Posts from May 26, 2004

The Kremlinology of Iraq and The Times

The Kremlinology of Iraq and The Times

: The New York Times appears to fall on its sword today over some of its reporting on the lead-up to war in Iraq. But it’s not necessary what it seems.

In one view, this is The Times going after Bush: By admitting they were stupid to rely on Ahmad Chalabi and his henchmen for stories, they can put themselves up on a pedestal of late-blooming virtue and say that Bush was even stupider to rely on Chalabi and his henchmen for intelligence that led to war. The problem I have with that is that The Times is being quite selective in its sword falling. Every day, the paper — any paper — is filled with anonymous sources and mistakes and stories that don’t turn out as reported and predicted. Why is the paper taking the extraordinary move of public confession with this story? Because there’s an agenda.

In another view, this is The Times getting ready for various attacks on reporter Judith Miller that are coming (at the Personal Democracy Forum, Eric Alterman said it was shameful that The Times had not fessed up on Miller’s mistakes and the crowd, lefty like Eric, applauded; there’s a bill coming due).

In yet another view, this could be The Times getting ready for more to come out about Chalabi and even various reporters’ dependence on and relationship with him. Lots more is going to come out about Chalabi from every side of the fight. Yesterday, the NY Sun (no link available) said that the raid on his office and home “cam as the Iraqi National Congress leader was preparing a potentially devastating audit of how Iraq’s oil resources and seized assets were being disbursed by the chief of the Coalition Provisional Authority, L. Paul Bremer.”

You can’t read this story without a Kremlinologist. And I’m sure that today, many webloggers will do a fair bit of Kremlinology behind what The Times says:

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