sloppy – it is very sloppy indeed. Hopefully people will now start questioning some of their reports.

Thanks for your kind offer. I am still contemplating that.

I hope to be in touch shortly.

Rgds,

Eeben

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Wise council indeed, Gatvol. However, I am waiting for my legal council to give me their opinion.

Rgds,

Eeben

matt said...

It is amazing how media just doesn't want to admit a mistake or make a full apology for doing stuff like this?

Although what is funny, is that between your blog and my blog, we have been able to set the record straight. I know this because anyone looking up Reflex Response in Google, will reach the post I made on this story on the first page of search. So anyone doing further research on this topic is going to be directed to what the real deal is.

That is the power of new media, and that is why the mainstream media folks don't like us. We are the competition, and we are stealing market share (or readership)...

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

You did a great job of setting the record straight, Matt. Many thanks.

I think that there are some journalists who may in future think twice before they submit their made-for-fiction copy for print. It is a little sickening to think that they have, through their trade, a responsibility to inform and not misinform. And then they have the gall to refer to us as “mercenaries”.

What I do know is that we will rather earn our living fighting what is evil than earn it by lying.

Rgds,

Eeben

Kim Bottu said...

Hello Eeben,

I finally got hold of a copy of Against All Odds and I am looking forward on reading your side of the story (the truth).

regards
Kim

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Thank you for buying the book, Kim – I hope you enjoy it.

Despite the effort it took to write it, I am pleased that I was able to give the other side of the story to people, especially the families of the men who served in that company.

Rgds,

Eeben

matt said...

Hey the NYT's posted another correction about this story. This time it was a correction in regards to Erik Prince and his connection with R2.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/07/pageoneplus/corrections.html?_r=1&scp=1&sq=correction&st=cse

It seems like the NYT's is having a tough time keeping their facts straight. lol

reflexivefire.com said...

Eeben,

I would also like to support the idea of setting up, I suppose you could say, a tribute website to EO that would help set the record straight and serve as a way point for historical research down the line. I've been lucky enough to be able to interview two of your former employees on my website and if you ever make an "official" site I would love to help transfer those interviews over to you. I'm continually impressed that you seemed to have had put together a great group of men who are to this day very loyal to EO as well as to you personally.

Congratulations on this small victory! The New York Times has a reputation for these types of slash and burn operations unfortunately.

-Jack

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

That’s very good news, Matt, thanks for alerting us to that.

I am very pleased that NYT is being forced to make corrections to their sloppy reporting – I hope that action is taken against those who make up part of their story or use supposition to fill in gaps.

I also hope that Eric Prince will consider taking action against them for their lies.

Rgds,

Eeben

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Many thanks for your kind offer, Jack. Jake initially made the offer to me a few months ago when we had a face-to-face and although it is a real temptation to do so, I am concerned that I might not have the time to maintain it.

I am not discarding it outright but at present I am rather busy with several irons in the fire – and the flames get quite high and hot from time to time.

Reading your interviews with Mike and Wayne gave me a good laugh at times. There were many men in EO who were very loyal to us at the top and some who weren’t. But, I suppose everyone has their own thoughts and ideas on how things should be done. I was just fortunate to have some very good men in EO.

As for NYT, I hope that everyone they decide to lie about takes them to task.

Rgds,

Eeben

Robby said...

Hi there old Friend I returned to SA for a short stay now in Baja California ..... ran into a few old army buddies in SA everything you told me was true I thank you for that....Keep on giving them hell the NYT is nothing more than the US mouth piece for the US State Dept......later Robby

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

I wondered what had happened to you, Robby.

As visit to SA and no call...?? I am pleased you were able to link up with some old comrades-in-arms.

Hailing from South Africa, I thought you might enjoy my wife’s blog at http://southafricansociety.wordpress.com/

Rgds,

Eeben

michael b said...

hi eeben. i recently was in contact with a fellow who has posted comments here. we were in debate about some or other group that were apparently hiring in mexico to work against the cartels.. souds to me like a seriously bad career move and sure fire way to shorten your life expectancy quite considerably. the conversation eventually came to the topic of your ex company possibly being approached years ago about a contract in mexico. i said i didnt think so, and only once when i first got to cabo ledo recall rumours of something about a colombia contract. necer heard anything further about it. i suppose it was just a rumour? was there any truth about a possible contract in the land of terquila back then? and were the rumours of colombia ever real to any degree. the guy who was wondering about this was as he put it a tad wary of how to ask the question. i told him to just ask you straight up. always better to get info from the source as opposed to relying on the bush telephone system. i in no way am fishing or looking for scoop or such nonsense. just wanted to put a question to sleep, before someone out there embellishes on conjecture and general talk. like maybe some chop from a news paper somewhere in the big apple. i believe that this is how these fantastic bull schtein stories get started. in conclusion, i would not go near mexico unless it were for mojito`s and senhorita`s let alone to work for the federali`s against the cartels.
best regards. mike da silva (book nr32)
ps. my question is simply to put possible rumour and conjecture to bed and in no way for sensationalism. it is not about involvement in any way now or to do with the current alleged recruitment in sombrero land.

michael b said...

good day eeben. i hope our "interviews" with jack were ok? i beleive i did not speak too out of turn. i wa sby no measure or stretch of the imagination a mean dude. i did my job and had a fine time of it all. i trust i have not stepped over any boundaries. best regards mike(book nr32)

michael b said...

Good day. I was googling your book details and a strange site popped up dated march this year that claims to have a bio on you and apparently your personality traits. Strangely, they have a picture of arnold vosloo wearing a green combat jacket above your description. Surely you must getting highly aggrevated by these uninformed arse holes? If the person who owns that site told me it was daytime, i would look out the window to confirm it. I am waiting to purchase my copy of your book but till then i have taken it out from the public library. I thoroughly enjoy the read and now fully understand the complications you faced. Page 187 pops to mind. I had recieved phone calls in 1994 about my tax. I duly panicked and applied for tax amnesty. A while later i got my letter back from the department of finance - receiver of revenue rubber stamped by mrs h. Engelbrecht that i have successfully qualified for tax amnesty. Dated 12 june 95. I fell for it hook line and sinker. I will post the letter as proof soon as i am near a scanner. Oh the site i mentioned earlier is www.serenitymush.com link to your name.

michael b said...

One last thing, the comment i left pertaining to the picture of arnold vosloo with your "BIO" is from what i see is part of some or other role play fantasy game on the net. Whats worse? That arnold vosloo is pictured as you or that people are playing fantasy role play about real world people? In your book, chapter 14, you make mention of the operation in saurimo. Was it named operation leo with RSM Rieme in mind? Leo was as much part of the company as the men. Many thanks for a great book. Mike(bk nr 32).

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

There was a call at that time to discuss Mexico, Michael, but nothing came of it. Meetings were held but that is where it ended. Also, you need to recall the pressure that was on EO to be blocked out of conflicts...

Rgds,

Eeben

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Your interviews with Jack were fine Michael as that is how you experienced things. However, I was not always aware of certain things (you all did a good job of hiding things when I visited!) that were happening.
Despite those “things”, I am still proud of everyone who served in the company.

Rgds,

Eeben

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

I am aware of that site, Michael. Apart from my name, the other stuff is fictional.

As you may or may not recall, the Angolan’s provided everyone one of us with a Tax Certificate as we had already been taxed in Angola. Therefore, we had no call to pay tax in SA. Additionally, we had a very good relationship with the Receiver of Revenue and they were extremely helpful to us – as well as sympathetic to a large degree. One of our accountants actually had an office with SARS to ensure that we kept within all tax laws. That is why when certain journalists wrote about us “evading tax”, no action was taken as SARS knew what the true situation was as they were monitoring our accounts.

But lies about tax evasion make good headline stories.

Rgds,

Eeben

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Arnold Vosloo would not even last a day carrying our kit, Michael. But, I suppose he is not even aware of the fact that his photo is attacked to the fictional bio.

Project Leo had nothing to do with Rieme. If I recall correctly, Lafras gave it that name. I suspect he plucked it out of the air.

Rgds,

Eeben

terry said...

Hi Eeben
I thought this might be of interest to you, something I received the other day.
I run www.mercenary-wars.com, a couple of days ago I was contacted via E-mail with the following
...................................

Hey Terry – how are you?
I’m a journalist with the New York Times and I’m writing about private security companies in Somalia.
Got a minute to talk?
J G
EAST AFRICA BUREAU CHIEF
THE NEW YORK TIMES
...................................

I replied
I'm afraid that I was not pleased with the NYT's article on Eeben Barlow earlier in the year.
As you can imagine I'm very cautious in responding and in what I say.
Things have a habit of getting twisted around very easily and once reported its very hard, in fact impossible to remove it.
Kind Regards
Terry
...................................

Looks like they are in search of another article and this time is about Somalia

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Thanks for the comment, Terry. I am sure many visitors will visit your blog.

As for the New York Times: I would not worry too much – if they can’t find a story, I suppose they will simply make it up. It’s considered “creative journalism”.

Rgds,

Eeben

michael b said...

how bizarre. a reporter contacting a person who runs a site from what i see is an onloine gaming experience to ask about rumblings in somalia. is the guy a secret agent man posing as an internet gamer dude? no wonder the NYT cant distinguish their P`s from their collective Q`s, or am i wrong?
it just seems odd is all i am saying.
mike

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

I think you owe Terry an apology as you visited the wrong site, Mike.

Terry’s site is at http://www.mercenary-wars.net/ and it has a lot of interesting stuff on it. I am sure a lot of journalists contact him as he does seem to have his ear on the ground.

As for the NYT: I have had my say on those clowns.

Rgds,

Eeben

PS: Will answer your PM later. A bit hectic here now.

michael b said...

apologies terry. i thought it seemed a tad weird. i duly apologise.
michael b da silva

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Thanks Mike. I am sure Terry will accept your apology.

Rgds,

Eeben

terry said...

Hi Eeben and all who are reading your Blogs

It's me who should apologise as its my original Comment the was misleading, I run the www.mercenary-wars.net.
Not .com as I stated in the comment.
Very sorry to all those who might have been offended as they were directed to another site.
Terry Aspinall

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

Thanks for rectifying the error, Terry.

Rgds,

Eeben

terry said...

HI Eeben
Yes you are right when you mentioned in an earlier blog that I probably get many of the press making contact with me.
However, I very rarely answer their question, although I try to be friendly and respectful, as not all are out to twist whatever you tell them, but I do know that there are some things best not mentioned as making statements can sometimes come back to haunt you, while other statements can be twisted around to say something completely different.
It's like a government, both parties are privileged to the information but both can use certain parts of it to suite their own cause.
However, I do have more people making contact who are writing books and in a couple of instances making films. Where possible I am still cautious and try to help, but I'm also a little weary that they might be the press in disguise.
The one great Buzz I get from the website is the bringing together of old friends and comrades, who over the years have lost contact with each other. I like to think that I'm very careful not to pass on information in case one of the parties does not wish to make contact. So I usually send the enquirers information and if the second party wishes to make contact its entirely up to him. I can report that this has work out for the good on many occasions.
I am an ex military man and have followed this subject for most of my life. I set the website up as a means of trying to get the stories straight, and that the correct people are credited with the deeds stories and rumours that have always been out there. And to let the world know that Governments play a silly game of chess, of backing companies and individuals when it suites them and denying any knowledge of them when things are looking bad, what I call pear shaped. However, with the internet many things are going to change as information and articles will be on line for all to read well into the future, and can never be removed.
Like I said I am behind the mercenary/contractor/warrior whatever he is call today, but on occasions I do add other article so the site is balanced, and wherever possible I try to seek permission to use information and my golden rule is to give the full credit to the person who wrote it and also who has sent it to me, or at least who has pointed me in that direction.
Thanks for your time Eeben and I look forward to the next book. I have added your earlier one to the book section on the site.

Terry Aspinall

Eeben Barlow's Milsec Blog said...

I confess that when I have time, I always give your site a visit Terry as I find it informative and well-balanced.

Of course, not everyone in the media is unethical and dishonest. Sadly though, I have met my fair share of dishonest and integrity-less (new word??) reporters over the years and now simply prefer to ignore them. In SA, for example, many of them are now struggling to find work after EO shut its doors as they no longer have an intelligence service to feed them stories and pay them for writing misinformation.

The worst kind is the one who thinks he/she knows more about me than even I do – and then write it as fact. I can list a page or more of those types.

Keep up your good work.

Rgds,

Eeben