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N.Y. Times Cites Defects in Its Reports on Iraq
[FINAL Edition]
The Washington Post - Washington, D.C.
Subjects: Journalistic ethics; Media coverage; Weapons of mass destruction
Author: Kurtz, Howard
Date: May 26, 2004
Start Page: C.01
Section: STYLE

More than a year after Judith Miller and some Times colleagues reported on evidence suggesting that Iraq was hiding such weapons, the paper said in an editors' note: "Editors at several levels who should have been challenging reporters and pressing for more skepticism were perhaps too intent on rushing scoops into the paper. Accounts of Iraqi defectors were not always weighed against their strong desire to have [Saddam Hussein] ousted. Articles based on dire claims about Iraq tended to get prominent display, while follow-up articles that called the original ones into question were sometimes buried. In some cases, there was no follow-up at all."

One of Miller's prime sources was Ahmed Chalabi, the Iraqi exile whose organization was subsidized by the Pentagon and who "has provided most of the front page exclusives on WMD to our paper," according to an e-mail she sent to a colleague. U.S.-backed forces raided Chalabi's home in Iraq last week amid allegations that members of his Iraqi National Congress may have been providing sensitive information to Iran.

In April 2003, Miller reported that an Iraqi scientist who claimed to have worked in the country's weapons program "has told an American military team that Iraq destroyed chemical weapons and biological warfare equipment only days before the war began," and that the team had found "precursors" of banned toxic agents. But "The Times never followed up on the veracity of this source or the attempts to verify his claims." Miller had said on PBS that the scientist was not just a "smoking gun" but "a silver bullet."

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