Tuesday, January 04, 2005


I don't have the time this second to go into the full history of Judith Fucking "The Queen of All Iraq" Miller, but Seth Mnookin's comment to Sam Rosenfeld in his interview is just bullshit:

Whenever Judith Miller’s name comes up, too often the nuance is lost that there was never any point at which Judith thought she was doing anything but bringing good reporting to the paper. She wasn’t, obviously. But that was not because she was trying to perpetrate a fraud or advance some agenda or because she was hoping to get a position in the [Ahmed] Chalabi cabinet or whatever. In discussing her reporting, and obviously there’s a lot to discuss, I just think it’s so crucial to remember that distinction.

What a load of crap. Here's the normally useless Kurtz with a Judith Miller flashback:

On April 21, when the MET Alpha team was ordered to withdraw to the southern Iraqi town of Talil, Miller objected in a handwritten note to two public affairs officers. It said:

"I see no reason for me to waste time (or MET Alpha, for that matter) in Talil. . . . Request permission to stay on here with colleagues at the Palestine Hotel til MET Alpha returns or order to return is rescinded. I intend to write about this decision in the NY Times to send a successful team back home just as progress on WMD is being made."

One military officer, who says that Miller sometimes "intimidated" Army soldiers by invoking Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld or Undersecretary Douglas Feith, was sharply critical of the note. "Essentially, she threatened them," the officer said, describing the threat as that "she would publish a negative story."

An Army officer, who regarded Miller's presence as "detrimental," said: "Judith was always issuing threats of either going to the New York Times or to the secretary of defense. There was nothing veiled about that threat," this person said, and MET Alpha "was allowed to bend the rules."

Times editor Rosenthal strongly disagreed, saying Miller's note sounded routine and that characterizing it as a threat is "a total distortion of that letter."

Miller later challenged the pullback order with Maj. Gen. David Petraeus, commander of the 101st Airborne. While Petraeus did not have direct authority over Col. Richard McPhee, the commander of the 75th task force, McPhee rescinded his withdrawal order after Petraeus advised him to do so. McPhee declined two requests for comment.

"Our desire was to pull these guys back in," said an officer who served under McPhee, adding that it was "quite a surprise" that the order was reversed.

As for MET Alpha's seeming independence, this officer said: "The way McPhee phrased it for [staff] consumption was, 'I know they have gone independent, I know they have gone rogue, but by God at least they're doing something.' But if they're doing something, where's the meat? It didn't pan out."

That wasn't for lack of trying. In early May, Miller reported on MET Alpha's search for an ancient Jewish text that wound up unearthing Iraqi intelligence documents and maps related to Israel. In this case, too, Sethna said, the information was passed from Chalabi's group to Miller. "We thought this was a great story for the New York Times," Sethna said. "She discussed it with her team. . . . That came from us."

Asked if MET Alpha had gone astray, Col. Joe Curtin, an Army spokesman, said that "commanders make decisions based on developing situations" and that the unit had the approval of its headquarters. He said that any lead provided by a reporter is deemed "open source, and we're going to use it."

But Curtin said of one MET Alpha foray: "Interrogating prisoners is usually left to military intelligence people who are trained in that art and do it right, under the laws of land warfare."

Miller formed a friendship with MET Alpha's leader, Chief Warrant Officer Gonzales, and several officers said they were surprised when she participated in a Baghdad ceremony in which Gonzales was promoted. She pinned the rank to his uniform, an eyewitness said, and Gonzales thanked Miller for her contributions. Gonzales did not respond to a request for comment.


Miller's coverage of MET Alpha has drawn some critical press scrutiny for optimistic-sounding stories about the weapons hunt, generating headlines including "U.S. Analysts Link Iraq Labs to Germ Arms," "U.S. Experts Find Radioactive Material in Iraq" and "U.S.-Led Forces Occupy Baghdad Complex Filled With Chemical Agents." These potential discoveries did not bear fruit.

At the very least Judy's agenda was... promoting Judy. And, as a one-time listed Expert at the Middle East Forum, her agenda was likely quite a bit bigger than that.