Obama's British code name isn't "Smart Alec"

President Barack Obama talks to Britain's Queen Elizabeth II during a state dinner hosted by the Queen at Buckingham Palace, in London, May 24, 2011. A Peek Inside Buckingham Palace Pictures: Obamas get royal welcome Pictures: Obamas in Ireland Pictures: President Obama Pictures: Michelle Obama Lewis Whyld - WPA Pool/Getty Images

Lewis Whyld - WPA Pool/Getty Images

Over the weekend, British newspapers ran stories suggesting Scotland Yard had given President Obama the codename "Chalaque" -- a Punjabi word the Daily Mail translated as "smart alec" - in conjunction with his state visit to Britain this week. The story was picked up in several places, including Yahoo News and The Drudge Report.

Which is why we're taking some time to quickly point out that it isn't actually true. A Metropolitan Police spokesperson in Britain told CBS News' Tucker Reals that "Chalaque" isn't Mr. Obama's codename but rather "the operational name for the state visit."

And there wasn't a lot of thought that went into the choice. According to the spokesperson, the names for operations are selected "in sequential order from a randomly selected list."

In other words: The British police did not give Mr. Obama a code name meant to "denigrate someone who we think is too clever for their own good," as one Punjabi speaker told the Daily Mail.

This shouldn't come as much of a surprise. Security forces tend not to come up with derogatory codenames for visiting dignitaries. But that didn't stop a wide variety of news outlets from repeating the story without checking it out.

Comments

CBSN Live

pop-out
Live Video

Watch CBSN Live

Watch CBS News anytime, anywhere with the new 24/7 digital news network. Stream CBSN live or on demand for FREE on your TV, computer, tablet, or smartphone.