The Times Scoops That Melted
Cataloging the wretched reporting of Judith Miller.
Miller Caveat: None. The piece is mostly about the difficulties of weapon inspections verification.
Suggested Remedial Action: If Hamza really knows the nuclear score, he should take the Times on an Iraqi atomic tour.
The Defectors Complain
The Back Story: Defectors Hamza and Saeed return to complain about U.S. intelligence's lack of interest in their allegations in Miller's "U.S. Faulted Over Its Efforts To Unite Iraqi Dissidents," Oct. 2, 2002.
Pentagon adviser Richard N. Perle and Ahmad Chalabi enthusiastically slam the CIA for ignoring the Iraqi National Congress. "The I.N.C. has been without question the single most important source of intelligence about Saddam Hussein. … What the agency has learned in recent months has come largely through the I.N.C.'s efforts despite indifference of the C.I.A."
Miller's Caveat: The government tends not to trust defectors.
Suggested Remedial Action: Either the INC was wrong or the CIA was wrong. If the INC was wrong, the Times should feed Perle's words back to him with a fork and spoon.
The Atropine Auto-Injectors
The Back Story: Citing administration officials, Miller reports Iraq's order of "large quantities" of atropine auto-injectors in "Iraq Said To Try To Buy Antidote Against Nerve Gas," Nov. 12, 2002. Atropine is an antidote to sarin and VX.
Miller Caveat: Atropine is also used to treat heart attacks, although the auto-injectors contain five times the normal dose.
Suggested Remedial Action: The Times should track the atropine order to the source, if possible, to see if the request was in preparation for a chemical weapons attack.
The Back Story: In her Dec. 3, 2002, exclusive, "C.I.A. Hunts Iraq Tie to Soviet Smallpox," Miller reported an unnamed informant's allegations that a Russian scientist had given Iraq a "particularly virulent strain of smallpox." The scientist might have been the now deceased Nelja N. Maltseva, a Russian virologist. (See this "Press Box" for the complete take.) According to Miller, the CIA was brought in to investigate and the president was "briefed about its implications." Miller surmises that this was one reason the administration was so determined to inoculate health workers for smallpox.
Miller Caveat: "The attempt to verify the information is continuing."