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Hullabaloo


Friday, June 13, 2014

 
Judith Miller? Seriously? On Iraq? Seriously?!??!?

by tristero

You have to be kidding.

And for those who are Judy noobies, go ahead and read what Miller did.
 During the winter of 2001 and throughout 2002, Miller produced a series of stunning stories about Saddam Hussein’s ambition and capacity to produce weapons of mass destruction, based largely on information provided by Chalabi and his allies—almost all of which have turned out to be stunningly inaccurate. 
For the past year, the Times has done much to correct that coverage, publishing a series of stories calling Chalabi’s credibility into question. But never once in the course of its coverage—or in any public comments from its editors—did the Times acknowledge Chalabi’s central role in some of its biggest scoops, scoops that not only garnered attention but that the administration specifically cited to buttress its case for war.
The longer the Times remained silent on Chalabi’s importance to Judith Miller’s reporting, the louder critics howled. In February, in the New York Review of Books, Michael Massing held up Miller as evidence of the press’s “submissiveness” in covering the war. For more than a year, Slate’s Jack Shafer has demanded the paper come clean. 
But finally, with Chalabi’s fall from grace so complete—the Pentagon has cut off his funding, troops smashed his portrait in raids of the INC office—the Times’ refusal to concede its own complicity became untenable. Last week, on page A10, the paper published a note on its coverage, drafted by executive editor Bill Keller himself. The paper singled out pieces that relied on “information from a circle of Iraqi informants, defectors, and exiles bent on ‘regime change.’ ” The note named Ahmad Chalabi as a central player in this group...
Miller’s many doubters at the Times were effectively silenced. She had emerged as one of the paper’s biggest stars, with the kind of “competitive metabolism” that new editor Howell Raines—he’d taken over from Joseph Lelyveld the week before 9/11—made into a crusade. According to a friend of Raines’s, as well as one of Miller’s colleagues at the paper, the editor pulled her aside after the attacks. “Go win a Pulitzer,” he told her.
For the next two years, she supplied the paper with a string of grim exclusives. There was the defector who described Saddam Hussein’s recent renovation of storage facilities for nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons. There was her report that a Russian virologist might have handed the regime a particularly virulent strain of smallpox. To protect themselves against VX and sarin, she further reported, the Iraqis had greatly increased the importation of an antidote to these agents. And, most memorably, she co-wrote a piece in which administration officials suggested that Iraq had attempted to import aluminum tubes for nuclear weapons. Vice-President Dick Cheney trumpeted the story on Meet the Press, closing the circle. Of course, each of the stories contained important caveats. But together they painted a horrifying picture. There was just one problem with them: The vast majority of these blockbusters turned out to be wrong. 
A bowl of overcooked penne has more credibility than Judith Miller.

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