After we published “The F-22, Bagel and a Smear” on Monday, we had a conversation with R. Jeffrey Smith, the Washington Post reporter who wrote the story in question in that item. Mr. Smith vigorously disputed our statement that the Post did not contact the Air Force for comment before printing its July 10 story about the fighter. Mr. Smith, in a statement to us, said that “the newspaper had many contacts with the Air Force to discuss the F-22 program and maintenance issues prior to publication.” We won’t dispute that; Mr. Smith is right. The Air Force initially told us that it had been the one to approach Mr. Smith, upon hearing of his impending story from the Office of the Secretary of Defense. However, an Air Force spokesperson has now corrected that comment, saying that Mr. Smith did, in fact approach the Air Force directly, some time ago, about the F-22. We wish we had known that earlier, so we could have avoided the error.
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.