Washington briefing: Former editor Doug Frantz probing nuclear smuggling for Senate committee

by Emil Sanamyan

Published: Friday August 28, 2009

Doug Frantz on Tavis Smiley. PBS

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Blunder at the LA Times

Washington - The former Los Angeles Times editor who stirred up controversy in the Armenian community is now working for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee led by Senator John Kerry (D.-Mass.) According to the committee website, Douglas Frantz was hired by the committee early this year as chief investigator to probe financing of nuclear smuggling and other illegal activities.

Mr. Frantz caused controversy in April 2007 after he reassigned a major story on the Armenian Genocide resolution, initially assigned to Times journalist Mark Arax, to another writer. In an e-mail that was later made public, Mr. Frantz alleged that Mr. Arax had a "position on this issue" that caused a "conflict of interests." (Mr. Frantz's new boss, Senator Kerry, is a strong supporter of Armenian Genocide affirmation.)

Mr. Arax had in turn alleged that Mr. Frantz himself may have had a bias on the issue, having spent years working as a reporter in Turkey and that he was "heavily involved and invested in defending the policies of Turkey."

In subsequent months, a number of Armenian-Americans, including the Armenian Reporter's editorial page, called on the Times to take "decisive action" in the case. Mr. Frantz resigned in June 2007.

Mr. Frantz was initially expected to become the Istanbul-based Middle East bureau chief for the Wall Street Journal. But he instead joined the then newly launched (and since closed) Condé Nast Portfolio magazine as senior writer and authored a book on the black market in nuclear technology.

For his part, Mr. Arax also left the Times in June 2007. Last April he published his third book, this one about life in California.

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Aleppo citadel - site of the AGBU celebration in Oct. 2008 (pictured) - is now in ruins. AGBU

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The uncertain fate of Armenian communities in the Middle East and particularly in Aleppo will be discussed on Sept. 29 in LA and Oct. 9 in Boston; for details about these and other upcoming Armenian happenings in America consult the Calendar of Events.