Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Everyone jumping off the Chalabi bandwagon

Here's an excerpt from a New York Times examination of its Iraq reporting. LINK
...But we have found a number of instances of coverage that was not as rigorous as it should have been. In some cases, information that was controversial then, and seems questionable now, was insufficiently qualified or allowed to stand unchallenged. Looking back, we wish we had been more aggressive in re-examining the claims as new evidence emerged - or failed to emerge.

The problematic articles varied in authorship and subject matter, but many shared a common feature. They depended at least in part on information from a circle of Iraqi informants, defectors and exiles bent on "regime change" in Iraq, people whose credibility has come under increasing public debate in recent weeks. (The most prominent of the anti-Saddam campaigners, Ahmad Chalabi, has been named as an occasional source in Times articles since at least 1991, and has introduced reporters to other exiles. He became a favorite of hard-liners within the Bush administration and a paid broker of information from Iraqi exiles, until his payments were cut off last week.) Complicating matters for journalists, the accounts of these exiles were often eagerly confirmed by United States officials convinced of the need to intervene in Iraq. Administration officials now acknowledge that they sometimes fell for misinformation from these exile sources. So did many news organizations - in particular, this one.
Those Bushies like to complain about the liberal press, but here's an instance where they cut corners in order to bolster Bushie positions on the war, WMD, etc. Gee, were we in some kind of mass hysteria or what? The difference, Bush is elected and he's responsible to all of us, or so the theory goes. The Times is merelresponsiblele to the market. Yes, this is capitalism, and it is clear that capitalism regulates itself in this instance far better than the folks in the White House regulate themselves. The Times, after all, came out with the mea culpa. The Bushite junta seems incapable of self-reflection, much less admitting fault.