The US State Department criticized Tuesday the sloppy journalism of the New York Times after that was published an article on an American contractor reporting on the explosive chemicals stored in the Port of Beirut since 2016.
Indeed, NYT published on Tuesday an article that a US contractor spotted and reported the ammonium nitrate that led to last week’s deadly explosions, during a security inspection to the Port of Beirut in 2016. It reported about a cable that included the details of the findings of the contractor who was working with the US Army at the time: The diplomatic cable, marked unclassified but sensitive, was issued by the United States Embassy in Lebanon on Friday. The cable also read that the contractor was a consultant and advised the Lebanese Navy from 2013 to 2016.
Furthermore, in an email to Al Arabiya English, a State Department spokesperson referred to the article as a false report as blatantly irresponsible: This false report claiming that someone who was not employed directly with the US government and who was conducting an unofficial walkthrough at a port four years ago somehow represents evidence of the US government’s complicity in the Beirut blast is blatantly irresponsible. The spokesperson reported: Such sloppy journalism misleads their readers about the cause of the tragic explosion in Beirut and reflects poorly on the NYT.
A US official who spoke to the NYT on the condition of anonymity reported that the contractor made an unofficial visit to the Port of Beirut however was not at the time a US government or State Department employee. And as stated by the official who spoke to the NYT, the State Department had no record of the contractor’s finding until after the Aug. 4 explosions. All of this comes after Reuters cited official documents and Lebanese security officials as alerting the resigned-Prime Minister Hassan Diab and President Michel Aoun last month that the 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate at the seaport of Beirut had the potential to ruin the capital.
The State Department official informed Al Arabiya English that the underlying cause of the explosion, and the dire economic conditions throughout the country, was the decades of mismanagement, corruption, and the repeated failure of Lebanese leaders to undertake the meaningful, sustained reforms needed to put Lebanon on the path to security and prosperity.