I was able to speak today with Tami Abdollah, the Los Angeles Times (LAT) reporter who wrote the article associated with the photo of the agent wearing a Blackwater t-shirt. First, Abdollah explained that at the time of the raid (when the photo was taken) she had asked about whether the agent in question was a Blackwater employee, but was not given a straight answer. After the raid, and after the story had been published by the LAT, Abdollah was contacted by Sarah Pullen, a spokesperson for the Los Angeles office of the DEA. Pullen requested that the face of the agent wearing the Blackwater t-shirt be blurred because he was an undercover agent and the photo might jeopardize his apparent anonymity. At the same time, Pullen assured Abdollah that the “undercover” agent was in fact an employee of the Drug Enforcement Administration and has never been an employee of Blackwater. Pullen also felt it necessary to explain to Abdollah that the request to blur the agent’s face and the fact that he was wearing a Blackwater t-shirt was completely coincidental. In a subsequent conversation with the DEA, Abdollah was told that the agent was not undercover for the raid, but does routinely engage in undercover operations.
According to Abdollah, the Photo Desk at the LAT has a policy of not altering photos, so their response was simply to pull the photo from circulation. After I expressed concern that the sequence of events still seemed suspect, Abdollah assured me that she would continue to follow up on the matter.
Let's see: the DEA sent an agent on a public smash-and-grab with reporters tagging along, whose face should not be revealed, who had the poor judgment to wear a F**king Blackwater T-Shirt, and then wants not only his face blurred, but the T-shirt as well?
Nothing--I say again, nothing--in this story passes the smell test, most specifically including the fact that from our elected officials that's exactly what we hear: nothing.