October 01, 2002
But I'm sure it was weapons-grade zinc and zirconium

By now I'm sure you've heard that the 15 kg of weapons-grade uranium that was seized in Turkey has turned out to be 150 grams of inert metals such as zinc and zirconium. Oopsie.

I took a quick peek through some warblogger sites (and will be off to take a shower as soon as I can) to see which of them played fair with this story. To their credit, more of them did than didn't. Gold stars to Den Beste, who was skeptical from the beginning and noted the followup. Bill Quick, the Big Baby of the Blogosphere, also called it properly. Charles Johnson worked up a lather at first, but did note the correct story at the end.

On the other end of the spectrum, we have a few guys who dropped the story like a bad habit once it no longer followed their script: NZ Bear, who knows all about making a nuke, Damian Penny, and InstaPundit himself, who eventually gave himself some weasel room with the daring prediction that this "will turn out to be something less than initially advertised". Disadvantage: InstaPundit!

Finally, a shoutout to a guy who's way too cool to be a warblogger, Scott Chaffin, who did get all worked up when the story first hit, but is honest enough to admit it and throw in a pig picture to make it up to us.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on October 01, 2002 to Around the world

I've printed a correction on my web log, and I'm eating as much crow as I possibly can.

Posted by: Owen Courrèges on October 1, 2002 12:52 PM

"We here at TFG only seek the truth," Chaffin stated with a steely-eyed, journalistic gaze. "It just so happens we have learned we are best equipped to deal with livestock truth."

Posted by: Scott Chaffin on October 1, 2002 2:35 PM

Er, Charles, not sure if you were intending to criticize my coverage, but here's how I see it:

I followed up Glenn's original piece with some research of my own, and thought I provided some genuinely useful background information for folks to use in judging this (or any other) leak of nuclear materials.

The next day, I was watching for updates closely, and was the first blogger to note that the seizure turned out to be bogus.

After that, there was no story, in my opinion, so yes, I dropped it.

And the problem with my coverage would be... ?

Posted by: N.Z. Bear on October 2, 2002 1:18 PM

NZ, I was looking for a link to the story that said there was in fact no radioactive material at all. Given that some people were ready to start invading Iraq immediately after reading the original story, I felt that it was important to stress that the whole thing was bogus from the beginning.

You did follow up with the reports that there was a lot less material than was originally stated. It's my opinion that you should have mentioned the final outcome.

Maybe that is picky. Your discussion of how much uranium is really needed was informative (I know I learned something). I just think you dropped the story too quickly.

Posted by: Charles Kuffner on October 2, 2002 1:43 PM