Der Spiegel proudly stands by its work. (And rightly so—events have borne them out.) Their tape contains both Maliki’s original Arabic and the translator’s real-time English. When the magazine readied the transcript, Zand verified the translation against Maliki’s Arabic. On this sensitive interview, and the Obama portion of the interview, Müller von Blumencron emphasizes they stayed “very close. Very, very close.”
So how did the Times get its listen? Simple—it asked. According to Müller von Blumencron, Times reporter Sabrina Tavernise and her translator met with Zand in Baghdad, where he played them the relevant quote.
There’s something else that journalists calling Der Spiegel would have learned. “We have a policy at Der Spiegel when we do a question and answer session to provide a transcript to our counterparts in case they want to have a minor thing changed,” says Müller von Blumencron, who says Zand verified that Maliki’s aides received the publication-ready advance copy. They had no response, and presumably no complaints, before its release.
Der Spiegel has no plans to release the tape (“We don’t see a need to improve upon our credibility by, say, putting the audio on the web.”) but is happy to play it—in person, over the phone—for any journalist interested in verifying.
“Anyone who wants to hear it can hear it,” says Müller von Blumencron. “But no one else has asked.”