Wednesday, May 07, 2003

Judith Miller

Here's an interesting article about the odd conflicts of one of the NYT's embeds.

Followers of the Iraq WMD debate know of the Iraqi "scientist" at the heart of Miller's article, the man who favors "nondescript clothes and a baseball cap." Prohibited from interviewing him, Miller based her account entirely on what this individual told U.S. military officers who then -- X to Y to Z -- told Miller what he'd said. Had it appeared on some fringe web site, the piece might be dismissed as not meeting the smell test, or as at least as being premature.

Said Jonathan B. Tucker, a former U.N. weapons inspector currently on sabbatical from the Monterey Institute of International Studies at the U.S. Institute of Peace, "It's very vague and not corroborated. I don't view it as definitive." Saying the story perhaps should have been held for more evidence, Tucker added, "It's pretty thin on the evidence."

But Randy Scheunemann, president of the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq, said, "Miller is an absolutely veteran reporter who has broken a very important story."

Miriam Rajkumar, a project associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said it has a "politically potent use for those who want to justify and validate the allegations made before the war regarding Al Qaeda and WMD. Anything that validates that will be pounced on."

Miller herself appeared on the PBS NewsHour the day after her article appeared and, asked about any proof of WMD, referred immediately to "something more than a smoking gun," in short: "a silver bullet." The metaphors proliferated as the proof evaporated.

The article having leapt from The Times' front page, my dissection of it below will not be the first. Any reading of the piece should perhaps occur in light of Miller's relationship with the Middle East Forum, run by the controversial Daniel Pipes, who has been in the news of late as a Bush nominee to the congressionally chartered U.S. Institute of Peace. A non-profit, the forum was founded in 1994.

Theres's more there.

....and, the Rational Enquirer gives us Judith Miller Watch.