Wednesday, October 26, 2005

JUDITH MILLER is being crucified, even by her own newspaper, and even though it's the 'official' reason, it's actually not for the Wilson / Plame affair. That's an excuse since, as John Podhoretz reminds us, it's odd to accuse Miller of journalistic malpractice of a subject she didn't write a single line about. Mind you, the fact that even a journalist who hadn't written about the issue was being thrown into jail was for some precisely what proved the fact that Bush/Cheney/Rove were crushing free speech and intimidating the media. Now, that small detail apparently doesn't matter anymore.

Actually, the reason why Miller is being sent to the lions has more to do with her pre-war reporting than anything else. But it seems as if she alone managed to brainwash the whole American public into buying one -not the only one, though critics tend to forget the others- argument for the war.

The problem for those who are attackin Miller is that there's something called "press archives", and people like Robert Kagan who remember that reports about Saddam's danger were routinely published by many journalists, even on the NYTimes itself, and pre-date Bush:
There is a big problem with this simple narrative. It is that the Times, along with The Post and other news organizations, ran many alarming stories about Iraq's weapons programs before the election of George W. Bush. A quick search through the Times archives before 2001 produces such headlines as "Iraq Has Network of Outside Help on Arms, Experts Say"(November 1998), "U.S. Says Iraq Aided Production of Chemical Weapons in Sudan"(August 1998), "Iraq Suspected of Secret Germ War Effort" (February 2000), "Signs of Iraqi Arms Buildup Bedevil U.S. Administration" (February 2000), "Flight Tests Show Iraq Has Resumed a Missile Program" (July 2000). (A somewhat shorter list can be compiled from The Post's archives, including a September 1998 headline: "Iraqi Work Toward A-Bomb Reported.") The Times stories were written by Barbara Crossette, Tim Weiner and Steven Lee Myers; Miller shared a byline on one.

Many such stories appeared before and after the Clinton administration bombed Iraq for four days in late 1998 in what it insisted was an effort to degrade Iraqi weapons programs. Philip Shenon reported official concerns that Iraq would be "capable within months -- and possibly just weeks or days -- of threatening its neighbors with an arsenal of chemical, biological and even nuclear weapons." He reported that Iraq was thought to be "still hiding tons of nerve gas" and was "seeking to obtain uranium from a rogue nation or terrorist groups to complete as many as four nuclear warheads." Tim Weiner and Steven Erlanger reported that Hussein was closer than ever "to what he wants most: keeping a secret cache of biological and chemical weapons." "To maintain his chemical and biological weapons -- and the ability to build more," they reported, Hussein had sacrificed over $120 billion in oil revenue and "devoted his intelligence service to an endless game of cat and mouse to hide his suspected weapons caches from United Nations inspections."
He goes on with many more specific examples. Via The Anchoress, who post also has a very illustrative old cover of Time Magazine that you'll want to see.

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