Appendix C: The Invisible Fighter
Technology Review commissioned a review of Michelle Delio’s work. Appendix C is the report on “The Invisible Fighter,” one of the stories which contains disputed facts.
At the request of Technology Review, Inc., Susan Rasky agreed to oversee the fact checking of 10 articles by Michelle Delio that TR published online between December 16, 2004, and March 7, 2005. After conducting their own review, the editors at Technology Review had concerns regarding some of the sources and quotations in these articles.
Click here to see the report findings. What follows below is a point-by-point analysis of what the investigation turned up in regards to “The Invisible Fighter”. Click here to read Appendix A: The Investigation Findings. Click here to read Appendix B: The Future Shock. Click here to read Appendix D: Delio’s response.
REPORT: The Invisible Fighter
Researcher Jonathan Jones
A review of this story failed to verify that Michelle Delio had spoken to any of the sources quoted in article about army camouflage.
According to Wayne Stroupe, public affairs officer for the US Army Engineer Research and Development Center, Delio set up an interview on Oct. 21 for the next day to discuss the technology being developed at the research and development center in Vicksburg, Mississippi with Col. James R. Rowan.
On Nov. 5, 2004, Wired News published an article based on the interviews and visit by Delio on the center, “Hardest Tech-Support Job on Earth.”
On Dec. 30, 2004, when the TechnolgyReview.com article ran, Stroupe and Rowan said they began to get calls from people interested in the camouflage technology.
Both Rowan and Stroupe insisted that the research and development center in Vicksburg is not involved in developing army camouflage though both they said that they believed that the military is presently developing that technology – just not at the US Army Engineer Research and Development Center there.
Stroupe said they contacted Delio by telephone about their problems with the Tech Review article after it came out, but did not follow up or demand a retraction.
According to Stroupe, the experience with Delio left Col. Rowan, “highly wary of subsequent media contacts and interviews and has made our job difficult in working with him on media matters.”
“We did not talk about camouflage or the invisible warrior program,” Rowan said in an email replies to Stroupe, who forwarded those comments on to a journalist reviewing the story for its accuracy. “The only topic I recall specifically talking with her about was tele-engineering, but Im confident we didnt talk about camouflage.”
Sarah Leach, an employee of the public affairs who sat in on the interview, said she has confirmed Rowans comments, in an email.
“I have notes from Michelles visit and nothing was discussed on camouflage,” she wrote. “I have my notes and can let (Wayne Stroupe from public relations who is conducting the review for the Army Corps.) take a look at them when I get back to the office later this week.”
Col. Rowan said he had spoken to Delio to discuss “reach back” technology, a method that involves the use of laptops on the battlefield to calculate whether bridges could withstand the weight of tanks.
Stroupe described the article as “off the wall.” The discussions at the meeting were like “night and day” with the content of the article.
“We dont do work like that,” Stroupe said. “That one was so far off.”
Michael Logue, chief of public affairs for the Army Corps of Engineers, confirmed that he had spoken with Delio
He said his quote comparing the camouflage technology development invisibility as “a little too James Bond,” did not sound like something he would say. But he did not ask that the quote attributed to him be retracted.
“We talked at great length about Mississippi,” said Logue, who is also stationed in Vicksburg. “The information in the article sounds accurate. But that (research) occurs in a different part of the army.”
Attempts to contact retired optical engineer Frank Kennedy were unsuccessful. None of those contacted had heard of Mr. Kennedy.
After receiving Ms. Delios responses to our questions, I followed up on her account of the post-publication exchange with the public affairs officer, who continues to say that the subject of urban camouflage was not discussed and who also says she has no memory of any offer of a correction or retraction being made. Here is my e-mail correspondence with Bobbie J. Galford of the US Army Corps of Engineers:
From: (CONTACT INFORMATION REMOVED)
Subject: RE: FOLLOW
UP - TECH REVIEW Date: Tue,19 Apr 2005 07:45:04 -0500
To: (CONTACT INFORMATION REMOVED) Jonathon,
Sorry for the delay in getting back with you. I’ve been out of town.
Not sure of the date that I phoned Michelle, but I did call her to tell her that Colonel Rowan and a member of my PAO staff who sat in on the interview both said that the information on urban camo, attributed to Colonel Rowan, had not been discussed in the interview and should not have been attributed to him.
As Michelle had been interviewing many people for a series of articles, I thought at the time that perhaps she had simply attributed a quote to the wrong person. Michelle indicated that she was pretty sure that it was indeed Colonel Rowan who she had interviewed on this topic. I again indicated that both the Colonel and my staff member did not remember any conversation either on or off the record regarding that topic at all, and that it would have been unusual for Colonel Rowan to speak about that urban camo as it was not a mission of the ERDC. At that point Michelle indicated she would check her notes again, but I don’t remember any conversation regarding a correction to the story or retracting the story.
From: Jonathan Richard Jones(CONTAT INFORMATION REMOVDED)
Sent: Monday, April 18, 2005 5:48 PM
To: Stroupe, Wayne A ERDC-PA-MS
Subject: Re: FOLLOW UP - TECH REVIEW
We got a response from Michelle about the story and I need Bobbie Galford to respond.
Michelle stated that on 1/18, Bobbie Galford from the Corps, who sat in on the interview called her to say that Col. Rowan wasn’t sure if they had discussed urban camo, as that is not part of the Corps mission.
Michelle says she told Bobbie that she was sure they had and then recounted that part of the conversation that led up to the brief discussion on urban camo. Can
Galford confirm that?
Michelle also stated she told Bobbie Galford that if the your department was uncomfortable with the quote she would remove it and issue a correction. Does Galford recall that?
Also, she says Bobbie Galford told her that Tech Review did not have to retract the article. Is that also true?
Also, she says that she was asked what military agency was developing that technology. I wondering what agency is responsible for developing that technology.
Feel free to forward this message on to Galford.
I can be reached at (CONTACT INFORMATION REMOVED). Thanks for your assistance.
I also followed up on an additional piece of information from Ms. Delios responses to our questions. She said she met the retired optical engineer at Andy Antipass Art Gallery in New Orleans, and suggested that the gallery owner might know where or how to locate him. She gave us an email but no phone number and said I had to put her name in the subject line. The email I sent was returned and I was told it was to an unknown address. I also searched for Andy Antipass’ Art Gallery in New Orleans and was not successful in finding an address or phone number.Become an MIT Technology Review Insider for in-depth analysis and unparalleled perspective.