(May 21, 2004) -- In a front page New York Times article this morning, David E. Sanger quotes a senior U.S. intelligence official's assessment of Ahmad Chalabi's information on weapons of mass destruction, which was distributed so avidly by the Times itself in the run-up to the Iraq war: "useless at best, and misleading at worst."
Yesterday, American and Iraqi forces raided and ransacked the Iraqi National Congress leader's office in Baghdad, completing his fall from grace as what the Times terms a "favorite" of the Bush administration. Today, two front-page articles in the paper, and an editorial titled "Friends Like This," take a harsh view of Chalabi. One would never know that the Times itself once relied on him heavily for its "scoops" on Saddam's WMD stockpiles.
In fact, one must painfully recall the now famous May 1, 2003, e-mail to the paper's Baghdad Bureau Chief John Burns from star Times reporter in Iraq, Judith Miller, who wrote: "I've been covering Chalabi for about 10 years, and have done most of the stories about him for our paper. ... He has provided most of the front page exclusives on WMD to our paper."
Oh, how quickly the Times forgets its friends, Chalabi must be thinking today.
Describing Chalabi, Sanger wrote today: "He became a master of the art of the leak, giving new currency to the suspicions about Mr. Hussein's weapons." Leaks? Who was his favored drop? Miller of the Times, although there were many others.
And in today's Times editorial: "Before the war, Ahmad Chalabi told Washington hawks exactly what they wanted to hear about Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction ... Much of the information Mr. Chalabi had produced was dead wrong. He was one of the chief cheerleaders for the theory that Iraq had vast quantities of weapons of mass destruction. ... But he can't be made a scapegoat.
"The Bush administration should have known what it was doing when it gave enormous credence to a questionable character whose own self-interest was totally invested in getting the Americans to invade Iraq. ..."
Left unsaid is that the Times should have known better, as well. Yet, incredibly, the paper of record has never run a corrective editor's note to clean up the mess that Miller made for the Times' integrity.
Gerth and Miller must have pictures of the publishers with goats.