Chinese Reportedly Get Peek at Secret SEAL Chopper

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The downed chopper's tail / Reuters

Pakistan has let the Chinese study — and take samples from — the stealthy MH-60 helicopter used by Navy SEALs in their raid that killed Osama bin Laden May 2, the London-based Financial Times reported Monday:

“The US now has information that Pakistan, particularly the ISI, gave access to the Chinese military to the downed helicopter in Abbottabad,” said one person in intelligence circles, referring to the Pakistani spy agency. The Chinese engineers were allowed to survey the wreckage and take photographs of it, as well as take samples of the special “stealth” skin that allowed the American team to enter Pakistan undetected by radar, he said.

If true, the act highlights the latest tensions to emerge between Islamabad and Washington following the daring SEAL raid deep into Pakistan that killed bin Laden. The helicopter basically crashed into bin Laden’s compound during the raid, and most of it was destroyed by the SEALs before they left the site with bin Laden’s body. The FT story, datelined Washington, has only a single source — that so-called “one person in intelligence circles.” Doesn’t mean it’s not true, but careful readers need to ask:

— How reliable is this outside source?

— How come there is only a sole source? If something is true, generally it is not as difficult to get a second source to confirm that fact as it is to dig up the fact in the first place.

— Why does the lede in the New York Times follow-up sport a big fat “probably”? There is nothing more frustrating to a reporter than not being able to confirm a story already allegedly nailed down by someone else.

— Might the source simply be dizzy from being “in intelligence circles”?